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

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The Balvenie 17yo “Peated Cask” (43%, OB)

Time for another Balvenie, excuse me, “The” Balvenie. Some say it is some kind of middle of the road dram, and yes there may not be a true cask strength version around. Some say you’re foolish for sometimes spending a lot of hard-earned cash on a Whisky that is in no way full of aroma and almost always diluted. Yes sir, we’ll add the water for you and charge you more for it. They might be right but they also might not get it at all, or at least some of the time. Most statements might be true, but that doesn’t mean The Balvenie is a bad Whisky. Far from it. The Balvenie is about delicacies. It is some sort of homeopathic Whisky. Just a tad of wood here, a tad of wood spice there. A splash of Rum wood for that one and let use a spoonful of Sherry wood there. This time we do not get a peated Balvenie, but we get a Balvenie with a pinch of peat, subtle difference. This version was launched in 2010 and replaces the Islay Cask version which was made with ex-Laphroaig casks, and this one is said to be made with casks that once held peated…Balvenie! Wow.

The Balvenie 17yo Peated CaskColor: Sparkling light gold

Nose: Clay, lightly peated and malty. Sweet vanilla and a breath of fresh air. Licorice and more hefty vegetal and meaty notes. Marmite. All aroma’s seem to fit pretty good together. A distinguished gentleman in an excellently cut Savile Row suit. Cheers!

Taste: At 43% it is hardly too light, and it is a warming Whisky. Suits the bad weather outside. A nicely balanced liquid that pours down gently into ones throat. Smoky sweet vanilla, definitely American oak, with notes of peat and tar on top. Not woody at all. Sweet vanilla, but also hard candy sweetness, but not the fruitiness of those sweets mind you. Sugared apricots and honey drops. Cold black tea. Quite a long finish. Lots of staying power. Not really a peated Whisky but a peat flavoured Whisky. Nicely done. Definitely a step up, and sideways (for the variation), from the 15yo Single Barrel and probably my favorite Balvenie with the 21yo Port Wood. Ok, some of the 25yo’s and the thirty are pretty good as well.

This version is bottled at 43% ABV but there is also a higher strength version around. Cask strength, you ask? No, not quite, 48.7% ABV. Batch code on the reviewed bottle: L9097OK.

Points: 88

This one is for Colin and Krzysztof, sorry I couldn’t make it guys.