Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength

RedBreast12 CaskStrength
Distillery/Brand: Redbreast | Region: Ireland | ABV: 57.7% | Color: Sunlight
Nose: 24 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 24 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 95

Review
Oh yes! These are the moments you wait for. When simply bringing the glass to your nose gets your pulse racing because you know if it smells this good it’s going to taste even better!

Irish whiskies are making a huge comeback of late. I read some where that for the first time since 1930 the US consumes more Irish whisky than Scotch whisky. Quite a remarkable statistic that.

Must be all those awards they’ve been picking up in the last year or so. This cask strength liquid gold being one of them.

Owned by Irish Distillers this cask strength version is basically their standard 12 (which is bottled at 40%) but with more bite.

While matured almost exclusively in Oloroso casks it does not allow the sherry to overpower. Instead it maintains a firm grasp on the integrity of the spirit.

This style of whiskey is now exclusive only to the Irish and is known as Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey (by law). This basically means that a combination of malted and un-malted barley is used in the production process and the spirit is triple distilled in a single pot still.

Nose: Absolutely gorgeous. Very sweet. Almost winey. But has a pinch of salt too. Honey on pink lemon. Love hearts. Nectarines on top of vanilla sponge cake. Ripe figs and unripe bananas covered in sweet lime. This one renders you almost speechless.

Palate: Lots of spicy citrus. The same honey on melon but now with a dash of oaky cinnamon. All of this against a backdrop of soft fruits expertly complementing the spices.

Finish: Arrives late but when it does it stays. The fruits are back. So are the spices.

I know the Scots and the Irish are always arguing over who invented whisky. I don’t know the answer to that. But I do know who just might end up doing a better job.

Rating: 95

Springbank 12 Year Cask Strength

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Distillery/Brand: Springbank
Region: Campbeltown
ABV: 55.3%
Color: Young Sauternes

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

Review
Those of you who know me know that I have an irrational attachment to anything that comes out of Campbeltown. Not because I’m an expert on Campbeltown expressions; far from it. It simply has some sort of mystical allure that I can’t define.

So be it.

The spirit is a blend of 60% first fill sherry hogsheads and 40% re-fill sherry butts and served up at a lip smacking 55.3% and is from a December 2011 bottling.

Nose: My initial impression was of strong rubber flip flops which made me suspect the influence of sulphur. However, a bit of air and patience takes care of that quite well. The nose is quite thick with treacle marmalade and black peppercorns. The sherry is quite dry with a touch of cinnamon smoke.

Palate: Gorgeous delivery! An intense dark spice and cocoa powder rub on a basket of oranges. The chocolate treacle is back and gives it a lovely bitter sweet edge.

Finish: Spectacular! Long and intense with oily chocolate, wood and black peppers.

This is pretty much one of my favorite malts to come out of Campbeltown. What a class act this distillery is.

Rating: 93

Wemyss Hive 12 Year Old

WemyssHive

Distillery/Brand: Wemyss
ABV: 40%
Colour: Sunlight

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

Review
Sampled at a tasting the night before I hadn’t really heard much about Wemyss other than they were an interesting independent bottler with none other than the great Charlie Maclean chairing their nosing panel.

The first in the series was the 12 year old Hive named for the flavor profile they were trying to create. In this instance something quite honeyed. And they seem to have succeeded.

Nose: Invariably sweet honey-comb and beeswax with just the mildest hint of spice and coastal sea-salt. Pleasant and uncomplicated.

Palate: Quite one dimensional with the same honey chocolate fudge quality to it.

Finish: A medium finish brings out, yes you guessed it, honey.

An early morning dram if there ever was one.

Rating: 86

Glen Elgin 12 Years

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Distillery/Brand: Glen Elgin
Region: Speyside
ABV: 43%
Colour: Pale Straw

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

Review
I don’t mind whiskies like this one. There’s not much fanfare. They choose to remain understated and deliver above your expectations.

Primarily a distillery that produces malts for blending giants Diageo, Glen Elgin has a charming expression in this 12 year old.

A bright nose with sparkling fruits – like a fruit salad dropped in an aerated drink complemented by a faint layer of cherry licorice and musky mens’ cologne. Nice.

A no-nonsense palate if a touch one-dimensional. Toffee and banana caramel sprinkled with white spices. Maybe a touch of limestone. Not very intense.

A medium finish also a bit spicy and a touch chalky.

When you don’t expect a lot you can be pleasantly surprised. A morning whisky if there is one.

Rating: 87

Nikka Miyagikyou 12

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Distillery/Brand: Nikka Miyagikyou
Region: Japan
ABV: 45%
Colour: Young Sauternes

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

Review
There is something oddly comforting about opening a Japanese single malt, especially from the power house Nikka, because you know you’re always in for a treat. And this entry level 12 is a must have on any shelf.

The warm chocolate Christmas cake sets the tone for a complex nosing experience. First come the dried figs and raisins with a healthy drop of vanilla. Juicy fruits are next in the shape of pears. Let it catch it’s breath and in come salty wild red berries and a handful of almonds. A very complex nose on a relatively young malt.

The full-bodied spirit cascades in with luscious chocolate, black peppercorns and candied orange. Chew it for a while (you will want to, believe me!) to welcome red grapes and hazelnuts in a swirl of sticky toffee.

The distinct aftertaste has a curious ‘twang’ to it. Not too oily, not too dry, it ends with lovely citrus and mint.

Just another malt that re-affirms my faith in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Rating: 92

Yamazaki 12

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Distillery/Brand: Suntory Yamazaki
Region: Japan
ABV: 43%
Colour: Gold

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

Review
This particular bottle of the Yamazaki 12 was opened well over a year ago and has not only maintained it’s elegance but become a little more mature as well. For example it’s not as floral as I remember it to be.

The nose is an essay in poised elegance. Wild red berries covered in black peppercorns are drizzled with vanilla infused honey. There is a pinch of sea salt with a lonely cardamom pod surrounded by delicate wood shavings.

The dry palate is creamy chocolate dates sprinkled with nuts and raisins and finished with a flourish of cinnamon mist.

The finish is long and satisfying with a touch of spice and slices of banana.

This malt has grown in stature the last time I tasted a year ago. Either that or my feeble mind was simply unable to comprehend a good malt when it tasted one. In any case I’m glad I decided to revisit this gem.

Rating: 92

Glen Spey 12

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Distillery/Brand: Glen Spey
Region: Speyside
ABV: 43%
Colour: Pale Straw

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

Review
This is a gentle dram slightly north of average. Ideal to kick off an evening with or introduce a first-timer.

The bourbon cask on the nose is obvious (I suspect may even be a second fill) with vanilla, butterscotch and a touch of oak. The sweets come through second with apricots, some citrus and, what I strongly suspect, the faintest of chocolate covered waffles.

The texture is lovely velvet which starts off with some white pepper, honey and lemon. But then that’s it really.

The medium finish is a touch spicy with oak overtones. This malt is pleasant enough but too one-dimensional to really impress me.

Rating: 86