Benromach started revamping their range late 2014, with great effect. The standard 10yo is one of my favorite bang for your buck whiskies on the market today.
This 100 proof expression is the same as the regular 10 year old, but bottled at 57% ABV instead of the regular 43%.
Color: Dark gold
Nose: After an initial hit of alcohol there’s raisins and cherries, oranges, vanilla and honey and a grassy note, some very faint hints of smoke, but in the very back
Palate: Orange zest, dark chocolate, raisins, some tannines. It’s quite thick and dense.
Finish: Lovely sweet notes from the sherry casks, some peppers, hints of cinnamon, some leather.
It’s both crazy and wonderful how much difference the alcohol makes in a dram. There seems to be less peat and more sherry influence than the standard 10, and it’s a fair bit heavier to drink, although that’s to be expected.
With a capacity of 4.2 million liters of alcohol per year, Ardmoe is one of the biggest distilleries in Scotland. Most of it however, is used in blends like Teacher’s.
Single malt Ardmore is mostly found at independent bottlers, with official bottlings only consisting of the NAS Traditional and Legacy expression. Ardmore is also one of the few Speyside distilleries to use peated barley.
This Ardmore has aged for 14 years in First fill Bourbon casks, it’s a vatting of cask 6158 and 6160. It’s bottled at 57,9% ABV
Color: Pale gold
Nose: Some pears and sour lemon, then some ash. The peat is quite subdued, but there’s quite a bit of heat coming from the nose. After a while, it gets a bit sweeter with banana notes.
Palate: Drying oak, tar and ash, then some pepper. A very simple palate, too bad some of the fruity notes from the nose don’t come through.
Finish: The ash continues for a while, some very feint hints of honey.
I’m not a fan of this one. The nose is already quite simplistic, and the palate even more so.
Signatory’s Un-chillfiltered line is somewhat considered their “budget line”. Still, they produce some cracking good stuff. It’s single cask whisky bottled at 46% ABV.
This Bowmore has aged for 11 years in a refill sherry hogshead, cask 2187. They were able to produce 341 bottles. It was selected by The Nectar for the Belgian market.
Color: White wine, quite light for a sherry cask.
Nose: This nose blasts everything at once: barbecue smoke, some seaweed, lime and a bunch of salt. Gummy bear sweetness. After a while, some distant raisin and orange notes appear. This gets a lot sweeter with time.
Palate: It’s quite timid! Some hints of peat, lemon juice and salt, some orange zest and parsley. If you let it rest a bit, the salty notes are a lot more present.
Finish: BBQ smoke with sugared candy. Some peppers and again the salt.
I like this one as a daily drinker. It needs about 10 minutes in the glass to show all it’s colors. Originally priced around €55, it’s good value for money.
At Feis Ile 2015, Kilchoman released this 10th anniversary release, only available at the distillery shop. It contains whisky distilled between 2005 and 2012, both from bourbon and sherry casks. It’s limited to 3000 bottles and bottled at a cask strength of 58,2% ABV.
Nose: Some very sweet peat smoke, citrus. A farm-note is also to be found. After some time in the glass some it smells like pork on a BBQ! This is a great nose that could keep me busy for hours. I love that sweet barley note most Kilchomans have.
Taste: First you get a blast of peat, followed by the sweet barley. There’s a very earthy, green note in there as well that brings it somewhat out of balance.
Finish: medium-long finish, drying the mouth somewhat. The sweet barley continues alongside some lemon juice and cotton candy.
A really good Kilchoman, too bad the green note brings it out of balance a bit. The palate doesn’t quite live up to what the nose promises.
The Isle of Arran distillery is one that is seemingly gaining popularity. If I look on the shelves, it’s quite common to see a couple of expressions from them.
In my head however, I labeled them as “cask finishers”. They produce some whisky finished in Sauternes, Amarone and Port casks, but that’s not all they do.
I’ve got a sample of a private cask for the 2015 Whisky Festival in Gent, it comes from a Sherry hogshead and has matured for 10 years. It’s bottled at 49,5% ABV.
Color: Beautiful amber with an orange hue
Nose: Sherry of course, this is probably a first fill cask, oranges, plums, raisins. There are some fresh notes in there as well. Some brine and mint, hints of vanilla. The alcohol stings a bit but nothing too distracting. There are some green herbs as well, like parsley. With some time there’s orange marmelade and esthers.
Palate: very oily mouthfeel, raisins, dry plums. Mushrooms, dark chocolate. There appears to be some sulphur.
Finish: A long lingering taste of black pepper and chocolate, with some added orange for good measure.
I think it’s an intriguing dram. It shows a fair bit of complexity at it’s relatively young age. Belgian retailer Delhaize have recently brought out one of it’s sister casks, distilled on the same day, I’m curious to see what the added 5% ABV does to this!