Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Review: Balblair 1995

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Balblair 1995, 46%, $80 (1 liter)

The latest Balblair release is a 1995 vintage expression, exclusive to global travel retail outlets. Matured in second-fill bourbon casks, Balblair 1995 is non-chill filtered and naturally colored. Initially very fruity on the nose, with peaches and carnations, icing sugar on bonbons, then a faint sprinkling of black pepper. Stewed fruits on the early palate, full and confident, with developing spices and brittle toffee. Relatively lengthy in the finish, with dark chocolate and soft oak. —Gavin Smith

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 91

Review: Longmorn 16 year old

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Longmorn 16 year old, 48%, $110

Longmorn may be slightly better known than some, but it’s still pretty much a cult whisky — with a huge following in Japan, where every whisky bar seems to have multiple expressions. This bottling shows it in its lushest guise, with masses of caramelized soft fruits, banana, cream toffee, and chocolate. The palate shifts between raisin and plum. Elegant. —Dave Broom

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 89

Review: Amrut Portonova

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Amrut Portonova, 61.2%, $125

This release is a port version of Amrut’s Intermediate Sherry — a sort of port pipe sandwich. The spirit is matured in both unused casks and bourbon casks, then spends a few months in port pipes, and then returns to bourbon casks. The result is a Pink Floyd show of a whisky: vibrant, colorful, complex, and nearly too much. A blackcurrant and wispy, smoky nose gives way to an intense and bittersweet mix of chili, blackcurrant, oak, damson, dark chocolate, and peat. Astounding. —Dominic Roskrow

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 92

Review: Hazelburn 12 year old

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Hazelburn 12 year old, 46%, $80

Following on from the earlier 8 year old expression of this triple distilled Campbeltown malt, the 12 year old first appeared in August 2009 and nicely illustrates the developments brought about by its continuing maturation. Rich on the nose, with a clear sherry influence, along with toffee, marzipan, apricots, and milk chocolate. This is a substantial and well integrated dram, with malt, almonds, cocoa, and spice on the palate, while the long, spicy finish offers more chocolate, soft fruits, and coffee. —Gavin Smith

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 87

Review: St. George’s Chapter 11 (cask strength)

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

St. George’s Chapter 11 (cask strength), 59.7%, £65

St. George’s hits pay dirt! The competition is fierce for young, big, oily, heavily peated whiskies: Kilchoman, Connemara Turf Mor, BenRiach Birnie Moss. This, though, is good enough to mix it in that sort of company. The peat growls like a Harley-Davidson, punches pepper and peat throughout, but best of all, it flicks licorice and hickory kisses just like a real life Laphroaig. Chapter 11 isn’t quite in that league yet…but it’s certainly moving in the right direction. —Dominic Roskrow

(Currently not available in the U.S.)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 87

Review: Mortlach 16 year old

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Mortlach 16 year old, 43%, £41

With worm tubs and a fiendishly complex partial-triple distillation, Mortlach has adhered to an old style of making whisky — and older, richer, darker flavors. Big and bold, it is at its best in ex-sherry casks. The nose is meaty (think gravy/beef stock) with fig, raisin, and molasses. In the mouth it’s concentrated, with good grip and a savory sweetness. A cult malt. —Dave Broom(Not currently available in the U.S.)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 91

Review: Compass Box Great King Street, 43%, $45

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Compass Box Great King Street, 43%, $45

After a series of esoteric and expensive releases, Compass Box has decided to bring it all back to the people with a blend — and how! The journey sets out as we might expect; all sweet vanilla ice cream, stewed pear tart, and peach melba, but then a wave of spice and white pepper provides an unexpected but delightful twist. It’s like Spice Tree meets Hedonism…Spiconism if you like. —Dominic Roskrow

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 91

Review: Macallan Sherry Oak 18 year old

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Macallan Sherry Oak 18 year old, 43%, $118

Macallan’s 18 year old expression is, for me, the highlight of its regular sherried range. Deep amber in color. The nose is rich and heavily fruited: fruit cake, mulberry, a little moist gingerbread, the bloody depths of molasses. On the palate, dried fruits — more figgy than raisined — while the natural oiliness in the spirit balances the boisterous tannins from the European oak. A singed note on the finish (an extension of the molasses?) completes the picture. Balanced and complex. —Dave Broom

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 91

Review: Ardmore Traditional Cask, 1998 vintage

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Ardmore Traditional Cask, 1998 vintage, 46%, $50

A single cask of Ardmore aged in first-fill bourbon cask and then finished in a quarter cask. This one is more mature, with more depth, than the standard Ardmore Traditional Cask (which I rated 80 a few years back). Notes of toffee, vanilla bean, chocolate fudge, licorice stick, bourbon, tar, charcoal, and a hint of burnt raisin. Very nice! (A Julio’s Liquors Exclusive.) – John Hansell

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 87

Review: Glen Grant 25 year old

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Glen Grant 25 year old, 43%, £255

Glen Grant’s new(ish) owner Campari is putting its money where its mouth is. Investment in plant, wood, and an impressive visitor center is slowly being backed up with a series of new releases. This venerable example comes from Gordon & MacPhail’s stocks, but is an official bottling due out in time for Christmas. This is GG in relaxed, avuncular mode: subtle woods, amber, Oolong tea, anise. The palate is old apple, fresh plum, cream, and ginger spiciness. (Available at the distillery, in France, and Travel Retail in Asia only.) —Dave Broom

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 91