Tag Archive: 40-45% ABV



Macleod’s: Island Single Malt (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: 40% ABV)

Visual: Deep, heavy gold. Very slow, medium thickness streaks.

Nose: Salt. Wet greenery. Subtle fudge. Brown bread. Very clean. Lightly medicinal. Lightly peppery. Water adds light sulphur.

Body: Peppery. Slight alcohol. Soft lime. Crushed rocks. Salt. Unleavened bread. Light vanilla. Water adds peppercorns. More water adds custard and caramel.

Finish: Unleavened bread. Peppery. Water adds slight charred oak and slight gin. More water adds light custard and caramel. More charred oak. Cinder toffee.

Conclusion: Another call for the use of water here. Neat this is another ok but simple whisky. Quite clean, pretty smooth. Has a salty, lightly medicinal character that marks out a lot of the Island distilleries. Predominantly though it is just a peppery, medicinal dram.

Ok, so on the good side it shows the Island style, and is smooth for the low cost, but it is nothing really exciting.

So, water play time.

Water takes out the little alcohol character it had while accentuating some of the more medicinal notes. More importantly it brings out a slight sweetness and a thickness previously lacking. It doesn’t radically change the experience, but it gives contrast and grip that makes it much more enjoyable.

Still not stand out – has a few rough edges in the finish, but nicely shows the clean, salty island character without any real peat infusion.

Not bad, not stand out. Probably a weaker entry in the series but it does the job.

Background; Third of the Macleod’s regional whiskey minis. Yeah, while they have not blown me away, for the competitively low cost they come in at they have amused me enough that I keep grabbing another region I have not tried from them yet. So the Island region – more a set of regions as they have quite a diverse set depending on where they come from, but hey, its a way of grouping them. Anyway went with IDLES: Joy As An Act Of Resistance as music. Finally going to see them live soon and very excited about it. Bottle was grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Macleod’s : Lowland Single Grain (Scotland Lowland Single Grain Whisky: 40% ABV)

Visual: Deep, slightly darkened gold. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Alcohol air. Clean. Vanilla. Muesli.

Body: Light and smooth front. Alcohol jelly touch to the middle, but not heavy. Jelly babies Marshmallow. Water adds white chocolate. Toasted teacakes. Buttery notes.

Finish: Tinned tropical fruit. Clean. Vodka. White chocolate. Apricot. Water adds more white chocolate. Some chocolate cake. Sugar dusting.

Conclusion: You know, considering the dark gold colour this has, I was expecting a bit more to the flavour it comes with. Or at least a bit more weight to it. Ok, yes this is a lowland single grain, but man this looked utterly soaked in its bourbon ageing.

Instead, without water, this is a fairly clean, smooth spirit. It is a tad alcohol touched, but not too much, just a bit more than you would expect from a 40% abv lowland. It is kind of vodka with whisky flavours added in style more than anything else.

So, yeah, this definitely needs water in order to get it going. Which is no real surprise with the exception of the aforementioned colour of the spirit. I’m guessing that this isn’t old spirit, despite it being generally smooth, so a bit of water always helps, and this is doubly true with grain whisky.

Now water makes this a fluffy, marshmallow, lightly sweet thing – against a still sweet, but bready toasted teacake backing. It is still nothing like what you would expect from the darker gold colour, but, oh yeah, this is some easy drinking fun.

It is still not up there at brilliant, the tail end finish is kind of neutral alcohol which is .. meh – but generally it is a gentle, sweet, light fluffy thing. In fact it very much shows the bourbon influence – maybe that is all that is shown – like a lot of grain whisky the base is very neutral, so nearly all if not all the flavour is from the oak.

Still, it is nice bourbon ageing. It is very much a one style whisky, and very much needs water, and even with that has a few off notes buuut generally you will find it an easy drinking, sweet and fun whisky for a fairly decent price.

I dig it.

Background: I can’t actually find much on this whisky. I can find a lot on Macleod’s Single malt regions range, but, while this is visually very similar, and comes from the lowland region, this is in fact a single grain whisky. Which does not get listed with the regional single malts for obvious reasons. Anyway, there are not many lowland single malts, which I guess is why they went with a single grain for their pick for this – I’ve only had a few single grains, and while very different from single malt they have earned their place. Tend to be much more influenced by oak ageing than base spirit in my experience. Anyway- have been playing the utter hell out of Celeste for a while, so went with Celeste: farewell OST for drinking music. Such a good game. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Connoisseurs Choice: Glenlochy 1974 (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 40% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold. Fast, thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Honey. Thick. Menthol to peppermint. Pencil shavings. Pear drops. Oak. Honeycomb. Water adds varnish and more noticeable alcohol.

Body: Treacle. Warming alcohol. Oaken. Some liquorice. Malt drinks. Pear drops. Light varnish feel. Water adds sticky toffee pudding. Raisins. Vanilla. More water adds apricot and toffee.

Finish: Dry oak and tannins. Charred. Varnish air. Water makes slightly waxy. Raisins. Peppery. Slight smoke.

Conclusion: This is a thick one, especially considering that it comes it at exactly the 40% abv cut off line for being considered whisky. It is very thick, and with it very treacly. The initial honey notes in the aroma quickly becoming those heavy treacle notes as you sip.

Despite its thickness there are lighter fruit notes backing it up, though they do come across in an artificial pear drop kind of way. That then leads out into a lightly waxy, almost varnish touched air and feel. It is a very unusual mouthfeel, and the strange varnish like air heads out into the finish. Despite how it may sound it is not unpleasant, that’s just the best way I could find to describe the odd feel – a feel that is very clingy.

Water helps smooth off some of the edges, bringing out more gentle fruit and sweet notes. As it leads out into the finish it tends to get a bit tannins and oak heavy. Basically the finish is not the best part of the experience is what I am saying.

Overall it is fairly solid. It feels quite youthful, but not painfully so. Good weight to it, some decent flavour and some very different mouthfeel. If it was a not too expensive single malt I would find it a solid experience and one to keep around.

However, it is a dead distillery. A very expensive dead distillery. So, in its time it would have been a heavy but balanced sweet to fruity thick dram. Now, it is sub optimal for the money to say the least.

Like many dead distilleries, not worth the cost it goes for these days, interesting though it may be.

Background: Second and final mini I picked up from Hard To Find Whisky, and as of such another dead distillery I have not tried before. After the previous mini worked out ok I was much less nervous going into trying this one – being confident now that they are selling legitimate old whisky. Speaking of old, no idea of the age statement of this one – the Connoisseurs Choice miniatures don’t seem to have the bottled date, unlike their 70cl cousins, so could be any of the many 1974 distilled bottlings. At a guess I would say at the younger end of the scale though. Anyway, after many, many people recommended the new album to me I went with Tool: Fear Incoulum. OK, what the heck even is this album? Going to have to take a few more listens to get my head around it. Expect it to turn up in the background of more tasting notes.

Macleod’s Highland Single Malt Whisky (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 40% ABV)

Visual: Deep, heavy gold. Medium speed and thickness streaks comes from the spirit.

Nose: Honey. Toffee. Wood shavings. Thick. Stewed apricot. Water adds more wood and slight sulphur.

Body: Honey. White grapes. Toffee. Custard. Apricot. Dry oak. Malt drinks. Water makes very smooth. Similar notes but with slight sulphur.

Finish: Drier oak. Honey. Golden syrup. Slightly milky coffee. Malt drinks. Pepper. Water makes smoother and adds apricot.

Conclusion:This is a solid Highland whisky, a good pick to show what a Highland whisky emphasises and concentrates on. It’s heavy on the sweetness, but pretty smoothly delivered. There being no age statement for this, especially when the previous version was listed as an 8 year, had me worried, and in fact expecting that I was going to run into some serious roughness, but none came. In fact it is smoother than a lot older whiskies I have encountered.

There are lots of honey and golden syrup notes, a bit of toffee – it is hitting a lot of the thick and sweet notes over and over. Hints of apricot and grape fruity sweetness expand while still keeping on theme. There is no real alcohol burn behind that, resulting in a real easy going crowd please of a whisky.

Instead there is a touch of oak, and a quite peppery style into the finish which helps keeps things balanced. Water makes it even smoother, not that it really needed that, but on the down side also makes it a tad sulphur touched – but only very minor so not a huge impact. Still better neat though I would say. There was never any rough edges or closed character that needed water to deal with it.

It is good, solidly sweet, but with slightly more base malt drinks to milky coffee backing mid body to ease that down, and a nicely peppery finish. Nothing unexpected, but pretty cheap for something nicely smooth, and it shows the highland style well.

A good introduction, or a good general drinking dram, if nothing unusual. No complaints, just not a stand out must have either. Pretty cheap and good quality for the price-tag though.

Background: This was a bit of a random pick up – Independent Spirit had a bunch of Macleod single malt minis in – each without a listed distillery, just identified by region, and it was fairly cheap, so I picked one up on a whim. Went with Highland as it is one I tend to try less, so felt like expanding my experience a bit. So, no idea of distillery, so little to prep expectations going in. Googling tells me this used to be listed as an 8 year, but now is a no age statement, go guess is that it has some fairly young whisky in there. Music wise I went with Slipknot – Iowa. Possibly not thematically appropriate for the whisky, but their recent album properly got me back into Slipknot.

Game Of Thrones: Night Watch: Oban Bay Reserve (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 43% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold. A thick sheet comes down from the spirit slowly.

Nose: Raisins. Brandy cream. Cereal grains. Oak. Brown sugar crystals. Water adds pine cleaning spray. Pencil shavings. Fudge.

Body: Smooth. Oak. Warming alcohol. Chocolate cake. Black liquorice touch. Mild smoke and stones. Subtle fruitcake. Toffee. Water adds subtle cherries. Charring. Bitter coffee cake. Brandy cream. Orange liqueur touch. Grapes.

Finish: Chocolate cake. Bitter cocoa dust. Light smoke. Dry. Dry stones. Dry oak. Slight caramel. Water adds slight dry liquorice. Bitter red wine.

Conclusion: This is a very dark tasting whisky, mixing what tastes like deep sherry ageing, slight smoke and rocky coast takes on the spirit with bitter chocolate and coffee cake. It is a hefty mix.

This is smooth, but with alcohol warmth if held on the tongue – it smooths even that out very easily with a drop of water. It shares with Talisker that kind of character that, while definitely not Islay, still brings sea breeze, smoke and wet rock touched. A feeling of a match of Highland and Island would be the best way I would describe it.

Over that is a delicious mix of dark fruit, spirit soaked cream notes, generally dark feeling notes, but with slight light sweetness and grapes brought out by water to provide gentle release. It feels thematically appropriate to the Night Watch in bottle design, flavour and general look. Which is nice.

It doesn’t quite reach a must have status, but easily in the top 50% of whisky. It has the complexity, smoothness, lots up front and easy to open up to more complexity. The extra 3% abv feel like it gives a lot more depth to the whisky with little burn in exchange.

Solid and steadfast like the Night Watch. (Well, as far as I read in the books, for all I know this seems massively naive to all those of you who are up to date on the show. I know how GRR Martin works) Heavy and slow drinking, well worth grabbing if you can.

Background: Second of the three game Of Thrones whiskies I bought and the first that is a whole new expression for the GOT line. I got this particular one for two main reasons. One, it has been a while since I have tried a new Oban expression and I have a soft spot for the distillery. Two, look at that bottle, it looks lovely. Yes nothing to do with the whisky I know, but I am easily influenced. Grabbed from Independent spirit, this was drunk while listening to Epic Beard men’s new album “This Was Supposed To Be Fun”. Needs a more detailed listen, but sound like they are on point again with some very cutting and political raps.

Game Of Thrones: House Baratheon: Royal Lochnagar 12 (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Apricot skin to gold. Fast, thick streaks.

Nose: Honeyed shreddies. Apples. Pears. Light menthol. Heather. Vanilla. Pencil shavings. Water makes for predominantly light apples.

Body: Honey. Vanilla. Apples. Moderate warming alcohol. Smooth mouthfeel. Strawberry. Light cream. Malt chocolate. Water makes soft apples and vanilla toffee.

Finish: Honey. Lemon cakes. Shredded wheat. Strawberry. Slight drying alcohol. Soft apples. Malt chocolate. Water adds choc toffee. Soft apples. White chocolate and lightly nutty notes.

Conclusion: This is good at giving pleasing first impression. Very good. It is smooth, sweet, with fairly standard honey and vanilla notes soothed out by more interesting apple and strawberry fresh notes. Combine that with low alcohol burn – the alcohol is present but mainly just warming – and a solid malt chocolate body and you have a lot to enjoy already and this is just on first sip.

It is a whisky very much intent on setting you at ease. You don’t even have to work for those initial notes, they are just there easing out of the smooth but filling mouthfeel of the spirit. Because of that I was not sure if water was even needed, so I was wary and well.. it definitely changes with water, I’ll say that.

The body lightens, emphasising the vanilla toffee notes, but more than that the soft apples notes are now so very clear. With water it becomes one of the easiest whiskies to give to a newcomer for them to be able to see the lighter subtleties that you can get from a spirit.

However, with that said, in a rarity for me , I prefer this neat. All the same notes are still there, just with a bit more force , bigger mouthfeel and more honeyed style. It is just as easy to examine, you just need to let it sit and seep for a few moments and there it is. So easy to examine – so will just be a manner of preference for water, but will never need much.

This is a wonderful spirit, easy to drink, rewarding and with good range. Why this distillery isn’t better known in the UK I have no idea. A hidden gem, now given a bit more exposure that it deserves.

Background: Game Of Thrones! Ok, I’m a tad behind on the show. By which I mean I am up to where the books end. Please no spoilers. Anyway, Game Of Thrones themed whisky amused me, especially as six of the 8 bottlings are new expressions. Turns out this is one of the two that are not. It is exactly the same as the standard Royal Lochnagar 12 but with new packaging. Ah well. Never tried any Royal Lochnagar before, which is why this is one of the ones I grabbed, so no harm no foul there. I had just found out about the passing of Keith Flint from Prodigy, so put on Fat Of The Land in his memory. Bloody awesome tunes. Not much else to add, another one got in by Independent Spirit.

Midleton: Green Spot (Irish Pot Still Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Bright yellowed gold. Fast sheet from the spirit, then thin secondary streaks.

Nose: Slight alcohol and grain. Bright lime notes and kiwi notes. Later on dried banana comes out. Dried apricot. Slight golden syrup and pencil shavings. Adding water makes very light.

Body: Smooth and light. Honey. Slight alcohol. Custard. Pears. Water adds apples. Makes lighter. Adds more pears.

Finish: Pears. Custard. Apricot syrup. Honey. Light tannins. Light oak. Water adds a green fruit sheen. Slight cardboard. Banana.

Conclusion: Darn Irish whiskey is smooth, especially this one we have here. Even with the small amounts of grain and alcohol notes from what I presume is younger spirit, this still is super smooth, light and easy to drink. Just what I need as a change after having a few heavy duty Islays over the past few weeks. Water manages to take out the small alcohol harshness pretty much completely as well.

As a whiskey it is mainly a game of two halves, with the emphasis of the whiskey decided by if you have added water or not.

One side is light, sweet honey and golden syrup. The aroma promises banana, but the actualisation of this is put off until much later. Generally it is sweet, easy going, but with a subtly honeyed weight. The very, very slightest weight, In general this is soft and easy drinking.

The other side is paying off a lot of what is promised by the aroma, but this side is only shown if water is added. Soft green fruit comes out, initially lime in the aroma, then apples and pears in the main body. As mentioned, neat it really doesn’t show too much of this but water brings it out in full flow. However this does come at the expense of a lot of the honey notes vanishing, along with the slightly thicker texture. It feels just a tad too light here in mouthfeel.

So, on balance I would say this is just slightly better neat. It is not as complex, but the extra grip to the mouthfeel makes it such a pleasant one to spend some time with. I wonder if a slightly higher abv would help or hinder this? Dunno, but I would love to try it to see.

So you have to pick between great texture, or good variety of flavour – it never quite manages to bring both at the same time, but still a fine easy sipping whiskey.

Background: I have been meaning to do notes on this for a while. I tried an unusual barrel aged version of this at the #Brisdram event a while back and it was great, then I tried Green Spot at The Hideout during an amazing Midleton whiskey tasting event. So, when I saw a mini of this in Independent Spirit I grabbed it to bring back and give a proper going over. The name of the whiskey relates to the markings they used to use on barrels to indicate their age – Blue was seven years, Green ten, Yellow twelve and Red fifteen. However a quick google indicates that the age statement has been removed from green spot whiskey recently due to it now using a mix of between seven and ten year old whiskey. Cheeky if so. I’d been re-watching new Doctor Who recently before drinking this, and had noticed one of the character’s had a Slayer t-shirt on, resulting in me using Reign In Blood as the background music for this, despite it not exactly matching thematically.

Bushmills: Steamship Collection: #3 Char Bourbon Cask (Irish Single Malt Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to grain. Clear. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Quite strong alcohol. Lime. Pumpkin. Toasted teacakes. White chocolate. Crumpets. Burnt sugar. Butter. Light charring. Water adds an aniseed touch.

Body: Creamy. Alcohol warmth. Vanilla toffee. White chocolate. Buttery. Toasted teacakes. Water adds fudge. Light pepper. Very smooth. Creamy lime.

Finish: Toasted teacakes. Butterscotch. Buttery. Creamy lemon. Creamy lime. Water adds more creamy lime. Slight caramel. Aniseed.

Conclusion: This a very gentle Bushmills’ flavour-wise compared to the huge cask ageing influence of the previous two steamship expressions I have tried. That is something that seems somewhat of a mixed blessing here, for as much as a gentle, easy drinking Bushmills can be a cool thing it feels like there is some quite young spirit in this which makes it feel a tad alcohol rough up front and runs roughshod over the lighter flavours.

Neat, and on first pour, it is a bit alcohol rough and empty behind that. It is creamy in feel and taste, but it is hard to dig into the whiskey and get any depth from it. Time helps, clearing the rough fumes and gets this one going. The gentle Bushmills’ spirit character is there now, and showing very clearly the bourbon cask influence. Lots of creamy, buttery character with white chocolate and bready toasted teacakes flavours.

It is very much about the Bourbon influence though – the base spirit seems to give only gentle lime notes and a smooth but solid character to work at as the base.

Water helps bring out the creaminess and adds a touch of peppery spice that gives a bit of pep the whiskey needs. This is where it is at its best – creamy and easy drinking with more of the creamy lemon and lime notes coming out, against the bourbon influence of soft fudge and caramel sweet notes, but with just a few spicier notes. Now, at 40% abv and gentle you need to be careful not to add too much water, and what you get is not unexpected for Bourbon ageing, but here you do get a very clear expression of what that charred bourbon oak can do. It feels for the most part that the base spirit is just a delivery system for that experience.

Not the greatest Bushmills – lacking the range or vibrancy of their best expressions – It seems that pure ageing in charred oak isn’t the best use of their spirit to accentuate its strengths, but it is still an easy drinking and creamy whiskey that really shows the cask. Ok, but not a must have.

Background: Back in the day I loved the more unusual barrel aged expressions of Bushmills that popped up every now and then and I was sad to see them vanish. Thus when they started doing these Steamship expressions, aged in odd cask, they jumped onto my must grab list – though they are only available through travel retail which has made hunting them bloody difficult. This one was grabbed by my parents for me while they were on holiday – many thanks! It is a more standard expression that the past two (Port and sherry casks) being aged as it is, in charred bourbon barrels. Still, it was one I was happy to grab. Went with Arch Enemy – Will To Power while drinking, and went through a few measures as I contemplated my thoughts on it.

Tamnavulin: Double Cask (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: No age statement: 40% ABV)

Visual: Burnished bronzed gold. A few thick and fast streaks form from the spirit.

Nose: Thick. Alcohol touch. Mild Baileys cream. Pencil shavings. Brown sugar granules. Rock dust. Water adds cake sponge and cherry pocked digestives.

Body: Slick. Honey. Raisins. Vanilla toffee and vanilla custard. Rock dust. Light malt drinks. Smooth. Alcohol jellied feel to the middle. Figs and plums. Water adds more honey, golden syrup. Light menthol. Soft cherry. Sherry trifle and orange zest.

Finish: Malt drinks. Rock dust. Raisins. Heavier oily alcohol notes. Figs. Spotted dick. Vanilla toffee and vanilla yogurt. Dusty.

Conclusion: Hmm, I’m about to add water to this, but before I do that I’m going to get some thoughts down first. This seems decent so far, but I have a feeling that it is leaning very heavily into the barrel ageing to achieve that. The dark fruit notes from the cask are distinct and pleasant – figs, raisins and the like are laid over a smooth body with honey sweetness at its base. Similarly the vanilla toffee of bourbon ageing gives a sweet and simple backbone to this.

So when I say that it leans heavily on the barrel ageing it is because, under that there is something slightly heavier and rougher tasting in the alcohol notes, if not giving rough mouthfeel to match. Elements you would expect from a heavier, shorter still but here in this lighter and smoother whisky. This being my first Tamnavulin I’m unsure if this is due to young spirit being used in this, or if the heavier, more oily viscous rough notes are part of the house character. Either way these rougher and sometimes dusty notes are off notes that feel like they should not be present in the whisky.

Water brings a lot more out – zesty orange notes that are delightful, against softer cherry notes that give body. It uses both ageing barrels to shoot flavour out, but even now there is a kind of heavier, oily off note underneath everything.

At twenty quid for a bottle I’m not complaining too much, but for all its flavour range it feels like they are trying to paper over the cracks of the base spirit. I would be interested to see what they do with older expressions – if that cleans it up at all or if they still show there.

So, not super great, but packs in a lot at a lower price than most.

Background: Another first set of notes from a distillery. Though not my first time encountering this distillery, or even this whisky. I first tried this at a mates house as part of a whisky night at theirs. Later I saw in in Sainsbury‘s going for just over twenty quid a bottle, so decided to give it a proper try as well, at the whisky night I may have been a tad drunk. Looks like this was their first official bottling for a while, an expression aged in both bourbon and sherry barrels. Prior to that it think it was predominantly used in blends. Put on The Youngins – The Youngins Are Hardcore while drinking. Fairly short album of stripped down punk so I put it on loop so I didn’t feel the need to rush the whisky to match.

Loch Fyne: The Living Cask Batch 4 (Scottish Blended Malt Whisky: 43.6% ABV)

Visual: Clear grain. Slow thick streaks.

Nose: Viscous. Sharp lime notes and alcohol. Floral and fresh grain fields. Water adds menthol and crushed rocks.

Body: Smooth. Toffee and vanilla. Creamy lime. Cardboard underneath. Bitter charring. Bitter almonds. Water adds more bitter almonds. More water adds softer lime and creamier notes. Chalk touch. White chocolate.

Finish: Menthol. Lime sorbet. Rocks. Cardboard. Bitter almond. Water adds fudge and crushed peanuts. More water adds marshmallow. Brown bread and chalk.

Conclusion: After the awesome 1745 Living Cask I was very much looking forwards to trying this, less Islay dedicated, Living Cask. I have to admit straight up that it is a bit of a disappointment.

At its heart it seems a softly sweet, floral yet lime touched, heavily Speyside influenced whisky. It is ok, with a soft vanilla fudge base, lime high notes and floral weight – but then this kind of cardboard to harsh bitter almond underlying character roils underneath, leaving an unpleasant aftertaste as everything heads out into the finish.

Now, me being a man of the (whisky) world I figured some water would deal with that nicely – and I wasn’t exactly 100% wrong. It just took much more water than I expected. A little water makes it rough as fuck – but a lot of water and the lime notes and softer sweet notes come out, but now against a general weak low end grain whisky like character that really is not showing the whole thing at its best.

So, it is sub optimal – slightly rough spirit notes with water, slightly rough bitter notes, used with Speyside like notes that while good don’t feel special. I guess a living cask will have its up and downs, and this one is on the down side for me.

Background: So, I tried Living Cask 1745 and it was bloody lovely. A peaty Islay take on the core concept of the living cask – a cask of blended whisky that was never allowed to empty, just topped up every time it reached half way so it was an ever changing expression. So I dropped back to The Whisky Shop in Bath to grab this, the fourth batch of their non Islay ever changing Living Cask, hoping it would hold up. Put on Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes’ Modern Ruin while drinking- I’m still mixed on the album, it is nowhere near as intense as the first album, but feels like there is still more to tease out of it.

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