The Glenlivet XXV ~ 43% (Pernod Ricard)

Glenlivet XXV FLAVOURS_25

The Glenlivet XXV ~ 43% (Pernod Ricard)

43% ABV, £190 for 70cl

Score: 90/100

Glenlivet XXV FLAVOURS_25

What they say:

Character: The intense and opulent one
Colour: Rich amber with ripe gold hues
Nose: Dark chocolate with scents of dried sultanas
Palate: Silky, sweet and caressing with cinnamon notes
Finish: Incredibly long, rich and balanced

Craft facts
The XXV is a batch-produced whisky finished in individually selected ex-sherry butts.

The Oloroso-soaked oak imparts a nutty spiciness and enriches the flavour of the expression.

Each cask is individually monitored in the finishing process to ensure only the subtlest sherry tones are added to this intense, silky and elegant whisky.

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What I say:

Every now and again I come across a Malt that really surprises me. The Glenlivet XXV was one of those. I have a healthy respect for the whisky output from Glenlivet but was slightly disappointed with a recent purchase of the 18 Years Old (The Glenlivet 18 Years Old ~ 43% (Pernod Ricard) ) which didn’t live up to my expectations. Asking around I found several of my friends and fellow whiskyphiles of a similar opinion. Surprisingly then I targeted the XXV as one of my must have drams at the 2014 Whisky Fringe. After tasting a ripple of support for this dram grew by word of mouth and soon we were all espousing the joy at what a wonderful dram it was and how we were all surprised! So the XXV turned out to be one of my top picks from the Whisky Fringe and deserving of a more thorough sampling and analysis:

Colour:

Dark Copper Gold

Nose:

Fruit-cake mix/batter, deep sugary and syrupy molasses, fruity – like morello cherries soaked in brandy, baked apples with cinnamon and ginger, creamy butterscotch toffee

Taste:

Smooth and quite light on the tongue, muscovado sugar sweetness, nutty walnut and praline, dark chocolate, dried fruits; figs, dates and sultana, tangy orange zest or peel (candied), brandy butter

Finish:

Long, nutty, wood polish and mulling (wine) spices persist

Would I buy it:

Due to the cost, no – but I would highly recommend this whisky for the price bracket. This is a complex and delicious dram redolent with Christmas spices but lovingly wrapped in a walnut cabinet that keeps everything restrained and beautifully in balance. If you are a Glenlivet fan then this will blow you away, and if not then I suspect you soon will be after trying this!

Balblair 23 Years Old 1990 Small Batch Sherrywood ~ 51.7% (Wm Cadenhead’s)

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Balblair 23 Years Old 1990 Small Batch Sherrywood ~ 51.7% (Wm Cadenhead’s)

51.7% ABV, £76.60 for 70 cl available here

Score: 88/100

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What they say:

The swing tags say bourbon barrels but after checking just one more time i am now assured that this malt is Sherrywood cask matured.

Nose: Dried oranges; peaches; vanilla pods and strawberry yoghourt. Ripe summer fruits and sunny highland meadow tones.
Palate: Mandarins; apricots; toffee and candied ginger.slide along the palate as a more soft fruit tone opens across the middle palate.
Watermelon; raisins; honeycomb and traditional lemonade give this dram that final flourish that leaves you wanting just a little more.

London Tasting Room Favourite!

Region: North Highland

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What I say:

Dram # 3 from the Jolly Toper P/O/U/R/S tasting held on 11th September 2014

Colour:

Full gold

Nose:

Acetone/nail polish remover, Slightly peppery/tabasco?, heather honey, golden syrup, vanilla custard, crème brulee

Taste:

Sweet golden syrup, toffee, butterscotch, fruity, mandarin, blackcurrant and apple, some spice/white pepper, with water (takes water very well); more of the vanilla and fruity flavours

Finish:

Long sweet oaky wood

Would I buy it:

Tempted, this was an excellent expression from the Balblair distillery – I can understand the confusion regarding the cask-maturation. This did not strike me as particularly sherried though it was quite fruity.

Alechemy – Panacea – Whisky Cask Aged ~ 7.5% (Alechemy)

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Panacea – Whisky Cask Aged ~ 7.5% (Alechemy)

7.5% ABV, £3.50 for 330ml

Score: 98/100

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What they say:

*Limited Edition*
Panacea Whisky Cask Aged Stout 7.5%
Colour: Black
Bitterness: 35 IBU

A rich stout made with a Belgian yeast strain and aged in a Speyside whisky cask for four months.

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What I say:

Produced from our local brewery at Alechemy Brewing, this is something I had been really looking forward to trying. A dark stout at 35 IBU (International Bittering Units), this has spent 4 months in a Speyside whisky cask. Part of their Freestyle Friday Series of beers.

Colour:

Like a black dog on a moonless night

Nose:

Rich deep malty marmite, caramel and butterscotch, treacle toffees, chocolate and a hint of nuttiness

Taste:

Thick, very thick, malty, rich dark chocolate (70+% cocoa solids) but creamy not bitter, toffee and oak feature strongly in almost whisky-like finish.

Would I buy it again:

Yes – I hope I get the chance to get more of these, I couldn’t drink a lot of it as each mouthful is like a spoonful of rich molten chocolate – so like all good stout it is both a meal and a drink in the same glass. This one requires time to be spent supping it. The balance of heavy malted stout and almost creamy whisky influence is just sublime.

The Balvenie launch new Tun1509 series

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As discussed  with us by The Balvenie Malt Master David Stewart at the Meet The Blenders Event on the 14th May 2014, The Balvenie are discontinuing their highly popular Tun1401 series opting for an even bigger marrying Tun (Tun 1509) to produce larger batches to meet demand. Previous batches of the Tun1401 expression had been targeted to specific regions (UK/Europe, US and Asian markets) much to the chagrin of collectors and ardent supporters alike. The use of the new Tun1509 vessel allows bigger batches to be produced and allows a uniformity of distribution across world markets.

Malt Master David Stewart is one of the most respected experts when it comes to marrying whisky casks. Following on from his highly regarded Tun 1401, comes Tun 1509. Larger than its predecessor, Tun 1509 allows David to select a wider range of component casks; 42, in fact, resulting in a remarkably complex expression.

Of the 42 selected casks, 35 are traditional American oak barrels and seven are European oak sherry butts – all from the distillery’s precious aged stocks. Among these casks are some of the finest The Balvenie has to offer. And all have been allowed to marry together and sit for several months in Warehouse 24 before bottling.

The result is an expression that is deep and rich on the nose with floral notes and clear hints of sweet vanilla and orange peel. It is velvety smooth to taste with distinct tangy citrus, mellow cinnamon spice and blossom honey overtones. In short, this is a truly exceptional expression.

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Each bottle comes with a series of graphics representing the flavour profile of each cask.

Tun1509 Batch #1

The-Balvenie-Tun-1509

Tasting Notes

Deep and rich on the nose, with floral notes, sweet vanilla and orange peel. Velvety smooth to taste with tangy citrus, mellow cinnamon spice and blossom honey.

 

Asyla ~ 40% (Compass Box)

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Asyla ~ 40% (Compass Box)

40% ABV, £36 for 70cl

Score: 79/100

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What they say:

A blend of soft, fruity malt whiskies on a bed of rich, sweet grain whiskies. All whiskies aged in first-fill American oak casks to yield the trademark Compass Box style: soft, rich, vanilla-tinged, delicious. See why this, the lightest of our whiskies, wins the most awards!

The ultimate “everyday,” “before dinner” or “Sunday afternoon” Scotch whisky. With just a splash of chilled water, this blend of soft, sweet grain whiskies and elegant, refined malt whiskies epitomises “deliciousness” in the world of  Scotch whisky.

The Secret is in the Oak

The secret to making Asyla is the quality of the casks. We use only whiskies aged in first-fill American oak casks because these yield whiskies with more vanilla character, more richness and more sweetness than refill casks. Asyla is made with 50% malt whisky. There are few blended Scotches that use as high a malt content as we do at Compass Box. The result is a carefully crafted, elegant blended Scotch whisky that makes the perfect aperitif.

The Signature Range from Compass Box

Asyla is part of the Signature Range from Compass Box. The five Scotch whiskies in this range cover the entire spectrum of Scotch whisky styles, from the delicate, sweet character of Asyla, to the subtle vanilla, clove and fruity characteristics of Oak Cross, the rich and spice notes of The Spice Tree, the peaty- smoky character of The Peat Monster and the elegant flavours of vanilla cream, toffee and coconut in Hedonism. Each is made from the highest quality casks, to create more complexity. The whiskies are combined according to each recipe and returned to casks for marrying up to 24 months before bottling. Steps like these enhance complexity, flavour integration and soft mouthfeel. Extra steps, but we think they’re worth it.

Flavour Descriptors Sweet, delicate and very smooth on the palate, with flavours of vanilla-cream, cereals and a subtle apple- like fruit character.
Recommendations Ideal as an aperitif served in a white wine or similar glass with chilled water to taste. Try before a meal with shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano.
Distillery Sourcing  Single malts from the towns of Alness and Longmorn; single grain whisky from Fife.
Wood 100% first-fill American oak ex-Bourbon.
Bottling Details  Bottled at 40%. Not chill filtered. Natural colour.

What I say:

Asyla is the only grain/malt blend in the Compass Box Signature Range, this contains a high percentage of Grain whisky and Linkwood single malt. This particular expression was constructed using the “style equation” of drinker + occasion = whisky type. Asyla is designed as a “party” whisky perhaps for use in long drinks and cocktails to which it lends itself particularly well. Sadly after the Peat Monster 10th I was unlikely to rate this one too highly as I was blown away by the last!

Colour:

Gold

Nose:

Sweet apples and vanilla

Taste:

Malty cereal, vanilla custard, ‘grain’ whisky

Finish:

Ethereal and light

Peat Monster 10th Anniversary Park Avenue Edition Cask Strength ~54.7% (Compass Box)

PeatMonster10th-Bottle

Peat Monster 10th Anniversary Park Avenue Edition Cask Strength ~54.7% (Compass Box)

54.7% ABV, $80-120 for 75cl

Score: 88/100

PeatMonster10th-Bottle

What they say:

We can’t quite believe it but it is ten years since we created a bespoke blend of very peaty single malts for the owners of the Park Avenue Liquor Shop in New York. It sold so well that when this “Monster” became endangered we decided to share the idea with the rest of the world. It has gone on to become our best-selling Compass Box whisky. In 2013, we have created this special Limited Edition bottling of The Peat Monster with intense aromas of peat-reek, smoke, seaside character and burnt ropes and a subtle apple-fruitiness in the background. This unique recipe is a fitting tribute to such a full, round and tremendously complex whisky.

Ten years ago we created a bespoke blend of very peaty single malts for the owners of the Park Avenue Liquor Shop in New York.
We named it “Monster” and for the label graphics we used a 19th century illustration of a bizarre and strangely beautiful creature that appeared to us to capture the idea of the whisky.
It sold so well that when it became endangered we decided to share the idea with the rest of the world. We appended “The Peat” to the  front of “Monster” and breathed fresh life into the beautiful beast. It has gone on to become our best-selling Compass Box whisky.
In 2013, let’s celebrate ten years of sharing the joys of the craft blender’s art, of inspiring others in the industry and of enjoying the balanced, peaty charms of this creation. Heavy peat and smoke, combined with notes of malty richness.
For this special bottling, we have produced a special recipe of The Peat Monster, maintaining the smoky, heavy-peated intensity of the classic bottling and adding a bit more malty richness through the use of some very special, quite odd casks of peaty Highland single malt.

Availability Limited Release of approx 5,700 bottles. Bottled in September 2013.
Flavour Descriptors Intense aromas of peet-reek, smoke, seaside character and burnt ropes, with a subtle apple-fruitiness in the background. The palate is full, round and tremendously complex. Water brings out a spice- laden, sweet vanilla character, as well.
Recommendations A fantastic late-night digestif malt whisky.
Distillery Sourcing Islay single malts distilled on the south shore of the island and in the village of Port Askaig. Balanced with a rich, smoky Highland single malt and a fruity oily malt from the village of Brora.
Wood Primarily a mix of first-fill and refill American oak, plus approximately 2% new French oak for finishing.
Bottling Details Bottled at 48.9%. Not chill filtered. Natural colour.

What I say:

This 10th Anniversary edition of the Peat Monster was produced for Park Avenue Liqours in New York. This blend is made up from ~44% 10 year old Benrinnes – matured in sherry casks, 28% Cameronbridge Grain, ~2% Laphroaig, a little Teaninch 1st fill Bourbon cask matured and the remainder 7-8 year old Caol Ila similar to that used in the Eleuthera blend. The result is a more complex blend and slightly older overall composite compared to the standard Peat Monster expression.

Colour:

Full Gold

Nose:

Peat smoke, apples, seaspray

Taste:

Refined and mature, gentle peat, fruity apples, some vanilla and a little cereal malt balance this out with a little old oak wood

Finish:

Long earthy peat smoke

Great King Street Experimental Batch #00-V4 ~ 43% (Compass Box)

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Compass Box Great King Street Experimental Batch #00-V4 ~ 43% (Compass Box)

43% ABV, £33 for 70cl

Score: 78/100

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What they say:

Since the launch of the Artist’s Blend in 2011 we’ve been thinking about the style of the second permanent whisky in the Great King Street range. Blending provides a platform for limitless styles, so the world is our oyster.
Two styles have emerged as the leading contenders – one smoky, the other lightly sherried – and so we have released a small experimental batch of each to help us decide.
So, taste, savour, mix if you like; above all, share and enjoy them with your friends.
Batch #00-V4 (Orange)

  • Sweet, fruity with notes of blueberry jam, ripe plums, candied oranges and toffee popcorn. A one-off, limited release of 3,439 bottles

What I say:

Again ~30% grain this consists of some sherry-matured malts – the most interesting and obvious suggestion was to mix these two experimental batched together to see what ratio’s provided the nicest balance between them. Obviously these split the room in terms of favourites but everyone agreed a little of each was probably required to get the best out of both.

Colour:

Gold with amber hints

Nose:

Tannic and leathery – definite sherry influence

Taste:

Fruity, sherry fizz, tannic but lacked a little depth/body

Finish:

Medium, suede leather

Great King Street Experimental Batch #TR-06 ~ 43% (Compass Box)

CBTR06

Great King Street Experimental Batch #TR-06 ~ 43% (Compass Box)

43% ABV, £33 for 70cl

Score: 75/100

CBTR06

What they say:

Since the launch of the Artist’s Blend in 2011 we’ve been thinking about the style of the second permanent whisky in the Great King Street range. Blending provides a platform for limitless styles, so the world is our oyster.
Two styles have emerged as the leading contenders – one smoky, the other lightly sherried – and so we have released a small experimental batch of each to help us decide.
So, taste, savour, mix if you like; above all, share and enjoy them with your friends.
Batch #TR-06 (Blue)

  • Complex, smoky and aromatic with notes of seaweed, mint, salt spray and an underlying dried fruit sweetness. A one-off, limited release of 3,805 bottles.

What I say:

Both experimental GKS batches contain about 30% grain whisky (again GKS is a malt and grain blend), TR-06 contains ~33% Cameronbridge Grain and 26% Laphroaig giving a subtle vanilla and peaty flavour

Colour:

Gold

Nose:

Vanilla, honey, wafts of peat smoke

Taste:

Smooth vanilla cream slightly smoky peat

Finish:

Medium sweet

Hedonism ~ 43% (Compass Box)

Hedonism-Box-Bottle

Compass Box Hedonism ~ 43% (Compass Box)

43% ABV, £55 for 70cl

Score: 85/100

Hedonism-Box-Bottle

What they say:

Our bottlings of Hedonism are made from a combination of eight to 15 casks of grain whisky from distilleries such as Cameron Bridge, one of the oldest continuously operating distilleries in Scotland, and Cambus. Most whisky in Hedonism has been aged in first-fill American oak casks. This ageing yields a very special whisky that is full and round with richly textured flavours of vanilla and toffee.

Rare, Old Scotch Grain Whisky

Hedonism is unusual in the Scotch whisky world: a blended grain Scotch whisky. It is very rare to see 100% grain whisky bottlings, in Scotland. Going back 100 years, grain whisky brands were more common, but they were overtaken in popularity by the big brands of blended Scotch, which comprised both grain whisky and malt whisky. Today, most Scotch grain whisky gets blended into the big brand names, typically at young ages. For Hedonism, we search for old casks of Scotch grain whisky. And we only produce Hedonism once a year, when we find casks with the right flavour profile.

Rich, Sweet, Alluring

When good Scotch grain whisky is aged in good quality American oak casks, the results can be stunning: a rich, sweet, alluring whisky, redolent of vanilla, pastry cream and coconut. You’ll find all these things in our Hedonism bottlings. We believe that great Scotch grain whisky is the little-known treasure of the Scotch whisky industry.

The Signature Range from Compass Box

Hedonism is part of the Signature Range from Compass Box. The five Scotch whiskies in this range cover the entire spectrum of Scotch whisky styles, from the delicate, sweet character of Asyla, to the subtle vanilla, clove and fruity characteristics of Oak Cross, the rich and spice notes of The Spice Tree, the peaty- smoky character of The Peat Monster and the elegant flavours of vanilla cream, toffee and coconut in Hedonism. Each is made from the highest quality casks, to create more complexity. The whiskies are combined according to each recipe and returned to casks for marrying up to 24 months before bottling. Steps like these enhance complexity, flavour integration and soft mouthfeel. Extra steps, but we think they’re worth it.

Flavour Descriptors

Elegant flavours of vanilla cream, toffee, coconut.
Recommendations As an aperitif, serve with a small amount of chilled water. Late in the evening, serve neat. Also makes a great whisky sour.
Distillery Sourcing  Will vary according to batch but typically whiskies from the following distilleries: Cameron Bridge, Carsebridge, Cambus, Port Dundas or Dumbarton.
Wood 100% first-fill American oak barrels or rejuvenated American oak Hogsheads.
Bottling Details  43%. Not chill filtered. Natural colour.

What I say:

Hedonism is an all grain blend, produced in small batches using only grain whisky matured in 1st fill ex-bourbon casks aged to around 19-26 years old before blending. Laser spray codes (L:number) should be found on each bottle indicating the day/month/year of each batch produced.

Colour:

Light Gold

Nose:

Light and delicate Custard Cream biscuits

Taste:

Smooth and light, Custard Cream biscuits, vanilla, cream, custard

Finish:

Short with a little hint of spice

The Peat Monster ~ 46% (Compass Box)

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Compass Box The Peat Monster ~ 46% (Compass Box)

46% ABV, £37 for 70cl

Score: 86/100

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What they say:

For those who love big, rich, peaty and smoky malt whiskies, this is your whisky. Bottled at 46%, “The Peat Monster” combines extremely smoky malt whisky from Islay with medium-peated Highland whiskies to create a balanced and approachable monster, but a monster nonetheless. Enjoy!

Complex and Multi-layered

A whisky for lovers of complex, multi-layered peaty whiskies. What makes it fit perfectly into the Compass Box house style is the balance of richness and subtle sweetness that the casks of Speyside malt provide to the smoky- peaty Islay and island malts. This is the great benefit of combining single malts from different distilleries; we are not limited to the produce of one distillery. Like a winemaker blending grape varieties, we can create layers of complexity. For recent batches, we have introduced even more complexity by adding some south shore Islay malt and island malt to enhance the peatiness and earthiness. As with all our whiskies, several months of marrying before bottling allow the flavours of each of the whiskies to knit together.

The Signature Range from Compass Box

Peat Monster is part of the Signature Range from Compass Box. The five Scotch whiskies in this range cover the entire spectrum of Scotch whisky styles, from the delicate, sweet character of Asyla, to the subtle vanilla, clove and fruity characteristics of Oak Cross, the rich and spice notes of The Spice Tree, the peaty- smoky character of The Peat Monster and the elegant flavours of vanilla cream, toffee and coconut in Hedonism. Each is made from the highest quality casks, to create more complexity. The whiskies are combined according to each recipe and returned to casks for marrying up to 24 months before bottling. Steps like these enhance complexity, flavour integration and soft mouthfeel. Extra steps, but we think they’re worth it.

Flavour Descriptors

Peaty, smoky malt with hints of fruitiness; a balanced whisky with great depth and complexity.
Recommendations A fantastic late-night digestif whisky. Excellent with blue vein cheeses.
Distillery Sourcing  Made from a marriage of an Islay South shore malt, a peated malt, a peated malt from the Isle of Mull and a smoky Speyside malt.
Wood Refill American oak.
Bottling Details  Bottled at 46%. Not chill filtered. Natural colour.

What I say:

The Peat Monster is another all malt blend but this time a completely different set of single malts are used, also a minimum of 25-30 casks would be used per batch (possibly partly to match demand). The blend is made from ~ 20-28% Talisker, ~40% Laphroaig and ~10-14% either Ardmore or Ledaig. Previous batches had been constructed with around 46% Caol Ila replacing the Laphroaig but availability had changed – a situation they are hoping to reverse. Due to the fluctuation in availability Gregg explained that as a company they had taken the decision to start buying and maturing New Make from various (~5) distilleries and maturing them in 1st fill Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrels. Buffalo Trace barrels give the best results as they have one of the best cooperage’s and the barrel to variation is minimal – giving consistent maturation results. Gregg sent round sprays of both Caol Ila peaty New Make and then 1 year old Caol Ila Matured in 1st Fill Bourbon cask, the difference was obvious with a reduction in the harshness of the peat and instant vanilla essence character taken on after maturation.

Colour:

Full gold

Nose:

Peanut, peat, reasonably sweet honey

Taste:

Sweet peanut peat, smooth, Madagascan vanilla and coconut notes underneath

Finish:

Warming peat, gentle reflux with vanilla

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