Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted November 16, 2022In prefixing the syllable “hype” to its third special edition of the year, Ardbeg risks suggesting it is thumbing its nose at anyone who dares question the velocity of its release schedule. At face value this is an evolution of its long established and loved Supernova series but the long-term Ardbeg follower could be forgiving for questioning whether it will shoot to the same stellar heights. A healthy pour at the New York launch event yields good news. The nose is a cool and minty peat, with lime, chocolate and a touch of heather. It’s sweet, citrusy and tangy in the mouth, like a chocolate lime candy. The finish is long, smokey, sweet and a little bitter — the image of licking a smoked fish came to mind. It's certainly peatier than the Ardbeg 10 but not as off-the-charts as the most extreme Octomores. All in all, it’s a decent dram and I’d gladly add a bottle to the home bar were the price more reasonable.
Amrut Fusion XI
Peated Single Malt — Bangalore, IndiaTasted October 18, 2022Amrut turns the volume up to 11 for this new deluxe version of its flagship Fusion single malt. Following last year’s X edition marking the 10th anniversary of the product that put India on the whisky world map, the XI draws on stocks ranging from seven to 11 years of age. There’s a veritable thali’s worth of cask types too, with the oldest whisky peated and matured in a port pipe. That variety makes for a complex whisky. While the X was marked by flavors of orange, the nose on the XI combines unripened mango, sultanas, chocolate nibs and almond paste. The flavors start soft in the mouth and progress to gentle pepper, orange rind, tamarind and dark maple syrup. The finish would challenge the length a Kathakali dance show - dry notes of cacao and tobacco mark the main act, followed eventually by a milk chocolate encore. This is a beautiful celebration of Amrut that is well worth trying if you get the opportunity. Just handle the flask with care — most of the ones made for the US were damaged before they could be filled.
Teeling 32 Year Purple Muscat Finish
Single Malt — IrelandTasted October 14, 2022I was privileged to try this spectacular whisky in the company of Teeling's master distiller Alex Chasko this week. The nose is a ripe cornucopia dripping with mango, apricot jam and figs. Each sip is a concentrated juice bomb of stewed stone fruits, thick and syrupy, that lingers with a finish of more apricots. I l love the tropical and stone fruit flavors of the older Cooley whiskies bottled by Teeling and this one is among the best. Hard to put on the finger on the influence of the muscat cask from my small pour, but whatever it brings to the party is clearly welcome.
Chichibu London 2021 edition
Single Malt — Japan , JapanTasted October 3, 2022Another highlight of the 2022 Whisky Show in London: lovely oils, all of the honeys and a delicate oak spice. A notch better than the 2022 version that was also available; that one has nine casks including an ex-cognac one that adds a distinct top note.
Talisker 25 Year
Peated Single Malt — Islands, ScotlandTasted October 3, 2022How wonderful to return to The Whisky Show in London after a three-year absence, with ample time over three days to leisurely taste only the finest drams on offer. In truth, any discipline over pace evaporated after a couple of drinks, and after two days of overindulging I had to limit myself to nosing and conversation on the Sunday. This Talisker was my first pour of the show and one of the best, with a beautiful nose of highly concentrated salty sea air. The palate is oily, with toffee and honey followed by a peppery peat. It lingers on the back of the throat as a gentle warming. Better by degrees than the Talisker 30 I tried next — a more muted and oaky dram.
Campbeltown Loch Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Peated Blended Malt — Campbeltown, ScotlandTasted July 26, 2022I’ve recently returned from the delightful wee ‘toon of Campbeltown, so as the temperature in New York finally drops to a level where I can tolerate drinks that don’t require refrigeration my first thought is to dig into the suitcase of treats I brought back with me. But it’s still too hot for my high-proof bounty, so instead I’ve returned to this taste of Campbeltown secured on a previous trip to the Cadenhead store in London. It’s an easy drinking blend that ticks all the boxes you’d expect of a Springbank/Glen Scotia/Kilkerran combo: the nose is creamy and prickly smoky that recalls toasted marshmallows. The palate is malty barley with a hint of lemon and some oak spice that extends through the medium length finish. It’s not worth silly secondary market prices, but at its retail price of 45 pounds it’s as delightful as the view from the loch’s harbor.55.0 USD per Bottle
Bunnahabhain 2004 Mòine Tokaji Cask Finish (Fèis Ìle 2022)
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted June 3, 2022A gentle nose of pear with a hint of smoke. In the mouth, an initial burst of tinned clementines gives way to peppery peat. Then dark chocolate and moist soil with a long aftertaste of chilli chocolate mixed with peaches. An interesting mix of flavors but I found the overall effect a little disjointed and underwhelming. Still, I could see myself drinking through several pours of this, just in case my initial conclusion was wrong!
Bunnahabhain Abhainn Araig (Fèis Ìle 2022)
Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted June 3, 2022A lovely nose of milk chocolate covered raisins and prunes leads into mouth flavors of syrup of figs and ground coffee. Finishes long on bitter sweet chocolate. Perfectly quaffable.
Kilchoman Fèis Ìle 2022
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted June 3, 2022Step out of your time machine in 2006 and you’ll find people clamoring for Nintendo’s new Wii device and debating Google’s jaw-dropping splurge on a start-up called YouTube. If you happen to rematerialise on Islay, you might discover the new Kilchoman distillery filling its first barrels of whisky. Sixteen years later, some of that oldest stock has been vatted to create its 2022 Feis Ile release. The five bourbon barrels that went into the mix have yielded a whisky that fills the nose with aromas of warm bread and sweet grainy flavors. There’s a hint of farmy, lactic notes too. Those flavors continue thickly on the palate, in the form of warm brioche dipped in sweet butter. The bready notes continue on the finish, now with honey and a dash of gentle spice. This a robustly flavored, well balanced whisky with no rough edges that I would instantly give to someone who wanted to know what Scotch tasted like. It’s more of a Speyside or Highland profile than an Islay one, if you care about such things. It’s not the most complex of Kilchomans (the forthcoming Casado that I sampled alongside this has more layers to dig into) but as an example of an elegant, classic whisky it leaves little to be desired.
Tears of Llorona Extra Añejo Tequila
Tequila Extra Añejo — Los Altos, Jalisco, MexicoTasted April 22, 2022Another in the occasional series where I say “I don’t often drink x but this is amazing,” brought to you tonight by tequila. I can’t remember when I last drank a tequila neat but I’d happily pour this for savoring like a fine whisky. The nose is packed with flavors of toffee and grilled pears, with a hint of celery. Tasted blind, I’d swear the combination of gentle caramel and sugar cane suggested some sort of bourbon or armagnac finished in a rum cask. Only a vegetal note on the finish hints at its botanical origins. There’s more flavor here than in many a 43% whisky, so cheers to @ctbeck11 for sharing this pour.