New Whiskies

Batch 15

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Batch 15 whisky line-up

An equal split between malt and grain this week, and peated and unpeated, encompassing a pair of Laphroaig bicentenary releases, a new Ardmore, two grains from Port Dundas and the first of a tranche of releases from Loch Lomond – all assessed by Dave Broom.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Ardmore Port Wood Finish

    Score 6.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Ardmore Port Wood Finish
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    Sweet and also quite thick, with elements of membrillo, medlar and some subtle woodsmoke behind redcurrant and a hint of sloe. Some oxidised elements – steamed fruits – as the smoke begins to grow. The fruit element gets slightly overripe and, with water, allied to cherry tree bark. Have neat.
    Palate
    A clean, quite crisp start, while the mid-palate is well-fruited and soft with those overripe, bletted fruits. The smoke is held back a little. It’s a bolder Ardmore with some fatness, but isn’t necessarily fully defined.
    Finish
    Light.
    Conclusion
    Plump, generous, easy-drinking, with sound distillery character. A very decent dram. More Ardmore, please.
    Right place, right time
    Making jam from windfall fruits.

    Laphroaig 15 Years Old

    Score 7.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Laphroaig 15 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose
    The first impression is of oil, rather than smoke, then comes a lovely soft fruitiness which could almost be mistaken for Bowmore in its tropical nature. The smoke begins to inch forward, then shifts to wet kelp and some sweetness. Water brings out more of the oils and more exotic soft fruits as well.
    Palate
    Dry, with burnt sticks, cold embers, but ripe fruits. The smoke is now more overt, while with water it becomes considerably drier and more rounded. At its best neat.
    Finish
    Clean, lightly phenolic, if a little abrupt.
    Conclusion
    It might not be the boldest Laphroaig, but it has a lovely balance.
    Right place, right time
    Wrapped in kelp, the baby sea otter begins to dream.

    Laphroaig 32 Years Old

    Score 8.3/10
    Scoring explained >
    Laphroaig 32 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose
    Richer in colour than the 15-year-old, but with a slightly more shy nose. There’s a funny lactic note before an unmistakable brininess comes through – sea-soaked timbers, seaweed and then real sweetness that brings in apple, resin. The smoke influences everything, while never dominating. Classic Laphroaig oiliness remains, before there’s blackcurrant (leaf and skin) and, in time, more cereal (steeping porridge oats). An old, mature nose. Water makes it a little too dry.
    Palate
    A gently muted entrance. Quite subtle and, like many old whiskies, you need to sip and allow it to flow slowly across the tongue. There’s touches of menthol and eucalypt which back up the balsam of the nose. The smoke has now receded.
    Finish
    Not very long, but smoky.
    Conclusion
    An excellent, subtle Laphroaig, though a scarce one.
    Right place, right time
    Fresh off the old trawler, bit of a cough. Soon sorted out.

    Loch Lomond Single Grain

    Score 7.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Loch Lomond Single Grain
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose
    Fresh, vibrant, yet gentle with a real lemon zest lift. There’s an interesting flour/flower thing going on. An aromatic grain with real character. In time, there’s a hint of Dolly Mixture esteriness and, with water, green banana.
    Palate
    Bright and cheery with those floral notes more obvious. The sweetness is now a dusting of icing sugar on beignets. Clean with excellent acidity. It’s young, but it isn’t in any way immature.
    Finish
    Fresh, but just a little short.
    Conclusion
    The first of a plethora of (hugely welcome) new releases and reformulations from the revived Loch Lomond (that’s LOW-mond, not Lo-MOND – see below) distillery, of which more next week.
    Right place, right time
    Taking a bunch of flowers to your love in New Orleans.

    Port Dundas 12 Years Old

    Score 7.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Port Dundas 12 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    Robust and rich, with some wood influence that provides elements of citrus and crème caramel, ginger, fermenting pineapple, toffee apple and chocolate. Water brings out light sulphur, then a powdery element, but there’s sufficient weight on show.
    Palate
    Clean and sightly lighter than the nose suggests – some fennel – before the sweet oak, here seen as Muscovado sugar, begins to develop. Coheres in the middle, showing chocolate, caramel and a chewiness. It hints (weirdly) towards heavy column still rum. With water, that slight separation between distillate and oak is accentuated.
    Finish
    Clean and long.
    Conclusion
    Port Dundas was always a more muscular style of grain and this is shown perfectly here. I like it. And (writes one irritated Glaswegian) it’s Port Dun-DAS, not DUN-das).
    Right place, right time
    Evening at a fun-fair.

    Port Dundas 18 Years Old

    Score 8.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    Port Dundas 18 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    In similar vein to the 12-year-old, but more supple. Again, this shows good weight with some apple, crème brûlée and, with water, a little almond.
    Palate
    More of a palate-led grain, with clean, oxidative notes, a little wood and some rich, sweet, honeyed flavour. Sugar puffs, ripeness and a chewy texture. Water brings out oak, with this dense, sweet and almost burnt note.
    Finish
    Long, with dark chocolate elements.
    Conclusion
    Great to see another new grain brand. Let’s hope there’s more to come. Oh… they closed it?! Shades of Bernheim?
    Right place, right time
    The Honey Monster sitting too close to the fire.
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