Tag Archive: 55-60% ABV


Springbank: Bourbon Wood: 14 Year (Scottish Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky: 14 Year: 55.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened gold. Thick slow streaks.

Nose: Pencil shavings. Moss. Dry nuttiness. White chocolate and vanilla. Water adds vanilla toffee to fudge.

Body: Thick and spirity. White chocolate. Grassy. Oily character. Vanilla. Orange notes. Shreddies. Water adds lime and fudge. Still strong feel. More grassy and moss. Apples. More water adds toffee liqueur.

Finish: Menthol air. White chocolate. Nutty oils. Creamy orange. Light smoke, Water adds lime, grassy character. Peat character comes out. Apples. Marshmallows.

Conclusion: I tried this whisky first at one of Independent Spirit’s Uber whisky tastings – I was taking it easy that night so did not take any notes at the time. What I did take though was a bottle of this home with me. Ok, technically I took it home a short while later – I try not to make such purchases after alcohol has influenced my decisions.

On first sip of this, my own bottle of it, I feared that my drunken memory had fooled me – it was still a solid Springbank – grassy, mossy, smoke and hint of peat, but it didn’t live up to my memory of an excellent stand out whisky. The alcohol character gives this thick, warming, oily character that is really overwhelming and lets little of the subtlety out to play.

Still, at an abv like this has, why was I surprised? So, let us hope that water, as is usual, is the difference maker. So I added a little. Daaaamn. That was indeed, the difference maker. This is now sweeter than the average Springbank – it seems that spending its full time in bourbon wood has given a solid vanilla toffee, fudge and white chocolate set of notes that make a huge contrast to the native grass and peaty character that makes this stand out. Odder still you have this lovely apple character behind it that seems to be an element of the spirit that has not really shown itself before.

It is delightful – the slightly heavier, but not Longrow level peat character comes out now. The savoury grass notes work brilliant against the bourbon backed white chocolate sweetness. Despite me mentioning them several times the sweetness is used in a subtle way – not sickly and nowhere near overpowering the basic Springbank character. They just come together naturally to make a whisky that is very different, while still giving what makes Springbank enjoyable.

While this is not my favourite Springbank, it is probably one of the more unusual, and considering some of the odd oak casks Springbank has been aged in, that says something. It is not that it is radically showy, just that the elements come together for a very different experience – an almost marshmallow like backed Springbank thing of joy. Enjoy it if you can.

Background: As mentioned in the notes I tried this at an Uber whisky tasting at Independent Spirit and was very impressed – so was at least confident that I was going to enjoy this one when I got home. Springbank is from one of only three distilleries in Campbeltown and is probably my favourite (Though I am unsure if the Springbank set, or the more peated Longrow expressions are the best the distillery turns out). This one is, as the name would suggest, purely aged in Bourbon casks which should give quite a different character. Continuing recent efforts to break out classic tunes when drinking – put on some Jack Off Jill – Sexless Demons and Scars. Such a great, angry and powerful album.

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Banff: Rare Malts 21 Year Cask Strength 1982 (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 21 Year: 57.1% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Very oaken. Notable alcohol. Grapes and grappa. Water brings out musty grapes.

Body: Smooth and creamy. Sherry trifle. Rapidly becomes burning alcohol strength if held. Cherries. Vanilla toffee. Grapes. Water brings brandy cream. Cinnamon. Fudge. Rich red grapes.

Finish: Shortbread. Alcohol air. Quince rakija. White grapes. Oak. Slight tannins. Water brings brandy cream. White grapes and red grapes. Malt chocolate.

Conclusion: I tried this first a few days ago – It, erm, it wasn’t very good. It was insanely oaken, insanely tannins filled and the alcohol was very heavy. Of course that last one was a given considering the abv, but playing with water just seemed to bring out more tannins which didn’t help it.

Bad start eh? But now let me be fair – I now nearly always do my notes a few days after opening as I’ve found whisky can be a bit rough until it has had time to air. Also, I only had the local water to use – which, while ok for drinking, is very hard water, and doesn’t work well in whisky. So, now I return to it with a bit of time to open up, and with some much softer water to bring it down to a respectable abv – so I ask, is it still a disappointment? Or does it recover?

Well, even with the intense alcohol neat it does seem different – creamier for one, with sherry trifle and grape notes. It still goes to numbing levels of alcohol heat too quickly, and leans very heavily on tannins as a main flavour, so I’m going to go straight to adding water and see if that helps.

Water brings out all the goodness hidden beneath the alcohol – the sherry trifle becomes full force, mixed with sweet vanilla toffee and more evident grapes. The tannins still head out but now are balanced by brandy cream and cinnamon. It never changes too much from this point, even with more water – it just becomes creamier and more easy to drink, oh and maybe sweeter in the grapes. It really is led by those sweet cherries, cream and grapes.

So a) This is a very good whisky now – nearly as good as its very high reputation with the oak and tannins balanced against sherry trifle and red fruit. Creamy and very full bodied, with green fruit notes keeping it fresh. Also b) Yeah, this is very expensive, and especially now where it is significantly more costly then when I grabbed it.

If you are going to go for an expensive dead whisky – this is one where the quality is very high indeed – however – the, say, 21 year sherried Timorous Beastie blended malt gives similar notes at way, way less cost. As an experience, and to have been able to have had whisky from this distillery – I am glad I have this. However if you want a similar quality whisky, albeit without the room to experiment of the cask strength – I would say go for the Timorous Beastie.

Background: I’ve had this in the cupboard for a blooming long time now, I kept saving it for a special occasion, but nothing seemed special enough. So one day I just randomly broke it open. As mentioned in the main notes I gave a few days for it to air, as I have found this generally helps get the best experience rather than doing notes on the first pour. This is a dead distillery – I try and grab a (relatively) cheaper example of these when I can afford them, and drink them later, as frankly they ain’t going to get any cheaper if I wait to when I’m just about to drink them to buy them. To really get in the mood I put on my favourite of the past decade(ish) of Iron Maiden – A Matter Of Life and Death. Freaking fantastic album.

Kavalan: Solist: Port Cask Strength (Taiwanese Single Malt Whisky: 57.8% ABV)

Visual: Ruddy bronzed colour.

Viscosity: Mix of slow thin and fast thick streaks.

Nose: Treacle. Stewed fruit. Dried apricot. Light prunes. Caramel. Water adds toffee and light moss notes.

Body: Treacle. Very fiery. Water adds caramel. Port soaked raisins. Molasses. Very thick indeed. More water adds apple.

Finish: Fiery. Water is needed to get caramel. Dry spice – Thai 7 spice style. Raisins. Madeira. Still numbing. Treacle. Apples.

Conclusion: This is thick, heavy and very numbing. Even more numbing than even what you would expect from a heavy nearly 58% abv. It is treacle level thick and with an accompanying taste. Neat I had serious difficulty getting enough flavours to do notes – it was that numbing. I can only really speak of it properly as an experience with differing levels of water.

There, with water, you get a real heavy stewed fruit, treacle weighted and caramel thick whisky – it is almost molasses like in the thickness and intensity of flavour. It is one where I can see the appeal, while having to admit that it doesn’t overly appeal to me. A lot of water does make it more manageable – but at the same time it loses a lot of the character with it. In my time with it I couldn’t find the sweet spot where I could really appreciate it.

For an easy comparison to Scottish whisky, it reminds me or Mortlach and similar, but even more intense. It is strange – it has that range of things I like – tarry, heavy and thick – but it doesn’t quite mesh for me. Oddly, despite the high abv, when you add enough water you do find some of the interesting apple notes that I notices in the bourbon version. A little touch that makes me think that the spirit has a lot of promise, just doesn’t quite deliver here for me.

So, I can see why a lot of people at the tasting liked it – but a bit overly, well, everything, for me. And I never thought I would criticise a whisky for that. So, hope I have given enough info for you to make up your mind for yourself.

Background: Final whisky I did notes on at the “Mediocre” Independent Spirit tasting – there were two other whiskies I had already done notes on, and one new one – but by that point I think I was beyond my tasting best so I just enjoyed that one as it was. This is another cask strength monster – aged in port casks and one of only 185 bottles. By this point I was feelingly very spoiled. Due to having several whiskies, and the more social environment, my notes may not be up to my usual standards – apologies.

Kavalan: Solist: Ex Bourbon Cask Strength (Taiwan: Single Malt: 58.6% ABV)

Visual: Bright clear gold.

Viscosity: A mix of fast and slow thin streaks.

Nose: Pencil shavings. Slightly muted. Slight sulphur. Light vanilla. Dry nuts. Water adds soft kiwi. More water adds apples, grappa and Calvados.

Body: Sweet toffee to golden syrup. Thick. Strong, stunning alcohol. Soft lime. Water makes more creamy. Kiwi and apples. As more water is added more apples comes out. Calvados. Quince rakia.

Finish: Numbing levels of alcohol. Tropical fruits and vanilla. Butterscotch. Drying. Oils. Water adds oily apples. More water adds cinder toffee and quince rakia.

Conclusion: This is not what I would have expected from a purely bourbon aged whisky. Neat it was hard to tell, frankly it was as you would expect from something at near 60% abv – very dry and very strong alcohol – despite that managing to show the vanilla notes so closely linked with bourbon ageing. It was ok, but neither surprising nor impressing me that much.

Both of these concerns were washed away with adding water. It soften it, giving it a creaminess which is nice, but again, not unexpected. So what was unexpected, and impressed me with it? Well, this has a real soft green fruit character to it – apples, touches of kiwi and such like. Early on it is subtly done, but as time and water polishes it, it seems to almost gain characteristics akin to Calvados ageing.

So, that was not what I expected at all from a bourbon aged whisky – though they are served up alongside the more traditional tinned tropical fruit bourbon notes. Even more time again altered it to quince rakia touched styling.

This starts simple, but takes you on a hell of a journey. Very much worth trying, though this goes for just a tad more for a bottle than I would drop on for something like this. Close run thing though. Very good, very distinct and unusual – a whisky showing both the strength of its base spirit and the bourbon ageing.

Background: Another whisky from Independent Spirit‘s so called “Mediocre” Whisky tasting. This one from the relatively new, but highly reputed Taiwanese distillery Kavalan. Not tried anything of theirs yet, but this – a cask strength ex bourbon cask – should be a hell of an introduction to their style. It is one of only 189 bottles released – so I was very lucky to get to try this one. As always, due to doing this in a social environment, with several whiskies my notes may be shorter than usual. Apologies.

bruichladdich-octomore-10-year2nd-release

Bruichladdich: Octomore: 10 Years(2nd Release) (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 57.3% ABV)

Visual: Dark gold.

Viscosity: Very fast thick streaks.

Nose: Smokey bacon. Lots of peat smoke. Slight salt. Smoked beef. Beef stew and pigs in blankets. Slight cherry pocked digestives.

Body: Honey. Huge peat. Lime. Dried beef. Slight cherries. Sauternes wine. Water adds peach and honey and makes much sweeter. Slight custard sweetness notes.

Finish: Alcohol tingle. Salt. Very medicinal. Slightly numbing. Honey. Peach syrup added with water.

Conclusion: This is so much sweeter than the younger Octomore! It still comes in with the heavy peat and medicinal style though, do not worry. As it has soothed a bit with age that now comes across as a massively meaty feast of a whisky – especially on the nose. Kind of a smoked meat (especially smoked bacon) fest, That aroma however does not hint at a lot of what is to come. In fact originally it comes across more smoked meat than even the other Octomores I have tried.

The body keeps the peaty character, but is much more honeyed, and has an almost Sauternes wine sweet character. It is so sweet and fruity under the heavy peat that it is less that smooth assault you might expect and is instead a much more complex yet still peaty beast. Without water the finish is very medicinal, again calling to its roots as a more harsh whisky, water again brings out that sweetness.

It is so unexpected – still meaty. Still peaty – but very much tamed by the newfound sweetness. Even slight custard sweetness over the salted Islay base. If you want sheer assault then this has moved away from that and you will be let down. If you want a big sweet Islay style peated whisky – well this is very good and still intense. The honey wine soaked meat feast peat whisky.

Background: Fourth whisky at the uber whisky tasting at Independent Spirit. I loved my previous experience with the Octomore so was very much looking forwards to trying this 10 year version. Now, while it is peated at 167 ppm, age tends to take away peat character quite quickly – so wasn’t quite sure how this would work out for intensity. Also this has been aged in both Bourbon and the more unusual Grenache Blac casks. One of 18,000 bottles – so fairly but not insanely rare. My whisky glass photos are getting a bit crap now – sorry – alcohol influence! As before due to the social event and the number of whiskies tried, by notes may not be as detailed as normal – nor it seems my photos. As always I tried my best.

carn-mor-caperdonich-1992

Carn Mor: Caperdonich 1992 (Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 24 Year: 58.9% ABV)

Visual: Light gold.

Viscosity: Very slow thick streaks.

Nose: Clean and light. Citrus lemon and lime. Pencil shavings. Vanilla. Light toffee. Light floral. Water gives more floral. More water brings out peach notes and slight sulphur.

Body: Sweet. Honey and golden syrup mix. Very noticeable alcohol. Water makes much smoother. Butterscotch. Peppery. Lime. More water brings light apricot and dried pineapple and gives a slight waxy texture.

Finish: Alcohol strength. Oily sheen. Sulphur. Floral. Butterscotch. Water makes slightly soapy. White chocolate and tinned tropical fruits. Peppery and slightly waxy. More water adds dried apricot and pineapple.

Conclusion: This is far better than my first experience with Caperdonich. With the high abv this has, cask strength from a single cask, it gives a thicker, waxy texture that gives much more grip for the flavour.

It is a honey sweet whisky, using that and the waxy character as a base for some dried fruit, bourbon ageing tropical fruit and some floral notes floating over that. None of that is a too unusual style but the age of this means that it is delivered in a very clean style and, with water, pretty smoothly.

It carries what feels like a light smoke backing it up – giving it slightly more weight that a fruity floral whisky normally would have. Slight waxy and thick feel, slight sulphur and smoke at the back. In It makes if feel slightly old fashioned – like walking around in old stores and breathing in the air. In fact, while this is not stand out or special in the flavour it is very nice in the mouthfeel. It has a very special mouthfeel – kind of like what you got with direct heated whisky distilling in the old days. Don’t know if that is what is used here but it has that slightly burnt, gassy feel.

Anyway, not a world shaker, but interesting to examine, much better than my last experience, and solid in flavour.

Background: This is the second ever Caperdonich I have encountered – it is a dead distillery- closed in 2002 and demolished 2010, so we will see no more once it is gone. My first encounter was ok but nothing special – so when this was the second whisky in the Independent Spirit Uber whisky tasting I was intrigued to give it a go. As before, due to doing more notes that usual in a social environ this may be less detailed than usual, but I do my best.

independent-spirit-arran

Independent Spirit: Arran (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: 17 Years: 58.7% ABV)

Visual: Quite light grain to gold.

Viscosity: Generally slow thin puckering, with a few fast streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Alcohol jelly. Lime. Salted caramel and apple. Water brings out more caramel, a touch of milky coffee. More water adds floral notes.

Body: Alcohol touched. Salted toffee. Moderate oak. Salted caramel. Water adds apples and makes smoother. Much more salted caramel. More water adds more apples and pears. Light cinnamon. Creamy notes and some lemon curd.

Finish: Charred oak. Apples. Alcohol. Toffee malt drinks. Drying. Water adds salted toffee. More water adds lemon curd and light milky coffee.

Conclusion: Ok, this has a lot of water room to it. Like a proper serious amount. Not entirely unexpected at best part of 60% abv, but what does stand out is that it is actually pretty approachable even when neat; Which means that you have more room for quality water play as you don’t have to add a ton just to get it to where you can taste it. No innuendo on water play please. That is my job.

Neat to middling amounts of water it is very unlike any Arran I have encountered. Very toffee and caramel driven. Salted interpretation of both no less. Neat it is a little alcohol thick but still very drinkable, if a tad burning. Even a little water though turns it into a very smooth, kind of salted toffee doughnut style whisky. I was kind of addicted to salted toffee doughnuts for a while, I know of what I speak.

More water, like heavily more water, adds a mix of traditional green fruit that feels like a more Arran by way of Hakushu whisky style. Initially just soft notes around the toffee, enough water means that the green fruit takes centre stage with the salted caramel around the edges.

Initially as a salted caramel heavy whisky I found it soothing, smooth and easy drinking but not too complex. I was going to call it a whisky that did one thing but very well – a whisky for the high end of enjoying to sooth and relax with rather than examine.

Water turned that on its head; lots of fresh green fruit, a good mix of character. It is still easy to drink but now more freshening than soothing, and with a touch of that creamy Arran character. Very enjoyable either way, and with lots of room to explore. Both defies Arran expectations and confirms them depending on how you take it. A very high quality whisky.

Background: Second of Independent Spirit‘s independent bottlings of whisky. This time an Arran bottling – one of 57 bottles, distilled in 1997 and aged for 17 years in a sherry puncheon. Bottled non chill filtered at cask strength this definitely caught my eye. The label may look identical to the last, Fettercairn bottling – but if you look closely the cape colour has changed. Huge difference. Drink while listening to a general mix of metal – around the thrash to death side of things.

Independent Spirit Fettercairn

Independent Spirit: Fettercairn (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 7 Year: 56.2% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold.

Viscosity: Very slow, medium thickness streaks.

Nose: Very viscous, jelly like, alcohol. Lemon curd. Apple pie. Heather. Custard slices. Pepper. Water brings light oak, vanilla, and a smoother character. More water brings a fresh lemon and citrus mash-up and apricot.

Body: Initially smooth then ramps to burning warmth. Oaken. Apples. Water brings lots more apples, pepper. More water brings custard, light strawberry, tinned tropical fruit, apricot and lemon sorbet. Later apple pie with sugar and pineapple jelly.

Finish: Oak. Warming and numbing. Pepper. Water brings light treacle, soft fudge and malt drinks. More water adds heather, strawberry softness, tropical fruit and apricot.

Conclusion: Ok, neat this is freaking rocket fuel. It is vodka jelly like, oh my god shouting level strong. Yet, for those of you who have already read the background, you know that I helped pick it being released at this abv. What is up with that? I mean, it is young at seven years, and 56.2% abv, surely that is a terrible plan? Why would I recommend that?

Well, I did so because of the depth you can get from this with some water play to find your sweet spot. Even neat there are apple hints, pepper notes and sweet backing against lemon curd. Ok admittedly that is rapidly lost behind the alcohol burn, but is a hint to the fact that there are some big flavours here. Tellingly, when I first tried it blind, I thought that it could be calvados or some other apple brandy cask finished. It really shines with soft, sweet apple notes in a fashion that usually comes from that kind of cask ageing. I really wanted that unusual character to be preserved and not lost to a lower abv expression.

Now, neat this is is interesting for a couple of sips, but seriously don’t keep drinking it like that or you will kill your taste-buds. This thing can take a metric shitload of water – in fact it is probably the only whisky I have tried that can take so much water that I actual regret the poor quality of water around here as the flavour of the whisky is still good, but I can feel the elements of the hard water coming through. I should invest in a water filter again really.

Anyway, with a little water you have an intense, calvados aged feeling, custard sweet, peppery whisky. With more water it finally hits its stride. There comes out a huge amount of fruit – from subtle strawberry to apricot, to the expected tropical fruit influences of bourbon ageing. During this it never loses that sweet apple taste that first made it appeal to me. You have to add a mad amount of water before that vanishes. It is a serious wave of flavour and here it is a very enjoyable, very bright, very fruity whisky.

Now, it never stops being a young whisky, and showing that younger character – and even with a wealth of water here is a slight alcohol edge to it. So, with water it is still a slightly rough edged one, and without water very rough edged, but you get a whisky that mixes the exuberant fruitiness of a young whisky with the illusion of calvados ageing, and the subtle pepperyness of an older whisky. It is a rough edged gem, but one I enjoy examining.

Background: Welcome, to another tasting note I will confess a possible bias warning to. When Independent Spirit were trying to decide what strength this should be bottled at, I assisted with some tastings to give my opinion. We went with this cask strength in the end. So, yea possible bias. This is one of 50 bottles of this cask strength whisky available that was distilled in 2009 and bottled 2016. This was drunk while listening to the utterly terrifying soundtrack from “It Follows”, I was hoping to counter my possible bias by creating an acoustic counterpoint of potential dread. Good movie as well BTW, a very unsettling, creepy horror film.

Ichiro's Malt The Final Vintage Of Hanya

Ichiro’s Malt: The Final Vintage Of Hanya (Japanese Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 59% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold.

Viscosity: Initial fast streaks then thin slow streaks follow.

Nose: Big, very big. Chocolate fudge and honey. Praline. Crushed peanuts. Pencil shavings. Mild orange peel. Mild coffee. Water expands with white grape and smoke. More water makes for a more wood character.

Body: Very warming. Milky coffee. Burns if held but not initially. Charred oak. Bitter. Slicker with water – sour white grapes. White chocolate. Dried beef. Sweeter grapes and beefier as more water goes in. Still very viscous with water.

Finish: Dry oak. Water adds dry beef slice notes. Malt chocolate. More water adds pepper and spice racks, grapes and bitter cocoa.

Conclusion: I’m being very careful with this one, trying a little slice of history. I knew that the whisky would be harsh neat – is is 59% – but I still needed to try just a little sip like that, to do otherwise would feel like a waste. After my little mouth numbing indulgence I then had to walk the thin line between adding enough water to get it in the perfect state before I had finished it, and the fear of drowning the whisky.

The aroma, as the item that is most easily examined without consuming, therefore gives the best insight into what we have here. It is deep, thick and a mix between praline chocolate and fudge. When water enters the equation it remains thick, but now with viscous grapes freshening it without diminishing the weight of character. In all things it feels big, yet somehow not raw.

Even as I enter the main whisky, sipping upon the liquid I find one that becomes burning if held too long, and numbing in the finish, one that needs water, but despite that, even neat there is a smoothness to it. It is numbing, but not harsh in raw alcohol character. Water takes it from this deep, heavy, coffee touched beast to a lighter, yet still peat or beef touched, grape sweet style. The balance swaying between those depending on water and there is plenty of room to find your balance.

On the once through I gave it I find that I feel unprepared to give a complete verdict. I can feel that there is a lot of complexity to this- I have seen a lot of depth already and I have feeling that there is more to find. It makes full use of its high abv.

Purely based on what I have experienced I am happy to say that even with water this is a dark and almost bitter whisky. It allows you to find your level with the grape contrast but the main core is that bitterness, chocolate and nuts. If somehow you are lucky enough to try this, please do so.

Many thanks again to Chris of Independent Spirit for giving me this chance.

Background: Again- many, many thanks to Chris from Independent Spirit for this one. He got a small amount of this, the final vintage from the now closed Hanya distillery, and gave me some of that to sample. Distilled 2000 for bottling 2010 by my quick bit of internet research. With it being a necessarily small, yet awesome, sample my notes are not as long pondered as usual, but I do my best. To do any less in this situation would be a crime. I needed appropriately epic music for this, something elegant and yet bombastic. So I listened to Napalm Death. It is the only way. The container in the photo is not the original container. I took a photo of the original at Independent Spirit with a cheap phone camera, but as you can see below, I managed to get pretty much everything but the whisky in focus.

Photo0073

Girvan Proof Strength

Girvan: Proof Strength (Scottish Single Grain Whisky: No Age Statement: 57.1% ABV)

Visual: Brackish gold.

Viscosity: Thick fast streaks.

Nose: Honeysuckle. Heather. Thick. Oak. Water gives more honey, some coffee bean notes and almonds.

Body: Treacle. Slight alcohol burn. Vanilla. Orange sorbet. Water makes smoother – adds more treacle and some coffee liqueur. More water brings similar to 4 Apps.

Finish: Tongue numbing initially. Toffee. Oak. Malt chocolate and caramel. Water adds more toffee and milky coffee comes out.

Conclusion: Such a difference a bit of abv strength can make, here the whisky that was fresh and bright at standard bottling becomes really thick with treacle and caramel notes – there does still seem to be some fruit notes, especially with water – but it is far from the light drink No 4 is.

Even more unusually the first few additions of water doesn’t really return the lighter and higher notes, instead bringing unexpected coffee liqueur out along with becoming more creamy, then finally with enough water – smooth. That last one is thankful – neat it has such burn I could barely realise the finish.

Neat it really doesn’t get my love, it is impressive forceful but as a more punchy whisky it seems to lose the advantage of single grain, instead feeling like a slightly sub par single malt style.

Water helps bridge the gap – gaining back the smoother character – while still keeping those heavier coffee notes. Until I added an absolute mass of water those expected apple and pear fruit notes never came out, and by that point it was basically app 4, but had with a bit less water it is an interesting coffee whisky experience.

I would say I prefer 4 apps, as this is at its best when you have added enough water to make it basically 4 apps. That was a well balanced package. This while interesting seems less as a whisky, and loses a lot of grain’s advantages.

Probably the weakest of the set I tried, the extra abv doesn’t seem to add a lot to the experience.

Background: A ramped up version of 4 Apps. If I remember rightly, this is the same whisky just not watered down to 42% abv. This is also the only whisky that isn’t in the box of samples sent to me, so I am going by my notes from the night of the tastings. As hinted in the last statement, I was invited to a tasting and tour which was paid for by Girvan, so full disclosure of possible biases. In the image, this is the third glass on the top row.

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