Monday, 23 March 2015

Scotia Royale 12 (and auctions again)

So this is something that I picked up at an auction a while back. I know my last post but one was about auctions so I’m probably sounding like some auction crazed lunatic right now. But before talking about this whisky I thought I’d mention that a aspect of auctions that I like and that is the opportunity to pick up miniatures.
Scotch Whisky Auctions (and others probably) seem to regularly bundle together miniatures to sell off and they seem to go for pretty reasonable prices. For example,  I got 10 assorted minis for £25 and it included some cool stuff - an old Bunnhabhain (possibly one of their first miniatures produced after checking on Twitter) and a lovely old Signatory Strathmill that’s got me interested in that distillery.  It was a random selection with some stuff better than others. But whilst certain minis are highly sought after (mainly silent stills) they generally don’t seem to be that collectable. So they’re great for picking up for that other reason to buy whisky – i.e. to drink.
Ralfy, as ever, does a great bit about miniatures. One thing he mentions in there is you can pick up minis of different ages of the same bottling (e.g. an Ardbeg 10 from 90s or 2000s) and compare them with their latest incarnation to see how consistent it is.
Photo not stolen from Master of Malt for once
A note of caution though is that neck fill levels are often lower than full-size bottles so I assume they’re more susceptible to air getting in. As ever always study the pictures carefully.
So, anyway,  Scotia Royale is not something I’d ever come across and I thought it might be just a weird wee blend that you often see (a lot of these on auction sites – and obscure doesn’t necessarily mean valuable or quality either). Certainly it was obscure enough that I struggled to find a stock photo online anywhere.
A bit of label reading and googling told me that it was bottled by A Gillies and produced by Glen Scotia. Reading up a bit more on this it seems that this company is dormant and the distillery shut in 1982 and lay silent until 2000. Another good thing about picking up random bottles is the chance to do some amateur sleuthing.
So this wee bottle is probably quite old depending on when they actually bottled it. It still had a decent neck fill. If it was produced at Glen Scotia I’m not sure how much is grain and whether the malt is Glen Scotia. Certainly the label doesn’t give too much away – even the alcohol % is a mystery.
On to the tasting. First things first; it had that certain mustiness to it that some old bottles have, that it needed to shake off  – a kind of carboard/cupboard feeling. But I found it dissipated as a bit more air got to it.
Colour wise it was quite golden syrupy. Smooth  on the nose with some gentle sweetness, not too much of that candy sweetness you get with grain. More like sultanas in an old jar.
It reminded me of Chivas 12 with its lighter style. There’s a bit of butter and vanilla in there like Chivas. But there’s a bit more to chew on, more of a battered leather feel to it.
It opened up nicely – really smooth and creamy with a nice mouthfeel.
There’s was a nice long aftertaste too. Not hugely complex but tasty. It had that dry Campbeltown style you might get with Springbank. Not peaty like Glen Scotia is now but perhaps its origins might explain the earthy quality that made it a bit different to the Chivas.

It looks like it’s seldom seen these days so maybe I’ll never see this stuff again. It’s nice to have that little connection with the past though. I wouldn’t bust  a gut to get a full bottle of this. But I know that this isn’t just some random awful blend but a decent quality whisky.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Kilchoman 2007 Vintage

This is my second Kilchoman review. A while back I reviewed the 2nd edition 100% Islay. And I really liked it. This time around I’m looking at the 2007 vintage which at the time of purchase was their oldest whisky clocking in at a positively ancient 6 years.

Kilchoman 2007 Vintage / Bot.2013
I've just finished this bottle, and guess what? I really like this one too. I’d written previously that there was a vibrancy about Kilchoman that came through with the 100% Islay. And it’s still there with this one albeit a touch more refined.

To look at it has a pale straw colour which gives a rather false impression of being weedy. It has a big medicinal nose, but also creamy with a bit of butterscotch. I got citrus notes - grapefruit or apple; fruity but without being sickly sweet. It's smoky but not damp smoke like Laphroaig. Lighter and more floral. Like a forest fire or an arson attempt on a barn. You know - Summer-y smoke 

To taste it was smoother than the previous Kilchoman I've had, perhaps unsurprising given the extra time it has sat in a cask. It’s buttery and there's a pleasant, lasting finish. I was getting a lip-smacking BBQ sauce aftertaste and a satisfying burnt sausage repeat. In some ways there was more on the finish than the taste. 

It put me in mind of a barbeque on a summer’s day - there’s the a sort of giddy, fresh excitement you get at the start of a BBQ, anticipation of what is to come mixed with smokey getting everywhere. And then afterwards after it all settles down, there is a warming, fulfilling, contented finish. Imagine sitting on the grass at the top of sand dune, catching the scent of the nearby fire on the wind.

It’s still not hugely complex but very pleasing. It’s nicely different to other Islays, which it needs to be to stride into that marketplace. The direction of travel is that it’s getting tamed in the barrel but this still retains its exuberance.

Just another fantastic whisky. I don't know if it's just me - I have a friend that is far from convinced but I'm becoming a big fan.