Category Archives: Islay

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 🙁

Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1995

Distillery: Lagavulin
Name:  Distillers Edition 1995
Region: Islay
Age: 16
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: 4/499
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £66
Colour: Amber
Nose: Light peat, rich, sweet
Taste: Light peat, full bodied, rich, smooth, coastal, dry
Finish: Light peat, warm, medium
Rating: 8/10
Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1995

I am a big fan of the standard 16yo Lagavulin so after finishing a bottle I decided to try the next one up, the Double Matured Distillers Edition from 1995, and boy was I not disappointed. It is less peated that the standard 16yo as a result of the maturation in Pedro Ximenez casks, but it has also resulted in a richer flavour. This is apparent on both the nose and the palate, with the palate also giving your mouth a lovely coating of the initial richness, which then dries out with a slight coastal note coming through, leading to a lovely, warm, medium length finish. The peat notes are apparent throughout but is perfectly balanced, not overpowering.

Due to it’s smoothness I also did not find the need to add water, it is not harsh. If you prefer water however then it has plenty of flavour to allow a generous amount, if that is how you take it.

A wonderful whisky that I am happy to have as part of my collection. It is an improvement on the standard 16yo in some ways, but looses some of its character at the same time. To choose between them would be very difficult, I would simply prefer to say you should have one of each, they both have their time depending on your mood.

Jura Superstition & Diurachs’ Own

Superstition

Distillery: Jura
Region: Islay
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: N/A
Colour: Amber
Nose: Light, coastal hints, slight sweetness
Taste: Light, fresh, lightly peated, coastal
Finish: Light, medium length, slightly dry
Rating: 6/10
Jura Superstition

Quite accurately described as ‘delicate/light peated’ on the boxes’ 2×2 matrix, this is a very easy drinking dram, fantastic on a hot summer day. It is light and refreshing with slight coastal (sea air, saltiness) tones on the nose but with a little sweetness hidden in there also. This continues onto both the palate and the finish but with the addition of a slight peatiness coming through.Although it is a little stronger than normal at 43%, the addition of water is not necessary due to the already light nature of the drink. The strength is not over powering and the addition of water does loose some of the qualities of the whisky. If you like your lightly peated whiskies or if you want a good introduction into peated whiskies then this is a fantastic choice.

Diurachs’ Own

Distillery: Jura
Region: Islay
Age: 16
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Colour: Amber
Nose: Rich but crisp, coastal hints
Taste: Well rounded, slight sweetness, coastal
Finish: Long, coastal, slightly dry
Rating: 6/10
Jura Diurachs' Own
Diurachs is the Gaelic name for the people of Jura and the whisky is described as ‘rich, full-bodied and unpeated’ on the boxes’ new matrix, now a 5 section circle due to the addition of Elixir. It has a deeper, more intense nose it than the Superstition yet manages to keep a crispness to it at the same time, a little unusual but it works. The coastal tones are evident throughout helping to keep it refreshing, which is nice change for a rich whisky. It makes it a whisky that can still be enjoyed on a warm day, when I usually expect this type to be more of a winter warmer.

The Ileach Peaty

Distillery: Ileach
Region: Islay
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: Yes
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Colour: Amber
Nose: Peaty, chemical
Taste: Medium weight peat, smooth
Finish: Short but harsh and bitter
Rating: 2/10
The Ileach Peaty

I have become a fan of peated whiskies over the last few years but I can’t quite settle with The Ileach Peaty. It’s not that it is distasteful, it just that it feels, well fake. It doesn’t feel like a peaty whisky, more a whisky with peat flavourings added. Now it is a no-age statement whisky so I am not expecting a top class dram, but there doesn’t appear to be anything more than medium strength, slightly artificial peaty note to the nose and on the palate, it would be nice to have something else there, something genuine that you can sink you teeth into. I found the finish a little surprising as well because the palate is smooth but the finish is a little too bitter.

It may just be the lack of age that lets it down, but I would personally spend the extra on something like a Laphroig if you want a peat monster or save a few quid and go for a Ledaig if you want a more subtly peated whisky. Sorry Ileach.