Tag Archives: Auriol Wines

Scapa ‘Glansa’ Batch GL01

Bought: Auriol Wines, 11th August 2017

Ratings:
80.26/100 – Whiskybase (average from 33 member votes)

Scapa distillery say about the Glansa on the box and bottle, “taking our signature smooth fruity single malt, which is aged in American oak, this expression is then rested in peated casks creating richness and depth, with notes of warm, heather-honey and soft fruits giving way to a subtle smoky finish.” They also include that it’s batch GL01 and bottled in August 2016. Over a year later and there hasn’t been a new batch, unlike the Skiren released in 2015, which is now on batch 8. It looks like the Glansa is a bit of a one-off.

I saw one comment online suggesting that finishing the Glansa in peated casks (probably from Islay) was a bit of a cheat. This was a weird remark because cask finishing has been common practice for a long time and there are many examples of excellent whisky finished in peated casks. The comment also misses the point – this is a rare release from a fantastic distillery that is trying something different. Those that know the Scapa signature will also know that adding peat should harmonise well. And for Scapa fans it’s a good sign that the distillery is still alive and not close to closing down as it has done in the recent past.

Comments online include “a nice balance between the sweetness of fruit and the smoke/peat”, “delicious stuff, better than many a standard” and “better than Skiren”. The scores back up the last comment where the Skiren comes in at 79.86/100 on Whiskybase, fractionally below the Glansa. Not that there’s much in it but it sounds like the Glansa is a good addition to the history of the Scapa distillery. Long may it continue!

Tasting notes from Master of Malt:

Nose: Fruity sweet notes of soft peach, pineapple, vanilla intermingled with subtle bonfire smoke.
Palate: Peach and ripe flavours and creamy caramel toffee and vanilla balanced perfectly with soft smoke.
Finish: Very long with a markedly smoky finish.

Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com with his thoughts about the Scapa Glansa (Dec 2016):

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English Whisky Co. Chapter 7 ‘Rum Cask’ 6-year-old

Bought: Auriol Wines, 10th October 2016

Ratings:
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):

english-whisky-co-chapter-7-rum-cask-6yo-70cl

Teeling ‘Small Batch – Rum Cask Finish’

Bought: Auriol Wines, 10th October 2016

Ratings:
85.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
79.34/100 – Whiskybase (average from 242 member votes)

Whiskybase have a record of 13 different releases of this Teeling blend from November 2013 to April 2016 but this doesn’t include the version in the Whisky Bible dated November 2015. My version was bottled in September 2015. It’s listed on Whiskybase here but with only 9 votes I’ve decided to take the score from the default bottle with over 240 votes. It seems fairer and it’s all going to be very similar stuff.

85.5/100 in the Whisky Bible classifies this blend as “very good to excellent whiskey definitely worth buying”. The author, Jim Murray, says “an attractive malt, showing both its rum qualities and, sadly, a slight strain of tired oak.” He goes on to talk about the bitterness that comes from maturing in rum casks and concludes with “still, the delivery offers much to enjoy.”

The score on Whiskybase is quite average where comments include “good weight on the palate, mild on the tongue with toasted sweet malt and citrus peel”, “light Irish blend, although the rum is only recognized with the cane sugar” and “it’s a good blend but the finish bothers me a bit it taste too young and spicy”.

Here’s Whisky Wednesday with their review on You Tube where the Teeling ‘Small Batch’ scores an excellent 8/10 (April 2014):

teeling-small-batch-nas-70cl

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

Loch Lomond ‘Original’

Bought: Auriol Wines, 8th August 2016

Ratings:
81.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
78/100 – Malt Box (video review below)
77.74/100 – Whiskybase (average from 25 member votes)

Sometimes I buy bottles of whisky from local shops on impulse and when I get home I think “what were you doing?! Are you mad?!” Here we have the Loch Lomond ‘Original’. To be kinder on myself I wanted to upgrade my miniatures from Loch Lomond but I didn’t want to spend a small fortune on a 70cl example from this mediocre distillery. With Loch Lomond you can’t even rely on age being a guide to quality as the 21-year-old (from 2004) limps in with a lowly 76.5/100 on Whiskybase. The distillery’s Inchmurrin brand fairs a little better but the 18-year-old only scores 78/100 and costs £81! £25 for the ‘Original’ is starting to look quite reasonable until you realise it’s the same price as the Highland Park 12yo (when on discount at supermarkets or Amazon, which is often).

81.5/100 in the Whisky Bible classifies this single malt as “good whisky worth trying” so it’s not all bad news. The author, Jim Murray, says “surprisingly feisty, though the really wide cut does ensure a huge number of flavours. A distinctly German style to this.” Comments on Whiskybase include “definitely a dessert whisky”, “initial taste is not my favourite, but I found the finish pleasing” and “not flawless, but not as bad as I suspected. But on the other side: it’s young and very sweet, and quite one-dimensional.”

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

loch-lomond-original-nas-70cl

BenRiach 15-year-old Tawny Port

Bought: Auriol Wines, 8th August 2016

Ratings:
89.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
84.52/100 – Whiskybase (average from 27 member votes)

The look of BenRiach that we know today started when the company was taken over in 2004 by a consortium of businessmen lead by whisky veteran Billy Walker. In June 2016 the sale of BenRiach along with Glendronach and Glenglassaugh distilleries was confirmed. Although the new owners say they intend to keep things pretty much as they are, fans of these distilleries might be a little concerned. It could mean good news for collectors if standards slip and bottles bought today are classics of the future but I’ll be sad if the quality of the whisky diminishes from any of these distilleries. I might collect whisky but I firmly wear my drinker’s hat when buying bottles of BenRiach and Glendronach. Their current output is some of the best single malt on the market in my opinion.

My 15yo Tawny Port appeared in 2012 and 89.5/100 in the Whisky Bible classifies it as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”. The author, Jim Murray, says of the taste “comes together on the pallet with a rare degree of grace. The kicking expected from the fruit never materialises and instead there is a soft malt and firm fruit double whammy; the fruit and nut chocolate arrives earlier than expected.” He concludes with “now that really is the perfect late night dram”.

Over 84.5/100 on Whiskybase is a very good score. Here are the tasting notes from the guys at Master of Malt:

Nose: Aromatic, port wood notes at the fore developing into a phenolic element, a little bitumen perhaps.
Palate: Sweet and firm, grape and oily smoke, sweetness develops, grapey.
Finish: Oak, smoke and a touch more phenol.

benriach-15yo-tawny-port-70cl

Linkwood 12-year-old ‘Flora and Fauna’

Bought: Auriol Wines, 14th March 2016

Ratings:
94.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
82.48/100 – Whiskybase (average from 124 member votes)
86/100 – Ralfy (of www.ralfy.com and YouTube fame)

As someone who loves Linkwood, I’m wondering why it’s taken me this long to get the standard 12yo released by the Diageo-owned distillery. It gets a fantastic score of 94.5/100 in the Whisky Bible where the author says of the taste “a quite stunning delivery with some of the clearest, cleanest, most crystalline malt on the market. The sugars are angular and decidedly Demerara.” And summarises with “possibly the most improved distillery bottling in recent times. Having gone through a period of dreadful casks, it appears to have come through to the other side very much on top and close to how some of us remember it a quarter of a century ago. Sublime malt: one of the most glittering gems in the Diageo crown.” 94.5/100 classifies this malt as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live”.

I believe Diageo now own 27 single malt distilleries and 2 grain distilleries so they have quite a grip on the whisky market. My Linkwood is part of the ‘Flora and Fauna’ series, which you can sometimes see at auction as 26 bottles from 26 of Diageo’s distilleries. One such collection recently appeared on Whisky Auctioneer where a final bid of £3,750 failed to meet the reserve. The lot was described as “The Flora and Fauna series of whiskies was originally created in the early 1990s by United Distillers Vintners (what would later become Diageo). Originally this range had no name and it was not until the famous whisky writer Michael Jackson nicknamed it the ‘Flora and Fauna’ series due to the labels, did it stick. The Flora and Fauna series, as offered in this lot, contains a total of 26 distillery expressions. Not all of these were released at the same time and many have now been discontinued”.

The crazy thing is that £3,750 is £144 per bottle where most bottles were only about £50-£60. Admittedly most have been discontinued but my Linkwood hasn’t and that was only £50. Two of the 26 distilleries are now closed, the Rosebank and Pittyvaich but they shouldn’t push the average bottle price up so high. One collection sold for £4,900! But I suppose it’s a complete series and that’s what people are paying for.

82.5/100 on Whiskybase is an above-average score with several members describing it as a nice summer dram. One taster summarises with “it’s a young and vibrant single malt with a surprising vegetal twist. The Linkwood expressions I tasted so far where all pretty sherry influenced so this is a nice change.” Another member adds “light and fragrant. Complex”.

Here’s Ralfy with his review of this Linkwood on YouTube (Sept 2017):

Linkwood Flora and Fauna 12yo 70cl

Glentauchers 1994-2013 (Gordon & MacPhail)

Bought: Auriol Wines, 29th February 2016

Ratings:
96.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
89.29/100 – Whiskybase (average from 9 member votes)

Wow, look at those ratings! This Glentauchers must be one of the most famous whiskies in the world! Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible and 9 members of Whiskybase score it higher than the Highland Park 18yo, most of the Ardbeg Supernova releases and even the Macallan 18yo (the ‘Rolls Royce’ of Speysiders). Surely everyone knows about this stuff! And the answer is….no. Even a lot of whisky drinkers aren’t aware of Glentauchers, which sounds more like a sneeze than a whisky distillery. The distillery isn’t exactly known for producing single malt as a lot of its output goes into blending but occasionally an independent bottler such as Gordon & MacPhail (G&M) get lucky and purchase a cask or two that are something special. This seems to be the case with this Glentauchers 1994-2013.

When this Glentauchers 19yo (possibly 18yo) first came out it was £29, which is astounding when you consider the price of the equivalent Macallan and Highland Park 18-year-olds (even if they are distillery releases). Jim Murray first mentions this Glentauchers in his Whisky Bible 2014 where he says of the taste “oh my word! The barley melts on the palate, yet at the same time has enough firmness to crash land into the taste buds…but with the aid of a parachute. Hard to imagine a barley where the flavours are so pronounced, the use of muscovado sugars so well judged.” He concludes with “one day someone else who matters in the industry will wake up to just how good this malt is…probably the finest of the G&M Distillery Label fleet.”

Comments on Whiskybase are also complimentary including “this is very fine whisky. The clarity of the malt is astonishing in a whisky of this age”, “beautiful ‘whisky’ classic flavour emerges with patience, fresh and subtle complexity”, “elegant Speyside malt” and “I can see why J Murray awarded this a gold star. Displaying wonderful balance, nothing is ever too overstated or underplayed. As Speyside malts go, this is a mature 19yo cracker.”

In March 2016 I tried the slightly older 1994-2014 version in a whisky bar and was very impressed. That c.20yo scores a respectable 85.5/100 on Whiskybase so not as illustrious as its younger brother but it gave me an idea as to what to expect. Although I wasn’t lucky enough to pay £29 for my bottle it was still less than £40 even in 2016, which is amazing consider how crazy the whisky market has gone in recent years. If you’re lucky enough to stumble across a bottle – buy it!

Glentauchers 1994-2013 NAS 70cl

Edradour 2004 10-year-old (cask 417)

Bought: Auriol Wines, 29th February 2016

Ratings:
83/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)

If you look at Edradour on Whiskybase there are 192 distillery bottlings and 354 by the independent bottler Signatory. The reason is that Signatory now own Edradour. As Whisky.com’s Horst Luening says in his video below, this is because distilleries became reluctant to sell casks to independent bottlers when they realised how much money they were making from them. The answer for several of the big independents was to go out and buy their own distilleries, which Gordon & MacPhail also did with Benromach.

83/100 on Whiskybase is a good mark for this Edradour 10yo but I’m yet to find any tasting notes. The house style is medium-bodies, sweet, honeyed, spicy, nutty, malty and with a hint of smoke. Bottles released under the name of ‘Edradour’ are from sherry casks whereas those under the name ‘Ballechin’ are from bourbon casks.

Signatory have released this style of 10yo from Edradour many times over the years and often many times within a year. A version from 2002 scores 88.5/100 in the Whisky Bible 2016, which classifies it as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”.

Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com reviewing a slightly earlier Edradour 2002 10yo by Signatory:

Edradour 2004 10yo 70cl

Scapa ‘Skiren’ Batch SK01

Bought: Auriol Wines, 12th February 2016

Ratings:
89.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
80.1/100 – Whiskybase (from 46 member votes)

“This new Scapa 14yo is not a patch on the old 12yo!”
…{years pass by}…
“This new Scapa 16yo is not as good as the old 14yo, which was excellent!”
…{more years pass by}…
“This new Skiren is not as good as the amazing Scapa 16yo, which I always said was great and the best thing since sliced bread.”

Life is full of memories were we look back through rose-tinted spectacles and no more so than in the world of whisky. Scapa feels like it’s had more than its fair share. New releases are often belittled only to be heralded as great when the next replacement arrives. Was childhood really the best years of our lives? Is the Skiren really that bad? You might think so from comments on Whiskybase such as “I used a spittoon” and “very artificial”.

Here are how the scores compare on Whiskybase for the last 4 main Scapa distillery releases:

  • 80.1/100 – Skiren
  • 83/100 – 16-year-old
  • 81.6/100 – 14-year-old
  • 84.8/100 – 12-year-old

It doesn’t look good for the poor Skiren but overall I wouldn’t say 80.1/100 was that bad a mark. Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible 2017 scores the Skiren 89.5/100 which classifies it as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”. This is a better score than he gives for the 12yo, 14yo and 16yo. He says of the taste “major malt which steps on the salivation pedal almost immediately; the tannins are layered, offering some ice cream, including cone.” He concludes with a message to Scapa “chaps who created this: lovely, you really have to power this up a bit.” 46% please!

In the video review below, Horst Luening likes the nose and taste of the Skiren but considers it too expensive for a non-aged statement. I would agree but Scapa might argue that, since it’s their only official bottling, its uniqueness is worth paying for. They’ve certainly put all their eggs in one basket and I hope it works for them because I wouldn’t want the distillery to close down.

Scapa Skiren NAS 70cl