Isle of Jura Boutique Barrels 1993 Sherry JI Finish (Official Bottling)

Isle of Jura 1993 Sherry JI

Isle of Jura Boutique Barrels 1993 Sherry JI Finish (Official Bottling)

54% ABV, £78.65 for 70cl available from The Whisky Exchange

Score 87/100

What they say:

Isle of Jura Boutique Barrels

jura_BB-bottles_jpeg

The word ‘Boutique’ evokes a small but special space filled with an assortment of fine and beautiful things (clothes, trinkets, whiskies). The kind of things you simply can’t find anywhere else – especially not in a high street chain.

It’s with this ethos in mind that Isle of Jura have named their new series ‘Boutique Barrels’.  The idea was to create a range of very special single malts for whisky enthusiasts, making bespoke single cask bottlings available to consumers without the fuss of fancy packaging to distract from the spirit (a laudable goal if ever there was one).  At the same time, the range gives the distillery the opportunity to show off what their spirit is capable, by making available some of its more special casks, hand-picked over a period of five years by the Master Distiller.

The Isle of Jura Boutique Barrels are all vintage single cask bottlings (rare enough in itself for this distillery), and have been bottled at full strength without chill-filtration – in short, the goal has been to preserve the natural elements of the spirit for whisky aficionados and connoisseurs to appreciate.

The initial selection for the Boutique Barrels range is a trio of single casks from different vintages and maturation styles.

This Jura 1993 is part of the distillery’s ‘Boutique Barrels’ series of single casks, bottled at full cask strength. This ‘Sherry Ji’ edition has been finished in Oloroso sherry butts.

Isle of Jura 1993 Sherry JI

• A sensual delight
• A subtle array of flavours; warm deeply mature and inviting
• A mouth-watering collection of flavours that only an island and a unique Oloroso Sherry cask can bring
• Rich citrus marmalade, crushed almonds, spicy ginger and roasted coffee
THE CASK
• Drawn from the richness of the finest cask to complete this masterpiece
• Matured in American white oak from 1993 until 2002 at the Jura distillery
• Re-racked in 2002 into Oloroso Pasada Sherry Butts from Gonzalez Byass in Spain – which nurtured and tamed this island malt to perfection

What I say:

An interesting Jura expression, purchased because you don’t often come across unusually matured Jura (well no more so than there ambiguous core range and travel exclusives). A distillery that seems to have embraced NAS a long time before it was contentious, and even before it was new and cool. Jura were producing expressions that either gave no age statement or were constructed from mixed aged whiskies – their range was much more based around hitting very different flavour profiles. For their boutique barrel range they seem to have come back to the mainstream wisdom by releasing specific year vintages finished in well-defined casks. I had to go for the Sherry option, there really wasn’t a choice! I find Jura very drinkable in most of their expressions and I love Sherry matured/finished whiskies too. Here’s what we thought…

Colour:

Blood orange ruby

Nose:

Leather, lots of leather and tinges of rubber typical of sherry maturation, toffee, some fruity elements and cocoa or sweetened coffee (Latte or something similar)

Taste:

Warming, smooth, fruity, new and old leather, cocoa and chocolate, nutty almond, hazelnut, plum, fig and prunes

Finish:

Medium/long, sweet, fruity and earthy

Would I buy it:

Hell yes! This is simply delicious, a stunning Jura expression, I was worried about the more than faint rubbery hints on the nose – often evidence that the sherry cask has added sulphuric notes back into the whisky which can be overwhelmingly acrid and distasteful. Not on this occasion however the palate serves up a smorgasbord of flavours I just love and which compliment each other immensely. This is a whisky to sip in an old leather armchair while you munch on some fine nutty chocolate and mull over your dram and a good book after dinner.

Ardbeg Blasda (Official Bottling)

Ardbeg Blasda

Ardbeg Blasda (Official Bottling)

40% ABV, £170 for 70cl

Score: 75/100

Ardbeg Blasda

What they say:

We all know Ardbeg packs a peaty punch, but if you remove some of that peat, can Ardbeg still retain its perfect balance? The mind bog-gling answer is “yes”! By taming our usual mighty peating levels we created Blasda, peated to an average of just 8 parts per million phenol (8ppm) compared to the more usual 24ppm. Blasda is still perfectly balanced, but light, sweet and delicious.

Aroma

Deliciously sweet and refreshing. On first nosing, the aroma is reminiscent of baked banoffie pie and roast chestnuts. On further nosing, cloves, pine cones and fresh mint rise from the glass, softened by creamy vanilla custard. A tingle of lemon and lime marmalade cuts through the vanilla with spiced pears followed by a breath of menthol and sea salt. Deep ripe fruits fuse with almond and vanilla.

With water, the sweet effervescence of sherbet vanilla and chocolate limes burst from the liquid. A bouquet of scented violet, narcissus and chrysanthemum bring a sparkling ethereal fragrance. Cured ham with a dusting of white pepper and cinnamon is served with gentle smoked fish and green peppers, with a sprig of leafy mint on top.

Taste

Refreshing, silky and creamy to the palate, the initial sip is sweet with a mixture of sugared almonds, marzipan and hints of dried fruits. Gentle peat oils well up on the palate, remaining soft, clean and dry with a dusting of powdery parma violets. Tangy lemon juice and orange rind freshen the palate with a gentle fizz. Later tingling spices and creamy cappuccino bring a gentle warmth.

Finish

The finish is medium in length and tingly with a refreshing balance of chrysanthemum tea, clean lemon zest, creamy vanilla and hints of cinnamon spiced apple.

What I say:

During our recent society trip to Islay we of course stopped by Ardbeg distillery for lunch and a wee tour culminating in collecting a whole bunch of Ardbeg samples which due to time constraints we had to load onto the bus as we sped on to Laphroaig. Later that evening back in the hostel in Port Charlotte we got a chance to work our way through some of these samples. Naturally the first being the un-peated Blasda, tasted before all the others which were more typical of the heavily peated Ardbeg style.

Colour:

Very pale straw gold, light tears

Nose:

Strong malt, slightly lactic, savoury sweetness, iodine and seaweed (Nori), sesame seeds

Taste:

Light, creamy and oily, cereal, hay, lightly oaked, nutty hazelnut and almond, gentle earthen quality, copper, vanilla cream/custard – hints of crème brulee

Finish:

Medium/short, malty and slightly lactic

Would I buy it:

My overall opinion of Ardbeg’s “lightly-peated” expression was that it was composed of nothing in extremes. Not particularly impressive I likened this to the Caol Ila Stitchell Reserve in that it seems to be lacking something (peat!) and in so doing reveals a whole host of jarring, unappealing flavours that didn’t float my boat. If you fail to like Ardbeg because of the peat, this 8ppm expression is unlikely to win you over.

Mortlach 22 Years Old 1989 [Cask 3926] (Mackillops Choice)

Mortlach 22yo 1989 Mackillops

Mortlach 22 Years Old 1989 [Cask 3926] (Mackillops Choice)

54.9% ABV, £110 for 70cl

Score: 90/100

mortlach-22-year-old-1989-cask-3926-mackillops-choice-whisky

What they say:

A cask strength sherry-matured Mortlach from MacKillop’s Choice. This was distilled on the 1st September 1989 and aged for 22 years in cask 3926 before bottling in March of 2012. Each bottle is individually numbered.

What I say:

The conclusion (temporarily) of our recent libations through some Indie bottled Mortlach’s. I’m sure before too long I’ll discover plenty more and try those too… Anyway lets end on a high!

Colour:

Pale gold

Nose:

Crisp mint and fresh green apple, toffee and honey sweetness, greengages, honeydew melon, oaky wood and cereal barley malt can also be discovered in the depths of the glass

Taste:

Buttery in texture with cinnamon spice and lime zest fizz initially, this mellows into a fruity citrus with green apples and a good measure of ginger, toffee, hints of cocoa and a little salted caramel

Finish:

Heart warming and spirit/vaporous, sweet with a citric edge

Would I buy it:

I could be tempted though I’d consider £100 possibly as an upper limit for a single bottle of whisky; perhaps if really treating myself I could excuse this purchase! What a dram though, this one required a little time to breathe in the glass and became sweeter and creamier with air, but still awarded it a full 90 points on our scale – possibly the best whisky (bang per buck) of 2014 so far…

Mortlach 20 Years Old 1990 [Cask 6069] Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

mortlach-20-year-old-1990-cask-6069-cask-strength-collection-signatory-whisky

Mortlach 20 Years Old 1990 [Cask 6069] Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

57.9% ABV, £75 for 70cl

Score: 85/100

mortlach-20-year-old-1990-cask-6069-cask-strength-collection-signatory-whisky

What they say:

This was distilled at Mortlach on the 17th September 1990 and it was aged in refill sherry butt number 6069 for 20 years before bottling on the 18th January 2011. A release of 521 numbered decanter bottles from Signatory.

What I say:

Continuing on the Mortlach theme, here is a 20 year old cask strength expression bottled by Signatory.

Colour:

Russet/amber gold

Nose:

Fruity figs, plums, sherry, leather, slightly minty

Taste:

Initially warming and slightly spicy, oak wood, old leather and mint tinged with walnut, fruity plum, raisins and hints of cinnamon, liquorice or anise – definitely something herbal

Finish:

Relatively short, fruity and sweet

Would I buy it:

Again another great Indie bottling of Mortlach, mildly complex but incorporates lots of subtly synergistic flavours that evolve as you breathe or taste this expression. On serial dramming I suspected that some of the colour and flavour may have been enhanced by a little over-charring of the cask, plus there was still a lot of sherry influence coming through despite it being from a refill cask? Either way simply delicious! Again my recommendation would be to snap this one up if there is any left!

Mortlach 18 Years Old 1995 – Strictly Limited (Càrn Mòr)

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Mortlach 18 Years Old 1995 – Strictly Limited (Càrn Mòr)

46% ABV, £60 for 70cl

Score: 86/100

mortlach-18-year-old-1995-strictly-limited-carn-mor-whisky

What they say:

Distilled in 1995 and bottled in 2013, this amalgamation of 2 Hogshead casks producing 693 bottles

What I say:

Another Mortlach, this time at 18 years old, an amalgamate (or marriage) of 2 casks, bottled by Càrn Mòr from Bankfoot in Perthsire (next to the Scottish Liqueur Centre) now owned by Morrison and Mackay Whisky. Another of my favourite Indie bottlers too, again mostly down to their impeccable selection, I am always a regular and prolonged visitor at their stand at the whisky shows – a good indication of my high regard for their bottlings!

Colour:

Very pale gold

Nose:

Slightly floral honey and barley malt, fresh spearmint, green apples, lemon and lime zest with hints of ginger

Taste:

Smooth and fresh crisp green apple with cinnamon spice, pink grapefruit zest, sugary honey, heather, chewy cereal malt with hints of sweet lime cordial, vanilla custard and Murray Mints (boiled sweets/toffee made from butter and mint)

Finish:

Refreshing and mouth wateringly sweet honey and oaky wood linger

Would I buy it:

Tempted but under a bottle embargo due to lack of space at the moment, will reserve further judgement until the new Mortlach range is out – hoping that this will still be available as it is a third of the projected price of the official 18 year old bottling! If you have 60 bucks burning a hole in your pocket go buy this one from Càrn Mòr immediately!!!

Mortlach 21 Years Old 1991 [Cask 12/943] – Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

Mortlach 21 Years Old 1991 [Cask 12/943] - Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

Mortlach 21 Years Old 1991 [Cask 12/943] – Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

53.8% ABV, £75 for 70cl

Score: 85/100

Mortlach 21 Years Old 1991 [Cask 12/943] - Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

What they say:

Distilled on 1st October 1991 and bottled on 8th November 2011, this expression from Mortlach Distillery was matured in refill sherry butt #12/943 for 21 years and produced a 315 bottle outturn. Bottled by Signatory Vintage as part of their Cask Strength Collection

What I say:

Oooh another old Mortlach – Ok so I am on a bit of a theme here, I have in fact been tasting every Mortlach I can get my hands on in the run up to their launching the new range of official bottlings. Purely for research purposes of course, I was really testing out the variety of expressions and also the quality from different independent bottlers whilst keeping as many variables as uniform as possible (honest!)

Colour:

Pale antique gold

Nose:

Honey, toffee, butterscotch, vanilla and coconut

Taste:

Smooth butterscotch toffee and clotted cream fudge, hints of fresh mint leaves and lime zest

Finish:

Long oaky wood, toffee sweetness and refreshing mint mouthwash

Would I buy it:

I was most surprised after tasting this blind that it had been anywhere near a sherry cask. My guess would be either a 2nd refill or a pretty (close to) exhausted cask was used. Little to no sherry influence was detected in our tasting notes; more than likely the biggest effect on the spirit was the remaining character from the European oak that the sherry butt was made out of. Still this was particularly delicious and has just the right balance of smooth creamy fudge flavours with that hint of mint and zest to refresh the palate at the end making you want to go back and sip some more.

 

Mortlach 26 Years Old 1987 [Cask #3102] – Adelphi Selection (Adelphi)

Mortlach 26yo 1987 Adelphi

Mortlach 26 Years Old 1987 [Cask #3102] – Adelphi Selection (Adelphi)

57% ABV, £85 for 70cl

Score: 81/100

Mortlach 26yo 1987 Adelphi

What they say:

A 1987 vintage Mortlach from independent bottlers Adelphi. This was aged for 26 years in cask 3102 and bottled in 2014 at full strength of 57%.

What I say:

Who can resist not only Mortlach but also a bottling by Adelphi, currently one of my favourite independent bottling companies, mostly because they bottle from a great range of distilleries that seems to encompass a good number of our favourites.

Colour:

Full old gold

Nose:

Honey sweet, perfume, toffee, caramel, Everton Mints (boiled sweets)

Taste:

Warming, spearmint comes off first before a mouth coating spicy white pepper and mint, develops into a sour grapefruit zest before oodles of cherry and coconut, hints of chocolate remind me of a Tunnock’s Snowball (marshamallow coated in chocolate and dessicated coconut)

Finish:

Long and refreshing, finally spicy oak lingers

Would I buy it:

Intriguingly good this Mortlach was all about-face for me with the mint coming first and the oak revealed last. Perhaps it was the strength of this expression masking much and leaving me with this mix-around. Normally I like my Mortlach’s so sherried the mint is difficult to spot. Indie bottling like this must surely give the new Mortlach range a run for their money, however Adelphi’s selection (being single cask bottlings) reveal a variety of characters and are unlikely to satisfy the continuity of flavours that the official bottlings must achieve. One for the more adventurous perhaps, I was still honoured to sample this expression and validated in my championing of Adelphi as bottlers of damn fine whiskies.

Glen Garioch Virgin Oak 2013 (Official Bottling)

GlenGarioch virginoak

Glen Garioch Virgin Oak 2013 (Official Bottling)

48% ABV, £65 for 70cl

Score: 79/100

Glen-Garioch-Virgin-Oak

What they say:

48% ABV Bottled: 2013 Cask: Virgin North American Oak

The very first release of Glen Garioch fully matured in virgin North American white oak casks is unlike anything you have ever tasted.

A velvet explosion of rich buttery malt, chocolate and spice. Tangy orange and ginger marmalade melds with treacle syrup and rich chocolate cake, leading to a long and warming finish of barley sugar and spice.

What I say:

Glen Garioch is one of those distilleries that I never quite got round to tasting despite coming across various expressions in various locations, there was always something more instantly appealing or intriguing. Bizarrely enough the first expression I did try from Glen Garioch was a 1978 vintage bottled exclusively for Milroy’s of Soho, which I had the pleasure of drinking during their hosted tweet tasting (read all about that here: Milroy’s of Soho Tweet Tasting 2). Whilst attending the Whisky Stramash in Edinburgh on Saturday May 24th 2014, I had the pleasure of sampling this virgin oak/no-age statement expression from Glen Garioch – a whisky which many of my confederates highly rated.

Colour:

Yellow gold

Nose:

Sweet vanilla custard, pear drops, lemon and lime citrus zest, honey, fruity, oranges and apples.

Taste:

Sweet honey and cereal barley, fruity slightly acidic fizz (though surprisingly not green oaky wood), lemon and grapefruit fizz and lemon foam, lemon barley sugars

Finish:

Short sweet and acidic citrus zest

Would I buy it:

I found this Glen Garioch very sweet but quite enjoyable. I was surprised how well the spirit had matured in virgin oak and had managed to avoid a lot of the acridity and acidity associated with fresh green wood; if anything it add a spicy citrus zestiness that was refreshing but grew a little too sweet for my liking. Considering the price tag and my flavour preference I am unlikely to rush out to buy one but I can easily see why my peers raved about this particular expression.

 

Old Pulteney release commemorative ‘Clipper’ bottling

Old Pulteney Clipper Commemorative (2)

Old Pulteney release commemorative ‘Clipper’ bottling

OLD PULTENEY CELEBRATES THE HOMECOMING OF ITS CLIPPER YACHT WITH A COMMEMORATIVE BOTTLING

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This week Old Pulteney – The Maritime Malt – celebrates the completion of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2014 by the crew of brave men and women on board a yacht named after the iconic Single Malt Scotch Whisky. The race started eleven months ago and saw the Old Pulteney rose of winds carried proudly to France, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, Singapore, China, United States of America, Panama, Jamaica, Northern Ireland, The Netherlands and back to the starting point in London, UK. The brand’s involvement in this classic feat of sea adventuring is a natural continuation of the long and rich maritime heritage of the town of Wick on the Caithness Coast in the Northern Highlands of Scotland, where Pulteney Distillery was built in 1826 and where it produces its multi-award-winning Scotch whisky until this day.

The staff and management at Pulteney Distillery took the opportunity to thank all the crew members and the Skipper Partick van der Zijden for their tremendous effort and for representing Old Pulteney all around the world this past year. The Old Pulteney crew have shown rare determination and courage and successfully completed the race despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Margaret Mary Clarke, the Old Pulteney Global Brand Manager, said:

As a whisky built on its maritime history and connections, it has been an enormous thrill to be part of the Clipper 2013-14 Round the World Race and to have witnessed the ‘Old Pulteney’ speed from port to port over the past year.”

Old Pulteney Clipper Commemorative (2)

Old Pulteney Clipper Commemorative Bottling

To mark the occasion Old Pulteney will release a special commemorative bottling of its whisky. Old Pulteney Clipper will be made available in July 2014 at select retailers world-wide. The limited release will feature a Clipper Round the World Yacht Race -themed packaging and the whisky itself will be a classic expression of Old Pulteney, matured in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. The whisky will be presented at its natural colour, non chill-filtered and at a premium strength of 46% ABV. Only 2,700 cases of this rare bottling will ever be released and the recommended retail price in the UK is £50.

The appearance of the whisky is that of polished gold. On the nose the sweetness of dried fruits and crispiness of green apples is accompanied by notes of fresh vanilla and white chocolate. On the palate waves of honey and orange zest, a rounded oaky structure and an unmistakable coastal note set this fresh and elegant Old Pulteney apart. The finish is smooth and long-lasting.

Maritime Malt

The heritage of Old Pulteney Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky is closely interwoven with that of the port town of Wick. Once a thriving herring fishing port where as many as one thousand vessels could crowd the harbour in the fishing season, Wick was famously reported to produce ‘barrels of silver’ (salted herring) and ‘barrels of gold’ (single malt whisky). Set up to quench the thirst of a busy port, the distillery soon became recognised for producing one of the finest spirits in the world. And even though the fishing industry in Wick is well past its prime, traditional production methods, a wealth of experience and the coastal location which lends a distinctly maritime character to the whisky, keep Old Pulteney firmly in the whisky lover’s spotlight.

 

press release courtesy of Lukasz at Alembic Communications Ltd

Tomatin 14 Year Old Port Wood Finish (Official Bottling)

Tomatin 14yo Lo

Tomatin 14 Year Old Port Wood Finish (Official Bottling)

46% ABV, £48.95 for 70cl available from most major whisky retailers (e.g. The Whisky Exchange)

Score: 80/100

What they say:

Added to the core range in 2014, this whisky is soft and smooth with significant sweet influence from the Port casks. After spending time maturing in traditional oak casks, this particular Tomatin spends the last year of its maturation exclusively in Port pipes.

Aroma - Honeydew melon, red berries, baked apples. Rich toffee, butterscotch. Sweet honey and bitter dark chocolate.

Taste – Fruit and nut. Peaches, apricots, mango and plum. Mixed Walnut and Pecan.

Finish – Smooth fruit salad which lingers on the palate.

What I say:

Heralded  in our whiskileaks post here: Tomatin release new 14 Year Old Port Wood Finish and 1989 Vintage; this 14 year old Port Wood finish expression has joined the core Tomatin range and replaced the wholly Bourbon-matured 15 year old. I was a little sad to see the 15 go; I found it hard to choose between the Sherry influenced nutty chocolate bombshell of the Tomatin 18 and the Tropical fruits of the 15 yo. Unfortunately Tomatin have come to the conclusion the 15 yo wasn’t hitting the market requirements and so out came the 14 yo Port finish. How we happened by a sample of this was through both luck and gratitude. One of the many reasons (as if you need any!) to follow The Whiskyphiles through social media such as our Facebook or Twitter  accounts is that we advertise and pass on details of any whisky or whisky-related competitions we discover. Following the launch of the Tomatin 14, Tomatin ran a Facebook competition asking who you would share a samples with. Luckily a good friend of ours (and President of the Edinburgh University Water of Life Society) was selected as a winner; and so I found myself in possession of a 5cl bottle, graciously shared with us. (p.s. it is not manadatory should you win any of these competitions that you repay us in kindness – though we do love free whisky; it is our most favourite category of whisky!). So here’s what we thought.

Colour:

Coppery gold with a rosé blush

Nose:

Sweet nougat/confectionary, tropical fruits; papaya, mango, pineapple, honey, a little malted barley, jammy blackcurrants and candy floss (like a good old-fashioned sweet shop overall)

Taste:

Very sweet palate, reminiscent of plum duff (plum pudding), brown sugar, nutmeg spice and more fruity sweet cherries and plum influence from the port finishing

Finish:

Medium long, sweet with cereal and wood influences

Would I buy it:

Our overall opinion of this was a saccharine sweet confectionary of a dram which was highly drinkable. A definite summer whisky, this one was almost too sweet for my palate but I would expect it to pair well with savoury items usually paired with port such as a good strong blue cheese (e.g. Stilton) or one of my absolute favourite cheeses Morbier. I still miss the 15yo and think that I actually prefer that to this although there are some common elements in both, the port finish on this seems like a tactic to sweeten the whisky and release it a year younger, in the process this lacks the real fruit punch the 15yo gave out.

 

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