Saturday, August 23, 2014

Glenlivet 16 Year Old Nadurra, 53% (Batch 0911P)

The Glenlivet Nadurra, particularly the early batches, gets a lot love from whisky geeks. While I've not had too many different examples, those I have tried I have enjoyed. It's about 100 bucks here in Australia, so while that doesn't make it quite the bargain it seems to be in the US and Europe, if you get a good batch it would still seem to be money well spent.

I picked this 2011 iteration up relatively recently - late last year - from a major booze chain store where it was collecting dust on the shelf along with some other, more recent, bottlings. Serge has since quite enjoyed this particular batch, so I thought it might be time to have a look myself.

This review is from the very first pour of the bottle.

Glenlivet 16 Year Old Nadurra, 53% (Batch #0911P)

Nose: Something green and pickled gherkin-like (reminiscent, to me, of notes I found distractingly all through the Redbreast 12 CS) leaps out at you at first. Pretty boozy and sweet too. The greenness fades a little given some time, and some nutty malt comes to the fore.
Water draws out some stonefruit and tempers the greenness and booze a touch. It also tones down some of the overt sweetness a little, morphing into something like sweet soy sauce.

Palate: Hot, textural, with thick honey sweetness first up. After a little time in the glass, some fruit emerges - ripe stonefruit and maybe even some mango - layered over some nice clean malt.
Water makes it less fiery, while releasing more of that tropical fruit that time in the glass gave us .

Finish: Quite long. Warm and luscious, with some spiciness - and a little astringency - developing and lingering on the tail, once the fruit fades.
Water thins out the texture somewhat but, for me, increases the drinking pleasure. The numbing spice on the tail remains, and perhaps even lingers a touch longer.

A really nice Glenlivet that I think was vastly improved with the addition of water, which sees some lovely fruity notes finally taming that initial overt greenness. It will be interesting to see what happens to those green notes as the bottle empties.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hanyu Ichiro's Malt Ace of Spades

Not being an adept in the sometimes mind-bendingly complex (for me anyway) world of Hanyu/Ichiro bottlings and releases, I got myself all confused trying to work through the apparent discrepancies in accounts and details of this one, having purchased a sample from

Long story short (and as I'm sure many are well aware), there were two releases - a year apart - from the same barrel, with this, the second one, coming in 0.7% stronger than the first.
Both were from a hogshead (#9308) that was transferred around 19-20 years later (at some point in either late 2004 or 2005), to a Spanish Oak Sherry Butt for finishing. So this release got 15 months in the butt (bottled 2006), and the 1st (bottled 2005) got 4 months.

Thanks must go to Dramtastic and Whisky Saga whose reviews clarified all that for me.

Hanyu 1985, Ichiro's Malt Ace of Spades 2nd Release, 21 Year Old 55.7%

Nose: At first pour there's a strong scent of warm cola. This is followed quickly by orange, dates, sweet toffee and sherry spice. After more time, some roasted nuts emerge too, with a touch of leather. It's pretty huge. Water doesn't do a whole lot to the nose, beyond toning things down a fraction.

Palate: Spicy, mouth coating and thick, but the palate still feels pretty lively. There's a heap of sweet dried fruit, along with licorice, exotic spices and (brazil?) nuts. A touch of sulphur too. It becomes increasingly expansive with time, searching and warming.
Water broadens the palate a little, and brings out even more toffee sweetness.

Finish: Numbing and slightly astringent but still quite sweet with toffee and dried fruit. Long. A bit of sandshoe-rubber right at the tail. Water increases the sweetness here on the finish somewhat too.

A big old sherry monster, but jam-packed full of interest in that uniquely Japanese way. Readily drinkable without water despite its strength, it's very nice and eminently satisfying. The closest thing I've had to this recently would have to be a SMWS bottling of Karuizawa (132.5), with which I reckon it shares several characteristics.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hazelburn 2003, 10 Year Old, Rundlets and Kilderkins 50.1%

Hazelburn - Springbank's triple distilled whisky.
It can be big and sweet. And it can also sometimes be a little light on complexity. But we don't always want or need super complex drams, so this is not necessarily a bad thing.

This is the third (and apparently final) Rundlets and Kilderkins release, which sees the whisky matured in very small barrels for the duration of its life. This extra wood contact is supposed to hasten the ageing process and thus give it a sense of maturity beyond its (relatively few) years.

I've tasted the earlier Longrow and Springbank R&K releases - and have got some bottles tucked away too - and found them to be pretty good examples of the distinctive style of each.

The bulk of this review comes from the very first pour after the bottle was opened - significant, as we shall see, due to the appearance, and subsequent disappearance, of a somewhat surprising note.

Hazelburn 2003, 10 Year Old, Rundlets and Kilderkins 50.1%

Nose: Wow, very heavily perfumed at first - it smells like a rose petal bath bomb (not that I've ever used such a thing, you understand. The better-half uses them. Honestly). After quite a while in the glass it dissipates a little - not entirely though - and some of that Campbeltown salt emerges. After even more time the perfume does eventually get taken over - by salted caramel, apricots and sweet vanilla.

[A second pour from the bottle two days later and the floral perfume notes have disappeared entirely. It comes across immediately as very Spingbank-like. Think early batches of 12 YO Cask Strength. A lot sweeter here, obviously, and less leathery, but the family resemblance is clear.]

Palate: Intense. A bit fiery at first. A burst of sweet honeycomb, followed by ripe papaya, honey and then ash. It's quite oily and slippery too.
With the addition of water the fruit comes to the fore. Something like heather comes out too. The oil becomes more viscous and rich as well. It's unmistakably Springbank-distilled.

Finish: Quite spicy. Ginger, honey, ash and smoke. A lingering sense of dry smoke persists for a very long time after the sweetness fades.
With water the finish becomes much sweeter and richer, extinguishing the ash and smoke somewhat.

It will be interesting to see how this whisky evolves over time. That floral perfume nose from the first pour was pretty bizarre. I've never encountered anything like it in a Springbank-distilled whisky before.
A belter of a malt otherwise, though. The small casks have done their job well here. Quite complex and full of interest, its oily mouthfeel ensures that this Hazelburn is also lovely to drink.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Mortlach 1995, 18 Year Old, C&S Dram Collection 56.2%

A single bourbon cask Mortlach from German bottlers C&S Dram Collection.

Mortlach has gained the majority of its renown through its interaction with and maturation within sherry casks, but there are of course a few bourbon cask incarnations floating around as well. Maybe not so many in the near future, though, as the distillery's owner "re-positions" the Speyside whisky into a "super-premium" "brand".

I've ranted about this before - elsewhere - and don't think I can muster the requisite outrage to do so again at this point in time, what with the ongoing slaughter of children in Gaza and such.


Mortlach 1995, 18 Year Old, C&S Dram Collection 56.2%

Nose: Nice and fruity from the outset, bourbon-derived fruits like peach dominating at first, with further time in the glass seeing the emergence of something like orange. There's cream, too, coupled with some sweeter custard notes. A dash of soy sauce lurking in the background as well.
Water doesn't add too much to the nose.

Palate: Pretty aggressive at first, a spike of intense heat and fruit on the front of the palate. Spicy pepper, with a hive-load of sweet beeswax and honeyed peaches. There's spiced (cloves) orange here as well. A hint of bitterness emerges, too, after a while.
The addition of water tones down the spice, but the palate becomes more mouth-coating and generous.

Finish: Lemon and apple develop on the finish, joining the honey and pepper. It's reasonably long, with some astringency emerging towards the end, along with a bit of wood bitterness.
Water abbreviates the finish somewhat, though makes it slightly less astringent and bitter.

Enjoyable whisky this. The bourbon cask brings out the lighter-and-brighter fruit aspects of Mortlach that you might not immediately recognise or find in a sherried version, and the finish offers enough complexity to hold one's interest to the bitter (sorry!) end.