Saturday, 30 April 2016

Islay Adventure (Tasted: #282 - 285)

When an offer to sample four different Islay bottlings was put up on Dram Full Sydney by Nicholas of whisknick, I jumped at the offer. In the line up were four bottles that Nick brought back from his Scotland trip, including:
  1. Port Charlotte Valinch Heavily Peated - a DIY bottling that is available to visitors of the Bruichladdich distillery
  2. Laphroaig 10 Original Cask Strength - this is the one expressions I've heard mentioned quite a few times, positively
  3. Bowmore Hand-Filled - filled with 17yo Bowmore whisky aged in a Bordeaux wine cask; and
  4. Ardbeg Perpetuum Distillery Reserve - having had the regular Perpetuum release on Ardbeg Day, it was good to compare the two. 
The night itself was unassuming, being hosted at Tokyo Bird, the local yakitory / whisky bar in downtown Sydney. It was a night about the four whiskies and the good company of other Dram Full Sydney members.



Port Charlotte Valinch Heavily Peated ex-Oloroso Sherry Cask (63.2% ABV, 10yo, bottle 348/680, Islay, Scotland, not commercially available)
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One should get rather excited when presented with a bottle of Port Charlotte, or Octomore or Bruichladdich for that matter. Over the years, under the helm of recently retired Jim McEwan (who we met back in 2014), different expressions from the three Bruichladdich lines continued to impress drammers. This Port Charlotte 'Valinch' ex-Oloroso expression was no different - though being a DIY bottling range, sadly, one must return to Islay for a refill. So with the malt heavily peated, yes, complex and enjoyable, certainly.

Colour: Gold


Nose: The nose is filled with jamon, yes, Spanish Iberico jamon and caramel ice cream. The sherry and oak carries through on the whiff.


Palate: The palate is nice and complex and cask strength big. There's the big douse of peat, cherries, strawberries followed by a briny note and black pepper spices that come out at the end. 

Finish: Extremely long, peppery with a hint of brine. There's a slight oak in there too.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100.




Bowmore 'Hand-Filled' - Bordeaux Cask (57.3% ABV, 17yo, Islay, Scotland, no longer commercially available)
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I was excited to taste this special Bowmore and as with the Valinch, I knew that this might have been the only opportunity to taste this particular Bordeaux cask matured expression (unless of course, I make the trip to Islay). The use of a Bordeaux cask reflects the slightly different path this Bowmore takes when compared to its traditional lines. Similar to the recent release of the Mizunara Cask Finish last September (which Martin tasted here), it seems that Bowmore is in the midst of experimenting with different non-traditional casks over the past few years.

Colour: Almost cough syrupy; amber / red


Nose: The nose is sweet, vanilla, mascarpone and lemon cheesecake


Palate: The palate carries through the citrus 'tropical' note with plenty of lemon and lime on the first taste before becoming extremely peppery and mellowing out into a sweet cheesecake. I can't seem to pick up the light Bowmore peat, where has it disappeared to?! The age of this particular malt may shed some light on the whereabouts of the peat. The palate is exciting nevertheless.

Finish: Just like the PC Valinch, the finish on this is extremely long.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100.


Laphroaig 10 'Original Cask Strength' (56.3% ABV, 10yo, Batch 007, Islay, Scotland, $1,880HKD)
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One of the favourites from Laphroaig's core range - a cask strength play of its highest selling, ever-classic, Laphroaig 10. This was my pick of the four expressions on the night.

Colour: Copper


Nose: 
There are loads of Laphroaig peat notes on the nose, just like its classic brethren, this Laphroaig stands out as a Laphroaig. The salty, maritime, damp forest woody notes are heavily present on the nose. Though what I also found on the nose were a subtle layer of sweet strawberry and tropical fruits.

Palate: The higher ABV hits you quite strongly, followed by the strong maritime notes from the nose that are mixed with the peppery spices. The heavy Laphroaig peat note comes at the end, as combined with a hint of malty vanilla.

Finish: Extremely long and the peat smoke, along with the residual spices linger for some time and more.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 94/100.




Ardbeg Perpeetum - Distillery Reserve (49.2% ABV, NAS, Islay, Scotland, no longer commercially available)
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The Distillery Reserve of the Ardbeg Day release which saw a combination of bourbon and sherry cask-matured Ardbeg whiskies bottled at a slightly higher ABV of 49.2% (as opposed to the standard release ABV of 47.4%). As Martin confirmed with Dr Bill himself last year, the whisky in both bottlings is the same, with the exception of the higher ABV in the distillery reserve. 

Personally, between the two releases, I found the Distillery Reserve offers slightly more on the nose and on the palate. The longer finish also makes the Distillery Reserve that tad more enjoyable than the standard release.

Colour: Light brass


Nose: The nose is familiar to the standard release, with the added peanut brittle followed by hints of wet moss with hints of iodine, sea brine and oh, peat that comes through quite gently. I also noted a touch of wine gum as the peat settles.


Palate: The palate on the Distillery Reserve carries a slight sweeter overtone, I get cherries and berries. The touch of vanilla, blends with the sweet notes before opening up to the dark chocolate, brine and the light peat smoke. In comparison with the standard release, I quite like the Distillery Reserve release given the slightly altered and sweeter palate.

Finish: The finish is long, I feel that the finish continues on for some time (it might be due to the slightly higher ABV). Similar to the standard release, the finish is mouth-coating and sweet with light spices.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100.


The night took all of us on a journey through Islay and with all the unique bottles, it was certainly one hell of a night. Thanks to Nicholas for organising.

Cheers
Hendy (Sydney)

Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Singleton of Dufftown 21 & 25 year old Hong Kong launch (Tasted #278 - 281)

This evening MHDHK introduced two new expressions from The Singleton to Hong Kong - the Sherried 21yo, and the ex-Bourbon cask 25yo, both from the Diageo-owned Dufftown Distillery in (you guessed it) Dufftown, Speyside. Held at the stunning Paradis in Central, the event included a guided tasting of both the 12 and 18 year old (from the Highlands-based Glen Ord distillery), as well as the new releases.


First though were the cocktails, which saw The Singleton taking the place of spirits that are usually something other than whisky, such as the Singleton Espresso Martini (made with The Singleton of Glen Ord 12) and the mojito-esque Singleton Smash (made with The Singleton of Glen Ord 18). Our favourite though was the Singleton Carre, based (we suspect) on the Vieux Carré, swapping out the rye for single malt. A delicious twist, made even more so by the assortment of accompanying canapés.



It wasn't long before it was time to take our seats, and hear Marketing Director Drew Mills talk us through the tasting lineup, providing a little more insight into the whiskies we were about to taste. For example, we've known for a while that The Singleton is popular in Asia (particularly in travel retail), but didn't know that in Taiwan (widely known as being the most significant single malt market in Asia), The Singleton enjoys the position of #1 single malt. Of course, to be fair "The Singleton" is not a single distillery, but rather a brand which represents multiple distilleries' single malts. An impressive statistic nonetheless.

Drew explained that whilst the 12 and 18 effectively follow the same maturation (the latter simply for another 6 years), the 21 and 25 are matured in an entirely different fashion, with the 21 aged in ex-Sherry casks (style and bodega not specified), and the 25 aged in ex-Bourbon American Oak casks. We also learned that casks from The Dufftown Distillery are prized by Johnnie Walker blenders when producing Johnnie Walker Blue Label

..and with that background, it was time to taste!


The Singleton of Glen Ord 12yo (40% ABV, 12yo, Highlands, Scotland, $535HKD / $70AUD)
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Colour: Orange gold.
Nose: Orange peel and milk chocolate. Smooth, creamy vanilla.
Palate: Slightly thin at first, but rounds out soon after. Candied almonds and orange zest, with a slight earthiness.
Finish: Short, earthy, with the faintest hint of smoke.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 89/100. An enjoyable, approachable everyday sipper.


The Singleton of Glen Ord 18yo (40% ABV, 18yo, Highlands, Scotland, $1,450HKD)
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Colour: Copper gold.
Nose: Not dissimilar to the 12, but much sweeter, with much more confectionary.
Palate: Vanilla, strawberries and whipped cream. A fuller mouthfeel than the 12. Some candied orange peel.
Finish: Medium length with a little more smoke than the 12.Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100. A nice step up from the 12, yet still very approachable.




The Singleton of Dufftown 21yo (43% ABV, 21yo, Speyside, Scotland, price TBC)
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Colour: Yellow gold.
Nose: Prawn toast, honey ginger, mum's sherry-soaked Christmas compote (particularly those sherry-soaked peach slices. Yum.)
Palate: "Wow" was the first response. Fantastic. Sweet, rich, creamy, with a seemingly perfect ABV (and that's coming from someone who loves cask strength whiskies). Sesame, boiled lollies, some bortrytis semillon and loads of berries.
Finish: Long with a hint of smoke, fruit compote and lots of red berry fruits.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 93/100. Very, very good.


The Singleton of Dufftown 25yo (43% ABV, 25yo, SpeysideScotland, price TBC)
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Colour: Light orange gold
Nose: Smooth and round but with much more tropical fruit than the 21yo.
Palate: Much spicier, slightly hotter. LEss stewed fruits and more tropical fruits - lots of apples, pears, passionfruit and even a hint of pineapple.
Finish: Longest of the four.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100. A great dram but given the choice, I would (and did) have another 21!



The Singleton of Dufftown 21yo and 25yo are now available at SOGO Causeway Bay B2/F Freshmart (price TBC). Until 31st May, anyone who purchases a bottle also receives a pair of Singleton Glencairn glasses.

TimeforWhisky.com would like to thank MHDHK for the invite and for yet another brilliant Hong Kong launch event.

Cheers,
Martin.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Tasted #277: Nikka (Yoichi) "Woody & Vanilla"

At the height of the Japanese whisky craze last year, anything and everything Japanese seemed to fetch quite a pretty penny. Nevertheless, the old adage is that one should really enjoy the whisky and not to hoard it for resale. Though personally, I am of the opinion that the trend might slightly buck, given a number of softer than expected sales at the recent Bonham's auction that Martin attended recently.

Enough with the trend analysis though. Locally, I was at Tokyo Bird recently and Bar Manager Yoshi introduced me to a range of Yoichi 12 year old single malts that they had added to their collection last year. The range comprises three expressions;

  • 'Sherry & Sweet'
  • 'Woody & Vanilla'; and
  • 'Peaty & Salty'.

all imparting different notes. Though not rare and certainly not astronomically priced, the Nikka line up was thoroughly enjoyable and delicious. The 'Woody & Vanilla' was my favourite of the three with loads of vanilla, oak and strawberry with a lingering finish. It was delicious stuff.

The below shows all three expressions lined up though I can't seem to find the original shot so I am relaying my Instagram take of the shot.


Nikka Yoichi Woody & Vanilla (55% ABV, 12yo, Yoichi, Japan, $1,480HKD)
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The nose and palate pack quite a bit of sophistication and I do like the big hit of vanilla though the 'woodiness' may not resonate with everyone. Quite a simple dram that you can enjoy any day of the week.

Colour: Amber


Nose: Exciting - there's loads of vanilla, 
banana, raisin and sweet candy.

Palate: Rich and chewy, the vanilla continues on the palate and you can also taste the oak (perhaps what led to the woody name). I also get a nice layer of sweet notes; sweet red frogs (candy), strawberry, pineapple. The palate then slowly fizzles and becomes peppery, black pepper.

Finish: Reasonably long though quite oaky and tannic.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100.


Cheers
Hendy (Sydney).

Friday, 22 April 2016

This week in whisk(e)y #30 - World Whisky Day at Tokyo Bird, Exile Casks "The Trojan" and John Walker & Sons 2016 release

As you might know if you read this blog regularly, we get a fair few interesting press releases and news articles here at TimeforWhisky, and usually try to feature them with our own spin, experiences or comments. Sometimes though, they come thick and fast, and we just don't have time to do them all justice.

So we've decided to take a leaf out of some other excellent whisky blogs, and feature a "PR roundup" every now and then - basically a wrap-up of relevant press releases we've received in the previous week or so (including other interesting whisk(e)y news Steph, Hendy & or I think you might enjoy). So on with it then...


World Whisky Day at Tokyo Bird (Sydney)
As far as bars go, we love Tokyo Bird here, not just because we were mates with the team before it opened, but also because it's a genuinely cool, relaxed bar with a great vibe, an awesome selection of Japanese whisky, great yakitori, and well thought-out classes and events.

Following a sold-out night of whisky tasting on World Whisky Day in 2015, Tokyo Bird is extending the whisky celebrations for the entire week leading up to the big day, with whisky cocktails, tasting flights, and a Japanese whisky-matched dinner in collaboration with Melbourne’s Adam Liston, ex chef and owner of Northern Light Yakitori Bar.
“We’ve seen the explosion of interest in whisky first-hand here, especially Japanese whisky,” says Tokyo Bird owner and general manager Jason Ang. “Over the past 15 months that we’ve been open, connoisseurs and novices alike have enjoyed our 80+ varieties of Japanese whiskies – many of which are not available at other bars, even in Japan ­– while drinking us dry out of the likes of Yamazaki 12 and Hibiki 12 on several occasions!

“The enthusiasm for whisky is contagious. It’s great to see people introduce their partners and friends to whisky through their favourites on our menu, or through tasting flights or even whisky cocktails,” Jason adds. 

The bar will be running the following events for World Whisky Day (or perhaps that should be World Whisky "week"):

WORLD WHISKY COCKTAILS - all week from MONDAY, 16 MAY
Available all week, Tokyo Bird bar manager Yoshi Onishi has concocted five whisky cocktails featuring a dram from each Japan, Scotland, Australia, Ireland and the US - to celebrate the world of whisky / whiskey / bourbon.
Available Monday 16 May - Saturday 21 May
Cocktails from $18 

JAPANESE WHISKY DINNER - TUESDAY 17 MAY
Tokyo Bird is hosting an exclusive dinner in collaboration with Melbourne's Adam Liston (ex chef / owner of Northern Light Yakitori Bar). Indulge in five premium Japanese whiskies and five courses of modern Japanese cuisine in celebration of Japan's 'water of life'.
Tuesday 17 May; 6pm or 8.30pm sitting
$135 per person; bookings essential via info@tokyobird.com.au
See whisky menu here (food menu to be announced late April)

WORLD WHISKY DAY TASTING FLIGHTS - SATURDAY 21 MAY
From 1pm on World Whisky Day, choose from four whisky flights covering world or Japanese whiskies to taste your way through the glorious world of whiskies!
Saturday 21 May, from 1pm
Bookings available; email info@tokyobird.com.au
Whisky flights from $38 (to be announced)



Exile Casks' First Release - "The Trojan"
Those who have been reading the whisky "blogosphere" for a while may be familiar with Joel Harrison & Neil Ridley - founders of caskstrength.net who went on to become "whisky celebrities" through their writing, events, "A to Z" of whisky, blog and general fun attitude to the world of spirits. Since shuttering the caskstrength site, they've started up World's Best Spirits and recently launched their first whisky under the "Exile Casks" banner - a 25yo single cask Speysider at 57.1%, with a total outturn of 306 bottles (500mL).


Whilst the distillery of origin is unknown, the story is that the cask was found in a distillery other than the one in which it was distilled (hence the "Trojan" name). All you need to know though, is it's a 25 year old single cask Speysider, for £65, about which Dave Broom said:
"You’d be a fool not to buy it for quality and for price"
and Serge Valentin (of WhiskyFun.com) said:
"Excellently modern. Well done."
We're a little surprised that, given the excellent pricepoint and good reviews, there are still bottles available (we ordered ours on release day), but there you go. You get pick one up here (worldwide shipping is available). We'll have tasting notes up once ours arrives.






John Walker & Sons Private Collection - 2016 Edition
Another year, another exquisitely presented John Walker & Sons "Private Collection" - the 2016 edition this time. Following on from 2015's red-hued release, and 2014's blue release comes this honey-coloured release, again limited to 8,888 bottles.

Of course, it's the liquid that counts though, and this year's interestingly makes significant note of the grain whiskies within, even listing the distilleries. We're not sure if this is to become a trend with these releases, but we like it.

To quote the press release:
This is the most complex edition to date in its making, blended with whiskies drawn from over 100 casks due to the many subtle variations required in flavour styles and effects, and the precious little remaining after the lost ‘Angels’ Share’ from years of maturation.

The blenders had the luxury of selecting, one by one, rare casks of Single Grain Scotch Whisky, including from five Johnnie Walker distilleries (four now silent and therefore irreplaceable – Caledonian, Cambus, Carsebridge and Port Dundas). These were gathered into two styles - woody, vanilla fudge notes, and sweeter, estery, honey notes – and laid down in casks for several months of marrying to ensure seamless integration of flavours and smoothness in the final blend.

Grain whiskies, as well as having soft, delicate, honey, heady or estery characters expressive of each distillery and the cask in which each whisky has matured, are also vital in revealing the wealth of malt whisky flavours.

In the 2016 Edition, they are set exquisitely against unique casks of a Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky from Jim’s treasured experimental stock. Aged in American oak with specially chosen cask ends, the result is a wonderfully subtle distillery character. Mature and intense, yet restrained, it highlights the effects of the grain whiskies in the blend gloriously.

After marrying individually, the three components were blended to 43.0% ABV to reveal the myriad delicate aromas and flavours." 

The 2016 Private Collection release is available in Hong Kong (from selected retail stores) and in Australia (from Dan Murphy's), for $977AUD.



Thats all for this week. Until next time...

Cheers, 
Martin.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Tasted #276: Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016

***HYPE HYPE HYPE***

We've certainly heard a lot of it since the Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 Edition was announced (see our initial post from January here). One bloke says he likes the 2013 version, and the world goes nuts over the follow-up release. 

Limited to 5,000 bottles (1,500 for Japan, 3,500 for the rest of the world), we've seen retailers charging huge markups and bottles being auctioned for 5, even 10 times the recommended retail price (which was £200, $300USD and $450AUD...if you were lucky enough to find one at retail).

So, with all this hype, we wanted to try it and make a call for ourselves. If the 2013 was so great, and this is basically the same juice with an additional 3 years of maturation (which we learned from Mike Miyamoto recently), perhaps it really is that amazing? Perhaps the hype is justified...?


Let's find out...

Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 Edition (48% ABV, NAS, Japan, £200 / $450AUD / $300USD)
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Colour: Deep, deep brown-red-copper. Incredibly dark. Almost black. Easily one of the darkest whiskies we've ever tasted.

Nose: Trademark heavily-sherried Yamazaki (we've tried a few, like these onesthese ones, these ones and especially this one) - coffee, mocha, roasted brazil nuts, sherry-soaked raisins. Huge, juicy, full of cherries. Absolutely beautiful nose - one of the best in a while. A few drops of water brings a freshness and a creaminess that wasn't there without. So far so good!

Palate: Drying, tannic, and oaky. Too oaky!? There's Ribena, dark chocolate, dates, sultanas. With some water - milk chocolate. There's a bit going on here, but there's an underlying theme of "oak" I just can't shake. I haven't tried the 2013, but if this is the 2013 with 3 extra years...perhaps it didn't need them? Hate to say it, but whilst it is enjoyable, it does feel a little over-oaked.

Finish: Long, tannic, and quite bitter - hints of Campari!

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100. It was an absolute pleasure to get our hands on a bottle and taste this, and it's a quintessential Japanese sherry bomb...but we just can't help but feel it's had a little too long in oak. Mind you, that nose - wow, stunning.

Cheers,
Martin.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Ardbeg Day (Ardbeg Night) 2016 & Tasting Dark Cove Committee Release (Tasted #275)

We've given a fair bit of coverage to Ardbeg Day over the years (having attended every single one between Steph, Hendy and myself), and for good reason - they're always one of the highlights of the whisky calendar.


Starting in 2012, with an "Islalympics" theme (and a special-release bottling simply called "Ardbeg Day"), it was then onto the archaeologically-themed Ardbog Day (and the related Ardbog release) for 2013, then the soccer-themed Ardbeg Day 2014 (with its Green and Gold adorned Auriverdes release), and most recently the futuristic-themed Ardbeg Day 2015 (with Perpetuum celebrating 200 years of Ardbeg).


So, after 4 fantastic events and 4 unique and enjoyable bottlings, it's fair to say we're a little excited about this year's Ardbeg Day...which is actually going to be Ardbeg Night. Ardbeg Night will be held on Saturday 28th May in Sydney, and will recall the "shadowy history of Ardbeg’s homeland", remembering the substantial illicit whisky trade that existed between Islay and the mainland in the 19th century. To celebrate, a special release known as "Dark Cove" has been released, in both regular guise (46.5% ABV, $169AUD) and Committee Release guise (55% ABV, $149.99AUD). Yes, at the moment the Committee Release is cheaper than the regular release (it's also available now, in Australia).

Now...one thing we've noticed over the years is that Ardbeg Day in Sydney is getting increasingly popular. More people attending, more people wanting to attend. Ardbeg Day 2015 saw over 15,000 people attend 135 events globally last year, and we wouldn't be surprised if that increased this year. To address the popularity, Moet-Hennessy Australia have implemented a new system for tickets. Basically, to be in with a chance of winning tickets, you need to buy a bottle of Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release (if you do miss out though, Ardbeg's embassies like Stitch Bar and World of Whisky will be hosting events too).

Every bottle of Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release purchased between 15 March 2016 and 17 April 2016 will give the purchaser an entry into the draw to win two tickets to Ardbeg Night 2016. Participants simply need to:

1. Sign up to the Ardbeg Committee via http://www.ardbeg.com/join
2. Purchase a bottle of Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release from 15 March 2016 via http://moet-hennessy-collection.com.au, which will place them into a ballot to attend Ardbeg Night 2016.
3. Winners be notified via telephone and email by 20th April 2016
Full details can be found at: http://moet-hennessy-collection.com.au/magazine/ardbeg-win-tickets-to-ardbeg-night-2016.html


Now Ardbeg Day Night might not be until May, but we've been lucky enough to get our hands on a sample of the 55% ABV Committee Release thanks to the lovely folks at EVH. See below for our thoughts.


Ardbeg "Dark Cove" Committee Release (55% ABV, NAS, Islay, Scotland, $149.99AUD)
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Colour: The darkest Ardbeg ever? Darker than the current regular line-up, for sure, but not quite El Diablo territory, and not as dark as some recent SMWS bottlings. Deep amber.

Nose: Rich, creamy peat....loads of peat. Coastal peat though - more maritime and less "campfire" than you may expect. Banana lollies and an overall freshness. At a guess I'd say there's a fair amount of youngish Ardbeg in here.

Palate: Big, rich and chewy. Peaty caramels (now there's an idea)! There's definite sherry influence, with red berries and a hint of mocha, but also a younger, fresher, sweeter character - licorice allsrts, musk sticks. Loads of coastal peat throughout.

Finish: Long and coastal-smoky. Fish nets, oysters, brine. With water comes a slightly earthier smoke. A hint of tannins at the end.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100. Another very enjoyable Ardbeg, one with a younger, stronger peat influence than some of the previous Ardbeg Day bottlings.


Cheers,
Martin.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Tomatin Tasting with Brand Ambassador Graham Nicolson (Tasted #269 -274)

TimeforWhisky.com was recently fortunate enough to be invited to a tasting of the Tomatin range by Hong Kong distributors T'z Limited. The occasion? Global Brand Ambassador Graham Nicolson was in town (also, it was Friday, and who needs an excuse to drink good whisky on a Friday!?)

Tomatin was one of those distilleries we'd tried here and there, usually at various whisky festivals, but never actually sat down and taken the time to really taste one (let alone six) of their releases.


Arriving at the heritage Whisky@Stables bar at Hullet House (on a significantly less muggy day than last time!) we chatted with Graham, who we learned was on a mammoth trip taking in HK and Japan (with barely a single day between tastings) and local Tomatin representative / good mate Eddie Nara.


After taking our seats (an almost-too comfortable leather armchair from which we'd happily sip whisky all night) Graham kicked things off with an introduction to the distillery, and its "light, soft, fruity" character. Gaelic for "Hill of the Juniper bush", Graham explained that Tomatin's name is a reference to the illicit distillers who plied their trade before the distillery became legitimate in 1897. Not because they distilled Gin, but because juniper bush doesn't give off smoke, so using it as a source of heat/flame made it easier to hide their operations. Crafty...

From its earlier days as a popular malt for blenders, to 1984 when the distillery went out of business, to today where we see Tomatin as a popular Highland single malt (particularly in Asia), Graham took us on a brief journey of the distillery (injecting plenty of humour along the way) before we delved into the six drams in front of us.


Tomatin Legacy (43% ABV, NAS, Highlands, Scotland, $460HKD / £21.53)
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An interesting NAS made up of 85% ex-Bourbon barrels and 15% virgin oak.
Colour: Light gold.
Nose: Banana bread, lemon sorbet, sweet vanilla.
Palate: Zingy and citrusy. Some custard. Very sweet. Lemon sherbert and some whole limes.
Finish: Short to medium length, lots of citrus - key lime pie.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 89/100. 


Tomatin 12 Year Old (43% ABV, 12yo, Highlands, Scotland, $580HKD / $54.99AUD£27.36)
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Finished in 1st fill Oloroso casks.
Colour: Gold.
Nose: Blackberries and a slight nuttiness.
Palate: Light overall, but more mouthfeel than the NAS. Some more nuts, orange, spice. 
Finish: Medium length, with some residual sherry notes - Brazil nuts and sherry-soaked Christmas pudding.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100. Easy drinking and quite "sessionable". ABV feels spot on for the style of whisky (light and approachable).


Tomatin 14 Year Old Port Wood Finish (46% ABV, 14yo, Highlands, Scotland, $780HKD / $120AUD / £44.44)
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Colour: Pinkish copper.
Nose: Rich red berries (strawberries, raspberries mostly), cherries and burnt/caramelised sugar.
Palate: Initially a little thin, but then come some rich notes of toffee, caramel, cranberries, tangerine and strawberry. Fruity, but in a different way to the Legacy.
Finish: Medium to long in length. Butterscotch, toffee and a slight hint of smoke.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100. 


Tomatin 18 Year Old (46% ABV, 18yo, Highlands, Scotland, $1,380HKD / $199AUD£62.34)
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Finished in European Oak Oloroso Sherry butts
Colour: Copper-orange.
Nose: Flinty, whole oranges. Clearly Sherried.
Palate: Vibrant, hints of spice, nutmeg, whole oranges again, and then even more spice. Plenty of citrus though. There's a fruitiness here, but it's more mature and robust than its younger siblings.
Finish: Long and sherried, on the fruitier side.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100. 



Tomatin Cù Bòcan  (46% ABV, NAS, Highlands, Scotland, $780HKD / $99.99AUD£35.69)
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An interesting mix of virgin, ex-Oloroso and ex-Bourbon casks, peated to 15ppm, and named after the "Ghost Dog" who supposedly haunted the village. Hmmm...not sure about the story, but the whisky sounded interesting!
Colour: Golden sunset.
Nose: Oranges, slight peatiness, but quite floral and with clear notes of coconut.
Palate: The peat is there, but subtle, and fruity! Tropical fruits - passionfruit and whipped cream. Light, but lovely. The level of peat feels just right.
Finish: A slightly earthy smokiness with some oranges rounding it out. Medium length.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 93/100. Enjoyed this one a lot.


Tomatin 2003 single cask 11 Years Old 2003/2014 bottled for Macalabur (58.4% ABV, 11yo, Highlands, Scotland, no longer available)
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Apparently the last bottle from a single cask bottled for "MacAlabur" - which as best we can work out is a whisky club either based in the US, or Denmark.
Colour: Light gold.
Nose: Beautiful. Custard, coconut, creamy caramel. A slight earthiness. Passionfruit. Overall quite tropical! A few drops of water adds some nice floral notes.
Palate: Big sweet bourbon spice. BBQ sauce. Meaty! Water amps everything up, and adds even more sweetness. 
Finish: Short to medium in length. Spicy, cream, sweet vanilla. Some residual smoke towards the end.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100. 


After six drams - all very different but all with a common "light, soft, fruity" theme - it was fair to say Tomatin was no longer an "unknown", but rather a distillery from which we'd happily seek our further expression to try.

Cheers,
Martin.

TimeforWhisky.com would like to thank Graham and T'z Limited Hong Kong for the invitation.

Friday, 18 March 2016

This week in whisk(e)y #29 - Glenmorangie Milsean Australian launch, Sweet and Savory Pairing with Glenmorangie in Hong Kong, Sydney's Grain Bar exceeds 200 whiskies, World Class Hong Kong kicks off for 2016

As you might know if you read this blog regularly, we get a fair few interesting press releases and news articles here at TimeforWhisky, and usually try to feature them with our own spin, experiences or comments. Sometimes though, they come thick and fast, and we just don't have time to do them all justice.

So we've decided to take a leaf out of some other excellent whisky blogs, and feature a "PR roundup" every now and then - basically a wrap-up of relevant press releases we've received in the previous week or so (including other interesting whisk(e)y news Steph, Hendy & or I think you might enjoy). So on with it then...


Glenmorangie Milsean Australian launch
The next "Private Edition" Glenmorangie has recently launched in Australia, following on from 2015's Tùsail and 2014's Companta. Named "Milsean" (pronounced "Meel-shawn"), the whisky (as with previous Private Editions) has been finished for several years in an alternative cask, only this time, those casks, Portuguese wine casks, were first deeply toasted. The result is a sweet and spicy character "reminiscent of the sugared delights in tall glass jars which once decked the shelves of every traditional confectioner’s store".

If there was any doubt as to the sweet nature of the liquid, a quick look at the candy store-like packaging should dismiss any concerns!



To quote Dr Bill himself:
“A glass of Glenmorangie Milsean transports me straight to an old fashioned sweet shop with its sweet and spicy bouquet, with hints of sugar cane, ripe fruits and fudge. Extra-maturing Glenmorangie in heavily toasted red wine casks for the first time, has allowed us to create a whisky recalling a bygone era. I hope its deep tastes of cherries, angelica, candied orange peel and unusual intensity of caramelised fruits, will surprise and delight whisky aficionados and malt connoisseurs.”

Milsean is available from the Moët Hennessy Collection now, for $150AUD. We're told the Hong Kong release is imminent.



Sweet and Savory Pairing with Glenmorangie
Speaking of sweet Glenmorangies, the distillery has partnered with 12 popular Hong Kong restaurants to introduce Sweet & Savory Pairing menus, from now until April 30th.

We already know Glenmorangie pairs well with various dishes from our lunch with Dr Bill last year, so we're sure these pairings, which include Nectar D’Or paired with Salted Caramel Macaroon, Quinta Ruban paired with Jamon Serrano Ham and Signet paired with Chocolate Craquelin, will be just as expertly matched.


The following restaurants are offering the Sweet & Savory Pairing menus between now and April 30th:

  • Bao Bei
  • 77 Wyndham Street, Central District
  • Bitters & Sweets
  • 1/F, 52-54 Wellington Street, Central
  • Little Lab
  • Shop B, G/F 48-50 Staunton Street
  • 001
  • Shop G1, LG/F, Welley Bldg, 97 Wellington St
  • Topiary
  • 3/F, Hilltop Plaza, 49 - 51 Hollywood Road, Central
  • The Woods
  • 17 Hollywood Rd, Central
  • Jimmy's Kitchen – Central
  • G/F South China Building,1-3 Wyndham Street, Central, HK
  • Jimmy's Kitchen – Kowloon
  • G/F Kowloon Center,29 Ashley Road,Tsim Sha Tsui
  • Steik World Meats
  • Shop 14 Level 3, K11, 18 Hanoi Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui,
  • Osteria Felice
  • Shop 16-21, G/F, Hutchison House, Harcourt Rd, Central
  • Bobby's Rabble
  • 57 Peel Street, Central
  • Ritz Carlton The Lounge & Bar
  • 102/F, Ritz Carlton Hotel 



Diageo World Class 2016 kicks off in Hong Kong
We love Diageo World Class here - the global cocktail competition which continues to inspire incredible, inventive cocktails year on year.

The Hong Kong round has kicked of for 2016, with bartenders given to 3rd April to construct a "daytime drinking" cocktail using Bulleit Bourbon or Rye (both of which we've loved since we visited Diageo Sydney back in 2013).

"The Hong Kong & Macau leg of this year’s competition will take place over three rounds, with the first commencing Monday 29th February until the 3rd April. Bartenders are asked to create a cocktail suitable for mid-afternoon consumption using Bulleit Bourbon or Bulleit Rye Whiskey. The challenge asks bartenders to consider factors such as the occasion the drink is served at, be it outdoors, at a wedding or a BBQ, and also that given the time of day, an appropriate alcoholic strength. Bartenders must submit their drink online at bit.ly/worldclasshk, post to social media and make it available in their bar."


Sydney's Grain Bar exceeds 200 whiskies
Sydney's Grain Bar (in the Four Seasons Hotel) might not have originally seemed like a "whisky bar" (though we did love it enough to include it in our "Top Sydney Bars" list right from the start), but recently it's slowly established itself as a serious contender.

As well as holding several serious whisky events (like the Russell's Reserve launch last year or the Laphroaig Masterclass with John Campbell), the bar now boasts over 200 whiskies and has launched a "Flight of the Week" program, offering a different set of four 15ml whiskies for AU$40 each week, Monday to Sunday.

With a menu that spans the world (Scotland, Japan, Ireland, Canada, Wales, US, Sweden, South Africa, India and Taiwan), there should be a dram for everyone, from $10 for a Hakushu Distiller's Reserve, to $380AUD for an OB Port Ellen 9th Release 30 Year Old.

(From personal experience, they also make fantastic cocktails too.)



Thats all for this week. Until next time...

Cheers, 
Martin.