Monday, August 28, 2017

Whisky Review: Craiglodge 8 Year 1998/2006

Loch Lomond is hands down the most peculiar distillery in Scotland. With a wide array of pot, column, and the eponymous Lomond stills, they produce a wider range of products than any other distillery. This has put them on the outs with the SWA, but it doesn't appear to have affected their business as they've recently released a wide array of single malts, blends, grain whiskies, and silent malts that have generally been well-received. But they're still one of those distilleries that tends to be looked askance by many single malt fans because of how downright peculiar many of their previous bottlings have been. This is one of those from an earlier era when they didn't get much respect.

This whisky was distilled on March 26th 1998, filled into a Spanish oak hogshead, then bottled on June 12th 2006 at 45% without coloring or chill filtration.

Thanks to Michael Kravitz for the sample.

Craiglodge 8 Year 1998/2006 Cask #139

Nose: lots of oak, charred wood, ashy peat in the background, savory sherry, cured meat, vanilla. After adding a few drops of water, the oak and peat integrate, while the sherry becomes sweeter.

Taste: creamy sherry throughout, charred oak and fruit ester overtones in the middle, fading into ashy peat the back. After dilution the sherry is drier, the oak is more aggressive, and the peat is a little more assertive.

Finish: ashy peat, sherry residue, moderate oak, creamy

While not particularly complex, I have to say that I enjoyed this whisky. The sherry and oak were very present, but not overwhelming, and the peat had a unique character, unlike anything else I've tried before. Benriach is close, but not quite the same. Looking over Michael's review, I have a feeling this mellowed somewhat coming from the end of the bottle, but I wouldn't mind something with a few more rough edges.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hepburn's Choice Glenlossie 17 Year/1997 for K&L

Much like my review of a Whisky Galore Glenlossie earlier this week, there's not much to say about this one. So let's get right to the tasting notes.

The whisky was distilled in 1997, filled into a hogshead, then bottled in 2015 at 55.4% without coloring or chill filtration.

Thanks to Michael Kravitz for making this split possible.

Hepburn's Choice Glenlossie 17 Year/1997 for K&L

Nose: very oak driven, buttery wood, peanut butter, herbal, sweet malt, vague fruitiness. After adding a few drops of water the oak becomes more assertive and drier, something like soy sauce pops out.

Taste: sweet oak up front, a fair amount of heat with fruit esters on top around the middle. After dilution the heat in the middle dies down, the fruit notes become stronger and more distinct, and the oak takes on a savory character around the back.

Finish: lingering sweet oak, malt, ethereal fruit, savory

For once I have to say that this was exactly what the K&L notes suggested that it would be - a fairly simple, oak-driven malt. If that's a style you enjoy, this was a pretty decent buy at $70, which, as they note, is comparable to what Glenlivet Nadurra 16 Year used to be priced at. But personally I'm not too broken up about the fact that I only went in for a third of a bottle - this is a more oak-heavy style than I usually enjoy without big fruit notes or peat to balance the tannic elements.

As I usually do with cask strength whiskies, I tried diluting this down to see how that changed it.

Diluted to 50%

Nose: moderate oak, honey, oats, roasted peanuts, a little vanilla and plum/sherry

Taste: balanced sweetness, vanilla, and oak throughout, a touch of generic fruit in the middle, a little drier towards the back, not much development

Finish: moderate oak tannins, sweet malt

While there's nothing overtly wrong with this strength, it's kind of boring. The oak isn't acerbic, but it dominates both the aromas and flavors, without much fruit to give it some interest. It's like thinner bourbon with a shrug.

Diluted to 45%

Nose: gentle toasted oak, caramel, a touch of generic fruit, light vanilla, something savory

Taste: gentle buttery oak throughout, solvent-y fruit esters in the middle, creamy malt and oak at the back

Finish: dry malt, a little sharp, moderately tannic oak, vague fruitiness

While still pretty oak-driven, this is a much softer mode for this malt. It's not something that gets me excited, but it's nice and easy drinking. A solid component for a blend.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Whisky Review: Whisky Galore Glenlossie 10 Year 1993/2004

Glenlossie is another one of Diageo's semi-anonymous malt distilleries that primarily produces for blends. While there are official Glenlossie single malts bottled in the official Flora & Fauna line, you're more likely to encounter it from an independent bottler as a bit of what gets sent off for blending ends up in their hands.

This particular whisky (cask?) was distilled in 1993, filled into what was likely a refill hogshead, then bottled in 2004 at 46% without coloring or chill filtration.

Whisky Galore Glenlossie 10 Year 1993/2004

Nose: lots of fresh malt, lightly floral, creamy vanilla, a little caramel, peach and unripe pear, solvent (ethyl acetate?), pink pencil erasers, somewhat yeast-y, barrel char but barely any oak, green spices. After adding a few drops of water the fruit moves forward and some orange notes resolve themselves, the solvent moves backward a bit, and the spices become dusty.

Taste: malty sweetness throughout with a solvent-y roundness up front, and overlay of vague fruit/berries - overall a little flat without much oak or development. After dilution the malt and fruit move forward and push the solvent into the background, more oak tannins come out giving a bittersweet finish with a touch of incense.

Finish: green malt, a little solvent, very light oak, yeast, thin fruit esters (peach, pear, apple), kind of sharp

This is a bit of a weird whisky, not quite like anything else I've ever tried. Almost certainly from fairly well-used refill casks, this is almost all spirit, but without too much of the new make character that I would expect in these circumstances. Without the solvent notes this would be a somewhat underdeveloped but otherwise pleasant whisky, but the ethyl acetate is too intrusive a lot of the time. Testing this with water makes me think that it might have been better off being bottled at 43%. The solvent is much less present after dilution and diminishing that quality, even at the cost of a little complexity, which feels like an acceptable trade-off.