Mar 302020
 

Like Deanston, Bunnahabhain contributed three expressions to this year’s Limited Editions. There were two expressions from 2007, in Port and in French Brandy, alongside this 30 year old expression finished in ex-Marsala hogsheads for three years before being bottled in  the 2019 limited edition.

 

Photo Credit: https://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/

Bunnahabhain 30, Vintage 1988, Marsala Finish, Distell Limited Edition 2019, 1260 Bottles (47.4% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Bronze, very evenly spread legs coming off a sturdy necklace.

Nose: Banana and a hint of rum, subtle honey, red fruit with a hint of a tropical overtone, with hints of spice and marmalade.

Palate: Very tropical, full of pineapple, kiwi, star fruit and some cinnamon. Not overly complex, but it’s good. The end of the sip has some depth of spicy notes with some clove and allspice.

Linger: Some bitter citrus rind with a dryness that’s almost powdery, which clearly betrays the age of the whisky.

Conclusion

What a glorious old Bunna, yet not overly complex despite its age. It seems like the original 1988 casks brought out the tropical fruit with some spice, but that’s about it. The Marsala cask finish, I would assume, was used to add some complexity into this good, though rather one dimensional old and dignified casks.

 

Mar 102017
 

Tobermory is shutting down at the end of the month for a two year overhaul of both the stills and the visitor center, and general repairs to some of the older buildings, during which Ledaig (and Tobermory) whisky will be available as normal, including the special limited releases we see pop up like the 19 year old we’re tasting today. It seems from an interview Mark Gillespie did with Alan Wright on WhiskyCast that Tobermory is about to undergo a serious premiumization, joining the ranks of Mortlach and Bladnoch.

Photo Credit: independentconnoisseurs.com

This is a 19 year old, finished in a Marsala cask, and is a very surprising whisky in it’s intensity.

 

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Ledaig 19 Marsala Cask Finish, Bottled 2016, 2,160 Bottles (51% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Bronze, with thin legs peeling off a pretty sturdy necklace.

Nose: The Marsala sweetness makes the maritime peat feel almost like a that series of Laphroaigs bottled in sherry casks on 22 September 1998. It’s dirty on the nose, cerealy and  very salty, with notes of saltwater toffee, green leaves, and hints of melted butter.

Palate: Full bodied, sweet and salty, with malt, espresso coffee, a whole kumquat being bitten into and some cooked cloves.

Finish: A lot of peat sticks on the tongue, dry with a hint of sourness and some spice. The salt remains with you, this is one hell of a maritime dram.

Conclusion

This is a whisky you can’t ignore. The brine and the wine are a killer combo, and this whisky is one of those drams you won’t forget. You won’t necessarily like it, but you’ll never forget it.

 

May 192014
 
Picture credit: www.thedrinkingmansguidetoscotland.com

Not technically about the size or shape of the stills, this post will focus on the “smallest distillery in Scotland”.

The reason I put that title – so proudly etched on the distillery’s sign – in quotation marks is that it’s, quite simply, no longer true. Typical for boom times in the industry, new distilleries are being established in Scotland, and some of them are really small craft distilleries, even compared to Edradour, which is really small. Such are Wolfburn, Daftmill, Strathearn and Abhainn Dearg. Of these, only the Isle of Lewis based Abhainn Dearg has some limited editions out there (see here), but I have, however, yet to come across it in the flesh. So for the time being, limited as it may be, I’ll treat The Edradour as the smallest distillery in Scotland, with an output of just 130,000 liters per year (compare with Glenfarclas’ more than twenty fold capacity at 3.4 million liters) , and a really impressive wood policy.

The small core range includes the 10 Year Old and the 12 Year Old Caledonia Selection which is sherry matured, and is expected to grow at the end of this year with another permanent additon.  What sets The Edradour apart is the very broad selection of wood maturation and finishes which is untypical of large distilleries and astonishing for such a small one, considering the work and expense involved in sourcing quality barrels.

The distillery has a colorful history with American mafia connection, sunken ships and a novel written based upon these occurrences (Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie), but has really hit its stride (and became really interesting wood wise) since 2002, when Signatory Vintage  bought the distillery. At that point, a plethora of wood finishes and full maturation in special casks appeared, and you can find “Straight from the Cask” series and some regular bottlings of whisky finishes in sherry butts, port casks, Chardonnay, Ruby Port, Marsala, Burgundy, Barolo and Gaja Barolo, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Sauternes, Moscatel, Bordeaux, Madeira, Sassicaia red wine, Super Tuscan wine casks, Cotes de Provence, Tokaji and Grande Arome rum cask together with a bourbon cask release straight from the cask. Obviously, some of these were received better in the marketplace than others, so some were available from only one cask (about 450 bottles of 50cl) while others have enjoyed multiple releases of casks in the SFTC line. Nevertheless, this is a mind boggling richness of wood for any distillery, especially one producing only about a dozen barrels a week, and much exploration can be had with this series.

Another direction the distillery is taking is the heavily peated Ballechin line, with about one fifth of its production. There have been eight releases so far in Burgundy, Madeira, port, oloroso, Marsala, bourbon, Bordeaux and Sauternes casks. It’s expected for a 10 Year Old Ballechin to become part of the core range from the end of 2014.

Which sets the stage for tonight’s tasting of the 18 Year Old 1993 Sauternes Finish:

Edradour 18 Year Old 1993 Sauternes Finish (52.7 ABV, uncolored, non chill filtered) 

Edradour 18 Year Old 1993 Sauternes Finish

This whisky was distilled on December 20th, 1993 and transferred to Sauternes wine casks from Chateau D’Yquem for a 42 month long finish. It was bottled at cask strength in April 2012.

Color: Deep gold with a yellowish hue I attribute to the Sauternes. Legs are slow, thin and close

Nose: Tangerines, orange toffee candies, nutmeg,  fresh peaches and cream overlying a layer of malt.

Pallate: Sweet and mouth coating, like biting down on that orange toffee with an alcoholic filling. Ever so slight lacticity and Cointreau over orange and vanilla ice cream.

Finish: Slightly metallic sweetness, giving way to a somewhat dry mouth feel. Long linger all the way into the stomach.