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New Whiskies

Batch 205

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Brewdog Boilermaker Series, Skeleton Key, Transistor, Torpedoed Tulip, The Whisky Agency, Inchfad, Thomson Brothers and Cadenhead

BrewDog’s Boilermaker Series meets bottlings from The Whisky Agency, Thompson Brothers and Cadenhead in this week’s reviews from Dave Broom.

First up is a 28-year-old Glen Moray bottling, created exclusively for The Whisky Exchange by German indie bottler The Whisky Agency. Floral notes of Angelica and honeysuckle weave between hits of peaches and red fruits, creating a sweet and ‘elegant’ dram.

A 13-year-old Inchfad, a heavily-peated but now discontinued single malt from Loch Lomond distillery, has been bottled by Thompson Brothers. The whisky pauses and flows, bringing a wave of new and contrasting notes each time.

Indie bottler William Cadenhead returns with a nine-year-old Miltonduff bottling, which has been matured in an ex-rum cask. Big fruit and hefty heat (a whopping 62% abv) meet in a collision of bananas and sugarcane – Broom finds it all rather ridiculous, and delicious.

Onto Brewdog’s Boilermaker Series, a collection of three whiskies designed in collaboration with blenders to pair with its beers.

The Skeleton Key Scotch blend is the result of a collaboration with blender Duncan Taylor and pairs with the Jet Black Heart stout and Zombie Cake porter. A ‘surprise combination,’ but the whisky’s sweetness and fat chewiness win out.

The next expression in the Boilermaker Series is Torpedoed Tulip, a 100% rye whisky from Dutch distillery Zuidam. It’s a hefty whisky that cannot be tamed by water – and fails to work with its session pale ale pairing, the Dead Pony Club.  

Finally Transistor, the Scotch blend by Compass Box designed to pair with BrewDog’s flagship Punk IPA, rounds up this week’s tastings. A gentle whisky that tones down the beer’s feistier elements, Broom thinks they make a wonderful couple.

It’s a gentle start to the playlist with folk ballads from Joan Shelley and Jackie Leven, before Tom Browne shakes things up with some Jamaican funk, and Alabama 3 and Dick Dale keep the tempo pacing. Click on the links in Right Time, Right Place.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Glen Moray 28 Years Old, 1990 (The Whisky Agency)

    Score

    90

    Glen Moray 28 Years Old, 1990 (The Whisky Agency)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51.4%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    An intriguing mix of coconut, beeswax, cooked apricot, honey and lemon tart, with a dusting of cinnamon. It continues in this rather lovely vein, bringing in pure saffron and Angelica as it heads first towards Yellow Chartreuse territory and then, as a floral element starts to emerge, a fine-boned, mature Cognac. When water is added, you get peach nectar and propolis [bee glue], then vanilla pod and light mango.

    Palate

    Thick, waxy and mouth-coating. It’s quite front-loaded when neat, giving you an instant hit of the peaches (jelly cubes now) and a red fruit element, which adds some acidity. By the middle of the palate it is all frangipani flowers and honeysuckle. Then it seems to flag a little, but rouses itself again. The water coaxes it across the palate, bringing out some drying oak that is balanced by a buttery quality, then a light waxiness and beautifully ripe apricots and apples.

    Finish

    Citric, honeyed, gently and sweetly spiced, and vinous.

    Conclusion

    Beautifully poised and elegant.

    Right place, right time

    The day cooling down, sunset on the First of August.

    Available to buy from The Whisky Exchange. It may also be stocked by these other retailers.
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    Inchfad 13 Years Old (Thompson Brothers)

    Score

    84

    Inchfad 13 Years Old (Thompson Brothers)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    53.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Malty & Dry
    Nose

    This is a slightly baffling and contradictory mix of light maltiness – spelt flour, roasted hazelnut, then silage and an almost dusty smokiness peeking out alongside hints of shy woodland flowers. It then becomes leaner, showing low oak interaction. Again, there’s a little hint of smoke as well as more of a starchy feel, some tattie scone and linoleum.

    Palate

    Creamy, then hazelnut (aka burnt) butter, some unripe strawberry, and next estery elements adding a top note to the nutty base, before the same dusty smokiness (smoked flour... and yes, it does exist) comes in. When duly watered there’s a slight lactic note, and some beef dripping, before it corrects itself and becomes light and acidic.

    Finish

    Rapeseed oil, then light smoke.

    Conclusion

    Seems to come in fits and starts, each time offering a new facet. Cubist whisky, who’d have thought…

    Right place, right time

    Picasso comes to Kirkcaldy tae sup wi’ a Fifer.

    Miltonduff 9 Years Old, Rum Cask (Cadenhead)

    Score

    87

    Miltonduff 9 Years Old, Rum Cask (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    62%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Well, it sure is rummy. Banana skin, pear tart, pineapple esters, lime peel. Warming and quite (rum) punchy. In time there’s cream toffee, white chocolate, rose-scented soap and a hit of solvent as the funkiness of the rum continues to develop. Water doesn’t stop the sweet elements, but does add in some oolong tea, orchid and macadamia, with boozy tiramisu at the end.

    Palate

    Fat and juicy with huge, almost ponderous fruit. It fairly flumps onto the palate with the heat (62% abv? good grief) adding a certain pizzazz. You can then start to pick out super-ripe tropical fruit and light oak, as well as a retro-nasal whiff of acetone/nail polish, which then moves to overripe banana, cashew and elements of cane and grass. When water’s added the fruits fatten and ripen, becoming increasingly tropical with, finally, some of Miltonduff’s floral aspects showing.

    Finish

    Long and plump, with some gingery fizziness.

    Conclusion

    The rum’s in charge here. Rather ridiculous, but rather delicious as well.

    Right place, right time

    Unusual aroma? Jamaican Funk, that’s what it is. Gotta get in the groove.

    Skeleton Key, Boilermaker Series (Duncan Taylor for Brewdog)

    Score

    88

    Skeleton Key, Boilermaker Series (Duncan Taylor for Brewdog)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Blended Scotch whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Immediate dry smoke, like peat ashes in the fireplace grate the next morning; then sea breeze (someone’s opened the window) with a light saline touch (there’s been a storm), before you get a minty toothpaste-like freshness (told you it was the morning) adding a cooling element. Things become sweeter when water is added, with clams, umeshu and apple.

    Palate

    Green to start with: grass clippings, silage (again) and then cattle cake, but also this lovely, balancing sweetness: chestnut mixed with light verjus and the saline/mineral element. With water there’s a fatter, creamier mouthfeel, and all-pervading smoke. Balanced, with subtle complexity.

    Finish

    Salty, sweet.

    Conclusion

    Each of these has been matched with one of Brewdog’s beers – in this case it’s the brewer’s Jet Black Heart milk stout. It was a surprise combination for me. The beer is big, heavily roasted and filled with black fruits. The roasted coffee bitterness links with the smoke, but it’s the sweetness of the whisky and its fat mid-palate that’s the key. Immensely chewy and thick – and hugely rewarding.

    Right place, right time

    The man in black walks up to the bar, ‘Hello… I’m Johnny Cash,’ (RIP Rev. D. Wayne Love).

    Torpedoed Tulip, Millstone Rye, Boilermaker Series (Zuidam for Brewdog)

    Score

    79

    Torpedoed Tulip, Millstone Rye, Boilermaker Series (Zuidam for Brewdog)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Rye whiskey
    Region
    The Netherlands
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Bang! In-yer-face rye: all embrocation, allspice, oils, rhubarb and cracked black pepper, then terpene central – like being lost in a Christmas tree plantation. Water doesn’t calm it down in any way, though it does add in some sweeter orchard fruits. Reminds me of Badedas bath oil, and as its slogan went, ‘things happen’ after one of those.

    Palate

    The palate is, thankfully, calmer and less aggressive than the nose, the oils now taking charge and oozing on the tongue, with some caramel and sweet black fruits trying to soften things down, but then it starts to show its claws, as rye always does, with pepper, spice and acidity. Water brings out green apple and fennel, and a slight astringency.

    Finish

    Spicy, hot and buzzy.

    Conclusion

    I usually love Millstone rye, but this is too forceful for me. Sadly, it also butts heads with the Dead Pony Pale Ale it’s paired with, whose citric fragrance heads off in one direction while the whisky rampages over everything else.

    Right place, right time

    A liquid equivalent of Miserlou… (RIP Dick Dale)

    Transistor, Boilermaker Series (Compass Box for Brewdog)

    Score

    87

    Transistor, Boilermaker Series (Compass Box for Brewdog)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Blended Scotch whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A typically gentle opening with some light quince, tinned pear, nemesia and some custard tart, then crisp oak, wet reed and a delicate waxiness. Comes alive with water (or indeed beer). Lightly lemony, with some suede and praline. Vibrant.

    Palate

    Upfront and quite solid with a juicy mid-palate: melon, cucumber, lychee, light orange and a sliver of almond. By the mid-palate there’s some mace and Victoria plum. With water you get more fleshiness and subtle notes of guava, along with a little mintiness at the back.

    Finish

    Lightly spicy.

    Conclusion

    A balanced, gentle dram that blooms when paired with Punk IPA’s hoppy intensity. Rather than the beer dominating, the whisky calms things down, adding fragrant top notes and rounding off the more, er, feisty edges. A really great pairing. On its own you get the feeling that the whisky is waiting to be asked to dance. When the beer obliges, what a couple they make.

    Right place, right time

    Going gently woozy at a Stoned Soul Picnic.

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