Bruichladdich Octomore 2.1

Islay region — 62.50%ABV – $130 | £97 | €112

There’s a lot to be said about this whisky but much of it is going to come out from the whisky itself.

What I can tell you before we get into the actual review of it is that it’s a big furry bear of a whisky; chock full of a lot more than I expected (to be very honest with you).

When this whisky first came out I was a bit skeptical.  I thought that Bruichladdich’s coming out with the biggest, peatiest whisky on the market was nothing more than a “who’s got the biggest whisky schvanse” marketing ploy and nothing more.  I think I was wrong.  Dead wrong.

I think I’m going to skip to the chase here on this whisky…

On the nose Nice and fruity – pears, rhubarb, licorice, soured and sweetened milk (again, baby vomit – it must be a young Bruichladdich thing), lemony, white lithium grease, oh yeah, some peaty smokiness…

For having a peat level of 10 trillion parts per million (OK, it’s really 140ppm), it’s not the burning cauldron of brimstone I expected.

A bit young and fiery, filled with salt and spit (like a young Ricky Hatton, if he were a whisky) – with water the menthol kicks in as does an immense brush fire.

Reminds me of the time when I was 8 years old and burned down my local woods while playing with matches.  Light a match, blow it out.  Light a match, blow it out.  Look down and, wham-o, my shoes are on fire!  I ran away intact.  I wish I could say the same for the woods…

On the mouth Wham, bam thank you ma’am!

I just got bitch slapped by this ‘laddich!

The ABV is making its presence known…  Hot!

However, the mouth feel is great, oily, chewy… nice, nice, nice.

Buttery biscuits, ashes, licorice, more ashes.

With water: it just got that much chewier and now creamy;

with water, this is a true treat.

Apples arrive and so does caramel (fantastic combination).

Delicious, chewlicious, peatlicious.

Finish On and on, creamy, peaty and fruity…

In sumI love it when I’m proved wrong.  This is a great whisky that has MUCH more to offer that peat & smoke.  A lovely stunner with the sweet, sour, fruits, smoke, chewiness, etc…  Especially given the price, this is one to treat yourself with (preferably during the winter time).

A big thanks goes out to Gal of Whisky Israel for this sample.  Gal did a side by side (or head to head, however you want to look at it) of the Octomore 2.1 & 2.2 – click here for his good thoughts on these Octomores.

Dalmore 21yo Sherrywood

Highlands region – 43%ABV – $|£|€ – ???

Every now and again I will do sample trades with friends, fellow bloggers, readers of the blog and JSMWS society members.  I may have something they want and vice versa.  Sample trades are a great way to expand your palate and horizons; a way for your to find new whiskies you may love (or hate).

This being said, I recently did a swap with one of the JSMWS members from our west coast contingency.  Marshall, the aforementioned member, and I recently had the following swap:  I offered up some Hanyu 18yo single cask #370 and Signatory 17yo single cask Linkwood (1st fill sherry) for some Dalmore 21yo Sherrywood & a 13yo Bowmore that was matured in a petrus wine cask (then bottled by Bruichladdich which threw me a bit…).

Marshall told me that this particular Dalmore is a desert island dram for him – one of his top three whiskies.  Thems is strong words, my friend… strong words.  I’ve had a few Dalmores, most being very nice, with the 1973 being a goddess of a whisky.  Marshall, let’s see if this is as good a whisky as you pumped it up to be:

On the nose Big mouthwatering nose, chock full of sour oranges, black pepper and extra dark & bitter chocolate.

Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars (a milk chocolatey quality is here in addition to the dark mentioned above).

Candied citrus rind filled fruit cakes.

Increasingly peppery and somewhat way smelling.

A touch smokey after a couple of minutes.

The oak now rears its head (“rears its head…” I like that little phrase.  It’s funny and sounds dirrrrty in a sophomoric way).

Warm, warm oak – toasted oak.

On the mouth A very minty attack.

Caramel covered oranges.

Slightly soapy, oily and chewy all at once.

Pepper bite, orange creamsicles.

Spiced pears.

Mixed berry candies of the hard and powdered variety.

Finish Long, peppery and filled with more mixed berries flavors.

In sum Now THIS is a Dalmore.  After the 1973, this may be the best one I’ve had to date.  Candied and soothing.

This both tastes great and is filling – it’s a heavy whisky but one not to take lightly.

One to celebrate with… that’s if you can find a bottle.

Big thanks goes out to Marshall for the sample swap.  This was some fine whisky indeed!

Edradour 10yo – 1999 Sauternes finish bottled at 57.6% ABV

Highland Region – 57.6%ABV – £43 | €50

I’ve seen many bottlings of Edradour whisky on the shelves here in the US.  I’ve always liked the packaging and the fact that many of the bottles I saw were bottled at cask strength and seemed to be somewhat experimental in nature with many different types of wine and barrel finishes.

It wasn’t until my interview with Mr. Alan Shayne (President of the US chapter of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, SMWSA) that I really began to consider a bottle.  When Alan mentioned that one of his uncles was once an owner of the distillery, I instantly wanted to try some.

Being a lover of Sauternes finished whiskies, when Master of Malt offered me some free 3cl sized samples I chose this as one of them.  A big thanks goes out to Master of Malt for the sample!

Sadly, since writing up this post, MoM is out of the full bottles…

I expect this whisky to be delicious (Sauternes finish, cask strength… what’s not to love or look forward to?) Let’s see if this whisky lives up to my expectations:

On the nose Big warm, sauternesy nose loaded with apricot, walnuts, honey and white grapes.

So far so good.

Oranges, cloves and warm cream.

Fruity yet savory liquid hand soap.

A whisper of rosemary.

Toasty rye bread, dry.

On the mouth A very soapy entry.

After that, more of the same from the nose.

This is a good thing as the sauternes finish compliments this whisky very nicely.

Apricot jam and sour/sugared apple lollipops – very puckering.

Finish Shortish yet, warming, mouth watering and savory/sweet

In sum An instant favorite for me.  Of all the finishes for a whisky, sauternes is my favorite.  When done right, it puts me in heaven.  Save this whisky for some YOU time.

Compass Box – Spice Tree “The Second Coming”

Blended Malt whiskies from the Highlands – 46%ABV – $58 | £35 | €41

There a great story behind the Compass Box Spice Tree and why there needed to be a “Second Coming” of the blend.  You see, this whisky was, at one time, deemed illegal by the SWA due to some interesting and innovative casking practices for this whisky.

To release this new version, Compass Box had to make some tweaks to how the whisky was extra-matured.  Compass Box being Compass Box, the tweaks were made but quality was not adversely effected.  Compass Box explains their new, updated (and now legal) maturing process:

“Over the past three years we have developed a new maturation process which yields similar if not superior results to our previous method, and this new process is something the SWA can’t take any issue with.

As in the past, The Spice Tree is 100% malt whisky sourced from northern Highland distilleries, (notably and primarily malt whisky distilled at the Clynelish distillery). The primary maturation is in a mix of first-fill and refill American oak.

What is different is the secondary maturation. Rather than using inner stave inserts, as we did for the original Spice Tree, we rack the whisky into barrels with heavily toasted new French oak heads. We have created a method for getting a super heavy toast on the cask heads which imparts a flavour profile similar to the flat staves used for the original Spice Tree. We use oak with three different levels of toasting on the barrel heads, thus allowing us to blend the resultant whiskies to create additional layers of complexity. This secondary maturation lasts as long as two years.”

Sounds interesting, right??

On the noseInner tire tubes lead to orange zest and cloves.

Biscuits and blackberry bramble.

Some quick hints of dry sherry then an interesting blend of ginger beer and cream soda ride up my nose using the aforementioned inner tire tube.

Hint of soft yet dry red wine.

On the mouth Big, waxy, chewy and insanely appetizing.

There’s a reason this is called the spice tree; you name it – ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg are all joining schwartzes here.

It’s as if those spices are being mixed in a cup of orange vanilla cream.

Cherry tarts.

As we get closer to the finish, there’s an oakiness that comes through.

Finish Long and oaken with ever lasting hints of vanilla and cherry.

In sum A lovely after dinner sipper that’s got a decent nose but shines like a diamond in the tasting of it.  An instant favorite for me but I could see this being almost too spiced and sweet for some people.  This is as ‘in-your-face’ as a bourbon yet NOTHING like a bourbon (it is Scotch malt whisky after all).  For bourbon drinkers, this could be a gateway whisky for you into the wide world of Scotch malt whisky.

While I found the Compass Box Hedonism to be my favorite blended whisky of 2010, I think I would have had made a different choice if I reviewed this one last year.

Special thanks goes out to Robin R for the sample!

There are a lot of good reviews out there for this whisky but I thought I’d bring your attention to this one from the Malt Impostor(s) – I love their reviews <jedi mind trick> and so do you </jedi mind trick>

Suntory Hakushu 12yo – G-d Bless you!

Japan – 43%ABV – £46 | €54


“G-d bless” said a kind yet unknowing man.  We’ll call him… “Kevin”.  He thought I sneezed when I said Hakushu.  No, that was not a sneeze.  It was me yelling out the name of a Suntory whisky that, with hope, will be available in America this year.

“Kevin” is your typical American who, when it comes to whisk(e)y only thinks of Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniels, Dewars or Southern Comfort… he has never heard of Japanese whisky.  In fact, if you told him that the Japanese produced whisky, he’d most likely remark, “Japanese whisky?!  I never knew the Japanese made Scotch!!”

Just the facts ma’am —

Only the Scots make Scotch.  Simple fact.  Scotch is a whisky.  Bourbon is a whiskey.  Rye whiskey is, you guessed is a whiskey.  And Japanese whisky is… whisky!  Silly do-do American (sorry to all of my compatriots!)!!

What’s my point here?  Oh yeah, I love Japanese whisky and I find it really frustrating that there is so little of it readily available in the US.  The good news, as I mentioned above, is that Suntory will be bringing Hakushu to the states very soon.  Currently we can enjoy Hibiki (a blended Japanese whisky; the 21yo made my Best Whisky tasted in 2010 award) and Yamazki which is a single malt.  Both are Suntory whiskies.

Hopefully, sometime soon, we’ll get Nikka whisky here in the US.  Until then Suntory’s got our backs.

A special thanks goes out to Yoshi M for the generous sample!

On the nose Initial reaction: fruity, spicy, grapey, floral, malty and a touch of smoke.

Let’s break it out a bit though… I think we have a case of which came first, the chicken or the omelet.

Many aspects fighting to the fore such as mango and green apple (predominantly).

The floweriness is lovely here too (a bit of jasmine).

This is honeyed as well with a bit of vanilla.

Spiced gum drops.

Lemongrass and black raisins.

Nice and malty.

On the mouth Much like the nose except there’s a smoked & spiced nuttiness here.

Very malty, gobs of malt – smoked malt (I must stress – this is not an overly smokey whisky).

Fruits abound (they’re all up in this shit)!

Think crabapples and green apple pie.

Smokey still though not overbearing… it’s balancing out the sweet and spice, right nice.

Finish The finish is all on jasmine tea and spice.

In sum A wonderfully balanced whisky that can and will hold it’s own against many Scotch whiskies.  This is perfect as an aperitif or as a mid-day dram.  I’m looking forward to this being available in the US.  It’s a keeper, an everyday dram for sure.