Tag Archives: English Whisky Co

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

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Braeval 1998 12-year-old

Bought: English Whisky Company, 6th November 2015

Ratings:
81/100 – Whiskybase (average from 4 member votes)

Although the Braeval distillery changed its name from ‘Braes of Glenlivet’ in 1994 you still find plenty of references online to its former self. My only previous bottle was a miniature distilled in 1987 which Cadenhead’s bottled in 1995 as a ‘Braes of Glenlivet’. It might be 22 years since the renaming but that’s no time at all in the world of whisky. Names and terms have a habit of sticking around forever in the whisky industry. I blame the Internet but I do for most things!

The house style for Braeval is quite sweet, fruity, grassy, spices and a hint of smoke. I know from tasting a Glen Spey that I enjoy a cask-strength Speysider with a good hint of grass, so Braeval sounds intriguing. The malt used is unpeated and the casks are ex-bourbon (providing the sweetness, fruits and spice). The distillery (the highest in Scotland) was mothballed in 2002 but brought back to life in 2008, which is a blessing for all us whisky lovers. 81/100 on Whiskybase certainly ranks this bottle of Braeval as a delicious find. 449 bottles were produced and I have number 264. Not a bad purchase for £60.

Braeval 1998 12yo 70cl

Glencraig 1976 33-year-old

Bought: English Whisky Company, 6th November 2015

Ratings:
88.17/100 – Whiskybase (average from 20 member votes)
81/100 – Malt Maniacs (from 1 member vote)

Glencraig was a distillery within a distillery as it was the name give to whisky produced by two Lomond stills installed at the Glenburgie distillery in 1956. Miltonduff had the same idea with their Lomond stills installed in 1964 with the output named ‘Mosstowie’. Both Glencraig and Mosstowie ended production in 1981 as the demand for Lomond whisky dwindled away. Some say it was no loss because the majority of alcohol produced wasn’t up to much but if you do your research, good examples can be found.

Over 88/100 on Whiskybase from 20 member votes is a clear indication that this Glencraig by Signatory is an excellent dram. Comments include “very tasty”, “very interesting” and “a whisky with a-typical herbal and spicy profile, but very special though. Delicious and well balanced.” Tasting notes mention herbs, honey, beeswax, ashes, campfire, vanilla, citrus, apple syrup, cinnamon, green vegetables, pineapples and charcoal. It certainly sounds complex!

Time for a grumble! When this bottle of Glencraig arrived from the ‘English Whisky Company’ I opened the tube to be greeted by a strong smell of whisky. The bottle wasn’t broken, the plastic around the top was intact and the cork was firmly driven in. All I can think is that the stopper isn’t tight enough and some whisky had seeped through during transit. I didn’t complain because no whisky was missing but this bottle is an obvious candidate for evaporation. I was hoping to keep it as an investment but not if the level drops dramatically in the next few years (it looks low already). At least if that happens I know it’s going to be a nice one to drink! Some problems have a silver lining.

Glencraig 1976 33yo 70cl

Glen Albyn 1976-2012 Gordon & MacPhail

Bought: English Whisky Company, 6th November 2015

Ratings:
96/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
84/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 3 maniac votes)
85.45/100 – Whiskybase (average from 13 member votes)

This vintage bottle of Glen Albyn was a new addition to the Whisky Bible in 2013 where it scored an amazing 96/100. This put it in the category of “superstar whiskies that give us all a reason to live”. The author, Jim Murray, says about the taste “I’m shaking my head in disbelief. Not through disappointment, but wonder! How can something of this antiquity still fill your month with so much juice? The barley still offers a degree of grassiness, though this is camouflaged by the softest bourbon characters I have seen in a long time. The honeycomb is in molten form, as is the vanilla which appears to carry with it a fabulous blend of avocado pear and ulmo honey.” He summaries with “wow!” and concludes with “the delivery really does take us to places where only the truly great whiskies go.”

85.45/100 on Whiskybase is an excellent mark, as is 84/100 on Malt Maniacs where one reviewer gives the tasting notes “Dry smokiness, in quite gentle doses however. Then a fruity berried style beneath. Taste gets that dry raspy smokiness, in a very interesting mix with the berries and fruit. This is a quite special whisky”.

Glen Albyn was sadly one of the distilleries that closed in 1983 so whisky casks for new bottlings are getting rarer and rarer. It’s certainly a good investment but it’s also nice to know that a lot of the remaining casks from the distillery are delicious, should the desire to drink it take over!

Glen Albyn 1976-2012 NAS 70cl

Caledonian ‘Clan Denny’ 1965 45-year-old

Bought: English Whisky Company, 29th September 2015

Ratings:
94/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
88/100 – Whiskybase (average from 8 member votes)

The Caledonian distillery (or ‘The Cally’ as it was informally known) was closed in 1988 (or 1987 depending where you look) with a significant amount of it demolished in 1997. Since it overlooks Haymarket Train Station in Edinburgh the 20-acre distillery was a prime location for residential homes, which it became. Thankfully parts of the old distillery were Grade B listed so a large extent of the original façade has been retained. Perhaps the next time I travel down to Edinburgh from Aberdeen I’ll get off at Haymarket to have a look.

Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible 2015 scores this vintage Caledonian single grain 94/100 which classifies it as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live”. In his review he says “anyone who managed to get their hands on the very oldest maturing stock of Barton bourbon from twenty years ago (and there were very few of us who managed it) will recognise it immediately. The similarities are uncanny.”

88/100 on Whiskybase is the sort of mark on there that you’d expect to see for an amazing single malt from Islay. One reviewer who scores it 90/100 says “sweeter, and certainly simpler than a single malt of similar age, but this is a really spectacular old grain whisky. Rich tropical fruit flavors, butterscotch, coconut and beautifully integrated old wood. Not even a hint of bitterness. Wish I had more of this.”

Caledonian 1965 45yo 70cl

Carsebridge ‘Clan Denny’ 1965 45-year-old

Bought: English Whisky Company, 29th September 2015

Ratings:
95/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
88/100 – Whiskybase (average from 6 member votes)

As Ralfy (of www.ralfy.com) says in his You Tube review of a Carsebridge 30yo, if grain whisky isn’t highly collectable does that mean it’s highly collectable because there is so little of it around? Discuss! Carsebridge is his favourite example of single grain whisky and stocks are running out. That’s hardly surprising because the distillery closed in 1983 but I still found a 70cl bottle for under £200 (that wasn’t from an auction). The cheapest 45yo single malt I can find from an online shop right at this moment is £750. And I bet it’s not any better!

Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible 2015 scores this vintage Carsebridge 95/100 which classifies it as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live”. In his review he says “as we have so often seen in Kentucky and Canada, old grains matured in high quality casks rank among the best whiskies in the world: here is a stunning example.” And 88/100 on Whiskybase is also a fantastic score.

If you want a vintage whisky on a budget then old single grains are definitely worth a look. At 44.7%, natural colour, non-chill filtered and from a single cask, there are a lot of good things going for this example from the late Carsebridge distillery.

Tasting notes from Master of Malt:
Nose: Heaps of vanilla, rye heavy Bourbon and lime gently off-set with warm spices.
Palate: On the palate the Carsebridge offers satsumas, lemon and seville orange. In time this becomes candied peel and vanilla.
Finish: The finish is silky and warming with cinnamon, ginger and orange zest.
Overall: Loads of soft flavours slowly emerge as you drink this, the mouthfeel is creamy and soft, everything you could want from a whisky of this age and value.

Carsebridge 1965 45yo 70cl

Mosstowie 1979 31-year-old

Bought: English Whisky Company, 28th July 2015

Ratings:
87.2/100 – Whiskybase (average from 7 member votes)

Mosstowie wasn’t a distillery but the name given to the output of two Lomond stills housed at the Miltonduff distillery between 1964 and 1981. The ‘Lomond’ still was invented in 1956 by Hiram Walker in an attempt to solve the demand from blenders who wanted more variety in whisky, therefore more distilleries. The neck of the Lomond still was designed to house 3 ‘rectifier plates’, which could be adjusted to alter the resulting liquid. It sounded marvellous in theory but the cleaning process of the stills was laborious and in the end there wasn’t enough demand for the output.

If you’re a collector, acquiring a bottle of Mosstowie should be a good investment. There were never any official bottlings because the resulting whisky was destined for blending. Independent bottlers such as Gordon & MacPhail, Duncan Taylor and Signatory have made releases but they are few and far between. I’m surprised that auction prices are quite reasonable but that might be because ‘Lomond’ production is still available from the Loch Lomond distillery, so the taste experiences hasn’t died out. In fact Loch Lomond whisky tends to be quite average, which may explain why output from Mosstowie wasn’t in demand and prices are relatively low even today.

Thankfully the votes on Whiskybase suggest that this particular Mosstowie 31yo is an excellent dram. Bottled 5 years ago in 2010, the level is reasonably high, although it’s hard to tell. As a collector I’m looking for a good level in the neck but this style of bottle is always filled to the shoulders. It’s difficult to tell if there’s been any evaporation but perhaps that was part of Signatory’s cunning plan when they chose the bottle shape. It’s certainly very pleasing to look at, albeit frustrating for a collector trying to detect evaporation.

Mosstowie 1979 31yo

Caperdonich 1998 12-year-old

Bought: English Whisky Company, 28th July 2015

Ratings:
7.5/10 – Whisky Wednesday (his You Tube video below)
87.25/100 – Whiskybase (average from 4 member votes)

Caperdonich distillery closed in 2002 so it’s certainly of interest to whisky collectors. Independent bottlings such as this one by Gordon & MacPhail aren’t all that common but the distillery’s demise is recent enough to keep the prices sensible. But for how long it’s hard to say. It was only a few years ago you could buy bottles of Littlemill for under £40 but they’re all over £100 now.

Caperdonich (which means ‘secret well’) opened in 1897 only to close 5 years later in 1902 after the demise of the Victorian whisky boom. It remained silent for over 60 years before opening again in 1965. It closed in 2002 along with the Braeval and Allt a Bhainne distilleries, which have both since reopened. Unfortunately that won’t happen to Caperdonich as the distillery buildings were demolished in 2010.

As Jo says in his ‘Whisky Wednesday’ review below, this Caperdonich 1998 has a classic Speyside smell. The house style for the distillery was tropical fruits, vanilla, sweet, spiced and light in body. 87.25/100 on Whiskybase is a high mark with voters’ comments of “smooth and well balanced” and “this is great fun. It lacks a little weight and is not flawless, but I could drink it all night.”

Caperdonich 1998 12yo 70cl

Inverleven 1991

Bought: English Whisky Company, 28th July 2015

Ratings:
84.88/100 – Whiskybase (average from 10 member votes)

Bottled in 2010, this Inverleven single malt is 18 or possibly 19 years old. I’ve wanted to upgrade my Inverleven 1979 miniature for a while so when I spotted this bottle for less than £60 in the English Whisky Company’s online shop, I pounced. With the distillery closed in 1991, a full bottle could well be a good investment. I particularly like the seal on this bottle because the integrated ribbon makes it a lot more difficult to fake. It’s a shame more bottlings aren’t produced this way.

Nearly 85/100 on Whiskybase is an above-average score with one voter commenting about this dram “The nose is fruity and fresh. Citrus and vanilla fudge and grassy barley sweetness in the mouth. A long finish, warm, sweet and even a drying spicy.” It certainly sounds lovely but I’ll be keeping this bottle closed for a while. What it allows me to do is to open the miniature and get my first taste experience of the Inverleven distillery.

Here’s Ben of ‘A Dram A Day’ with his review on You Tube (March 2016):

Inverleven 1991 18yo 70cl