Old Pulteney Noss Head Lighthouse

Old Pulteney Noss Head
Distillery/Brand: Old Pulteney | ABV: 46% | Region: Highland | Color: Fino Sherry
Nose: 22 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 90

Review
I think Old Pulteney puts out some very unique tasting malts. I really like the 21 year old (though not as much as some whisky gurus, mind you), the 17 is solid as is the 12.

Haven’t had the chance to taste the older bottlings but I did have sip or two from their last Travel Retail offering, the WK series, which were quite decent in my opinion.

If you know me you know I’m always wary of Travel Retail offerings. I think some not so stellar spirit is getting passed on under bright lights and fancy shelf work. Not always, mind you, but enough number of times to piss me off a bit.

But I can live with that. Such are the times today. And if amid the hog droppings I can occasionally score some gems from time to time I’m willing to accept that as a necessary evil. After all someone needs to pay the fancy marketers right?

So when Old Pulteney decided to launch their second range in this segment I was quite curious.

Decked up in bright colors the three expressions are packaged to attract attention. Each one commemorates OP’s maritime history by depicting a unique lighthouse situated close to the distillery.

This is the official blurb for the Noss Head Lighthouse expressions on the OP website:

Packaged with a vibrant blue label and tube, the design features an image of the Noss Head lighthouse which the whisky is inspired by. Built in 1849 by Robert Arnot and named after the Old Norse word ‘Snos’, the lighthouse represents the nose-shaped headland where it is situated.

So this one is is served up at 46% and matured exclusively in Bourbon barrels.

Nose: Very strong lemon. More lemon sherbet. Quite spicy. Herbaceous beans. There’s a bitterness mingled in with the floral. Fabric softener. The bourbon starts coming through finally. Vanilla. Coconut (oil). Beeswax. And that all too familiar OP salt.

Palate: Sugared candy in lime juice. White melon love hearts. Lychee sugar. Coconut oil. Mixed fruit candies. Cucumber. Very very unusual. I like it!

Finish: Fairly long. Those white melon love hearts again!

This is a very flavorful and delicate malt. Extremely sweet. And has a nice Lychee twist on the palate which I love.

Rating: 90

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The Lost Distilleries Blend – Batch 4

Lost Distilleries Blend Batch4
Distillery/Brand: The Lost Distilleries Blend | ABV: 50.9% | Color: Pale Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 20 | Rating: 84

Review
OK. First off. I’m not a whisky snob. I like blends as much as single malts as much as bourbons as much as grain whisky. I do not thumb my nose at anything. If it tastes good it has my approval.

So let’s get that out of the way.

And at the same time I try my hardest not to be influenced by anyone. Be it awards or distinguished whisky critics. The latter being the toughest thing for me.

And so I found it a little hard to put together my review of the multi-award winning, critic loving Lost Distilleries Blend Batch 4.

Master of Malt are fast becoming extremely competent independent bottlers. This includes their Master of Malt bottlings, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, The Secret Distilleries, The Lost Distilleries and not to mention their own Vodka, liqueurs and bitters. So these guys know what they’re doing.

The Lost Distilleries Blend series is, as the name suggests, spirit from closed distilleries put together in a blend. No ages are given and neither are percentage of whiskies inside it. On the face of it I think it’s a brilliant idea. Very marketable.

The batch four includes whiskies from Rosebank, Littlemill, Imperial, Mosstowie, Glen Keith and Port Ellen.

Nose: Very sweet. Overripe mangoes and apricots. Vanilla and chocolate orange with a wisp of smoke (Port Ellen?). Custard. Dry sherry. Hint of wood polish and a sprinkle of very mild green herbs. Smells very Speyside-y to me. In a nice way.

Palate: Spicy. Much too spicy. Almost enough to overpower. I don’t like that. Some mild honey. Orange sponge cake. Apple strudel with cherry on top. But again lop sided spice.

Finish: Long. Mixed fruit salad.

The nose is decent enough. Nothing out of the ordinary that would make me go damn. The palate is simply not in sync for me. The finish is OK.

I really, really tried to like this. Multiple sittings. Letting it breathe for longer. Just didn’t cut it.

What did make a difference was water. A few drops and the bouquet just erupts in an explosion of vanilla. Nothing but vanilla every where. The palate mellow. The custard becomes stronger and sweeter. The finish more fruity.

I’m guessing the panel at the WWA dropped some water in this. But I’m going to have to mark it straight.

Rating: 84

Bowmore 15 Year Old Laimrig

Bowmore Laimrig
Distillery/Brand: Bowmore | Region: Islay | ABV: 53.7% | Color: Young Sauternes
Nose: 23 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 93

Review
I’ll be honest. I’m not a huge fan of Oloroso finishes. Not because I don’t like Oloroso but I feel that some less than stellar whisky makers tend to hide behind it’s bold flavors and use it as a shield to mask their spirit.

However, when it’s done well it can be an absolute treat. And I think it takes special kind of guts (read skill) to harvest the spirit when the Oloroso influence is just right.

And this exactly what the Laimrig does.

Poured out at a cask strength of 53.7% my bottle is 11780 of 18000 making this batch number 3. The first batch was a run of 4500 bottles available only in Sweden. I don’t know why. The second batch was 15000 bottles and literally flew off the shelves. This one is a larger run and I suspect flew off even faster.

Matured for 14 years in ex-bourbon barrels and then a year in ex-Oloroso this is a beautifully balanced dram.

Nose: As one would expect from Oloroso maturation. Chocolate. Burnt orange peel. Dark rum bananas sprinkled with cinnamon. Dark figs, raisins, cherries with a hint of peat and dry spicy leather.

Palate: Chocolate fudge with sweet cinnamon and dark honey. Woody molasses. Dry honey. Dry spices. I like that it does not fight with water. A few drops will open up it’s sweeter profiles and make the delivery more creamy.

Finish: Long. Dry. Spicy honey on wood.

Brilliantly crafted spirit. Love it!

Rating: 93

Bowmore 10 Year old Tempest Batch 5

Bomore Tempest V
Distillery/Brand: Bowmore | Region: Islay | ABV: 55.9% | Color: Sunlight
Nose: 23 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 92

Review
It’s been a month since my last review. Not that I was short of any whiskies to drink. Far from it. It’s just that I like to take an alcohol sabbatical once every year just to take a break and replenish my self both physically and mentally.

My first two weeks go by in a flash and I barely even think about what I’ve given up. In the third week I start preparing for all the expressions I’m going to be tasting once the month is up. By the fourth I can’t wait to get back to doing what I love the most.

And so it’s really important that I pick a solid expression that I know for sure will not disappoint. There’s nothing like waiting for something for such a long time and discovering it tastes like piss. I hate that.

So I decided to pick the latest Bowmore Tempest Batch 5 as my first whisky of the new season. Because I figured if it’s anything like the last batch it was going to be cracking.

Matured for ten years in Bowmores’ legendary No1 Vault in first-fill bourbon barrels this is allegedly a small batch release. I say allegedly because I don’t know how many bottles make up a small batch. I think anything under 6000 should be small. I think.

Nose: Quite lovely. Very fresh. It’s sweet, almost winey. Like a tart chardonnay. Mixed with a lot of bright lime juice and mild vanilla extract. Dark cocoa tossed in coarse sea salt and crushed cornflakes. Cinnamon sprinkled on juicy nectarines.

Palate: Quite a kick! Strong lemon sweet candies and fiery white pepper prickles. Mandarins become the sweeter citrus. Dark unsweetened cocoa. Adding a few drops of water makes it more herbaceous and adds a touch of garam masala. (I prefer it without the water, though.)

Finish: Long. Very oily. Very chewy. Salty. Peppery with honey cocoa.

This is a great series by Bowmore (who I’m increasingly beginning to like) that is nurtured well and executed with amazing skill.

Rating: 92