Tag Archive: 16 Year

Lidl: Ben Bracken: 16 Year Old Islay (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 16 Year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Deep bronzed apricot. Fast thin streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Oily. Menthol. Alcohol tingle. Meat broth. Smoke. Mossy. Wet oak. Dried apricot. Dried beef slices. Water adds more dried beef and beef stock.

Body: Warming. Fairly smooth. Oily smoke. Tar touch. Salty rocks. Light medicinal. Slightly drying. Dried beef slices. Malt chocolate. Dried apricot. Water makes smoother. Brings out caramel. Still a prickle of alcohol. Slight cucumber. Beef broth.

Finish: Wet rocks. Dry peat smoke. Malt chocolate. Medicinal. Water adds raisins to fruitcake and glacier cherries. Sweeter chocolate. Madeira cake. Rice cakes.

Conclusion: Ok, let’s get this out of the way first. Everyone wants a guess at which distillery this game from. Well it is definitely not Ardbeg, or Laphroig unless they are working severely off type! Probably not Bruichladdich, Bowmore, Bunnahabhain or Kilchoman from the flavour. Best I know Ardnahoe doesn’t have any of anywhere near this age yet.

So, this has some Lagavulin like notes – the meaty broth like notes and decent peat, but it is not as polished or weighty as I would expect from them. With the tarry notes and general style, I would guess this is a high quality Caol Ila of more years than I normally encounter from them.

Though I could be wrong. It is just a guess. Anyway, less worrying about where it is from, more worrying about what it is like!

It is the heavier end of what you would expect from an Islay. Thick mouthfeel, some burning elements in the aroma when neat, but generally quite smooth despite the weight of feel. It is slightly oily and tarry, slightly medicinal and has a fair amount of dry peat smoke. Neat it can get drying overall, but still manages a general meaty character.

It has got a lot of peat in there, but not Ardbeg levels, and in general it feels smoothed out by age. That ageing means that, despite some alcohol notes, it still feels fine and weighty neat – however water does bring out just that big more dark fruit to express itself.

With water there is also some good sweetness under there as well, with chocolate and caramel hints coming out as it opens up. Generally though this is a sticky, heavy thing that emphasises the more tarry oily and peaty feel of an Islay whisky without going as full bore as the big guns of the island tend to.

So, to indulge the “Where is it from” vibe, again – this doesn’t feel as good as the Lagavulin 16, which is one of its close comparisons, especially with being the same age – it shows some similarity in the meaty, peaty character but isn’t as polished. Though since Lagavulin 16 is pretty much a desert island dram for me, that isn’t a harsh criticism, even making such a comparison bodes well for it. With the aforementioned tarry, oily, medicinal touch it would slot in nicely as a high quality aged Caol Ila, so that is what I would view it when deciding if it will be to your taste.

A very good dram, especially for the price. Not the best, if you are looking for that, but very high quality and very affordable for the age and quality.

Background: At Christmas Lidl released this special edition, a 16 year Islay from an unknown Distillery, for just under thirty five pounds. That is a good price, and reviews were positive so I decided to try and grab a bottle, but my local Lidl didn’t have any in stock. Typical, the one time I try and use the place. So, my parents came through for me, managed to grab a bottle and gave it to me as a Christmas present. Many thanks! Now, you may have realised this is a long time since Christmas – due to covid lock-down I only just finally got to meet my parents for the first time in over a year recently. So then I finally got it. Woo! Also, woo for meeting family. But, also woo whisky! I know my priorities (Sorry Mum). There has been a lot of guessing about where this could be from, but I have no additional info, so have to just guess. Music wise I went back to Akala: Knowledge Is Power: Vol 2 – pretty much the guy who got me into looking at more hip hop and it is epic.

Glentauchers 1991

Gordon and MacPhail: Glentauchers: 1991 (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 16 Years: 43% Abv)

Visual: Yellowed grain.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Floral. Pencil shavings. Heather. Vanilla. Toffee. Water adds sulphur.

Body: Toffee and custard. Some oak. Very noticeable alcohol. Grain. Water lightens adding red fruit and cinnamon. Apple strudel and raisins. Spotted dick.

Finish: Alcohol. Uncooked rice. Oak. Heather. Again water soothes. Some toffee cinnamon, apples and raisins. Sugared almonds. Nutmeg.

Conclusion: Water. The clear lifeblood of the planet. We don’t appreciate you anywhere near as much as we should.

Ok, most you will probably have guessed where this is going already.

Neat this is a bit shit. That is a technical term by the way. I seriously couldn’t believe it was a sixteen year old whisky, there was noticeable alcohol, quite simple flavours and an overly oaken expression. So, I was disappointed, and not really looking forwards to the rest of the whisky as I started adding that clear lifeblood of the planet.

Boom. Headshot. Whisky changed.

A kind of stodgy spotted dick rises to form a new base, and comes out with a lot of sherry influence. There’s lots of red fruit, spice and raisins. It is half way between a bread and butter pudding and a high class strudel. In case you are wondering, I mean that as a good thing.

So, do I like it overall? Presuming I have access to water I say yes, very much so. I know my description probably made it sound very sweet, and does have a mass of sweet notes, but the spice gives it a lot more depth than that, making it a far more balanced whisky than I have indicated so far.

So very stodgy, solid and sherry influenced whisky, with a strong base to back. All it needs it water. So use water. It deserves it.

Background: Bottled 2007, or so my web research tells me. they never put these details on the miniatures it seems. Part of my ongoing attempt to try whisky from the distilleries I have yet to try, I’ve grabbed a few minis and I am working my way through them. Drunk while listening to Arch Enemy: War Eternal – the new singer is stepping into the shoes nicely.

Lagavulin Distillers Edition

Lagavulin: Distiller’s Edition: 1995 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 16 Year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold.

Viscosity: Very slow but thick streaks.

Nose: Shortbread. Smoke. Touch of salt. Beef slices. Peat. Blackberry high notes. Sulphur. Gherkins. Orange zest. Water soothes to smoke, beef and cherries.

Body: Smooth. Vanilla toffee. Salt and rocks. Peat rising. Beef slices. Muted Madeira and fruitcake. Raisins. Trifle. Water sweetness and adds custard to trifle while keeping beef slices and salt. Light lemon curd.

Finish: Dried beef. Salt. Malt chocolate. Madeira. Spicy red wine. Sherry.

Conclusion: Of all the distillers editions I have had so far I have found them greatly enjoyable, but strangely sweet dominated for such strong whiskys. This one on the other hand has the sweet cask going up against Lagavulin. This is the big boy of whisky and it is power distilled. You have all of Lagavulin’s hallmarks, all the beef, peat, salt and smoke, and then at that back you get the subtle sweetness. Initially you get fruitcake and Madeira, which grows to more evident trifle and custard with water.

This, of all the great distillers editions, is the only one where the naked spirit can fight on equal terms with the barrel ageing, and it is glorious.

Without water it is full on, complex and raging Lagavulin Islay joy. Smoother than the standard 16 year in texture and burn, but full on in weight and majesty. With water it is more fruity and spiced, sweeter but still rocking the Islay style. There is so many elements that just help round it out so well, and adding so many extra expressive layers to an already full whisky. It becomes not just booming and complex but also smooth and rounded.

This takes what is already one of my favourite whisky and makes it much more refined. The peak of the distiller’s editions and an excellent whisky.

Background: I’ve had this a few times in the past, but never got a chance to review it. This meant that it was for a long time it was the Distillers Edition that got away, long after I reviewed the three others. Bottled in 2011 this has been aged in Pedro Ximenez wood. My previous experience with PX wood has been very good, and Lagavulin is an all time favourite so I was looking forwards to this. I had picked up this bottle half way through last year, and it has been waiting for a good moment to break it open.

Mortlach: 16 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky:16 Year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Very dark honeyed amber.

Viscosity: Thick heavy streaks, very slow as they pour out of the spirit.

Nose: Quite powerful and distinctly heavy. Heavy oak influence. Engine oil (Martin has helpfully suggested two stroke oil as the best comparison) Brown sugar, possibly caramelised. Syrup.  Water adds shortbread, pungent passion fruit that mellows to dried apricot with even more water.  The alcohol tingle does not diminish throughout.

Body: Crème Brulee, golden syrup. Beef and walnut. Slight sherried fruit. Raisins. Water brings more toffee and some kiwi.

Finish: Burnt oak, caramel. Milk chocolate, coffee. Water adds vanilla and nut oil.

Conclusion: Quite the powerhouse this one, thick and initially it seems quite enclosed only giving out its heavy notes that were hard to define. All thick and oil touches.  Each drop of water then opened it up adding subtle fruits and developing the detail on the oils. Making them distinct styles rather than generic punches.

It never stops feeling oily, which I must take to be the whiskys characteristic style, a strong flavour which includes black coffee and nut oils as resolute elements.

Heavy rounded and oily, though it is a heavyness of lingering flavour rather than Laphroaig style assault, in many ways reminds me of a coffee and nut cake take on a  whisky. A slow burn heavyweight.

Background: I’ve been hoping to try Mortlach for a while, it has a reputation as a hidden beast from speyside, and its influence on the Brewdog Mortlach Reserve beer was very well received.  Had as part of the visit to newfound pub with a fine whisky selection as described in the Dalmore Cigar Malt entry.

Alchemist: Highland Park 16 Year Old Calvados Finish (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: 16 Years: 46% ABV)

Visual: A light amber with an appropriately apple juice like look.

Viscosity: Some medium speed streaks form instantly, but the main section are from slow and thin puckering.

Nose:  Sea air, a light dash of apples. Salt. Light roasted nuts. Wood shavings and liquorice. Quite meaty – beef. Vanilla backed. With water, the more subtle smells smooth giving the salt a more evident playfield and adding perfume.

Body: Vanilla and custard. Peat. Sugared apple crumble. Beef stew. Shortbread and toffee. Water allows the dessert style and crumble flavours free reign and the apple more evident.

Finish: Peat and beef. Custard. Apple pie and toffee. Lingering chocolate and leather.  Water makes the chocolate smoother, like Belgium chocolate.

Conclusion: Highland Park is one of the all time classic spirits, always coming in with great complexity behind its force.  Here we find a calvados finished version, and unlike my fears the calvados is subtly added giving a sweet syrup back to the beef and peat body.

It really does add just that little bit extra, as mentioned I feared the finish would overwhelm the spirit, but instead it is the calvados that fears being hidden.  The Highland Park flavour comes right through, and the flavours mix for a wonderful range of distinct elements that balance against each other very well. Dessert sweetness and heavy meatiness have never sat so well together.

The delicate touches added by the finish are so unlike what I would expect from a Highland Park spirit, and gives a rewarding and renewed interest in the fine whisky, then leaves you with a long chocolate finish.

Really top notch. Like the Gaja Barolo Longrow, this show shows what can be done when you combine two rich flavours. It’s a sign of its quality that I nearly forgot to test adding water to see how it altered the range.

Apple crumble, beef, peat and leather. A full meal in glass.

Background: Highland Park is possibly my most tasting noted whisky, and a favourite of the style. This version is finished in apple brandy casks by the independent bottler’s Alchemist, who I have not run into before.

My best attempts to find a full bottle of this interesting sounding whisky came to naught, but I did manage to find an online store that does samples from splitting bottles into 3cl jars, a commendable habit that makes it easier to try the odder whisky’s that normally don’t get miniature made.

Gordon and Macphail Connoisseurs Choice: Glen Keith 1993 (Speyside Scottish Single Malt Whisky: Closed Distillery: 16 Years: 46% ABV)

Visual: Light banana mixed with grain.

Viscosity: Medium speed but comes down in a sheet more than in streaks.

Nose: Banana, dust and lime. Potpourri, vanilla. Water brings out thistles and hawthorn. Sugared almonds.

Body: Light lime and golden syrup. Sweet and fresh. Water adds toffee front, but more noticeable the floral and lime grows quickly. oak and burnt pastry with light peanuts.

Finish: Light grain and syrup air. Apricot. Water makes more wood evident, and strangely make the alcohol more evident in the air. Light malt drink and spice.

Conclusion: A very light whisky with a sour touch.  Initially seemed odd in that the alcohol  on the finish seemed to increase with water, which was somewhat counter intuitive.  After a bit of research into distillery it became clearer.  Glen Keith was one of the few Scottish triple distilled whiskys, which I would guess provided that distinctive feel and the oddity of the end.

As you can guess from that digression this was my introduction to this distillery and it didn’t really put itself on my must have list. The middle is sharp and the end malty, but it doesn’t get you excited.

The flavours are hidden by the sharp and lemon influence and that doesn’t let it roam.

Ah well.

Thanks To Dylan Ransom for his assistance with this tasting note

Lagavulin 16 Year (Islay Single malt Scottish whisky: 16 Years Old: 43% ABV)

Visual: Dark orange amber.

Viscosity: Fast forming thin streaks.

Nose: Roast beef, tobacco, salt and a touch of peat. Ginger bread. Dry dust sugar.

Body: Sweet front that melts into rocky cliffs and sea salt. Burnt notes and honeyed syrup. Light vanilla and then finally toffee seeps through. Little alcohol fire for such a potent whisky.

Finish: Full bore smoke finish, bitter and salty. Anchovies. Lots of sea breeze.

Conclusion: A truly complex Islay whisky – full bore smoke and rockiness with a salt character as expected, but it rounds out with fantastic complexity.

Probably my favourite of the Islay whiskys, forceful but with modest alcohol influence. This should be pride of place in any whisky fans collection.

Surprisingly smooth, the punch is all in the smoke and flavour, not in cheap spirit fire.

Fantastic on its own or complemented cooked meats, very little should overpower this beasts flavour.

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