Plantation Grenada 1998 (42%, Old Reserve, 1H210710, Grenada)

Yeah! The Nicaraguan expression did eclipse the Panamanian expression, yes it did! Wow! Hopefully this final sample I have from the Plantation Old Reserves maybe even surpasses the last three tasted. One must keep faith. This final sample is from a country somewhat lesser known for its Rums: Grenada. But more about Grenada another time. So without further ado… Wait a minute, wow, that was a short intro. Whyzdat? I’m actually cutting the intro short this time, because there will probably be plenty to say about the whole series at the end of this review…

Color: Full Gold.

Nose: Initially a pretty decent aroma welcomes us. This time less round toffee and caramel notes, yet more nutty, grassy and dry leaves. Coffee candy. Candied sugar. Add some sharpness and wood. Also a pretty heavy floral note as well (sometimes soapy). Some oak, chocolate and toffee. Alcohol comes undone, separates from the whole. Not the first time in this series. Almost like the gas from your deodorant. This marks also the demise of the wonderful initial aroma’s. Yup, there is the Cognac cask again, impairing its wonderful aroma’s, but this can’t hide the loss in balance. Personally I find Cognac casks very interesting for second maturation or finishing. In Whisky, Cognac can be sharp and specific, with Rums not so much. Alas the Cognac, nor the Rum itself, can’t do much against the dosage this Rum must have received, considering the dullness the nose shows us now. The initial aroma’s also get carried away in the wind, and the Rum leaves it at that. Lacking a bit in the complexity department, but that is probably the fault of this dosage.

Taste: Very, very sweet on entry. The syrup sticks to all of the insides of your mouth to never let go again. Fruity as well (as far as the sugar lets me discern it) and slightly prickly. Artificial milk chocolate. Wood bitterness, honey and peach syrup. Boy, this is sweet. Cloaked in sweet, big on toffee and caramel. Truth be told, I’m a bit tired of all this sugar by now, and after tasting this, I’m actually chuffed this is the last sample to taste from the Old Reserve line of bottlings (apart from revisiting the Guyana and Jamaica expressions). Right now eating grass off a field almost seems tempting. Almost, I said. Maybe a Greek salad would be the smarter choice for the ye ol’ stomach. It started out nice, actually underneath this cloak, you can still somehow taste there is some good Rum in here somewhere. However, it turned on me becoming dumb and flat again in the finish, just like, or maybe even more so than, the Trinidad expression. Forget the grass I mentioned above, can I have a super dry, over the top, over-oaked Rum now please? Yes here we have this foul sugary aftertaste again and a total lack of balance. The base Rum must have been considered really bad by someone to add this much sugar. Somehow, I don’t believe it, the initial smells are too good for that to be true (and the only reason this won’t score into the sixties). Maybe someone slipped and made a mistake in the dosage? Personally I would be ashamed to put this out on the market. I stopped belonging to the market this Rum is targeted at a loooooong time ago. Amazing, but this is even sweeter/worse than the Trinidad expression. I really believed that already hit rock bottom, guess not.

The introduction to this review was quite short, let make up for it now. One might feel that all these Plantation Rums are ruined by dosage, yes, in a way even the St. Lucia and the Guyana, which were the highest scoring expressions. It is certainly a good thing Rums from so many different places on the globe are presented next to each other, which makes for nice comparisons. I have definitely no beef with finishing them all off in Cognac casks, au contraire, its making for a unique experience. France has them, and France also has Rhum Agricoles and independent Rum bottlers, so why shouldn’t they use their Cognac casks?

Then there is this practice of dosage. Sure, the market seems to want sweet Rums, the market believes Rums are a sweet drink/distillate, and yes Rum producers and bottlers aren’t in the Rum business to educate people, they are in the business of making money, and sure enough, sugar sells, just like sex. What? You probably have never seen the Dictador promotion train in the flesh? I remember even Abuelo doing something similar. Me being, by now, a more prolific Rum-taster, the beef I have with dosage is that it does not only raise the level of sweetness, but especially what it does with the Rum where the sugar has been added to. It dumbs it down, it flattens it out, it masks aroma’s and very importantly, it ruins the mouthfeel in the finish and the aftertaste. By now I started to really dislike the aftertaste of dosed Rums.

I remarked earlier in some other reviews, that I (still) don’t dislike sweet necessarily. A good PX, or Port, or White dessert Wine can be damn sweet, without leaving this foul aftertaste in your mouth. Sure, Rum hails from sugar production, and rightly so, (some) sweetness belongs to the Rum world. Somehow, if one produces a Rum without tampering with the process in doing so, the Rum might turn out great, sweet(ish) and great, and can stay great when tasting, without adding sugar. Added sugar is the bad guy here. Having said all that, by now, these Plantation expressions are definitely not for me anymore. There are enough differences between the expressions. The Jamaica, the Guyana, the Saint Lucia expressions are ok, The Nicaragua to a lesser extent as well, and so forth, but all of them, yes all, have this cloak of “wrong” which makes these Old Reserve Rums less interesting if you already know your way around Rums.

I mentioned these Rums might be interesting for novices, but in my opinion it is better to stay away from Rums which received these levels of dosage altogether. Top tip! Now go educate yourself.

Points: 70

Plantation Nicaragua 1998 (42%, Old Reserve, 1H211209, Nicaragua)

Onwards! We will soldier on with yet another Plantation Old Reserve from a few years back. By now, I really hope for a drier expression within this range. Where the Trinidad expression turned out to be quite a low point in the series, so sweet and the true aroma’s of the Rum cloaked in cloying and sticky sweetness. The Panama expression seems to have somewhat found a way up again and seems to have coped better with the added sugar than the aforementioned Trinidad. Quite a feat for a Spanish style Ron, as opposed to a British style Rum, which should be heavier. I hope this Nicaragua expression can even eclipse the Panama expression, just for the fun of it, but I have my doubts by now. You never know. So, vamos again!

Color: Full Gold.

Nose: Hmmm, nice full on aromatics. Lots happening, with lots of fresh butter, vanilla, custard and pudding, but also the Cognac cask is recognizable again. Fresh air and after some breathing this becomes more floral. Hand soap and cold dish water adds to the complexity. Again, these notes may sound horrible, but in reality they aren’t. The Cognac adds a weak red fruity acidity to the nose as well this time. Sharper hints of wood, but also soft wood, and slightly funky wood notes are present (as in bad breath). More fresh butter. You might also want to call this a bit dusty. The nose doesn’t seem to promise a lot of sweetness, which is nice for a change. All aroma’s present, re-enforce each other. The base Ron was good and the second maturation works well. The nose doesn’t seem to be hurt much by the dosage. Maybe the dosage was done sparsely? Yeah right. Quite well balanced for a dosed Ron though. Let this breathe for a while and even some fresh air whiffs by. Smells familiar, Flor de Caña maybe?

Taste: Decent entry, quite soft actually. Not big and sweet, but thinner, sharper and warming. Cognac, coffee, hard coffee candy. Not as sweet as…but it still has plenty of sweet notes to work with. Nice bitter oak notes and even some slightly burned sugar. Both are very welcome in this range of Rums. This has more to it than many of the other Plantation expressions to date. Fairly long aftertaste, with toffee and this coffee-and-oak like bitter note. We are definitely on our way up again once more. Toffee, coffee candy and oak even remain for the aftertaste, how untypical for a Plantation bottling in this series. Towards the end of the body, and especially noticeable in the, slightly dull, aftertaste, is the dosage. Its present alright, only not to the extent of some other Plantation offerings I reviewed earlier. This Nicaraguan expression is not bad at all. Soft, fairly complex and not very outspoken, well behaved. A shame this received dosage, since I’m sure this might have done without it. It could have been much better without it. The dosage flattens the finish, making it of the sugar water kind. Such a shame.

Maybe in reality, compared to other Rums, this Plantation offering by itself maybe just so-so, but by now, scoring quite high for an “Old Reserve”. This, together with the Flor de Caña offerings, do strike an interest into more of these rums, lets see what else is made in Nicaragua. Must make a mental note…

Points: 80

Inchgower 1998/2013 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Refill Sherry Butt, AC/JIID)

Inchgower is not often encountered and therefore this whisky is often one of the great unknowns. Very understandable, when you consider the fact, this Malt is made for three well known blends: White Horse, Bell’s, and last but not least, Johnny Walker. Considering the cases sold of these, it’s almost a miracle they bottle Inchgower officially or even sell casks to independent bottlers.

Up ’till now, only two Inchgowers have graced these pages before, a Bladnoch Forum bottling and a Dewar Rattray bottling. Luckily for us, both have scored well above average. When reviewing the bottling at hand, there is only something like 30% left in the bottle, so it had some air to work with. At 46% ABV this is usually one of the first Whiskies I grab when taking a dram, and it is quickly surpassed by almost all of the follow-up drams. After all these drams from this Inchgower, I still don’t have a mental picture in my head how this particular Malt actually is, almost as if it just doesn’t leave an impression, unremarkable, forgettable. No, I don’t have a drinking problem, because I can fondly remember many, many different drams I had over the past 20 years or so. But let’s get back to this Malt we’re reviewing here, whatever it is…

Feeling an independent bottler as big as G&M probably don’t have just the one cask, I went out surfing to find another G&M Inchgower from 1998, and yes, there is. G&M have bottled another Single Cask, #11275 to be precise. It was distilled on 15.12.1998 and bottled in October 2011. That was a refill Sherry Hogshead @50% ABV. If our Connoisseurs Choice bottling is from the same distillate, our Malt is a 14yo.

Color: Dark Gold, hint of copper

Nose: Light, Sherried, very fruity and also a bit musty. Musty yes, farmy even. Still, there is this breath of fresh air to it as well. Fanta Orange and sinaspril, bordering on sulphur. Fresh and bubbly, appealing and likeable. Toasted almonds, but foremost, lots of citrus fruits. Zesty, apples. Warm apple compote. Very friendly and appetizing. Well balanced. Maybe slightly meaty, although it does retain its fruity freshness. Slight hint of oak and paper, but not a lot. Slightly smoky, whiff of cigarette? Licorice, and toasted oak. Also some black coal, mixed in with ahorn syrup on a bit of cardboard. Warm cooked vegetables. The breath of fresh air from the start returns a bit like menthol. Although there seems to be enough happening here, because it is an impressive list of smells, the whole does seem a bit simple, and light, too light. Strange, because it is really a wonderful nose, thin, simple and sharp. Lacks a bit of sweetness, roundness. Could have been more supple. All three words hated by connoisseurs, because, what do they mean? Still, a good nose though.

Taste: Half sweet tea, but not enough sweetness for this Sherried, fruity profile. Fruity acidity. Unripe pineapple. Caramel, toffee and toasted oak, yet not big nor sweet. Lacking depth. lacking development. Thin. It just shows you right from the start what it is, goes down well, and just waits, sits there like a puppy, waiting for you to take another sip (throw the bone). Its nice, but too narrow and too simple and it really, really lacks development. Very drinkable yet also quite simple and thin. It is a narrow path ahead, not a wide motorway of aroma’s. Pancakes with ahorn syrup. After tasting, the nose opens up a bit more, and there is nothing wrong really. Lets say this has a short finish, it isn’t even a medium fish. Slightly hot, but it might be me, this evening. Forget about the aftertaste, it was all washed down, nothing left for the aftertaste. This is why it is, and stays, anonymous and this is why next week, I will have forgotten, yet again, how this tastes. Nothing wrong, no off notes, no too young Whisky, just narrow, short and simple. Forgettable. Some moments later, this review still open on my laptop… dare I say that after all that, when casually sipping on, watching a re-run of Frasier, some sweetness does finally emerge and the finish becomes a wee bit longer? A tiiiiiny bit of oaken bitterness moves into the…..aftertaste? yes, an aftertaste, finally! So, maybe all is not lost after all.

Maybe the anonymity of this bottle was also brought upon by the Crabbie I reviewed earlier. I always started with that one, and since that one was essentially not OK, it may have ruined this one in the process, since I always grabbed this Inchgower next. The Crabbie is gone now, so maybe the bit that is left in this bottle gets the respect it deserves. Even though the nose it quite rich, it also predicts some sort of narrow Malt. Tasting it proves it. It is a narrow malt. It has the sharper notes, from toasted oak to Sherry oak and acidity, but it really lacks something bigger, no sweets no vanilla notes we know from American oak. Essentially, this Whisky lacks some more wood influence, so despite the color, the cask didn’t bring what it was supposed to. Not bad, but nothing you really need in your life as well. This one let me down a bit, but didn’t damage my faith in Inchgower. Bring on the next one please!

Points: 82

Bellevue 15yo 1998/2014 (52.6%, Isla del Ron, IdR 011, 169 bottles, Guadeloupe)

The market for good Rum is on the rise, especially in markets where Single Malt Whisky is king. In the last couple of years the run on good Whisky was bigger than life, depleting the stocks considerably. Today we face not a shortage as such, but a shortage in older matured Whiskies. In part because there isn’t any, in part because it is simply not bottled because one can fetch a better price later on down the road. Hence we see an ever-growing number of Whiskies without an age statement and with a funky little name. Nothing bad here, but putting two and two together, the Whiskies must be younger and younger to be able to keep the new bottlings coming for a hungry (read: thirsty) public.

Whisky people in general are not happy with the youth of their Whiskies, nor are they happy with the development of prices of their beloved aged Whiskies. Just look at Highland Park 18yo, Talisker 18yo and Laphroaig 18yo, producers simply don’t have the time anymore to wait that long and subsequently sell it for a not so super-premium price. It’s not all romance you know, it still is a business. Happy times for Whisky producers in warm climate countries such as Taiwan and India, where very good Whisky is made today in much less time than in Scotland and the other traditional Whisky countries.

In comes Rum. Whisky people are open to trying other distillates that are nice and/or aged, and/or affordable. One of those alternatives for Whisky is Rum. Guadeloupe Sainte Anne Grande-TerreThe old Rum community is enriched with Whisky people fishing in the pond of Rum and getting to know the product and a different kind of romanticism. Where Scotland is beautiful, but also cold and wet, Rum predominantly comes for the Caribbean and especially the image of paradise islands comes to mind. Older Rums are becoming scarce very quickly and just like Whisky, will become almost extinct, Prices are on the rise as well. Where have we seen this before?

Lots of independent bottlers of fine Single Malt Whisky are turning to Rum. Some did that many, many years ago, Like Cadenhead and Berry Brothers & Rudd, and some more recently like Wilson & Morgan (Rum Nation), Kintra and David Stirks outfit Exclusive Malts, but there are many more. Today we’ll have a look at another one. Isla del Ron is the Rum brand of Thomas Ewers’ outfit, Malts of Scotland.

Thomas EwersThomas bottled a Rum from Guadeloupe from a distillery nobody has heard of, South Pacific (as stated on the label), not to be confused with the South Pacific distillery of Fiji, which is entirely different place altogether. Thomas explained to me he was offered a cask of South Pacific, which turned out to be Bellevue instead, so in this case the label is wrong. Casks like this are sold to bottlers through brokers, so it’s not a surprise there are a lot more Bellevue casks from 1998 bottled by different parties. And with brokers there lies a problem. Brokers only want to sell on casks, not really caring informing the buying party what really is in the cask if they have the information at all.

Thomas believes this to be from the Bellevue distillery on Marie Galante Island, but looking at information of many other “Bellevue’s” from 1998, it can also be Damoiseau’s Bellevue Distillery (Le Moule, Grande-Terre), which would be even more probable, since it is a larger producer. So we’re not sure about the exact distillery, nor can we be about the ingredients. It can be either distilled from molasses or from sugar cane juice. It can even be a blend of both, since some distilleries produce both. Sugar cane when it is harvested, and molasses the rest of the year. Questions, questions.

Isla del Ron GuadeloupeColor: Orange brown.

Nose: Big aroma, lots of different spices. It’s like a spice mix from Indian Whisky. Vanilla, chewy. Dry, spicy and fatty but not sweet. Hint of sweet peppermint. Butter and coffee with milk. Mocha and hot butter as well. Cinnamon, cocoa powder, leather and hints of soft wood. Damp earth and after that rather dusty. Hints of licorice mixed with a nice dry and clean woody note and slightly burned sugar, molten plastic (don’t worry) and creamy banana. Very well-balanced and a nose of great complexity. Especially when the heavier elements are snorted out of the glass, the fun starts. Wow!

Taste: Starts out with a short, sweet and aromatic burst, but quickly becomes dry and very aromatic, with again the Indian spice-mix so predominant in the nose. Nutmeg and lavas, but there is a whole lot more. When it goes down the hatch it becomes even drier. The lighter elements start to evaporate in my mouth and engulfs it with lots of beautiful aroma’s. Milk chocolate, dry leather and a slight bitter edge of wood. Hints of licorice, tar and charred oak. Hot chocolate. After getting used to the spicy dryness, it becomes creamy hot chocolate style. Lovely development as well, especially since the aftertaste is stronger than the finish. Wow, what an amazing Rum!

I like the bottle used for Isla del Ron, it’s the same bottle used for Pusser’s 15yo, HSE from Martinique and last but not least, for Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte. I only have a beef with the label, its dark, dull and depressing. Rum comes from places where life is colorful. I hope Thomas will continue to bottle a lot more Rum’s, but I hope he’ll spice up the looks a bit!

In the end, after I tasted this in the shop, I needed a whole 10 seconds to snatch one up. This stuff makes me happy!

Points: 88

Thanks go out to Rik for the sample.

Caroni 1998/2008 (40%, Bristol Classic Rum, Trinidad & Tobago)

The Caroni distillery was founded in 1923 and after 80 years of operation, sadly was closed in 2003. In 2001 the Trinidad government sold its 49% share in Rum Distillers Limited to Angostura for $35 million who were forced to close the distillery two years later, because that same Trinidad Government closed their sugar refinery on the island. In the first half of the 20th century Trinidad had some 50 odd distilleries, but today only one survives, Angostura. The demise of the Trinidadian sugar cane industry means that molasses today are mainly imported from Guyana. Because of its heavy style, Caroni was a favourite with the British Navy and yours truly.

Bristol Spirits Caroni 1998-2008Color: Gold.

Nose: Dry, funky and slightly industrial. Like a crossing between Rhum Agricole and Jamaican Rum, with added motor oil and petrol. High ester heavy style Rum. Different kinds of wood and waxy. Lots and lots of aroma. Hints of oranges and mushrooms. Hot butter. Orange skins at first, but with good nosing a deeper (and sweeter) kind of sugared oranges appear. I’m a big fan of Rums like these. Later on, some oak and earwax. Burnt wood and smoke. Bonfire and a fishy note. Grilled fish (hanging over the bonfire). When my mind wanders off, I will associate the hint of smoke and burnt wood with Islay Whisky. Nice side effect. When all the extremities wear off on the nose, the whole becomes slightly sweeter and friendlier. More salty and smoky vanilla. What a nose!

Taste: Dry oranges with some hidden sweetness underneath. Still a bit industrial, not saying that is bad, on the contrary. Nice hints of oranges again, all of it, the skins, the freshly pressed juice and the candied oranges. All quite dry and smoky, never truly sweet. The wood is trying to get some bitterness across, but that hardy is the case. The Rum itself is highly aromatic, the bitterness is pushed back, there is simply not a lot of room for it. Bitter orange skin and again a burnt note. I can’t help but feel that the orange oil you get with the juice from the skins also gives off a slight acidic note that doesn’t completely integrate with the rest of the taste. Something that also happens in the Abuelo 12yo. Only here it’s not that bad.

This is great stuff from a sadly closed distillery. Not your run of the mill easy-going overly sweet Rum, but something more daring and industrial. Maybe this Rum isn’t for everyone, but if you like the profile this was one of the best.

The 1998 Caroni reviewed here was bottled in 2008. In 2013 exactly the same rum was released, just 5 years older. That one would be nice to review sometimes. The picture on the left is from the 2013 release, but looks exactly the same as the 2008 release.

Points: 86

Laphroaig Week – Day 4: Laphroaig 13yo 1998/2011 (53.4%, Kintra, Refill Sherry Butt #700047, 96 bottles)

Laphroaig SignDay four, a.k.a. the middle, or the pivotal point in a week. We’re halfway through. We started out with three distillery bottlings of Laphroaig. An older 15yo, it’s replacement the 18yo, although not in its latest guise, and yesterday we had a look at a travel retail only bottling from last year: An Cuan Mòr. Up untill now Laphroaig hasn’t failed me yet. Today we’ll venture into more unknown territory. The territory of the independent bottler. Today we’ll have a look at a Laphroaig, Erik Molenaar got into his hands a while back. The market is rapidly changing. In 2011 Erik could get (part of a Sherry Butt) for a reasonable price. Today he probably would still be able to source such a Whisky, but unfortunately only at an unreasonable price. So even when this is from 2011, it can still be considered…well you catch my drift. So without further ado…

Laphroaig 13yo 1998/2011 (53.4%, Kintra, Refill Sherry Butt #700047, 96 bottles)Color: Gold.

Nose: Funky Sherry. Has someone just farted over here? My word, lots of the S-element is filling the room. Sulphur that is, and it comes from my glass into which I have not farted, nor has anyone else. Fruity and half sweet underneath “the fart”. Enough with the fart already, will ya? Ok, lets move the Sulphur into the realm of fireworks then. Toasted wood, but also toasted bread. Meaty big aroma.

Taste: Sweet and Sherried. Fruity with loads of ashes. Short shock of fruity acidity. Creamy but with a wave of a bitter sulphury edge. The bitterness also could come from the oak. Nevertheless, the bitterness is also kept in check, so it doesn’t hurt the overall taste. The ashes transform into a sweeter form with and acidic edge, and both do not overpower the palate. The sweetness and acidity show themselves and go under again, like the Loch Ness monster. Warming and full body. Cozy. Nice mix of peat and funky Sherry. Sure, it may be flawed but the whole still (fire)works for me. Hints of black fruits and some smoke late in the finish.

Lots of my Whisky-loving friends don’t like sulphury notes too much. Some seem to be even overly sensitive to the stuff, if not allergic. They can go on and on about it and I sure do understand why. We know from the olden days how Sherried malts should taste like. Some of you know the golden days of The Macallan, old heavily Sherried Longmorns from the sixties and seventies, Glen Grants and Strathisla from the sixties. Fruity, full of aroma’s, with steam and coal, the lot! Today that quality can’t be reached anymore, and I don’t have the room here to discuss why. More modern Sherried malts are prone to have sulphury notes, and it’s up to you, if you can stand that or not. If you can (like I do), this is a big and nice, yet sulphury, Laphroaig.

Points:87

Glen Moray 15yo 1998/2013 (46%, Cadenhead, Bourbon Hogsheads, 684 bottles)

This is the third Glen Moray on these pages. Although I use a 100 points scare for scoring drinks, and in my opinion Whisky is one of the best drinks around. Whisky usually scores in the upper ranges of that scale. So any good Whisky scores at least 80 points. Both Glen Moray’s I reviewed before, one 13yo Dun Bheagan, and one official 8yo, didn’t make it across the 80 points-line and are therefore considered bu connoisseurs to be “mediocre” at best. However, if you read my reviews carefully, they still have enough going for them, and are still pretty good drinks, or pretty good Whiskies for that matter. It’s just that a lot of Whiskies score higher than these Glen Moray’s. But here is another Glen Moray, one by Cadenhead, so lets see if this will score in the 80’s or even higher?

Glen Moray 15yo 1998/2013 (46%, Cadenhead, Bourbon Hogsheads, 684 bottles)Color: White wine.

Nose: Quite closed, or isn’t there much happening. Alcohol, hints of sweet yellow fruits. Even though it isn’t a white wine finish were Glen Moray are almost famous for, it does remind me of a white wine finished Glen Moray. Hints of margarine and vanilla. Soft touch of oak. Very restrained, it just smells like fresh air.

Taste: Yes typical thin Glen Moray again. A crumb of old dark chocolate. A little bit of oak, and an acidity resembling a wine finish. Usually Glen Moray tends to get overly sweet after a wine finish, and I can’t say that’s the case here. Lots of maltiness and a little bit of paper and bitter oak in the finish. Good, it gives it character. Anything better than that strange acidity.

Extremely light color, again casks (probably two) that weren’t very active any more. I am not completely sure this isn’t a white wine finish. A very clean expression, and that’s me being positive, because not a lot seems to be happening here… (Mind you, this is still a damn good drink!)

Points: 76

Reisetbauer 7yo 1998 (56%, OB, Chardonnay & Trockenbeerenauslese Casks, 350 ml, LWH 098)

Hans ReisetbauerAnd now for something completely different! An Austrian vintage Whisky made by Hans Reisetbauer. This Whisky was distilled in 1998 and matured for 7 years in Chardonnay casks but also in casks that once held Trockenbeerenauselese, a (very) sweet and syrupy white wine. Casks come only from Austrian wine makers Alois Kracher and Heinz Velich. When looking for information, Hans seems to win a lot of prestigious prizes for his Eaux-de-vie or brandy’s made with fruits, and is regularly awarded as the best distiller in Austria. Hans decided to have a go at making Whisky. Hans planted four hectares of his own summer barley which was harvested for the first time in July 1995. Hans uses a double distillation regime.

Reisetbauer 1998Color: Gold

Nose: Creamy and lightly fruity. Apples and not winey at first. Fruity sweet with caramel. Very mild and definitely decent smelling (I may have expected something less good?). Powdery and dry, nice wood. Hint of vanilla. I’m not sure about the Chardonnay yet, but after some breathing I do smell the Trockenbeerenauselese. Having said that, it does remind me a bit of a Glen Moray in…yes, Chardonnay.

Taste: Sweetish and very vegetal. Fresh wood and a spicy (and winey) oak attack. Paint and plastic. Here most definitely the wine casks make their mark and mask that this is actually Single Malt Whisky. Maybe using the more traditional kind of cask would have been a better idea and use the Chardonnay and TBA casks for a finish. Quite hot and the heat has staying power. The aroma’s fade out leaving a hint of tannins, plastic and acidity. Still not a bad finish though.

I have heard people claiming this was terrible, but I don’t agree. Yes it is maybe too heavy on the wine casks used, but I can look past that and there definitely is some quality and potential here. Would love to see how Hans improves himself making Whisky.

The picture on the left is of the 700 ml bottle, simply because I couldn’t find a picture of a 350 ml bottle like mine, and I don’t think an empty bottle would make a good picture here. As can be seen on the bottle label, there were 1500 bottles made. On some bottles however instead of the 1500 bottles statement there is a code LWH 098 or LWH 007. Some bottles, bottled at 43% ABV, have a different label where the vintage (1998) is replaced by 7 years, but carry the same code LWH 098 as some 1998 vintages. Do you still follow?

Points: 75

Bowmore Week – Day 2: Bowmore 14yo 1998/2013 (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, Bourbon Hogsheads, 792 bottles)

Here we are, into day two of Master Quill’s Bowmore Week. This review will be about a Bowmore from Cadenhead’s new Small batch series. Just like with the Original Series (46% ABV) and the Authentic Series (cask strength), the small batches come in at 46% or cask strength. The 46% versions in this new Small Batch Series come in this round dumpy bottle as depicted below, whereas the Cask strength versions come in more square dumpy bottles. Like Glenfarclas used a long time ago. The only difference between the Original and the Authentic Collection and the Small Batch bottling is that the latter is in almost all the cases a bottling of two casks where the former were single cask bottlings. This may be a golden opportunity for Cadenheads to mix two casks that can complement each other, where single cask bottlings will always show the flaws of that one cask. A year prior (2012), Cadenheads have already bottled two Bourbon Hogshead Bowmore’s in the Authentic Collection, which could be nice for comparison.

Cadenhead Bowmore 14yoColor: White Wine

Nose: Butter, cookie dough and flowery peat. A very feminine profile. It’s flowery and perfumy without it being FWP or soapy. Citrussy and very light on peat. Hints of (tarry) wood and salt. Fat light peat and licorice. Quite “simple” on the nose compared to yesterday’s standard 12yo. This one has to breathe a bit and needs a bit of warmth to fully release its aroma’s. The longer it stands the more smoky it gets, kippers. Coastal.

Taste: Very well integrated Bowmore. A sweet and very full body, yet not heavy and quite un-complex. Good sweetness. Hints of mocha and cappuccino. A nice peppery bite and citrus with custard. Lemon sherbet. Nice hints of wood. Extremely drinkable, but also quite simple. The pepper is an added bonus. The finish is not too long though, and the pepper stays with you longer than the finish does.

Where the nose needed a little time to show itself, the taste is immediately up front without a lot of evolution. But when its good from the start who needs evolution? Very nice and simple profile, but as I said before, not very complex, but immediately likeable and extremely drinkable. I do like it.

Points: 85

Tormore 14yo 1998/2013 (50%, Gordon & MacPhail, Exclusive for the Whisky Mercenary, First Fill Bourbon Barrel #1586, 277 bottles)

Easily the longest title for any of my blog posts. Finally summer is over, and the urge to drink some Whisky is back with a vengeance. Not that I’m happy about summer being over, especially when the last five years we hardly had a summer over here…

Next up to warm us up is a Gordon & MacPhail bottling of a 1998 Tormore, they bottled for The Whisky Mercenary a.k.a. Jürgen Vromans. Jürgen tries to pick some great casks for his own hobby-brand of Whiskies. Up ’till now Scottish and Irish products have been bottled under his own label. This time he picked a cask from Gordon & MacPhail. Gordon & MacPhail take their own casks to various distilleries and after they are filled, take them to their own warehouses for ageing. Gordon & MacPhail never sell a cask without it being bottled in one of their series.

Color: Light Gold

Nose: Floral, fresh and sweet, easily recognizable for a Tormore from a Bourbon Cask. They’re always a bit metallic, but in a way I like it. Just have a look here. It’s great to see, ehhh, smell the consistency, or distillery character. There are a lot of similarities between the Cadenhead 1984 and this 1998 Tormore. Nice balance between the sweetness of the nose and the wood spice from the cask. Quite perfumy, with a touch of smoke from the toasted cask, and floral (which is not soapy). Under this all some ginger and sugared yellow fruits, like dried apricots, which add to the complexity of the sweetness. This is how Tormore’s are and this is another fine example.

Taste: Less sweet than the nose let on to believe. Nice darkness with ginger, vanilla, paper and wood. The spiciness in combination with the brooding half-sweetness doesn’t let the finish become sour (from the oak). There is a fruitiness to it, and it seems to me to be from the black fruit department, blackberries? A little bit of mocha, toffee and/or unburnt caramel to round the Whisky off. Long nutty finish with a hint of mint. Pretty well-balanced stuff. I like it and I most definitely want it.

Nice Tormore by Gordon & MacPhail and for sure a great pick by Jürgen. A connoisseurs Whisky, otherwise Gordon & MacPhail wouldn’t have Jürgen take this away.  If you like the profile, this is a very nice Tormore, ánd I have to stress that I am a fan of whiskies @ 50% ABV. Excellent! I really love the Cadenhead but this is equally as good.

Points: 86