Saturday 15 October 2016

Tasting Note: Kilchoman Cask Strength Quarter Cask

Despite being up and running for some eleven years, Kilchoman don't seem to have any plans for a standard ten year old release yet. I don't consider this necessarily a bad thing. Apart from the first few youthful bottlings, which I found as rough as an agricultural salt lick, I reckon that Kilchoman tastes very good at four or five or six years old.

The nose is sweet – banana cream with some salty earthy peat underneath., then the peat seems to get more floral. Iodically floral. Adding water makes it spirity, but also fresh and airy.

The palate is very, very sweet, soft, and drinkable. There's loads of earthy peat. It leaves a saltiness behind (or more precisely a salt-sweet note), plus a chili burn. With water it is still very sweet, light bodied, a little hotter than without water. The peat seems saltier – more sea air than earthy. Finish is now oddly drying. With time I'm starting to see some fruity notes, but the finish is definitely a bit rougher once water is added.

To conclude. A quarter cask expression seems like a good way to bring on maturing spirit more rapidly. I've always been a fan of the Laphroaig Quarter Cask, which is said to be about six years old, and I've tasted some delicious young octaves from Glenglassaugh. I like this expression a lot.

Thursday 6 October 2016

Tasting Note: Miltonduff 21 Year Old

Miltonduff doesn't really figure in any list of distillery greats. There's hardly an official bottling to be had, seeing as Chivas Bros. main use for it is to blend into Ballantine's (alongside the blessed Glenburgie).

So it was a real pleasure to taste and enjoy this bottling by Morrison & Mackay, the Perthshire firm to whom the Scotch whisky industry turns when in need of a whisky liqueur (they also bottle some cracking malts).

It's a dram which is both light in colour and light of body, although far from lacking in flavour. In fact, it manages that special trick of keeping several different flavours going at once in the back of the mouth. There's a waxy yellow fruit note, and a tangy Edinburgh rock thing, plus the corresponding chalkiness (which doesn't always happen, by the way). There is also a fizzy, sherbet-y lightness.

The cask flavours are very much in the background and integrated with everything else which is going on, allowing the distillate character to shine through.

Of course, this is a bottling from just two hogsheads, so it's probably all been drunk by now. So what? There's always another whisky to find. There's probably another Miltonduff out there, just waiting for you. Go get it!

About Miltonduff
Built in 1824 near Elgin, Miltonduff has seen several changes of ownership; since 2005 it has been run by Chivas Bros. It was one of a handful of distilleries to be fitted with Lomond stills, making a whisky called Mosstowie. Nowadays it is most important as a component of the Ballantine's blend.