Monthly Archives: June 2014

Mackinlay’s Shackleton Rare Old Highland Malt – The Discovery

Distillery: Mackinlay’s
Name: Shackleton Rare Old Highland Malt – The Discovery
Region: Scotland
Age: NAS
Chill-filtered:
Strength: 47.3%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £98 (70cl from Master of Malt)
Nose: Delicate, citrus, fruity, caramelised sugar, honey, marmalade, smoke
Taste: Slight smoke, orange zest, spice, oak, caramel
Finish: Medium, oaky dryness, subtle smoke
Rating: 7/10

Limited to 50000 bottles, this is as close a replica as is possible to the whisky that Sir Ernest Shackleton took to the Antarctic during his 1907 attempt to reach the South Pole, since the distillery that originally produced it no longer exists, Glen Mhor.

Whyte and Mackay’s master blender Richard Paterson was asked to create this replica, and he did so using malts from Speyside, including Glen Mhor and Dalmore, as well as Island and Highland malts.

The nose starts of reasonably delicate with a slightly citrus note to it along with just a subtle vanilla sweetness, but with orchard fruits note slightly overpowering it. There is also a hint of caramelised sugar coming through as well as heavier hit of marmalade all finishing with just a hint of smoke. It is complex that’s for sure but remains delicate throughout with is nice.

The palate also has a lot going on, an initial hit of smoke quickly gives way to fresh orange zest and then onto a spicy oaky edge, leading back to a hint of smoke again. Get a bit of air around it and the caramel notes come through. This leads onto a medium length finish with a real oaky dryness to it and that subtle smoke lingering around also.

Overall it is a nice dram, develops well with time and has a decent amount of complexity. Works well neat and with water due to the strength, with the water bring some cereal notes and the smoke out more.

Top 10 Summer Drams

I recently read a post by Tom Thomson on his top 10 summer drams which got me thinking about what mine would be, so I though I would spend a little time thinking about it. I have not had that many to judge from at this point (around 170 at time of writing) but this is what I came up with:

Aberlour 16 Year Old
I found the Aberlour 16 year old was an easy drinking sherry finished dram, plenty of flavour there as you would expect from a sherry finished whisky, but not as bold and heavy as may I have had. I think it would be suitable for a late evening dram.

Balblair 2003 1st Release
A light, fruity and refreshing dram with just a hint of spice. Benefits from a drop of water so maybe a cube of ice instead on those hot summer days.

Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old
It’s been a while since I’ve had this but I remember it being really refreshing with coastal notes, which I always find helps make a good summer dram. There was some good flavour there with just a bit of sweetness going on.

Clynelish 14 Year Old
One of my stable drams and one of the few that I have purchased more than one bottle of. Again this is a light, fruity, smooth, coastal and refreshing dram with enough complexity to keep you interested.

Glenglassaugh Revival
Would you believe it, the Revival is light with some coastal notes to it making it refreshing and easy drinking. It can handle a little water at 46%, but not loads, so a little ice could work well during summer again.

Lagavulin 16 Year Old
This is another late evening dram for me, sitting out with the chiminea going, the smoky, peaty qualities would work well along with the slightly heavier and bolder body. Alternatively it might work well during a BBQ.

Mackmyra – The 1st Edition
I was really impressed with this dram, the bottle went down quicker than expected. It is light, fruity with just a bit of citrus to it, which always makes for a good summer dram, and a hint of spice to the end.

Old Pulteney 17 Year Old
I had this at a whisky festival earlier this year and could see why people rave about it. A wonderful dram that is light and easy drinking yet with lots of complexity there also. It has the Old Pulteney coastal qualities plus so much more. Could work well during the day due to if freshness, or evening due to it’s complexity. Alternatively you can just go with the 12 year old, another great dram.

Springbank 10 Year Old
Really impressed with this one, light, fruity with a peaty and slightly coastal finish to it. It has enough complexity and strength that will mean it would probably handle a little ice well, helping to make it a good summer dram.

Tobermory Ledaig
I have had both a NAS and the 10 year old Ledaig and find them both light, easy drinking with a nice level of peaty freshness to them. The 10 year old has slightly more body than the NAS but both are great offerings.

Monde Shuzo Isawa Blend

Distillery: Monde Shuzo
Name: Isawa Blend
Region: Japan
Age: NAS
Chill-filtered:
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £39 (50cl from Master of Malt)
Nose: Earthy, sake, spice, metallic
Taste: Light, earthy, sake, dry
Finish: Short, dry
Rating: 3/10

The nose is most unusual, like no whisky I have smelt before. It reminds me a little of sake (I’ve only ever had one bottle of sake though so I’m no expert) but with a slight spice to it. Once the air has gotten around it, it becomes a little metallic for me.

The palate is light and reasonably complex, with a lot of the earthiness following on from the nose. I can’t help but think of sake again on the palate, just a hint of it, with a real dry edge to the fairly short finish. That metallic quality is also present a little on the palate after aerating.

Well I have to be honest, I have not had a whisky like this before, not exactly struck on it I’m afraid, but it was interesting to try it. A 3cl sample is easy enough to drink but I would not fancy a full bottle, I would find it hard work I think.

White Oak – Akashi Blended Whisky

Distillery: White Oak
Name: Akashi Blended Whisky
Region: Japan
Age: NAS
Chill-filtered:
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £34 (50cl from Master of Malt)
Nose: Fruity, slightly sweet, vanilla, citrus
Taste: Fresh, spice, oaky, creamy
Finish: Medium, spicy, woody
Rating: 5/10

Continuing my blended whisky journey I have a couple of Japanese blends to try. I have tried a few Japanese whiskies in the past, some blends and some single malts, at whisky festivals I have attended, but never done proper tasting as of yet.

First up is a blend from the White Oak distillery called Akashi Blended Whisky. It is a NAS whisky that is a blend of malt and grain whiskies.

The nose starts of with a slight sweetness and fruitiness to it, quite delicate but pleasant. It opens up a little into a light citrusy aroma, still with a little sweetness, but very refreshing. Once aired it begins to open up a lot more, you can detect just a hint of vanilla coming through and a more intense fruitiness also develops. I left the last bit for about 40 minutes and the nose really opened up, lots of dark fruit going on in there now, lovely.

On the palate it is light and fresh initially with the citrus notes coming through from the nose. This moves onto a palate with a good level of spice and oak on offer, with a subtle sweetness that develops into a slightly creamy body. The spice and woody notes continue onto a medium length finish.

Overall I am actually impressed with one, it is a light and refreshing dram that has a nice balance of complexity and ease of drinking. I prefer the nose to the palate as it has a lot to offer given time. I would say that to get the most out of this dram you need to leave it to aerate for 10-15 minutes (same as most drams to be fair).

Compass Box The Peat Monster

Distillery: Compass Box
Name: The Peat Monster
Region: Highland
Age:
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 5cl
Price: £37 (70cl)
Nose: Iodine, salty, sweet, orchard fruits
Taste: Peaty, smoky, light, salty, floral, spice
Finish: Long, peaty, oak, light, spicy
Rating: 5/10
Lastly I move onto Peat Monster, a blend of an Islay malt, Isle of Mull malt and a slightly peated Speyside malt to give “a balanced, highly drinkable peaty blended malt Scotch whisky”. I’m partial to peated whiskies, both highly peated Islay drams as well as other more subtle offerings from various distilleries, so this one should be interesting to try.
Well unsurprisingly it hits you with iodine initially but also with a refreshing salty note to it and a sweetness, a little too much for me at first but it does lessen are the air gets around it. As it aerates, hidden behind the iodine which also begins to lessens, you can get the orchard fruit notes coming through. The 46% ABV is also apparent on the nose.
The palate is predominately peaty as you would expect but it does have a lovely smoky note to it as well. The peat dies down some leading into a more delicate palate, a slightly coastal saltiness maybe followed by a soft floral note and a little spice. This leads on to the inevitably long peaty finish which is still light and spicy with an oaky dryness present also.
Yet another light and easy drinking dram from Compass Box. For the peat heads amongst us, this is a well balanced and easily approached dram suitable for both summer evenings due to it’s lightness, but also as a winter warmer due to it’s warm and spicy characters. I’m not sure I’m struck on the nose as such to be honest but the palate is certainly pleasant enough.
Thanks to Compass Box for the sample.

Compass Box Hedonism

Distillery: Compass Box
Name: Hedonism
Region: Highland
Age:
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 5cl
Price: £54 (70cl)
Nose: Light, sweet, light fruits, herbal, spicy, sponge cake
Taste: Creamy, vanilla, bourbon, toffee, sponge cake
Finish: Medium, well rounded, warm, sweet, spicy
Rating: 7/10
The second one I’m trying is Hedonism, a blended grain whisky, which is an unusual thing to come across for a Scottish whisky. I have only had one grain whisky before, Invergordon – Batch 1 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company), and it was lovely, so when I saw this was made from 100% grain whiskies I started to look forward to it.
The nose is slow to open up at first, initially not lost going on and like the Great King Street, Hedonism is light, refreshing and sweet on the nose. It does however begin to open up wonderfully, moving onto the light fruits and a spicy finish. Once aerated a little longer the fruity notes lessen a little and are replaced with more herbal notes which in turn give way to the sponge cake finish, all the time becoming thicker and creamier.
Onto the palate and you are hit with a lovely creamy mouth-feel, with a slight vanilla note and a definite bourbon edge coming through before the toffee takes over mid palate, giving way to the sponge cake finish. This all leads on to the medium length, full-bodied finish that is warm, slightly sweet and just a nice amount of spice.
Overall I am impressed with the Hedonism. The nose just kept on giving as it was left to aerate and the palate also lived up to this, which is unfortunately where Great King Street fell just a little short (unless you leave it for 10-15 minutes). As only my second grain whisky I am beginning to question why they fell out of favour, it’s bloody lovely stuff.
Thanks to Compass Box for the sample.

Compass Box Great King Street – Artist’s Blend

Distillery: Compass Box
Name: Great King Street – Artist’s Blend
Region: Highland
Age:
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 5cl
Price: £40 (70cl)
Nose: Light, sweet, vanilla, pear drops, apple strudel
Taste: Creamy, light, subtle spice, apple strudel
Finish: Medium, well rounded, slight oakiness
Rating: 6/10
Following my review of Spice Tree, Compass Box were kind enough to send me 3 samples from their range,  all different styles, to help me better understand blended whiskies and hopefully to convert me towards blends a little more, the Spice Tree gave me a hefty shove over to the world of blends though to be honest 🙂
First off we have a blend of Grain and Malt whiskies in the form of Great King Street – Artist’s Blend. It consists of 46% Lowland grain, 45% Highland malt and 9% Speyside malt that have various wood finishes, First Fill American Oak, New French Oak and First Fill Sherry Butt.
So onto the nose, and I am impressed straight away, it has a refreshing, citrus nose but with the sweet, vanilla notes hitting first, then giving way to pear drops and then apple strudel, which I love.
The palate is light and refreshing yet with a creamy body to it and just a slight spice present, beside the ABV heat. There is also just a hint of the apple strudel there again. The finish is a little plain and short but it does have good body and just a slight oaky dryness at the end.
The palate is relatively simple compared to the lovely nose but it is a very pleasant, easy drinking dram. It does open up quite a bit once left to aerate for 15 minutes for so and then greater resembles the nose. It is a great summer dram to sit and relax with, maybe whilst chatting with a few fiends.
Thanks to Compass Box for the sample.