Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch 4

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Distillery/Brand: Balvenie | Region: Speyside | ABV: 50.4% | Colour: Old Gold
Nose: 23 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 24 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 93

Review
Another one off the bucket list. Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to get hold of this when it first came out? I mean by the time I managed to locate two stragglers sitting on a shelf somewhere in Eastern Europe the price on this had literally tripled.

Luckily for me news doesn’t travel as fast to that part of the globe and I was lucky enough to pick up a couple of these bottles at a fairly decent price. Now when I look at various auctions I’m thankful I picked them when I had the chance.

I’m pretty sure by now you know what the Tun is. It’s actually a massive holding vat in Warehouse 24 that Master Blender David Stewart employed to mix and marry a variety of vintage Balvenies for up to three months to create this special series.

Batch No 4 consists of seven bourbon aged Balvenies and three sherry with spirit rumoured to be distilled as far back as 1966 and as early as 1988 making this quite a special little expression.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 50.4% ABV

Nose: If there’s anything David Stewart does is craft an ingenious nose. Every time. Burnt toast. Sherry. Lots of clove. Touch of sweetness. But with a sea saltiness too. Tobacco leaf. Toasted oak. Let it sit and a mild floral fragrance starts coming through. Green melon. Wild red berries. This is a solid nose. Reminded me of the Balvenie 30. 23/25

Palate: So strong. Robust. Coats the entire mouth. Quite dry yet chewy at the same time. Black peppercorns. Cinnamon. Blood oranges. Bitter chocolate. Wait… Lindt Intense Orange. With the orange not so intense. That toasted oak again. Get’s salty mid-palate. And now comes with a spicy betel nut leaf. Not as sweet as the nose suggested. Quite crisp with the poised oakiness a testament to it’s age and quality. 23/25

Finish: What the hell? This one stayed in my mouth long after I had washed the glasses and kept away the bottle. Clove. Betel nut. Again quite savory. Almost masala like. Good masala, mind you. Touch of oils. Bitter chocolate. 24/25

Overall Comments: This is a superb example of vintage whisky done right. You can smell the elegance a mile off. The mouthfeel is arresting. But it’s the finish that did it for me. Stayed for eons on the lips. There was a lot of unashamed smacking going on after I was done. Find it. Drink it.

Rating: 93

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Dalwhinnie Winters Gold

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Distillery/Brand: Dalwhinnie | Region: Highland | ABV: 43% | Colour: Pale Gold
Nose: 21 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 21 | Rating: 84

Review
Tricks. Tricks. Tricks. Everyone’s up to some trick or the other.

Like this NAS Dalwhinnie for example. Released as a whisky to be consumed totally chilled. Seriously?

I know what chilling a whisky does to it? It kills the nose entirely. Drops a lot of the delicate notes on the palate. And is, in my opinion, not how you should drink whisky. The only one exception I will make is with the Chivas 18. Drop that puppy in a freezer for a couple of months and experience the magic.

Anyway.

I didn’t bother with all this chilling nonsense and chose to taste it at room temperature instead. My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 43%

Nose: Citrus. Lime. Menthol. Ginger. Gingerbread. Honey. Touch of smoke. Hint of oak. Moist apricots. A little underwhelming if you ask me. Some might call it delicate. I like to be a little pretentious. 21/25

Palate: Green apples. Citrus. Touch of herbs. Clove. That minty stuff again. Little spicy thanks to the gingerbread. Malt. It’s not bad if you ask me. Just a bit ho hum. 21/25

Finish: Short. Hint of spice. Raisins. 21/25

Overall Comments: I wish when I had first started drinking whiskies someone had poured me a glass of this. Instead I quaffed half a bottle of Vat 69 in twenty minutes and then ended up fighting for my life on top of the toilet. It would have made for a much easier transition.

And if you ask I think I will try it frozen. Just to see if it makes it any better.

Rating: 84

Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey

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Distillery/Brand: Tuthilltown Distillery | Region: America | ABV: 46% | Colour: Deep Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 87

Review
So this is what I know about the Tuthilltown Distillery. It is the first distillery in New York since Prohibition ended over 80 years ago. It makes a bunch of different spirits: vodka, gin and a few different types of whiskies including corn, rye and single malt.

But most interestingly the property that it is built on was actually purchased for the intention of being used as a climbers ranch. When the neighbors kicked up a fuss, owner Ralph Erenzo along with Brian Lee decided it would be a good idea to start a whiskey distillery instead.

And it seems like they’ve come a long way given the number of awards they’ve won including Craft & Artisan Distillery of the year. And from what I’ve tasted I don’t see why not.

Not available in my neck of the woods I had to find a straggler lying around in an auction site some where to get my hands on it and satisfy my curiosity. So here goes.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at an alcohol strength of 46%

Nose: Rose water. Spices. Chocolate. Fresh leather. Oak shavings. Vanilla. Linseed oil. Clove. Caramel. Sandalwood. Quite herbaceous. Jute bag. It’s a nice spicy nose. 22/25

Palate: Cinnamon. Oak. Sandalwood. Coffee beans. Cocoa powder. Red chili flakes. The delivery is a bit thin. I would have liked it to be fuller. But the flavors are on point. 21/25

Finish: Long. Cinnamon. Clove. Thyme. Rosemary. 22/25

Overall Comments: I can see why this distillery is making headlines. While the whiskey did not totally blow me away it has made me curious to try their other offerings. And that can only be a good thing.

Rating: 87

Chivas Regal 18 First-Fill Bourbon Cask Finish

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Distillery/Brand: Chivas | ABV: 48% | Colour: Young Sauternes
Nose: 23 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 92

Review
I’m a big fan of the Chivas 18. Good solid travel retail whisky which still comes at a relatively decent price tag (compared to the absolute madness that is going on in this world!).

I’ve also attended a couple of tasting sessions of the 18. One where they broke down the different whiskies that became part of the blend and another super interesting one which compared different ways of drinking it.

So it was a nice surprise when my mate picked this particular release from the Duty Free. Called the Ultimate Cask Collection (I assume there will be more) it has been finished off in first-fill American Oak, non-chill filtered and served at quite a decent ABV of 48%.

My sample is from a brand new bottle.

Nose: Oak. Toasty oak. Malt. Licorice. Quite floral. Vanilla. Cinnamon. Chocolate. Coconut. Barley. Nice strong sherry. Really like this nose even if it’s a touch uncomplicated. The higher ABV makes the aromas stand out more. I like it. 23/25

Palate: Nice and creamy mouthfeel. Quite robust. A little spicy. That coconut again. Dark honey. Cinnamon. All spice. Butterscotch. Almonds. Licorice. Whisp of smoke. Fudge cake. Really really liking the palate on this one. It’s quite wonderful and the texture makes it feel quite rich. 23/25

Finish: Long. Caramel. All spice. Nice. 23/25

Overall Comments: Well, what can I say? Pernod Ricard seem to have taken a quality product and made it a little better. Nice to see them keep their ear to the ground and come up with a higher ABV and non-chill filtered product. Plus the finish really does the whisky well. It’s a bit on the expensive side, mind you, but if you’re rich then you won’t mind.

Rating: 92

Compass Box Hedonism

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Distillery/Brand: Compass Box | ABV: 43% | Colour: Young Sauternes
Nose: 22 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 88

Review
I’ve been on a bit of a Compass Box run lately thanks to them being in the spotlight because of the whole transparency issue. I’ve written extensively about that in my other reviews so I think I’m going to park that gripe where I can’t see it any more.

Other than really pretty labels Compass Box has the unique ability of mixing whiskies together and making some damn fine blends. While they usually use single malts Hedonism is 100% blended grain whisky.

Grain whiskies from Cameron Bridge, Carsebridge, Cambus, Port Dundas or Dumbarton are used in putting this blend together and then left to marry in a rejuvenated or re-fill American oak barrel for up to two years.

The result is an extremely delicate, sweet and floral whisky. Those who know me know that I like big strong flavors but once in a while it’s nice to sit back and experience the sweeter, more subtle, side of life.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 43% ABV

Nose: So sweet! Full of fruits. Sweet drops. Candy. Fondant. White chocolate. Hazelnut. Bananas. Touch of oak. Bubble gum. Coconut cream. Vanilla. Lots of perfume. Tangerine. Jeez Louise I have seldom put my nose in something this sweet. I like it but perhaps it’s way too sweet for some. 22/25

Palate: Medium body. Creamy mouthfeel. Coconut cream. Vanilla. Quite oily if you ask me. Robust. Very floral. Touch of oak. Green tobacco. Mild peppers. Bubble gum. Pink Tutti Fruity ice cream. I think I’ve mentioned how sweet this is. 22/25

Finish: Long. Lovely. Very fruity. Vanilla. Oak. 22/25

Overall Comments: OK I know I’ve made it sound like this is literally the sweetest thing you’ll ever put in your mouth (insert dirty thought here) but to be honest it’s delicate and subtle enough to make you really like it. I never liked sweet before but ever since I quite smoking I’ve developed a bit of a sweet tooth. Which probably explains why I like it.

Rating: 88

Compass Box Orangerie

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Distillery/Brand: Compass Box | ABV: 40% | Colour: Pale Straw
Nose: 15 | Taste: 15 | Finish: 12 | Balance: 14 | Rating: 56

Review
OK John Glaser. I know you do some amazing things at Compass Box but seriously WTF is this crap?

First he’s taken malt whisky from Glen Moray and blended it with equal parts grain whisky from Cameronbridge and vatted them in a first-fill American Oak hogshead.

He’s then infused the spirit with hand-zested Navalino orange peel, Indonesian Cassia Bark and Sri Lankan cloves. The result is the most imbalanced, weirdly tasting whisky I’ve ever had. And actually it doesn’t qualify as whisky any more thanks to the stuff he’s dropped in it. I believe it’s actually liqueur now.

I’m sure he had his reasons for doing what he did and I’m sure there are people who really really like this monstrosity. But if I know Glaser’s taste then I’m pretty sure he didn’t like this as well. Don’t believe me? Ask him yourself.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 40% ABV

Nose: Orange. Orange. A bit of orange. Some orange. A touch of orange. Lots of orange. With a side of orange. And, oh yeah, orange. Did I mention orange? No? A dash of orange. 15/25

Palate: That same orange that I got on the nose. Some orange. A touch of orange. A wisp of orange. Lots of orange. Chew on it and you get orange. Becomes more orangey mid-palate. 15/25

Finish: That orange again. With a touch of orange. 12/25

Overall Comments: Orange.

PS For a look at how to make orange zest work with your whisky check out the Amrut Narangi

Rating: 56