Tag Archive: 12 Year


that-boutique-y-whisky-company-laphroaig-12-year-old
That Boutique-y Whisky Company: Laphroaig 12 Year Old (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 52.4% ABV)

Visual: Pale clear and light, just slightly gold touched, spirit.

Viscosity: Slow thick streaks.

Nose: Quite creamy. Slight lemon. Orange crème. Butterscotch. Very light medicinal. Water makes slightly salty.

Body: Lightly salty. Some alcohol presence. Water makes creamier. Chocolate toffee eclair sweets. More medicinal and light custard sweetness. Light lemon meringue.

Finish: Dry peat intensity. Light grapefruit. Malt chocolate drinks. Water adds caramel and cream. Light lemon sorbet air. Light beef slices. Salted notes. Shredded wheat and honey.

Conclusion:An easy going Laphroaig? Kind of, yes, but with a sting in the tail. Spoiler – in a shock twist it is not the high alcohol level that gives the punch that provides the sting in the tail. In fact for the abv it is remarkably easy going, and while you only get a few of the notes neat, it only needs a tiny amount of water to start opening it up.

This is a mix of three definite, and distinct styles. There is the expected, though lighter than usual, medical, salty, salted rocks and such like notes that makes up the traditional Laphroaig elements- much more subtly used than normal though. The second string is a heavy twist on a note that can sometimes be seen in Laphroaig – lemon. Here it is far from normal – creamy, between lemon sorbet and lemon meringue, but now bringing light grapefruit and orange fruitiness that nigh unheard of from the distillery. It actually reminds me of traditional lemonade at times, that odd mix of flavours. Third and final is the chocolate caramel sweetness – there is normally a sweetness in Laphroaig backing everything but never as ramped up and thick as it is here.

Together it is only just recognisable as Laphroaig – until that sting in the tail – that being a peat punch pounding out in the finish; Finally stamping the Islay styling home.

Over time the more beefy, peaty notes rise up, more towards the standard ,expected notes- so by the end if feels like a more traditional expression, but enhanced by all that additional creaminess, sweetness and fruitiness.

Oft I have seen the expressions from the big Booming Islay distilleries mocked for the impression that they all taste the same. This shows this as the lie it is and slays the concept – this is recognisable, but different and delicious.

Background: After my last notes at the Hideout, I resolved to go back and try this. A rare independent Laphroaig bottling, with a cool Back To The Future inspired label. That Boutique-y Whisky Company always has cool, cartoon labelling which I dig. Apparently the people on the label are the winners of a contest. This is one of 421 bottles. While I do not control the music when in public, The Cranberries : Zombie came on while doing these notes, which was pretty nice.

hideout2

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

The Old Malt Cask Blair Athol 12 year

The Old Malt Cask: Blair Athol: 12 Year (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 50% ABV)

Visual: Grain, fairly light coloured.

Viscosity: A few, quite fast medium thickness streaks.

Nose: Heather. Honey. Lightly waxy. Light herbal tea and mint leaves. Vanilla. Sugared almonds. Water adds wet oak.

Body: Honey and custard slices. Warming and lightly oaken. Cake sponge. Smooth. Sugared almonds. Water makes golden syrup and more nutty. More water adds apricot and more custard slices.

Finish: Malt drinks. Wood shavings. Slightly dry. Light peppery. Light waxy. Vanilla toffee. Honey. Water makes sugared almonds come out and light strawberry. More water orange crème and light menthol notes.

Conclusion: I will not hold Bells again this, I will not hold Bells against this. I will not hold Bells against this. Yep, as mentioned in the background, it is time for me to take on a single malt take on one of the main components of Bells whisky. I am not a fan of Bells whisky. Anyway, this is nicely smooth, especial for a 50% abv whisky. Frankly, I have had far weaker whisky burn far stronger on sipping. Good job. This also has a very familiar, general, whisky character. It is probably due to the fact that it used in one of the most common blends, that it seems very familiar even here in the single malt form. However here it has none of the roughness, just feels very typical of what you would expect when you hear the word “whisky”.

The flavours call to mind a sweeter take on a Strathisla. It has a similar nutty character which I appreciate, but here it is a bit more easy going, and a bit smoother – with notes of honey and vanilla custard building the sweetness up.

It all hangs together very well, a solid flavour set that matches light apricot fruit. Mixed sweetness, light peppiness and good nuttiness. Nothing too unusual but very smoothly done, and the flavours back each other up very well.

On top of that, let’s face it, it only seems slightly generic as Bells is often many people’s first, terrible, experience of whisky. It is well known and so will seem familiar. If this stood in the palce of Bells as a standard dram I would have no complaints at all.

A genuinely solid dram, nothing unusual, but very nicely done. Another good whisky for anyone who wants to try a good whisky that shows what the base characteristics of whisky should be.

Background: Normally I try to support the smaller local shops, however this is an exception. One of the branches of “The Whisky Shop” opened in Bath a while back, so I poked my nose in and noticed they had this smaller bottle of Blair Athol. A whisky I have tried a few times, and in fact visited the distillery, but have never done notes of. So I decided to grab a bottle to fill in the gap in my blog’s notes. Anyway, this, as mentioned in the main body, is one of the main single malts used in the Bells blend. This particular one was distilled 2012 and put in the bottle 2014. Aged in a refill hogshead this is non chill filtered. I think that covers it. Drunk while listening to Clonic Earth again, that is one odd mix of white noise, haunting atmosphere and unnerving sound.

Strathisla 12 Year

Strathisla: 12 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 12 Years: 40% ABV)

Visual: Apricot touched bronze.

Viscosity: A mix of fast thick streaks and a couple of slower ones.

Nose: Honey. Sugared almonds. Alcohol. Heather. Perfume. Water adds wood dust and cinder toffee.

Body: Peach syrup. Alcohol. Walnut clusters. Honey. Roasted nuts. Charred oak. Water adds apples, cinder toffee, treacle and praline.

Finish: Perfume. Nuts. Alcohol. Charred oak. Dried apricot fruit sugars. Malt chocolate. Water makes treacle, liquorice, cinder toffee and custard.

Conclusion: Well, it’s been a while since I danced with a Strathisla, let’s see how well I remember the steps.

It is sweeter than I remember, brings a real thick honey set of notes that make up the base of this dance – it is also surprisingly alcohol touched for a 40% abv whisky that has racked up 12 years in the oak.

Initially this seemed less nutty than I remember – for me that nuttiness has always been the predominant element of my Strathisla memories. However a touch of water, as well as dimming the alcohol fire, also brings out a sweet nutty and praline mix of notes that settles in as a second line of flavour attack…dance steps. I think I may have lost track of my metaphors.

Anyway, pre water there are some rough charred notes, but they are soon smoothed out and overtaken by a darker sweetness that the water comes out – more liquorice and treacle notes amongst the honey.

It definitely pushes heavy the stereotypical but hard to define “whisky” character, albeit with more emphasis on the aforementioned notes. The speyside fruitiness is less noticeable, but shows as a light apple and apricot notes if you add just the exact right amount of water.

I’m still a fan, and Strathisla definitely holds a warm place in my heart due to my history with the whisky, though on a more objective level it is not as complex or subtle as many a Speyside whisky. Instead it is a solid, robust whisky that pushes a very familiar base whisky with its set of a few extra notes added as a twist to that. Still good, but not so showy.

Background: Again, many thanks to Independent Spirit for providing this bottle with a couple of doubles left in it for tasting notes purposes. They are pretty much single handedly handling my whisky reviews at this point! I grabbed a cask strength Strathisla back in my early days of doing notes, but, while I have tried the standard 12 year, I had never got around to doing notes on it. Good time to rectify that oversight then. Drunk while listening to the many Architects tracks on the youtube channel – may have to grab some of their CDs.

House Of Commons 12 Year

House Of Commons: 12 Year (Scottish Blended Whisky: 12 year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Burnished gold.

Viscosity: Thin fast streaks.

Nose: Cinnamon and cinder toffee. Chalk dust. Oak. Water adds honey and a slight eggy sulphur note.

Body: Smooth. Toffee. Black liquorice. Dry rice. Slightly rough edged. Quite oaken. Cinnamon. Water adds more toffee and cinder toffee.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Steamed rice. Dry. Slight oak. Water adds cinnamon and cinder toffee. Treacle. Stir fry.

Conclusion: I had a measure of this on the night it was given to me, and it was a tad rough and seemed poor quality. However, over the years I have found that a bottle of whisky may take a few days of breathing after breaking a bottle open to settle. So, now, I take another measure for doing notes on.

So, still a tad rough edged. That fiery like note that I associate with cheaper blends is there, but generally the whisky seems to have settled down somewhat. It is basally a sweet toffee and cinnamon whisky. Not bad on the base, especially with the nice cinder toffee notes but still with a few off rough edges. A lot of the rough off notes are familiar to whisky veterans – dry rice, stir fry – not notes that are automatically bad, Nearly everything has a place somewhere, but generally not a good sign. Here? Not a good element.

It actually is a whisky that does better without water – the alcohol touch is stronger, but the sweetness is stronger too so the off notes are less evident.

It is not the worst whisky I have had, but it does show the cut corners quite obviously. There is a decent base, but with too much rough character for me to recommend.

Let us say it is a sub-optimal whisky.

Background: So, many thanks to Paul from work for this. He won it back in the mid 80s in a raffle, but he isn’t a whisky fan, so kept hold of it until now, when he gave to to me for doing notes on. Not much info on this from google – looks like it is discontinued these days, but according to the label is whisky bottled, shocking, for the house of commons – probably for sale as a gift shop style thing I would guess, but who knows maybe everyone in the house of commons in the 80s drank this. Would explain a lot of the shit that went on in the 80s. Anyway, put my music on random, poured a dram and saw how it went.

Wemyss Spice King 12 Year
Wemyss: Spice King 12 Year (Scottish Blended Malt: 12 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold.

Viscosity: Medium speed and thickness streaks.

Nose: Honey and menthol. Greenery. Vegetable samosas. Danish pastry. Water adds heather notes.

Body: Very smooth. Honey. Alcohol touched body. Oak. Turmeric. Water makes much bigger honey and less alcohol. Vegetable samosas. Curry paste. Cinnamon.

Finish: Paprika and honey. Dry oak. Alcohol drying feel. Water adds green peppers.

Conclusion: Honey and lightly spiced vegetable samosas is what is coming to mind here. Not something I expected going in, but I am getting used to being surprised these days.

Initial impressions was that this is a very bright, simple, alcohol warmed whisky with heavy emphasis on the honey. It was slightly oaked, slightly light but generally enjoyable, if not earning its “Spice King” name.

Water initially pushed up the sweetness and dimmed the alcohol, but quickly the eponymous spice came out. Here is where we find that samosas character I mentioned earlier. Kind of a mix of vegetables, especially peas, mixed with a mild curry paste character. It is a gentle, vegetable spice, that is not harsh but becomes more and more to the fore as the amount of water increases. The thickness of the spice seems to fill the slightly thin cracks that existed in the whisky before, making it overall much more balanced.

It is full of that gentle spice, now only slightly sweet and actually quite rustic feeling – relaxing to drink despite the spice. For me it does what it says on the tin – spice, delivered smooth and gentle, but it does feel a tad one dimensional. I can’t complain that it doesn’t do what it sets out to do, but I feel it could do with a bit more depth and variety for it to appeal to me.

Ok, but more inoffensive than exciting.

Background: Keeping up the run of whisky miniatures with this blended malt from Wymyss. Grabbed from Independent Spirit who get mentioned a lot around here. Not much to say, Wymyss have done pretty good in their independent bottling so far. I think there is also an eight year version of this whisky going around but haven’t tried it.

Glendronach 12 Year

Glendronach: 12 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky:12 year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Reddened bronze.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Cherries on chocolate cake. Brandy cream. Sultanas. Vanilla fudge. Smooth. Water adds spiced orange notes.

Body: Very smooth, with a warming character. Raisins and sultanas. Plums. Lots of dark fruit. Glacier cherries and some sour cherry notes. Slight charred oak. Melted chocolate to chocolate liqueur. Water makes creamier and brings out spiced grapes.

Finish: Light oak. Raisins. Baileys. Chocolate liqueur. Slight alcohol air in a liqueur style. Water makes more baileys like but with a traditional whisky air.

Conclusion: I’m not 100% sure this whisky knows it is, in fact, a whisky. It seems to think it is a liqueur – possibly a whisky liqueur, but still a liqueur.

Now, I am not saying that as a bad thing, just as a way to try and communicate the very creamy and smooth character this thing brings to the table. Within that creamy body the emphasis is very much on the wide range of dark fruit – backed by a thematically appropriate dark chocolate and a smidgen hint of dark charred barrel. In the dark.

Despite the darkness of the flavours, the actual feel is just a tad light, but it has a lovely velvet texture and a mix of gateaux style cake experiences that are very pleasant. I actually prefer this to the 18 year old, despite the slight lightness of mouthfeel – it is less oaken and more balanced, even without water.

Speaking of water, this gains more of a traditional whisky air with water – especially floating around in the finish. Frankly it doesn’t need water, but if you miss the whisky styling then that will bring it back.

Overall, very smooth, tad light in the mouth feel but lovely dark dessert flavours helps push through that and makes it well worth while.

Background: *ahem again* “Ok, bias warning first: This is a part of the Masters Of Malt Whisky Calendar given to The Bath Whisky and Rum Club, part of Independent Spirit, who invited me to assist with the notes in return for uploading them to alcohol and aphorisms. Sounded a very fair deal to me. Also, due to this we each only had half of the 3cl bottle so thoughts are based on a smaller exploration than usual. On the other hand I could not say no to the chance to try so many new whiskies. Many thanks!”. I’ve tried some of the older expressions of Glendronach, including one that was given free to me at a whisky show for doing notes on, but never this one. Drunk while listing to the Guilty Gear soundtrack.

EDIT: Odd – Most of the books I have list this as Speyside, yet most shops online, the label and wikipedia call it highland whisky. I’ll go with the Michael Jackson book for now and leave it as Speyside but shall investigate.

Caol Ila 12 Year

Caol Ila: 12 Year ( Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Quite pale grain to gold.

Viscosity: Moderate to fast speed streaks of moderate to thick size.

Nose: Kippers. Smoke. Slightly oily. Coal dust. More coal dust with water.

Body: Vanilla. Coal dust. Peat. Beef broth. Salt and light medicinal. Toffee. Lightly creamy. Orange crème. Malt chocolate. Water accentuates toffee, adds slight black cherry hints, and brings out chocolate toffee. Also light watered down tar, and hints of turkey slices.

Finish: Soft cream and coal dust. Toffee. Salt. Water adds chocolate toffee and light oily character with tarry notes.

Conclusion: Caol Ila 12! The whisky that I have many times joked about never getting round to doing notes for, finally tasting notes. To no-ones surprise at all I love it. This is a great match of the harsher elements of Islay – for example the coal dust and the salt – with a thick, sweet melted toffee and chocolate base, all infused with a slight oily, tarry, set of notes which seem to come from the mixing of the two extremes.

I think that oiliness is really what gives it a distinct character to stand out from the other Islays – kind of kipper like on the lighter edge, tarry on the lower end. The whisky is always smooth, but it has a thickness that clings so that the present but not overly intense medicinal and smoke character pushes through more obviously than it otherwise would.

Or at least it is with touches of water. Yes, I skipped straight to talking about it with water. Sorry. Enthusiasm getting away with me. Anyway, neat it is more pure coal dust and smoke in the set of notes it shows – Still not to the intensity of Ardbeg or Laphroaig but still more single minded. The water breaks that up and allows the subtleties to show.

I think what makes this stand out is that, while the base sweetness is toffee, it is done with such weight that it is more chocolate toffee than anything else, which is very appropriate to match the notes it has. For comparison, Laphroaig is more intense, very medicinal, but matches that with a clean sweetness. This indulges the darker notes, whether they be sweet or harsh, and gives this balanced, more dark character throughout.

So, yeah, I finally did tasting notes and this is lovely.

Background: *ahem* “Ok, bias warning first: This is a part of the Masters Of Malt Whisky Calendar given to The Bath Whisky and Rum Club, part of Independent Spirit, who invited me to assist with the notes in return for uploading them to alcohol and aphorisms. Sounded a very fair deal to me. Also, due to this we each only had half of the 3cl bottle so thoughts are based on a smaller exploration than usual. On the other hand I could not say no to the chance to try so many new whiskies. Many thanks!”. I love Caol ila, and have tried many expressions, yet never got around to doing notes on this. So, when it turned up in the calendar I was happy as Larry. Presuming Larry is happy right now that is. Drunk while listing to some Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Serious whisky needs serious music.

Elijah Craig 12 Year

Elijah Craig: 12 Year (USA Bourbon: 12 Year: 47% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold.

Viscosity: Fast medium thickness streaks.

Nose: Honey. Rye crackers. Soft vanilla. Paprika. Water makes more heather and floral.

Body: Very smooth. Vanilla toffee. Rye crackers. Shredded wheat. Pepper. Honey. Orange crème. Sugared pastries. Beef slices. Water loses some subtlety but adds to the honey bringing out golden syrup.

Finish: Rye crackers. Honey. Orange juice touch. Water sweetens the orange and brings out pepper and a treacle touch.

Conclusion: This is some smooth bourbon – at 47% abv I was expecting at least some kick, but even neat it went down easily. It was warming but completely burn free. Nice.

The flavours are well within what I am used to for bourbon – a taste like honey drenched through shredded wheat backed by vanilla toffee coated rye bread. However, it is nicer than that imagery would suggest. I am aware that toffee coated rye bread would probably taste horrible in real life. Then again, pocky is basically chocolate covered breadsticks and they are addictive as hell, so who knows. Anyway, I digress.

This does have some extra notes, some sweet orange and a slightly dried beef character that I would normally associate with peated whisky – but generally it falls within the expected range of notes, just done very well and easy going.

Some of the lack of variance could be attributed to the fact that I am not as experienced with bourbon as I am with whisky, so I may just be getting the more evident characteristics and not the subtleties – especially considering that I am working with a smaller sample here. Which isn’t a complaint by the way, just an explanation – getting to try all these is awesome.

Anyway. I just checked out the price point on this and at a bourbon in the thirty to forty quid range this is doing very well. Very easy drinking and far smoother than most I encounter in that range.

A nice, well delivered, easy drinking bourbon.

Background: Huh, you don’t see aged bourbon much – usually, as they have to use fresh casks each time, they spend far less time in the wood. Ok, copy paste time again. ” Ok, bias warning first: This is a part of the Whisky Calendar given to The Bath Whisky and Rum Club, part of Independent Spirit, who invited me to assist with the notes in return for uploading them to alcohol and aphorisms. Sounded a very fair deal to me. Also, due to this we each only had half of the 3cl bottle so thoughts are based on a smaller exploration than usual. On the other hand I could not say no to the chance to try so many new whiskies. Many thanks!” I think that covers it. Was listening to Crossfaith – just saw them live and they are fucking awesome.

Longrow Red (2015 Ed - Pinot Noir Finish)

Longrow: Red (2015 Ed – Pinot Noir Finish) (Scottish Campbeltown Single malt Whisky: 12 year: 52.9% ABV)

Visual: Rose wine to mahogany red.

Viscosity: Fast middle thickness streaks.

Nose: Peaty. Light cherryaid. Burnt caramel. Shortbread. Water makes sulphur like, and more water brings out rose wine.

Body: Smooth. Glacier cherry. Beef broth. Alcohol tingle if held on tongue. Cherryaid. Rose wine. Thick. Treacle notes. Water adds sugared orange peel, red grapes, and seven spice. More cherryaid comes out. More water brings out more cherries and adds some vanilla.

Finish: Dried beef slices. Mixed spice. Red grapes. Dry. Light vanilla custard. Blackcurrants or blackcurrant jam. Water makes more spicy. Malt chocolate, smoke and toffee.

Conclusion: People give me evil looks when I say this has cherryaid notes. Maybe I am lacking in cooth to dare say such things. But, seriously, they are there – I’m guessing it is the unusual side of the Pinot Noir influence. They are there neat and become much more evident with water. So, cherryaid, is this a good or a bad thing?

Well, it is an odd thing. The traditional peaty, dried beef character of Longrow comes right up against artificial sugar drinks with deep red spicy grapes in the middle keeping the two opposite poles apart. Definitely not your traditional whisky experience.

Id say the sweetness is probably so prominently in my mind as it such a contrast to the rest of the whisky. It probably isn’t as sweet as I am imagining it, but in relation to the heavy peat whisky it sits within it seems very big.

The sweetness is the outlier though, so it is probably more helpful to examine the rest of the whisky. The deep spicy blackcurrant and red grapes suits the peaty character nicely, taking it into dark rich depths. It definitely suits water as well. While the whisky is smooth neat, if burning if held too long, water opens it up and lets you hold it and take your time to examine the flavours at your leisure. Water also lets out the soft toffee which acts as a more well balances sweetness than the more cherryaid notes in the neat expression, it sooths rather than stands out from the main whisky.

There still is the sweet cherryaid notes but they are better integrated. It never quite reaches the height of awesome that the gaja barolo aged Longgrow, but it definitely has depth to it. Probably has a lot of elements that some people think whisky should not be, especially a peated whisky, but it is fun and different and deep.

and cherryaid.

Background: I tried this a while back at the Bristol Whisky Show, so was keeping an eye out for it getting released. Still nearly missed it, thankfully Robbie’s Whisky Merchants still had some in – Chris from Independent Spirit point them out to me – many thanks! This was finished in New Zealand Pinot Noir casks for one year after 11 years in bourbon casks and is one of 9000 bottles. Drunk while listening to some Dirty Knobs for atmosphere.

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