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)

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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)

Review: CLYNELISH 14yo – #63 hit

With only around 1% of the whisky production dedicated to single malts, it is not strange iclynelish14yof you never heard about Clynelish before, I certainly hadn’t! The distillery resides at the northeastern coast of Scotland and has gained quite a reputation since its release of the 14 year old bottling in 2002.  Even though I had very low expectations for this single malt I must say I was slightly impressed. I am not much of a Highland guy but do appreciate a good dram when I taste one. What took me by surprise was its syrupy and creamy texture, especially considering its 46% abv., and its gentle contributions of both NaCl, Vanilla, and some vegetal notes. A rather unusual combination that works very well nonetheless. On the finish you have a little touch of oak and peas together with butterscotch. It is not a harsh whisky but somewhere in-between. A good everyday dram.

VERDICT: Very creamy, very gentle. A good Higland whisky without too much complexity.

(6/10)

Review – NIKKA YOICHI 10yo – #62 hit

Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Japanese whisky, established the first Japanese distillery in 1924. Several people had attempted the art of producing whisky from corn and rice before him but had all failed. In 1934 Masataka Taketsuru opened Yoichi 50km west of Sapporo city, a distillery that has continued to use old Scottish traditions until this very day. Whereas most distilleries have abandoned the aYoichi 10yort of heating pot stills with coal fire this is still common practice in Yoichi.  In 1952 Masataka Taketsuru adopted the name Nikka Whisky and 17 years later he established his second distillery.

They could have fooled me. If blindfolded I would never have guessed that this single malt originated from the other side of the world. When that is said I do not have anything special to say about this dram. It is soft and has a good balance between dried fruits and oak but lacks character.

VERDICT: Not particularly bad but not exceptional in any way either.

  (5.1/10)

Review: TALISKER 10yo – #61 hit

Talisker is the only distillery that has survived on the island of Skye and will soon celebrate its 200 year birthday. Even though it is often compared to Islay single malts, I find this to be a big mistake as the differences could not be more apparent. Not even the mildly peated whiskies like Caol Ila show any resemblance. If we take a look at the phenol levels, which lie around 18-22, TaliskeTalisker10r would be characterized as a moderately peated whisky. However present the smoke and peat is it is well concealed beneath an overwhelming amount of peppery spices and sea salt. Even the alcohols seem to stay in the back giving room for notes of seaweed, white pepper, bitter malt, and a touch of lemon. The finish is short and leaves a bitter and tingling feeling on the tongue. So what do I think about this whisky? Well my expectations may have been too high because I was slightly disappointed and I found it a bit dull.

VERDICT: Definitely interesting if you are into whiskies that are peppery, salty, and very malty. As this is not the case for me I am not currently a fan. Maybe I should give the 18 year old a go!

  (5.9/10)

Review: OBAN 14yo – #60 hit

Despite being one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland – and also one of the few left from the 18th century – Oban counts as one of the smallest with only 650,000 liters produced each year. As a consequence you will only find few standard bottlings availabOBAN_14yrs_SINGLE_MALT_750mlle with the 14 year old edition being the most famous. When Oban was established by the west Highland coast in 1794 An t-Òban (Gaelic for The Little Bay) was practically nonexistent as a town. Now, more than 200 years later, the town surrounds the distillery and has grown to around 8,000 inhabitants. Impressively, considering its production size, Oban is one of the 20 most sold single malts in the world and I can understand why. There is not the slightest bite only a thick full bodied creamy texture that slinks down without any effort. This must be one of the smoothest below 16yrs old single malts I have ever tasted! As malty toffee, saccharine, and butterscotch dominate the palate salty flavors emerge after awhile together with a passing touch of spring grass and dried citrus fruits. Like most smooth single malts it is not overly complex and I can’t really find the peat and smoke some people are raving about. Still I was definitely pleasantly surprised by this one.

VERDICT: Exceptionally smooth! This is how I would describe Oban in two words. On top of the smoothness you have a very good balance between caramel and salty sea notes. Highly recommendable.

(7/10)