Review: Bain's Cape Mountain Single Grain South African Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Bains.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
4-6 Years; First fill bourbon casks (twice)
Recipe
100% South African Yellow Maize
Distillers James Sedgewick Distillery (Wellington, South Africa)

This whisky - a single grain whisky made from South African maize, is quite one of a kind - about as creamy a whisky as you can get, due to the nature of using both 100% corn and maturation in first fill bourbon casks (twice! matured for 3 years in first fill bourbon casks, then dumped into another set of first fill bourbon casks for another 18-30 months).


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2016

Interesting to try some of this, especially as I taste a lot of corn whisky in Canada – fruity, creamy, and what you would expect from a corn whisky matured in reused casks. Very creamy. Terrific tropical fruit and spice notes to the nose. Coconut, dried papaya, dried mango, dried raisins, banana, honey, geranium – rich and yet soft. The palate leads with coconut, vanilla, dried fruit, corn husks, pineaplle, and remarkable creaminess. The finish is full of dried tropical fruit, pear, and light tannins. Terrific spice notes too – worth a try for every whisky enthusiast, in my opinion.

Score: 84/100

Value: 73/100 (based on $48)

 


Review: Mackmyra Svensk Ek Swedish Single Malt Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46.1%
Aging
Swedish Oak and Bourbon Barrels
Recipe
100% Swedish Malted Barley
Distiller Mackmyra (Gävle, Sweden)

This whisky was partially matured (about 10%) in Swedish oak barrels sourced from southern Sweden, which were dried for at least a year and heavily toasted. Mackmyra, the prominent Swedish distillery founded in 1999, matures quite a large portion of their whisky in Swedish oak. They have a number of different maturation warehouses - one on the coast blasted into rock, one on an island, and one in a forest.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2015

Very fruity and light in character, with a brilliant presentation of barley. Banana, raspberries, raspberry leaves, light earthiness, apple, celery seed, dried ginger, peach, and light clove and green cardamom. The palate continues with the fruit notes, but the focus shifts to the barley here as there are brilliant cereal and porridge notes, alongside a touch of arugula at the end. Peach remains as well, reminding me somewhat of peaches and cream oatmeal. And some notable roasted black pepper. I’ve had some other Mackmyras which felt like they were not quite mature enough – but this does not fit in that category. Light tannins on the finish, with a bit of woody spice, and peach.

Score: 86/100

Value: 72/100 (based on $60)


Review: Bruichladdich The Organic 2009 Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Bruichladdich Organic.jpg
ABV
50%
Aging
Ex-bourbon and Ex-tennessse barrels
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Bruichladdich (Bruichladdich, Scotland)

This was made from organic barley farmed at mid coull cross farms in daltross, from a 2008 harvest (crop rotation means this farm only produces it every 7 years!). It was matured for 8 years before its release.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: 2009
  • Bottling Code: : L/161658 17/333 2017 1115 15:55

  • Bottling Date: 2017

    Very creamy – with some nice corn notes....seems there is some first-fill bourbon in this one. Very raw, oddly, it is sharper and feels more raw than the 2009 islay barley release which is 2 years younger. Fresh, sharp pear and banana, green grass...doesn’t have the same raw earthiness and farmy nature of the Islay Barely 2009 (I am tasting them side by side) but still has a very nice nutty grain nature to it. The palate is big, still with quite the influence of bourbon, slightly salty, earhty, and nutty, and some dried fruit – the finish is very earthy, with light vanilla, oak, custard, and pear coming in at the end. Very nice! I like it with just a touch of water, to dilute down to 46-48%.

    I quite like it, although I do tend to like the less bourbon-cask driven Laddie’s – a bit less sweet, more earthy, and less dessert-like. I love the whisky, but do prefer Bruichladdich’s Islay Barley style more (if you don’t know what I mean, think of first-fill bourbon scotch whiskies like Balvenie single cask – speaking of which, if you like that, you’ll probably like this...). There is a slight bit of dissapointment that they aren’t done quite the same way so I can compare the barley more one-to-one, but I guess I’d need new make to do that...

    Score: 87/100

    Value: 71/100 (based on $110)


Review: Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2009 Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Bruichladdich Islay Barley.jpg
ABV
50%
Aging
6 yrs; American Oak
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Bruichladdich (Bruichladdich, Scotland)

This is a 6 year old product from the Craggan, Cruach, Island, and Mulindry farms on Islay - matured for 6 years and now released. The barley was publican and oxbridge, not the best yielding, but used for flavor.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: 2009
  • Bottling Code: L/160404 16/176 23 08 16 12:02

  • Bottling Date: 2016

    Earthy, farmy, and clean – nicely grain driven as are the best bruichladdich whiskies. Sharp marine and salt notes on the nose, lemon peel, vanilla, root beer...the palate continues in the same way, farmy, earthy, sharp, and salty with dried pineapple and clove. Magnificent stuff – complex, interesting, rich, full. Quite unique in the whisky world, in my view – this profile – earthy, barley driven, with fruity and an incredible marine essence to it. Finish is very biscuity, roasted malt type finish.

    Score: 88/100

    Value: 48/100 (based on $80)


Review: Tomatin 12 Year Old Highlands Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
12 Years; Ex-bourbon and Ex-sherry casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Tomatin (Inverness, Scotland)

Tomatin is one of the few distilleries in Scotland to operate their own cooperage, though it doesn't supply all their cask needs. Another thing Tomatin does which few other distilleries do - they are fairly transparent about casks used in production. This twelve year old has been finished in sherry casks.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Spicy sherry on the nose, but I am getting a very bit of Sulphur too. Black pepper, apple, plum – rich. Melted cheddar cheese, overripe pear, vanilla, almond. The palate has vanilla, spices, some Sulphur, and a sweet, medium bodied malt with a touch of smoke on the end. Burnt match. The finish has dark fruit, some clove, and a light touch of woody smoke. I find it is quite complex, and balanced, but not that deep. The Sulphur is light, but when it rears its head in flashes it is not appealing to me.

Score: 81/100

Value: 51/100


Review: Highland Park Cask Strength 2006 Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Gordon & Macphail) by Jason Hambrey

ABV
58.0%
Aging
8.5 yrs Years; Sherrry Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Highland Park (Kirkwall, Scotland)

Independent bottles buy distillate from distilleries, and then cask and age them on their own, releasing often different lenses into whisky at various distilleries. This is exactly that - an exclusively bourbon matured highland park - a distillery known for the use of sherry casks. And, also, bottled at cask strength - something so many love as you have more control over how you drink it. It really is fun, especially if you are a fan of a distillery, as I am of Highland Park.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Distilled 22/06/2006, bottled 19/02/2015
  • Bottling Code: 19/02/15 AE/JAJE
  • Bottling Date: 2015

The nose is quite creamy – lots of butterscotch, toffee, blueberry, heather (the brush, not the flower), light smoke, wood charcoal, potpourri, dried peach, and even a bit of dried mango. The palate continues on, quite buttery – with light fruit and slowly growing with smoke, loads of honey and dried peach, heather flowers, and light spices and oak. Quite nice with water, and also opens up nicely with time to be more floral. This is nice – very much highland park, yet so different without the sherry. I still would love to see what an old version of this would be like – Highland Park ages so beautifully. It is nice to have a cask strength Highland Park – the heather and smoke is concentrated nicely, and it is a completely different animal in bourbon casks. I could easily drink a lot of this. The finish plays nicely together with peach, oak, bourbon notes, dried apricot, smoke, honey, and heather.

Score: 88/100

Value:  31/100 (based on $130)


Review: Oban Little Bay Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Oban Little Bay 1.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
Sherry, refill, new oak, and "small" oak casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Oban (Oban,Scotland)

I like Oban. Whenever someone asks for a classic, easy Scotch, I often think Oban. This is a non-age-statement (NAS) offering from the distillery which has historically just released its classic 14 year old and a finished distiller’s edition. As with the other Diageo-owned distilleries, a NAS offering has been put forward from Oban (like with Talisker with the Storm or Caol Ila with the Moch).

The whisky is matured in european oak sherry, refill casks, and new oak casks before being married in small oak casks.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L7282CM011 00012784
  • Bottling Date: 2017

A clean, fruity nose - light tropical fruits (pineapple, breadfruit, banana, and guava), mixed orange and lemon peel, baked apples, vanilla, creme brulee, white pepper, dried ginger, and pear. It has a growing nose of dried fruit and spice (that’s the sherry cask) with even more orange. Light earthiness integrated as well...quite nice. The palate has toffee, pear, light malt, lightly toasted bread, marmelade, with a slight earthiness and smoke towards the finish. It comes together very nicely. Slightly earthy on the finish with pear, good maltiness, clove, and toffee. Ever so lightly bitter. Kudos for staying above 40%.

Score: 86/100

Value: 53/100 (based on $100)


Review: Radoune Gin (O'Dwyer Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Radoune Gin 1.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Distiller ODwyer (Gaspe, Quebec)

I encountered this at the SAQ in Quebec when a store manager gave me a sip. I was drawn right in! Made out of wild mushrooms in the beautiful area of Gaspe. Made with 4 different organic mushrooms in the gaspesie forest, along with other botanicals. The gin itself is named after a region - Radoune, which is an area between the two mountains where the mushrooms for the gin flourish. I must say I do like the diversity of gin...

Odwyer has whisky on the way, too...


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2017

A really interesting nose, especially with a bit of water added. Cilantro, pepper, a rich earthiness, and loads of umami notes. Citrus, also, in the middle – well worthwhile. The cilantro notes are fascinating – very much like cooked, as opposed to fresh, cilantro. Dried mushrooms on the nose, too. The nose really opens up with water. The palate is lightly sweet, with cilantro and mint sauce playing in amidst the earthiness and light citrus. It really is quite terrific...there is a light, earthy spicy backbone to this too. The finish is full of coriander, but we have the cooked cilantro, wet earth, and a great umami richness on the finish too. Big and long lasting on the finish, and there is a bit of rising heat leading up to the finish – fantastic.

One of the most unique gins I’ve tasted, and I really like it. It is a bit different than many gins I’ve tasted, and I wonder if it won’t be up everyone’s alley...but everyone should try it, if you can find it...

Score: 5/5


Review: Dillon's Dry Gin 7 by Jason Hambrey

Dillon's Gin 7.jpg
ABV
44.8%
Aging
None
Recipe
Made from 7 botanicals
Distiller Dillon's (Bloomfield, ON)

This is Dillon's basic gin - made with 7 botanicals made with a rye base, bottled at a high ABV for a gin. They also make a 22 botanical, unfiltered gin. Dillon's has become known because of their high grade cocktail products, and this does not disappoint...


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 18
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2017

A rye gin! This is very nice...juniper is at the center, with coriander, cumin, cedar, orange peel, licorice root, lavender, and a slight sweetness at the end. The feel is nice, development is nice, and the finish carries the spices centrally. Gorgeous gin, terrific mixer, clean, simple, complex – the underlying earthy tones give it a great base. The rye base underneath comes through with great fruitiness and spice, even a bit of creaminess. Great from nose to finish – very nicely balanced.

Score: 5/5


Review: Granny's Gin (Last Mountain) by Jason Hambrey

 Image courtesy of Last Mountain distillery.

Image courtesy of Last Mountain distillery.

ABV
40%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Distiller Last Mountain (Lumsden, Saskatchewan)

I quite like Last Mountain's products - their whiskies and their other products (like their dill pickle vodka) are made very well. As I do like my gin, I thought I'd see how it stacked up - it is a juniper heavy gin with 4 other botanicals including cardamom and pepper, made to be in a classic dry style. It is made in honor of Colin Schmidt's grandmother, who likes gin "not too florally". She likes her gin and sodas (I do too! 3 soda:1 gin with a citrus twist is my preference).


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2018

I am actually quite a fan of juniper focused gin, as we are here – but also with some nice coriander and dried citrus peel. It is a really nice, rich nose. The palate starts with juniper, and ends with citrus – dried orange and grapefuit peel.  There is a terrific lemon edge to the whole thing, and the finish is light and has a nice spicy edge to it, alongside citrus and pine. The base to the gin is light, and not too heavy – which I like. Fairly light finish, but slightly drying and very pleasing.

It’s more in the style of a traditional dry gin, but I tend to quite like those styles.

Score: 4/5