Dalmore 18

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Distiller:
Dalmore

Region:
Highland

ABV:
43%

Colour:
Old Sauternes

Review:
I had the pleasure of meeting Richard Paterson recently and one of the whiskies he shared with us was the Dalmore 18.

Very much like Mr Paterson’s personality the nose is big! Huge creamy chunks of sugar and vanilla. Like dipping your head in a bucket of caramel. As you shake your head from side to side capturing all the sweet honey vapors you’re hit in the face with black berries and strips of licorice. Then there is the unusual aroma of black salt. Like picking up a black rock on the beach and smelling the salt on it.

A lot of flavors on the palate though I’m not sure always in balance. The dry delivery brings with it the obvious honey and vanilla notes. Then there is the black salt. It appears suddenly and then just sits there among the toasted nuts. A second sip makes you think of banana smeared on wood and then dipped in citrus.

Once again I am torn between Mr Paterson’s infectious enthusiasm and my own palate. It is not my favorite dram but there is something unusual about that black salt that’s stuck to me for some reason. Just to experience that I will drink this one again.

Rating : 87

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Isle of Jura Superstition

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Distiller:
Isle of Jura

Region:
Island

ABV:
43%

Colour:
Full Gold

Review:
I had the Isle of Jura Superstition at a tasting with Richard Paterson lately and so I wasn’t sure whether it was his infectious energy or the actual malt that actually had an impact on me.

The nose was quite pleasant if not a bit too sugary sweet. Instantly reminded me of a Def Leppard classic ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me!’. Rolling in the heavy honey were tangerines and dry nuts after which a few vanilla pods came dancing along. Finally there was the faintest wisp of spicy peat. The nose is actually quite pleasant but belies what is in store for you.

The delivery is surprisingly light. I was expecting a thick creamy liquid instead I was greeted with quite a silky texture (and I don’t mean that in a good way). The palate is very light and quite dry. First there is a mixture of grass and hay followed by a drop of lemon. But a very mild lemon at that! Some where along the way you feel the presence of milk chocolates which quickly give way to cinnamony spices.

I want to really like this dram but I can’t get my head around it. Would I specially take it out and share it with my friends? Maybe some not so special friends.

Rating : 86

Amrut Two Continents (2nd Edition)

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Distiller:
Amrut

ABV:
50%

Colour:
Pale Gold

Review:
It’s called Two Continents because it’s been matured in both India and Scotland. I don’t know who thought of doing that but they’re on to something special here.

The 2nd Edition is slightly stronger than the first (50% vs 46% ABV) and I think that adds to the excitement.

Nose: Let’s start with the unreal nose. Each visit brings you something new forcing you to almost sit and nose it for hours. I had so many flavor profiles wrestling with my senses I was dazed. It’s instantly honeyed reminding you of a ripe fruit stew covered in pudding. There is also a small piece of chocolate drizzled with citrus juice that is just delightfully unexpected. Sit with it for a while and the smell of freshly cut grass grabs you. As your sense of smell eagerly waits for something new out comes a tray of freshly baked biscuits! Finally you are reminded that the one thing that binds it together is fat, juicy barley.

Palate: With heady anticipation I let some of it slide over my tongue and it was as if someone had just taken all these aromas and liquified them instantly. As the silky malt explored my mouth it left behind faint traces of oak with pencil shavings strewn around. Then suddenly from no where you’re hit with the fiery spice of cinnamon and star anise.

Finish: Once you close your eyes and swallow you realize that each component worked harmoniously with each other and made the other great. Possibly one of my favorite malts from definitely my favorite distillery.

Rating : 97

Royal Salute 21

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Distiller:
Strathisla

ABV:
40%

Colour:
Pale Gold

Review:
I was a bit hesitant to try the Royal Salute 21, being wary of gimmicks and marketing led premium prices that dominate the upper end of the blends market.

What I discovered was an excellent surprise!

A fragrant and uncomplicated nose of pleasing aromas. The first thing you get is lemon and honey followed by a toffee sweetness. There is a faint touch of freshly cut grass and sugarcane accompanied by the tiniest wisp of smoke.

The palate is what the brilliant Strathisla Distillery is known for: toffee, vanilla and butterscotch. Some times it’s nice to go back to the tastes that lured me into malt drinking in the first place. As you savor this basket of sweetness a deft touch of smoke at the end reminds you that there’s an Islay in there some where.

This is an excellent blend which I feel is quite malt heavy; maybe that’s why it’s so smooth. At $150 it’s on the higher side but I think they compensate that with a pretty porcelain bottle and velvet packaging.

Rating : 90

Dalwhinnie 15

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Distiller:
Dalwhinnie

Region:
Highland

ABV:
43%

Colour:
Full Gold

Review:
My first review of a Dalwhinnie and the 15 year old expression I was after for a while. Finally managed a taste and it seems like I’ll be sourcing a few more.

The nose is typical Highland complexities with a strange floral inclination. My first impression is lavender bath oils and touch of rose water. A subsequent nose confirms the presence of barley and then, just like a nostalgic surprise, comes the comforting smell of wet wood.

The palate is a tad dry as the oak makes it’s presence felt. Then peeking from around the corner are the most delicious coffee beans I’ve ever had. This is all wrapped in swirls of honey. Honey that’s been exposed to gentle smoke and infused with star anise.

Go out and get one now!

Rating : 92

Ardmore 25

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Distiller:
Ardmore

Region:
Speyside

ABV:
51.4%

Colour:
Pale Straw

Review:
Ardmore is slowly becoming one of my top 5 distilleries and this 25 year old expression has a lot to do with it.

One of the most pleasant noses I’ve come across recently. I expected a slap in the face (51.4% ABV) but instead I got a gentle caress of freshly baked biscuits, slightly ripe apples and freshly harvested barley stewing in the most delicate of caramel. A second nosing brings out what can only be mint leaves strewn on a bed of hay.

A lovely delivery on the palate introduces it’s star attractions; barley and honeycomb. Stay with it a bit longer and you pick up lemon zest and citrusy overtones. As the malt cascades down your throat in a silken delivery you are made aware of the gentlest of peaty smoke and mild spices.

A glorious dram with a finish that stays with you for a while.

Rating : 93

Springbank 12 – Cask Strength

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Distiller:
Springbank

Region:
Campbeltown

ABV:
57%

Colour:
Old Sauternes

Review:
At a mighty 57% the Springbank is an immediate eye-opener (and I mean that literally!). A lot of citrus on the nose (lime zest, orange peel) mingled with a curious case of burnt sugar. This was of course transported to our noses on the back of unadulterated fumes emanating from the spirit! The palate was remarkably smooth given the ABV and I suspect some ripe fruits and raisins found their way in there. And the finish? Well, I guess I’ll let you know when it finishes.

Rating : 92