On the nose — Absolutely amazing smelling. It noses a bit like a heavily sherried whisky.
Good oaky backbone with hints of menthol floating above notes of buckwheat syrup, crushed black peppercorns, toasted almond and coconut, damp autumn leaves, burnt pie crusts, toasted raw grain sprouted bread.
Magnificent. A perfect nose.
In the mouth — Dry on the palate and intensely rich front to mid palate with lightening fast tones of fresh black grapes, oak chests you’ve inherited from your great-great grand father, coconut milk, treacle, licorice nibs and a mere hint of coal dust.
The mouthfeel is lightly oiled. Kaffir (lime) leaves are noted on the 2nd sip and now I’m discovering just how salty this sherry is.
Building umami, chocolate covered raisins.
Finish — Rich and salty with lasting notes of menthol and mixed, roasted nuts.
In sum — As mentioned above, I’ve been dabbling in sherries for the past 10 years or more and this is easily the best sherry of it’s style I’ve ever had. Worth seeking out and shelling out a few shekels.
Westland’s new Garryana single malt is a deep dive into the exploration of a new type of oak that few have used before. That oak is conveniently named after the whisky at hand (or is that vice versa? I think it’s vice versa. I’m sure of it. Yup, vice versa).
All single malt producing countries have access to oak casks for maturing their whisk(e)y. The good bulk of those oak casks comes from right here in the US of A. The oak used to make said casks is called American White Oak.
(There’s a fancy schmancy Latin name for it, too, but I’m not that fancy schmancy so I’ll just stick with “American White Oak.” Plus, I failed Latin in my senior year of high school – Mrs. Whatsherface had it out for me. I didn’t want to fish for Carpe in that Diem pond, I told her!)
European Oak casks are quite common, too. You’ll find those are more widely used in whiskies that were matured using sherry casks (though there’s a lot of sherry matured in American White Oak, too).
Now, Japan is lucky. They have their very own Mizunara Oak which is quite loverly but who the heck can afford Japanese whiskies these days, not to mention Japanese whiskies matured in Mizunara Oak which is VERY leaky.
The French have their oak, too. That’s called French Oak. How convenient. That oak offers up nice, spicy flavors to whiskies.
Because we’re America, and apparently the winningest (or so we like to say over and over and over again) we’ve got another type of oak that grows specifically in the Pacific Northwest that is suitable for maturing whisk(e)y.
This oak is called Garry Oak, or, Garryana.
Having visited the Westland distillery a few times, and having once been in their warehouse, I had the luxury of tasting some single cask Garry Oak matured Westland. It was intense, for sure, but damn unique and quite delicious. Westland has now been maturing single malt in a good number of Garryana casks and this release is the result.
Given the intense flavor profile of Garryana matured single malt, it makes sense that the use of this component makes up 21% of the over all mixture. The malt used in the Garryana casks, btw, is Washington Pale Malt. The rest is:
26% Peated Malt (New Charred American White Oak)
10% Washington Pale Malt (used American White Oak)
43% Five Malt blend (New Charred American White Oak)
If you want to learn more about this wonderful single malt whiskey and the process of Garryana discovery, be sure to check out this Podcast:
Also, if you have a few minutes, be sure to watch this video (it’s beautifully shot, cool, informative, and fun):
Finally, without any further ado, my review of this new whisky from Westland Distillery. ***Spoiler Alert — it’s fantstic through and through***
On the nose — Chocolate, to be sure, but I expect that note given Westland’s use of Chocolate malt in their Five Malt mashbill.
Deep sweet notes of burnt sun dried tomatoes, crushed raisin with sugar and balsamic, sticky smoke, and herb rubs – like cleaning the BBQ sauce off your grill at the start of Grilling season.
Back to the more chocolatey notes, hints of mocha or cappuccino with a side of red velvet cake. Newly opened tin of oil paint tubes.
Also a swirl of melting and toasted, yet milky caramel.
In the mouth — We’ll begin with the smoke but that’s immediately followed up with German brown bread and a side of carrot cake, cream cheese frosting and all.
Sweet meets ashy meets savory meets sweet again. The mouthfeel is oily verging on succulent – it’s big.
On to the spices of ginger, nutmeg, and clove. I want to say smoked paprika but I wont. Forget I typed that, forget you read it. No, put it back in there. Smoked paprika.
White pepper, too.
As we near the finish, that German brown bread makes it self be known again. This time with a raisiny fervor!
Finish — Long with a sweet yet smoky – like BBQ sauce with an umami-esque goodness.
In sum — This is one of the finest single malts I’ve had this year, hands down. Top 5 for sure. This is not only ticking all of the boxes as far as what I long for in a single malt, this has created new boxes I never even thought to look for.
**Special thanks to the good folks at Westland Distillery for the sample!!
You know, it just did not seem right that I would review a whisky that my company, Jewish Whisky Company, bottled. We bottle whisky under the Single Cask Nation label and today’s whisky is a 7yo single malt from an “Undisclosed” distillery.
I will now pass the baton over to my friend, Dr, Matt Lurin. Being a long time aficionado and collector aside, Matt puts on a wonderful charitable whisky event in NYC called “Water of Life.” You can find out more about Matt’s event here.
It’s all you, buddy!
I was honored when Joshua asked me to be a guest reviewer for The Whisky Advent Calendar day 13. Although some may find the number unlucky, I consider myself the fortunate one here. You may ask what qualifies me as a guest reviewer, which is a fair question. In a nutshell, I am a long time collector, organize a large charity whisky event, and am one of the ‘founding father members’ at SCN.
I enjoy all sorts of whisky, but am well known for my fondness for Islay whiskies, and am found there in late May each year for the Feis Ile, a celebration of the wonderful islands (Islay and Jura) and a time to appreciate their great whisky.
You may be curious about my fondness for Islay whiskies, and that too would be fair. I tell everyone there are 3 main reasons I love them, First off, the iodine and medicinal tastes. I work as an ER doctor, and this smell takes me back home in a positive way. Secondly, the smoke. This reminds me of the smell at my old job in the ambulance bay, when the nurses take break and gather by the no smoking sign, puffing away. And third, most folks would not believe the stuff I have to smell daily at work. No human being should have to endure that, and it takes a strong whisky to help clean my sinus and palate, as well as help me to forget. There you have it.
On that note let’s approach today’s whisky.
Hello to ‘2008 Undisclosed Islay’, 7 yo, 56.3%, the third undisclosed Islay whisky bottled by SCN in the past year. and what a dram it is.
Visually I appreciate a straw colored liquid. Makes me appreciate the youthfulness of this dram, as well as the likelihood of this being from a Bourbon Barrel. I’m excited, let’s continue.
The nose screams to me – Northern Islay. I appreciate the smells of the ocean, a sea spray if you will, that takes me back to a boat ride on the sound, checking out the seals and feeling the crisp breeze in my face. I also find myself enjoying a little waxy lipstick scent, some peppers, peppermint, smoke and some dusty cellar. At 56.3% I do get a little alcohol burn on my nose, but the freshness survives.
The palate is rich and oily. Loving the smoke, and the iodine. It’s now that I want to fall back to a favorite tasting note. “I get tropical fruit”, and to be fair since all fruits are considered tropical on Islay I’d be correct. But let’s work a little harder. Is that banana? A Creme Brullee note? Wait a second, there’s the pepper, ginger, and black licorice. Patience truly is a virtue.
The finish is long and warm. I was truly hoping to enjoy this dram outside on a New York December night, having this warm me up. However, Holiday lights not withstanding, I am able to sit outside in a short sleeved Islay shirt, enjoying the 60 + degrees heat. I do find this very soothing, on the finish. Cracked pepper, menthol and oh that peaty goodness.
In Sum: A wonderful winter dram, even if a warm 60 degrees. It may be an Undisclosed Islay, but it’s a classic Islay and a cracking whisky.
Thanks for the opportunity Joshua. See you May 12, 2016 at Water of Life, and I hope a few times before then. Now back to you.
Region – Tennessee – 62.35% ABV (multiply by 2 to get “proof”, if you feel you need to. Or just keep it simple and use the more logical ABV system) – $89/bottle and only available at Gordon’s Fine Wines in Watham, MA.
Last night I did a seminar at Gordon’s Fine Wines in Watham (you know you’re pronouncing the town name right as when you say it, it sounds like you’re clearing your throat), Massachusetts.
I only recently (recent being this past March) found out about Gordon’s because of my new job with ImpEx Beverages. Gordon’s is an account of mine. In working with Gordon’s, I found that both Nick and Kenny (my contacts there) seemed to know and care more about whisk(e)y than most people I know. As a whisky geek myself, that was exciting.
Anyway, after the seminar, Nick broke out bottles of “this and that” and we all had a good time tasting “this and that.”
As I was leaving, I asked Nick if there was anything else he felt I needed to taste of.
“Have you had our Barrell Bourbon selection?” asked Nick. “No,” I replied, “I’ve not had that one yet. I didn’t know that they were doing single cask bottlings.” Proudly, Nick said “actually, we were the first to do a Barrell Bourbon single cask selection.” “Well,” I exclaimed “let’s have a pour!”
Ladies and gents. this bourbon was the best bourbon I had this year hands down. Gordon’s being my account or no, I speak truths here. In fact, I’d go so far as to say this is in the top 5 whiskies I’ve had all year. I had to buy a bottle, and buy a bottle I did.
I love bourbon, I really do. My issue with bourbon, however, is that it all tastes like bourbon. It’s all (for the most part) very samey with some fun nuances. This bourbon, however, presented flavors to me that made it stand apart from the rest.
Perhaps because it’s a Tennessee whisky (Yes, “whisky.” That’s how George Dickel spells it and we’re making an assumption here that this is a Dickel whisky) with their charcoal filtration process it’s different? Not sure. All I can say is — sweet fancy moses, this is good hooch!
So, what are the full details? 8yo & 6mos, new charred oak, cask # 013, bottle # 101, 62.35% ABV
Details on taste? Here you go:
On the nose — Corn (obviously, I mean this is a corn based spirit…). Fried treats such as apple fritters (heavy in oil) and funnel cakes with powdered sugar.
Candied nuts such as cashew, filbert and pecans. Sweet tomato sauce over fried dough on a paper bag with the oil soaking through the bag. I feel like they’ve bottled the smells from a fall country fair. Salted butterscotch caramels, too.
Everything in its right place here. Amazing.
In the mouth — F#ck and Yes. A powerful entry (62.35% ABV after all) but the whisky is so viscous, the juice wraps your tongue in Phyllo dough, honey and walnuts (and walnut oil). It’s like drinking baklava.
If you feel like you need to add water, go ahead. Me? I think it’s at the perfect strength.
Honey cooked coconut flesh over vanilla ice cream with Kahlua poured over it all. This is such an indulgent whisky.
Finish — Interminable. The nuttiness takes over but there’s a salty element here to balance it out.
In sum — Drop dead gorgeous. I’m in love. This is one of those rare moments where I wish I had enough $$ to buy a whole case. I will need a 2nd bottle for sure. This is as celebratory a dram as it gets. My hat’s off to you Nick and Kenny — a well selected cask of whisky!
Springbank 15yo is a whisky that I find myself revisiting over and over and over again. I think it’s perhaps one of my favorite whiskies, like… ever.
While I may revisit it many times over, I’ve not revisited it from a let-me-disect-it-and-post-it-on-my-blog point of view. I just spend a lot of time enjoying it. Isn’t that what whisky is all about anyway? Enjoyment?
So, here we are almost 4 years later. Let’s see what the 2015 version is like.
On the nose — Lots of lime and orange marmalade (mostly orange) at first but it’s got a veil of peat it’s hiding behind.
Blue slate wet with rain water and a stick of hard and powdered chewing gum you found from that package of Topps baseball cards released in 1980-something.
A hint of mint but a good dose of coastal breeze and dying beach grass.
On the mouth — Chewy and thick with bold notes of Duerr’s coarse cut orange marmalade.
A touch of peat is present but so is some now-cold potpouri.
There’s a touch of oak to let you know you’re dealing with a 15yo whisky but the oak’s true impression upon the juice is that of dark fruits, spiced citrus drops and still more marmalade.
Oh, and burning sticks as we reach the now drying finish.
Finish — Drying and pleasant with a good deal of orange spice with the tiniest hint of clove.
In sum — What’s difficult to explain about this whisky — about all Springbank whiskies — it’s how unique the spirit itself is. Yes, there are lots of notes here that you’ll find in other whiskies but you’ll never taste a more unique spirit than Springbank. It’s too difficult to put it into words, sorry. If you’ve never had Springbank before, it’s worth seeking out.
If I could, I would likely drink the $(*& out of this whisky every single day. It’s that good.