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New Whiskies

Batch 207

by
The Hive, Batch Strength, Batch No.002 (Wemyss Malts); Linkwood 12 Years Old, Laudale, Batch 2 (Adelphi); Linkwood 11 Years Old, Amontillado Finish (James Eadie); Port Askaig 25 Years Old (ImpEx Brands); Port Askaig 45 Years Old (ImpEx Brands); Spice King, Batch Strength, Batch No.002 (Wemyss Malts)

Aged Port Askaig and Linkwood single malts from an array of independent bottlers join blended malts from Wemyss in this week’s new whisky reviews by Dave Broom.

First up is The Hive from Wemyss Malts, for its Batch Strength series. With notes of honey, grass, tangerine and flowers sitting alongside a higher-strength abv, this is a whisky ‘buzzing’ with freshness.

A pair of Linkwood whiskies begins with an 11-year-old with an Amontillado finish from indie bottler James Eadie. The distillery character is there, but not without some ‘explosive’ Sherried notes interrupting things.  

Adelphi returns again this week, with a 12-year-old Linkwood bottling. An odd opening of baked beans gradually flows into cedar wood and dark, rich fruits, but these aren’t enough to stop the whisky flopping towards the finish.

Two Port Askaig single malts from Elixir Distillers follow. The first, a 25-year-old, shifts from coastal notes of seaweed and bog myrtle to the meatier elements found on terra firma.

The second Port Askaig whisky is a 45-year-old single malt that was matured in a combination of five Sherry butts, before being married in the year before it was bottled. What the whisky lacks in muscle from its low abv, it more than makes up for in delicacy and balance.

Having opened this week’s reviews, Wemyss also brings them to a close with its Spice King, a blended malt that reaches rich depths with notes of sultanas, sponge cake and sweet dried fruits. ‘Well worth a look,’ says Broom.  

Mark Olson, Jake Xerxes Fussell, Arve Henriksen, and Blue Rose Code bring a sunny and mellow mixture of tracks to this week’s playlist, while Paul Bley and Ornette Coleman add a jazzy flourish at the end – all found in Right Time, Right Place.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • The Hive, Batch Strength, Batch 2 (Wemyss Malts)

    Score

    80

    The Hive, Batch Strength, Batch 2 (Wemyss Malts)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55.5%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Initially there’s some dry glue and the crystallised remnants found at the bottom of a honey jar. Slightly brittle, with lemon leaf and lime blossom, before things move towards a pollen-filled mown meadow and ripe melon. It remains sweet and floral when water is added, along with the smell of a new book, tangerine, banana and then a slight sappiness.

    Palate

    This is fairly brisk and buzzy (forgive me), thanks to the higher strength. Those high-toned citric elements are to the fore, along with green grassiness, flower honey and carnations. Water settles things down and turns what is a slightly aggressive finish into perky ginger elements.

    Finish

    A touch of green apple. Just a little raw.

    Conclusion

    Fresh and lively, but at times maybe just a little too edgy.

    Right place, right time

    Slowly drawn towards the Beehive.

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    Linkwood 11 Years Old, Amontillado Finish (James Eadie)

    Score

    88

    Linkwood 11 Years Old, Amontillado Finish (James Eadie)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54.9%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Big and juicy, becoming fruity with strawberry jam, green plum and tinned pear and Linkwood’s blossom-like element, all contrasted by this violet crème chocolate mixture. In time, that distillery fragrance comes through more clearly, while water triggers an explosion of oxidised elements from the Sherry – almond and waxy floor polish. Odd, but strangely likeable.

    Palate

    A slightly soapy start, which then opens to palate-coating rich fruit, dried cranberry and cherry, then goji berry, with some cooked apple coming in underneath. In time, you get apricot, then sumac and thyme. The same thing happens when you add water – out comes the Sherry, now with added linseed oil.

    Finish

    Herbal and slightly drying.

    Conclusion

    It is Linkwood… just not as you know it.

    Right place, right time

    Lying ’neath the Pink Cherry Trees.

    Linkwood 12 Years Old, Laudale, Batch 2 (Adelphi)

    Score

    83

    Linkwood 12 Years Old, Laudale, Batch 2 (Adelphi)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Now this is odd. I could swear that initially this smelled of baked beans (admittedly cannellini beans in homemade tomato sauce), before it seems to straighten out to a richly sweet and more classical aroma of caramel cedar wood, and a French polisher’s workshop. When water is added, things become slightly better-defined, but still wood-driven: boot polish (dark tan) overripe fruit, tomato skin and hoof glue.

    Palate

    A thick and syrupy opening, with some ripe melon (even with a little bitter skin), then coffee grounds. Dark, ripe fruits dominate, with some fenugreek and raisins in the background, but it is oddly lacking in shape. Water brings out red wine and cherry, but it flops when it should be accelerating.

    Finish

    Fat and wooded.

    Conclusion

    Flumps on the palate like a fat white cat landing on your stomach. Comforting, but flabby.

    Right place, right time

    Sitting down to a mess of Pork and Beans.

    Port Askaig 25 Years Old (Elixir Distillers)

    Score

    88

    Port Askaig 25 Years Old (Elixir Distillers)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    45.8%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Has a distinct coastal quality (sailing past seaweed-slathered rocks), then some grassiness that’s surprising for its age. In time you get rapeseed oil, barbecued pineapple and gentle smoke. Water brings out green kindling water, hints of cut flowers, neroli, more smoke and a light yeasty quality.

    Palate

    It shifts from sea and shore to land. Now there’s pork products sizzling over coals, before the estery elements start to reveal themselves. It then makes a sudden left-hand turn into salty liquorice, peppery olive oil and lime zest, before the mineral salts return. Water adds tutti-frutti, banana, melon and smoke.

    Finish

    Mature; gently-smoked meat and bog myrtle.

    Conclusion

    Elegant and sophisticated.

    Right place, right time

    Watching the tide Ebb and Flow.

    Port Askaig 45 Years Old (Elixir Distillers)

    Score

    90

    Port Askaig 45 Years Old (Elixir Distillers)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40.8%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Big and mature. The peat (still present after all this time) is now phenolic and oily rather than overtly smoky, while the fruit is still there at this age. The combination is like walking into an artist’s studio, where she is painting a still life of tropical fruits: linseed oil, paint, primed canvas, mango, guava, quince and pineapple. In time you get more (old) leather and peaches, with the phenols still softly leaning in.

    Palate

    It’s quite dry to start with as the oak starts to press in, but there’s still an exotic mixture of sweet oak, rose petal, barberry, sandalwood and tonka bean, with the phenols wholly integrated. The low strength means that it might lack muscle, but it has delicacy and balance on its side. Best neat.

    Finish

    Slightly drying. Dill, carrot tops, bay leaf, smoke.

    Conclusion

    Wisdom rather than brute force. 

    Right place, right time

    Distilled memories from Long Ago and Far Away.

    Spice King, Batch Strength, Batch 2 (Wemyss Malts)

    Score

    86

    Spice King, Batch Strength, Batch 2 (Wemyss Malts)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    58%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    There’s a little smoky wood in the background, giving a charcoal-like effect, alongside fudge, date and raisin. Although it starts slightly hard and firm, it then mellows with touches of almost meaty depth, then Sherried elements. Steadily, it grows on you. Water adds in some peachiness, and a mix of muesli and more of a funked-up feel.

    Palate

    There’s some sweet chestnut and a richer depth than you might imagine from the nose (and the colour), mixing sultana, sponge cake and sweet dried fruits. Dilution brings out damp sand and a humid scent of oak and toffee. Sweet and rich.

    Finish

    Long and gentle.

    Conclusion

    Lovely balance. Well worth a look.

    Right place, right time

    Miss Congeniality.

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