Worthy Park 8yo 2006/2015 (50%, Rum Nation, Pot Still, Oloroso Sherry Finish, Release 2015, L-15-020, Jamaica)

I just finished both bottles from Foursquare, Doorly’s 12yo and Foursquare 9yo Port Finish. Both close connected and although the latter is an exceptional cask selection, I did not really prefer it over the 12yo. Both were (too) easy drinkers @ 40% ABV. After trying whole bottles of both, I have to admit, I also got a bit bored with them, lacking in strength and development in the glass. For me it was clear, both suffered from too much reduction, since the potential was there. Sure, hot, cask strength Rums aren’t for everyone, but for a (sipping) Rum to carry its aroma’s well and excite, I would say 46% (to 50%) ABV is better, if you want to reduce it. Forget about 43%, just skip it and go straight for 46%. Both were enjoyable nevertheless because the Foursquare spirit is a good one, with lots of potential, so I will definitely seek out other expressions of Foursquare in the near future. Preferably cask strength ones, like the official 2004 vintage or one from an independent bottler, because Foursquare is hot these days.

Well, empty bottles call for replacements, so one of the new ones I picked from my stash is this Rum Nation Jamaica Pot Still Rum 8yo, which has already been replaced by a 5yo expression, again with a Oloroso Sherry finish. Look, here we have a reduced Rum bottled at 50% ABV. I expect a better aroma transport system. since this seems to me to be the ideal drinking strength for a sipping Rum. With Jamaican Rum being a favourite (style) of mine and this one is seemingly not reduced to death, I expect quite a lot actually. Not sure about the Oloroso finish just yet. It works for Whisky, but we’ll see if that works for this Rum as well.

Color: Copper orange.

Nose: Big Jamaican funk shooting out of my glass, bold and eager. Nice dry woody notes and overall it doesn’t come across as very sweet and creamy. Dark chocolate and sandal wood. Images of sand and pan flute music. That’s a good start. Medium cream then and also a bit dusty and yes, a bit alcoholic as well, but that’s what we wanted, right? Hints of a well-integrated acidic wine-note on top. Nutty. It seems to me the Oloroso was matured in European oak. Licorice, toasted cask, black coal and hot asphalt. Wow, I love that! Lots of toffee combined with hidden vegetal notes. Dry leaves and even some burning leaves. Indian spices. Love how this smells. There is and indescribable and extremely appetizing note I recognize from a Cadenheads bottling of Enmore I have. This strikes a chord with me, because that was the first real Rum I bought based on its nose alone. Amazing nose on this Jamaican, where many different aroma’s just switch on and off, all the time.

Taste: Initially quite hot and funky, but that is only a short burst. Vegetal right from the start. Nice beginning with vanilla, toffee, honey and caramel, with the leafy bit in here as well. Cigarette ashes and cinnamon. Not as funky and big as the nose promised though, which is a bit of a shame really, especially after a few seconds. Turns quite dry with a paper-like quality. Less balanced as well. Medium sweet, or even less than that, since the dryness (wood) starts to dominate. Definitely less boring than both Foursquare bottlings mentioned above. Hints of wood sap, soap and blue ink with an additional bitter edge. The body dries out, and the finish is quite short, with hardly anything staying behind in the aftertaste, amazingly. If anything, I would say a small sour note from the Sherry. Character building stuff though. 50% ABV really helps this Rum forward. A shame though, the Jamaican funk got lost in the body and finish of this Rum. Take small sips in short succession to deal with this “problem”.

I understand this got replaced with a similar 5yo. Worthy Park again, as well as the Oloroso finish. It is said that the younger Rum is even more funky, which should be able to deal with the Oloroso finish better. It should also be more typically Jamaican on the palate. I guess this will help the taste reach a better balance, but we’ll have to see how the nose worked out. For me the Oloroso finish on this 8yo worked wonders on the nose, but was maybe a step too far on the taste. Probably the reason to repeat the experiment with a younger, bolder, Rum from the same distillery. Maybe they also tweaked the amount of time of finishing.

Points: 85

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Tomatin 14yo “Port Casks” (46%, OB, Tawny Port Pipes Finish, 2016)

I come from a time when Distilleries started experimenting with other casks than the usual Bourbon and Sherry casks. When Whiskies finished in Wine casks, Port casks and Rum casks popped up in the market, I actually preferred the Rum cask versions the most. I didn’t particularly like the Wine and Port finishes. It’s not because I couldn’t keep up with the pace of change, because today there are lots of these finishes around that are pretty good, but when I taste back the first examples they still are not-so-good. Port was an easy choice for distillers and blenders I guess, since it is related to Sherry and both are fortified Wines. However Sherry casks and Port casks yield very different Whiskies.

I guess the early versions were finished in casks that previously held Ruby Port. Young and bold stuff, which made for a very raw and harsh Whisky, especially when finished for too long. The U.K. loves Vintage Port which are excellent Ruby Ports, 2 years old, so the obvious starting point for experimentation with finishing. Today we see more and more Port finishes done in Port Pipes that previously held Tawny Port. Tawny Ports are older Ports, that turn (reddish) brown from oxidation. For this 14yo expression Tomatin first matured the Whisky in Bourbon barrels and for the finish they used Port Pipes that previously held Tawny port for 50 years! The 14yo Tomatin was first introduced in 2014, a replacement for the 15yo, which came from Bourbon casks only. Tomatin also discontinued the 25yo which also was from Bourbon casks only. In 2016 we saw a complete revamp of the design, so this review is for the “new”14yo, number four in the core range preceded by the “Legacy”, the 12yo and a Cask Strength version without an age statement (We’ll get to that one later).

Tomatin 14yo Port Casks 2016Color: Gold with a pinkish hue.

Nose: Musty and definitely recognizable as a Port finish. It is quite obvious to say the least. Also the color gave it away. You don’t get this pinkish hue, from caramel coloring, and wine finishes smell differently, however it also reminds me a bit of a Jenever fully matured in a Bordeaux cask. Apart from the typical fruity Portiness there is an unusual hay-like aroma, like Grappa has, it is different from your usual Whisky. In the back there is also a more creamy, vanilla note, softening the whole up. Nice soft wood as well. Although the finish is quite strong, it isn’t overpowering, and the Whisky remains balanced. Nevertheless, the finish ís strong enough not to let Tomatin’s signature tropical fruitiness through.

Taste: Sweet and fruity. Chewy. Here the finish isn’t as strong at first like in the nose. Here it starts with sweet and creamy Bourbon cask notes, but the Port quickly exerts itself. I don’t know yet if the burnt note I get, comes from toasted oak, or from the Port pipes (or both). A fruity acidity lies on top, so less balance here than on the nose. Hints of paper (not cardboard, which is heavier and less likeable). The whole is quite creamy and friendly. Well made and quite bold to let the Port finish speak its mind. Creamy, fruity, slightly burnt and some nice wood. That sums it up. Medium finish.

This is daily drinker material. Something I would reach for quite often. Sure you can analyze it to death, but why should you. I already did that for you. Not very expensive and fun to drink and definitely different from most other expressions in the shops today.

Points: 84 (same score as the previous version)

Glengoyne 12yo 1994/2006 (43%, OB, SC, Rum Finish, Cask #909310, 348 bottles)

Just like the 10yo Edradour I just reviewed, Glengoyne also has a 1994 vintage, which was used for a lot of different cask finishes. Claret, Madeira, Manzanilla, Muscatel, Cornalin and a lot of Rum finishes were released between 2005 and 2008. Some were bottled at cask strength, and some were reduced to 43% ABV. All the other Rum finishes have a cask number of 5 digits, so this one was probably cask #90931. Maybe they have added an additional “0” to distinguish this bottling from the rest since this is the only one that has been reduced. Maybe an administrative mistake was made…

Glengoyne 12yo 1994/2006 (43%, OB, SC, Rum Finish, Cask #909310, 348 bottles)Color: Gold.

Nose: Excellent full-on Rum smell. Spicy, fatty dirty. I’m guessing high ester Rum. Jamaican? Hard to tell. Sugar cane and very leafy. For some this may be finished too long, but I’m not one of them. I love the synergy between Rum casks and Single Malt Whisky, but I may have said that before. Extremely deep. What a nice combination of smells. Wonderful depth and a wealth of complexity with lavas and balsamic vinegar. Where did that come from? The Whisky, The Rum or the wood? If it’s the wood, the wood turns to a more cleaner oaky note. Fresh windy forest and some warm butter on toast (not burnt). Even a slightly soapy note.

Taste: Well this is less complex than the nose is. Where the nose explodes with aroma, the taste is much simpler. Most definitely a sweet Whisky. Sugar water and yes, some nice leafy wood influence. Paper and floral cardboard, whatever that is. The taste is built around some different wood flavours, sugared tropical fruit, dried orange skim and cold black tea. The finish is quite long, but again pretty simple a bit bitter and buttery.

Not so long ago I reviewed a few Rum finished Whiskies and I said I have always liked them. This one is no different. Fantastic nose, and the taste is good. However, this one is not a daily drinker. For that it is too fatty and sweet.

Points: 84 (but with a 90’s nose, if you like Rum)

Thanks go out to René for providing the sample (a while back).

Spey 12yo (40%, OB, Selected Edition, Virgin Oak Finish, 8.000 bottles)

When the Speyside distillery was sold to Harvey’s of Edinburgh in 2012, the new owner changed the name of the Whisky to “Spey” and by 2014 released three new versions: Tenné, this 12yo and finally a 18yo. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about the Tenné. Let’s see if this 12yo is any better. The Tenné is a rather young Whisky, finished in Port pipes. The 12yo is…well, 12 years old and was given a finish in new wood. Strange enough this older Whisky was given a lower ABV than it’s younger sister Tenné. 40% ABV compared to 46% ABV. For me that is usually not a good way to start…

Spey 12yo (40%, OB, Selected Edition, Virgin Oak Finish, 8.000 bottles)Color: White wine, much less color than pictured here.

Nose: Fresh, citrussy with hints of smoke (probably from toasted wood). Fresh oak and toasted fresh oak. Clean but also a dirty edge to it. Mocha and milk chocolate. Powdered sugar. Maybe simple but well-balanced. Leafy and dry grass. No off notes whatsoever. Shows a lot of potential, but, it’s already 12yo and it smells much younger. Young but without the typical smell or even hints of new make spirit. Hints of pencil. Not only shavings of the wood, but the whole pencil with the painted wood and the lead. Very interesting and surprising compared to the Tenné. Seems to let aroma’s pass in layers.

Taste: Sweet and barley. Sugary sweetness, which matches the powdered sugar from the nose. Malted barley. These two notes make up the taste. Again this seems very young without even hinting at new make spirit. (I recently reviewed The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve, thát has the notes of new make spirit). Clean and grainy spirit. Sweet and vegetal. Has some staying power. Virgin oak and tree sap, reminiscent of ripping a branch of a shrub or tree. Although low in ABV, this Whisky doesn’t seem to suffer from it. Hints of sweet apple juice, freshly pressed at home, and a flowery note, Jasmin.

I can’t put my finger on it, but I like this. The sugar levels are just in check. It is no high-flying Whisky, but it has some lovely aroma’s to it. This time, I won’t even ramble on about the low ABV. This does nicely at 40%. Fruity and likeable. Surprising stuff. Who would have thought this about a Whisky from a young distillery, which found it necessary to finish its aged Whisky in new oak. Interesting. Almost ten points more than the younger offering called Tenné.

Points: 82