Old Pulteney 21yo

My first opportunity to taste this whisky was at a workshop held on the Johannesburg leg of Whisky Live on the 6th November 2013. The session was called ‘The Forgotten Coast: The Whiskies of Scotland’s North-East’ and it was presented by the knowledgeable and entertaining Dave Broom.

Old Pulteney_21yo_The Smoky DramWhisky: Old Pulteney 21yo, 46% ABV

Region: Highland, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 21 years

 

The Old Pulteney distillery was founded in 1826 by James Henderson in Wick, a fishing village in the far north-east of Scotland, and at the height of their celebrated herring boom. The Pulteney Distillery is one of the most northerly on the British mainland.

The distillery has unique stills that defy convention to this day. The wash still, in particular, is a source of fascination due to the absence of a ‘swan neck’. Legend has it that when the still was delivered it was too tall for the still house and the manager simply decided to cut the top off! The Old Pulteney bottle now incorporates a bulbous neck to reflect the shape of the stills.

Similar to their 17 Year Old expression, the 21 Year Old expression marries together Old Pulteney matured in ex-bourbon casks with spirit from ex-Oloroso sherry casks. Mostly used is second fill American oak, plus some Spanish oak first fill. However, there is a higher proportion of ex-Oloroso sherry cask compared to the 17 Years Old.

Colour: Rich deep gold with thick legs.

Nose: Juicy and soft with a honeyed character, but a scented honey character. Oily and leads one with a fragrant sweetness before opening up into seaweed and salty sea spray before some marzipan wafts past.

Palate: Chewy with a creamy sweetness to it. Milk chocolate, crème caramel, American salt water taffy and spicy notes play on your tongue. Has an iconic and particularly salty palate with some pepperiness. Palate has a great depth and complexity to it, as well a great balance and smoothness.

Finish: Long with a slight saltiness and spiciness to it, and a warm heart. Slightly drying towards the end.

Overall: A lovely dram that instantly transports me to that area of Scotland. A great whisky that one really needs to sit and savour, I particularly enjoyed the salty character of the whisky and how the creamy sweetness also come out to play.

My Score: 88

A trio of Auchentoshan’s

The name Auchentoshan is from the Gaelic “Achadh an Oisein” and it translates as “the field of the corner”. The distillery is also sometimes known as the “Glasgow’s Malt Whisky” due to its close proximity to Glasgow. Auchentoshan is located at the foot of the Kilpatrick hills on the outskirts of Clydebank in West Dunbartonshire near the Erskine Bridge.

The Auchentoshan distillery is one of the very few remaining active Lowland distilleries. Furthermore, which is also unusual for a Scottish distillery, Auchentoshan practices triple distillation instead of the usual double distillation technique.

Here endth the lesson, now on to the whiskies.

Auchentoshan_American Oak_The Smoky DramWhisky: Auchentoshan American Oak, 43% ABV

Region: Lowland, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: NAS

This whisky is triple distilled and matured solely in first fill American bourbon casks.

Colour: Rich gold with lovely thick legs.

Nose: Overall is sweet, with coconut oil, citrus fruits, vanilla, some warm winter spices (cinnamon and nutmeg) and a lovely burnt toffee pudding character. Nose is clean, soft and lovely without being overpowering.

Palate: Light and refreshing, sweet and warm spiciness with more of the citrus fruits and vanilla coming through to the palate. There is also a nice toffee sweetness and slight creaminess to it. Palate is soft, smooth and very easy drinking.

Finish: Medium with warm spicy sweetness throughout and toffee pudding sweetness at end.

Overall: a pretty much well-made NAS Lowland whisky that is not overly complex and would be a great entry way to introduce a person to whisky, especially those that prefer a sweeter and smother mouth taste and feel.

My Score: 79

 

Auchentoshan_12yo_The Smoky DramWhisky: Auchentoshan 12yo, 43% ABV

Region: Lowland, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 12 years

This whisky is also triple distilled, then matured for over twelve years in a mix of Olorosso sherry and bourbon casks.

Colour: Rich deep gold with long slow thick legs.

Nose: Initially sweet, but not a strong sweetness, before the aromas of Christmas cake, brandy tart, sultana or date loaf, some citrus fruits and warm sweet winter spices (cinnamon) infiltrate your olfaction receptors.

Palate: Warm winter spices, nuttiness (almonds and hazelnuts), grassiness, more baked brandy pudding and Christmas cake again. Also following from the nose are more of those lovely sweet spicy notes and citrus fruit flavours again.

Finish: Medium to long and warming while still being light and with sweet spices to end.

Overall: again a well-made whisky from the Lowland region and this time with an age statement. I like the elements that the sherry casks brought to this whisky to make it, in my opinion a more layered and complex lowland dram.

My Score: 80

 

Auchentoshan_Three Wood_The Smoky DramWhisky: Auchentoshan Three Wood, 43% ABV

Region: Lowland, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: NAS

This Auchentoshan whisky has been matured in three different cask types. It first spent an initial ten odd years in American Bourbon casks before being transferred to Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks (for around a year) and ended its maturation in Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks (also around a year).

Colour: Rich tawny to mahogany with many long and lovely thick slow legs.

Nose: Rich dried and brandied fruits (mix of dark and citrus fruits), pecan nut slice, winter spices (predominately ginger), dark chocolate, baked dessert and an almost burnt caramel character. There are also some earthy and grassy notes faintly in the background.

Palate: Soft and clean but with strong sweet upfront winter spices (cinnamon and ginger) and more of the rich fruits (more citrus this time), almonds and Christmas cake coming though as well. Quite a mouth and tongue coating mouthfeel.

Finish: Very long, smooth and warm with sweet dried fruits.

Overall: A rich and well-made whisky that has some added complexity and flavours over the previous two (in my opinion) and that continues to develop over time in the glass.

My Score: 82

Glenlivet 1988/2014 15yo – Signatory exclusively for WhiskyBrother

My next review is a special one. Firstly it is a review of whisky that is a culmination of a dream for a friend of mine, Marc Pendlebury of WhiskyBrother fame. And secondly it is the first whisky that I am officially scoring since I decided to publically add my score to a review. It is a 15yo Glenlivet, distilled on the 28th of August 1998 and bottled on the 24th of March 2014 at cask strength (54.8% ABV) by Signatory; exclusively for WhiskyBrother (each beautiful bottle is individually numbered).

WhiskyBrother_Signatory_Glenlivet_15yo_The Smoky DramWhisky: Glenlivet 15yo 1998/2014, 54.8% ABV (Cost – R1300)

Region: Speyside, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 15 years

 

The cask chosen ( #128811) was a 500 litre butt, which previously contained Oloroso sherry, yielded 413 bottles and was personally selected by Marc on behalf of the store. Early in 2014 Marc travelled to Scotland to fulfil his dream of selecting a whisky directly for the cask to be bottled for WhiskyBrother. Out of the several whiskies that were tasted at the independent bottler Signatory, three samples were brought back to South Africa for the final selection. “The winning cask was chosen solely on the whisky we thought was best, we didn’t concern ourselves with which distillery it came from or how old it was,” explained Marc.

For years WhiskyBrother was just a blog started by Marc, until 2 years ago when he decide to take the plunge and extended his passion for all things whisky to open a boutique whisky store. WhiskyBrother, situated in Hyde Park Corner shopping centre in Johannesburg, stocks whiskies from around the world, as well as related paraphernalia such as whisky glassware, books and magazines. Holding more than 300 different whiskies, with new stock coming and going on a monthly basis, it is a little slice of whisky heaven for local whiskyphiles. Its aim is to be a focal point in the South African whisky community: a place to taste and explore all things whisky, no matter the knowledge or experience of the drinker.

Marc Pendlebury_WhiskyBrother_The Smoky Dram

So if you are ever in the area pop into the store, taste a dram or two and pick up for yourself a bottle of the store’s own bottling – it will be well worth it!

Colour: Deep and rich auburn to mahogany with many slow and long legs.

Nose: Rich, clean and fresh with dried fruits (mostly prunes and sultana’s), Christmas cake and warm winter spices (cinnamon and ginger). There is also some wood spice, brandied raisins, chocolate and stewed fruit (cinnamoned apples and prunes) to be found. Water brings out apricot marmalade on slightly burnt toast.

Palate: Oily and mouth coating with a hot entry onto the mouth. Warm with hot yet sweet spiciness (cinnamon and ginger), dark chocolate, Christmas cake, dried fruits and a lovely jamyness. Some mocha is also to be found floating around. Water softens the heat but not too much and some more wood spice comes to the fore.

Finish: Fairly long and warming with a lingering hot and sweet spicy tingle (pepper and cinnamon/ginger mix) leading to some apricot marmalade and dark chocolate at the end.

Overall: an excellent choice Marc, it is an incredibly moreish whisky that is powerful and intense without being too overpowering. Looking forward to the next bottling for the store!

My Score: 88

To score or not to score? That is the question.

Many a fine (and not so fine) word have been written on the scoring of whiskies; from the how to score whiskies, through which whisky scoring scale is best to use and all the way through to why you should (or should not) score whiskies. So why add my 2 cents to the mix?The Smoky Drams whsiky score spread

This graph shows the spread of all the whiskies I have tasted so far across my scoring bands.

Well it may not be a milestone to many, but I recent reviewed my 50th whisky and in doing so also looked back at the previous 49 that I reviewed before them. I could tell from the reviews which ones I enjoyed more than others, but I could not see definitively which ones I truly enjoyed the most (from all those that I really seemed to like). I had to keep going back to my score sheet that I keep on my whiskies to do that (I do enjoy my numbers and it helps to keep me organised and to make my own buying decisions). So I decided to also add my scores to my reviews – plain and simple, right? Not quite so, read on.

My scoring philosophy (scale to use and why) was also largely influenced by some other whisky legends that I follow, namely Serge Valentin, Oliver Klimek and Dave Broom:

  1. I too feel that scores should always be used in combination with the notes and never as a pure standalone reference.
  2. My score (and review) is my own personal opinion that reflects my tastes, which whisky I particularly enjoyed and my personality – so as I really enjoy powerfully peaty whiskies, these would tend to be scored higher by me (though I try not to be too biased).
  3. I use the 100 point scale as it allows me, if forced to choose (desert dram, only one of the two for the rest of your life etc), to show which one I would choose. I had this particular problem (and funnily enough still have it) between the Laphroaig 10 and the Ardbeg 10, as I immensely enjoy both drams, but in the end the Laphroaig pips the Ardbeg by 1 point (for me).
  4. Most of my whiskies were tasted at least twice before reviewing and scoring them. Also there were times where a flight tasting contained whiskies that I have had before and know fairly well, so I could use them as a benchmark to rate the other whiskies against.

My dilemma_The Smoky Dram

So now that that has all been said and done, what does my whisky score mean to me? I usually go through 2 stages when scoring a whisky. The first is to put it into one of the broad bands below:

0 Reserved for the mythical whisky that I would not even give to people who drink their whisky with coke!
1 – 49 Flawed, not drinkable to almost not drinkable
50 – 79 Moderate flaws but for the most part drinkable
80 – 99 Very few flaws to exceptional. Highly drinkable
100 Reserved for that mythical “perfect” whisky – which I hope to never find (I am enjoying the journey too much!)

Then upon subsequent sips and tastings I refine it into one of the finer scales points below before settling on it’s final score:

0: Reserved for the mythical whisky that I would not even give to people who drink their whisky with coke!
1-24: Very heavily flawed, abhorrent and undrinkable.
25-49: Still very flawed and very hard to swallow.
50-59 Has some big flaw but almost a bearable drink.
60-69 Some minor flaws but kind of drinkable.
70-74: On or two moderate flaws, drinkable but nothing to get too excited about.
75-79: Drinkable and good, but plain and quite uninteresting.
80-84 Getting to the good stuff, pleasant and drinkable.
85-89 Very good, satisfying and recommendable.
90-94: Stunning, beautiful and excellent. Must try.
95-99: Unequivocally stunning and exceptional.
100 Reserved for that mythical “perfect” whisky – which I hope to never find (I am enjoying the journey too much!)

My reviews (and scores) make it easier for me to remember the finer details of the whiskies I have tasted, which become an almost necessity the more whiskies you taste. A final note, to stress once again, is that all my reviews are based on my own experiences and tastes as I travel on my whisky journey.

So what are your thoughts on the scoring of whiskies?

Sláinte
Edward

The Smoky Dram Whisky Blog

Glenglassaugh 25yo – Whisky Academy

My very belated next review is not only my 50th whisky review (woo hoo!), but this whisky was also my 100th whisky tasted. My blind sample was kindly provided by WhiskyBrother Marc and the only clue I was given was the ABV. Then via the wonders of modern technology (Twitter), I conversed with Marc as to what I thought the whisky was once I had tasted it.

Glenglassaugh 25yo_Smoky Dram

Whisky: Glenglassaugh 25yo, 45.3% ABV

Region: Speyside, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 25 years

Glenglassaugh Distillery was founded by Col. James Moir in 1875. After being completely re-built in 1960, the distillery continued to produce whisky until November 1986 when it was mothballed. The distillery sat silent for over 20 years until it was purchased by a group of investors and started production again in December 2008. In 2013, the BenRiach Distillery Company took over Glenglassaugh distillery.

 This whisky was specially selected by Jonathan Miles for the Whisky Academy to be their first bottling, as a fine example of what Glenglassaugh and Scotland has to offer after 25 years of aging. It was distilled in 1986 and bottled in 2001. With only 216 bottles being produced it will remain a rarity as there are no more 1986 casks (they closed in November 1986).

Colour: Tawny to auburn with lovely long and thick legs.

Nose: Sweet pecan nut slice with feint hints of citrus fruits and some winter spices. A sprinkling of Christmas cake mix, a dash of florallyness and a dollop of cooked caramel and toffee is also to be found. A nice bit of chocolate rounds out the nose quite nicely.

Palate: Starts off with a sweet and woody spiciness that coats your whole tongue, followed by a raisin and nut mix. There is also some bitter dark chocolate with citrus fruit zest at end and back of one’s mouth. The mouth feel is a warm and smooth one.

Finish: Lovely, warm and lingering with sweet spicy bite of cloves and cinnamon that tingles one’s tongue and lips.

Overall: My first introduction to Glenglassaugh and what an exceptional introduction it was. This is a dram that has complexity and smoothness to it. If you can try this one you really should!

My Score: 88

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2012

My next review is on that triggered a few memories. It was my 1st whisky tasted at a WhiskyBrother tasting (Islay smoke machines back in 2013), and co-incidentally it was the last dram I had last night at WhiskyBrother to celebrate the shops 2nd birthday. Of interest is that Kilchoman was the first new distillery to be built on the remote island of Islay for well over a century. Currently another distillery is being built on Islay, Gartbreck.

Kilchoman_Machir Bay_NAS_The Smoky DramWhiskey: Kilchoman Machir Bay 2012, 46% ABV

Region: Islay, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: NAS

 

Machir Bay is a sherry-finished malt from Islay’s (at this stage) newest distillery, Kilchoman. This was released in 2012 and is made up of 60% 3 year old, 35% 4 year old and 5% 5 year old whisky. They all were aged in first fill bourbon barrels, before vatting and finishing in an Oloroso sherry butt for eight weeks.

Colour: Pale straw with medium to thick legs.

Nose: An Islay seaside feel of salty sea spray and seaweed. Has sweet peaty smoke with slight black pepper tones some brininess and citrus fruits (mostly freshly squeezed limes and lemons to me). Nose is clean, crisp and very fresh. Time in glass gives you even more smokiness.

Palate: Follows nicely from the nose with smoke, citrus, salty and a spicy mix of wood/oak spice and freshly cracked black pepper (almost a sweet and spicy peatiness to me). The addition of water softens the smoke and makes it sweeter – vanilla custard. A fairly complex palate that has a smooth mouth feel to it.

Finish: Medium tending to long while being a bitter sweetness (like a very dark chocolate) with a final spiciness at the end.

Overall: As my first introduction to Kilchoman I really enjoyed it and subsequently have tried a few others and can say that overall the offering from Kilchoman is of a very high standard. I particularly enjoyed the slight sweetness that this one brings to the range.

My Score: 85

The Smoky Dram’s 12 Whiskies of Christmas – 2014

Smoky Dram_12 Whiskies of Christmas_Arnold Photography

Now for the second year running (hey seems like this may just become an annual ‘thing’ that I do) I present, not the 12 days of Christmas, but rather ‘The Smoky Dram’s 12 whiskies of Christmas’ to offer my selection of 12 drams that could be enjoyed this festive season. This may be either as a present for a family member or friend, or most importantly, a present for yourself. Feel free to pass this one to a friend or family member if there is something that you would like in your stocking this year.

As usual, my list is made up of whiskies across price categories, ages, regions and ABV strengths. So hopefully there is something suitable for everyone on the list below and also all of these whiskies are available in South Africa. Your best bet though, for getting your hands on one of the whiskies and if you are in the Johannesburg region, is to visit the WhiskyBrother shop in Hyde Park. If none of the below appeals to you I am certain that they will be able to help you find a dram to your liking. Another alternative, if you like to travel out the city, is to visit Wild About Whisky in Dullstroom. Here you can sample a huge selection of whiskies, including the ones below, to see which one is your favourite.

So without a further ado, here for 2014 are:Smoky Dram_12 Whiskies of Christmas_Banner

Less than R350

  1. Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish (43% ABV) – R200
  2. Famous Grouse The Black Grouse (43% ABV) – R220

R350 to R600

  1. Tomatin 12 year old (43% ABV) – R390
  2. Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select (43.2% ABV) – R440
  3. Highland Park 12 year old (43% ABV) – R490
  4. Nikka Pure Malt – Black (43% ABV) – R560
  5. Teeling Small Batch (46% ABV) – R590

R600 to R1000

  1. Talisker 10 year old (45.8% ABV) – R640
  2. Glenfarclas 105 10 year old Cask Strength (60% ABV) – R810
  3. Bowmore Darkest 15 year old (43% ABV) – R960

Greater than R1000

  1. Kavalan Soloist Sherry Cask Strength (57.8% ABV) – R1700
  2. Octomore Edition 6.1(57% ABV) – R1700

I have been fortunate enough to of have tried (and enjoyed) all of the above whiskies and can say that they are all very fine drams. All that is left to say is that I wish all a festive, peaceful and happy time over the holidays.

Sláinte and Happy Holidays’ to all!
Edward
 
The Smoky Dram Whisky Blog

Teeling Whiskey – Tweet Tasting (#TeelingWhiskey)

A couple of things prompted this tweet tasting post, firstly I was going through some old notes and found this one that I had not yet posted (the tasting was almost a year ago). Secondly Teeling Whiskey is now available in South Africa and exclusively at WhiskyBrother, though only the Small Batch is currently available. And thirdly the Teeling Single Grain Whiskey was recently awarded the World’s Best Grain at the World Whiskies Awards for 2014.

Teeling_ Irish Whiskey_TT

This tweet tasting took place on 4th December 2013, and I was fortunate enough to do this tasting while on holiday on the South African south coast. This twitter tasting was put together and hosted by Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire and their main tweet tasting account @TweetTastings. Steve was joined by Stephen Teeling from the Teeling Whisky Company. Steve also musically paired the whiskies, so the sampling order, with their musical counterparts, was:

  1. Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey = U2 – Desire
  2. Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey = Thin Lizzy – Whiskey in Jar
  3. Teeling 21 Year Old Single Malt = Dubliners – Dirty Old Town
  4. Teeling 26 Year Old Single Malt = Luke Kelly – Auld Triangle

Teeling_ Irish Whiskey_TT_NAS_21yo_26yo

Teeling whiskey

In 1782 Walter Teeling set up a craft distillery on Marrowbone Lane in the Liberties area of Dublin commencing a 230 year tradition of distilling for the Teeling family. The Teeling Whiskey Distillery is the first new distillery in Dublin in over 125 years and it is right back where they started in 1782 and only a stone’s throw away from where Walter Teeling’s old original distillery was. The new distillery will be open for visitors in 2015.

Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey, NAS with 46% ABV and cost £40 (R690)

Teeling_Single  Grain_NAS_The Smoky Dram

The Teeling Single Grain was recently awarded the World’s Best Grain at the World Whiskies Awards, 2014. It is fully matured in Californian red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon) barrels with no chill filtration.

Colour: Pale gold to corn gold with many medium legs.

Nose: Warm spices (cinnamon) with sweetness in background that comes to the fore with time. Cereal and grains with a nuttiness that leads to lemon and a vanilla sweetness. It has a buttery creaminess to it, like a lemon sponge cake or lemon cheese cake. Also dark cherries with slight ruby grapefruit and a very subtle touch of smoke in back ground.

Palate: Very sweet spiciness on first hit followed by fruit sweetness – berry fruits, red fruits and fruit pastilles. Vanilla again but a custard vanilla. Peppery, cinnamon, citrus, cranberry and strawberry yogurt. Smooth and creamy with some chocolateness around. Drying towards the end.

Finish: Long and warm sweet spiciness with vanilla sweet fruit creaminess at end.

My Score: 83

Tweet thoughts from Teeling Whiskey Company (@TeelingWhiskeyC):

  • #TeelingWhiskey our song pairing for Single Grain is “Desire” from U2 – it’s modern Dublin and whets the appetite for more whiskey!!
  • The wine cask gave the whiskey a nice red colour #TeelingWhiskey
  • #TeelingWhiskey our single grain is double distilled from maize and full matured in ex- Californian Cabarnet Sauvignon wine barrels
  • Like most grain this is a sweet soft whiskey, but the wine cask has given it a spice and fruit that is unusual #TeelingWhiskey
  • @ansgarspeller yes all our bottlings are at 46% with no chill filtration we just think it makes a better whiskey #TeelingWhiskey

 Tweet thoughts from the other tweet tasters:  

  • #TeelingWhiskey Hay is the word, a little like nose when you are on the Fields in september, with a little citrus – @DH17slijterij
  • #TeelingWhiskey anyone know the Rollo candy? (milkchocolate with soft caramel). That. On the nose. – @thomas_speller
  • There’s definitely a big red-fruit thing on the palate. Think they might just be ‘fresh’ wine casks, not ‘knackered’. #TeelingWhiskey – @MasterOfMalt
  • A red fruit frenzy on the palate, with a velvety vinous vivaciousness. #TeelingWhiskey – @TheWhiskyWire
  • Palate smooth with vanilla, butterscotch angel delight, peppermint and nutmeg. #TeelingWhiskey – @MCRWhiskyClub
  • #TeelingWhiskey Hay is the word, a little like nose when you are on the Fields in september, with a little citrus – @DH17slijterij

 

Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey, NAS with 46% ABV and cost £32 (R550)

Teeling_Small  Batch_NAS_The Smoky DramThis small batch bottling consists of hand selected casks which are given further maturation in ex-Flor de Cana Rum barrels with no chill filtration.

Colour: Pale old gold with many medium legs.

Nose:  Clean with saltiness, rum & raisin chocolate, creamy spiciness and slight citrus notes (more oranges than lemons). Lovely winter spices (mostly cloves and nutmeg), salt & pepper mix, some malty grains and Red Heart rum. There are hints of tropical fruits (pineapple) with time. To round out, some cereal breakfast bar, slight burnt brown sugar, custard and banana. Not as sweet as the single grain.

Palate: Sweet upfront spiciness, aniseed, vanilla and toffee. Slight woodiness, pepper, cinnamon, and some more of those warm winter spices (cloves and nutmeg), salty and with a dryness as well. Palate is very intense, creamy and rich with lovely oily mouth feel.

Finish: Medium to long with sweet winter spiciness leading to a creamy end.

My Score: 84

Tweet thoughts from Teeling Whiskey Company (@TeelingWhiskeyC):

  • #TeelingWhiskey Our music pairing for the Small Batch is Thin Lizzy Whiskey in the jar – rebel Dublin music to go with rebel whiskey !!
  • #TeelingWhiskey our small batch is our take on producing the most interesting blended irish whiskey.
  • #TeelingWhiskey Consists of Hand selected casks of grain and malt left to marry in Flor de Cana casks for over 6 months
  • #TeelingWhiskey interesting that the saltiness is coming through as marrying process happens in our warehouses right on the Irish Sea
  • @eimearocarroll #TeelingWhiskey it depends on when it’s ready to be honest can be a small run of only a handful or 30/40 casks – And in answer to question “How many casks go into the small batch? Roughly if it’s a secret! ;)”

Tweet thoughts from the other tweet tasters: 

  • Faint hints of captain jack n tropical rum #TeelingWhiskey – @irishbeersnob
  • #TeelingWhiskey Small Batch rum; Clan tobacco – proper retro tonite – @Dr4key
  • #TeelingWhiskey sweet, candy, toffee, chocolate, raisins in lemons, salty, oily and tingling, banana, tea leaves, rum, pepperish, custard – @Girl_Whisky
  • #TeelingWhiskey not as smooth on the palate as the grain. Tropical tho, pineapple & mango… held together with a dollop of dark treacle – @kizzsmyth
  • cinnamon on a fruit tart. The pastry coming through right at end of the finish. #teelingwhiskey – @champdenwhite
  • Don’t like rum, so was a little worried about the SB. Shouldn’t have been. Rum just adds fruity/spicy/sugary notes. I like! #TeelingWhiskey – @AlpacaJo

 

Teeling Silver Reserve 21 Year Old 1991 Single Malt with 46% ABV and cost £125 (R2150)

Teeling_Single  Malt_21yo_The Smoky DramThis whisky contains some of the oldest Single Malt Irish whiskey ever bottled by the Teeling Whiskey Company. This Silver Reserve bottling consists of 21 Year Old Irish whiskey distilled in 1991 and matured firstly in Bourbon casks then allowed to marry in Sauterne wine casks (a first I believe for an Irish whiskey). Consisting of only hand selected casks chosen for their distinctive taste qualities this small batch bottling is limited to only 5,000 bottles.

Colour: Amber to deep gold with lovely thick and slow legs

Nose: Waxy, earthy, mushroom farm, smoky (fragrant) and peaty. Has an old character to it. Dark dried fruits (apricots), mint, salty, nutty, liquorice, damp wood, grape fruit pastilles (the sugared kind) and tropical fruits there are some of the seemingly characteristic winter spices (mostly cloves) but not as strong as the previous two. Ending with hint of pear drops, sweet toffee apple, braaied bananas and an old leather couch. A powerful nose.

Palate: Winter spice sweetness (cinnamon and ginger), wet antique wood, cedar, dark chocolate, dried fruits (predominately apricots) with a lovely smokiness. Slight braaied banana again, with liquorice, tropical fruits, honey & nuts and a sweet nuttiness. Palate is silky and smooth with an oily mouth feel, drying towards end. Richer and creamier than previous two whiskies.

Finish: Very warm ‘heart’, with long and lingering winter spiciness that has a sweet smokiness at the very end.

My Score: 87

Tweet thoughts from Teeling Whiskey Company (@TeelingWhiskeyC):  

  • #Teelingwhiskey The music pairings for our Vintages are the the Dubliners my own favourites being the Auld Triangle or Raglan Road
  • #TeelingWhiskey also recent Thumbs Up winner in Ultra Premium category at the 2013 Malt Maniacs Awards
  • There is a small amount of peat in this one. It brings the start and finish together @irishbeersnob #TeelingWhiskey
  • #TeelingWhiskey the original mashbill contained some peated malt, was double distilled and matured in bourbon casks
  • #TeelingWhiskey the extra fruity twist comes for the extra maturation in Sauterne sweet wine casks
  • #TeelingWhiskey This is a very complex whiskey. When picking the casks I had to focus on the ones with a marzipan note in the middle.

Tweet thoughts from the other tweet tasters:  

  • It’s everywhere this one. Pineapple, salt, mint and ferns. #TeelingWhiskey – @EdinburghWhisky
  • 21 y/o Silver Reserve. Love the nose on this one, really powerful. White grapes, gooseberry and also, a hint of banana! #TeelingWhiskey – @whiskybars
  • It smells like I’m in the old wardrobe amongst the fur coats, waiting to walk through to Narnia. @TeelingWhiskeyC Magical! ##teelingwhiskey – @WhiskyDiscovKat
  • Wet dog (but a nice 1), leather, smoky like an old Irish man’s tweed jacket, tinned mackerel #TeelingWhiskey (wet dog courtesy of flatmate) – @eimearocarroll
  • The banana keeps on coming, this time with a little chilli and cumin. Luscious. #TeelingWhiskey – @LRWhisky
  • #teelingwhiskey 21 yo Palate – apricots, peaches, with honey, I gets some nuts towards the finish, with a final boost of smoke – @msykesjones
  • #TeelingWhiskey No 3 was right up my alley with its sea flavours and well matured and balanced palate. – @PWulf

 

Teeling Gold Reserve 26 Year Old 1987 Single Malt with 46% ABV and cost £440 (R7550)

Teeling_Single  Malt_26yo_The Smoky DramThis Gold bottling of 26 Year Old Irish Single Malt is limited to only 1,000 bottles and comes from a handful of casks selected for their unique quality. Double distilled in 1987 and initially matured in bourbon barrels for 25 years this whiskey is given extra maturation in French white Burgundy wine casks for a further 12 months.

Colour: Deep gold to slight burnished with many thick and slow legs

Nose: Sweet and fresh as well as floral and fragrant. Rocky and pebbly beach with a fine sea spray over it. Marzipan, granny smith apples, waxiness, hints of creamy spiciness, pear drops, vanilla, fruit crumble, boiled sweets and lemons. Dark chocolate coated Turkish delight, black currant wine gums, ginger biscuits, fragrant wood and almonds. With time it gets sweeter, richer and creamier. The nose is delicate, elegant and very complex.

Palate: Very smooth and drinkable with dark fruit pastilles/wine gums, sweet spiciness and sweet smokiness as well. There are berry fruits, strawberries, dried fruits, slight honey, some pencil shavings and strong but nice spiciness. Very oily and mouth coating. Palate is simply stunning and beautiful as well as light and delicate.

Finish: Very long, lingering and changing. Sweet spiciness to a light creaminess at end.

My Score: 89

Tweet thoughts from Teeling Whiskey Company (@TeelingWhiskeyC): 

  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey the 26 YO is yet to hit the shelves and is not yet bottled. With release planned for 2014 you are getting sneak peek.
  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey This whiskey started life in an AB and had just a little fruit in the nose and the finish was not strong.
  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey So we put it in a White Burgundy cask to try and bring the ends together.
  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey What we didn’t expect was the fruit explosion that the WB casks released in the nose and taste.
  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey silky smooth tropical fruit punch or as Alex would say gummy bear milkshake!!
  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey we knew the 26 yo was special but blown away with the response

Tweet thoughts from the other tweet tasters:  

  • #TeelingWhiskey 26 yo. Nose – boiled candy cherries. Given the age, very light in colour… but long in legs. like a Rod Stewart ex – @b7ryn
  • There’s that same amazing Grilled Pineapple nose on this. Just amazing. #TeelingWhiskey – @MasterOfMalt
  • 26 Year Old Nose: A cornucopia of dried tropical fruits evolving now, papaya, pineapple, mango and coconut #TeelingWhiskey – @WhiskyDiscovery
  • This whisky just keeps giving…. Layer after layer. From oak, spice, tropical fruit to the tannins of grape skin. #TeelingWhiskey –@SteveRascal
  • 26 yr old is a taste EXPLOSION! Fruit, spice, slight smoke, sweet. WOW!! #TeelingWhiskey – @AlpacaJo
  • #TeelingWhiskey sweet, honey, fruit arrival delicate, mouth coating experience very different from the 21 YO tastes superb – @HMcnee

 

Final words

A wonderful introduction the Teeling range and I am really excited to see if more of it will come to the sunny shores of South Africa (though all the rain and load shedding the past few weeks have made it decidedly less sunny). I enjoyed seeing how the different wood finishes, together with the various time in the barrel, created such different expressions, yet with some similar characteristics (like the winter spiciness for me). This I am sure will allow you to find one from the Teeling range that you would really enjoy. For me my favourite from the tasting was the Teeling Gold Reserve 26 Year Old 1987 Single Malt.

A big thank you to Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire for hosting us (and the excellent music pairing) and to Teeling Whiskey for the wonderful Irish whiskies we got to sample. A final note of thanks, as always, to my fellow Tweet Tasters for making it an informative and entertaining tasting:

@TheWhiskyWire @TeelingWhiskeyC @StephenTeeling @LRWhisky @EdinburghWhisky @MasterOfMalt @WhiskyDiscovery @champdenwhite @WorldWhiskyDay @HMcnee @eimearocarroll @Alpacajo @kizzsmyth @SohoWhiskyClub @WhiskyDiscovKat @msykesjones @MCRWhiskyClub @b7ryn @SteveRascal @Dr4key @irishbeersnob @thomas_speller @PWulf @Girl_Whisky @DH17slijterij @whiskybars

Sláinte
Edward

Ardmore Traditional Cask

Finally back from my annual holiday and now off to the Highlands of Scotland for my next review. This time I am off to Ardmore, which means ‘big headland’ in Gaelic. They are located at the edge of the Grampian mountains and they were founded in 1898 Adam Teacher.

Ardmore_Traditional Cask _NAS_The Smoky DramWhiskey: Ardmore Traditional Cask, 46% ABV

Region: Highland, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: NAS

 

As stated earlier, Ardmore was founded in 1898, during one of the industry booms that occurred at the end of the 19th century. The Ardmore whisky distillery still has its own cooperage for the production and repair of casks. They are, apparently, now the only Highland distillery that insists on fully peating their standard malt. Most put the PPM at between 12 and 14. Most of the whisky the distillery produces is still reserved for the Teacher’s blends.

The ‘Traditional Cask’ is double fermented, first in the usual oak casks but then for a second time in much smaller hand crafted “Quarter Casks”. These smaller casks were fairly common a hundred years ago but have been largely ignored due to their high cost of construction. This intense secondary maturation gives the deeper flavour that their whisky is known for.

Colour: Bright deep gold with medium to thick legs.

Nose: Seaside character of salt and seaweed, but not overtly so. There is also a vanilla and cream sweet spiciness about it. Clean and fresh with a herbal and baked sweet pie/bread character. Some of that lovely peaty smokiness is around in the background always, but not in an overt or overpowering manner.

Palate: after an initial hot and ginger spicy burst on your tongue it tapers off to some sweet wood spice, creamy vanilla sweetness and a lovely gentle peaty smokiness that coats your tongue and mouth. Like the nose, the palate is clean and fresh, with a lovely mix between the smoke and sweet characters.

Finish: Medium and warm with subdued lingering spiciness and soft smokiness with sweetish end.

Overall: If you are used to typical Islay peated malts, then this is an interesting variation to try. It has the smokiness that would expect from a peated malt, but it is a gentle and background smoke that intermingles quite nicely with the sweet characters.

My Score: 82

Longmorn 18yo

Next up is a bit of a rare 18yo, well rare as an OB (original bottling) at least. As my previous review was of the Chivas Regal 18yo, I have decided to review one of the single malts that goes into the Chivas Regal 18yo blend, namely the Longmorn 18yo. I was fortunate to taste this whisky at a Chivas Regal tasting held at the WhiskyBrother shop.

Longmorn_18yo_Chivas Brothers_The Smoky DramWhiskey: Longmorn 18yo, 40% ABV

Region: Speyside, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 18 years

 

Longmorn was founded in 1893 by John Duff, who had founded the Glenlossie distillery two decades earlier, and production began around December 1894. The Longmorn and the BenRiach distilleries (which he built next to Longmorn) were both were affected by the collapse of wholesale buyers Pattison, Elder and Co. in 1898. The Longmorn Distilleries Company Ltd. then passed through a variety of ownerships. In 2001 Chivas Brothers was acquired by the French Pernod Ricard Group.

John Duff also has an interesting South African connection. After about a decade at Glenlossie John and his family emigrated to South Africa with plans to start a new distillery in the then Transvaal. John invested large sums of money in what would most likely of been the first malt whisky distillery on the African continent, but his plans were obstructed by the then South African president Paul Kruger as he had an aversion against anything British.

Colour: Rich deep gold colour with very many slow thick legs.

Nose: Interesting start of soap and leather before one gets into vanilla with some creamy toffee notes.   Once past the sweet notes you are met with olives (olive oil), some fresh sweet grass/hay and yellow flowers. A lovely layered, clean and fragrant nose that has great depth, complexity and richness to it.

Palate: White pepper and clove spiciness (front of tongue) starts you off on this extremely rich and intricate palate. Green fields, vegetal earthiness and green olives introduce themselves as the creamy butteryness with some vanilla joins the party. Appealing damp woody smokiness is also to be found. A remarkable palate with a thick mouth coating oiliness to it.

Finish: Very long, smooth and warming with flavour and spiciness all the way to end.

Overall: A stimulatingly intricate dram that has a splendid balance to it. This is a dram that you are meant to spend time on to full appreciate what is happening is the glass.

My Score: 83