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New Whiskies

Batch 217

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BenRiach 12 Years Old, Distilled 2005 (The Whisky Shop); Blooming Gorse (Wemyss Malts); Craigellachie 25 Years Old (Single Malts of Scotland); Flaming Feast (Wemyss Malts); GlenDronach 26 Years Old, Distilled 1992; Old Pulteney 12 Years Old, Distilled 2007, Single Cask

Two new blended malts from Wemyss with vastly different flavour profiles separates a smattering of Whisky Shop exclusives from BenRiach, GlenDroach and Old Pulteney, while a waxy, pineappley Craigellachie from Single Malts of Scotland throws a little confusion into the mix.

A 12-year-old BenRiach bottling created exclusively for The Whisky Shop opens with pulpy, vinous fruits on the palate, before the Speyside distillery’s character gains momentum with a spicy kick of figs.

American oak is in the driver’s seat with indie bottler Wemyss Malts’ Blooming Gorse. A combination of two Highland single malts that were aged in first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels, the whisky veers from ‘light and fragrant’ coconut and custard to drying spice and ginger beer.

Speyside distillery Craigellachie serves a heated conundrum with a 25-year-old bottling from the Single Malts of Scotland range; contrasting notes of daffodil, beeswax and alcohol burn has Dave Broom pondering the whisky’s complexity.

Wemyss’ other entry this week is Flaming Feast, another blended malt that starts with a promising nose of dolly mixtures and pear drops, before gradually snuffing out.

A Sherry bomb in the form of a 26-year-old GlenDronach exclusive for The Whisky Shop reignites this week’s tastings. Tannins and Szechuan pepper from the cask overwhelm everything, even the distillery’s ‘burly’ farmer qualities.

Woody, oily and slightly mineralic, Old Pulteney 12-year-old, the final Whisky Shop exclusive this week, is yet another example of cask domination, despite a rich, attractive nose.

The accompanying playlist this week reaches from the wistful Nick Drake to the depravity of Fat White Family, and the thrilling virtuosity of Nicola Benedetti.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • BenRiach 12 Years Old, Distilled 2005, Cask #5279

    Score

    86

    BenRiach 12 Years Old, Distilled 2005, Cask #5279
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    56%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Availability
    The Whisky Shop Exclusive
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Big and sweet, with the aroma of scented wood, a hint of patchouli and incense, then baking fruit with a background of dry earth. Has some distillery fruitiness and more mature depth than you might expect from its age. Adding water produces chocolate truffle, deep, rich coconut, and more oak.

    Palate

    The start is very soft, with lemon and gently yielding pulpy fruits that move into a soft, pillowy mid-palate with some of the vinous quality of PX – more wine-like than the dense raisins of the solera-aged fortified version. Things then pick up with BenRiach’s signature spicy kick with some dusty/plummy, fresh fig elements emerging retronasally before it starts to steadily become more oak-driven. Water accentuates the spiciness, but also brings peach, caramel and sultana into play.

    Finish

    Thickens and sweetens.

    Conclusion

    A whisky that’s on the cusp, with the oak making a big bid for dominance.

    Right place, right time

    Plucking fruit from the Fig Tree.

    Available to buy from The Whisky Shop. It may also be stocked by these other retailers.
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    Blooming Gorse (Wemyss Malts)

    Score

    85

    Blooming Gorse (Wemyss Malts)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Starts promisingly with a mixture of pancake batter, coconut, pavlova and custard on a warm pear tart. Behind all of that is a touch of barley and cut grass. Water makes things slightly more citric (Amalfi lemon) and greener.

    Palate

    No great surprise that it’s light and fragrant to start – sweet pea and angelica, with some mashed banana. There is however more of a drying oaky element in the middle (hot sawdust) and this then moves into drying spice, lemon sherbet and a surprising amount of heat, given the strength. Holds up pretty well with water as the grassiness returns, now with more overt vanilla.

    Finish

    Spiced-up ginger beer.

    Conclusion

    American oak is the main driver here, but it’s well handled. An easy-going, straight-down-the-middle dram.

    Right place, right time

    One that comes From The Morning.

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

    Craigellachie 25 Years Old (Single Malts of Scotland)

    Score

    82

    Craigellachie 25 Years Old (Single Malts of Scotland)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55.8%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A slightly unusual mixture of silver polish and beeswax to start with, then some daffodil and birch wine, before the distillery’s lily-of-the-valley signature character comes through. It’s hot though. Water seems to make things more concentrated with bergamot, more waxiness and pineapple.

    Palate

    A hot start with a sweet/sour mixture and thick texture which expands on the middle, before the heat starts to burn. In other words, you need water. This shows it to be one of the waxier ‘Craigs’, with weight and solidity. Again a slightly odd note – this time it’s felt – before more classic cooked pineapple and a light, almost smoky, sulphury back note. Maybe lacking in overall complexity given its age.

    Finish

    Fruits with a twang of acid.

    Conclusion

    Bright, yet also mature; tight, yet fruity. A conundrum.

    Right place, right time

    So… Lillies? What are they doing there?

    Flaming Feast (Wemyss Malts)

    Score

    79

    Flaming Feast (Wemyss Malts)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Very sweet and fresh to begin with: dolly mixtures, pear drops (plus soor plooms for the Scots among you) and foam bananas. Water lightens it further, also adding in talcum powder, white miso and charcoal.

    Palate

    You expect energy and drive, and while there’s some gingery elements and green apple to kick off with, things become flabby, and it collapses on the tongue with flickers of cinnamon and rosewater. That powdery quality on the nose adds a drying element. Water sweetens things, but while it tries to cling on, the centre cannot hold.

    Finish

    Light, drying oak; peppery.

    Conclusion

    I read this as Flaming Beast which was a bit of a surprise given what was in the glass. The flames appeared to have been extinguished. The cask underplayed.

    Right place, right time

    For all that You Can Never Hold Back Spring.

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

    GlenDronach 26 Years Old, Distilled 1992, Single Cask #64

    Score

    79

    GlenDronach 26 Years Old, Distilled 1992, Single Cask #64
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    57.1%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Availability
    The Whisky Shop Exclusive
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    A classic Sherry bomb with aromas of old shoe leather/old briefcase, then a mixture of damson, prune and fig as well as a savoury element of beef in fermented black bean sauce. Dry. A drop of water keeps things thick and sticky: varnish or treacle… take your pick.

    Palate

    There’s some of ’Dronach’s burly farmer qualities, but it’s dry, dry, dry. The tannins grip the throat like a serial killer, then there’s roasted chilli and pure cacao. Water gives glimpses of what it would have been a few years before; black fruits, raisin and toffee, but they’re hidden behind this wall of tannin and a Szechuan pepper-like numbing quality.

    Finish

    Leathery and tannic. Bitter.

    Conclusion

    It takes a lot for a cask to overwhelm GlenDronach, but that’s what has happened here. But, hey, some folks love this style. Whisky is a broad church.

    Right place, right time

    For those who aren’t afraid to Touch The Leather.

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

    Old Pulteney 12 Years Old, Distilled 2007, Single Cask #1471

    Score

    85

    Old Pulteney 12 Years Old, Distilled 2007, Single Cask #1471
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Availability
    The Whisky Shop Exclusive
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Resinous and rich – a luthier’s workshop – but while obviously oak-driven, there’s some Seville orange peel, and cubeb [Java pepper] before you head back into a swirl of wood oils. Rich and powerful, though you do begin to wonder where the Pulteney is. Water begins to answer that, for as well as raisin there’s dried flower, cherry and sage. You’ll want to smell this for ages.

    Palate

    Softer than you expect, with an oily feel, sesame and fresh tangerine. Here the tannins are supple and while the oak is in charge – autumn woods and clove – when water is added, there’s some fruit (dried peach, black grape), and a mineral element that’s suggestive of the distillery.

    Finish

    Espresso.

    Conclusion

    Another where the oak has muscled to the front like the tall guy who decides to stand in front of you at a gig. Saved by the nose.

    Right place, right time

    A freshly rosined bow starts to play Tchaikovsky.

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