Laphroaig Cairdeas 2015- The redemption malt

 

Laphroiag Cairdeas 2015

51.5% Alc/Vol

Score:91/100

 

Last month my brother and I attended a tasting at the SAQ, upon paying we we’re informed of a last minute substitution in the line-up, a wine finished Caol Ila for Aberfeldy 21. It meant that 3 of the 4 scotches we we’re about to taste would be peated.  This didn’t pose a problem for me, while I am not strictly peat-focused, I do embrace the more challenging aspects of any whisky experience.

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My poor brother though is definitely not a fan of all things peat, he lovingly refers to peated Islay as “gasoline” or “sirop Lambert” (a once popular brand of cough syrup sold in Québec). In his defence, he does like the more smoky touch of peat as is successfully integrated in many blends (JW Green & Blue, Ballantines 17) or some single malts like Highland Park 12 which we recently sampled during EWBC III.  While he can be open-minded I think he might occasionally need some coaxing.

With our 20$ paid, I jokingly told him “do you feel a cold coming along” to which he replied “fucking cough syrup”, much to the amusement of the SAQ employee. That evening turned out majestically though, not only was the progression well planned, the whiskys all had something different to offer.

To my surprise my brother fell hard for the last distillery I thought he ever would appreciate, the redemption malt was Laphroaig Cairdeas 2015. Is it because “cairdeas” is Gaelic for friendship or is it perhaps that this is just a damn fine scotch?

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Nose: medicinal peat, lemony, sea spray, oyster shells, sweet anise, fisherman’s friends lozenge. A kind of bourbony sweetness permeates the nose, chalky , mineral, waxy/moldy lemons (in a good way), wet oak, kelp.

Palate: Rich and sweet at first and then thick and herbal peat, those little eucalyptus/menthol candies rolled in sugar. It’s got a good salinity, green olive brine and smoked herring make an appearance. The second wave rolls back and forth, on one side bitter hay/pithy, ashy and medicinal. On the other sweet vanilla, brioche and oak.

It’s got a resinous like feeling and a very thick mouth-feel, it has a long finish that coasts on it’s smoky/ashy side and a pleasant sharp and bitterness/sweetness.

This is a great example of why bourbon barrel matured Islays in the 10-15 year range at higher proof really shine (see Bowmore Tempest) and have such character. I don’t want to re-hash what differentiates how this Laphroaig is produced (I think that info is largely covered elsewhere). I cannot say if this result successfully recreates the old school Laphroaig profile (I am ready to accept samples of 50’s era Laphroaig…please) but it does provides quite a mature whisky experience and one that is different enough from the standard Laphroaig.

As for my brother he was really digging it, I felt like the proud parents in that old life cereal commercial with Mikey “he likes it!”

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Franck

Aberlour A’bunadh batch No50 review

Aberlour A’bunadh batch 50

59.6% ABV

Score: 82/100

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At this point the juggernaut that is A’bunadh requires little introduction.

This whisky is a lot like the kid who’s involved in all the school clubs, she’s on the honour roll like 10 times, is class president and all the students and teacher’s alike know who she is. A lot of people like her and why not, she’s confident, outspoken, seems pretty bold, put together and know where she is going.

I have met many of those people and I can tell you there’s a lot more going on under the surface with these folks. If you spend time with such a person, you often realise there’s a hidden complexity, that often these bold types have a wholly different personality & set of anxieties than the world around them knows about. Other students tend to see them as kind of über kids or natural overachievers, really there are just animated by a burning fire one that if you watered down you would show the youth underneath…really just a kid like most others.

that to me is A’bunadh in a nutshell.

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Nose: Maraschino cherry, orange peels, demerara, spices, madeira/sherry,soaked prunes, sherry soaked sponge cake. There is also and edge where it smells a bit like bbq sauce (diana’s maple) with a little water it opens up into dried raisins, Christmas spices and plum pudding.

Palate: Oak, vanilla, big boozy mouthfeel, drying and tannic. Sweet raisins and fresh thyme, brown sugar a bit of mint, after a while the palate drifts into a flowery/honey, and creamy, sherry custard, sweet pipe tobacco.

After the bottle has been opened for some time, it really has tamed down the big mouthfeel, you still get that chest warming quality and it eases some of the more jagged edges.

Franck

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Aberlour A’bunadh Lot 50

59.6% Alc/Vol

Évaluation: 82/100

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A’bunadh ce champion poids lourd d’Écosse ne requiert plus vraiment d’introduction.

Ce whisky me fait beaucoup penser à cet adolescent qu’on a tous connu. Celui qui est membres de tous les clubs, est sur la liste d’honneur, est président de la classe et tout le monde connait son nom. Beaucoup de gens l’aime et avec raison, elle est confiante, franche, téméraire et semble savoir où elle s’en va dans la vie.

J’ai rencontré pas mal de gens comme ça et je peux vous dire qu’il y souvent pas mal de chose qui se passe sous la surface avec eux. Si l’on passe du temps avec une telle personne, on vient à découvrir une complexité cachée, un côté de leur personnalité qui est inattendu.  Les autres étudiants les voix souvent comme des genre de surdouées mais en fait il sont juste animé par une passion ou une flamme qui brule plus fortement que la normale. Si l’on arrivait à étouffer un peu cette flamme on découvrirait un jeune avec les mêmes insécurités que ses pairs.

En gros c’est A’bunadh

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Nez: Cerise Marasquin, écorce d’orange séchée, cassonade, épices, pruneau macéré dans le xérès et gâteau éponge arrosé de sirop de xérès. Il y a aussi un côté un peu étrange de sauce bbq (genre la Diana à l’érable), avec un peu d’eau le côté typique d’Aberlour se révèle, raisins sec, épices de Noël, plum pudding.

En bouche : Chêne, vanille, explosion d’alcool en bouche mais ne brule pas, on ressent bien les tannins et l’assèchement du Xérès. Raisins secs bien sucrés, thym frais, cassonade foncée, un peu de menthol léger ou sirop pour la toux aux cerises. Avec le temps il y un peu un côté floral/miel, crémeux et un du tabac à pipe.

Il y a effectivement un changement prononcé après que la bouteille a oxygénée quelques 1 mois ou plus, on ressent moins le punch dans la face initial, mais on ressent bien l’effet réchauffant de l’alcool dans son torse, en bouche, les touches un peu hardcore s’adoucissent et ça ressemble un peu à un cognac.

Franck

Glenmorangie Tùsail Review

La critique en Français est au bas de la page.

 

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Glenmorangie Tùsail

46% ABV

Score: 78/100

Glenmorangie Tùsail is part of the private edition series, a yearly (I believe) release of singular whiskies concocted by Dr. Bill Lumsden (love or hate him). This time around rather than cask play Tùsail’s particularity is the type of barley used, in this case Maris Otter barley, a variety used mostly by the brewing industry. It is a winter varietal unlike most currently used in the whisky industry which are spring varietals. The traits of the strain are its low nitrogen content, being known to be forgiving of malting conditions and very reliable. It is still prized for its taste and quality but has fallen out of favor in industrial circles due to its lower yields. Less starch and more protein are said to bring out more “estery” flavors (fruity flavor). The Maris Otter barley was floor malted in-house and then subsequently was aged mostly in ex bourbon barrels to showcase the effect of the barley.

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Nose: Right away big banana burst (almost like a virgin oak effect), acetone, lots of overripe fruity fermentation notes, flowers, nectar, a light lemon tone. Ginger, malty and biscuity, Jordan almonds and peaches.

Palate:  Slightly bitter at first, grassy, toffee, sweetened cornmeal porridge, spices. After some time the fruits open up, pears/quince, barley sugar, can’t keep away from the impression of banana on this one.

Medium length on the finish, there is a kind of blooming dark note at the end (like in the Mackmyra first edition). It’s not overly complex but I don’t personally sense a heavy wood influence either.

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It’s an enjoyable experience but it didn’t particularly leave a mark on me. Glenmo’ claims they are the only ones to have made a whisky with Maris Otter but I found a french whisky Glann Ar Mor that is also made with it.

It would have been nice to compare with another Glenmorangie to see the influence of the Maris Otter barley (it was an in store tasting so I don’t control the parameters) but it would still be difficult since we don’t know how old the spirit is.

Locally it’s a 157$ almost as expensive as the 18yr old, while it was nice I don’t think it represents a good quality price ratio in that case.

Franck

photo credits glenmo stills from Glenmorangie website.

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Glenmorangie Tùsail

46% Alc/Vol

Évaluation: 78/100

 

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Le Tùsail fait partie de la série des éditions privée de Glenmorangie, une édition annuelle de whiskies singuliers qui ont été créés par le Dr. Bill Lumsden (peu importe sa réputation). Cette fois-ci il ne s’agit pas d’une finition en barrique particulière mais de la variété d’orge utilisée, le « Maris Otter », qui est réputé dans l’industrie du brassicole (bière). Il s’agit d’un orge d’hiver qui requiert plus de temps à pousser que celles plus communément utilisées dans l’industrie du whisky qui sont des orges de printemps.

Le Maris Otter a plusieurs caractéristiques particulières dont sont niveau peu élevé d’azote, une tolérance à des fluctuations de température lors du maltage et sa fiabilité. Elle est reconnue pour son gout particulier et un haut niveau de qualité mais a largement été abandonnées par l’industrie brassicole due à son faible rendement. Un faible taux de d’amidon et plus de protéine dans l’orge est supposé augmenter les « esters » (saveur fruité). L’orge utilisé dans cette édition a été maltée traditionnellement à la distillerie et ensuite mis en fut de bourbon de premier et deuxième remplissage afin de bien démontrer les saveurs de l’orge.

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Nez: Tout de suite et explosion de banana (presque l’effet de barrique vierge), acétone, beaucoup d’arôme de fruits très mûrs provenant de la fermentation. Floral, nectar, une légère pointe citronnée et gingembre. Très maltée et biscuits digestif, amandes dragée (comme dans les bonbonnières aux mariages) et pêches.

Bouche: Une pointe d’amertume en ouverture, ensuite herbes, toffee, gruau sucrée et épicé. Avec un peu de temps arrivent les fruits, poires/coings, sucre d’orge, je ne peux échapper au goût de bananes dans ce whisky.

La finale est moyenne mais il y a un retour d’une amertume (comme dans le Mackmyra first editon), il n’est pas le whisky le plus complexe et il n’y a pas une influence marqué du chêne ce qui est bien.

C’est quand même intéressant comme expérience mais sans plus, Glenmorangie dit être le seul whisky fabriqué avec cette orge mais j’ai trouvé un single malt Français Glann Ar Mor fabriqué avec du Maris Otter.

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Il aurait été intéressant de compare avec une édition régulière de la même distillerie pour voir l’influence de l’orge mais il s’agissait d’une dégustation en magasin et de toute façon comme il s’agit d’une édition sans âge comment pourrait-on.

À la SAQ il se détaille à 157$, presque le coût d’un 18 ans du même producteur, je ne crois pas qu’il s’agit d’une bonne valeur.

Franck

 

The second time around

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Our second meeting of the now christened “Elegant Bastards Whisky Club” came together lightning quick, on November 27th, 3 weeks after our initial soirée and it proved to be a great night barring a migraine attack for Bruno at the end.

On the roster was AnCnoc 12 & Glendronach 15, with a return on Bruichladdie Laddie classic & Aberlour A’bunadh batch 50.

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Our gracious hosts for this session Dominique & Eric had the great inspiration to expand on our initial offering of cheese, crackers & charcuterie and throw in crudités and dip  and some hummus. I think this was brilliant in that it helped slow things down and get everyone chatting and creating a more natural rhythm to tasting.

This evening sticks in my mind as being a demonstration of what this whisky journey means most to me. Beyond the sensory journey is the one of camaraderie, sharing and connection. Our group is a motley one, coming from all walks of life and types of characters yet a common ground is found and all walls and separations fall away.

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AnCnoc 12 shows great potential in it’s nose, it’s got this nectar, peppery/ginger thing happening but loses steam on the palate.

Glendronach 15 gets everyone fired up, causing Patrik to shout out “Shoryuken” like Ken in Street Fighter II. It has a great Sherry profile yet provides a little something meaty and structured under all that dried fruit profile.

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In just one session we come to realize how our taste buds and the whisky can evolve when everyone decides that Classic Laddie doesn’t wow as much as the first time.

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Another great night all around.

Franck