Tag Archives: 50%

Bruichladdich ‘The Laddie 8’

Bought: World of Whisky (Heathrow Airport), 10th September 2016

Ratings:
83/100 – Whisky Bible 2018
83.59/100 – Whiskybase (average from 29 member votes)
86/100 – Malt Box (his YouTube review below)

This new 8-year-old Bruichladdich first appeared as a Travel Retail Exclusive in March 2016 for £44.99. It then went up to £46.49 and by September it was £48.99. Ah yes, the slow creep of the greedy world of whisky. Nevertheless I was so excited to find a new ‘age statement’ from Bruichladdich I decided that nearly £50 was worth it. Hard to believe it’s only 3 years since I paid £20 for a bottle of the dearly departed Laddie 10. But obviously my salary has gone up by 150% since 2013 so I’m able to keep buying whisky! 🙂

83.6/100 on Whiskybase is a very good score and compares well against the Classic Laddie Scotch Barley NAS (non-age statement) with 82.3/100. Comments for the Laddie 8 include “satisfying and with its own distinguishable signature” and “a light, easy-sipping dram at first glance, but it pays off to take your time and dig deeper.” A Whiskybase member scoring the Laddie 8 a representative 84/100 leaves these tasting notes:

Nose: Very fresh and light with lemon curd, lime and kiwi at centre stage. Also grass, honey and vanilla with sweet breakfast cereals.
Taste: Fairly spicy at first, but those quickly make way for fruitier flavours of lemon, apple and pear. Some nuttiness in the background as well.
Finish: Subtle aniseed, lemon rasp and almonds. Drying and pretty long.

Here’s Andy of Malt Box with his review on You Tube (April 2016):

bruichladdich-the-laddie-8-8yo-70cl

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Bruichladdich ‘The Classic Laddie Scottish Barley’

Bought: Auriol Wines, 8th August 2016

Ratings:
78.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
89/100 – Whisky Bitch (video review below)
83.41/100 – Whiskybase (average from 19 member votes)

This 20cl version of the Classic Laddie was an impulse buy because you can’t go wrong with Bruichladdich – or can you? Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible isn’t impressed and 78.5/100 classifying this dram as “average and usually pleasant though sometimes flawed”. 83.41/100 on Whiskybase might seem good but those members that leave comments have scores ranging from 70/100 to 85/100 so it seems it’s not to everyone’s taste. At least the Whisky Bitch likes it so it has one fan and counting.

Jim Murray says “despite some obviously complex and promising moves, the usual infiltration of sub-standard casks has undone the good of the local barley.” And summarises with “if you manage to tune out the off-notes, some sublime moments can still be had.”

There are no comments in English on Whiskybase but a member from the Czech Republic says (translated) “very tough and sharp” and “when compared with Port Charlotte this is a flop”. The 70cl version scores slightly less than the 20cl with 82.71/100 and again none of the comments are in English. Perhaps this bottling was mostly for the mainland Europe market. Nevertheless, 83.4/100 is a very good mark so clearly a lot of silent Whiskybase voters like it.

Here’s the Whisky Bitch with her review on You Tube (Dec 2014):

bruichladdich-the-classic-laddie-scottish-barley-nas-20cl

Mellow Corn

Bought: Master of Malt, 3rd August 2016

Ratings:
83/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
69.22/100 – Whiskybase (average from 34 member votes)

The first book I got about whisky was Ian Buxton’s “101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die”. In it he mentions Mellow Corn, a simple and cheap corn-based whiskey from America. The reason it’s taken me so long to get a sample is because even Ian Buxton thinks it’s poor whiskey. He says it’s worth trying “if only to understand the beneficial influences of malted barley and ageing”. It’s also an example of America’s whiskey history – before bourbon there was straight corn whiskey, a form of moonshine deeply routed in American tradition. So you can see how Mellow Corn lends itself perfectly to Ian Buxton’s book.

Nearly 70/100 on Whiskybase isn’t a good score with comments ranging from “God awful. Just God awful.” to “I like this one. It’s not sophisticated. In fact, the alcohol bites you in both the nose and the mouth. There’s hardly any finish, but hey, it’s perfect for watching old episodes of the Dukes of Hazzard. American muscle cars, Daisy Duke and corn whiskey sort of belong together, and that’s what makes this one special for me.”

Scoring 83/100 in the Whisky Bible classifies this corn experience as ‘good whiskey worth trying’. The author, Jim Murray, says “dull and oily on the nose, though the pallet compensates with a scintillating array of sweet and spicy notes.”

Ian Buxton’s tasting notes are:

Nose: Waxy (it should be), with light floral notes and vanilla
Taste: Surprisingly complex, with mouth-coating oiliness, some fruit and toffee
Finish: Quite lively; the fruit, wood and caramel notes hang on in there

Here’s Big Red Liquors with his review on You Tube (August 2014):

Mellow Corn NAS 3cl

Cutty Sark ‘Prohibition’

Bought: Master of Malt, 3rd March 2016

Ratings:
85/100 – Whisky Whistle (his video review below from November 2015)
82.1/100 – Whiskybase (average from 23 member votes)

If some or all of your whisky sits out on display then, like a work of art, it helps if it looks aesthetically pleasing. The average bottle of whisky spends more time waiting to be drunk than the time it takes to drink it. Therefore it helps if a bottle looks nice and the makers of Cutty Sark Prohibition have given this some serious thought. Long before I ever taste this whisky I love the styling. The history element also sparks my interest. This bottle was released in 2013 to mark the 80-year anniversary of the end of prohibition in America, which has a strong connection with the ‘Cutty Sark’ name.

Although over 82/100 on Whiskybase is a very good rating not everyone likes the Prohibition. Expert whisky reviewer Mark Dermul finds it too rough saying “the body is fine, the mouth feel is round and almost creamy. It starts of sweet, but immediately a rough and peppery note and a lot of liquorice pop up. The oranges turn very bitter and it has a sour edge that I cannot appreciate. In my opinion, it goes downhill pretty fast.”

Another Whiskybase member, Jon Osterman, gives us his thoughts and a rating of 82/100, which is very representative of the average: “I found this to be quite tasty, with something that reminds me of meaty Sherry cask dominating the nose along with sweet toffee and some industrial notes. Very flavourful for the price asked” and he added “good value for money”.

At 50% and non-chillfiltered you get the feeling that the makers of Prohibition have given the taste as much thought as the styling. But, this is a blend, so if I find it bitter then there’s nothing to stop me from adding lemonade without the Whisky Police breaking my front door down.

Here’s Whisky Whistle’s comprehensive review of the Prohibition blend:

Cutty Sark Prohibition NAS 70cl

Port Charlotte ‘Scottish Barley Heavily Peated’

Bought: Christmas Gift, 25th December 2015

Ratings:
94.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
84.84/100 – Whiskybase (average from 221 member votes)

I’ve been interested in the Port Charlotte ‘Heavily Peated’ by Bruichladdich for quite some time so it was nice to get it as a Christmas present. Although the original Port Charlotte distillery closed in 1929 the buildings still exist and have been used by Bruichladdich as warehousing. In 2007 Bruichladdich announced they were bringing the Port Charlotte distillery back to life and shipped over the stills from the closed lowlands Inverleven distillery. We could see new releases from the Port Charlotte stills very soon. What might cause a bit of confusion in the future is that Bruichladdich have used ‘Port Charlotte’ as a brand name for some of their single malt such as this ‘Heavily Peated’. The new distillery will also be called ‘Port Charlotte’. Perhaps they’ll use a special brand name for the new Port Charlotte whisky to avoid confusion.

Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible absolutely loves this whisky. 94.5/100 classifies it as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live”. He says about the taste “a youthful livewire delivery with a pretty surprising degree of maple syrup and treacle latching onto the phenols: the effect and balance is wonderful; pay attention and you’ll spot some juicy fruit notes popping up here and there, too” and summarises with “rearrange the following two words: “giant” and “gentle”.”

Nearly 85/100 on Whiskybase is an excellent mark. It’s clearly a lovely dram. Here’s Jo of ‘Whisky Wednesday’ with his review from October 2014:

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 20cl

Knob Creek Small Batch

Bought: Tesco, 8th October 2015

Ratings:
83.25/100 – Whiskybase (average from 4 member votes)

With my collector’s hat on, I do like bottles with wax seals! I have this uneducated idea that they’re difficult to fake, unless you’re a pirate from the 16th century, or related to Captain Jack Sparrow. Not that it really matters because this bottle of bourbon by Jim Beam only set me back £16.33 in a Tesco half-price sale. It’s hardly a collector’s item where experts will be carbon dating the wax when I sell it in 2036.

So why Knob Creek? Because I first stumbled across it in the book ‘101 Whiskies To Try Before You Die’ by Ian Buxton. Unfortunately he was talking about the 9-year-old but this NAS (non-aged statement) is as close as I’m bothering to get. Both are 50% bourbon so that’s near enough for me! Ian Buxton says about the name “mildly titillating for UK drinkers in a smutty sort of way”. Oow-er-madam! I will be getting out my box set of Carry On movies when I crack this bottle open and reshaping the seal into an erotic candle! That’s my Saturday night arranged.

Knob Creek Small Batch NAS 70cl

Arran 1996 17-year-old

Bought: Malts of Scotland (now Bartels Whisky), 27th May 2015

Ratings:
85/100 – Serge Valentin of Whiskyfun
– Also listed on Whiskybase here.

In early April 2015 the independent bottler ‘Malts of Scotland’ offered 3 different malts for £40 each and free postage. I chose the Tomatin 19yo but I saved the link just in case I was able to afford one of the others in the future. By the end of May only the Arran remained so I got that too. Back came an email from ‘Malts of Scotland’ asking me how I’d managed to buy the bottle at the reduced rate. Clearly the offer had ended but they’d forgotten to ask their IT person to remove the web page. Thankfully they were happy to honour the deal, which is unusually good for this day and age. Details from the website about this bottle of Arran are:

Nose: Sweet floral notes and a hint of mint. Apple slices, apricot and yoghurt.
Palate: Rich and slightly creamy. Tropical fruit (dried pineapple coming thorough) Peach. Some oak.
Finish: Good length, full with some oaky spice and the dried fruits again – pineapple.

Arran distillery only uses traditional methods of distilling with wooden washbacks and copper stills, designed to exact specifications. All their whiskies are non-chill filtered which means they are natural in pigment. A perfectly matured single malt scotch whisky.”

Arran 1996 17yo 70cl

Amrut ‘Fusion’ (batch 27)

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

Ratings:
94.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2015 (for batch 10)
84.1/100 – Whiskybase (batch 27 – average from 12 member votes)
88/100 – Ralfy – (his YouTube review below)

Whisky from India shouldn’t be a surprise in 2015, especially as the Amrut distillery was founded in 1948. The word ‘Amrut’ means a golden pot containing the Elixir of life. And ‘Fusion’ refers to a combination of Indian barley and Scottish peat thrust together to form a single malt with a hefty 50% abv. At least that’s what it says in the book ‘101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die’ where I first encountered the Amrut Fusion. On the bottle’s tube it says “Indian and Scottish barleys” and makes no mention of “peat”. Perhaps the recipe has changed?

The Whisky Bible 2015 only lists two releases of the Fusion – Batch 1 (released in 2009), which scores the acclaimed 97/100 and Batch 10 (released in 2011), which scores a very healthy 94.5/100. I hope that standards have been kept up because my bottle is Batch 27, released in August 2014. But who knows because Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, says Batch 10 should be “plotted on a different map to the now legendary Whisky Bible award-winning Batch 1”. If batches can be so different it makes a mockery having the 97/100 mark for Batch 1 on the tube of Batch 27 produced 5 years later. It’s not the same whisky! But it’s an award so Amrut naturally want to shout about it. Batch 27 scores over 84/100 on Whiskybase, which does suggest it’s an excellent single malt.

As of February 2015 Waitrose are selling the Amrut Fusion for £50, or you can get it from an online UK shop for £42, or from Holland for £28.

Here’s Ralfy with his thoughts about the Amrut Fusion on YouTube (Oct 2011):

Amrut Fusion NAS 70cl

Arran Amarone Cask Finish

Bought – Whisky Exchange, 23rd April 2014

Ratings:
94.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
84/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 3 reviews)

I wanted to drink my one-and-only bottle of Arran, so the hunt was on to find its distillery replacement to keep my collection of every distillery intact. I have the 10-year-old, which Jim Murray scores a respectable 87/100 in his Whisky Bible. I wanted something better, which led me to this Amarone Cask Finish. Not quite cask strength but at 50%, natural colour and non-chill filtered, it sounds very nice indeed!

94.5/100 in the Whisky Bible classifies this single malt as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live.” Jim Murray says of the taste “the grape is juicy and sweet, the barley is firm and forms the perfect skeleton, the spices pop busily around the palate. No great age evident, but the oak also chimes in with a few choice cocoa notes.” He concludes with “as cask finishes go, this one is just about perfect.”

Here are Scotch 4 Dummies with their review on You Tube (December 2015):

Arran Amarone Cask Finish 70cl

Glenglassaugh Fledgling XB

Bought – The Drink Shop, 28th November 2013

Ratings:
91/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
81.43/100 – Whiskybase (average from 9 member votes)
67/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 7 reviewers)

When you consider that the Fledgling XB is a spirit matured in bourbon barrels for 1 year, therefore not officially whisky, you realise why there is such a wild different when it comes to reviews. Personally I’m not even sure it should be reviewed because what can you compare it against?! At least in the world of whisky the boundaries have been established over the decades and likes/dislikes can be explained with some level of accuracy. So I would say to take reviews of any spirit drink with a pinch of salt and be your own judge, should you feel like trying something different.

Glenglassaugh distillery was closed in 1986 but reopened in 2008. Rather than twiddle their thumbs until 2011 when their new spirit could officially be called whisky, they decided to release spirit drinks to whet the apetite of the patiently waiting customers. So, in 2010 we see the launch of ‘Peated’, ‘Clearac’, ‘Blushes’ and ‘Fledgling XB’. Then in 2011 the distillery issued ‘Revival’ the first official whisky at 3 years old. This is next on my shopping list, even though the Whisky Bible only gives it 75/100. As interesting as the spirit drinks are, I feel I ought to have an example of real whisky from this reborn distillery.

Glenglassaugh Fledgling XB 20cl