When I started writing this post it was 1 day, 14 hours, 57 minutes, 33 seconds until Star Wars.
On the nose — Red wax cherry lips, grape soda (even getting a sting in the nose like you would if you were to sniff a fizzy soda pop), fruity soaps (focus on the fruity and less on the soap), lipstick. Hints of stone fruits but they’re all a bit too overripe/overly sweet.
Normally I like perfumey, floral whisky but I’m not sure about this one. Time to taste.
In the mouth –Heavy malt character, decent mouthfeel, all followed with notes of cherry chews, lipstick (again), grandma’s perfume, a little cedar wood, more grape soda.
A little jalapeño jam on white bread.
Finish — Long and floral.
In sum — I’ve not met a BenRiach I haven’t loved until now. This one was not up my alley, I have to say. I hope that this whisky does not reflect what my experience of Star Wars Episode VII will be.
Strathisla is a very classic Speyside whisky owned by Chivas Bros/Pernod Ricard. The regular bottlings of Strathisla are known to be dense and rich (with some good sherry cask maturation) but most of the juice goes into various Chivas blends.
Today’s dram is a Strathisla that spent 18 years in an American Oak bourbon barrel. The color is incredibly light which tells me that this is a refill cask (3rd or 4th use, my guess). The richness of the European Oak sherry cask will likely not be in here but let’s not assume (we all know what happens when we assume).
Let’s try it:
On the nose — Light, delicate, floral… think white tea (Bai Mu Dan). Some hints of sugary Smarties (the US version, not the UK version).
Candied lemon rind, focusing more on the candy and less on the lemon. Clean dry cardboard in the background.
In the mouth — Here’s where it ramps up a bit. Soft peat at the fore with an allspice backbone.
Fennel seeds and shaved fennel. A touch sour in the mid palate and hints of fresh malted barley.
Luxurious mouthfeel here. Apple sauce with cinnamon and cayenne bring us to the finish.
Finish — That cayenne note is solid all the way through this long finish and sticks around as notes of peony and apple blossoms slowly fade away…
In sum — When longing for a Strathisla, I would not reach for this. When looking for a cracking dram that’s solid through and through regardless of origin, this one fits the bill. This is like a complicated puzzle that, when assembled the way it is, presents a wonderful picture. Great stuff people!
I’m going to limit the preamble in today’s review because the whisky is going to be better than anything I have to say.
Let me quickly say, however, that Abbey Whisky seems to be on to something here, and that something is choosing good casks of whisky to bottle. First they released a 17yo Caperdonich and now they have this 23yo peated Bunnahabhain.
Peated Bunnahabhain can be hit or miss but this one, good people, is a total hit. Check it:
On the nose – Peated Bunnahabhain is *so* peated Bunnahabhain. Quite unique.
Peppery upfront but the peat is soft which I am guessing is due to the 23 years in the refill bourbon cask.
Smoked and dried granny smith apples. Bit-o-Honey candies (a wonderful honey and nutty mix of flavors).
Wildflower greens (minus the flowers) gives this whisky a very late summery feel.
A touch of pool water here as well.
Though bottled at 44% ABV, the peppery quality gives it a touch of sting in the nose.
Heavily salted Tomato Juice (like the V8 Spicy Hot stuff). So far so yummy.
On the mouth – Soft, delicate and nowhere near as peaty on the mouth as it was on the nose.
Very vegetal (as the nose suggested) with hints of lemon, minus any sugar that might be associated with lemons.
Medicinal and Listerine like but in a very comforting way. Those wildflower greens are gone but the flowers make themselves know.
This is, ummm, lovely stuff and it begins to grow in intensity as the finish nears.
Finish – Lovely spice and great Islay character. The finish sticks to your gullet and you’re happy for that!
In sum – One of the better, older, peated Bunnys I’ve ever had. Like grilled peanut butter and jelly on seeded rye bread, all of pieces go together so well for me. I sort of wish I had a full bottle to open and share with friends in a single night. We’ll finish together in a few hours. Yeah, it’s that good.
Special thanks to MS of Abbey Whisky for the surprise sample!
I could start off this post by exclaiming: “The British are coming! The British are coming!”
Or worse (and this would be really bad), I could wax on about the British Invasion and make references to Herman’s Hermits dramlaxing with ‘Enry the Eighth or The Kinks rocking out with The Village Dram Preservation Society or The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Dram…
Heck, if I wanted to I could post this Monty Python bit about Kamikaze Scotsman… if I wanted to:
However, I’m not going to do any of that. Wouldn’t even consider it!
There is a lot to cover in this post so I am going straight to the two whisky reviews.
Both whiskies are bottled at 46% ABV and non-chill filtered and can be found for around $69/bottle here in the USA.
Note that these bottlings are USA specific and have a slightly different make-up as compared to the UK or EU versions. These whiskies have both been matured in both new oak and ex-bourbon casks. The new wood cask usage is specific to the US market.
English Whisky Company “Classic” non-peated – 46% ABV
On the nose – A slightly pungent start on the nose however it’s balanced quite nicely with hints of pear drops and a slight spicy/spiced edge.
Damp dish towels are in here but it’s also bit like a banana split with, well, bananas, vanilla bean ice cream, the smell of nitrous from the whipped cream dispensing bottle and slight, distant notes of salted almond. A vegetal quality as well that reminds me of milk thistle.
On the mouth – Ab-fab mouthfeel. Attention whisky producers – this is the oily mouthfeel you want to target for your bottlings. For realz.
The spicy element really comes through. It’s a most welcome element that creates a nice frame for the fine and malty backbone. Some light fruits in here as well as hints of wild flowers. This is a really delicate and soft whisky.
Finish – A nice long and drying finish.
In sum – This whisky is nice, delicate and understated. However, there’s a spicy edge to it that is so very interesting…. Oddly enough, I see myself bundling up by a fire and drinking this one. So, I’d say this is a fine winter-time dram.
English Whisky Company Peated – 46% ABV
On the nose – Soft peat and again, floral, like I got with on the “Classic” version. An absolute joy that is somewhat reminiscent of the Octomore Comus when I nose it. Salty and oh, so biscuity on the nose. Anise seed or black licorice and touches of plums.
After a few minutes, the spice really shines through.
On the mouth – A nice mouthfeel but not as oily as the sample of the “Classic” I have. Very malty and salty with a good deal of smoke at the back of the tongue. Salty, spicy, subtle fruits and more flowers for you.
Amazing that behind all of the spice, salt and malt that the delicate character of the spirit shines through.
Finish– Soft, drying and hints of chocolate and chicory (unexpected).
In sum – If I had my choice, as nice as the peated is, the “Classic” is so well done that I’d reach for that. Actually, I’d reach for it anytime now that I think about it (and have a sip of it again). Dare I say, the “Classic” is an everyday dram? Yes, yes it is. Yum!
Special thanks to RS and Purple Valley Imports for the official samples!
I am fortunate in that I’ve had a few new samples of Old Malt Cask sent my way. (Hip Hop Hooray for me!!)
One of the single cask ranges as part of the Douglas Laing family of Independent Bottled whiskies, Old Malt Cask is somewhat unusual as they normally bottle their whisky at 50% ABV rather than cask strength. Though not *that* unusual I suppose as Lombard’s does this as well.
The Old Malt Cask range of whiskies is one that has releases under the brand nearly every month (though the releases get spread out all over so the US might not see new OMC whiskies every month…).
Today we’re reviewing 2 of the four samples I’ve received. Special thanks to the good folks at International Wine and Spirits for the samples!
Old Malt Cask 28yo Dailuaine, refill hogshead, bottled at 50% ABV, 133 bottles –$230 from Binnys.
On the nose – Spicy, industrial, new newspapers, fresh ink.
Wow, I am smelling New York City on a dry, spring day.
Waft of perfume, new leaves, young flowers black pepper and a bit of pastrami sangwich to boot!