Tastes

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  1. Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie Scottish Barley

    Single Malt — Islay, Scotland

    Tasted
    4.25
    4.25 out of 5 stars
    This is a re-taste. Nose: Soft, fragrant cereal with a generous, buxom honeyed personality. Apricot nectar, ripe peaches, vanilla flowers, melon, musk oil, night-blooming jasmine and delicate red wine notes. There's the faintest possible suggestion of smoke and a hint of briny sea-breeze in the background as well. As it rests in the glass and warms, a buttery malt aroma arises. Palate: Sweet honeyed cereal, like a compelling breakfast bowl of rice flakes, honey, sweet yoghurt and fresh ripe dark figs. Mild baking spices, but very subdued (spice biscuits warm from the oven and cooling on the table). There's a hint of apple, but primarily this whisky is a platform for cereal goodness to show its charms. The texture is creamy and lip-smacking. Finish: Medium. Genteel, sweet and cereal, with a note of mead and Côtes du Rhône red. I strongly recommend adding about half a teaspoon of water to an ounce of this whisky. That (to me anyway) is the magic proportion that allows it to sing in full voice. This tasting is based on a bottle from batch L/161142, recipe 17/092, bottled on 26 April 2017 and comprising spirit derived from the fermentation of Scottish mainland barley matured in a combination of ex-bourbon barrels, PX sherry butts, Spanish Ribera del Duergo 1st fill hogheads and French Rhone 2nd fill hogsheads. I adore and commend Bruichladdich for their full-throttle geekiness in making batch recipe information available to customers. I'm also convinced that this whisky has improved by an order of magnitude over the last decade. The last time I rated it here was immediately after a Bruichladdich tasting night where it was the first dram in a flight that included some seriously impressive whiskies. In that context it rated well, but was overshadowed by the powerful presence of Port Charlotte and Octomore drams. Tasting it tonight however, in isolation and in a relaxed setting, it performs much more expressively and can be appreciated for the fine and often unsung whisky that it is. I'm almost of the opinion that this should never be tasted in the presence of other Bruichladdich expressions. It is warm, comforting, delicious, gentle and honest, but all too easy to upstage. The seductive enthusiasm of this malt is irresistible, the distillery character being free of the distractions of braggadocio sherry or raunchy peat. This is the pure fragrant nymph that is Bruichladdich, naked other than for a gauzy robe of wine. To top it off, it's even reasonably priced. If you have not tasted this lovely dram for a while I urge you to take another look. Highly recommended. "Very Good, just short of Excellent" : 4.25 stars
    100.0 AUD per Bottle
  2. GlenDronach Allardice 18 Year

    Single Malt — Highlands, Scotland

    Tasted
    4.0
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Nose: Oak. Lots of big, earthy oloroso saturated oak. This makes the nose a little one-note to start with but over time it gains complexity as toffee, orange zest, walnuts, tobacco and heavy-roast coffee grounds emerge. Some dark dried fruit aromas lurk on the sidelines and with more time red berries and a good helping of cinnamon stewed in maple syrup comes to the front. After considerable time an almost disconcerting aroma of bay rum aftershave is noticed! [The dry-glass aroma is all dark, sweaty sherry and oak with a tiny tinge of char.] Palate: A dry, astringently tannic arrival that hides deep sweet-and- sour cherry and dark chocolate notes. Walnut skins, rancio, dried fruit, wood resin, malt extract, orange peel. In its foundation the palate is sweet and fruity, but time and the particular casks chosen for maturation contribute considerable balancing dryness. As it develops, a grappa note becomes apparent. The texture is medium, but not outstanding. Finish: Long. Medium/dry sherry, warm spices (maybe even peppery?), heaps of malt extract and a little molasses. The only letdown is a tinge of flinty hardness from the immense tannins. Don't judge this one immediately - nose it as it opens over 20-30 minutes. This is a great example of a fine oloroso cask maturation paired with considerable benign sulphur. It starts off both brash and reserved and only strikes up a friendship slowly. At times the palate can seem like sucking on an old barrel stave, but it's just a flash of tannins and is soon displaced by mature sweet notes. There's a touch of armagnac to it. It's a good whisky - actually it's a very good whisky - but personally I prefer the 15 year expression (either the old or the new one) or the fresh exuberance of the 12 year old. I have to confess that I'm not a fan of this style of whisky, so it's hard to be objective, but I will not bother trying to replace this bottle (which was from a 2017 batch). "Very Good" : 4 stars
    195.0 AUD per Bottle
  3. Talisker 25 Year

    Peated Single Malt — Islands, Scotland

    Tasted
    5.0
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Nose: Light citrus zest and juice, blended with the gentlest possible aromatic herbal tobacco. Faint brine dances about, but it's way in the background and the breeze that carries it also bears honeysuckle, strawberry jam, tangerine, ripe peach, vanilla blossom, lilac and rose petal. After resting and developing for 20 minutes the nose gains considerable heft and takes on a leathery quality, but the initial light smoked-fruit character perseveres. Later still, a more energetic tobacco note evolves and after 40 minutes of resting in the glass this whisky is still evolving and expanding. The smoke element on the nose of this dram is of a completely different quality and class than that evinced by any other smoky whisky. C'est formidable. Palate: Masterful. Complex yet simple with waves, layers and whorls of coiling expression. The arrival and development are so closely entwined it's impossible to extricate the components. Mild peat smoke, honey, plums, berries of all description, barley sugar, marzipan, the faintest tinge of pepper and sweet chili, leathery richness, candied hazelnuts, pontefract cake, squill candy, honey jumbles, tea cake, the sweetest of red apples, smoked herring, smoked salmon, caramel ... that just scratches the surface. The signature Talisker chili "catch" is still there, but now it's a slow-burn glow that evolves in the late palate to fill the senses with a warmth like a sunny afternoon. Finish: Long. Exceptionally elegant and fruity, faintly smoky, and delightfully savory, the sum total of the palate experience gently and elegantly waltzes into the gloaming. An impeccable whisky. Seamlessly fashioned, seductive, magnificently textured - the integration and balance is a thing of beauty that brings tears to the eyes - it must be tasted to be believed. It's not cheap, but it is worth every cent. This is a desert island dram, and one of only 19 whiskies that I've awarded 5 stars on Distiller. "As Close to Perfection as Humanly Possible" : 5 stars
    500.0 AUD per Bottle
  4. Talisker Port Ruighe

    Peated Single Malt — Islands, Scotland

    Tasted
    2.75
    2.75 out of 5 stars
    Nose: Full, soft, pillowy and rounded comprising precisely equal quantities of red wine and smoke aroma. Dried dates, dried figs, tar, bacon and earth. As it opens, fresh fruits and oak cask become noticeable. [The dry glass aroma is slightly smoky red wine]. Palate: A good arrival that is equally dry and sweet. Mildly astringent tannins from both the wood and fortified wine hit the palate and are then immediately followed by sweet grape notes. Fast on the tail of this is a very quick development featuring minty, menthol-like notes, some bitter orange, herbal notes and chocolate. And that's it. Show's over. After this fine nose and promising arrival the dram falls spectacularly off a very high cliff, disappearing into a bottomless cavern. The texture is disconcertingly austere and thin towards the end as the wine presence slowly dwindles into ... nothing. Finish: Stupefying short. Some faint, dilute coffee, chocolate and wine in the aftertaste. I'm not much impressed by this one - it's too pretty and easy for my tastes. It's all sweet, safe woody notes and muted character, and it falls apart half way through. If the nose and arrival had been matched by the palate, texture and finish I'd possibly rate it as 3.75 or maybe even 4, but as it is it's like watching a TV serial that was cancelled before the season had finished If you want a smoky whisky with a properly interesting wine finish, look elsewhere. Pretty much everyone else has done it better. Tasted from a 30ml sample. "Average" : 2.75 stars
    120.0 AUD per Bottle
  5. Talisker Storm

    Peated Single Malt — Islands, Scotland

    Tasted
    3.5
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    Nose: Mildly briny smoke (more like fruity wood smoke than peat-reek), some citrus peel, a slight mineral iodine note (eliciting sea breezes), some mossy peat, a hint of honey. [The dry glass is mild ashy smoke with a sweet profile]. Palate: Sweet and spicy arrival, opening into a smoky development with lots of citrus fruits and capsicum. There's a little black pepper but it's restrained in comparison to other Talisker expressions and the sweet character returns on the late palate. The texture is fairly neutral. Finish: Medium/short. Ashy smoke and some brine on the aftertaste. This is well named as there is a definite maritime quality to this malt, with the nose convincingly conveying the impression of a brisk sea breeze before a tempest. However the eponymous storm loses it's force before landfall and is not the expected blustery sou'wester, crashing on the Atlantic rocks of Skye. This is more a light squall - a little threatening at sea, but romantic and cosy if on shore. It certainly doesn't rattle the windows of the bothy like the Dark Storm expression, or blow them off the hinges like the 57 Degrees North. Adding a dash of water does this dram no harm at all. The nose coalesces and broadens while the palate picks up some sweet notes and mutes its spice. This is maybe not what a confirmed Talisker-head would like, but I'd commend it to beginners. It's a pleasant and most acceptable whisky crafted to appeal to landlubbers. In fact if properly watered this would be an admirable first "smoky" dram. The official comments here are pretty much on the money, but I don't think it's worth 88/100. It's an appealing whisky but not earth shattering - in Australia for about $5 more you can buy Talisker 10, which is real whisky with balls. There is also, if you taste it dispassionately, more than a passing similarity to certain blended scotches, and I have to confess that now I'm a quarter of the way through the bottle I've given up on tasting it neat or with water, and instead I've been using it up as a mixer instead of my usual bottom-shelf blend. It's great in this role but I guess that's damning with faint praise. "Good" : 3.5 stars
    90.0 AUD per Bottle
  6. GlenDronach Peated Port Wood

    Peated Single Malt — Highland, Scotland

    Tasted
    3.75
    3.75 out of 5 stars
    Nose: Dark fruits and sherry, deep aromatic floral fruit notes intertwined with tendrils of subtle and sumptuously soft earthy peat-smoke. As it opens, more fresh berry fruits become noticed along with apricot liqueur and peach nectar, and it gains a nicely balancing malty hint. A sudden waft of gunpowder is a surprise after it has rested for a while! Palate: Full, rich and grapey-sweet in the arrival, quickly developing an almost mineral styled peat reek. There is no trace whatsoever of plastic or putty notes in the crisp fruity and cereal-laden developed palate, decorated with just a flourish of peat smoke. The texture is perfection - creamy, oily and luxurious. Finish: Medium/long. A figgy, date-centred fruitiness prevails until a touch of brine and spicy tannin carries it off to the lingering end. Lovely. I tasted this hot on the heels of the standard peated GlenDronach (both of which are now hard to find, I think) and I'm conflicted as to which is the superior dram. The Standard peated is lighter but this has an exquisite profile. If you're not generally a fan of peated whiskies and have never enjoyed the heft and punch of Islay smokies, then I commend these wine-sozzled GlenDronach expressions to your attention. They will convert the staunchest sherry-bomb fan. A very pleasant and non-confrontational dram that will please but not test the taster, it's quite the seductress and I may just buy a full bottle. Tasted from a 30ml sample. "Good" : 3.75 stars (almost 4)
    115.0 AUD per Bottle
  7. GlenDronach Peated

    Peated Single Malt — Highlands, Scotland

    Tasted
    3.75
    3.75 out of 5 stars
    Nose: Sweet sherry and berry aromas mingle inextricably with a relaxed and shy peat smoke that seems to melt into all corners of the nose without becoming intrusive. Some honeyed notes and fruity aromas waft in the background together with just a touch of vanilla marshmallow. Palate: More immediately smoky on the arrival than you would expect from the nose and quite sweet. Malty and mildly smoked characteristics begin to dominate as it develops, but this is not an arrogant peat-monster. The texture is pleasantly creamy and there are some light fruity notes and just the faintest salty touch. Finish: Medium/short. Fruity and gently smoky with a mild salty aftertaste and a surprise chocolate fudge note right at the end. The nose is very soft and relaxed, pretty even, but nonetheless expressive. Just because it's not a peat-monster don't assume this is weak or anaemic. In fact if anything this is probably genuinely like the character of many Speyside whiskies 150 years ago when a smoky profile was still the norm. The palate carries a much more forward peatiness but it is that smoky bonfire sort of peat typical of mainland smokies, with nary a trace of medicinal or iodine notes. The PX casks are handled with great skill here, contributing a scintilla of sweet spiciness but not being allowed to control the proceedings. If Laphroaig 10 is Jackson Pollock's Autumn Rhythm No. 30, this is one of Jean-Jacque Hennier's many Red Haired Beauties. Delightful and seductive - in all honesty I've yet to have a bad GlenDronach. The current fashion is for sledgehammer peated drams, but neglect the subtle ones at your peril. Tasted from a 30ml sample. "Good" : 3.75 stars (very nearly 4)
    90.0 AUD per Bottle
  8. Glenlossie 10 Year Flora & Fauna

    Single Malt — Speyside, Scotland

    Tasted
    3.0
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Nose: Butter, cream, vanilla, heather honey, marshmallows, orchard fruits, a touch of sherry and fragrant wood. Palate: A creamy sweet arrival full of barley sugar and vanilla bean. The development is fast and rather small - little extra is added apart from some fruity and light spice tones. The texture, however, is very appealing. Finish: Medium/short. Cereal and honeyed with a slight spicy, briny note to the aftertaste. Not a particularly complex malt, but very pretty. The nose is seductive and together with the texture these are the two standout features of the dram. The palate is a little disappointing, not because it shows any great fault, it's just rather simplistic and one dimensional. I allowed this to sit for some time but there was not much development to the nose and virtually zero to the palate. I'd wager good money that Diagio uses this in their blends as a "carrier" malt to bloom the texture of a top-dressing malt with more character, like Clynelish (they use Cardhu for this purpose as well). Water does the nose no favours, simply diluting its aromas and bringing out a slightly funky grassy note. The palate, however, broadens quite a bit and gains more spice - again, this exactly what you want to have happen in a blend that will most likely be used for mixing. It probably sounds as though I'm dismissing this whisky as a lightweight blend component and nothing more, but I actually quite enjoyed it and would consider buying a bottle. It would be a delightfully comforting and soft nightcap for those times when you feel like something pillowy and easy. In that regard it reminds me of Strathisla - not in profile (the two are quite different) but it's also a very safe, soft and comforting dram. However while I'd happily pay the reasonable asking price of Strathisla, this whisky costs about 50% more and the expense is not really justified. The official Distiller review is on the money - in fact all the user reviews here are on target. A perfectly nice whisky, just not very memorable and not really worth a recommendation. On the other hand I wouldn't say no to a free pour. Tasted from a 30ml sample. "Above Average" : 3 stars
    130.0 AUD per Bottle
  9. Aberlour 18 Year

    Single Malt — Highlands, Scotland

    Tasted
    4.25
    4.25 out of 5 stars
    Nose: A foundation note of big, full, rich sherry. There's a marvellous aroma of citrus that is mid-way between orange and lemon zest. Apricot, vanilla, chamomile tea and chocolate fudge are noticeable and over time the aroma of oak begins to cut through. A fleeting floral tone flits about the sidelines. It's an impressively classy and enveloping nose. [The dry glass aroma is dark chocolate]. Palate: The arrival is like dark, bitter, chocolate-covered raisins dipped in orange and cherry liqueur. The development brings leathery and sweet tobacco notes together with dark (slightly sour) cherries, peaches, mixed peel, arrowroot biscuits, hard molasses toffee, dark fruit cake, stem ginger and mildly spicy tannins. There is a warm roundness to the lightly oily texture. Finish: Medium/long. Espresso, raisins, dried figs, tobacco. A lingering aftertaste of cocoa powder. This is an excellent whisky that evolves over time and continually shifts, revealing facets of its confident and assured complexity throughout the tasting. The nose holds the fruitier elements while the palate presents more earthy tastes, but the transition and flow of the whisky is what you notice most. There is a story and a journey here. This whisky eloquently demonstrates authority without bombast and it's far too refined to be described as a sherry bomb. The official Distiller tasting notes are precise and perceptive. The addition of water makes little difference to the profile but dilutes the experience. This is best taken neat, preferably accompanied by a platter of soft-ripened cheese and walnuts. "Very Good" : 4.25 stars
    225.0 AUD per Bottle
  10. Dalwhinnie Distillers Edition

    Peated Single Malt — Highlands, Scotland

    Tasted
    2.25
    2.25 out of 5 stars
    Nose: An old musty cereal aroma, reminiscent of a haybarn with a leaky roof. Slightly honeyed and sherried, but primarily a malty nose with grassy overtones. There's quite a distinct grapey top-note that becomes more defined as the whisky rests and develops in the glass. Adding water cripples the nose immediately. [The dry-glass aroma is honey]. Palate: A brisk and almost sour arrival. Cereal and bittersweet malt with hot tannins, hot cinnamon and walnut oil. The texture is oily but astringent. The palate seemed shallow and one dimensional. Finish: Medium. Sour cereal and oak tannin. The aftertaste is strong overbrewed English breakfast tea with a spoon of white sugar. The nose gained interest over time but the palate never became more than awkwardly curious - it seemed to me haphazard and unbalanced with more than just a touch of sulphur. Adding water did nothing to help - it just weakened the overall experience. Whisky is a very subjective thing, as we all know, and in my case I can find little to recommend about this dram - it's just not my sort of whisky. Given the not inconsiderable price it is not one that I'd ever consider buying, and in fact if offered another sample for free I'd probably turn it down. Tasted from a 30ml sample. "Acceptable" : 2.25 stars
    130.0 AUD per Bottle
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