Monthly Archives: August 2017

Tasting Notes: Laphroaig – Select

Laphroaig Warehouse

Peat-Meisters Laphroaig released their “Select” expression within their core range in 2014 and it seems that year was the year of the multiple-maturation boom. Whilst most distilleries have been trying this for the past few years, it seems that the marketing fad has gone too far and has even exceeded the Gillette vs Wilkinson Sword race to have multiple blades on a razor. The Select release appears to be Laphroaig’s dabble with the foray, boasting maturation through 5 different barrels: Oloroso sherry, Pedro Ximenez, white American oak, quarter casks and bourbon casks.

ABV: 40%

 

Nose

M: Young alcohol attack with caramel sweetness and fairly faint Laphroaig smoke – quite a lot going on. Give it a minute to breathe and that vanilla:smoke balance remains.


Taste

M: Sweet, sweet flavours with caramel and vanilla at the front and then a (surprisingly) soft smoke at the back.


Finish

M: Fresh and tingly all the way down and the smoke dies off quickly.


Verdict                                                                                    

M: As a big fan of Laphroaig’s staple expressions (see previous notes here), I had big hopes for this when it first came out and I must say that I was disappointed. Stupidly, I’d got hyped up about it because it was Laphroaig. I’ve learned not to care about whether or not their is an age statement on a whisky bottle and I wasn’t especially wary that it’s cheaper price might have indicated a drop in quality, so my initial conclusion was that this must just be a Laphroaig for a different type of whisky drinker. Since then though, I have gone back to it from time to time and, to me, this just tastes like Laphroaig Light. It might be a neat way for the peat-ophobes to start to get acquainted with the big Laphroaig tastes – a gateway dram, if you like – but having grown up with Laphroaig as the phenolic beast I’ve come to know and love, this falls short of the mark for me. Maybe it’s the myriad of barrel influences, but all the flavours seem to cancel one another out with a resultant timid sweet-meets-peat whisky that promises more than it delivers. Scrambling for another positive though, I could drink a lot of this, which you can’t say about the 10yo, because that is all about savouring the experience. To that extent, have Laphroaig created a whisky equivalent of the Session IPA? Maybe. Just maybe.

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Tasting Notes: Fettercairn 20yo (Old Particular) Douglas Laing

Fettercairn 20yo (Old Particular)

This (old) particular whisky was originally created at the Fettercairn diatillery in the Highlands and has been especially bottled by the Douglas Laing Company within their “Old Particular” brand. The whisky has been maturing for two decades and, as previously noted (here), is a welcome sight to see given the scarcity of the distillery’s own single malt expressions, particularly ones with age statements. Whilst we do not usually discuss the colour, it is worth noting that this whisky is so light in colour that it seems almost translucent. With that in mind, here are the tasting notes on this devious dram…

51.5% ABV

Nose

M: Ooh it’s punchy. Really strong in fact. Letting it breathe does little to tame it. Despite its clarity, there’s definite barrel influence in this nose if nothing else. You can basically smell the staves.


Taste

M: Fresh, white grapes. Bloody punchy. Needs some taming. Vanilla and oak at the forefront once some water has been added.


Finish

M: There’s that deep burn. A little toasty on that long finish. Pretty sweet / vanilla custard-like once the burn has worn off.


Verdict

M: Very light in colour and body. It looks like the pre-whisky spirits I’ve seen extracted from barrels before they’ve even hit the 3 year mark to be called ‘whisky’. The booze content makes for a strong, strong whisky, but what the whisky lacks in colour it makes up in the complexity of the delicate flavours that do come thorugh. which you’d hope after 20 years in a barrel. The oak itself is the most dominant feature though and that the grape-like fruitiness meant that, for me. this was just like a light white wine with its booze strength cranked up to 11. Or 51.5, to be more precise. Not a leisurely whisky, but not unpleasant either. Nice flavours in there once you’ve fought off the high booze content.

Fettercairn Indie Face-Off


Side note: This short was enjoyed courtesy of the Dram Team monthly subscription. As part of their package, you receive the team’s own tasting notes on their themed selection and I prefer to hold out and only read the notes afterwards so that I remain untainted by their opinions. It is then interesting to see the crossover (if any). On this occasion, my vanilla pudding matches their creme brûlée note, but I’ve written that any fruits are delicate along the line of white wine grapes whereas the Dram Team writers have opted for “zesty citrus fruits”. It is this variety that makes whisky tasting such a great experience, as each taster will always be correct when it comes to their own opinions and notes. Tasting notes on the younger expression here.

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Tasting Notes: Fettercairn 7yo (The Whisky Shop Dufftown) Dramboree 5

Fettercairn 7yo

Fettercairn distillery has had an interesting history, being based near the revered Fasque estate in Eastern Aberdeenshire, which lends its name to a whisky I’ve owned previously – comments here. The distillery was established back in 1824 in an old corn mill, and has been largely operational since. Owned by Whyte & Mackay, the majority of its whisky goes to blends – presumably the Whyte & Mackay Special Blended Whisky championed by Richard “The Nose” Paterson. With their Fasque and Fior ranges seemingly being the most readily available single malt expression, this whisky appears to be a rare chance at an aged expression and was an independent bottling made for the 5th Annual Dramboree gathering available at the famous Whisky Shop in Dufftown.

46% ABV

Nose

M: Vanilla pods hit you straight off. There’s a very gentle booze-nose on this, despite being a relatively young whisky. Slight smell of soft fruits after the vanilla blast – more melon than citrus fruits though. Overall, the smell reminds me more like a good white rum. 

Taste

M: The vanilla disappears quickly for a strong orange/citrus flavour. Really quite strong flavours in fact after that soft nose. They seem to keep getting stronger too.

Finish

M: Pretty peppery and potent. It seems to give me a little heartburn just like the Fettercairn Fasque did too (what do they do that causes this?!?). Is there a little smoke in there too at the end? 

Verdict

M: Quite the journey for the senses on this one. Something they do seems to get me choked up too (physically, rather than emotionally). A touch of water to take out that sting out though and this is a very, very pleasant dram. Really fresh tasting and the initial soft, sweet and delicate fruits suckered me in before dealing out some pretty hefty (and peppery) punches. The nose belies the strength of the taste and finish. Strong delivery. I wonder if it is just the young age that causes that though. Either way dashes of water did help. Lovely dram overall and a great example of an independent bottling. Just a shame that it won’t be readily available in the future – a great treat and inspired find by the folks @TheDramTeam

Fettercairn Indie Face-Off – 7yo vs 20yo


Side Note: These tasting notes were made after tasting the above miniatures. There are no filters on the picture and you can see the big difference in colour between the 7yo and 20yo. The difference is kinda crazy because you would have thought that it would have been the other way around based on how long they had been in a barrel. Hopefully it hasn’t received the swirl of the caramel stick! I’m not sure which barrels were used but the 20yo is one of the clearest whiskies I’ve ever seen – particularly at that age! Tasting notes on the older sibling available here.

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