New Whiskies

Batch 76

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New whisky tasting notes Batch 76

Our chief engineer Dave Broom and magazine editor Richard Woodard have joined forces to guide you through the final new whisky tasting notes of 2016. Broom leads the way with a ‘cracker’ (that’s not a Christmas joke) of a whisky, in the form of the first release from a new mini-series exploring Bowmore’s No 1 Vaults. This is followed by another inaugural release – but no less fabulous – this time from the new Glenmorangie vintage collection of single malts. Then, something to reach for as you stir up some cocktails this Christmas time, with an eight-year-old Hazelburn, bottled by Cadenhead. The baton is then passed to Woodard who brings a new ‘troika’ of 10-year-old Bruichladdichs to the table. First is the second limited edition Laddie Ten from the distillery, which offers complexity without losing the distillery character. Next is a Port Charlotte, with its oily texture, whiffs of smoke and fruit kebabs. And saving the peatiest ’til last, it’s an Octomore that’s sure to satisfy the curiosity of any peat freaks out there.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Bowmore Vault Edition First Release

    Bowmore Vault Edition First Release
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51.5%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Immediate and intense. Salt water taffy, pencil sharpenings, then light bergamot and sancho pepper/green peppercorns. There’s a hint of broom/pea pod that suggests some youthfulness, which becomes more apparent with water. Only now does the smoke begin to emerge. 

    Palate

    Briny from tongue tip to thrapple, but accompanied by Lindt salted chocolate and cinnamon. Water calms this vibrancy and allows some softer fruits to come through – albeit salt-tinged.

    Finish

    Berry fruits.

    Conclusion

    The first in a mini-series exploring both No 1 Vaults and the keystones of Bowmore’s distillery character – and it’s a cracker that’s especially good in a highball.

    Right place, right time

    As bracing as being slapped in the face with a flounder. Snap it up unless you want to get the Salty Dog Blues. Take it away…

    Glenmorangie Grand Vintage 1990

    Glenmorangie Grand Vintage 1990
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Mature and deep, with complex aromas of marzipan and ginger chocolate, spiced honey/metheglin, light touches of caraway with an underpinning of stewing citrus fruits. It continues to deepen into luscious notes of old Sauternes, cooked quince, while a light funkiness in the background keeps things interesting. Water brings out Darjeeling, nougat, lime and soft, sweet fruits.

    Palate

    Very soft, almost liqueur-like for an instant, and then the spices (ras el hanout, cinnamon) come through, along with Violet Crumble, lemon verbena and mint leaves. It does need just a splash of water to calm things a little and allow that fruit to show. It does become quite delicate, though, so ca’ canny. 

    Finish

    Blackcurrant.

    Conclusion

    The start of another series, this comes from the apparently tricky ’89 barley harvest and the year that ’Morangie moved its still house to the former warehouse No 1. Aged in a mix of American and oloroso, this is a fabulous whisky.

    Right place, right time

    As headily romantic as this Bizet aria from Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.

    Hazelburn 8 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Hazelburn 8 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Campbeltown
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    The smell of sweet wood to start with. Like walking into a timber merchant’s. There is some of Hazelburn’s light, grassy, floral elements and a blizzard of ground nutmeg, before more wood oils, cedar, and then a charred element begins to build, adding a distinct – and unusual – smokiness. Becomes even more Bourbon-esque with water.

    Palate

    Medium weight with ripe and lightly stewed apple. The wood seems less overt, just adding grip and some desiccated coconut. Water is needed, which brings the smokiness and wood oils further forward.

    Finish

    Creamy.

    Conclusion

    It’s wood-driven but has freshness, and would work well in an Old Fashioned as it just needs that hint of sweetness.

    Right place, right time

    Hot oil on a bandsaw.

    Bruichladdich The Laddie Ten 2nd Edition

    Bruichladdich The Laddie Ten 2nd Edition
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Lush fruit and spiced florals, with an undercurrent of honeyed malt, then a slightly edgy tang of amontillado Sherry. The Laddie’s trademark charm and linear fruitiness is given added opulence and depth here by a touch of Sherry cask. Exotic spiced apricots alongside meringue and thick cream. Water brings out lighter florals, tangerine and gentle malt.

    Palate

    Now the cereal comes through, with darker notes of bramble, damson and even dark chocolate. A salty, mineral lick element wards off flabbiness. Water paints a more perfumed and delicate picture, but also mutes the richer flavours.

    Finish

    Clean, soft, persistent.

    Conclusion

    This is the second limited edition 10-year-old from the revived Bruichladdich, and the use of first fill Bourbon, Sherry and French wine casks has added complexity without sacrificing the distillery’s signature brightness. Very good indeed.

    Right place, right time

    A glorious afternoon on the beach at Ardnave. The planned seafood feast kicks off with a chilled glass of amontillado and a platter of oysters.

    Port Charlotte 10 Years Old 2nd Edition

    Port Charlotte 10 Years Old 2nd Edition
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Dark runny honey and golden syrup over steamed pudding, before the peat emerges in coal tar form, alongside peppery agave notes. A creamy cereal element hints at both cask influence and distillery character. Water brings out the Laddie’s bright fruit, nudging the smoke back behind glacé ginger and Chivers orange jelly. 

    Palate

    Silky, tongue-coating oils carry exotic fruits in syrup. Again the peat – green smoke, camphor – plays a supporting role, and there’s a slightly bewildering combination of vinous and agave aspects. Charred scallops and prawns, followed by barbecued fruit kebabs.

    Finish

    Dry smoke.

    Conclusion

    There’s complexity here, and all manner of appealing flavours flying around – only a slight lack of coherence lets it down.

    Right place, right time

    Beach barbecue lit at Ardnave. Distracted by the fruit platter, he belatedly returns to the grill to find several cremated scallops.

    Octomore 10 Years Old 2nd Edition

    Octomore 10 Years Old 2nd Edition
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    57.3%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    At once smoky, vegetal, fruity and honeyed, like a raging fire in a winery that makes Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc and Sauternes [Not sure you’re allowed to do that – Ed]. The peat (this is 167ppm, folks – just count those phenols) manifests itself as smoked biltong, washed down with the edgy peppery facsimile of an extra añejo Tequila. With water, the billowing smoke clears to reveal orange zest and sandalwood, sweetening and brightening everything.

    Palate

    As with the Laddie and Port Charlotte, glorious texture. The peat then builds… builds… and builds. There’s a prickle of heat (57.3%, after all), then tangy dark marmalade and yet more smoke. Water calms everything somewhat, teasing out the distillery character and kicking the peat back into smoked ham territory.

    Finish

    Dying embers catch at the throat.

    Conclusion

    Neat, this is for the curious peat freak only; with water, the distillery hoves into view – and it’s a pleasure. Octomore is a fascinating exercise in possibility, but here’s a question: what would it be like if peat from Islay, rather than from the mainland, were used? I hope we find out one day.

    Right place, right time

    At Ardnave, the ill-fated barbecue is out of hand. As the dune grasses catch light, he decides to call the fire brigade.

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