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Wemyss Nectar Grove Batch Strength

Much to my surprise I found a whisky review sample from Wemyss in my mailbox a short while ago. It’s been a while, but why not? So here are my findings:

Wemyss Nectar Grove Batch Strength

Blended Malt, Maderia Finish – 54.0%

My Tasting Notes:

Colour: Medium amber
Nose: Fresh apples, pears, banana, polished wood, hints of nutmeg and pepper
Palate: Passion fruit, honey, pineapple, poached pears, vanilla, black pepper, hints of chili
Finish: Long and fruity

Overall: A well done madeira finish that adds a bunch of fruity flavours to the whisky without becoming dominiant. This likely is not very old whisky but it does provide a pleasant sipping experience that doesn’t break the bank.

Rating: 86/100 – Price tag: £40


Footprints in the Sky

Whether you work in the beer, wine or spirits industry, carbon dioxide is your friend. Without carbon dioxide there can be no alcohol. And the good thing is that this is climate-neutral. Plants eat CO2 in order to create sugars and starches. This process is then partly reverted by fermentation.

In recent years the alcohol industry has been making great efforts to reduce its carbon footprint on the production side and to be more environmentally friendly overall. Energy efficiency, resourcefulness and waste management have become important driving factors towards a more sustainable industry. Big companies like Diageo or Pernod Ricard have been investing millions to bring their production up to date with current ecological standards.

But now that the booze is made, it needs to be sold. What about the energy efficiency of this sector? I don’t want to address the cost of physical shipping of bottles all over the world here. Let’s only talk about the energy consumption of sales and marketing.

Whenever new a Scottish whisky distillery celebrates its grand opening or an existing distillery unveils an enviromentally friendly expansion, booze people such as writers, bloggers and merchants will be flown in from London and elsewhere for the event.

The round trip London-Edinburgh-London is roughly 1100 km. A passenger flight uses approximately 3 litres of kerosene per seat per 100 km. Assuming a fully occupied plane, the fuel comsumption would be 33 l per person. How much whisky could you make with this? Let’s do a rough estimate:

According to an article about Roseisle Distillery I found, Diageo has a gross energy usage of 3 MJ (megajoules) per litre of packaged product. A litre of kerosine has an energy density of 37 MJ. So the round trip uses 33 x 37 = 1221 MJ. This is enough energy to make 407 litres of whisky (presumably at 40% ABV).

This doesn’t sound like an awful lot, but it adds up. There are not only “influencers” travelling the world in the name of booze. In fact those are the smallest part of the total picture. Don’t forget the small army of brand ambassadors in near constant motion from one event to another. Many of them are racking up dozens of trips per year including long-haul flights to Asia.

A round-trip from London to Singapore for example is almost 22000 km, twenty times the distance London-Edinburgh. The whisky equivalent of this trip would be 8140 litres at 40% ABV or 3256 litres of pure alcohol. To put this into perspective, this is the daily output of a small malt whisky distillery with a yearly capacity of around 1 million litres, such as Scapa or Tobermory. This calculation assumes 330 days of production with the traditional silent season of around a month, neglecting the angels’ share.

I don’t even want to begin to estimate the total energy consumption of “marketing by air” for alcoholic drinks. But you can easily see that it is a lot, and it is definitely not neglectable in comparison to energy use in production.

At a moment in history where many scientists say that the environment is at a tipping point, anyone should sit down and look at the status quo and how the situation might be improved. Are all of these brand ambassador flights really necessary? Do European spirits professionals really need to be flown across the Atlantic to sit in a panel and judge award entries?

I am not writing this to indulge in “flight shaming” which has become almost a trend in Europe. But I think it is necessary to raise awareness that if you are really serious about making the booze business more sustainable, there is more than the production side to worry about.


Cognac Frapin 22 yo 1993 TWE Exclusive

The Whisky Exchange has never been entirely focused on whisky. In both their online and brick & mortar shops they also stock a wide selection of other spirits. But with the announcment of their Cognac Show for April 2018 they are stepping up their non-whisky game even more.

TWE recently also presented their first exclusive cognac bottling, a 22 year old 1993 single vintage from Frapin. I did not refuse the sample that was offered to me. So here are my findings:

Frapin 1993 Single  Vintage

TWE Exclusive – 46%

My Tasting Notes:

Colour: Dark amber
Nose: Orange zest, cinnamon, toffee, vanilla, a faint hint of rancio
Palate: Oranges, stewed apples, sultanas, cinnamon, cardamom, hints of white pepper.
Finish: Medium long, very fruity and slightly dry.
Overall: A very good cognac that does well in balancing fresh fruitness with wood spices. The overall charcter is rather subtle, but there is a lot to explore.

Rating: 87/100 – Price tag: £140


15 German Alcohol Free Beers Compared

This summer I am going without alcohol. I am taking three months off to give my liver a break. So I thought it might be a nice idea to check out some of the many alcohol free beers that are available in Germany.

To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of zero ABV beer. The few I have tried so far didn’t appeal to me at all, so I usually have other non-alcoholic drinks instead of seeking the illusion of a proper beer.

But somehow I wanted to find out anyway if there might be any enjoyable alcohol free beers around, so I decided to compare all the ones I can readily buy at the local supermarket which has a fairly decently sized beverage section.

I tasted beers of three categories: Bavarian Helles (4), Hefeweizen (6) and Pilsner (5). Scores are on the 100 point scale. Here are my findings:

Bavarian Helles

Paulaner Münchner Hell

Colour: Dark gold
Nose: Pure malt
Palate: Malt, corn flakes. One dimensional and quite sweet.
Finish: Very long, with a surprising slight bitterness

Overall: Liquid bitter corn flakes. Dreadful.

Score: 30/100


Hacker-Pschorr Naturtrübes Helles

Colour: Bright gold, slightly murky
Nose: Very weak, slightly malty
Palate: Essentially water with a hint of malt
Finish: Short, popcorn

Overall: Reminds me of Bud Light.

Score: 35/100



Colour: Medium gold
Nose: Almost nothing, a generic weak “beer” nose
Palate: Quite mild, mildy hoppy, sweet cereals
Finish: Long and sweet

Overall: Better than Hacker or Paulaner but the hop bitterness is slightly unpleasant.

Score: 45/50


Colour: Dark gold
Nose: Light malt, cereals
Palate: Mild corn flakes, slightly hoppy
Finish: Medium long, mild and creamy

Overall: This is recognisable as beer but still a bit heavy on the corn flakes.

Score: 50/100




Colour: Bright amber
Nose: Nothing
Palate: Corn flakes
Finish: Medium long, sweet corn flakes

Overall: Not resemblance at all to weissbier, very similar to the Paulaner Hell.

Score: 30/100

König Ludwig Weissbier

Colour: Bright amber
Nose: Very weak
Palate: Thin, slighly sour
Finish: Short and meaningless

Overall: This is very close to mineral water with a bit of lemon, but it is less fruity.

Score: 40/100

Paulaner Hefe-Weißbier

Color: Reddish amber
Nose: Weak, freash, slightly fruity
Palate: Slightly sour and slightly sweet, a hint of yeast
Finish: Medium long and slightly bitter

Overall: Definitely better than Paulaner Hell. This is almost enjoyable but the balance is a bit off.

Score: 55/100

Schneider Weisse TAP 3

Colour: Dark amber
Nose: A slight whiff of weissbier
Palate: Very odd, a slightly sour and almost “chemical” taste, impossible to describe
Finish: Long and strange

Overall: This beer has a dominant flavour component, possibly a specific ester,  that may work in a regular weissbier but here it is overwhelming. It is not really unpleasant but you have to get used to it.

Score: 55/100


Colour: Dark gold
Nose: Slightly malty
Palate: Corn flakes, slightly hoppy
Finish: Long and slightly sweet

Overall: You can notice this is beer, but I don’t get any specific wheat flavours. An unoffensive drink, not unpleasant.

Score: 60/100



Colour: Medium amber
Nose: Fresh, slighly yeasty
Palate: Rather weak, a hint of citrus, mild, but not very sweet
Finish: Medium long

Overall: It is a bit weak in flavour but the overall balance of aromas makes it taste quite close to the real thing.

Score: 65/100


Jever Fun

Colour: Bright gold
Nose: A faint whiff of hops
Palate: Very sour attack, almost like olive brine (really!), rapidly turning bitter.
Finish: Long and bitter

Overall: This one surely is different. Regular Jever is a quite hoppy pilsner but without alcohol this is just over the top.

Score: 30/100


Colour: Medium gold
Nose: Weak, slightly hoppy, a hint of citrus
Palate: Slightly sweet, a hint of corn flakes, a hint of hops

Overall:  Nothing stands out here, the generic cereal notes are present but not prominent. Not the best, not the worst.

Score: 50/100


Beck’s Blue

Colour: Dark gold
Nose: Hoppy
Palate: A hoppy attack fading into corn flakes
Finish: Medium long and rather sweet

Overall: The beer is off to a prominsing start but on mid-palate the taste becomes generic.

Score: 50/100

Bitburger 0,0

Colour: Bright gold
Nose: None
Palate: Slightly sour corn flakes
Finish: Medium long

Overall: This actually isn’t too bad, but it is only remotely beer-like.

Score: 55/100


Colour: Bright gold
Nose: A hint of citrussy hops
Palate: Lime, lemon zest, sweet malt
Finish: Long and slightly fruity

Overall: The pioneer of German alcohol-free beer delivers a nice citrus-forward pseudo pilsner.

Score: 70/100


There are a few interesting observations to be made here. The most important one:

Ignore both your personal preference for or the reputation of a beer brand when choosing an alcohol free beer!

I have tasted at least one regular beer from each of the breweries featured here. When I look at the scores and my own preferences it becomes clear that the cards are reshuffled when it comes to brewing alcohol free beer.

For example take Oettinger. This is a bottom shelf brand that has an “alcoholics’ favourite” reputation because of its low price. And their regular Helles can only be described as liquid boredom. But somehow they manage to brew an alcohol free beer that can stand up against brands with a higher profile.

Another observation is that apparently it is easier to brew a halfway decent alcohol free pilsner or weissbier than a Bavarian style lager. Bavarian Helles is one of my favourite beer types, but overall I liked the other types better.

And then there is the “corn flakes” thing you might be wondering about. This really struck me with quite a few of those beers. I was surprised to notice the exact same flavour in so many different beers, especially as it is normally not really prominent in regular brews. I don’t know enough about the production of alcohol free beer to say how this can happen, but somehow this seems to be a common DNA of many Zero ABV beers. But then again there are a few that completely lack this flavour.

To wrap it up, only two of the beers I tried I would consider drinking again or maybe even buying. With some others I was close to pouring the rest of my glass into the sink. The Franziskaner is not just a decent approximation of a Hefeweizen. It tastes like the real thing, albeit somewhat toned down. And I have to say that Clausthaler is quite a nice pilsner. I am not the greatest fan of this style, and actually I like this beer better than quite a few regular German pilsners.

So if you are seriously looking for an alcohol free beer that you like, my advice is to try as many different ones as possible. Because the variability of quality is much bigger here than with regular beers.


Scotch Whisky’s Identity Crisis

I have already written extensively about the perpetual effort of the Scotch whisky industry to “demystify” the category and attract younger people two years ago in the second part of this article. Not very surprisingly this quest has still not ended. The latest reiteration is Diageo’s Haig Club campagin with David Beckham in polka dot trousers.


In a Spirits Business article we find this all too familiar sounding gem:

“Our first advert for Haig Club Clubman aims to disrupt people’s pre-conceived notions around whisky,” said Ronan Beirne, global marketing director for Haig Club.

“With Haig Club Clubman, we are purposefully and assertively inviting consumers to make their own rules on how to enjoy this versatile Scotch whisky.

“This progressive approach aligns with our long term ambition to recruit new whisky drinkers by breaking down the barriers for entry, continuing to drive the vibrancy and relevancy of the category.”

While the Scotch whisky industry is desperately trying to modernise its image by embracing millenial hipster bargoers its members are celebrating themselves as Keepers of the Quaich at Blair Castle in front of stag heads, historic weapons and paintings of Highland nobility, an exclusive invitation-only circle with a visual apperance somewhere between freemasons and a folkloristic costume group.

Distillery managers and brand ambassadors proudly wear kilts at whisky shows and other events while the marketing departments try to overcome the dusty “kilt and bagpipe” image of Scotch whisky. And only last year Diageo reinforced the dreaded “old man in a comfy chair in front of a fireplace” stereotype by having Nick Offerman sipping Lagavulin for 44 minutes straight on a promotional “Yule Log” video.

I could cite more examples of this schizophrenia but I think you get the picture.

The attempts to “demystify” Scotch whisky are certainly not helped by the recent trend of releasing no age statement bottlings with fancy names, preferably Gaelic, that very often leave the potential buyer without any clue about the content of the bottle, let alone how the name is pronounced.

Instead, the current trend of post-factual politics finds its analogy in whisky advertising that lulls people into a world of fairy tales about mysterious beasts and myths about the heritage of a brand in order to sell completely interchangeable products. Whiskies of entry level quality are stylised to luxury items with the hope that fancy packaging and outrageous pricing might fool the palates of the buyers.

Oh, the pricing, everybody’s favourite topic. I’ve ranted more than enough about it myself. But it is also another symptom of the disease that Scotch whisky is suffering from. Whisky is supposed to become more approachable, but at the same time it is becoming less and less affordable.

The industry wants to introduce new audiences to Scotch, but the affordable introductory bottlings are becoming less and less an advertisment for “the good stuff”. Both because their quality is often mediocre and because most of the good stuff is now priced beyond the financial capabilities of people with a modest income. Can Scotch whisky really be approachable, if anything but the cheap stuff of is out of reach?

And finally, mere mortals are told that age is nothing but a number. Meanwhile, precious liquid from the oldest casks is filled into crystal decanters, put on a pedestal, and producers, investors and oligarchs dance around the 50 year old golden calves.

The whisky industry is doing the splits. I just hope they don’t strain their legs.



Three New Ten Year Olds From Bruichladdich

bruichladdich_10_2016Bruichladdich just released three 10 yo bottlings of their different whisky brands and sent me a set of samples to taste.

Probably the most important bottling is the reborn Laddie Ten. There were many sad voices when the old one was discontinued, and rightly so because it was excellent.

Then there is a new PC10 from Port Charlotte and a new bottling of Octomore 10.

Bruichladdich Laddie Ten Second Edition

“Bourbon, Sherry, French wine” – 50%

My Tasting Notes:

Colour: Dark gold
Nose: Stewed apples, toasted hazelnuts, vanilla, hints of liquorice and nutmeg.
Palate: Stewed apples, orange zest, honey, vanilla, hints of Earl Grey tea, nutmeg and white pepper.
Finish: Long, fruity and slightly spicy.
Overall: The ABV has been increased to a generous 50% but even more so has the price, so this is not the bargain anymore it used to be. But the Laddie Ten remains a very good whisky with lots of flavours to explore without being too complicated.

Rating: 87/100 – Price tag: ~£50

Port Charlotte PC 10 Second Edition

“Sherry, Tempranillo, French wine” – 40 ppm – 50%

My Tasting Notes:

Colour: Medium gold
Nose: Light maritime smoke, the faintest hint of banana, vanilla, cloves, hints of mace.
Palate: Medium peat, stewed apples, banana, vanilla, hints of cloves, cardamom and pepper.
Finish: Long, smoky and slightly spicy.
Overall: This is less thick, oily and spicy but more “civilised” and fruity than other Port Charlottes I have tasted. Which is bit of a pity because I loved that style. The new bottling feels much more like a peated version of the Laddie Ten than like something completely different. The quality is still very high, though, only the character has changed.

Rating: 87/100 – Price tag: ~£55

Octomore 10 Second Edition

“Bourbon, Grenache Blanc” – 167 ppm – 57.3%

My Tasting Notes:

Colour: Dark gold
Nose: Not very strong actually with surprisingly little smoke, liquorice, vanilla, hints od mixed spices. Water adds some maritime freshness.
Palate: Strong but not very strong peat, sweet apples, orange zest, honey, cloves, allspice, black pepper.
Finish: Long, smoky and slightly spicy.
Overall: Again, the Laddie DNA is well visible here, only the peat level has been ramped up a few more notches. I can imagine that some hardcore peatheads will be disappointed by its relative mildness; it is an execptionally well rounded expression. This is probably my favourite Octomore, but I haven’t tasted them all.

Rating: 90/100 – Price tag: ~£150

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Wemyss – 3 New Scotch Whisky Bottlings

Earlier ths week I received a set of three samples from independent bottler Weymss. Here are my findings:

Glenrothes 1997/2016 “Blossom Nectar

Hogshead – 50.8%

My Tasting Notes:

Colour: Straw
Nose: Fresh lemon, green apples, vanilla, hints of roses and white pepper.
Palate: Apples, vanilla, porridge, hints of nuts and pepper.
Finish: Medium long, slightly fruity and slightly spicy.
Overall: It is difficult to believe that his whisky is already 19 years old, it tastes much more youthful. It’s a nice enough dram but there is not much noteworthy about it.

Rating: 82/100

Longmorn 1992/2016 “Persian Anise”

Hogshead – 46%

My Tasting Notes:

Colour: Bright gold
Nose: Honey, orange zest, ripe banana, vanilla, hints uf nutmeg and allspice.
Palate: Fizzy banana and pineapple, vanilla, lemon zest, nutmeg, hints of pepper.
Finish: Long, fruity and slightly spicy.
Overall: A very nice fruity whisky with a rich and creamy mouthfeel.

Rating: 86/100

Bunnahabhain 1990/2016 “Haven Trail”

Hogshead – 46%

My Tasting Notes:

Colour: Dark straw
Nose: Stewed apples, nuts, vanilla, hints of banana, black pepper.
Palate: Toasted nuts, apples, hints of peach, vanilla, hints of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Finish: Long, fruity and slightly spicy.
Overall: Another pleasantly fruity and creamy expression, this time with added nuts.

Rating: 85/100


2809006820_ceae1244b8_zWhen asked to name the signature spirit of Germany, most people from other countries would probably say “Jägermeister”. But while Jägermeister may be the most popular German booze internationally it can hardly be called traditional because it has only been around since the 1930s. And its recent international success is mostly due to clever marketing as a party drink and cocktail ingredient.

Looking at German spirits with a bit more of a history we find a rather distinct north/south divde between distilled grain and fruit spirits. Northern Germany is Korn country where for many centuries rye and wheat have been made into what is essentially vodka distilled to a lower proof. Korn would also qualify as unaged grain whisky under Scottish law as long as also some malted barley is used, which in fact is done in most cases in order to provide the necessary enzymes for sugar formation.

The milder climate in south Germany makes it possible to grow grapes and other fruit to a much larger extent than in the north. This has led to the distillation of a large number of fruit and wine brandies in this region.

But there is another distinctively German spirit that usd to be hugely popular in the past but has become a niche product today: Kartoffelschnaps. Kartoffel means potato, so in principle Kartoffelschnaps is indeed nothing else than potato vodka.

You might think that potato vodka is an eastern European thing, but historically this is not strictly true. The distillation of potatoes in Germany began in the 17th century.

Potatoes as a food crop were introducd in Germany in the 17th century. But it was not until the  mid-18th century that potatoes were grown on a larger scale. King Frederic II of Prussia in particular encouraged the cultivation of potatoes by demanding farmers to devote a tenth of their fields to them. At first acceptance was poor, but eventually the farmers learned about the nutritional benefits of the potato, and Prussia – and subsequently all of Germany – became a major potato producer.

1280px-coupe_de_lalambic_allemand_pour_la_distillation_des_vins_appareil_de_pistoriusIn principle potatoes are distilled the same way as fruit. Until the early 19th century the distillation of potatoes was not very popular because the process is not very efficient when done in traditional pot stills. But in 1817 Johann Heinrich Leberecht Pistorius patented a special still that made the distillation of potato mash much easier and cheaper.

The Pistorius still consisted of two connected pot stills and a small rectifier that allowed a distillation to 60% to 80% ABV. It can be regarded as a predecessor of the column still that revolutionised the distillation of whisky. And it was only after Pistorius’ invention that potato distillation came to eastern Europe for making vodka as we know it today.

The introduction of the Pistorius still made the cultivation of potatoes even more popular because farmers could use the pomace as cattle feed and fertiliser. In consequence Kartoffelschnaps experienced a huge boom in Germany that lasted many decades.

In the 19th century thousands of distilleries made Kartoffelschnaps which in consequence became cheaper and cheaper. Farms and also factories even paid a part of the worker’s wages in Kartoffelschnaps. Of course this was not without effect. Alcoholism became rampant to an extent that people spoke of a “Branntweinpest” (brandy plague). Unemployment and poverty were often the consequence, not to speak of the health aspects. For example in Berlin there was one “watering hole” for every 109 inhabitants in 1844. Very much the same development happened in Switzerland.,

As a consequence both Germany and Switzerland introduced an alcohol tax in 1887 (the Swiss tax was uniquely for Kartoffelschnaps). Before that, alcohol was not consequently taxed and often only on a local basis. So the introduction of the alcohol tax was not simply a way of  improving the budget but also a measure to fight social and health problems in the society as well as to control agriculture.

The measure proved to be successful. Kartoffelschnaps became significantly more expensive, and alcohol consumption decreased again. But this does not mean that potato distillation came out of fashion. More and more potato distillers switched from making Kartoffelschnaps to industrial alcohol. The turn of the century saw a massive industrial boom, and alcohol was needed for many purposes. Also industrial customers were better prepared to pay the higher prices.

This process went along with a major concentration of the distilling industry, and on top of that alcohol production was heavily regulated during World War One. This resulted in monopoly-like structures of the alcohol industry which eventually led to Germany establishing a state monopoly on alcohol in 1919.

This monopoly is still partially in place today, but it will be abolished completely by 2017 because EU law has largely overridden it. As a result of this it has had to be subsidised instead of generating income. It should be noted that the German alcohol monoply never included prohibitve elements like in Scandinavia or North America where alcohol sales are restricted by government control. In its core the monopoly was about giving the state access to industrial alcohol because it is a very important resource. Potato distillers have actually been quite happy about the monopoly because the government has to buy any alcohol they produce for a fixed price.

To the present day, potatato distillation has been going on on a large scale in Germany, but almost entirely for industrial alcohol. Kartoffelschnaps is still being made in small volumes, it even has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance in the past years because of its recognition as a product with a long tradition. But it has almost disappeared from the shelves, and apart from some online retailers it is not easy to find.

If you exepct a tasting note for Kartoffelschnaps now, I have to disappoint you. I have never been a fan of vodka or korn, and Kartoffelschnaps is in the same realm. It tends to a bit sweeter and richer than grain-based spirits, but it still is not a drink I’d enjoy.

I do think the story is fascinating, though. It is amazing how an almost forgotten invention such as the Pistorius still can still have an impact on the present.

Picture references: Potatoes: flickr (Nick Saltmarsh) – Pistorius still: Wikipedia


C & S Dram – 3 New Single Malt Bottlings

Last week I received three review samples from the German independent bottler C & S. Here are my findings:

Little Piggy (Ballindalloch) 6 yo C & S Dram Collection

Sherry puncheon #900078 – 65.5%

My Tasting Notes:

Colour: Straw
Nose: Bircher muesli with grated apples, oats and raisins, white pepper.
Palate: A strong alcoholic punch is followed by apples, porridge, grapefruit, hints of raisins, nutmeg and pepper .
Finish: Rather short, alcoholic and slightly fruity.
Overall: This bottle is not an example for the “young whisky can be great too” statement you often hear from NAS supporters. It was frankly bottled too young. Youthful cereal and stinging ethanol dominate this whisky that should have been left in the cask a few years longer.

Rating: 74/100

Ballindalloch is the pseudonym of a famous Speyside distillery that does not like its name to be used for independent bottlings.

Benrinnes 9 yo C & S Dram Collection

Hogshead #309916 – 57.2%

My Tasting Notes:

Colour: Pale straw
Nose: Walnuts, hints of apples, vanilla, freshly cut wood, hints of lemon zest and a tiny whiff of smoke.
Palate: Walnuts, breakfast cereals, vanilla, fresh apples, hints of banana and lemon, nutmeg and white pepper.
Finish: Medium long, slightly fruity and slightly spicy.
Overall: Again this is rather youthful but it feels more rounded than the Ballindalloch, which makes it much more pleasant to drink.

Rating: 83/100 – Price Tag: €49

Benrinnes 24 yo C & S Dram Senior

Hogshead #446 – 56.3%

My Tasting Notes:

Colour: Dark gold
Nose: Orange zest, toasted nuts, waxed leather, vanilla, mace, hints of cinnamon and pepper.
Palate: Orange zest, hints of banana and pineapple, honey, cinnamon, hints of cardamom and pepper.
Finish: Long, fruity and slightly spicy.
Overall: Now we’re talking. This is a delightful dram, and it proves that Benrinnes does not necessarily need a sherry cask to excel. And the pricing is very reasonable regarding today’s inflated whisky prices.

Rating: 88/100 – Price tag: €124


Ardbeg Twenty One – Tasting Notes

ardbeg_twentyoneArbeg fans have long been waiting for an older expression from the distillery. But until now all bottlings from recent years were on the young side, and most didn’t carry any age statement at all. It has become rather obvious that the distillery has not put aside a significant number of casks to eventually use for bottlings of oder whisky. But earlier this year the label grahpics for a 21 year old showed up on the internet. This means that the spirit must have been distilled in the period when the distillery still was on life support with only minimal production before reopening in 1997.

This bottling will be available from 21st September to Ardbeg Committee members. Despite the high price of €370 there is little doubt that all bottles will be sold out quickly. I was fortunate enough to receive a review sample from Moët Hennessy. Here are my impressions:

Ardbeg Twenty One


My Tasting Notes:

Colour: Straw
Nose: Peat smoke, banana, hints of pineapple, vanilla, liquorice, cloves, hints of nutmeg and white pepper.
Palate: Still rather strong peat, banana, green apples, lime, green tea, hints of cloves and white pepper.
Finish: Very long, smoky and slightly fruity.
Overall: Not very surprisingly this is an excellent whisky. The peat ist still surprisingly strong, but it is not a peat monster by any means. This is a very delicate whisky, contemplative even. There is a lot of complexity without any bold flavours. And furthermore this plain bourbon cask whisky is a very welcome break from all those wood experiments that have been domintating the Ardbeg release policy in recent years. The only drawback: It is bloody expensive, but this could be expected.

Rating: 91/100