Amrut (61.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, Peated Cask Finish, BA26/2016, 165 bottles, 2016)

This isn’t the first Amrut on these pages, (it’s the ninth), nor is it the first Blackadder (it’s the fifth). Looking at Blackadder, this Amrut finds itself in good company with a 26yo Port Ellen, a 28yo Royal Lochnagar, a 28yo Lochside and a 40yo Glenfarclas. All scoring 88 or 91 points. I don’t think this Amrut is as old as these other ones. After 26 years an Amrut cask would probably be empty, all evaporated in the hot and humid local climate. So, this is not the first Amrut on these pages, but it most certainly is the first one bottled by an independent bottler, and somehow this bottler felt the need to finish this Whisky in a peated cask, or did Amrut already do that themselves? Was the original cask a bit tired, the Whisky a bit bland and/or did the Whisky need something of a booster, or did it just seem to be a neat experiment, a great idea? Well there is only one way to find out, and have a go at it ourselves and see if it’s any good. By the way, if you see some black cask sediment on the bottom of your bottle, don’t bring the bottle back to your retailer, it’s supposed to be there, hence the name Raw Cask.

Color: Copper gold (with black dandruff, the bigger chunks of cask sediment are still in the bottle).

Nose: Buttery with vanilla. Creamy, pudding-like, big and bold. Citrus freshness and some nice fresh oak mixed with some fresh air, sometimes even a bit sweet smelling. After the Ledaig, yet another well balanced nose, just much less peated. Green, black tea and somewhat floral with only the tiniest hint of peat, typical Indian barley smell, you can also get from a Paul John, (reminiscent of nutty pencil shavings). Definitely no smoke, but there is a dusty and dry side to it, even though this has this sweetish and chewy cream note. Crème brûlée and some licorice. The green notes are moving into the realm of wood, tree sap with a hint of pencil shavings. Somewhat spicy, as well as spices you get from a nice (oak aged) Chardonnay. Nice whiff of eucalyptus you can smell in a sauna (I only picked up on this after sipping) and unlit Cuban cigar notes. If you put some time into it, it is actually an excellent smelling Malt. It just needs quite some time and air. A nose built around green wood and the many guises of cream. Not a very complex nose at first, but a very nice one indeed, and near perfect after half an hour or so. Works well outside. The fresher the air it gets to breathe, the bigger the reward.

Taste: Sweet, fruity, nutty and somewhat waxy and yes, peaty it is this time. Sweet, wet wood, licorice and white pepper. Cold cigarette ashes and sweet fatty smoke. Menthos and a distant hint of hard red fruit (raspberry) candy. At times quite spicy and almost hot. Still creamy, although masked. Toffee. Behind this is some acidic fruit. Not only citrus, but also some acidity from (red) berries. Some white pepper. Long finish (in the wood realm again) and a nice similar aftertaste, now with a slight bitter (and soapy) edge to it. The perception of bitterness was different from one day to the other. All in all, slightly less balanced than the nose. After a few drams, I managed to anaesthetize the roof of my mouth a bit, so this really is a 60%+ ABV Malt in the end.

Yet another example of a Whisky that needs your attention to “get” everything it has. So maybe this is, in a way, a delicate Malt. For instance, the previously reviewed Ledaig, well, that one doesn’t need your attention. That one will make sure it will get your attention, by leaping out of your glass, and coming after you(r nose). Yup, the beauty of this Amrut lies in the details and the time you are willing to give it. Just leave it in your glass, move it around a bit, take the occasional sip, and only then you will find out what it’s got. I think this is wonderful stuff, but when carelessly sipping it, I didn’t think all that much of it to be honest (and alas I drammed right through most of this bottle that way). So beware how you treat it (and thus yourself). I don’t know why this was finished in a peated cask, but it clearly worked. Kudo’s!

Points: 89


Glenfarclas 40yo 1965/2006 “Blairfindy” (51.7%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Sherry Cask #1850, 194 bottles)

Well hello Blairfindy! Wait a minute, Blairfindy isn’t a real distillery is it? As far as I know, there isn’t a Blairfindy distillery, and there never was one too. No, Blairfindy turns out to be “another” name for Glenfarclas, used, when the bottlers weren’t allowed to use the real distillery name on their labels. Something like Tactical for Talisker, Leapfrog or Laudable for Laphroaig and so on. Blairfindy, amongst others, was the name of the farm, the Grant family (of Glenfarclas fame) originated from. Although the Glenfarclas name isn’t on the label, it most definitely is a Glenfarclas, and an old one to boot…

Color: Copper gold.

Nose: For me a typical perfumy Fino Sherry nose. Definitively a wine note up front, quickly chased by quite some wood. Toffee and caramel, with a hint of sweat (no typo). It gets more fresh after a while. Hints of car-wax and even later some black fruits. The smell of burning off dry leaves in the garden combined with a small hint of licorice. It all comes across a bit harsh, dry, dusty and powdery, but nice. I hope this doesn’t translate into the palate. Lets see…

Taste: Yes, not very sweet, but luckily not as woody and dry the nose suggested. Earwax and wood. Some drying tannins on the tongue, but hey, it was on a cask for forty years! The wood then becomes spicy. Although some people might consider this too dry, for me the wood isn’t that dominant. It is dry, but it definitely has a charm to it. Elegant stuff. No bitterness whatsoever. The finish is half long, and breaks down a bit into some sourness, toast and tar. The body is strong so it can take this sourness very well, and the light toast and tar add to the character of the Whisky.

Despite everything, this still is an easily drinkable Whisky. Great old Glenfarclas that fetch enormous amounts of money these days. Yes, the market is rapidly changing…

Points: 88

Royal Lochnagar 28yo 1977/2005 (58.5%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, Hogshead #310, 260 bottles)

New Lochnagar was founded in 1845. New Lochnagar? Yes. First Lochnagar was built in 1823, and burnt down by “the competition” just three years later. The distillery was rebuilt, only to burn down again in 1841. So the distillery was rebuilt again in 1845 as New Lochnagar. Lochnagar became Royal in 1848 (it lies very close to Balmoral Castle). No more fires burning down the house, but still a lot of construction going on. In 1906 the distillery was rebuilt yet again and in 1963 completely renewed.

Here we will try an independent Lochnagar, again a Blackadder Raw Cask with cask sediment in the bottle. This time no powdered char, but only small chunks of charred wood.

Color: Full Gold

Nose: Fresh, sea spray wich changes quickly into a damp wine cellar. Very spicy wood and vanilla. Resembles the sweet smell of a bourbon, high on rye. Mocha with a hint of ground coffee. Varnish and fresh mint leaves (not bruised). This smells like it will be very sweet. Very nice nose.

Taste: Strong and sweet, but luckily not as sweet the nose predicted. Butter caramels and the varnish is here again. The whole is very full bodied. Wood with Aspirin (wow, that’s a first). Nutty and ashy. The finish is drier than in the beginning, but still sweet enough to mask a lot of the wood. It doesn’t taste like it, but underneath it’s pretty woody. The dry finish ends in a little bitterness that reveals this woodyness.

In the end a quite nice Lochnagar. The finish is dryer and has some bitterness that seems a bit off compared with the sweetness from the beginning. Maybe not a 90+ scoring malt, but definitively a very interesting Lochnagar if you want a complete collection. Still, with these flaws in the finish I have a little soft spot for this Lochnagar, since the nose and the initial taste are really great.

Points: 88

p.s. This one is at the time of writing still available in Russia for 534 Euro’s

Port Ellen 26yo 1979/2005 (56.9%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, Sherry Butt #2015, 497 bottles)

Again rummaging through my box with trophies collected on my travels, I found another Port Ellen. I like Port Ellen, so please forgive me, for yet another review. Port Ellen is the closed distillery from the immensely popular island of Islay, known for its peated whiskies. Always around in abundance, prices were ‘moderate’ for a closed distillery from Islay. Today stocks are depleting, and prices tend to rise sky-high, and it won’t be long untill there’s nothing left. Even if casks still lie around, Port Ellen isn’t getting better by ageing even longer. Maybe casks will be transferred into stainless steel holding tanks to stop ageing and fetching a lot of money when bottled is a few years’ time. Who knows. Since 2001 Diageo releases Port Ellen annually in their special release series. The first release fetching at least a 1000 Euro’s at auctions…

Port Ellen was founded in 1825, and was sadly closed like many others in 1983. Although the distillery is dismantled, the site is still there. Today it’s home to Port Ellen Maltings. Where barley is malted and all the other distilleries of the island are customers…

Color: Gold (with black cask sediments, floating around).

Nose: Thick and elegant or is it? Dry Fino Sherry and crushed beetle. Peat and kumquats. It smells like a bush, very vegetal. Black tea and flowery perfume. The citrussy wood is great in this one. When left to breathe for a while it’s wonderful altogether, and a mixture of hot tea, with dry black tea leaves comes even more to the fore. Stunning!

Taste: Thick, spicy, sweaty and sweet. Black and white powder. Very balanced. Alas no Port Ellen rubber. Again Fino Sherry. Bold, round body with distant peat and milk chocolate. Clean at first, and dry,with a very nice gritty and dirty bonfire finish that tends to be sweet and sour (green apples), but not bitter. Every sip is like a chameleon, different every time.

Ahhh, the Raw Cask series, a series where filtration got a new meaning. This is a series where the whisky is certainly not chill-filtered. It is probably filtered through a chicken wire fence. Some people even suggest, the stuff floating in these whiskies have sediment thrown in from anywhere and is not even from the original cask. Well I’d like to believe… It looks original and rustic and I don’t have a clue what it does for the taste. If you drink it all, you can imagine what it does for the mouthfeel, well not much really, the flakes just tend to cling to your palate and tickle. This is a very good Port Ellen and it deserves a well-earned…

Points: 91

Lochside 28yo 1981/2009 (56%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, Cask #617, 202 bottles)

One from the (in)famous Raw Cask series. A lot of ‘stories’ are told about this one. For instance that Blackadder just throw any toasted cask trash they can get their hands on in there during bottling.  That would be a shame wouldn’t it? Blackadder are also the people who bring us bottlings from the Aberdeen Distillers series and the Clydesdale series in the dumpy bottles.

The whisky in the bottles was distilled on the 23rd of February 1981 and was bottled in june 2009. Why do we know the day of distilling, but not the day of bottling? And why does anyone bother to put ‘Oak Cask’ on the label? What else is there? Plastic, Japanese Fig? Still, Blackadder gives us more information than a lot of others…

Lochside Distillery commenced as a Whisky Distillery in 1957, but before that is was a brewery. The side was mothballed in 1992 and demolished twelve years later. Most bottles that are around today are from 1981 and 1991 and come from all kinds of casks, no, not plastic and Japanese Fig, but Bourbon and Sherry. Barrels, hogsheads and butts.

Color: Gold with a slight greenish hue.

Nose: Fresh, spicy, but not very woody. Fat make-up powder. Vanilla with old paint. Licorice. Hints of a damp cellar. Flowery and you would expect it to be dry in the taste. After a while it develops in the glass. Sweat and dry construction wood or sawdust. If you give it some time and work it a bit, than it can be a very rewarding smell. In a laid back or introvert way. Again vanilla ice cream. Nice balance.

Taste: Wow, full body and spicy, Vanilla with apricot sauce. Nice! Yeah, this is it. Slightly beer like bitterness in the finish ánd black pepper. Alcoholic cherry bon-bon. Blueberry juice and creamy vanilla. Yes this has it all. When the bottle was opened at the Genietschap Lochside tasting, this was very closed and hard to score, but it has now opened shop. Very good. Like the nose, you have to work it a bit and give it a chance, but when you focus on the details, this is a gem!

Points: 91