This is basically the quarter cask with an additional rest time in refill sherry casks. I know many reviews panned this for being less brash and in your face than other Laphroaigs, now that it’s discontinued, it might get more love?
Nose: Cough lozenges, black licorice, antiseptic, that note of germinating grain, vanilla, loads of sweet oak, salty, the nose feels a bit closed.
Palate: Oily, astringent grain, smoked fish, and carbolic give way to sweetness, currants, dried fruit & spices. The palate is soft, all in vanilla, menthol and earth.
The Blab: The medicinal elements seem to sit tight amidst the successive oak treatments, the ashy smoke is what is replaced by the sweeter elements. Not the one for those looking for that Laphroaig slap in the face but if you like the the distillers editions of Lagavulin and Talisker this is a winner.
This expression is the first to be added to Ardbeg’s regular line-up in many years. A vatting of different cask types (ex-bourbon, virgin oak, px), all finished in Ardbeg’s new European oak marrying tun.
It’s received a fair bit of flack, let’s see what the fuss is all about.
Nose: A hint of Ardbeg’s coal and diesel smoke, then sweeter, cookie dough?Jordan almonds, vanilla, candied fennel seeds, menthol a bit of ginger. It’s nice if a bit subdued.
Palate: Ashy right out of the gate,vanilla. prune sauce some cinnamon. It has some bite, soot, sweet dough, a tin of smoked herring being opened in a bakery. It’s got many of the hallmarks of what makes Ardbeg good but pushed down by the oak.
Finish: Green branches, the astringent lemons show up late to the party. lots of oak, char, vanilla, loads of ginger, a tiny bit or earth.
It’s not neutered like Laphroaig select but it is a more rounded version of the kildalton crusher. They’ve tamed the feisty young Ardbeg spirit, making it sweeter and smoothing over the mineral and maritime edge.
I don’t hate this, it’s well made and enjoyable but at a time when so much Scotch is being homogenized. I would prefer they embrace the challenging nature of their whisky rather than blunt it.
This is an NAS single malt from an undisclosed Islay distillery. This brand comes from Ian Macleod’s company, who’s portfolio includes, Isle of Skye, Glengoyne & Thamdu among others.
Like most of these type of releases there’s much speculation on the origin of the casks for this whisky. Many speculate that this is a vatting of young casks of Ardbeg that don’t quite meet the company’s standards. Let’s see.
Nose: Smoked herring, damp cellar, creosote, it leans towards Ardbeg or Laphroaig heavy smoke. Salt, a smidge of vanilla, a little mercurochrome nothing else…maybe salt ham.
This whisky was released to much fanfare in the whiskysphere, with reason. There is so little lagavulin variety on the market, the masses are starved.
It provides things fans of the 12yr old love, little to no cask play (the color is like Sauvignon), it’s served at a decent proof (48%ABV) and lastly that resounding 8 yrs age statement all bold and brash youth instead of an NAS with a fairytale name.
We know from many other contemporaries that young Islays can be superb and explosive (if a bit narrow in profile at times).
Nose: Mineral, green, diesel fumes, burnt hay, almond oil. Its very mezcal like, génépi, bakelite, ashy smoke. With time freshly shucked oysters, a smidge of powdered sugar and pears
Palate: Dark, sharp,oily, acrid smoke. Bitter plants and artichokes, toasted and salted marcona almonds and lovage.
Finish: Bitter, inky, wet wool and grapefruit pith, it’s medium in length very drying. The quality of the distillate is without reproach.
Somedays this is really superb, firing on all cylinders. Other days it’s kind of hangs on to one note and goes with it. I wasn’t crazy about this bottle at first. I didn’t gas it and I find the final half much better although I don’t think it’s changed dramatically. A good young uncompromising whisky. I’m not convinced this was only a cash grab.
That said, as many feared (or wanted) this has become part of the regular line-up. At prices like I’ve seen in some states (45-65$) I would buy this again. Locally it’s a 100$ at that price point it competes with many other whiskys and the 16yr old is 129$, I am unlikely to buy a replacement soon.
Yet another Octomore review and I have been searching for the best way to introduce this review. This was the first .3 iteration of the series, the culmination of much of the terroir driven work at Bruichladdich, 100% Islay barley grown on the farm that gave this whisky it’s namesake, by a guy named James Brown no less and peated to the eye watering level of 258ppm, a process that apparently requires several days of careful monitoring.
I believe the work that the Laddie team has been doing is really unique and admirable. One could view it as just being their marketing “shtick” but somehow it resonates with me this idea of making a spirit that reflects the surroundings and climate. Their trials using less popular barley strains and growing grains in proximity to the distillery is in some ways a return to tradition.
Let’s see if any of this is reflected in the final product.
Nose: Farmy and greasy at first, then a bit of melon, lime oil (like the aftershave), a feeling of dirty juicy fruit gum, dried cereal, hot cornbread. Then comes the Laddie split-milk notes, lamp oil, cold campfire. With time a growing minty/herbal side, salted licorice, a bit of cinnamon and vanilla. The smoke is always present wrapping everything together.
Palate: Sharp, sooty, sweet, almost fizzy, diesel fumes and cantaloupe. A handful of black earth and lemon lozenge and citrus peels. It turns more mineral and bitter in the center before returning to a fun mix of sweet, creamy and herbal, vanilla, corn pudding and gentian.
Finish: acrid smoke, earth and grains and a bit of sweetness, the lactic note is present but not overpowering. I found it much less sweet than other versions, the body is huge, just really oily and viscous.
It is fairly close to the standard versions of Octomore but somehow more earth and grain shine through, the herbal\mineral integrated with the sweetness, very well balanced
Lastly, you know you’ve made a good friend when after an evening out eating and indulging in a couple of drams, they end slip you two quite generous samples of Octomore for no other reason than the pure pleasure of getting your impressions of the stuff. I want to thank fellow Connosr member Robert99 for providing me the opportunity to dig myself deeper into Octo-obsession.
*photo credits:Octomore farm l’oeil sur le vin blog, Rockside farm Bruichladdich website.
When one is fighting for access to the fundemental information about whisky (age) there are many arguments for the NAS camp, often one argument is “such and such a whisky is NAS and its great or I don’t mind when whisky is NAS as long as its good.” There are a couple of whiskys that have become emblematic of this argument, Aberlour A’bunadh is one the other is Uigeadail.
The argument is moot because quality isn’t a function of age, yet it doesn’t make age any less irrelevant. Producers are talking out both sides of their mouths, age doesn’t matter except when it comes to luxury whisky.
Both the SWA and producers are to blame. If the argument is that in vatting different ages you are punished by only being able to display the youngest age, then let producers display vatting composition details (a la roller-coaster or classic Laddie.) I suspect that hiding the age is convenient allowing them to charge more for young whisky, or change the composition without having to modify price point, packaging or even advising consumers of the change.
All of this is just food for thought, lets taste this icon and see.
Nose: Soy sauce, teriyaki, old leather jacket, latex paint, smoke, kelp, fresh cake batter, hot tarmac, almonds, burning coals.
palate: tires peeling on asphalt, motorcycle exhaust, dried black grapes, savoury, salty, dried shiitake mushrooms.
Finish: sweet, ginger, cake frosting, nut brittle, salted macadamia nuts all with a blanket of smoke and bbq sauce.
This is undeniably good whisky, a great meeting of peat and sweet which is tricky to do right. I don’t know what it is about the Ardbeg profile that takes so well to Sherry.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that both these Iconic NAS whiskys are high strength either, a good way to ease a young whisky on the palate is ensuring that it’s provided in full on “its goes to eleven” intensity.
Aberlour have gone one further by doing batch numbers and created a real frenzy, I know Ardbeg has a bottle code but it’s not obvious packaging info.
Much like Ardbeg and Laphroaig, Lagavulin is one of those distilleries that has the ability to turn grown men into fanboys. Unlike the latter examples, it does so by releasing very few whiskys and with little fanfare.
Don’t get me wrong I don’t think Diageo has any trouble with their marketing budget, yet I have to admit that the austere range of Lagavulin resonates with my personal aesthetic. Yes there are the Jazz fest releases & Feis Ile editions, as well as the occasional 20+yr old OB that are beyond most people’s reaches.
Otherwise the distillery output is channeled into three main expressions. The 16’s reputation renders it almost ubiquitous, it’s the one you are likely to find behind the bar in most reputable restaurant and bars, which doesn’t distract from the fact that it is a solid product.
On the other end you have this 12 years cask strength offering, it has been released yearly since 2000, produced in fairly large numbers. It is a vatting of all ex-bourbon barrels and judging from the pale colorprobably a fair amount of refill barrels (thankfully free of the DiageoGold™…thanks for that one Micheal k.)
I first tasted this as the second to last whisky in a line-up of heavy hitters (Bunnahabhain Toiteach, Ardbeg Corry, Bowmore Tempest, Amrut peated CS) so singular was it’s delivery, I instantly knew I needed some of this in my life. Thank you again to fellow Connosr member Robert99 for sharing this with me.
Nose: Smoked fudge (this should totally be a thing), burnt chaff, butter, hot tarmac, a slight touch of vanilla. A feeling of Vicks vaporub and alpine liqueurs/bitters, earthy and mineral.
Palate: Sooty, a coal fire, bitter herbs and plants (cardoons?) there is also little sweetness, It reminds me of mezcal in some ways, fresh almonds and grapefruit pith, salty and a slight creaminess.
Finish is long, all on puer eh tea (that earthy, vegetal side), blond tobacco smoke, fading sweetness and lingering oiliness. It’s so balanced and most quaffable undiluted.
A good reference when one wants to talk about distillery character or quality of distillate, there are similarities with other Islay whisky but there is this elemental qualities in this whisky that are hard to find elsewhere and there doesn’t seem to be so much wood doing the heavy lifting.
Ok yes the price, the Diagopremium™ is in effect, there has been a steady increase of the price of this over the years attaining some new heights with the 2016 edition. In our neck of the woods the 2013 retailed for 116$ and the 2016 is now 160$…pretty steep price of entry.
This blog has been running for a little over a year now. It’s a log of tasting notes and also to assemble them in a way that makes sense. It’s also a good practice for my writing, not that I fancy myself anything more than middling in that field.
Looking back at the moderate amount I have posted so far I would have never guessed the most viewed entry would be the one for Bowmore Tempest VI. It seems to attract a lot of queries and if I had a dollar for every view I could keep the blog afloat in premium land for a couple of years (not tooting my horn, this blog attracts very little views in general which I’m fine with). That was one of my first reviews and it still causes me to cringe at times when I read it, yet I meant every word in my love for that whisky. It’s still consistently a joy to have a dram of it and I am happy to have squirreled away a couple of bottles (not as many as Nozinan I am certain).
I had the opportunity last year to trade a bottle of batch VI for V with Connosr member Nozinan through the kindest of whisky mules (fellow Connosr member Robert99). It was smartly suggested we trade a sample of each whisky along with it in order to taste the batch variances without opening our bottles. I am much overdue on my review of this but not like anyone was holding their breath for my opinion on this hot topic.
Bowmore Tempest V:
Nose: Bags of tropical fruits, sea spray, waxed meyer lemons, there’s a bit of malty side, the smoke is in the distance and it feels a bit closed at first. After some time the vanilla and oak become more prominent, along with a mineral and earthy peat, the sweetness is like flower nectar.
Palate: Earthy, sweet, creamy and yet there’s a good amount of lingering bitterness to keep it in check. Lemons and a kind of dirty spices (camphor, black cardamom, grains of paradise, long peppercorn) yet there is also an underlying soapy, floral, lavender tang that is slight but persistent even with water.
The strength is magnificent, it’s easy to drink undiluted and powerfully conveys the flavours, the finish is long and all on sweet oak and gripping bitterness.
Bowmore Tempest VI:
Nose: Starts off on ripe pineapple, mango, sweet and musky melon, distant smoke and vinyl upholstery. It morphs into vanilla and damp oak and flint, the peaty side is more like a campfire the morning after.
Palate: Earthy, malted barley syrup, bergamot, a bit of ashyness and coconut. Lemon pith, malty, orange flower water or petit-grain. Paraffin and with time a little antiseptic and oysters show up.
The finish is long and lingering, with water you get more oak, the bitter ashy side is reduced but still plenty of mineral and sea spray and lemon.
Impressions: While Stylistically both batches are very close, there are some slight differences, the nose on batch V really pushes the fruits forward but sadly I’m really sensitive to that soapy, bitter violet note on the palate. Batch VI feels well rounded if a bit oak forward. It’s must try for those who haven’t been moved much by the standard OB line-up of Bowmore.
The rant: Ah we can’t get away from me complaining but I mean c’mon Suntory! The small batch experiments disappeared and all we are left with is this new NAS vault series shite. The first one landed on these shores recently at a whopping 199$ (Canadian), I know that never ending price argument but this release has no pretension to having any special or rare parcels of whisky, not that this would necessarily change much. When one could buy a 10 yr old cask strength, first fill bourbon cask whisky at 75$ less than a year prior, it’s hard not to feel like they are taking the piss. We thought Devil’s cask III at 100$+ was pushing it…we didn’t know what was coming.
I’ll spare everyone a re-hash of the “legend” behind this malt. Here are the facts that we know, it’s peated Bowmore spirit, matured in first fill Oloroso sherry casks in the famed No. 1 vaults (how much can they actually fit in there?) and bottled at cask strength. The first two editions were 10 year old expressions, this final one loses the age but gains a double maturation in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks.
We received a very small allocation of this in Quebec & the few cases sold out within hours.
I’m surprised more people haven’t talked about the interesting contrast that Bowmore’s small batch series offered, they we’re running both the Tempest and Devil’s cask series in parallel. This provided a rare opportunity to taste the differences in cask maturation under relatively similar conditions, 10 yr old cask strength whisky in first fill barrels.
Palate: strong, coffee & camphor, oily, sweet oak and bacon wrapped dates. The citrus is on Bergamots and blood oranges, puer-eh tea, pomegranate molasses,dark chocolate with sea salt and a slight meatiness (umami). It’s big whisky, despite the cask strength it’s beautiful drunk neat, water does help highlight the fruitiness and brings more spices out, it also increases the ashy smoke. Forget about balance, this isn’t what this whisky is about, it’s bombastic and in your face.
long sustained finish, the richness roiling around long after the last drop has vanished. This is not an easy dram, it launches a relentless assault on your taste buds, oily,salty, deep sherry richness, earthy and then the mysterious fruitiness (blood oranges?pineapple? musky fruits? other times dark dried fruits). The peat and smoke are there but somehow transformed by the cask finish, integrated into the other flavors. While I enjoyed the boldness of the freshly opened bottle, oxidation worked wonders on the last 1/3 of the bottle, it was rounder, less sweet and with more sustain, to borrow a musical term.
I know the price, the price, the price..it’s another NASty whisky. Yes, yes all of that is true, at the prices asked for in the European market forget it, In Canada and US it hovers around 100-120$ still pricey but one heck of a ride a good one for a group/club purchase. I agree that young peated Islays in bourbon cask are usually the winning combo but you see here what the “dark side” can offer if handled properly.
Sadly these two series seem over for Bowmore, There is a travel retail “devil’s cask inspired” release that is a 10 yr old oloroso and red wine finished at 40% ABV , it gives the impression they are riding the reputation of a well received product to push something else.
Bowmore Devil’s Cask III
Je vais vous épargner la légende derrière ce whisky, cette histoire à été répétée de maintes fois. Voici les faits tel qu’on les connait, il s’agit du distillat moyennement tourbé de Bowmore, une maturation dans d’ex-fûts de xérès Oloroso. Le tout vieilli dans la “fameuse” voûte numéro 1 (je me demande sérieusement combien de barils y repose réellement) et embouteillé à la puissance brute. Les deux premiers tirages étaient des whiskys de 10 ans, la troisième et dernière édition à perdu sa mention d’âge mais à gagnée un séjour en barrique de xérès Pedro Ximénez.
Le peu de caisses que la SAQ à reçu ce sont envolées en quelques heures à peine. Je suis surpris qu’il n’y a pas eu plus de discussions sur cette série “small batch” de Bowmore (Tempest et Devil’s cask). Elle offrait la possibilité de goûter l’impact que les fûts de bourbon et xérès apportent aux même distillat sous des conditions similaires.
Nez: un brin terreux, raisins sec Thompson, zeste d’orange brûlé, paraffine et plum pudding. Une impression de café légèrement torréfié, du jambon nitrité, cire à chaussures, tabac encore humide et cacao.
Bouche: Puissant! Café et camphre, chêne sucré, huileux, des dates enrobées de bacon grillées. Le côté agrumes tire plus sur la bergamote et l’orange sanguine. Thé puer-eh, pomme grenade, mélasse, chocolat noir à la fleur de sel. Il y un côté musclé, umami même et malgré le taux d’alcool il se déguste bien neutre.
L’ajout d’eau fait ressortir les fruits mais augmente le côté astringent de la fumée. N’essayez pas de trouver l’équilibre c’est futile, profitez plutôt du voyage gustatif que ce whisky vous offre.
La saveur persiste longtemps après que la dernière goutte soit terminée. Ce n’est pas une dégustation facile, l’assaut sur vos papilles est constant, tantôt sont côté huileux, son brin salin et les fruits mystérieux (oranges sanguines ananas? Fruits musqué? Tantôt des fruits séchés.) la tourbe et la fumée sont présente mais sont transformée par l’influence des fûts de xérès. J’ai apprécié la claque que donne ce whisky lorsque la bouteille est fraîchement ouverte mais j’ai préféré le dernier tiers qui était bien oxydé, plus rond, moins sucré et une meilleur longueur en bouche.
Oui je sais, je sais le prix! Et encore un autre whisky dont l’âge est masqué. Tout ça est vrai, je sais que le prix sur le marché Européen est ridicule. Entre 100$-120$ Canadien c’est encore cher mais plus raisonnable surtout lors d’un achat de groupe pour votre club. Beaucoup diront que les jeunes whisky tourbé sont à leur meilleur en fût de bourbon, mais il est intéressant de voir ce que peut offrir le côté obscur s’il est bien assemblé.
Tristement, cette série est terminée pour Bowmore, il y a une version hors-taxes qui se dit inspirée du “devil’s cask” un whisky de 10 ans fini en barrique se vin rouge et oloroso à 40%alc. Ça donne plus l’impression de quelqu’un qui tente de tordre le dernières gouttes de jus qui reste dans un linge…
Laphroaig commemorated the 200th anniversary of the distillery in 2015 with a string of anniversary releases across the breadth of their range. I haven’t tasted them all but I think they really knocked it out of the park with this strategy, particularly compared to some of their Islay brethren. These releases(cairdeas, 15, 16 & 32 yr old expressions) were spread out across the price spectrum with at least 2 being fairly priced and widely produced. I already reviewed the 2015 Cairdeas here which was a cracking whisky.
This meant it was easier fans (or friends) everywhere to get in on the action not just collectors, each expressions offered had something different to offer. Whether this was all part of their strategy or not? I think this was a good move in a time where it’s easy for whisky producers (especially Islay) to release OK juice and wrap it up in slice of marketing bacon or drop some super old juice that only that only some can afford,fewer will open and that reviewers will do all the legwork in promoting (see whipping into a frenzy) with free samples.
Ok you in the back I heard your grumbling…so far 2016 has not been as kind to friends of Laphroaig with a big gap being created in the line-up (loss of 15 and 18 yrs old). The “Select” still remains and that gap’s been filled by an NAS (Lore) with the patented Ardbeg Uigedal /Johnnie Walker Blue technique of rumor and innuendo “I heard / someone told me there’s old sherry casks in there”, ” It contains some of our most precious stock”. I’m sure it’s good whisky but it does feel like a let down after a shinning year.
I opened this bottle on my birthday because, well it’s my goddamn birthday!
Nose: Smoke…shocker right? not dirty smoke though, more like when you dial it in just right on a home smoker. It’s followed by lemon pith and kaffir leaves. There is a also delicate floral green side, orange blossoms, fresh oregano or savoury, jasmine tea. Then it’s opening oysters and on a table scrubbed with Dettol, grilled shellfish too. Water brings out more of the vanilla, grapefruit, calming the medicinal side somewhat.
Palate: Sour and zingy when it first hits, ashy, sharp bitter smokiness,peppery and mineral. Then there is definitely some sweet notes, slightly musky fruit (melon, apricots), candied fennel, lime and green peat, camphor and black cardamom. Water rounds out the sharpness but keeps the coastal, peppery , smoky and sweet vibe going.
The finish doesn’t last forever but it does warm your chest and keep with the smoke and sweet & salty fennel and lime.The ABV works just fine to carry the flavors which are very rich.
It’s a great whisky,surprisingly sharp and spirity still, with little obvious oak influence. Upon opening I was slightly disappointed, I was expecting too much right out of the gate, you have to let it creep up on you. That said with time and oxygen the whisky becomes more uni-dimensional especially losing the musky fruit notes rather quickly so gas it or share it if that’s your preferred sweet spot.
Laphroaig 15 “200e Anniversaire”
En 2015 Laphroaig célébrait son 200e anniversaire avec une série de whisky couvrant l’éventail de gamme de la distillerie. Malgré que je n’ai pas eu la chance de tous les évaluer, je crois que c’était une stratégie du tonnerre. Du moins si l’on compare avec certains de leurs voisins qui on aussi atteint cet âge vénérable récemment (Lagavulin, Ardbeg).
Les whiskys concernés (Cairdeas, 15, 16 et 32ans) étaient répartie selon différents échelons de prix et ont chacun quelques chose de différent à offrir. Deux d’entre eux étaient relativement abordable et produits en assez grand nombre. J’ai effectué la critique du Cairdeas 2015 ici, un whisky qui démontrait une maturité au-delà de ces 11ans.
Je ne sais pas si ceci figurait dans leurs plans mais le résultat était avantageux pour les amateurs de Laphroaig (ou ami comme sont appelés le fanclub de la distillerie). Surtout dans cette période ou les édition luxe sont trop fréquente et les départements de marketing nous servent des whisky médiocres au prix et histoires fabuleuses.
Pardon oui vous à l’arrière vous avez une question? Ah oui je sais on est en 2016..Oh et puis Laphroaig semble vouloir nous briser le cœur. L’insipide “Select” est partout, le retour du 15 n’était qu’éphémère et nous avons perdu le 18ans. Ils tente de nous faire oublier grâce à un autre whisky sans mention d’âge le “Lore” qui utilise la technique breveté d’Ardbeg quand ils veulent faire saliver les “fanboys”. Rareté + rumeur = whisky de luxe tu entends des phrases du genre “j’ai entendu dire/une source m’a confirmé qu’il y a des vieux fut de xérès dans cette édition” ou “puisé de nos stocks les plus rares”…200$ et zéro certitude sur le contenu plus tard. Je suis avec vous l’avenir n’est pas très prometteur
Nez: fumée…non sans blague? Mais pas une fumée crasseuse. Plus genre la fumée blue parfaite d’un fumoir.
Écorce de citron et feuilles de lime kaffir. Il y aussi un côté plus délicat, floral et vert, fleur d’oranger, sarriette et thé au jasmin. Ensuite c’est un party d’huîtres sur une table en bois frotter à l’antiseptique, crustacé sur le bbq. L’eau fait ressortir du pamplemousse. Un peu de vanille et calme le côté médicament.
Bouche: un peu surette et tranchant au début. Une belle amertume, la fumée, le poivre, un côté minéral et ensuite les cendres. Il y a des notes sucrés, une légère touche de fruits musqué (melon, abricots), fenouil confit, lime, tourbe fraîche, camphre et cardamome noire. L’eau coupe un peu l’amertume, laissant le côté salin, poivré et fumé planer.
La finale est un peu courte, un retour sur le sucré, salé, le fenouil et le pamplemousse. Le taux d’alcool est bien équilibré et parvient à soutenir le bouquet assez riche.
J’ai été agréablement surpris par ce whisky, il est équilibré, présente des saveurs bien définis et le chêne ce montre discret. Je dois avouer qu’à l’ouverture j’étais un peu déçu, je m’attendais à une bête mais c’est plutôt un ninja. Par contre je trouve qu’avec le temps et l’oxygène il devient plus unidimensionnel, je suggère le gaz inerte ou de le partager rapidement.