A life in drinks: From wine to whisky

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Bowmore 1985 2012 release

Bowmore 1985 52.3%

Launching iminantly is this Bowmore 1985 coming from a mixture of Bourbon and Sherry casks.

  Bowmore 1985 © Colin Hampden-White


Bowmore 1985 © Colin Hampden-White

Colour:

Deep golden with dark amber and caramel

Nose:

Sweet at first, then very clean with herbal and floral notes over a layer of iodine. Touches of lime marmalade and boiled sweets. Light notes of Vanilla and when left a little a little smoke and fruit comes out.

Palate:

Very dry at the start and still quite herbal with that typical salty iodine Bowmore backbone, but well balanced and never too much. heather and floral notes are then followed by the sweeter fruit and caramel.

Nose:

Long and dry with smoke and a little sweetness which disappears leaving herbals and a touch of sea salt.

This was not as rich and fruity as I was expecting, however the whisky, although not as rich, still entices and has remarkable flavour and depth. I only had a small sample and would have liked more so I could have left it to open up and come back to it again. At £300 this is certainly a good whisky and I look forward to tasting it again in the future.

The Glenfiddich Millennium Vintage

The Glenfiddich Millennium Vintage Limited Edition single malt whisky is the latest exclusive from Glenfiddich.  The whisky was distilled and placed into casks during the Millennium celebrations of 2000 and bottled in 2012 from casks hand selected by Brian Kinsman, the Glenfiddich Malt Master.  This new vintage was initially unveiled in the World Duty Free stores at London Heathrow on Friday July 13 where it was exclusively available for 12 days.  On July 25, the limited edition whisky was then rolled out to all World Duty Free stores across the UK.

The Glenfiddich Millennium Vintage © Colin Hampden-White

The Glenfiddich Millennium Vintage © Colin Hampden-White

Colour:

Deep golden

On the nose;

Firstly fruity, with dried apricots and marmalade, there is an underlying nutty note and a touch of vanilla and caramel when left for a while.

On the palate:

Initially it is sweet, but dries. The dried fruit flavours being dominant, but underlying the fruit there is a waxy layer before vanilla and caramel come in to join the fruits.
There are a few spices and a hint of floral flavour over the top of the fruits, but over all it is a sweetish but palate cleansing whisky.

Finish,

The finish is very similar to the palate, with a medium length. The nutty flavours come back and leaves the mouth clean.

The Glenfiddich Millennium Vintage © Colin Hampden-White

The Glenfiddich Millennium Vintage © Colin Hampden-White

This new expression from Glenfiddich costs a little more than the regular 12 year old, but I would say it is certainly worth a little extra. The finnishing in the ex-bourbon barrels adds an extra depth. An excellent dram in this price bracket.

The Macallan Diamond Jubilee Whisky

The Macallan Diamond Jubilee Whisky.

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I am told this whisky is made up from several casks from the 1990s, the earliest being 1991 and the oldest apparently is not 1999, so 14+ it must be then. With only 2012 bottles available, this won’t last long on the primary market.

So to the whisky:

The Macallan Diamond Jubilee Whisky © Colin Hampden-White

The Macallan Diamond Jubilee Whisky © Colin Hampden-White

Colour:

Dark golden – mid caramel.

Nose:

A light toffee note comes just before the alcohol kicks in. Then dried fruits of apricots and plums, a little heather and caramel.

Palate:

Smooth at first with apricots and honey. The 52% gives a warming heat which is not overpowering and ideal for the style and richness of the whisky, nether too powerful or too light. After the warmth subsides a little marzipan laps over the already prevalent sherry flavours and a touch of orange peel. There comes a small amount of sweetness of flowers and smoke.

Finish:

A long finish with waves of rich sherry and higher floral notes interweaving with each other and with wisps of smoke.

Overall a wonderfully complex whisky and very moreish. Whisky of which (unfortunately) very little will actually touch the lips of mere mortals. I suspect there will be more bottles placed neatly on a shelf than ever will be opened except by those who can easily afford the current £350 ticket and probably quite a bit more, once this sells out and hits the secondary market.

 

The Macallan Diamond Jubilee Whisky © Colin Hampden-White

The Macallan Diamond Jubilee Whisky © Colin Hampden-White

My advice: If you can’t afford simply to buy and drink one, buy two. Drink one and in a while sell the other to pay for the first. Or raid the piggy bank. I think as many people as possible should have the chance to drink this great dram.

The English Whisky Company. St Georges Diamond Jubilee Whisky

The English Whisky Company. St George’s Diamond Jubilee whisky.

St Georges Diamond Jubilee Whisky © Colin Hampden-White

Of all the distilleries in the world one would have been very surprised had St George’s not released a whisky for The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. And it’s priced at a very reasonable £60 as well (Whisky Exchange http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/P-16794.aspx).As with their previous decanter bottled releases, there is a limited run, this time of only 3,300 bottles.

Well, one has to think about whether this bottling is simply a gimmick, so let’s get to the whisky.

Nose: Firstly, lots of fresh and dried fruit comes forth, marmalade flavours of citrus and apricot. There is an underlying sweetness of boiled sweets and top notes of alpine flowers, bringing a lightness and fragrance to the whisky.

Palate: Harmonious. The dried fruits come through more with the apricots taking centre stage and touches of orange to follow. It is fresh with a slightly herbal edge, mixed with floral notes and moments of honey.

Finish: Quite a long finish, with the fruits subsiding to leave the herbal and floral flavours.

St Georges Diamond Jubilee Whisky © Colin Hampden-White

St Georges Diamond Jubilee Whisky © Colin Hampden-White

The overall complexity for a whisky of such a young age is impressive. The sweetness is nicely balanced with a fresh appeal. A whisky perfect for summer evening drinking (if we ever get a summer here in the UK!).

The whisky coming out of the St George’s distillery seems to go from strength to strength. Their whiskies have lovely differences yet manage to keep an underlying style which is imparting a distinct identity upon the distillery amongst the rest of the field. Well, I did buy a bottle of this and having reminded myself of how much I liked it, I’m off to find another!

English Whisky Company: St George’s Diamond Jubilee Commemorative whisky.

English Whisky Company:St George’s Diamond Jubilee Commemorative whisky.

St George's Jubilee Whisky © Colin Hampden-White

Nose:

Very Floral, with a mixture of spring meadow flowers on top of lots of citrus crystalline fruit. There are hints of caramel with high notes of sherbet.

Palate:

Caramel and sherbet  with a nice edge of boiled citrus sweets giving a nice balance of dry and sweet. The high notes are of heather flowers with hints herbs. Overall the weight is medium with an overall spring feel.

Finish:

This is a lively and dry whisky, dancing on the palate as it finishes, worthy of celebrating our sprightly Queen’s jubilee with. Crisp and polished.

With under 3000 bottles for the world market, I’m very glad I booked my bottle.

St George's Jubilee Whisky © Colin Hampden-White

GlenBridge: A 40 year old single malt speyside whisky from Aldi

Glenbridge 40 year old from Aldi ©Colin Hampden-White

Glenbridge 40 year old from Aldi ©Colin Hampden-White

This morning, as a freelance journalist, was not what I am used to. Getting up well before sunrise.

Another thing I am not used to is premium whisky being sold by a supermarket chain, and rather than that supermarket being the rarefied Waitrose, Aldi was the shop to go to.

To find (having been tasted by Jim Murray, amongst others), the best value 40 year old whisky on the market. With only 3000 bottles produced and 450 stores country wide to distribute them around, there were to be only 6 bottles for most of the stores.

I decided to go to Aldi on the Old Kent Road in London. A good choice I found. I arrived at 7.30 for an 8 o’clock opening and was the 6th person in the queue. A couple of minutes later a 7th joined us and within ten minutes  there were 40 of us. A nice lady popped out of the shop, explained there were only 6 bottles and gave us lucky 6 a ticket each.

The other lucky five were a mixture of two present baggers, a real whisky fan, another whisky journalist writing for Whisky Magazine and a brand ambassador for Drambuie. So for once, the idea of first come first served, no exceptions had worked. There was no preferential treatment for journalists or big whisky buyers, even the staff were not allowed first dibs.

Joel, of Whisky Magazine was getting texts from other stores around the country where people had started to queue pretty early, from 3am in Oxford, and there were stories from others turning up that other shops in London had very long queues, up to 200 in Catford.

So was all the fuss and early starts really worth it for the luck few?

Tasting the Glenbridge 40 year old from Aldi ©Colin Hampden-White

Tasting the Glenbridge 40 year old from Aldi ©Colin Hampden-White

Well I supose one has to start by saying that even if the whisky wasn’t good, there would be elements of it at 40 years old which would certainly make it interesting, at £50,

But no, the lovely amber brown liquid  wasn’t good, it was very good. A bigger bargain one could not imagine for a 40 year old dram.

So what did it taste like, well.

On the nose:

Dried Fruits, lots of sherry, a little bit flinty, and a touch of spice

On the Palate:

Sherry again, and chrystalised fruit, nuts and dates folowed by some spice, nutmeg, sweeter on the end.

The finish:

Bits of spice and a little orange peel. Oaky from the cask, but not overbearing.

All in all a pretty good dram, I certainly have poured myself another, and leaving it to open out a little gives it a bit more complexity in the spice range.

This would be good value at four times the price, so I can’t really complain about getting up early for once!

Highland Park 1976 and 1971

Well, apart from the distinctive underlying style of Highland Park, these two whiskies are really very different. Both are good whiskies, but one is most definitely better than the other.

Highland Park 1976 and 1971 ©Colin Hampden-White

Highland Park 1976 and 1971 ©Colin Hampden-White

1976

Nose:

Herby and floral at first followed by white fruits and iodine, wisps of smoke, spice and then sea salt.

Palate:

More of the above and in the same order, the heather becomes more prominent and there is a sweetness of boiled sweets.

Finish:

Dry and long, especially concentrating on the high floral notes.

1971

Nose:

Caramel and vanilla, honey sweetness, lots of depth, meadow flowers on the high notes.

Palate:

Bananas and caramel, followed by flowers and heather, little bits of toffee and milk chocolate, some spice and smoke comes through towards the end.

Finish:

Very smooth with waves of smoke followed by the sweet caramel and finally, flowers again.

A belter of a whisky, one of my recently tasted favorites. Both these whiskies have the spice and smoke of Highland Park, but the 1971 has all the extra depth.

Caol Ila Moch

There’s nothing to mock about the Moch

Caol Ila Moch © Colin Hampden-White

Caol Ila Moch © Colin Hampden-White

Bottled at 43% ABV and has no age statement.

The Whisky Exchange wrote “A hugely enjoyable romp throughIslay’s middle ground.” and I absolutely agree with them.

I got a few different things out of the whisky on tasting (as most of us do I think) so here are my thoughts.

Colour:

Light golden

On the nose:

Sweetness and iodine at first and then the smoke hits you, not too much nicely balanced. Followed by a few dried fruits before becoming tropical, melon and bananas present. left for a few minutes the banana becomes more banoffee  pie and then a little white fruit on the end all mixed in with a gentle hints of peat.

On the palate:

Smoke and peat in spades, but not so much as to unbalance the whisky, followed by sweetness and nice citrus and spice, oranges and limes rather than lemons. On the edges there are notes of heathers and woodland flowers ending on a bit of black truffle.

Finish

Primarily smoke and peat again with spice as a constant with waves of citrus. There is nutmeg prevalent in the spice with cinnamon and mace in the background. Not a very long finish, but very even leaving you wanting more!

Caol Ila Moch © Colin Hampden-White

Caol Ila Moch © Colin Hampden-White

To be found through friends of classic malts in theUKlinked to The Whisky Exchange. Great value for a very good and fairly complex whisky.

 

 

 

 

English Whisky: St George’s Founders Reserve

St George's Founders Reserve © Colin Hampden-White

St George's Founders Reserve © Colin Hampden-White

Having been luck enough to obtain a bottle of the St. George’sFounders Reserve from the recent bottling, I was even luckier that Andrew Nelstrop sent me  a miniature for tasting. My thoughts were as follows.

On the nose:

Lots of vanilla and spice with a bit of soft fudge. A very slight citrus edge followed by a wisp of smoke. Quite heavy on the nose.

On the palate:

Much lighter on the palate, typical characteristics of the bourbon cask, caramel and vanilla with some toffee with strong citrus and spice, there is a touch of sweetness which develops into oaky notes. with a little water non of the flavours are lost and non really gained, but the whisky becomes smooth and creamy, so if you like this mouth feel then a little water helps, but it doesn’t need water.

St George's Founders Reserve © Colin Hampden-White

St George's Founders Reserve © Colin Hampden-White

Finish:

The deeper notes of caramel and toffee keep going with a bit of spice at the end. Not a devastatingly long finish, but pretty good for a youthful whisky.

As with all the other whiskies produced so far at St. George’s this is good stuff, and with well under 100 bottles filled so far is difficult expression to find, but hunt hard and dig deep (especially if you find it on the secondary market), and it won’t disappoint the drinker or keeper.

Ardbeg Alligator (committee reserve)

If I was going to take a reptile to bed, this would be the one.

 

Ardbeg Alligator at The Whisky Exchange

Ardbeg Alligator at The Whisky Exchange © Colin Hampden-White

There are two new things this week. A new expression of Ardbeg and an embassy in London to go with it.

To make life easy, the nice people at Ardbeg have joined the two together for their launch. And so it came to be that I found myself in The Whisky Exchange in London tasting the Ardbeg Alligator. All committee members can go down to The whisky Exchange and have a dram courtesy of Ardbeg and The Whisky Exchange.

Colour:

A medium gold.

On the nose:

Sweet honey joins the expected BBQ notes with a hint of caramel in the background. After tasting, and coming back for a second go floral notes and a little cut grass had joined the party. There is also a hint of pipe tobacco.

On the Palate.

As with the nose a good dose of honey and sweetness on the front of the tongue citrus then takes over with a nice amount of spice following through to a warming smooth dollop of  caramel and wood from the new American oak and then smoke, which keeps on going for a while. This is a beautifully balanced whisky with a surprising amount of maturity for the age of its whiskies.

The Finish:

More spice and citrus, followed by fat cigar smoke (non of your slim panatelas here, aromatic rather than sweet dried tobacco).  Then smoke and spice, leaving you with a little cheek burn and a burning desire to delve in to some more.

Once you have been on a few, honey, citrus and smoke trips and feel like stopping, then the finish goes on for a very long time, having tasted this well over an hour ago I still have smoke and spice coming back to me.

Edward Bates of www.thespiritsauthority.com helping to pour (and with the 4.5 litre bottle, one needed some help!) and joining me in tasting Ardbeg Alligator

Edward Bates of http://www.thespiritsauthority.com helping to pour (and with the 4.5 litre bottle, one needed some help!) and joining me in tasting Ardbeg Alligator

For the moment, it is lucky committee members who can get some and for everyone else, I guess they will just have to wait for the general release in September. In the mean time I am going to hide my bottle from covetous eyes.

As a committee member this can be bought through the Ardbeg Website.