Kavalan Whisky reviews, SAQ tastings return Part 1: Podium & bourbon oak

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SAQ Tasting session are back! I missed these Thursday rendez-vous. They were on summer hiatus and I’m not sure when they resumed. Our monopoly received a lot of interesting whiskys lately among them some good single cask shit, Kilchoman, Benromach, Edradour and then it appeared Kavalan…the first mention of it (that I’m aware of) in our stores. The line-up is somewhat limited considering the range of cask types the distillery offers. The options are Podium, Ex-Bourbon oak and two Solist CS releases, a bourbon and sherry cask respectively.

I have no experience trying any kavalan and I was mentally preparing to cajole a store clerk in order to get a small taste of whatever bottle they must have open in the back when low and behold this week’s in store tasting was all of them!

I’ll break up the reviews over two posts to avoid dragging it out. We’ll cover the standard line-up fist.

podium coffin
He was a good friend, may he rest in peace.

 

Kavalan Podium: NAS 46% abv.  virgin American oak and in-house refill casks

Nose: Sweet, bubble-gummy, definitely wine cask influences, you feel the dark berries, tree buds and the oak. The alcohol is a bit sharp at first, it opens up after time, floral, slight sulfur, a bit of ripe creamy tropical fruits, apple skins, milk chocolate and nuts, plum wine.

Palate: It is indeed sweet, ginger, the oak is present and there is a touch of worn leather, the texture is nice & viscous. Vanilla, cocoa powder a kind of sweet oak and green fruits, none of the jujube/tropical fruits from the nose.

The finish is mid length very drying with a fair amount of pepper, ginger and bitterness

Grade: B

It’s good but not earth shattering, the nose is beautiful just not very malt whisky like. In hindsight the cask play is an interesting way to provide some of what makes the Solist series so intriguing. At a fair price I would be tempted to have some of this around the house at 200$ no way.

love the glare, very pro

Kavalan Ex-Bourbon Oak: NAS 46% abv. The name says it all.

Nose: It is kind of mute at first, coconut, a fair amount of varnish. jujubes, carnuba wax. I have to stick my nose in it to get something, creamy, rising pastries…not much else.

Palate: Bitter sweet, all on oaky vanilla, coconut & toffee. Sharp on the attack, it has a bit of charred wood, it’s that pleasant bourbon barrel thing, sweet and woody, liquid toffee.

The finish is light, more jujubes, wine gums a bit of creamy butter and coconut oils.

Grade B-

The nose was practically non existant and rather uninspiring, the palate had a sharpness that was off-putting and then it was all like T&A with not much content.

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The boring opinions bit

In a quick browse of reviews of the lower strength offerings of Kavalan, they generally get pretty lukewarm reviews, the bourbon vatting is extremely disappointing. I would be tempted to say it shows the limitations of the hot climate/young whisky scheme but I am really smitten with the basic Amrut single malt which functions on similar principals but is in every way superior to this.

Franck

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lagavulin 12 Cask Strength 2013

Laguvulin 12 Cask Strength 2013

55.1% ABV.

90/100

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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 color probably a fair amount of refill barrels (thankfully free of the DiageoGold™…thanks for that one Micheal k.)

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When one runs out of labels, one comes up with a convoluted archiving system involving super-heroes. Lagavulin=Electro, easy, right?

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.

 

Franck

 

 

 

 

Rapid Fire Session October 2016, Benriness, Glendullan & Kilchoman

 

I forgot to post my notes from a couple of in-store tastings so I’m catching up.

This night was an interesting one with 2 bottle of independent bottlers Hart Brothers and the most recent turnouts from Kilchoman’s standard offerings.

I don’t have much information about Hart Brothers, it seems to be a family owned grocer/licensed retailer who turned to bottling at some time in the 60’s, they don’t seem to have the same presence as some of the bigger players in the game and I’m not sure how consistent their products are.

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Hart brothers??

The SAQ received a batch of their outturn in the fall, there wasn’t much to get excited about a couple of unnamed region specific blended malts, the most interesting are a 14 yr old Mortlach and a 17 yr old cask strength Glenrothes (a whopping 272$) both of which received lukewarm reviews from the refined noses at Quebec Whisky.

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1st up Hart Brothers Benrinnes 14 yrs old, 46% abv: It looks to have been from a refill bourbon cask, it ‘s very pale.

Benrinnes or “the Ben” to his friends is another blend-fodder distillery from Diageo’s stable, there are only sporadic OB’s, the last ones from the famed “Flaura & Fauna” series. From 1974 until 2007 they used a type of bastardized triple distillation, similar to how Mortlach (another Diageo ugly stepchild distillery which recently had it’s Cinderella moment) distills and they also still use worm tubs, these features are to provide an old school beefy, heavy malt style.

Nose: Honey, grassy, rich and full malt, there is a slight acetone edge from the alcohol, cellulose, developing film and a bit of vanilla.

Palate: Sour fruit arrival, honeyed apples, cooked barley and then some sweetness from the oak, the whole thing takes a sharp turn into of “dark” flavors earthy, sulphur, a feeling of burnt wood and sharp astringency…like burned spices or burned pine cones. It became thoroughly unpleasant by the end.

 

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Hart Brothers Glendullan 13 yrs old 55.5% abv: One of the bigger volume Diageo distilleries (before their new abomination Roseisle), yet more blend fodder. It’s available in that Singleton range that oddly is composed of three different whiskys bearing the same name? Anyhow

Nose: Hot, malted banana, varnish, I can’t get much on this nose, sweet and green.

Palate: Rich and round, honeyed, the alcohol is present and the oak too, like a vanilla flavored oak plank., spicy and a feeling of nutmeg lingers on the finish.

I wasn’t bowled over, the finish was nice but I feel like if this was released at 46% it would have lost most of it’s flavor to the wood.  I would be interesting to try another IB of this as this one is also flawed.

Next is Islay’s little distillery that could, the consistency of their releases keeps getting better so I’m excited to try the current version of their standard line-up.

Sanaig & Machir Bay 200ml Label AW (2017)

Kilchoman Machir Bay 46% abv:  The skinny is that this is a vatting of young bourbon casks (4-5 years old) finished briefly (8 weeks?) in Oloroso casks.

Nose: Sour milk, ashy, rubbery inner tube and then some powdered sugar. Then hay, a feeling of hot tarmac and eucalyptus cough drops.

Palate: Burned corn husks, ashy, salted lemons, soft smoked caramel (that should so be a thing), pea-meal bacon, bongwater (don’t ask), barley and pretzels.

It finishes kind of sweet and at times it reminded me of a cross between Laphroaig and Port Charlotte.

 

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Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2016 46% abv: Shake that Sherry butt!

Nose: I am finding it surprisingly closed, earthy, medicinal, smoked raisins (should become a pantry staple), there are some similar ashy and lactic touches to the Machir bay.

Palate: Oh it’s big!, burned wheat, ashes, barley porridge, orange zest with lots of pith on it, pipe tobacco, Tonka beans, sweet sherry influence.

I wish I could have spent more time with this, to let it open up as it seemed to get better with time. Cracking stuff but  you pay the peated Islay premium (147$can).

An interesting session, it’s interesting to taste those lesser known distilleries. Those Kilchoman’s are cracking stuff, they punch well above their weight, I’m going to have to take the plunge on a single cask soon.

Franck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nikka Taketsuru

Nikka Taketsuru “Pure Malt NAS”

43% Alc/vol

83/100

The craze for Japanese whisky is still in full swing, some blame Jim Murray’s 2014 proclamation that Japanese Whisky was the best in the world as one of the catalysts for this state of affairs, as much as he at times deserves the bashing, we can’t blame Sauron for everything.

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The reasons are myriad, a burgeoning interest in world whiskys, the rise of whisky as an investment or flippers. I doubt many of these overpriced bottles of Yamazaki Sherry cask  or Karuizawa are actually being opened and enjoyed.

Whatever the reason the result is pretty much what one is seeing in Scotland but at an accelerated rate. Expressions losing their age statements but prices remaining the same, ABV’s being lowered, Increase of new NAS releases and special releases, an increase in the marketing of grain whiskys. With the added factor that anything Japanese that can vaguely be passed under the whisky category is instantly pushed onto the market, rice whisky & aged sochu and such,  I’m not against these but they are often shamelessly marketed with little regards to their quality. There are other effects and this post on Nonjatta gives you the news from the perspective of someone on the ground.

I know it sounds like a lot of nagging or nit-picking but sadly it’s just the facts.

On to today’s whisky I’ve had occasion to try this a few times and it scored very well with club members the first time around. It is a house blend of the different types of malt whiskies that are produced at both Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries…maybe.

y this dark photo of a bookshelf containing said whisky
I have no close-up picture of this whisky

Nose: Tinned fruits in syrup, there is a rounded malty side, coffee cake soaked in a sherry syrup. There is a dark note like charcoal and umeboshi, buckwheat honey, it’s got a oxidized/sulfury side a hint of a sherry influence.

Palate: Pickled ginger on arrival, sweet and creamy malt and in the background earthy peat (not at all Islay like). A bit of heat despite the low strength, complex sweetness like honey then mineral and slightly waxy, there is some tannic oak and again that feeling of tinned fruits from the nose.

The main tastes fade quickly from the tongue but there is a creamy sweetness that remains on the finish.

While the combination of flavors is somewhat singular it doesn’t dive deeply enough into those slightly exotic notes (rare woods and that weird pickled plum dark note) to make a lasting impression. I enjoy having a glass of this but could not see myself buying a full bottle, plus it’s a dreaded NASty release, transparency apostles may wish to abstain.

Franck

Bowmore Tempest V and Tempest VI Showdown.

Bowmore Tempest V

55.9% abv.

84/100

VS.

Bowmore Tempest VI

54.9% abv.

88/100

 

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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.

IMG_0451Bowmore 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.

IMG_0450Bowmore 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.

 

 

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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.

Franck

 

 

 

Johnnie Walker Green Label

 

 

Johnnie Walker Green Label 

43% Alc./Vol.

84/100

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Johnnie Walker is ubiquitous to the point of being infamous, It’s probably the one Scotch whisky everyone knows by name. The walking man logo no matter how gussied up for the times is another instantly recognizable icon for the uninitiated. It is also the whisky brand most likely to get shit on by hardcore whisky lovers and don’t get me wrong sometimes it deserves it.

They are owned by the brand whisky connoisseurs love to hate. To make an analogy if whisky was Star Wars, Diageo could be an exact stand in for the empire. Yet we cannot ignore that Johnny Walker is the gateway for many people. Black label is one of the main reasons I fell back in love with Scotch whisky again after a long love affair with it’s Canadian brethren, I love that shit to pieces.

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Diageo’s Dr. Nick Morgan?

Of all the many whiskers under the JW moniker, green label was/is the anomaly in the range. It was first released at the tail end of the nineties, a blended malt (formerly called vatted malt) a blend of single malts it contains no grain whisky to pad it out. The price was reasonable 50$ to 70$, it had an age statement of 15 years. This should have given it sex appeal but I think it caused the opposite.

 

The very things that made it an asset also hampered it. The reasonable price should have made it a perfect stepping stone for red and black label drinkers but didn’t. It also didn’t have enough of a bling factor and panache to draw consumers of the gold and blue label. Vatted malts/pure malts did not have the hip factor they do now and many single malt drinkers didn’t see why you’d waste your time on this blend, this was also a time where a 15-18 yr single malt weren’t quite the bank busters they are now.

Despite all this it still green label gained a cult status of sorts, so when Diageo announced in 2012 that it would be pulling the green out of most of its markets while doing a little re-branding of the JW line-up it obviously upset quite a few people.

They claimed poor sales and other malarkey, the reality is probably an amalgam of different reasons. They we’re probably taxing their stocks of Caol Ila and Talisker pretty thin at one point, those two provide the smoky/peaty backbone for most JW blends. They could also sell the individual component malts for much more money to the growing “luxury” segment of the market. Lastly like many spirit producers they we’re looking towards the promise land that was supposed to be the growing Asian market…Shangri-La as you would. This market failed to boom and as a result in early 2015 we saw a limited amount of green label showing up on shelves, with a confirmed return at the beginning of 2016.

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Enough blabbing lets dive in.

Nose: the smoke is pretty prominent at first nosing , fresh cut apples and pears, barley sugar, nectar and blossoms. A slight feeling of cider, orange peels and a big malty backbone.

Palate: Rich and sweet, then the smoke hits, peppery at first but also that feeling of beach bonfire, not dirty peat but a slight iodine and ozone like feeling. Then orange oils and tobacco accents. There is fruits, the peated components are kept in check by the other flavors honey,  a roundess from the oak, then marmalade and a slight touch of milk chocolate.

The finish is long, sustaining the rich malty side, this pleasant sweetness and peppery smoke.

This is a different beast than the original but I prefer this new incarnation, it’s such s rich dram, the smoke is present but somehow is so well integrated into the other elements.

Franck 

Rapid Fire tasting sessions Jan 12th 2017, Glengoyne 15, Dalmore 18, Glendronach 18.

Have I expressed my love of the SAQ’s weekly tasting yet? Despite all the flack and flaming aimed at our state control institution (plenty from yours truly), the walk-in sessions can be fun and are an invaluable tool in developing your palate. They’ve allowed me to familiarize myself with many different styles of spirits at a reasonable price.

I was happy that they resumed these sessions quickly after the holiday hiatus and so on the 12th of January when I saw that the line-up would include  few sherried heavy hitters in the 15r+ category and all that for a tenner I couldn’t resist

 

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These notes aren’t obtained from a slow tasting sessions or from multiple tastes which is what I prefer when reviewing but it’s still fun to get an idea of what to expect so you get my rapid-fire one handed tasting notes.

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We started with a 14 year old independent bottling of Benrinnes from Hart Brothers, this whisky was bad and it was the second time they we’re flogging it at a dégustation, I’ll talk about it another time.

Glengoyne 15

Nose: It’s pretty closed up at first, Werthers originals, dusty cumin, earthy, milk chocolate, baked apple skins.

Palate: Dry and oaky, I feel like this is a blending of bourbon and sherry cask or perhaps they used mainly sherried american oak. It’s not quite cohesive, you can feel the battle between the sweetness and the dryness/astringent of sherry.  Dark fruits, fudgy vanilla and a slight bitterness in the finish.

I would want to try this again with more time in front of me, I enjoyed this profile despite the unevenness.

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Dalmore 18:

Nose: Oranges, damp cellar, cigar tobacco, malty,

Palate: Marmalade, tannic, slight earthiness, sulfur, juicy at first but short cardboard and dry finish.

The nose left the anemic palate in its dust. It’s juicy but has no middle to sustain the flashy opening.

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Glendronach 18:

Nose : Deep, really deep complex,  slight sulfur, hints of bovril or Maggi sauce, Swedish fish, forest floor, sherry soaked fruits.

Palate: plum sauce, Christmas cake, orchard fruits,  deep meaty  muscled sherry, rich and full. I thought my love of the 15 couldn’t be outmatched.. I was wrong.

I just can’t bring myself to take full on photos at these things, I don’t want to be the paparazzo or obvious blogger, photographing everything, so please make do with my shitty ones.

Franck

Laphroaig 15 – Happy Anniversary to me

 

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Laphroaig 15 “2ooth Anniversary”

43% ABV

87/100

 

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!

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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.

 

Franck


 

Laphroaig 15 “200e Anniversaire”

43% Alc/Vol

87/100

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).

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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
laffy-15

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.

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

Dégustation SAQ Tastings or…I drank all this Bruichladdich and all I got was this lousy photo

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I’ve been meaning to dedicate a post to the in-store tastings at the SAQ Signature (Québec’s liquor board stores). I’ve only attended a few thus far but I firmly believe they provide an essential service, especially for those who are not part of a scotch club or don’t always have the money to fork out for larger tasting events (and to be truthful those aren’t always an ideal setting).

Most sessions do not require a reservation and cost between 10-20$ at which you can sample anywhere between 3 to 5 offerings and these type of sessions exist across all products, so there are tastings for rum, gin, whisky and wine. There is usually a table set with  a tray of fresh copita style glasses, water pitchers and a spittoon, an on the other side the discard glasses. The atmosphere is very much like a 5 à 7 (cocktail hour) relaxed, hang-out style, it’s actually kind of fun to see a bunch of people gathered around drinking scotch around the massive inventory of the Signature SAQ location.

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That said it’s not perfect

Cons:

  • The spittoons are placed on the same table in such close proximity to people being served drinks that trying to use it gracefully is impossible. Granted the portions aren’t huge but still, I think use of the spittoon would be more open if placed elsewhere.
  • On two of the three tastings I attended, I was discouraged from using fresh glasses for each serving. While I understand the logistics involved especially when offering 4-5 different products this created 2 problems. It’s hard to make sure you remove all traces of the previous whisky using only water provided from the pitcher. Second if you do managed to rinse the glass well you still end up with water in it that dilutes your next whisky meaning you don’t get a neutral start. It’s a state run store, and they provide this service across all kinds of events, having loads of glasses should be an easy enough thing to accomplish and shouldn’t be such a burden.
  • Space, as much as I love the standing around having a cocktail atmosphere, it does get cramped, it’s hard to navigate, sometimes people bum-rush the table. There isn’t much room to take notes, also you have people coming to shop as well so you are constantly worried if you should get out of people’s way. It would be great if they cleared space in the cellar downstairs for it it would make more sense.
  • From what I gather these tastings are a way to showcase new or future releases but so far there have been a couple of occasions  (Laphroaig Cairdeas for example), where some of the bottles sampled we’re no longer available for sale in store, defeating that purpose.

 

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Let’s end on the positives:

Pros:

  • The ability to taste expensive whisky at an affordable price, this is an expensive hobby full of unknowns, this provides you a rare opportunity that no bar could offer you at the same price point
  • Great selection, so far rather the whisky on offer has been rather varied, last tasting had Jura, Glenmorangie,  Caol Ila and Laphroaig.
  • Staff friendliness, I have to say despite my apprehension for the SAQ’s model as well as the seeming random way in which they provide choice to consumers . The in-store staff is incredibly nice and accommodating and this is generally true of most locations.
  • The ability to bring seemingly random people together, truly this is the one of the top things for me, I’ve seen , young, old, businessmen, blue collar workers and indie rock nerds (girl in the Swervedriver shirt, I would have asked you to marry me 12 years ago). On my first tasting two older women shot the shit with me about whisky and asked me questions about what we we’re tasting. They probably would not have done so in a different setting.

I hope this reaches some people who have been curious about these events and how they go down. I hope to see some folks there.

Franck 

P.S. To the guy in the red coat in my photo. I’m sorry you moved into the shot last minute and I didn’t want to weird anyone out and take more photo’s if you’re offended let me know I’ll take the photo down.