Distillery/Brand: Sheep Dip
So here’s a bit of background. Sheep Dip actually refers to a delousing pesticide used by farmers on their sheep back in the day. As was the practice during those times there was a lot of illicit whisky being made by these guys too.
So every once in a while when the excise officer would visit all the whisky would be hidden in barrels marked SD (Sheep Dip) to throw off said excise nuisance man. Quite a charming story I have to admit.
Richard Paterson, third generation Master Blender, has taken 16 single malts from all parts of Scotland and created this blend and paid homage to all those crafty farmers by naming it Sheep Dip.
Nose: Young and sprightly with a hint of dough and a squeeze of tropical fruits. The freshness continues with some nice cucumbers and celery sprinkled with rock salt. Based on the smell I could drizzle this over a salad as a midsummers’ dressing.
Palate: This is where the promise is broken. Similar tropical fruits and some spice but overwhelmed by something unpleasantly bitter. I let it breathe for a while but it can’t seem to shake that terrible taste.
Finish: Spicy short.
I’m used to being disappointed by Richard Paterson but I had heard decent things about this expression. I guess earlier batches had some good stock. This one, I suspect, might actually have some real sheep dip in it.
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: The Lost Distillery Company
So here’s a nifty little trick. Find out which distilleries closed in the last 100 years or so never to open again. Do extensive research and get an understanding of what their malts might have tasted like. Blend some malts together to recreate that whisky. And then proceed to blow me away!
Thank you Lost Distilleries for what you have undertaken for it is nothing short of brilliant!
I will not go into the history of the Gerston Distillery (1796-1882 & 1886-1914) but suffice to say they ran out of business after a good long run. The distillery was located in Halkirk in Caithness – a remote area in the far north of Scotland. So expect a lot of salty and briny peat in the mix.
Nose: Wonderfully sweet with a strong salty peat lash. Some vanilla and tropical fruits in the second breath and then a long lasting rosemary, five spice and thyme combination that stays on for hours and hours. A lovely beam act between sweet and spice.
Palate: The robust spirit is confident in it’s maturity. I am told there are spirits older than 20 years in this bottling. They don’t mention it but I’m told. The chocolate honey is smooth and silky with a smear of spicy plum jam. Really quite well balanced and lovely.
Finish: Satisfyingly long and full of spicy cocoa.
This is a treat to drink and I’m pretty sure the original was no where close to being such a class act.
This particular expression was third in line at a Wemyss tasting I attended recently. An interesting independent bottler which goes after a particular flavor profile rather than the other way around. And made all the more interesting thanks to the great Charles Maclean at it’s nosing helm.
Nose: The peaty nose has a lot of red apple sweetness sitting on a bed of oaky maple syrup. A quick breath and there is nutmeg and clove in the spice department. Interesting. Pleasant.
Palate: Sweet on the palate too, with it’s clove infused dark chocolate and purple fruits.
Finish: Nice, long cinnamon finish.
Magnificent? No. Pleasantly forgettable? Sure.
Bottling: Chivas Century of Malts
These drink giants are known for their marketing gimmicks and will do anything to get rid of stock lying around. And I was pretty sure this expression with 100 single malts was just that.
I was wrong.
It has a lovely fruity nose with tangerines, honey melon and pomegranate seeds. All clumped together with sticky toffee and candied fruits. Finished off with a touch of wood, fresh cucumbers and a hint of smoke.
The palate has all that the nose had on offer. But with it comes a creamy limestone chocolate quality with a wisp of smoky peat. Very, very nice.
The finish is long and satisfying with a touch of wood and cherry cinnamon.
If this is a gimmick it’s certainly a successful one!
At first I was a little daunted with writing a review of Jim Murray’s Whisky of the Year 2011 but then I said to my self ‘Bah! Who cares what Jim thinks!’
Let me tell you what I think.
This is truly an absolutely brilliant blended whisky. It’s strength lies in delivering every single element in subtlety and perfect harmony.
The nose is like digging through a multi-layered dessert using a big fat silver spoon. The first layer is honey and a beautiful pudding. Dig deeper and you will find a thin layer of butterscotch and vanilla on top of which are thin slices of juicy, moist pears. (I’m drooling just writing this!). The base of the dessert is made up of delicate bran crumble pastry sprayed with just the slightest hints of something floral. One of the sweetest, most delicate noses you will find.
The palate is a full bodied, slightly oily, silken affair with your taste buds. As the first, more prominent, sweeter profiles start to fade there comes a mysterious complexity about this blend. The tiniest wisp of chocolatey smoke coupled with an elegant woody grace make this one of the most astonishing of spirit deliveries. The gentle spices and that gorgeous, but minuscule, after taste of a Cuban cigar box wrap up, what has to be in my books, the Whisky of the Year.
What? Jim already said that? Bah! Who cares what he thinks!
Rating : 94
I was a bit hesitant to try the Royal Salute 21, being wary of gimmicks and marketing led premium prices that dominate the upper end of the blends market.
What I discovered was an excellent surprise!
A fragrant and uncomplicated nose of pleasing aromas. The first thing you get is lemon and honey followed by a toffee sweetness. There is a faint touch of freshly cut grass and sugarcane accompanied by the tiniest wisp of smoke.
The palate is what the brilliant Strathisla Distillery is known for: toffee, vanilla and butterscotch. Some times it’s nice to go back to the tastes that lured me into malt drinking in the first place. As you savor this basket of sweetness a deft touch of smoke at the end reminds you that there’s an Islay in there some where.
This is an excellent blend which I feel is quite malt heavy; maybe that’s why it’s so smooth. At $150 it’s on the higher side but I think they compensate that with a pretty porcelain bottle and velvet packaging.
Rating : 90
The nose is very sweet and floral with touches of honey and lavender. Extremely sweet and scented. On a second sniff I got a smattering of nutty almonds. There is a hint of cereal in there some where. The palate is quite dry and extremely sweet but is overpowered quickly with spices. Adding two drops of water opens up the nose even more and delivers strongly on the palate. The spices are gone with the addition of water. The finish is very oaky and full of woody pencil shavings. A very nice dram
Rating : 88