Ardbeg An Oa

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Distillery/Brand: Ardbeg | Region: Islay | ABV: 46.6% | Colour: Dirty Gold
Nose: 8.2 | Palate: 8.0 | Finish: 8.1 | Overall Score: 8.1

Review
I’m going to use this whisky to signal a mini comeback of sorts. Of the two people that read my reviews I’m sure one of them noticed my lethargy of late. I have no explanation for that other than I felt I was doing more whisky writing than whisky drinking. And that really started to weigh in.

Also I think I need to work on a review format that I can sustain even when the riggers of life demand my time and energy. Let’s see how that works out.

But enough about me.

Let’s talk about this silly sounding whisky. Hey, I’m not the one poking fun at it; Ardbeg are. Just watch the video they’ve made about this one. It’s quite cute.

Named after the Mull of Oa, considered one of the wildest parts of Islay, this rather decently priced young ‘un (I mean, it has to be) is an addition to the core range joining the 10, the Oogy and the Corry.

It’s a combination of PX and bourbon matured spirit finished off in French Oak and let me tell you, I like it!

Flavour profile wise it sits right in between the 10 and the Oogy. Retains the signature Ardbeg twang of sweet and citrus in a somewhat curtailed manner. Not entirely a bad thing since it’s quite flavourful.

Nose: Sharp citrus. Soot. Liquorice. Eucalyptus. Wisp of nice smoke. Milk chocolate. Becomes drier as you let it rest. Dry leaves. Lemon rind. Lime. Almost like a young Kilchoman if you ask me. Which is saying a lot. Good solid barley. Good stuff. 8.2

Palate: Off the bat, love the texture. Lately I’ve been drinking far too many weak whiskies; texture wise. So this is a welcome departure from that annoying trend. Lots of ash. White pepper. Super dry. Woody spices. Like cinnamon. Mid-palate becomes a lot more herbal. I know I’m drinking an Ardbeg and that’s wonderfully comforting. 8.0

Finish: Takes a while but comes back from the depths and stays with you. Again extremely drying. Woody. Hints of citrus. 8.1

Overall Comments: I think the French Oak is really coming into play here with the dry spices. I’m a fan of that flavour profile so call me biased. I like this spirit for what it represents. An affordable whisky that is well made. Maybe I’d hate it if this was an overpriced Festival bottle. But it’s not. It feels like it’s genuinely making the effort to be approachable and attainable. And for that I give it a tip of my hat.

Overall Score: 8.1

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Amrut Narangi

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Distillery/Brand: Amrut | Region: India | ABV: 50% | Colour: Old Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 89

Review
Amrut and I have had a love affair ever since I picked up a glass of the Amrut Fusion and wondered Since when did the Indians start making whisky this good?

That was over five years ago and since then I have managed to put every single Amrut release on my shelf. No mean feat given it’s almost complete scarcity weeks after release. But where there’s a will there’s a way.

I like to think of Ashok, their GM of International Sales, Global Brand Ambassador and over all good guy, as a good friend and so it was at a small dinner at a mutual friends’ house that Ashok decided to surprise us all. For he had with him this particular expression (three months before it’s official launch) which he decided to share it with all of us.

At the time he made me promise not to write anything about it and so I refrained from taking any notes and simply sat down to enjoy the whisky. Luckily for me I had the chance to try it again a few days ago at a friends’ place who also managed to secure me a bottle!

In line with Amruts’ increasingly crazy experimental gene this single malt has seen a truly unique maturation. Matured first for three years in bourbon the spirit is transferred to a specially prepared Oloroso Sherry cask.

For three years that barrel had been sitting with Oloroso Sherry that had been mixed with orange peels. Oranges from Madikeri located in the picturesque Western Ghats of India which imparted a truly unique citrus and sherry combination to the oak.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 50% ABV

Nose: Lightly toasted oak. Orange peel (duh). Dry leaves. Rich sherry. Chocolate. Mint leaf. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Jute bag. Vanilla. This is a super rich nose and the orange is quite prominent, though, thankfully it does not overpower. Amrut noses are seldom flawed and neither is this one. 22/25

Palate: Good weight. Nice body. Coats the mouth with chocolate. Cinnamon. There’s that orange again. But more of an orange cake this time. Oak. Black pepper. Ginger. This is a nice twist. Makes me want to bust out my Compass Box Orangerie and conduct a head to head. This ticks just the right amount of unusual for me. 22/25

Finish: Extremely long. Oily. Lip smacking cinnamon. Best of part of the experience. 23/25

Overall comments: I’ll be honest. I walk into an Amrut knowing that I’m going to like it and, quite frankly, am unashamed to be biased. They’ve done a lot of good in a very short space of time. Ashok is a solid gentleman who loves his craft and lives by it. And when you can pull of bizarre experiments like this then what’s not to like?

Rating: 89

Old Pulteney Duncansby Head Lighthouse

Old Pulteney Duncansby Lighthouse
Distillery/Brand: Old Pulteney | Region: Highland | ABV: 46% | Color: Sunlight
Nose: 22 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 21 | Rating: 87

Review
This is the second installment of the latest Old Pulteney Travel Retail series to hit the Duty Free shelves after the WK editions. I’ve just finished writing a review for the Noss Head Lighthouse so I used up all my Old Pulteney preamble there. Basically all I want to say is the three expressions are named after Lighthouses.

I guess their marketing department needed a story so they simply looked out the window and, I’m guessing, saw three lighthouses.

I’m not saying it’s a bad idea. Maybe a bit lazy. Because what’s next? They’ve done boats. Now lighthouses. That leaves lifesavers. Right? Anyway, I’ll let the marketing department take care of that.

The Duncansby Head Lighthouse is second of the series and is matured in ex-Bourbon and ex-Spanish sherry casks. I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s basically the same spirit as the Noss Head Lighthouse (which has been matured exclusively in ex-Bourbon barrels) finished off in sherry casks. I could be wrong but there’s too many similarities between the two.

Though not mentioned I’m assuming the sherry is Oloroso (please correct me if I’m wrong!).

Here’s the official blurb about the Duncansby Head Lighthouse on the OP website:

Featuring a coral red label and tube, the eye catching packaging depicts an image of Duncansby Head lighthouse. Situated near to John O’Groats at the very northern tip of Scotland, the lighthouse protected a dangerous part of the Pentland Firth where the Atlantic waters flow into the North Sea.

Nose: Damp chocolate. Cake. Assorted nuts. Vanilla. Coconut (oil). Beans. Cabbage leaves. Dark dry raisins. Hint of peat? The nose smells familiar. I think it’s the ex-sherry treatment which I find across so many expressions. It’s not bad, mind you. Just get a sense of ‘been there, done that.’

Palate: Chocolate. Lemon and black pepper. Natural caramel on mixed fruit sweets. Coffee powder. It’s not bad. Just lacks the complexity that was needed to elevate it a bit.

Finish: Decently long. Cinnamon. Mocha.

Not a bad whisky by any standards. But not challenging enough.

Rating: 87

Glenmorangie Traditional Cask

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Distillery/Brand: Glenmorangie
Region: Highland
ABV: 57.1%
Colour: Chardonnay

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

Review
The Glenmorangie Traditional Cask is basically the 10 year old at cask strength, un-chill filtered and without any coloring. This is as raw as a Glenmorangie will get.

A bit like new-make the nose is flush full of tropical fruits like mangoes, papaya and apricots enveloped in a, not-so-unpleasant, cloud of brine. Oxidization brings out woody chocolate citrus overtones which sit nicely atop all the fruits. (Note: a drop of water made the spirit sweeter and more biscuity / malty).

The palate is quite intensely spicy with a white pepper burst. Let it traverse your palate and the spirit mellows down to a honey pudding sweetness. (Note: a drop of water made the mouthfeel creamier but did not add to the flavor profile).

The finish is a touch chalky without being bothersome.

Am I impressed? Let me get back to you on that.

Rating: 87

Three Ships 10

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Distillery/Brand: Three Ships
ABV: 43%
Colour: Pale Straw
Region: South Africa

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

Review
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?

Rating: 87