Mar 142021
 

Kilchoman is one of a growing number of distilleries who do not sell casks for independent bottlers, and keep the bottling of all casks within the distillery. Nevertheless, Kilchoman is happy to do private bottlings, so long as they’re bottled by them. For many distilleries, single casks are the way to get the interesting stuff. Happily, with Kilchoman there’s interesting stuff coming out of the distillery all the time, and the private bottlings augment that nicely.

Omef at a Kilchoman Tasting at the Mozner

Omer Ganor, known to one and all as Omef, owns and runs two very well known bars in Israel The Mozner and the Travitz, and has recently started an informative and fun Hebrew podcast called “Cask Strength”.

The Mozner

Omef bottled one of the few Kilchoman casks in Calvados, and sold it (within hours, actually) in Israel.

Kilchoman Cask 217/2013 Calvados Finish, Distilled 14.8.2013 Bottled 28.9.2020 for the Omef, 261 Bottles (55.8% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Gold, sturdy necklace and slow legs.

Nose: Very much identifiable as Kilchoman but softer and with very clear apple notes. There are green apples, more on the sour side, apple peels, honey and hints of brine. There’s also some gentle wood spice and some vanilla custard, albeit smoky.

Palate: Sweet and ashy, with a lot of the apple, alongside pepper, concentrated honey and a hint of citrus peel.

Linger : Think of drinking a cider after smoking a cigar and eating a piece of smoked salami so the the cider mellows out the smoke.

Conclusion

While this isn’t the most complex whisky you’ll ever taste, this is an excellent Kilchoman, and we’re very lucky to have had it selected by Omer, and hence available in Israel. It’s really beautifully rounded with the Calvados taking it a few steps beyond and is an extremely enjoyable bottle.

 

Feb 102021
 

Isle of Raasay is a relatively new Inner Hebrides distillery founded by Alasdair Day, which began distilling in September 2017. As this is the first in a series of three posts, we’ll further discuss the distillery’s distinctive approach in the next posts.

Since we have three sets of matching casks exploring unpeated and peated single malt, these will make for three posts exploring the Isle of Raasay spirit in the three cask types: Virgin Oak Chinkapin Oak, Ex-rye casks from the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, KY and Ex-Bordeaux red wine casks.

Chinkapin Oak (Quercus Muehlenbergii) casks take me back to an experiment actually featured on this blog, as one of the Glenmorangie Wood Experiments of 1993 is an oak who’s effects on the whisky are very close to what I experienced with this cask. In the Glenmorangie experiment, Dr. Bill Lumsden tried the effects of five types of oak, one of which is Quercus Stellata, or Post Oak. While these are not the same type of oak, they seem to have a very similar effect on the whisky.

Isle of Raasay Virgin Chinkapin Oak, 27 Months (Cask Strength)

Appearance: Deep gold, Viscous thin legs.

Nose: Thick vanilla, heavy oak, it’s very earthy with moss and Wet dirt. There’s also a very interesting combination of nuts and mushrooms. This one is definitely different.

Palate: very powerful on the palate with a lot of the earthiness with an almost floral quality.

Linger: Sweet and deep, with vanilla and spices. It lasts very long as a finish, which would be pretty predictable given the strength.

Conclusion

There’s alot of promise here, though more as part of future vattings than or its own.

 

 

Isle of Raasay Peated Virgin Chinkapin Oak, 31 Months (Cask Strength)

Appearance: Gold with slow legs running off a sturdy necklace.

Nose: smoked Vanilla Custard with some pine forest floor. There are hints of the same mushroom and moss we found in the unpeated expression, but gentler.

Palate: Far beyond its years.This is rich and sweet And almost creamy. there’s a tad of that funk, but the peat and the Vanilla really make this work. This Cask is basically ready for drinking.

Linger: Gentle Spice, with a hint of vanilla and the peat filIs the mouth.

Conclusion

Wow! This Whisky shines! I added a drop of the unpeated ex-rye to it and it replaced the damp earth with something dryer. This one could definitely make it on its own as is, but in a vatting this will bring some real character to the Isle of Raasay single malt.

Feb 032021
 

Steven Winston is a Scotsman living in Tel Aviv, who’s interest in a few bottles of whisky from the local M&H Distillery turned into a single cask. It’s my understanding that Steven has since purchased another cask, which will also be offered for sale privately by him.

M&H_Distillery (@milkhoneywhisky) | Twitter

The whisky matured first in bourbon casks, and was then moved into a PX hogshead, which is very evident in the whisky itself. This is a good example of the type of whisky M&H produces, although I think that it would have benefitted from some more time in the cask. Obviously, this is something every whisky blogger can say, and it’s probably the most “duh” comment you can make. Drink a 12 year old and say “it would have been better at 15”. Yeah, OK, duh. But with these casks it’s different. The cask was bottled a week after it past its third birthday, so when I’m talking about “more time in cask” we’re talking about a few more months, maybe 6, not years. I think that the PX cask would have mellowed out some of the pepper on the palate, and would have deepened the sweetness in the mouth. As it is, you’ll need water with it, and quite a bit.

I look forward to tasting Steven’s next offering, an ex-Islay cask (my money is on Laphroaig), and if it’s the cask I think it is, there’s an interesting story there which I’ll save for that review….

M&H Private Cask 2017/150, Ex-bourbon Cask Finished in A Pedro Ximénez Hogshead, Distilled 13.6.2017, Bottled on 20.7.2020 for Winston Whisky (57.2% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Deep gold with a very sturdy necklace and very slow droplets.

Nose: The PX sweetness first hits the nose with raisins, red fruit and some wood spices. under the sweetness there’s maIt and a hit of mustiness. Some water takes the edge off the mustiness and brings out more malt.

Palate: Wood bitterness and spice hit, with a sweetish wash of red berries and some fruit and honey. In the background the pepper is very dominant and is a bit less appealing as it makes the palate pretty aggressive. Water will shift the bitterness from the wood bitterness to citrus peel, which is the type of bitterness I like.

Linger: Sweetness on the tongue and sharp spice, with the spice lingering down the gullet. With water, the linger is pretty

Conclusion

At cask strength the dram is really rough, but with a good quantity of water you’ll find it to be interesting and fun.

May 312020
 

1968 was a horrible year for Glen Garioch. A drought was ravishing Islay, and DCL/SMD was worried about the supply of peated whisky for its blends three years hence. It was decided that one of the many DCL Highland distilleries would be switched to distilling heavily peated whisky. Glen Garioch was the go-to selection, as it had an active malting floor and was still producing (lightly) peated whisky.

Photo Credit: Beam Suntory

However, Glen Garioch was struggling with its own water supply problems, and reliability of supply was a definite issue. Hence, the DCL brass turned their eyes northward, to Clynelish. Earlier that year, Clynelish moved into the newly built six still distillery across the road from the historic two still 1819 distillery, which was mothballed. Named ‘Clynelish B’, the old distillery was put back into operation to stand in for the silent Islay stills, making heavily peated whisky. Renamed ‘Brora’ after an SWA intervention requiring that no two distilleries bear the same name, it stood in for Islay whisky until 1973, when the newly renovated and vastly expanded Caol-Ila came online.

Glen Garioch, however, did not fare as well, and once it was deemed un-useful for covering the company’s peated whisky needs, it was closed, with no plans to revive it. Things didn’t look promising at all for Glen Garioch in 1968, a fortune which would turn with the new decade arriving. Ironically, had Glen Garioch been chosen to be “Brora”, it would have probably drowned in the whisky loch of the 1980s, and would have maybe been utterly revered today, who knows? 😉

This is still under SMD, so we have floor maltings and direct fired stills at Glen Garioch, but as far as barley goes we’re in Golden Promise era.

The first single cask is an OB bottled in 1997 at 29 years old, and the second is a cask drawn upon specifically for this tasting.

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Glen Garioch 1968 Cask 621, Sherry Hogshead, Distilled 27.4.1968, Bottled 1997 (56.3% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Dark Copper, very slow keys, evenly spaced off a sturdy necklace.

Nose: Deep Sherry, with a first hit of dirty diesel oil followed by red fruit and some dried fruit. Under the sweetness is a hint of peat. Some time removes the Garage notes, leaving a sweeter nose. Water brings out more of the peat with smoked meat.

Palate: Woody and herbal, with spice and an ashy/oaky taste. The herbaility is a bit harsh it seems it could benefit from some water
water: Tones down the lavender and tones up the wood and the Sage.

Linger: Dry, sweet and herbal with a sweetness hiding under the dry, bitter notes. Sage and a bit of lavender mix in with a red fruit coulis. With water the Spice is more pronounced.

Conclusion 

Classic old Sherry, 29 years old, and a beautiful window into Glen Garoich in the final SMD year of operation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glen Garioch Single 1968 Refill Sherry Hogshead, Distilled 18.5.1968, Drawn 4.12.2019 (49.6% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Deep copper, thin and evenly spaced legs running off a pretty sturdy necklace.

Nose: Tobacco leaf, dried fruit, cinnamon, clove. Dried cherries and sherry dryness, with other dried fruit (namely apricot leather and prunes) and wood. What an old stately sherry cask. I could smell this for hours. After a while, a touch of sage wafts up as well as a subtle touch of tonka bean.

Palate: A wave of woodsy herbality gives way to spice, with a fruity sweetness developing amid the oaky dryness of the last wave on the palate.

Linger: Red fruit jam on the tongue, tangy spice on the inside of the cheeks and some spice down the gullet. The linger here is really divided into separate areas of the mouth.
The second sip enhances the wood spices.

Conclusion

The nose is a stunning old sherry cask, with everything you’d expect from a 50 year old cask. The linger is nothing short of majestic, and with the exception of the light herbality on the palate, definitely in line with the other 1968 OB.

There is no doubt, this cask is a total joy.

What an experience, getting as close to my birth year as Glen Garioch can, and allowing us a peek at the whisky at almost 30 and at 50 years old.

Once again, here’s a shoutout to my dear friend in the Granite City, Mr. Dutto!

May 172020
 

There are few things that get a whisky aficionado’s blood pumping like the opportunity to taste ancient drams from his favorite distillery. It gets even more special when they are both distilled on the same day, one presented at 46 years of age, and the other at 60 years of age. Yes, mind blowing 🙂

Glen Garioch Distillery – Whisky.com

The 1958 official release from 2004 has been on my sites for a few years, and it took a friend at the Old and Rare show to buy me a sample of this beauty.

Photo Credit: The Whisky Exchange

1958 Glen Garioch, 46 Year Old, distilled 1.5.1958, Bottled 7.9.2004, 336 Bottles (43% ABV)

Appearance: Gold, slow and well spaced legs.

Nose: It smells like a typical old school old timer, with a lot of oak and sherry notes, concentrated honey, confectionary notes, the sweet cinnamon you get in baked apples and the barest whiff of peat. Over time, more tropical fruit comes in.

Palate: Somewhat watery with a sweet wash of honey and oaky spices, with a hint of peat, less in the smoky sense and more in the burnt wood direction. There’s also some herbality in there, halfway between sage and eucalyptus.

Linger: Bitter and dry, with quite a bit of grapefruit peel. It leaves your tongue feeling creamy and has an interplay between sweet and bitter, with both of them leaning toward the spicy.

Conclusion

This is whisky the way it used to be served, slightly watered down and probably chill filtered. It’s oaky and bitter and would have probably been far better at around the 30-35 year mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other 1958 expression is a single cask, that was part of a glorious tasting that Master Blender Ron Welsh led at Glen Garioch in December. This tasting included single casks from 1958 and 1968, distilled under SMD, and casks from 1973, 1985 and 1997 distilled under Morrison Bowmore Distillers.

The 1958 was distilled from distillery floor malted Spratt barley, and was distilled in direct fired stills.

1958 Single Cask Sample, 60 Years Old, Distilled 1.5.1958, Drawn 4.10.2018, Refill Hogshead (40.1% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Light bronze, Viscous with a very long lasting necklace and a lot of residue.

Nose: Honey and licorice, with orange blossom and honeysuckle. Wood spices gently appear in the glass, with dried fruit. You’d never believe this whisky is 61 years old.

Palate: Herbal and not quite delivering on the nose. There’s something lavendery on the palate, reminiscent of the mid 1980 Glen Garioch. Dry with notes of coffee and some dry fruit, which appear through the lavender. There’s pepper that comes through, too.

Linger: Herbaciously bitter and oaky. There’s some sweetness that comes through on the tongue and some spiciness down the gullet.

Conclusion

If the OB 1958 nose was music in mono, this cask is playing full stereo, despite being only 40.7% at full cask strength, a decade and a half down the road. However, the nose is so vibrant, that the Palate is almost a shock, although at 60 years of age, it really shouldn’t be.
All in all, both expressions are an incredible touch of the past, but even incredible casks, like the single cask, would have a very hard time shining after six decades.

I’d like to thank my very dear Lorenzo Dutto for sharing the single cask with me!