Thursday, 27 February 2014

Douglas Laing Big Peat

A Tasty Dram whisky blog tasting notes

Friendly cigar smoking and coffee slurping beardy fisherman.

In stores you always spot some blends that are literally screaming for your attention. The friendly beardy Big Peat is one of these with its informal and cartoonish label. He calls himself proudly an Islay blended malt shaped by whiskies from the Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and the former Port Ellen distillery.

The last statement should, however, be interpretated as a – in marketing slang – Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Douglas Laing combines young fiery Islay malts with the Hyacinth Bucket of whiskies.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Duvel Distilled 4 Years

A Tasty Dram whisky blog tasting notes

Naughty little devil

What happens when you transform a Belgian cult beer into a distilled beverage? Male mass hysteria? Check! What happens when the brewer decides to market only a very limited supply of bottles? Male mass hysteria? Double check!

The first Duvel Edition caused a stampede in a quiet little Belgian town. The whole event even jammed the traffic. Result: A lot of unsatisfied customers and some extra income for a few cunning eBayers (and eBay off course).

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Highland Park 18

A Tasty Dram whisky blog tasting notes

A cracker from the North

The much beloved (but expensive) Highland Park 18 year old single malt.

Identity Card Highland Park 18

  • Edrington Group
  • 18 years old
  • 43%
  • Orkney
Highland Park 18
Picture: The Whisky Exchange

Tasting notes

Color: The 18 year old has a warm copper glow and has slightly oily texture. Slow legs form on the side of the glass

Nose: Quite shy at first. Honey and heather flowers. He shows off his complexity at room temperature. Orange marmalade, leather and bread-pudding with raisins and nuts (and a splash of brandy).
With water: soft traces of tobacco smoke and sweet raisins. Then the sweetness gets countered by the bitterness of oranges and heathery scents.

Taste: Oranges with honey as a starter. Then sweet peat smoke, oak and strong coffee. Water releases the sweet aroma's. Honey, flowers and some fresh mint.

Finish: Sweet smoke evolves into a strong espresso with cane sugar.

Conclusion: This grown-up doesn't have an easy character. Give him some time to achieve his full potential and he'll reward you with a warming friendship.
This competition animal has already filled its cupboard with awards and deserves so. A great all-rounder and at it's best during winter.

Price: between €60 and €70. (That was long ago.... )

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Mortlach 1991 Signatory Vintage

A Tasty Dram whisky blog tasting notes

A beastly Spanish fury that'll set you on fire

Mortlach Distillery is one of the six active distilleries in Dufftown.  It was here that Glenfiddich's William Grant learnt the ropes of the trade for almost 20 years.

Just like Springbank they distill their spirit two and a halve times. Miss Whisky Alwynne Gwilt could have a look behind the scenes and explains knowledgeably  this process on her blog.

You will not find many official Mortlach bottlings apart from a few pricey Manager's Choice and the well known 16 year old Flora & Fauna. Most of the spirit is used to blend into Johnnie Walker Black label.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Port Charlotte The Peat Project

A Tasty Dram whisky blog tasting notes

Modernist black bean sauce 

Port Charlotte is Bruichladdich's attempt to recreate the 19th century style whiskies. In the absence of bottles or detailed tasting notes no one really knows the taste of this Victorian spirit. Our only hopes are a few vague descriptions in Alfred Barnard's 128 year old book "The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom" and the (almost) Steve Jobs-like guts of Master Distiller Jim McEwan. 

Identity Card Port Charlotte The Peat Project

  • Rémy-Cointreau 
  • NAS 
  • Alcohol: 46%

Tasting notes 

Color: This young whisky is a blend of several vintages and has a clear straw colour. Adding water creates a light haze. Completely normal as Bruichladdich does not chill-filter its whiskies.

Nose: A peaty punch of smokiness with a maritime character. Freshly ground Szechuan pepper and coarse sea salt. This classic table couple duels vanilla, maple syrup and Cinnamon. Flavours the Peat Project clearly inherits from its bourbon cask maturation. This flavour combo reminds me of the black bean sauce Asian restaurants serve with beef.

Taste: Creamy in the mouth. Pleasant peat smoke blends nicely with grounded black pepper and freshly cut grass. Lemon balm and peppermint clean and refresh your palate.

Finish: Maple syrup and sweet peat smoke dominate the mouth quite long.

Conclusion: The Peat Project is quite peaty (no shit!) and ticks off at 44 ppm. And this is by far the most easy one to order at your local bar. Unless you're willing to boast your knowledge of Gaelic and you desperately want to order a dram of ‘Eòrna Na h-Alba’ or a ‘Tro Na Linntean’ ... An affordable reincarnated piece of history: € 45.

The Peat Project will slowly disappear off the shelves since it has been replaced by a new expression: Port Charlotte Scottish Barley. Culinary note to myself: Try this one with a classic dish of oysters served with a splash of lime and pepper.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Highland Park Freya

A Tasty Dram whisky blog tasting notes

Coming home after a forest walk 

The Valhalla series were launched in 2012. This exclusive installment was inspired by the Norse gods that inhabit the endless halls of Valhalla. Highland Park strives for whiskies that reflect the character of these gods. First it was up to Thor, God of Thunder and son of Odin. Next was Loki, the treacherous shape shifter. 2014 will be the year of The Fair One. Freya, goddess of love and wisdom (Guess what... it's almost Valentines Day!). 

At this moment the first samples have been sent to the leading whisky bloggers. The world will meet Freya on a series of theme nights. And if we can rely on the previous Loki events, there will be spent some marketing budget. Recently a group of journalists was flown to Tromsø to enjoy Freya, under the mystical Aurora borealis, the northern light. According to legend, this eerily beautiful light is caused by the feathery cloak of Freya and the Valkyries. 

Identity Card Highland Park Freya

  • Edrington Group 
  • Highland Park Walhalla collection
  • 19.000 bottles 
  • 15 years 
  • Alcohol: 51.2%
Highland Park Freya Walhalla collecltion
Picture: The Whisky Exchange

Tasting notes 

Color: She's soft in colour. A soft golden glow and noticeable paler then its predecessors. 100% ex-bourbon casks are used for maturation. She seems to be lighter of texture also.

Nose: Plenty of vanilla when nosing this the first time. A delicious panna cotta with white chocolate and vanilla seeds. Eventually it evolves to a walk through the forest after a rainstorm. Lots of damp earthy and green notes. And you're having a glass of hot spiced wine. Eucalyptus and pine candy. Sweet nuts and citrus fruits. Mandarin and lime to me.

Taste: Very refreshing. Definitely another breed than Loki and Thor. Again eucalyptus, vanilla and mint. A juicy fruitiness. Oranges, Conference pears and green apples. On the back of the tongue there are traces of wood smoke and pepper. Finish: Quite long. Spicy but still soft. Apples and sweet cinnamon.

Conclusion Freya cannot be compared to the previous installments, but she's not less complex. A bit of an atypical Highland Park, but one that can proudly enter the halls of Valhalla.

 It has been available on pre-order for a few days (and already sold out on some websites). Soon to be released and available at specialised liquor stores. Price will be around €175 / £ 140.

Balblair 1997 2nd release

A Tasty Dram Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

A pleasant Cinnamon Challenge 

Balblair got a celebrity boost while it served as the setting for Ken Loach's typical feel-good-sunday-afternoon-movie The Angel's Share. Balblair isn't using age statements anymore since its rebranding in 2007. The – it has to be said – gorgeous bottles and ditto box only mention the year they were distilled and bottled. So one can still make an educated guess about the age. Balblair usually launches crisp and clear Vintages. This second release 1997 is not an exception and has a typical Chardonnay colour. 

Identity Kit Balblair 1997 2nd release

  • Inver House Distillers 
  • Distilled in 1997 & bottled in 2012 
  • Alcohol: 46% ABV

Tasting notes 

Nose: Coconut and ginger confit scents predominate the glass. A little honey and then lots of sweet fruits. Apricot, pineapple and some vanilla. Water puts the accent on cinnamon and crème pattisière. In the distance there's some white chocolate.

Taste: Spices and sweetness everywhere. Cinnamon, cloves and ground pepper sign up for the spices. Bananas and peaches for the fruitiness. Adding water sweetens it. Some vanilla pudding, dry oak and...  sweet spices (again).

Finish: Dry and spicy. A pleasant "Cinnamon Challenge". Conclusion: This Balblair leaves me with some mixed feelings. Do not get me wrong. It's a very nice malt. But he lacks a bit of complexity to me for a 15 year old whisky.

Price: somewhere between € 60 and € 70.

PS: Watch out while pouring a dram. The bottle is beautiful but is not the most user friendly. Don't spill any whisky! 

Bowmore 12

A southern sea breeze on a hot summer's night 

Bowmore was the first smoky Islay whisky I learned to love and still has a special place in my cabinet. 

Identity Kit Bowmore 12

  • Morrison Bowmore 
  • 12 years old 
  • Alcohol: 40% 
Bowmore 12
Picture: The Whisky Exchange

Tasting notes 

Color: The 12 year old Bowmore has a warm amber glow. It's a pity the color comes from the notorious E in whisky: E150.

Nose: At first there's honey, lemon and (off course) peat smoke. Then a flowery scent with some eucalyptus. I'm also discovering, very distant but it's there, after eight biscuits with chocolate and mint. Water enhances the flowers and honey. There's a development of lavender and heather. And some slumbering marzipan.

Taste: On the tongue there are oranges and again honey. Also some vanilla and freshly picked mint. Very subtle and soft maritime hints of coarse sea salt.

Finish: Soft and sweet peat smoke warms the mouth.

Conclusion: This 12 year old Bowmore is a pleasant introduction to peaty whiskies. The peat is nicely balanced by the other flavours to make it accessible for newbie peatheads. Didn't even cost € 35 and is available in most supermarkets and liquor stores.


Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2006

A Tasty Dram Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

Back to grandmother's kitchen 

Bere Barley is an 8000 year old barley variant. It probably ended up in Europe after a Viking invasion. Jim McEwan accepted the challenge to (have) the barley grown on Kynagarry Farm fields on Islay. Fields that hadn't been cultivated in the last 100 years. The result of all the hard work (Red deers were very keen on this 'exotic' treat – the Victorian mill wasn't that fond of it) was a chemical free harvest. 

Identity Kit Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2006

  • Rémy Cointreau 
  • Distilled in 2006, bottled 2012 
  • Alcohol: 50% ABV

Bruichladdich Bere Barley
Picture: The Whisky Exchange

Tasting notes 

Color: The pale yellow does not only reveal his age. It's also a clin d'oeuil to its provenance: a barley field on a summer day's.

Nose: A lot of of cereal and some citrus. Very clean and crisp and a little shy. But hey, who wasn't shy as a five-year old toddler. Let it breathe for a while. Water serves you some muesli with dried fruits (bananas and coconut) and a baked apple with brown sugar

Taste: The primary ingredient – barley – is the center of all things. Porridge with vanilla. Water sweetens the whisky. Kellogg's Frosties with golden syrup. Again some fresh citric notes. I'm thinking more of grapefruit in stead of limes. The bitterness of the grapes evolve in a soft oak flavour.
Finish: Quite short, dry and crisp. A summer's appetizer.

Conclusion: Interesting is the least you could say of this youngster. It tells you its story very slowly. True to his name, Bere Barley serves you mostly cereal aromas. Definitely worth looking out for. An interesting dram for those on a budget. Less than € 50. But he's getting rare these days (only 7650 bottles available on Planet Earth). Update: Bruichladdich launched a 2nd edition in 2013.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Highland Park Freya

Highland Park Freya
Thuiskomen na een boswandeling
De Valhalla reeks zag het levenslicht in 2012. Het zou een exclusieve reeks whisky’s worden, geïnspireerd op de Noorse goden. Highland Park maakt er een punt van dat de whisky het karakter van de god(in) moet weerspiegelen. Eerst waren twee godenkinderen, Thor en Loki, aan de beurt. 2014 zal in het teken staan van Freya, godin van liefde en wijsheid.

Op dit ogenblik worden de eerste samples de wereld ingestuurd en zal de whiskywereld ingepalmd worden met een reeks thema-avonden. Afgaande op wat er voor Loki werd georganiseerd, zal er een behoorlijk marketingbudget voor uitgetrokken worden.

Onlangs werd een groep journalisten overgevlogen naar Tromso om onder het mystieke Noorderlicht (Aurora borealis), dat volgens de legende veroorzaakt wordt door Freya’s verenmantel, een voorsmaakje te krijgen.


  • Highland Park Distillery, Kirkwall (Orkney)
  • Edrington Group
  • 19.000 flessen
  • Single malt 15 jaar oud
  • 51.2% alcohol
Uiterlijk: De 15-jarige Freya is zacht van kleur. Een gouden schijn en merkbaar lichter dan haar 2 voorgangers. Ze rijpte enkel op ex-bourbonvaten. De whisky kleeft alleszins quasi niet aan je glas. De voorbode van een lichte textuur?

Neus: De neus is betrekkelijk zacht. In eerste instantie veel vanilletoetsen. Een heerlijke panna cotta met witte chocolade en vanille. Om vervolgens te evolueren naar een boswandeling na een regenstorm. Met een glas warme kruidenwijn in de hand weliswaar. Veel frisgroene aroma’s van eucalyptussnoepjes en dennenboomgeur. Zoete noten en citrusvruchten. Mandarijn en citroen lijkt me.

Smaak: De smaak is even verfrissend en zacht. Ze is duidelijk uit een ander hout gesneden dan Loki en Thor. Opnieuw eucalyptus, vanille en munt. En dan wordt ze terug zeer fruitig. Sinaasappel, sappige Conferenceperen en groene appels. Achteraan op de tong duikt een spoortje rook en wat peper op.

Finish: De finish is betrekkelijk lang. Zacht en spicy tegelijk. Appels met kaneel.

Highland Park Freya

Freya is een totaal ander soort whisky dan haar voorgangers, maar daarom niet minder complex. Verfrissend zacht en zoet. Een beetje een atypische Highland Park maar wel eentje die trots het Valhalla kan betreden.

Hij is sinds een paar dagen te bestellen via een aantal websites (en hier en daar al uitverkocht). Binnenkort te verkrijgen in speciaalzaken. De prijs zal rond de € 175 schommelen.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Highland Park Secret Tweet Tasting

Friday 7th February 07:00 PM (GMT time) was marked with three coloured dots in my agenda. A rain soaked DHL courrier delivered a small parcel from Scotland only this morning and a certain Twitter hashtag was already trending....

Yep this was Highland Park's and The Whisky Wire's Secret Tweet Tasting!

Three whisky's only to be recognized by a coloured red, green and blue marking on the bottle. And all three had to be tasted within an hour. So I had to be blazing fast with my tasting notes. And normally I'm a slow turd in doing so.

Mystery Dram #1 - Blue

Color: Gold. Perhaps a hint of sherry?
Nose: Typical Highland Park heather flavours, freshly grated lemon, some maritime scents and a light smokiness. Also a fair bit of stewed fruits with sugar.
Taste: Sweet cinnamon and raisin pastries. Violet candy. And then... BOOM! Pepper, smoke, fresh espresso with a splash of cream. This looks like an 18YO on steroids to me. With water: delicious creamy salted caramel.
Finish: Warming to say the least. Very hot on the tongue. Vanilla, cinnamon and some cardamon.

And Mr. Blue was... Highland Park's Thor, 16 years old, 52.1% ABV, 23.000 bottles

Mystery Dram #2 - Red

Color: Gold. But not as intense as number one. 
Nose: A very light smokiness, golden syrup. Orange marmalade with a twist. Cranachan with (obviously) red fruits.
Taste: Creamy in the mouth. Lemon biscuits and a slight hint of fresh ginger. Also some gingerbread. A sandalwood cigar box stuffed with red fruit and biscuits. A lot more smoky than number one.
Finish: Coconut charcoal. Bananas on the barbecue with sugar, whipped cream and a splash of rum

And Mr. Red was... Highland Park's Loki, 15 years old, 48.7% ABV, 21.000 bottles

Mystery Dram #3 - Green

Color: Dark straw. The palest of the three 
Nose: A walk through the forest after a rain torrent with a glass of hot red wine in your hands. Some notes of eucalyptus candy and citrus. Mandarin and lemon. Orchard fruitiness.
Taste: Very refreshing. Again eucalyptus and some mint. Some oranges. Orchard fruit. Apples and pears.
Finish: Soft. Spicy but soft. More green apples.

And Mr. Green was... Miss Highland Park Freya 15 years old, 51.2% ABV, 19.000 bottles


I was a bit blown away by the speed things happened. No time to write or to raid the kitchen, sniffing all the spices and herbs available. But having these three great drams was an opportunity not to be missed. A big thanks to Daryl Haldane and Steve Rush for the generous samples. I still have some leftovers for a more extensive review.

And the winner of the evening was... Thor, the God of Thunder!


Highland Park Secret Tweet Tasting

The Whisky Wire Secret Tweet Tasting
Op speeddate met drie onbekenden uit het Noorden

Afgelopen week lag er een pakje met drie kleine flesjes en een enveloppe van Highland Park op te te wachten. Pas open te doen op 7 februari om 20u samen met een twintigtal andere Twitteraars.

Niemand wist wat er in de flesjes zat, maar velen hoopten dat de nieuwe Highland Park Freya er zou tussen zitten…

Mystery Dram #1 - Blauw

Kleur: Oud goud. De donkerste van het drietal.
Neus: De heidegeur die zo typisch is voor Highland Park. Versgeraspte citroen, maritieme toetsen met een lichte rokerigheid. En een flinke portie gestoofd fruit met suiker.
Smaak: Zoete kaneel en rozijnen. Verse koeken van bij de bakker en violetsnoepjes. Om vervolgens heftig lost te barsen. Peper, rook, verse espresso met een wolkje room. Dit lijkt wel een 18-jarige, maar dan op doping. Met water ontdek ik heerlijke toetsen van gezouten karamel.
Finish: Verwarmend is het minste wat je kan zeggen. Heet op de tong. Vanille, kaneel, wat kardemon. Al kruiden wat de klok slaat.

En Mr. Blue was… Highland Park Thor, 16 jaar, 52.1% ABV, 23.000 flessen

Highland Park Thor
#HPSecretTT dram 1

Mystery Dram #2 - Rood

Kleur: Goud. Iets minder intens dan nummer 1.
Neus: Een lichte rokerigheid, kandijsiroop. Sinaasappelmarmelade met een twist. Cranachan (Schots dessert met frambozen, slagroom en gekarameliseerde havermout).
Smaak: Romig in de mond. Citroentaart met wat versgeraspte gember. Peperkoek. Een sandelhouten sigarendoosje gevuld met rood fruit en granenkoekjes. Een pak rokeriger dan Thor.
Finish: Kokosnootbriketten. Banaan met slagroom en een scheut rum op de barbecue in aluminiumfolie.

En Mr. Red was… Highland Park Loki, 15 jaar oud, 48.7% ABV, 21.000 flessen

Highland Park Loki
#HPSecretTT dram 2

Mystery Dram #3 - Groen

Kleur: Strogeel. De lichtste van de drie.
Neus: Een boswandeling na een regenbui. Met een glas rode wijn in je hand. Panna cotta van witte chocolade met vanille. Toetsen van eucalyptussnoepjes en citrus. Mandarijn en citroen. Erg fruitig. Appels, peren en kersen.
Smaak: Zeer verfrissend. Opnieuw die eucaluptussnoepjes en wat munt. Gekonfijte sinaasappelsnoepjes. En terug de fruitigheid. Appels, sappige peren en banaan.
Finish: Zacht. Spicy en toch zacht. Voornamelijk groene appels en vanille. .

En Mr. Green was… Mevrouw Highland Park Freya 15 jaar, 51.2% ABV, 19.000 flessen.

Highland Park Freya
#HPSecretTT dram 3


Ik werd behoorlijk omvergeblazen door de snelheid van de tasting. Drie whisky’s in amper een uur was misschien net ietsje te snel. En dan te bedenken dat ik meestal een uur uittrek voor één whisky… Geen tijd om in de keuken rond te neuzen en alle kruiden af te snuffelen.
Maar de complete Valhalla reeks kunnen proeven was een niet te missen kans!

Dikke duim voor Darayl Haldane van Highland Park en Steve Rush van The Whisky Wire voor de genereuze samples. Er rest nog genoeg voor een uitgebreidere review van elk.

Oh ja, de winnaar van de avond was (voor mij althans)… Thor!

Balblair 1983

A Tasty Dram Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

Delicious Masala Chai served by a lady 

Color: The 1983 is a classic beauty. A soft copper glow and a syrupy texture.

Nose: Full of ripe tropical fruits. Banana, mango and pineapple caramelized with vanilla sugar. There’s also a hint of toasted oak, raisins and a subtle flower perfume.

Taste: An explosion of creamy tropical fruits and butterscotch or fudge. A full cream fusion with cloves, honey and cinnamon. Masala Chai tea in short. Water acts as a catalyst for the spices and balances the whisky with a soft oak bitterness.

Finish: Extremely long and creamy. Again this delicious butterscotch or toffee and vanilla pudding. 

Conclusion: Typical Balblair notes. The fruity and floral flavours are fully developed.


Balblair 2003

A Tasty Dram Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

Über-decent son-in-law 

Color: Maturation in (refill?) ex-bourbon casks expresses itself in a pale straw Chardonnay color.

Nose: Fresh citric notes, a Balblair signature. Lemon and mandarin peel. Honey sweetness and vanilla are developing into a meringue straight from the oven, butterscotch and sweet fruits. Pineapple and apricots. Adding water transforms the sweet aroma’s into fresh oak and winter spices (cinnamon, ginger and pepper).

Taste: The spices are ubiquitous. Bitter and soft oak, white pepper and Laos powder. The fruitiness is driven to the back and less sweeter. This reminds me more of oranges and grapefruits.

Finish: Short, powerful and spicy. A ginger-orange infusion to enjoy a cold winter evening.

Conclusion: Balblair 2003 is targeting an all-round audience with its sweet and spicy flavours. A dram to convince non-whisky lovers.

Balblair 2003
Picture: The Whisky Exchange


Balblair 1990 2nd release

A Tasty Dram Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

A tasty intruder 

Color: The 1990 matured for 21 years in ex-bourbon casks and had a 2 year finishing on Oloroso sherry butts. It has a rich amber color and forms long elegant tears on the side of the glass.

Nose: A rich nose of raisins, oranges and milk chocolate. Pim’s biscuits (Belgian chocolate biscuits with orange marmelade) and butterscotch. There’s also a lot of sweet spices and ‘peperkoek’ (breakfast cake made from rye, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar) with honey. Water unleashes red fruits. Strawberries and redcurrants ready to be picked on a hot summer’s day.

Taste: It is less sweet than the nose. I’m discovering mostly spices. Black pepper, nutmeg and cloves. Then oranges and chocolate. But this time it’s more like candied orange peel dipped in chocolate. Water emphasizes the bitterness of orange peel.

Finish: A long soft finish with oranges and an oily texture.

Conclusion: This 1990 Vintage is an atypical Balblair. The fresh and floral signature are replaced by complex sherry flavours. A short marriage with Oloroso butts gives it a unique character with notes of orange and chocolate.

Balblair 1990 2nd release
Picture: The Whisky Exchange


Belgian Owl Single Malt 3 Year old

A Tasty Dram Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae 

Color: Pale straw. A typical youngster that spent only three years on first-fill bourbon barrels.

Nose: The first nosing is quite tangy. Ginger and chili pepper are slapping you in the face. Vanilla ice cream with grated coconut and fresh figs or dates. Water makes it sweeter. Butterscotch candy is balanced by lemon zest.

Taste: Cereals with vanilla, coconut and banana. Also some rum raisin ice cream. The spiciness of chili pepper returns with a (not so good) hint of wet cardboard.

Finish: A dry finish with vanilla and ginger.

Conclusion: Young and 100% Belgian. It could be an ideal summer appetizer drink. Too bad of the wet cardboard aroma. But I will try a moe mature expression in the future.

Suntory Yamazaki 10 Year old

A Tasty Dram Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

Kohai on a mission 

Color: Soft amber.

Nose: At first green apples, vanilla and oak. Adding water releases fruity flavours: grapes, pineapple and a small touch of banana. It 's all combining very well with a hint of cinnamon.

Taste: I'm getting (again) green apple with some spices, ginger and oak. Water softens the apple and adds some unripe bananas and grapes. It even gets a little 'nutty'.

Finish: The spices warm your mouth for quite a while. There's some caramelized brown sugar that lingers in the back.

 Conclusion: A young whisky that shows already some character with his fruity flavours. This 10 year old is getting rare.


Glenmorangie 10 Year Old Original

A Tasty Dram Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

A walk through a flower field 

Color: pale straw.

Nose: Honey and heather flowers take the lead. Citrus and vanilla are also present. A very sweet and accessible dram. Adding water rewards you with peaches, ripe grapes and a bit of crème brulée.

Taste: Sweetness of honey, vanilla and floral accents. This reminds me of violets. Near the end I'm getting something nutty. Perhaps almonds. Water strengthens the floral and nutty flavours. There's also some lemon zest.

Finish: Quite short with a nutty after-taste. Like putting an almond immersed in honey in your mouth.

Conclusion: A typical Highlander. The sweetness and floral flavours make it very accessible.

Glenmorangie 10
Picture: The Whisky Exchange


Glenfiddich 12 Year old

A Tasty Dram Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

Decent single malt to lure neophytes 

Can one think of a more classic and widely available single malt scotch whisky than the Glenfiddich 12 year old?

Identity Card Glenfiddich 12

  • William Grant & Sons 
  • 12 years old 
  • 40% ABV
  • bottled: January 17, 2011

Glenfiddich 12
Picture: The Whisky Exchange

Color: Light gold

Nose: Vanilla and oak are dominating the glass. Water unleashes the fruitiness. I'm thinking of cooking pears and green apples.

Taste: Not many surprises here. Once again an overdose of vanilla. With a bit of effort you'll discover some coconut and apples. Quite a nice balance but anything but breathtaking.

Finish: Short and dry. Exactly what you're expecting from an appetizer.

Conclusion: A more than decent product. Classy bottle design, nicely balanced flavors and beautiful in its simplicity. And yet that's what makes this dram a bit boring. Or is it just my natural preference for the underdog (read: smaller scale distilleries) manifesting itself...


Springbank 10 Year old

A Tasty Dram Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

A chili preserved in vinegar

Color: Copper

Nose: Soft and sweet peat smoke are balanced by citrus and vanilla. Adding water is like opening a spice drawer and there's a leftover of dried sausage hidden in it somewhere. Among the spices are nutmeg, clove and some cinnamon.

Taste: Spices are everywhere ! Pepper shakes you awake. I'm thinking of a chili preserved in vinegar. With water it gets a bit sweeter. Vanilla and raisins. At the end there's a little bit of sea salt on the tongue. Three primary tastes in one dram: sweet, tangy and salt.

Finish: Pepper and salt are struggling for attention. And the third dog ? Sweetness of raisins.

Conclusion: Quite a little character with a rich tradition. Fruity sweetness, a little bit of salt, deliciously hot and pleasantly smoky. Quite complex for a ten year-old.

Springbank 10
Picture: The Whisky Exchange


Suntory Hakushu Bourbon Barrel

A Tasty Dram Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

A hand carved oak fruit bowl 

Color: gold

Nose: A hand carved oak fruit bowl, full of tropical fruits. Think of pineapple and coconut. Water adds bananas, citrus and melons. And off course some oak and vanilla. You'll discover even a bit of white pepper.

Taste: Due to the ABV it is quite hot on the tongue. Yet the fruity flavors give it a fresh body. Green (sour) apples and bananas. And once again some melon and pineapple. At the end a faint hint of smoke. Finish: Short and crispy, like you've just had a bite of a Granny Smith apple.

Conclusion: A typical summertime dram from our Japanese friends. Fresh and fruity. It does not come with an age statement, though it is quite expensive. Count € 80 - €90. The 2013 edition is even more expensive. €110 aproximately.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Auchentoshan Valinch 2012 Release

A Tasty Dram Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

Crème brûlée on steroids 

Color: warm yellow Nose: Crème brûlée and some brown sugar. Despite the high ABV it has a very soft nose. Water reveals something flowery and orange zest.

Taste: Again sweetness of vanilla pudding with orange zest topping. Near the end you'll find some caramelised almonds.

Finish: Nutty and creamy

Conclusion: A dram for people with a sweet tooth or those who are on a budget. A decent introduction to Auchentoshan and a very affordable cask strength.

Auchentoshan Valinch 2012
Picture: The Whisky Exchange


Tullamore Dew

A Tasty Dram Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

An appetiser for the kitchen 

Color: pale straw

Nose: Soft vanilla with traces of anise. After a while you'll discover some overripe mandarines. Water reveals some oaky notes.

Taste: Again some vanilla and on the back of the tonque some cocoa. Finish: Quite short and dry. 

Conclusion: A quite simplistic dram. Nothing too fancy, but a great appetiser excellent for use in the kitchen.
Tullamore DEW
Picture: The Whisky Exchange