Category Archives: Highland

Abbey Whisky Tweet Tasting

On Thursday (20th November) I had the pleasure of participating in my first Tweet Tasting, the Abbey Whisky Tweet Tasting, as organised by Steve Rush at The Whisky Wire (find on Twitter).

Everyone that was partaking in the tasting was sent the following 4 3cl samples from the Abbey Whisky ‘The Rare Cask’ series:

  • Caperdonich 17 year old
  • Bunnahabhain 23 year old
  • Ben Nevis 16 year old
  • A Mystery sample (their next release in the series, revealed later on)
Abbey Whisky Tweet Tasting

The Experience

This was the first Tweet Tasting that I have participated in so was not entirely sure what to expect; I always seem to have missed previous ones or caught the tail end of it. The concept is pretty simple however, tasting started at 7pm and we had been informed of the order of the whiskies we were to be tasting, so I made sure I poured the first out just before we began. I also opened 2 browser windows, side-by-side, one for posting my tweets and one for keeping up-to-date with the #AbbeyWhisky hash tag tweets.

7 o’clock came and the tasting began, with Steve asking ‘What does it deliver on the nose?’ followed by a flurry of tweets started to come through, so I delved in. I began to tweet all of the things I could pick out as well as follow what everyone else was saying, which I found really interesting the diversity of aromas people were getting for each of the whiskies. I also found it really useful as sometimes I would be getting something that I could not quite put my finger on, and then when reading what other people were getting, I was able to pinpoint what it was. It was also great to just nose the whiskies for a long period of time as it really emphasized how much the nose can change when just left a while to aerate. I also picked up on a tip that I think Dave Worthington (@WhiskyDiscovery) suggested and that was to cover the whisky for a while and then uncover and nose again, you get more intense aromas.

After a while of nosing the whiskies Steve would then asked, ‘What palatable pleasures does this deliver?’ and we would all move onto the actual tasting. Again this was a great experience with reading about the variety of flavours people were getting, and again helping me to pinpoint some of the things that I was picking up.

Tasting Notes

I will admit I got a bit caught up in the tasting and broke my rule of ‘no specifics’ on the nose and palate, I apologise if you like the simple tasting notes that I usually do, I have not strayed too far however.

Caperdonich 17 year old

Region : Speyside
Chill-filtered : No
Strength : 57.8%
Bottle Size : 3cl
Bottles : 96
Price : £59.50(70cl)
Colour : Light Gold
Nose :
Started with light fruits with a bit of sweetness coming through, vanilla I think. This then moved to more of a pineapple aroma in place of the vanilla with the addition of wood also. After a while the wood notes had become stronger with a little nutmeg in there as well. I was amazed at how much the nose changed on this.
Taste :
Initial taste, heat from the ABV and spicy but still with tropical fruits and the wood coming through. The addition of water to this was a must for me, and many others, but not all. It took the heat down and enhanced the fruity aromas and flavours. Not took much water for me though, I think I said, just enough to leave it ‘somewhere in-between fiery and smooth’.
Finish :
Initially the wood was there giving a slightly dry finish, but this eased after a while giving way to a slightly salty finish. A long finish to it as well.
Rating : 8/10

Bunnahabhain 23 year old

Region : Islay
Chill-filtered : No
Strength : 44%
Bottle Size : 3cl
Bottles : 96
Price : £72.95 (70cl)
Colour : Light Gold
Nose :
My initial thought was it has a beautiful nose. Sweet, creamy toffee with a subtle smokiness coming through after. After a while the toffee notes faded off to give way to a lighter, floral note with a slight saltiness there too.
Taste :
Smoky but not overpowering, sweet and creamy like the nose and then a little salty. It has just the right bite to it as well, the 44% (cask strength) is just perfect. Then some wood comes through, the salt begins to calm down a bit but at this point it still remains a light dram. With the addition of water (not too much) I found that all of the same flavours were present, maybe just a little more noticeable but it did add a slight spicy/peppery feeling in the back of the throat, lovely.
Finish :
Short and a little salty.
Rating : 9/10

Ben Nevis 16 year old

Region : Highland
Chill-filtered : No
Strength : 55%
Bottle Size : 3cl
Bottles : 96
Price : £64.95 (70cl)
Colour : Amber
Nose :
Dry, oloroso sherry, nutty, spicy (maybe just the ABV), oak. Smells of…old things…an old damp cellar. After leaving it covered for a little while and then taking a deep breath I began to get the rubber notes that a few people were mentioning.
Taste :
Some heat from the ABV, spicy, dark fruits, powerful. Needed water this one did to take away the heat and really open up the nose and palate, it’s a bit of a beast so it can handle quite a bit.
Finish :
Dry, long length.
Rating : 6/10

Mystery Cask – GlenDronach 1993

Region : Speyside
Chill-filtered : No
Strength : 59.1%
Bottle Size : 3cl
Bottles : 592
Price : £89.95 (70cl)
Colour : Ruby
Nose :
My opening tweet for this one was ‘I’m in love, nuf said’. So moving on…ok then, the notes. Bold and powerful, spicy, sherry, dark fruits with a hint of wine once it had been covered for a while. Also (good quality) Rum notes coming through, several people were saying this. Some said about it being a bourbon but I didn’t get that personally.
Taste :
OH..MY..GOD, lashings of flavour, it goes on forever. Spice, heat from the ABV, a hit of rubber and then gone, dark fruits come straight after with a bit of sweetness. Has a lot of body to it, really mouth coating. An absolute beaut.
Finish :
Long, strong but smooth, sweet.
Rating : 10/10

Conclusion

An amazing evening, some fantastic whiskies and some great people involved in the tweets, learned a few new things as well, I would love the opportunity to do another one in the future, hint, hint ;). The GlenDronach was the winner by far for me and now I just need to work out how I’m going to get a bottle, £89.95 is a little out of budget unfortunately 🙁

Fettercairn 24 Year Old

Distillery: Fettercairn
Name:  N/A
Region: Highland
Age: 24
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 44.4%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £9.58
Colour: Gold
Nose: Rich, complex, sherry, malt
Taste: Thin, bold, alcohol kick, malt
Finish: Warm, malt, short length
Rating: 5/10
Fettercairn 24 Year Old

After trying the entry level whisky that Fettercairn have to offer, the Fasque, I decided to sample one of their older offerings I could find, courtesy of Master of Malt. You can tell that it is an aged whisky straight away from the nose, with so much more complexity present, but with the most powerful aroma being malt for me. This maltyness continues onto the surprisingly thin palate; don’t let the thinness fool you though, there is masses of flavour still and a fair kick from the 44.4% Abv, which leads to a nice warm finish, if a little short; the malt notes continue through to the end though.

The addition of water opens the nose up to release yet more malt, as does the the palate and finish. For me this is the overpowering note to the whisky, especially after adding water, one that hides too much of the other flavours. I tried it along side the Fasque as I still have some in and the youth is immediately obvious on the nose and throughout the drink, but it is still pleasant, and at least to me, with more diverse flavours.

Overall I was not impressed with the 24yo given its age and price, at around £129 a bottle, I was hoping for a more complex whisky. Also, surprisingly, I would serve it without the water, even given the kick it has because at least then it has more about it then just malt.

Notes

Distillation Date: 1984

Dalmore Constellations Tasting

As I arrived at my seat I was pleasantly surprised to be presented with a little goody bag which contained a book containing full details of the Dalmore Constellations range and a very nice, and heavy, tumbler. More importantly I was also presented with 6 whiskies. The tasting was ran by David Robertson, the Rare Whisky Director at Dalmore and a fantastic bloke, knowledgeable and a good laugh. Before moving onto the Constellations range we had a couple to warm up with:

18 Year Old

It all started with the 18 year old; a dark amber whisky bottled at 43% and retailing from around £90. What hit me first was that all too familiar Dalmore signature note that was present on both the nose and then palate. It was rich on both nose and palate which led to a lovely smoothness and onto a long warming finish. I great introductory whisky for the tasting, 6/10.

King Alexander III

We then moved on to the King Alexander III which is bottled at 40% and retails from around £120. The King Alexander is an amazing mix of whiskies that have been matured in a variety of casks; Dalmore’s master distiller, Richard Paterson, selected differently-aged malts matured in Madeira, Sherry, Marsala, Port and Bourbon casks to create this fantastic whisky. All of this gave it a dark amber colour and a rich but slightly sweet nose; the palate was also rich, well rounded and smooth with some spice and a slight dryness coming through towards the end. The finish was of medium length with an initial sweetness that dried towards the end. I gave it a well deserved 8/10.

Constellations 1978

Then on to the Constellations collections, starting with the oldest we were to taste, the 1978. The ’78 was matured in American white oak for 29 years and them moved into a Matusalem Oloroso sherry butt for a further 4 years before being bottled. It was a light amber colour, bottled at 47.1% and retails at around £6400. The nose had a slight sweetness to it but nothing overpowering, very well balanced with the complexity of the nose. On the palate it was very light with light fruit notes and some citrus coming through; this lightness continued onto the medium length finish with the addition of some sweetness. I did not get the usual Dalmore flavour coming through with this one, it actually reminded me of a really good Armagnac. An outstanding whisky, 10/10.

Constellations 1981 Cask 4

There are 2 1981 bottlings in the collection, cask 3 and 4, I tried cask 4 which has been matured for 26 years in American white oak and then moved into an Amoroso Oloroso sherry butt for a further 4 years and gives it a dark amber colour. It is bottled at 54% and retails at around £3750. The nose is again rich with definite sherry notes and the sweetness that comes with it. The palate is also very rich, full bodied with the signature Dalmore flavour also coming through which lasts to the medium length, rich finish. An enjoyable whisky, 7/10.

Constellations 1990

The 1990 has been matured in American white oak for 19 years and them moved into a Matusalem Oloroso sherry butt for a further 2 years before being bottled at 56.5%, and retailing at around £2500. It has an amber colour and a sweet but rich nose. On the palate it is smooth and rich which actually lightens towards the end, it also has some dryness without the addition of water which does disappear once some is added. The Dalmore flavour that I expect was not present in this one, or at least not in the foreground, there were some hints of it in the background. This dryness continues to the medium length finish; again with the addition of water this is not apparent. This one definitely benefits from the addition of water where the previous ones did not need it. An amazing whisky, 9/10.

Constellations 1992

And finally onto the 1992 which has been matured in American white oak for 10 years and them moved into a European oak Quercus Robur Port Pipe for a further 9 years before being bottled at 53.8%; retailing at around £2000. This has a dark amber colour due to the length of time in the port pipe and gives it a rich, sweet nose with some citrus notes coming through also. The palate is, like all of the others, rich and smooth but also with some sweetness there but very well rounded and full bodied. It has a lovely long, warm finish to it with some dryness present without the addition of water, much like the ’90. It again has the distinctive Dalmore flavour, a very enjoyable dram, 8/10

Conclusion

Overall this was a very special tasting, previously I had only tried the Dalmore 12yo, which I was not particularly taken on to be honest, which is why I wanted to do this tasting, to sample some of the best Dalmore has to offer in order to be able to really decide whether Dalmore was a dram for me. Well I think it is safe to say that they won me over, I may never be able to afford any of the Constellations collection, but the King Alexander III is in reach and is also a fantastic whisky, I urge all to try this one, so much going on in it and I can imagine that you will pick different things out each time you try it due to the variety of casks used.

Dalmore 12 Year Old

Distillery: Dalmore
Region: Highland
Age: 12
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Colour: Amber
Nose: Sherry, spicy, oak
Taste: Thin, light, earthy
Finish: Short, dry
Rating: 4/10
Dalmore 12 year old

The Dalmore 12yo is matured in American white oak, ex-bourbon casks for 9 years, before a quarter of it is separated and placed into 30yo oloroso sherry casks, or so it says on the box. This makes for an interesting, reasonably complex nose, but without being too rich or complex. There is a subtle sherry sweetness present on the nose, nothing to powerful though, it is a good balance between that, the spiciness and the earthy, oaky notes; maybe just a little too much on the oak and earthiness for me, slightly overpowers the other aromas.

Surprisingly thin and light for a sherry cask, most probably because only a quarter is placed into the sherry cask. You do get some of the complexities coming through though, with the oak and earthy flavours coming through towards the end of the palate. There is not really any sweetness that comes through which is usually commonplace in sherry casks, it does in fact lead to quite a dry and short finish.

For me the earthy and oaky notes that are present throughout let it down, they are just a little too overpowering and I find myself concentrating on those aromas and flavours, more than the others that are hidden in there. At around £38, I would not personally purchase another bottle, it is overpriced for what you get in my eyes. Packaging is impressive though.

Fettercairn Fasque

Distillery: Fettercairn
Name: Fasque
Region: Highland
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 42%
Batch No.:
Colour: Dark Amber
Nose: Pleasant, slight fruitiness
Taste: Well-rounded, rich, creamy, some sweetness
Finish: Spice, medium length
Rating: 6/10
Fettercairn Fasque

Fettercairn is not a distillery I am really familiar with, so I did not know what to expect from the Fasque, the introductory whisky in their range from what I can gather. At first I was unsure, the nose is pleasant enough but nothing really jumps out, other than a slight fruitiness once it has been left a little while, and had chance to oxygenate. The palate however was a different story and recovered it from the realms of the low score. It’s smooth, which is aided by the slight creaminess, well-balanced with some richer flavours coming through, and a slight sweetness towards the end moving onto a little spice on the finish, that lasts just long enough.

I was turned around with this one, an enjoyable dram that will be a good addition to the winter, drinking whisky collection. I managed to get this on offer at £25, though it is usually about £30 I think, but it is still worth the money.

Edradour 10, 12 Madeira & 13 Natural Cask Strength

Edradour 10 year old

Distillery: Edradour
Region: Highland
Age: 10
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.:
Colour: Light Amber
Nose: Strong, earthy, almonds with a little sweetness
Taste: Powerful, same earthiness
Finish: Short, dry
Rating: 3/10
Edradour 10 year old
Edradour is Scotland’s smallest distillery, making as much whisky in a year as most make in a week (or so it says on the box). The Edradour 10 year old is their entry level whisky and I can honestly say, it is like no other whisky I have ever tasted. I would love to know what gives it such a unique nose and palate, maybe it the water or maybe its the stills, I have no idea. If I am honest though, I am not a huge fan of the 10 year old, I’m impressed that they can get such powerful flavour from a 10 but it is just a little too different for may my taste. I would however suggest that everyone at least try it once, you never know, that unique flavour might just suit you.

Edradour 12 year old Madeira Cask Finish

Distillery: Edradour
Region: Highland
Age: 12
Finish: Madeira
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 55%
Batch No.: N/A
Colour: Light Amber
Nose: Powerful, complex, sweet, creamy, heavenly
Taste: Complex, smooth, balanced, some sweetness
Finish: Long, warm, strong (alcohol)
Rating: 10/10
Edradour 12 year old Madeira

The Edradour Madeira cask 12 year old from the ‘Straight from The Cask’ range, what can I say, but wow. I was put off Edradour after the bottle of 10 year old I purchased, but had my eyes opened at a local whisky tasting, and man am I happy they bought this out. The nose has so much complexity, there appears to be something new each time you breath in. The palate, again, so much flavour and complexity but well balanced with just the right amount of sweetness from the Madeira cask, and this continues on to the finish.At 55% you can tell that it is strong, without water you can feel the alcohol on the nose, palate and finish. Just a small addition of water however, opens everything up and smooths everything out so that you can really appreciate what this whisky has to offer. At around £50 for a 50cl bottle it is not cheap, but I have to say, it is worth every penny. There are quite a few in the ‘Straight from The Cask’ range, I am looking forward to trying the Sherry cask one as my next Edradour purchase.

Notes

Initial Maturation
Distilled 19th November 1997
Disgorged 2nd May 2007
Second Maturation
Into Cask 2nd May 2007
Bottled 19th August 2010
Number of Bottles 529

Edradour 13 year old Natural Cask Strength

Distillery: Edradour
Region: Highland
Age: 13
Finish: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 58.1%
Batch No.: 229
Colour: Amber
Nose: Rich, deep, powerful
Taste: Smooth, creamy, complex, earthy
Finish: Long, dry
Rating: 7/10
Edradour 13 year old natural Cask Strength

The Edradour 13 year old (9 days off 14 year old) Sherry cask from the ‘Natural Cask Strength’ range was a recent purchase, open for this review. I was a little surprised by this one to be honest, The Whisky Exchange where I got it, advertise it as ‘almost certainly come out of a sherry cask’, but I’m not sure. Now I’m no expert but for it is too dry and lacks the sweetness that usually comes from a sherry finish, I am questioning if it is a wine cask finish maybe. It mentions nothing of the finish on the bottle and I have not been able to find any info on the Edradour web site.It is a lovely whisky even though it has a hint of the 10 year old earthiness to it, just better balanced. It has a very dry finish too, much like the 10 year old but holds the flavour for much longer. It is strong though, 58.1% is quite evident when sampled neat, but be careful with the water, there is a definite comprise to be had with this one. Just a small amount of water seems to kill the nose, but open the palate, though it still keeps that strength. To water it down enough to kill the strength on the palate would eliminate any note it has for sure.

Notes

Distilled 24th May 1999
Bottled 15th May 2013
Number of Bottles 701

Glenglassaugh Revival

Distillery: Glenglassaugh
Region: Highland
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Colour: Golden
Nose: Well balanced, complex, fresh, some sweetness
Taste: Fresh, crisp, coastal
Finish: Light, coastal
Rating: 6/10
Glenglassaugh Revival
I found this to be a pleasant dram, easy drinking for a sherry cask but not without flavour. This is helped by the coastal qualities, fresh and crisp with a slight salty undertone. At 46% however this one does improve with a little water, not much is needed though or the balance is thrown off, the complexity is lost and it will become a little bland.

Glengoyne Range 15, 18 & 21 years

My first post is about some of the Glengoyne range. I purchased samples of a 15, 18 and 21 year old, so that I could sit down and do a back to back tasting of the distillery’s medium to high range of whiskies.

15 Year Old

Distillery: Glengoyne
Region: Highland
Age: 15
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: N/A

Colour: Light gold
Nose: Light, sweet
Taste: Light, no flavour really stands out
Finish: Medium length, dry
Rating: 5/10

Refreshing, enjoyable dram, particular on a warm day. Light, but at 43%, has that little extra kick, some may prefer with a dash of water as a result, but I would be careful on how much you put in as it could easily kill the flavour, personally I would not add any.

I have not yet tried the 10 or 12 years so it is difficult to judge, but I would personally say that it is probably not worth the money that I have seen it at (around £45). For me it just lacks a little something for a 15 and for the price.

18 Year Old

Distillery: Glengoyne
Region: Highland
Age: 18
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: N/A

Colour: Rich gold
Nose: Light but complex. Light fruits such as apple
Taste: Rich, smooth, spicy and slightly sweet
Finish: Strong, long lasting
Rating: 8/10

I unfortunately never got to try the 17 year old, which the 18 year old replaced, but I can say that it has it has definitely been replace with a splendid whisky. I have seen it at around £70 and have to say that when compared the 15, it is worth the extra. A wonderful drink, warmer than the 15, would be a good a spring or autumn drink. Again at 43% some may like some water, you can get away with a little more added to this one given it’s rich flavour, but I found that it did not really need much.

21 Year Old

Distillery: Glengoyne
Region: Highland
Age: 21
Chill-filtered: Yes
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: N/A

Colour: Rich copper
Nose: Rich, complex, sweet, spicy
Taste: Rich, smooth, spicy
Finish: Warm, medium length
Rating: 9/10

When I saw the colour I thought, Wow! Very clear that it is a first-fill sherry cask (Oloroso), as is the 18 incidentally. To me it is worth every penny. If you can afford the extra ontop of the 18, go for it. At time of writing though, Master of Malt were doing it at a cracking price, just £9 more than the 18.

This one comes highly recommended for those sherry cask lovers, it’s everything you would want from a 21 year old sherry cask whisky. This one is again at 43% so a little water may be required for some. It seems to carry the strength even more than the 18, so even with the water it has a bit of a kick, but without sacrificing the flavour however.