Ardbeg 19 Traigh Bhan review by Malt Activist
Glenfiddich 19 Years Age of Discovery / Red Wine Cask
Distillery/Brand: Glenfiddich | Region: Speyside | ABV: 40% | Colour: Pale Gold
Nose: 21 | Taste: 20 | Finish: 20 | Balance: 20 | Rating: 81
The other day I sat down with this Glenfiddich trilogy known as the Age of Discovery series. Glenfiddich decided to pay homage to the 1831 voyage of the HMS Beagle. The Beagle travelled around the globe and landed on the east coast of South America, allowing Charles Darwin to collect fossils that would lead to the development of his famous theory of evolution.
They have three 19 year old expressions in this range. One that is completely matured in Bourbon casks (quite lovely), one that’s been finished off in Madeira Wine Casks (so blah) and this particular one that I’m staring at, the Red Wine Cask finish.
Personally I’m on the fence when it comes to wine finishes (or maturations). The Californian Cab Sauv maturation of the Teeling Single Grain is a joy to behold (and drink). Just stunning if you ask me. Glenmorangie did quite well with the Sauternes finish as part of it’s core range. I quite like that whisky even if it’s a bit too sweet.
But then there’s the disaster that is the Glenmorangie Companta which uses a mix of Burgundy wine and Rasteau. Oh Bill, you messed that one up didn’t you? Springbank used Gaja Barolo wine casks for an experiment that failed to raise any eyebrows.
The general consensus out there is that wine finishes are a tough nut to crack but that doesn’t stop distilleries from trying.
The whisky has been finished off in oak casks which previously held South American Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 40%
Nose: A little sour in the beginning. Tamarind. Licorice. A little musty. Black salt. Under-ripe plums. Touch of oak. Dark currant jam. Settles down after a while. More crisp. Quite drying. Oak tannins. Black grapes. This is a funny nose. I feel that the different wines have made the nose a bit heavy, if you know what I mean. 21/25
Palate: Oak. Quite a bit of it. Very drying. Black pepper. Toffee. Licorice. Aniseed. Wild berries. Black currant. That black salt is back. So is the plum. Again, quite a weird experience. The oak tannins overpower and muddle up the delivery. 20/25
Finish: Long. Dry. Touch of oak. 20/25
Overall Comments: I’m not a fan. The red wine influence over powers and doesn’t work for me. I feel even when you finish a whisky off you have to be extremely careful of not letting your base spirit drown out. And I feel that’s what’s happened here. Oh, well.
Glenfiddich 19 Years Age of Discovery / Bourbon Cask
Distillery/Brand: Glenfiddich | Region: Speyside | ABV: 40% | Colour: Pale Straw
Nose: 23 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 89
I say this in all my Glenfiddich reviews: It is the most consistently above average single malt today that is produced at such staggering volumes.
I’m pretty sure this is what happens when a business is family owned and every step taken is for the greater good of the craft and the product instead of appeasing the fat cats and their accountant minions.
How else can you explain the near perfect consistency of producing ten million litres of whisky every year. Oh I’m sorry, did I say ten million? I meant TEN FREAKING MILLION! It’s quite insane if you ask me.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m pretty sure they turn a tiny profit producing ten million litres a year. But along the way they produce some great whiskies too.
Which brings me to this 19 year old matured in ex-Bourbon casks and named after the intrepid Portuguese voyagers who went on to change our understanding of the new world. This one is called Age of Discovery and is part of a trilogy. The other two being a Red Wine and a Madeira Cask finish.
My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 40%
Nose: Oak. Shavings. Bourbon. Vanilla. Fruits. Lots of them. Mainly sweet melon. Melon rind. Citrus. Orange marmalade. Something toasted. Mellows after a while and becomes more delicate. Late emergence of toffee. Hint of grass. Very nice nose. 23/25
Palate: Vanilla. Lots of it. That oak again. Touch of spice. Very fruity. Sweet melon. Citrus. Very smooth. Light honey. Touch of nuttiness. Some toffee. Nutmeg. This is quite pleasant without being complex. 22/25
Finish: Medium long. Comes back up. Vanilla. Oak. Fruits. 22/25
Overall Comments: I quite like this whisky. I would have liked it to be a little more complex on the palate but that’s fine. Glenfiddichs aren’t supposed to be that. They’re supposed to be easy to drink and not for being pondered over by pompous whisky bloggers like my self.
Glenmorangie 1993 Ealanta 19 Years Old
Colour: Deep Gold
When I was young and impressionable (not too long ago) I happened across a certain gentleman by the name of Jim Murray. His opinions and reviews left me riveted. I would swear by him and ridicule people when they disagreed with him.
Then I met him and he lost some credibility in my eyes. A bit of a perv and slightly irritating. But that’s just his personality. He still knew his whisky. Then I started noticing some scores in his Bible which I couldn’t wholeheartedly agree with. But I chalked that up to personal preference. We are, after all, all entitled to our opinion. And then I found out that he named the Glenmorangie Ealanta as his whisky of the year.
Jim, we need to talk.
Nose: Matured exclusively in virgin American oak for 19 years the nose is quite bourbony with a touch of spicy exotic. Sickly sweet chocolate vanilla meets squishy tropical fruits and soft orange apricots with a healthy dollop of dark breakfast marmalade rounded off with toasted nuts. The nose is different alright but is far too sweet for my liking.
Palate: The same tropical fruit basket of papaya, apricots and papaya arrives on the palate covered in maple syrup and some cardamom pods. It’s borderline tasty but fails to truly excite.
Finish: The finger snap finish is a truly disappointing cinnamon oak.
Now I don’t want to accuse any one of selling out but those Whisky Bible sales and whisky workshops must surely be on the decline.
Glenfiddich 19 Age Of Discovery – Madeira Wine Finish
Colour: Pale Straw
This is part one of three of the, now über popular, Age of Discovery series. A 19 year old malt finished in Madeira Wine casks complete with gorgeous box that has, not one, but two doors! So you can understand if I was a little gutted that this one did not blow me away.
The honey sweet nose is both woody and citrusy at the same time. But you really have to coax the aromas out. If you keep at it you’ll be rewarded with a hint of sweet red melon and a touch of something grassy.
The same honey and oak mixed with white pepper are first to greet the palate followed by a spoonful of marmalade, roasted nuts and butterscotch.
The abrupt finish is a little disappointing. I would have liked to nurse the flavors a bit more but there was none of that.
I don’t mind drinking this one again but I would gladly pass this over if offered the 15 or the 18 year old instead.