Whisky Reviews

Whiskey Review #75 – Tennessee 2003 (JD)

American Whiskey is a class of its own with Bourbon, Tennessee and Rye playing the most significant share. While we have shared some American whiskey previously, we were not a big fan of it due to the overwhelming sweetness that we tend to get from corn distillate. However, we tried this bottle of Tennessee recently, and it was so good that we were taken aback! Is that even Tennessee?! It tasted like a sherry-matured Scotch!

Brief History of the bottle

The Tennessee we have here is an independent bottling by The Whisky Agency (TWA) for Kaohsiung, Taiwan. It was a joint-bottling by four different bars – The Drunken Master Whisky Bar (TDM), Inn Bistro, Goodness Bistro and Bar Diary. Each bar owner has tasted and agreed to bottle this whiskey for their bars. We got this from TDM, and it proved to be a right thing to do!

What is Tennessee?

Tennessee whiskey is different from Bourbons due to a particular step within the whiskey making process. While both liquid comes from at least 51% corn, Tennessee whiskey goes through an additional phase before the whiskey makes it to the barrel for maturation. Tennessee makers steep or filter the new whiskey in charcoal chips.

All Tennessee whiskey makers make their whiskey slightly differently. This particular bottle comes from Jack Daniel’s (JD), so the method is as follows:

  • Soak Sugar Maple Wood in 140 proof Jack Daniel’s
  • Set the wood on fire and reduced it to charcoal
  • Ground the charcoal to bean-sized pellets
  • Pour new whiskey through the pellets and placed into barrels.

Distilled in 2003, TWA bottled this JD in 2017. It is labelled as a 13-year-old as it did not spend the full 14th year before bottling. In a technical sense, you can think of this bottle as a 13.5-year-old.

Now that you have a better understanding of this bottle, let’s deep dive into the tasting notes!

Tasting Notes

Colour: Burnt Gold/Amber
ABV: 50.7%

Nose: Sweet caramel hits immediately with light spice hiding in the background. On the second sniff, we detect some sweet cream, almost like an ice-cream soda from F&N. Hints of preserved red dates and orange peels appear after a few minutes, enhancing the sweet nose to the next level. (19/20)

Palate: Sweet sherry and caramel come rushing in before a sharp spice punches the palate and disappears as quickly as it appears. As we hold the liquid in the mouth, sweet fruitiness of red dates and cherries coats the palate beautifully. The spice hits again as we swallow, creating a warm and pleasant burn down the throat. Then, a surprise happens! A burst of cranberry juice coats the whole mouth, bringing the berry sweetness to a grand ending! (19/20)

Finish: It has a relatively short finish with sweet red fruits, warm spice and a hint of cranberry juice. (17/20)

Body: Oh my, what a beautiful dram! The superb nose and palate are presented so exceptionally, and the sweetness is not overwhelming. An untypical Tennessee for sure and one that we will want to keep drinking. Although we are slightly disappointed with the shorter than expected finish, it was good till the end! (37/40)

Total Score: 92/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: This is the BEST Tennessee that I have ever tried so far! It gives me such a warm and happy feeling inside after drinking it! I will be sorry when we finish this bottle, but this is one whisky that is worth sharing!

Geek Choc: This has to be the most impressive whiskey I have ever tried. My attempts at American whiskey were few as I find them far too sweet for my liking. This Tennessee, however, hits me in all the right places! 

 

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    Whisky Review #74 – Caol Ila 1982 First Cask Series

    Caol Ila 1982 – First Cask Series

    WhiskyGeeks has not reviewed any bottles for an extended period, so it is time to put that right. Today, our review brings us to an independent bottler from the Netherlands, which is quite a character.

    Brief History of the independent bottler

    Jan Kok and Marcel Bol are the founders of Whisky Import Netherlands (WIN). Founded in December 2004, WIN started with the imports of new bottlings from Adelphi Distillery. Both Jan and Marcel are veterans in the whisky industry. As youngsters, Marcel was an avid whisky drinker and met like-minded Jan in the company that they both worked for. The two hit off so well that they planned a trip to Scotland together! From then on, their whisky journey took off on a higher note. As members of the local whisky club, Jan and Marcel both became the club leaders and Marcel was also in charge of the club’s publication. They are so well-known that Diageo approached them to promote whisky! As a result of this request, Jan and Marcel attended formal whisky courses and became accredited. During their learning journey, they got to know Charles MacLean, who got them to import new bottlings for Adelphi Distillery as well.

    That is a short history on WIN, the Netherlands independent bottler, who bottled this excellent bottle of Caol Ila 1982 (single cask). The First Cask Series is WIN’s label, and much effort has been put into each selection to choose casks which showcase the character of the distillery and the influences of the barrels used. This bottle of Caol Ila is distilled in 1982 and matured in an American oak hogshead. 25 years later, WIN bottled the liquid without chill-filtration and colouring. It also boasts of a natural cask strength!

    With the introduction completed, let’s dive into the review of this Caol Ila 1982!

    Tasting Notes

    Colour: Bright Gold
    ABV: 60.8%

    Nose: Elegant peat is all my brain could comprehend when I first nose this whisky! It was terrific. Sweet, fruity and light, all at the same time. When my mind calms down, I picked up mango, apricot and aromatic peat. There is a warm, pleasant spice wafting in the background. (18/20)

    Palate: The first sip registered fruity sweetness and warm, mellow spice. A second sip reveals sweet mango, apricots, nutmeg, some cinnamon and beautiful peat. At the high abv of 60.8%, the liquid is gentle and elegant. The warm spice coats the mouth but does not burn the throat, which is pleasant for a high abv whisky. (19/20)

    Finish: The finish is long with sweet peat and mango. The mouthfeel gets drier towards the end, but it is pleasant, almost wine-like. (19/20)

    Body: This dram is excellently balanced. The peat co-exists beautifully with the sweet fruitiness and the gentle spice. I would say that the peat enhances the sweetness of the whisky and makes it even better! (36/40)

    Total Score: 92/100

    Where to find it: The Swan Song

    Comments:

    Geek Flora: “This dram makes me love Caol Ila more than I already am. That sweet, gentle peat completely sold me. I would be heading back for more in future!” 

    Geek Choc: “I only got a sip of this, and it was heavenly. Did not get to drink a second sip of the dram after that because Flora was too excited and drunk everything herself!”

     

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      Bruichladdich Media Launch – Octomore Series 8

      Octomore 8 Masterclass

       

      Bruichladdich held a media tasting for the upcoming Octomore 8 Series launch at The Writing Club on 1 February 2018. Chloe Wood, the Asia-Pacific Brand Ambassador, was the presenter for the session. Bruichladdich invited me to represent WhiskyGeeks, and I cannot express my gleefulness to have the chance to drink the Octomore Series 8 again!

      I arrived early, and our Bruichladdich host treated me to a generous pour of Port Charlotte Scottish Barley! The Bruichladdich team is top-notched in their hospitality, as always! As we waited for the rest of the media to arrive, I chatted with the team, took pictures and enjoyed my dram!

      The Tasting Session in Action

      A beautiful line-up of the Octomore 8 Masterclass Series

       

      Chloe started the ball rolling shortly after 2.30pm when everyone had arrived. She warned me that the presentation was largely similar to what she did for the previous Bruichladdich tasting event, but I still found the presentation enjoyable. I also managed to pick up information about Bruichladdich which I missed out the last time.

      Chloe waxing lyrical about Bruichladdich

      One of the juicy bits of information which I had left untouched in my previous article was the barley malting process. A malting house at Inverness malts all of Bruichladdich’s barley. They have a dedicated area cornered off just for Bruichladdich and malted the barley with a commitment that is distinctly Bruichladdich! The facility even added the peat to Port Charlotte and Octomore malting manually to control the ppm of the barley.

      Another interesting fact is the quality casks that Bruichladdich uses for all their maturing whiskies. Chloe mentioned that they are not cheap to come by and that is part of the reason why the distillery needs a lot of funds to maintain production. Of course, I missed out entirely on Octomore Farm where it grows the Octomore barley for some of the expressions as well as the water source. Bruichladdich draws water from a spring on Islay itself. The distillery used this water source for distilling and watering down of the whisky (when needed).

      Octomore 8 Masterclass

       

      The Octomore 8 Masterclass is Bruichladdich’s Head distiller, Adam Hannett’s first set of Octomore. Crafted entirely by him, the Eights is the first series to be launched together. The Eights are all eight years old whiskies except for one, which you will understand why once we reveal the reason.

      Before we dive straight into the Octomore 8 one by one, please allow us to show you a video of the Octomore Brand.

      Octomore 8.1

      Picture from Bruichladdich

      The Octomore 8.1 is the forerunner in the Eight series. Distilled in 2008 using the 2007 barley harvest, the distillery peated it at 167ppm. 100% matured in first fill ex-bourbon American oak casks for its full term, this eight years old stayed on Islay all its life before getting bottled at 59.3%. The distillery released 42,000 bottles globally.

      On the nose, I found sweet, floral, gentle peat. There are hints of pineapples and pears. The palate is oily with warm spice (black pepper), vanilla cream and fruity sweetness! The finish is long with vanilla lingering to the end. With water, the peat appears stronger on the nose and pushes the sweetness to the background. Nonetheless, the palate remains, with vanilla cream and sweet fruits leading the way. The water shortens the finish slightly, but the vanilla stays.

      Octomore 8.2

      Picture from Bruichladdich

      Octomore 8.2 is an interesting one. Intended for the Global Travel Retail, this bottle is the hardest to come by unless you travel during the release period. Distilled in 2008 from the 2007 barley harvest, the distillery peated it at 167ppm as well. Adam vatted six years old liquids from second-fill ex-Sauternes casks, French Mourvedres and Austrian sweet wine casks before putting the vatted liquid into first-filled Italian ex-Amarone casks for two more years. This eight years old expression also stayed on Islay on its life before getting bottled it at 58.4% abv. The distillery released 36,000 bottles globally.

      On the nose, I get sweet candy, red wine, dates and cinnamon spice. The rich, robust whisky is oily on the palate that is reminiscent of sweet dessert wine and cinnamon. The mixture is pleasantly exotic and balanced. The finish is long and spicy. The Octomore 8.2 eludes all the sweetness from the wine casks and is fantastic to drink.

      Octomore 8.3

      Picture from Bruichladdich

      Octomore 8.3 is the monster baby of the lot. It is a tribute to Islay and uses only barley from the Octomore Farm’s 2010 harvest. It was a bad harvest that year, and Octomore Farm’s owner, James Brown, faced heavy losses from it. However, the barley produced terrific results during the malting process! A staggering 309.1 ppm reading came back from the malting facility, making the new-make the heaviest-peated whisky in the world! Distilled in 2011, the expression boasts of one farm, one field and one vintage and showcases the barley influence. 56% of the liquid spent five years in ex-bourbon American casks, while the remaining 44% spent five years in ex-Pauillac, Ventoux, Rhone and Burgundy European oak casks. The expression stayed five years on Islay before getting bottled at a whopping 61.2% abv! Due to the small barley harvest, the distillery released only 18,000 bottles globally.

      The nose is full of aromatic peat, lemon citrus zest, sweet wine, pears and apples. The palate is oily with full lemony citrus and sweet fruits before the smoke comes in beautifully. The finish is long with light smoke and sea salt towards the end. What an epic dram for sure!

      Octomore 8.4

      Picture from Bruichladdich

      The last bottle of the Eight series is nothing short of amazing. It is the Gamechanger. Distilled in 2009 from the 2008 harvest, the distillery peated it at 170ppm. 20% of the liquid comes from liquid matured in first fill virgin oak casks with medium toast for eight years. The remaining 80% aged in first fill American casks for eight years before getting a finish in second fill virgin oak casks from Tonnellerie Radoux cooperage in France. If you are wondering what is the second fill virgin oak cask, it just means that the distillery used the virgin oak casks for the second time. Virgin oak casks are not easy to come by, and the price is hefty as well! The expression matured fully on Islay before getting bottled at 58.7% abv. The distillery released only 12,000 bottles globally.

      On the nose, I get the oak influence immediately. There is an oakiness to the liquid, coupled with a citrus, fruity sweetness and a hint of smoke. The palate is oaky and dry, with sweet pear, apples and some pleasant spice. Hints of smoke linger in the background without overshadowing the sweetness. The finish is long, sweet and peaty!

      Sweet Ending to the Tasting Session

      Cheese from The Cheese Ark

       

      Handmade Chocolates from DemoChoc

      Chloe ended her presentation after introducing Octomore 8.4 but it was not the end of the session. No, the Bruichladdich team bought cheese from The Cheese Ark and chocolate from Demochoc to share! We get to eat tasty cheese and pair it with our Octomore, as well as satisfy our sweet tooth with hand-made chocolates!

      Further Details of the Launch

      Fans of Octomore are waiting anxiously for the series to launch in Singapore, but unfortunately, we still do not have the launch date yet. It is rumoured to be launched sometime in April but it is not firmed up, and the launch can happen earlier! Rest assured that we will keep everyone updated once we know the launch date!

      In the meanwhile, prepare yourself for the mad rush when the series launches! It is going to be massive fun! Stay tuned for more folks!

       

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        8 underrated whiskies we have tried so far

        Our recent focus on whisky bars has led us on a discussion regarding the many whiskies that we have drunk in the bars in Singapore. We found that there are a lot of underrated whiskies that went unnoticed by most people because they are just not in the limelight. These whiskies are only put into the spotlight when whisky bars introduced them. Therefore, as a way to further help spread the joy of underrated whiskies, we decided to put forth eight underrated whiskies which we have drunk!

        **Some of these whiskies are available in the local bars in Singapore, so you can always pop by for a dram!**

        Mortlach Rare Old

        We came across the Mortlach Rare Old during Singbev’s sales at Suntec City late last year and had more than just a taste of it. The oily mouthfeel, sweet and robust flavours and relatively long finish hooked into us, and we ended up buying a bottle. Mortlach Rare Old is an affordable entry-level single malt from Mortlach’s premium range, and it is such a decent dram that we need to tell everyone about it!

        It may not be an easy to find this single malt in regular bars, but you can ask whisky bars in Singapore if they carry the bottle. Otherwise, if you know anyone working in Diageo, you can try to wing an invitation to Diageo’s bar! If all else fail, you can still get a bottle at our local whisky shops or online at Master of Malt or The Whisky Exchange. The last we heard, Cold Storage is selling the Mortlach Rare Old at $60! It is a steal!

        The Single Cask Macduff 19 Years Old

        TSC Macduff 19 Years Old

        The Single Cask is an independent bottler, and you can find a massive range of whiskies at their bar. One of the underrated ones which we want to share is the TSC Macduff 19 Years Old. We tasted it at an event, and we love it. We got a bottle at home too! The liquid boasts floral and citrus notes. At a higher abv of 53.5%, it is also a robust whisky with a little spice.

        If you want to taste this whisky, simply head over to The Single Cask and ask Brendan for a dram of TSC Macduff 19 Years Old!

        Caol Ila 2006 (S Spirit Shop Collection)

        Caol Ila 2006 (S Spirit Shop)

        S Spirit Shop is an independent bottler from Taiwan, and they bottled Scotch whiskies using unique labels that speak volume about the Chinese heritage of S Spirit Shop. The Caol Ila 2006 that we had was one of those whiskies in which you cannot forget after drinking it. Even though it is a young whisky at nine years old, it is so well balanced that we need more and more. It is also a limited release of only 76 bottles. If you love gentle peat, you got to try this one!

        It is available at The Wall SG, and you can even taste the whole range of the S Spirit Shop Collection there if you are feeling adventurous!

        Arran Amarone Cask Finish

        Arran Amarone Cask Finish

        The Arran distillery is located on the Isle of Arran and is the only distillery on the island. The core range of Arran is probably well-known to you but did you know that they have a variety of special releases too? The Arran Amarone Cask Finish is one of such release. Matured in oak casks and then finished in Amarone wine cask, the distillery bottled the whisky at 50% abv. The liquid boasts the nose of a sweet red wine, honey, pear and cranberries, a soft palate and a long fruity finish.

        You can easily find a dram of this at the Quaich Bar. In fact, they have a whole range of Arran for you to try if you are keen!

        Isle of Jura 8 Years Old

        Isle of Jura 8 Years Old

        The Isle of Jura is a little-known distillery in this part of the world, and we hardly heard of them. The eight years old expression is one of their older bottlings and is hard to find now in the current market. We were surprised by this dram to be honest because it has a nose of a typical Tobermory! Perhaps it is due to their shared identity as island whiskies. This was a blind tasting, and we honestly could not guess the distillery! It is, indeed, an underrated whisky.

        You can try it at The Swan Song, which is a newly opened bar at Prinsep Street! We will be reviewing the bar soon, so keep your eyes out for it!

        Littlemill 1990 (Fighting Fish)

        Littlemill 1990 (Fighting Fish)

        Fighting Fish Series is a range by Jack Wiebers, an independent bottler from Germany. The Littlemill 1990 here is an indie bottle of Fighting Fish, and it boasts a beautiful nose of sweet molasses, honey and berries. It is a well-balanced dram that leaves you wanting more. As Littlemill is a closed distillery, it is worth your time and money to try as many expressions of Littlemill before the stock runs out!

        Get a taste of this Littlemill 1990 from the Fighting Fish Series from The Writing Club. You can find lots of other special bottles there as well as closed distilleries bottling such as Rosebank and Port Ellen.

        Omar Single Malt

        Omar Cask Strength Bourbon

        We introduced Omar to our readers previously so we will not dwell too much on it. However, we felt the need to remind our readers that it is an underrated whisky. Besides their core range of the NAS single malt, they have a variety of single casks which you should try. One of our favourites is the cask strength bourbon. Aged about four years in ex-bourbon casks, the liquid is fragrant with vanilla and creamy sweetness.

        While you can’t buy a dram of Omar Single Malt in Singapore right now, you can get them whenever you travel to Taiwan! They are available at both Taoyuan International Airport and Kaohsiung International Airport.

        Säntis Malt Snow White No. 5

        Santis Malt – Snow White No. 5

        We wrote about Säntis Malt recently, and we hope that you have enjoyed the article. The last underrated whisky that we have for this post is the Säntis Malt Snow White No. 5. The apricot finish makes this whisky a gem as the nose, palate and finish create such a lovely experience! It is a pity that Säntis Malt is not yet readily available in Singapore yet, but I am sure that we will hear something about them soon enough!

        While you may find it hard to get hold of this in Singapore, you can try your luck in Taiwan. If you want to try this, let us know, and we will see what we can do about it!

        Conclusion

        The eight whiskies above are some of the underrated whiskies that we tasted and love. We have five out of the eight bottles at home, so you can imagine how much we love them. How about yours? What are your underrated whiskies?

         

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          Whisky Review #73 – LMDW Glenburgie 18 Years Old

          LMDW Glenburgie 18 Years Old

          It has been quite a while since we last made a whisky review. It is time to do yet another whisky review for our readers! For the first review in 2018, we decided to dedicate it to a beautiful expression from the Glenburgie distillery, selected and bottled for La Maison du Whisky (LMDW).

          Glenburgie is a Speyside distillery. This expression is a single cask with a yield of 267 bottles from a hogshead. Distilled in October 1998, it is bottled in March 2017. The liquid spent 18 years maturing patiently in the hogshead.

          Let’s head straight to the review now without further ado!

          Tasting Notes:

          Colour: Gold
          ABV: 53.9%

          Nose: The first sniff brings sweet tropicals fruits – pineapples, green apples and sweet bananas. A second nose brings the pineapples and bananas to the forefront, with the green apples receding a little. The third sniff after 5 minutes reveals warm spices and hints of vanilla appears in the background. (18/20)

          Palate: Warm spice envelops the mouth in the forefront at the first sip. A quick second sip brings the expected tropical fruits – pineapples, bananas and green apples into the mouth with strong vanilla notes hanging around in the background. After 5 minutes, oak influences surface with a slightly drying mouthfeel. (18/20)

          Finish: It has a medium to long finish. Astringent oaky taste lingers in the mouth with pineapples and hints of green apples. (17/20)

          Body: There is superb balance in this 18 years old expression. The sweet tropical fruits are consistent from the nose to the finish. The influence of bourbon oak is also constant with vanilla notes and that slightly astringent mouthfeel. The only pity is perhaps the length of the finish. If it is longer, the whisky would be more excellent. (37/40)

          Total Score: 90/100

          Comments:

          Geek Flora: “This is a dram for the sweet tooths. The tropical fruits play their parts well, giving off the sweet scent that lures many into whisky. I love it!”

          Geek Choc: “Hmm…It is a beautiful dram for sure. However, it might not gel too well for those who are not into any kind of sweet whisky at all. I think this whisky should be drunk as quickly as you can once the bottle is opened – the sweet flavours might change if it is aired too long.”

           

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            Whisky Review #72 – Bruichladdich Black Art 4 1990

            Bruichladdich is a distillery that is full of surprise. They have three different ranges of whisky that covers everyone’s palate. The distillery believes in giving people choices. There are the Laddie and its varieties, which are the unpeated whiskies. They are also Port Charlotte and Octomore, which are peated. Some of these are heavily peated.

            The subject of today’s review is the Bruichladdich Black Arts 4, a series of limited release by Bruichladdich. It is part of the unpeated expressions that the brand is famous for. The Black Art Series is mysterious, because, only its creator, Jim McEwan, knew the actual casks used for the creation of the liquid. The only thing that we know is that the liquid is a 23 years old single malt Scotch whisky.

            The Black Arts 4 is the fourth incarnation of their Black Art Series. Working with beautiful American and French oak, it explores the intimate relationship between spirit and wood. This liquid is so exquisite that some have been found quoting Shakespeare while drinking this extraordinary whisky.

            “Stars, hide your fires; let not light see my black and deep desires,” – Macbeth, William Shakespeare

            Regardless if Shakespeare would love this whisky or not, let us dive into the review now.

            Tasting Notes:

            Colour: Dark Amber
            ABV:49.2%

            Nose: Sweet toffee notes mixed with red apples and berries tingle the nose at first. Soon, we get warm spice that lingers in the background. The nose promises a spicy palate even if the sweetness of toffees and fruits are present. (17/20)

            Palate: Predictable spice warms the palate immediately with light sweet berries notes and sticky toffee following right after the spice. Sweet barley sugar appears in the second sip. The palate develops into a sweet medley that reduces the spice. (17/20)

            Finish: The finish is medium with sweet berries and red apples lingering on the palate. It is slightly astringent and dry at the end. (18/20)

            Body: It is well-balanced but predictable. There is no surprise for this Bruichladdich Black Art, but it is a tasty dram for those who have not try the Black Art Series. (30/40)

            Total Score: 82/100

            Comments:

            Geek Flora: “This is the first Black Art I had. Even though I could not compare what I had to the other expressions in the Black Art Series, I think this is a good presentation of what classic Bruichladdich is all about.”

            Geel Choc: “Wow…I love this Black Art 4. It is also the first Black Art I had, so similar to Flora; I can’t compare it with the others. However, I think it is a level-up from The Classic Laddie with more complexity. Good dram!”

             

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              Whisky Review #71 – Arran Sauternes Cask Finish

              The Arran Cask Finish is an experimental series that Arran did to cast new insights into the excellent Arran Single Malt produced by the distillery. The whisky is transferred from the traditional oak casks into three different wine casks for a period to add flavours and character. It is then bottled at 50% when they achieved the balance between the malt and the wine casks. The higher abv retains the aroma and flavour of these expressions.

              The subject of today’s review is the Arran Sauternes Cask Finish. It is almost a gourmet whisky after taking on influences from the highly sought-after Bordeaux sweet wine. Arran sourced the Sauternes cask from an artisan producer of the Sauternes white wine, and we are assured that it is a fantastic whisky to try.

              Let’s check it out!

              Tasting Notes:

              Colour: Bright Gold
              ABV: 50%

              Nose: The Bordeaux sweetness is apparent on the nose. Tropical fruits, oaky sweetness and a slight musk hang in the forefront. Pepper spice fades in and out from the background. (16/20)

              Palate: Rich, honeyed notes coats the palate coupled with a little citrus zest in the back of the tongue. A gentle spice floats in the background, adding some depth but not overwhelming the sweetness of the honey and citrus. Towards the end, the spice turns warm as the liquid goes down the throat. Quite a good whisky to drink on a cold winter night. (18/20)

              Finish: Relatively long finish with sweet honey and the return of tropical fruits. (16/20)

              Body: It is not as well-balanced as the Amarone Cask Finish, but it is still a balanced whisky. The surprising citrus zest in the palate is both the strength and weakness of the whisky. Nonetheless, it is savoury and worthy to try. (30/40)

              Total Score: 80/100

              Comments:

              Geek Flora: “I think this is the whisky to drink on a cold night when you want to savour a good whisky for some warmth. Among the 2 Arran Cask Finish whiskies which I had tried, I prefer the Arran Amarone Cask Finish to the Sauternes Cask Finish because I think there is a deeper character in the Amarone Cask Finish. I have yet to try the Port Wine Cask though – will be back to Quaich Bar to try it!” 

              Geek Choc: “Well, Flora remembered me this time, and I get to try this delicious whisky. I like the honeyed notes in this one. While I had only nose the Amarone Cask Finish and did not try it, I guess that I will prefer the Sauternes over the Amarone because of its warm spice.”

               

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                Whisky Review #70 – Arran Amarone Cask Finish

                The Arran Cask Finish is an experimental series that Arran did to cast new insights into the excellent Arran Single Malt produced by the distillery. The whisky is transferred from the traditional oak casks into three different wine casks for a period to add flavours and character. It is then bottled at 50% when they achieved the balance between the malt and the wine casks. The higher abv retains the aroma and flavour of these expressions.

                Today’s review looks at the Arran Amarone Cask Finish. It is an expression known for its complexity as Arran sourced the Amarone casks from a traditional and respected Italian producer of this iconic red wine. The Amarone Cask Finish comes with some high recommendations, so we tried it without hesitation.

                Let’s dive into the review now.

                 Tasting Notes:

                Colour: Deep Amber
                ABV: 50%

                Nose: The first waft of the aroma is that of a sweet red wine or that of a cherry liqueur before developing notes of honey and pear. Some cranberry juice lingers in the background. It is an elegant nose that reminds us of high-quality red wines. (17/20)

                Palate: Sweet plum notes coats the palate immediately when the liquid enters the mouth. As we hold the whisky in the mouth, a gentle pepper spice develops. Dark chocolate soon appears and adds a delicious layer in between the plum and spice. (17/20)

                Finish: The finish is long with sweet fruity notes of cranberry and cherry. Sweet plums add to the elegance of the finish. It is almost like a high abv red wine. (17/20)

                Body: A beautiful, well-balanced body with characteristics of the red wine finishing makes this whisky a winner among the Arran range of whiskies. The subtle sweetness throughout the experience of drinking from nose to finish makes this whisky approachable and easy to accept, even for those who may not be whisky drinkers. (33/40)

                Total Score: 84/100

                Comments:

                Geek Flora: “The Arran Amarone Cask Finish is my favourite in the Cask Finish series. The balance is exquisite between whisky and red wine, making it extra special. The elegance of this whisky is exceptional. I enjoyed this very much.”

                Geek Choc: “Geek Flora drank everything! I did not get to taste this, but I got to nose the glass after the liquid is gone. 🙁 The nose is lovely though, and I would love to try it soon!”

                 

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                  Whisky Review #69 – Machrie Moor 2016 Cask Strength

                  Machrie Moor is Arran’s special child. It is the only peated whisky in its entire collection and is bottled at both 46% and at cask strength. The Machrie Moor series started as a yearly release in 2010 and Arran has plans to expand their peated selection moving forward.

                  The history of Machrie Moor started in 2004 when Arran’s master distiller decided to try a peated Arran. The peat was obtained from Machrie Moor which is near to the distillery, hence the name of the expression. The yearly releases are different from one another, and the most prominent difference is their ABV.

                  The object of our review here is Machrie Moor 2016 Cask Strength (CS). The expression is a single malt whisky that is made up of 5 to 7 years old whiskies aged in bourbon casks with a moderate peat level of 20ppm.

                  Let’s dive into the review.

                  Tasting Notes:

                  Colour: Pale Gold
                  ABV: 58.5%

                  Nose: Citrus fruits like orange and lemon is at the forefront with gentle peat floating in the background. Hints of creamy vanilla notes hide in the background too. (16/20)

                  Palate: Sweet citrus fruits (lemons) come through strongly and coats the palate. As the liquid stays in the mouth, peppercorn coats the palate and lingers. The peat smoke gentle swirls around the palate, combining beautifully with the citrus and pepper spice. (18/20)

                  Finish: Long finish with creamy vanilla notes. Peat smoke lingers gently in the mouth for a long time before exiting like a puff of smoke. (17/20)

                  Body: A beautiful and balanced expression that is surprising for a young whisky such as the Machrie Moor 2016. The characteristic of this gentle peated whisky is excellent for simple exploration. While it is not a peat monster, the slight smoke is a perfect way to introduce a new person to smoky whisky. (30/40)

                  Total Score: 81/100

                  Comments:

                  Geek Flora: “I love this! It is a gentle peated whisky that all ladies can enjoy without choking on thick smoke. It is perfect for whisky lovers who want more complexity in their whiskies.”

                  Geek Choc: “Well, I think it is a well-balanced whisky I enjoyed. However, I think it can be better if the ppm is higher. I am looking forward to new Machrie Moor with a higher ppm.”

                   

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                    Whisky Review #68 – Arran 18-Year-Old

                    18 is a magic number in the whisky world. It is common for whisky lovers to look out for aged liquid 18 years and above. Somehow, the liquid almost always tastes better. Nevertheless, there are still exceptions, and we believe that we can’t judge until we tasted the liquid.

                    The Arran 18-year-old is currently the oldest expression in the core range. While it may soon lose its position as the oldest expression, this champion is still worth exploring because of its complexity. It is made up of almost 90% of ex-sherry cask whisky and the rest from ex-bourbon cask. Do expect this whisky to be sweeter than the 10 and 14-year-old.

                    Let’s look into this beautiful 18-year-old whisky.

                    Tasting Notes:

                    Colour: Deep Gold
                    ABV: 46%

                    Nose: Sweet sherry oakiness wafts up the nose with baked peaches in syrup in the forefront. Some toasted nuts (likely almonds) are present too. Hints of vanilla and light cinnamon spice hides in the background. (17/20)

                    Palate: Caramel sweetness (sherry influence) coupled with soft cinnamon spice coat the palate. There are also notes of sweet white peaches and citrus fruits at the back of the mouth. (17/20)

                    Finish: Long finish with sweet white peaches all the way. It is also slightly astringent (oak influence) towards the end. (16/20)

                    Body: This expression is well-balanced and has more character. The flavours and aromas mix well together to create an expression with depth worth exploring. (30/40)

                    Total Score: 80/100

                    Comments:

                    Geek Flora: “Yums! The 18-year-old is indeed more magical than the 10 and 14-year-old. I might just change my mind about buying the 14-year-old and upgrading straight to the 18-year-old!”

                    Geek Choc:“This is my favourite so far. I have a special love for ex-sherry cask whisky, and the 18-year-old is just right. The balance between the sherry, bourbon and oak influence is right, making this whisky balanced.”

                     

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