Tag Archives: Holland

Super Nikka

Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 26th October 2015

Ratings:
93/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
79/100 – Whiskybase (from 18 member votes)

The ‘Super Nikka’ blend popped onto my radar when I noticed its excellent score in the Whisky Bible. It became more interesting when I couldn’t find it anywhere in the UK and various places said it had been discontinued. When I visited my local Whisky Shop they said they are constantly being asked for Japanese whisky and the popularity is exceeding their supply. Not only single malts but blends are vanishing off the shelves. You have to think this craze is a passing phase but will there be any Super Nikka left when it ends?

Thankfully several online shops in Holland and across Europe have bottles of the Super Nikka and at a very reasonable price too. Although 79/100 on Whiskybase is nothing more than a ‘good’ whisky by their standards it’s Jim Murray’s 93/100 in his Whisky Bible that makes the ‘Super’ stand out. 93/100 classifies this Japanese blend as “brilliant” and Mr Murray remarks “a very, very fine blend which makes no apology whatsoever for the peaty complexity of Yoichi malt. Now, with less caramel, it’s pretty classy stuff. However, Nikka being Nikka you might find the occasional bottling that is entirely devoid of peat, more honeyed and lighter in style (89/100 – no less a quality turn, obviously). Either way, an absolutely brilliant day-to-day, anytime, any place dram. One of the true 24-carat, super nova commonplace blends not just in Japan, but in the world.” Who wouldn’t want a bottle of Super Nikka after a review like that?!

Unfortunately I bought this Super Nikka with my collector’s hat on before an online auction in December 2015 where a bottle sold for a measly £18.50. The month before in the same auction site a bottle went for £52.50, such is the up and down nature of the desire for Japanese whisky. Heck, I might just have to drink it instead of treating it as an investment! I’m curious to see if I have a peated or unpeated version.

Here’s Whisky.com with their You Tube review (August 2016):

Super Nikka 70cl

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Johnnie Walker ‘Swing’ (40% version)

Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 26th October 2015

Ratings:
91/100 – Ralfy of www.ralfy.com (his video here from Jan 2013)
81.9/100 – Whiskybase (from 12 member votes)

Like the Dimple blend with its flat sides to stop it falling off the captain’s table, the Swing has a nautical connection. Sea cruises for the wealthy were becoming popular in the 1920s but bottles of Johnnie Walker weren’t designed for the ebb and thrust of the sea. Lord and Lady Forbes Leadbetter wouldn’t be happy if the bar of their luxury liner was swimming with whisky and broken glass as the waves hurled unstable bottles to the floor. The ‘Swing’ appeared on the market in 1932 and the curved bottom of the bottle did exactly as the name suggests. A perfect bottle for sea travel.

The last time the Swing appeared in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible was in the 2008 edition when it scores a lowly 79/100. Thankfully that was the 43% version. The one available today is a 40% as discussed by Ralfy in his video and mentioned on Whiskybase. Ralfy loves it but it gets mixed reviews on Whiskybase where one member describes it as a “watered down Talisker 10”. Well I like the Talisker 10 and I usually put some water in it so I will know not to do that with the Swing (I wouldn’t with a blend anyway).

Currently several online shops in the UK are selling the Swing for £48 but it’s possible to find it on mainland Europe for a lot less. I got my bottle shipped over from Holland where it cost the Euro equivalent of £26.

Because it’s Johnnie Walker there are plenty of reviews to be found online. Here’s one on You Tube by “The Single Malt Review”:

Johnnie Walker Swing 70cl

Danica ‘Peated’ Danish Single Malt

Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 26th October 2015

Ratings:
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):

Ardbeg ‘Ardbog’

Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 26th October 2015

Ratings:
78.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
87.22/100 – Whiskybase (average from 599 member votes)
94/100 – Whisky Bitch (her review on You Tube here)

When I blogged about the Ardbeg Perpetuum 2015 release in October I was musing over the possibility of getting the Ardbog 2013. One Ardbeg Day release deserves another! What was putting me off was Jim Murray’s review in his Whisky Bible where he says of the Ardbog “the best advice one can give about bogs is to avoid them.” 78.5/100 classifies the Ardbog in the bible as “average and usually pleasant but sometimes flawed”. Sadly Mr Murray doesn’t say what he thinks the flaw might be. Perhaps he doesn’t know! Perhaps he picked up the bottle and dropped it on his foot and decided to damn the ‘Bog in perpetuity. Normally Jim Murray scores Ardbeg distillery releases in the 90s but thankfully Ardbog is spared his lowest score which goes to the 2011 Islay Festival release, tagging a lowly 67/100.

But wait a minute, I’m a collector, so what does one person’s opinion matter? Well, if the Ardbog were to be damned by everyone who drank it then this would be remembered in 10-20 years time when I decided to sell my bottle. Thankfully this isn’t the case. Over 87/100 on Whiskybase from nearly 600 member votes is excellent and the Whisky Bitch clearly loves the Ardbog with a heady 94/100. I can find lots of examples where Jim Murray scores whiskies higher than the Ardbog that other reviewers score lower. It does rather make a mockery of any form of whisky scoring. I give the Ardbog 976.3/1000 and I’ve not even tasted it yet! 🙂

For a good review of the Ardbog, here’s the legendary Toshman, Mark Dermul:

Ardbeg Ardbog NAS 70cl

Octomore 6.2 – Limited Edition (18,000 bottles)

Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 23th May 2015

Ratings:
90/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
85.09/100 – Whiskybase (average from 163 member votes)

I decided to get this version of Bruichladdich ‘Octomore’ because of its limited edition status. The two versions of the 6.1 in the Whisky Bible score higher with marks of 91.5/100 and 94/100 but 90/100 still classifies my bottle as ‘brilliant’. The fact that it comes from a cognac cask is a new one to me. Jim Murray the Bible author says of the taste “hard to imagine the smoke playing second fiddle, but it does: the sugars are so intense and the barley so salivating, for a few moments you even forget it is there.” He summarises with “one of the sweetest bottlings from this distillery of all time. Some warming late spice, too.”

Scoring over 85/100 on Whiskybase is an excellent rating although the 6.1 version gets nearly 87/100 and 6.3 is up at a heady 88/100. Nevertheless, comments for the 6.2 include “here’s one expression I hope is around forever as it’s a drinking phenomena”, “again a masterpiece. Heavy peat and sea, mixed with fruits and honey beyond the fire.” and “what’s the deal with the low rating in comparison to other Octomore bottlings? I really don’t see much different. If any I liked this one more than previous bottlings.”

Will it be a good investment? It’s hard to say with the Octomore. With so many versions coming out, even a limited edition is swamped by what’s available. I’m tempted to try it but perhaps at a tasting event, or by getting a 5cl sample rather than cracking open my bottle. At the speed I drink, it would be around for a very long time!

Bruichladdich Octomore 6.2 70cl

Glenturret Peated Edition

Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 23th May 2015

Ratings:
77.71/100 – Whiskybase (average from 9 member votes)
4.75/5 – Master of Malt (average from 2 buyer ratings)

Back in May 2015 when I bought this bottle of Glenturret the average rating on Whiskybase was over 80/100. Dropping more than 2 points goes to show what one bad score can do when only 9 members have voted. A 66/100 in July dampened down this Glenturret from the heady heights of the 80s. One member’s 78/100 seems par for the course with a summary of “the finish is bad, the taste is not unpleasant but it’s flat. 40% is not enough for such a young peated distillate. The nose promised a little more. Not recommended! Go for the regular 10yo instead, which is a flawless, well made whisky.” Clearly this drinker’s opinion is that Glenturret should stick with what they know best and avoid experimenting with peat.

As usual it’s all about personal taste. If you like the idea of a good, reliable Highland distillery trying its hand at peat then you could be in for an enjoyable distraction with this Glenturret. Both purchasers on ‘Masters of Malt’ love this dram with comments of “this whisky is far too drinkable, you won’t be disappointed” and “exceptionally smooth. Fully rounded flavours. If you like peated whisky, don’t miss this one.”

This is certainly a contentious whisky but, if you like Glenturret like I do, this is one to track down if you can. It’s not easy to find in the UK, which is why I had to ship it over from Holland, where it’s still available.

Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com with his review on You Tube (June 2015):

Glenturret Peated NAS 70cl

Goldly’s Double Still Owner’s Reserve

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

Ratings:
88/100 – Whisky Bible 2015 (for 10yo version)
61/100 – Mark Dermul, Belgian whisky reviewer – review link here

This is my first Belgian whisky to continue my quest for more international examples of the whisky world. I’ve added the Whisky Bible rating because it was included against this bottle on the Dutch website, even though it’s for a 10-year-old version of this Goldly’s. There is no “10-year-old” label on my bottle, and it states on the back “matured for more than 3 years in firstfill bourbon casks”. Ooops, so that’s 3 years and 1 day then! Clearly I have a younger, non-age statement version.

What I’m sure still applies from the Whisky Bible review is the comment about the presence of “caramel”. Unfortunately the author, Jim Murray, says it does “great damage to the finish in particular” but it’s still a solid enough whisky to score 88/100. Let’s hope my younger version has these sturdy qualities to stand up to the caramel!

Perhaps a better assessment of this dram is from the Belgian whisky reviewer Mark Dermul. Scoring only 61/100 I’m left feeling the £24 I paid was about £23 too much! Mark likens it to gin, which the manufacturer is better known for. The good news is, I like gin! So will I end up adding tonic and a slice of lemon? Whatever it takes to get the best experience!

Goldlys Owners Reserve Double Still NAS 70cl

Millstone 12-year-old Sherry Cask

Bought – Amazon, 28th October 2014

Ratings:
95/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
83.85/100 – Whiskybase (average from 35 member votes)

If you’ve never used Amazon before for buying whisky, I’d highly recommend giving them a try. I’ve wanted an example from the Dutch Zuidam distillery since 2013 but, at over £50 for the youthful 5-year-old rye, I wasn’t expecting to get a bottle any year soon. Browsing Amazon one day, I spotted the new 12-year-old release reduced by £30 to £45, with free postage, supplied by Amazon. It was pure luck but it makes up for some of those supermarket discounts I keep missing out on. Grrrr! But, like the Millstone, I’m not bitter.

So spontaneous was my purchase, I’d not read any reviews of this new 2014 release by Zuidam. I knew they were highly thought of, so it came as no surprise when I read online that this 12-year-old Sherry Cask has won prizes. Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible says “superb age on this: almost like opening a bottle of 20-year-old sherry” and “an excellent cask at work here which ensures an overflow of character”. A score of 95/100 classifies this Millstone 12yo as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live”. Make mine a double!

Bottle No: 606
Cask numbers: 1344, 1345, 1347
Date of distillation: 26/2/1999
Bottling date: 8/11/2012

Zuidam Millstone 12yo Sherry Cask 70cl

Highland Park 1994

Bought – Best of Whisky, Holland, 26th August 2014

Ratings:
87/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
83.14/100 – Whiskybase (average from 37 votes)

Originally this bottling by Highland Park was made for Travel Retail, so only available in selected airports. Last time I travelled in July there was no sign of it in Heathrow, or Aberdeen airport. It seems it has been superseded by the HP Warrior range. I found this bottle when doing my first online whisky shop from Holland, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover something unavailable in the UK.

Although Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible gives this HP an excellent mark in the high 80s he’s disappointed that it could have been so much better. He concludes with “the finish is dull and the usual complexity of the malt is vanished behind a murky veil”. Without this it would have scored in the 90s. A shame but 87/100 still classes this HP 1994 as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”.

Video review by Frozen Summers here.

Highland Park 1994

 

Highland Park 10-year-old

Bought – Best of Whisky, Holland, 26th August 2014

Ratings:
81/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 4 reviews)
80.88/100 – Whiskybase (average from 51 votes)

This 10yo is an original bottling from Highland Park distillery but impossible to find in the UK. So much so it doesn’t appear in the Whisky Bible, that’s how obscure it is! So I was delighted to find it when doing my first online shop abroad in Holland. Reviews suggest this isn’t earth-shatteringly brilliant whisky but a pleasant example of a young Highland Park. Who can grumble with that?!

A comment on Whiskybase suggests this bottle was only produced for the Dutch and Canadian markets. Another reviewer said they prefer it to the 12yo and 15yo versions, which only goes to make it more intriguing!

Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com with his review on You Tube (October 2016):

Highland Park 10yo 35cl