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New Whiskies

Batch 204

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Benriach 10 Years Old, Madeira Hogshead (Cadenhead); No Name No. 2 (Compass Box); Deanston 19 Years Old (Asta Morris); GlenAllachie 26 Years Old (Cadenhead); Port Charlotte 14 Years Old (Dramfool); Light (Whyte & Mackay)

Compass Box’s No Name No. 2 joins an array of indie bottlings from Cadenhead, Dramfool and Asta Morris, along with Whyte & Mackay’s Light spirit drink in this week’s tastings from Becky Paskin and Dave Broom.

Cadenhead kicks things off with its spicy and vinous 10-year-old Benriach bottling. The Madeira hogshead influence brings an acidity and thickness to the whisky, but, says Broom, never overpowers it.

A 19-year-old Deanston bottling from Asta Morris starts with strong distillery character and glimpses of fruits and flowers, but fails to fully develop into its potential.

Cadenhead makes a second appearance this week with a 26-year-old single malt from GlenAllachie. Give the whisky time for its clean, clear fruity character to emerge from the roasted notes.

The second edition of Compass Box’s original No Name expression may not be as smoky as its predecessor, but is a complex dram that draws Broom back, repeatedly.

Another week, another Fèis Ìle bottling – this time a 14-year-old Port Charlotte whisky from indie bottler Dramfool. Big and robust, this is a whisky that won’t please everyone; but for Broom, it’s a belter.

Whyte & Mackay offers some ‘Light’ reprieve to the tastings with its low-abv spirit drink. It’s an easy-drinking dram suited to a Highball or a cube of ice, says Paskin.

It’s an eclectic mix on the playlist this week, as Madeira-fuelled whimsy clashes with coastal rambles by Gerry O’Beirne, and rock hits from Jarvis Cocker, Traffic and Joni Mitchell, before The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra brings things to a serene close. 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Benriach 10 Years Old, Wine Cask (Cadenhead)

    Score

    84

    Benriach 10 Years Old, Wine Cask (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    56%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Softly stewing plums, raspberry and sweet red fruit arrive first, then marzipan. This turns into summer pudding and bruised apricot, with added orange. Steadily, it becomes more vinous, something that’s amplified with water, though you now also have a mixture of blueberry ice cream, slivovitz [plum brandy] and tayberry.

    Palate

    The same red and blue fruits are here, as is Madeira’s thickness. So, thankfully, is its acidity, which stops things getting too flabby. By the middle of the tongue you’re getting some roasting spices, then light tannin and some of the sweet cooked fruits. Water makes it fatter, but still balanced. In time, it is all fruit pies and light oak.

    Finish

    Light cream, then some acidity.

    Conclusion

    Soft and winey. An easy-going dram.

    Right place, right time

    ‘Go on,’ he said, twirling his moustache. ‘Have Some Madeira, M’Dear.’

    (Dave Broom)

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    Deanston 19 Years Old (Asta Morris)

    Score

    80

    Deanston 19 Years Old (Asta Morris)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    53.1%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Very pale, but there’s good, real Deanston character here, with things sliding towards the waxy side, backed with an almost savoury maltiness. In time you get sealing wax, new drum skin and a hint of flowers. Water crushes it.

    Palate

    A sweet start, then comes oiled-up cereal. It opens very slowly, showing tantalising glimpses of flowers and fruits (Haribo-like in flavour and texture) but they never fully emerge. With water you get increased waxiness and some cow gum [rubber-based glue].

    Finish

    Cereal once again.

    Conclusion

    At the moment it’s at mise en place stage, showing you what it could be.

    Right place, right time

    But in my defence, I Never Said I Was Deep.

    (Dave Broom)

    GlenAllachie 26 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Score

    85

    GlenAllachie 26 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54.8%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    To start with there’s pine needles and some fresh mushroom, along with light spice, yuzu and some golden syrup. It has a buzz of alcohol flitting around, which needs time (and agitation) to fly off. In time you’ll get greener notes (broom/pea shoots), a touch of draff and underneath, some char. Water brings out a roasted quality and some herbal notes.

    Palate

    Sweet, and while that roasted note seen on the nose is now more obvious, you’re also getting milk chocolate, red fruit, orange and lemon zest (and some heat). It develops a clinging quality with some thinned honey. Water adds to the lift…

    Finish

    … before it becomes lightly nutty.

    Conclusion

    Allow it time to open and let the clear, clean fruits emerge.

    Right place, right time

    Don’t rush, this is a bit of a Hidden Treasure.

    (Dave Broom)

    No Name No. 2 (Compass Box)

    Score

    89

    No Name No. 2 (Compass Box)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48.9%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Lifted and softly fragrant, with the smoke not immediately apparent, though you can pick out a slightly mossy element and the aroma of salt water on skin, some drying seashells, then a hint of lemon rind. Mineralic, in a Muscadet-sur-Lie-like fashion. It starts to open when water is added, starting with green tangerine, then red fruits, and the smoke well-bedded down. Steadily it sweetens, softens and spreads, but also becomes more peaty.

    Palate

    Bigger and oilier than you expect. The smoke hangs around on the tip along with red apple and strawberry water, with a little waxiness (burning sealing wax) in there. It comes across as being very restrained. In time there’s Starburst, with the smoke squeezed in the middle of the mouth, before being steadily released onto the back palate. Water makes it more herbal and mossy, with sea lettuce and a gentle unfolding of pear, sweet grass and finally the smoke, which is now totally integrated. There’s a light earthy touch, but without any loss of elegance.

    Finish

    Smoky, yet honeyed.

    Conclusion

    A vatting of Caol Ila and Talisker, with a judicious dollop of Clynelish and a Highland assemblage. It took me a long time to get my head around this, but it kept drawing me back in. Subtle, layered and, ultimately, complex.

    Right place, right time

    On a summer afternoon that Old Coastal aroma returns. You sigh.

    (Dave Broom)

    Available to buy from The Whisky Exchange. It may also be stocked by these other retailers.

    Port Charlotte 14 Years Old (Dramfool)

    Score

    89

    Port Charlotte 14 Years Old (Dramfool)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    53.4%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    A massive dram from the early days of Port Charlotte that mixes plump raisins, dates and strong tea, then the characteristic decking oil elements, though this time with added coffee, some bog myrtle-like smokiness and a hint of farmyard. Unusually for Port Charlotte, there’s a distinct meatiness (barbecued lamb/tomato), and then some walnut. Some of that concentration is lost when water is added, but not to the detriment of the overall balance.

    Palate

    Big, oily, thick and robust, with a mouth-coating texture. There’s a whiff of enamel paint towards the front, then comes smoky bacon, charred fruits and blackened peppers as it becomes increasingly savoury and gamey. With water, there’s an eruption of peat, dried fruit and resin. In time, there’s Germoline and bandages.

    Finish

    Long, with liquorice, fruit and smoke.

    Conclusion

    Huge wood, meet huge spirit. It’s full-on but there’s a surprising complexity underneath. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but for me, at the right time it’s a belter.

    Right place, right time

    A Black Crow settles on a tree.

    (Dave Broom)

    Whyte & Mackay Light

    Score

    79

    Whyte & Mackay Light
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    21.5%
    Production type
    Spirit drink
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    On the nose you’d hardly guess this was a spirit with a lower abv. Everything you’d expect from Whyte & Mackay’s flagship expression is present: caramel, vanilla, and a light, sweet aroma of Dolly Mixtures and liquorice, with some dried fruit from the Sherry cask influence. There’s a subtle, soft and well-integrated smokiness too, alongside a grassy, almost floral aroma of cut hay.

    Palate

    The alcohol burn you’d expect from a 40% abv whisky is absent; an experience not dissimilar to sipping a cup of tea you realise has gone cold. Get over the shock and there’s dried fruit and more of that cut hay, with a toffee sweetness. There’s enough oak spice to mimic the effect of alcohol burn on the tongue, which combined with the char-like smoke has a pleasant mouth-filling effect.

    Finish

    Dry, oaky and a little bitter.

    Conclusion

    Due to the low abv it’s classed as a ‘spirit drink’ (the legal minimum for Scotch whisky is 40% abv) with a bespoke recipe designed to work at a lower proof for drinkers seeking to cut down their alcohol intake. I would quite happily sip this with a cube of ice, or lengthen it in a Highball.

    Right place, right time

    Waiting to see Metallica at the SECC when on walks the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. A pleasant surprise, just unexpected.

    (Becky Paskin)

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