Distillery/Brand: Port Ellen
I had a sip of this particular malt a couple of years ago at a friends birthday and did not know what to make of it. But that had nothing to do with the malt – it was my unseasoned palate which could not truly appreciate this wonderful spirit.
The nose is lovely understated peat with a beautiful lemon honey sweetness. All of this is covered in a glaze of passion fruit sprinkled with a dash of sea salt. Finally a touch of apricot next to sausage on barbecue.
The strong palate is a squeeze of citric honey and peat with a healthy white pepper sprinkle. As the spirit mellows the salty fruits come out to play and add a layer of complexity to the proceedings. It’s a bold palate, thanks to the cask strength, and reminds me a little of the Lagavulin 12
The long peppery finish completes a wonderful lost distillery experience.
Distillery/Brand: Three Ships
Colour: Pale Straw
Region: South Africa
Yes! My first South African single malt in the form of Three Ships 10 years old. This one is rated quite highly by all the critics so I was quite keen to have a go at it my self.
Quite an endearing nose this. Full and rounded and I like that it doesn’t overpower. There’s a definite bourbon influence with the dark chocolate and a light citrus drizzle which is accompanied by a hint of peat. All of this lying on a slab of sandalwood accompanied by green pears and freshly baked bread.
The medium bodied delivery is a touch delicate with a chocolate, honey and cinnamon mix. Chew it a bit longer and you’ll be able to eke out the faintest of green pears. It’s nice but it doesn’t blow me away.
The long finish is oaky dry with a mild cinnamon rub.
Is this malt spectacular? No. Is it decent? Sure, why not?
Karuizawa has been on my must-try radar for a while since expressions from this distillery are extremely rare or super expensive or both. Which is why it was nice to be able to get my hands on this not so expensive offering.
The Spanish sherry is clearly evident in the first nose though it’s not as punchy as I would have liked it to be. There are mushrooms and milk balls floating in a mix of woody fortified wine and maple syrup seasoned with clove. This one is much closer to it’s Scottish cousins than it’s Japanese brothers that’s for sure.
The palate is definitely stronger and approaches with confidence. There are dates and fudge with a smoky cinnamon dry rub.
The finish is nice and long with a chocolate-y dryness. There is, however, a mild bitter after taste that I catch which lets me down a touch.
Overall I think the malt is nice. But I’m still after the 30+ Karuizawas that are making waves around the world.
Colour: Pale Straw
Ah, yes! Finally some real flavors to sink my teeth into. I had been holding off this classic for a while choosing, instead, to sample some of their newer expressions like the Storm & Port Ruighe, before turning my attention to this gem. While the new expressions from the Skye distillery are doing it no good it’s the classics like this 18 year old that keep the faith alive.
The nose is truly a work of art. First the classic peaty smoke but so distinctly understated. Confident in it’s maturity. The salty pineapple citrus is next coupled with a refined lemon-lime toffee tartness. And finally a whiff of fresh cucumber sprinkled with the loveliest of white pepper. Oh, yes. This is what I had been waiting for!
The creamy mouthfeel is laced with intense black peppers but then mellows out to give you honey, lemon and chocolate with a dash of tobacco.
The long peppery finish is fruity with a hint of limestone.
These are the classic flavors that made Talisker one of my top distilleries and this expression should be on your list of malts to try before you die.
Colour: Old Sauternes
There’s been a recent spate of high strength sherry monsters and this one fits the bill perfectly.
The nose is quite gorgeous with heavy sherried oak sprinkled with mounds and mounds of crushed almonds. This is set against the backdrop of a chocolate and date fudge cake covered in lovely autumn dark fruits. Adding a few drops of water encourages fragrant rose petals to come through.
The strong delivery is ripe full of dark chocolate, pepper corns and maple syrup. The addition of water makes the spirit a touch palatable by bringing down the 60.2% ABV and introduces that same lovely rose water you get on the nose.
The long finish is full and boasts of roasted almonds.
A lovely dram that keeps opening up the longer you sit with it.
Colour: Pale Gold
This 10 year entry level from Aberlour is a half-decent malt. It lacks the complexity desired by the experienced palate but may be just the thing for a newbie entering the world of whisky.
The nose is quite nice. There is first a herbacious, clove and honey mixture which tends to linger. But then come the red apples. I have rarely nosed something which is so strong and so obvious. You can try and pinpoint some vanilla and almonds but the red apple keeps distracting you.
The delivery is once again made up of red apples rubbed with cinnamon and light cocoa with a touch of clove.
There is, unfortunately, no finish at all. There might be some figs but that could be my imagination.
A decent, if uncomplicated, malt.
Colour: Pale Straw
This is a barely average West Highland malt from this small distillery in the coastal town of, yes you guessed it, Oban. Funnily enough it was the distillery that was first named and the town that sprang up around it which decided to take the same name.
But that’s the only thing interesting about this malt, frankly.
OK, so the nose isn’t so bad. It’s quite fruity actually. Papaya and banana fruity with a touch of husky musk. The nuts come next and bring with it a pinch of salt. Let it breathe and it takes on an interesting Sauvignon Blanc quality. Becomes drier and a touch more apricot fruity.
The palate could have done better, in my opinion. It’s the same papaya and apricot sugars with a touch of mild white peppers. Maybe some nuts. Possibly some marzipan. But all of it lacking any real complexity and attitude.
The finish completes the journey downhill as it evaporates in a puff of boring butterscotch. Oh well…