New Whiskies

Batch 31

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Batch 31 includes Lagavulin 8 Year Old, Kilchoman Sanaig, AnCnoc Blas, Prometheus 27, 808, and Glenmorangie Tayne.

Dave Broom discovers an assorted pick 'n' mix on his plate with this week's bag of new whisky releases, including a Sherry-influenced Kilchoman, a non-anCnoc anCnoc, a youthful Lagavulin and a blended grain that takes him back to his raving days. 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • 808

    Score 6.7/10
    Scoring explained >
    808
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Blended grain whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Initially, this is quite grainy, in the granular sense, with more than a hint of freshly starched linen, but then soft, creamy, lemon-accented elements begin to emerge and steadily but subtly build into chocolate mint ice cream, and toasted (pink) marshmallows. It needs time, but not water which lightens it too much leaving you with a spent Roman candle fizzing on the grass. 

    Palate

    Sweet to start with plenty of Dolly Mixtures, and bubblegum. Light all the way but softly balanced in the middle.

    Finish

    An acidic, lemony twang.

    Conclusion

    A grain whisky aimed at the nightclubs and named after the legendary Roland 808 drum machine. It does exactly what it sets out to do, and does it well. I’d have a shot or two if my raving days weren't long gone.  

    Right place, right time

    Guess where? You say don’t know the 808? Oh yes you do.

    try this: Charanjit Singh - Raga Bhairav (1982)

    or this: Afrika Bambaataa & Soul Sonic Force

    or this, made by Richie Hawtin who, weirdly, was on a sake masters’ course with Jonathan ‘JD-DJ’ Driver, one of the founders of the brand. Did it all start here?

    Plastikman - Spastik

    AnCnoc Blas

    Score 7.3/10
    Scoring explained >
    AnCnoc Blas
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    A surprisingly funky start, suggesting a fair whack of Sherry influence, a hint of smirred tweed, walnut shells, but light touches of the green fragrant freshness more typical of the distillery, then old cellars. With water it changes again with smears of citrus-scented handcream, and light sulphur.

    Palate

    Intense and explosive (it is 54% after all) and an inversion of the nose with all of the funky cellared foostiness being replaced by a highly fragrant mix of dried rose petal, sultana and nuts (energy bar). Tannins are quite firm. With water it becomes richer, fruitier, more peppery. It also has a dramatic louche.

    Finish

    Walnut skin.

    Conclusion

    A strange and shifting mix of the fungal and the lifted, the syrup and the nut. Oddly likeable and pretty non-anCnoc.

    Right place, right time

    You emerge from the wine cellar slightly befuddled by Sherry and trip over the lawnmower box which the gardener has forgotten to tidy away.

    Glenmorangie Tayne

    Score 7/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glenmorangie Tayne
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Availability
    Travel Retail
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A fat, sweet, and pretty muscular Glenmo’ with more than a fair share of timber yard aromas: sawdust, hot circular saw, freshly cut wood. This is backed with marzipan, passion fruit yoghurt, tinned peach and with water a little touch of chestnut puree. Luscious, but oaky.

    Palate

    Thick and upfront with decent structure and an amply fleshed-out middle which rapidly shifts into mace-like spiciness, then dry wood. Towards the back you get roasted nuts and some dried fruit. I like the textured fruit elements but am less sure about the grip especially when water is added. Best neat.

    Finish

    Tight, oaky. 

    Conclusion

    LVMH were strangely reluctant to part with a sample of this amontillado cask finished dram, so we purloined one from travel retail, where it’s an exclusive. A fair dram, but the wood is mighty.

    Right place, right time

    A sweaty lumberjack felling a peach tree.  

    Kilchoman Sanaig

    Score 7.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Kilchoman Sanaig
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Typically sweet Kilchoman, with the smoke well integrated and actually quite low in the mix, giving way to Victoria plum, preserved lemon and sea breezes, with just a whiff of lavender bushes and ylang ylang. Becomes fruitier showing elements of tayberry. The oily peat comes through with water, alongside waxed jacket.

    Palate

    A solid start, then the slow burning peat builds alongside semi-dried/autumnal fruits. Water helps to add sweetness in the middle of what is a quite energetic, clean palate. On the back those plums reappear…

    Finish

    …before smoke and a bracing acidity rounds things off.

    Conclusion

    The new permanent addition to the Kilchoman range mixing Bourbon cask matured whisky finished in Sherry hoggies and some fully matured in oloroso butts. Nicely balanced. If I’m being picky it might need a little more mid-palate weight. As solid as ever. 

    Right place, right time

    Little Jack Horner sitting next to the peat fire.

    Lagavulin 8 Years Old

    Score 9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Lagavulin 8 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Immediate mezcal cues: soft pear like fruits, herbs, smoke and glittering minerality. Then there’s the strangely welcoming aroma of a warm, sea water wet woollen sock and a whiff of a boat’s engine. In time you’ll get peaty draff, violet, milky oyster, and hot crab shell. Light, and fresh it has an evanescent airiness. Water makes things a little more focused: sifted flour and a more overtly phenolic smokiness. 

    Palate

    Though intense from the off, it’s also sweet, yet oily, bursting like seaweed on the tongue releasing smoking beechwood, seared scallops, menthol, and laurel. That fizzing mineral element is retained and there’s a massive retronasal effect that’s like a sea dragon coming up for air. Low wood influence but not immature.

    Finish

    Salty and sweet, then dies into light smoke.

    Conclusion

    It’s Islay in a glass. Well done Diageo for celebrating an anniversary with a dram that’s affordable to all. It’s been marked in line with its competitive set.

    Right place, right time

    Flat calm off the Kildalton coast. A sea mist rises as you stand on a yacht’s deck in the cool morning.

    Prometheus 27 Years Old

    Score 8.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Prometheus 27 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    47%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    The colour of Donald Trump’s face, but infinitely more pleasant and complex. Elegant with the haunting character of gently aged whisky – oily, yet sweet; tropical fruits, blackcurrants, plantain, dried pineapple, and then pews and leather-bound bibles. All the time the gently generous waxy rancio builds. With water, a shoeshine stand, chocolate and apple. Classy (so not like Trump). 

    Palate

    Big with obvious structure from the off. While there is some heft from the fruity core, the oak’s hand is quite firm. You’ll pick up a little Seville orange, and apricots dusted with ras el hanout, but it’s dry. Water softens the grip, but ups the spice and brings out a light hint of smoke.

    Finish

    A touch of astringency.

    Conclusion

    A really fantastic nose which helps to make up for the slightly dry palate. It’s a hoor of a price though and is marked accordingly.

    Right place, right time

    In the souk, a Moroccan feast is laid out in front of you.

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