Warre Late Bottled Vintage 2011

Sometimes you have to strike the iron while hot, so after an absence of Port on these pages for an amazing five years, here is number two within this week. After Auke’s Kopke I reviewed last, lets turn to a different style of Port, with my own Warre’s Late Bottled Vintage 2011. 2011? Is that a typo? No it isn’t, 2011 turned out to be a truly amazing, quintessential Vintage Port year! I ask myself, why didn’t they turn this into a LBV then? B-choice?

So what is a Late Bottled Vintage Port, I hear you ask?

Well, traditionally a Late Bottled Vintage (or LBV for short), is a Ruby Port from a single harvest/year, bottled after ageing for four to six years in wood, tonnels to be precise, which are very large casks. It should be a Vintage Port in style which is to retain some of the character of fruit and the tannins from the wood influence and the aroma’s to be had from the depot of the unfiltered Port (some more tannins for ya). Back in the day, there were many unfiltered LBV’s around, more akin to Vintage Ports. Apart from filtering, I’d like to point out that the time frame of four to six years is quite large. A 4yo Port does taste different from a 6yo Port (when aged in wood).

Today an LBV can taste young and fruity by, (in part), maturation in a tank, to retain that youthful, zesty, vibrant fruitiness, or a LBV can taste mature with noticeable wood ageing. Most of today’s LBV’s are filtered (and fined) and don’t need further ageing in the bottle, which is convenient. Luckily, some however, do have (some) depot and can be aged for a while longer. My Warre is such and example, going against the grain of the modern consumer who wants young and fruity LBV’s which are ready to drink. Although this Warre is not a true Traditional completely unfiltered, LBV, at least it doesn’t say so on the label, it does have some depot. Also, drinking this I do not feel the need to decant it. Sure you sometimes don’t know what you are getting when buying any bottle of LBV from the shelf, if only the labels were more clear, but I do welcome the choice.

To finish this introduction off, a household remark: The picture below is of the 2013 version, My bottle is already open, therefore not very photo genetic, and I couldn’t find a decent picture of the 2011 on ye olde interweb, so I used a decent picture of the next L.B.V. bottled by Warre, the 2013. Don’t be confused though, it looks exactly the same (apart from the year stated obviously).

Color: Extremely dark ruby red. Slightly cloudy and there is some depot in the bottle. Don’t spill this on your white shirt (I did that once at a Port Tasting, awkward).

Nose: Red Wine and fruits. Fresh and slightly sweet smelling, sometimes sugared fruits. Warming and fresh, almost like the warmth of the sun was captured in here. I get this every time I try it. Thick and yet not the promise of a lot of sweetness. Slightly dusty and closed. Warm berry juice over pudding. A tiny hint of vanilla, so American oak? Accessible and promising.

Taste: Sweet on entry with good acidity. Fruitier than the nose, otherwise it tastes like it smells.¬† Excellent acidity actually, matching the medium sweetness. Good balance. Again accessible just like it smells. 20% ABV, and it shows an alcoholic note, that seems to be disconnected from the Port itself. Tannic (Red Wine) mouthfeel, not much, but enough for the specific feel you get between your tongue and roof of mouth. Sweetish and fruity. Fruit juice for semolina pudding. Medium finish with (luckily) some tannins and woody bitter notes, all well in check, just adding to the complexity and giving it a more “Vintage” style. The Port is good and moderately complex. An easy daily drinker and definitely not a true Vintage Port which is something else entirely, but it is family. After multiple sips, the tannins dry out your lips and stay behind on your tongue. I like this style of LBV, it puts the V in the LBV, so to speak.

Just like the Colheita before, this Late Bottled Vintage is a style made for comfort, for all us full-time, over-time, busy office people. Tasty, without a lot of fuss. Just open it and drink. No decanting, no ages of ageing after buying, not a lot depot that gets between your teeth. Easy stuff. This is a very accessible and nice Port with some Vintage Port-style without the Vintage Port price tag, even less hard earned cash has to change hands than when buying a good Colheita. Nevertheless, a Colheita is something different, so you need both in your life. Frankie says: go for it!

Points: 83

After doing this review I feel that the Kopke Colheita 2003 I just reviewed, seems to be more modern in style (as mentioned above for modern LBV’s. It youthful and very fruity, which is a bit odd considering Colheita’s are about long ageing… Food for thought.

Thanks go out to Auke for bringing up Port again! Now de-cork the old White please ūüėČ

Kopke Colheita 2003 (2018)

In several of my previous reviews, even more than once, I stated that I love my Ports, and I hereby confirm that I still do, even though my last review was done in the spring of 2014! Terrible! There is no excuse! How did that happen? five years! Is time flying this fast? I have to make amends and restart the fire of Port! Auke, also mentioned before, was so kind as to present me with a sample of one of his recent acquisitions, to help me restart the fire. Kopke Colheita 2003. Auke loves his Ports as well, and even managed to visit Portugal this summer, something I have yet to do.

personally, I love Colheita’s. They are aged, refined, easy to use, (so no decanting of unfiltered vintages) and quite affordable. Sure, vintages are the biggest thing in Port-world, but Colheita’s most definitely earned their place under the sun as well. Even better, Colheita’s also offer us a high quality alternative to Vintage Port and L.B.V.’s, with a different profile, a Tawny profile. Aged, not ruby red any more and more delicate. So a true win-win situation.

Color: Vibrant old red, tiniest hint of tan.

Nose: Fresh, sweet and fruity. Perfumy even. Deep, dusty and dark, with hints of asphalt, tar and licorice. Dry forest floor (in the summer). This adds to the third dimension of the Port and is most certainly not upfront. The combination of freshness and fruits with the darker side is quite interesting. The fruit stays, cherries and raisins with a nice acidic vibrancy. Waves of chewy fruity sweetness. Hardly any wood notes, not even the vanilla of American oak, nor the tannins of European oak. This Colheita is all about being quiet. It’s quiet and calm, softly spoken. The quiet intelligent guy in the corner who would rather ready a book than party hard.

Taste: Quite thin on entry. Not very syrupy and the sweetness seems to be very well kept in check. Plenty of youthful vibrancy and acidity. Here it shows its winy character. The body is quite simple, very nice, but simple. This is a Colheita that is not about sweetness. Sure it has some sweetness to it, (dry honey, does that make sense?), but that is not the crux of the story this Port wants to tell. Nope, this is about fruit, little sweet forest strawberries, cherries (especially in the nose). Not overly ripe red fruits, but almost there. all in all, a rather short finish for such and “old” Port, or does the old age show its fragility here? By the way, the deeper notes I got from the nose are not here in the body of the taste, not even in the finish, although the tiniest hint of wood (bitter) does show itself along to some almonds. Nope, well into the fruity and acidic aftertaste some more of the darker notes briefly return to take a final bow to the lover of Port and kiss his or her lips for the final time.

Medium sweetness which is balanced out nicely by firm fruity acidity. Very friendly and likeable on entry, but lacking a bit of complexity and oomph in the body and finish, but a real winner on the nose! Master Quill’s top tip: take this in big gulps to enhance the aroma’s.

Points: 84

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 √≠s 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)

Foursquare 9yo Port Cask Finish (40%, R.L. Seale, Foursquare, Blend No. 162, Exceptional Cask Selection, 2014, Barbados

I had planned to open a bottle of Plantation St. Lucia Rum after I finished both the Plantation Jamaica and Guyana, but after the Doorly’s 12yo I reviewed last, I just had to open a bottle of the Port Cask Finish as well.¬†I just couldn’t help myself, I was so curious, especially after all the rave reviews. The St. Lucia just will have to wait a little longer. Port cask finish? The Rum is 9 years old, of which the “finish” took a whopping 6 years. The start was carried out in a Bourbon cask.

But first we have to get back to 1926. Back then, Reginald Leon Seale started the R.L. Seale & Co. Ltd. A company that is of interest to us since it was trading Rums. Sir David and now his son Richard are the Seale’s that also started distilling their own Rums in 1996 after they bought a defunct sugar factory a year earlier. Simply because it is better to trade Rum you made yourself, than constantly sourcing other Rum’s.

Although Foursquare is a Bajan Rum distillery, molasses are mainly imported from Guyana and the yeast used for fermentation is South-African. Foursquare Rums are blended from a pot still and a two (or three?) column stills. The copper pot still even has a copper column fitted on top, which looks funny for one that is used to Pot Stills with lyne arms on them.

ColoFoursquare Port Cask Finishr: Orange gold. A tiny fraction darker than the Doorly’s 12yo. No red hue.

Nose: Toffee and caramel. Fresh wood, sappy and spicy. A breeze across a dry grass field on a hot and silent summer’s day. Distant fruit (more red this time) and a definite winey note, with slightly burned wine cask notes). On top of the medium sweetness lies a nice acidic red fruit aroma which is different from the 10% Madeira (a sweet fortified white wine) you can find in Doorly’s 12yo. The fruit is redder. The is also a nice nuttiness and dustiness surrounding this Rum, which mixes well with the medium sweetness and (red) fruity acidity. This Rum isn’t about finding lots of aroma’s and complexity. No, this one shines because of its balance. Well constructed, but is a bit middle of the road. It does its best to be liked by everyone. Although the label is pretty anorak, it really is a Rum for everybody, hence the reduction to 40% ABV. Luckily this Rum can handle the reduction, at least on the nose.

Taste: Ahhh here is the greatness. Spicy Indian feel, Cinnamon and exotic wood. This reminds me a bit of an Amrut I reviewed last. It’s still Rum by the way. Even though six of the nine years this was matured, was spent in Port casks, it hasn’t become Port of even Port dominated, but obviously the Port impaired some nice flavours to the Rum. I recognize the nuttiness and the hint of glue from the 12yo (the 12yo has more glue). Wow, amazing balance between the sweet and the dry. It is actually more dry than sweet, influence of the wood of both casks, again a bit virgin oaky, but the wood doesn’t dominate here as it does in the 12yo. Slightly longer finish than the 12yo, but still not very long. The Port starts to really assert itself way into the aftertaste, with the wood of the cask it came in. Nice fruity acidity. Very accessible and extremely drinkable.

This one is younger than the Doorly’s 12yo and therefore less heavy on the wood aroma’s. It seems perfect. Enough to give it character and a backbone, but never dominating the spirit like in the Doorly’s 12yo. Having this, it’s nice to have the woody 12yo open next to it. Personally I don’t have a problem with the wood in the 12yo. It fits the profile Richard went for blending the 12yo.

Highly drinkable, and well made. Not as complex as I expected, but good nevertheless. Again a bottle that will be gone soon I fear. 40%, yeah all right, it will do, but I would prefer a higher ABV. I understand the next Exceptional Cask Selection, The Zinfandel finish is 43% ABV and there will be a Vintage 2004 that will be much higher. I can’t wait. Good stuff especially considering the price. Daily sippers (at 40% ABV), both the Port finish as well as the Doorly’s 12yo, which is a bit more chewy, woody and somewhat sweeter and imho a bit bolder. I did several H2H’s with both and sometimes it’s hard to pick a favorite. Both are equally good. On some days I prefer the 12yo, and on others I like the Port better.

Points: 83

Amrut Portonova (62.1%, OB, Batch 5, 2014)

Ahhh, another¬†Amrut. Nice. I had the pleasure to try some Amruts in the past and was very nicely surprised by the Intermediate Sherry (which I then bought) a Single PX Sherry¬†Cask #2699¬†(which I then bought) and the Kadhambam (which I have yet to buy). I also tried the “plain” cask strength version, and although pretty nice, I preferred the former ones. Now this Portonova crosses my path. This time a Port finished Amrut, and yes, I have high hopes for this one too…

Amrut Portonova Batch 5Color: Light orange gold. No typical Port pinkishness.

Nose: Although this has a huge ABV, this doesn’t leap out of the glass. Give it some time and some dust and cinnamon emerges. Wow. Cookie spices, dried plums and raisins. Exotic and Christmas in a bottle. Fresh air after rain. Creamy and soft¬†oak. Hot metal. Barley, but different from barley you get from (young) Scottish Whisky. Sweet milk chocolate and red fruit juice. Apart from this all, it has a sweet and deep feel. Exotic spices, curry, cardamom, but where is the Port? I already missed the pink hue, but I also miss its smell. Complex stuff this because there is even a lot more happening in the nose than what¬†I noted here.

Taste: Condensed red fruits. Thick, but initially simpler than the complex nose promised.¬†Obviously quite hot with this high¬†ABV. The wood¬†tastes more like paper and cardboard, than any kind of wood. Not a lot of the wealth of spices shine through on the palate, and that’s a shame. Its more a fruity Whisky with maybe some faint hints of Port. Vanilla comes next. With time if becomes more outspoken and creamy. Nice evolution though. Hints of banana in the aftertaste. Lovely.

First I have to air a disappointment. This would be a stellar malt if the spices from the nose were noticeable so more in the taste as well, without being overpowering of course. Missing the spices on the palate makes the taste of this Whisky a bit simpler than it could have been. Now that we have that out-of-the-way. The whole is still an utterly good Whisky. Very much recommended. An excellent winter warmer I would say. I will have to get me one of these soon.

Points: 88

Spey Tenn√© (46%, OB, Selected Edition, Tawny Port Cask Finish, 18.000 bottles)

The Speyside distillery was officially founded in 1976 by George Christie. Distillation was in George’s blood since he¬†used to be a… submarine captain, who probably missed the sound of trickling liquids.¬†Building of the distillery commenced already in 1962 and was finished in 1987. Lots of the building was done by George himself, so it took him¬†a while. We have to wait a further¬†three years for the first distillation. (December 1990), The spirit has to age for at least three years to be called a Whisky, so in 1993 the first Whisky was released under the name “Drumguish”,¬†from the name of the place the distillery was built. In 1999 the first Single Malt was released under the “Speyside” name, an 8yo. In 2012 the distillery which already changed hands a few times was sold to one of its clients. Harvey’s of Edinburgh. Harvey’s again changed the name of their Single Malt, calling it simply “Spey”.¬†In 2014 the new range was released, starting with this Tenn√©, but also a 12yo and a 18yo were released.

Spey TennéColor: Salmon, like a modern rosé wine from the south of France.

Nose: Extremely malty. It’s like holding the grain in your hand. This smell makes up most of the beginning of the nose. Given some time the Port starts to “work”. Initially a more glue like sensation which turns into an overly fruity and acidic distilled Port that is used to fortify Port. With even some more breathing, a hint of sweetness and wine gums come to the fore, combined with some rural or farmy notes. After that it tones down¬†and¬†gets more powdery with even a tiny hint of gunpowder. Stale beer in the finish but also some vanilla. Wine finishes can be pretty funky.

Taste: Pretty sweet, bitter oak and again malty. It comes in layers and in that particular¬†order. First a very friendly sweet candy like aroma, when that moves over,¬†the roof of your mouth¬†gets a bitter sap attack which evolves into a slightly toasted and oaky taste, mixed with sandalwood, (the Port probably did that), and licorice. Intertwined is the taste of malts. On top, a slightly acidic and fruity note, but¬†that’s it actually, not a lot more is happening. The ABV of 46% gives it some strength and some hotness for the finish.

This expression is said to be a minimum of¬†8 years old. It is an extremely malty and pretty simple Whisky. For me, the Port finish didn’t bring a lot of complexity to the mix. Just giving it a shift¬†in profile. Malty and simple, not bad, but also nothing to get overly exited about. Anonymous at best, except for the bottle itself. Looks very luxurious with its¬†beautiful tartan ribbon.

Having said all that, it’s a lovely distillery and I hope they will get better with every release.

Points: 73

Irish Whiskey Week ‚Äď Day 2: The Tyrconnell 10yo (46%, OB, Finished in Port Cask, Circa 2007)

Irish CloverWhy not¬†continue our Irish Whiskey Week with another Tyrconnell, but first¬†I’ll start with¬†my thoughts about finishing¬†Whisk(e)y in¬†casks that previously held(fortified) Wines.

I come from a time where every single cask that was released was good by itself, so when the first finishes emerged we were quite suspicious of them. Was the Original cask too tired to produce a well aged Whisk(e)y? Especially Port finishes were considered to be strange. The color turned slightly pink, and the Wine bit,¬†that leaped out of the glass was pretty harsh. Now that I (and Whisky makers) understand Port better we have learned that the best kind of Port for Whisk(e)y is Tawny (or Colheita or any other form of a Tawny, or oxidized Port, like old Whites). So today finishes have become more popular. I see a lot of people raving about different kind of Sauternes finishes, Marsala finishes, PX finishes and so on. On a more personal note. In the old days I found the odd Rum finish pretty pleasing, but it seems to me Rum isn’t a first choice from the industry anymore.

The Tyrconnell 10yo Port Cask FinishColor: Light copper gold

Nose: Strong and spicy. Malty and winey, but the winey bit isn’t overpowering the whole. It really is only an (balanced) addition. Adding something new to the Tyrconnell profile. Quite some creamy, wooden depth with licorice. Fresh cut oak. Earth and clay. Fresh butter. Good stuff. Spicy and powerful.

Taste: This packs a lot more punch at 46% ABV than the standard Tyrconnell. This version is also a lot more spicy and “older”. Cask toast and licorice, and¬†medium wooden bitterness. All kept in check. The body is well-balanced and creamy, but towards the finish¬†a sweet and slightly sharp and acidic winey note comes to the top, that also throws the Whiskey slightly off-balance. I also get some cardboard and bitterness¬†in the finish. It doesn’t take air so well, so drink up, don’t let it sit too long in your glass.

Since I have just recently tried the “normal” Tyrconnell, does this one resemble the other one? Well no, but that may not only be the Port finish. First of all, a huge difference is made by the 46% ABV. 6% more alcohol is quite a bit. Second, this version is 10yo, and may even hold older Whiskey in the mix. And yes there is some Port going on, but as I mentioned above, this is not overpowering. If you can get past the finish, it does resemble a Tyrconnell though, again a sign they didn’t overdo the Port. Definitely a step, or two, up from the standard version, but still it didn’t quite work for me. Still not a big fan of finishes I guess…

Points: 79