Posts Tagged With: Bourbon

Tasting Notes: English Whisky Company – Chapter 9 

English Whisky Co – Chapter 9 (Peated)

Based down in Norfolk, the English Whisky Co has been making ripples in single malt production as England’s primary whisky distillers. Their marketing from day one has been very clever as it invites people along the distillery’s own journey and development, by inviting drinkers to enjoy each “chapter” within their whisky making book. The Chapter 9 release is their second peated expression, and being such, their first readily available release (with the first one – Chapter 8 – having sold out pretty quickly!), which has been matured solely in  ex-bourbon casks and has been bottled at 46% ABV. 

 

Nose

M: Dry smoke. Pretty gentle, and ‘clean’ smoke, Bit of oak in there too. There’s a sweet, tingly smell there too, that reminds me of Parma Violets.

Taste

M: Really firey. Fresh. Young. Then, when you’ve got used to the booze, there is malt and caramel. After a bit of time and/or a bit of water it mellows to a smooth caramel flavour with a gentle smoky backbone. Like the tingly sweetness of “fruit” flavour sweets like love hearts. Just a touch of the Laphroaig medicinal/iodine about it.

Finish

M; Fantastic peat embers. That firey kick subsides and coats the silky sweet texture and a good smoky aftertaste. Great balance.

Verdict

M: I’ve tried a few of the English Whisky Co’s chapters now but this is the first time I’ve tried a peated one and I like what I’ve tasted here! It’s not a smoky heavyweight but it’s far from being bantam! (Found myself groaning at that one). Pretty light, refreshing and surprisingly more-ish for a smoked whisky. I’m not exactly getting “salty chips” like the Dram Team’s tasting notes though, but am happy to have another go.

 

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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: A Tomatin Masterclass

On Sunday 22nd May 2016, the Carden Park hotel in Cheshire played host to Edencroft Wine & Spirit’s whisky tasting event. The ticket price included your entry, all your drams, a buffet lunch and attendance at one of the masterclasses that were being run that day. The ticket was also exchanged for a handy booklet containing promotional materials of the resident distilleries and representatives, along with an order form (at well discounted prices) for Edencroft – I tactically stowed mine away, just in case I became tempted to make some ill-advised, squiffy purchases later on – I mean that is kinda what they’re hoping for, right? Along with the initial, well-thought-out purchases too, of course.

 

On the day, myself (MH) and JB went along to the Tomatin masterclass because a) we were intrigued by the offerings, but mainly b) it was the last one of the day with seats remaining. Long story short, it became a concerted attempt to stay reasonably lucid (we were merry, at the least) for the tasting, but it was certainly worth the wait.

 

Up for grabs in the tasting were five offerings from Tomatin’s distillery, including a 36 year old that had been bottled only a couple of days before. Definitely headlining stuff!

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Tomatin Masterclass Expressions

First up from Tomatin was their 18 year old – and not too shabby a start either. Despite the legnth of time it had spent in casks, the whisky had a light nose and one of our tasting buddies stated that there was the smell of figs. Of course, the power of suggestion took over and that was all I could smell, but on the taste, a LOT of flavours started to arrive and it delivered an amazing sweetness throughout with the sherry, fruity and spicy tastes then coming through on the finish. A great start.

 

The second dram of the tasting was their 1988 release, which has a port wine cask finish and that made for strong sweet smells and tastes, with more citrusy and sharp lemon/grapefruit/pineapple flavours. The yellow fruits then continued with the warming whisky alcohol burn and left a lip-smacking finish.

 

Next up was an interesting take from the Tomatin distillery – two drams packaged together in a “Contrast” tasting bundle. These were two whiskies bottled from the same distillate vattings, with the first being solely aged in bourbon barrels, and the second solely in sherry barrels. Whether or not it is just some clever marketing, these guys have hit on a great idea on as the difference between the two was great and a welcome experiment for our table of whisky nerds. Both drams were non-chill-filtered at 46% ABV and were a blend from (the same) 6 different years of Tomatin distilaltes – the oldest drop dating back to 1973! It may have just been my fairly battered palate, but, other than their light body, you could barely tell that they were from the same product. The first dram delivered a nice clean, vanilla and oaky whisky with a sugary sweetness throughout, whilst the second offered red fruits and more of a tangy tipple. Both were great whiskies, and it was great to be able to compare and contrast the two and see just what effect the barrels have and I would hope to see more of the same in the future. The bottles themselves are half-size bottles that have been packaged together in a twin box, and are available in limited quantities at an RRP that comes in just under £100, which itself is an interesting experiment when you consider the contents!

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Tomatin Masterclass Expressions

Finally, the headliner, was the 36 year old. The place setting had a 35 year old listed, but what’s a year’s difference when you get to that sort of age? Probably a lot when it came to the price tag to be honest (though for the age, it is significantly cheaper than other single malt scotch whiskies out there!), but one thing that particularly struck me was that this dram had been in a barrel for longer than some of the people on our table had been alive for. Was it worth the wait? Well, I hope that the original distiller at Tomatin had got to taste it, because it was a brilliant dram. Lots of complexity in the flavour, but still a relatively light bodied whisky. Rich wood and fruits complemented one another and left this writer very pleased. If anything, it proved that I have expensive taste, but luckily, as mentioned above, I had stashed my order form far away so as not to be nearly even tempted to put pen to paper…

 

The masterclass itself was really well curated and the promotional video and presentation was well received by all involved. The experience certainly opened my eyes toward a brand of single malt that I was not overly familiar with and, personally, the discovery of the two “Contrast” bottlings was a highlight of the day’s event.

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Tomatin Masterclass Expressions

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