25 February 2021

Whisky Tasting : Blind Whiskies

 New year, more whiskies. First tasting at Regional this year was blind. No info on the whiskies, just cost. So we had NZ $90, $115, $130, $140, $150, $200, $450 [or roughly] and no other info. Our usual cabal assembled...

Benriach 24yo 54.5% $450
N: bourbon, lemons, citrus, banana, sweet, medium age
P: very strong, high alcohol, bourbon, sweet/dry, peppery, manuka honey, 
F: long
8/10 for me. 
This came 4th (8.1) on the night, and we learnt it was a bourbon barrel and was the most expensive of the evening. But no-where near the best.

Tamdhu Batch Strength #5 Cask strength, 59.8%, $140
N: dry, older, raisins, sherry, vinegar, bitterness
P: nutmeg, lower alcohol, sherry, very hot, honey - strong
F: long
7/10 Came 5th (8.06). Not particuarly interesting as a whisky.

Ardnamurchan Batch 1 46.8% 5yo $90
N: salty, bacon, peat, pears, chlorine, buttery, light
P: salt, bacon, light, low alcohol
F: med-short
7/10 Came 7th (7.66) no real complexity and not sure on the chlorine smell. If you want peaty and low cost, there are better.

Glenrothes Whisky Makers Cut 48.5% NAS $115
N: egg, sulphur, caramel, sour, matchsticks, weak, popcorn
P: not a lot? boring, sharp?
F: hot
5/10 Yeah this one polarised the group. I didn't like it, but it came 2= (8.28) really boring and weak whisky, but some (misguided) people loved it

Octane Glenallachie 52.4% 6yo d2011 b 2017, 5 month in octave $130
N: custard, apple, dry, bourbon, marshmallow
P: light fruity, bright
F: long hot cask strength
7.5/10 interesting, i liked it, and it's very good value. Came 6th (8.03)

Glengoyne PX (travel) 46% NAS $150
N: heater dust, not complex?
P: warm, honey, salt, chocolate lemon, blue cheese, lemonade
F: med-long old
9/10. Oh yes, this was a winner. 2= (8.28) and finding it was a Glengoyne made the purchase easy :)

Signatory Cask 6 Strathmill 13yo 61.2% d24/10/06 b31/08/20 $200
N: leather, sherry, caramel, vigorous
P: marmalade, incr alco, chocolate, sweet
F: long, hot
9.5/10 Came 1st (8.72). Yeah this was all win, superb value - although there were none to buy. 

Fun tasting, and interesting how the two best were not the most expensive

1 January 2021

Alec and Bruce, Beer-off update

 Every-so-often, when I remember, I compare untappd records between Alec and I. Who has the most beers, badges, etc. 

So in the spirit of erratic updates, here's where things stand between us.



Still damn close, I'm ahead around a 100 total beers, but Alec's had more unique beers (just). I've got a commanding 200 extra badges. Which in this world of gamification, is what it's all about. 

I think the reason the badges totals don't agree relates to some badges being closed (particularly venue based ones).


Tunes of 2020

I'll probably pull together a top10 albums list at some point, but in the meantime here's the last.fm stats on what I listened to in 2020. 

So Top Artists for 2020:

So no huge surprise there. The Floyd will be due to the Later Years boxset, and the Prince boxsets also got hammered last year.
I don't remember playing the magic flute that much, oh well. of the most played 2020 albums, the three I'd really rate are Mark Kelly's Marathon, Borknagar, and Fish. But for sheer fun, Powerwolf win everytime.


17 December 2020

Whisky Tasting: 25 years of Daniel, part 2

 Regular readers will remember this years' 25 years of Daniel tasting, woohoo we got a second go at the dram. 

So our regular, now enhanced, cabal of four turned up to drink to the great man...this time down in the trenches with us...

Cadenhead Bunnahabhain '89 28yo 43.8% b1/3/2018; bourbon hogshead

  • N: grassy, honey suckle, pineapple, wine, bourbon, lemonade
  • P: lager, lemon, light, green tea
  • F: long peppery, gentle salt, warming

8.5/10 I'm beginning to realise that Neil maybe right and that I like Bunnahabhain. This seems a good thing. Came 8th with 8.0 [story on why there's 8 later]

Adelphi Linkwood 1993 25yo 50.4% Bourbon cask #4469

  • N: bourbon, warm, strong, salt/meths, effervescent lemon, floor polish
  • P: fruit, ginger, spicy
  • F: pepper, long
8/10 interesting and I like Linkwood, but not as great as I hoped. Came 6th with 8.07

Laphroaig 25yo 48.9% 2017 bourbon 2nd fill oloroso
  • N: peat, bacon, salt, delicate, vinegar, smokey
  • P: salt, bacon, asphalt, methanol
  • F: medium, smokey
8/10 Other times I've had the 25yo Laphroaig I've rated it higher. Oh well. 4th 8.9

Longrow 21yo 46% [mystery]
  • N: rubber, egg, sulphur, sweet vanilla, sherry, lanolin
  • P: sulphur, burnt ash, socks, 
  • F: short
7/10 lacking in complexity and possibly missed a trick by being 46%. 7th, 8.01

Adelphi Bowmore 1994 25yo 54.2% refill sherry #554
  • N: caramel, salt, toffee, cream, yummy, vanilla.
  • P: warm, honey, peat, ash, bread, sweet
  • F: long and peppery
9.5/10 again, anyone else bottling Bowmore is onto winners :) superb stuff. Came 3rd, 9.1

Adelphi Glen Keith 1995 23yo 60.5% refill bourbon #8512
  • N: banana, sweet, ash, vanilla, PVA glue, violets, peat, sherbert
  • P: sweet, aniseed, lemonade
  • F: hot, med-long
6/10 not a fan of this, nose promised a lot not much delivered tho. However I was in the minority - came 5th, 8.67. 

Adelphi Mortlach 1993 25yo 56% refill sherry #4469
  • N: sherry, sweet, old, complex, cinnamon
  • P: complex, sherry, old, xmas cake
  • F: long, sweet
9.5/10 hey it's a Mortlach, and an old one. Of course I'd like it. Ticked all the Mortlach boxes of meaty sherry complexity. Everyone else finally got their crap sorted and agreed with me, came 2nd 9.47.

so the 8th dram? All the dregs from Best of the Best into a teapot dram. This came first with 9.92. 


16 December 2020

Whisky Tasting: Best of the Best 2020

 Another year, another best of the best. Admittedly tastings were a bit haphazard and disrupted for some reason, but we still got through a reasonable amount of whisky. 

Due to the reduced number of tastings we had two mystery drams for the tasting.

Ardbeg Uigeadail 54.2% [Mystery]

  • N sweet, peat, salt, rubber, earthy, medicinal, aniseed, chlorine, pear drops
  • P peat, sweet, tasty, dry, ash, oily, hot, creosote
  • F long dry

9/10 I liked this a lot, although it came last with 8.1 on the night. 

Benriach Batch 16 Pedro Ximenez Butt #6924 56.2% 21.2.2005-2019 13yo

  • N sweet, tobacco, toffee, sherry, turkish delight
  • P warm honey, sweet, odd sick taste   
  • short, almost bitter finish
7/10 not grabbing me. disappointing for a benriach. Came 5th on the night 8.54.

Glendronach SC 25yo oloroso #1416 51.2% 23/3/1993-2019 [mystery]
  • N fried egg, sherry, marshmallow, dry, raisins, burnt caramel
  • warm, leather polish, aged smooth, dry, sherry, raisins, complex
  • F long, warm, complex
10/10 not a huge surprise I liked this :) it came 4th on the night, 8.70

Glendronach 23yo 1995 52.5% PX puncheon
  • N light, sherry, nectaries, fried egg
  •  sherry, xmas cake, not subtle, tannins, treacle
  • F medium
8/10 bit of a disappointment, in a qualified way, i don't think it had anywhere near the complexity of the previous dram. but everyone else liked it, 2nd 9.09

Amrut Greedy Angel 8yo 50% Chairman's Reserve unpeated Indian with peated scottish barley
  • N sweet, bourbon, citrus, linseed, latex, canvas
  • sweet, hint of bourbon, spiky, fighty, vigorous
  • F med - long
8.5/10 interesting, good etc, just over shadowed by some of the others in this tasting. came 6th 8.4

Smokehead High Voltage 22.01.2020 58%
  • N salt, rubber, bacon, peat iodine
  • P sweet, smoky, sherry, bacon   
  • F long, sweet
9/10 great dram, and great value for money. Came 3rd, 8.7.

Amrut Portonova Batch 22 62.1%
  • N caramel, sweet, old, complex, amazing, eggs, sulphur, candied oranges
  • honey, complex, aged, smooth leather 
  • superb, long
10/10 This was amazing. And not cheap. Came 1st 9.32

Great line-up, all whiskies i'd be happy to have in the cupboard. 

15 November 2020

Whisky Tasting : Thomson whisky

 In the last 20 years New Zealand has undergone a beer revolution, and in the last 5-10 years the spirits industry has decided to kick on. There's a lot of new(ish) gins on the NZ market, and many of these makers are using gin to subsidise their longer term plans of producing a NZ whisky. 

NZ whisky doesn't have an illustrious reputation. Historically all of the stuff I've had has been rough, immature, and apparently aged in poor quality casks. To an extent that's understandable, as the cost of good port/sherry/bourbon casks to NZ was prohibitive. 

But recently things appear to be improving, with Cardrona producing (apparently, I haven't tried it yet) excellent 3yo. And some distillers realising they've got gold on their footsteps with NZ Pinot Noir barrels, ageing has started in them... 

Thomson ran a tasting a Regional, and so Rich, Nabila and I popped along. I had low expectations.

Thomson Two Tone 40%

N: plain, hint pinot? bourbon/vanila
P: wine, light, peppery, pinot noir
F: short
It's not going to set the world on light, but it's drinkable. 5.5/10

Thomson Rye & Barley 2yo, 46% french oak casks
N: sweet, marshmallow, light, vanilla
P: sweet, astringent, vanilla
F: med, hot
6/10 again I think it's too young, the oak gave a lot of vanila, and that smoothed it a bit but no complexity

Thomson South Island Peat 46% [ex bourbon casks]
N: salt, bacon, rubber, medicinal
P: sweet, weak peat
F: med smoke
6/10 the peat is light, and it was emphasised to us that it was inland, not coastal, peat. I think this could benefit from a sherry finish, making it more like a Benriach - and more ageing.

Thomson Manuka smoke 46%
N: medicinal, sweet, oats, lemonade, smoke
P: warm, honey, manuka, smoke, sweet
F: sweet, medium
I liked this, interesting and could develop really nicely. 7/10. Again young, and lacking complexity

Thomson Five 46% 5yo
N: plain whisky, citrus
P: bland lemonade, sweet, very smooth
F:  medium
7/10 not sure why i rated this, maybe it had a bit of complexity coming through?

Thomson White Smoke 46% manuka, smoked, aged in Chardonnay casks
N: wine, citrus, melons, hint smoke
P: honey, bland
F: short, bland
5/10 disappointing.

Didn't make me change my mind about NZ whisky, but there is hope. I think the realisation we should stick to what's close (wine casks) is a good plan. And smoking barley with manuka is brilliant. 


Whisky Tasting : Springbank Local Barley

Catching up on a couple of tasting notes before the Best of the Best later this week. As a fan of Springbank I was looking forward to this one...

Couple of weeks ago we had a Springbank Local Barley tasting, these are quite distinctive yellow and black bottles from specific barley farms who supply Springbank. 

Springbank LB 11yo 02.2006-02.2017 53.1% 26 Bourbon casks 9000 bottles Bere barley Aros Farm

N: sweet, fruity, apples, limes, bourbon, oaky
P: very sweet, sticky, lemon, salt
F: long, citrus, tequila.
I liked this one, came 4th (8.39) but got an 8/10 from me.

Bruichladdich The Organic 2009 50% (mystery1)
N: bourbon, sweet, leathery, no sherry at all, solvent
P: sweet, warm, light
F: medium, tingly, peppery
Came 6th (7.57) wasn't very interesting - so a 6.5/10 from me.

S LB 10yo 07.2009 - 10.2019 56.2% 9000 bottles, 20 bourbon, 5 sherry 1 port casks, High Cattadale Farm Optic Barley
N: ozone, sweet, estuarine, smoke, oak
P: sherry, warm, rubber, salty bacon
F: medium, manuka honey, salty, warm
I liked this 8/10 (came 5th, 7.89), I liked the mix of salt and the warmth of the port in the background

Bruichladdich Bere Barley 50% 2020 (?) Mystery2
N: sweet, apples, pears, fruit, sherbert
P: dry, dishwater, parma violets
F: none. really short, hot
Definitely not a fan of this, really dull. Came 7th (7.17) and I gave it a 5/10. 

S LB 10yo 57.3% 06.2007-11.2017 9000 bottles, 18 bourbon, 8 sherry casks. West Backs far Belgravia Barley
N: sherry, nice, smooth, caramel, salted, starchy
P: wine, parma violets
F: med-long, hot
Meh, not a winner for me either, interesting nose, but after that a bit one dimensional. (3rd, 8.5 - so what do I know!), I gave it 6/10

S LB 9yo 07.2009-10.2018 57.7% 9700 bottles, 22 bourbon 6 sherry casks, high Cattadale Farm Optic Barley
N: vigorous, vegemite, buttery, salt, charred earth, damp cellar
P: lemonade, parma violets
F: medium, tingly, smokey
Came 1st overall (8.64), and I did like it a bit more 7/10, but I don't think it delivered on the promise of the nose.

S LB 16yo 09.1999 - 01.2016 54.3% 9000 bottles 24 bourbon 6 sherry casks, Low Machramore Farm Prisma barley (roughly NZD 1200 a bottle)
N: bandages, salt, medicinal, peat
P: old, smooth, old leather, savoury, bitter, cloves
F: long, salty, complex
Yeah I really liked this one, ticks a lot of Springbank boxes for me, 9/10 [came 2nd with 8.54].

I found this interesting, I'm not sure I picked up much variation in the barley, probably as the ages and casks types were mixed, but there was a lot of variation from one distillery. I don't know where the parma violets came from, but they were in a number of the samples. 
I think the 16yo was th eonly one which was 'Springbank' for me, but sadly as $1200 a bottle I'm unlikely to get one.


7 October 2020

Whisky Tasting: the Peat Feast

 Another month, another delayed tasting. But with Wellington back to Level 1, we got to have the Peat Feast.

Wolfburn 'Kylver Series' III 50%

  • N: bananas, custard, lycee, light peat
  • P: sweet, IPA, fruity, prickly, honey
  • F: long, dry, salty, well balanced.

Nice enough, but not great. It came 6th (7.87) and I'd given it a 7/10

Smokehead Islay 43%

  • N: medicinal, smokey, peat (lots), bacon, maldon salt, vigorous, sherbert, pecorino
  • P: bitter, light, low alc, phenol, salt.
  • F: short, salty, bitter
Came last with 6.43 (6/10 for me) not good.

Highland Park The Light 52.9% Refill USA oak, 17yo

  • N: sweet, bourbon, cut grass, creme brulee, low peat?, ginger, pineapple, winegums
  • P: winegums, spicy, cinnamon/nutmeg
  • F: medium, bitter
Came 7th (7.12), I only gave it 6/10. Selling on name alone.

Loch Lomond 12yo Croftengea OMC refill hogshead HL15541 03.2006-11.2018 50%

  • N: toffee russian fudge, trifle, espresso martini
  • P: tingly, watery, one dimensional
  • F: long builds, hot
5th (7.98), I really didn't like this one, found it boring and watery, 5/10

Ardmore 9to BBR 2008-2018 9yo 52.3%

  • N: ash, seaweed, fresh gumboots, salty, sweet, med vigorous
  • P: peat, medicinal, light
  • F: peat builds
I gave it 7.5/10, liked this one (4th with 8.04)

Bruichladdich Octomore 10.3 2013-2019 6yo 114ppm 61.3%

  • N: yes! cabbage, alcohol, waxy, oily, smoke, bacon, carbon
  • P: ash, strong, vigorous, peat, medicinal, big
  • F: medium
not the biggest octomore fan, but i liked this, although a bit boring on the finish, the rest had stuff going for it. 
8/10 (it came 1st with 8.39)

Smokehead High Voltage 58%

  • N: toffee, macaroni cheese, wood chips, manuka
  • P: salt, peat, bacon, not subtle,
  • F: long
Liked this one, it does what it says on the tin. 8.5/10 (came 2nd with 8.31)

Glenlivet Nadurra peated small batch, 61.8% 

  • N: winegums, icecream, apple, pear, maple syrup, vanilla, boubon oak, spearmint
  • P: complex, sherry, smoke
  • F: long complex
yeah i loved this, and it's cheap (around $110NZ) 9/10 for me. (3rd on the night, 8.18)

Overall, possibly a little disappointing in sheer fuck offness peat, but there were some very nice whiskies there.


10 August 2020

Whisky Tasting : 25 years of Daniel

Daniel, the dodgy bugger who led us into the whisky world, has been doing it for 25 years. So Regional Wines decided to celebrate with a line up of 25yo whiskies.

We've expanded to a quartet and so we assembled to drink booze. 

Glenrothes 25yo 43%

  • N: light, sherry, sweet, oranges, elegant, lowish alcohol
  • P: apples, pears, woody, sweet, caramelised sugar, oily, salt
  • F: long, dry

9/10 all the hallmarks of a Glenrothes, but on 'roids. Fantastic stuff. This came 5th on the night (8.6/10)

Talisker 25yo 45.8% 1990-2017

  • N: soft, smokey, tyres, gunpowder, citrus, oily seaweed, wet dog.
  • P: warm, peat, smoke, hot, light, matchhead, phosphorus
  • F: long, hot
9/10. Not a big fan of the standard Talisker, but when they hit 20+ years, something magical happens. the complexity brings down the fight, fantastic stuff. Came 2nd (8.95)

Cardrona 2015 Single Malt 3yo Ex Sherry 63.2%
  • N: perfect, sweet, parmesan, prickly, Demerara sugar, maple syrup
  • P: prickly, smooth, hot, young 
  • F: hot, medium
9/10. Yes it's a 3yo, and yes thats 22 years too young. But crickey. It's a bit good. Came 7th (8.18)

Glendronach 25yo 51.2% 23.03.1993-2019. Oloroso Butt #416
  • N: sherry, sack cloth, oilskin, wood polish
  • P: long sherry, leather, perfect.
  • F: long, sexy.
10/10. That rating is unlikely to surprise anyone. It's Glendronach, it's 25yo. I am a simple boy. Came 1st (9.45)

Glenallachie 25yo 48% bottled 2018
  • N: apple, pears leather polish, poster glue (PVA), sherbert
  • P: light, prickly, envelope glue, thin
  • F: light, medium
7/10. In the standards of the night, abysmal. By any other lineup, quite good, just light and delicate. Came 6th (8.54), so obviously some people are eejits.

Old Pultney 25yo oak 46%
  • N: light, apples, pears, mellow, musty, sweet, vanilla.
  • P: Interesting, stone fruit, ginger, banana lollies
  • F: medium, sugar mice
8.5/10 This was the mystery dram. Tasty stuff, apparently Neil has convinced me I should like OP. And more evidence here. Came 3rd (8.93)

Benriach 25yo 46.8%
  • N: floral, dish soap, vanilla, caramel, smooth, sherry, light
  • P: light, almonds, aniseed, musty, star anise, cardamon
  • F: medium, aniseed
9/10. Hells yes. Oh yeah you already knew I liked Benriach. Lovely dram, complex, interesting, different. Came 4th (8.9)

Overall, best tasting I've been to. when the worst whisky got a 7. and it's not really that bad, it's probably a good line up. Actually on reflection, the Brora / Clynelish tasting was up there too. 

Anyone won lotto recently? feel free to buy me any of these. You can see some of the prices on the photo...

Slainte Daniel :)

Love, B

3 July 2020

Whisky Tasting : Dark and Dirty

The sister tasting to the Light Fantastic a couple of weeks ago, but looking at big sherry monsters - 8 cask strengths. It's tough, real tough.
We had a tryptch, but had swopped Blair for one of my workmates.

G&M Mannochmore 56.8% 2003 15yo 1st fill sherry
N: sweetish, honey manuka, cereal, fruity, malty, vanilla
P: fruit salad, sweet, apples, ginger
F: medium, red wine?, fruit

I've had a few Mannochmores through SMWS - they don't release a lot of single casks, so it's usually the independent bottlers. I liked this a lot, interesting, fruity, and definitely worth drinking. For those playing at home, it came 7th. Which was wrong. People, they're idiots.

Adelphi 'Breath of the Highlands' 2007 12yo 52.7%
N: fruit salad, dryish, apple,
P: fruity, musty, cream, boring
F: short-med
disappointment, not sure we ever established what highland distillery it was from, but then again not keen to find out either.
6/10 [came 8th]

Dramfest 'Dirty Little Secret' 11yo 56.9% [Caol Ila]
N: rubber, sulphur, damp wool, peat
P: rubber, ashtray, sweet, cigars, iodine
F: long, ash, peppery
Dramfest bottling, and yes it's superb. It couldn't really tick any more boxes for me for a Islay whisky :)  Although as people are idiots, it only came 5th. I know. twats.

Bunnahabhain Adelphi 2009 10yo 58.9% cask #900022
N: chocolate sweet, old car, smoked cheese, caramel, mushrooms
P: warm, honey, smooth, vanilla, burnt brandy snaps
F: warm-long, dry, late evening dram
8.5/10 Also great stuff (came 4th), also more reasons I shoudl really buy some Bunnahabhain, it'll make Neil feel vindicated if nothing else...

Amrut Portonova Batch 22 62.1% 
N: strong, savoury, red berries, sweet, oloroso?
P: warm, woody, ashtray, redwine/port,
F: short
I think I'm going to have to admit that Amrut have come a long way from their rubbish first releases. This is now two that I've really liked. this came first, but wasn't my favourite

Ardnamurchan Malt Spirit 2019AD 57.4%
N: sweet, candied fruit, marmalade, delicate, hint of peat, perfumed
P: peat, pepper, heat
F: medium, peat
It's less than 3yo so can't be called scotch, but tasted very good. 7/10

Ballechin Straight from the Cask Bordeaux 2007 11yo 60.2%
N: rubber, salt, bacon, sulphur, creamy, sweet, inky
P: pepper, peat, not complex
F: long
Edradour's peated expression, much better than the early releases I tried, but I do find the SFTC a bit hit and miss from them.  Came second, which was generous.

Glenturret G&M 2005 14yo 53.5%
N: vanilla, golden syrup, light, apple, apricot
P: nutty, astringent
F: nothing
well this was rubbish, nose was good, everything else disappeared. And yet it came 3rd? I mean I shouldn't judge my fellow booze hounds, but really people ! really close to a fail from me.

As from last tasting, great to be back tasting whiskies with the group, and huzzah to NZs covid response allowing us to start up again. Next month (well ok, later this month) is the 25th anniversary of Daniel's tastings, so all whiskies are 25yo - really looking forward to that.