Old Pulteney 12 – A Review

OP

So I’ve strayed away from the Old Pulteney range ever since I smashed a bottle of the 21 year old on the floor, in the bar I used to manage in Vancouver, when loading in new inventory…. I know….. Thankfully though, I was doing a good enough job there not to get in any real trouble but I was never let forget about it.

So seeing this miniature on the shelves in Edinburgh on a recent trip I couldn’t resist to try some a re-live a funny story.

Colour: Straw gold.

Nose: crisp, fruit, light toasted notes, saltiness.

Palate: Saltiness and brime on forefront, light toasted oak, nuts and raisins.

Finish: lingering finish, salt, brime, oak and spices.

Score: 80/100.

I think that the story might rate higher in my books than this whisky. I paired it with some sea bass and it went down quite well and I think the saltiness and the sea side brime pairs to fish very well. On its own though, its not a bad whisky. Is it amazing? Not particularly. Supposedly the 17 and the 21 are fantastic so I look forward to trying and reviewing those when I build up some more disposable income

Macallan Gold – A Review

MacAllan

So I have sold a tonne of Macallan gold but never actually tried it myself. Macallan’s 1824 series sees the Gold officially as the baby of the group. They brought back the sherry finish/maturation that made them famous after the awful reputation that the fine oak series awarded them.

The gold replaced the 10 year old on price point. Not officially a ten year old since Macallan have opted to denote the quality of this NAS range by colour.

Colour: Golden (as the name suggests)

Nose: Strong citrus and vanilla tones, light sherry, wood spice and a slight hint of nut buried deep.

Palate: light wood spice, sweet fruits, sherry and oak coming through and finally nuts and malt cover the palate.

Finish: Strong wood spice, nutty and fruit taste remains.

Score: 85/100

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by this low end NAS offering. Nice dram. Good flavour profile. Its got the burn of a young whiskey but that is to be expected with the replacement for the ten. Bottles retail here in Ireland for 63.99. Probably not going to buy a bottle for myself but definitely wouldn’t turn my nose up at a glass

Glen Grant 10 – A review

gg10

Roommate brought this home from the duty free in Switzerland. Not usually a dram I would have jumped out for but cant say no to a friend offering a dram!

  • Colour: Straw Yellow
  • Nose: Candyhop sweetness, hints of toffee and stewed apples.
  • Palate: Light open, tofee sweetness, subdued spice, malt and pears
  • Finish: Long dry finish, fruity with subdued spice and slightest hint of nut.
  • Score: 80/100

This was a nice dram to have amongst friends. I had heard that the purifiers in the stills that Glen Grant use made light fruity whisky and thats no lie. I was pleasantly surprised with the length of the finish compared to how light it was on the palate. Not something I am going to rush out and buy anytime soon but was a tastey enough dram definitely with lots of fruit.

Aberlour 10 – A Review

Very approachable, entry level dram. On special in the pub this weekend for the Ireland vs Scotland game. Couldn’t say no to a glass or two at knockdown prices! Aberlour-10-year-old-Malt

  • Colour: Rich gold.
  • Nose: Sweetness upfront, fruit, toffee and nuts.
  • Palate: Full bodied. Spice up front, caramel, sherry sweetness & thick malty taste.
  • Finish: Medium finish. Spice lasts. Oily with lingering honey sweetness.
  • Score: 82/100.

I was pretty impressed with this entry level dram. Not for its complexity but for its full range of flavours it offered. Very enjoyable. Would buy again. Feel the finish let it down a bit so would have scored higher in my books but still enjoyable experience

Abelour A’Bunadh – A Review

So with all the talk of Quarter Cask and A’bunadh convincing so many staunch anti-NAS fanatics I felt like I ought to give this at least a try! Had this dram in the lovely Albanch bar on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.

Abelour A’bunadh – Batch 47. 60.7% Abv

Nose: ripe fruits, strong alcohol presence, raisins, candyshop sweetness, light honey comb.

Palate: Bright open with wood spice, warm, sweet sherry, demerara sugar, hints of marshmallow (Maeve’s input).

Finish: Sharp lingering spice, wood spice, sweetness, marshmallow again. Medium length.

Score: 82/100.

For a oloroso sherry casking I was pleasantly surprised that the taste wasn’t overpowering. Maybe in my mind the story behind A’bunadh was hyped up quite a bit but my opinions are I’d have it again, probably wouldn’t buy a bottle of it though myself.

TL:DR: A’bunadh was good. Nothing amazing. Over hyped.Abelour

Cadenhead’s Small Batch Little Mill – Review

Colour: Amber gold.

Nose (without water) : Toasted nuts, nugat, honey comb, hint of raisins.

Palate (w/o water): Delicate open, toasted wood, walnut, bourbon sweetness, light sherry influence,

Finish (w/o water): beautiful lingering of toasted wood, burnt sugar, slight lingering spice and finally some light sherry notes.

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Nose (with water): Sweet honeycomb, nut, toasted wood, raisin/sherry completely gone.

Palate (water): Spice and sherry influences gone, Candyshop sweetness remained.

Finish (water): light and short, toasted wood, burnt sugar.

Score: 92/100. 

Double distilled, toasted bourbon barrels with a quick finish in sherry casks. Delicious combination.

I tried this at a local bar that was suggested by the staff at Cadenhead’s. After trying it I went straight back to shop to try buy a bottle it was that good. I was extremely impressed with their Little Mill bottling and I was very disheartened to find out that they had no bottles of it left. They had one distillery bottle left in the shop, although the staff advised me the flavour profile was entirely different and it was quite frankly over price. Unfortunately since Little mill itself has been demolished they’re not going to have any more again.

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Non-age statements

Non-age statement whiskies are very much a hot topic right now. This is a trend of releasing bottles of whisk(e)y with a fancy name instead of a year statements that has been becoming more and more prevalent with the global boom in whisk(e)y sales.

This new/not so new trend, is causing lots of controversy and discussions amongst the fans of the water of life. There are claims that distilleries are just dolling up fancy boxes with very young stock, coloured and chill filtered to the hilt to cash in on the boom in the whisk(e)y market. The distilleries are claiming that they are simply running out of older stock that would allow them to continue to make premium age stated bottlings.

I’m inclined to believe a little of both. Remember that for a distillery to release a 12 year old whisk(e)y there much be a cask maturing in their warehouses for at least 12 years. Seems simple. But whisk(e)y production takes some serious foresight on the behalf of the distillers. They need to gauge how much of the spirit they are going to need in 5, 10, 15 maybe even 20 years time. Not many people would have been able to predict this global boom in the whisk(e)y industry 15 years ago. So my opinions on this leads me to lean slightly on the side of the distillery not having old enough stock to bottle a premium age consistently. A lot of these distilleries have been using the finite amount of space in their warehouses to produce age statements for a much smaller market for years. Now that push has come to shove nearly everybody is in operations to build and expand to meet the market demands that this new whiskey industry holds.

Personally I think that it matters much more what your whisk(e)y tastes like than what its aesthetics on the box are. But that said, I have come across a lot of people who use the age statement on whisk(e)y to gauge a rough subjective quality, in their own heads. Their theory goes 18yr/o > 16 yr/o. Which I suppose empirically makes sense. Although in no way do I really believe that the larger the number equals the better the taste. I have had some really great 3 year old samples of Scotch that have rivaled other 12 yr/o. But like most things related to whiskey, it’s all down to personal taste.

I personally think that we are going to see a lot of NAS bottles replace bread and butter whisk(e)y like the Glenlivet 12, that was recently pulled. I think that distilleries will be able to sustain their growth more and for longer rationing what stock of older whisk(e)y they actually have left.

What I hope I don’t see is a surge of fancy packaged NAS whisk(e)y that have lots of fancy marketing jargon but taste worse than the age statements they replace. As many people have pointed out to me, these fancy NAS bottlings can essentially bring bigger bucks for younger whisk(e)ys for distilleries. So I’m sure the temptation is there with all directors to push younger more coloured spirits onto markets for huge mark ups. This would be a sad state of affairs. I will hold out hope that their pride in their brand name will at least keep some of the big names producing quality spirits and not skimping out to make a few extra bucks while de-grading a great taste.

I think this will be an interesting period of progression in the industry as a whole. I think the entry level of the market will buy in very easily to the fancy labels claiming “limited supply” or “rare” to show off to their friends in lieu of a big age statement. For the rest of the market, the people who do their homework, I think they’ll be divided. I think those who are already converted by the likes of Laphroaig Quarter Cask or Abelour A’bunadh will be more accepting to the changes and I hope they won’t be disappointed. The rest of us will remain skeptical. Do our homework and hope that we won’t be disappointed with whatever rounds the bend.

TL;DR: NAS bottles are here to stay. I hope they aren’t going to be sh1t.