Posts Tagged With: Single

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: 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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Tasting Notes: Miltonduff 7 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

Miltonduff 7 Years Old 

Well, it’s my first whisky review of the new year, and it’s a new distillery to me, despite being one of the first distilleries in Scotland to get an official license and still being one of the largest working distilleries in the Speyside area. Miltonduff distillery is located in the northern part of the world-famous whisky-making region, situated near Elgin. The site has traditionally produced two styles/brands of whisky: Miltonduff (unpeated) and Mosstowie (lightly peated). The majority of Miltonduff’s output currently goes into the Chivas Regal blend, however they have been known to release their own single malt expressions in the past. Nowadays, Miltonduff single malts are more readily available via independent bottlings, of which this dram is one such example and features in Douglas Laing’s Provenance range. This whisky had been maturing for just 7 years in a refill hogshead barrel before being selected by the revered indies for bottling and sale at 46% ABV.



After a fairly light boozy burn, there’s a distinct set of sweet and nutty smells at play here. Marzipan. Almond. Warm custard. After a little while, the sweetness fades and there’s a tiny liquorice/anise smell that pokes through and a damp oak scent that lingers.



Ooooh it’s sweet. And I like it. It reminds me of walking passed (who am I kidding) Patisserie Valerie. There’s a creaminess to the body too that adds to the cream eclair and pastry flavours. There’s a little bit of a ‘cooked’ taste to it too. Finally, there’s a slight bit of spice towards the end too. Again, reminiscent of sweet baked goods.



Fairly quick and tingly. That sweetness lingers longer than the booze itself.



Wow. This dram appears to be some sort of pudding whisky! I’m surprised by its gentle flavours too because it is so young and has lots to give. This clearly must be displaying the flavours of the original product as much as the barrel’s influence here. It is fresh and punchy enough for a young whisky but it’s not too wild and seems to have already matured into a pretty mellow whisky overall. It’s final delivery is sweet and warming. For an uninitiated Miltonduff drinker, this is a great experience for my first dram from this distillery.


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