Whisky Reviews

Whisky Review #57 – Springbank Vintage 1997 Single Cask #789

Most whisky lovers like to try single cask bottling because of the rarity it invoked and the uniqueness of the liquid. We are not any different. We tried this bottle of Springbank Vintage 1997 single cask (#789) some time ago and wanted to share our review because we love it.

This bottle is different from the Springbank Vintage 1997 batch 1 and 2. Bottled at 59.2% abv, the alcohol level in this whisky is higher than both batch 1 (at 55.2% abv) and batch 2 (at 54.9% abv).

Let’s dive into the review!

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Soft Amber
ABV: 59.2%

Nose: Slight peat with the first nose but sweet caramel surfaces quickly to complement the gentle peat. Citrusy lemon appears after 5 minutes and lingers in the background. (17/20)

Palate: Oily mouthfeel with sweet caramel coating the palate pleasantly. Spice lingers warmly in the background to give an extra kick. The peat in the nose does not exist in the palate. (16/20)

Finish: Long finish with pleasant sweet caramel and warm spice. The spice disappears quickly, leaving only a pleasant sweet ending and a surprising waft of smoke n the breath.(18/20)

Body: It is not the most well-balanced single cask but still lovely nonetheless. The complexity is also not well-established, but the caramel notes was a beautiful cover for the spice and slight peat. (30/40)

Total Score: 81/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “I was very excited to try this single cask honestly but felt a little let down after drinking it. I love it nonetheless because the palate is different from the usual Springbank portfolio. I will try it again (we have a reserved sample even though the bottle is gone!) and update the notes if it changes.”

 

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    Whisky Review #56 – Sazerac Rye 6 Years Old

    The port-washed Sazerac Rye is the experiment that Whisky Butler, WhiskyGeeks and Manhattan Bar had partnered to do. We detailed the analysis in three different posts that shared how the whisky has changed in 6 days, 13 days and 19 days in a barrel that was previously holding a Penfold’s Father 10 Years Tawny Port.

    This is the final result of the experiment after 25 days.

    Tasting Notes:

    Colour: Deep Gold
    ABV: N.A

    Nose: The first nose brings pronounced notes of sugar cane and floral overtones of a scented rose candle. Dark cherries and blueberries soon surface, and signs of Woods cough syrup begin to take over. After a few minutes, malty notes of Graham crackers appears! A very complex and yet elegant nose indeed! (18/20)

    Palate: The first sip brings on crispy celery with hints of rose syrup. The oily and nutty mouthfeel soon set some lovely cinnamon and vanilla notes on the tongue. After a few minutes, herbaceous notes appear with slight tannic bitterness. (17/20)

    Finish: The finish is long and tannic with notes of cherry drops. (17/20)

    Body: An elegant, balanced dram that is well aged in the port barrel. The complexity on both the nose and palate sets the scene for a long and lovely finish. The experiment had yielded good results! (32/40)

    Total Score: 84/100

    Comments:

    Geek Flora: “Yummy! This is an experiment gone right. The finished product is a balanced, elegant drink that is set to please even the most discerning palate.” 

     

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      Whisky Review #55 – High West Campfire Blend

      This is another American blend – with a twist! The High West Campfire Blend is a mixed of peated blended Scotch (we are not lying), straight bourbon and straight rye. This blend comes about after High West founders, David and Jane Perkins visited the Bruichladdie distillery in Scotland. Drinking the peated whisky produced there made them visualise a blended whisky that transpires both geographic and stylistic borders. With that aim in mind, both of them set to work. The final formula produces a blend of whiskey that is perfect for a campfire or a road trip.

      Interested to find out more? Let’s dive into the review.

      Tasting Notes:

      Colour: Gold
      ABV: 46%

      Nose: The first nose brings notes of hay with high-end furniture lacquer. It is followed by sweet peaches and hints of peat smoke and herb spices. There is also some caramel sweetness hiding in the background. (17/20)

      Palate: The first sip brings peat smoke and honey. The second mouthful brings some cinnamon and green grassy herbs. Hints of sultanas danish can be found floating in the background. (16/20)

      Finish: Long finish that is tannic with some toffee sweetness. (17/20)

      Body: This is perhaps not as well balanced as Michter’s bourbon, but its unique flavours of peated sweetness is an appeal. For whisky drinkers who are not sweet-tooth, this may be the solution to their choice in bourbon. (28/40)

      Total Score: 78/100

      Comments:

      Geek Choc: “I finally found a bourbon with peat! It is an interesting drink and one that I will go back to for my choice of bourbon. Great stuff!”

       

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        Whisky Review #54 – Michter 10-Year-Old Bourbon

        What do we have here? The first bottle of American bourbon that WhiskyGeeks is sharing! It is momentous which is why we choose to share a bottle which we think is fantastic! This bottle of Michter’s 10-year-old bourbon is never far from our minds when we think about bourbon.

        Let’s dive into the review.

        Tasting Notes:

        Colour: Golden Brown
        ABV: 47.2%

        Nose: The first nose is that of rich maple syrup followed by notes of potpourri with sugary notes. Dried fruits like figs and melon are also prominent. It gets a little rummy as time passes. After 10 minutes, vegetal notes surface as well. (16/20)

        Palate: The mouthfeel is that of red dates candy with menthol. As the liquid stays in the mouth, it gets a little peppery before notes of dark chocolates with raisins surface prominently. As time passes, the palate gets drier and bitter, almost like chewing on toasted cacao beans. (17/20)

        Finish: Long finish that is dry and minty with some fresh oak. (17/20)

        Body: The whiskey may not be the most balanced of drams we have tasted so far, but it has a lot of potentials. The complexity of the bourbon is evident, which is good enough. (30/40)

        Total Score: 80/100

        Comments

        Geek Choc: “First bourbon that I have drunk and I think it is a fantastic dram! While it may not be the Scotch that I am used to, but it is something that I do not mind as a daily drink. 

         

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          Whisky Review #53 – Kilchoman Machir Bay

          Picture Credit: masterofmalt.com

          We had a taste of Kilchoman Machir Bay at one of our local bars sometime before we tried the 8-year-old. We would say that this pales in comparison to the 8-years-old on many levels. Nonetheless, it is a dram that bears the typical Kilchoman signature.

          Let’s dive straight into the tasting notes.

          Tasting Notes:

          Colour: Gold
          ABV: 46%

          Nose: Light peat and sea-salt air come first before hot chilli spice springs up unannounced. Once the spice envelops the nose, nothing else is prominent. Even airing the whisky for more than 10 minutes did not bring changes to the nose. (15/20)

          Palate: The first taste is some sweet berries with some light peat. Some sea-salt lingers in the background. However, the chilli spice comes head-on shortly and envelops the whole mouth, blocking out the sweetness of the berries as well as the peat. We tried airing the whisky for more than 10 minutes to see if things change, but besides a more prominent sea-salt note in the background at the beginning, nothing much changes. (16/20)

          Finish: The finish is long with sea-salt and some fruity sweetness that surfaces again after the liquid goes down the throat. The finish remains long after airing the whisky for more than 10 minutes. There is no significant change. (18/20)

          Body: This is not the most well-balanced dram in our opinion. The whisky lacks complexity when compared to the 8-year-old. The overwhelming chilli spice is also a minus point in our opinion as it covers up all the other flavours of the whisky. (28/40)

          Total Score: 77/100

          Comments:

          Geek Flora: “This is quite disappointing as we were expecting a little more complexity and punch from Kilchoman, especially when this whisky has won numerous awards. The overwhelming chilli spice is possibly the culprit. However, what is truly lacking is the complexity of the whisky.”

           

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            Whisky Review #52 – Kilchoman 8 Years Old

            Kilchoman distillery is the newest distillery on the island of Islay. It is also the first distillery to be built after 124 years of relative inactivity. Anthony Wills, the founder and managing director of Kilchoman distillery, founded the distillery in 2005 and the first distillate ran off the stills in the same year.

            It is one of the smallest distilleries in Islay, producing only approximately 120,000 litres of alcohol annually. What makes Kilchoman stands out is the fact that they grow their barley on site and owns a traditional malting floor.

            The bottle for review today is distilled in 2009 and matured for more than eight years. It is an 8-year-old because of strict Scottish laws on its labelling.

            With such impressive backing, let’s dive into the whisky and see how it holds up!

            Tasting Notes:

            Colour: Pale Gold
            ABV: 46%

            Nose: The nose is full of smoked bacon and aromatic peat smoke at first. Floral notes and soft ripe fruits surface after a short while. After airing for about 10 minutes, the smoke went into the background. Lemon and citrus fruits notes come forcefully to the forefront while the aromatic peat stays in the background. (17/20)

            Palate: Spicy chilli padi assaulted the palate straight on without warning. It almost feels like drinking chilli oil. The peaty smoke is still aromatic but stays in the background. Nothing more is tasted because of the strong chilli spice. After airing for 10 minutes, the spice receded, and ripe fruits notes begin to surface. The peat smoke also wafts into the forefront. The sweetness of the fruits now coats the palate pleasantly. We added one drop of water to the dram to test out how it reacts with water. The effect is great! The spice reduces to reveal sweet white fruits and floral notes immediately. (18/20)

            Finish: The original finish is relatively short with peat smoke and the soft sweetness of citrus fruits. After airing for 10 minutes, the finish becomes more protracted and sweeter. The peat and spice are now very pleasant and lingers in the mouth and throat. After adding a drop of water, the finish extends longer, and the ripe fruits coat the mouth and throat. Gentle spice lingers in the throat for a while. (18/20)

            Body: A well-balanced dram for an 8-year-old with enough complexity. The way the whisky evolves with air and water is fantastic. It is whisky that is worthy of the time spent on it. (35/40)

            Total Score: 88/100

            Comments:

            Geek Flora: “This is one surprisingly good whisky. That initial chilli padi spice was not something I enjoyed, but the evolution of the whisky with air and water was good. I had another Kilchoman previously – the Machir Bay – and it wasn’t the most fantastic. So this young whisky certainly surprises me. Recommended to try!”

             

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              Whisky Review #51 – Octomore 08.1

              We wanted to try more Octomore after our first experience with Octomore 10, 2nd Edition. We managed to get a sample of the Octomore 08.1 from a friend recently and decided to share our notes.

              Octomore 08.1 is aged 8 years. At 167ppm, it is considered a rather peaty whisky.

              Tasting Notes:

              Colour: Pale Straw
              ABV: 59.3%

              Nose: Briney notes hit at first with a bit of smoke and spice as well as hints of lemons. It opens up after a while, with vanilla coming forward. The spice and smoke receded into the background with some peat resurfacing after a while. (18/20)

              Palate: Sweet vanilla and lemony citrus notes coat the palate before pepper spice rushes in. Hints of nuts can be found in the background. Slight floral notes then kick in with sea salt ending the palate. The peat lingers pleasantly throughout, encompassing but not overwhelming. (18/20)

              Finish: Long finish with some vanilla and citrusy notes. Spice lingers in the throat for some time before dispersing into a breath of smoke. (17/20)

              Body: Balanced and surprising dram. Good in its own way but did not fare as well as Octomore 10 2nd Edition. (32/40)

              Total Score: 85/100

              Comments:

              Geek Choc: Not my favourite Octomore but I must say that it is still a good whisky overall. I look forward to try more Octomore in future.

               

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                Whisky Review #50 – AR1 – Elements of Islay

                If you have not heard about Elements of Islay, do pay us a little more attention than usual. The Elements of Islay showcases whiskies produced by Islay distilleries. Founded in 2006, it was decided early on that each whisky bottle would not show the age or vintage as the whiskies are meant to be enjoyed by their flavours. It was said that the age statements would run from 5 years to 30 years if age statements are involved.

                Each Element of Islay bottle is labelled by its “symbol” but anyone can visit their website to find out the distillery behind each symbol. This works like the periodic table – each element is labelled using a symbol.

                We tried the AR1, which translates to Ardbeg. The number 1 simply means that it is the first bottle of Ardbeg bottled by the Elements of Islay. This expression is distilled during the 1990s or 2000s and matured in a hogshead. Let’s get into the review now.

                Tasting Notes:

                Colour: Gold
                ABV: 58.7%

                Nose: Fresh, sweet peppers fill the nose, with pleasant, almost floral peat and soft spices. With time, more sweetness emerges and the spice recedes into the background. (18/20)

                Palate: Full spice mouth with sweet caramel and some elderflowers. A second sip reveals honey, malt and white pepper covered by an oaky mouthfeel. Hints of peats form as the liquid disappears down the throat. (18/20)

                Finish: Long, peaty finish that resembles smoking a mild cigar. Spice is presented with honey to balance off that complex flavour profile of sweet peat and spice. (19/20)

                Body: Well balanced whisky! Epic smoky whisky with a good complex profile. You can almost say that it is an Ardbeg body with a Laphroaig nose. (36/40)

                Total Score: 91/100 

                Comments:

                Geek Choc: “This is one of my favourite whiskies to date! That complexity of peat, spice and sweetness just blew me away! If you can get your hands on a bottle, do it!”

                 

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                  Whisky Review #49 – Wemyss Malt 1990

                  We are reviewing an interesting bottle today – The Wemyss Malt 1990. Although it is supposed to be a “secret” whisky, we are putting our fingers on Mortlach! Here are some of the interesting details of this bottle.

                  Name: Single Speyside Scotch Whisky “Freshly Cut Grass” (Single Cask)
                  Bottler: Wemyss
                  Bottled in: August 2010
                  Aged: 20 Years
                  Cask: Refill Puncheon
                  Number of bottles: 559

                  Mortlach is the first distillery in Dufftown, Scotland after the Excise Act was passed. James Findlater founded the distillery in 1823. William Grant, the founder of Glenfiddich, used to work at Mortlach distillery for more than 20 years before he went on to found Glenfiddich. In a way, we could probably say that Mortlach is the grandfather distillery in Dufftown, Scotland.

                  Let’s dive into the review without too much history. We will leave that for another day.

                  Tasting Notes:

                  Colour: Gold
                  ABV: 46%

                  Nose: Freshly cut grass (as the name suggested) with a background spice hits the nose. Green apples with hints of oaky malts start to form as we nose it further. Sherry notes can be detected in the background after some time. (17/20)

                  Palate: Spicy mouthfeel covers the palate at the entry but the second sip reveals sweet sherry, green apples and green bananas. Let the whisky sit for a while, and we found fresh, green salads with green fruits on the side. (18/20)

                  Finish: The finish is medium long with a pleasant sweetness of sherry and green fruits. (17/20)

                  Body: Well-balanced and fresh whisky that delivers what the nose promised. A refreshing dram indeed! (32/40)

                  Total Score: 84/100

                  Comments:

                  Geek Flora: “This is a nice, fresh whisky that delivers exactly what the name promised. The freshness of grass and various green vegetables and fruits combined with the sherry overtones to create a well-balanced whisky that is not too complex and easy to drink.”

                   

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                    Whisky Review #48 – Bunnahabhain 12 Years (Quaich Bar)

                    Bunnahabhain is a unique distillery located on the northeast tip of Islay. It is the only distillery on Islay that produces largely unpeated whisky. Due to the isolated location of Bunnahabhain, it earns a saying that goes like this: “You can take a trip to Islay, but it’s a journey to reach Bunnahabhain”. True to this saying, it is not easy to travel to Bunnahabhain as access is often limited to water passageway. The main road leading to the distillery was open only in 1993.

                    The object of this review is a Bunnahabhain 12 years old. Unlike the official bottling of the 12 years old, this one is from a single cask. It is also bottled at cask strength of 55.5% abv. This liquid matured for 12 full years in an ex-oloroso sherry cask before it was bottled for Quaich Bar. The single cask yields 332 bottles.

                    Let’s check out how it measures up!

                    Tasting Notes:

                    Colour: Amber
                    ABV: 55.5%

                    Nose: The deep sherried notes wafts up to the nose immediately that translate into caramel quickly. Soft oak and some smoke appear after nosing it for a while. The sweetness of the liquid blends well with the slight smoke to create a pleasant nose. (18/20)

                    Palate: Sweet and slightly smoky with rich, dried cranberry with the first mouth. Caramel, chocolate and oaky richness appear shortly. Vanilla notes become pronounced at the end. (18/20)

                    Finish: Long finish with notes of vanilla and dried cranberry and a light pinch of salt. The salt is a little pleasant surprise as it seems to complete the whole experience of an Islay whisky. (18/20)

                    Body: Full-bodied sherry whisky with a balanced nose and palate. The slightly salted finish is also a great addition to make it a signature Islay whisky. (34/40)

                    Total Score: 88/100

                    Comments:

                    Geek Choc: “This is a beautiful expression of the Bunnahabhain 12 years. Coming from a single ex-oloroso sherry cask, the flavours are pronounced. I am definitely buying more than 1 bottle of this whisky!”

                     

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