#72 – Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection – Four Wood

Distillery: Woodford Reserve
Name: Master’s Collection – Four Wood
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 47.2%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £144 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Rich, maple syrup, toffee, ripe fruits, nutty
Taste: Smooth, spicy, oaky, nutmeg, berries
Finish: Long, dry, spicy
Rating: 9/10

I couldn’t resist buying a sample of this when doing a recent Master of Malt order, it just sounds so interesting. Initially matured in American oak, finished in barrels made from Maple Wood, Oloroso Sherry Wood and Port Wood, how awesome is that?

Huge depth to this one, great body to it. There is a sweetness present from the maple, toffee and ripe fruits, it’s not a sickly sweetness though. There is a spice presence too, I can’t pick it out but it makes me think of cake, so I’m guessing something used in baking. Given a few minutes I can pickup on some subtle walnut and the cake style sweetness begins to develop more. Very impressive.

The palate is very rich, silky smooth and viscous with a lovely level of spice. There is a fruity and maple sweetness there but reasonably subtle as the oaky dryness quickly reins it in, taking the sweetness but leaving the flavour. There is a hint of nutmeg and maybe some dark berries in there too. The finish is long with a warming spice and just a little dryness to it.

Exceptionally good dram this one, it has definitely lived up to my expectation. Very complex, continues to develop over time making it a great savouring bourbon. At £144 it is not cheap, but I’ve had more expensive whiskies that are not as good, I’d say it’s worth the money to be honest.

#71- Old Forester Bourbon

Distillery: Old Forester
Name: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £34 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Baked fruit, slight citrus, marzipan
Taste: Caramel, oaky, dry
Finish: Long, dry, spicy
Rating: 6/10
As it’s a bank holiday weekend I thought I’d spend my time wisely, doing another whisky review or two. Today it’s bourbons’ turn.
There is good body to the nose from some baked fruit notes, I’m thinking pears, but it also has a lightness about it from a citrus quality and marzipan sweetness. It’s a very pleasant aroma, well balanced.
You get an initial caramel sweetness on the palate, not overly sweet though, more of a dark toffee sweetness maybe. This quickly gives way to the oak however, lots of oak and the dry, spiciness that accompanies it. There is also a fair bit of ABV burn at first and definitely benefits from a drop of water or ice.
Overall it is a pleasant, well priced bourbon. I have to admit that I have had ice with it throughout most of the bottle due to that ABV burn. I’m not really a cocktail man but I could see it being a good option to tame any sweeter concoction due to the heavy oak and dryness.

#70 – Single Grain Whiskies

I have noticed I have a number of single grain whiskies in at present and thought it time for a comparison. The bulk of them are from the Girvan distillery but there is also a Signatory bottling of an undisclosed Ayrshire distillery.

I will start with a few notes I found from a previous tasting for 2 whiskies from The Girvan Patent Still, their New Make Spirit and No4 Apps whiskies.

Distillery: The Girvan Patent Still
Name: New Make Spirit
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 42%
Nose: Saké, sweet, light, grassy, smooth
Taste: Smooth, light, light fruits, vodkaish
Rating: 4/10
Distillery: The Girvan Patent Still
Name: No4. Apps
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 42%
NoseDelicate, vanilla, cream, pineapple, orchid fruits
Taste: Toffee, peppery, vanilla, citrusy
Rating: 4/10

And now onto the rest of the Single Grain whiskies.

Distillery: Undisclosed
Name: 1998 Ayrshire – Single Grain Collection from Signatory
Age: 16
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £31 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Sweet, sponge cake
Taste: Light, spicy, pepper, dry, earthy, chocolate, tobacco
Finish: Short, spicy, dry
Rating: 7/10

This is an undisclosed Single Grain whisky from Ayrshire that was distilled on 21st August 1998 and bottled on 30th October 2015 by Signatory.

So surprisingly this does not have a particularly spicy nose which is a characteristic that I have come to expect from grain whiskies, instead it has a sugary sweetness, sponge cake. It is not particularly complicated but for £30 I’m not expecting it to be. The sweetness lessens after a couple of minutes leaving the sponge cake and a new, slightly metallic crispness.

Onto the palate and you are hit with that lovely peppery spice that I was expecting. It is very light with an initial sweetness that evolves into a slightly earthy note and a hint of chocolate and cigar tobacco just at the end, I wasn’t expecting the chocolate and tobacco. The earthiness is like wet leaves, gives it a surprising depth given the nose. The finish is short in flavour but quite long in a lingering spice.

Overall I am very impressed with this whisky. It is cheap so a great drinking whisky, light and refreshing so a great summer dram but has a lovely warming spice too, will still be good in winter then. A great all rounder by all accounts.

Distillery: The Girvan Patent Still
Age: 25
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 42%
Bottle Size: 5cl
Price: £245 (Master of Malt)
NoseSpicy, oaky, raisins, slight vanilla, citrusy, orange, dark toffee
Taste: Dark toffee, sherry, creamy, spice
Finish: Medium, spice, oak
Rating: 8/10

Onto the 25 year old from The Girvan Patent Still and the nose is wonderful, deep and complex with a good level of spice, not too overpowering. You get a little vanilla and toffee sweetness that is well managed by the oak to ensure it is not too sweet, the raisins also help to add depth. There is a subtle orange citrus note there also to lighten it a touch.

Dark toffee again on the palate with a sherry note there also. It is very smooth with a well balanced spice towards the end that continues onto the medium length finish. Depth is added by the raisins, similar to the nose.

A very pleasant dram, plenty of complexity on both the nose and palate making it a great savouring whisky.

Distillery: The Girvan Patent Still
Age: 30
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 42%
Bottle Size: 5cl
Price: £366 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Sugared almonds, citrus, light fruits, toffee
Taste: Smooth, oily, slight raisin, battenberg cake, woody, spice
Finish: Light spice, dry
Rating: 8/10

Great nose again, light toffee this time along with some sugared almonds. Not as deep as the 25 year old but lighter and more fruit present.

Super smooth on the palate, the oily texture coats the mouth with the subtle spice and notes of Battenberg cake. There is some depth to it also from the raisin notes and wood, also giving it a slightly dry finish.

Another great offering from The Girvan Patent Still, well balanced with good sweetness, spice and dryness. Another savouring dram for sure.

Distillery: Girvan Distillery
Name: 1965 – The Clan Denny by Douglas Laing
Age: 46
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 49.7%
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: Sold out (Master of Malt)
Nose: Old leather, oak, damp cellar, baked fruits, vanilla
Taste: Leather, baked fruit, nutmeg
Finish: Long, dry, spicy, charred wood, salty
Rating: 10/10

This is a 1965 bottle from Douglas Laing as part of their The Clan Denny range. It is a sample that I got in my pack from Whisky Tasting Company a while back that I have been looking forward to.

WOW! That aroma is amazing! An instant and powerful hit of old leather in a damp cellar, surrounded by old oak. Baked fruits follow with a hint of nuttiness adding to the depth with some vanilla sweetness lightening things a little.
Well after such an amazing nose I am really looking forward to the palate…and, oh dear. Only joking :) The palate does not disappoint, truly amazing just like the aroma. The old leather is there again as are the baked fruits that have now been sprinkled with nutmeg to give a lovely, well balanced spice. There is so much going on with this dram, it just keeps giving. The finish is wonderfully long with a great level of spice and a sense of charred wood and then unexpectedly a hint of salt.
Well it is safe to say that this dram has blown me away. The best grain whisky I have tried by a country mile, I’m just gutted that I can’t get a full bottle now. This has been truthfully one of the nicest whiskies I have had the pleasure of trying.

#69 – A Collection of Arrans

So I was going through some old notes recently and I came across some from the Arran Tweet Tasting that I did back in April of 2015. Since I never got around to posting them on the blog I thought I would do so now, allbeit 12 months late.
Distillery: Arran
Name: Sauternes Cask
Region: Island
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 50%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: ?
Nose: Pears, honey, citrus
Taste: Creamy, light fruits, honey, spicy
Finish: Long, dry, woody
Rating: 7/10
On the nose my notes were talking about pears and honey but state that it was not as sweet as expected from a Sauternes cask. There are also mentions of citrus, specifically orange and that it develops a slight metallic note after a bit.
The palate was creamy at first then thins on the finish. Some light ripe fruits and honey with a warm spicy edge coming in at the end. With a little water the fruits really beginning to come through making it fresher and slightly perfumey. The finish was long, slightly dry with some woodiness to it.
Distillery: Arran
Name: N/A
Region: Island
Age: 18
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: ?
Nose: Sugary, vanilla, baked fruit, earthy
Taste: Light, creamy, nutty, salty, oily, warm, spicy
Finish: Medium, lightly spicy
Rating: 8/10
On the nose my notes were saying that this one was sugary with some vanilla and baked fruit, developing a slightly earthy note after a while. There were mentions of sponge cake and apple strudel also.
The palate was creamy with notes of walnut but also had a saltiness to it. It was spicy with an oily texture yet remained quite light. Some sherry notes began to come through after a while too. With water the sherry notes were enhanced along with a fruitiness and some marzipan. The finish had a warming spice to it with a medium length.
Distillery: Arran
Name: Premium Single Bourbon Cask
Region: Island
Age: 13
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 55.3%
Batch No.: Casks 99/103
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: ?
Nose: Vanilla, citrus, light fruits, slightly salty
Taste: Fresh, tropical fruit, spicy
Finish: Short, light, spicy
Rating: 9/10
The nose was light and fresh with some vanilla, light fruits and citrus present as well as a salty quality. They also mention how much it developed when it was given time to aerate.
The palate was light and fresh with a heavy dose of tropical fruits and spice. Citrus notes is what was making it so light and fresh but also made it a very easy drinking dram, even at the high ABV. With water the vanilla was enhanced but the citrus lessened, it remained spicy however and got a little dryer. The finish was short but light and fruity with a well balanced spice to it.
Distillery: Arran
Name: 1st White Stag Bottling
Region: Island
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 54.2%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: ?
Nose: Creamy, marzipan, citrus, earthy
Taste: Creamy, dark fruits, sherry, some spice
Finish: Long, dry, spicy
Rating: 7/10
On the nose the creaminess of the first two came back along with some marzipan, then a sharper citrus and earthy note. Later some  dark chocolate, toffee and cherry came through.
The palate was creamy at first but when held in the mouth for a while it became clean and crisp. There was a nice balance of sweetness and dark fruits with the sherry notes also coming through. Some real spice but also some ABV burn along with it. With water it became more fragrant and more earthy but a sweetness developed along with it.

#68 – Loch Lomond 12 Year Old Single Grain Organic

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Name: Single Grain Organic (Dà Mhìle)
Region: Highland
Age: 12
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: Sold Out
Nose: Light, toffee, white fruits, citrus
Taste: Light, toffee, vegetal, spicy
Finish: Short, dry, vegetal
Rating: 5/10

Bottled by Dà Mhìle, a Welsh independent bottler, this sherry cask matured, organic single grain whisky was distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2012.

It has a light aroma that is lead by light toffee notes and followed by notes of white fleshy fruits. There is also some citrus that comes through near the end. With a little time there comes some marzipan notes that replace the toffee and just a touch of a metallic note towards the end.

Onto the palate and it is nice and light much like the nose and again with the light toffee leading. Following the toffee it develops into a slight vegetal dram, a little earthy and then straight into a lovely spicy lift to the end. The finish is quite short and dry with the vegetal notes sticking around.

I would suggest small pours and quick drinking with this one as it is better without the aeration in my opinion. It suits the sweet and spicy characters that comes on first pour more so than the vegetal notes that come with aeration. An enjoyable dram either way though that is very light, lending itself to a summer evening after a hard day at work.

Scapa 16 Year Old

Distillery: Scapa
Name: N/A
Region: Island
Age: 16
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £60 (70cl)
Nose: Light, metallic, light toffee
Taste: Medium body, grass, coastal, oak, spice
Finish: Short, coastal, dry
Rating: 6/10

Scapa is the lesser known distillery from Orkney, Highland Park obviously being the better known one.

The nose is quite light with a metallic edge to it making it crisp and clean. There are some light toffee notes in there too which help to give a bit more depth to it.

The palate has a medium body, it starts as a light grassy whisky with some slightly coastal/salty notes but then, similar to the nose, deepens a little, this time with some oak and spice. It is quite refreshing as it picks up with the coastal notes again on the finish, although the oakyness does give it a dry finish.

Overall a pleasant dram, definitely a summer dram with its coastal notes.

Orbis Aged World Whiskey

Distillery: St James
Name: Orbis Aged World Whiskey
Region: All over
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £38 (The Whisky Exchange)
Nose: Light, cereal, honey
Taste: Light, sherry, honey, cereal, spice
Finish: Short, cereal, dry
Rating: 5/10

This should be quite an interesting whiskey, after all it is made up of whiskies from 5 different countries, Scotland, Ireland, Japan, America and Canada. It could go one of two ways I guess.

Well straight off it has a light nose with cereal notes in the foreground and just a hint of a light honey. Nestled in the background though is a slight metallic note at first but this begins to fade shortly after pouring.
Onto the palate and it is again light but strangely has definite sherry characters present too. The cereal qualities are still present from the nose as is the slight honey but there also comes an unexpected spice to it, almost like a good rye has. The finish is relatively short and dry with the cereal notes carrying throughout the whiskey.
The nose is not bad, nothing too complex but can still be enjoyed. The palate is a real mix of characters though, very interesting. A good summer dram I reckon that would actually go quite well with a greasy/fatty meal due to that dry finish, it would cleanse the palate quite well I think.

Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof

Distillery: Wild Turkey
Name: Rare Breed Barrel Proof
Region: Kentucky
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 54.1%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £48 (70cl)
Nose: Rich, hot, dark toffee, orange
Taste: Rich, spicy, dry, dark chocolate, coffee
Finish: Long, spicy, dry
Rating: 7/10

So I’ve had this sample in for a while now to be honest (curtsey of @Tom_Blumsom), only just getting around to trying it. This particular Wild Turkey is made using a blend of 6, 8 and 12 year old stock so it should be pretty good, lets see.

Straight of there is a real rich depth to the nose but that ABV is also present with a slight burn there too. There is some sweetness there but more of a dark toffee sweetness which is not as strong but more caramel. After a couple of minutes it starts to lighten up a bit, becoming more citrus, not as light a lemon or lime, orange I guess, maybe just orange peel.

Can the palate live up to that fantastic nose? Big hit of both spice and ABV heat that just keep on building, amazingly it holds up to it though. That rich body with the dark chocolate and coffee notes put up a good fight to claw there way into view, have a strut around on your tongue and then get pushed back during the dry finish.

Somewhat different to the bog standard Wild Turkey that I have tried tried before. Fantastic nose to it and a palate that does live up to it. I would like to thank (@Tom_Blumsom) for the sample.

Rittenhouse Straight Rye

Distillery: Rittenhouse
Name: Straight Rye
Region: Kentucky
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £26 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Light, slightly earthy, sweet, tropical fruits
Taste: Thin, smooth, vegetal, spicy
Finish: Medium, spicy, slightly dry, vegetal
Rating: 4/10

Another Rittenhouse Rye, the last one was the 100 Proof, this one just the Straight Rye, lets see how they compare.

Well the nose is very light for a rye with a real earthiness to it. This frees up and opens itself up to be surprisingly tropical but also with a sugary sweetness there too. Not really any spice to it which I usually find in ryes.

Onto the palate and it is very light and thin, not much body to it at all. It is smooth though at first before that spice that was so missing on the nose comes through. The earthy/vegetal edge is present again which stays onto the medium length finish, not in a particularly good way though, tastes a little dirty on the finish.

Not struck on this one to be honest. The nose is unusually tropical which is kind of nice but it’s just missing the rye spice. The vegetal notes just stand out too much for me on the palate and the finish. I’ll stick to the 100 Proof me thinks.

Canadian Whisky Comparison

It’s been a while since my last whisky review I know, sorry about that, but I’m back now and hopefully able to start doing my Whisky Wednesday reviews more regularly again. Up this week is a couple of Canadian whiskies. So without further ado…

Distillery: Seagram’s
Name: VO
Region: Canada
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £26 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Grain, sweetness, slightly metallic, subtle spice
Taste: Grain, spicy, creamy
Finish: Long, warm, spicy
Rating: 4/10

Canadian whisky, not something I have tried before to be honest as I’ve never really heard many good things said about it. I’m all about new experiences though so I’m happy to give it chance.

First up is Seagram’s VO blended whisky and “Canada’s Finest” if the bottle is to be believed. Well with a statement like that it has a lot to live up to, after all Avril Lavigne is Canadian and she’s pretty damn fine :)

So what does the nose serve up. Well…grain. Initial nose is just a basic grain whisky, with that slight sugar sweetness that goes with one. After a bit there comes a slight metallic note but this seems short lived before returning to a basic grain nose again. It does begin to develop a bit more of a spice to it after a while though.

Onto the palate and it is predominately a grain whisky just like the nose. It does have a real spicy kick to it which is good, nothing distinct, just a spicy warmth that continues to the quite long finish. It does have good body to it, quite creamy and smooth which is an interesting combination with the spicy burn.

Overall I’m not hugely impressed though. I enjoy a grain whisky don’t get me wrong, but I want more than just a generic grain whisky taste, something like the Compass Box Hedonism (yes I know it’s twice the price but it shows what can be done with one). If you are after a cheap, spicy drinking whisky then it is okay but do not expect any form of complexity with it.

Distillery: Crown Royal
Name: Deluxe
Region: Canada
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £26 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Medium richness, slight spice, sweet
Taste: Rich, creamy, spicy
Finish: Medium, warm, spicy
Rating: 5/10

Onto Canada’s most famous whisky, Crown Royal. First created as a gift for King George VI to celebrate the Royal visit to Canada in 1939, it is a blend of 50 Canadian whiskies according their website.

Well the nose is an improvement on the Seagram’s in my opinion. It has a medium richness to it with a slight spice present also. It does have a sugar sweetness to it to go with the slight grain notes, but much better balanced. That sugar sweetness softens into a slightly more fruity sweetness after a bit and the grain notes lessen.

Onto the palate and it has a lovely rich and creamy feel to it followed by that spice from the nose, not as overpowering spice as the Seagram’s however. When held in the mouth for a bit you begin to get some oak coming through that is not initially present. The finish is of medium length but with a lovely spicy, slightly dry, warmness to it.

Definitely the better of the 2 Canadian options for me. There is slightly more depth to it so it can be enjoyed as part of a quiet evening in but it is still cheap enough and easy enough to drink for when some friends come around. Good entry level whisky that would tempt me into trying some of their other range.