This week of reviews of bourbon cask whiskies has been going rather well. Wednesday’s Teaninich 11 from Berry Bros. & Rudd, at the border of austere and fruity, was very nice indeed. And Monday’s Bowmore 17 from the SMWS was a fruity delight. To close out the week now, I have another 11 yo and it takes us back to Islay. This Kilchoman was distilled in 2007 and matured in an ex-Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel before being bottled for the American importer’s Cask Evolution series. Though the back of the box mentions the fact that Kilchoman’s 100% Islay range uses barley grown and distilled on Islay, I don’t believe this is a 100% Islay bottling. It was distilled from barley peated to a pretty high level of 50 ppm, whereas the 100% Islay line comes in at 20 ppm. Of the ImpEx Cask Evolution releases I’ve tried this is certainly the most staid one. You may recall that my previous review was of a 7 yo that had received a mezcal finish; and before that I’d reviewed an 8 yo that had been doubled matured in port casks. I did like both of those—the port cask more than the mezcal finish—but am looking forward to this one, as my boring opinion is that ex-bourbon Kilchoman is the best Kilchoman. Anyway, let’s see what it’s like. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Peated
Bowmore 17, 2004 (SMWS 3.331)
The first whisky I ever reviewed on the blog was a Bowmore (the lowly Legend of yesteryear), and since then I’ve marked every anniversary of the blog with a Bowmore review. All except for the 10th anniversary this past Friday when I instead posted a look back at the decade on the blog. And so, a few days late, here is the requisite anniversary Bowmore review. This is a Bowmore 17, 2004, bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and is one of several they’ve released that were distilled on the same day in 2004 and matured in second-fill hogsheads. Indeed, the whole sequence of releases from 3.330 to 3.341 (where 3 refers to the SMWS’ distillery code for Bowmore and the other digits to the release number) are casks that were filled with spirit distilled on February 16, 2004; and almost all of those casks were second-fill hogsheads. Confusingly, this release, 3.331 was put out under two different silly names by the SMWS. Whiskybase shows one with the name “Taken out to sea” and one with the name “Ice cream dusted with chimney soot”. The former was the allocation for the US market and I guess they may have given that a different name—everything else is the same, down to the tasting notes on the label. Fascinating, no? Continue reading
Kilchoman 7, 2013 (ImpEx Cask Evolution, Mezcal Finish)
Okay, after two red wine-bothered Kilchomans (here and here), it’s time for something completely different. This Kilchoman received an 8 month mezcal finish after 7 years of maturation in a Buffalo Trace Barrel. No word on what the mezcal was. I assume that’s the next step in cask hyper-detail: what brand of mezcal, what type of agave and so on. Or maybe not. At any rate, I am pretty sure this is the first mezcal-bothered whisky I’ve yet had. Now, I have had and reviewed a mezcal that received a bourbon cask finish, but this, I’m pretty sure is a first for me. As to how many other mezcal-finished whiskies there are floating about in the world, I have no idea. If you know or have had others, please write in below. Of course, I do often find mezcal’ish notes in young whiskies—and, indeed, have found them in young peated Islay whiskies in particular. These notes are associated in my palate with youth. Does that mean this mezcal finished whisky will register as younger than 7 years (itself not a very ripe old age) on my palate? Let’s see. Continue reading
Kilchoman 9, 2011, STR Finish, for Drammers
STR = Shaved, Toasted, Re-charred, if you’re wondering (as I was before I looked it up). I’m sure there’s a good reason why a cask would be toasted and re-charred but I don’t know what that is. In this case, it’s a shaved, toasted and re-charred ex-red wine cask and the whisky was finished in it for 19 months after 7+ years of maturation in a bourbon barrel. It was then bottled for the New York whisky club, Drammers. All of this information is from the excellent Kilchomania, by the way. I liked Monday’s red wine-bothered Kilchoman a lot more than I was expecting to. Of course, that was a full-term red wine maturation and this one is just a finish, but I am hopeful nonetheless. I assume the shaving, toasting and re-charring removes a lot of the red wine influence? If so, hopefully there won’t be much, if any wine separation—just as there wasn’t in the full-term matured whisky. And perhaps the longer maturation time—this is almost twice the age of Monday’s whisky—will give it more depth and development as well. Well, let’s see. Continue reading
Amrut “Aatma” 7, 2011, Ex-Bourbon
Let’s do a week of reviews of whiskies from Amrut. I recently acquired samples of releases from a series Amrut calls Aatma—the Hindi/Sanskrit word for soul. These are all single casks, and all seem to be from different cask types. As far as I can tell from looking at Whiskybase listings, today’s release was the first of the bunch and it seems to have been an exclusive for the American market. I’d guess it cost a pretty penny. It’s a single ex-bourbon barrel, filled in late 2011 and bottled in mid-2019. Which makes it 7 years old. Amrut’s marketing would have it that this is equivalent to 21 years of aging in Scotland but you don’t have to be as soulless as me to recognize this as just that: marketing. This cask was filled with spirit made from peated Scottish barley. It’s been a while since I’ve had Amrut’s regular peated cask strength release (do they still put that out?); I’d imagine at 7 years, this cask is a bit older than the whiskies that make up the standard Amrut releases. I am pleased to note though that it was not bottled at the ludicrous strength of the last Amrut Peated CS I reviewed, which topped the scales at 62.8% abv. At 56.5% this one is downright civilized in comparison. Let’s see what it’s like. Continue reading
Laphroaig 10 CS, Batch 015
This turned into a week of age-stated official releases from distilleries in different whisky producing regions of Scotland. We began in Campbeltown on Monday with the Kilkerran 16, and continued in the Speyside on Wednesday with the Glenallachie 15. I liked the Kilkerran quite a bit more than the Glenallachie. Today’s whisky is the youngest of the lot and also the peatiest of the lot. We’re on Islay to close out the week with a Laphroaig. No, I have no idea why I’m going on like I’m narrating a History Channel documentary—maybe it’s because I’ve been watching Cunk on Earth, which is something I recommend you do as well. I don’t however recommend watching it while drinking a whisky, especially a high strength whisky like Batch 015 of the Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength. That’s how I watched the first two episodes and it almost killed me. But enough about me. I believe Batch 015 is the most recent batch of the Laphroaig 10 CS. But, as I readily admit, I don’t really keep up with these things any more. I do know that I never saw Batch 014 in Minnesota. Which means my reviews of this series is now missing both Batch 008 and Batch 014. If you have bottles of these and would be willing to share samples, please use the “Contact Me” link above. Alright, let’s get to the whisky. Continue reading
Longrow Hand-Filled, October 2022
Here is the third of this week’s trio of reviews of Springbank distillery hand-filled bottles from October 2022. I reviewed the Springbank from the set on Tuesday and the Hazelburn on Monday. I found that Hazelburn—as I had the August 2022 Hazelburn hand-fill—to be quite palpably peaty. In fact, blind, I would have guessed it was a Longrow. I also liked it a lot. Here now is the actual Longrow from the set and I can only hope that it will not turn out to be devoid of peat. I would also say that I expect to like this even more but the Longrow in the August trio was actually the weakest of that set (which is not to say it was bad). Let’s get right to it.
(As with the other Springbank hand-fills, there is no information on age, distillation here or cask type for this Longrow.)
Longrow Hand-Filled, October 2022 (57.6%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Earthy peat with a bit of savoury gunpowder, dried orange peel and dried mushrooms. Maltier and saltier on the second sniff. With more time there’s toffee as well. A few drops of water and the gunpowder recedes a fair bit and there’s more malt now. Continue reading
Ardmore 21, 1997, Whisky Doris
Let’s stick with peat for the last whisky review of the month. Only a bit of peat though. This is a 21 yo Ardmore bottled by Whisky Doris half a decade or so ago from a bourbon hogshead. The last Whisky Doris Ardmore I reviewed was also from a bourbon cask—albeit, a barrel—and was pretty damned good. It didn’t have a striking label like this one though. Well, let’s hope the label design is not the most notable thing about this Ardmore and that I like it more than the 24 yo bourbon cask bottled by Whisky Sponge, which was also distilled in 1997.
Ardmore 21, 1997 (49.4%; Whisky Doris; bourbon hogshead; from my own bottle)
Nose: Lime, mineral peat, paraffin and whiffs of muskier fruit which expand with each sniff. Some candle wax too with time. The musky fruit (pineapple, a bit of peach) merges with the lime and also with emerging vanilla and cream. A bit of water and the peat gets pushed back a fair bit. Continue reading
Ledaig 14, 2008 (Cadenhead)
Alright, let’s bring this week of peated whiskies to an end. We started on Islay with a 6 yo Bunnahabhain and continued in Campbeltown with a Kilkerran that is probably not very much older than that Bunnahbhain. We’ll end now with a Ledaig that is positively ancient by comparison, at 14 years old. Even though Ledaig is distilled on the Isle of Mull (it is, of course, essentially peated Tobermory), in a sense we’re still in Campbeltown for this review. This because this sample comes from a bottle purchased at Cadenhead’s Warehouse Tasting in Campbeltown, late last fall. I have not been to Campbeltown myself. I very much hope to go if I make it back to Scotland anytime soon—and if I do, the Cadenhead Warehouse Tasting will be high on my list of things to do. That will be true, by the way, even if this Ledaig disappoints. Though I don’t expect it will.
Kilkerran Heavily Peated, Batch 5
As I said on Monday, this week will also be a week of reviews of peated whiskies. But unlike last week’s Caol Ila cluster (here, here and here), this week’s reviews feature peated whiskies from three different distilleries. The week began on Monday with a young Bunnahabhain bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. I liked that one a bit more than I was expecting to. Today, we’ll leave Islay and head to Campbeltown. Now this Kilkerran Heavily Peated I am expecting to enjoy quite a bit. It’s true I was not a big fan of Batch 1 but I loved Batch 4. Batch 5 should be more in line with Batch 4, right? That’s the hope anyway. Let’s see if it pans out.
Kilkerran Heavily Peated, Batch 5 (57.7%; from a bottle split)
Nose: A bit closed at first but then there’s almond oil, preserved lemon and a mix of mineral peat and coal smoke. The salt expands on the second sniff. With time it’s all about the preserved lemon, coal smoke and brine. Water pulls out earthier notes of putty, wax and burlap at first and then the pineapple from the palate emerges. With time it’s the preserved lemon that wins out again. Continue reading
Bunnahabhain 6, 2013 (SMWS 10.202)
After a week of Caol Ila, let’s keep the peat fires burning a little while longer. We’ll stay on Islay for the first review of the week, at a distillery not primarily known for its peated malt: Bunnahabhain. Well, they weren’t traditionally known for their peated malt; these days they make a fair bit of it—you’re not going to lose money in Scotland selling smoky whisky. This one, very young at six years of age, is not an official release. It was bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. It began its life in a bourbon hogshead before being finished in a recharred cask (HTMC=heavily toasted, medium char?) and bottled at an eye-watering strength. Youth? Heavily peated? Big oak contact? Stupid strength? It checks almost all the boxes for whisky I am normally wary of. Hopefully, it will all work somehow. Let’s see. Continue reading
Caol Ila 17, 1991 (Single Malts of Scotland)
This week’s recipe will also not post on a Thursday (today) but on a Friday (tomorrow). Instead, I have for you today the last in this week’s independently bottled Caol Ila triad featuring three different cask profiles.
The week began on Monday with a 12 yo bottled by DS Tayman. That one was a bourbon cask that had been finished in a Bordeaux cask. On Wednesday I posted a review of a 13 yo bottled by Old Particular for K&L in California. That one was from a refill butt. I liked both fine—and the 13 yo a bit more than the 12 yo—but neither got me very excited. I already know that I like today’s 17 yo from a single bourbon hogshead more than either. That’s because this is taken from a large reference sample I saved from the bottle many years ago. Yes, unlike the DS Tayman and Old Particular releases, this is one of my signature highly untimely reviews. This 17 yo was distilled in 1991 and bottled in 2008 by Single Malts of Scotland—back when my referring to Single Malts of Scotland as the Whisky Exchange’s indie label didn’t make Billy Abbot’s beard quiver with rage. I have the score I gave it then recorded in my spreadsheet but not my notes. Let’s see if the scores match across the years. Continue reading
Caol Ila 13, 2008 (Old Particular for K&L)
Caol Ila week began yesterday with a 12 yo finished in a Bordeaux cask. It started out well but I was not finally very enthusiastic about it. Today I have a 13 yo that was matured in a sherry cask. If I’m generally suspicious about red wine cask-matured whisky of any kind, I’m usually very excited to try Caol Ilas from sherry casks. Be it a richer sherry cask profile or a drier one, Caol Ila’s distillate usually matches it well. I certainly hope that will be the case for this one, a refill butt bottled by Old Particular for K&L in California. Let’s get right to it.
Caol Ila 13, 2008 (56.9%; Old Particular for K&L; refill butt; from a bottle split)
Nose: Very nice, very quintessentially Caol Ila notes of lemon, mineral peat and coastal notes (brine, oyster liquor) and green olives. Green peppery bite on the second sniff and a touch of cream. With time the cream expands a bit. A few drops of water and it gets softer still, with the smoke all but receding into the background. Continue reading
Ardmore 22, 2000 (WhiskySponge)
I am typing this preamble in a hurry before leaving for the airport and so will keep it brief.
On Monday I reviewed a WhiskySponge Ardmore 24 from a refill bourbon hogshead. I simultaneously liked it a fair bit and was a bit disappointed with it. Today I have a 22 yo Ardmore that started out in a refill hogshead and was then subjected to a sherry finish. I have to confess my default reaction to such a sequence is first one of anguish: why risk marring one of Scotland’s truly idiosyncratic profiles with a brief, potentially overbearing dalliance with sherry? And then one of skepticism: was the sherry finish applied in the manner of lipstick on a pig? But though my initial response may be skeptical, my mind remains open and I am hoping for the best. Will those hopes be rewarded or will they fall apart like an ill-conceived sherry finish? Let’s see. Continue reading
Ardmore 24, 1997 (WhiskySponge)
There were competing requests last week for themed weeks centered on Ardmore and on WhiskySponge releases. Competing because I cannot do both: two of the Ardmores are WhiskySponge releases. As a compromise I propose a week of WhiskySponge releases now and then the third, non-WhiskySponge Ardmore at the end of the month, to be paired with a whisky from another highlands distillery, with which I’ll kick off February’s booze reviews.
So, here’s the first of two WhiskySponge Ardmores. This is the older of the two: 24 years old and from a refill hogshead. On paper, at least, that sounds very good indeed. Will that be true in the glass? I liked the only other WhiskySponge releases I’ve reviewed—a trio of Ballechins from almost exactly a year ago (here, here and here)—but was not blown away by them. I’m hoping this January’s trio will live up to all the hype. Let’s see. Continue reading
Laphroaig 7, 2014 (Single Malts of Scotland)
Let’s start the year in whisky reviews with a young Laphroaig. This is a 7 year old put together as a vatting of three bourbon hogsheads by Single Malts of Scotland—once a Whisky Exchange label, now put out by their sister company, Elixir Distillers. There was a time when whiskies from Single Malts of Scotland were not available in the US. That time is past. This Laphroaig and a few others that I’ll be reviewing this week that also bear the “Reserve Casks” appellation were released in the US market in 2022. And they’re not the first Single Malts of Scotland bottles to make it here. The Caol Ila 10, 2009 I reviewed in December was also a US release and, for all I know, they’ve been here even longer. I think I’ve mentioned before that I no longer follow whisky marketing news—if one of my readers knows more about this I hope you’ll write in below. As for these “Reserve Casks” releases, I expect “Reserve Casks” is just a nice way of saying “Not Single Cask or at Cask Strength”—these are all bottled at 48%. I say this because single casks at cask strength might well be what people expect of indie releases, especially when a 7 yo whisky costs $90 and above as this Laphroaig did on release. Well, let’s see what it’s like. Continue reading
Ardmore 12, 2006 (SMWS 66.139)
This has been a week of reviews of malts from highlands distilleries. It’s also been a week of reviews of ex-bourbon cask malts and, as it turns out, a week of reviews of 12 yo malts. On Monday I had a review of a 12 yo Teaninich bottled by the Thompson Bros.; on Wednesday I had a review of a 12 yo Glen Garioch bottled by Old Particular; today I have for you a review of a 12 yo Ardmore bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Long-time readers of this blog know that I have a soft spot for bourbon cask Ardmore. Indeed, I’ve had a fair number of bourbon cask Ardmores in recent years that I’ve enjoyed a lot, many of those bottled by the SMWS with numbers adjacent to this one. Among those have been 66.133, 66.137 and 66.138. Granted 137 and 138 were quite a bit older but it still bodes well for this one, which is 66.139 (and 133 was also a 12 yo). I’m sorry if you’re not familiar with the SMWS’ funky bottle codes. The numbers before the period identify the distillery (Ardmore is 66) and those after the period identify the number of the release—which means this was the 139th Ardmore bottled by the SMWS (they’re well past that number now). In addition, they like to give each release a silly name. This one was dubbed “Deerstalkers and hillwalkers”. Okay, let’s see what it is like. Continue reading
Lagavulin 11, Offerman Edition, Charred Oak
Tuesdays are normally restaurant review days on the blog. However, the World Cup has been messing with my schedule and I didn’t have time yesterday to finish resizing all the photographs from the meal I was scheduled to report on: the weekday lunch buffet at Kumar’s in Apple Valley. And so I’m going to post that tomorrow. In its place, here is the whisky review that was going to go up tomorrow.
This is the third release of Lagavulin’s Offerman Edition. The first came out in 2019. At the time I assumed it was a one-off. But then there was a second release last year, a finish in Guinness casks. And 2022 saw a third release, this one involving oak casks that were shaved down and re-charred. I’ve seen some references to the casks in question being American and European oak casks and some that specify that they were ex-bourbon and ex-red wine casks. I can tell you though that the text on the back of the box says that this particular edition (11 years old like the two previous) was “curated” to pair with a medium-rare steak. Personally, I don’t drink whisky with food but I’m not sure how seriously anyone should take any of that anyway. I think the text may be written in the voice of Ron Swanson (I cannot confirm as I still have not watched any Parks & Recreation). I liked the first two releases and hope this will be as good. Let’s see. Continue reading