Sunday, 27 May 2018

Port Charlotte 10 (2018)

Tasting notes Port Charlotte 10 (2018)

The new Port Charlotte 10 is Bruichladdich's third iteration - or fourth, if you count the collectible PC10 too - of the popular heavily peated 10-year-old Port Charlotte. This edition marks a departure from the iconic minimalistic Laddie bottle. Port Charlotte has now its own distinctive dark green - a popular colour on Islay - steampunk apothecary-style bottle. Looks like Bruichladdich is working towards a unique identity for each of its subbrands Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore.

Bruichladdich's Feis Ile festivities focus on their heavily peated brand Port Charlotte. Their special Open Day Whisky is called The Heretic. The Laddie team married the last five remaining casks of Port Charlotte spirit. Hence its name "The Last of the First". Trivia Time: Did you know the very first spirit run at Bruichladdich after it reopened was heavily peated new make destined to become Port Charlotte whisky?

Bruichladdich Feis Ile whisky Port Charlotte The Heretic 2001
Picture: Bruichladdich

Back to that regular Port Charlotte 10 single malt, which will replace the multivintage and highly transparent Scottish Barley expression. Things are still rolling out as we speak, but I suspect we will be getting more details about it after the Feis Frenzy.

And in the mean time, I'll have a sip of the new kid on the block and give you my tasting notes.

Identity Card Port Charlotte 10

Port Charlotte 10
  • Official bottling from Bruichladdich Distillery, Lochindaal (Islay)
  • 10 year old single malt
  • Vatting of first-fill American oak, refill American oak, refill French wine casks
  • Alcohol: 50% ABV

Tasting notes

Colour: Straw yellow with a golden hue. White port perhaps? With water things get very cloudy.

Nose: Sweet rubber and aniseed notes. Fennel seeds. Nougat and nuts. Greek rose liqueur. Citrus smoke coming from an antique apothecary's cabinet. Tangerines, smoked salt and marzipan.
With water: A handful of sweets. English wine gums, vanilla and liquorice. Some wood flavours. Melon, golden syrup and salted caramel. A slightly metallic note.

Taste: A peppery start transforms into a silky soft mouth texture. Smoked pears and almonds. A bitter Belgian tripel beer with spices. Clove, bay leaf and rose petals.
With water: Vanilla, pepper and sand cookies. Melon. Coconut on the barbecue. Tobacco smoke. Toasted brioche buns with coconut fat. Milk chocolate and figs.

Finish: Warm and drying on the tongue. Toasted nuts with coconut oil and traces of old red wine.

Port Charlotte 10 (2018)

Damn! The team at Bruichladdich nails it every time. The new Port Charlotte 10 looks great and tastes great. The bottle size has been reduced, but the flavours haven't.  Smoky, sweet, sour, salty and bitter. It's all there. A well-balanced smoky Victorian steampunk beast. There's no need to put it side by side with the second edition of the Port Charlotte Ten and the Port Charlotte Scottish Barley, as I did. It truly is Port Charlotte from the first sniff.

The DNA literally jumps out of the bottle when the cork is popped. And probably some liquid too. The short bottle neck may cause you to spill a few drops so make sure to pop the cork gently and pour a generous measure the first time.

Sample disclosure: A sample was offered by Bruichladdich. Opinions expressed in this review are of course my own. In this case my opinion might be a bit biased, but that's due to me being a fan of Bruichladdich and has nothing to do with free samples.


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    Friday, 25 May 2018

    Sunday, 20 May 2018

    Ben Nevis 10

    Tasting notes Ben Nevis 10

    The Ben Nevis distillery lies in the shadow of one of Scotland’s highest mountains and carries the same name. Its whiskies often overlooked, its new make spirit often shipped to Japan to be bottled as overpriced Japanese whisky. Ben Nevis produces blends and single malt whiskies. It is one the very few brands once producing a single blend, since they had both pot stills and coffey stills at the distillery. The pinnacle of this feat is a 40 year old “blended at birth” single blend in 2015.

    The 10-year-old single malt, first introduced in 1996, still looks like it was teleported from the 1960’s, even after its 2017 redesign. The contemporary bottle shape is a clear hint to its current owner, Nikka.
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    Friday, 18 May 2018

    Catching Up on Friday (18 May 2018)

    Catching Up on Friday (18 May 2018)

    I'll try to get you up to speed in less then two minutes on the latest whisky news, rumours and interesting blog posts from the past week.

    News

    A brief summary of press releases and industry news from the world of whisky.

    Douglas Laing Scallywag 10

    Douglas Laing celebrates its 10 "dog years" in the whisky business with a special Scallywag. The proud fox terrier-themed Speyside blended malt is a vatting of 100% sherry matured whiskies. Scallywag at “70” is well-bred with great pedigree from a long line of wire haired Fox Terriers owned and loved by the Douglas Laing family.

    Source: Press release Douglas Laing

    Royal Salute Royal Wedding

    Pernod Ricard is celebrating the upcoming royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The Royal Salute Royal Wedding whisky is an exclusive blended malt containing some of the oldest and rarest whiskies, presented in a Darlington crystal decanter. The price tag is is fairly royal with it's £10.000.

    Source: The Spirits Business

    Suntory discontinues Hibiki 17 and Hakushu 12

    Japanese whisky producer Suntory will stop selling the 17-year-old Hibiki blend and the 12-year old Hakushu single malt in certain markets. The supply constraints forces the company to temporarily discontinue the sales. At the same time Suntory invests heavily in its production facilities to meet the demand. Patience is the answer.

    Hibiki 17
    Picture: The Whisky Exchange
    Hakushu 12
    Picture: Suntory

    Rumours

    Some exciting whispers we heard through the barley. True or not.

    Johnnie Walker White Walker


    The White Walker isn't a rumour anymore but the label art discloses a few details on the GoT-whisky. The heart of the whisky consists of Clynelish and Cardhu single malts. The chill-filtering, often seen as a flavour-depriving element, is a selling point and should be served directly from the freezer. Dalwhinnie Winter's Gold USP's applied to Johnnie Walker in short. But no doubt the Game of Thrones fans will absolutely love the whisky.


    Source: Colas Online

    Interesting reads, seas and hears


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    Sunday, 13 May 2018

    Port Charlotte 2005 cask #0013


    Port Charlotte 2005 cask #0013

    Bruichladdich announced earlier this week they would be rebranding and restructuring its Port Charlotte brand. The iconic Laddiebottle disappears and is replaced by some sort of dumpy green bottle. The 10YO will become a permanent expression and a Bordeaux cask matured single malt is planned for October. Bordeaux cask you say? Wasn't there a bordeaux cask in one of the #LaddieMP's?

    #LaddieMP5 microprovenance digital tasting
    Image: Bruichladdich

    This cask  #00013 sample may very well lie at the base of the code named MRC:01 single malt. Bruichladdich distillery has some exceptional wine casks from the big chateaus in their warehouses, courtesy of former wine merchant and Bruichladdich CEO Mark Reynier. Great casks and great spirit can only give great whisky.

    Let's prepare our taste buds for the upcoming MRC:01 with this sample from cask #0013.


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    Friday, 11 May 2018

    Thursday, 10 May 2018

    Bruichladdich gives its Port Charlotte brand a new look

    Bruichladdich gives its Port Charlotte brand a new look

    It appears that Bruichladdich is about to give its Port Charlotte packaging, a heavily peated single malt, an update. The most striking element is a completely new bottle in dark green glass (the green is said to represent the natural beauty of the island). The timeless typography and the tube remain unchanged as far as I can see.

    The first two releases are the 10 year old Port Charlotte and a 2011 Islay Barley Vintage.  The latter one will be a replacement for the Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2008. The 10-year-old is said to replace the Port Charlotte Sottish Barley. In autumn 2018, two more bottles will be added to the range. MRC:01 and MC:01. The first one is a 2010 vintage single malt aged in Bordeaux (or claret) casks and bottled at 59.2% ABV. The second one is a 2009 vintage whisky aged in marsala casks.

    Let's have a look at the new bottles!

    Port Charlotte 10

    • 100% Scottish barley
    • 10-year-old single malt
    • Available in 70cl and 1 litre bottles
    • Alcohol: 50% ABV
    • Available in June 2018


    Port Charlotte 10

    Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2011

    • 100 Islay barley from three farms: Dunlossit farm, Sunderland farm & Kilchiaran farm
    • Alcohol: 50% ABV
    • Available in June 2018

    Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2011

    Port Charlotte MRC:01

    • 100% Scottish barley
    • Vintage 2010 single malt
    • Matured in bordeaux casks
    • Alcohol: 59.2% ABV
    • Available in October 2018

    Port Charlotte MC:01

    • 100% Scottish barley
    • Vintage 2009 single malt
    • Matured in marsala casks
    • Alcohol: 56.3% ABV
    • Available in October 2018

    Source: Press release Bruichladdich
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    Sunday, 6 May 2018

    Tamdhu Dalbeallie Dram

    Tamdhu Dalbeallie Dram


    Tamdhu's Spirit of Speyside festival whisky was created in honour of the Dalbeallie Railway station. The Strathspey rail road played an important role in the development of the distilleries in the Speyside region. The Knockando Station, originally called Dalbeallie, has been restored as part of the Tamdhu Distillery Visitor Centre.

    The festival whisky matured exclusively in oloroso sherry casks. Tamdhu plans to release this limited edition on an annual basis during the Spirit of Speyside  festival. 1.000 bottles are made available during the 2018 festival for around £90. The whisky comes in the trademark Tamdhu bottle and the packaging reflects the dark natural colour of the Tamdhu single malt.

    Identity Card Tamdhu Dalbeallie Dram

    Tamdhu Dalbeallie Dram

    • Tamdhu Distillery, Knockando (Speyside)
    • NAS single malt
    • Exlusively matured in oloroso sherry casks from European oak
    • Un-chillfiltered and natural colour
    • 1.000 bottles
    • Alcohol: 62.1% ABV
    • Price: £90 - Distillery only (although it seems to be available through the webshop)

    Colour: Dark gold with a copper hue. The oloroso casks left their mark on the liquid.

    Nose: Sherry bomb alert! Cinnamon, blueberries, wine gums. Cough drops and sugar syrup. (In Belgium we would call them Wycam's). Raisins steeped in rum and calvados. A fair dose of tobacco and Coke . Wood, plums and leather mingle with cherries and red apple.
    With water there are two main routes. One is a more fruity road. Think pomegranate, fresh fig jam. The other route is a bit more funky with aromas of old, dusty books mixed and pickled daikon. But it works like a charm.

    Taste: The start is rather spicy with notes of clove and pink peppercorns. Some juicy wood and red fruit. The second act is played by raisins and dates. Cinnamon, jam and gingerbread. Everything you'll ever want from a good sherry casks.
    With water the sweetness is totally unleashed. Pomegranate juice and sweet malt with banana. A nice silky texture.

    Finish: A dry malty finale with leather and spices yet it evolves towards some silky sweet-sour notes.

    Tamdhu Dalbeallie Dram



    Tamdhu's Spirit of Speyside festival whisky bears every signature mark. A high octane sherry bomb. You will need to give it some time and a drop of water but it's a classic meditation dram. Spend the whole night with one or two glasses. Nose it, put it away, nose it again, take a sip, add a drop of water and repeat the whole procedure.


    Sample Disclosure: A sample of the Tamdhu Dalbeallie Dram was sent out by Tamdhu for a Tweet Tasting with The Whisky Wire.
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    Friday, 4 May 2018

    Catching Up on Friday (4 May 2018)

    Catching Up on Friday (4 May 2018)

    I'll try to get you up to speed in less then two minutes on the latest whisky news, rumours and interesting blog posts from the past week. And by the way: Happy Star Wars Day for those fellow geeky whisky nerds out there!
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    Sunday, 29 April 2018

    Wemyss Malts Nectar Grove

    Tasting notes Wemyss Malts Nectar Grove

    Madeira isn’t often seen as a maturation or finishing vessel for whisky. Only once in a while you’ll encounter an ACE’d single malt or a whisky that fully matured in madeira casks. Kilchoman had a Madeira expression in 2015. Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Benriach and Arran had one or two expressions. And now Wemyss Malts finished a Highland blended malt in madeira casks.

    Madeira is a fortified wine that most of us only know as a sweet syrupy or the cooking grade version. Trivia: Did you know that most of those cooking grade madeiras are preseasoned with salt and pepper and aren't meant to be consumed as a drink?

    Madeira wine was very popular in the 17th and 18th century. It was used to toast the Declaration of Independence of the United States. The mid-19th century was almost fatal to the wine. The phylloxera  epidemic that plagued France reached the island and the end of the 19th century most vineyards were converted to sugar cane production. There’s a variety of styles unknown to most people to be discovered. Unless you’re a wine buff, but I’ll assume you don't need to read this humble and mediocre blog.

    Madeira Canteira maturation
    Picture: CC BY-SA 2.0 de
    Let’s start with the basics. Madeira is a fortified wine made on the Portuguese island of Madeira. It is perhaps the second most famous export product of the Islands. Brilliant yet slightly arrogant (opinions may vary) football player Christiano Ronald being the best known.The styles range from dry wines to be served as an aperitif to sweet sticky dessert wines. And then there’s the cooking grade stuff that isn’t fit as a beverage.

    Madeira as a wine style was discovered by accident. Back in the 15th century the island was an important port for ships heading to the East Indies. To prevent the wine from spoiling on a long sea trip, a neutral grape or sugar spirit was added. When an unsold shipment of wine returned to the island, merchants discovered that the sea voyage had changed the flavour profile. Exposure to tropical heat and bouncing up and down on the sea waves were the key factors to improve the wine. Some people would probably argue that the casks breathed in some salty sea air too.

    Since sending off a ship with casks of wine to expose it to heat and movement wasn’t very viable from a business point of view, Madeira wine makers tried to mimic the heat exposure by modifying the aging process, also known as the estufagem.

    The most common method, Cuba de Calor, involves heating the wine by placing it in a stainless steel vat and heating via a serpentine method. Water at a temperature between 45° and 50° Celsius is run through the serpentine system for at least three months. After the heating process the wine is laid to rest (estagio in Portuguese wine geek speak) for 90 days.

    The most straight forward process, Canteiro, is storing casks of Madeira in warm storage rooms such as attics and leave them to age by sun heat. The maturation takes more time. Some winemakers claim to have Madeira that matured a century.

    The third estufagem method Armazém de Calor can be described as storing the wine in large wooden casks in a room with steam producing tanks. The length of the process varies from 6 months to a year.

    The four major styles of madeira are synonymous to the white grape varieties used to make the wine. Sercial is a dry and pale wine with almond flavours and a high acidity. Verdelho is a less dry and is characterised by some smoky notes. Bual or Boal is a dark wine with raisin flavours. The last one, Malvasia is known for its dark colour and coffee-caramel flavours. A fairly high acidity prevents the wine from being overly sweet.

    The wine labels can give you some clues on the age of the wine. Let's summarise the most common terms. Reserve: Wine that is at least 5 years old, the minimum amount of of aging for wines with at least 85% of the four main grape varieties. Special Reserve: Wines of 10 years old, often matured without artificial heat source (Canteiro). Colheita: Wines from a single vintage between 5 and 19 years old before being bottled. Frasqueira: Wines that aged at least 19 years in a cask and one year in the bottle before being sold. Finest: Wines of at least three years old. This is usually cooking grade wine.

    But we digressed a little bit so let's return to Nectar Grove. The whisky itself is a Highland blended malt that got a finish in Madeira casks. For the moment there isn't any info on the Madeira wines nor the wineries providing the casks. It is the first of the blended malts from Wemyss Malts with a specific cask finish. The colourful packaging was inspired by Portuguese ceramics and the name refers to the nickname of Madeira: The Flower Island.

    Identity Card Wemyss Malts Nectar Grove

    Wemyss Malts Nevar Grove
    • Wemyss Malts blended malt
    • NAS Highland blended malt
    • Finished in Madeira wine casks
    • 9.000 bottles - £43.95
    • Alcohol: 46% ABV

    Tasting Notes

    Looks: Clear gold with a slightly oily texture. Swirling reveals fast legs.

    Nose: The nose is fairly unique. An abundance of sweet aromas. Honey, flowers, peaches and cherries. And quite grainy too. Breakfast muesli with milk chocolate, cinnamon and raisins. Rum-raisin and butterscotch ice cream. Sweet cantaloupe melon.
    With water there's more freshness. Orange and melons.

    Taste: The start is robust and spicy. Pepper, clove and green apple peel. More sweetness from honey and pears. A touch of chocolate and banana. I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of the Highland whiskies matured in ex-bourbon casks before being transferred to Madeira casks. Lots of wood and nutty flavours. Hazelnut and chestnut. Bitter orange peel brings balance to the whisky.
    With water there's a meaty evolution. A vintage starter: Prosciutto wrapped around melon. Nuts, pears and vanilla.

    Finish: A nutty aftertaste. Melon, nectarine or peach and grapes.

    Wemyss Malts Nectar Grove official sample

    Wemyss Malt's Velvet Fig is often used as a reference when it comes to blended malts. I wouldn't make a bold statement such as "move over Velvet Fig", but Nectar Grove comes really close to it. The fresh and fruity notes giving it the quality of a summer dram that can be enjoyed on its own or even in a fruity Cobbler cocktail. I still have a small measure left, so I might be trying one Cobbler recipe. Quite a challenge given the number of recipes Google spawns... I'm open to suggestions!

    Sample disclosure: A sample of Nectar Grove was provided by Wemyss Malts.
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