Laphroaig Cairdeas 2013 Portwood

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Distillery/Brand: Laphroaig
Region: Islay
ABV: 51.3%
Colour: Young Sauternes

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

Review
This is an unusual Laphroaig and I suspect not a terribly successful one. And I mean that only because I hold Laphroaig to very lofty standards. I’m a huge fan of Laphroaig so don’t get me wrong.

Firstly it’s pink. Now I’m not fickle about color but pink is not what I associate with whisky. But let’s move on; it’s just a minor point.

The nose is interesting as it wrestles between it’s signature aromas and the new ones that the portwood is forcing on it. There’s the nice peat and the familiar meat stew that is quite Laphroaig. However, the iodine is missing and it’s replaced by pink melon, red grapefruit, guava and, as my brother pointed out, brown bread. It’s not bad but it can be a little confusing.

The palate is where I feel it does not deliver to it’s full potential. There is first the smoky barbeque with a pinch of turmeric. Then a hastily arranged basket of berries and red plums. It’s a muddle really but to be fair it’s not disastrous.

The medium finish has a touch of oaky mint and spice.

I suspect this one will have two camps. The ones who love it and the ones who hate it. And to court controversies from both I have decided to plant my self right in the middle.

Rating: 87

Macallan Oscuro

Oscuro

Distillery/Brand: Macallan
ABV: 46.5%
Colour: Old Sauternes
Region: Speyside


Nose: 24
Taste: 23
Finish: 22
Balance: 23

Review
The Macallan Oscuro is the premium expression in the new NAS Travel Retail exclusive clocking in at around $1000 a bottle. Stiff price to pay I feel but it does have sprits that are well over 25 years old. So maybe?

The heavily sherried nose is big, bold and full of oak with a touch of leather. This is followed by a healthy smear of marmalade on a piece of burnt toast with a side of chocolate and over-ripe bananas. One could easily get carried away with this nose. It’s quite beautiful.

The delivery is equally bold with the sherry and oak once again in the fore. To give them company are lively black peppercorns strewn on a steaming chocolate fudge cake. A big slice for me please!

The finish is medium-long and carries the flavors through with the woody black peppercorns still bouncing around in your mouth.

I feel the strength of this whisky is how true it stays through out it’s journey. It’s weakness is its’ unusually high price tag. But, hey, what do I know about marketing?

Rating: 92

Macallan Fine Oak 15

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Distillery/Brand:
Macallan
Region: Speyside
ABV: 43%
Colour: Pale Gold

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

Review
I’ve been on a recent quest of collecting Macallans ever since I met (and interviewed) their highly likable whisky maker Bob Dalgarno. And the real reason I truly appreciate the Fine Oak series is because I know first-hand what goes into creating these exceptional whiskies.

The Macallan nose is what Speyside is built on and this 15 year old stays true to that. First a bowl of white melon and vanilla pods drizzled with a lovely golden syrup. Then a delicate garnish of lavender petals with a touch of clove. Finally a sprinkle of soft chopped nuts.

The palate continues it’s journey of sweet honey but this time with a touch of lemon, barley and cloves. However, the white pepper is a smidge too strong for my liking.

The finish is strong and dry with a nice clove after taste.

Rating: 89

Amrut Kadhambam

Kadhambam

Distillery/Brand: Amrut | ABV: 50% | Region: India | Colour: Full Gold
Nose: 24 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 92

Review
Amrut expressions are extremely rare on the ground given their limited runs thanks to a policy of quality and not quantity which we all appreciate. They are also subject to the most cruel levels of Angel’s Share thanks to the hot and balmy weather of Bangalore. And so when they released the third edition of this rare expression I just had to get it.

Kadhambam in Tamil means ‘mixture’ and that’s exactly what this malt is. Matured in four different casks – new American Oak, rum, sherry & brandy – it mixes and marries flavor profiles from all influences.

Nose: It’s restrained in a confident manner. It doesn’t come rushing at you on all 8 cylinders yet neither does it shy away from expressing itself. The American Oak announces itself first with a lovely bourbon-y smell complete with vanilla, some chocolate and caramel. The rum is next with it’s dry dates and banana. The sherry with it’s clove and finally the brandy with a whiff of wild flowers. The subtle nuances coupled with the complex make this quite a nosing experience.

Palate: Now the palate I would have liked to fire on all cylinders but the restraint continues. The woody caramel delivery is sprinkled with cinnamon and cocoa powder and completely coats your mouth in a creamy goodness. I hung on for a long time to try and get some more out of it but couldn’t. And that’s where it loses a couple of points.

Finish: Long and dry with the same chocolate, oak and spice setting up permanent camp on your taste buds.

This is not my favorite Amrut but it’s a damn fine one. And I have to give them props for not shying away from doing things no other distillery would even dare. Thanks to them we experience flavor profiles we could not have dreamed possible.

Rating: 92

Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength Batch 005

Batch5

Distillery/Brand: Laphroaig
Region: Islay
ABV: 57.2%
Colour: Young Sauternes

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

Review
Laphroaig has been releasing a 10 year old Cask Strength version every year for the last five and I’ve managed to get my hands on all except the second. So if you have access to Batch 002 somehow please let me know.

Right, now on to the 5.

Strong Laphroaig-ian nose. Unlike the recent Cairdeas releases where the nose has been very subtle this one makes no excuses about it’s birth-right. The strong peat, seaweed and iodine burst through beautifully riding on a wave of golden, dark oranges coated in a lovely brown sugar brittle. Finally there’s a touch of butterscotch with a crinkling of almond husk and an unusual hint of fresh soap.

The palate is a strong white pepper delivery on a wave of oaky sweet honey, raisins and lemon tart. This one has to stay on the palate for a while to be truly appreciated.

The long long finish is a touch spicy and coats your entire mouth with a slightly chalky (but in a good way), salivating minty finish.

Rating: 92