Bought: World of Whisky, 28th June 2018
84.55/100 – Whiskybase (average from 119 member votes)
The Aberlour ‘Casg Annamh’ (meaning ‘rare cask’) first appeared at the end of 2017. About 6 months later the legendary Aberlour A’bunadh almost doubled in price causing fans to froth at the mouth and swear allegiance to the likes of the Glenfarclas 105. Some quarters felt that the Casg Annamh had been introduced to replace the A’bunadh but this was mostly based on both whiskies having a batch number. A year after the launch of the Casg Annamh and it’s still only on Batch 0001. The A’bunadh has had 62 releases in 21 years, quite typically 3 or 4 releases per year in recent years (but only two in 2018, perhaps due to the price increase reducing sales). The big difference between the Casg Annamh and A’bunadh is the strength. The Casg Annamh is fixed at 48% and the A’bunadh is cask strength around 60%. Basically they’re two different beasts.
So how has the Casg Annamh done in its first year? 84.5/100 on Whiskybase is a very good score. It’s doing better than the standard Aberlour 16yo (83.2/100), which costs about £15 more than the Casg Annamh. By the time you get to the Aberlour 18yo (85.5/100) it’s over £80 so you might as well buy the A’bunadh. Comments online about the Casg Annamh include, “enjoyed this more than A’bunadh. Whereas A’bunadh is a whisky disguised by sherry, Casg Annamh is a whisky featuring sherry without covering up the other flavours within”, “it contains considerably younger whisky than the 15YO, but makes up for that by a higher level of first fill and a higher ABV” and “an excellent value dram which won’t disappoint any sherry cask enthusiast”.
You have to feel this new Aberlour has found its place in the market. Currently £60 for a litre at certain airports it’s good value for what it is. But after a year of ‘batch 1’ it’s definitely not a ‘rare cask’ as the Gaelic name implies.
Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com with his thoughts about the Aberlour ‘Casg Annamh’ on YouTube (May 2018):
Bought: World of Whisky, 28th June 2018
81.94/100 – Whiskybase (average from 20 member votes)
5/5 – Master of Malt (average from 5 member votes)
I do love a 1000ml bottle of whisky, especially if it contains good uisce beatha. You’ll often read online that Travel Retail used to do more 1 litre bottles but there are still some to be had and new ones being introduced. The ‘Eirigh Na Greine’ (meaning ‘Morning Sky’) by Bunnahabhain first appeared in airports in 2014 as a ‘limited edition’ and has only ever been available as 1 litre. The distillery say it’s been exclusively matured in French red wine casks, which makes it interesting. Just to be awkward Master of Malt say “a portion of this single malt was matured in red wine casks” and Whiskybase says “Italian & French red wine casks”. Confused? Personally I’ll stick with what Bunnahabhain say as they make the stuff.
Nearly 82/100 on Whiskybase is a very respectable mark, although the standard 12yo scores over 85/100. You get the impression that Bunnahabhain fans don’t like the distillery profile being messed around with. Comments online include “very well balanced, beautiful presence”, “lovely rich and complex nose, wine-cask dominated palate and a pleasant finish”, “smooth as silk” and “if you like Bunnahabhain, this one is a must try to take your senses to new places and evolve your knowledge of this fine distillery”.
What Master of Malt have to say:
Nose: Toasted sugar, vanilla, raspberries and a little honey.
Palate: Apricot, sea salt, black pepper, more wine cask-influence berry sweetness.
Finish: Smoky and quite long. A little bit spicy, too.
Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com with his thoughts about the ‘Eirigh Na Greine’ on YouTube (August 2015):
Bought: World of Whisky, 22nd March 2018
85.35/100 – Whiskybase (average from 19 member votes)
Firstly, thank you to everyone for getting my blog over £200k hits. Who knew that whisky was so popular that an obscure blog like mine could get so may views!
The ‘Terra’ is part of the new Travel Retail range that the Macallan distillery introduced into airports at the end of 2017. Like the colour range before it (Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby) there are four bottles in the new set consisting of the Quest, Lumina, Terra and Enigma. I’ve listed both ranges from low to high according to price. The main reason I went for the Terra as my first example of the new range is because it equates to the Sienna (3rd in terms of price), which was the best of the colour range. But wow, what a price difference! The Sienna was c.£65 and the Terra cost £128, almost double. If there’s one distillery that knows how to squeeze blood out of a stone it’s Macallan.
Scoring over 85/100 on Whiskybase is a very good score and more than a point ahead of the Sienna. The Terra is matured exclusively in first-fill European and American sherry seasoned oak casks so the spirit gets first dibs on all the flavour in the wood. At 43.8% the Terra is 0.8% higher than the Sienna but it’s a shame it’s not 46%, especially considering the price. At least it’s not 40% like the Gold and Quest. In fairness to the Terra its packaging is better than the Sienna. The Ruby was slightly more expensive than the Terra, similar presentation and an almost identical score on Whiskybase. It’s almost as if the Terra equates to the Ruby rather than the Sienna and the Enigma is in a bracket of its own.
Comments online about the Terra include, “much better then the Quest and the Lumina”, “it’s special. Lovely complex texture. I’ve never tried anything so well balanced and in my personal opinion, perfect”, “lovely sherried layers compared to the Ruby”.
Tasting notes from Master of Malt:
Nose: Fresh orange, brioche, coffee, sultana and walnut loaf.
Palate: Melted chocolate, dried apricot, toffee pennies and a touch of strawberry jam.
Finish: Baking spices and dried oak notes take shape on the finish.
Bought: World of Whisky (Heathrow), 27th June 2017
79/100 – Whiskybase (average from 16 member votes)
3.6/5 – Distiller.com (average from 53 votes)
When it comes to understanding Japanese whisky distilleries and their brands I’m forever getting my Nikkas in a twist! So when I spotted this new Chita single grain I decided it was time to get my knowledge up to speed. Is ‘Chita’ a distillery or just a brand name? Well it’s a distillery founded in 1972 and owned by Suntory. As such its principal use is in Suntory blends, e.g., the Hibiki. Suntory own the Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries, which provide the single malts that blend with the Chita grain to create such products as the Hibiki ‘Harmony’.
My curiosity didn’t end there and I wondered if there were any other grain distilleries in Japan. Miyagikyo distillery, owned by Nikka, have Coffey stills used for grain distillation for Nikka malts, and the Fuji Gotemba distillery also produce grain whisky. Of the 9 distilleries in Japan, Chita appears to be the only one that’s sole purpose is to produce single grain. During my search I found two other single grain distilleries, which have sadly now closed, the Nishinomiya Distillery (closed in 1999, owned by Nikka) and Kawasaki Distillery (ceased whisky production c.2006).
The new Chita single grain whisky, 43%, has been matured in a combination of sherry, bourbon and wine casks. Reviews on Whiskybase and Distiller.com are above average with comments of “for a grain whisky, it has substantial complexity”, “a grain whisky that in my view progresses nicely from nose to finish”, “seems like a quality pour” and “if you like the sweetness and smoothness of Hibiki, this is your whisky”.
I suspect that Jim Murray, author of the ‘Whisky Bible’, reviewed this single grain for his 2016 edition when it was only available in Japan. His description and 43% volume certainly match the bottle now available in the UK. He scores it 92.5/100, which classifies it as “brilliant”.
Tasting notes from ‘Master of Malt’:
Nose: Honeydew melon, citrus and honey’d cereal.
Palate: Vanilla sponge cake and more honey. A touch of orchard blossom.
Finish: Medium length, rather zesty.
Bought: World of Whisky (Heathrow), 27th June 2017
88/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
77/100 – Whiskybase (average from 2 member votes)
90/100 – Scotch Malt Whisky
I went to the ‘World of Whisky’ shop at Heathrow airport without any intension of buying a bottle of Hazelwood 18-year-old. I was aware of its existence from previous trips and I liked its art deco styling but I only wanted a bottle of Chita, until a salesman grabbed me. He’d obviously been told to give the Hazelwood 18yo the hard sell and I was invited to have a sample. Don’t mind if I do! Granted it was very pleasant but I just wanted a bottle of Chita (Japanese single grain). I must stick to my guns! Then the salesman said they only had two bottles of the Hazelwood left and indicated that stocks were selling out everywhere. Clearly I had “sucker” written all over me. Sadly it worked and I found myself saying, “I’ll take a bottle!” A combination of sales persistence, several more whisky samples and my collector’s gullibility had been my undoing. For the same price as the new and more interesting Balvenie 14yo ‘Peated’ (£65) I’d bought myself a 50cl, 18yo blend in a fancy bottle. Well done! The moral of this story is “stick to your plan” even if a slick salesman is plying you with free whisky.
Although 77/100 on Whiskybase sounds quite average it’s only from 2 votes so far. I’ve got a feeling it will level out around 80/100 after 20 votes. Having tasted it I’d say it was more like 82/100 from me but Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible scores the Hazelwood 18yo a fantastic 88/100. This classifies it as a ‘very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying’. I don’t feel so bad about being duped out of £65 now. Jim Murray’s review consists of:
Nose: top-notch dispersal of subtle notes: walnut cream cake with a pinch of vanilla. The malt is low key but distinctly Speyside-style in its clarity, despite the odd wisp of something a little heavy.
Taste: Creamy-textured. Soft ulmo honey gives way to the thickening vanilla and toffee.
Finish: bitters slightly at the turned-up ending
Comment: until the final furry moments, a genuine little, understated, charmer
Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com with his thoughts about the Hazelwood 18yo on YouTube (July 2017):
Bought: Heathrow Airport, 2004/05
67/100 – Whisky Bible 2006
83.88/100 – Whiskybase (average from 54 member votes)
78/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 9 maniac votes)
Status: Long since discontinued
I bought this bottle of Macallan ‘Twenties’ for my father’s 81st or 82nd birthday in 2004 or 2005. I can’t remember the exact year mostly because he’s had so many birthdays! He has his 94th this year but I wont be buying him any more whisky. Not long after I got him this Macallan he confessed that he didn’t really like whisky. Nobody had realised. He got at least 5 bottles for his 80th birthday. So the good news has been that my brother and I got to try this Macallan, so every cloud has a silver lining!
Macallan began introducing the Macallan ‘Decades’ series in 2001 and in 2004 they added this version of the ‘Twenties’ to represent the flavour of Macallan in the 1920s. Not that my father was drinking Macallan when he was born in 1923. As a Scottish baby they don’t start you on whisky until you’re at least 5. Ultimately there were 4 bottles in the series representing the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.
Although I quite like this Macallan, according to Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible of 2006 the ‘Twenties’ was his least favourite decade. 67/100 classifies it as “very unimpressive indeed” and Mr Murray says “Does absolutely nothing for me at all. Totally off-key, no finish. Nothing roaring about this one.” He scores the 1930s 91/100, the 1940s gets 81/100 and 1950s does best with 92/100.
The Malt Maniacs are a bit more complimentary with a reasonable mark of 78/100 but nearly 84/100 on Whiskybase from 54 votes is a very good score. Nevertheless comments are very up and down ranging from “a perfect recreation from the 1920s” to “not very good”. Expert sipper and reviewer Mark Dermul who scores the ‘Twenties’ 77/100 says “I am not really impressed. Too dry and a tad too sour to my taste.” And leaves the following tasting notes:
Nose: The sherry is immediately present on the nose. Apricots, oranges, pineapple, blackberries. Quite dry, to be honest. A bit of chocolate. Mild smokiness. Soft woodspice.
Taste: The attack is soft and gently spiced. Again all sweet sherry. The fruit is now of the dried variety. Chocolate returns. Does turn a bit sour, now.
Finish: The finish is soft and warm with a hint of nuts.
Posted in Macallan
Tagged 1920s, 2004, 40%, 50cl, Decades, Macallan, NAS, Speyside, Travel Series, Twenties, World of Whisky
Bought: World of Whisky (Heathrow Airport), 10th September 2016
92/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
83.85/100 – Whiskybase (average from 309 member votes)
The Talisker ‘Dark Storm’ first appeared in 2013, the very year I got into drinking, collecting and investing in whisky. Even though I love Talisker it’s taken me 3 years to get the Dark Storm because of the NAS (non-age statement) war that was raging in 2013. The younger Macallan age statements (10yo, 12yo & 15yo) were being replaced by NAS and most new NAS bottles were greeted with scepticism and sneers. As I searched for advice online I got unfairly tainted by the NAS jibes, often by people who hadn’t even tasted the whisky they were insulting. Not that the Dark Storm was easy to acquire being a Travel Retail exclusive (airport Duty Free) but it also took me a while to get the ‘Storm’. Of course ‘exclusive’ means the Dark Storm is available in numerous shops in Germany and Holland, as well as £62.90 from Amazon UK (£44.99 at airports).
The Whisky Bible’s score of 92/100 relates to the 2013 edition of the Dark Storm but I have the 2014 version. Not that there’s much difference between the two. If anything the 2014 is slightly better as it scores 83.85/100 on Whiskybase with the 2013 release scoring 83.77/100 (from 344 votes). Both are fantastic scores. Comments for my bottle include “not your typical Talisker, but still very serious and complex”, “a very round and delicate malt” and “damn good release from Talisker”.
As Horst Luening says during his review on You Tube (here) there’s probably colour added but neither he nor any review I’ve read say this affects the taste. He suspects the Dark Storm is a young spirit but the heavily charred wood has been used brilliantly in smoothing and shaping the flavour. There are several other You Tube reviews, all very complimentary (Jo of Whisky Wednesday loves it and scores it 9/10) but I’ve added the following review from Scotch 4 Dummies because they give us four different opinions (April 2016 – 15 minutes):
Bought: World of Whisky (Heathrow Airport), 10th September 2016
83/100 – Whisky Bible 2018
83.59/100 – Whiskybase (average from 29 member votes)
86/100 – Malt Box (his YouTube review below)
This new 8-year-old Bruichladdich first appeared as a Travel Retail Exclusive in March 2016 for £44.99. It then went up to £46.49 and by September it was £48.99. Ah yes, the slow creep of the greedy world of whisky. Nevertheless I was so excited to find a new ‘age statement’ from Bruichladdich I decided that nearly £50 was worth it. Hard to believe it’s only 3 years since I paid £20 for a bottle of the dearly departed Laddie 10. But obviously my salary has gone up by 150% since 2013 so I’m able to keep buying whisky! 🙂
83.6/100 on Whiskybase is a very good score and compares well against the Classic Laddie Scotch Barley NAS (non-age statement) with 82.3/100. Comments for the Laddie 8 include “satisfying and with its own distinguishable signature” and “a light, easy-sipping dram at first glance, but it pays off to take your time and dig deeper.” A Whiskybase member scoring the Laddie 8 a representative 84/100 leaves these tasting notes:
Nose: Very fresh and light with lemon curd, lime and kiwi at centre stage. Also grass, honey and vanilla with sweet breakfast cereals.
Taste: Fairly spicy at first, but those quickly make way for fruitier flavours of lemon, apple and pear. Some nuttiness in the background as well.
Finish: Subtle aniseed, lemon rasp and almonds. Drying and pretty long.
Here’s Andy of Malt Box with his review on You Tube (April 2016):
Bought: World of Whisky, 7th July 2016
95/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
82.4/100 – Whiskybase (from 7 member votes)
84/100 – WhiskyWise (his video review below)
The Tarlogan is the 3rd release of the new Legends series from Glenmorangie, which are apparently replacing the 12yo bottlings. When I blogged about the first release in the series (the ‘Duthac’) I mused that by the 3rd or 4th new Legend the price would rise to £150 to £200. The good news is that the Tarlogan isn’t that expensive but we’ve jumped from £60 for the 2nd release ‘Tayne’, which was 1 litre to £80 for the Tarlogan, which is 70cl. Admittedly the Tarlogan has “limited release” written on it but what does that actually mean? Limited to how many exactly – 1 million bottles? Glenmorangie don’t say on their website, or the bottle. But if you’ve bought the previous two releases in the Legends series you’ll get the Tarlogan, and in fairness it’s a decent dram.
95/100 from Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible is an amazing score and classifies this single malt as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live”. Mr Murray says of the taste, “salivating on delivery: grassy again, with all the accompanying young sugars, aided by light shafts of Demerara.” In conclusion he says “this fabulous malt radiates the countryside in a way few drams have done before. As refreshing as an early morning dip in a Scottish pond.”
82.4/100 on Whiskybase is a reasonable score and close to the 84/100 from Jason of WhiskyWise. He agrees with the tasting notes provided by Glenmorangie, which are:
Nose: Sweet, earthy aromas of creamy butterscotch, classic Glenmorangie vanilla and coconut, malt biscuits too.
Taste: The texture is soft and silky and brings with it dessert-like flavours, especially vanilla custard and pears. There are delicious notes of pineapple and gentle citrus.
Finish: A suggestion of exquisite ginger is followed by waves of long, lingering white chocolate and almond marzipan.
I tried the Tarlogan at the ‘World of Whisky’ shop at Heathrow before I bought it and it was very nice but if you’ve ever tasted whisky at an airport you’ll know it’s never the best location. The sample bottle had been sitting on a glass display shelf with a back-light that left the whisky close to boiling temperature. It was like having a hot toddy. Nevertheless, from what I could tell it was lovely malt, although I agree with Jason that it’s overpriced for what it is.
WhiskyWise video on You Tube (August 2016):