Review: GLENFARCLAS 105 Cask Strength – #74 hit

Glenfarclas, my favorite Speyside distillery! I had high expectations for this one, maybe too high!?

My first thoughts were “where did all the alcohol go”? I had some water ready close by in case of emergency but this was clearly not needed. This is without a doubt the smoothest 60% abv. whisky I’ve ever come across. In comparison to Aberlour A’bunadh – another heavily sherried Cask Strength Speyside – this is fruit juice. Okay maybe exaggerated a bit but honestly this is Cask Strength at its smoothest.glenfarclas-105-cask-strength

Since my current Speyside favorite is the 12 year old Glenfarclas I unavoidably start comparing these two editions. I immediately fell in love with the mossy taste of the 12yo but, to my slight disappointment, this is nowhere to be found in the 105 Cask Strength. Still you don’t want the two to taste alike; I mean what is the point to that!? Instead of the mossy heathery taste you have delicious candied black fruits on top of a piercing bed of sherry and spices. It is amazing how different the 105 Cask Strength taste compared to the 12yo. This is not said in a bad way, I really like this dram. It might even be my favorite Cask Strength whisky, primarily because of the extreme sweetness and sherry notes that are dominating the palate.

I ended off by adding some drops of water. I sincerely don’t think this helped, on the contrary It felt more dull. My recommendation therefore is to enjoy Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength neat.

VERDICT: This is definitely the smoothest Cask Strength whisky I have tasted and also one of the few that do not improve when adding water. Sherry is the keyword here, loads of it. I can warmly recommend this Speyside if you are searching for a combination of high alcohol content, sweetness, and loads of sherry.

  (7.6/10)

Review: BOWMORE 1992 bordeaux cask 16yo – #40 hit

French Whore’s Perfume?

French Whore’s Perfume is a term coined to certain Bowmore bottlings that was considered to be of very poor quality due to notes of lavender, soap, violet and other strong perfume fragrances. It is said that the notorious era of FWP (French Whore’s Perfume) stretched from the early 80’ies to the early 90’ies. This leaves this edition in the danger zone and I actually wish I hadn’t heard about FWP as it prevents me from being completely unbiased in this matter. So should I pass this bottle on to my grandmother or is it worth a space on my shelf?Bowmore 1992 16yo

Phew! This bottle has not been compromised. Or maybe I should say not completely compromised because the floral fragrances are certainly present, just not to the extent of ruin. Considering that this limited edition 1992 vintage single malt  has aged in bourbon casks for six years and then ten years in Bordeaux wine casks there is no wonder that floral and fruity notes would appear on the palate. With most Islay whiskies the sweet fruity flavors that may be present are often concealed by a heavy layer of peaty smoke. This is not the case here however and I am actually a bit surprised by the relative absence of the familiar bonfire taste. Instead of smoke you are overwhelmed by waves of seasalt, pepper, and minerals; especially towards the finish. I find the entry more round, creamy and gentle with hints of sherried fruits and walnuts. I really like the balance in this single malt.

VERDICT: This Bowmore has not been FWP’ed and gives you a unique experience with its combination of maritime notes and red fruits. It packs a punch with its 53,3% abv. yes, but not enough to justify adding water in my opinion. All in all a good Islay dram.

  (8.2/10)

Review: HIGHLAND PARK 16yo – #37 hit

I recently had the chance to taste this 16 year old Highland Park at my friend’s house. It was so good thHighland park 16at we ended up emptying the half full bottle. Little did I know that this edition was withdrawn in April 2010. Had I known that I would probably have tried to savour it a bit more. I remember finding it significantly smoother and more enjoyable than the 12 year old Highland Park but without coming across as anything extraordinary. As one might expect this edition does not outcompete the 18 year old bottling. It follows the Highland Park spirit by being slightly sweet on the palate with only a tad of smoke. All in all a slightly above average whisky that in my opinion lacks intensity but is fairly good as an everyday drink.

VERDICT: This is a step up from the 12 year old Highland Park! While the taste is the same as its predecessors it appears more smooth and creamy. Unfortunately the production has been discontinued by now.

  (6.1/10)

Review: BOWMORE 12yo – #3 hit

Straight out of the shores of Loch Indaal the 12 year old Bowmore comes from one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Back in 1999 when I just started to get into scotch I got this bottle as a present. I had never tasted Islay whisky before and I remember that I was not overly impressed at that time. I was more into sweet whiskies like Dalwhinnie and Balvenie. Apparently I was not ready for it back then Bowmore 12but over the years smoky whiskies started to appeal more and more to me. I have a Bowmore now and then especially some of the more aged whiskies. That said I still prefer Laphroaig and Ardbeg over any other Islay single malts.

This single malt is filled with maritime flavors that slowly develop in your mouth. Most dominant are smoke, salt, seaweed, and there is also hints of sherry. I find it a very good traditional Islay single malt that don’t impress you too much with neither complexity nor smoothness.

VERDICT: A good Islay that stands its ground with a tsunami of maritime flavors. Despite its lack of complexity and smoothness I have a sweet spot for this dram, maybe primarily because it has been with me for so long.

(6/10)

Review: BALVENIE 12yo Doublewood – #6 hit

Orange peel, sherry, vanilla, lemon, and honey well balanced by woody extracts are what you can expect from this very sweet single malt. Given the fact that the 12 year old Balvenie has matured in both traditional oak casks and also Spanish oak sbalvenie_doublewoodherry casks it comes as no surprise that both notes of sweet bourbon and sherry appear in the background. Eventually the oak fades away giving room for sweetness in form of traditional vanilla and dried fruits. Even though I would not characterize this whisky as packing a punch it definitely leaves a bite on the finish that for some people would be a bit too much. In my younger days when I was into sweet whiskies this was one of my favorites. Now I am not overly enthusiastic about it. Still it is a good dram if you are in the earlier years of whisky discovery and tend to like sweetness instead of peat.

VERDICT: A rewarding single malt of you are into whiskies with good balance between oak and sweetness. Personally I find it lacks texture and packs a punch compared to many other 12 year old whiskies and I am not that keen about the taste. But hey, I am not a big Highland fan so I would not be discouraged if this is your favorite scotch region!

  (5.7/10)

Review: CHIVAS REGAL 12yo – #4 hit

I had an experience the other day that made me realize that I have become a whisky schivas12nob! Last year I received a 12 year old  Chivas Regal from my father-in-law. The thought was nice enough. He knew that I liked whisky so he bought something he was familiar with. After about a year standing on the shelf I thought that, out of common courtesy, the least I could do was to taste it. So I did. It is not like I have never tasted Chivas Regal before, but something has happened since then. I could seriously not force myself to drink this stuff so I ended up pouring it into the sink. After the disturbing experience I had to calm myself down with a Bowmore 16yrs just to convince myself that my taste buds were intact. I guess there is no denying the fact that I have officially become a Whisky Snob!

VERDICT: Arghh…

  (2/10)

Review: BENROMACH 10yo – #68 hit

benromach_10So I finally got around to tasting the last bottle of Benromach I had on my shelf. Having tasted the Organic and Peat Smoke editions I had already grown fond of this very small distillery. I did however expect this one to be a bit less interesting. Indeed, it lacks the character found in the special editions but is definitely still worth the money. Like other Speysides it is malty and sweet and opens up with traditional notes of citrus and pepper. Hints of orange peel also appear along with caramel and mild vegetal notes. I tried adding a bit of water which really worked to its advantage. I like it despite its lacking complexity and even though it is nothing extraordinary it still rises above most 12 year old or less single malts available on the market.

VERDICT: A good traditional Speyside.

  (5.6/10)

Review: GLENFARCLAS 12yo – #67 hit

The other day when I bought this 12 year old Glenfarclas I thought I added another Highland single malt to the collection. Then I looked into its background and realized that the distillery is actually deeply rooted in the Speyside region. I find it a bit misleading to state “Highland Single Malt” on the label when it is really a Speyside. Not that it matters much I was just a bit puzzled by that. Anyways I had read several good reviews about this particular bottling on the web and I also noticed that it won gold at the Stockholm Beer & Whisky Festival in 2007 and 2008 which in itself was enough incentive for me to run down to the liquor store and spend my last 40 bucks. Was it worth it?Glenfarclas_12

I think it was BUT…

In contrast to how this whisky is described elsewhere I don’t find it remotely sweet, fruity or sherried. Okay maybe a bit sherried but not considering it being matured in sherry casks. What I do find is an intense mixture of heather, moss, and oak. It has a very organic feel to it which is hard to describe. On the softer side you will find butterscotch and nuts lurking in the background and it is also a very creamy, none-harsh and round bodied whisky.

VERDICT: I like the mossy and organic taste. I like the fact that it is thick and creamy. Actually I like everything about this whisky. It is currently my nr.1 Speyside and I highly recommend it to people who want to taste something different.

  (7.7/10)

Review: LAPHROAIG 10yo – #66 hit

Laphroaig is one of the oldest distilleries on Islay, if not the oldest, and since I am a dedicated Islay lover I had really high hopes for this one.laphroaig_10

Just before I poured my first glass I noticed it said “the most richly flavoured of all Scotch whiskies” on the bottle. This is really putting the bar high I thought. I guess it all comes down to how you define “richly flavoured”. It certainly has a distinct taste if that’s what it means. Anyways I love this dram. It starts off with notes of citrus and spring grass along with caramel that quickly turns into something reminiscent of freshly paved tarmac and burning tires. All along the caramel notes linger in the background and perfectly balances the peat and smoke. The finish is soft, light and rather short but still enjoyable. There are no excessive alcohol flavours in this ten year old bottling and it is one of the most approachable Islay whiskies I’ve tasted. Highly recommendable.

VERDICT: I really like the way it enters all sweet and caramel like before it hits you from behind with tarmac and burned rubber. There is good complexity, softness, and sweetness in this very accomplished Islay single malt.

  (8/10)

Review: TOMINTOUL Peaty Tang – #65 hit

“The gentle dram”, it says on the bottle! I couldn’t agree more.tomintoul-peaty-tang-whisky

The Tomintoul distillery is mostly known for producing whisky for various blends and personally I had never heard about it before accidentally stumbling into it on a whisky run to Germany. Originally released in 2007 Tomintoul Peaty Tang uses peated malted barley which is pretty unusually in the Speyside Glenlivet region. I had my doubts with this one, primarily because I have never tasted a good peaty smoky whisky outside Islay before. Would this be the exception? Well yes and no.

To me Peaty Tang is better than most young none-Islay whiskies. But I am also a sucker for everything that tastes like bonfire, seaweed, peat, ocean yeah you get the point. BUT it does not qualify into my top 10, mainly because it is too light-bodied and watery. I prefer them thick, strong and complex. Peaty Tang is just the opposite. Still this makes it a great everyday drink and as I said I do prefer it over many other whiskies.

VERDICT: Tomintoul Peaty Tang is a great entry into the world of peaty smoky whiskies and at its price definitely recommendable. Pros: easy to drink, peaty, and the nose is amazing. Cons: a bit watery, very short finish, one dimensional.

  (6.7/10)