Sunday, 29 July 2012

A Night At Helvetica Begins




Whisky: Penderyn Aur Cymru






Aur Cymru






Young Sauternes



My wife, brother and sister in law went to Helvetica a few weeks ago for a series of Australian whisky tastings.  I'd already attended a tasting series that involved a pairing of chocolate and whisky that had been entertaining and was really looking forward to this tasting as the head distiller/owner of my favorite distillery, Limeburners, was going to be in attendance.

As usual I had a taxi waiting for me as soon as I got off work so that my wife and I could head straight to Helvetica, the local whisky bar, as soon as I was off in order to make it in time.

When we arrived my wife and I went straight upstairs where the tastings are normally held.  As soon as I got up there I ran into the manager, a very nice lady who knows me by name and sight, who looked at me and laughed.

"You're ALWAYS early SquidgyAsh"

"Better early then late" I reply.

She looks a little flustered so I ask her if she'd prefer us to wait downstairs at which point she says that would be easier for her and why don't we grab ourselves a drink.

My wife and I went back downstairs to wait for the tasting to be ready and for my in laws to arrive.

As I waited I looked at the drinks menu and I noticed that they had a Penderyn, which I've been keen to try, specifically the expression called, Aur Cymru.

Realistically I knew NOTHING about this whisky and distillery going in other then that I wanted to try it.

I wait eagerly as the bartender takes my order and then my wife and I see my brother and sister in law come into the bar. We wave to them as the bartender brings my drink to me.

It's poured into a tulip glass and it looks light and lovely.

I grin at my brother in law as he looks at me and asks me what I'm drinking.

"Nothing yet, since you interrupted me" I inform him with a grin.

We then decide to get down to the serious business of trying this whisky as we wait for the tasting to be ready.

We nose the glencairn and it's quite lovely and soft. Lots of cinnamon, fruit specifically apples and raisins, some nuts and berries and there is a bit of tannin element.

Interesting and not quite like anything I've tried before.

Time to taste!

Now my brother in law decided he needed to try this too so he ordered himself a dram just as I'm getting ready to taste this whisky which wound up being somewhat a disappointment.

As I taste the first thing that stands out is that it's quite spicy and peppery.  Almost like Talisker, but not in good way that Talisker is.  Talisker has always given me the impression that the pepper is deliberate.  This didn't feel the same.  There's fruit and vanilla, mainly raisins, bits of leather, but that spice is overshadowing the rest of the whisky and not in a good way.

The finish is of decent length with quite a bit of oak in it.  But thankfully oak isn't the only flavor, the spices and peppers come back into play and a little bit of playful pears pop up which makes the finish quite a bit more enjoyable then I feared.

This isn't a bad whisky, I'd like to see an advanced version of it, but it wasn't what I was looking forward to considering the many good things I'd heard about the distillery.

As for trying to find a bottle of this in Australia all I can say is good luck my friend.  It's going to be difficult and at best guess I'd say to prepare yourself to spend $150AUS per bottles.

I'd be happy to try this again, but I wouldn't buy a bottle of it until I have a couple more tastes under my belt.

Nose:          20/25
Taste:         18/25
Finish:         21/25
Balance:       18/25

Overall:       77/100

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Whisky Friends From Queensland Final Tasting!


Whisky: Highland Park 2000 cask 800039



Highland Park



Highland Park 2000






Young Sauternes



This is the last of a series of whisky samples that a friend of mine in Queensland, Australia has sent me.  We'd decided to do a series of whisky exchanges in order to experience more whiskies for a drastically reduced price.

The problem is whisky is expensive in many places, good whisky is even more expensive and in Australia whisky is just godawful expensive.

Hence the trade.

Now he sent me quite a few first whiskies for me, first Campbeltown (Glen Scotia from 1992, my first blended Japanese whisky (Suntory Hibbiki 17 yr old) and quite a few other whiskies that I'd never tried before, Dalmore 12 yr old, Old Pulteney 12 yr old and Aberlour Abunadh Batch 17.

The last whisky to be tried was a cask strength mystery malt.

Now I tried this whisky blind, even though my friend put in the details into the package.   Once my wife and I tried the sample I then took a look at the information and was in some ways surprised and in some ways not too surprised.

But first, the whisky!

So I cracked open the sample over the TV series, Dexter (absolutely brilliant TV series) and decided to let the glencairn breath for a bit while I nosed the dram.

Some awesome, awesome aromas are swirling out of the glass.

It's spicy!  And Peaty!  Yum!!

But underneath the spices and the peat there's some phenols and some lovely pears.

I do believe I'm also detecting some honey.


After half an hour or so of nosing the glencairn it's time to take a sip!

There's an alcohol burn, not too surprising at 62.3%, but it's not awful.

And of course the first thing I taste is peat, some wisps here and there of some soft smoke, some spices (nothing that I can specifically identify), pears and at the very tail end of the taste, some chocolate.


And yummy!

The finish is pretty decent in length with the peat and chocolate charging down my throat.

This is a very yummy whisky and I'd damn well love to get my hands on a bottle of this.

Time to take a look at what whisky this is!

It's a Highland Park!

Looks like Highland Park 2000 from cask #800039 and there is no chill filtering and no caramel added, not too surprised by the last bit of information considering the lovely lighter color.

This bottle is from the Single Malt Whisky Society in Australia and it looks like it's for a tasting panel.


Now given what I know and have seen about quite a few society bottlings, while VERY awesome, they tend to be quite pricey at times, or that is the case in Australia so I'm going to go out on a limb based off cask strength and how yummy this bottle is and guess that this bottle would probably run over $300 AUS easy.   I could be wrong.

Is it worth that?  Not 100% sure, but this is a VERY good whisky that I could see myself paying over $200 AUS for considering the distillery, the quality and the cask strength.

I'd like to take a moment right now to thank my friend Systemdown for providing me with these very yummy samples.  It's been an absolute pleasure to try them and I can only hope he enjoys the samples I sent him half as well.

Thanks Mate!

Nose:         23/25
Taste:        23/25
Finish:        21/25
Balance:     23/25

Overall:      90/100

Monday, 23 July 2012

Whisky Friends From Queensland Part 5!


Whisky: Aberlour Abunadh Batch 17





Aberlour A'bunadh











I've recently received a series of whisky samples from a whisky friend in Queensland.  We'd decided months ago that it would be a good way for both of us to try different whiskies that we might not normally pick up without us each having to shell out for bottles that we might not care for.

Our first trade involved several bourbons among other whiskies going from me to him as he'd had some negative experiences with bourbon years ago and wasn't sure what he would think.

His presents to me were very cool though.  A Glen Scotia from 1992, (My first Campbeltown), Dalmore 12 yr old (A Highland Single Malt), Suntory Hibbiki 17 yr old (my first Japanese blend), Old Pulteney 12 yr old (another yummy Highland Single Malt), Aberlour Abunadh batch 17 (A cask strength Speyside Single Malt) and a Mystery Malt.

I've since reviewed all of the samples except for the Aberlour Abunadh and the Mystery Malt.

Tonight was Aberlour Abunadh's turn.

Now Aberlour Abunadh is released in batches.  Each batch varies a wee bit in quality and the aromas and flavors.   These batches range from good to absolutely brilliant.

In my whisky journey I've tried two batches.  Those batches were batches 35 and 36.  Batch 36 was good.  Batch 35 was even better.

So having tried several variations on the Abunadh I was quite eager to try this batch (17) and I've decided to leave the two whiskies I'm most anticipating for the last two tastings.

I've not been feeling so hot lately so I really haven't been drinking so much whisky and I was excited to finally be able to pour myself a new dram.

My wife and I decided to sit down to dinner and watch the movie Contagion on the tellie as I poured the sample into my glencairn.

Alright time to check out this baby!

This is a DARK whisky. I mean DARK! and it has some lovely aromas.

As I nose the glencairn the first thing that I get is sherry, not surprising considering this is Aberlour Abunadh which is matured in sherry casks, but there's more aromas under the sherry if you're patient enough (I spent several hours nosing the Abunadh, who says I don't have willpower?!)

Vanilla, cinnamon and honey are all present in varying degrees.  Honey the strongest.

There's something else there, I wanna say it's caramel, but I won't swear by it.

Very lovely nose.

Time for a sip.


This is a BIG whisky, not in the same league as the Stagg, but big enough that I think it would scare most spirit beginners.

But yummy.

You get the alcohol burn, but right afterwards you get the sherry and then immediately chocolate.

There's fruit in there too.

I'm going back in fellows, I need to find this fruit!!



Ok I'm back, that was quite a few sips there trying to find that fruit.

I'd normally expect to say it was cherries considering the Oloroso sherry casks, but that doesn't
feel right.  I almost want to say apples are lurking there at the bottom of this whisky, hidden by the layers and layers of dark chocolate.

The finish is LONG and powerful, with an alcohol burn flooding your mouth and sliding down the throat into your belly with the flavors of dark chocolate lasting a good length of time with the apples (pears maybe?) just appearing quickly for a second at the end and then disappearing.

Yummy whisky!

This isn't my favorite Aberlour Abunadh, but I still find this one to be better then batch 36, but not as good as batch 35.  The chocolate flavor while nice is somewhat boring and I kept hoping for a little bit more.

This doesn't mean that this is a bad Abunadh, it's a pretty good one.  It's just not brilliant.

Nice thing about the Abunadh's is that they're yummy, there's always a new one coming out and I can find it at my local bottle shop for around $100 AUS which is a BLOODY good deal considering the whisky inside the bottle.

If you see an Aberlour Abunadh, get it.

That simple.

Last one up is going to be the Mystery Malt which has me salivating already!

Nose:          23/25
Taste:         21/25
Finish:         22/25
Balance:      22/25

Overall:       88/100

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Whisky Friends From Queensland Part 4!


Whisky: Suntory Hibiki 17 year old



Suntory Hibiki



Suntory Hibiki 17 years old






Young Sauternes



My friend who lives in Queensland Australia, Systemdown, and I decided to trade some whisky samples recently.  It allowed us to try more whiskies for less cash in order to discover more whiskies that we both like and dislike.

He'd sent me a Glen Scotia distilled in 1992 and bottled in 2009 by Gordon & Macphail, Dalmore 12 yr old, Old Pulteney 12 yr old, Suntory Hibbiki 17 yr old, Aberlour Abunadh batch 17 and a special mystery malt that very few people have ever got to try.

I've since reviewed the Glen Scotia, the Dalmore 12 yr old and the Old Pulteney 12 yr old.

Tonight was the Suntory Hibiki 17 yr old's turn!

Now I've tried a few other Japanese whiskies before, specifically the Yamazaki 12 yr (over rated in my opinion) and the Hakushu 12 yr old (absolutely brilliant).

When I cracked the sample bottle of Hibiki 17 yr old the very first odor to hit my nose is plums.

Lots of plums.

But on top of the plums I get some spices, I think nutmeg and cinnamon, caramel and hints of what I think are fruits, apples and pears specifically.

Very awesome nose, first time I ever got plums off a whisky and very enjoyable.

When I take a sip it goes bitter, feels like oak, peppers with some citrus notes.  It feels like there should be more fruit there, but the bitterness is overshadowing it.

The finish starts off fairly bitter and dry and is quite disappointing until you start getting to the aftertaste.  There I'm detecting the slightest hint of fruit, feels like pears, but I could be wrong which partially redeems the whisky.

This is a decent whisky, but sadly not a great one.  Too much bitterness without much to redeem the bottle.  It's not the worst whisky I've ever had, not by a long shot.  Not quite sure how much this bottle runs at, but going off The Whisky Exchange I'm going to guess that it'd be a fairly difficult bottle to find in Australia and if you can find it it's likely to run $120+ for a bottle.  Which it isn't worth by any means sadly.  I'd much rather have the Hakushu 12 yr old over this bottle.

Next up is a bottle I'm really looking forward to!

Aberlour Abunadh Batch 17!

Nose:          23/25
Taste:         19/25
Finish:         19/25
Balance:      19/25

Overall:       80/100

Monday, 16 July 2012

Whisky Friends From Queensland Part 3


Whisky: Old Pulteney 12 year old


Old Pulteney


Old Pulteney 12 Year old








Pale Straw



A friend and fellow reviewer from Queensland and I have decided to start sending one another whisky samples. It's a cheap way to experience a wide range of the whisky world with quite a bit less risk of buying a bottle that you sit there and go "That's NASTY!" and helps you find the bottles and distillers that make you go "That's YUM!"

A week or so ago the samples that he sent to me arrived and made me happily giggle!

New whisky is ALWAYS fun to taste and try!

In his little care pack he'd sent me a Glen Scotia distilled in 1992 and bottled in 2009 by Gordon & Macphail, Dalmore 12 yr old, Suntory Hibbiki 17 yr old, Aberlour Abunadh batch 17 and a special mystery malt that very few people have ever got to try.

I'd already tasted the Glen Scotia which I really didn't care for and scored a 75 out of a 100.

Last one I'd tasted was the Dalmore 12 yr old which was quite yum and received a score of 83 out of a 100.

Tonight's one to be tasted was the Old Pulteney 12 yr old!

I was quite eager to try the Old Pulteney because if you've been reading your Whisky Bible 2012 you'll see that the 21 yr old is the whisky that won the World's Best Whisky!

Ive never been a huge Highland whisky fan, tending to stay specifically in Speyside and Islay (I know pretty fun right?), but I'd meandered into the Highland region before a couple of times with Glenmorangie, Dalwhinnie and Dalmore a couple of nights ago.

So as is my evening ritual I sit down with my glencairn and my wife to enjoy dinner and an episode of Masterchef.

As we sit there and nose the glencairn some lovely aromas are coming out of the glass.
Some sea air is wafting through the air with hints of fruit and vanilla.  Very lovely and quite complex.

Taking my first sip I'm amazed at how awesome this entry level whisky is.  This is a big whisky with bags of flavor!

First is salt, then wisps of smoke, bits of vanilla, peppery at times and quite bitter with oak.   The oak almost dominates the flavor profile, but thankfully it pulls back before taking over.

The finish is quite bitter due to what I think is the oak with a lot of saltiness.   It's of decent length and fills your mouth with warmth.

This is a very nice dram and makes me very eager to crack open my bottle of the 21 year old which is of higher and obviously greater age.

This bottle can be found in some bottle shops in Australia for around $80 AUS which is a bloody good price considering what you're getting, but you ARE going to have to work hard to find it I believe.

Nose:            20/25
Taste:           21/25
Finish:           21/25
Balance:        20/25

Overall:         82/100

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Whisky Friends From Queensland Part 2



Whisky:  Dalmore 12 year old.






Dalmore 12 Year old







Old Sauternes



A friend and fellow reviewer from Queensland and I have decided to start sending one another whisky samples.  It's a cheap way to experience a wide range of the whisky world with quite a bit less risk of buying a bottle that you sit there and go "That's NASTY!" and helps you find the bottles and distillers that make you go "That's YUM!"

A week or so ago the samples that he sent to me arrived and made me happily giggle!

New whisky is ALWAYS fun to taste and try!

In his little care pack he'd sent me a Glen Scotia distilled in 1992 and bottled in 2009 by Gordon & Macphail, Dalmore 12 yr old, Suntory Hibbiki 17 yr old, Aberlour Abunadh batch 17 and a special mystery malt that very few people have ever got to try.

I'd already tasted the Glen Scotia which I really didn't care for and scored a 75 out of a 100.

For those who are new to whisky scoring and especially my reviews this might seem like a great score.

It's not.

That's a "it's a decent whisky and I didn't regret the minutes of my life spent tasting it, but it's just decent."

Not brilliant.

Next on the list was a Dalmore 12 yr old.

I'd never tried Dalmore before and was interested in it as I'd heard many good things about the distillery.

Now as is normal at our house I tried this whisky while watching Masterchef Australia with my wife during the dinner hour.  Generally speaking I try the whisky after eating, but I do spend most of dinner nosing the glencairn trying to pull what I can out of it.

Now this whisky is a Highland whisky, specifically a Northern Highland Single Malt.

Northern Highland single malts are often characterized by a light body and tend to be delicate whiskies with complex aromas and a dryish finish sometimes spicy, sometimes with a trace of salt.

I'd like to thank the fine folks at for that little blurb.

Now as my wife and I nose the glencairn the first thing she says to me is that she's getting earthy aromas.

On top of the earthy aromas we wind up getting hints of smoke, and some citrus aromas that my wife says are oranges, but I'm not 100% about.

It's an interesting nose and makes me eager to take a sip which I then happily do!

As I sip from the glencairn the first thing I taste is chocolate and oranges.  Um I do believe my wife may have been right about the oranges (sorry babe). I then taste some sultanas and a wee bit of vanilla.

The finish wasn't very long and had just a wee bit of nuttiness and sultana at the end.  Not bad, but nothing to get all excited about.

This whisky is an entry level malt and not too badly priced at around $80 AUS.  Also at that price and being an entry level single malt whisky it seems to be a much better entry level then a few other whiskies that I can think of.  I'll be talking about that more later.

Tomorrow it's Old Pulteney 12 yr old time!  Another entry level Highland malt whisky.

Nose:          22/25
Taste:         22/25
Finish:         19/25
Balance:       20/25

Overall:        83/25

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Whisky Friends From Queensland Part 1


Whisky: Glen Scotia 1992 Gordon and Macphail bottled 2009



Glen Scotia



1992 GM bottled 2009










A friend and fellow reviewer from Queensland and I have decided to start sending one another whisky samples.  It's a cheap way to experience a wide range of the whisky world with quite a bit less risk of buying a bottle that you sit there and go "That's NASTY!" and helps you find the bottles and distillers that make you go "That's YUM!"

A week or so ago the samples that he sent to me arrived and made me happily giggle!

New whisky is ALWAYS fun to taste and try!

In his little care pack he'd sent me a Glen Scotia distilled in 1992 and bottled in 2009 by Gordon & Macphail, Dalmore 12 yr old, Suntory Hibbiki 17 yr old, Aberlour Abunadh batch 17 and a special mystery malt that very few people have ever got to try.

This is going to be a fun series of tastings!


The first whisky up was going to be the Glen Scotia by Gordon and Macphail.

Now I've read my friend systemdown's review which can be viewed here ( and when I first read it months ago I kinda went not sure if this is going to be my cup of tea.

But I was eager to try it!  I had to look it up in my handy dandy whisky bible because I'd never really heard much about this distillery, but this distillery is from Campbeltown.

For those of you who are new to whisky this is one of the whisky regions in Scotland which can roughly be divided into the following sections.
Speyside, Highlands, Lowlands, Islands, Islay, and Campbeltown.

Campbeltown is the smallest region, once home to more then 30 distilleries, now sadly home to just three.  Springbank, Glen Gyle and Glen Scotia which is not open to the public.

For the record I'd like to send out a hearty thank you to the internet in general and Google specifically for this information.

My wife and I sit down for dinner and I crack open the Glen Scotia.  I'm excited to try it because I've never had a Campbeltown before.

We're watching Masterchef and I decide to start nosing the glencairn and I'm surprised and not!

This is the first time I've ever smelled acetone on a whisky before. I knew it was coming, but it's still a shock.

On top of the acetone odors I get peat smoke, brine, some honey, a bit of fruit, but nothing I can identify.  Sadly the strongest odor is the chemical smell of the acetone.

I decide to give the whisky a taste, not quite sure whether I'll like it or not.

Here goes nothing!

I take a sip and it's bitter. Lots of bitterness and quite a bit of pepper.  It tastes dusty with the acetone shouting at me. And on the very end of the taste is a hint of fruit.  It tastes/feels a wee bit like pear to me.

The finish is of medium length with the bitterness and peppers shouting out at me and at the very back of the finish is a soft sweetness that tastes like pears.

When my wife tastes this whisky she puckers up her mouth and just goes "I don't like this at all. It tastes like chemicals."

This isn't an awful whisky to be fair.  It's just not a very good whisky.  This is actually one of those whiskies that are the reason you have whisky buddies.  So you can share good and bad whiskies with and try not to pick up bottles that aren't in your preferred flavor profile.

Not sure how much this bottle runs as I've never seen it before.   I do know that I'm still interested in Campbeltown whiskies, but I think it'll be a while before I'd pay for a bottle from this distiller, unless I'd tried it before hand.

Next on the list is Dalmore 12 yr old!

Nose:          18/25
Taste:         18/25
Finish:         21/25
Balance:       18/25

Overall:       75/100

Monday, 9 July 2012

A Hot Summers Night...On My Tongue!

















Whisky: Macallan 12 yr old Fine Oak






Macallan 12 yr old Fine Oak








Young Sauternes



So every payday I go out and buy a bottle or two of whisky.  Lately I've been getting bourbons and some quite smokey Island and Islay whiskies which have been very enjoyable to me, however not so for my wife.  My wife loves Speyside whiskies, which is fine since I enjoy them too, but I haven't been buying any lately.  So this paycheck I decided to pick up some Speysides for her!

Now I've read some great things about Macallan and I've been wanting to pick up the 12 yr old Fine Oak for MONTHS now, but I was having a very hard time finding it over here so I had resigned myself to picking up the 10 yr old.

I had picked out two bottles to bring home this day, a Glenlivet 12 yr old and the Macallan 10 yr old Fine Oak.  So as soon as work lets out I run out to Dan Murphy's to pick up my two new best friends!

I get to Dan Murphys and I find my glenlivet 12 yr old no problem, but I can't find my Macallan!  This is unthinkable!!  I'm running up and down the whisky aisles trying to find my bottle. Frustration!!

Thankfully my wife is with me and she has more brains then me hahaha and she casually reaches into the row of whiskies and pulls out my Macallan!


Now when we get home I crack open the Macallan 10 yr old Fine Oak and pour a dram.  This is in celebration of my new job!!

I nose the glass and some beautiful odors of apples, cinnamon, vanilla, fruit fly into my nostrils!  Oh my god this is Speyside heaven!!  Is there smoke?  No!  Is there peat?  No!! Just lots and lots of fruit!

I take a sip and fruit jumps up and down on my tongue!  Apples, peaches, pears, cinnamon, vanilla, cream all swirl around my tongue!  It's like someone has taken the essence of a hot tropical summers night and poured it onto my tongue.   I think as this lovely dram hits the back of my throat I taste some rockmelon/cantaloupe.  BLOODY BRILLIANT!!!!!

The finish was short with very little lingering on my tongue, but there was a creamy mouth feel. However there seems to be something missing.  It feels a little thin?

Maybe it's because I've been drinking Talisker and Ardbeg blends with lots of smoke lately that I'm feeling a little let down that there isn't more, but what there is, is amazing!  Absolutely stunning.  Close to perfection is the only way I can describe it.

After dinner and my dram I go to look longingly at the Macallan 12 yr old Fine Oak online.  This is so badly what I want to taste. Especially if the 10 yr old is this good!  How awesome will the 12 yr old be?!?

As I look longingly at The Whisky Exchanges Macallan 12 yr old Fine Oak something slowly starts to dawn on me...

I didn't just drink the 10 yr old.

I ACTUALLY managed to buy the 12 yr old Fine Oak by mistake.

I bought the whisky that scored 95.5 in the whisky bible.  I bought the whisky that scored the highest in the 11 to 15 yr old range by mistake!  I BOUGHT the bottle that I've been hunting for months by mistake!!

This whisky is brilliant!  Actually so good that I gave a dram to a friend of mine who I work with for her 18th birthday.  Who doesn't like whisky.  Who said it tasted like yummy fruit.

This whisky might just become my number one favorite whisky.  I'm going to have to go out and buy three or four more bottles of this version because the odds of next years being this good are low.

My friend SystemDown in his blog (CHECK OUT HIS BLOG!!) reviewed Talisker 10 yr old and said that even though he loved the Talisker, it didn't suit a hot and tropical climate like Queensland, but would be an awesome dram for a colder environment (System if I am misquoting you at all PLEASE correct me!!)

Well my friends the Macallan 12 yr old is a whisky I wouldn't use for a cold winters night.  But as a dram for a hot summers night this is a PERFECT dram!!

Jim Murray was right about this one!!  This whisky is one of the best I have ever tasted and for a measly $85ish Aussie dollars it's a steal of a deal!!!!

Nose:            23/25
Taste:           24/25
 Finish:          22/25
Balance:         23/15

Overall:         92/100

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Here's my money! Don't hurt me!


Sheep Dip Old Hebridean Scotch Whisky 




















Whisky: Sheep Dip Old Hebridean 1990 Vintage



Spencerfield Spirit Co.


Sheep Dip Old Hebridean 1990 Vintage

Vatted Scotch






Full Gold



WHEW!!! A few weeks ago I adopted two new bottles and brought them home with me.  One a sweet candy shop delight bourbon called Hogs 3 and the other one a smokey fired blend called Sheep's Dip Old Hebridean 1990 vintage.  I guess I must have just been in a farmyard kinda mood that day.

Now Sheep's Dip Old Hebridean 1990 vintage is a pretty cool blend. It's made up of 19 year old Dalmore, 21 year old Fettercairn, and 25 year old Ardbeg.  Two Highlands and one Islay, three well known distilleries.  On top of all this only 12,000 bottles worldwide.  Pretty cool!

As I open the bottle I am SMASHED in the face! BAM!! It's like the 1960's Batman.  POW!  Smoke, lots of smoke! Charcoal, tobacco, Peat!  FWAP!!  A hint of spices comes through the smoke, a little bit of sherry and vanilla.  SLAM!  Burnt bacon?!  Ok that was different!!

I now stare at my Glencairn with something not short of amazed respect.  Batman is indeed lurking in this bottle.  I slowly and RESPECTFULLY take a sip of this awe inspiring whisky.  I taste smoke, charcoal, campfire smoke with a hint of tobacco.  I feel like I'm in the middle of some sort of BBQ or cookout.  It's pretty awesome.  A little bit of see air comes through.  Just a hint of fruit flows through the smoke, cutting it a little bit for me and making it an easier whisky for this bourbon man to drink.

The finish is surprisingly mild for me with peat smoke flowing through me.

When I gave a dram of this to my wife later on in the night she took a nose and just looked at me like a deer in the headlights.  When she finally took a drink she just gasped and her first words were "It's like someone has been eating charcoal and then they decided to smoke a hundred cigarettes all at once and then breathed it in my face, that's what it tastes like!"

This is a smokey whisky, no doubt about it and it probably sounds like the smoke overpowers it, but weirdly enough it doesn't.  The sherry cuts through the smoke a bit and allows you to enjoy this marvelous whisky.  This would be a bottle that I might introduce someone who is new to smokey whiskies to.   It doesn't feel as overpowered by smoke as so many of the Islays I've tasted.
At $100 AUS and with so few bottles out there if you can be sure you snag a bottle or two.  As soon as I can afford another bottle I'm grabbing it for my collection!

This is an awesome awesome whisky and I am very glad I bought it.  Thanks Systemdown for the heads up regarding it at Dan Murphy s.  I wouldn't have thought to grab it without you.  Thanks Mate!

Nose:          21/25
Taste:         23/25
Finish:         22/25
Balance:       22/25

Overall:       88/100

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Abbey's Total Surprise!


Whisky: Abbey's The Secret Casks: 30 Year Old Speyside



Abbey Whisky


The Secret Casks: 30 Year Old Speyside





Old Sauternes



I've recently had the pleasure of winning and tasting a 4o year old whisky from Abbey Whisky. I'd won this bottle in a Facebook competition much to my disbelief and loved it. My wife and I actually scored it a 96 out of a 100 which is to this date the highest score I've given out to a whisky, a score that only one other whisky I've ever tasted, a thousand dollar bottle of Ardbeg Lord of the Isles received.

Now I was informed by the very nice gentleman who sent me my free prize that the fine folks at Abbey Whisky had been so pleased with my review of their 40 year old Speyside that they were going to send me the 30 year old Speyside to sample.


Free whisky, good free whisky!

But this very nice gentleman is to be married soon and weddings take lots of time and lots of energy as I well remember after just finishing celebrating my first year anniversary with my wife so who knew when the samples would come? I didn't think it would be for weeks at the soonest, months most likely.

How wrong I was.

I'd just come home from running around and getting chores done and had just sat down and started gaming with my brother on xbox live when the doorbell rang. I wasn't expecting anything, my wife hadn't ordered anything so I sort of figured that my sister in law had ordered something and had it sent to the house as she will occasionally will do.

But somehow, that didn't seem right, my spidey sense was tingling and telling me something was up.
My brother in law knocked on the door to the entertainment room and called out that I had a package...

I was puzzled, not sure what would be for me, hoping it wasn't some sort of bill I'd forgotten, but as he hands me a small package I'm excited and puzzled.

Surely not! They couldn't have sent me anything! But on the package there is a little stamp from the Royal Mail.

I rip open the package and there is a little box and a note.

The note is from Abbey Whisky and reads:

Thought we would get another wee dram sent across for you to try!
I'm going to try to keep it a secret that we sent this, so it lands on your kitchen table a complete surprise! Not sure if I'll be able to not tell you, but I'll give it a shot!
Thanks for the great review before, truly appreciated.
Slainte! Very nice gentleman."

Very very nice. And in the box a cute little 3cl bottle of 30 yr old Speyside whisky from the Secret Casks with a little gold wax topper.


Absolutely brilliant!

Now this is even better for me then normal as I'm currently in the middle of a series of entry level whiskies which sadly for the most part are bland, boring, thin and watery. Something to look forward to at the end of this is just making my day!

Several days pass as I don't want to crack open the bottle while I'm still doing the entry level whisky reviews and then finally the big day comes!

So tonight I crack open that cute little bottle and pour it's lovely contents into my trusty glencairn. The moment I crack the bottle open the smell of apples fills the room.

Now I normally taste my whiskies at dinner time. And I have a special routine. And that routine goes along the lines of I crack open the whisky bottle and pour myself a dram, my wife and I dish up our dinners while I smell the whisky, we sit down and watch TV and eat, I nose the dram the entire time, I finish eating, I continue to nose, she finally finishes eating, she then waits and waits and waits while I continue to nose the dram, finally she is ready, she then noses the dram for a minute or so then takes a sip, yay my turn!  I then sip.

Whew that's a lot! I let my wife always take the first sip of any whisky we have never tried before, always have, always will.

Now the entire time I'm nosing the glencairn, I'm salivating, non stop. And it normally takes my wife around 40 to 60 minutes before she's ready to sip the whisky so it feels like an eternity!

The smells coming off this glencairn are phenomenal!

Apples come off it in waves, caramel apples and apple pie specifically! There is butterscotch and vanilla along with oak in there. But apples are what dominate.

Now this is making me miserable, because it's taking my wife so long to finish her meal and I'm just dying for a taste, but I'm a good and patient husband so I don't say anything, I just wait and nose.

Finally she's finished with her meal and ready to have a drink! WEWT!

She takes a sip and thinks for a minute and says that the strongest flavor for her is the oak with apples in the background, then she hands the glencairn to me!

Huzzah! My turn!

I eagerly take a sip and yes the oak is there in force, but not enough to overpower the whisky, I get the apples, hints of cinnamon and in the background sultanas.

Very yum!

The finish is long. And the sultanas and apples follow the oak the whole way down.

And when I say long, I don't just mean long, I mean LOOOOONG.

This is just a 40% ABV, and while I'd love to see this at 43% or even a 46% ABV, the finish is insanely long, like an hour after taking the last sip of the whisky, after walking the dogs, after taking out the trash, after taking a shower my mouth is still salivating kinda long.

I want more.

Lots more.

Now please.

This whisky runs for around $135 AUS and is available from only Abbey Whisky.

Now I like to do comparisons and I believe in strongly value for money so I grabbed the big chain liquor store over here and pulled up a couple bottles. Macallan 18 yr old runs for roughly $170 AUS, Glenlivet 25 yr old runs at around $500 AUS and Glenfiddich 30 yr old runs for roughly $490 AUS.

Now that I've finished the review I hope you don't mind that I now sneak off to go lick the dregs out of my glencairn.

Nose:          22/25
Taste:        22/25
Finish:        24/25
Balance:     23/25

Overall:      91/100

Sunday, 1 July 2012

A Candy Shop Surprise


Hogs 3 Bourbon 



















Whisky: Hogs 3 Bourbon



Quality Spirits International


Hogs 3






Young Sauternes



I'm a bourbon man. It's where I got my start in whisky and as much as I enjoy single malts, bourbon will always have a special place in my heart. This being the case when my wife and I finally finished paying off our wedding we decided we'd each get to splurge a little.

My splurge was a bottle of bourbon called Hogs 3. Now I am a little confused by this bottle of bourbon as it says that it was bottled in Scotland and by it's very definition bourbon can only come from Kentucky. Still a little puzzled by this, especially since it says it is a product of America.

But that's besides the point. I pick up this little bottle of bourbon on the recommendation of Jim Murray who gave it an 86.5.

I get the bottle home and crack it open eagerly. It's been too long since I've had a good bourbon.

The smell! Ah that lovely smell. Honey, Vanilla, Cinnamon.... what's this? Red Vines licorice candy?!

Brilliant!! This along with some rye and oak is making me thirsty, however there is this faint ethanol smell to it.

The taste? The same with some lovely rye coming through! Absolutely brilliant. A faint aftertaste of honey follows it along with a bit of alcohol bite.

Nice medium length finish that is quite enjoyable.

Now even better I tend to allow my father in law to sample all my whiskies since he's usually nice enough to share his whiskies with me. So I ask him if he likes bourbon at all and he screws up his face "No"

I was flabbergasted! Who doesn't like bourbon?!


"I bought those bottles of Jim Beam bourbon in the cabinet 4 years ago, see how they've been barely touched? One drink was enough to give me a headache and it was awful tasting!"

"Oh I'm not a Jim Beam fan. You should try a good bourbon"

"No I just don't think that there is a good bourbon out there. I know they're not aged like most single malts, they can't be as good flavor wise."

Next day

"Dad I have a new whisky for you to try!"

Hands him a dram of Hogs 3.

"THAT'S GOOD!!! What is that?!"

"That's a decent bourbon."

"I like bourbon now, I'm going to go buy a bottle of that for mom and me."

Hogs 3 isn't the best bourbon in the world, it's not worth the 86.5 Jim Murray gave it, but it's a damn good one and it's a steal of a bargain at just a tad over $30 bucks aussie.

If you're not a bourbon fan because you're used to Jim Beam or you just have never tried one, this would be a good bourbon to try. Tastes a bit like a candy shop at times and it's not going to break the bank for anyone.

Nose:          21/25
Taste:         22/25
Finish:         18/25
Balance:       19/25

Overall:       80/100