I confess that I purchased this whisky a few years ago for rather shallow reasons—two of them, in fact. First there was the irresistible label. I mean just look at that dog, peg leg and all. Then there’s the fact that this Islay malt, from an undisclosed distillery and of uncertain age, was billed as being finished for 17 months in a Port Ellen sherry cask. You have to support that kind of shamelessness. I had no expectations of the quality of the actual contents of the bottle and so didn’t open it for a very long time. Not, in fact, till this August when I took it, along with another bottle, to one of my friend Rich’s annual tastings celebrating sherried whiskies—the same one that featured the Glengoyne 25, the Bowmore Feis Ile 2012 and the Glenfaclas 1968, among others. The other bottle I took was my main contribution—this one was just a novelty. But as it turned out a number of the people in attendance had it in their top three for the night, and I have to say I rather liked it too. This was a very pleasant surprise. I’d meant to review it formally right away but somehow never got around to it. Until now. Let’s see how it’s developed as it’s sat for a couple of months with some headspace in the bottle. Continue reading
As per the interwebs, Michel Couvreur was a Belgian involved originally in the wine trade who at some point turned his attention to Scotch whisky. Unlike the average independent bottler, however, Couvreur was not interested in purchasing and bottling matured casks under his own name. Instead he apparently would purchase casks of new make, fill them into his own barrels and set them out to age in his own cellars in Burgundy and usually (if not always) vat/blend the results. If you’ve familiarized yourself with the laws governing the production of Scotch whisky you know that to be called Scotch, the whisky has to be both distilled and matured in Scotland. Therefore, even though Couvreur’s whiskies all originate (presumably) in Scotland they cannot be called Scotch. And the scale of production takes this far beyond the level of a hobbyist’s noodling. Couvreur passed away in 2013 but his methods and brand have been kept alive by his apprentices. Continue reading
They say that an undisclosed sherried Speyside malt is likely to be a Glenfarclas but I have no idea if that’s true in this case (or in most cases). It’s the kind of thing that’s in the interest of bottlers to have people believe (just as every undisclosed peated Islay is said to likely be a Lagavulin). As far as I know there’s no rule saying that a bottler has to disclose the name of a distillery and so someone who had their hands on a nice cask from a distillery with a poor reputation might well benefit by taking the name off the label and letting buyers fill in whatever they’d like to think it is. I’m not saying that I suspect that’s what’s happening here. My point is merely that I have no idea what distillery this is from. I do know that it’s rather nice. I first opened this bottle for one of my local group’s tastings a couple of months ago. It didn’t actually fare so very well that night but it’s come on strong as the bottle has stayed open. And now that I’m past the halfway mark I’m very sorry to see its imminent demise. Continue reading
This is a somewhat unusual whisky. It is a blend but apparently a single cask blend: what this means is that malt new make and grain new make were blended into a cask upon distillation in 1979 and married in the cask for the entire period of maturation. And this period of maturation was long indeed: 33 years. As to whether the malt and grain components were distilled at the same distillery, I don’t now. If so, that would narrow the source considerably as there are not very many distilleries that are/were set up to distill both malt and grain. It’s also not clear who initiated this single cask blend (a distillery? an independent blender?) or to what purpose. What we do know is that this cask was bottled by Svenska Eldvatten, who have bottled a number of other vintage releases of uncertain origin. The cask is said to be sherry but this release was of only 197 bottles. Given everything else that’s unusual about this it is possible that this was a sherry hogshead. Continue reading
Kirkland is Costco’s private label brand used for everything from baby formula to 14 pc nativity sets (please keep the baby Jesus and his parents away from flame or heat source). This, however, is whisky, not recommended for babies and not, as far as I know, one of the gifts of the Magi. It is from the Speyside but as the distillery is not specified it could literally be from one of scores of candidates. This was matured in bourbon casks and finished in sherry. I’m not sure if it’s still available.
Kirkland Speyside 18 (40%; sherry finish; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Somewhat generic sherry notes–light caramel, a hint of maple syrup, some toffee and a touch of orange peel. The muskier fruit from the palate never shows up on the nose but it is quite balanced and pleasant. Continue reading
This is a mystery malt from the independent bottler Adelphi. They’ve released a few in this series, a couple at 12 yo and a couple at 14 yo. I’m not sure if they’re all supposed to be from the same distillery or if there are any rumours/theories about the identity of the source of each release; usually most mystery Islay malts seem to be said to be Ardbegs or Lagavulins, on account of these being the two that are usually not available as independents (and also probably on account of some wishful thinking on part of buyers). If anyone knows of any reliable “nudge-nudge, wink-wink, know what I mean?” about this bottle please write in.