Balvenie 21 Year old Port Wood Finish

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Distillery/Brand: Balvenie
Region: Speyside
ABV: 40%
Color: Copper

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

Review
Early on in my days as a malt enthusiast (read freak) I was always on the lookout for Jim Murrays’ 93+ point whiskies and this 21 year old port finished Balvenie was on top of my ‘must buy’ list. So imagine my utter delight when I discovered this at the Duty Free during one of my travels.

As expected I had no idea what I was drinking. Not only that, I had the audacity to write a three line review and post it for all and sundry to see. I praised it but had no inkling why I was praising it.

Today I know why.

Nose: Robust. Confident. As you would expect a 21 year old to be. A whisky, that is! The port finish comes through on the back of remarkably balanced cocoa beans and fruit cake wrapped in chewy toffee. Then there is the sweet beeswax complemented by gorgeous red apples and a teasing cinnamon spice. And grapes. Lots of grapes. Dark grapes.

Palate: Beautifully textured. I know it’s medium-bodied but the palate is sending thick syrupy signals to the brain. Must be all that cocoa, thick grapes and warm apple stew covered in salty nuts.

Finish: Long and seductive. The cinnamon fruitcake is back and renders you almost incapacitated.

This is truly an example of what real magic must feel like.

Rating: 94

Talisker Port Ruighe

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Distillery/Brand: Talisker
Region: Island
ABV: 45.8%
Colour: Old Gold

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

Review
One has come to expect, and quite fairly, good things from Talisker. The standard 10, the lovely 18 and the delicious 57 North are the reasons for that. So, as a fan, it’s disappointing to try hard and eke out positives from their last two No Age Statements; Storm & Port Ruighe. And this is what I think about the latter.

The nose has the reassuring and familiar sea salty dampness that one expects from all malts from Skye. There is then a healthy ladle of meat stew with thick chunks of sausage sprinkled liberally with fiery black peppercorns. Cold cuts on the side are accompanied by a bowlful of pomegranate and raisins. I quite like it which makes the delivery that much more disappointing.

You are greeted with an unbalanced palate of caramel, molasses, spicy clove mixed with cherry syrup and a stick of licorice on a bed of mild peat. It has all the ingredients to make this a cracker but I think the spirit weighs far too heavy on the spicier notes not allowing the gentler sweeter profiles to come through. Plus there is a nagging bitterness in there some where which is hard to catch.

The lingering, spicy finish also retains that irksome bitterness.

I really wanted this to blow me away. Instead it chose to remain borderline average.

Rating: 85