Monthly Archives: May 2014

Invergordon – Batch 1 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

Distillery: Invergordon
Name: That Boutique-y Whisky Company (Batch 1)
Region: Highland
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 41.6%
Batch No.: 1
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £72 (Batch 2 70cl)
Nose: Rich, rye, slightly sweet, spicy
Taste: Smooth, summer fruits, sweet, spicy
Finish: Medium length, sweet, lightly spicy
Rating: 8/10
That Boutique-y Whisky Company, what can I say but, what a reputation. No-one seems to have a bad thing to say about them and that seemed enough to make me give them a go. I thought I would start with something a little different from my norm, an Invergorden single grain whisky. The sample I have is from batch 1 which produced just 252 bottles and is now discontinued, batch 2 is available though.
I don’t really know grain whiskies so was not sure what to expect with this one, it was not what I got that’s for sure. The first thing that came to mind was a good bourbon, but then I though, maybe a rye actually because it does to have the bourbon sweetness. It is rich and powerful with a really spice to it, again made me thing of a rye. After a bit there was another note coming through, a kind of nut toffee sweetness, and something else that I could not put my finger on, that really annoys me . If I could only use one word to describe it, it would be simply ‘amazing’.
The palate was just as much of a shock, really smooth as you roll it around your mouth and then, wham, have a mouthful of summer fruits with a hint of spice for good measure. Now you may call me mad for the next thing I say, hints of sloe gin in there also. I know, I know but it really did have sloes in there and maybe I just always thing of gin when sloes are mentioned, I don’t know.
I was blown away by this one I have to say. I didn’t know what to expect from it but it certainly wasn’t anything of this quality. I could easily drink this stuff all night, a drinking whisky and a savouring whisky all in one, shame I didn’t splash out on a bottle what I had the chance 🙁

Compass Box Spice Tree

Distillery: Compass Box
Name: Spice Tree
Region: Highland
Age: 10-11
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £39 (70cl)
Nose: Rich, vanilla, spicy (pepper), oak
Taste: Rich, smooth, slight sweetness, toffee, spicy
Finish: Long, warm, spicy, slight dryness
Rating: 7/10
I’ve heard a lot of good things said about Compass Box, and read many a praising review of their offerings, yet I have never got around to trying any. That had to be rectified! Now I may have mentioned it before that I am not a particularly big fan of blends, they often seem too much of a compromise for me, too smooth and without any really complexity. Lets hope Compass Box can convert me.
I decided to start with the Spice Tree as it has a strong name, makes me thing it might actually have something about it. It is a blended malt made from Highland malts.
Well it kicks off to a good start, the nose is rich with some complexity. It has a good balance of sweetness with a hint of oak and a nice kick of spice initially. The spice eases quite quickly as it aerates but remains at an un-intrusive level.
That richness is carried on to the smooth and mouth-coating palate. The vanilla sweetness is there but takes a back seat, giving way to the richer toffee sweetness and peppery spice that seems to go on forever, warming the palate as it goes. There is a hint of dryness on the finish as well.
With water – Nose: much lighter, fruitier with some cola aroma there too, strange. The palate becomes smoother, with the vanilla sweetness taking a step forward and toffee sweetness a step back. It also emphasises the peppery notes a little.
Well, I’m sold. I knew I would find a blend I enjoy a some point, and this is it. Pretty accurate name as well, delivers what it says on the label.

Laphroaig An Cuan Mor

Distillery: Laphroaig
Name: An Cuan Mor
Region: Islay
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 48%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: ?
Nose: Light peat, rich, smoke, dark fruits, sweet, metallic, brine
Taste: Creamy, lightly peaty, salty, liquorice, spicy
Finish: Long, peaty, spicy
Rating: 8/10
Currently only available as a Travel Retail bottling, the name translates to ‘Big Ocean’. It is double matured, initially in first-fill ex-American white oak bourbon casks and then in European oak.
It has a wonderfully complex nose with the characteristic peat and smoke having a bit more of a background role than usual. It is really rich and full of dark fruits, a real sweetness but with a slight metallic edge finishing with a brine like quality, I’m thinking cockles or muscles.
The palate is super smooth with a creamy mouth-feel. It is only lightly peaty with a light liquorice quality coming through which leads onto a quick hit of salt before the spiciness kicks in at the end. The finish is long and peaty, as it always is with Laphroaig, with a real spice to it.
Thanks to Tom (@Tom_Blumsom) for the sample.

Laphroaig Cairdeas Origin

Distillery: Laphroaig
Name: Cairdeas Origin
Region: Islay
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 51.2%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: ?
Nose: Citrus, orchard fruits, slight saltiness, fresh
Taste: Peaty, sweet, light, smooth, spicy
Finish: Long, smoky, warm, spicy
Rating: 7/10
Cairdeas is Gaelic for friendship and this bottling was released to celebrate the popularity of the ‘Friends of Laphroaig’ (FOL) programme.
Unusual on the nose this one, I don’t really get and peat coming through which is unexpected for a Laphroaig. It is light, fruity with a citrus cleanness to it and a slight salty note to it adding to the freshness.
The palate is also light and refreshing but with a wonderful smoothness to it, it also has a great mouth coating quality as well. The peat starts off quite subtle with the sweetness being the initial power but the peat just builds and builds, easing the sweetness. This leads onto the long, smoky finish that is both warm and spicy. I left this to aerate for a while and when coming back to it there was a strong coffee flavour to it, it actually really worked well.
At 51.2% I was really expecting it to have a bite to it, but it does not really. There is some alcohol burn on the palate but not much and I was quite happy to drink it without water. I did try adding some however and this did take that small bite away but the warm, spicy notes remain. The nose is a little lighter and fruitier with water.
Thanks to Tom (@Tom_Blumsom) for the sample.

Laphroaig QA Cask

Distillery: Laphroaig
Name: QA Cask
Region: Islay
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £48 (100cl)
Nose: Slightly sweet, light peat, fresh, floral, metallic
Taste: Peat, slight sweetness, liquorice, watery
Finish: Long, lightly peaty, ashy dryness
Rating: 5/10
The QA Cask is a travel retail only bottling and is matured firstly in ex-bourbon barrels, followed by charred American white oak casks (Quercus Alba in Latin), which is where it gets it name.
The nose is more subtle than expected for a Laphroaig, there is a slight sweetness there and the peak it also quite tame. It has a light, fresh aroma to it but with a slight metallic edge at the end.
Onto the palate and I find it a little disappointing to be honest, it has the peat, nothing too powerful but it is in the foreground. There is also a little sweetness and liquorice towards the end but it is just lacking body, for me it needs to be at least 43%, maybe even 46% to get the most out of it. The finish is quite long consisting of peat and ash.
It has a pleasant aroma to it and the lack of body does mean that it is an easy drinking dram, it is quite light for a Laphroaig and could be good on a hot summer’s day.
Thanks to Tom (@Tom_Blumsom) for the sample.

Aberlour 16 Year Old

Distillery: Aberlour
Name: N/A
Region: Speyside
Age: 16
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £45 (70cl)
Nose: Light fruits, floral, woody
Taste: Light, sherry, fruity, spicy, oaky
Finish: Medium, warm, spicy, dryish
Rating: 6/10
Not what I was expecting from the nose given it’s colour and sherry maturation. It is light and floral rather than rich and dark fruit intensive likeI was expecting, a pleasant surprise. The palate it also surprisingly light, still sherry influences there but it is all delivered in a lighter manor, except the spice, that one still kicks you in the teeth a little. The finish is of medium length but with a lovely warmth from the spices and just a little dryness from the oak.
Not everyone’s favourite this one from what I have read. I think it is because it is quite light and people might not be expecting that given it’s sherry finish. It’s quite an easy drinking one however, maybe it is because first-fill bourbon casks are used as well, this may help to lighten the whole thing. A pleasant summer, sherried, dram I think.

Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 45

Distillery: Aberlour
Name: a’Bunadh Batch 45
Region: Speyside
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 60.2%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: No longer available
Nose: Sherry, dark fruits, spice
Taste: Oily, rich, sherry, slightly sweet, oaky, dry, spice
Finish: Long, warm, spicy
Rating: 7/10

I tried an a’Bunadh many years ago when I visited the Aberlour distillery when I first got into whisky, no idea what batch it was though, one of the early ones I think. I remember not liking it much actually, but my tastes have changed a lot of the years so I thought I would give it another try.

So do I still dislike it? Hell No! I’m so glad my palate has improved over the years because this is lovely. The nose is full of rich sherry and dark fruit notes with lashings of spice. The palate has a wonderful oily feel to it initially giving a lovely mouth feel. Then the sherry hits again with a sweetness that often comes with it, this gets kicked in the background however by the oak and the dry quality that occupancies it. All of this however has to give way the the spice which is there in abundance. This remains into the long and warm finish.

At 60.2% this obviously needs a bit of water. It has the alcohol burn throughout without it, still lovely and drinkable though, and the addition of water really opens it up and smooths that burning, becoming sweeter and fruitier. Be sure to work it around your mouth as well, so much flavour comes out of this one.

Well I’m glad I revisited this one, yet another great dram from Aberlour.