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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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      Explore the Viking Souls of Highland Park

      Picture Credits: www.highlandparkwhisky.com

      Highland Park Distillery is located in Kirkwall, Orkney. Known as the most northern whisky distillery in Scotland, its history is shrouded in mystery as to who the actual founder was.

      Orkney, the Land of the Vikings

      Picture Credits: www.highlandparkwhisky.com

      Historically, a succession of Viking Earls ruled Orkney from 800AD to 1468. The group of 70 islands swept into the embrace of the Vikings in the early 9th century and remained so until 1468. King Christian I of Norway and Denmark gifted the islands to Scotland as part of Princess Margaret’s dowry for her marriage to James III, King of Scotland in 1468. While it ended the Viking’s rule over Orkney, the roots of the Vikings continue to influence the people till today. The Vikings who had settled on the islands become part of the Orcadians. The descendants of the Vikings are proud of their heritage, and live to bring glory and honour to their Viking roots.

      History of Highland Park Distillery

      Picture Credits: www.highlandparkwhisky.com

      In official records, a priest by the name of Magnus Eunson first distilled whisky on the site of Highland Park Distillery in the 1790s. He was a respectable member of the Orcadian society as well as a priest. He ran an illicit whisky trader at night and legends had it that he hid the whisky under the pulpit in his church. When excise men eventually caught up with him in 1798, charges against him were dropped mysteriously after a short time. Eunson escaped justice.

      David Robertson officially founded Highland Park Distillery in 1798. He bought the High Park estate and built Highland Park Distillery. After running the distillery for a few years, he sold it to a syndicate in 1816. Interestingly, the syndicate included Eunson’s arresting officer, John Robertson and another former exciseman, Robert Pringle. The syndicate built up the distillery in 1818 and the current premises dated back to those eras.

      William Stuart (who owns Miltonduff) bought Highland Park Distillery in the 1870s. It finally stabilised under his care and in 1885, James Grant (previously the manager of Glenlivet) joined Stuart as his business partner. Grant took full control of the distillery in 1895 who proceeded to expand the distillery and built up a great relationship with Robertson & Baxter (R&B).

      In 1937, Highland Distillers (who had shares in R&B) took over Highland Park Distillery. Highland Distillers was the owners until the turn of the century, where they became the object of take-over. Edrington Group acquired Highland Distillers and Highland Park was taken into the folds of the Edrington Group. Since then, Edrington Group makes efforts to uphold Highland Park Distillery as a distinctive whisky maker. Today, Highland Park is the only Island distillery in the Edrington Group profile.

      Highland Park Whisky-Making Process

      Picture Credits: www.highlandparkwhisky.com

      Highland Park builds its whisky-making process on 5 keystones of production. They are proud of their traditions because no other distilleries use all five keystones.

      Keystone 1: Aromatic Peat

      Highland Park recognises the importance of peat in their whisky-making process. They obtained their peat from Hobbister Moor, located 7 miles from the distillery. Hobbister Moor has no trees, as Orkney does not have a conducive environment. As a result, the 9,000 years old peat used by Highland Park is rich in heather.

      Keystone 2: Hand Turned Floor Malting

      Hand-turning the malt by hand is a labour intensive method that many distilleries no longer employ. At Highland Park, they take pride to hand turn their malt because they believe in the traditional process when producing the distinctive aromatic smokiness of their whiskies. Highland Park turns their barley by hand every 8 hours, 7 days a week. The turning maintains a constant airflow and the right amount of moisture to fully absorb the intense smoke from the peat.

      Keystone 3: Sherry Oak Casks

      Highland Park is obsessed with their casks. The staves are cut from American and European oaks before shipping to Jerez in Southern Spain. These staves are made into casks and filled with Oloroso sherry. After a minimum of 2 years maturation, these casks are emptied and shipped back to Orkney. Highland Park uses these casks to fill their whiskies for maturation.

      Keystone 4: Cool Maturation

      Highland Park is in a perfect location for whisky maturation. Orkney has a temperate temperature, reaching highs of 16°C in summer and lows of around 2°C in winter. Therefore, the maturation of their whiskies takes place in a long, cool and evenly paced environment.

      Keystone 5: Cask Harmonisation

      Cask harmonisation is crucial in creating a balanced whisky. Highland Park’s Master Whisky Maker, Gordon Motion, makes sure that every release of Highland Park has the chance to rest in their vatting tun for at least a month before bottling. The time allows the newly married spirit to harmonise into a balanced whisky.

      Highland Park Whisky Collection

      Picture Credit: www.highlandparkwhisky.com

      Highland Park has a wide range of whiskies to suit every palate. Below is a list of their current expressions that are still available from the distillery.

      Aged Whisky Expressions:

      10 Years Old – Viking Scars (New Packaging)
      12 Years Old – Viking Honour (New Packaging)
      18 Years Old – Viking Pride (New Packaging)
      25 Years Old
      30 Years Old
      40 Years Old

      Special Releases and Limited Editions

      Magnus
      Dragon Legend
      Valkyrie
      Rebus30 10 Year Old
      Svein
      Einar
      Harald
      Sigurd
      Ragnvald
      Thorfinn
      King Christian 1
      Ice Edition 17 Year Old
      Fire Edition 15 Year Old

      Highland Park Today

      Highland Park continues to be the driving force in Orkney as they commit to keep the Viking’s proud heritage. In the regular business sense, Highland Park is also a forerunner as Edrington Group focuses on making it more famous.

      Whisky News: New Speyside Distillery Slated to Open

      Speyside, Scotland is about to get a new distillery. The Cabrach Trust has announced plans to build Cabrach Distillery in the Cabrach area on the southern edge of Moray, which is also the heart of Speyside. The Moray Council has given the approval for the Cabrach Trust to build the distillery recently.

      The new £5.3M whisky distillery plans to employ traditional distilling and bottling methods passed down from years gone by. The aim of the Cabrach Trust is to put Cabrach back on the whisky map and recalling its long history of Scotch whisky production. Cabrach is said to be one of the earliest places where illicit stills and smuggling of whisky could be found in ancient times.

      Construction plans are slated for June 2018 and production to start in 2019. The first bottling of matured whisky from Cabrach Distillery is planned for 2024, where 150,000 bottles are expected to be released each year thereafter. Cabrach Distillery is committed to source all ingredients locally and their water source is natural springs located on the land surrounding the distillery. The whisky will be matured in quarter casks (50 litres) and bottled directly on site. With such small casks, we can expect great whiskies from Cabrach Distillery!

      In the meanwhile, Cabrach Trust is busy working out the final specification for the distillery. They are also conducting deeper research with the ICBD regarding the exact balance for process, ingredients and maturation to get the flavour right for their whisky.

      A share offer will be announced early next year to give supporters a chance to be involved in the early stages of the distillery and own a small piece of whisky history.

      This is How Scotch Whiskies are Categorised

       

      Most people would know Scotch whisky as single malts, but there are also other forms of Scotch whiskies that you should know so that you can enjoy whisky completely! In this article, we will share a little about the different categories to pip your curiosity!

      Scotch Whisky Categories

      The Scotch Whisky Regulation 2009 defined five different categories of Scotch Whisky to regulate how Scotch whiskies are made and marketed across the world. The relevant category must be labelled clearly and prominently on every bottle of Scotch whisky that are sold around the world.

      Single Malt Scotch Whisky

      A single malt Scotch whisky must be distilled in a single distillery from water and malted barley without adding any other cereals. It must be batch distilled in pot stills and bottled in Scotland.

      Single Grain Scotch Whisky

      A single grain Scotch whisky must be distilled in a single distillery from water, malted barley and the addition of whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals. Some Scotch whiskies which does not comply with the definition of single malt Scotch Whisky are also labelled as a single grain Scotch whisky

      Blended Scotch Whisky

      A blended Scotch whisky is simply a blend of one or more single malt Scotch whiskies with one or more single grain Scotch whiskies.

      Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

      A blended malt Scotch whisky is a blend of single malt Scotch whiskies which have been distilled at more than one distillery.

      Blended Grain Scotch Whisky

      A blended grain Scotch whisky is a blend of single grain Scotch whiskies which have been distilled at more than one distillery.

      Greater Protection for Traditional Regional Names

      The changes made in the Scotch Whisky Regulation 2009 acts as a better protection for traditional regional names that produce Scotch whiskies, that is, the names of Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown. These names can only be put on the labels of whiskies which have been wholly distilled in the regions. A distillery name cannot be used as a brand name on any Scotch Whisky that is not wholly distilled in the named distillery. Labelling of every bottle of Scotch whisky is strictly monitored so as not to mislead consumers as to where the Scotch Whisky has been distilled.

      Better Protection for Consumers

      These regulations also provide for better protection for consumers who are buying Scotch whiskies all over the world. It helps to keep fraud down to the minimum. Besides, such regulations also help consumers to better understand where each bottle of whisky came from.

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        Understanding Scotch Whisky Regions

        Scotch Whisky Regions

        For a start, we are going to talk about the Scotch Whisky regions, mainly because Scotch whiskies are so popular all over the world, including Singapore. There are originally only 4 main whisky-making regions – Highlands, Lowlands, Islay and Campbeltown. As the distilleries grew in numbers over the years, Speyside (which was originally part of the Highlands) was recognised as one of the whisky-making region on its own because of the sheer number of distilleries located in the locale. As of 2013, there were 105 distilleries located in the locale that is defined by the river Spey.

        The Islands are never recognised officially by the Scotch Whisky Association, the main authority on Scotch whiskies. However, over the years, the whisky distilleries located in the Islands are allowed to put the name of the island that the whisky is made in on the label of the bottle as long as the golden nectar is distilled wholly in Scotland. This make the whiskies in the Island known to the world and now they are unofficially known as the 6th region in Scotland.

        Flavours

        The different regions are generally known for the different profiles of whiskies that they made. Each region is famous for a particular type of profile since the whiskies take on the characteristics of the land they are created in. Here’s a simple description of the whisky flavours in each region.

        Highlands

        The Highlands are marked as the biggest whisky-making region in Scotland, hence, it is not surprisingly to find a wide range of flavours here. You get the light and fruity styles in the Southern Highlands and the more spicy and full-bodied ones in the Northern Highlands.

        Speyside

        Speyside is defined by the river Spey, which runs through this region and provides water to many of the distilleries located here. The whiskies made in Speyside are recognised as the most complex of the lot in Scotland and most of them carries sweet aromas and sophisticated flavour profiles.

        Lowlands

        The Lowlands are no longer a popular location for whisky distilleries and only three distilleries are still in operation in the Lowlands – Auchentoshan, Blandoch and Glenkinchie. This area is well known for light-bodied single malt whiskies.

        Campbeltown

        Campbeltown is a seaside region is which the sea is a heavy influencer on the whiskies produced. The golden nectar from this region usually carry the sea and brine of the region as well as the peat that is popularly used in the production of whisky.

        Islay

        Islay is another seaside region that is well known for its peaty and strong-flavoured whiskies. They tend to be smoky and rather extreme in taste due to the various extremities of the sea that surrounded the area.

        Islands

        The Islands are a group of islands that produce whiskies that are in between the sweet aromas of the Highlands and the peaty ones of Islay.

        It is obvious that Scotch whiskies are a complicated lot, but they are interesting. We will continue to bring you new details about these beautiful liquids whenever possible, so stay tuned for more!

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