Tag Archives: Whiskysite

Super Nikka

Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 26th October 2015

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

Johnnie Walker ‘Swing’ (40% version)

Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 26th October 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Talisker ‘Port Ruighe’

Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 23th May 2015

88/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
83.41/100 – Whiskybase (average from 295 member votes)

I’m still not convinced about the use of port casks and whisky. Not that I have a huge amount of experience of the combination, yet. But it’s important to keep an open mind and not judge something based on the cover. I’ve liked the Glenmorangie 10yo for many years but I wasn’t too sure when I tried the Quinta Ruban. It seemed more of a novelty experiment than a drink to take seriously.

The Whisky Bible’s score of 88/100 consists of 22 for the nose, 22 for the taste, 22 for the finish, and 22 for overall impression, so the author feels you get a very consistent experience throughout. The summary about the taste says “the delivery offers that thick, airless delivery which peat and wine uniquely conjure up; the sugars are pretty profound, and very dark.”

Comments on Whiskybase are mixed including “a very decent dram but not a winner”, “either much too young or way out of balance” and “some will find it interesting, others will find it disjointed”. Whatever your opinion, I’m glad Talisker are trying new things, just so long as they keep doing their core range to the standard we’ve become accustomed to.

Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com with his thoughts on YouTube (Nov 2014):

Talisker Port Ruighe NAS 70cl

Highland Park ‘Leif Eriksson’

Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 23th May 2015

86/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
82.5/100 – Whiskybase (average from 119 member votes)

Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible doesn’t have much to say about this HP but he concludes with “this has to be one of the softest drams you’ll find”. 86/100 categorises this tipple as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”.

As I write this, the only place I can easily find in the UK that has this HP is ‘Hard To Find Whisky’. They’re asking £99 for a bottle but you can still get it from Holland for €60 (£44). Is it worth it? Well it’s certainly different from a typical Highland Park because of the use of ex bourbon and American oak casks.

Although 82.5/100 on Whiskybase is slightly better than the rating for the standard HP 12yo (82.38/100) some comments are quite critical. Remarks include “this certainly is not a bad whisky but it’s not a high flyer either” and “this is just not good enough” but drinkers who enjoyed it said “nice candidate for a daily dram” and “interesting and very nice!” Clearly the Leif Eriksson is one of those drinks that comes down to individual preference.

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

Highland Park Leif Eriksson NAS 70cl

Highland Park ‘Dark Origins’

Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 23th May 2015

80/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
84.24/100 – Whiskybase (average from 219 member votes)
8.5/10 – Whisky Wednesday (see video below)

80/100 from the Whisky Bible might not sound fantastic but that’s only because the author, Jim Murray, detects some dreaded sulphur in this dram. He actually gives this Highland Park (HP) 23/25 for taste (92/100) but it’s the nose and finish that let it down in his opinion. If you pinch your nose and move quickly between each sip you should be ok! A comment about the taste includes “there is an abundance of high grade chocolate here”. It sounds like Dark Origins would combine nicely with some dark chocolate.

Over 84/100 on Whiskybase is an excellent score. To give you a point of reference, the standard HP 12yo scores 82.38/100 on Whiskybase from over 700 member votes. Although the Dark Origins is NAS (non-aged statement) it seems to have something extra compared to the HP12. Comments on Whiskybase about the Dark Origins include “a very nice malt with a twist”, “as good as everyone says it is. Has a little bit of everything” and “affordable and easy to drink”.

The last comment about ‘affordable’ I’m not convinced about but it depends where you are in the world. The lowest price in the UK right now is £55 but I got my bottle from Holland for the equivalent of £43. Shop around if you fancy an HP with a difference and stock up on some dark chocolate to have with it.

Video review by Whisky Wednesday, March 2016:

Highland Park Dark Origins NAS 70cl

Highland Park 1990

Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 23th May 2015

90/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
86.32/100 – Whiskybase (average from 58 member votes)

This 20-year-old Highland Park is the oldest of the affordable ‘year’ series for ‘Travel Retail’ that came out before the current Warrior Series. The other years are 1994, 1998 and 2001. At least, those are the ones still available and don’t cost a fortune. The Whisky Bible mentions a 1978 for ‘Travel Retail’ with a fantastic score of 95.5/100 but Whiskybase only list it in European shops outside the UK (here), and starting at €619 (£450). I could get a bottle from Holland for €650 but only if I go insane, or win the lottery.

Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible is very complimentary about the HP 1990. He says of the taste “sublime delivery: an almost perfect degree of oil to let the honey slither into its rightful place at the head of the flavour queue with toffee vanilla not far behind.” About the finish he adds “long, with a buzzing smokiness”. 90/100 puts this whisky in the category of “brilliant”.

Over 86/100 on Whiskybase is an excellent mark. Comments from reviewers include “a pleasant whisky with enough depth to stay interesting for a while.” And “this is a great HP expression. Not a bad thing to say about this, a quality dram.”

Here’s Frozen Summers with their thoughts on YouTube (March 2016):

Highland Park 1990 70cl