Category Archives: Speyside

# 85 – Auchroisk 23 Year Old (A.D.Rattray)

Distillery: Auchroisk
Name: A.D.Rattray Bottling
Age: 23
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 49.1%
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price:  ?
Distilled: 19th February 1993
Bottled: 21st March 2016
Bottles: 282
Cask #: 8641
Nose: Light, fleshy fruits, floral, marzipan
Taste: Light, banana, malty
Finish: Dry, spicy, woody
Rating: 7/10

I picked this bottle up at the A.D.Rattray shop last year during my Scotland trip as Auchroisk is a distillery I am unfamiliar with.

The nose is light with a lot of fleshy fruits present at first along with a slight floral note in the background. After a while this fruitiness softens and is replaced with marzipan and a touch of malt. When covering the glass for a few seconds you then get subtle hints of damp forest floor.

The palate is initially quite light with a bit of banana present but then quickly transforms into a malty, spicy dram, a lot richer than the colour and nose would suggest. With the addition of water the malt softens but the spice is still present. There is also a hint of pineapple in there too. The finish is quite short in flavour but long in spice.

Overall a quality dram, complex without being a challenge to identify it’s qualities. Powerful enough when neat but smooth with just a touch of water, and the spice just keeps building on the finish, lovely.

#81 – Balmenach 11 Year Old (Douglas Bottling)

Distillery: Balmenach
Name: N/A
Age: 11
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £64 (The Whisky Shop)
Distilled: December 2003
Bottled: September 2015
Cask Reference: 11939
Cask Type: Refill Hogshead
Bottles: 357
Nose: Citrus, sherry, cigar & wood smoke
Taste: Creamy, fruity, spicy
Finish: Medium, spicy, tobacco
Rating: 7/10

This bottling of Balmenach is an independent bottling by Douglas of Drumlanrig which I picked up in the Loch Fyne Whisky Shop in Inverary on my holiday last year (2016).

This is a light coloured whisky with a fresh citrus aroma to it. There is a hint of sherry to it which gives it a little depth to the nose but there is a massive surprise waiting on the finish, a mix of cigar and wood smoke. Just comes out of the blue. You take in a deep breath of that nose and you get a hint of it, breath back out and it’s right there, it’s great.

Onto the palate and you are struck by an initial creamy feel all around your mouth, a silky smoothness to it. This moves into a real light fleshy fruits quality, a slight fruity sweetness coming with it, but not too much. What follows is a slow build up of spice that just keeps going, getting more and more intense. It’s not the only quality on the finish however, remember that cigar smoke from the nose, well now you get the tobacco on the finish, subtle but a pleasant addition (coming from a non-smoker too).

Overall I have really enjoyed this bottle of Balmenach, it’s the first time I have tried it and have been happy with what I have got. A smooth easy drinking yet slightly smokey dram, just smokey in a different sense to what people usually think for a whisky.

#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.

Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 42

Distillery: Aberlour
Name: a’Bunadh Batch 42
Region: Speyside
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 60.3%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: No longer available
Nose: Sherry, baked fruits, spice, sweetness, marzipan
Taste: Oily, rich, sherry, black cherry, sweet, dry, spicy
Finish: Long, warm, spicy, dry, oaky
Rating: 8/10

So I have managed to get my hands on another, older, a’Bunadh from Aberlour, a Batch 42 this time. This will be the 3rd (excluding the early one as I don’t really remember that one) a’Bunadh I’ve tried, 42, 45 & 48.

Has a slightly stronger nose to it than the others, lighter however. There are less dark fruits in it, more like baked fruits with a bit more sweetness from the addition of marzipan that the others did not have.

The palate is also lighter than the others, still oily and rich, just not as much. It has a nice sweetness level and when the sherry notes turn to black cherry, what can I say but it a lovely dram. Hold it for a while and it begins to dry and the spice makes an appearance, not as much ABV burn as expected, the 48 has much more. Both the dryness and the spice remain on the long and warm finish, fantastic on a dark, cold winter evening.

I’ve enjoyed trying another a’Bunadh, I can really see why they have such a good reputation, all of which I have really enjoyed. All have differences but also have an underlying commonality. It’s hard to pick a winner but I’d say the 42 just about gets it due to the fact that it is the easiest to drink out of them yet still has all that flavour and richness present.

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.

The Speyside 13 Year Old

Distillery: The Speyside
Name:
Region: Speyside
Age: 13
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 10cl
Price: ?
Nose: Barley, well balanced, light
Taste: Creamy, barley, minty
Finish: Warm, spicy, short
Rating: 4/10

This was part of a tasting set that was bought for me and is described as ‘a dram to share’ on the bottle. I have done so, and my friends were, well a little underwhelmed to be honest, much like I was.

It does not have an offensive nose, it’s well balanced with a little sweetness and barley notes coming through but is lacking some interest. The palate is better however with a good creamy body, that barley note continues but with a subtle and brief note of mint. Although the finish is quite short, it does have a bit of warmth and some spice there.

It is not a distasteful dram but it just lacks interest for me unfortunately. I know you don’t want a big, bold, complex whisky all of the time but there are a lot of other whiskies that I would prefer as an ‘everyday’ option personally.

Tomintoul 12 Year Old Oloroso Sherry Finish

Distillery: Tomintoul
Name: Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish
Region: Speyside
Age: 12
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £32
Nose: Light, crisp, sherry
Taste: Creamy, fresh, sherry, vanilla
Finish: Dry, sweet, warm
Rating: 7/10

A limited edition run of a 12 year old finished in Oloroso Sherry casks for 18 months. As a big fan of Oloroso finished whiskies I was looking forward to this one; I was not disappointed either. With only 18 months in sherry casks it’s like it has had a light drizzle of sherry, it still has a relatively light nose and palate, with a freshness to it but with an added complexity from the sherry.

It is a refreshing, easy drinking sherry cask dram, which as far as I am concerned, cannot be a bad thing, it’s not often I find an ‘everyday’ sherry cask whisky, but I think this is one of them. It is not the most complex, but it is full of flavour and definitely a moorish dram.

Tomintoul 14 Year Old

Distillery: Tomintoul
Name: N/A
Region: Speyside
Age: 14
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £36 (for 70cl)
Nose: Light fruits, sweet, clinical, earthy, slight saltiness
Taste: Sweet, vanilla, creamy, good body, earthy, malty
Finish: Lasting but not complex, warm
Rating: 6/10

A very pale dram this one, almost clear. It has a very light, refreshing nose with a little sweetness and a strange clinical note to it, with just a hint of salt towards the end. On the palate you get a really good mouth feel from the creaminess, you want to roll it around for a while, you also get a lot of vanilla. The finish is reasonably long lasting but not particularly complex, it is light and warm.

Once aired a while an earthiness starts to come through on both the nose and palate, nothing too strong but just enough to add another level of interest. There is a bit of alcohol burn from this one so I thought I’d try it with the addition of water. This kind of kills the delicate nose to be honest, it does however open the palate up wonderfully. Still creamy, vanilla but now with some maltyness coming through as well.

I lovely dram but a little too delicate for me. If you are after a light, creamy, sweet whisky then this may be for you.

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 🙁