Aged Spirits  

Fahrenheit 173 - Whisky

"The king o' drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Isla or Glenlivit"   (R.L. Stevenson)

Three new Swedish single malt whiskies

 19 Jun 2014  

Box Pioneer (3 y.o., 48.1%):
The nose is dominated by oak but there are also notes of mint, lemon, orange, white pepper and peat. A little on the young side but the nice fruity notes make up for that. Hope­fully the prominent oak won't overpower the palate and finish! Let's see... The palate is rich, sweet and fruity, also malty and oaky with notes of citrus and mint. Youthful but rather nice. The finish is oaky, peppery and a little hot but it also has a refreshing note of citrus. All in all it's very mature for its age. More-ish. An impressive first effort! The use of small casks (and partly new oak) has made it quite oaky but luckily not too oaky. A little hot without water but adding water reveals more of the youthful character. Best neat. (86 p)

Spirit of Hven Seven Stars #2 "Merak" (45%):
The nose is quite oaky (oak shavings) with an unusual but in­ter­est­ing note of juniper berries. Also notes of candy, spices, vanilla and caramelized sugar. Also a little peat. Complex and mature. The palate is rich, sweet and smooth with orange and quite a bit of oak (oak shavings again). A bit unusual but rather nice. De­velops vanilla and even more oak. The finish is oaky and spicy yet nice with notes of cinnamon and citrus. Lingering notes of oak and peat. All in all it's impressively complex and mature but doesn't have much malt character (tastes more like a blend than a single). It also has a slightly perfumy oak character (from new oak, I suspect). That said, it's smooth and more-ish and I quite like it! (But I suspect malt purists won't) (86 p)

Smögen Primör (3 y.o., 63.7%):
The nose is young and power­ful, very malty with wood smoke and a note of engine oil. Also new oak and unusual, wine-like fruity notes. Splintered and rough with a still noticeable new make character. The palate is young, too, but more bal­anced and much nicer. It has lots of malt and peat smoke, nicely offset by light, fresh notes of mint and citrus. Also a herbal note of new oak. Sweet, fruity and enjoyable. The finish has peat and malt, of course, but also fresh notes of mint and vanilla. Nice! All in all it's big, peaty and power­ful. Well crafted but a little immature. (Improved a lot after being open for a few months) (82 p)

Five single malts from Cadenhead's

 6 Apr 2014  

Ardmore 1997, 16 y.o. (Cadenhead Small Batch, 55.2%):
Young-ish nose with malt and a mild peatiness. The palate is light and sweet, also malty and fairly peaty with notes of citrus, lime and mint (makes me think of a peaty mojito!). Peaty, malty, rather nice finish. (88 p)

Balblair 1990, 23 y.o. (Cadenhead Small Batch, 51.7%):
Fragrant, fruity nose with apple, pear and melon, also honey, malt and a little oak. Very nice! The palate is classic Balblair: rich and sweet with lovely fruity notes of citrus, apple and pear, also oak. Rather nice finish with oak, citrus and a note of mint. (90 p)

Glen Moray 1992, 21 y.o. (Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, 55.4%):
Nice, fruity nose with a note of honey and a faint wine character. Mild, sweet bal­anced palate with notes of orange, honey and mint. Also oaky and malty which provides structure. The finish is oaky yet mild and nice with a note of gin­ger­bread. All in all bal­anced and more-ish. (Aged in claret wood.) (88 p)

Strathisla 1987, 26 y.o. (Cadenhead Small Batch, 54.5%):
Very nice, fruity nose with mandarine orange, orange marmalade, honey and vanilla. The palate is sweet and fruity with malt and oak providing structure in a lovely bal­ance. The finish is oaky and spicy with a note of mint, simplistic but nice. All in all smooth, beautifully bal­anced and very more-ish. (90 p)

Strathmill 1995, 18 y.o. (Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, 54.4%):
The nose is grassy and farmy with notes of hay and old barn, also fruity with apple and melon. Incongruous. The palate is nicer: sweet and fruity with notes of citrus (mandarine orange) and mint. De­velops oak. Nice, oaky finish with a note of mint. All in all uneven with a dis­ap­point­ing nose. (84 p)

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World whisky

 19 Jan 2014  

St. George Peated (England, 43%):
The nose is quite peaty and malty. Young, rough and a little musty. Also fruity and spirity (like a fruit schnapps). The palate also shows youth but is nicer than the nose: it's sweet and fruity (again, fruit schnapps), also peaty. Peaty finish with fresh notes of mint and citrus. All in all young and rough. Nice finish, though. (81 p)

Mackmyra Svensk Rök (Sweden, 46.1%):
Nice, sweet-ish smoke on the nose but un­for­tu­nately it's also floral and perfumy (from a little too much new oak, I suspect). Fruity (citrus), malty and nutty. Youthful yet complex. The palate is sweet with a prominent oak character and a note of gin­ger­bread. The finish is peaty, quite oaky and spicy with nice refreshing notes of mint and citrus. Verdict: it has a nice, unusual peatiness but the oak character is a bit vulgar. (82 p)

Spirit of Hven Seven Stars #1 "Dubhe" (Sweden, 45%):
The nose has caramelized sugar and vanilla, also oak, malt, a little peat and a hint of cinnamon. Quite nice but un­for­tu­nately there's also a musty off-note. The palate is light and sweet with orange, malt and oak. Young-ish yet bal­anced. Light and sweet at first, then de­velops spices and a little heat. The finish has at first citrus and mint, then lingering notes of oak, gin­ger­bread and black pepper. Also a little peat. All in all youthful yet complex and bal­anced. (85 p)

Slyrs 2007, 3 y.o. (Germany, 43%):
The nose is fragrant, fruity and quite oaky with notes of new oak, vanilla and marzipan. Nice but too oaky. The palate is hot and quite oaky but with a drop of water it's light and sweet with fresh notes of lemon and orange. Still oaky, though (oak shavings). The finish is oaky too, with notes of vanilla and black pepper. All in all it's rather nice for a 3 y.o. (but I would have pre­ferred more time in less active wood). Compared to the 2006 vintage it's less complex and not as nice. (85 p)

Mackmyra Special:08 (Sweden, 46.0%):
Herbal, aromatic nose with new oak, malt, allspice and orange candy. Unusual yet rather nice. Mild, sweet palate with vanilla and citrus. Fresh. De­velops menthol, then oak. The finish has oak and citrus at first, then grows spicy (allspice, again). All in all unusual, in­ter­est­ing and rather nice. More-ish. (86 p)

Hammer Head 1989, 21 y.o. (Czech Republic, 40.7%):
Fragrant, fruity and slightly floral nose with lemon, vanilla, cinnamon and white bread (cinnamon bun). Unusual but rather nice. The palate is mild and sweet. Quite oaky from the new oak but not too much. Rather nice, actually. Oaky finish with cinnamon and a little citrus. Nice but short. All in all it's unusual with in­ter­est­ing character from the fresh oak - yet perhaps a little too oaky. (Thanks to Magnus for the sample!) (86 p)

Amrut Intermediate Sherry (India, 57.1%):
Fragrant, fruity nose with raisins, plum compôte and notes of mint and gin­ger­bread. Very nice! The palate is fresh, fruity and clean, neither sweet nor dry. Lighter and fresher than the nose suggested. Very nice and quite more-ish. The finish is oaky, spicy and a bit simple - dis­ap­point­ing after the nice nose and palate. All in all very nice and more-ish but a little uneven. (87 p)

Kavalan Concertmaster (Taiwan, 40%):
Malty, fruity and oaky nose with a prominent port influence. Also notes of vanilla and gin­ger­bread. Lovely! The palate is medium-bodied, oaky and winey with a note of orange. Neither sweet nor dry. Oaky, fairly dry finish with a note of gin­ger­bread. All in all unusual but very nice and very nicely bal­anced. Mature beyond its years. Impressive! (88 p)

Six Irish whiskeys

 15 Jan 2014  

Green Spot (pot still, 40%):
The nose is oaky and nutty with notes of oak shavings, dessert wine, crème brûlée and orange candy. Splintered and a little vulgar. The palate is nicer: smooth, sweet and chewy with notes of sherry, lemon and orange marmalade. The finish is dry, oaky, spicy and nutty. All in all complex with lots of flavour but not entirely convincing. Difficult to grasp. (85 p)

Yellow Spot 12 y.o. (pot still, 46%):
Fragrant, fruity, fresh nose with notes of apricot, oak shavings, linseed oil and créme caramel. Also a hint of Trinidad rum. Complex but not entirely bal­anced. The palate is hot but with a drop of water it's light, sweet and smooth. Complex and nicely bal­anced with notes of custard and orange. De­velops oak and a note of marzipan. Very nice! The finish has a bit of oak and a note of vanilla but it short and dis­ap­point­ing. All in all it's uneven and a bit splintered. (Aged in bourbon, sherry and Malaga casks) (86 p)

Tullamore Dew 12 y.o. (blended, 40%):
Nice nose with oak, allspice, hay, citrus fruits and custard. The palate is bal­anced, smooth, sweet and very mild with notes of custard and honey. The finish has oak, mint and honey, also notes of apricot and peach (from the pot still component). All in all very smooth with an ex­cel­lent bal­ance. It's more-ish and goes down very easily! (87 p)

Redbreast Single Pot Still 12 y.o. (40%):
Big nose with peach, marzipan and oak. Very fruity palate with a fresh note of vanilla. Lighter than expected at first but grows richer as it de­velops oak and spices. The finish is fairly oaky with peach, marzipan and a note of mint. Lighter, cleaner and more easy drinking than the other ex­pres­sions of Redbreast. (87 p)

Powers John's Lane 12 y.o. (pot still, 46%):
Fresh, fruity and oaky nose with the typical fruity pot still character. A little spirity without water. With water it de­velops almonds, marzipan, custard and more oak. Also a note of bourbon. The palate is fresh and quite fruity (orange marmalade), also custard and honey. Oaky and spicy with a dry, rye-like note. The finish has marzipan and oak. A little peppery. All in all it has lots of flavour but it's not quite bal­anced. It's a little splintered but en­ter­tain­ing and rather nice. Best with a drop of water (too hot and spicy without it). It has more power (heh) than Redbreast and Green Spot. (87 p)

Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy (pot still, 46%):
The nose is quite oaky, dense and heavy but with nice notes of marzipan and peach. The palate is un­ex­pec­tedly light and smooth, subtle and bal­anced, with very nice notes of vanilla, peach, apricot and almonds. The finish is oaky with a note of pepper­mint. Very nice! All in all very nice and very more-ish. Not quite worth the price, though. (89 p)

I had high expectations of Green Spot and Yellow Spot but I was surprised that they didn't score higher than they did. It seems to me that the producers (Mitchell & Son, Dublin) try too hard with the aging in dif­fer­ent wood types - it makes the whisky unfo­cused and splintered and hides most of the pot still character.

On the other hand, the Tullamore 12 was a positive surprise! It's the cheapest of these whiskies and the best value. (I wasn't sure about including it here since it's a blended whisky and all the others are pot still, but it definitely held its own.)

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