#78 – Brenne French Single Malt Whisky

Distillery: Brenne
Name: French Single Malt Whisky
Age: 7(ish)
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Lot No.: 002
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £46 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Rhubarb & custard sweets, Strawberries & cream sweets, banana
Taste: Sweet, viscous, toffee, spicy, woody
Finish: Medium, slightly dry, spicy
Rating: 6/10

Brenne is a French whisky that was launched in 2012 by Allison Patel in collaboration with a distiller in Cognac. It is harvested, distilled, matured and bottled in Cognac, some of the maturation taking place in ex-Cognac barrels too, yum. It is a no-age statement whisky as each cask that gets bottled is different depending on the length of time the Cognac was in the finishing barrel, but they say it is usually around 7 years old.

I remember hearing about this a few years ago and instantly wanted to try some, I love whisky and I love Cognac, it was surely going to be a match made in heaven. Well it took me until early this year before I my hands on a bottle as nowhere seem to have any in stock in the UK.

The nose is like nothing I have ever smelt before, you just get this huge whiff of rhubarb & custard sweets mixed in with strawberries & cream sweets, it’s amazing, not really a whisky nose, but amazing nonetheless. It therefore obviously has a sweetness to the nose, a sugary sweetness which is difficult to get through. After aerating for awhile though you do begin to get some baked banana notes coming through.

Onto the palate and it is predictably sweet and really quite viscous, almost liqueur like. The strawberries & cream is still predominate for me with some of the banana coming through too. This leads onto a more toffee sweetness and slightly more depth along with it. Mid-palate is when the oak and the spice start to come through which both follow through to the medium length finish, giving a slight dryness too.

So what do I think overall? Well it’s hard to say, as a whisky I suppose it is not great if you are after depth, complexity and/or a traditional Scotch. As a spirit though, I really think it works, as long as you take it for what it is. The nose is amazing, the palate is what you would expect from the nose and the finish is something completely different.

Was I disappointed after waiting so long to try it? No. A little surprised by what I got I will admit, but not disappointed. It is a great drink in it’s own right and I say congratulations to Allison Patel for creating something so unique and enjoyable.

Incidentally it is a great cocktail drink, it has more than enough to hold it’s own as a mixer, and there are several recipes on the Brenne website for you get try too.

#77 – Glenrothes 25 Year Old – 1995 (Murray McDavid)

Distillery: Glenrothes
Name: 1995 – Benchmark Collection
Age: 25
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: 15/136
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £135 (Master of Malt)
Bottle No.: 1 of 255
Cask No.: 14341
Cask Type: Jurançon Wine Cask
Distilled: N/A
Bottled: October 2015
Nose: Toffee, marzipan, slightly floral
Taste: Rich, dry, spicy, raisins
Finish: Long, spicy
Rating: 8/10

This is an independent bottling of Glenrothes 25 year old by Murray McDavid as part of their Benchmark Collection. It has been matured in a wine cask from Jurançon, South West France, who produce both dry and sweet white wine, I am unsure which was used for the finish however.

glenrothes25yomurraymcdavid

It has a medium body to the nose with strong hints of light toffee, without too much sweetness though, and some initial marzipan. It is picked up a little by some floral notes making it lighter on the nose than the colour would suggest. On that note, Jurançon is known for white wines (according to Wikipedia) which again the colour would not suggest. The official notes also mention anise too which I can get a hint of once left to aerate a while.

The palate has a boldness to it; there is some initial sweetness but it is really well balanced by a dryness that follows and into a soft spice. All of this leads in to a raisin mid-palate. The finish is long and strong. There is an oaky dryness and spice to it too, lovely.

A real winter dram this one; very different finish from the wine cask but in all the right ways. I don’t have a sweet tooth but I like how well this balances the sweetness with the dryness. Credit to the guys at Claxton’s.

#76 – Tobermory 20 Year Old (Claxton’s)

Distillery: Tobermory
Name: N/A
Age: 20
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 48%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £? (was a present)
Bottle No.: 32 of 294
Cask No.: 1501-652
Cask Type: Refill Hogshead
Distilled: 26th April 1996
Bottled: 2016
Nose: Light, straw, malty, herbal, white pepper
Taste: Slight sweetness, malt, coastal, slight spice
Finish: Long, dry, spicy
Rating: 8/10

This is an independent bottling of Tobermory 20 year old by the York based bottler Claxton’s and is Natural in colour and Non-chill filtered.

Firstly, what an awesome looking bottle, a little more awkward to pour out of, but what it lacks in practicality it makes in style :)

tobermory20yoclaxtons

So the nose is light and delicate with a lovely hit of straw and some subtle malt coming through. There is also a well balanced herbal note to it making it very refreshing on the nose. There is a soft spice to it on the finish like white pepper.

The palate is light like the nose with a hint of malt to it. As you hold it in you mouth for a while you get some coastal notes coming through, not too overpowering, just enough to work with the slightly sweet mid-palate leading to a soft spice. The finish itself is long and dry with the spice building to a nice fiery heat.

Overall this has been a very enjoyable dram, the whole bottle has gone down well, especially over the summer when the majority of it went. It is light and easy drinking but has some depth to it when you are in the mood to take notice.

#75 – Arran 18 Year Old (Whiskybroker Bottling)

Distillery: Arran
Name: N/A
Age: 18
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 51.1%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £45 (No longer available)
Bottle No.: 8 of 319
Cask No.: 551
Cask Type: Refill Sherry Hogshead
Distilled: 17th July 1996
Bottled: 28th August 2014
Nose: Dried fruits, marzipan, almonds, sweet
Taste: Rich, sherry, oaky, dry
Finish: Long, warm, spicy
Rating: 7/10

This is an independent bottling of the Arran 18 year old offered by Whiskybroker. It was actually available a little before the official 18 year old release which is one of the reasons I bought it.

The sherry cask is very obvious from the lovely rich colour. The nose I found interesting, not as deep as I was expecting but does have some richness from the dried fruits, I can pick out dates in there, it is very sweet though, a sugary sweetness too. The usual fruity nose that I expect from an Arran is not present in this one, the sherry cask has definitely had an affect on that.

The sherry finish becomes very apparent on the palate, very rich with some spicy oak notes, leaving it a little dry. There is also some alcohol burn in there too without water. Speaking of which, in the unlikely event of you finding yourself with a dram of this, add some water as it helps to open it up a little. The finish is long and warm, the spice from the oak seems to go on forever.

Well I have enjoyed the bottle but I do think it is a little too overpowering on the sherry front, the delicacies that I can usually find in an Arran just aren’t there which is a shame. Fantastic value for money though, well worth checking out the website for their ever changing range.

#74 – Tweeddale 14 Year Old Batch 4

Distillery: Tweeddale
Name: N/A
Age: 14
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £38 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Sugar sweetness, grass, apple pie
Taste: Smooth, light, smokey, spice
Finish: Long, spicy
Rating: 6/10

The Tweeddale is a blended whisky and something I am looking forward to. I have not had the chance to try any of the previous batches, they started at the 10 year old, so I have nothing to compare it to, Batch 5 is now out however so I may need to try that. Blends are something I steered clear of for many years, until I tried some Compass Box offerings that is. I have since matured and accepted that good blends do exist, here’s hoping this is one of them.

The nose has a very sugary sweetness to it at first, kind of sponge cake qualities. There are also some subtle notes of baked apples too, with that sweetness it reminds me a little of apple pie. Strangely there is also a slight grassy note to it too which seems a little out of place.

Smoothness, a quality I expect from a blend and the Tweeddale does not disappoint. It is light and smooth initially with a very unexpected smokey quality that I did not get on the nose, but it works. This then develops into a lovely spice which continues onto the long finish.

Really not what I was expecting, the nose and palate do not line up for me, I was totally thrown when I first tasted it, but not disappointing which is important.

#73 – Tomatin 18 Year Old

Distillery: Tomatin
Name: N/A
Age: 18
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £75 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Light, fresh, cereal, vanilla
Taste: Light, sweet, dry, cereal
Finish: Medium, dry, spicy
Rating: 6/10
The Tomatin 18 year old has been finished in Oloroso sherry casks which is very surprising when you first nose it. It is very light and fresh, cut grass with some floral notes too, not what I was expecting to be honest. To mix things up a bit though there are also some cereal notes there too that help to add a little depth to the nose.
Onto the palate and that light quality remains but it is sweeter than the nose suggests, but only initially. The cereal notes then take over along with quite a dryness. There are not really any of the sherry qualities in there though, I was expecting them to be there, if somewhat subtly as I do not suspect it has been in the sherry casks for long. The finish is medium to long with a very dry and spicy quality to it.
This will be 5th Tomatin I’ve had and although none have been bad, none have really stood out for me either. I will persevere however as I think it has the potential to be a whisky I can enjoy,  I just need to find the right one.

#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.