Amrut Greedy Angels

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Distillery/Brand: Amrut
Region: India
ABV: 50%
Colour: Pale Straw

Nose: 24
Taste: 23
Finish: 23
Balance: 23

Review
A few months before this much awaited whisky was set to launch Amrut’s brand ambassador, and my good friend, Ashok, sent us a sample. He wasn’t looking for an opinion – he was just being nice. Letting us take a sneak peek into the oldest (released) Amrut ever.

Greedy Angels is named for the excessive evaporation that the Bangalore weather forces on the maturation process. Word has it that over 274 liters of spirit was lost in this 8 year experiment making this expression possibly the rarest Amrut in the world.

Nose: A marriage of two ex-bourbon casks the nose is unmistakably that – bourbon. But there is layer upon layer of complexities forcing you to sit and ooh aah over every new aroma you discover. First the honey, toffee and vanilla. Then a bowl of stewed fruits topped with crushed biscuits, cardamom and the faintest of cinnamon. Let it breathe a bit and it becomes dry almost like a fortified wine taking on some butterscotch and green pears.

Palate: The creamy palate makes a lovely transition from the nose with honey, toffee and vanilla as the central characters all ably supported by pleasant star anise and strong jasmine tea.

Finish: The long finish is warm oaky and sprinkled with black pepper.

A lovely robust malt which makes you marvel at how the folks over at Amrut rarely put a foot wrong.

Rating: 93

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Laphroaig Cairdeas Origin

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Distillery/Brand: Laphroaig
Region: Islay
ABV: 51.2%
Colour: Sunlight

Nose: 23
Taste: 23
Finish: 22
Balance: 22

Review
I quite like the Cairdeas series, frankly. They are unmistakably Laphroaig but add a tarty lemon sweetness to the whole proceedings and this particular Cairdeas boasts of similar flavors.

The nose is soft with restrained peat and iodine and a touch of sea salt. This is complemented with an interesting combination of red grapefruit, licorice and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar (I thinks that’s the sweet and salty).

The palate is similar in profile to the Cairdeas Master with a strong pinch of white pepper and cascading honey lemon. The delivery is extremely oily and flows easily over the palate.

The minty woody finish with a touch of aniseed is quite generous. Another nice malt from Laphroaig.

Rating: 90

Ardbeg Ardbog

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Distillery/Brand: Ardbeg
Region: Islay
ABV: 52.1%
Colour: Pale Straw

Nose: 25
Taste: 23
Finish: 23
Balance: 23

Review
There’s always a sense of excitement for all Ardbeg fans around June of every year. Because that’s the time when Ardbeg unveils its much anticipated release of that year. This year (2013) it’s the Ardbeg Ardbog – so named after the peat bogs that provide that familiar Ardbeg flavor.

Let me tell you something. There is simply no other nose quite like this one. It is absolutely sublime. Not just because it is delicious but because it constantly changes the longer you leave it in the glass.

There is first the familiar tar with the tiniest hint of burnt rubber sprinkled with a delicate puff of soot. The sweetness comes through next on the back of light chocolate-y citrus and a layering of delicate caramel. Don’t go yet because there is fresh grapes mulched with tiny sprigs of coriander next. Leave it longer and it becomes even more sweet. More daring if you like. The chocolate becomes more pronounced. The honey becomes darker and takes on a maple syrup quality. I have yet to come across a nose that is as complex as this one.

The palate is sweet fortified wine mixed with a lemony limestone consistency. It is smoky, peaty with finely chopped herbs and the tiniest hint of dank cardboard. Not in a bad way, mind you. Mull it longer and lovely chocolate cake dusted with cinnamon powder comes out next.

The strong oily finish is full of cloves and star anise rounded off with coffee beans and wood shavings.

This is a lovely dram and needs your undivided attention.

Rating: 94

Kavalan Concertmaster Port Cask Finish

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Distillery/Brand: Kavalan
Region : Taiwan
ABV: 40%
Colour: Pale Straw

Nose: 22
Taste: 22
Finish: 21
Balance: 20

Review
One of my most favorite whiskies in the world is the Kavalan Solist Fino – a powerhouse of a malt that packs a delicious punch. So it was with a sense of positive anticipation that I approached this port cask finish from the Taiwanese distillery.

The nose is the slightly overcooked aroma of coconut rice pudding; left on the burner for a while. Tropical fruits like mango and papaya are then added to the pot with a sprinkle of nuts passed through a delicate floral mist.

The tropical journey continues on the palate with a fruity milky disposition. But I think the mere 40% ABV held back the performance a touch.

The finish, though, left me wanting as it scurried away in a hurry. I would have liked to savor it a bit longer.

This malt will not blow your mind but neither will it disappoint.

Rating: 85

Arran Devil’s Punchbowl II

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Distillery/Brand: Arran
Region : Islands
ABV: 53.1%
Colour: Pale Straw

Nose: 22
Taste: 22
Finish: 22
Balance: 22

Review
I’ve not had a lot of Arran malts but the ones I’ve had have been quite nice. There was a 1996 Single Cask I had a while ago which blew my mind. So I was enthused to give this one a go. Lovely packaging with gorgeous graphics on a black bottle gives this one full marks for presentation.

It has a strong malty nose with a touch of raisiny sweetness. Followed by crushed white grapes on a grassy morning sprinkled with all kinds of herbs. And cool cucumber. Like being on a picnic.

A clean delivery brings an attack of honey, wet grass, white pepper with a droplets of woody lemon. No real flaws except maybe I would have liked it to be a bit chewy.

The finish, too, is fresh with the gentlest of aniseed.

This is a nice malt which ticks of most of the right boxes. However, when you have a jet black bottle with an angry flying demon and big bold red letters then you’re expecting something dark, complex and brooding. But that’s not the case.

This malt is like forcing a young schoolboy with a sunny disposition to wear goth clothes and dark makeup.

Rating: 88

Laphroaig QA

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Distillery/Brand: Laphroaig
Region: Islay
ABV: 40%
Colour: Gold

Nose: 22
Taste: 20
Finish: 20
Balance: 20

Review
I’ve been closely following these Travel Retail exclusives from Laphroaig and have managed to try them all. First the PX (which is excellent) and now this, the QA. The QA stands for Quercus Alba which is basically the latin name for American white oak.

The Laphroaig QA is ex-Bourbon spirit which has seen a final maturation in new American white oak casks. The idea was to give the peated spirit that warm vanilla and chocolate glow that comes from new American oak. The actual result? A complete mess.

Nose: Nicely Laphroaig, I must admit. It has the right balance of peaty smoke, that familiar iodine, a touch of citrus and wonderful hints of warm vanilla. My favorite part of the malt.

Palate: Comes and goes in a flash and refuses to stake any sort of claim. The light bodied sugar water with hints of citrus is one of the most disappointing experiences to ever come out of this great distillery. Quite sad actually.

Finish: An equally disappointing finish has some spice and a touch of oak.

This is not worth your money folks. For this price I would recommend a Laphroaig 10 and a Quarter Cask. Together. And I would recommend re-naming the QA. I think they should re-name it Quite Abysmal.

Rating: 82

Laphroaig Triple Wood

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Distillery/Brand: Laphroaig
Region: Islay
ABV: 48%
Colour: Old Sauternes

Nose: 22
Taste: 23
Finish: 22
Balance: 23

Review
The Triple Wood is a very decent dram courtesy of three maturations. First in ex-American Bourbon, then in a 19th Century style Quarter Cask before finishing up in an Oloroso Sherry cask.

The nose is a heady cloud of peaty chocolate syrup, minty nuts and the all too familiar sausage on grill. But what really sent me back years was the unmistakeable scent of black jambuline. And I have to be completely honest it was my brother who spotted it and I totally agree.

The palate continues along it’s merry way of chocolate goodness sprinkled with wild red berries, black pepper and a tasty meat stew. Mull it over a bit longer and a small piece of damp cardboard finds it’s way into the mix.

The clove and jambuline finish could have been much longer, though. But all in all this is an extremely competent single malt.

Rating: 90