Tag Archive: Blended


Chivas Regal Royal Salute 21 Year

Chivas Regal: Royal Salute: 21 Year (Scottish Blended Whisky: 21 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Copper touched gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Nutty. Moderate alcohol. Nutmeg. Stewed fruit. Slightly musty. Water drops the alcohol and adds menthol and oaken notes.

Body: Very smooth. Honey. Lime. Some nuttiness. Walnut cake. Water adds toffee and spicy notes. More water brings back prickly alcohol but also vanilla. Stewed apricot. Coffee cake. Apples and slight oily character.

Finish: Ginger. Very milky coffee. Dried spice. Water brings out apricot and stewed fruit. Malt chocolate. Lightly dusty and oaken.

Conclusion: Royal Salute was one of the early aged whiskies I tried, all those years ago. Even these days I find the standard 12 year Chiavs Regal a reasonable enough whisky in a pinch probably due to the base of Strathisla in it, which I am partial to a dram of.

So how does this live up to the memory of it? Mixed. There is a tad more alcohol noticeable than you would expect in a spirit this old – not burning, but just slightly like an alcohol jelly taste. It is also slightly musty and with water it is over oaken. All elements I would not expect for a whisky you are dropping best part of a hundred quid on.

The things is, besides that it does have a quite a mix of pleasant elements – that Strathisla nuttiness against coffee cake, stewed fruit and apples. It manages to mix the heavier and slightly oily highland notes with the light Speyside sweetness.

Also for a 40% abv whisky it really can cope with a lot of water, doing so does bring out a touch of odd alcohol notes, but in general significantly improves it. It makes much more coffee cake like, more robust yet , in general, smoother feeling. Here it is a solid coffee and nutty whisky, with most of the rough elements taken out. In fact, as the vanilla comes out it starts to remind me of Nanaimo bars from Vancouver – which is awesome. So, in general, it is good; plays well with water, but neat it has far more rough notes than you would expect at this price point.

So, it lives up to my memories in the high points, but is a tad rough at the edges.

Background: A bit of a call to the past today. I grabbed a bottle of this back in my early whisky days from a duty free. I had decided to try something a bit more expensive than my usual fare and this was it. A lot cheaper back in those days though. Anyway, I saw this miniature in Independent Spirit and decided to give it a try for old times sake. Though admittedly this way you mostly pay for the ceramic packaging. A bit excessive for a mini, no? Anyway, drunk while listening to even more Napalm Death.

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The Lost Distilleries Blend Batch 6

The Lost Distilleries Blend: Batch 6 (Scottish Blended Whisky: 49.3% ABV)

Visual: Slight rose touched grain.

Viscosity: Very slow medium thickness puckering.

Nose: Moss. Notable alcohol. Damp grass and forests. Light medicinal bandages. Water makes more light medicinal and hot cross buns.

Body: Golden syrup. Robust oak and alcohol. Lime. Peat present. Soft banana. Toffee and treacle. Salt. Water smooth and sweet yet salty. Smoked dried beef slices. Pepper. More water makes butttery and hot cross buns against medicinal.

Finish: Lemon meringue and honey. Light salt touch. Treacle. Chocolate toffee. Water makes beef slices and mild gherkin. Light medicinal and gunpowder tea.

Conclusion: I will not like this just because it is made up of rare whisky, I will not just like this because of the rare whisky. Ok. Willpower prepared, will I like this in general then?

By first impressions – no. The first notes on the nose are mossy and alcohol. hardly a good first impression. The first sip of the body is better, sweeter and with those lime notes that turn up so often in a fruity whisky. Now this I found enjoyable but hardly a stand out experience. It was the finish that showed the first hints of what was to come – treacle sweetness, light salt and medicinal mixed with lemon notes. On the way out I was intrigued by this blend of contrasting notes and hope rose again.

So, how do I release this locked potential? Easy. Water. Depending on how much water I added a found a sweet, somewhat Highland styled whisky, a salted and smoked smooth Islay, or an ultra smooth buttered hot cross bun whisky. Even better there are hints of the non dominant styles show in the background behind whatever is prominent at the time.

By the end I could start to feel them all, a warming gunpowder tea backing buttery smooth character, and each drop of water seemed to shift it to hint at extra layers. From mild disappointment to impressed as hell, all in 15ml of spirit. If I had the money I would definitely grab a bottle to examine this some more, there is so much left to find I feel. This is the stand out of the pack, only the nose never really seems to find its feet, but the rest of the whisky more than makes up for that.

Background: As we reach the final few tasting notes of the whisky colander I say once 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!”. This one I was excited for, a blend of whisky from different, closed, distilleries. This includes Mosstowie, Port Ellen, Glenisla, Imperial, Caperdonich, Glen Mhor and Brora, and grain whiskies from Port Dundas. yes I just copy pasted that. I am surprised how many of those I have actually tried before – Imperial, Port Ellen, Port Dundas and Caperdonich. Anyway, very excited. Drunk while listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The moment seemed to deserve it. After finishing this I looked up other’s tasting notes on the subject, a lot of them make my usual over the top antics look restrained, which made me feel better.

Tullamore DEW 12 Year Special Reserve

Tullamore D.E.W. : 12 Year Special Reserve (Irish Blended Whiskey: 12 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Clear light gold.

Viscosity: Mix of slow and fast medium thickness streaks.

Nose: Grain fields. Clean and soft. White bread. Floral. Very mild gingerbread.

Body: Smooth – no burn at all. Lime. Oak. Muted liquorice if held. Lemon. Brown bread. Light orange. Water makes more fruity and open.

Finish: Lightly oaken and clean alcohol. Lime cordial. Orange crème. Waters adds lime and cream.

Conclusion: This is a very light and very clean whisky – very pure, very easy to pour down the neck. No burn and an effortless character to it. Or, as I call it, a whisky very specifically designed to be aimed at people who are not me.

I mean, I am not saying it is a bad whiskey – by far the opposite. It does what it sets out to do very well – delicious light citrus notes in a sprit so light that the flavours seem to float on your tongue in its absence. But that is its advantage for some, and the issue for me – there is no weight to it, and without that it cannot move me.

Now I can see why a lot of people who don’t traditionally like whiskey would like this – it keeps the flavour but removes a lot of the harsh edges that can put people off. With it being so light I was a little nervous about adding water, what if it vanished completely?

Water actually helped, the lemon notes became more full – almost like lemon curd rather than being so light as to be lost – somehow water managed to make it bigger but not harsher. There I will give it its due, here there is just enough weight to the citrus building up that it becomes what would be on the lighter end of what I consider an easy sipping whiskey. Now it is not going to become a favourite for me, but that is just because my tastes don’t go that way.

So I tried adding a tad more water. It killed it dead. Ooops.

So, a whiskey for these who normally don’t like whiskey, or for those who prefer the gentle end of the spectrum, and if taken with water, one for a gentle break for the rest of us.

Background: Yes, it is from the Master’s Of Malt Whisky Calendar again. So, bias warning time 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!” this time however it is Irish Whiskey – so a bit different. Triple distilled, Irish Whiskey tends to be smoother than its Scottish cousins. This was drunk while listening to a few OCRemix tracks, including this remix of the classic Dynamite Headdy tracks. That game was cool.

Compass Box Great King St Glasgow Blend

Compass Box: Great King St: Glasgow Blend (Scottish Blended Whisky: No Age: 43 % ABV)

Visual: Light grain to gold.

Viscosity: Quite slow, medium sized streaks.

Nose: Peat over sherry trifle. Vanilla toffee. Smoke. Honey drops. Pencil shavings. Cherries. Light menthol. Water numbs the aroma.

Body: Smooth, thick and warming. Honey. Dry beef slices. Sherry trifle. Vanilla toffee. Peat. Toffee apple. Smoke. Cherries. Water brings out trifle and lime and smoothes smoke notes.

Finish: Dry beef. Light charring. Menthol. Honey. Vanilla toffee. Water adds lime and takes away the slight alcohol feel. Malt chocolate.

Conclusion: Ok, blending has really shown what it can do with this one in its corner. I don’t think that without blending we would ever see such a fruity dessert like whisky with such a lovely peat weight.

Ok, in the past I have , occasionally, been a bit of a single malt snob and the shadow of that does still impact my thoughts – but this is lovely sweet peat juice.

The main body is an alcoholic cream trifle with masses of red fruit, the peat is beefy and robust. You might imagine that such a pairing would be obscene, but admit it, who hasn’t wanted to ditch a trifle onto a well cooked steak and then eat them both?

Oh. Just me huh. Now I’m embarrassed.

It is great. Trust me. There is a solid toffee backing which becomes more obvious with water which calls the whisky back to more traditional whisky elements. Though, despite that, it keeps an odd light menthol freshness which I can’t quite work out if it is intrusive or a vital element to keep this from becoming too heavy.

In the end I wouldn’t call it a flaw, the only real down element is a slight alcohol burn that builds up over time when neat – and you will probably want this neat as water dulls it too quickly. Minor points aside, this is sherry trifle on smoke cooked steak. Lovely jubbly.

YES THAT IS A GOOD THING!

Background: Compass Box have done well by me so far, so I grabbed this from Independent Spirit when I saw it. This is the heavier, peatier and sherried expression from the blenders. Drunk while listening to a bit of Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes, as well as some Television Villain. great stuff.

The New Zealand Whisky Company Dunedin Doublewood 15 Year

The New Zealand Whisky Company: Dunedin: Doublewood 15 Year (New Zealand Blended Whisky: 15 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed amber.

Viscosity: Quite fast thick streaks.

Nose: Sherried trifle. Drambuie. Treacle. Liquorice touch. Buttery shortbread. Marzinpan.

Body: Toffee. Raspberry. Twigs. Alcohol builds. Sour red grapes. Water brings out trifle, oak, custard and cherries.

Finish: Dry oak. Red wine. Strawberry jam. Water brings out oak and tannins. Sour red wine and cherries. Touch of apples.

Conclusion: This is whisky, but not as I know it. Join me as I take a fun wee trail into the unknown here.

The base feel, the toffee sweetness and general, well, whisky character is there. It is not a complete unknown. What is laid over that is an initially very sherry trifle character, very sweet and creamy.

This settles down into a darker feeling whisky, more sour wine and oaken character that comes with those kind of wine coming out from under that initial sweetness. Both the sweet and the sour takes show obvious red wine influence, but there are other touches such as the bright red cherries, sweet touches over an overall quite dry whisky. It shows a complex experience and range.

The alcohol feel is the odd part, in that initially I expected a kind of sherry character to it, but instead there is a kind of drambuie alcohol feel – it is here that it feels like it departs most from what I would expect of a standard whisky – an element that is not quite to my taste but doesn’t get in the way too much.

Overall it is very impressive. The different barrel ageing is a nigh completely different experience, but the base whisky holds well enough that it doesn’t feel like a gimmick. A sign that NZ can really have their own style of whisky and not just recreate what already exists. A good sign.

Background: Tried at Brewdog Bristol, this is a new one on me. Aged for six years in Bourbon barrels, then finished in French Oak New Zealand wine barrels (according to a quick google one source says Pinot Noir). That just fascinated me, so I grabbed a measure, wonder if craft beer sis has run into this one as she is a NZ fan.

Compass Box Great King Street Artist's Blend

Compass Box: Great King Street: Artist’s Blend (Scottish Blended Whisky: No Age Statement: 43% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Becomes cloudy with water.

Viscosity: Quite slow but thick streaks.

Nose: Baileys. Lemon cream. Toffee liqueurs. Pencil shavings.

Body: Very smooth. Vanilla toffee. Custard. Light alcohol tingle. Key lime pie. Light oak. Water smoothes more, but still a slight thickness to the texture. More key lime pie comes out.

Finish: Dry oak. Drying overall. Water adds lime touch and a tingle. Malt chocolate and toffee.

Conclusion: You really can make a very smooth whisky with blended malt (and since it turns out I was wrong and this is a blended whisky with grain, you can with any blending it seems) – and this whisky really seems to be seeing how far it can push that concept. There are nearly no rough edges to it at all. In fact the creaminess and sweetness brings in an almost cream liqueur style to the whole proceedings. This is most evident up front with a smooth baileys style character, but on top of that a sweet toffee liqueur element keeps popping up throughout and re-emphasises the original impressions.

The more traditional whisky character seems to lie underneath those really creamy notes. Because so much of the whisky is filled with creamy lemon and sweet custard notes I was actually relieved to see the brighter green fruit whisky notes poke out from underneath. You know, just showing some stable whisky base character.

Now, the finish is probably the only element in this where it lets its creamy liqueur and dessert whisky imagery down. There are some secondary notes to it, but generally the finish is quite simple, dry and oaken. A pity considering the class shown by the rest of the whisky.

Water isn’t much needed, which seems to be common amongst the vatted malts, but suprises me for a whisky with grain which usually benefit from it – though if you do use water then you do get a bit more emphasis of the more traditional whisky notes and it dims down the creaminess a bit. Both are good, so it is just drinkers preference there.

Overall it is very nice, very different and definitely shows how to use vatted malt (ooops – blended whisky – still shows how to do a much maligned style right) in contrast to the single malts and offers a very smooth and very worthy experience.

Background: I have been meaning to get around to a Compass Box tasting notes for ages. I’d seen these at the back of Brewdog Bristol so asked for advice on what they were like. After this I decided to try this, which had been recommended as the lighter and smoother of the two. Thanks for the info!

I initially thought this was a blended malt whisky, but my mistake has been pointed out – the notes have been edited to update with the correct info. Many Thanks. (I still think blended malt should be called vatted malt whisky, but then again I still hold that the term Hacker has shifted far from what I would hold to be correct usage so I may be a bit of a linguistic dinosaur.)

Cambeltown Loch 21

Springbank: Campbeltown Loch 21 Year (Scottish Blended Campbeltown Whisky: 21 Years: 46% ABV)

Visual: Light yellow to grain.

Viscosity: Very slow thick streaks.

Nose: Clear lemon and heather. Vanilla. Husked grain. Water brings out a grassy character.

Body: Smooth. Spritzer undertone. Grassy. Some fire. Toffee. Water soothes the fire, adds custard sweetness, more grass and heather. Light smoke.

Finish: Warming and oaken. Malt drink touch. grassy. Fudge. Water builds fudge up, adds light rocks and light meat broth. Kaffir lime. Slight sprizty touch.

Conclusion: You know, I try to be an open minded fellow – I really do. I would even like to think I do ok at it – but it some ways I am old fashioned. For example I am generally a single malt guy. I have enjoyed vatted malts, blended whisky and single grain – but my go to is single malt. So I was interested, if a tad wary at a mix of single malt and single grain.

Now first impressions didn’t help here – it opened smooth, but quickly became fiery and the finish was mainly oaken. Of course, grain’s best friend is water, and so I held back final decision until I could add water.

It turns out they are still best buds.

Water really brings out the grassy Springbank character backed here by a smoother toffee and vanilla character than most Campbeltowns – which, based on experience, may be the influence of the Girvan Single Grain. With a bit more water you even get some smoke and a meaty broth character in the finish – which is why I guess it was Springbank used – the slightly peated malt I’m thinking.

Here, with the water, it is like a smoother and sweeter Springbank 10, which is the closest comparison. It benefits from light citrus notes added top and tail, very light as the main character is very recognise grassy Springbank.

As a single malt fan I will say I prefer the Springbank 15, but this is a very nice balance between the strengths of both grain and malt, with the sweetness making it more easy drinking than usual. So on personal preference I go with the 15, but is down to just that, the personal preference. They are both very proficient expressions.

Background: Saw this at Brewdog Bristol and was intrigued. It is a mix of 60% Single Malt (I presume Springbank) and 40% Single Grain (Girvan). At 21 years it is a very interesting expression. So, as an utter Springbank nut, I of course gave it a go. Thanks to the staff who helped out with the info on this one when I asked.

Black Bottle

Black Bottle (New Bottling) (Scottish Blended Malt Whisky: 40% Abv)

Visual: Deep burnished gold.

Viscosity: A few fast streaks.

Nose: Coal and caramel. Slight lime sorbet. Water makes more golden syrup and smoke.

Body: Treacle. Smoke and tarry oil. Heather. Soft lemon sorbet. Liquorice. Water adds vanilla custard sweetness.

Finish: Charcoal. Char grilled chicken with honey barbecue sauce. Water adds vanilla custard notes.

Conclusion: Seriously, for pounds sterling cost to quality of whisky Black Bottle has always come in as one of the all time winners. Now, this new version is less one note than the already interesting previous editions – neat it comes in proper impressive with an almost coal dust and smoke aroma, full on and foreboding of a heavy whisky to come.

The body is sweeter, even neat, though with a thick character that calls to a tarry heritage. Despite the full nature of it there are hints of soft sorbet behind, which I presume are a sign of the newly found Speyside influence in this blend.

For me, I found that water did not help this dram though. It really reined in the heavier elements, muting down the smoke and coal. Now for some that may be the thing they want as it does bring out the sweeter notes and make it a smoother whisky, for my money though that seems to defeat the point of the black bottle. It is still a big thick whisky though, the full bodied style now expressed as a tarry thick toffee sweetness.

In a way I do miss the more single minded, more Islay heavy, old black bottle, but this is definitely the more refined expression – trading off sheer punch for a more rounded character.

A good blend, a good alteration to an old recipe, a good cheap whisky – so many unexpected words there. Well worth the cash.

Background: The second whisky at the pre burns night tasting at Independent Spirit. Despite this being the second whisky, it was also the last one I finished notes for, so may be the most drunken and illegible. We shall see. This was the recently re-launched Black Bottle, now concentrating less on Islay whisky than before and in a new/old prohibition style bottle. As before, since this was a group tutored tasting my notes may have been influenced, but I tried my best to write what I thought. I was a big fan of the old Black Bottle, finding it a good Islay styled whisky at a very low price point.

Teeling Whiskey

Teeling: Small Batch Whisky (Irish Blended Whiskey: 46% ABV)

Visual: Light gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Raisins. Some alcohol burn. Pencil shavings. Water soothes and adds floral notes.

Body: Smooth. Pears and custard cream centres. Raisins. Dried spice. Noticeable alcohol. Plums. Oak. Glacier cherries. Water soothes and makes sweeter. Toffee. Apple comes out against darker fruit. Marzipan or maybe almonds.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Dried spice. Oak. Malt loaf. Again water soothes to add toffee and apples.

Conclusion: Thanks to the guys at Independent Spirit for introducing me to this little gem. Then again, considering they got money out of me afterwards, it probably wasn’t born of a hundred percent altruism. But still many thanks.

Now, taken neat this thing is a bit fiery, it has lots of raisins and dark fruit, and a bit of spice, but it is a bit of an effort to get to them. Nice but you struggle against the initial burn. The flavours don’t feel too heavy, but there is still a certain weight to the whisky.

Now, with water, now that is another story. With water the smoother Irish whiskey character comes into play. There’s very easy sipping toffee and custard, but bringing that out has not diminished that raisins and dark fruit character before; It still hangs on, as does the warming spice, now warming you with that character rather than alcohol burn. A satisfying improvement. You quickly realise it is a whiskey that really needs that water, but with it, it carefully straddles the line between flavour and ease of drinking. Now at a bit stronger than normal abv, it goes down way too easy with water, but always gives you a flavour experience that is worth it.

Some easy drinking whiskeys can seem slightly dull, or light, but that is not an issue here. The rum cask ageing is just what was needed, accentuating the character with dark fruit notes, but not to the degree it overwhelms. It reminds me of my now vague memories of Caribbean rum cask aged Bushmills which has not existed for many a year. In the absence of that, this makes a nice replacement.

Even neat it should not be written off, it is harsher, but has a worthy character. Harsh edged, but the flavours are slightly better defined. Quality, if harder to interrogate.

So, yes, it does suffer from grain fire, but that is easily remedied with water. It has rough edges, but I have always had a soft spot for that. At its price point this is a remarkably high quality whisky, and a distinctive mix of characteristics. For the price it is a steal

Background: This is an interesting one, lets see how much I can remember, and hopefully get right, from what I was told. Teeling came from one of the founders of a big Irish whisky company, who, on leaving, managed to take get a large selection of casks of Irish whisky. This is made from those casks, blended together, then finished in rum casks. If you are doing a thesis on this don’t quote me on that, I’m going by memory. Whisky addled memory. Anyway, I was given a sample of this at Independent Spirit, and highly enjoyed it, so I bought a bottle, and I am now reviewing it. This was drunk while Listening to Ihsahn – After, to take a short break from my recent riot girl punk kick.

Hibiki 17

Suntory: Hibiki 17 Year (Japanese Blended Whisky: 17 Years: 43% ABV)

Visual: Clear darkened gold.

Viscosity: Slow thin streaks.

Nose: Stewed apricots and dates. Marzipan and plums. Crumble topping. Rich. Water brings out oak.

Body: Smooth. Apricots. Golden syrup. Light oak and bamboo. Milk chocolate behind. Dry underneath. Water makes more fuller bodied but also much more noticeable alcohol.

Finish: Milk chocolate. Orange liquore. Raisins. Light oak. More oaken with water and potatoes comes out. Bean sprouts.

Conclusion: Most water goes better with a drop of water, this goes doubly true for blended whisky. It tends to help the whisky open up and takes off the alcohol burn. That said, don’t add water to this whisky. Not one drop. Seriously.

Neat it is as smooth as you could ever need, and with all the lovely elements fully on view. The aroma can be detected across the table, and yet is not overly punchy up close. There is a rich and dessert like smell, full of stewed fruit and sweetness. This lovely sugary sweet delicacy of an aroma is just murdered by water. Don’t do it.

The body is a lighter feel than any single malt you care to mention, not my preferred texture style, but I will concede on the technical scale it is well done. The flavour on the other hand needs no such reservation, it is lovely smooth fruit and sweetness that has a light touch and yet full character.  Again, worse with water, the alcohol becomes more burning and hides the flavours behind it.

The finish finds you with around off of smooth chocolate and liquore than all vanishes with water, replaced with a vegetable and oak remain.

So, if I haven’t got my point across yet, without water this is great. Dessert like and slips down remarkably easy. The over smoothness of this kind of blended whisky works against it for me, but I am aware that for many it is a benefit. This is an easy going and yet flavoursome whisky and very impressive.

Just don’t abuse it with water. Please.

Background: I didn’t get the chance to try too much whisky in Japan. Mainly because the price was higher than the UK in most places, and the range about the same. So, when I got home I decided to go for a bit of the hibiki. Drunk at the Tasting Rooms. While I can be wary of blended whisky the Japanese really seem to have the nack for it.

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