Thursday, 24 January 2013

Bruichladdich 10 Year Old

The Laddie Ten – there has been plenty written about this whisky already. It is the long-awaited standard bottling from the resurrected Bruichladdich distillery on Islay. Obviously lots of people were keen to taste and review this when it first appeared but I’m going to add my thoughts anyway, mainly because I’ve just polished off a wee 20cl bottle that I picked up recently.
This is really good stuff. I tried it once at the Bruichladdich distillery and kind of dismissed it. At the time, I was on Islay to drink peaty whisky so didn't pay this much mind. Also, I was giddy at the prospect of trying the Octomore 4.2.

But more recently I’ve had the opportunity to try the Laddie Ten in isolation. And taken on its own, away from the smoke monsters from the rest of Islay you can appreciate how good this is. It’s creamy - that’s the main thing that I’ve got from it. It reminded me strongly of Ice-Cream soda – vanilla flavour, dairy richness with a bit of lemonade sweetness. But it’s not sickly sweet - it's just like a lightly creamed and sweetened water (you can have that slogan for free Bruichladdich). I'd even go as far as to say delicately flavoured, it's easy to see how this might get a little lost up against a Laphraoig or an Ardbeg. But this is easy-drinking and very moreish. And creamy - did I mention that?

In terms of smell (sorry, nose)  – I got butter mixed with a bit of burnt sugar. Strangely, a bit of balsa wood and woodglue. It looks nice too, pale with a nice oiliness to it.

The bottle and packaging are nicely stylish – very clean and bold. As I’ve said before, thankfully Bruichladdich manage to back-up their eye-catching packaging with excellent whisky. 

It’s not the cheapest – at least £30 for a bottle, although that said it is bottled at a slightly higher than average 46%.  
There are many whiskies I’ve tasted and enjoyed thoroughly but usually after finishing a bottle I'm keen to try something else. The Laddie Ten has joined the small list of ‘I’d buy another bottle’ which to be honest is about as strong an endorsement as I can give.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Arran 12 year old - Cask strength

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a bad single malt whisky. There is plenty of stuff that’s hugely overpriced or blandly uninspiring. But so far almost everything I’ve tasted has something to recommend it. I suppose it helps if you like peaty whisky- the only thing I’ve seen that really divides whisky enthusiasts.

One day maybe I’ll come across something that makes turn up my nose, but until then it feels like everything is on the spectrum between ‘Like’ and ‘Love’.

And so to the Arran 12yo Cask Strength.
I like it.
Review over…  

To elaborate a touch - I like it because it reminds me of Christmas Cake. Sticking my nose in the glass I picked up rum and dried fruit with a bit of spice. A very comforting and evocative smell for mid-winter. It’s sweet to the taste and I got a little bit of orange liquer when I took a sip. It looks rich and warming too.
It feels like an wintery afternoon indulgence.

 But I didn’t quite fall in love with it - it’s cask strength and I found the alcohol a bit overwhelming. A bit of burn when I gave it a sniff, a bit of tingle on the tongue as I worked it around my mouth. Yes, it’s stronger but you don’t always get that burn with cask strength bottlings and I found this needed more than a drop of water to calm it down.

Once you get past that it’s quite aggressively flavoured - very full on. The same kind of burst of flavour you get with full-bodied Aussie wine. It’s great if you’re in the mood. It is something a bit different and I’d rather be trying something like this - packed with flavour - than some of the more bland offerings out there.  But in the same way you don’t want to eat Christmas Cake every day, this isn’t a bottle I’d reach for too often.

What else? The price is around £40-odd which isn’t bad for a special edition, especially when it’s at ‘diluting juice’ strength. The Arran distillery is relatively new and it is an independent so there that in its favour. Always good to see an independent succeeding.

 In conclusion: a whisky for Christmas, but maybe not for life.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Glenfiddich 15 Year Old

As it’s the New Year, a time for good intentions and short-lived resolutions, I’ve decided to blow off the electronic cobwebs of this blog and start posting a few more thoughts about whisky. And I’m going to start with a wee bottle of Glenfiddich 15yo that I found in cupboard from last Christmas.

Two things that I wrote down - and then underlined - when drinking this were Smooth and Chocolate. This is a really lovely whisky to drink. Easy-going, sweet - I was getting a bit of honey on the finish. It’s richly flavoured, hence the chocolate, but not overwhelming and not at all thin and weedy.

It smells great and looks great too. A lovely sweet smell on the nose, a little bit of brandy, very little alcohol burn and a nice warm caramel colour to it.
All in all there’s very little to fault it. Even the price is very reasonable – about £30-35 for a 15yo when you could pay the same for a 10/12 from other distilleries.
But I just couldn’t fall in love with this whisky. It just seemed a little lacking in something and the closest I can come to is ‘character’. It feels a little bit like some of the more interesting components might have been sacrificed for the sake of tidiness in the end product. The closest analogy I could think of was when you hear a record that has been over-produced. Everything is there that should be there, every note is pitch perfect with each instrument in its right place but overall it feels it’s lacking a little – dare I say – heart.

Maybe it’s just the whisky snob in me coming out – Glenfiddich is as a ‘mainstream’ a brand that exists in the single malt world and therefore aficionados/whisky bores would feel compelled to look down on it. But then again maybe their mainstream appeal comes from making something that, whilst very good, is designed to be palatable to a wide range of people.
All I can say is that whilst I thoroughly enjoyed this whisky it felt a little too eager to please. It’s in no way a bad drop and would be an excellent drink to convert a whisky sceptic. I just can’t see myself buying a bottle where there are some many others out there to try.

Happy New Year everyone (anyone?)- and hope to post a few more reviews in the near future...