Archive for October, 2016


Glenrothes 2001

Glenrothes: 2001 (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Slightly bronzed gold.

Viscosity: Very slow but comes down as a sheet.

Nose: Black cherry. Black forest gateaux. Forest fruits. Honey. Brambles. Caramel shortbread. Creamy chocolate. Thick and slightly musky. Water adds custards slices and slight pepper.

Body: Thick and syrupy. Golden syrup. Strong alcohol. Blueberry pie. Woody oak influence. Slight tannins. Water makes smoother – vanilla custard on blueberry. Red cherries and slight apples. Toffee. Malt drinks and whipped cream.

Finish: Wood. Toffee and honey. Slight gooseberry. Slight tannins. Water makes for forest fruit, light musty smoke. Slight musty air and charring. Malt drinks and slight bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: This is such a fruity whisky – with very natural feeling fruitiness. It feels like a mashed up barrel of dark fruit; There is that musty air, and a feel akin to that hairy fuzz you get on berries. Then sweetens so it is like deep amounts of forest fruit coated in golden syrup.

Not all of that is immediately evident – the aroma does give a good show, but on sipping it is a bit alcohol heavy resulting on a drier, less open whisky. Water is what brings out all the dark fruit you were promised – now smoothly delivered, with a whisky that feels dark in all things. From slight charring, malt drinks and slight bitter chocolate it all gives that coherent, complementary imagery. With the creamy notes it all comes together like a black-forest gateaux – the whisky. A very nice look, with just a few hints towards the brighter, shaper green fruit to freshen it up.

With water it is very luxurious, thick, creamy and filled with flavour. It plays in the same realm as the Dalmore whiskies for flavour. Always a good thing to be compared to in my opinion. It is very much worth trying – it doesn’t quite have the unique twist to be one of my favourites and a must try. However it is about as good as a whisky can be without reaching that level.

It is a dark alcohol dessert for delectation in decadent environs. Treat yourself with this one.

Background: Glenrothes have always been an odd one – the vast majority of their output I have seen has been vintage based names, rather than list by age. An interesting habit. In this case I am fairly sure I tried the 2001 at one of Independent Spirit’s tasting sessions. But I was quite drunk on whisky so I am not 100% sure. Any which way The Tasting Rooms had this 100ml bottling of it, so I decided to grab it and see if it was the tasty one from my memories. Drunk while listening to the Black Lagoon anime OST for a mix of light relaxing and high octane background music

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Siren Garage Project Blacklight Banana

Siren: Garage Project: Blacklight Banana (England: Imperial Stout: 9.2% ABV)

Visual: Black. Inch of yellow brown head.

Nose: Dried banana. Smoke. Pencil shavings. Quite closed. Fudge. Stewed banana as it warms. Light chocolate dusting.

Body: Bitter chocolate. Very ripe to stewed banana. Palma violets. Smooth and creamy. Praline. Cinnamon. Some blended whisky notes.

Finish: Banana Sunday. Toffee sauce. Mild chocolate. Smooth sheen on tongue. Praline. Bitter cocoa. Cinnamon. Subtle milky coffee.

Conclusion: Ok, sometimes the very smooth, slightly light, Imperial Stout style can work. Ok, who would have thought that? Normally I find that level of light character in a stout a flaw, but here it just successfully makes room fro those mashed and stewed banana flavours to slot right in.

In fact, with the smoothness, and later on with the whisky notes I wondered if this had been barrel aged. Looking at the bottle I am still not sure – they refer to bourbon barrel aged coffee beans. Lacking a comma that seems to say that just the coffee beans had been barrel aged. So that shouldn’t have made the beer smoother. I guess. Bit of an odd twist. I have no idea. Any which way, the beer tastes barrel aged and that is the important bit.

Actually no, scratch that, the important thing is that this tastes like a Banana Sunday that someone dropped way too much chocolate sauce on. I don’t mean “way too much” in bad way – I just mean that the chocolate would be too dominant if it was a Banana Sunday. It has a very dessert feel, albeit that someone felt a need to drop a shot of Irish whiskey into the mix as well.

Considering the number of elements in it, it plays a fairly small set of notes. That is pretty much the only drawback I have with this beer. It does the dessert, liqueur and chocolate thing very well, but there is no real progression from there. The coffee beans especially seem to have very little input.

Still, works the smooth character well, plays as a dessert beer well – if you want more banana in your life and in your stout then rock on! This does the job.

Background: Another one from the rainbow project – collaborationist between UK and (in this case) NZ breweries, based on a colour set to them. This is the indigo inspired beer, and they went with the idea that under a blacklight bananas look indigo. A nice bit of rules-lawyering of which I approve. It was made with blowtorched bananas, molasses, banana purée and coffee beans that had been aged in bourbon barrels (No I have no idea how that works). Grabbed from Independent Spirit this was drunk while listening to a mix of metal covers of pop songs. I am sucker for such things for some reason.

Stone 6th Anniversary Porter 2016 Encore

Stone: 6th Anniversary Porter: 2016 Encore (USA: Imperial Porter: 8% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Large moderate froth browned head.

Nose: Cinnamon and wood chip dust. Smooth chocolate shavings. Bitter cocoa powder. Smoke and hazelnuts. Choc orange. Smoked beef.

Body: Sherry trifle and bitter cocoa. Smoke and smoked bacon. Brown bread. Hop bitterness. Slight sour cream. Brandy cream. Malt chocolate. Madeira. Roasted character. Light choc orange.

Finish: Smoked bacon. Bitter cocoa dust. Light oak. Smoke. Slight hop bitterness and roasted character – bitterness rises over time. Rum soaked raisins. Blended whisky air.

Conclusion: It really is obvious that Stone Brewing love their hops, so much so that even their porter feels stuffed full of hop bitterness. Thankfully that isn’t all they bring to the game – for one the body is pretty smoothly done, and with that the hop bitterness doesn’t cling – so despite the high bitterness and high abv it doesn’t become painful as thick and sticky hoppy dark beers can do.

The main backbone of the beer is a bitter cocoa to malt chocolate fest – very solid, and again smooth enough to not be bracing instead pushing high quality chocolate flavour. It is subtly rounded by smoked bacon flavour, which, let’s face it – there is very little that doesn’t make better. It gives extra weight without needing a thicker beer, and does that without needing to be dominant. It just lurks in the beer, waiting for the chocolate to fade out, then it rises up to fill the void.

That ideas sums up a lot of this beer – nothing is in a rush; Notes rise up and fade as and when they wish. If you hold the beer long enough then new notes, or old notes resurging are always there waiting to reward you. This feels like the epitome of a slow enjoyment beer. It doesn’t want to rush and neither should you.

For example – as time goes on first sweet sherry trifle and brandy cream like notes come out to sweeten up the beer, then later on blended bourbon notes come out as well. Of the two the sherry is the better addition. It gives and nice fruit and creamy side note that real adds some warmth and depth to the beer.

That final note – the blended whisky is pretty much the only weak point of the beer. Not terrible but it is slightly rougher and not as well integrated as the rest of the notes. Just a bit too raw spirity and rough – though it does only come out when the beer is warm, and is only a minor flaw… Therefore I have no problems recommending this to high heaven. The base is solid, the smoke works without dominating, and the extra barrel ageing makes it special. Definitely grab if you can.

Background: Ok, explanation time, this is not the Stone Porter brewed for their 6th Anniversary – or it is, it is brewed to the same recipe as part of their encore series for their 20th anniversary. Re-brewing old lost classic. This is their smoked porter, brewed to higher abv, more hops and conditioned on French and American oak. They lost a good chunk of it back in 2002 during brewing so it was a very small release. This, in 2016, was a bit easier to get hold of -grabbed from Brewdog’s guest beer selection. I am a big fan of Stone Brewing, especially their hoppy beers, which is at least 90% of their beers. They love hops. Drunk while listening to Garbage:Strange Little Birds, which if not as good as their first two albums, has definitely earned its place as a good, offbeat, powerful album.

Ægir Bryggeri Witbier

Ægir Bryggeri: Witbier (Norway: Belgian Style Wit: 4.7% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon juice. Thin white head – mainly sud bubbles. Low carbonation.

Nose: Lemon. Pineapple juice. Coriander. Wheat. Dry. Meringue.

Body: Dry. Lemon juice and lemon curd. Cinnamon. Coriander. Carrot. Traditional lemonade. Light greenery. Palma violets. Slight cardboard.

Finish: Carrot. Dry. Wheat. Greenery. Cardboard. Palma violets. Menthol. Lime. Orange zest.

Conclusion: This seems very dry for a wit – feels quite highly attenuated, which is a mixed blessing here. It leans the beer away from the overly sweet popular interpretation and gives a good platform for fresh lemon flavour to come through. That element, combined with the dry base, makes for a pleasant mouth refresher in the mid body. It also lets the spice work delicately, it can be a rounding note rather than having to be pushed up to fight with a sweet base – coriander and carrot on the savoury side, and cinnamon dusted doughnuts on the slightly sweeter edges.

So with that said, what is working against it? Well the dryness also has characteristics similar to an over attenuated America Pale Ale – it gets slightly harsh near the end of the body and brings out an unpleasant cardboard like element in the finish. It is that finish that really hurts it – while the dryness can introduce weaker elements in the rest of the beer, they are usually contrasted by very well done elements. In the finish there is little redeeming to contrast the flaws. A pity, as shown by the first paragraph there is a lot of good in this beer but the finish just stomps on it.

So, it has promise, but really needs to work on the dryness balance as it really lets itself down in overtime (AKA the finish). I would recommend they keep trying though, as this feels like if the brewers keep pushing at it, it could be fine tuned to something very nice.

Background: OK, I grabbed this one because it is from Norway – we don’t see many of their beers over here, and they tend to be fairly solid. I went for their Wit as you don’t see that many of them comparatively, and it is a solid beer style, done here without and fancy craft twists. Felt it would be a good way to get a handle on the brewery. I was surprised by the can – the ring pull takes the entire top of the can off, more like a soup can kind of ring pulls. Drunk while listening to a mix made up of my most listened to tracks, so definitely ones I would enjoy for this beer session :-). This was grabbed from Independent Spirit of Bath.

Pittyvaich 1989 25 Year

Pittyvaich 1989: 25 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 25 Year: 49.9% ABV)

Visual: Middling intensity grain colour.

Viscosity: A few middling streaks, mainly slow puckering.

Nose: Cereal grain. Alcohol. Vanilla.

Body: Cream, Pineapple chunks and tropical tinned fruit. Alcohol. Honey to dry mead. Water smooths, lightly waxy touch. Light creamy raspberry and fudge.

Finish: White chocolate chunks. Alcohol. Cheerios. Light wood shavings. Tropical tinned fruit. Water brings more tropical fruit, smoother character and a light oily sheen.

Conclusion: I find it odd, people say that first impressions are so important – yet cask strength whisky, highly prized and in demand cask strength whisky – will rarely be at its best when first encountered, before water has been added.

So, yeah, without water this is a bit closed and alcohol filled. Though, despite the alcohol being evident this still feels pretty smooth – especially for one that is nearly 50% abv. I guess I good bit of age can do that – but despite the smoothness there is an alcohol presence that makes it hard to get into. Then again, nearly 50% abv, I can’t say that was unexpected.

Even with the water, the aroma doesn’t say much – a fairly simple and predominantly grain filled kind of thing. So this is two for two on lack of good first impressions.

So, with all that in mind let’s check out the main body onwards with a bit of influence from the miracle worker that is water. Ok, here it becomes very smooth, creamy, slightly but only slightly waxy. All this with just a touch of water. So, for the mouthfeel it is a spot on mix between smoothness and yet still nicely viscous in texture. A lot of aged whisky can become too light, even before water, this still has enough weight to avoid that trap.

Flavour wise the base spirit seems quite neutral as I am getting less from that and more from a master-class on American bourbon oak ageing. Lots of tinned tropical fruit, white chocolate, dried pineapple chunks. All very smooth, fresh and easy drinking – Very enjoyable, however it does show that the base whisky seems to be giving more of a feel than a flavour here.

If I drank this blind, I think it would do well – it is a very tasty, smooth, general drinking whisky. With water it is far unlike its initial strength and almost too easy to sip large amounts of. As an example of the distillery though, especially as an expensive dead distillery, it doesn’t stand out much. The impressive characteristics seem to come from the oak for flavour, and age for smoothness. Now those are very good characteristics – smooth, fresh but grounded by a solid cereal character. Which are available in much cheaper whisky. Which is the problem. Go for those cheaper bourbon show whiskies.

Though I will say, aside from that I am very much enjoying this – the texture is where the whisky shines – smooth enough, creamy enough and just waxy enough. It may not have unusual flavour, but it has the feel.

So, not on the must try list of dead distilleries – but on its merits alone it is pretty good, just not silly money good.

Background: Treating myself time again – This is a from a distillery closed in 1993, which considering it only opened in 1974 is one short lived distillery. Grabbed from The Whisky Exchange – this was the bottle I grabbed when I got all those miniatures I did notes on a short while back. Thought about saving for a special occasion, but I still have one special bottle saved for when I hit 300 whisky notes, so decided to treat myself now. The distillery was mainly used for blends so there were never very many single malt bottlings of it around – this one was distilled in 1989 and bottled 2014 at cask strength. It is one of 5922 bottles (number 827 to be exact).

Brewdog Abstrakt AB 21

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB 21 (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Inch of caramel brown froth. Redish if held to the light

Nose: Dry black liquorice. Blackberry. Sour cream.

Body: Liquorice all-sorts. Blackcurrant. Sour chewy sweets. Sour black cherry. Dry. Slight charred wood and charcoal. Slight funky, yeastie note. Some bitter chocolate. Light toffee. Creamy as it warms, yet still dry late on.

Finish: Black liquorice. Tart black cherry. Black currant. Bitter and lightly charred. Black pepper and pepper seeds. Charcoal dust. Gooseberry and Ribena as it warms.

Conclusion: Erm, well, it does what it says on the tin – well, bottle anyway. Blackcurrant? Somewhat. Liquorice? Very much so. Aaaand, that’s kind of it.

The base Imperial Stout is kept to simple notes – fairly polished simple notes though – predominantly using a charred, bitter back with some hints of bitter chocolate, but not much. The main thing the base gives is a very good texture – it is a nice, kind of oatmeal stout thickness kind of thing – just the kind of feel and grip the beer needs.

The berries come out more with warmth, the liquorice plays with the cold. With the liquorice ascendant it feels very dry, and very, very liquorice filled. I will admit it tastes better than most uses of liquorice in a beer – there is a slight sweetness that makes it feel like all-sorts, and that helps it get not too dry, which is a common problem I find. However it is much better as it warms, the light tart edges becoming a more fruity front face.

It gains a mix of Ribena, tart black cherry and tart fruit gum sours. A more bright mix and far more enjoyable for me, plus a bit more complex. However, while it is more complex than before, it still isn’t very complex in general. It is a good drink, but very similar to already existing blackcurrant and liquorice stouts that aren’t ten quid a bottle. It is well made enough, but not better than those, nor is it particularly innovative or unique. As a standard Brewdog beer, I would give this a thumbs up. As an expensive Abstrakt it doesn’t earn its place with either ingenuity or complexity, Good, but too costly for what it is.

Background: This seems kind of normal for an Abstrakt beer – for those who don’t know Abstrakt is Brewdog’s one off specials, and tend to be pretty out there. This one is an Imperial Stout made with liquorice and blackcurrants. Grabbed straight from Brewdog’s shop, as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Abstrakts have started waxing their bottles – eh, it is done kind of ok – wax does get on my nerves these days due to overuse, but at least this one was fairly easy to get off. Think that is everything for this one.

Burning Sky Liberty Brewing Descent Into The Maelstrom

Burning Sky: Liberty Brewing: Descent Into The Maelstrom (England: American Pale Ale: 6.66% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon juice. Small white head.

Nose: Pineapple juice and coconut. Dried banana. Orange juice. Tropical fruit juice. Smooth.

Body: Tart white grapes. Pineapple juice. White wine. Coconut. Dried apricot. Light nettles and hop oils. Peach. Light cloying touch.

Finish: Light wood. Coconut. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Tart grapes sheen. White wine. Pink grapefruit. Dry.

Conclusion: Now this one really shows the New Zealand side of the rainbow collaboration – lots of tart fruit hop action with the base dry and mostly out of the way. You do get a recognisably dry pale ale character and accompanying bitterness in the finish, but the main body is fruity all the way.

The main, high concept pitch for this, if I had to give one, would be a beery pina colada. Lots of coconut notes laden through a pineapple fruit juice base beer. Then that carefully layered over the aforementioned pale ale bitter finish. It doesn’t just do that and rest on its laurels though, oh no. It brings slight tart grapes and pink grapefruit to really let the tart character shine – the tartness is fresh but far from overwhelming; It keeps gently refreshing rather than goes for sour and puckering.

Considering that the inspiration colour for this beer was orange it is odd that the orange is actually fairly gently used here. Just there at the back. The barrel ageing seems restrained as well – the beer is fairly smooth which often points to the barrel ageing, and there is a definite white wine air, but nothing pushed too hard as to hurt the base beer. Then again, maybe it is just the barrel ageing matches the dominant characteristics so well – it is hard to say.

Very good indeed. It doesn’t quite make the “My Favourite” list, despite the evident quality. The only, tiny thing against it is that it is a very specific beer for a very specific time. Even beyond being a very summer refresher styled beer, you really have to be in the right mind for it. It is not an anytime kind of beer. If you had it too often I feel the charm would fade. That very minor point aside though, this is great. Had occasionally this is dry, refreshing, complex yet easy to drink. A very specific kind of art, but definitely beer art.

Background: Confession time – was convinced that I had done notes on Burning Sky beers before and wasn’t too impressed by them. Turns out the only one I had tried was a collaboration and that was awesome. Awkward. I had been avoiding a brewery for no good reason. Liberty Brewing on the other hand, this is my first encounter. Another in this year’s rainbow project set of beers. Two brewers, from two countries, working together and given a colour for the theme of their beer. This one is “Orange”. Grabbed from Independent Spirit this is made with “Deep breath” orange zest, pink grapefruit, fermented with Belgian yeast, Nelson Sauvin and Motueka hops and aged in a white Burgundy wine cask. Seriously they pull out all the stops for this rainbow series. Drunk while listening to Metallica – Master of Puppets. No link to the beer, just haven’t listened to them for ages.

Beavertown Oscar Blues Tempus Project Phobos

Beavertown: Oskar Blues: Tempus Project: Phobos (England: Weizenbock: 9.1% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown and mostly opaque. A couple of inches of brown bubbled froth that leaves suds.

Nose: Nutty and malt chocolate. Cashew nuts. Light menthol and mint leaves. Cinnamon. Lightly vinous.

Body: Malt drinks. Nutty. Vinous. Subtle port notes. Orange zest. Coriander. Stewed banana. Bready. Light to moderate bitterness. Light cloves.

Finish: Slight sour grapes. Malt chocolate drink. Madeira cake. Chocolate shavings. Bitty orange juice. Nutty. Smoke. Walnuts.

Conclusion: Oddly this reminds me of Bristol Beer Factory’s Vintage Ale – both are malt led, chocolaty, drinks with a hell of a lot going on. So much so in fact that it doesn’t quite mesh. So, that is your short overview of what is going to be the general theme of these notes.

With that said, it is strange that initially the nose is fairly simple – nutty and malt drinks. I was actually worried this was going to be a too simple beer. How silly of me!

The first thing that starts coming out to break up that image is the vinous notes – from sour grapes, sweet Madeira cake to slight port. Not dominating but definitely rounding notes. Good use of barrel ageing that still lets the base beer breath. I approve! Now the base is not the most complex thing, bitter chocolate over nutty notes – but it is definitely solid enough to set up for what is a mass of infusions and ageing influence.

Another similarity to the BBF Vintage is in the fruitiness throughout – still quite malty, like malt choc orange through to a fresher orange juice style. It is a good element, but it is the element that most shows the integration of flavour issues thee beer has – it doesn’t quite line up with the others, instead seeming to float around aside from the rest.

Now despite that the beer is not bad – in fact I am tempted to grab one to age, like I did with vintage, see if it mellows out and matches up a bit better. It is just with the fruit, vinous, nutty, malt led and spice touched beer there is so much going on that it feels unfocused. So, not clearly defined, but surprisingly easy to drink, especially for 9% and up. The solid bitter chocolate to malt drinks base is charming as is, but is they smoothed it out and got everything in a line it would be amazing.

So, pretty much like BBF Vintage before it a mixed up beer, but with a lot of charm. If I grab one to age I will you now how that goes.

Background: OK, lot to describe in this beer. It is a weizendopplebock aged for 8 months in Madeira barrel – infused with smoked bananas, walnuts, pecans, dates and figs. Oh, and oats as well as the expected wheat. So, yeah that interested me – especially with both Oscar Blues and Beavertown at the helm. That sounded like a match made in heaven. This was drunk after a session playing the new Doom and having my first encounter with the Cyberdemon and stomping its dick into the dirt. Having a beer called Phobos after playing Doom is very appropriate as any fan will tell you. To keep the feel going was listening to Carcass: Surgical Steel, for that real visceral metal feel. Decided against the Aventinus glass for this one – at 330ml it would probably get lost in the big weizenbock glass. Instead went for the Teku glass – always a good one for mall bottles and big flavours. As you may have guessed, this is another one bought from Independent Spirit of Bath.

Wild Beer Co 8 Wired Black and Blue

Wild Beer Co: 8 Wired: Black and Blue (England: Sour Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to peach hazy body with moderate white head.

Nose: Fresh and acidic. Fresh apples. Horse blankets. Peppered beef slices. Lightly salty. Flour. Light smoke.

Body: Acidic. Apples and pears. Tart. Apricot sweetness. Light vinegar notes. Fizzy. Chalk touch. Slight strawberry. Slight sulphur. Lemon.

Finish: Pineapple. Fresh. Flour touch. Slight strawberry. Slight black liquorice. Lemon.

Conclusion: Ok, hello, welcome to holographic flavour time again. For those of you not accustomed to the term (understandable as I think I am the only one who uses it this way) it is how I describe the experience with sour beers where amongst the sour flavours you suddenly get a host of unexpected flavours; Seemingly like an illusion caused by the shock to your tongue. It is a pretty cool thing and one of the things I love about sour beers.

This has pretty sharp sourness and acidity – not Cantillon level, but just a step past the level used by most sour beers, and beyond what I would imagine would be the comfort zone of people not used to them. As a result it isn’t one to use as an introduction sour – it hits the back of the throat with an acid burn and carries a light vinegar touch

There are slight rounding in characteristics, such as light flour and sulphur touches – possibly from the charred oak, or maybe not, but it does give a nice bit of contrast to the acidic apples and such like. It gives a slightly steam beer like texture to the middle, which for some reason feels kind of appropriate.

Pretty satisfying, but does feel a bit like a base beer to be worked from rather than the finished article. Once you get used to it, it taste pretty solid but no frills. The charred oak and the peppercorn are fairly subtle in their influence – definitely better than being overly dominant, but this could do with a little extra polish and piazza before being ready for the prime time.

Worth noting, though possibly, in fact probably psychosomatic – after I read the bottle and where the name came from, I got a kind of rare steak image of flavour around the acidic notes. Wonder how much of that was all in my mind. Anyway, a good sharp base – worth taking to some time to work from this.

Background: I am amused by the rainbow project – an attempt to link up British and world brewers ( this year New Zealand), give them a colour to use as inspiration ( in this case blue) and let them go hog wild on a collaboration. So, apparently inspired by black and blue streaks (because of course) this is a unhopped, non boiled sour ale that has been aged in charred bourbon casks for six months, and with green, black and white peppercorns added in. Never a boring moment. I love that Wild Beer co are bringing so much sour beer experimentation to the UK, and 8 wired is easily one of my favourite NZ brewers, so lots of hope for this one. Took my time with this one, was doing a full disk and system backup on my computer so had plenty of time to go. Drunk while listening to Iron Maiden: Book of Souls again. Had been debating with people at work who found it a very poor album. Still have to disagree, more an album experience than any individual song, which I can see would put people off, but very listenable as that. This was grabbed from the ever reliable Independent Spirit of Bath.

Raasay While We Wait

Raasay: While We Wait (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Clear rose wine.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Rose wine and glacier cherries. Perfume. Vanilla toffee. Pencil shavings. Stays the same with water.

Body: Smooth, with some alcohol to the middle. Rose wine. Perfume. Malt chocolate toffee drinks. Light wood. Water makes smoother and adds more toffee. Cherry pocked biscuits. More water adds light treacle.

Finish: Light charred wood. Alcohol numbing. Vanilla custard. Water brings out rose wine and light white grapes. Cherry pocked biscuits and light treacle.

Conclusion: This is my second dram of this. I have found that the first pour out of a bottle tends not to be the best, so I have taken to doing notes on the second dram onwards where possible. The first drink came across as quite perfumed, and turned out a bit simple and unappealing – just perfumed frippery.

This dram? Well it is still fairly perfumed, which is not my favourite way of doing things, but not intrinsically bad. The rest of the whisky? Well it has pulled itself up a bit.

The main thing, which I think is also what gives such a perfumed character, is the unusual barrel finishes’ influence. Lots of rose wine styling, lots of cherries. It doesn’t really change that much with water, will get to what does change in a moment, but in general it just gets clearer and a less alcohol touched base to work from.

The main thing that the water does change is bringing out a more recognisably traditional whisky style base. It is much more identifiable as what you would expect with toffee sweetness and a treacle thick set of notes – a more typical expression that the atypical rose wine flavours that they enhance. This pretty good progression – neat it is still too perfumed, this gives it some depth.

So, neat it is still not quite for me, but it is interesting. With water I can appreciate it though – not the fanciest or best put together whisky, but the more traditional feel helps. Though I will say the traditional feel and the rose style notes don’t mesh perfectly, but it manages ok. Hope when they turn out their own whisky they balance it a bit better, but for now it is an interesting enough holding pattern to turn out.

Background: Ok, picking a region for this one was difficult. Raasay is a new distillery on, surprise, the island of Raasay. So, obviously this is under the Island set right? Nope. You see the Raasay distillery has only just opened, their whisky will not be showing up for a long time. This is a mix of peated and unpeated whisky from an unnamed Highland distillery – so that is what I have listed it under. It is also finished in Tuscan wine casks. I know nothing about Tuscan wine, but it sounds interesting. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to the odd noise to music ambient thing that is Clonic Earth.

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