New Whiskies

Batch 66

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Batch 66 new whisky tasting notes

Step this way for the latest whisky releases tried and tested by our chief engineer, Dave Broom. First, Johnnie Walker puts his best foot forward with one of three new blends, Red Rye Finish, before handing over to an 18-year-old Royal Brackla bottling from Wm Cadenhead. Then a duo of Speyside distillery releases courtesy of Lady of the Glen come to the fore – one aged in Bourbon barrels, the other in Sherry butts. Next in line we have a new entry from Tamnavulin, the first from the distillery in more than 20 years, rounded off by a smoky, chocolate-accented Tweeddale dram. 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch Red Rye Finish

    Score 7.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch Red Rye Finish
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Blended Scotch whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    The rye comes across first, all green anise and allspice, followed more gently by vanilla and an aroma like a French boulangerie: hot baguettes and fresh croissants, alongside sweet orange, tangerine, red cherry and honey. Rye-accented, but not dominated. In time, there’s lemon verbena, white chocolate and mashed banana, with more grain elements on show. Water brings out rye dustiness, but balanced with sweetness. 

    Palate

    The spice is well controlled and the sweeter elements come to the fore here, alongside a herbal element and those citrus notes, while the acidic spiciness begins to pull away from the mid-palate. That said, it remains held in check by flavours of vanilla, apricot and light peels.

    Finish

    Rye comes back. A little short.

    Conclusion

    This works as it’s a Scotch that’s been given a rye twist, rather than a Scotch trying to be a North American whisky. If Alexander Walker had casks of rye to hand in 1908, would he have used them? Yes. I’d have liked it at 43% just to give a little more impact and length. Almost like a pre-mixed Bobbie Burns, it also works well in a Rob Roy – which is the point, after all. 

    Right place, right time

    After the all-night session he wandered into the baker’s for some sustenance. 

    Royal Brackla 18 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Score 8.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Royal Brackla 18 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54.4%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Campbeltown
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Instant high-toned Brackla character, all popping green grapes, sweet pear, quetsch (damson plum), melon balls dusted with ginger, fresh pineapple and green grass. Effervescent rather than hot. Water maybe dampens this exuberance down a little too much.

    Palate

    A fresh start, with all of the gently clinging syrupy fruits you see on the nose. The structure is light. It’s on the back palate where everything becomes just that bit more serious and complex. The fruits remain fresh but seem to ripen, adding a deeper, mature element, which develops with some mace and a hint of wood oil – but the still bright acidity allows the energy to be retained. With water, things begin to drift into Pinot Blanc territory and while you still get that shift on the back palate, its impact is lessened. 

    Finish

    Long when neat.

    Conclusion

    Fresh, vibrant and complex. Keep the water on the side and you will be rewarded. Recommended. 

    Right place, right time

    Finishing his fruit salad, he turned to the young man and said: ‘Now, what are your intentions towards my daughter?’

    Speyside Distillery 1996 Bourbon Cask (Lady of the Glen)

    Score 4.5/10
    Scoring explained >
    Speyside Distillery 1996 Bourbon Cask (Lady of the Glen)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Light in character, with heat slightly obscuring lemon butter icing and wet grass before a sour butyric note starts to develop and then dominate. The distillate seems fat. With water, you get more of the soured milk elements clamping down on some more delicate and perfumed elements, which are trying to break free.

    Palate

    Scented candles and cinnamon with lavender soap – very peculiar. Water reduces the intensity of this odd amalgamation, but it becomes dusty.

    Finish

    Sour and fat. 

    Conclusion

    Let’s just draw a veil over this and move on, eh? 

    Right place, right time

    An abandoned hippy commune in the Monadhliath.

    Packaging not finalised at time of publication.

    Speyside Distillery 1994 Sherry Butt (Lady of the Glen)

    Score 6.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Speyside Distillery 1994 Sherry Butt (Lady of the Glen)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    61.3%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Robust, with obvious Sherry oak (and indeed Sherry) from the off – there’s even a light greenish tinge. Though hot, there are mature notes of wild mushroom, graphite, hard butterscotch, then classic polished wood – the entrance hall of a castle – before dark chocolate and treacle scones. Grows in richness and complexity, but balanced by clean acidity. Mature and redolent of late autumn. With water, some liqueur chocolates and wet chestnuts.

    Palate

    The key here is how the quite fat distillate balances with the attentions of the oak. It starts quite aromatically with those funkier mature elements, dried fruit and, again, the cacao. It is firm in structure and slightly dry. It remains hot.

    Finish

    Long and rich.

    Conclusion

    One for those who don’t mind a bit of grip and, while just a little over-extracted for this wimpy palate, the nose is great. A sound, burly dram.

    Right place, right time

    From deep in the trees came the sound of Let’s Eat Grandma.

    Packaging not finalised at time of publication.

    Tamnavulin Double Cask

    Score 6.6/10
    Scoring explained >
    Tamnavulin Double Cask
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Lightly honeyed, mixing toffee apples with dry Sugar Puffs, candied orange peel, coriander powder, then a growing charred element. A sudden pulse of grilled pineapple sweetens things up again before the oak returns along with burnt pine. There’s a tickle of Sherry with water and things become slightly juicier, though remaining oak-driven.

    Palate

    Soft, very gentle and creamy with good – and ginger-pricked – flow before nuttiness comes through to dry the back palate slightly. Sweet oak, vanilla and sultana. With water, what it loses in impact it gains in fresh oak.

    Finish

    Drying and quite short.

    Conclusion

    All very pleasant, but it needs more contrast on the tongue. Still, I’d be happy with a dram and good to see Tamnavulin, finally, returning to the single malt fold.

    Right place, right time

    An estate agent of a dram.

    The Tweeddale, The Last Centennial

    Score 8.6/10
    Scoring explained >
    The Tweeddale, The Last Centennial
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.2%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    A smoky start. A very smoky start, in fact, that also mixes in pollen and camphor, bay leaves and mint. Rich and also – thankfully – sweet, with the latter giving balance. Only light heat, showing that mature stock has been used. Soft and complex, with notes of lemon thyme, glossy fruits, sandalwood, cashew, then wet reeds, milk chocolate and rosemary. With water you pick up the smoke again alongside posh, herb-infused olive oil.

    Palate

    As with the nose, there’s immediate smoke, which now comes across as the embers of a smouldering peat fire. This is backed with chocolate truffle (what is it with chocolate this week?) and orange bitters. Finely textured balancing weight, smoke, citrus and a ripe berry fruit. With water you lose just a little of the intensity but gain a gentler flow, some scented woods, grapefruit and a little nut.

    Finish

    Peppermint and smoke. 

    Conclusion

    Layered and complex. Recommended.

    Right place, right time

    An Italian deli on Islay.

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