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New Whiskies

Batch 196

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Ardmore eight-year-old Cadenhead's; Ardmore five-year-old Asta Morris; Cooley 11-year-old Cadenhead's; Glenburgie 2008 Asta Morris; Tomatin 1975 Warehouse 6 Collection; Writers’ Tears Copper Pot, Deau XO Cognac finish

Dave Broom samples a pick ‘n’ mix bag of goodies this week, featuring two young Ardmores, a Glenburgie, and a brace of Irish whiskeys all topped off with the latest in Tomatin’s delvings into its Warehouse No. 6.

Indie bottler Asta Morris starts things off with a five-year-old Ardmore, which Broom finds some filthy, funky fun here; its combination of spicy curry, fruit and lingering smoke flavours makes it a knockout.

A second, although only marginally older, Ardmore from Cadenhead is brimming with big Sherry notes – luscious, sticky and unctuous, says Broom.

The next dram, an 11-year-old Irish whiskey from Cooley distillery (a new release yet distilled in 1992), offers some springtime sweetness to the tasting. With the whisky flicking between fruits and artificial confectionary, Broom is left debating whether to head to a sweet shop or an orchard.

Asta Morris’ 10-year-old Glenburgie, a usually fruity Speyside number, has been given a Caroni rum cask finish, but is overwhelmed by abrasive fumes. Petrol has no place in rum, Broom says, and even less so in whisky.

Tomatin 1975 is the newest expression from the Highland distillery’s Warehouse 6 Collection. The 43-year-old whisky offers a lasting fruity sweetness that Broom reckons is worth the substantial price for a bottle.

The tasting ends with another dram from the Emerald Isle, this time a blend of single malt and pot still whiskeys from Writers’ Tears. This fourth expression in the range comes with a French connection, having spent nine months finishing in ex-Deau XO Cognac casks. It offers light layers of chocolate, spice and fruits, which stands in contrast to the whiskey’s salty name.

The playlist is similarly eclectic, moving from Jefferson Airplane’s chunky psychedelia to a Musical Youth classic and Dr John’s voodoo ceremony. Bill Callahan comes in to add a sense of calm. Follow the links in Right Time, Right Place.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Ardmore 5 Years Old (Asta Morris)

    Score

    87

    Ardmore 5 Years Old (Asta Morris)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    56.4%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Funky; an almost meaty nose, with wet flannel, musk, a hint of smoke and then Bolst’s curry powder, some dried coconut and peachy fruit. The curried note continues when water is added – more coriander and mustard seed, then prune, violet and liquorice root. The funky element now glances towards goat curry. Filthy, but lovely.

    Palate

    A very slick, almost oily start that then turns around and introduces red cherry and a touch of bite as the alcohol bares its teeth. That almost meaty/leathery funkiness is still there alongside more fig fruit. Water imposes a certain degree of control, adding a slinky quality while not losing the oiliness, and adding more date fruit.  The smoke hangs around behind the bike sheds.

    Finish

    Long and belying its age. Slightly drying.

    Conclusion

    An astonishing young dram from Asta Morris, which seems to specialise in this sort of thing. You do occasionally sense that the cask is almost forcibly pulling the spirit out, like a child from its warm bed – but it works.

    Right place, right time

    Moving at 3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds.

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    Ardmore 8 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Score

    87

    Ardmore 8 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    There’s an interesting lusciousness here right from the start, along with a touch of smoke and a tiny cereal element, giving some dryness. In time, you pick up stewing pears, meadow hay and a growing sultana-accented richness. Has that very Ardmore mix of smoke, fragrance and fruit. With water added, things move towards fruit and nut chocolate, more overt smokiness and the smell of a warm baguette dribbled with honey.

    Palate

    A sweet, slightly nutty start. This hazelnut quality carries all the way through (there’s a touch of Snickers bar in fact) though by the mid-palate you’re into a juicy, almost sticky, unctuous fruitiness mixed with flamed citrus peels. The smoke then kicks in. These changes are a little abrupt when neat, but water smooths the joins, adding substance and integrating the smoke, and bringing out darker dried fruits.

    Finish

    More dried fruits, nuts and embers.

    Conclusion

    This is one of those drams which you keep returning to, and it gets better each time you do. Relaxed, with just enough smoke, and great weight for its age. The Sherry hoggie strikes again.

    Right place, right time

    Heading out rapidly on its Embryonic Journey.

    Cooley 11 Years Old, Distilled 1992 (Cadenhead)

    Score

    80

    Cooley 11 Years Old, Distilled 1992 (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    49.5%
    Production type
    Single malt Irish whiskey
    Region
    Ireland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Really sweet fruits to start: melon, tinned apricot, then apple sponge, before a more artificial confected quality takes over – an old-style sweet shop. In time you get some ginger, then things fade quickly and you are left with a cool, floral quality. Water lightens things while also bringing out more of the sweets: pear drops and soor plooms.

    Palate

    The way in which the nose fades hints at a slight fragility, but there’s just sufficient gentle red berry fruit in the centre of the tongue to give things a central focus. Then comes straw and lemon, and a touch of cream. Water dries things out but does stir in green apple.

    Finish

    Light, with some orchard fruits. Dries quickly.

    Conclusion

    Yes, I don’t get the maths either. An easy-drinking mid-afternoon sipper, and what’s wrong with that?

    Right place, right time

    A taste of Spring.

    Glenburgie 10 Years Old, Caroni Finish (Asta Morris)

    Score

    76

    Glenburgie 10 Years Old, Caroni Finish (Asta Morris)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Very pale, indicative of not-hugely-active casks. There’s some light rummy notes (green banana/banana peel) then some very light floral elements, lime cordial, but there is also a harshness at the back. Water makes it almost medicinal in a sterile/antiseptic cream way, while there’s a light rubber note as well. A car leaving a petrol station at speed.

    Palate

    For a second you think it’s back on track. A sweet, sugary start, then marshmallow, some molasses and then a more ’Burgiefied quality of cut flowers. It flips between these two elements while never being fully anchored to either. It becomes very mouth-drying, and while water gives it a more glycerol-like texture, it remains pretty hard.

    Finish

    Back to the banana skin.

    Conclusion

    Trinidad’s Caroni distillery, like so many ‘ghost’ plants, is becoming a cult; even though a lot of its rum was, frankly, faulty. Guys, rum ain’t meant to smell like petrol. Here there’s low cask from the outset and then old wood in the finish. Pass.

    Right place, right time

    Pass the Dutchie.

    Tomatin 1975, Warehouse 6 Collection

    Score

    90

    Tomatin 1975, Warehouse 6 Collection
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46.5%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Brimful of super-ripe tropical fruit and rancio, with things skewed more towards the latter. Fragrant, dried flowers, frangipani blossom mixed with heavy honey, propolis, then sumptuous ripe peach, guava and mango. Water adds a darker undertone as black fruits start to emerge, while the tropical fruits are now caramelised – there’s now touches of baked pineapple and sweet oak.

    Palate

    Surprisingly light on the tip of the tongue but then all the fruit and rancio gel in the middle of the tongue. The tannins do grip, but the weight of the fruit is such that they are just held at bay. A sip of cold water and you can pick up a more lengthy elegance with some sweet spice, berry fruits, bruised peach and rhubarb crumble, and the mature character extends itself fully. 

    Finish

    Elegant and lasting.

    Conclusion

    The lingering sillage of that gorgeous nose gives this real length. Old Tomatin. No one quite does it like this. Get saving.

    Right place, right time

    Elegantly walking on Gilded Splinters.

    Writers’ Tears Copper Pot, Deau XO Cognac Finish

    Score

    85

    Writers’ Tears Copper Pot, Deau XO Cognac Finish
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Blended Irish Whiskey
    Region
    Ireland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Big and quite spiced fruits, mixing beeswax polish, red liquorice, stewed fruits and a slightly stiff edge as the firmness of the pot still starts to come through. Lightly scented with some oak, blackcurrant leaf and a little fresh barley. Water shakes it out, adding in more cooked fruits.

    Palate

    A fine, layered quality with some ginger, then green cardamom and citrus, before a mix of black fruit and Terry’s Chocolate Orange comes to the fore. There’s a hard edge, which gives a slight tension, but water adds control and a far creamier quality. There’s also a touch of membrillo peppery spice and a hint of savouriness, then blackcurrant and apple pie.

    Finish

    Quick and slightly short.

    Conclusion

    It’s not easy to balance single malt and pot still, never mind whiskey and Cognac; but this works. A lovely addition to an excellent range.

    Right place, right time

    A quick dose of Blackberry Brandy.

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