Whisky Reviews

Whisky Review #105 – Glenmorangie Whiskies

The Exciseman Whisky Bar

There were so many Glenmorangie events recently that our heads were practically swimming with the whiskies from the distillery. Even though we shared two previous posts about Glenmorangie, we wanted to share a particular event hosted by The Exciseman Whisky Bar because we thought it was truly exceptional.

Brendon McCarron and The Exciseman Whisky Bar

With Brendon in town, it was an excellent chance to share some moments with the trade personnel in Singapore on a cosy Monday afternoon. Lewis and Patricia from The Exciseman Whisky Bar hosted an afternoon tasting session on 1 July 2019. It was a rare chance for Brendon to interact with more trade people in Singapore, and to give all of us a better understanding of what Glenmorangie is all about.

The Whisky Line-Up

The Glenmorangie Whisky Line-Up

WhiskyGeeks has spoken extensively about Glenmorangie and Brendon, so we will not repeat them. What we want to share here are the reviews of the various expressions that we tasted at The Exciseman Whisky Bar. It was a unique tasting because we paired whisky with the wine that the whisky was finished in.

Lasanta 12 Years Old x Pedro Ximenes (PX) Sherry

Lasanta 12 Years Old

The first whisky on the list is Lasanta 12 Years Old. Its name means warmth. We understood from Brendon that the whisky matures for ten years in ex-bourbon casks before finishing in both Oloroso and PX sherry casks. 75% of Oloroso sherry and 25% of PX sherry gives a result of “clean sherry” influence. For the pairing, a PX sherry was used.

Lasanta 12 Years Old

Nose: The first nose was that of cinnamon spice, sweet raisins, toffee and chocolate. With some time, vanilla and honey surfaced. It also becomes relatively oaky.
Palate: We tasted cinnamon, caramel, raisins and hints of chocolate. There was also a pleasant warmth. It was a light and easy dram. With time, sweet vanilla, honey, coconuts and white pepper came out to play.
Finish: The finish was medium, with dark chocolate, hints of cocoa powder, raisins and honey. It was also oaky and dry.

PX Sherry

Nose: It was full of dark raisins (reminded me of Ligo brand), plums and sweet stewed fruits. I could nose this all day!
Palate: Full of raisins, stewed and candied fruits, there was also some honey that I could get on the palate. It was a delicious dram even though I find it a tad too sweet for my liking.
Finish: Long and sweet with raisins and stewed fruits lingering on forever.

Conclusion: I may like the sherry more than the whisky with this pairing. The nose and palate of the sherry bring back beautiful memories of snacking on raisins in my childhood! This is a perfect example of memories helping us to like a particular drink more than others!

Quinta Ruban x Ruby Port

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 12 Years Old

The Quinta Ruban is a port cask finished whisky bottled at 46%. The whisky matures in ex-bourbon casks for ten years and finishes in ruby port casks for two years.

Quinta Ruban 12 Years Old

Nose: There was vanilla, honey, musky caramel, hints of oranges and spice in this one. The sweetness was more muted than the Lasanta 12 YO, but there appeared to be more complexity in the whisky.
Palate: Yes, the complexity continues in the palate. I got the vanilla, honey, cinnamon spice with hints of oranges. There were also dark chocolate and oak to it. The level of maturation and finish in the whisky was more exciting than the Lasanta 12 Years Old.
Finish: The finish is long and oaky, with the slight bitterness of very dark chocolate.

Ruby Port

Nose: The nose was full of chocolate, light raisins and fragrance of grapes
Palate: Extremely sweet with heavy chocolate notes and the fruitiness of grapes.
Finish: Soft and short, there isn’t much of a finish here.

Conclusion: The whisky is the winner over there. The spirit character of Glenmorangie is evident in the Quinta Ruban 12 Years Old. The level of maturation is also excellent with both the bourbon and port influence showing clearly.

Nectar D’òr 12 Years Old x Sauternes

Glenmorangie Nectar D’òr

The Nectar D’òr is a 12 Years Old whisky bottled at 46% too. The whisky matures for ten years in ex-bourbon barrels and finishes for two years in Sauternes casks.

Nectar D’òr 12 Years Old

Nose: Initial nose gave green fruits such as apples and pears. It then developed into melons, honeysuckle, vanilla and hints of white pepper. With some water, I got oranges, lemon zest and a more substantial sense of white pepper.
Palate: There was light fruitiness of melons and apples, but the white pepper were prominent. With water, the orange peels and lemon zest showed themselves alongside white pepper. The overall was spicy, but lingering sweetness hid below.
Finish: Long, oaky and tannic. Water reduced some tannins, but it remained oaky. The fruits were subtle.

Sauternes Wine

Nose: There were light raisins, Qoo white grapes juice and hints of melon and apples.
Palate: I got plenty of sweet Qoo white grapes juice and raisins. It was also tannic.
Finish: The medium finish was oaky and tannic.

Conclusion: I did not like the Nectar D’òr as much as the other two. Perhaps it might be due to the peppery spice and tannins from the Sauternes cask. As you can imagine, I did not like the Sauternes wine very much too.

Astar 2017

Astar 2017

Finally, we had the Astar, which was made using the designer American White Oak Casks that we spoke of during Brendon’s interview. The Astar is fully matured in designer first fill bourbon casks and bottled at 52.5%. It is also a non-age statement whisky.

Astar 2017

Nose: We get coconuts, vanilla, melons, honey, salted caramel, and hints of white pepper. With time, citrus lemon zest appeared alongside the other aromas.
Palate: Plenty of vanilla, lemon and honey in the palate with the higher alcohol percentage showing up as white peppers. There were also hints of coconuts. With time, the coconuts and lemon zest became more prominent.
Finish: The medium finish is full of honey, pepper and oak. With time, the finish lengthened and became sweeter.

There was no bourbon for us to pair with the Astar, as we were all quite high by then. Pairing wine and whisky is no easy feat, and we applauded The Exciseman Whisky Bar for doing so. Brendon also did a fantastic job through the guided tasting, and we learned more about the different wines as we go along.

Conclusion: I think I like the Astar 2017 best among the four. It has the complexity that my tongue was looking for, with the bourbon-matured whisky showing significant wood influence. This was my first time tasting a whisky that was fully matured in the Glenmorangie designer casks, and I must say that I am impressed.

Tasting the Glenmorangie Whiskies at The Exciseman Whisky Bar

If you are keen to try the whiskies from Glenmorangie, look no further than the Exciseman Whisky Bar. They have a wide spread of Glenmorangie to choose from at reasonable prices. We present to you a short list of what you can expect.

  1. Lasanta 12 Years Old @$15 (30ml) or @$22 (60ml)
  2. Quinta Ruban 12 Years Old @$16 (30ml) or @$24 (60ml)
  3. Nectar D’òr 12 Years Old @$18 (30ml) or @$27 (60ml)
  4. Astar 2017 @$20 (30ml) or @$30 (60ml)
  5. Signet @$32 (30ml) or @$48 (60ml)

Full bottles are also available if you are keen to bring them home or open them at the bar to share among friends.

 

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Whisky Review #104 – Cragganmore 1989 27 Years

Cragganmore 1989 27 Years Old

Our recent visit to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, was pretty much a whisky trip. We landed ourselves in The Drunken Master Whisky Bar on the first night to enjoy some respite from the long day of travelling.

Cragganmore 1989 27 Years Old

There are only 60 bottles for this label. Bottled at 50.9% abv from a hogshead, this bottle of Cragganmore 27 Years Old is the brainchild of Kuo Yi Liang, the bartender of The Drunken Master Whisky Bar. He is a dear friend of the owner, Li Chunfeng, and also a friend of WhiskyGeeks. The bottle is labelled as Kuo’s Choice and showed a scene of summer on the label. There was another bottle in the series – a Glen Moray – but it was sadly sold out.

I was lucky to get the last few pours from the bottle and man; I wasn’t wrong in choosing to have this as my first dram!

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Light Golden

Nose: Sweet mango and melons dominated the nose at the start before the strength of the whisky wafted in as white peppers. Mild oakiness surfaced after resting the whisky for more than 15 minutes, giving the whisky more complexities. (20/25)

Palate: It had an oily texture, with white pepper leading the way. It soon gave way to mango pudding, melons, guava and a hint of oakiness. The oiliness made the whisky approachable, and the sweetness of the dram helps to balance out the spice from the white peppers. (22/25)

Finish: The long finish lingered in the mouth with fruity sweetness and gentle oak. The dryness of the dram allows the sweet fruits to leave a lasting effect. (21/25)

Body: It is a balanced dram! The sweetness of the whisky is pleasant and complements the oiliness perfectly. The oakiness is also in the right proportion to give a slight “old whisky effect”. (22/25)

Total Score: 85/100

Comments:

Zerlina: I like the fruitiness of the dram. It is also richer than the usual Cragganmore OB with that oiliness found in the palate. At 27 years old, the oakiness is gentle and does not overpower the character of the whisky. I think it is a well-chosen cask. However, I did not give a higher score because I feel that it is not as sophisticated as what I would expect of a 27 years old whisky. It is, nonetheless, just my opinion. If you have a chance to try this, you should try it to see how it works for you. 🙂 

Whisky Review #103 – Tamdhu 15 Years Old (OB)

Tamdhu 12 and 15 Years Old

The last whisky review I did on WhiskyGeeks was a long time ago; 7 months ago, to be exact. There wasn’t a lot of time for me to sit around to relax and enjoy during these 7 months, so there wasn’t a point to do a review. I finally get some time today and worked myself into the mood to enjoy something nice.

I would like to change the scoring for our reviews from this post onwards – we will no longer score the whiskies based on a 20/20/20/40 system for the nose/palate/finish/balance. Instead, we will follow the standards by most whiskies review sites to use the 25/25/25/25 scoring system. I hope the change would make our scoring fairer.

Tamdhu 15 Years Old

I was given a sample of the Tamdhu 15 Years Old when I did the exclusive interview with Jonathan Scott. The Tamdhu 15 years old is the new kid on the block for their core range and the Asiaeuro team had graciously shared a sample with me. Here are my thoughts on it.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Amber
ABV: 46%

Nose: Oranges waft to the nose but cloves and cinnamon quickly replaced the sweet oranges. As I put aside the spices, I get sweet toffee, plums and some musky earth. (20/25)

Palate: Oily mouthfeel; sweet toffee envelops the mouth before the cloves work their way to give a spicy punch to the palate. Black pepper replaces the cloves after that. As the spices settle down, sweet toffee returns and bring along oranges, plums and honey to the palate. (23/25)

Finish: Long finish; the oranges linger for a short while before the cloves come back with a vengeance. Black pepper burns down the throat, giving an unexpected warmth. Finally, the finish turns dry and tannic, giving away to oakiness that lasts for a long time. (22/25)

Body: The Tamdhu 15 Years Old is a relatively complex dram that whisky lovers can enjoy for a long while. The spiciness of the dram may put some people off, but it does benefits from some airing or water. Once the whisky opens up, the sweetness of oranges, plums and honey takes the dram to another level. (23/25)

Total Score: 88/100

Comments:

Zerlina: I enjoyed this dram. On the surface, it looks like a simple whisky at 46% but the complexity of the dram is quite impressive. This is probably not so suitable for someone who just starts the whisky journey, but for someone who has been drinking whisky for a while, this will prove to be an enjoyable dram. 

Zico: I am working on a cocktail at the moment – and hence will not be able to give an unbiased comment. Hahaha!

 

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DFS Whisky Festival 2019 Special Releases

For 4th Edition of the DFS Whisky Festival, DFS Changi has its first pop-up bar in T3! If you are travelling anytime between 1st May to 10th June, the bar is opened from 8am to 12 midnight so be sure to check it out! Travellers can expect to enjoy their whisky with live jazz performances. You can find out more about the event here! The DFS Whisky Festival brings about some new releases as well! And I got to try some of these exciting drams, here are some of my opinions on it!

 

Glenmorangie 14 year old 2004 (#1399)

This single cask Glenmorangie is a Changi exclusive! It spent the first 10 years in ‘slow-growth’ American White Oak, and then spent the next 4 years partying in an oloroso sherry cask!

Nose:  The smell is initially sweet but reserved. Vanilla, Confectionary sweetness, unripe strawberries, notes of milk chocolate With water: Strong notes of milk chocolate, lemon zest and green apples with that sweet Glenmorangie spirit character

Palate: Citrus notes on arrival with vanilla. The dram had good texture, bringing hints of cinnamon spice, vegetal note and whiff of chocolate With water: Initially a burst of lemon zest, then stronger cinnamon notes, more chocolate-y this time round, alongside honey and vanilla, hints of dried fruits and figs.

Finish: Citrus, brioche and vanilla notes still lingers on With water: It’s much sweeter, with a stronger cinnamon spice

 

Chivas 21 year old The Lost Blend

This is a rather “rare and ghostly” version of the Chivas 21yo, but with an age statement! This Chivas 21 Royal Salute blend features some silent distilleries in the mix! Of the information I could get, there were two malt distilleries and one grain distillery: Imperial (mothballed in 1998), Caperdonich (closed in 2002), and Dumbarton (shut down in 2002). Although I didn’t have as many flavour notes to write about for this dram, I really enjoy the luxuriously high calibre of maturation. This is the best Chivas blend I have had! If only it was at cask strength……

Nose:  The smell is full of musk, leather, old books, and slightly waxy notes. Some hints of citrus gets through, with time it is more old and elegant oak

Palate: Musk somewhat reminiscent of the “old bottle effect”, earthy notes, mineral notes, scent of stone walls from a dunnage warehouse, old libraries! <3

Finish: Leather, old books, and limestone.The finish is surprisingly long and musky!

 

Compass Box No Name No. 2

One of my favourite blending companies coming with a strong blend! As usual, Compass Box has been very transparent with his recipe. This blend is made of:

75.5% Caol Ila matured in refill sherry butts

13.5% Clynelish matured in rejuvenated white oakhogsheads

10.5% Talisker matured in rejuvenated white oak hogsheads

The remaining 0.5% is a vat of 3 highland single malts finished in French oak barrels! This dram is a peaty beast initially, but the Clynelish sweetness slowly emerges with time.

 

Nose:  A strong initial peatsmoke, like a tight and warm embrace! bonfires, lemon zest, earthy vegetal notes, hints of yuzu. With water: more of that honey and vanilla appears and fruity sweetness and more citrus fragrances.

Palate: A strong arrival of peat smoke, smoky, earthy, BBQ grilled meat and honey sweetness With water: more vegetal note, and hints of apples, With time, plums, unripe strawberries, green apples

Finish: Earthy, and long lingering peatsmoke finish With water: The smoke stays, but lingers alongside sweet fruity notes, and waxy candle notes!

Jura 20 year old One and All

FIVE cask types! 5!!! 2 more cask types and I would be telling you the different casks types to the tune of Mambo No. 5! That is the work of none other than Jura’s Master Blender Richard Patterson. This dram has in it a bit of ex-bourbon, sherry oak, Pinot Noir barriques, Sparkling Cabernet Franc casks, and Cabernet Sauvignon casks. This Jura bottled at 51% works well. Due to its age and calibre of maturation, some people could not tell that it was peated!

Nose:  Cherries, cherry stones, soft hints of smoke like a extinguished campfire in the morning, eucalyptus, coastal notes. With water: The european oak shows as whiffs of roasted coffee, almonds and cinnamon come into play

Palate: A balanced cinnamon arrival with musky and earthy notes. Cherries, lemon zest, old oak and old books. With water: The chocolate becomes more apparent

Finish: The strong cherry note lingers with hints of cinnamon and musky earthiness.

 

Royal Brackla 20 year old 1998 Exceptional Cask

This mahogany beauty spent 9 years in an American white oak cask before spending 11 years in a Tuscany (Italian Red Wine) cask! Luckily, this is bottled at a higher strength of 50.6% to showcase its complexity. This for me was definitely more oak focused from the start but with water, the personality started to shine through!

Nose:  Treacle, chocolate, mellow cinnamon notes, walnuts, followed by notes of raisins, dried prunes With water: Floral notes appear, like a desert flower in the rain! This is soon followed by spicy cinnamon, strawberries and cranberries!

Palate: Cinnamon arrival with this savoury note, coffee note, dark chocolate bitters With water: A bit more sweetness and the flavours are a bit more balanced

Finish: Cinnamon chocolate and coffee finish With water: The dark chocolate note got more intense!

A 1L version of the Port Charlotte 10 year old is also available, so if you fancy a bigger PC10, you can get the upsized version at DFS!

Hope you get to visit the bar! Slainté!

Special thanks to DFS Singapore for the invite to the media launch 😀

Whisky Review #102 – Austria Single Malt Keckeis

If you have yet to hear about Austria single malt whisky, this is a post that you can spend some time on. Flora and Choc visited our friend, Daisuke-san, at his bar La Terre recently and discovered this gem of a whisky. The uniqueness of the malt excited Flora almost immediately and the good price point at the bar added the appeal. So, we ordered a dram of this to see where it will take us.

Unfortunately, my friend Google has not been very helpful in helping me understand this distillery well, as there is hardly any information available online! Whatever I can find are mostly in German, and I can’t read the language. 🙁

Keckeis single malt comes from a distillery named Harald Keckeis. Located in Rankweil, Austria, it produces whisky, gin and beer. They should have about three expressions, with the core range named Keckeis Single Malt, and two distillery bottlings with cask names Forever No. 1, and Forever No. 2. Well, that’s all about it that I can understand. Hahaha!

Anyway, let’s get on with the review. The bottle I had is a single cask distillery bottling. The cask name is Forever No. 2. It is kinda weird to call a bottle “forever no. 2”, but I suppose it could be an issue with translation?

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Rich Gold
ABV: 42%

Nose: Intense cherry and flowers mixed with a slight Nippon paint note hiding behind. Interestingly, the paint note does not make the nose bad, but on the contrary, it is pleasant and inviting. Slight spice lingers in the background, but it wafts in and out, never overpowering the sweetness that goes on and on. There is a fruitiness to it as well, almost like baked apples. Overall, it has a fantastic nose. (18/20)

Palate: Thick and rich palate, almost syrupy. Baked apples, boiled sweets and cherries coat the palate nicely. There is a pleasant warmth too; nothing sharp. As I swallow the whisky, I taste sweet cherry jelly and an amazing burst of cherry fruitiness! Wow! (18/20)

Finish: Long and sweet finish with a superb cherry sweetness and slight astringent note. The sweetness lingers all the way to the end. (17/20)

Body: This is an interesting whisky, especially when it is not a traditional Scotch. I am very excited to try and it does not disappoint. Wow! Considering that it is only 42% abv, the delivery is nothing short of fantastic. Nonetheless, it is a simple whisky without too much complexity. I believe the distillery will do well moving forward and I look forward to trying more of what this distillery can offer in the future. (35/40)

Total Score: 88/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: I am happy with this whisky. Simple and easy to drink with an excellent delivery of uniqueness. I would look forward to other expressions in the future. 

Geek Choc: Flora decided to try this whisky before I could say that I wanted a dram, so we shared the dram instead. It was purely for a trial, but we were glad that we did try. Excellent dram to conclude our night at La Terre!

 

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Whisky Review #101 – Port Charlotte 2004 Highland Laird

 

When it comes to Bruichladdich distillery, most people tend to overlook Port Charlotte as a brand and instead focus on the non-peated version – Bruichladdich and the ridiculously peated version – Octomore. Port Charlotte is the middle sibling, and as all middle siblings know, they are often overlooked. However, the distillery produces fantastic Port Charlotte and those who have not taken the time to discover Port Charlotte; you should seriously do so.

We drank many expressions from Port Charlotte, especially the official bottling. The peak of our Port Charlotte adventure, however, came in the form of the abovementioned bottle – the Port Charlotte 2004. A 12 years old expression bottled under the Highland Laird label by Bartels Whisky, it is a beast of a Port Charlotte! Bottled from a single bourbon barrel (#900) at cask strength, only 225 bottles are available worldwide.

We tasted it blind, and these are the reasons why it impress us so.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Light Gold
ABV: 57.3%

Nose: Cereal notes are prominent at the first nose, sweet and fulfilling. It reminds me of a beautiful Bruichladdich I once had. I thought it was a Bruichladdich, but then the peat smoke appears after a couple of minutes. Gentle at first, and then slowly gaining prominence. Floral notes, vanilla cream and lemon peels surface after the peat smoke, and the cereal notes continue to linger. All of these beautiful aromas mingle delightfully to give a fantastic nose! (18/20)

Palate: Sweet cereal notes, gentle peat smoke and floral notes come together at first with a tinge of sharpness from the high abv. Then vanilla cream and lemon peels come in to add complexity to the already beautiful notes. As I swallow, the peat smoke expands to engulf the palate for a while before mellowing down back to sweetness. At this point, I am no longer in doubt that this is none other than a peated Bruichladdich – Port Charlotte! (18/20)

Finish: The finish is long and yet subtle. The sweetness lingers from the palate, and there is this oakiness to the finish. However, it is not astringent or dry, making the dram extremely satisfying. It took me more than a couple of minutes to identify its identity as a Port Charlotte due to its complexity, but it is fantastic! (18/20)

Body: It is a superb balanced dram that is easily one of the best Port Charlotte I ever had so far. Well-rounded and balanced on all its notes, it also is a fitting expression to represent the distillery. (37/40)

Total Score: 91/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “This is one of the best Port Charlotte I ever had. The other one which impressed me much was a MoS Port Charlotte, but this easily tops that with the amazing complexity. I suppose Port Charlotte still works best in a good ex-bourbon barrel, and perhaps, the guys at Bastel Whisky get this right on every note! Well done! Now, please excuse me while I go hunt for a bottle or two of this to bring back home.” 

Geek Choc: “I never like Port Charlotte – I think it has this baby puke note in it. Flora put me through many torturous drams of Port Charlotte, and I never like any of them – until this one! We tasted it blind, so that may have helped to reduce my bias, but this is the best dram of PC I ever had! It changes my opinion of Port Charlotte, and I think I will be happier to try new PC that Flora puts in front of me in future.”

 

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Whisky Review #100 – HNWS x Maltman Speyside 1995

Did you know that there is a whisky shop in Taiwan called HNWS? The owner is a veteran in the whisky industry with more than 15 years of experience. Besides running a whisky shop, he is also an independent bottler using his brand of HNWS. Over the years, HNWS gains the reputation of an excellent independent bottler and consumers in Taiwan, and Hong Kong are always excited whenever the brand launches something new.

We are also equally excited when we get to try one of their latest bottlings – a Speyside (distillery) 1995 finished in a Caol Ila Cask. Its unique positioning as a whisky from Speyside and getting a finish in an Islay cask got us all curious. In case some of you are confused, this bottle comes from the Speyside distillery, and not just from the Speyside region. The distillery is one of the most beautiful in the area and makes one feel like walking into a fairytale.

How does this taste like? Let’s dive in.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Dark Gold
ABV: 54.2%

Nose: Vanilla custard, sweet berries and gentle peat surround the nose immediately. Then a light spice, almost wasabi-like, wafts up to the nose! After that, there are light green apple and citrusy notes behind, swirling around. With water, the gentle peat becomes more prominent, and notes of unripe bananas join the rest, mingling harmoniously.

Palate: The mouthfeel is very oily, and spice engulfs the palate for a while before it mellows into soft sweetness. Light vanilla ice cream, green apples, citrus notes and a little coastal brine appear at the back of the palate. With water, the spice mellows out beautifully, and slight peat becomes obvious. Vanilla notes engulf the whole palate, and then the coastal brine comes back to the forefront.

Finish: Long finish with drying, sweet oakiness and slight spice. The dryness lengthens the finish and makes it very tasty when the gentle peat turns up at the end of it all. With water, the finish is softer and less drying. More sweetness appears in the finish, and a lingering light spice concludes the dram exceptionally.

Body: It is a balanced dram with interesting notes from both Speyside and Islay influence. While the Caol Ila cask did not extend a massive impact, the light citrusy notes and peat do wonder to add layers of complexity to the dram.

Comments:

Geek Flora: “I did not score the review because we are selling this bottle. It is, however, sold out and can only be savoured by attending our tasting events that are coming up!”

Geek Choc: “I think this is quite an exciting dram for me. Do try it if you can.”

 

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Whisky Review #99 – Westland Peated Single Malt

This is the other American whiskey that we tried at the Secret Mermaid. It is Geek’s Choc’s choice as he does love his peat. It was also a safe choice as he had tried another expression from Westland previously at The Wall SG.

This expression is a Westland single malt peated whiskey. Being a non-chill-filtered whiskey adds creditability to it, and we thought that it was indeed a safe dram to order. Let’s see if we are right!

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Gold
ABV: 46%

Nose: Sweet, ripe pears, bananas, peat smoke and a hint of cinnamon spice hit the nose immediately and remains constant throughout. It almost reminds us of a Scotch! It is charming to me, and I could nose it all day. However, it is one-dimensional and proves to be somewhat unexciting. (16/20)

Palate: Sweet pears and light banana notes are prominent as the liquid stays in the mouth. A whiff of smoke passes in the back of the throat as the liquid goes down, and disappears immediately once we swallow. Again, it remains us of a young and light, ex-bourbon matured Scotch. The bite of the spirit is not sharp, but evident in the palate. (16/20)

Finish: It has a medium finish with lots of oak and subtle sweetness on the side. (15/20)

Body: It could be more balanced if the finish does not disappoint. However, the finish is lacking, and this dram becomes one-dimensional and straightforward. Gentle on the nose and palate, it is a good starting dram or an introduction to peat for a non-peat drinker. I also find it too much like a Scotch, even though it is an American whiskey. So, while I would like to give it a higher score, I hold back because I think it can be better in its category as an American whiskey.  (31/40)

Total Score: 78/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “I like this whiskey! It is almost Scotch-like, and it has the usual flavours that I like in my peaty whisky. However, I need to remain myself that it is an American whiskey – a category that is supposed to give more sweetness, more flavours. This is a very mellow dram. I am torn between giving it a higher score and the score I eventually gave because I think that while bourbon drinkers who love the strong flavours will find this interesting, it will not be a dram they will return to very often. On the other hand, Scotch drinkers will like this but still will return to Scotch.”

Geek Choc: “It is a whiskey that I don’t mind drinking at all. Too much like a Scotch, but it can be a refreshing change especially if the cost for a bottle is lower than a typical Scotch. However, just like what Flora said, I would eventually still return to my favourite Scotch.” 

 

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Whisky Review #98 – Belgian Dark Strong Style

I am not an American whiskey fan generally due to my aversion to things that tasted too sweet. The unfortunate fact remains that American whiskey, as a group, is often too sweet for me and my tolerance to it is probably just a half pour at a bar. Nonetheless, there are some whiskeys which are delicious to me; State 38’s bourbon and rye, for example, as well as famous Maker’s Mark!

I always wanted to try other whiskeys because I have friends who love bourbon and encourage me to try them beyond the usual. So Geek Choc and I had some crazy ideas last week and decided to pay a visit to an American bar in search of crafted bourbons. We walked into The Secret Mermaid, and after getting seated at the bar, we were offered a cocktail menu. It took some time and lots of efforts to attract the staff at the bar before we got the proper whiskey menu. As there were no recommendations forthcoming even though I mentioned it was our first time, we ordered something that sounds interesting.

One of the whiskeys we ordered is this – Belgian Dark Strong Style. Crafted by the Chicago Distilling Company, it is a single malt whiskey! To be honest, I went with some expectations. I was hoping to be convinced. Was I convinced?

Let’s find out!

Tasting notes:

Colour: Dark Amber
ABV: 45%

Nose: Strong notes of dried preserved plums come head on right from the start, with sandalwood following right behind. There are some orange notes and burnt sugar in the back. It defines itself as an American whiskey right away, and there is no doubt that I am possibly not going to like the palate very much. Objectively though, the nose is exciting and it does make me want to taste it. (17/20)

Palate: Sandalwood, burnt sugar, and cloves combined to give an awkward taste to the palate at first, but then oakiness comes forth with a touch of dried preserved plums as the liquid went down the throat. I would say that, objectively, the palate is strange but not unpleasant for those who like bourbons. I like how the dried preserved plums surface at the back of the throat and soothe out the bite from the cloves. (15/20)

Finish: The finish is relatively short in terms of flavours in the palate. Some saltiness at the back of the throat and a tiny burst of sweetness before everything ends prematurely. However, the warmth of the liquid lingers in the throat for quite a while, giving us a pleasant warmth. (16/20)

Body: To be fair, it is a balanced dram. I think that as a bourbon, it has outdone some of the others which I had tried. Maybe it will taste better (to me) on the rocks. The sweetness is not overpowering but I still find the notes too strange for my liking. However, the saltiness of the dram adds a touch of surprise in an otherwise simple dram. For that, I must give it credit! (33/40)

Total Score: 81/100

Disclaimer: I think I may be biased here, but it is my honest opinion. I do welcome those who had tried this to give their thoughts about it on our Facebook post!

Comments:

Geek Flora: “I failed to like this, even though I tried very hard. The style is too different and while I find myself falling in love with Welsh whisky, English whisky and even Nordic whisky, I cannot bring myself to like American whiskey too much. Thankfully, there are still some which I can enjoy, like State 38’s DC Loveday Bourbon and Maker’s Mark!

Geek Choc: “I think I like this. While I agree with Flora’s review of the whiskey, I think this is an interesting dram and one which brings a different feel to my usual whisky choices. While it will not be my first choice of whisky, I do not mind having it now and then.” 

 

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Whisky Review #97 – Benrinnes 17 Years (Vive La Vie)

This is a bottle of Benrinnes from yet another independent bottler named Vive La Vie. The label showcases a Japanese woman with a painting behind her. It looks somewhat Japanese and gives off an air of elegance. The expression is a 17 years old Benrinnes distilled in 1997. Bottled in 2016 at 57.6% abv, the cask yielded 194 bottles.

How does this measure up? Let’s find out.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Pale Gold
ABV: 57.6%

Nose: Vanilla and coconut waft fragrantly into the nose, with gentle spice in the background. Hints of green fruits seem to be in the back but do not come forward. The overall notes are soft and delicate. After airing, banana chewing gum replaced the coconut notes. The green fruits also become more prominent but still hiding in the background. (17/20)

Palate: Oily mouthfeel with light and delicate vanilla notes come together with a gentle spice that engulfs the palate warmly. The coconuts notes appear towards the end of the palate and take over the vanilla freshness. The overall notes are sweet with a light peppery spice. After airing, the spice intensified. (17/20)

Finish: Medium finish with delicate vanilla and coconut notes lingering until the end. After airing, the finish becomes spicier. (16/20)

Body: It is a balanced dram but nothing over the top. There are no wow factors. It is rather one dimensional with very typical bourbon notes.  (32/40)

Total Score: 82/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “It is an easy dram to drink, but I think it is not complex enough to be a challenge. Nonetheless, if you are looking for something easy to enjoy, this expression is gentle and approachable.”

Geek Choc: “This is suitable as a daily dram for me. Simple, easy to drink and yet enjoyable. Nothing over the top and comfortable.” 

 

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