May 18

High West Campfire

High West Campfire, according to the description on the company’s website, “is the world’s only, and possibly first, blend of Scotch, bourbon and rye whiskeys. A very unusual, distinctive, yet delicious whiskey.” I can’t argue with their claim because although I know that there have been experiments combining Irish and MikeD_TropicofCapricornScotch whiskies, and also some similar explorations with Japanese and Scots whiskies, the fact that High West Campfire combines bourbon, rye and scotch may make it the first such whiskey to be produced and brought to market.

Given that High West Campfire is a rather unique (mostly) American whiskey, but that is also part Scotch whisky – and which certainly creates a bit of an identity crisis, at least when trying to categorize the whiskey – so who could possibly be in a better position to provide us with a review a whiskey made of spirits produced in both the US and Scotland, than an American living in Australia, yes, our own Australia-based reporter, Mike D! An absolutely natural fit!

 

High West Campfire

The story behind the creation of this whiskey is another one of those fantastic, “life experience becomes whisky-inspiration” stories commonly found on the back label of so many of the new releases in today’s “whiskeysphere”, where marketing seems to have taken over as the creative force behind most of the new whiskies now being produced (Thanks, Ardmorangie!™). So, anyway here’s the story behind the inspiration of the High West Campfire whiskey:

 

One morning at the Bruichladdich distillery B&B, High West Founders David and Jane Perkins smelled peat in the air. The great ladies that made the meals were simmering a bottle of peated whiskey and sugar! Later that night, they brought out dessert of ripe honeydew drizzled with the peated syrup. That was the most unusual, delicious and memorable ending to a dinner they had ever had. The combination of melon and sweet smoke really worked – so (naturally…) David thought why not mix sweet bourbon and peat? The main flavor (or melody) is sweet honey from a ripe bourbon. The enhancing flavor (or harmony) is floral fruity spice from a mature rye whiskey. The accent (Satchmo’s gravelly voice!) is smoke from a peated scotch whisky. The proportions? Top secret.

 

One positive that to recognize about High West is that they have generally been very forthcoming about their whiskies. While they didn’t originally disclose much about their whiskies, for the last several years they have been clear that they often source their bourbon and ryes from MGP (Midwest Grain Products), the behemoth spirits producer in a not very romantic, mega-industrial plant located in Lawrenceburg, IN. And that is the case here; High West acknowledges that both the bourbon and the rye component whiskies were produced by MGP.

The other facts that we know about High West Campfire is that the whiskey is neither chill-filtered nor carbon treated and that all of the component whiskies are 5 years or older.  High West also provides specific information regarding the bourbon and the rye whiskies. To provide the “Sweet” notes, they used a straight bourbon whiskey with a mashbill consisting of 75 percent corn, 21 percent rye, and 4 percent barley malt. The rye is a straight rye whiskey that provides the “Spicy and Floral” notes. This whiskey has a mashbill of 95 percent rye and 5 percent barley malt. The “Smoky” notes, well, there is no disclosure. Now, to be fair to High West, I suspect that they were prohibited by the actual producer from disclosing the source, so we’ll cut them some slack. What they do disclose is that the Scotch whisky is a blended malt of 100-percent barley malt that has been peated, and that it does NOT come from Islay. A few years ago it might have been relatively simple to narrow down the source to one or two mainland distilleries, but in the current era, where even the most traditional distilleries are now, at least occasionally, producing peated whiskies, the challenge to pin an identity on the source is quite difficult.

 

Varnish_on_King_Perth

So, let’s turn it over to Mike and get a review of this interesting whiskey!

I went to Varnish on King today; this is a whisky bar in downtown Perth that we looked for when Eric and Teri visited us last October. We ultimately located its rather innocuous front door, only to find the bar closed until several hours later….and our non-whiskey-loving wives didn’t want to wait! So, naturally, I had to go back on my own! Varnish on King offers a nice selection of American Cuisine, a wide selection of cocktails, beer and wine, as well as a very good line-up of whiskies. They also host a Whiskey ‘101’ Masterclass on the first Monday of the month.

 

 

Review: High West Campfire, Batch 15E05, Bottle 1029, 46% abv

As mentioned above, High West Campfire is a blend of bourbon, rye and peated High West Campfirescotch whiskies, mixed at an undisclosed ratio. The bourbon is a medium-level rye mashbill, while the rye is from a 95% rye mash. The scotch is peated, and identified only as non-Islay. An interesting concept; let’s see how it is!

Color: Pale straw

Nose: Starts very fruity, with notes of ripe melon with honey and soft smoke. There is something slightly musty, sort of like a fire put out with water. In the background are some spices.

Palate: In the arrival there is a touch of heat but no real alcohol burn. Like the nose, there are the melons and honey; these are strong flavors but come across as individual tastes and not like honeydew melon. The peat sneaks in after a moment, but it remains a very gentle peat. It reminds me of Caol Ila, but after reading the label, it can’t be Caol Ila if this is not an Islay peated whisky (wonder where???) There is the cinnamon note and a bit of citrus.

Finish: The finish is sweet and spiced with a light smoke.

 

Rating 88

 

 

 

Details:

Region: Utah, USA

Distillery: MGP (Bourbon and Rye), Undisclosed (Scotch)

Bottler: High West Distillers

Type: Blend (Bourbon, Rye, Scotch)

Age: Not stated beyond all whiskies being a minimum of 5 years old

ABV: 46%

Maturation: Not disclosed

Price: $60 (Total Wine – Texas)

Availability: Specialist Retailers

Sample Source:  tasting at local whiskey bar $22.50 AUD

 

 

Sources:

http://www.highwest.com/products/high-west-whiskey-campfire.php

http://varnishonking.com/

May 11

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2015

The Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2015 …..yes, another annual, “special release”, that hits the markets in the fall, but this one still flies a bit under the radar, which is good news that may not last for much longer as more bourbon fans discover this little gem. And even more to like….contrary to so many of the fall “special releases”, not only does the Old Forester Birthday Bourbon have an Age Statement, 12 years, it still remains on the right side of the reasonable affordability scale coming in at around $50.  Will that hold true with this year’s release? We’ll just have to wait and hope …. with our fingers crossed!

 

My first Old Forester experience was the 2013 Birthday Bourbon, which I picked up on a recommendation …. and with the first sip, I promptly wished I’d bought two! I know that there are some reviewers who think the 2013 was slightly inferior to the 2012 release, but I’ve not had a chance to compare the two, so I can’t comment. But for me, the 2013 was so good that I became a fan and I made sure to pick up a bottle of the 2014 release when it hit the stores – sadly, one was all I could get due to the allocations. In 2015, I was fortunate that my son was in town when the Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2015 was available here in Texas, so I took him with me and was able to buy two bottles! Lucky me!

 

In the interim, I’ve tried a couple other Old Forester bourbons and I previously reviewed their Original 1870 release here. In that review is a little information on the distillery and some of the history surrounding the brand, so I won’t bore you with repeating myself, letting you check it out if you’re so inclined.

 

So, with all that out of the way, let’s get to the review and find out if the Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2015 release will hold up to the high expectations set by the 2013 bottling!

 

 

Review: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2015 Release, Distilled 2003, Barreled 2015, 48.5% abv

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2015

Nose: It’s a berry, berry good nose! with ripe strawberry, orange peel, red apple, and a beautiful, dominant, deep cherry liqueur note; then add in some raspberry sorbet that brings a softly effervescent, bubbly, aspect and you have a wonderful bourbon to enjoy …. and, yes, I realize smelling something bubbly is a stretch, but that’s what came to my mind! There is also a fresh-squeezed lemon juice dribbled bananas covered with over maple syrup. Even though this is a sweetish bourbon, it doesn’t come across as overly saccharine sweet, offering, instead, a sweetness perfectly balanced with a distinct graininess that adds just the right amount of sharpness. Add a hint of ginger and pepper from the oak, a touch of pipe tobacco, and a subtle hint of barrel char smokiness and you have an absolutely delightful, intriguing nose! Adding water is neither necessary, nor does it do much to the whiskey; it remains very consistent.

Taste: Just like the nose, this is a full on fruit salad with the strawberry, cherry, banana, and some red apple. There is that very evident maple syrup aspect that contributes to a wonderfully thick, oily, and very rich body that just oozes along the tongue. Candied walnuts and something earthy, and some bready grains that offer a roundness to the palate. As with the nose, the oak shows itself with these hints of pepper, along with some mint and ginger that add a nice spicy bite that complements the fundamental sweet, fruity nature. There is a touch of lemon juice that tickles the tongue, and a delicate smokiness from the barrel.

Finish: Remaining true to form, the finish shows off all the sweet, vivid, dense fruity flavors, the maple syrup note, the underlying rich grains, and the hint of smoke that continue to linger long and beautifully on the tongue well after its gone.

Overall:  What can I say?  I really enjoyed this bourbon. I’ll even go so far as to say that this is quite possibly among the best I’ve tried. Everything about this bourbon just hits all the right notes for me…sweet but not sugary, densely fruity, well-balanced, and with a great mouthfeel and a beautiful finish. In some ways this is kind of like a “Scotch bourbon” in that it has this well-developed combination of apple, banana and strawberry with that subtle smokiness. This is a beautiful bourbon with a richly sweet, syrupy body, and the bold, luxurious cherry liqueur note mingles so well with the ginger and minty sparkle that hits on the tongue. Damn this is good! I think I’ll pour myself another and be glad I managed to get two bottles of this beauty!

 

Rating 87 

 

 

 

Details: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2015

Region: Kentucky, USA

Distillery: Old Forester (Brown-Forman)

Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Age: 12 years

ABV: 48.5%

Maturation: First fill, American white oak

Price: $55 (Total Wine)

Availability: Limited, secondary market

Sample Source: My own bottle

 

 

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Forester

http://www.oldforester.com/bourbon/#birthday

Apr 27

Banff 35 year-old, Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare

How about another review of a rare whisky from another closed distillery, like maybe a Banff 35 year-old whisky bottled by Duncan Taylor as part of their Rarest of the Rare range, a collection of cask strength single cask whiskies from distilleries which no longer exist! This is a bottle I bought back in 2013, opened a while back and am now getting to the last few drops.

 

About the Banff Distillery

The original Banff distillery was built by James McKilligan & Co. in 1824, but in 1863, while under the ownership of James Simpson, Jr, the distillery was relocated to take advantage of the expanding rail system then reaching into northern Scotland. The railway offered superior transport of grains into the distillery and improved access to the growing markets in England. Sadly, after a century of operation, the years of economic depression and wars in the early decades of the 1900s caused financial difficulties and nearly 80 years of ownership by the Simpson family, bankruptcy led to the sale of the distillery to Scottish Malt Distillers in 1932 for £50,000. Exactly why the new owners bought the distillery is uncertain as they stopped production immediately after acquiring the distillery, although they continued to use the warehouses. The distillery remained mothballed until after World War II.

Over it’s nearly 100 years, Banff had a rather colorful – and a rather difficult – existence. Within the whisky industry, an unfortunate, but all-too-common, risk were fires and explosions and, during its history, Banff seemed to suffer more than its share of damaging fires. A particularly bad fire in May 1877 destroyed a majority of the distillery, yet, with Banffdetermination, and motivate by the ongoing whisky boom period, by October of the same year, the distillery had been rebuilt and back to full operation. Learning from the past, Simpson purchased and kept a fire truck on site to protect against damage from future fires.

Not only did the distillery suffer various (and numerous) fires, the distillery was struck by another disaster when, on 16 August 1941, a Nazi Junkers Ju 88 bombed the distillery, destroying one of the warehouses. It was reported that in aftermath that a lot of whisky spilled from the destroyed casks made its way into the nearby water supplies, intoxicating much of the local animal population. Despite the damage from the raid, Banff survived. Repair work started shortly after the bombing, but then was put on hold in 1943, when the RAF took over the site and remained there until the end of the war.

After World War II, renovation of the distillery restarted but, in line with the unfortunate side of its history, while repair work was underway, on 3 October 1959, vapors inside were ignited and caused an explosion that again damaged part of the distillery. When renovation was finally complete, the distillery returned to operating status and continued to produce whisky until it was finally mothballed by Diageo in 1983. By the late 1980s, most of the distillery’s buildings had been dismantled or demolished. As fate would have it, the last remaining vestige of the Banff distillery, a warehouse, was destroyed on 11 April 1991, by, you guessed it, another fire.

 

Review: Banff 35 year-old, Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare

Distilled 11.1975, Bottled 03.2011, Cask No. 3350, Bottle 109 of 289, 45.4% abv

 

Color: a soft yellow gold.Banff 35 year-old

Nose: The nose starts as a veritable fruit basket – both orchard and tropical fruits: ripe red apples, black cherries, a hint of orange peel, gooseberries, and a touch of mango. The fruits are follow-up by a warm vanilla and delicate baking spices, think apple pie with whipped cream and cooked pears with cinnamon and honey. After a moment, there is a growing soft floral/grassy note that adds a subtle “outdoorsy” touch. With time, an interesting cedar wood notes pop up. The baking spices become more prominent as the fruits settle into the background. There is just a very light touch of black pepper. With water, the nose becomes “softer”, rather delicate, but remains beautifully fruity. There are traces of orange and a supple lemon tanginess that mixes well with the underlying vanilla and honey sweetness. With a few minutes, the peppery note grows bolder, the fruits become softer, more subdued, and those dried flowers/grassy notes pop up again.

Taste: The arrival is a mix of sharp citric notes and sweet, ripe fruits. It starts with a slightly bitter “lemony” sharpness, tart and effervescent, then the sweeter fruits,  – red and green apples, pears –  sweep over the tongue. There is a subtle vanilla and a rich maltiness with a light dusting of herbal spices and a hint of peppery heat. With a couple drops of water, the arrival is much softer, more inviting. There is something that reminds me of a Witbier – with its lightly lemony, slightly bubbly profile.   Honey, more soft fruits, and some pepper. An icing sugary sweetness, more vanilla, and more of the ripe fruits. This has a wonderfully rich, oily texture that makes you want to sip slowly and enjoy.

Finish: The finish is moderately long with that tangy lemon, sweetly fruity with a balanced yet slightly bittersweet maltiness. It becomes a touch drying, and slightly hoppy.

Overall: This whisky definitely improved with some oxidation. When I first opened the bottle, the whisky was rather “tight”, but time and air seems to have acted like yeast to bread dough, enabling the aromas and flavors to rise. Now, as the bottle comes to an end, the whisky shows its wonderfully sharp, tangy and sweet profile that is thoroughly engaging.

Rating 87

 

 

Details:

Region: Speyside

Distillery: Banff (closed/demolished)

Bottler: Duncan Taylor, Rarest of the Rare

Type: Single Malt

Age: 35 years

ABV: 45.4%

Maturation: “oak casks”, likely ex-bourbon

Price: Specs Feb-13, $207.99 (Note:*The Whisky Exchange currently lists a Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare Banff 1975, 31 year-old on sale for £550)

Availability:  Secondary market

Sample Source: My own bottle

 

 

Sources:

Malt Whisky Yearbook 2014, Ingvar Ronde, MagDig Media, Ltd.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banff_distillery

https://www.maltmadness.com/whisky/banff.html

https://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/b/40/banff-single-malt-scotch-whisky

https://www.thewhiskybarrel.com/blog/post/banff-whisky

(Distillery photo) https://www.whiskyforum.se

Apr 15

Glen Mhor 1978, Scott’s Selection

Today’s review is of a whisky from the now-closed Glen Mhor Distillery, the youngest of three distilleries that operated in the town of Inverness – Glen Albyn (1844) and Millburn (1807), being the other two – for nearly 200 years before all three were closed in the 1980’s and the industry disappeared from the area.

 

As a key component in the Mackinlay blends, Glen Mhor was so critical that no “official bottlings” were released, meaning that our only opportunity to taste a Glen Mhor whisky comes from independent bottlers, and even those are very Glen Mhor distilleryrare….and becoming rarer. I was fortunate to find a bottle of this Scott’s Selection Glen Mhor 1978, back in 2013 and opened it to share with some friends, including Michael over at Diving for Pearls who reviewed a sample I sent to him (here). This Glen Mhor 1978 whisky was bottled in 2004, making it approximately 26 years old, and it was bottled at a cask strength of 56% abv.

 

About the Glen Mhor Distillery

The Glen Mhor distillery was founded in 1892 by John Birnie and James Mackinlay of Charles Mackinlay & Co., the noted blenders from Leith. Birnie, who had previously worked at the neighboring Glen Albyn distillery, left Glen Albyn after an internal dispute, returned to the industry and the area when he joined Mackinlay. Despite their separate ownership, the Glen Mhor and Glen Albyn distilleries worked closely together. Then, in 1920, the two distilleries were formally joined when the Glen Mhor Company took over the Glen Albyn distillery. In 1972, William Birnie, the son of John Birnie, sold both Glen Mhor and Glen Albyn to DCL, Diageo’s predecessor.

 

Sadly, the Glen Mhor distillery operated for just less than a century; the first whisky was produced in 1894 and the distillery was closed in 1983, along with so many other distilleries who were victims of the Whisky Loch, a period of overproduction that coincided with a drop in demand which hit the scotch whisky industry in the 1970s. A few years later, in 1988, the Glen Mhor distillery was demolished and replaced by a shopping center.

 

 

Review: Scott’s Selection Glen Mhor 1978, distilled 1978, bottled 2004, 56% abv

 

Color: A rich goldGlenMhor_Scotts_2016

Nose: (Neat) A deep, rich, fruity nose full of tropical and orchard fruits, pineapple, mango, peaches, red apples, lemon citrus. A hint of peppered butter cream. There is also an accompanying sweet maltiness, a slight grassiness, and a touch of oak that keeps the fruits from making everything too one-dimensional. Neat, the alcohol bite causes this to be somewhat prickly on the nose. (Water) This remains still very fruity, with some more of the pears and green apples accompanying the tropical fruits, and with a persistent citrusy tanginess. It also develops a floral/grassy aspect, there is an increasing vanilla note, along with some clover honey, and that same soft malt and oakiness.

 

Taste:  A rather hot, zesty and tangy arrival, with loads of fresh lemon and lime juice. With time I got more of the fruits – the pineapple, green apples, and peaches, some honey adds a creamy sweetness. This one vastly improved with water. The alcohol heat is muted, allowing the flavors to reveal themselves more clearly. This is a clean, somewhat sharp palate. the arrival remains zesty and citrusy, before the fruits and that growing vanilla reassert themselves. It now has a nice, softly oily mouthfeel. The honey and vanilla cream add more sweetness, yet there remain hints of oak in the peppery spice. I also got hints of dried grasses and a bit of brine.

 

 

Finish:  Lemony, malty, bitter-sweet fruits, with maybe a touch of saltiness.  Even with a good dose of water the finish remains quite long, heavily citric with a complementary honey and malty sweetness before becoming lightly drying – in a nice way. Quite lengthy.

 

Overall: Served neat, this is very hot, making it a bit difficult to appreciate. But with a little water, or maybe more than a little water, the alcohol becomes much less demanding and opens this whisky up very nicely. This has a sharply citric profile, perhaps slightly unbalanced by the citrusy notes, but it is intriguing and offers enough interest to make it time well spent with a glass. Certainly, the opportunity to sample a piece of vanished history is also part of the fun of this whisky!

 

Rating 85

 

 

Other reviews: Here are a couple of other reviews of this bottling, in case you’re interested.

 

Glen Mhor 1978-2004 (Scott’s Selection)

http://www.divingforpearlsblog.com/2014/02/single-malt-report-glen-mhor-26-year.html

http://www.whiskymusings.com/category/glen-mhor/

 

 

 

Details:

Region: Northern Highlands (Inverness, Scotland)

Distillery: Glen Mhor (closed/demolished)

Bottler: Scott’s Selection

Type: Single Malt

Age: 26 year-old (+/-)

ABV: 56.0%

Maturation: Undisclosed

Price: $160 (2013) Hi-Time Wine Cellars Apr-13 $157.98

Availability:  Auction/secondary market

Sample Source: My own bottle

 

 

Sources:

Malt Whisky Yearbook 2014, Ingvar Ronde, MagDig Media, Ltd.

http://www.maltmadness.com/whisky/glen-mhor.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinkadvice/11099642/What-does-whisky-mean-to-Scotland.html

photo: http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/book-extract-shackletons-whisky-chapter-3-malt-maturing-ca-132719

 

Mar 30

St. Magdalene 10 yr – Cadenheads

So let’s get back to whisky reviews by sampling a very rare whisky from another (sadly) closed distillery with a review of a St. Magdalene 10 year-old bottled by Cadenhead’s. Distilled in December 1982, just before the distillery was closed forever, this whisky was bottled in 1993 and released at cask strength at a rather huge 62.3% abv! Among aficionados, St. Magdalene is an iconic, highly revered distillery, and there are very few bottles outside of private collections, so having an opportunity to taste a piece of history was an extra special event for me! Thanks to my friend Sorin for sharing this whisky, along with so many others over the past few years!

 

About St. Magdalene Distillery

The St. Magdalene Distillery has a long, interesting history. Going back to the 12th century, the St. Magdalene site has been home to a leper colony, a convent, and a hospital. In 1798, when the distillery was established (although there are some claims that the distillery began operating as early as 1765),  the distillery operated under the name “Linlithgow” for the town in which it was located. In 1834, when the distillery was moved to the St. Magdalene site in order to access the Union Canal, it took the St. Magdalene name. Given either the 1798 or the 1765 founding date, it remains that the St. Magdalene / Linlithgow distillery was one of the first licensed distilleries in Scotland.

St. Magdalene remained owned by the Dawson family for more than a century. Adam Dawson (1747–1836) was the first to run the distillery, followed by son John Dawson (1796–1878) along with his brother Adam Dawson Jr (1793–1873). By 1856 the distillery was capable of producing 4,000 US gallons. The unfortunate, early death of John Kellie Dawson in 1912 forced the sale of the distillery to Distillers Company Ltd (DCL), which would continue to be a major player on the liquor scene, becoming United Distillers and then, ultimately Diageo.

After being acquired by DCL, the St. Magdalene facilities were completely remodeled and modernized, including the installation of electricity. As did many distilleries, St. Magdalene ceased their own maltings in 1963 and began purchasing their malts from another distillery, in this case, Glenesk. In 1971, indirect firing was introduced.

One of the most common differentiations between Lowland and Highland whiskies was that Lowland whiskies were usually triple distilled. St. Magdalene whisky, however, was more similar in style to Highland whiskies as it was double distilled.

In the early 1980’s, following what is now known as the infamous “Whisky Loch” – a period of surplus stocks after rapid industry expansion – DCL/Diageo, who had become the dominant whisky producer, shut down and mothballed and/or demolished a large number of distilleries, including St. Magdalene.  After St. Magdalene was closed in 1983, some of the buildings were converted into apartments.

Because of its rarity, and the fact that their single malts were particularly good, the St. Magdalene name holds a special place for many Scotch whisky lovers.

 

Review: St. Magdalene 10 year-old, Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection, Distilled December 1982, Bottled 1993, Cask Strength 62.3% abv

Color: Very pale, a light Sauvignon BlancSt. Magdalene 10_Cadenheads

Nose: The high abv is immediately apparent – alcohol fumes rise up out of the glass….so approach carefully! Slowly, as you work past the alcohol sharpness, there are some floral/grassy notes – think dried flowers and hay. Hand lotion. With a few minutes it shows a bit of a softly fruity element, with mostly white fruits. There are hints of freshly sawn oak, lime zest and white pepper, but it remains difficult to navigate because of the abv.  Adding some water (and then some more  water), and waiting several minutes, the true nature of this whisky beings to assert itself. The fresh oak is still present but it becomes a bit more fruit-focused. Certainly there are lemons and limes adding an acidic bite, but there are now red apples, peaches, strawberries, stewed banana. There is also an earthiness, some fresh-cut long grass, and, oddly, cedar mulch.

Taste:  Very hot arrival, I mean damn near gasping for breath hot! Seriously, this is a bitingly hot initial arrival. If you wait, though, and let the heat pass, it starts to show a soft sweetness with warm vanilla toffee. There is quite a lot of tart lemon peel adding a citric bitterness, also some green apples, but it really remains pretty closed because of the high abv. With enough water, the abv impact has muted and this now shows itself to be softer and sweeter. There are generous hints of warm butterscotch, then the white fruits rise up. Throughout, there remains this potent citric-lemony note, but now it shares the spotlight with the white fruits, hints of herbal spices and a good dusting of white pepper. Mid palate shows a lot of complexity as flavors ebb and flow from the sweet spices, the fruits, the tart citric flavors, all coming and going very nicely.

Finish:  When tasted neat the finish is sharp and hot, but there is a floral aspect, it hints at some vanilla cream, lemon meringue, and green apples. With water, the finish shows more depth. The fruits and butterscotch, the grassy and citric notes shift back and forth, ebbing and flowing for quite a long time. It ends with a dose of the pepper and soft oak tannins.

Overall:  Neat, this whisky is a real beast, very difficult to get a handle on, but once you get this diluted enough, it becomes a really enjoyable, fun whisky! It becomes a very intriguing whisky with good complexity and balance. Given the rarity of St. Magdalene whiskies, I have to thank Sorin, again for sharing. It was a fantastic opportunity to try a whisky from one of the most revered, but long-lost distilleries!

Rating 89

 

 

Details:

Region: Lowlands (Scotland)

Distillery: St. Magdalene (Linlithgow)

Bottler: Cadenhead’s

Type: Single Malt

Age: 10 year

ABV: 62.3%

Maturation: ex-bourbon barrel?

Price: auction pricing ($$$$)

Availability: secondary/auction market

Sample Source: shared by my friend Sorin!

 

 

Sources:

Malt Whisky Yearbook 2014, Ingvar Ronde, MagDig Media, Ltd.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Magdalene_distillery

https://www.maltmadness.com/whisky/saint-magdalene.html

http://www.stmagdalene.com/#!distillery/csow

http://www.whiskypapa.com/st-magdalene-a-lost-era-in-whisky-making

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