New Whiskies

Batch 46

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  • Ardbeg Dark Cove, Committee Edition

    Score 9.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    Ardbeg Dark Cove, Committee Edition
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Not just more intense than the ‘standard’ strength, but with more rigidity and pepperiness from the word go – Szechuan and long pepper. A fug of peat smoke slightly obscures the black fruits which lie at its heart. Some crème caramel is lurking in here, alongside dark chocolate truffles and, with water, a release of some mill room biscuitiness.

    Palate

    As oily, thick, and unyielding as the lower-strength Fèis example, with more peat on show which ignites on the centre of the tongue, leaving debris of liquorice, smoked eel and a generally wild element. The extra alcohol energises and peels all of the flavours apart.

    Finish

    Spicy, caramel, bonfire.

    Conclusion

    A massive, grouchy, grumbling mass of a malt.

    Right place, right time

    A ceilidh in an eel-trapper’s bothy.

    Arran 19 Years Old, Fino Cask (Cadenhead)

    Score 8.3/10
    Scoring explained >
    Arran 19 Years Old, Fino Cask (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islands
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    This opens with canteloupe melon powdered with ginger, and a twist of lime zest. It has a floral edge, with some orchard fruit weight heading in the direction of mirabelle. As it opens you get more vanilla from the cask, while the addition of water makes things generally more creamy with a touch of oxidation at the back.

    Palate

    A focused start. Elderflower comes through, alongside light chalk notes and that violet note which a lot of Cadenhead bottlings seem to have (don’t ask me). Moves into shortbread and pears, and an almost Imperial-like American cream soda flavour. Water mutes it slightly, but it does remain fresh and floral.  

    Finish

    Very creamy, with a little pineapple.

    Conclusion

    One of those malts which somehow manages to be light, but with substance. 

    Right place, right time

    A sophisticated afternoon tea in the back garden.

    Arran 19 Years Old (Hunter Laing)

    Score 7.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Arran 19 Years Old (Hunter Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islands
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Aromatic, with notes of meadow hay, grapefruit zest, then an attractive dribble of cider vinegar which adds to the general lift and zinginess. If you can resist, let it open to allow more heavy floral perfume to develop. Water makes things just a shade more dry, but that clean rabbit hutch aroma continues.

    Palate

    Like a flower stand with additional elements of marzipan and icing, then a touch of powdery rose reminiscent of rouge. Clean acidity and, though short, has a cool freshness. Water makes things sweetly delicious and strawberry-like, with more weight than you might expect.

    Finish

    Clean and short with some cereal.

    Conclusion

    All rather delightful. Served ice-cold for a perfect summer aperitif.

    Right place, right time

    Dozing under a tree, book in hand. A white rabbit runs past.

    Bowmore 1997, ‘Shellfish Platter’ (Wemyss Malts)

    Score 7.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bowmore 1997, ‘Shellfish Platter’ (Wemyss Malts)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    One thing about Wemyss is that the accuracy of its descriptors makes life difficult when writing a tasting note, as you struggle to come up with anything original. So, yes, there is a certain briny cleanliness at work here – oysters and salt with a squeeze of lemon juice and a salad of cucumber, mint, and lovage on the side. The smoke is surprisingly low here… 

    Palate

    …but comes through on the palate, adding more of a scented element rather than dryness, making things reminiscent of smoked skate. Light acidity and whiff of paraffin come through in the middle. Water shifts things away from the green elements seen on the nose and into sweet, buttery clams.

    Finish

    Short but clean and slightly smoky.

    Conclusion

    A refreshing sling of a malt.

    Right place, right time

    Guddling in pools for a beach feast.

    Bruichladdich 15 Years Old, Private Cask No. 507 (Òrain Òr)

    Score 8.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bruichladdich 15 Years Old, Private Cask No. 507 (Òrain Òr)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    58.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Big and very exotic. Filled with a mix of dark fruits – fried black cherry is foremost – then a savoury spiciness of calamus, caraway and cumin mixed with hot adobe, a deliciously singed quality, shoeshine stand, then Walnut Whip. Water summons forth the Laddie oils, alongside scented wood and incense. 

    Palate

    That thick black fruit sweetness continues on the tongue as the cherry and Sherry tussle with each other. The tannins are supple, just adding some control to the lush, savoury sweetness. Bittersweet and fascinating. 

    Finish

    I was struggling to place this oddly familiar bittersweet element when it struck me: it’s like a whisky-based Antica Formula. What a Rob Roy this would make! 

    Conclusion

    I popped into the Islay Whisky Shop just to say hello to Sally Christie and, during the inevitable conversational mayhem which ensued, I left with a bottle of this. I can’t resist a Sherry hoggie. Every home should have one of these. 

    Right place, right time

    Sipping communion wine after Mass. Incense still hanging in the air.  

    Glen Grant 12 Years Old

    Score 8.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glen Grant 12 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Very Glen Grant in its notes of apple and pear, with the added note of bluebells and hyacinths. Has a gentle, mellow sweetness, with more range and weight than previous bottlings. With water, there’s old banana peel and a little toffee. Some cask influence begins to show with water.

    Palate

    A positive and quite textured start, with some spiciness and cassia. It’s drier than you might expect given the nose, but does have some whitecurrant and rhubarb fool to add to the caramel softness.

    Finish

    Just a little flat when you want things to pick up.

    Conclusion

    Recommended as a banker for a lighter-style dram.

    Right place, right time

    A Scottish orchard after rain.

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