New Whiskies

Batch 43

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Batch 43 new whiskies

Four single malts and two single grains this week, from a Sherried Aberlour to a subtle Mortlach, via Balvenie, Fettercairn, Girvan and Invergordon. Some creative branding too – and one of the ‘weirdest’ whiskies Dave Broom has tasted for some time.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Aberlour 16 Years Old Single Cask

    Score 7.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Aberlour 16 Years Old Single Cask
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    53.5%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Availability
    The Whisky Exchange
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Red in hue. From the off you know this is an unreconstructed Sherry bomb for a’Bunadh lovers (but somewhat less sulphury). You can pick out the distillery’s blackcurrant notes from behind the dried mixed fruits, Armagnac-like pruniness and grilled red peppers. It’s sweet, albeit slightly singed by the match that’s been struck towards the end.

    Palate

    Big and quite tannic with some heat showing before the mid-palate adds good weight, sweetness and a mix of red and black fruits alongside a whiff of burning hair. Water, as ever, brings out more tannin, but also black cherry. I’d be cautious with its addition as there is sweet power here.

    Finish

    Tight and lightly, pleasantly, bitter.

    Conclusion

    A very good example of a first fill Sherry cask (#4738 if you are interested in such things). Not particularly my style, I admit, but there’s plenty of folk who like this sort of thing. Marked without prejudice.

    Right place, right time

    Imagine your surprise when, as you eat a jammy piece beside the Spey, Arthur Brown walks across the Penny Bridge.

    Balvenie Madeira Cask, 21 Years Old

    Score 7.7/10
    Scoring explained >
    Balvenie Madeira Cask, 21 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A big, blue, fragrant nose: blueberry, quetsch, plum jam. Sweet and syrupy, with some spice from the oak. Everything is very powerful and cask-driven, which doubles up the distillery’s honeyed signature, then adds just a hint of nut at the back. Water, I think, makes things better because there’s some balancing dryness, and a little citric element.

    Palate

    There’s some light structure here, while the thickness of the distillate and the Madeira influence adds black grape and honey. It is, however, slightly blurry, with pretty much the same flavours from the start to the end.

    Finish

    Sweet and fruity.

    Conclusion

    A big, thick lump of flavour. Approachable, sweet, it ticks all the boxes, it’s just not complex.

    Right place, right time

    We’re in a Big Blue World. Cue Paul Haig

    Fettercairn 7 Years Old (Hunter Laing)

    Score 5.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Fettercairn 7 Years Old (Hunter Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Malty & Dry
    Nose

    The colour of a Navarra rosado and with some of its aromatic qualities as well: strawberry, cranberry, a hint of cream, but there’s also an aroma like a wet field after harvest. Water, amazingly, makes things hotter.

    Palate

    A burnt cereal quality after what is a rather likeable nose. The sweetness tries to ease its way out, but there’s now a hard edge which could be youth or distillery character (or both). Water just smears that singed element across the tongue, the fruit only perking up again on the end.

    Finish

    Hard. Short.

    Conclusion

    Saved by the nose. You know what? In a couple of years’ time, this could be rather lovely.

    Right place, right time

    Sipping rosado while watching the fields burn.

    Girvan 36 Years Old (Hunter Laing)

    Score 8.0/10
    Scoring explained >
    Girvan 36 Years Old (Hunter Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    A very clean, lightly floral Girvan, with some heat, candied orange and lemon peel, a little creaminess that slowly develops into toffee.

    Palate

    Lively and sweet with some sticky depth, then sweet cereal, powdery ginger spice. It has a pure line of acidity adding a green citric edge to a palate that’s been filled out with the toffee. Water adds a touch of oak and more spice. Has balance and style.

    Finish

    Butterscotch.

    Conclusion

    Lively and rather delightful.

    Right place, right time

    Happily eating Sugar Puffs with the Honey Monster and Dr John Cooper Clarke.

    Invergordon 1988 ‘Rosy Apple Brulé’ (Wemyss Malts)

    Score 8.2/10
    Scoring explained >
    Invergordon 1988 ‘Rosy Apple Brulé’ (Wemyss Malts)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Barking mad from the off. An aroma of a thick reduction of bletted medlar, envelope glue, thick green Oolong, a cider press after the juice has been extracted, toffee apple, dried fruits and even a little sulphur.

    Palate

    Thick, savoury and chewy. There’s touches of rhubarb crumble, apple syrup that’s been allowed to maderise, and fennel seed.

    Finish

    Fat and rich with some dried fruits.

    Conclusion

    A Sherried grain? Undoubtedly one of the weirdest whiskies I’ve had for ages. Like it!

    Right place, right time

    Stuck with Jim Hawkins in the apple barrel. For a very long time.

    Mortlach 1995 ‘Flambé Fruit’ (Wemyss Malts)

    Score 8.3/10
    Scoring explained >
    Mortlach 1995 ‘Flambé Fruit’ (Wemyss Malts)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    The fabled meatiness is dried and more delicate here – bresaola rather than roast beef. There’s damp autumn leaves, sweet mushroom, along with golden syrup-coated nuts, a handbag shop. Sadly it fades a little quickly, as if it’s put all its effort into releasing those initial aromas.

    Palate

    Soft, with a lovely and quite subtle depth that never hits the profound depths of some expressions. Instead things are kept lighter and slightly sweeter, with some light grip and this yellow fruit element. There’s a carbonised element with water, so I’d leave alone.

    Finish

    Mixing fruits and light meatiness.

    Conclusion

    A really subtle dram which you need to concentrate on.

    Right place, right time

    A day moth eases itself out of its chrysalis.

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