Distillery/Brand: Johnnie Walker
Here is a whisky which I think unapologetically bridges the gap between what earlier generations were used to and what whisky fans are drinking today.
Comprising of four signature malts from four brilliant distilleries – Talisker, Caol Ila, Cragganmore & Linkwood – it takes on their flavors quite beautifully.
Nose : First the Talisker and Caol Ila come screaming through with salty crushed nuts and smoke. Then the Cragganmore with that sweet jasmine maltiness and finally Linkwood with it’s orange peel, peaches and wild red berries. A complex nose. A lovely nose.
Palate : At first there is a certain coconut oiliness to it (which I didn’t like) interspersed with spicy nuts and a lemon meringue. But whisky is a game of patience and I let this one sit. The coconut oil disappears after a while and is replaced with a lovely honey sweetness.
Finish : Spicy long and a touch bitter. I think that’s old fashion-ness coming through. Quite complex. Sits with you a while and makes you think.
This is a whisky that needs to be appreciated by experienced palates only. Its’ subtle nuances catch you off-guard with flashes of brilliance. It kept evolving as I kept writing forcing me to track back and re-edit.
It’s almost like this is the reward you get for finally showing how mature you’ve become.
Distillery/Brand: Nikka Miyagikyou
This particular 15 year old was sampled fresh on the heels of it’s magnificent younger brother the 12 and so expectations were high. Add to that the reputation Nikka brings with it and you can imagine the burden on it’s young shoulders.
The nose is not bad. It’s not magnificent, mind you, but then everything can’t be hit out of the park all the time. There is woody brown sugar syrup mixed in with sweet melon followed by a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on nectarines. Quite interesting.
The palate is aggressive and reminded me of pancakes smothered liberally with woody maple syrup, dark chocolate and cinnamon.
The dry finish is spicy and full of cloves.
This is not a bad malt by any standards. It is a touch brash, in my opinion, and I wish it held it’s poise like it’s 12 year old sibling.
Colour: Pale Gold
I’ve been on a recent quest of collecting Macallans ever since I met (and interviewed) their highly likable whisky maker Bob Dalgarno. And the real reason I truly appreciate the Fine Oak series is because I know first-hand what goes into creating these exceptional whiskies.
The Macallan nose is what Speyside is built on and this 15 year old stays true to that. First a bowl of white melon and vanilla pods drizzled with a lovely golden syrup. Then a delicate garnish of lavender petals with a touch of clove. Finally a sprinkle of soft chopped nuts.
The palate continues it’s journey of sweet honey but this time with a touch of lemon, barley and cloves. However, the white pepper is a smidge too strong for my liking.
The finish is strong and dry with a nice clove after taste.
This has been one of my favorite malts for a long time. Not because it’s the best malt out there but because it was one of the first I tried early on in my career as a malt enthusiast. And I’m glad it was this one for who knows what would have become of me had I tried something vile.
The uncomplicated Speyside nose is bursting at the seams with an orangey citrus burst on a bed of smooth melon rind. The honey and delicate flowers accompany this fruitiness and make for quite a nice bouquet of aromas.
The beautifully textured spirit is a touch spicy but that quickly gives way to a lovely warm fruit basket mixed with marshmallows. Something oddly comforting about this delivery.
The long and oily finish with a touch of oak keeps taking me back to why I began this glorious journey in the first place.
Distillery/Brand: Nikka Yoichi
Colour: Old Gold
What is it with the Japanese? They insist on doing everything so perfectly. Just like this 15 year old beauty from the Asian powerhouse that is Nikka.
Such a heady, almost dizzying, array of aromas greet you as you say hello to this beauty from the East. There’s maple syrup covered dark fruits ladled on a stack of hot pancakes, sprinkled with woody cinnamon and then rounded off with a drizzle of sherry infused with subtle peat. Quite arresting actually.
The maple syrup and black pepper on the palate play a woody chocolatey tune that works in perfect harmony with an edgy pinch of cumin. You’ll want to mull this one over for a while.
The long, oily finish sits on your lips for ages forcing you to make smacking sounds every two seconds. This makes you look quite silly in the process.
But that’s OK…
My first review of a Dalwhinnie and the 15 year old expression I was after for a while. Finally managed a taste and it seems like I’ll be sourcing a few more.
The nose is typical Highland complexities with a strange floral inclination. My first impression is lavender bath oils and touch of rose water. A subsequent nose confirms the presence of barley and then, just like a nostalgic surprise, comes the comforting smell of wet wood.
The palate is a tad dry as the oak makes it’s presence felt. Then peeking from around the corner are the most delicious coffee beans I’ve ever had. This is all wrapped in swirls of honey. Honey that’s been exposed to gentle smoke and infused with star anise.
Go out and get one now!
Rating : 92