Kilchoman Spring Release

Posted by Leo | Posted in , , , | Posted on 00:05

Well as you know I was at regional the other day for the monthly tasting and I purchased two bottles of Kilchoman Spring Release. Why two? One for immediate consumption (gone) and the other to add to my collection of fine Kilchoman releases.
Let me tell you now that this is one delicious drop! Especially so for me as I was lucky enough to do some work experience there last year see exactly how it was made.
This one hasn't lasted very long because it is so drinkable. And this would be why!

Nose : Distinctively Islay. Strong essence of peat smoke.

Palate : Sweet peat smoke flavor with a hint of citrus. Quintessential Islay.

BUT at 46% it just needs something else. An extra 14%!! I have a small amount of  cask strength left over from last years visit and it is perfect. It is gonna be a 'Giant Monster Whisky' at 6 years and 60%. Can't wait!!

Score : 87

Regional Tasting - New Age Malts

Posted by Leo | Posted in | Posted on 20:43

Well another tasting has been and gone at Regional Wines & Spirits and this was another great one .......I think!

It started well with my mandatory stop at this fine establishment. Past the sign and down the magic tunnel and into my happy place....he he!

Indoors there was a dizzying array of tastytasty liquor and I just had time for one. So I scanned the bar! Decisions decisions!! They have a wonderful whisky selection and I was quite spoiled for choice. In the end I chose an Ardbeg 10 as the tasting was non-Islay and that's just not a good thing!!

Then onward to see the good folk at regional. First things first though...... I was forced to check out the comprehensive array of whiskies residing on-site. It never fails to astonish me that there is always something new to see. Indeed I saw my next purchase on the shelf staring me in the liver!

With this arduous task completed I went upstairs to find my seat at the big table where we taste the whisky. And this is what awaited me. Seven spectacular whiskies plus beer and water. The initial beer was Yeastie Boys Punkadiddle followed by the always delicious Emersons Bookbinder. It is also worth noting that the person across from me didn't turn up and their whisky was up for grabs. Let us call this bit of good fortune  'the beginning of my downfall'....cause with Ian away in Nelson working with the fishes and  Donna becoming an Australian citizen, I found myself, unfortunately, without any adult supervision!! he he :-)

But enough of that for now, on to the business end of the evening as I remember it!

The drams were as follows:

Whisky :    Aberlour A'bunadh, Batch 28,  59.7%       "THE MYSTERY"
Notes :      A big whisky, nose of Molasses, raisins fruitcake, hint of rubber in taste, herbaceous finish!
Score :      Me - 9  /  Us - 9.22             1st

Whisky :    Ben Nevis, 14yo, Double matured, 46%, Sherry barrel 2623   NC2
Notes :      Nosed as toffee apples & old socks, taste of malt biscuits...low strength. Quite drinkable!
Score :      Me - 7  /  Us - 8.56            2nd =

Whisky :    Benriach, 20yo, 54.3%, 1998 - July 2009, Gaja Barolo Hogshead 4424, 59 of 322
Notes :      Nosed of Mandarin, sweet vanilla & figs, taste of oily wasabe, slightly metallic finish.
Score :      Me - 8  /  Us - 8.56            2nd =

Whisky :    Isle of Arran, 8yo, Fino sherry wine cask, 50%, Bottled 2007, 7980 bottles
Notes :      Nosed of caramel, G Syrup & wet dog, sweet tasting with finish of bitter dark chocolate.
Score :      Me - 8  /  Us - 8.1              4th

Whisky :    Auchentoshan, SIGNATORY, 25yo, 55%, Bourbon barrel 266, bottle 123 of 148, NC2
Notes :      Nosed of football & young linseed, taste of dates and liquorice, spicy finish
Score :      Me - 7  /  Us - 8.02            5th

Whisky :    Mortlach, SIGNATORY, 1991, 17yo, 46%, Sherry butt 5882, bottle 372 of 727 NC2
Notes :      Nosed of popcorn, grass & chalk, finished slightly smokey & bitter "WEAK"
Score :      Me : 7  /  Us - 7.67             6th

Whisky :    Cragganmore, DUTHIES CANDENHEAD, 15yo, 46%, NC2
Notes :      Nosed of banana & sherbet, tasted of citrus & peppermint, warm metallic finish!!#$@
Score :      Me : 7  /  Us : 7.41              7th

Clearly the Aberlour was an exceptional dram and I do hope it finds it's way to best of the best in December.
It was however the pick of a very dreary bunch. Again I think too much was made of the "old" whiskies. Even at cask strength, some of these barely registered on the taste scale. They tasted bland and dreary.

That said of course I was encouraged to help consume some of the better drams from the empty seat across from me and I did so with great enthusiasm and with scant regard for my own sobriety. The Benriach and the Aberlour going down particularly well! And if it had stopped there I would have still have had my health and remnants of my dignity. But no! That's not my way. The peat, the water, barley & the yeast were calling me saying "oh no you're not" (finished).
So I was talking to Daniel as he tidied up afterwards and he said "Look at all that whisky people left behind" and I'm like "well we can't have that" so one thing led to five others and a few more number 4's and 7's later I was completely off my chops....but in a good way. I have vague memories of KFC and a green taxi but that's about it.

All in all a great night at regional!!

Purchases - 2 bottles of Kilchoman Spring Release (to be reviewed shortly)

Upcoming tasting (20th October) - Adelphi Mmm mmm mmm mmm mmmmmmmm!

Upcoming foray (13-26th November) - My triumphant return to Scotland. Orkney, Glencoe, Stirling,
Glasgow and at least 7 distilleries.              

Nikka Pure Malt 'WHITE'

Posted by Leo | Posted in | Posted on 22:29

You know, there are some interesting and somewhat oddball whiskies out there in the world. I was at work the other day when my mate Ian bought in one such interesting bottle. Nikka Pure Malt White is a very curious drop indeed. It is a vatted malt that is a combination of "'Yoichi' and an Islay single Malt.

And damn, it is a most exquisite combination. Whilst somewhat sweet and slightly fruity to the nose, the 'Island style' definitely shines through with the seaweedy aroma you would expect. The taste of Islay is definitely there but with some honey-like notes as well. If I had to liken it to anything a would say that it reminded me very strongly of a 'Buffalo Trace' bourbon.

Bloody delicious!

And it comes in the 500ml bottle just like a pint of milk. At that volume it's very easily 'drunk' in one afternoon. So you better get in a couple to tide you over for the weekend.

A great drop. This one came back from Japan duty free so I'm not sure where to obtain one. But if you do happen upon one grab it because it's absolute gold. 

Compendium of Winter Events

Posted by Leo | Posted in , | Posted on 16:19

Well it has been a while since my last post. A good long while. March..... Hells teeth!
But, it has been very cold and I have been quite tired and I did lose one of my good whisky drinking buddies to the Australians. So what are you gonna do?

Drink more tasty whisky...that's what.

So what's been happening? For a start there has been an absolutely salubrious tasting program at Regional. 

APRIL:  Glendronach
Michael Fraser-Milne from whisky galore joined us for this evening and a great evening it was. Glendronach is a great drop for a Speyside. The two standouts were the 1972 vintage 37 y.o. Cask 719 at 54.8% and the GlenDronach 1993 vintage 16 y.o. Olorosso Butt 523 60.4%. The cask strength of these two fine drams made them an absolute winners on the night. I love tasting new whisky.

MAY:  Laphroaig
He he he he Laphroaig!! I bloody love Laphroaig. I am sipping on some 'Quarter Cask' as I type this. It's just so damn tasty. And if that's not good enough I have actually been there! Anyway, there are so many tasty drams from this classic distillery. The standouts were the 10yo Cask Strength 55.7% (of course) and the always delicious 'Quarter cask'. And to top it all off the mystery was Ardbeg Corryvreckan. Oh sweet jesus it was delicious. But more of that later.

Speaking of quarter casks here is display showing relative cask sizes from the good folk at Laphroaig.

JUNE:  Sophisticated Speysides

I love the Speyside, it's home to so many great distilleries in such a concentrated area. Mortlach, Longmorn, Allt-a-Bhainne, Glenrothes.
These were the fine distilleries represented in this spectacular tasting. The standout was the Mortlach 17yo Adelphi 1991-2009 57% cask 4235. As with anything bottled by Adelphi, it was absolutely delicious. 

Here is something interesting from the Speyside. It is the Gordon & McPhail store in Eglin at the top of the Speyside. You have never seen such an extensive range of whisky in your life. It's definitely my happy place.

Below is the Speyside cooperage where casks are bought in and reassembled to the different sizes you see above. It would take up too much space to import whole casks (all the air in the middle) so they are imported in parts. The coopers are paid by the cask so they go hell for leather cranking them out. It's a hard arsed way to earn a living and there is a definite art to assembly. You really need an extra hand!

JULY : Groundshaking Malts

What a brilliant idea! Tasty whisky from the Islands of Japan and some interesting drams from the great and thirsty country of New Zealand. Japanese whisky is absolutely delicious. It is quite sweet and clean flavored and a joy to consume. And consume it I did in great amounts. The other two drams came from Milford, a New Zealand distillery. Quite tasty, though probably due more to the cask strength than any inherent quality.

The pick of the night was as the Nikka 20yo 52% scoring 8.12. Cask strength wins again!
I did however purchase a bottle of the Milford on the evening. Lasted about a week.  Mmm

AUGUST :  Island Extreme 

Ooooh mama this was an absolutely top of the line tasting. A range of whisky from the far flung Isles of Scotland. Several were at high cask strength! And I don't mind telling you ladies and Gentlemen, that by the time the evening was over I was partially 'off my chops'.

So what did we have?

Ardbeg Supernova  -  Hells teeth. This was the best of the bunch easily. This a giant monster whisky. So much peat. Not so much on the nose but as soon as you taste it you know what it is. It's like a kick in the mouth with a peat covered boot. Big, brutal and perfection itself. I gave it a 10. We gave it 9.07

Bruichladdich Octomore  -  A very close second. Nose was peaty & yeasty. This is another monster whisky. Not the smoked violence of the Ardbeg but at 62.5% it socks you hard in the face and makes your tongue lose all feeling. But not before the yeasty peaty flavours shine through. A gave it 9.5. We gave it a 7.77

Bruichladdich X4  -  Hmmm, quadruple distilled raw spirit. Sweet but inherently tasteless. No character. Not even tasty like a double distilled Islay spirit. I mean what's the point, really? The spirit is taken off the final distillation at 90% but watered down to 50%. I gave it a 5. We gave it a 5.13

Talisker 18yo  -  I am a great fan of the Talisker. And this was another fine example from the fine distillery on the Isle of Skye. Slightly peaty and peppery and oh so very tasty. I gave it an 8. We gave it 8.66

Longrow CV  -  A great whisky from the good folk at Springbank. Longrow is their peated expression. Setup to prove an Islay style whisky could be made away from Islay, it had a delicious salty, peaty flavour. I gave it an 8. We gave it 8.58

Highland Park  -   A tastyish drop from the Orkney Islands. Your standard HP is a very nice drop but this was something different. A lot is made of old whiskies and to be honest I don't get it. This was a very subtle drop. Weak to be honest. The most expensive of the lot with the least flavour and at 46% not much to write home about. Give me a 6yo 60% whisky any day. At least you can taste it. I gave it a 7. We gave it a 8.68

OBAN 14  -  This was the mystery. An appley, peppery, dusty flavoured dram. A pleasure to consume. I gave it an 8. We gave it an 8.02

All in all this was my favorite tasting so far this year. Glorious peat at cask strength. Yikes!
These people also liked it..

Little wonder I was partially trousered by the end of this wondrous event.

To wrap up this epic post here a few photos of some of fine distilleries mentioned above.

Talisker Isle of Skye

Talisker Still Room

Bruichladdich Stillhouse

Ardbeg Visitor Centre

Ardbeg Still Attachment (makes the spirit lighter)

Hooray for Single Malt Scotch Whisky.......Drink, Drink, Drink your way to better health! 


An evening with Charles MacLean

Posted by Leo | Posted in , , , | Posted on 00:23

What:   An evenings whisky tasting with Charles MacLean (Courtesy of Regional wines & spirits)
When:  30th March 2010
Where: Firth Hall, Wellington College, Wellington, NZ
Why:    To meet Charles MacLean and taste some most salubrious whiskies yet
Who:    88 feral whisky fans, my mate Ian Jesus Hunt and of course myself.

Damn, what an absolutely awesome night of whisky tasting! 90 thirsty thirsty whisky lovers, six 'salubrious whiskies' of spectacular quality, several grown men in kilts and a set of bagpipes!

This half feral man was seen in the crowd mumbling something about Islay and looking for the faint aroma of peat!

Our own whisky expert Daniel introduced Michael Fraser Milne from Whisky Galore in Christchurch who was accompanying our keynote speaker on his tour of New Zealand. Michael gave a brief introduction to Charles MacLean outlining his many achievements and skills, then it was straight into the tasting process.

The format was a little different this time around with six delicious drams awaiting us. Each dram was identified on the tasting sheet before us and the only accompaniment was fresh water. As you can see a wonderfully diverse range colors indicating the different cask varieties used mature the whisky.

The tasting consisted of the following whiskies:

MALT: Glengarioch, 1990, Adlephi bottled, 19yo, 53.8%ABV, cask# 2697
Score: 8.34

MALT: Old Pultney, 30yo, 44% ABV
Score: 7.95

MALT: Bunnahabhain, 1986, 21yo, 46.7%, bottle 334 of 512
Score: 8.54

MALT: Glenfarclas, 1989 Family cask, 60% ABV, cask# 11721, 1 of 600 bottles, bottled 30\11\06
Score: 9.49

MALT: Benriach 1975, 33yo, 52.2% ABV, cask# 4450, Peated Tawny Port finish
Score: 8.43

MALT: Caol Ila 1979, 30yo, OMC Bottled, 50% AV, distilled Nov 79, Bottled Jan 2010, 1 of 266
Score: 9.32

All of the whiskies were salubrious but but the standout for the evening was the Glenfarclas family cask. It was my first taste of the family cask bottling and I was not disappointed. It was truly world class. Something very special. I gave it a 9.5 out of 10. I did however rate the OMC Caol Ila a 10 on general principles. It is from Islay after all!!

Charles MacLean was an excellent speaker and has a knowledge of whisky and whisky related products that is second to none. He talked about oak types, cask varieties, distillery history, peating levels and condensor construction to name but a few topics. By the end of the evening my brain was full of highly useful whisky knowledge, my glasses were empty and their contents safely winging their way towards my liver. I also managed to liberate a few extra drams from nearby so all in all it was a highly satisfying experience.

And if all that wasn't good enough, I was lucky enough to go out for dinner afterwards with Charles, Michael and a few of the regulars from regional. And needless to say a few more drams were consumed.


SWMS Whisky Tasting - Wellington

Posted by Leo | Posted in , , , , | Posted on 23:45

What :    Scotch Malt Whisky Society Tasting
When:    Thursday, 4th March, 2010
Where:   Museum Hotel, Wellington, NZ
Who:      Myself & 30 other random whisky fans
Why:      To find new and Salubrious whiskies to try

You know, it's a long time between whisky tastings at regional. A whole month for crying out loud!! How could a relatively normal person like myself go a whole month without tasting whisky. I couldn't I just couldn't!

Luckily my roving Australian (eeeww) whisky reporter, Donna sent me an article about the 'Scotch Malt Whisky Society' having a New Zealand tasting. Problem solved!!

It was held at the 'Museum Hotel' Wellington in the Agostini room on the fourth floor.

As I entered the room I was given a welcome dram. It was an Aberlour 10yo. A tasty but entry level Speyside dram that was setting us up for the salubrious whiskies ahead.

Now the Society buy single casks from various distillers so everything is cask strength and bottled in their own specific bottles. They don't however label the bottles with the distillery name, due to an agreement they have with distilleries not to compete with their marketing efforts. They use a distillery code to signify its origin.

The tasting differed from regional in that the drams were identified and tasting notes were provided.

The five whiskies were as follows :

Malt: Glen Moray (Speyside), 60.5%, 1st fill barrel, 215 bottles from cask, Colour - Pale Apricot Gold

Malt: Glenmorangie (Highland), 56.9%, 1st fill designer hogshead, 300 bottles from cask, Colour - Sunlit Chardonnay

Malt: Glenfarclas (Speyside), 50.1%, Refill hogshead, 165 bottles from cask, Colour - 9 Carat gold

Malt: Tormore (Speyside), 56%, 1st fill sherry hogshead, 318 bottles from cask, Colour - Colheita Tawny

Malt: Ardbeg (Islay), 56.7%, First fill barrel, 236 bottles from cask, Colour - HMS Edinburgh Bullion

Pick of the Evening : ARDBEG of course. Absolutely delicious!! Cask strength. Perfect

Dog of the Evening : Glenmorangie, Petrol in a barrel. Not palatable.

Special Mention : Tormore, I have never tried a Tormore before and I was pleasantly surprised. Very sweet almost sickly, but with a powerful punch and a spicy strong finish. Would definitely drink again.
The accompanying tasting note reads....POURING TREACLE ON CUT GRASS.......say no more!

All in all it was a pleasant experience and our presenter for the evening spoke with great knowledge and enthusiasm. Though compared to the wonderful tastings at Regional it was a little pretentious.
Also the pricing on the bottles was astronomical, from $192 (GlenMoray) to $373 (Tormore)...Ouch!!

In summary - Top notch whisky, oddball format, dodgy auction of the half empty bottles. At $85 a seat I'm not sure if I will attend another one........... but then again I probably will!!

Peat and Bruichladdich

Posted by Donna Grewal | Posted in | Posted on 20:20

When I first saw the bottle sitting high on one of the shelves with the security tag around the neck I knew that was the bottle for me. Peat. Something that Bruichladdich does well - Octomore is one of the most peaty whiskies around today - only narrowly superceeded by the (slightly less peaty) but complex and delicious Ardbeg Supernova!

The label boasts 'refreshingly free from 'medicinal' overtones - just evocative and beguiling peat aromas. A three dimensional flavour obtained from three strengths of peated barley'

At 46% it is not cask strength, a refreshing change! Unlike some of my fellow whisky drinkers I find non-cask strength pleasant as it allows you to enjoy the more subtle flavours that dont get wiped out by alcohol content.

'Peat' has some very nice flavours, caramel, honey, quite sweet and a wonderfully smoky flavour - in wine terms a nice everyday drinking whisky.

Great Whisky Photos

Posted by Leo | Posted in , | Posted on 22:13

Here are a few photos from a medium-sized photographer of my acquaintance.

Whisky of course being the wonderfully tasty subject

The Laphroaig is a very tasty drop. At 55.7% it is full of peaty, smoky goodness!