Thursday 19 July 2018

Tasted #393: The Glenlivet Code

The Glenlivet Code has launched in Hong Kong (and Australia), following The Glenlivet Alpha and The Glenlivet Cipher. What's with the funny names, you might ask?

Well...back in 2013 Glenlivet released Alpha, a mysterious Glenlivet with barely any details provided (no information on age, cask types etc..) . Next came Cipher, similarly with no details or tasting notes. Both came in matte black bottles and invited people to guess the production, tasting notes and so on before details were finally revealed.

For 2018, the distillery are back at it with a third release - "Code". Similar to Alpha and Cipher, Code invites you to "test your senses" with a online game in which you identify certain aromas and tastes within the whisky, and then learn how close you are to the "actual tasting notes", for example:

The "actual" (i.e. distillery official) tasting notes will be released at the end of 2018, but as nosing and tasting is such a subjective thing, here's hoping they also release the details on the whisky's make-up (age, cask type(s), and any other unique details), as that's what whisky fans will really want to know.

Until then, here are my thoughts and guesses..

The Glenlivet Code (48% ABV, NAS, Speyside, Scotland, $1,250HKD / $210AUD)
Colour: Light orange-gold

Nose: Youthful, tropical notes. Pineapple chunks in milk chocolate. Raspberries, paw-paw, with a solid dusting of coconut over the top. Then some peach.

Palate: More mature fruits - ripe mago and paw-paw, with cinnamon, lots of milk chocolate, hazelnuts and a fair amount of oak (1st fill?).

Finish: Medium to long sweetly fruit-spiced, cocnut, raspberry jam.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100. My guess (probably way off): ~17yo with 1st Fill ex-Bourbon and ex-Chardonnay casks.

Many thanks to Pernod Ricard HK and DNA for the samples of this interesting new dram. The Glenlivet Code is available in HK for $1,250HKD and in Australia $210AUD.


Wednesday 18 July 2018

Archie Rose Six Malt New Make (Tasted #392)

Archie Rose, our local favourite distillery here in Sydney has always been known for its innovative ways with recent releases including the Archie Rose X KAIJU! Beer Aged Spirit, Agricole Rhums (using fresh cane juice from Condog, NSW) and the beautiful Archie Rose x Horisumi Gin Set. Notwithstanding these releases, they also offer customers the ability to craft and tailor their own gin, vodka and whisky - the latter includes help with maturation at the distillery.

Continuing with their innovative pursuit in the spirit scene, later this week, Archie Rose will launch another limited release - this time in the form of a new make blend, derived from six different malt mash bills (six malt wash).

Simply named Six Malt New Make, this new make spirit release will provide some insights into how the base spirit of Archie Rose's (soon to be released) Single Malt Whisky starts its life - unaged, unfiltered and raw. Having tasted the new make, the spirit embodies the quality and depth that you will definitely see in the final, aged Archie Rose whisky. Though what is interesting is all the elements that you get when the different malts are mixed together.

The use of six malt mash bills is different from the typical single malt whiskies which more commonly feature only around one or two malt mash bills. As commonly known, different malt results in different whisky profile and with the six malts combined, the resultant spirit is one that embodies the unique flavour profile of all the different malts. The six malts that were used for this release include:
  • Local pale malt; derived from La Trobe barley from a single estate in NSW
  • Local amber malt; comes from a single field in Barellan, NSW and provides a chalky, shortbread, biscuit notes
  • Local caramel malt; produced by stewing the barley to the point where the sugar can be caramelised 
  • Local aromatic roasted malt; provides chocolate, cookie dough notes
  • Local white chocolate malt; made from a single field in NSW, roasted in small batches and provides espresso, dark chocolate notes
  • Local peated malt; the origin of the peat kept a secret though this particular peated malt has been made exclusively for the Six Malt New Make
So how does it smell and taste? Absolutely fascinating and assertive. Nose is fruity and layered with dried banana, stewed apple, cinnamon porridge. On the palate, dry weet bix, raspberries, oats, granola and muesli bar. It's different, delicate and balanced and very much enjoyable on its own or mixed with cocktails such as the New Make Old Fashioned that is served at the Bar.

Bottled at 50% ABV and with 3,000 bottles being released this week, on July 19, the Six Malt New Make might disappear rather quickly. It is available for purchase from the Archie Rose Shop.

Also being released on the same day is “Spirit Data,” a new feature on the Archie Rose's website, which provides a deeper look into the whisky production on a batch by batch basis, detailed tasting and production notes from the distillery floor and bond store. This is akin to what Compass Box has been advocating for, transparency over facts on various aspects that make up the final spirit.

Thanks to Will, Dave and team as well as Melinda Durston of Melting Pot Communications for having us at the tasting of this new Six Malt New Make.

Wednesday 4 July 2018

Johnnie Walker Black Label Sherry Edition (Tasted #391)

Johnnie Walker has recently released the Australian release of the Johnnie Walker Black Label Sherry Edition. For those Johnnie Walker fans out there, the sight of a new release will no doubt garner excitement and interest. Sherry cask matured whiskies are not new within the single malt whisky circles though to see sherry being featured as part of a prominent label might mean that there is perhaps an increasing interest more broadly in the category.

Crafted by Blender Chris Clark, part of the blend in this limited edition bottling is matured in former sherry casks and with increased influence from malts of Blair Athol, Cardhu and Strathmill, the result is surprisingly pleasant and clean with subtle notes of berries, tropical fruits and spices. This release is not one that portrays a typical big cask strength sherry cask whisky but more of a dialled down, subtle, mannered blend that previews aspects of what you would normally expect from a sherry cask whisky combined with the balanced and clean notes of the original Black Label.

Locally, Simon McGoram, Diageo National Whisky Ambassador described this particular edition as one that provides glimpses of fresh and rich fruit character found in the original Black Label with the added elements of freshness, red fruits, figs and creamy vanilla. I have not compared this side by side with the original Black Label though one can still enjoy this particular edition of the Black Label as much as the original Black Label.

Johnnie Walker Black Label Sherry Edition (40% ABV, NAS, Speyside, Scotland, $48.90)
A pleasant and clean release with berries, tropical fruits on the nose and candy, and cinnamon bun on the palate. At 40% ABV, this Sherry Edition certainly makes for an interesting everyday dram.

Colour: Bronze copper

Nose: Fresh and clean, with fresh berries and tropical fruits on top of a vanilla slice sprinkled with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg

Palate: More on the clean, fresh notes with soft, subtle strawberry vanilla candy, easter cinnamon bun that eases into some spiced pepper and drying chalk

Finish: The finish is long, slightly spiced and slowly fades into a drying chalky finish

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

The Black Label Sherry Edition is now available from Dan Murphy's and other selected independent liquor store at an RRP $60.


Thanks to Liz Hunt of Leo Burnett Sydney for providing us with a sample.