Bruichladdich 6yo 2007/2013 (50%, OB, Islay Barley, Rockside Farm, 13/126)

If you click on Bruichladdich in the right column, you’ll find that the last few reviews of “Bruichladdich” were written about an Islay Gin and two Rums. Yes, Bruichladdich is quite a progressive and busy operation, not only distilling three different kinds of Whiskies (The unpeated Bruichladdich, the heavily peated Port Charlotte and the insanely peated Octomore). They also bottle a range of Rums under the moniker of the Renegade Rum Company, mostly if not all finished in a wine casks. Yes, before I forget, they make a Gin as well, and not any Gin, it’s Gin made with botanicals from the Island of Islay. So a local Gin, and as Bruichladdich say themselves, Terroir matters. A now I have a chance for a bridge, al be it a terribly un-smooth one. Since we are on the subject of terroir…

Where Springbank lead the way with Whisky made from “Local Barley” Bruichladdich takes it one step further. Whisky-nerds always want a lot of information about their dram and Bruichladdich is sure one of those who are happy to provide, combine this with the “terroir” philosophy here we have a Whisky of which we now know it’s not only made from local Barley, but we also know how local. The barley used, Optic, was grown on Mark & Rohaise French’s Rockside farm, and not on the whole 2,500 acre farm, no, it was grown exclusively on one particular field called ‘Minister’s Field’. Two years after this 2007 Islay Barley was released, the French’s decided to sell their farm to Kilchoman, which is built on Rockside Farm land, and leave the Island…

Color: Light Gold.

Nose: Barley, bread and cereal. Warm and sweet-smelling. Vanilla, custard and pudding. Although supposedly unpeated, this still has some peat, paper and smoke. Fresh and fruity, and quite honest. A lot happening already after 6 years. Develops in my glass. Hay, citrus and fresh ripe Cherries. Appealing and appetizing. Depending on the moment, sometimes, and it’s not often, I pick up some petrol. Brings back moments of a warm silent summer in the countryside. No wind and being alone. On top of the fresh and fruity notes lies this sharper smoky note. The whole experience is less broad than the 2006 Bere Barley offered by Bruichladdich as well. Sure this is 6 years old and I guess this makes lots of people thinking it is probably simple or doesn’t offer a lot of complexity. Bollocks. I feel, this offers an amazing complexity. Yes it’s 6yo and it has youthful elements to it, but not typical youth, as in hints of new make. A nice drinker, but this time an even better one for comparison to others like it from Bruichladdich (different vintages of Islay Barley and Bere Barley), Kilchoman 100% Islay, or even the likes of the aforementioned new Springbank Local Barley’s. Yes you need more of these open at the same time. a terrible thought indeed!

Taste: Sweet, with cookies, cereal, and very fruity right out of the gate. Tiny hint of soap and wax. Nothing to worry about. Big, dirt, soil, oil and rural notes, but also creamy with vanilla powder and old dried out toffee bits. Sweet. Hard to imagine now that the Bere Barley was even more aromatic than this one. Just like Springbank, this needs some breathing before showing its true potential, but when it does, it delivers nicely. Nice presentation too by the slightly higher ABV. 50% instead of the new standard which seems to be 46% ABV. Both are great improvements over “old” 40% ABV. Yes, the alcohol is noticeable people. Mocha and milk-chocolate come next. Vegetal, grassy, linseed oil and butter. A healthy sensation gets over me now. The finish could have been better balanced and longer. First of all the Alcohol (sometimes) slightly anasthetizes my tongue and the roof of my mouth. Secondly it gives off a slightly acidic aftertaste which somehow doesn’t really fit the profile. It’s not an off-note but it just doesn’t fit in this picture. It gives too much separation (of tastes and balance) and leaves the finish in a bit of confusion. (gets better with more air). Hardly any aftertaste, which means youth I guess… This luckily doesn’t spoil the fun though, and I still love this dram. Not as complex as the nose but more than enough, especially considering, again, that this is a mere 6yo. It’s a way to go with modern Whiskies. I love this series as well as I do the Bere Barley series. Well done Bruichladdich.

It is quite nice to try several different releases from the Islay Barley series side-by-side. The differences are bigger than one would expect beforehand. In my Whisky Club we also compared this 2007 Islay Barley to the 2006 Bere Barley 2nd Edition. Both are in their own right quite good Whiskies (can we get some older examples too please?), but trying the one right after the other was for me te true way to try these, hence I feel you need several of these open at the same time. They complement each other quite well. The differences are big enough to warrant this…

Points: 86

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Port Morant 6yo (46%, Renegade Rum Company, GYA, Tempranillo Finish, Guyana)

Why review only one Renegade when you can do two for twice the price? The previous review was about a Jamaican Rum finished in Tempranillo casks. Tempranillo is a blue grape variety used for an excellent Spanish Red Wine. We know that Jamaican Rums have a big or heavy style, a. k. a. high ester Rum, however, we found that it just barely coped with the Tempranillo finish, which was able to hijack the Rum a bit. We know of another big and heavy Rum-style. Demerara. how would that perform? Today we’ll have a look how an almost similarly young Demerara will do. It’s not just any Demerara, it’s a Port Morant! So another Renegade, another big young Rum and another Tempranillo cask, those will be the ingredients of this review. Again, I expect an interesting Rum, out-of-the-box just like the Renegade Monymusk. Will this one taste better?

port-morant-6yo-42-renegade-rum-company-gya-temperanillo-finish-guyanaColor: Light gold.

Nose: Right out of the gate, this is Port Morant alright. Typical Demerara. From memory, but for a brief moment only, somewhat similar smelling to the Plantation Guyana I reviewed earlier. Where that one seemed to have a sweeter start (added sugar), this one has a big dusty, nutty and vegetal component added to it. Changing instantaneously. It seems to me already, both the Jamaican Rum and the Demerara I have in my glass now, react quite differently to the Tempranillo cask. Here it gives off a clear Grappa aroma. Know your distillates people. Venture off the beaten path sometimes. It will make for a better experience. Interesting. Both turn dry in no time at all. Some oak and vanilla, so I’m guessing that, at least one of the casks used was made from American oak. Being the original cask the Rum was matured in or the cask that held the Tempranillo Wine. Probably both. Quite fruity. Fresh pineapple for sure and some less pronounced, yet creamy, citrussy notes as well. Spicy oak combined with thick and juicy almonds and pudding. After letting this breathe for a while it almost smells like a Single Malt Whisky matured in a Bourbon cask. Just like the Jamaican Renegade, this is a nice, although a bit out of the ordinary, smelling Rum. I hope the palate will be better this time around, compared to the Monymusk.

Taste: Not very sweet Demerara, not in a big way, well, quite dry actually. Again a Rum that chances quickly in the glass. The Tempranillo is immediately a bit overpowering and I can’t say it does wonders for this Rum. Next a flinty note that doesn’t seem right. Paper, cardboard and Grappa come next. Lots of Grappa actually, with some fruity and Wine-like notes. So expect hay, dry grass and a very dry taste. Definitely still recognizable as a Port Morant on the nose, but in no way, here in the taste. As I said earlier, overpowered by the Wine finish.Funky Wine cask finish you also got from the first batch of Whiskies being finished in Wine casks. By now in the Whisky-world they have mastered finishing in ex-Wine casks, but Rum is a different puppy ‘eh Jim? Quite big into the finish, but a quick break-down afterwards, making the finish medium at best. I hoped that this one would taste better than the slightly disappointing Monymusk I reviewed before this one, alas, here the experiment is even less interesting, although not a totally failed effort. There is something to be learned here, but I’m not sure what exactly…

Well, I hoped this would do better, but in fact it worked even less for me. If you know your Grappa’s than this one will interest you for sure. I know a lot of people raise their eyebrows when tasting (their first) Grappa. Definitely an acquired taste, even more so than a Rummy, acquiring the taste of Rhum Agricole. When I tried to taste the Port Morant right after the Monymusk, well all I can say, don’t do that. Doesn’t work either…

Points: 78

Bulleit 6yo “Frontier Whiskey” (40%, OB, Circa 2010)

Bulleit is a brand owned by Diageo. Diageo is the biggest drinks company in the world and they are known for loving to make a buck. Nothing wrong with that. Making booze is not a charity you know. In 1983 sensible economics made Diageo close a lot of distilleries in Scotland, and Diageo are also the ones who closed the legendary Stitzel-Weller distillery, their only distillery in the US, correct me if I’m wrong. Why then put out a Bourbon Brand? Economics, getting a foot in the door? The regret closing Stitzel-Weller? Who cares what the reasons are. They decided to put out a brand of Bourbon and had it made by Four Roses. The mashbill contains around 28% Rye, which is right in the middle of Four Roses’ own B (35% Rye) and E (20% Rye) mashbills. And at Four Roses they know what they are doing. By the way, The old Stitzel-Weller distillery is now a centre for promoting Bulleit.

Bulleit BourbonColor: Light orange gold.

Nose: For me, Rye Whiskies always smell a bit floral, even though they (should) have a taste with a bite. I don’t know how to describe it differently. This isn’t a Rye Whiskey, but it does smell like it, sort of. High Rye mashbill it is. Dusty, floral and vegetable. Buttery with dry leather. Delayed mint. Funky stuff like crushed beetle and cold dishwater. Old honey and do I detect a wee whiff of urine in there? Well, don’t be fooled, this smells rather nice, but we already know, Four Roses know what they are doing, but i might have said that already. Powdery and dry with some charcoal. Well balanced, especially considering its age.

Taste: Smoother than the nose led me to believe. Slight dryness, but also quite sweet. Sugar water. Funky rural toffee and a bit of leather. Some toasted oak, but the focus lies more on the toast then the oak. Nevertheless, the oak is there, but it’s hardly woody at all. Creamy, but a bit too thin. I believe 40% ABV. is a bit too low. Spicy and chewy Rye. Light, but good. Medium to short finish, with a slight bitter edge towards the aftertaste. I do believe the distillate to be promising, but it is a bit killed by the low ABV.

I didn’t like it when I first opened it, but I warmed up to it now. I remember I didn’t like the pronounced florality of it, and it may have been slightly soapy when it was freshly opened. In the end Four Roses make a pretty good Whisky, even if they do it for Diageo. I would ditch the 40% ABV version and get the 45% ABV version if you have the chance, but it isn’t available in all markets.

Points: 81

Glen Scotia 6yo 1999/2006 (52.7%, The Whisky Fair, Heavily Peated, Bourbon Barrels #541 & #542, 464 bottles)

How ’bout another Glen Scotia then. One in its youth. This heavily peated Glen Scotia has a mere 6 years under its belt. Yes you read it right, a heavily peated Glen Scotia, move over Longrow? This is a Glen Scotia that was bottled for the 2006 Whisky Fair in Limburg, Germany. Most definitely a festival you shouldn’t miss. I like the label of this Whisky Fair bottling, since it looks similar to other Glen Scotia’s from that time. Lets have some peat then…

Glen Scotia 6yo 1999/2006 (52.7%, The Whisky Fair, Heavily Peated, Bourbon Barrels #541 & #542, 464 bottles)Color: White wine.

Nose: Soft elegant peat alright, but also very grassy. Lots of grass, dry grass, and hay. A confectionary sweetness, like warm icing sugar, but mixed with a little milk chocolate and the grass, peat and sweet ashes. Cocos macaroon with more than a hint of almond. This is already wonderful smelling after the mere 6 years in cask. Although this is from Bourbon barrels, I do encounter some sulfury compounds. Still grassy and some typical vanilla, with lemon freshness. Typical for Bourbon Barrels. Barrels are 20% smaller than (remade) hogsheads, so in theory the spirit ages more quickly, but not twice as quick, since nobody wold argue with you if you claimed this to be 12yo. Quite some active barrels. Nice.

Taste: Sweet barley, yup sweet barley. Diluted lemon curd. Altogether quite lemony. Where the nose was quite complex and didn’t show its age, the taste is much simpler and seems young, but not alcoholic. A sweet and creamy rounded off taste. Some prickly peat but not a lot. I wouldn’t call this heavily peated, at least it doesn’t seem heavily peated. Sweet barley and sweet yellow fruits, but none in particular. I guess dried apricots are the closest. Sweet Earl Grey tea with a hint of honey and a lot of lime. Medium to short finish and the same goes for the aftertaste. Which is about young soft peat added to warm diluted lemon curd.

Even though this tastes quite nice, I’m a bit disappointed that the taste didn’t live up to the promise of the nose. I was quite surprised at first in what the nose achieved in 6 years. Still an experience and a nice surprise. I wonder how this would have turned out with some more age to it.

Points: 84

Ledaig 6yo 2004/2011 (46%, Murray McDavid, Heavily Peated, Sherry Cask, 1.500 bottles)

Today we’ll have a look at another Ledaig, The peated Whisky made at Tobermory on the Island of Mull. Tobermory and/or Ledaig once had a bit of a shabby reputation for not being very consistent in quality, but the tide seems to be turned. Lots of very nice Ledaigs are turning up left and right, although the other young one I reviewed earlier wasn’t the best one around. However, quality today is good and even at a young age. This Sherried Ledaig is only 6 years old and looking good. The mere fact that Murray McDavid didn’t turn this into a Whisky with some kind of finish is saying something doesn’t it?

Ledaig 6yo 2004/2011 (46%, Murray McDavid, Heavily Peated, Sherry Cask, 1.500 bottles)Color: Full gold, almost orange.

Nose: Fatty peat and ashes. Nice note of cask toast and dirty Sherry. Smoked kippers. Tarry with hints of black fruit. Smoky and even a bit salty. Reminds me of good peated stuff from a while back, and in those days the peated Whiskies weren’t that old too. If I had smelled this blind I would have thought this was from Longrow, Laphroaig or Kilchoman (Isn’t that a kind of big spectrum?). Vanilla pudding, with a tiny hint of citrus freshness. Lemon, but also a hint of the aroma of sweet strawberries. Excellent nose.

Taste: Toast again, ashes again, but different from what I expected. First of all it is immediately clear that this isn’t in the taste a “heavy” as the nose was. The ghost of reduction? More wood here and much simpler than the nose. The wood gave off a bitter edge which helps the character of the Whisky along, but makes it a Whisky you’ll have to work with. In the finish, the Whisky falls apart. Thin, watery and especially the acidity stays, with the ashes, some almond and yes, the fatty peat, earthy clay and smoky bite.

Not bad, but something isn’t quite right here. Hard to tell, but maybe these weren’t the best Sherry casks around. The peated spirit itself tasted good, but not everything went well with the interaction with the wood. Maybe the Whisky also suffered here by the reduction to 46% ABV. We’ll never know, but I’m guessing this was a bit better at cask strength. Not bad, but could have been better is my obvious conclusion.

Points: 83

Tamdhu 6yo 2004/2011 (52.9%, The Ultimate, Sherry Butt #5439, 680 bottles)

Just before Christmas I reviewed a young Tamdhu bottled by The Ultimate (Van Wees, The Netherlands). That one was only 8 years old and I dared to mention in that review that at 8yo that Whisky was maybe bottled to late, since a lot of wood was present in that bottling. Luckily the wood gave the Whisky a lot of character, but I hoped it would have been a wee bit sweeter. Now look here. I’ve got an even younger Tamdhu bottled by The Ultimate. This time I’ll have a look at a 6yo Tamdhu from 2004 (the second of the six, bottled in 2011), and have a look how the two compare. How was your Christmas, by the way?

Tamdhu 6yo 2004/2011 (52.9%, The Ultimate, Sherry Butt #5439, 680 bottles)Color: Pale gold.

Nose: Definitely a less full on nose. Less powerful, dryer and somewhat more floral than cask #347. Again nice woody notes, but less prominent. Still a lot of pencil shavings though. This one needs a little breather. I just opened the bottle. Good balance and again a very likeable smell. Appealing. Somewhat cleaner this one is (thanks Yoda). When smelling these two H2H, is think this younger example is even more complex, since the 8yo is all wood.

Taste: Sweet and creamy and delayed pepper, but overall a weaker body than the 8yo. Now you all are going to think that I’ve lost it, but this 6yo Tamdhu is more complex than the 8yo I reviewed before Christmas. On the taste lots of nice aromas have lined up and come through one after the other instead of all at once. Black and white powder, vanilla pudding, elegant wood, licorice, and some yellow fruits even. What a treat. The finish isn’t longer, but has some more aroma’s and this one is heavy on cask toast and a little bit of sulphur, but again not dominant, so adding to the character. A nanosecond of sweet on the entry, than quickly into wood and then the workings of layers when the Whisky is swallowed. These young Tamdhu’s are hidden treasures!

The whole is more toned down compared to cask #347, but this one has some more going for it. It is a bit sweeter (as I hoped), but the sweetness is a bit funky, so I’m glad is isn’t sweeter than it is. The Whisky is only 6yo, but still it seems to be more complex than it’s older sister. I like the finish better too, although it has some sulphur, but that gives it even more character. As I said, more going on in this one. Time will tell what extra air will do for this Tamdhu. For the time being, a well urned:

Points: 88

Kilkerran 6yo 2004/2010 ‘Work in Progress 2’ (46%, OB, 15.000 bottles)

This time a ‘new’ Campbeltown malt. Although the original Glengyle started in 1872 and closed again in 1925. The ‘new’ one started in 2004. Most of the distilling equipment come from the defunct Ben Wyvis distillery. Campbeltown used to be the center of the whisky world, but only Springbank and the intermittent Glen Scotia remain. Slowly some old names are revived. Longrow and now Glengyle. The name Glengyle was not for sale as the distillery was, so it’s called Kilkerran instead. Since 2009 an annual work in progress is released. We’ll have a look at the second WIP, that has the grey label.

Color: Light Gold.

Nose: Oily, fatty, some distant peatyness. Meaty, gunpowder and lightly smoky, so it has a firm body. Tarry and Crème Brûlée Later on even some coffee and a powdery note.  This has already got a very promising character. After nosing this you already know you’re gonna like it! Well I do. If some whiskies are elegant, this one is of the street, it’s dirty, it’s a bit naughty. Ahhh yes, we like naughty.

Taste: Yeah! Leafy and simple. It’s like dry leaves infused in some velvety light oil with licorice. It has some wood, but as a nice component of the whole. In the middle of the wood sits something sour. It’s almost a designer dirty whisky. Not overly complex, but oh so enjoyable. This is great and 46% is just right for something like this. In the finish you’ll have some black pepper first and after that a hot flash, like some red pepper powder.

We all like to say that the old stuff is better, and “they just don’t make it like that anymore”. Now just have a look of some of those new malts around. And it’s not only Kilkerran, but Kilchoman too, aren’t they making fabulous stuff? And the stuff is just seven years old to boot. Both of them. And if this as good as it is now, how will it be at the planned 12 years old? We just have to wait untill 2016 to try that. But untill then we’ll be just as happy with the annual WIP’s. Forget about cocaine and XTC, there’s a new uncolored and unchillfiltered drug in town and it’s called Kilkerran…(and Kilchoman).

A work in progress, keep on working people, you’re on the right track here.

Points: 86

To be complete:

The first work in progress had a white label, is 5yo, was issued in 2009 and yielded 12.000 bottles.

The third work in progress had a mossy green/cream label, is 7yo, was issued in 2011 and yielded 15.000 bottles.