Tag Archives: Summer Dram

#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.

#82 – Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Edition

Distillery: Ardbeg
Name: Dark Cove (2016 Committee Edition)
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 55%
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: Unavailable
Nose: Petroleum, tar, dark chocolate, toffee
Taste: Peat, dark chocolate, coffee,
Finish: Medium, peaty, spice
Rating: 8/10

I had the pleasure of visiting Islay around this time last year and while there I made the trip to the Ardbeg distillery to do the Warehouse Tasting. What a great place and great location/atmosphere to do a tasting. While at the distillery I spotted the Committee Edition of Dark Cove, knocked out at 55% rather than the 46.5% of the standard.

The initial hit on the nose as I pour is of petroleum, it’s strong but very short lived. It then opens up into a hot tar and dark chocolate mixture, if you can even imagine that. Give it a bit more time and it starts to soften and you begin to get a little more creamy toffee note. The ABV is very obvious at first but it does soften as it aerates and after a couple of minutes any burn has gone.
Onto the palate and you are presented with that much sort after Ardbeg peat, but it’s not alone. Oh no, it brings some welcome friends, high cocoa dark chocolate and a little bit of coffee come along for the ride, giving this peaty monster some real depth. Given a few minutes I start to detect a subtle sweetness coming through, some of that toffee from the nose maybe. This leads into a medium length finish that is a little dry, unsurprisingly peaty with a real spicy hit.
A truly wonderful expression from Ardbeg yet again, different enough from the core range with a much deeper quality to it coming from those sherry casks, and yet still light enough to be enjoyed on a summer evening. A great dram any time of the year.

#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.

#80 – Kilchoman 2008 Vintage

Distillery: Kilchoman
Name: 2008 Vintage
Age: 7
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £66 (The Whisky Exchange)
Nose: Citrus, barley, peat
Taste: Slight sweetness, smoke, blueberries
Finish: Medium, spice
Rating: 8/10

Kilchoman is the newest of the Islay distilleries, the first in 125 years in fact, opening in 2005 and is actually a farm distillery. The expression I am trying today is the 2008 Vintage that I purchased when I visited the distillery last year (2016), such a wonderful location too.

The nose is not too complicated with this dram (but not in a bad way, trust me), it starts with a heavy hit of citrus and barley, giving it a wonderfully fresh aroma. This leads onto a lightly creamy note and then into a peaty finish, the creaminess really softening the peat out however, just lovely.

Onto the palate and you are first tempted into a slight honey sweet note, but then get gently guided away by the smoke and lead towards a light blueberry mid-palate, what an experience. Nothing heavy or forceful here, all just well balanced. I guess the most ‘overpowering’ thing is the spice on the finish, and even then, it’s a push to say overpowering to be honest.

I’ve been privileged enough to have tried most common expressions of Kilchoman and I have to say, this is by far my favourite. It’s just so well balanced, it’s awesome chilled on a warm summers day and yet can equally be savoured on cooler days thanks to the spicy finish.

If this is what we get for a 7 year old whisky, I really can’t wait to see what the 10 year old equivalent is like.

#79 – Wolfburn Single Malt

Distillery: Wolfburn
Name: Single Malt
Age: 3
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £46 (The Whisky Exchange)
Nose: Sweet, light fruits, citrus, minerals, malt, peat
Taste: Honey, malty, coastal, spicy
Finish: Long, floral, smokey, spicy
Rating: 5/10
Wolfburn has a long history, the distillery originating back to 1821 and is the most northerly mainland distillery in Britain. This particular bottle was from the first release as I got my pre-order in as soon as I heard about the new distillery. A long wait later and here we are, ready to review.
As you would expect from such a young whisky, it is very light, straw colour. The initial nose has some sweetness to it with some light, fleshy fruits present. This moves into a citrus aroma with some slight mineral notes and a hint of peat. Given a bit of airing time the malty notes start to come through.
Onto the palate and you get an initial honey sweetness but is again quickly dismissed, this time by the spicy malt that follows. The malt dies down mid palate, though the spice remains for some time and blends in well with some subtle coastal/salty notes which, in turn leads into a slightly smokey floral edge on the finish. After a bit or aeration the sweetness begins to make a bold return and holds it’s ground which I found an interesting turn of events.
For 3 year old whisky this is actually quite a pleasant dram. It obviously has some of the youthful qualities you would expect with a whisky of this age, but with a drop of water/ice in it, this is an amazing dram to sit out in the sun with, or I dare say that youthfulness would be interesting in some cocktails.
I’m looking forward to trying some of their later expressions.

#68 – Loch Lomond 12 Year Old Single Grain Organic

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Name: Single Grain Organic (Dà Mhìle)
Region: Highland
Age: 12
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: Sold Out
Nose: Light, toffee, white fruits, citrus
Taste: Light, toffee, vegetal, spicy
Finish: Short, dry, vegetal
Rating: 5/10

Bottled by Dà Mhìle, a Welsh independent bottler, this sherry cask matured, organic single grain whisky was distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2012.

It has a light aroma that is lead by light toffee notes and followed by notes of white fleshy fruits. There is also some citrus that comes through near the end. With a little time there comes some marzipan notes that replace the toffee and just a touch of a metallic note towards the end.

Onto the palate and it is nice and light much like the nose and again with the light toffee leading. Following the toffee it develops into a slight vegetal dram, a little earthy and then straight into a lovely spicy lift to the end. The finish is quite short and dry with the vegetal notes sticking around.

I would suggest small pours and quick drinking with this one as it is better without the aeration in my opinion. It suits the sweet and spicy characters that comes on first pour more so than the vegetal notes that come with aeration. An enjoyable dram either way though that is very light, lending itself to a summer evening after a hard day at work.

Scapa 16 Year Old

Distillery: Scapa
Name: N/A
Region: Island
Age: 16
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £60 (70cl)
Nose: Light, metallic, light toffee
Taste: Medium body, grass, coastal, oak, spice
Finish: Short, coastal, dry
Rating: 6/10

Scapa is the lesser known distillery from Orkney, Highland Park obviously being the better known one.

The nose is quite light with a metallic edge to it making it crisp and clean. There are some light toffee notes in there too which help to give a bit more depth to it.

The palate has a medium body, it starts as a light grassy whisky with some slightly coastal/salty notes but then, similar to the nose, deepens a little, this time with some oak and spice. It is quite refreshing as it picks up with the coastal notes again on the finish, although the oakyness does give it a dry finish.

Overall a pleasant dram, definitely a summer dram with its coastal notes.

Ardbeg – Blasda, Uigeadail & Corryvreckan

Distillery: Ardbeg
Name: Blasda
Region: Islay
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £170 (Master of Malt 70cl)
Nose: Light peat, floral, citrus, mint
Taste: Light, slightly sweet, slight spice
Finish: Medium, light, slight dryness
Rating: 7/10

 First up tonight is the Blasda, a lightly peated offering from the distillery known for their heavily peated whiskies. This one comes in a just 8ppm opposed to their more usual 24ppm.

The first thing that you notice is just how pale it is compared to the others, also that it is bottled at just 40% which is unusual for Ardbeg from what I have seen. The nose has a gentle peatiness with a citrus and floral freshness, a little vanilla sweetness finishing with just a hint of mint, very summary.

The palate is lovely and light, a real refreshing dram with a light toffee sweetness, a small amount of spice but with an overwhelming sense of flowers and just a hint of that mint again. It has a light, medium length finish to it that has a slight dryness to it.

A real summer dram this one, wonderfully light and refreshing, I believe a bottle would find itself empty quite quickly on a summers day with friends, and without them come to think of it 🙂

I was a little worried about the low ABV to be honest, but I think it really works well with the gentleness of this dram. This just goes to prove that Ardbeg are about more than heavy peat like some people believe. My only real criticism is the price tag, it’s lovely, but it ain’t worth £170.

Distillery: Ardbeg
Name: Uigeadail
Region: Islay
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 54.2%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £50 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Peat, smoke, rich, caramel sweetness, floral
Taste: Peat, sweet, oily, marzipan, dark toffee
Finish: Long, warm, spicy, peaty, malt
Rating: 9/10

 This was actually the first Ardbeg I tried, and I was sold on the distillery with the first sip. It’s not as heavily peated on the nose as I remembered to be honest, you do get the peaty, smokiness but not too strong. It has a real depth and richness to it with some caramel sweetness and a slight floral note at the end to just lighten it a little.

The palate is where the peat and smoke come through but not before some sweetness and slight marzipan notes, all wrapped up in a wonderful mouth-coating oily texture. It is deep and powerful with some richer dark toffee in there also. The finish is unsurprisingly long and peaty but also warm, spicy with a lasting malty flavour.

At 54.2% the Uigeadail can handle a bit of water, it opens the nose up to make it a little lighter with more floral notes but also highlights the caramel. The lovely oily character remains even with water. It increases the sweetness a little, decreases the peat and toffee but also removes the marzipan note.

An amazing dram this one, I love it every time I pour a glass. It’s a bit of a kick in the teeth compared to the Blasda but if you like your peat, you can’t go far wrong with this, worth every penny.

Distillery: Ardbeg
Name: Corryvreckan
Region: Islay
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 57.1%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £60 (Master of Malt 70cl)
Nose: Rich, caramel, tropical fruits
Taste: Sweet, peaty, spicy, rich but light, tropical fruits
Finish: Long, peaty, dry
Rating: 9/10

 Last in the trio is the Corryvreckan. The nose a some great depth to it,  a rich, creamy caramel quality is what first hits but then gets lightened by some tropical fruits. There is a lot going on in the glass but it is wonderfully balanced. Surprisingly note that peaty or smoky though.

On the palate you get that same sort of sweetness as with the Uigeadail along with a lot of spice. The peat comes through on the palate but is not too overpowering as it also has great richness yet remaining reasonably light somehow. The tropical fruits come through from the nose which helps to keep it light on the long and peaty finish. It is a lot drier than the Uigeadail however.

Another amazing expression from Ardbeg this, different enough from the Uigeadail but equally as good in my opinion. Again for the money I think it is worth it, not sure which I’d have though, might need a bottle of each in I think.

Conclusion

Ardbeg is awesome! Just about sums it up I think. All three would be great in summer, especially the Blasda but the Uigeadail & Corryvreckan also have a great richness and spice to them that make them a great winter dram as well, year round drams, what more can you ask for. Like I said earlier though, I think the Blasda is over priced unfortunately, especially given how quickly it would go.

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 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.