torsdag 13 februari 2020

Springbank 10 yo – Local Barley 2019 56,2% ABV!

Dear friends and followers alike! On friday last week I received a package from the nice people at Symposion containing a sample of the latest edition of Springbank Local Barley! As the name reveals this particular expression of Springbank has been produced using only barley that has been grown locally around Campbeltown. For this edition the barley (of Optic variety) comes from the High Cattadale Farm. 











The peating level is 12-15 ppm. Time of distillation is July 2009 and time of bottling is October 2019.  The whisky has been matured in a combination of bourbon casks (77%), sherry casks (20%), and port casks (3%). The whisky has been bottled at a (vatting) strength of 56,2% ABV. The number of bottles produced is 9000 out of which 522 has made their way to Sweden. Here it will be launched at the state monopoly tomorrow (the 14th of February) and you can view the product by clicking here.

Ok folks, let's review!

Nose:
Absolutely wonderful! This dram definitely has something that reminds me of a Laphroaig at cask strength. The centre of the nose is rather salt-y and leather-y. There is also something farmyard-y in the centre (let’s call it "hay"). The centre is surrounded by medium creamy vanilla and smoked almondpaste. There are also clear whiffs of mint and eucalyptus, meaning there is a medicinal thing going on here. It’s not really right to compare this with a Laphroaig though, cause this one is way softer (softspoken), reserved and subdued on the peat as well as overall. In the deep layers I detect a fruity sweetness; kind of a mix between lemon peel and figs dipped in mellow red wine. The strength/ABV goes unnoticed, so very soft indeed.


Taste:
Salty, salty, salty, mixed with peat! The leather from the nose is very much a part of the taste. Suddenly, passion fruit and mango flies by (!), it stays for less than half a second and then it’s gone (very fleeting indeed). When the saltyness and the peat mellows down we have a beautiful kick from the strength/ABV, this in turn evolves into dryness which evolves into a creamyness consisting of vanilla and melted butter (very slightly burnt), and all of the sudden a whiff of fruit flies by again (this time in the form of yellow kiwi). That’s strange! The aftertaste has quite a lot of dryness in it, reminding me of the taste/feeling of the peel from green grapes. The strength/ABV is present on the palate (the roof of the mouth) all the way through the aftertaste, manifesting itself as bubbles (carbonation) and black pepper-yness. The last thing in the aftertaste to leave my mouth and end the taste all together is ashes and a fleeting presence of elderflower syrup. 

Some reflections to sum up:
Even though it may seem otherwise from my notes on the nose vs. the taste, the nose is actually more complex than the taste; the nose is more deep than the taste is, and the different phases of the taste passes by quicker than what the nose indicates it should do, if you know what I mean. As far as my competence goes the taste does not really show any signs of the sherry casks and port casks used, but rather ”only” bourbon casks. On the nose there are however tendencies towards sherry cask maturation (ie. the figs dipped in mellow red wine) and that is absolutely a gret contribution in terms of bringing complexity to the composition. So, should you buy this whisky? Well, the nose itself is almost worth the cost, and the taste is (although not as complex as the nose) also very good. Definitely so for those of you out there who just love your drams salty and peaty.

Finally, a big thanks to Peter at Symposion for the great opportunity to review this whisky before its release! For kind of weekly updates please make sure to follow my FB-page by clicking here, my instagram by clicking here, and my twitter-page by clicking here. Copyright © and All Rights Reserved on all tasting notes and text by SamuelWhisky and pictures and videos likewise belong to SamuelWhisky, unless stated. If you would like to use any such material that belongs to SamuelWhisky or associated with SamuelWhisky, please ask by sending me an email to samuelkarlssonorebro [at] gmail [dot] com and when permission granted by stating the source.

Pic borrowed from systembolaget.se


torsdag 30 januari 2020

Swedish Rye Whiskey (to be) – A cask sample from Blind Seal Whiskey!

Dear friends, followers and supporters alike! Today I bring you something very, very special. Exactly one week ago I met up with Tobiaz Forsberg (former brewer at Fjäderholmarnas Bryggeri, and today he is) the "Head Bootlegger" at the new and upcoming swedish whiskey brand Blind Seal Whiskey!















That's right, Blind Seal Whiskey is not a distillery but rather a brand. More precisely it's a joint venture between Nordic Whisky Capital and Tobiaz. NWC is as you know the owner of swedish Distillery Agitator. NWC owns 51% of Blind Seal Whiskey and Tobiaz, who is the (idea)man behind the brand, owns the rest. 

Blind Seal Whiskey is deeply rooted in the american designtradition of the 1920's, and is inspired by the speak-easy bars of the prohibition era. When it comes to the issue of producing Blind Seal Whiskey, it uses the competence, staff, and production capacity available at Agitator. The orientation of Blind Seal Whiskey is american style whiskey, and initially the focus is on rye as the main component. 


With that said, by now you all understand that the reason for me meeting up with Tobiaz was that he wanted me to review a cask sample of his work in progress Blind Seal Whiskey. Yay, very exclusive, very exciting!!!

So the need to know details for this sample is as follows: the mash is made from 60% malted rye and 40% malted barely. The Blind Seal mash holds an average strength of 7,3% ABV. The liquid for this sample is a 50/50 mix of maturing spirit coming from two 200 litre new american oak barrels (toasting level 3, wave staves). One barrel contained spirit from (distilled in) the High Reflux-stills,  the other barrel contained spirit from (distilled in) the Low Reflux-stills. The heart of the former held 72% ABV, while the heart of the latter held 67% ABV. The different hearts were then mixed together and by the use of water reduced to 55% (which is the filling strength most often used, and preferred,  at Agitator). This is batch number one which all in all was mashed throughout the 7th-23rd of January 2019, and distilled throughout the 15th-29th of January 2019 (in other words a fermenting period of seven days). The casks were filled by Tobiaz on the 11th of February 2019, and the liquid for this sample was drawn and blended by Tobiaz on the 20th of January 2020, at the time of sampling being a mere 11 months old. 

Ok, folks, that's enough details for sure, so let's review!

Nose:
The top layer has soft/delicate honey sweetness intermingling with (an expected) vanilla sweetness, a moderately heavy vanilla sweetness. Whiffs of medium ripe banana, and a touch of orange zest/peel is saying hello to syrup. When nosing a little deeper, moving into the second layer, I first find a spicy-/herbyness mixed with maraschino cherries and deep violet, and then I find wood, kind of like a mix of firewood and oak/cask. There is actually something a bit toasted and/or barbeque-ish going on in the very bottom of the second layer. The bottom of the second layer is robust and has an ”industrial” feel to it (I’m thinking gundpowder and metal) that provides a medium heavy body which the top layer rests upon. There is absolutely no young-ish, new make-y, fusel-y, yeast-y stuff on the nose and it’s really hard to believe that I’m actually nosing spirit that is only 11 months old.


Taste:
I actually start to laugh, because this tastes so damn good folks! It starts off with an intricate, smooth and moutwatering sugar syrup-y sweetness intermingling with almond paste, and some sweetness as from boiled carrots (!) topped with butter and salt. It moves on into burnt vanilla with wood spicyness and medium robust tannins. We have fudge cubes, dark honey and slightly burnt maple syrup, very old agave, slight touches of gunpowder and evident cocoa as well as sweet liquorice; this 11 month old spirit has real body, maturity and complexity folks! Whilst the strength/ABV was not at all something I thought of when nosing, on the taste it simply provides a beautiful warmth to my throat and breast/chest. The strength is evident (but not at all overpowering). The aftertaste lingers for quite some time and holds tannins, spicyness, dark raisins, and ends on a soft sugary sweetness.

Some reflections to sum up:
Well, as you can probably tell I really like this dram. To me, the complexity of both nose and taste, and most of all the body and maturity that this dram shows, is actually quite unbelievable. And I can’t help to be amazed by how this spirit already tastes this good. If it was up to me I sure would bottle a part of this batch right now and bring it to the market, so well done! And finally, a big thanks to Tobiaz for sharing a cask sample of some Blind Seal Whiskey at a work in progress phase! I'm so happy to have been the first blogger to try it! 

For kind of weekly updates please make sure to follow my FB-page by clicking here, my instagram by clicking here, and my twitter-page by clicking here. Copyright © and All Rights Reserved on all tasting notes and text by SamuelWhisky and pictures and videos likewise belong to SamuelWhisky, unless stated. If you would like to use any such material that belongs to SamuelWhisky or associated with SamuelWhisky, please ask by sending me an email to samuelkarlssonorebro [at] gmail [dot] com and when permission is granted by stating the source.

lördag 23 november 2019

Cask collaboration with Agitator – The first big step!

Dear friends, followers, and supporters alike! On the 4th of May 2018 I did my first visit to Swedish Distillery Agitator. If you haven’t already read my article from that visit please do so by clicking here and you will not only get some background info for this article, but also learn a bit about what makes Agitator such a unique whisky distillery. 

During the end of that first visit I filled bourbon casks no.111-116 (barrels, 180L) with the newmake I had helped to produce. The new make was made from peated barley (30ppm) and the mix was 58% from the High Reflux spirit-still and 42% from the Low Reflux spirit-still. The filling strength was 55% ABV. Around one year later, Agitator and I made it official through social media that we were embarking on a joint project, namely a cask collaboration (click here to read the ”pressrelease” in swedish). 

Oskar, SamuelWhisky, and Christian with casks no.111-116
So what does the collaboration entail? Well, it will result in at least one official bottling taking the six casks that I filled as a starting point. I will be the one leading the collab and taking care of everything from maturation, to desicions on types of casks used, as well as bottling the whisky, doing the labelling, etcetera, etcetera. Of course the Distillery Manager/Master Distiller Oskar and the Distillery Technician Christian will assist me with their expertise and offer their advise as we go along.

As you can surely imagine dear readers, it is a true honor to be a part of this collaboration. The best way I can try and describe my feelings for this project is to imagine that I would ask the people at Laphroaig (my favourite Scottish whisky/distillery) if I could do a collaboration with them and that they would say: "yes!". It’s like a dream come true. And with Agitator it’s an even bigger dream come true! Why? Well, their motto is ”What if…”; they are the only known single malt whisky distillery in the world using vacuum distillation, their production process is green/environmental friendly, they are pioneers in breaking free from norms and stiff traditions of the whisky industry in using different kinds of grains (barley, wheat, oat), having great acess to interesting casks, are willing to experiment with maturation using different and new kinds of casks, all in the hunt for the best whisky possible. This is the context for our collaboration in which I have the opportunity to do precisely what I want. With that said I consider myself a lucky chap indeed.

Since my first visit I have revisited the distillery thrice. As you might have seen on my FB-page my last visit was just three weeks ago and this time around I visited both in order to check up on the maturation process of the spirit in the six casks, and most of all to really start the cask collab and take the first big step, which this article is about. But before I take you through my fourth time visiting Agitator, what we did during my visit, and what the first step actually was, let me give you some info on what happened before my visit. 

In the end of September I received an email from Håkan Jarskog, the CEO of Nordic Whisky Capital (the company that owns Agitator). He invited me to join in on a tasting of cask samples drawn from the maturing stock at Agitator! The objective of the tasting was for an internal tasting panel (Håkan, two other members of the company, and myself) to help evaluate the samples and to provide Oskar and Christian with some thoughts on and perceptions of the maturation process, and tasting notes of some of the stock at a work-in-progress state. Wow, what an honour! The tasting was held on the 1st of October at the NWC headquarters in Stockholm. 

The line-up consisted of 12 cask samples with spirit of different recipes (non peated, peated of different ppm, malted barley, different grains), drawn from a variety of cask types and cask sizes, at different filling strengths and ages. Among these 12 cask samples were two samples that got my attention; one was drawn from a 32 litre virgin chestnut cask that had been filled with newmake made from non peated barley from the High Reflux Spirit-still (at the time of the tasting being 9 months old and at a strength of 54% ABV), the other was drawn from a 200 litre virgin chestnut cask that had been filled with newmake made from peated barley at 40ppm from the Low Reflux Spirit-still (at the time of the tasting being 5 months old and at a strength of 57,5% ABV). Together with three other cask samples, it was the two chestnut cask samples that I gave the highest scores.

In the samples drawn from the chestnut casks I found nosing and tasting profiles/flavours that was especially interesting; grassy-ness, malty-ness, some kind of wine-yness, fruity-ness, notes of medium bold to bold vanilla, sweetness, powerful influence of cask/wood/tannins (for me meaning dryness and ”bitterness”), as well as medium bold to bold peatyness (yes, even the non peated one coming out of the HR Spirit-still was somehow peaty both on the nose and the taste). The best way that I can try and describe what chestnut matured spirit tastes like is kind of like a fusion of a bourbon cask and a european oak sherry cask, with added/extra tannins.  

Some weeks after the tasting Christian gave me a call with some great news; they had recently received a shipment of a bunch of 150litre virgin chestnut casks, and since they had seen my high scoring of the chestnut cask samples he wanted to know if I would like to come visit the distillery to transfer the maturing spirit from one of my bourbon casks into one of the chestnut casks. Enthusiastically I instantly replied: ”YES!”. Furthermore, since my bourbon casks are 180 litre barrels he also suggested that we could fill the remaining spirit (estimated to be approximatly 30 litres) from the bourbon cask I chose into a 32 litre chestnut cask that currently held oloroso sherry. ”Great idea!”, said I.

So, just a couple days later, on the 31st of October I arrived by train to Arboga, and Christian picked me up at the station. After a few minutes of chatting and catching up in the car we arrived at the distillery. First we had some coffee in the control room, after which Oskar and Christian gave me a very nice Agitator-branded zipper-sweater as a gift, now that’s what I call proper attire for working! 


After some talking, some more coffee, and some nosing of two samples of new style new make, we went into the warehouse. Aaaah, the scents in the warehouse… it's like coming home! In the warehouse we began with locating my casks and started to take them down from the shelves. I then took out a sample from each cask and it was time for some evaluation. 



The first time that I got the opportunity to try maturing spirit from all of the six casks I had laid down was during my previous visit (the third one). At that point in time the spirit was 1 year and 10 days old. By the time of this fourth visit the maturing spirit had reached an age of nearly 1,5 years old (or to be precise: 1 year, 5 months, and 26 days old). 

The evaluation (nosing, tasting, comparing of casks) showed that being barely half way to whisky, the spirit already has lots of cask influence, and the samples drawn from each of the six casks already nose and taste really, really good. In short: mouth watering peated vanilla sweetness, m-mm! 



No sings of yeast or fusel, meaning nothing young-ish to be found, at all. Since I found all of the casks to be equally great I decided that cask no.111 would be an as good candidate as any of the other casks would for being transferred into the two chestnut casks. With that decided, it was time for a lunch break. After lunch we had some coffee and then went back into the warehouse. We took a stroll to the part of the warehouse where the newly received chestnut casks were located. Christian suggested that I should nose/sniff a couple of them to see which one I liked best, so I started to rip off the plastic from a couple of casks. 








The one I chose had wonderful scents of autumn evening forest, green moss, fallen leaves, a tad of charcoal, and a touch of new wood.


I then carried the cask I had chosen... 

It might look heavy but actually wasn’t


and then placed it roughly in the spot were we would be doing the transfer of the spirit. 



Meanwhile, Christian used the truck to pick up cask no.111 


and when he had adjusted the height of the forklift so that the bourbon cask was placed slightly above the chestnut cask we used a very simple pump and started to pump by hand in order to create suction to be able to transfer the spirit. Yay! Such a great and exciting feeling to take this first step!



When I did the transfer, Christian emptied the sherry that was in the 32 litre chestnut cask, and when the big chestnut cask was as full as absolutely possible


I started to transfer spirit to the small one 


It was at some point during this transfer that Christian noticed something rather critical, the 150 litre chestnut casks they had received was actually not 150 litre, but rather… 130 litre, ooops! Now the original plan was in trouble since there would all of a sudden be something like 18 litres of spirit left over; spirit that had no cask to go into, damn... what to do

Oskar came into the warehouse to see how the transfer was coming along, and we all started to discuss and brainstorm about different possibilities and solutions. Luckily, after a while Christian remembered that they actually had a 32 litre american oak cask filled with oloroso sherry laying around somewhere in the warehouse, phew! He located the cask, and Oskar emptied the sherry that was in it, after which I filled it with the remaining litres of spirit that was left in the bourbon cask. 

So, all in all this is what the first step in our cask collaboration resulted in: 
Cask no.1531, a 130 litre virgin chestnut (“quarter”) cask
Cask no.1530, a 32 litre 1st-fill oloroso chestnut cask
Cask no.1532, a 32 litre 1st-fill oloroso american oak cask (filled with roughly 18L of spirit)

cask no.1532, 1530, 1531!
When we had moved cask no.111 and placed it in the part of the warehouse where empty casks wait to be filled, Christian placed all of my (big) casks back into the shelves: cask no.112-116, cask no.901 (the ex. Islay cask that I filled during my second visit), and cask no.1531. All of them are now located in the shelf closest to the door between the warehouse and the distillery, and on shelf nr.5 and 6 (the top shelves). 


While Christian took care of the big casks I moved the two small ones to a place in the warehouse where small casks sleep. 

To sum up, having taken this first big step in our cask collaboration feels really exciting! There are lots of possibilities regarding bottling of the three casks in this first step as well as regarding casks no.112-116; will cask no.1531 be bottled and released on it’s own, or should one or both of the small casks be part of that release? Or, should cask no.1531 be mixed with a bourbon cask or two and bottled as one release? Should one or both of the small casks be a bottling of its own? Or, should the small casks be used as spice components for one or more of the bourbon casks? Also, what will the flavour profiles of cask no.1530-1532 be like when they are 3yo? I have some ideas, but what do you think?! 

Oskar, SamuelWhisky, Christian
For kind of weekly updates please make sure to follow my FB-page by clicking here, my instagram by clicking here, and my twitter-page by clicking here. Copyright © and All Rights Reserved on all tasting notes and text by SamuelWhisky and pictures and videos likewise belong to SamuelWhisky, unless stated. If you would like to use any such material that belongs to SamuelWhisky or associated with SamuelWhisky, please ask by sending me an email to samuelkarlssonorebro [at] gmail [dot] com and when permission is granted by stating the source.

torsdag 19 september 2019

Swedish whisky from High Coast Whisky – Quercus 4: Mongolica 50,8% ABV!

Dear friends, followers, and supporters alike, to my own joy (and hopefully yours) I'm finally back after a long and great summer break! Today I bring you my tasting notes and thought on an upcoming release from swedish distillery High Coast (formerly known as Box Distillery). 

This time around they are releasing the fourth and concluding chapter in the series titled Quercus (maturation in oak of different origins). For this chapter Mongolica oak sets the character (more specifically oak grown in the northeast of China, near the border to Russia). 








The whisky has been made from 100% unpeated barley. The new make was matured in 200 litre 1st-fill bourbon barrels for 3,53 years, it was then "finished" for 39 months in 225 litre casks made from mongolica oak. Before bottling, 99 litres of 7,27 years old whisky from a 1st-fill (bourbon) quarter cask was added. Before bottling the whisky was diluted to 50,8% ABV.

Here in Sweden this whisky will be available at the state monopoly tomorrow (190920). 2802 bottles are available (out of 6228). Please view the product by clicking here

Ok folks, let's see how they've managed this time!

Nose:
On the first nosing, the most apparent thing is a soft vanilla that holds a combination of something kind of wood-y and something kind of spicy/herby (almost drawing on a soft swedish oak-y-ness). Going deeper in the layers I find medium ripe to over ripe banana (the fruit, not the peel), medium dark honey, soft leather, and finally almond paste. In the deepest layer there is something slightly earthy and funky going on; a tad of ”cough medicine”, and fudge ”from the woods” intermingling with a reminiscence of light peatyness. 

Taste:
Starts off on sugar-y sweetness but is immideately interrupted by woody spicyness, tannins, dryness, and just a slight bite from the ABV/alcohol. When keeping the whisky in my mouth for a while, swirling it around for a couple of seconds or so, I percieve this whisky as elegant and well rounded, with a beautiful body filled with vanilla woody-ness and old coffee beans. When swallowing, the woody spicyness evolves more and more and a slightly fire-y side with a lot of energy comes forth, and this phase actually goes on for quite a while. When the aftertaste kicks in, it all ends with dry coffee and leather, being conquered only by the earthy funkyness from the nose.


Some relflections to sum up:
I’ve never really been a huge fan of whisky matured in new oak, especially not swedish oak. With that said, I was a bit worried about this new mongolica oak thing. However, I definitely prefer mongolica oak to swedish oak, and the mongolica seems to have given this whisky the perfect amount of woody and spicy/herby-ness! The question of ”perfect amount” is of course also a question of not letting the whisky mature for too long, so my compliments to the master blender for making the right call! I especially enjoyed the vanilla woody-ness on the taste, and the earthy funky stuff going on in the nose was really interesting and bit different for being High Coast. 

Finally, a big thanks to Dave at High Coast Whisky for the great opportunity to review this whisky before its release! For kind of weekly updates please make sure to follow my FB-page by clicking here, my instagram by clicking here, and my twitter-page by clicking here. Copyright © and All Rights Reserved on all tasting notes and text by SamuelWhisky and pictures and videos likewise belong to SamuelWhisky, unless stated. If you would like to use any such material that belongs to SamuelWhisky or associated with SamuelWhisky, please ask by sending me an email to samuelkarlssonorebro [at] gmail [dot] com and when permission granted by stating the source.

Pic borrowed from High Coast Whisky

onsdag 22 maj 2019

Springbank 21yo 2019 edition – 46% ABV!

Dear friends, followers, and supporters alike! About a week ago, Peter at Symposion contacted me with the opportunity to review some drams. From the selection available I choose the 2019 edition of Springbank 21 year old. The sample arrived just a few days ago and it felt very exciting since I've never tasted, or reviewed, such an old Springbank!














The recipe/cask composition for this whisky is 45% matured in Port-casks and 55% matured in Rum-casks. (In the sell-sheet I received there is no info to be found regarding type of oak used, nor type of Rum). The whisky has been fully matured in these casks. Before bottling the whisky has been watered/diluted to 46% ABV. This batch consists in total of 3600 bottles, out of which 84 bottles will be released at the swedish state monopoly tomorrow (Thursday the 23rd of May), through a so called web launch. Please click here to view the product. Ok folks, let's analyze!  
  
Nose:
Extremely fat, big, robust and complex! Actually, complex might be an understatement in this case; because this whisky sure has everything on the nose; at the same time as there is a dark and deep sugary sweetness, there is also beautiful fruity notes in the top layer. In the bottom layer we have earth/soil, medium farmhouse/barn-style peat that is bold yet soft, medium heavy fortified wine, cold coffee with milk, hints of mint, and the syrup from maraschino cherries. All of this is surrounded by/coated with a well balanced strength that tickles my nose. On top of that, in the middle layer, we have light vanilla drizzled with melted butter. Moving on into the top layer there is apricot candy, rhubarb cream, and cucumber water (!) intermingling with swedish Punsch (a slight touch of Arrack) matured in european oak. 


Taste:
Starts of very, very soft on sweetness, maltyness (barley), coffee/cream liqueur and melted butter-y-ness. But this softness is quickly interupted by a surprising sting and dryness! The tannins settles and in swoops an elegant wave of herby saltyness, dark vanilla fudge, milk chocolate, seaweed sprinkled with leather from old shoes, and something something that is roasted. Then comes something that reminds me of oloroso sherry with evident hints of freshly squeezed lemon juice. This in turn evolves into swedish Punsch and/or long matured Arrack and rhum-raisin vanilla ice cream which shortly thereafter moves on into dark raisins. The maltyness returns togheter with a whiff of elder flower and a chewy flavour of great quality. 

Some reflections to sum up:
Wow! As already mentioned, the nose is very complex. It is also very ”wow!”. The taste is also very good and boasts of deep matured-ness but somehow not quite as complex as the nose. Hence, I would say the the nose is ”better” and more interesting than the taste. I really wish that the taste/aftertaste had lasted a bit longer, say 10 seconds or so, but hey, you can’t always get what you want. With that said, in my mind there is however no doubt that this whisky is worth what they charge for it here in Sweden!

Finally, a big thanks to Peter at Symposion for the great opportunity to review this whisky before its release! For kind of weekly updates please make sure to follow my FB-page by clicking here, my instagram by clicking here, and my twitter-page by clicking here. Copyright © and All Rights Reserved on all tasting notes and text by SamuelWhisky and pictures and videos likewise belong to SamuelWhisky, unless stated. If you would like to use any such material that belongs to SamuelWhisky or associated with SamuelWhisky, please ask by sending me an email to samuelkarlssonorebro [at] gmail [dot] com and by stating the source.

Pic borrowed from Springbank

tisdag 7 maj 2019

Swedish whisky from Smögen Distillery – 8yo 57,8% ABV!

Dear friends, followers, and supporters alike! Today I bring to you my review of the very first 8 year old whisky from the Swedish distillery Smögen! When working the Gothenburg whiskyfestival in april (for Edrington Sweden), Pär Caldenby, the Distillery Manager/Master Distiller of Smögen Distillery, came by the stand/booth and told me that if I wanted to review this whisky I just had to pop by his stand and sample it, yay! A fantastic offer indeed! 










This whisky is a vatting of four (european; french) 1st-fill Sauternes barriques (225 litre each). The casks were filled in March 2011 with heavily peated new make, and bottled at a natural cask strength of 57,8% in April 2019. The casks gave 1628 bottles in total. 1272 of these bottles will be released at the swedish state monopoly this thursday (190509) through a so called web-launch. Please view the product by clicking here. (Please note that Systembolaget has messed up the ABV; it is not 60% but 57,8%). Ok folks, this is so exciting, let's do some analyzing! 


Nose:
The overall style on the nose is medium dark with a really nice depth and great balance between saltyness, peatyness and sweetness. I sense three layers. The bottom layer shows a medium heavy foundation where the sauternes plays the lead role in the form of ”the ususal suspects”; dried figs and dark raisins, but also overripe pear and interestingly enough (a whiff of) overripe banana and/or banana peel gone brown. These scents can generally be described as ”sweetness”. In the middle layer the saltyness and the peatyness intermingles with a close to seamless integration. The peatyness however holds the upper hand and has a very intriguing touch of vanilla drawing on milk chocolate infused fudge. The top layer is more basic than the other two, simply showcasing something citric. Here the ”alcohol”/ABV gives the perfect punch with just a slight touch of sourdough bread (”yeast”?). 


Taste
”As usual” with whisky from Smögen Distillery it all starts of on saltyness. From there on however things are a little bit different than ususal; we move on into soft sweet liquorice and from there instantly on into something very milk chocolate-y, something very smooth and creamy, and medium dark vanilla-esque. The smoothness, creamyness and the vanilla goes on and on for a very long time (a token of great depth and maturity). When it does let go it transforms or evolves into a malty/chewy taste and it is actually not until this point in the flavourjourney that peatyness, farmhouse/barn and leather comes through. This last part of the taste is very chewy and tasty indeed. Mmm! The aftertaste is dry at first but when all the flavours come together with the creamyness, it makes water/saliva run in my mouth which creates a great sensation manifested in the desire to have another sip, and another after that… 


Some reflections to sum up:
This whisky definitely has great depth both on the nose and on the taste! Things are a bit more deep than in previous releases which shows that the whisky coming from Smögen Distillery is starting to come of proper age. Also the general balance is great both on the nose and on the taste. The high alcohol/ABV is noticeable only on the nose (on the taste it didn’t even cross my mind). Well, a big congrats to Pär on the first 8yo, a job well done! 

Finally, big thanks to Pär for the great opportunity to review this whisky before its release! For kind of weekly updates please make sure to follow my FB-page by clicking here, my instagram by clicking here, and my twitter-page by clicking here. Copyright © and All Rights Reserved on all tasting notes and text by SamuelWhisky and pictures and videos likewise belong to SamuelWhisky, unless stated. If you would like to use any such material that belongs to SamuelWhisky or associated with SamuelWhisky, please ask by sending me an email to samuelkarlssonorebro [at] gmail [dot] com and by stating the source

Pic belongs to/borrowed from Smögen Distillery

onsdag 10 april 2019

Selected Malts – Benriach 8yo 52,2% ABV!

Dear friends, followers, and supporters alike! A few days ago, I received a package from my good friends Patrik and Mikael of "Selected Malts". The package turned out to contain their upcoming release, and although Selected Malts is a relatively new independent bottler (they released there first bottling roughly a year ago) this is actually their 10:th release so far! So congrats on a first year well done guys!











This time around they are releasing an 8 year old whisky from Benriach distillery. The distillation date was 20100530 and date of bottling was 20181219. The whisky was first matured in a single bourbon hogshead (2nd-fill bourbon) and was then transferred into two 128 litre 2nd-fill oloroso quarter casks for a finishing period of 7 months. The whisky was bottled at cask strength of 52,2% ABV, no filtration and likewise no coloring has been done! The two casks gave 500 bottles in total and out of these 464 bottles will be released at the swedish state monopoly this monday (15:th of April) through the "order-assortment". You can view the whisky by clicking here. Ok folks, it's time to analyze!

Pic belongs to Selected Malts
Nose:
Although the sherry finish has not really made a mark on the color of this whisky, it has done so on the top layer of the nose; light/yellow raisins, the peel and dryness of red/purple grapes, and finally the inside of dried (but moist) figs. Below this layer I do however mostly find scents that I associate with bourbon cask; (the famous) ”excotic fruits” such as yellow kiwi, overripe banana and lemon peel. But, far more evident is loads and loads of creamy vanilla, melted butter, cookies, and pastry. In the very bottom layer we have more robust notes such as marzipan, mint, a hint of peaty-ness and in the distant butter drizzled ginger. Complex stuff folks!

Taste
Well that was an interesting turn/surprise! It begins on light peat, saltiness, vanilla fugde and sweet liquorice! Slightly burnt custard sauce takes over which moves on into lightly roasted and sugared almonds. After that we have a beautiful wave of melted butter coming in, only to be interrupted by a dryness somehow reminding me of the leaves on a black currant bush. I can’t really seem to put my finger on the sherry influence, but something makes me think of perfume-y-ness, red and orange wine-gum sweets, and milk chocolate pralines filled with cherry-liquer. In the aftertaste, the vanilla, butter, and the light peat moves off and on into one another, and the whisky fades away on a slight dryness and a sugar-y sweetness. 


Some reflections to sum up:
This was a very, very interesting dram to taste! The taste really differs from the nose and I did not at all expect the peat and saltiness to be in focus in the early phase of the taste. Also, I thought that the taste would have more of the ”excotic fruits” from the nose coming through. The strength is perfect just the way it is. Being a (kind of) single cask (before the finish) of this quality, the price level is amazing. And hey, the complex nose is alone worth the price of a bottle, so sláinte!

Big thanks to Patrik and Mikael for the great opportunity to review this whisky before its release! For kind of weekly updates please make sure to follow my FB-page by clicking here, my instagram by clicking here, and my twitter-page by clicking here. Copyright © and All Rights Reserved on all tasting notes and text by SamuelWhisky and pictures and videos likewise belong to SamuelWhisky, unless stated. If you would like to use any such material that belongs to SamuelWhisky or associated with SamuelWhisky, please ask by sending me an email to samuelkarlssonorebro [at] gmail [dot] com and by stating the source.

Pic belongs to Selected Malts