Tag Archives: Auriol Wines

Glendronach 12-year-old ‘Original’

Bought: Auriol Wines, 1st September 2017

Ratings:
83.79/100 – Whiskybase (average from 906 member votes)
87/100 – Ralfy (of www.ralfy.com)
4/5 – Master of Malt (from 54 reviews)

The fact that the Glendronach 12yo has over 900 votes on Whiskybase is testament to how loved this dram is by whisky enthusiasts. Comments include “definitely worth recommending for those looking for a good introduction into the intense flavors of red fruits” and “this malt is a keeper of consistently high quality”. It may only be 12 years old and 43% but the maturation in both Pedro Ximénez & Oloroso casks bestows ‘sherry bomb’ qualities, all for a very reasonable price.

Scoring 4/5 on Master of Malt is very good and comments from 2017 include, “one of the best non cask-strength sherry casks I’ve ever had”, “smoother than Macallan 12 but with similar notes” and “good dram for the uninitiated to try”.

My exact bottle with code ‘LK11116’ isn’t on Whiskybase yet but I’ll add the link when it appears. The ‘LK’ part suggests it was bottled in 2016, which means it was distilled after Glendronach reopened in 2001. For those of you with Jim Murray’s ‘Whisky Bible 2018’ his review of the Glendronach 12yo ‘Original’ was added in 2011 and refers to a bottle distilled before Glendronach closed in 1995. Hence why I haven’t included his score. If he updates his review I’ll be sure to come back and add his comments.

Tasting notes from Master of Malt:

Nose: Rich cereals, struck match, raisin, cinnamon, caramelised sugar. Opens with some sweeter PX and lots of delicious raw ginger before becoming creamier with hazelnuts.
Palate: Fruits, peels, buttery. Pain au chocolat, a little marmalade on toast before becoming firmer and nuttier with spiced raisins.
Finish: Smoky toffee and nut brittle.

Here’s Ralfy on YouTube with his review of the Glendronach 12yo (June 2016):

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Glen Scotia ‘Double Cask’

Bought: Auriol Wines, 1st September 2017

Ratings:
85.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
82.6/100 – Whiskybase (average from 125 member votes)
4.5/5 – Master of Malt (average from 20 reviews)

When I think of ‘Glen Scotia’ I remember the dumpy green bottles of 8-year-old from the 1970s, or the colour-coated bottles when I started collecting whisky in 2013. I quite liked the look of the black 12yo, green 15yo, blue 18yo and burgundy 21yo but the poor ratings stopped me for buying any of them. The general consensus seemed to be that Glen Scotia had made a flavour and marketing boo-boo.

You wouldn’t think that NAS (non-age statement) would be the best direction for the Campbeltown distillery to go but that’s what happened with the arrival of the ‘Double Cask’ in 2015. It was a bit of a gamble but it seems to have paid off. Scoring 85.5/100 in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible classifies this dram as ‘very good to excellent whisky, definitely worth buying’. He summarises with “soft and easy drinking with an excellent early delivery spike of intensity. But a dull middle and finish. And dull has never been a word I have associated with this distillery. Ever.”

Scoring 82.6/100 on Whiskybase is a very good score with comments of “whoever likes the modern “designed” whisky style will probably enjoy this dram”, “nice daily dram, but not overly spectacular”, “a good whisky if a little vague” and “very fine Glen Scotia for around 40 EUR. Surprisingly good and affordable.”

From my own tasting of the Glen Scotia ‘Double Cask’ I can honestly say I like it. It’s certainly subtle but you wouldn’t expect anything else for the price. I enjoyed the “excellent early delivery” Jim Murray mentioned but then I got hit by that unique Campbeltown flavour on the palate. It’s not as intense as the Springbank 10yo but it’s there and very enjoyable. If I drank Campbeltown whisky regularly it wouldn’t seem that special but, as an occasional dram from a distinct Scottish region, the Glen Scotia is delightful.

Tasting notes from Master of Malt:

Nose: Vibrant fruit emerges first (peach flesh and green apple peels), followed by chewy vanilla fudge, a hint of salinity, then an array of oak-y spices including some char.
Palate: Opens with more fudge with a little dusting of powdered sugar. Powerful, oily and a touch herbaceous with some German brandy character.
Finish: Sherried notes come through more on the finish.

Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com with his thoughts about the Glen Scotia on YouYube (Aug 2015):

BenRiach 10-year-old

Bought: Auriol Wines, 11th August 2017

Ratings:
87.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
81.75/100 – Whiskybase (average from 129 member votes)
88/100 – Ralfy (of www.ralfy.com)

When my interest in whisky was rekindled in 2013 it came with an inherited love of Highland Park, Scapa, Talisker, Macallan and Linkwood. These were whiskies my uncles introduced me to, which I like but I felt it was important to try new things and discovered what truly tickles my palate. In the last 4 years I’ve tasted many great whiskies and BenRiach is right up there with them. I’d still say that Scapa and Talisker are in my top 5 but Springbank, Bunnahabhain and the outstanding Aberlour A’bunadh are fighting Highland Park, Macallan and Linkwood hard. Glendronach and BenRiach are knocking at the door of my affections, and they’re always a pleasure to sip.

Ralfy recently reviewed the BenRiach 10yo and gave it a fantastic 88/100. This is very similar to Jim Murray’s score of 87.5/100 in his Whisky Bible, which classifies this single malt as ‘very good to excellent whisky, definitely worth buying’. Jim Murray says, “a much fatter spirit than from any time when I worked those stills. The dry nose never quite decided where it is going. But there’s no doubting the creamy yet juicy credentials on the palate. Malty, with graceful fruit sugars chipping in delightfully.”

Scoring nearly 82/100 on Whiskybase is a very good score but almost what you’d expect for a 10-year-old. If I have one criticism about using a score from Whiskybase it’s that a lot of voters simply mark a whisky based on what would be expected for its age. This means that scores from experts like Ralfy and Mr Murray would get dragged down to something typical rather than exceptional.

Comments on ‘Master of Malt’ include “just classic Speyside, raisins, apples, cinnamon, oak, even a hint of peaches all work in harmony”, “really decent drop for the price”, “enjoyed this well enough, especially at 43% and non-chillfiltered” and “it’s a touch more sprightly than the 12yo but it’s somehow richer at the same time. Time and time again this distillery keeps coming up trumps.” I couldn’t agree more!

Here’s Ralfy on YouTube with his review of the BenRiach 10yo (July 2017):

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):

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