Bought: Marks & Spencer, 14th November 2017
94/100 – Whisky Bible 2018
88/100 – Whisky Wise (video review below)
81.6/100 – Whiskybase (average from 94 member votes)
When I started collecting in 2013 the only whisky available in the UK from India was from the Amrut distillery. John Distillery started life in Goa, India in 1992 and their ‘Paul John’ brand was first launched in London in October 2012. It took a few years before it crept into the majority of online British shops but it now seems to be here to stay. I’ve wanted an example from ‘Paul John’ for several years so I’m delighted to finally add the ‘Brilliance’ to my collection.
Brilliance is a non-peated, non chill-filtered single malt and Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, absolutely loves it. He scores his first sample of Brilliance 94.5/100 but batch 3, bottled July 2016 scores an equally fantastic 94/100. My example is also batch 3 but bottled in October 2016. 94/100 classifies the Brilliance as a ‘superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live’. Mr Murray says about the taste, “this was a malt designed to get the most out of the barley and here the juices arrive in force and early on. Much less copper than the first bottling, showing this relatively new distillery is moving on, but the spices and light mocha make a handsome contribution.” He summaries with, “it is impossible not to be impressed. Complexity is the key word here. And though it has moved on a little – mainly through tannin – from its earlier rendition, the layering and structure remains superb. The tail needs a little attention, but I’m being ultra-strict: this is excellent whisky and make no mistake.”
81.6/100 in Whiskybase is a very good score where comments include “a totally underrated whisky in my opinion. I like it a lot”, “Initially surprising soft, but soon followed by a real punch, with a lingering aftertaste. A real eye opener.”
Here’s Jason of Whisky Wise with his thoughts about the Paul John ‘Brilliance’ on YouTube (July 2017):
Bought: Telser Distillery, 7th November 2016
94.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
77/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)
The Telser distillery in Liechtenstein was founded in 1880 and has stayed with the Telser family for 4 generations. The distillery produces a variety of spirits with whisky first appearing in 2006. Whiskybase list 15 releases so far. The distillery typically does two releases per year, totally about 1000 bottles. Not surprisingly these can sell out quite quickly.
Telser sell to the Swiss, Austrian and German markets, which are big enough to keep any small distillery busy. To date Telser don’t have a UK distributor but I noticed on their Facebook page in June 2016 that the Golf Inn, St Andrews, Scotland, now stocked a bottle of their single malt. It was seeing this that prompted me to contact the distillery. Marcel Telser was extremely helpful and eventually I had the latest single malt shipped over from a stockist in Austria.
Scoring 94.5/100 in the Whisky Bible classifies this malt as a ‘superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live’. The author, Jim Murray, says about the taste, “superb delivery with that same firm grape, initially firm, slightly tart and salivating but then softened massively by the texture of the intense malt”. He concludes with “the Burgundian edge to this is clean and almost fascinating: this distillery does Pinot Noir-matured malt probably better than any other in the world. A big treat from a small country.”
The score from Jim Murray is no fluke. The ‘Telsington I’ scored 94/100 when it appeared in the Whisky Bible 2010 and there have since been 6 more Telsington releases, all in locally sourced Pinot Noir casks. Telser also did two rye releases, one of which was finished in Laphroaig casks and scores an excellent 83.5/100 on Whiskybase. It’s still available from a German shop for a very reasonable €62.90. Sadly they don’t ship to the UK. Damn!
Lastly, I absolutely love the unique diamond bottle shape that Telser use. I also couldn’t resist the cute triangular 10cl, which I’ll use for tasting so I can keep the 50cl version unopened in my collection.
Bought: Auriol Wines, 10th October 2016
92.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
85/100 – Whiskybase (from one member vote)
The main reason I bought this single malt by the English Whisky Co was because my local off licence were selling it for a lot less than anywhere online. Will it be a good investment? Probably not, so I’ll be drinking this one eventually.
‘Chapter 7’ refers to the rum cask finish and there are currently 8 versions listed on Whiskybase. My version is formed from a combination of casks 460, 462, 463 and 464 and bottled at 46%. Scoring 85/100 on Whiskybase is a great score, albeit from only one rating. At least it’s better than a cask strength version (59.9%) from the same casks, which scores a rather disappointing 76/100 from one vote.
There’s a mistake in the Whisky Bible 2017 (one of many) where the author’s review has the correct title and distillation dates (May 2009 to Feb 2016) but the casks listed match those of a Chapter 14 release. Putting that to one side the score of 92.5/100 classifies this Chapter 7 as “brilliant”. Jim Murray says of the taste “startling clarity on delivery: a crispness reminiscent slightly of a youthful Glen Grant as the malt really does begin to magnify its intensity.” He summarises with “you’d be hard pressed to find a better whisky to kick start an evening and tune up the taste buds before dinner.”
Of the 5 versions of Chapter 7 listed in the Whisky Bible, none score less than 91.5/100. If my taste is similar to Jim Murray’s then this is going to be a very enjoyable dram!
Here’s ‘The Good Dram Show’ on You Tube with an earlier version of my Chapter 7 (posted September 2014):
Bought: Master of Malt, 8th September 2016
76.4/100 – Whiskybase (average from 7 member votes)
Puni became the first Italian whisky distillery when building started in 2010. It took 2 years for the distillation plant to be finished and in the autumn of 2012 Puni opened a visitors centre. I can just imagine the queues! I wasn’t aware of the existence of Puni until I spotted a bottle of their 2-year-old malt spirit (Puni Alba) in a UK auction last year. The Whisky Bible rated it 82/100 but it had a lowly 75/100 on Whiskybase. Not that ‘malt spirit’ is very easy to judge. But in 2015 Puni were able to release their first legal single malt and the Alba 3yo appeared, winning a ‘silver outstanding’ at the ‘International Wine and Spirits’ competition. Whatever that means. It sounds good anyway.
In 2016 Puni are selling two varieties of whisky, the Alba and Nova, both aged for 3 years. The Alba is matured in Marsala and Islay casks with “the distinctive smoky character of the Scottish island” and the Nova is matured in American and European oak. Even though I’m an Islay fan, and the Alba scores slightly higher than the Nova on Whiskybase, I decided to go for the Nova because I sometimes like to rebel against myself. In fairness to the Nova, according to the Puni website it’s had as many awards as the Alba but also “best Italian Single Malt” in the World Whisky Awards 2016. Hmmm…except Puni is the only single malt distillery in Italy so the Nova only had to beat the Alba. It was a 2-horse race and the one with Islay body odour had a slight limp that day.
Tasting notes from Master of Malt:
Nose: Fragrant citrus sorbet with touches of caramel, wheat, apple and vanilla.
Palate: Slightly floral and punchy with yellow pear skin and a hint of fruity rye, dried grass and pink peppercorns (could be the rye or the Limousin there).
Finish: Light, clean, cereal with subtle cinnamon and cedar.
The following video is by ‘The Good Dram Show’ on You Tube tasting the Nova (which is incorrectly labelled as the ‘Alba’). He’s very complimentary and summarises by saying the Puni distillery is producing some world-class whisky and one to watch for the future:
Bought: Master of Malt, 3rd August 2016
92.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
82.2/100 – Whiskybase (average from 7 member votes)
Teerenpeli is a family run distillery in Finland that began life in 2002. Limited releases aged 5 and 6 years were followed by an 8yo in 2011. My ‘Karhi’ was one of three new releases from the distillery in 2015, which included a 10yo and the ‘Rasi’. Here’s how they score on Whiskybase:
- 82.2/100 – Karhi
- 80.25/100 – Rasi (from 6 member votes)
- 79.67/100 – 10-year-old (from 3 member votes)
The Karhi seems to be the best of the three. It is matured in bourbon casks before spending a year finishing in Madeira wine casks. Tasting notes on ‘Master of Malt’ say “sweet and herbaceous with notes of peppermint cream, dark chocolate and cooking spices.”
This example from Finland takes my ‘world of whisky’ total up to 25 different countries outside of Scotland.
Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com with his thoughts about the Karhi on YouTube (June 2017):
Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 3rd February 2016
91/100 – Whisky Bible 2009
65.67/100 – Whiskybase (from 3 member votes)
Now here’s an interesting whisky, and one that causes extremes of opinion. I spotted it in an online auction and the word “Corsica” caught my eye. Although I already have a whisky example from France, the island of Corsica is big enough to earn its own pin as part of my European whisky map. And we all know how different an island’s whisky can be to that of the mainland when you consider Orkney, Skye and Islay.
Whiskybase have categorised this ‘pure malt’ as a grain although it’s described as a ‘malt’ in Charlie Maclean’s ‘World Whisky’ book. I doubt it’s a single grain but whether it’s single malt is unclear. The Distillerie Mavela in Corsica started out as a brewery in 1996 but soon moved into whisky production. My bottle roughly dates between 2005 and 2008. The distillery has produced 7-year-old single malts since 2011.
Less than 66/100 on Whiskybase isn’t a great score but since nobody has left any tasting notes it’s unclear what the voters actually thought of the whisky. Jim Murray’s 91/100 in his Whisky Bible 2009 classifies this whisky as “brilliant”. He describes the taste as “amazingly sharp and mouth-watering. There are flavours new to me here – and that doesn’t happen often” and summarises with “an outstanding whisky which, being French, seems to offer a style that is entirely different from anything else around. I have been told there is chestnut within the grist which, strictly speaking, means this is not whisky as we know it.” And concludes with “delicious dram”.
If I’d only had Whiskybase to go on I wouldn’t have bought this whisky but, thanks to Jim Murray, I’m intrigued to discover the unique Corsicaness of this chestnut-infused malt.
Posted in Distillerie Mavela (Corsica, France)
Tagged 42%, 70cl, Corsica, Distillerie Mavela, France, NAS, Online Whisky Auction, P&M, Pure Malt, Single Malt
Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 9th December 2015
76/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)
Icelandic whisky is coming – brace yourself! Two distilleries that I’m aware of were established in 2009, the Eimverk Distillery that produces ‘Flóki’ and Thoran distillery where it’s possible to purchase your own cask. Admittedly I wasn’t aware of either distillery until I spotted this bottle of Flóki in a UK auction. At the moment it’s the only place to find it in the UK and I’d never seen it in any previous online auctions.
This young spirit isn’t officially whisky yet as it’s been bottled up before its 3rd birthday. Young distilleries sometimes do this to whet the appetites of future whisky customers but there’s always a risk that the lack of maturity puts tasters off. 76/100 from one voter on Whiskybase is a reasonable score though and I was fortunate to find a review by Ted of Whisky Waffle. In it he says of the nose “really curious; it’s really, really floral and fruity (pineapple, mandarin, pear) with a slightly salted caramel edge that keeps you sniffing” and describes the taste “the Flóki is sharp, slightly bitter and prickly. It pretty much jumps off its longship and starts jabbing away with its spear, although part of the reason for that is probably the 47% strength. The finish coats the tongue with that raw, grassy, hay-like quality that seems common amongst very young whiskies, followed by a lick of spicy fruitiness.” Ted’s complete thoughts and review can be found here.
Here’s Ben Bowers of ‘A Dram a Day’ with his review on You Tube (June 2016):
Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 3rd November 2015
86.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
82.25/100 – Whiskybase (average from 6 member votes)
As it says on the Reisetbauer distillery website, this is the first 12-year-old whisky from Austria. They go on to say “this single malt whisky is convincing on the palate with wonderful notes of chocolate and coca and a very dense, fruity aroma of malt. Its maturation in Trockenbeerenauslese casks gives it a dry and sweet character with a slightly smoky note.” Trockenbeerenauslese is a German language wine term for a medium to full-body dessert wine.
82.25/100 is a very good score, especially when one voter marks this whisky down with 73/100 and says “this doesn’t taste like a Whisky, it’s a Grappa with some special off-notes. Dominated by the wine casks used”. I’ve never tried Grappa so I can’t judge until I do. Another voter says “a perfect whisky”. The Grappa guy is in the minority, thankfully. If the criticism is purely based on an unfamiliar taste you have to keep in mind how far apart some Islay malts are from Speyside ones. They’re both whisky but the peaty, sometimes medicinal qualities of certain Islay single malts takes time to get used to. The use of wine casks in the whisky industry is becoming more prevalent. As it increases people will get used to it and accept it as another variant in the wonderful spectrum of whisky flavours.
86.5/100 in the Whisky Bible 2017 classifies this German single malt as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”.
Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 3rd November 2015
86.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2009 (I think – see below)
72.25/100 – Whiskybase (average from 4 member votes)
When I think whisky I think Austria! Actually I don’t and nor would most people but this bottle from the Reisetbauer distillery in Austria ticks a new country off my list of world whisky examples. Two different bottles of Reisetbauer appeared in a UK auction and I bid on them hoping I’d be lucky enough to get one. I got both. Hurray! Although searching into the quality of this 1998 bottling leaves me uncertain….
Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible 2009 mentions this Reisetbauer 1998, scoring it 86.5/100 and saying “a large, rambling malt bursting at the seams with character and charm. Ten years in the cask appear to have seen off the worst of the odd distilling blemish”…..hang on, did he say 10 years? But this is a 7yo! He gives the official Reisetbauer 7yo 76/100 so where does he get 10 years maturation from? The Reisetbauer 1998 is 56%, which Mr Murray’s review agrees with. I’m sure he’s talking about the same whisky but has incorrectly assumed it’s 10 years old rather than 7. He goes on to say “bravo bottling at full strength, because the spices are seen to best effect, as is the barley which tries to find a sugar course, but narrowly fails. Substantial weight throughout and an excellent length to the finish. The toasty dryness is also a delight. I can’t wait to see further bottlings from this obviously polished distillery. Impressive and desirable.”
In the 2006 Bible Jim Murray scores the Reisetbauer 1996 a lowly 71/100 and the Reisetbauer 1997 creeps up to 73/100 so I’m glad to see my 1998 version has reached his classification of “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”. Not that 4 voters on Whiskybase agree where the average score is a deflating 72.25/100. It seems the Reisetbauer distillery hasn’t convinced everyone, yet.
Here’s ‘A Dram A Day’ with their review on You Tube (December 2016):
Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 26th October 2015
84.33/100 – Whiskybase (average from 5 member votes)
I believe I’m correct in saying that 2016 is the first year the Braunstein brewery (who produce the ‘Danica’) have had entries in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. The company started as a microbrewery in 2005 producing beer and expanding into whisky making the following year. In 2013 the distillery’s ‘Braun Steins’ whisky won an award at the ‘International Wine and Spirit Competition’ (IWSC). Unfortunately the three whiskies mentioned in the Whisky Bible 2016 don’t include the ‘Danica’ but score respectable marks in the 80s (out of 100).
I’ve been unable to find a UK source for Danish whisky and it’s only in the last 6 months that Dutch shops (which ship to the UK) have started stocking it. Before buying I checked with Danish whisky reviewer Daniel Jakobsen if he recommended the Danica. He’d only tried the peated version, which he said was OK. That, combined with a excellent score on Whiskybase, was good enough for me! And with that I tick Denmark off my world map of whisky.
Here’s Ben of ‘A Dram a Day’ on You Tube with his review (April 2016):
Posted in Braunstein (Denmark)
Tagged 42%, 70cl, Braunstein, Danica, Danish, Denmark, Holland, NAS, Peated, Single Malt, Whiskysite