Ardbeg Uigeadail

NewImage

Distiller:
Ardbeg

Region:
Islay

ABV:
54.2%

Colour:
Pale Straw

Review:
How does one even begin to review what is arguably the best single malt in the world from arguably one of the best distilleries in the world.

Of course the nose is peaty and full of smoke! But what a brilliant nose. Underneath all the peatiness lies the sweetest, most delicious aromas of a citrus pudding. On top are the salty, iodine sea waves that keep lashing the shore and give this malt the most delicious of all noses.

The palate is simply perfection. It is sweet. It is salty. It is strong. It is gentle. There is spice. There is sweetness. There are salty oils caressing juicy nectarines. I don’t know where to begin. After tastes of tobacco and leather remind me of sitting in a smoky gentleman’s club. Exactly the kind of place where the Uigeadail would feel right at home. Finally there is the faintest hint of aniseeds to round off what is most definitely the way whisky was intended to taste.

Rating : 96

Advertisements

Tobermory 15

Tobermory15

Distiller:
Tobermory

Region:
Isle of Mull

ABV:
46.3%

Colour:
Old Gold

Review:
The first thing about this single malt from Mull is it’s absolutely gorgeous wooden packaging. The beauty of the presentation alone is worth acquiring this gem.

The nose is a big white dish of dark purple fruits stewed in the oven and then removed. There’s blueberries, blackberries and thick chunks of plum. The fruits are then piled on to a rich, chewy fruit cake with layers and layers of fudge. Finally a light drizzle of spices, a hint of oak and a touch of something floral.

The delivery is a bold smearing of burnt marmalade on toast in tandem with juicy dark berries. Suddenly massive spices explode with a showering of chocolate chips and wood shavings. Adding a drop of water makes the palate a bit dry and definitely more oaky.

This is a fantastic dram with a lot of complex flavors. And funnily enough I love it because of it’s massive spices.

Rating : 93

Tomintoul Peaty Tang

NewImage

Distiller:
Tomintoul

Region:
Speyside

ABV:
40%

Colour:
Full Gold

Review:
I was really excited about trying this anomaly from Speyside.

This is one of those rare single malts that is distilled using peated barley in a Speyside distillery and the result is quite unusual and remarkable.

The first nose gives you the pleasantly familiar tang of peatiness (as promised by the name) and instantly transports you to a distillery in Islay. Though, it’s as if your mind is in Islay but your heart is still in Speyside; it’s an unusual feeling. Under the big wallop of peat lie sweet undertones of honey and sugar. The dry aura of heather then permeates through with a cosy, buttery scent of biscuits.

It’s a strong, strong delivery full of smoke and the palate needs a while to adjust and discover other hidden treasures underneath this peaty assault! First there’s a small slice of pancake smeared in delicate citrus and that’s followed by a sprinkling of dry nuts. The end is an all-spice affair which tends to linger.

Quite a unique flavor profile on this one. It stands with one foot on Islay and the other on Speyside and the beauty is it’s chosen to stand in exactly the right spots!

Rating : 92

Ballantines 17

Ballantines17

Distiller:
Ballantines

ABV:
43%

Colour:
Pale Gold

Review:
At first I was a little daunted with writing a review of Jim Murray’s Whisky of the Year 2011 but then I said to my self ‘Bah! Who cares what Jim thinks!’

Let me tell you what I think.

This is truly an absolutely brilliant blended whisky. It’s strength lies in delivering every single element in subtlety and perfect harmony.

The nose is like digging through a multi-layered dessert using a big fat silver spoon. The first layer is honey and a beautiful pudding. Dig deeper and you will find a thin layer of butterscotch and vanilla on top of which are thin slices of juicy, moist pears. (I’m drooling just writing this!). The base of the dessert is made up of delicate bran crumble pastry sprayed with just the slightest hints of something floral. One of the sweetest, most delicate noses you will find.

The palate is a full bodied, slightly oily, silken affair with your taste buds. As the first, more prominent, sweeter profiles start to fade there comes a mysterious complexity about this blend. The tiniest wisp of chocolatey smoke coupled with an elegant woody grace make this one of the most astonishing of spirit deliveries. The gentle spices and that gorgeous, but minuscule, after taste of a Cuban cigar box wrap up, what has to be in my books, the Whisky of the Year.

What? Jim already said that? Bah! Who cares what he thinks!

Rating : 94

Belgian Owl

NewImage

Distiller:
Belgian Owl

ABV:
46%

Colour:
Pale Straw

Review:
I was quite intrigued to have a taste of my first Belgian single malt and came out pleasantly surprised.

This is a 4 year old expression, quite pale in color.

Beautifully delicate honeyed nose, like sitting at a dessert table in a patisserie; a patisserie in a field of straw and barley, that is. The maître pâtissier waddles out from behind the counter and serves me an intricately plated array of marzipan, sweet melon and slices of freshly cut oranges. It is such a fresh and delightful combination that you want to just sit back and relax with your eyes closed.

The palate is the patisserie in liquid form with all the aromas coming through. Added to the mix are the most glorious stalks of sugarcane I have ever tasted. Threw me back to the days as a child when we chewed on the sweet stalks and sucked all it’s nectar out. Rounding off the dazzlingly fresh flavors are hints of pine nuts, something green and the gentlest of aniseed.

This is an absolute gem of a malt. If the Belgians can produce such flavors at 4 years imagine what they can do with 12 or even 18. Scotland and Japan better look out. There’s a new flavor profile making it’s mark.

Rating : 93

Glendronach 18 Year old Allardice Sherry Cask

NewImage

Distiller:
GlenDronach

Region:
Speyside

ABV:
46%

Colour:
Old Gold

Review:
This expression had been on my radar for a while but I never got around to acquiring it for my self so I was quite excited when a friend of mine popped it out one night over at his place.

Being partial to anything with sherry I quite eagerly went in for my first nose. The smell is autumn. All around me are scattered dry leaves gently rustling in the wind. As I go foraging through ankle deep foliage I find sweet bananas and dark berries glistening with a sherry coat. I look up and nestled in the branches of a dry oak tree is a wooden box filled with dark chocolates and butterscotch. As I look down I see in my hands a bowl of fudge sprinkled with fruits while all around me is the smell of dry oak trees.

My only problem with this picture is that everything is just a little bit dull.

I tipped the glass back expecting a sugar rush of sherry and dark berries and I wasn’t wrong. But before I could get my head around the initial flavors the dry oak kicked in and arrested what was going to be a great first impression. As I pressed on I began to detect bits of dark chocolate, citrus and walnuts in the mix. Unfortunately, though, as I tried to savor the new flavors my journey was abruptly ended with the bold arrival of cinnamon spices.

I think this expression has all the necessary flavors to deliver something remarkable. However, they are not in the right proportion. Much too dry and a little too spicy for my liking.

Rating : 83

Talisker 57 North

NewImage

Distiller:
Talisker

Region:
Island

ABV:
57%

Colour:
Pale Gold

Review:
I’ve been lucky enough to own multiple bottles of this beauty so I tend to drink this one at will! But I gloat. Let’s talk about the nose, shall we? The powerful aromas make me feel like a captain on a fishing trawler – braving the rough seas and the salty waves that pound the edge of the boat time and again. Strands of seaweed and kelp are flung on the ship in quick succession. No matter how hard the deck hands try they can never rid themselves of that. Out of the corner of my eye I see my first-mate neglecting his duties and tending to a succulent sausage barbecue. In between the sausages are the most delicious pieces of salty fish, sprayed with lemon zest, that I have ever tasted.

I want to discipline him but I can’t – something tells me to just accept the things the way they are.

As I bring the crystal nosing glass to my lips I am treated to three distinct emotions. First the full bodied malt announces it’s arrival with a touch of salt and a glimmer of smoke. Then, immediately fighting for attention are a tumble of autumn fruits and a lovely soft pudding. As your mind tries to come to grips with the two distinct flavors you are treated to the gentlest of iodine sprayed spices as they signal the end of the journey.

At 57% this is one of the longer finishes I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. If you don’t have one I suggest you go out there right now and procure yourself possibly one of the best tasting single malts out there!

Rating : 95