Sunday, July 27, 2014

Kilkerran Work In Progress 6, Bourbon Wood, 46%

It took this bottle three days (from the time of ordering from whiskybase) to arrive in Australia. It then took another 25 to reach my house. This is extraordinary incompetence, even by Australia Post's standards.

Anyway, the tyranny of distance and all that.

Kilkerran. From Glengyle. Working their way to a 12 Year Old release. This one (it is assumed, but we are nowhere actually told that) comprises 10 year old whisky from bourbon barrels. Like last year, there is an accompanying Sherry Wood release as well.

I have really enjoyed previous Kilkerran releases. Last year's WIP 5 proved to be popular among many others too - Serge in particular loved it - but I know there are others who have yet to fully warm to it. Florin, for example, has told me on Twitter that he likes it but finds it too sweet - (SPOILER!) this one aint gonna be changing your mind on that front, alas, Florin.

Kilkerran Work In Progress 6, Bourbon Wood, 46%

Nose: A very immediate nose, it jumps right out at you from the first pour. Initially sweet, with something savoury and herbal going on in the background. There's lots of lush, heathery peat too. Some salt and oil as well. Soot develops and begins to assert itself after further time in the glass. A touch of malt vinegar and soy sauce too, perhaps, after even more time.

Palate: A whole lotta honeyed-fruit sweetness. But it's spicy and salty too. A lovely slippery mouthfeel, building in waves from front palate to back. Clean. Very clean. A strong background note of peat lending solid support. And after a while a waft of smoke, too.
Water smooths out some of the spice, while brightening up some of the fruit.

Finish: A seamless transition. There's a bit of ginger ale as it develops, together with chocolate and orange. It's quite long and intensely focused. Smoke actually builds through the finish, while a wisp of ash finally carries it out.

I really like this. In fact, I think I may even prefer it to last year's. It does seem sweeter to me though - but this may just be Florin's Jedi mind powers.

It's got such great depth of flavour and character for a 10 year old malt. It certainly bears a lot of the familial traits of its bigger Campbeltown brothers - the peat profile is eerily (and deliciously) similar to Longrow (although not, I hasten to add, as heavily peated), while the oily maritime notes take you instantly to Springbank - but ultimately it's just a very, very good drink in its own right.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Littlemill 1989, 24 Year Old, Archives, 53.0%

Another recent (though now no more, I think) Littlemill from Whiskybase's own Archives label, this one apparently a joint bottling with a Dutch whisky club called CasQueteers.

I really need to become a member of a club that bottles its own whisky.

Littlemill 1989, 24 Year Old, Archives (Voyage dans l'Amérique Méridionale) with CasQueteers, 51.9%

Nose: Lots of sweet malt upon opening. Soon after, there's green apple and vanilla - quite a lot of vanilla actually, after a while. A little note of Baileys develops as well. Acetone. Seems to be a smidgeon of stone fruit lurking back there too, giving it a bit of lift and trying to make its way out.
Water brings some of this fruit out - peach.

Palate: A bit of heat upon entry. Underneath, there's honey and malt again, along with a good dose of toffee. There's plenty of apple juice here as well, with perhaps the slightest suggestion of grapefruit. Almonds. Water doesn't add too much, beyond levelling out what is already there.

Finish: Sweet, long and expansive. It begins slightly nutty and winds it way around the palate becoming increasingly peppery as it tails off.

Good drink this.

I immediately prefer it to the 1988 Littlemill from Archives I tasted a little while back, which was much drier on the palate, although similar in many other respects. It has that extra layer of fruit that I was searching for in the previous one, making it highly, enjoyably, drinkable.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Springbank 1967, 35 Year Old, Duncan Taylor Peerless, 40.5%

Single (bourbon) cask Springbank from the '60s?! Bloody hell, yes thanks.

The regular reader of this blog (Hi mum) will know that Springbank remains one of my favourite distilleries, so when I saw this sample for sale at I had to get me some.

How different would it be to the modern day releases? Not too much has changed in the distillation process at Springbank over the intervening years, but I expect we'll still find some interesting differences and divergences.

Springbank 1967, 35 Year Old, Duncan Taylor Peerless, 40.5%

[You'll note that the label states the vintage as 1965, but it is fact 1967, from cask no. 1943. This is a labelling error. There was in fact no DT Springbank from 1965, as far as I can tell.]

Nose: Straight out of the bottle there's sweet grassy peat. Wow, interesting. Soon, lovely (and readily recognisable) salty notes develop, and these begin to dominate as time passes. Later still, stonefruits emerge, along with some leather and tobacco notes.
The addition of water does little for the nose.

Palate: A little spicy upon entry, creating a lively front palate. There's peach and honey at first, followed quickly by leather, meat and smoke. It hasn't got a massive presence in the mouth, but neither is it too light nor hollow. (Looking at the ABV, they've obviously bottled this as late as they possibly could, just making it to that 35 years). There's a real ebb-and-flow quality to the palate. It changes back every time you think you've got a handle on it.

Water levels things out somewhat. It's not exactly flattened, more a cessation of that aforementioned tidal quality.

Finish: Lovely transition here, as those notes from the palate are joined by lit cigars and spice, with that stonefruit lingering in the background. The medium-long, dry finish trails off in a wisp of smoke. Nice.

Quite a complex, changeable beast, this one, with hints of peat and smoke that recall Brora and even Caol Ila. Yet it's clearly Springbank, in all its dry, salty, leathery glory.

This aged malt just feels and tastes old school. Comfortable but challenging. Familiar but exciting. And so enjoyable to drink. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Littlemill 1988, 25 Year Old, Archives, 51.9%

A Littlemill sample bought from Whiskybase, one of three Littlemills bottled by them recently under their own Archives label.

Littlemill 1988, 25 Year Old, Archives (Voyage dans l'Amérique Méridionale) 51.9%

Nose: Quite malty at first - a really strong scent of bran cereal. Soon enough honeyed apples arrive, while later still notes of peach develop, along with some vanilla.
Water perhaps adds a touch more vanilla, levelling out some of that overt maltiness a tad.

Palate: Lots of sweet malt combined with a bit of vanilla to start, attacking the front of the palate with a bit of heat. There's a little of that apple from the nose, but the fruit is pretty restrained here. A bit of spice on the palate - nice mouthfeel that becomes increasingly spicy as it develops.
Water brings out a little more fruit - peach, again - without detracting from the mouthfeel in any way.

Finish: Quite long and searching. The palate continues seamlessly. It's a little dry (though not drying), with some gentle smokiness coming through too.
The addition of water seems to increase the breadth of the finish. That extra fruit lingers as well, increasing the enjoyment (for this drinker).

Water really improves this I reckon. A really nice Littlemill that, for me, is just lacking a little extra fruit.