Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso

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Distillery/Brand: Glenlivet | Region: Speyside | ABV: 48% | Colour: Young Sauterne
Nose: 22 | Taste: 20 | Finish: 20 | Balance: 21 | Rating: 83

Review
I’m not the only one who claims the original Nadurra 16 Cask Strength as one of their favorite whiskies of all time. I mean come on! That near perfect crisp green apple served at a deliciously high strength has made many an evening.

There’s a number of Nadurras in circulation. There is the first-fill bourbon aged for 16 years and then bottled at cask strength (which varies in the mid 50s ABV). Then there is the slightly watered down to 48% version of the same whisky. There is a 1991 vintage known as the Triumph.

And now this latest NAS offering matured in Oloroso casks found pretty much only in travel retail.
For those who read my reviews know that I am wary of Oloroso influencing good whisky and completely taking over it. I have seen it happen on many occasions. Perfectly reasonable whiskies get treated with Oloroso overkill and are reduced to muddy, sweet syrup which hide the true essence of the expression.

I’ve seen it happen too many times and I’m seeing it again!

This NAS Nadurra matured in Oloroso is bottled at 48% and my sample is from a brand new bottle (code 0L0614)

Nose: Manuka honey. Orange. Brown chocolate. Very earthy. Autumn leaves. Clove. Cherry. Licorice. Strawberry jam. Port or some other type of fortified wine. Soft dates. The nose is not too bad. Quite typical Oloroso influence.

Palate: Full mouthfeel. Mild cinnamon. Bitter chocolate. Dark honey. Plums. Coconut oil. Oak. Gets quite savory mid-palate. Gets more muddy. More confused. Starts off nice but loses grip towards the end.

Finish: Barely there. Maybe some oak. Maybe some cinnamon.

Why try and fix something which is not only not broken but quite gloriously in one brilliant piece? Maybe the new Nadurra spirit coming out of Glenlivet is not as pristine as it’s predecessor and, hence, the Oloroso plays a masking game? Perhaps. I certainly hope not.

Regardless the result is slightly below average whisky which doesn’t even come close to it’s 16 year old namesake. Quite sad, indeed.

Rating: 83

Balvenie 17 Year Old Sherry Oak

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Distillery/Brand: Balvenie | Region: Speyside | ABV: 43% | Color: Copper
Nose: 24 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 93

Review
This particular expression has a special place in my heart for a number of reasons. It was my first serious purchase of a single malt. I remember looking at it sitting on the shelf at my duty free and thinking what is that insanely captivating bottle with that deep dark liquid inside of it?

I picked it off the shelf and, unlike what I do nowadays, I literally uncorked it the moment I got home. This was a number of years ago and I had no idea about sherry maturation or generally anything to do with single malts. All I knew was if something tasted this good then I was on the right path.

I’ve tasted a number of Balvenies down the road and they are one of the few extremely reliable distilleries when it comes to releasing top stuff. I like the different experimentations they have been up to also with different casks.

First launched in 2007 this 17 year old expression has been matured exclusively in first-fill Oloroso sherry casks. There is always the danger of the sherry overpowering the spirit when you do that, however, when you have master craftsmen at work that seldom happens.

My sample is from a brand new bottle (2012) and served at 43%

Nose: Vanilla. Nutmeg. Cinnamon. Fruit cake. Christmas cake. Raisins – the big dark kind. Clove. Dark plums. Berries. Sugarcane. Ginger. Oak. Cola. The nose is thick and quite syrupy. But not in a sickly way. It just makes you feel warm inside.

Palate: Chocolate. Oak. Cinnamon. Black pepper. Fruit cake. Maple syrup. Rose water. Tobacco leaf. Vanilla. Classic Oloroso flavors. Brilliantly put together.

Finish: Sweet. Vanilla. Maple syrup. Rose water.

One of the truly good whiskies of our time.

Rating: 93

Kilchoman Machir Bay

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Distillery/Brand: Kilchoman | Region: Islay | ABV: 46% | Color: Sunlight
Nose: 23 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 90

Review
I’ve just got back from a very interesting Japanese whisky tasting event. Some good classic Japanese whiskies (Nikka from the Barrel, Hakushu 12, Yamazaki 18, to name a few) coupled with some delicious food made for an extremely satisfying evening.

But I decided to leave early and come back home to the Kilchoman Machir Bay as my last expression of the evening.

Kilchoman and I have a history. Three years ago I tasted a couple of young releases in the presence of Anthony Wills (founder of said distillery) and it was all I could do to prevent my self from spitting the liquid back out in the glass.

This was followed by a three year program on Kilchoman abstinence which was eventually broken by the Kilchoman 2013 Small Batch Release finished in Oloroso sherry casks.

I was floored. What an absolutely amazing whisky.

Anthony Wills here is another apology from me for writing you off.

This got me interested in other, newer, Kilchoman releases and when I heard good things about the Machir Bay I just had to get my self one of their dumpy bottles.

Machir Bay 2014 is a vatting of 5 and 6 year old ex-bourbon barrels and Oloroso sherry butts and is bottled at 46% ABV

Nose: Very sweet peat. Sugar cane. White wine. Chardonay. Very tart. Crisp. Fresh white oak. Fennel. Lime. Raspberry. Cumin. Cedar plank. Vanilla. Let it breathe and white dough comes wafting through. Finally pineapples. White grapes. A very fresh and lovely nose.

Palate: Very smooth. Extremely smooth to drink. Coffee. Apricots. Pears. Peat. White grape. Black peppers. Macaroon cake. Cumin seeds. Very palatable.

Finish: Smooth. Peat. Mint. Oily. Cumin. White melon lozenge.

This is another extremely accomplished spirit from Kilchoman. Wonderfully smooth and completely thought through.

Rating: 90

Something magical about pouring yourself a dram of quality #SingleMalt #Scotch #Whisky #Kilchoman #MachirBay

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Bowmore 10 Year old Tempest Batch 5

Bomore Tempest V
Distillery/Brand: Bowmore | Region: Islay | ABV: 55.9% | Color: Sunlight
Nose: 23 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 92

Review
It’s been a month since my last review. Not that I was short of any whiskies to drink. Far from it. It’s just that I like to take an alcohol sabbatical once every year just to take a break and replenish my self both physically and mentally.

My first two weeks go by in a flash and I barely even think about what I’ve given up. In the third week I start preparing for all the expressions I’m going to be tasting once the month is up. By the fourth I can’t wait to get back to doing what I love the most.

And so it’s really important that I pick a solid expression that I know for sure will not disappoint. There’s nothing like waiting for something for such a long time and discovering it tastes like piss. I hate that.

So I decided to pick the latest Bowmore Tempest Batch 5 as my first whisky of the new season. Because I figured if it’s anything like the last batch it was going to be cracking.

Matured for ten years in Bowmores’ legendary No1 Vault in first-fill bourbon barrels this is allegedly a small batch release. I say allegedly because I don’t know how many bottles make up a small batch. I think anything under 6000 should be small. I think.

Nose: Quite lovely. Very fresh. It’s sweet, almost winey. Like a tart chardonnay. Mixed with a lot of bright lime juice and mild vanilla extract. Dark cocoa tossed in coarse sea salt and crushed cornflakes. Cinnamon sprinkled on juicy nectarines.

Palate: Quite a kick! Strong lemon sweet candies and fiery white pepper prickles. Mandarins become the sweeter citrus. Dark unsweetened cocoa. Adding a few drops of water makes it more herbaceous and adds a touch of garam masala. (I prefer it without the water, though.)

Finish: Long. Very oily. Very chewy. Salty. Peppery with honey cocoa.

This is a great series by Bowmore (who I’m increasingly beginning to like) that is nurtured well and executed with amazing skill.

Rating: 92

Glendronach Cask Strength – Batch No. 1

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Distillery/Brand: GlenDronach
Region: Speyside
ABV: 54.8%
Colour: Old Sauternes

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

Review
I am increasingly impressed by the expressions this distillery produces and this one is no exception. This cask strength Oloroso and PX matured dram is an absolute beauty.

The powerful nose is as heady as it is delicious. The glorious oak envelopes a thick slice of nutty orange fudge sprinkled with a generous layer of raisins and smothered in caramel. This is finished off with a gentle drizzle of grated ginger.

The palate is not for the faint hearted. The underlying oak sits in complete balance with burnt citrus which is mixed with a rich dark chocolate and and equally dark fruits. All this is served with a dollop of marmalade infused with clove and cinnamon.

The long and oily finish is woody with a touch of clove and stays with you for ever.

So good!

Rating: 93

Glenmorangie Finealta

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Distillery/Brand: Glenmorangie
Region: Highland
ABV: 46%
Colour: Full Gold

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

Review
There are few whiskies that you can seldom go wrong with and Glenmorangie is one of them. So when I picked out the increasingly rare Finealta off a friend’s shelf I already had fairly high expectations.

The nose is soft smoke with sherry undertones mixed in with vanilla and fruit drops. This is followed by a touch of honey and some crushed red grapes. Finally a handful of roasted chestnuts give the nose a nice layer of complexity.

The full bodied delivery is cinnamon spicy at first and then a nice caramel and treacle sweet next. The slightly smoky oak then weaves in quite expertly and brings with it a deft minty touch.

The medium dry finish is a very nice mix of minty leaves and oak shavings.

Rating : 89