Current Status: Limited Availability with a few retailers in Europe at approximately GBP 200+
So as I mentioned in my previous review.. tonight was the night of the Devil’s.. I started with Arran and now time for this Bowmore.. which is a small batch release matured exclusively in first fill Sherry casks. That by the way is pretty evident from the lovely ruby color that this spirit possesses.
Nose: Bowmore often mentions maturing its finest whiskies in its legendary No. 1 vaults by the sea.. well if you ever wanted some help in imagining how that place would have felt.. this expression can give you nose… the smells of that peaty spirit maturing in those sherry casks.. along with rows of the other casks.. the dampness that comes from being right next to sea.. it all right there. After this brief introduction comes the first fill sherry influence… the cotton candy.. maple syrup.. black grapes.. basically a lot of sweetness.. and there’s a touch of perfection to it
Palate: The darkness of this expression slowly begins to reveal itself further as you move to the palate a lot more of those black grapes and sweet dark berries along with some mild notes of peat. This one has a very rich palate with each flavor coming out nice and strong. Initially the spice is more of clove and as the spirit oxidizes its more peppery spice that comes through. This is accompanied by some liquorice too.
Finish: A fairly long finish .. which leaves a mildly dry feeling in your mouth .. with some wood shaving and the final showing of the darkness with some sweet dry black raisins
Even at 56.3% there’s an exceptional smoothness to this both on the palate as well as on the finish.
On this particular night .. its this Devil from Islay that has got me smiling ‘devil’ishly at the end of it all!!
Current Status: Available with a few retailers in Europe at prices starting at GBP 85
This has been a month of the ‘Devil’ with Arran and Bowmore bringing out two Devilishly good limited releases into the market. So I decided to pit the two the devil’s against each other. Here’s what I thought of the Arran first..
Nose: The nose which was the best part of this one.. was a exceptionally pleasing medley of fruits and spices.. Apple, bananas.. with cinnamon’s and vanilla. As it opens up further you get some dried black raisins and towards the end .. what remains is some refreshing lemon zest.
I kept it aside with a few drops of water in it.. and that brought out a lot of ripe oranges and wood..
Each of those French Oak.. Bourbon and Sherry casks used for maturing this one.. made their presence clearly felt here.
Palate: The palate does have more of those fruits coming through.. although this time it was harder to point out which ones exactly.. I’d say they were definitely more tropical .. There were also some dark chocolatey flavors coming through with an interesting orangy tang to it. A sprinkling of white pepper and some woody notes were part of the mix too. Overall the palate is fairly creamy with a hint of dryness that begins to appear initially but it loses this completely and just gets a lot more creamier once it marries the tiny bit of water that I’d put in.
Finish: The finish wasn’t too long.. but not too short either.. a bit of the spices and some mint.. that was more like toothpaste to be honest..
Overall this is indeed was a fine finale.. to what has now become somewhat of an iconic series from this young distillery. Whether or not it has been better than the previous two editions of this series.. is for you to decide.. 🙂
Current Status: Limited availability with a few retailers in Europe at approximately GBP 200+ & an on auction sites too
Very often when you buy a special ‘distillery only’ release(even if its from Ardbeg) you wonder if it’s worth the additional premium you need to pay to acquire it. Well with one.. I can surely say that I’m one extremely satisfied customer.
Nose: The journey begins with the familiar whiffs of peat and iodine.. like you have reached good old Islay once again. Further probing brings outs the juicy cantaloupes and rip honeydew. There is also candied sweets in the mix. The distinct iodine notes now mellow down to a more eucalyptus kind of smell which is really nice. Leaving the dram to breathe brings out the wood and caramel form the bourbon cask along with some bananas and oranges. The nose does have a lot to offer in this one.
Palate: The palate isn’t too sweet to begin with. But that isn’t a problem really. There are oranges and a fair bit of pepper that come together. Also some charred/grilled meat in there too. Add to that some over 60% dark chocolatey notes. The sherry cask gradually begins to show its impact with a mild dryness that envelopes the mouth. The second sip brings a lot fresh cut fruits. Again a very fine mix of various flavors that come out from this creamy dram.
Finish: The end is smokey with peat, wood and mild pepper, coffee notes coming through. Once again there is dryness that is left behind at the end of this possibly from the Sherry cask
Another Ardbeg that has left a lasting impression!! Slainte!!
Current Status: Scarcely available on auction sites at more than four times the initial price
When it comes to Ardbeg I expect a strong and robust offering. However when it came to tasting the much famed Ardbeg 17, the experience was, well, not exactly matching my expectations.
Nose: Delicate is not a word I have used to describe Ardbegs in the past but this is exactly the first thing that comes to your mind when your nose is greeted with all the fruity notes. I’d say a bit of tangerines, apricots and lime. The longer you left the more it seemed like dehydrated fruit pieces of pineapple. Now there are traces of the peat in there but they are all hidden well below the top notes.. and one had to really dig them out. There’s also some eucalyptus oil that you can find. Did get some damp mud notes in there as well.
Palate: The first sip has an usually sweet start that quickly disappears and gets replaced with a lot of sooty notes. The sweet is more on the sugar syrupy side. You do find some mild peppery spiciness initially which does get a lot more pronounced by the second sip. For me the palate was this expression’s weakest part with not much to offer.
Finish: This one has a fairly nice finish with licorice, pepper, some mild fruit notes and finally a lot of spearmint. By the time you have the second sip the spearmint flavors tend to linger much long giving it a nice ending.
All in all this is one Ardbeg that you’re bound to have the house divided on in terms of their opinions. You’d either really like it for its uniqueness or you won’t due to your liking for a certain delivery that you’ve come to expect from this distillery.
Current Status: Available with limited retailers in Europe at GBP 200+ and with auction houses
So, I hadn’t really done too many Bunnahabhain’s before this one but I must admit that as an Islay whisky fan.. a festival release from this distillery did feature in the ‘must buy’ list for me. This 10 year old expression has been matured for 9 years in a Bourbon cask and one year in a Marsala Wine Cask before being bottled at 56.7%.
Nose: The effects of a year in the Marsala cask can been seen right from the first notes that greet your nose. The whiffs of peat that come through are a lot sweeter than usual and very pleasing too. As soon as you move past them there’s a lot of red apples and pears that reveal themselves. Eventually the woody notes from the Bourbon Cask follow through and after a bit of oxidization there’s more of the original Islay peat and iodine with some notes of citrus in there too.
Palate: This is probably the strongest aspect of this expression. A nice creamy and smooth delivery does make for a very pleasant experience. A lot berries .. more apples and some sprinkling of spices. Possibly some white pepper there as well.
Finish: More berries that follow through from the palate and some cinnamon too with some more wood . Finally some smoke to sign off leaving you with a nice warm feeling
All in all this a really nice dram… Whether or not it is worth the premium pricing tag that comes with any festival release is debatable.. but for some one who’s already bought it and tasted it too .. I can safely say I’m very happy!
Current Status: Available with a few retailers in Europe at prices starting at approximately the same initial price
I guess with the Springbank one has come to expect robust offerings that always tend to exceed expectations which can also be a downside too since every expression comes the hope for something fantastic. Can’t say that about this one sadly.
Nose: Begins with liquorice and lots of apples for me… also some woody notes with some sweet honey and raisins and possibly some aniseed at the end
Palate: Continuation of the licorice from the nose to the palate .. followed with some dark chocolate.. and wood. There is a slight dryness that comes from the Gaja Barolo Cask. The palate is fairly creamy
Finish: This is disappointing .. the finish is really short.. leaving you hoping it stayed for more. Closing off with some mint and mild peat
Although this Springbank has fair bit coming from it .. somehow there is no melody to all of it.. probably a bit off balanced for me.. and that’s where I guess it fell short
Current Status: Available with a few retailers in Europe at prices starting at GBP 150
Too many cooks spoil the broth? Well not in this case. 27 casks by Master Distiller James MacTaggart, 17 Sherry casks, 6 unpeated bourbon casks and 4 peated.. that and the name in itself were enough to get me intrigued…
Nose: Each of the casks have left a bit of their imprint on the nose.. there lots of spice coming from cinnamon and nutmeg, sweetness from raisins .. fresh wood shavings .. leave it longer.. there’s some liquorice that comes through and finally some lemon zest in the back ground
Palate: A gentle mix of honey and peat make for an excellent combination.. there also a good amount of spice.. some more liquorice that follows through from the nose and dark chocolate.. finally got some mangoes ..or probably some similar fruit flavors that are in too
Finish: Medium Long.. just about perfect .. with the right amount of spices.. dark chocolate and some more raisins too…. well that how the red devil on the dark black bottle signed off!..
For me this a nice dessert dram and probably the perfect drink on a Christmas night near the tree by the fire place.