Posts Tagged With: Single Malt Whisky

Tasting Notes: Kavalan – Concertmaster

Kavalan – Concertmaster

Whenever a new business is set up, it’s founders will have big aspirations. When Kavalan was set up in 2005, it was no exception. Their distillery even reportedly has a sign outside stating that it (and by extension, Taiwan) is “The New Homeland Of Whisky”. A pretty bold statement. It may not have come as much of a shock to them 10 years later then that their Solist Vinho Barrique was awarded World Whiskey Of The Year in 2015, but it did to a lot of other people. Proving that you don’t have to rely on an age statement, Kavalan have been focussing strongly on flavour, and this is no more evident than in their Concertmaster release. Branded as a port cask finished whisky, this young whisky (it has to be right?) has been part of the mainstay Kavalan expressions, and is also matured in wine casks ensuring that it pours in a rich, mahogany colour at 40% ABV.



Wow. There are some strong and deep flavours in battle for your attention here. Redcurrants and other red berries are the first to poke through and there’s a strong oak body to this. It has quite a firey boozy nose too, particularly down at 40%, but it is complemented by the sweetness of toffee/caramel and dark sugars.



Once it’s in the mouth, it is surprisingly soft textured and a lot less boozy than the vapours were letting on. It’s a lighter, softer melee of flavours too with summery red fruits (strawberries and raspberries) at play, offsetting the oak flavour (which is still quite present) and a hint of spice towards the end. After reading about the whisky in 101 Whiskies… I also can’t seem to avoid that liquorice note afterwards.



…and the fire is back! The alcohol returns to the flavour profile and warms you up pretty quickly. That oak spice is there again but the lasting flavour is that of raisins. Lots of raisins in fact. The final lingering flavour is a really satisfying juicy note.



Well, the notes that I have read talk a lot about the whisky’s balance, but in my experience, this was more about a tussle between robust flavours that each then break free from the complex combination as you enjoy the drink. It’s a battle between the extreme influences too, as the sweetness of the port and wine casks are offset by a savoury, spicy backbone from the oak. Considering its youth, (maybe 5-6 years old) the complexity of the whisky belies its years, and maybe it’s that younger, fresher alcohol that’s stirring the ingredient flavours so thoroughly. Overall, a very fruity whisky which could easily venture into liqueur territory if it wasn’t for the oak body and boozy burn reminding you that it is a single malt. That Art Deco packaging is pretty cool too, albeit this was courtesy of a Drinks By The Dram sample only. Definitely a great experience and certainly one to try if you can (and before you die, of course, finding itself at #59 in one such list)!

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Tasting Notes: Mackmyra – Skördetid


Mackmyra – Skördetid

Mackmyra are renowned for their no age statement, flavour-dominated expressions and are very capable of keeping their collectors happy with numerous limited editions and seasonal releases. This whisky is no different in that respect, but quite different in many others. This seasonal release is named with the Swedish word for “harvest time” and is intended to celebrate the flavours of the grape vine harvest, by maturing some of Mackmyra’s quality stock from the Bodas mines for a final 6 months in Amarone red wine casks (provided by Masi Costasera). The packaging of the full product matches the latter’s former barrel contents with red wine colours and certainly befits the festive season for which it has been released. Available for a limited time only, this expression is bottled at the distillery’s preferred favourite 46.1% ABV.



Wow. There’s so much going on here. There’s that distinctive sweet and malty Mackmyra barley, but it is also quite drying, with a nutty spice. It’s a pretty punchy and fresh spirit here too – still recognisable as coming from their raw spirit (Vit Hund) nose – with quite a lot of sweetness. Not too much vanilla sweetness though, and with the red fruit influence there also and a fresh wood / saw dust note in the background, this could be my longest nosing note yet!



Strong malt to begin with, giving it a big biscuit bite, then comes the red grape fruitiness that we’ve been waiting for and some warming spices like nutmeg and ginger.



It’s a firey finish. Quite chemically actually but it soon dissipates. Juicy red fruits left behind (strawberries, cherries, and more red grapes). A cut and dry finale.



Clearly the red wine casks are playing their part and strongly influencing the Mackmyra body that I’ve come to recognise (see notes on 7 other Mackmyra releases here). It’s certainly tasty stuff. Given the timing involved, I would love to taste the whisky again after way more than it’s 6 months in the Amarone casks as experienced here. On balance it tastes a lot like their Brukswhisky with added dollops of raisins and red grapes. We’ll never know the age of this whisky, as that’s not the Swedes’ way, but it feels very fresh and young. The youth seems to make everything quite extreme on the palate too. Overall, there are a lot of strong flavours at play but it is all balanced well and I rather enjoyed this. I’m also glad that this featured in the Dram Team’s monthly subscription because at £75 per bottle, it’s not exactly something I’d buy on a whim – not that I could any more as it’s totally sold out! Chalk up another success for Mackmyra!


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Tasting Notes: Compass Box – Double Single

Compass Box Range – Double Single

Sat within Compass Box’s Limited Edition Range is the Double Single blended scotch whisky. For this release, the blenders have sought to demonstrate that a blended whisky need not feature fractional components of dozens of whiskies to create an enjoyable blended whisky experience. Based on this premise, the whisky gets its name from the fact that it is a blend of just two whiskies: one single malt whisky from Glen Elgin, and one single grain whisky from Girvan distillery. The malt whisky forms the lion’s share of this dram, comprising 72% of the total liquid, and both elements have been matured in re-charred, ex-bourbon barrels. Whilst the age of maturation for these components is not available, the fuller details are available here. The ‘simple’ blend has then been married together and bottled at 46% ABV.

Nose: This has a very sweet nose. Rich vanilla at first and then the barley malts and grist are there at the back. Very clean. No nonsense here.

Taste: There is a great combo of malt complexity and grain simplicity at play. The palate just allows those initial vanilla and malt flavours to develop. The flavour profiles of vanilla and malt are really exaggerated too, like taking a mouthful of chewy milk bottle sweets and digestive biscuits – hopefully with less damage to the teeth!

Finish: It leaves a nice, syrupy coating of the throat – which makes sense with all the sweetness at play.

Verdict: This is a really enjoyable, light whisky. The ex-bourbon barrels are certainly doing their part to infuse the vanillin into the whisky components, and that particularly accentuates the Girvan grain whisky. It is then all down to the blender’s skill and mastery to ensure that this vanilla-bomb does not compromise any of the single malt’s complexities, and they have achieved that goal. What a job that must be! Given how enjoyable this is, it did get us talking about maybe trying our own blending at home with our own single malts and single grain whiskies – but would that then be sacrilege to mess with the original whiskies themselves? Well, I guess you’ve got to start somewhere… but maybe we should first investigate finding a blending class before splashing around some Lagavulin 16 in the name of experimentation!

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