Tag Archives: Easy Drinking

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.

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.

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.

Rittenhouse Rye 100 Proof

Distillery: Heaven Hill
Name: Rittenhouse Rye 100 Proof (Bottled in Bond)
Region: Kentucky
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 50%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £34 (70cl)
Nose: Rich, rye, caramel, smooth, crisp
Taste: Spicy, smooth, slightly sweet, smoky
Finish: Short, light
Rating: 7/10

So I’ve heard quite a few good things about Rittenhouse Rye and have been after trying it for a while, but then I got a sample of the 100 Proof instead, even better.

The nose starts very rich, obviously very rye, which I love, and also has a caramel smoothness but with a strangely crisp finish. Onto the palate you get a very well-rounded dram with a great mouth feel, very smooth with a slight sweetness and just a little smokiness peaking through towards the end (once aired a little). I was surprised how little alcohol burn there is for it’s strength, I would never guess it’s 50%. The finish is actually quite short and light I felt unfortunately, which is the only thing that lets it down.

I’m no expert on ryes but the ones I have had I also seem to enjoy, this is no exception. I have not been disappointed, it’s a very easy drinking, yet complex and flavoursome rye and worth the money in my eyes.

I would like to thank Tom (@Tom_Blumsom) again for the sample.

Mackmyra Brukswhisky

Distillery: Mackmyra
Name: Brukswhisky
Region: Sweden
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 41.4%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £36 (70cl)
Nose: Light fruits, vanilla, slight spice
Taste: Light, caramel, smooth, oak
Finish: Short, spicy
Rating: 5/10

Thanks to Tom Blumsom (@Tom_Blumsom) I have the opportunity to do a side-by-side tasting of 2 Mackmyra, which I have been looking forward to as I feel you can get a much better idea of how a whisky can differ this way.

So the Brukswhisky has a similar nose to the 1st Edition, just lighter and more delicate with a bit more vanilla, slightly less spice though. The palate is very light and refreshing with a lovely caramel smoothness to it. Once aired, it gets a little oakiness coming through which carries on to the short but spicy finish, not dry however that often goes with the oakiness.

Overall I would have to say that I prefer the 1st Edition, it has more going on, yet still remains light and refreshing. That is not to say that the Brukswhisky is bad, on a lovely summers day it could be a dangerous dram to have to hand, and around friends I feel it could disappear quite quickly due to it’s freshness.

I would like to thank Tom for the sample, it was great to be able to compare them.

Mackmyra – The 1st Edition

Distillery: Mackmyra
Name: The 1st Edition
Region: Sweden
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46.1%
Batch No.: ME-001 (Art. nr. whatever that is)
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £41
Nose: Light fruits, vanilla, caramel, crisp, citrus, subtle spice
Taste: Light, fruity, spicy
Finish: Dry, spicy, medium length
Rating: 7/10

This is my first bottle of what would be known as a ‘world whisky’. I have to admit, when I saw the bottle I knew nothing about it, never heard of Mackmyra so had no idea what to expect. If you don’t try however, you’ll never know, and for around £45 that it cost me I though it was worth a punt.

So, was I disappointed? Hell no! As soon as I got to nosing this dram I was impressed, very different to what I have previously had on the nose, to me it was quite unique. Weather this is the Swedish oak that is used, ingredients or just the distillation process, I don’t know, but I do know I liked it.

On the nose it has a lovely sweet fruitiness, all light fruits, with some vanilla and caramel there also. It is kept fresh by a citrus note and finishes with a slight spice. The 46.1% abv is very well disguised on the nose, you do not get the burn that you can with some.

Onto the palate and the lightness is continued, it is a very refreshing dram, this. The fruitiness is also there still as is the caramel; that spice really begins to kick in also. The spice continues for a medium length, with a dryness continuing for a longer period on the finish.

Overall I have been very impressed with the Mackmyra 1st Edition. It is a light, refreshing dram with a lovely, unique nose that has gone down very well. I will certainly be looking out for more from them.

Balblair 2002 – 1st Release

Distillery: Balblair
Name: 2002 – 1st Release
Region: Highland
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £39 (70cl)
Nose: Light, vanilla, marzipan
Taste: Fresh, light fruits, slight spice
Finish: Short and sweet
Rating: 5/10

I’ve tried the 2003, 1990 and 1983 at Whisky Live festival in London just a few weeks ago, and then remembered that I had a sample of the 2002 at home. Whilst they were still fresh in my mind I thought I would do a tasting.

The nose is very light with strong vanilla notes. I also picked a hint of marzipan and, having seen other tasting notes admittedly, icing sugar. On the palate it is really light and refreshing, think light fruits, ripe apples and pears with a subtle spice towards the end. There is not much on the finish though to be honest, it is short with a slight fruity sweetness.

Overall it reminds me a lot of the 2003 unsurprisingly, a light enjoyable dram, but at 46% it is worth adding a drop of water to make it go down smoothly.

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.