Tag Archive: My Favourites


Pilot: Barrel Aged Double Mochaccino Stout (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 12.3% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still and opaque. Brown rim of bubbles around the glass and a grey dash over the centre.

Nose: Full bitter coffee to coffee cake with walnuts. Vanilla. Rye whisky undertones. Peppery. Carrot cake. Some low level rum notes. Whisky air.

Body: Smooth. Cherries. Palma violets. Black cherries. Milky chocolate to chocolate liqueur. Very light liquorice. Rum. Fruity whisky notes. Orange jelly sweets. Peppery. Coffee cake.

Finish: Milky chocolate. Milky coffee. Coffee cake. Light liquorice. Apple clean spirity notes. Cocoa. Seville orange. Pear drops.

Conclusion: You know, if they haven’t had stated that this was Speyside whisky barrel aged I would have sworn that it had spent some time in rum wood as it has some light rum spiciness in under there.

Anyway, there is a noticeable alcohol character to this, which is to be expected given the high abv and barrel ageing, but despite that it isn’t a “boozy” feeling drink. Instead it is very smooth, and dangerously easy to drink from that. In a way it is a good thing that it is in a tiny 250 ml bottle at this abv or a could quaff a lot of it, with bad results for my health.

It starts off very cake driven, with coffee cake, carrot cake, a whole cake kind of thing going on giving a very thick and often coffee led aroma. Which is part of what makes that smoothness of body such a surprise.

The body therefore starts smooth and sweet with a lot of cherries and black cherries giving a very fruity front. It is easy drinking and delicious here. As time goes on the rum like spiciness and more rye like spicy character rises to make it a slightly more savoury and complex beast that the fruity burst at the front.

The whisky ageing shows itself more late on as a subtly fruity whisky character that floats in the background. It is a clean, slightly spirity and fruity sheen that clings to everything but never dominates.

So this is a beer with a great start, lovely progress and is smooth as silk but with so much progression.

I would say, if you see it, grab it, but I don’t want more competition for getting hold of the remaining bottles!

Background: I’ve had this a few times and kept meaning to do notes, so finally I have. In a tiny 25 cl bottle, this is taken from four speyside whisky casks that were filed with Double Mochaccino Stout. So pretty much exactly what it says in the name. Grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went with IDLES: Brutalism again as drinking music. Still listening to them a lot, and looking forwards to when I finally get to see them live again.

Vandenbroek: Watergeus (Netherlands: Gueuze Lambic: 6.4% ABV)

Visual: Clear, just slightly hazy, with an apple juice colour. Thin white bubbled dash of a head. Very small amount of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Horse blankets. Fresh cut apples. Dry. Light chalk. Crushed dry roasted peanuts. Crushed walnuts.

Body: Juicy apple. Brown bread. Nutty. Light chalk. Dry white wine. Slight champagne. Vanilla.

Finish: Pears. Fluffy feel. Popcorn. Yeast funk. Slight mild cheese.

Conclusion: This somehow manages to feel both dry and yet also fuller than most lambics I have tried. It is an impressive and pleasing mix.

The bigger weight side of things is felt in a fruitier, especially more apple filled, character, and touched by vanilla sweetness. However, despite that it still keeps the very dry, white wine like undertones – which gives a mouth drying, yet simultaneously refreshing style. The more refreshing notes are especially notable in the main body while the dry wine like air roars over the finish after each sip.

In-between that full front and dry finish is a yeastie experience. It calls to champagne in some ways, and the brett influence feels more like how I have encountered it in some non lambic beers – giving a fluffy, lightly cheesy notes that give real weight to the middle.

Around all that are those traditional horse blanket aroma and nutty core that make it very familiar as a lambic. This is such a showcase of lambic style. It is very telling that I have had a ton of these already, have one ageing, and have only just around to doing notes. I really enjoy it.

A fantastic lambic on every level. Expect to see more from this brewery here whenever I pull my thumb out and do more notes.

Background: Oh man, how many of these Vandenbroek beers have a I tried before I finally pulled my thumb out and did notes on them? Quite a few! Anyway, I was obviously enjoying them so decided it was my duty to do some notes and maybe bring these to the attention of people who may have overlooked them until now. This is their standard gueuze – coming in a slight bit higher abv than I’ve seen listed in other places online, so I’m guessing the abv changes batch to batch. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit, who were the people who introduced me to them and have a great lambic and sour collection. Went with Miracle Of Sound’s Level 11 to listen to while drinking, “A Long year” was especially feeling appropriate as the end of 2020 loomed in front of me. Which, reminds me – Happy New Year! Enjoy Your drink!

Laphroaig: 10 Original Cask Strength – Batch 12 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 60.1% ABV)

Visual: Burnished reddened gold. Slow puckering comes from the spirit along with a few faster, thick streaks.

Nose: Camomile. Germolene (I think). Smoke. Peppery. Peat. Meat broth. Medicinal spirit. Orange zest. Charring. Some alcohol tingly. Slightly oily. Water makes clearer, and cleaner medicinal style. Dry soot. More orange zest.

Body: Warming initially, alcohol feel builds up quickly. Dried apricot. Medicinal and slightly dry. Beefy. Lots of peat. Slight malt chocolate. Vanilla and vanilla toffee. Water adds honey and makes smoother. Beef broth. Orange notes. Peach.

Finish: Warming and tingling. Beef slices. Malt chocolate. Slight lime air. Numbing alcohol after a while. Cheese puff crisps. Slight caramel. Slight orange crème. Water adds cleaner orange notes and lime.

Conclusion: The first time I popped this open it was fucking intense. Possibly too intense, but still such an experience. Here, with a few weeks open under its belt, we get a much more balanced look. As always, time to air is your friend with whisky.

Neat it is still intense, though surprisingly smooth on first sip considering the abv – though the alcohol come in quickly after. It is not as numbing as you would expect but it is still numbing.

Neat it gives in exchange for the abv an even more medicinal style dram than the standard Laphroaig – not just in the dry spirit character, but even a kind of medicinal cream to medicinal bandages style aroma that I more associate with my small experience of Port Ellen.

Thee peat experience is also there, smokey and big. It is still not Ardbeg level peaty but still intense. The sweeter notes of the spirit come out more chocolatey with the bigger body, though still with vanilla backing. Similar the bigger body brings even more of the subtle citrus notes under that. Everything is bigger, and if you are fine with the alcohol weight it is 100% worth it.

Water smooths it out a lot – it is still evidently medicinal and peaty, but now with lots more sweetness. It is actually shockingly smooth all things considered and with many more fruity notes underneath including stuff I would not normally associate with Laphroaig like the subtle peach notes backing it.

Any way you take it, this is pure Laphroaig , from its most uncompromising to its most complex. I absolutely love it. Just make sure you give it some time to air before you make up your mind as first impressions are brutal!

Background: Ohh my, saw this at Independent Spirit and I wanted it instantly. Laphroaig 10 was my entry point to heavy duty Islay whisky and I still love it. Found out one of my friends in the Netherlands had actually tried this already, the lucky lucky person! Anyway, one of my mates commented that this tasted like Orange Marmite, if such a thing could exist, so that may have influenced my thoughts while tasting. I went with the live Undertale album for listening while drinking, light happy and chill, stuff I need at the mo.

Waterford: Single Farm Origin: Ballymorgan 1.1 (Irish Single Malt Whisky: 50% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold. A very varied mix of streaks come from the spirit – from slow puckering, fast sheet like chunks and thin streaks.

Nose: Lively. Alcohol is noticeable. Strawberry. Tart rhubarb. Pear drops. Nail polish. Butterscotch and vanilla toffee. Heather. Honeycomb. Water smooths to tart white grapes.

Body: Tingling. A young spirit feel. Pears. Peppery touch. Gooseberry. Dry rhubarb. Lightly waxy. Strawberry crème. Water adds vanilla custard. Sweet green grapes. Toffee.

Finish: Peppery. Malt chocolate to choc orange. Sweeter rhubarb. Strawberry crème. Water adds chocolate toffee and choc lime.

Conclusion: Damn I love this. Ok, maybe I should have saved that for the end, as I have just given everything away but… damn I love this!

So, to balance out that wild enthusiasm (this is 2020 you know, we can’t be having any enthusiasm or happiness) let’s get the bad points out of the way first. Neat this feels slightly young in a few elements of its character. Now it doesn’t have an age statement, and it it is fairly smooth (I would presume from Irish triple distilling practices, but their website seems to indicate they do a double distillation, so what do I know), but the character does have a few elements that would make me think this is pretty young. It is partly from a few rough edges, evident if not too harsh alcohol, considering the 50% abv – but more than that it has a very bright flavour profile which I associate with young whisky. So, it doesn’t have the refined character you may expect for the cost.

Now, water does smooth a lot of this out, but also changes the character massively as we are about to examine.

Neat it has that bright, youthful spirit character. It is very lively and very fruity – coming out as pear drops, rhubarb, gooseberry and the like over a quite clean base, with slight peppery notes. It is slightly rough, but generally all about those bright notes. Even with those rough edges it is utterly wonderful to explore and surprisingly easy to drink considering the abv.

Water changes it to a still interesting, but completely different style. Now there are loads of vanilla, toffee and some malt chocolate notes at the base. Far smoother, and sweeter, with far less fruit – though there is still a little there as high notes to contrast.

Neat is more exciting, and with far more to examine, but is rougher. Water is smoother and has a new complexity, but loses a lot of what really makes the neat whisky stand out. Both are worthy experiences and with those two options this stands out as a whisky with a great range of experiences – If this is what single terrior does then I am all for it. An absolute gem that I can recommend without hesitation.

Background: Now this caught my eye. I was lacking a bottle of Irish Whiskey in the cupboard, and I always try to keep one to hand, then this range popped up. A bunch of different whiskeys from Waterford, all concentration on the concept of “terrior ” so all the barley is from a single farm, in this case Ballymorgan.

Now I knew nothing about this difference in farms, so grabbed one pretty much at random, but the concept intrigued me. There is even a specific terrior code on the back you can enter on their website to find out more about the area, which is a nice touch. So, time to find out if it makes a difference. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Dan Le Sac’s These People Are Idiots – lovely chilled beats to drink to – I recommend checking it out.

Ardbeg: Blaaack: Committee 20th Anniversary (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Deep dark gold colour with fast, thick streaks coming from the spirit.

Nose: Smoke. Wet wood. Crushed red grapes. Salt. Black and red liquorice. Medicinal touch. Slight green grapes. Pencil shavings. Salty rocks. Slight charring. Brown sugar. Water adds oily peat notes and a touch of tar.

Body: Blueberry. Salt. Wet rocks. Warming alcohol. Cake sponge. Charring. Earthy wine character. Water adds caramel. Soot. Fig rolls. More blueberry. Some subtle cherries.

Finish: Smoke. Soot. Bitter chocolate dust. Plums. Earthy. Fig rolls. Water adds dust balls. Blueberry. Charring. More bitter chocolate and a medicinal touch.

Conclusion: Ok, I’m a known Ardbeg fan, and with that taken as fact, this is still, in fact, something special.

For one it is a good quality Ardbeg – peaty, sooty, heavy, lightly medicinal and slightly dry. The Pinot Noir ageing hasn’t overwhelmed or replaced any of the distinctive Ardbeg qualities. The alcohol is present but never intrusive, even taken without water.

Neat it has an interesting look at the Pinot Noir influence. There are some red grape notes, but it has a kind of earthy wine character that reminds me of the European takes rather than the fruitier NZ Pinot Noir that they used for ageing. It adds a fruity but heavy note to the dram.

Water brings out a completely different interpretation of the wine notes. It is sweeter, with blue fruit, figs and most notably blueberry. It is subtle in how it works – the front is all Ardbeg but it has these dark fruit rounding notes that just take it to another level.

Unlike some of the committee releases – one that I still adore – this really plays to traditional Ardbeg strengths and just enhances it. A bit deeper, a bit more rounded, but not such a surprise as , say, Drum was.

If you know Ardbeg, it is that, but earthier, sweeter and slightly smoother. Utterly amazing. I could talk more, but I would probably just end up repeating myself. Flaws? Well it isn’t as good as the XOP Ardbeg 1992, but what is? And this isn’t stupid money to buy.

Are you an Ardbeg fan? If you see it, try it if you can.

Background: Another year, another Committee release, and Ardbeg have gone with something very interesting for their 20th anniversary. Pinot Noir aged Ardbeg. Now they don’t say Pinot Noir finished, so I presume at least some of the whisky is completely aged in Pinor Noir casks, but I could be wrong. Also I didn’t managed to try the cask strength version to compare like I did with Ardbeg Drum a while back. A pity, would have been cool to compare. Anyway, I love Ardbeg – Pinot Noir is one of the few wines I can recognise easily, so grabbing this from Independent Spirit was a certainty for me. Of note, the bottle is as black as its name – you have to hold it up to direct light and look carefully to be able to tell how much whisky you have left in there. A minor annoyance. Went with heavy music to back this – the hardcore punk of Gallows: Orchestra of Wolves.

Arbor: Tiny The Welder (England: IIPA: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Dark yellow to caramel brown body. Two inches of caramel touched frothy head that leaves suds. Body is semi clear.

Nose: Pine needles. Light vanilla custard. Pineapple. Slightly resinous hop character and bitterness. Quite clean. Fresh cake sponge. Palma violets. Creamy peach. Crushed custard cream biscuits. Jelly babies.

Body: Big bitterness. Big hop character. Light charring and sulphur. Apricot and peach. Pineapple and grapefruit. Palma violets.

Finish: Peach syrup. Good hops. Growling low level bitterness. Pineapple. Custard. Pink grapefruit. Palma violets.

Conclusion: Ohh, this is a big one. While its name is (I am 90% sure) a reference to Pliny The Elder, I get the feeling that they aren’t trying to duplicate that beer as this is a very different beast.

Whilst dry, this doesn’t skimp on the malt load. It has slightly dry vanilla and custard that gives a sweet and yet well attenuated base that allows a real growling hop bitterness to get going over it. The hops and bitterness are high but not super brutal and the sweetness mellows the heavy hops, creating a flavoursome but not harsh character.

Beyond that it teases you with sweet apricot and peach hints, in that USA, mid 2K hops way, and then BOOM pineapple and tart but not overwhelming grapefruit. Big fresh notes over that sweet malt base – the drier base really giving the flavour room to roam. Love it.

It feels like a wonderful call back to the tart hopped big bitterness double IPAs that used to be omnipresent when I was first investigating the USA craft beer scene. Lovely malt use that is just dry enough, and just slight sweetness, aided by tart fruit notes with great hop character.

I adore this one. Now I hope it sticks around, and we see more beers like this so the style makes a comeback.

Get it.

Background: A few reasons why I grabbed this one. 1) Arbor have been pretty good as of late, showing both a respect older beer styles and a willingness to experiment. 2) The name is, I am fairly sure, a pun on Pliny The Elder, the very well reputed American beer, which amused me. 3) From that pun name I was fairly sure this would be an older school take on an American IIPA, which is exactly what I was looking for at the time. I went with Bodycount: Bloodlust as music while drinking – not really linked to the beer, just really been listening to No Lives Matter and the like a lot recently. This was another beer grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Kees: #05 Anniversary (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 9.5% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black. Creamy coffee brown head.

Nose: Cocoa dust. Rich roasted coffee. Dry roasted peanuts. Sour cream.

Body: Creamy chocolate into bitter cocoa back. Sour cream and chives touch. Creamy coffee. Hazelnuts.

Finish: Creamy coffee cake. Bitter cocoa. Creamy coffee itself. Pecan pie. Crushed peanuts. Earthy, slightly peppery bitterness.

Conclusion: Ok, looking up at the notes I know that from them it sound like a fairly standard imperial stout fare. So, now I need to use this section to convince you that this is in no way a standard stout.

Ok, first up, best I can tell this has no extra special ingredients – no coffee beans, no cocoa, no barrel ageing, you get what I mean? This is just a beer. Fucking fantastic isn’t it that people still remember how to do that, right?

Because of the lack of odd ingredients I know that when this is so thick, creamy and smooth, that when it has not only a wonderful mouthfeel but also shows the abv with malt weight while never getting boozy of any alcohol harshness, that all of that is from the brewing and not from time in the oak to smooth it.

Similarly when it has bitter cocoa, rounded, rich coffee or when it brings pecan nutty notes – again that is all the work of malt, hops, yeast and water (ok, and oats, I’ll give you that one, and oats). Yet with the rewarding, well rounded and developed notes it brings in those categories it easily matches those “throw everything in the brew” style beers.

Yet that isn’t all that makes this beer great, there is a solid grounding beery earthiness and bitterness, which makes this very much feel like a beer and not just a collection of popular flavours. There is also a slight sour cream savoury touch which gives thickness and again gives a more recognisable beer nature against the richer notes.

Masterfully crafted, easily matches the bigger and fancier ingredient filled Imperial Stouts. I have drunk so many of these before I finally got around to doing notes on it and I have regretted none of them.

A wonder of an Imperial Stout.

Background: So, this is one of those beers I have bought many times, and keep drinking before I get around to doing notes on. As you may guess from the name it was brewed for Kees 5th anniversary. Shocking eh? Anyway an Imperial Stout, made with oats, but apart from that standard ingredients. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, over and overt again. Went with Rise Against: Appeal To Reason for music while drinking, took a while for this album to really grow on me, but definitely has now, even if Endgame is still my favourite Rise Against album.

Kees: Wander Beyond: Where the Wild Blackberries Grow (Netherlands: Barley Wine: 12.2% ABV)

Visual: Very dark black cherry red that appears almost black. Thin grey brown dash of a head.

Nose: Boozy. Liquorice. Brandy cream. Brambles – blackberries. Burnt brown sugar. Chocolate bourbons and bourbon whiskey.

Body: Boozy. Red cherries. Treacle. Blackberries. Cake sponge. Brown sugar. Brown bread. Earthy bitterness. Liquorice. Burnt caramel.

Finish: Golden syrup. Earthy bitterness. Brown bread. Brambles. Charred bitter notes. Blueberries.

Conclusion: This is a boozy one, and a big, dark barley wine with it. Thankfully not shunning the beer side to show only the fruit. I approve.

Initial impressions on the nose lead with almost Belgian dubbel like character – lots of burnt brown sugar and liquorice – and even well used liquorice at that, which for people who know me will know I consider a rarity. The liquorice is quite present which usually puts me off, but here worked very well as a savoury offset to the big, boozy sweet main work of the beer.

Boozy seems to be a term used many different ways, so just to clarify. For me boozy is when a beer had that thick, full of spirity but viscous alcohol style in the air and body, but generally without much if any burn. In this case the beer hints at alcohol throughout. The alcohol feels present all around the edges, in the dry middle and the general air around the beer, but never feels raw or rough.

A good showing, but thought I would detail as that boozy character can put off some people. Me, I like it – as long as it isn’t rough I like the reminder that I am drinking something heavy and should take my time with it.

So dark and boozy with a distinct dubbel influence. However it shows some more traditional bright barley wine notes with golden syrup and the like. Very sweet notes, but that dry alcohol note helps keep in check. Pretty smooth as well considering the over 12% abv – but still distinctly boozy and needs that earthy character underneath to match with the liquorice savoury character and bring it down a touch.

A very good beer, but some of you may have noticed that I’ve not mentioned the fruit much yet. Don’t worry. The fruit is very present, it is just not as much in the limelight as the beer itself – a beer that I feel deserves respect in itself.

There is a present sweet and lightly tart fruit character – oddly slightly red fruit touched with cherry notes somehow showing around the brambles and blueberry notes. It adds to the beer, becoming a definite fresh presence which mixes with the beer’s dark weight of flavour and gives it a brighter and fresher note that makes it slip down nicely.

It takes a good beer and makes it great, bringing extra notes throughout without compromising the base beer. I love it. Utterly fantastic.

Background: This is not the first time I have had this beer. It, along with Kees 05 Anniversary Stout are beers I kept buying and then drinking before I get around to doing notes on them. I must grab another Anniversary Stout and finally do notes on that. It is gert lush. Anyway a barley wine from Kees, who work well with the big beers, and this one is made with blackberries. You may have already guessed that from the name. Only had one or two beers from Wander Beyond, not made any huge impact on me yet, good or bad, will have to give them another look some time. Went back to Nine Inch Nails new albums while drinking this (Ghosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts). I do miss the vocals, but as atmospheric backing music they are great.

Ardbeg: An Oa (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 46.6% ABV)

Visual: Just slightly pale gold. A mix of slow and fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Brine. Fresh dough. Salt. Subtle white grapes. Wet rocks. Water adds peat, moss and crushed sunflower seeds.

Body: Medicinal. Sherry trifle. Salt. Solid peat centre. Fudge. Leather. Strawberry. Water adds muggy smoke and red grapes.

Finish: Ash, Peat smoke. Dry. Slight malt chocolate. Tobacco. Strawberry chocolate. Smoked beef. Slight grapes. Water adds more alcohol tingle. Trifle. Dry toffee. Toasted teacakes. White chocolate. Vanilla.

Conclusion: As always with full sized whisky bottles, I’ve had a few drams out of this already to give it time to open up and air before doing the proper tasting notes. Again, this extra time to air has definitely paid dividends.

It is mildly, and I must emphasise very mildly, restrained for an Ardbeg. Yep, what we have here is a medicinal, salty, peaty and briny beast, but just slightly mellowed from the standard 10 year. Don’t worry, this isn’t Ardbeg lemonade edition. It is still a beast, just a restrained beast. A restrained beast that can still be let loose at any time.

The restraint comes from a gentle toffee, fudge and trifle sweetness. While subtle in its neat form, this becomes very noticeable with water, even bringing out white chocolate and subtle grape notes into the mix. So, yep, another one where a touch of water really helps the whisky shine – but the bigger, booming and medicinal dram it is neat is no slouch either.

It is meaty, always smokey – from ash to smoked meat with nods to growling peat bogs when neat. However amongst the Ardbeg range it does feel like the approachable Ardbeg. Again, don’t worry it is still Ardbeg, it still fights.

The first few drams I had of this were only good. Now, with time to air, it is excellent. Lots of Ardbeg weight and salt, medicinal and peat but with more sweetness. Not Ardbeg Drum level sweet, just a more subtle, softer sweetness that really adds behind the Ardbeg punch.

At the price point this is just amazing. A must have for Islay fans.

Background: I saw this while in the duty free area of the airport in India. They were trying to convince me it was a travel exclusive. It is not. I grabbed this bottle from The Whisky Exchange. So there. This is a new(ish) addition to Ardbeg’s main line up. A no age statement whisky that has been aged in new charred oak, PX casks and first fill bourbon casks. Sounds very nice, and is decent priced so I grabbed a bottle. It also helps thats since its release it has won many an award – three of which are listed on the box – at the 2019 International Whisky Competition it got best Scottish Single Malt NAS, Best Isaly Single malt, and the distillery getting distillery of the year. Not bad, hope it lives up to its reputation. Went with Bad Religion: Age Of Unreason for music to listen to while drinking. Finally grabbed it as I had tickets to go see them live soon. Sooo, anyway, that isn’t happening now. Ah well.

Cu Bocan: Creation 1 – Imperial Stout and Moscatel Edition (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Light gold. Thin slow streaks come from the spirit for the most part, with a few faster streaks standing out.

Nose: Salty. Honey. Peat smoke, Brown bread. Milky coffee. Vanilla. Water adds fudge and brandy cream.

Body: Warming. Honey. Peat smoke. Beef slices. Milky chocolate liqueur. Red grapes. Chocolate coated nuts. Brown bread. Water adds sweet red wine. Rum and raisins. Vanilla fudge. Marshmallow. White grapes. Sherry trifle.

Finish: Honeycomb. Beef slices. Slightly numbing alcohol. Fudge. Water adds glacier cherries in brandy. Milky hot chocolate. Marshmallow. Nutella.

Conclusion: Ok, I am very taken with this. Especially when you try it with water. Neat it has just a touch of alcohol fire, a touch that is numbed by water and turns it into something wonderfully chewy, But I get ahead of myself. Again.

Anyway, on the nose it is a mix of sweet highland notes, peat smoke and a hint of the imperial stout influence with a milky coffee touch. It is a nice, smooth mix with that wisp of smoke to entice you in for something a bit more daring. Oddly, here there is also a salty touch I would not expect from a Highland, calling more to the Islands – though that note does disappear with water.

The body starts to open up that barrel ageing influence, especially with water. It works the same sweet but peat touched base with lots of honey and vanilla fudge notes meets smoke – however the barrel rises it to sweet red grapes and dessert wine, and sinks it down into chocolate liqueur. Again water really brings these two poles out. Instead of that harsh touch it has neat, it becomes a smokey, chocolate liqueur dusted sherry trifle thing with water.

It needed the water to smooth and ease out the fire, but now it is relaxing, rewarding and complex. There is a bready, kind of netella covered brown toast middle that is a wonderful balance of sweet and savoury, that then leads out into a similarly mixed sweet, spice, smoked and grounded finish.

Uses peat without feeling the need to aim for Islay. Uses barrel ageing while still showing impressive work from the base spirit. Smooth but chewy. Very much recommended.

Background: So, Cu Bocan is a decent wee dram, a lightly peated take on Tomatin and now they are getting a bit wild with this! This is has been aged in imperial stout casks from Black Isle Brewery and Bacalhoa Moscatel de Setubal wine casks. I know only a few of the words to do with wine, but all of the ones to do with imperial stout and that had me pretty excited here. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Had no specific music on during drinking this, just shoved my tunes on random and waited to see what came up.

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