New Whiskies

Batch 22

by
Batch 22 tasting notes

This week’s batch of new whiskies tasted by the illustrious Dave Broom include a new NAS Talisker offering, the first bottlings from R&B Distillers prior to their distilleries even being built, a Sherry-cask finished Aberfeldy, and two single malts from Douglas Laing. 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Aberfeldy 16 Years Old

    Score 6.5/10
    Scoring explained >
    Aberfeldy 16 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Big sweet, honeyed nose which is classic Aberfeldy. The oloroso cask used for finishing adds this rather lovely old dusty sofa element, then comes some caramelised hazelnut, broom blossom, and cake mix. There’s a little green banana when water is added. Highly promising.

    Palate

    The boldness of the nose dissipates on an overly polite palate. There’s all the right signs – nuts, honey, soft fruits, but there’s less depth that you would expect ­– or dare I say demand.

    Finish

    Gentle and soft, but quick.

    Conclusion

    Sadly, this is all just too well mannered and lacks impact.

    Right place, right time

    Hiding in an old attic eating bread and honey. 'They’ll never find me here… please don’t…'

    Borders single grain

    Score 5.7/10
    Scoring explained >
    Borders single grain
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51.7%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Tight with notes of unripe pear, hot buttered popcorn and a sudden blast of squashed tarragon. Then comes the acidic frisson of pink grapefruit and hot sawdust. Slowly but surely a charred note develops that brings to mind red liquorice and despite a late soft blancmange like aroma it is steeliness which finally predominates. 

    Palate

    As the nose suggests this is a pretty nervy little number with all of that tight acidity you expect. Water is needed and although it does bring out some creaminess, and a touch of chocolate sauce, in time things become increasingly sour. 

    Finish

    Burnt pastry, then tartness. 

    Conclusion

    An unusual mix of 50:50 wheat and malted barley, this struggles to free itself from its acidic bonds. 

    Right place, right time

    A party. Late at night. Drinking neat shrub by mistake.

    Bowmore 15 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 8.2/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bowmore 15 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48.4%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Clean and initially only slightly smoky with a saline edge. The nose becomes increasingly complex, starting with turfy aromas, sheep dung, then the melancholy aroma of iris before it perks up with blasts of oyster brine and kelp. In time, it gets more bready and, with water, there’s even a hint of boot polish. Good. 

    Palate

    A very sweet start, then a big nose-tingling, wasabi-like hit that then drifts into sea urchin. The alcohol is strong and it does need water which, while calming the more enthusiastic elements down, allows more subtle background fruits to come through along with smoke.

    Finish

    Saline and moreish

    Conclusion

    Fresh but deep. Clean and complex. Well worth a look.

    Right place, right time

    Gazing back at Islay as you are being dragged back to the mainland. The sun setting, aromas of the coast drift into the air. A tear trickles down your face. 

    Macduff 25 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 8.6/10
    Scoring explained >
    Macduff 25 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54.1%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Nose

    Mature and bold to the extreme which is what you want from Macduff. Big and funky, with masses of rancio, dried fruit, cheese rind, chestnut puree, and a burnt meat element. It’s somehow sweet as well. Masses of character and weirdness. Love it.

    Palate

    Big and roasted, moving into hot chestnuts and Bovril. Layered and unrelenting. While it is hot when neat you lose that character and boost the tannins when it’s diluted, so keep an iced glass of water on the side.  

    Finish

    Long, still burnt and slightly oily.

    Conclusion

    This is classic Macduff – a distillery which always does things its own way. No, it’s not perfect, but it's wonderfully odd. Highly recommended. 

    Right place, right time

    A lonely pub. One old man in the corner smelling slightly of cheese and oiled wool. He beckons you over. 'I have a story to tell.'

    Raasay ‘While We Wait’

    Score 5.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Raasay ‘While We Wait’
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Light. Very light in fact, with some raspberry juice and firm cereal elements sitting in the background which bring to mind a distillery millroom. There’s a little touch of smoke, but the fruit – which with water develops into jam skimmings – dominates. There is a sense of immaturity.  

    Palate

    Green notes to start with – unripe strawberries in the punnet, then comes a slightly odd antiseptic note. Slightly thin on the palate. The fruit is very sweet, but it can’t mask the tightness of the base spirit.

    Finish

    The smoke leans out slightly.

    Conclusion

    This has the most peculiar rose colour akin to dentists’s mouthwash – coming from the ‘Tuscan red wine casks’ it’s been finished in. 

    Right place, right time

    This is what Raasay is about. 

    Talisker Neist Point

    Score 8.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Talisker Neist Point
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    45.8%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islands
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Clean and quite thick to start with. Sweeter than you expect from Talisker, but there’s still smoke and a hint of sulphur suggesting young elements being used. A preserved lemon lift leads into camphor, light pear, lavishly buttered brown bread, and sea salt. Complex and balanced.

    Palate

    Sweet and almost candied, with a little crème anglaise to begin with, but then the smoke comes roiling in along with signature pepper, sesame oil, and a lively pine-like note. 

    Finish

    Long and peppery with just a slight tension on the end.

    Conclusion

    Complex and balanced with a clear progression on the palate from sweet, to smoke, to spice.

    Right place, right time

    Eating cold peppered mackerel in a pine forest overlooking the sea. 

Scroll To Top