Signatory Vintage Bunnahabhain 1997 Heavily Peated 16yo Review

Signatory Vintage Bunnahabhain 1997 Heavily PeatedSomething a bit different today a whisky from independent bottlers (IB) Signatory Vintage. IB’s aren’t usually distilleries in their own rights, but will buy barrels and casks from distilleries and make either their own blends, or market as drops that you wouldn’t find as a signature taste. IBs are what you turn to if you really want to try something that you won’t typically get from the mainstream distilleries in your local bottle shop.

The Signatory Vintage Bunnahabhain 1997 Heavily Peated is one such offering courtesy of cask #5515 and I had the pleasure of bottle #246 of 297. The Bunnahabhain distillery is located on the isle of Islay and if you have read some of my other reviews you’ll probably know I am going to be happy.

I left my review very late on this bottle, a gift from my wife, and write this as I am literally down to the last glass. Slainte.

Vital Stats

  • Distillery: Bunnahabhain bottled by Signatory Vintage
  • Expression: Signatory Vintage Bunnahabhain 1997 Heavily Peated
  • Age: 16 years
  • Strength: 52%
  • Country: Scotland
  • Region: Islay
  • Website: n/a
  • Source: gift

Colour

Pale golden – apologies about the photo.

Nose

Typically peaty so no surprises, bit dusty, possibly some orange or citrus in there but not strong, some sugars.

Mouth

Easy to peg this as an Islay whisky – peaty, dusty, earthy, rich. A little bit spicy but the sweetness from the nose is also present, followed out the back by a slight starkness. A bit tingly on the tongue which is expected from 52% but still enjoyable.

Water, wow, a small drop of water really lifts this whisky up. Strong deep sweetness now, very rich with a thick mouthfeel. Didn’t feel diluted at all and made it feel like a much fuller whisky. Maybe some caramels too.

Finish

Good length in the finish, the tongue and lip tingle remains but is manageable. The sweetness disappears and we’re back to a slightly metallic aftertaste but that gorgeous smoke lingers on. The experience with water keeps the sweet finish going longer.

Verdict

An easy whisky for me to enjoy as it ticks all the boxes I like especially: peaty, unique, and a nice surprise when water added. In fact I would say to get the most out of this whisky a little water is a must. Thoroughly enjoyed the Signatory Vintage Bunnahabhain 1997 Heavily Peated and if I saw another bottle, considering its limited supply, I would buy one. Thank you, dear wife, you certainly did well (and I know you enjoyed it too).

Recommendation

So here again is the thing with IBs, your chances of drinking this particular expression are pretty limited as there are (were?) only 297 bottles produced. It doesn’t make it highly valuable, but it does, however, make it unique. If you’re an Islay drinker, and you really appreciate the exploration, then an easy buy. If you don’t like your Islays or feel you don’t appreciate whisky enough yet, look to the more mainstream bottles at your local liquor supplier.

The Glenrothes Select Reserve Review

The Glenrothes Select ReserveThe Glenrothes distillery has history going back to the late 1800s meaning they have been distilling for some 130 years. The Glenrothes make their maturity claim not in years as you most commonly see on a whisky, but instead by its vintage, that is when it went into the cask. The Glenrothes believe that it is not the years a whisky has been quietly resting in barrels and it is what happens in those barrels, not the time that has passed that they believe in.

Personally I don’t mind the departure from an age statement and won’t get too hung up on a “young” or “old” whisky because things like the size of the cask can have a large bearing on how fast or slow a whisky will mature over time.

Now I don’t often find myself around the Speysides and to be fair this whisky was gifted to me by a dear friend, but I’ll say she has done well.

Vital Stats

  • Distillery: The Glenrothes
  • Expression: Select Reserve
  • Age: NAS
  • Strength: 43%
  • Country: Scotland
  • Region: Speyside
  • Website: http://www.theglenrothes.com/en/
  • Source: gift

Colour

Nice golden colour, leaning on slightly dark as opposed to slightly light.

Nose

Sweet, brown sugars, bit of vanilla, offset by something savoury or metallic back there but I can’t put my finger (nose?) on it. Wait and sniff enough and some citrus apple is in there

Mouth

I don’t mind this. Despite the suggesting of sweet on the nose there is a nice hot spiceness as I explore, light pepper. Feels a little thick, not like a liquor, but hints at a creaminess. The label talks about fruits and citrus but I don’t personally find a lot. A dribble of water helps the Select Reserve along enhancing the creaminess instead of feeling like it has been overwatered.

Finish

Medium to decent length in the finish, bit of tongue tingle but not unpleasantly so. Vanillas are back, and a sweet boiled lolly, maybe some caramel. Here though is where water can retard the finish a little and shorten it up, so do be sure to experiment.

Verdict

A very easy drinking whisky that you can sit back with and not have to think about too much, maybe something to look at a sunset with. Despite being a self-confessed peat fanboi it is certainly nice to enjoy a whisky that doesn’t feel the need to punch you in the face on the first sip. I’m encouraged to try more of The Glenrothes vintages. Love that I received such a gift.

Recommendation

At its price (yes despite being a gift I had to check for the review) this is easily a Buy to Try whisky and you shouldn’t be disappointed. People who prefer the sweeter less peaty side of life may also enjoy it more.

Whisky Live 2015 Australia

Start marking the dates in your calendars, folks, Whisky Live 2015 Australia is on again and you don’t want to miss a great event!  All dates are over Saturday and Sunday:

The Whisky Live events run worldwide and are a FANTASTIC way to try a lot of different whiskies that you might not regularly have a shot at. If you go make sure you take your time and shop your taste buds around and be aware that the alcohol fatigue can set in if you rush (everything just tastes the same) so I like to try what I am most excited about first instead of leaving them till last. You will also see whiskies from all over the world including Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the UK, Scotland (of course) and more.

More information can be found at the Whisky Live 2015 Australia website.

Secret Spirits Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Scotch Whisky Advent CalendarAfter two years of planning and no end of hard slog Secret Spirits have finally brought to market their Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar just in time for Christmas – for Canadians.

With a total of 25x 50ml samples from three independent bottlers (IB) A.D. Rattray, Wemyss and Samaroli, this awesome box set will keep you well in drams right up to Christmas Day.  The actual whiskies themselves are a guarded secret (till people get them and open them up) but you can be guaranteed that these are not run of the mill whiskies that you can just pick up every day at your local bottle-o.

Only 400 of these box sets were produced and if you visit the website you will find they are close to selling out everywhere – so you better be fast!

For those of us not in Canada (particularly in Australia) unfortunately we will likely miss out all together.  But there’s always next year.

Taketsuru Pure Malt 12yo Review

Taketsuru Pure Malt 12yoI like whiskies from all around the world and Japanese whisky is no exception. The Taketsuru Pure Malt 12yo caught my eye recently and I thought I would give it a run around the block. This is technically a blended whisky with both the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries having input into this drop. Don’t let the term blended turn you off though, this is worth a try if even if it isn’t too exciting (and unless it is labeled as single barrel just about all whiskies are blended from multiple years).

Vital Stats

  • Distillery: Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries
  • Expression: Taketsuru Pure Malt
  • Age: 12yo
  • Strength: 40%
  • Country: Japan
  • Region:
  • Website: http://www.nikka.com/eng/
  • Source: personal purchase

Colour

Strong, rich, dark colour that hints at the rich fruits about to come.

Nose

Rich, sweet, dark fruity nose. Makes me think of strong Christmas puddings. Brown sugars, caramels, a little peat though would not call it peaty. Easy to get your nose in to without too much burn.

Mouth

Not as smooth as I would have thought, but not harsh either. The sugars and pudding are here again though not as much impact as the nose suggests.

Finish

Not a particularly long finish, bit of tongue tingle off the back. A touch spicy. Leaves a sweetness behind but not a lot to explore

Verdict

I do like Japaense whiskies but I’d say I only just mind this one. Definitely wouldn’t turn it away, it is a nice drop, but I like whiskies that I can explore and I’m encouraged to take my time with – not here.

Recommendation

If you are familiar with Japanese whiskies by all means give the Taketsuru Pure Malt 12yo a whirl but don’t expect to be wowed by it, your mileage may vary of course. If you haven’t had a Japanese whisky I’d suggest you start your journey elsewhere.

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014 Review

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014 It’s that time of year again when Laphroaig release their limited edition Cairdeas expression which is put together by Master Distiller John Campbell. Double matured in bourbon barrels and Amontillado seasoned hogsheads. Last year it sold out within hours of release so when the email hit my inbox I made sure I didn’t delay to get my order in.

Vital Stats

  • Distillery: Laphroaig
  • Expression: Cairdeas Bottled 2014
  • Age: NAS
  • Strength: 51.4%
  • Country: Scotland
  • Region: Islay
  • Website: http://www.laphroaig.com/
  • Source: personal purchase

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014Colour:

The 2014 Cairdeas has a rich colour to it which reminds me of champagne. It’s distinctly different to last year’s release which had a unique rose appearance to it. Despite the attached picture it is quite clear and lively.

Nose:

You’re going to hear it just about every time I do an Islay review – I am an Islay whisky fanboi through and through and the nose on this 2014 Cairdeas is fantastic. Good dose of peat as expected, vanilla thanks to the maturation in bourbon casks. I get sweet honey and faint citrous. Really take some time with the your nose in the glass as there is lots to explore and it just smells rich.

Mouth:

I found this year to be pretty interesting in the mouth. Peat of course, the sweetness comes through strong, maybe some peppermint and also a feel of rich chocolate sneaking in as well. The iodines are hiding back there if you look for them. More of that sense of richness, this is not a shallow whisky, it’s got depth. Quite easy drinking too, respect as always at 51.4% this year, but a casual respect. Water as expected livens things up too so definitely experiment o your liking.

Finish:

The finish is extremely pleasant, lingering, oily, vanilla and if you wait just a little longer those traditional medicinals that always come along from the peat.

Verdict:

This is a very pleasurable whisky by Laphroaig and I am very glad I was able to get my hands on it. I’m going to say it one last time, there’s just a nice richness to this whisky, you’re encouraged to explore, let it sit, take your time. No quick quaffer this drop, I really enjoyed it.

Recommendation:

A no brainer, if you like Laphroaig and Islays in general this is a must buy. However, while it lasted longer than a few hours before it sold out this year, as of writing the Cairdeas 2014 expression has indeed sold out again – so you may have to hunt around to buy one.!

Kilchoman Machir Bay Whisky Review

Kilchoman Machir Bay WhiskyKilchoman Distillery is a young distillery that came into being only in 2005 and is one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland. They are also a paddock to the bottle distillery growing their own barley at their “farm” as well as having their own malting floors. So what does this young distillery have to offer against the old guard?

Vital Stats

  • Distillery: Kilchoman
  • Expression: Machir Bay – Bottled 2013
  • Age: NAS
  • Strength: 46%
  • Country: Scotland
  • Region: Islay
  • Website: http://kilchomandistillery.com/
  • Source: personal purchase

Colour:

The 2013 Machir Bay is a pale straw colour. Not much else to offer here.

Nose:

Being an Islay whisky Kilchoman have stuck to the roots of using peat through the drying process of their barley and that comes though nice and strong on the nose, without being overwhelming like more mature Islays. I would put it as stronger than say a Bowmore but not as strong as a Laphroaig. There’s also the characteristic iodines hiding in there, especially after a sit, and a sweetness.

Mouth:

Despite the 46% this is a forgiving whisky in the mouth, decent peat that is quite pleasurable. Not as sweet as the nose would imply, maybe a little peppery and a slight oiliness coating to the tongue, hints of dustiness I also find characteristic of the Islays.

Finish:

Decent finish, bit of tongue tingle but not unpleasantly so. Antiseptics come through and a little tart right off the back with hints to this whisky’s youth.

Verdict:

This is my first Kilchoman and I am definitely fan! Although there is no age statement (NAS) on the bottle, the back of the box advises that the 2013 bottle of the Machir Bay is made from four and five year casks, both matured in fresh bourbon barrels and the four year old having a four week finish in oloroso sherry butts. Despite the apparent young age I feel this whisky holds its own quite well. A note of caution though, try with water but use only the barest amount as I found a lot of the nose and mouth is easily diluted.

Recommendation:

Highly recommended if you are an Islay fan and you want to try something of the region but want to give a young pup a go. Reasonably priced, in my opinion, and at a point that should get it into the hands of consumers and worth you taking a chance. As we see with more whiskies being releases with no age statement don’t let the mention of four and five year barrels put you off, I’ve tasted less complex 10 year olds than this so it is well worth a try.

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014 Released

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014Laphroaig have released their annual Friends of Laphroaig whisky the Cairdeas 2014. Fans of the peaty Isla drop may remember last year the 2013 Cairdeas sold out within hours.  So if you are after a bottle you better get in fast!

Update: Laproaig initially restricted the release of the Cairdeas 2014 to only one bottle per customer for 24 hours, but have now opened it back up to a maximum of three per customer.  If you ordered one in the first 24 hours, and ordered another afterwards be sure to contact Laphroaig so they’ll combine your order and save on postage.

Laphoraig Cairdeas 2013 Review

Laphroaig 2013 Cairdeas Port Wood Edition Each year Laphroaig release a limited edition whisky to celebrate Friendship (“Cairdeas” in Gaelic”). These release have been getting more and more popular and the 2013 expression literally sold out within hours of being available to purchase online. Luckily I was able to buy some bottles which I am very thankful for because this is a great whisky!

Vital Stats

  • Distillery: Laphroaig
  • Expression: 2013 Cairdeas Port Wood Edition
  • Age: NAS
  • Strength: 51.3%
  • Country: Scotland
  • Region: Islay
  • Website: http://www.laphroaig.com/
  • Source: personal purchase

Colour:

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2013The 2013 Cairdeas has quite a unique colour for Laphroaig here, best I can describe it is a sort of Rosé in appearance, light and reddish. I tried to capture a photo of the colour, but it just doesn’t do it justice.

Nose:

Straight up I am an Islay fan, so the nose on this just appeals to me on so many levels. Classic rich peat up front as I would expect. If I hunt for it I can pick up some citrus going on. A touch of water knocks the edge of the peat off and helps the citrus along slightly

Mouth:

At 51.3% this is a whisky to approach with respect.. Despite the high content it is reasonably smooth, but you have to keep your eye on it and still take due care, let this go down the wrong hole and you will have a coughing fit for 10 minutes. A spiciness is present, dustiness and bacon hock, and with a little water I pick up a hint of mint.

Finish:

No surprises here a strong lingering finish. A little oily, the smoked meat coming through again, and after a while a touch of florals there, but I had to wait for it to come along.

Verdict:

What a great whisky, I really like it. Laphroaig feels like an old friend but the Cairdeas tastes just a bit different to their signature expressions. That smoked bacon mouth feel is really interesting. I’m glad I bought the allowed three bottles for this year’s release as I do want to save one to open again in a few years’ time. The third bottle will go into the Collection.

Recommendation:

If you are an Islay fan, and more importantly a Laphroaig fan then this is an absolute must buy whisky. Unfortunately if you didn’t order one within hours of its release you won’t be able to pick up a bottle easily and may have to rely on the charity of friends. Good luck!

My name is Glenn and it's all for the love of a good dram