Sunday, 19 March 2017

Glen Moray Elgin Classics

Glen Moray used to belong to Glenmorangie but when they were taken over by the the luxury brand Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy in 2004 they were surplus to requirements, in 2008 they were sold to the French company La Martiniquaise.

Located near Elgin in Speyside, they have only ever had five Master Distillers. Each have taken their jobs very seriously crafting their whiskies since 1897. In 2005 Graham Coull took the role, his predecessor Edwin Dodson retired after 20 years in the job. Graham marries his respect for the Glen Moray traditions with an eagerness to explore innovative new techniques. Some of these new techniques have resulted in a set of drams called the Elgin Classic range.

Classic, Peated, Chardonnay, Sherry & Port

I recently bought a bottle of the Sherry Cask Finish and have samples of the Port Finish (thanks to a sample swap with Rob @RealDramRob) and Peated Finish (thanks to a sample swap with Craig @SpikeyDog120) for this review. The other two in the range are the 'plain' Classic which I tried a few years ago and the Chardonnay Finish which for some reason I've had trouble locating - their website still says coming soon!

All five whiskies in the range are NAS, probably coloured and chill-filtered, the boxes/bottles don't say otherwise. They are also relatively in-expensive, each can be had for less than £25.

Peated, Sherry, Port

Distillery : Glen Moray
Whisky : Elgin Classic Peated
Presentation : Cardboard box, some whisky information, lovely still shaped bottle with cork stopper.
Box Info : "The intense and subtly-smoked expression of our Classic Single Malt, this is the perfect easy-drinking introduction to peated whiskies. Matured in ex-bourbon casks for added spiciness."
Source : Sample Swap from Craig @SpikeyDog120
Price : £20 many outlets
Characteristics : 700ml, 40% ABV, NAS, Coloured, Chill-filtered
Colour : White Wine - very pale for being coloured
Nose : Sweet wood smoke, but not medicinal like Islay drams, floral overtones
Palate: Delicate smoke, vanilla leading to stewed rhubarb
Finish : Toffee popcorn developing into spice
Overall : A lovely dram with a gentle smokiness (guesses suggest a PPM of 13 then an average of 7 years in probably 2nd or 3rd fill bourbon casks) , would be ideal for introducing a newbie to peated whisky before graduating on to Islay malts.

Distillery : Glen Moray
Whisky : Elgin Classic Sherry Finish
Presentation : Cardboard box, some whisky information, lovely still shaped bottle with cork stopper.
Box Info : "Only the finest Oloroso casks are used to mature this extraordinary single malt. The Elgin Classic's unmistakable vanilla and light oak is still evident but, with vibrant dried fruit and earthy, nutty notes of the sherry, the finish is multi-faceted."
Source : Morrisons Supermarket
Price : £22
Characteristics : 700ml, 40% ABV, NAS, Coloured, Chill-filtered
Colour : Amber
Nose : Toffee, dried fruits developing to plums
Palate: Sweet sherry, honey leading to drying vanilla
Finish : Sweet honey and cherries
Overall : This isn't a sherry bomb! But like the Peated is probably a good introduction to Sherried whiskies. Again a maturation of circa 7 years is suggested with an 8 month finish in Oloroso sherry casks. A very drinkable dram!

Distillery : Glen Moray
Whisky : Elgin Classic Port Finish
Presentation : Cardboard box, some whisky information, lovely still shaped bottle with cork stopper.
Box Info : "This light and fruity expression is finished for eight months in Port pipes from Porto Cruz, the N°1 Porto company in the world. The spirit picks up intense embellishments of summer fruit, dark chocolate and cinnamon and a distinct pink hue."
Source : Sample Swap from Rob @RealDramRob
Price : £22 many outlets
Characteristics : 700ml, 40% ABV, NAS, Coloured, Chill-filtered
Colour : Pale Gold with a slight pink tinge - very pale for being coloured
Nose : Fruity vanilla, caramel leading to fruit and nut chocolate
Palate: Stewed plums sprinkled with cinnamon
Finish : Honey developing into a smooth vanilla with woody cinnamon
Overall : A lovely dram with a beautiful mouth feel and flavour - a longer finish that the previous two. Of the three this was my favourite!

Summary : OK, these are inexpensive NAS drams so you might not be expecting much, but you'll be pleasantly surprised! All three are very drinkable - ideal for newbies and more experienced drinkers who just want to sit down in a quiet spot and drink a nice dram. And I love the still shaped bottles!

Link : Elgin Classic Collection

Thursday, 16 March 2017

That Boutique-y Whisky's night of 101 years!

Last night I had the great pleasure of taking part in another of Steve @TheWhiskyWire's @TweetTastings where we sampled 101 years of whisky in 5 delicious drams from That Boutique-y Whisky Company @BoutiqueyWhisky. If you've not heard of them they are an independent bottler specialising in small batch whiskies from around the world, each is cask strength, non chill filtered and non-coloured.

Each bottle has it's own unique graphic-novel-style label and associated postcard by Emily Chappell. You can read an amusing account of how she came to create whisky labels here!

A parcel arrived the day before the tasting - here is my un-boxing video:

On the night we were lead by Steve through a nosing of each of the 5 whiskies with literally hundreds of tweets being shared amongst us on the hashtag #BoutiqueyWhisky

The drams we tried were:

Distillery : Loch Lomond
Whisky : 19yo Single Grain (267 bottles)
Characteristics : 500ml 49.7% ABV, 19yo
Price : £54.95
Nose : Vanilla Ice Cream, Mocca, Sun Cream
Palate: Honey, chocolate, tiramisu, very drying but pleasantly drinkable!
Finish : Spice
Overall : I really liked this dram, my first grain whisky, but honestly I couldn't tell it wasn't a single malt.
Link : Loch Lomond

Distillery : Irish Unnamed
Whisky : 24yo Single Malt (264 bottles)
Characteristics : 500ml 46.8% ABV, 24yo
Price : £124.95
Nose : Tea & Port leading on to boiled sweets, putty
Palate: Plums, Cranberries and Cherries floating in cream sprinkled with cinnoman
Finish : Red fruit as above but the cream turns into yoghurt
Overall : I loved this dram - it was my favourite of the night, my first Irish Single Malt. It was sublime and is definitely going on my to-buy list!
Link : Irish Unnamed

Distillery : Mortlach
Whisky : 18yo Single Malt (363 bottles)
Characteristics : 500ml 48.9% ABV, 18yo
Price : £93.95
Nose : Floral, saw wood and maple syrup
Palate: Chewy, creamy, smoky wood with a touch of vanilla
Finish : Sharp burnt wood
Overall : I wasn't keen on this dram. It came across as smoky without being peaty - some of the other tweeters talked about smokey bacon or pork scratchings - Mortlach traditionally has this 'meaty' taste but I wasn't keen.
Link : Mortlach

Distillery : Glenrothes
Whisky : 25yo Single Malt (139 bottles)
Characteristics : 500ml 49.7% ABV, 25yo
Price : £119.95
Nose : Coconut, grilled pineapple developing into ginger, the longer it was left in he glass the more complex it became.
Palate: Creamy slightly bitter taste to start but developing into spicy gingerbread
Finish : Creamy coconut and that spicy gingerbread lasting forever!
Overall : I really liked this dram, it really developed over time and I would have liked to have taken longer to appreciate it, but tweet taskings are all about feeding in your thoughts, trying to read everyone elses then moving on to the next dram.
Link : Glenrothes

Distillery : Secret Highlands
Whisky : 15yo Single Malt (124 bottles)
Characteristics : 500ml 51% ABV, 15yo
Price : £107.95
Nose : Fruit buns fresh from the oven with hot tea - this was sublime - I could have nosed this dram all night!
Palate: Liquarice torpedoes, cinnamon, mounth filling tea.
Finish : A really long tea with spice finish
Overall : I loved this dram, it was nearly my favourite of the night but one more nose of the empty bottle of the Irish swayed it for me. Some of the comments from fellow tweeters suggested that this was a Glenfiddich and the postcard gave some sutble hints in that direction!
Link : Secret Highlands

Some of the other tweeters who took part may recognise that my sampling order isn't quite the same as theirs! An issue with trying to open the wax covered bottles without slicing my fingers off (as one other tweeter nearly did - there was blood!) caused me to misorder my samples..... The notes are correct against the pictures but they're not quite in the same order as everyone elses!

As you can see some of these are only available in very small quantities so get in quick if you want to try them!

Many thanks to Steve for organising, Boutique for supplying the drams and all my fellow tweeters for making it a night to remember!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

The Glenrothes Select Reserve

Distillery : The Glenrothes
Whisky : Select Reserve

Not much left...
Presentation : Open cardboard box, some distillery information, clear dumpy bottle with wooden topped
cork stopper
Source : Whisky shop in Soller in Majorca
Price : £35 many outlets

Characteristics : 700ml, 43% ABV, NAS
Box/Bottle Information : "Ripe Fruits, citrus, vanilla, hints of spice."

Colour : Pale Gold.
Glance : Oily, leaves thin trails when swirled around the glass.
Nose : Masses of Vanilla with faint citrus : oranges and lemons.
Palate: Oranges floating in Golden Syrup, smooth spicy.
Finish : Drying spicy finish - more of the Syrup.

Overall : I picked this up whilst on holiday in Majorca a few years ago from a tiny whisky shop on a back street of a small village.I was attracted by the dumpy bottle and small 'hand written' style label. As you can see from the photo there's not much left! It's an inexpensive NAS but well worth exploring - who doesn't like Golden Syrup and I'm sure this dram is made by diluting it!

Link : Select Reserve.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Campbeltown Whisky Finishes?

Before you all start panicking - no Springbank aren't closing down! I thought I'd write a blog comparing two drams in my collection - an old bottle of mine : Springbank 14yo Port Wood and a recent sample I received from Andy the Amateur Drammer : Longrow Red 12yo Pinot Noir. Both are cask strength malts from Springbank in Campbeltown but with subtly different finishes.

Last whisky from Campbeltown?
Distillery : Springbank
Whisky : Port Wood 14 years old (2004)
Presentation : Card box with clear front, some distillery information; clear bottle with cork stopper, some 'hand written' whisky information.
Source : Distillery Shop (a number of years ago)
Price : No longer available 😥

Characteristics : 700ml, 52.8% ABV, Non-Chill Filtered, Not Coloured
Box/Bottle Information : "12 yrs refill sherry, 2 yrs fresh port pipes, distilled 1989, bottled September 2004, out turn 7200 bottles"

Colour : Old Gold.
Glance : Oily, leaves thick trails when swirled around the glass.
Nose : Wine, port. (Water brings out a nutty aroma)
Palate: Mouth filling, chewy, pineapple and dry apricots, it's huge, obviously the 52,8% ABV gives you that but the mouth feel is fantastic, it hits you then quickly goes dry. (Water brings out bananas)
Finish : Medium oily finish some pear and more of the drying apricot.
Link : Springbank Port Wood.

No just different finishes!

Distillery : Springbank
Whisky : Longrow Red 12 years old (2015)
Presentation : Sample bottle.
Source : @amateurdrammer
Price : No longer available 😥

Characteristics : 52.92% ABV,

Colour : Deep Copper
Glance : Oily, leaves thick trails when swirled around the glass.
Nose : Sweet smoke, chocolate with brazil nuts (Water enhances the chocolate)
Palate: Very dry peaty, overpowering almost gritty in the mouth.
Finish : Sharp bitter burn giving way to a medium winey finish.
Link : Longrow Red

Overall : Two quite different drams from a favourite distillery of mine, the Port Wood has been in my collection for a long time but is nearing the end of the bottle, it's been an irregular go to for cold winter nights and will be missed, you don't really notice the strength. The Longrow is very different : overpowering without the addition of a little water even though it is a similar strength to the Port Wood, I'm guessing the peat is 
making the difference? Both benefit from the addition of a little water, the Port Wood gains a little on the nose and taste - shortening the finish but still excellent! With water the Longrow's nose became even more chocolatey and I didn't like it.

Port Wood & Pinot Noir