Caroni 1998 – The Duchess

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Sample provided by Best of Whiskies

I’ve reviewed quite a few rums from the now closed Caroni distillery in Trinidad before and have come to like its heavy character quite a bit. Caronis are pretty much exclusively available from independent bottlers and this particular one comes from the Netherlands based “The Duchess”, a brand of the online store Best of Whiskies.

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Whiskybase “Same As 10K” (Laphroaig 6yo)

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Whiskybase.com is one of the largest online databases of whisky. They have listings for just about every bottle of whisky ever made as well as forums, online marketplace and their own store with it’s own well established bottling label (The Archives). With every 10,000 bottles added to their database they release a special bottling to celebrate.

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Invergordon 43 bottled for Wijnhandel van Zuylen

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This one was on the table at a recent meetup of our whisky Club, Malt Mongers Israel, which was centred around Scottish grain whiskies. Invergordon is probably one of the most commonly found grain whiskies which can be found bottled as such and can really yield quite impressive results with good ageing. This one was an exclusive bottling for Wijnhandel van Zuylen, a well renowned Dutch spirits retailer by Whiskybroker.

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Port Ellen 1979 Bottling for Whisky Live Tel Aviv 2018

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I never really thought I’d be making a Port Ellen post. Let alone from my own bottle. For those unfamiliar with the distillery, it was an Islay distillery which shut down in 1983, owned by a company that would eventually become part of Diageo, they left quite a healthy stock of casks which have slowly been bottled over the years. Whisky distilled in a distillery that shut down before I was born is something special indeed.

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Brora 37

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Apologies for the absence. I had a very busy month with my wedding at the end of it. Hopefully now things are settled down and I can carry on sharing my whisky notes.

I really love Brora, a lot so when a stand at Whisky Live Tel Aviv was selling this off at by the glass, I had to have some.  A lot of closed distilleries have a cheaper contemporary parallel with a similar profile, but Brora is just totally unique to me.

Aged 37 years. 50.4% ABV. No colourant added, non-chill filtered and bottled at batch strength

Nose: Burned straw. Honey. Tobaccos. Red fruits. Smoked salmon. Caramel pudding. Wood spice. Cedar oil. Eucalyptus.

 

Palate: Leather. Wet stone. Burned grass. Slight farminess. Smoke. Wood oils . oil fire. Hard cider. Candy apple.

 

Finish: Long. Warm cider. Unlit tobacco. Lots of Wood spice. Slight liquorice.

Would I buy this: If I had the money to burn

Would I order this in a bar: Yes

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: N/A

As always a truly unique dram. The light peat mixes so well with the fruity distillate and wood influence. Delicious.

 

Glenfiddich 14 Bourbon Barrel Reserve

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Thanks to /u/unbreakablesausage from reddit for the sample.

This is one I’ve wanted to try for some time. A few years back I got a a bottle of Glenfiddich 14 Rich Oak, aged in virgin oak casks. I thought it was a gimmicky bottle but ended up being my favourite standard release from the distillery. This one was released for the American market and was aged in first fill bourbon instead of virgin oak and I’ve been curious as to how it stacks up against the other 14 year old.

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Pine Barrens American Single Malt Whisky Batch 11

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One category of whisky that is slowly emerging and is of great interest to me is American malt whisky. With the craft brewing and distilling trend over there they have the potential to bring some really interesting and unique things to the market. Sadly aside from one or two well known brands, these things can be extremely hard to find over on this side of the planet.

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Golan Heights Distillery Brewer’s Whisky – BBX Amber Ale

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Bottle still closed until I finish the previous one, tasted at the distillery’s stand at Whisky Live Tel Aviv 2018

This is the 2nd release of Golan Heights Distillery’s distilled beer (or beerskys). The previous one was distilled from a chickpea beer. This one is distilled from a more traditional amber ale style craft beer from the Golan Brewery, located in the same town as the distillery. I really loved the previous release and when I tried this one at Whisky Live Tel Aviv last week it was just as good, if not better (but this is entering the realm of personal taste). Like the last one this was matured in an ex-Golani Black (the distillery’s two-grain whisky matured in charred virgin oak) casks for 2 years and bottled at 50%.

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Old Old Pulteney 17

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One of the more interesting stands at Whisky Live Tel Aviv last week wasn’t an importer or a distillery, it was a for a local group organised by some whisky fans to try and increase give a little boost to the increasing interest in quality spirits. The guys behind the group had brought some interesting and unique whiskies from their personal collections to show people what good whisky can be and what it has to offer. One of those whiskies was this older version of Old Pulteney 17 (from the late 2000’s/early 2010’s), which is probably my favourite of their standard range, or was since it’s been discontinued :(.  I’m not sure if the recipe changed when they changed to the most recent label design but I know at some point they stopped using PX in the mix of sherry casks, this one should still have that.

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A TheMacallan Tasting

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A little while ago I attended a TheMacallan tasting organised by a local alcohol group with TheMacallan’s Middle Eastern brand ambassador. Disclaimer before I even get started: I am not a fan of TheMacallan, I think their whisky is obscenely overpriced and that it has taken a hit in quality over the past few years with more emphasis being placed on the brand than on the whisky, just so you know I’ve got a little bit of a bias so please take what I say with a pinch of salt. That said I’ll always open to having my mind changed when it comes to whisky.

We tried the following whiskies:

  • Fine Oak 12
  • Sherry Oak 12
  • Fine Oak 18
  • Sherry Oak 18
  • Rare Cask

TheMacallan 12 Fine Oak

Aged 12 years. 40% ABV. No colourant added.

Nose: New make. Boiled sweets. Citrus oil. Toffee. New wood.

Palate: Sticky sweet. Cinnamon candies. Slight sulphur. Waxy citrus peel.

Finish: Short-medium. Rich sweet fruits. Toffee. Marzipan. Dried citrus.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: No

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: No

VFM: 2/5

Really not a fan of this one. Tastes younger than 12 years, and very generic.


TheMacallan 12 Sherry Oak

Aged 12 years. 40% ABV. No-colourant added.

Nose: Very funky sherry. Red fruits. Sticky red sauce. Woodspice. Nutmeg.

Palate: Maple. Sticky sherry. Cinnamon. Citrus. Red grapefruit.

Finish: Medium. Cloves. Dried orange peel. Nutty wood.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: No

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: 1/5

This one was a bit more complex than the fine oak, like there was actually something to be enjoyed here, but I found the sherry way too dominant and unbalanced for my tastes.


The Macallan 18 Fine Oak

Aged 18 years. 43% ABV. No-colourant added.

Nose: Light malt. Green herbs. Hay. Light wood. Toffee. Slight musty sherry. Icing sugar. Marshmallow.

Palate: Chewy red fruits. Toffee. Cinnamon flavouring. Malt. Oranges.

Finish: Medium. Woodspice. Maple syrup. Dry oak.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: No

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: No

VFM: 1/5

Well this was a nasty surprise. I had a bottle of this about 4 or 5 years ago and I remember there being a distinctive sherry character to it which I quite liked but that was gone, like the 12 year old, this was very generic and really had nothing going for it over several other whiskies which go for a third of the price.


TheMacallan 18 Sherry Oak

Aged 18 years. 43% ABV. No-colourant added.

Nose: Spicy sherry. Slightly sulphury. Wintergreen. Menthol. Wood oils. Cedar. Stewed fruits. Prunes. Silan.

Palate: Silan. Prunes. Dry sherry. Cough syrup. Cedar wood. Nutty wood. Cinnamon bark. Nutmeg.

Finish: Medium. Cinnamon rolls. Nutmeg. Red liquorice.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: Yes

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: 1/5

This is more like it. This had all the hallmarks of a really fantastic sherried dram and shows more of what this distillery has built its reputation on. It was complex, rich and balanced, really lovely stuff.


TheMacallan Rare Cask

Aged 3 years*. 43% ABV. No-colourant added.

*for lack of age statement

Nose: Red liquorice. Sweet, sticky raisins. Honey. Toffee. A little too much woodspice.

Palate: Sweet sherry, leads into dry. Marzipan. Cinnamon candy. Cloves. Cherry flavoring.

Finish: Medium. Drying. Stewed fruit. Red liquorice. Woodspice. Nutmeg.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: No

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: No

VFM: 1/5

Not a fan of this one. It comes in a very fancy bottle with a very fancy price but what’s inside it very odd, and not in a good way. I found it sickeningly sweet to my tastes and lacking anything else to it really.