Although it sounds more like the warped master plan of a sinister Bond villain, it’s actually named after the four different woods in Amrut’s second wave of spectrum casks. Prune stone, dried fig, black cherry flesh, raspberry, cinnamon, and a hint of macchiato aromas. Dense concentrated cherry and sultana, cooked apple and pear, heavy spices, and fruit and nut chocolate. Finish of hot, sticky dates and baked orchard fruit. Commendable.
Little Book Chapter 2 “Noe Simple Task” 2018, 59.4%
American Blended Whiskey | $100
A fascinating flurry of aromas—red fruit punch, floral bouquet, honey, tropical guava and passion fruit, and assorted gummy candies. The dense palate balances sweet pineapple upside-down cake with tart ruby-red grapefruit, punctuated with lively allspice, dark cocoa powder, and ginger. The spectrum of bright flavors is underscored by deep spice and polished oak, while the impressive impact and skillful blending are spellbinding. Kentucky straight rye whiskey with two Canadian whiskies.
Dripping with caramel and tingling with spice, this is a blockbuster whiskey that delivers across a spectrum of flavors. Maple syrup, sugar in the raw, and caramel-drizzled flan highlight the aroma, while the palate turns fruity and tropical with the sweet drive of peach nectar, grilled fruits, and pineapple upside-down cake. At the same time, it’s lemony bright, warmly spiced, tremendously rich, and oh-so-good! Pour on the water and enjoy the ride!
Amrut’s chimeric five-wood cask has been one of the greatest whisky innovations of this year. The aromas release Madagascan chocolate, the fruitiness of Panamanian Geisha coffee, a sturdy granite core, new oak extractives, fresh walnuts, wood spices, treacle, and mango peel. Like velvet, the palate develops lush fruits, Gianduja chocolate, rich, dark coffee, nut oils, and oak tannins, before the red juicy fruits soak through the chocolate. Heat, dry spices, and ground coffee finish. Clever concept: a seminal whisky. £100
Jasmin Haider-Stadler is the second-generation distiller at Austria’s most-visited distillery. The distillery is particularly noted for its rye whiskies and this is their best seller, made from 60% rye and 40% malted barley. The nose has nutmeg and cinnamon spices, milk chocolate, and dark fruits. An ever-changing spectrum of flavors delights the palate: vanilla, crisp cinnamon, dusty cocoa, hot chocolate, pepper, and bramble jelly. Any keen importers reading this? €47
The oldest Ardmore I have tasted. Smartly bottled at cask strength and not chill-filtered. (The entry level Ardmore “Traditional” is at the opposite end of the age spectrum, tasting quite youthful.) My initial concern with this 30 year old was: would the wood dominate the lovely floral, smoky notes I enjoy so much with Ardmore? The wood is certainly present, but the smoke still comes through. There’s a gently layered sweetness that complements the smoke (toffee, deep caramel, subtle honey), licorice root, bourbon barrel char, coffee grounds, and high cocoa chocolate, with subtle dried citrus and a suggestion of floral soap. Dry finish, with more bourbon barrel char and licorice root. Considering that Ardmore has historically been a blending malt, most of the stocks right now are much younger. This is a rare treat. It’s a wee bit thin in body and a little on the dry side from 30 years on wood for me to rate it in the mid 90s, but it’s still a very enjoyable whisky.
The spectrum of aromas covers fudge, vanilla, a tantalizing crush of bitter grapefruit peel, lime pith, and Jaffa orange, with root ginger, spring onion, and cilantro stalks adding some freshness. A trio of unpeated single malts aged in French oak casks, this brings crème de cassis, mixed peel, burnt toffee, chocolate, and maltiness, with brief reminders of those green herbal notes, followed by a pleasing, malty-sweet finish.
The Ichiro of the title is Ichiro Akuto, scion of the family which owned the now demolished Hanyu distillery, and proprietor of the brand new and incredibly cute (yes…distilleries can be cute) Chichibu distillery — even the name’s cute.
This release is a vatting of different (un-named) single malts from more than one distillery which have been aged in Japanese oak (mizunara, or Q.Mongolica). Mizunara has a highly distinctive aromatic spectrum — the Japanese say that it smells of temples, specifically the incense which scents Zen temples, but while totally accurate, that’s not much help if you haven’t been to one. Think of a heavy, exotic aroma of allspice, sandalwood, even redwood, and you’re almost there. In fact, if you think of the perfumed aspects of rye, but turned up a notch, then you’re in the right ballpark. In this one there’s even a hint of trail bar — maybe it’s a hike in a California old-growth forest.
The palate is soft and slow to start, then picks up mouthwatering acidity — there’s that rye parallel. Green plum and peach, balanced with spiciness on the end. Once encountered, never forgotten. £85. Price in US dollars was converted at time of review.
Peeling back the wrapper on a British chocolate bar studded with whole almonds, only to find an unexpected puff of spices; green cardamom pod and toasted fenugreek. Intriguing, never pungent. Given the spectrum of flavors in Madeira, this finish pushes the richness and complexity of the wine; raisin, coffee, and dried fruits make it sweet, concentrated, and mouth drawing. It relaxes to a toffee plateau with riffs on ripe date and coffee. The short coffee finish sees the chocolate return. (1,882 bottles) £60
Regauged into once-used bourbon barrels, this is not the WhistlePig of old. Four years’ finishing in Vermont has toned down the sweetness and high notes, emphasizing a complex, leather/dark chocolate/tobacco spectrum instead. Lavender, violets, and ripe red fruit rise over dusty-dry barn boards, blue clay, and dark rye bread. The spicy rye tones glow with white pepper, while hints of astringent barrel oak keep a slight slipperiness from clinging.
Clan Denny (distilled at Port Dundas) 14 year old, 46%
Single Grain Scotch | $55
Red apple skin, sharp citrus zest, peach stone, and shortcake biscuit greet the nose, though there is abundant grain character, with lemongrass and coriander seeds too. A muscular dram from a closed distillery, this reveals sweet cereals, honey, a spectrum of citrus notes, sherbet sweetness, pepper, clove, and herbal notes. Sweetness remains with the pepper in the finish, though clove reigns supreme when water is added.
Fresh, sharp citrus with lighter elements: floral notes, orange macaroons, and wisps of cotton candy. Lemon peel, tinned mandarin, and tangy grapefruit on the palate, with deeper notes of lemon curd, gooseberry, confectioners’ sugar, and a minor spice note. This delivers a narrow spectrum of flavor for a blend.
Old Particular (distilled at Cambus) 27 year old, 51.5%
Single Grain Whisky | $126
Oh boy! It’s like tearing open a warm banana-and-toffee muffin, the steam bringing the moist, sweet goodness to your nostrils. Roasted peach and neat orange cordial join the party. On the palate, the alcohol strength is noticeably strong, with flavors of red currant, cranberry, and black pepper. At the fruitier end of the Cambus spectrum, this concludes with a whimper of spices, leading to a nip of cinnamon and bitter vanilla in the tail. (270 bottles) £87