Port Finish

Review: The Arran Port Cask Finish Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
50%
Aging
~8 Years, Finished in a port cask
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Arran (Lochranza, Scotland)

An Arran, initially matured in “traditional whisky casks” before finishing. I assume that is just refill cask, but it could be just about any of your standard casks. As with a lot of the lower end Arrans, it’s priced pretty reasonably for what it is.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2020

The base notes of arran are so nice – malty, light spicy, with some nice white pepper, apple, and fresh peach. It is just as you might expect – the port layers on fruit and spice in a very pleasant fashion. The layer of richness is very nice. On the palate, lightly oaky, sweet, with orchard fruits and a nice spicy, malty finish. The finish is fruity with a touch of spice. Dried fruits seem to carry the finish forward for a little while.

Very nice!

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average against the whisky market in general. High for Scotch.


Review: Ironroot Icarus Straight Corn Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Ironroot Icarus.jpg
ABV
53.75%
Aging
24 months; Virgin Charred Oak Finished in Peat and Port Casks
Recipe
>80% Corn
Distiller Ironroot Republic (Deniston, Texas)

This is one of the most interesting whiskies I've ever come across. A straight corn whisky (rare), finished in peat casks (rare, if not the only American to do so yet), and port casks. The only thing mildly in the category is High West's campfire, but even that is quite a bit different.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 14K20-A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

One of the most unique noses I have encountered. Sharp, smoky wood, sweet fruits, sharp mineral notes, crushed glass, caramel, and corn. Very complex, and very interesting. The palate is full of that sweet, smoky character with lots of vegetal character, including milkweed and dandelion stems (very interesting!). The complex underlying corn distillate character is present, too – as seen in their Hubris bottling. The finish has rancio, smoke, oak, and corn. The closest thing to this is High West’s campfire, but they are very different in  terms of casks and distillate, so it is a weak comparison – but there are just not many spirits in this category. Quite nice at the release strength – and the complexity and intrigue is brilliant. However, it is slightly out of balance – the rich fruitiness of the port combined with a light sourness means I enjoy one dram, but probably won’t reach for a second.

Regardless, I view this as a very interesting whisky for pushing the limits, and, again, very complex and interesting.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: N/A (I was given a sample by a friend and I’m unaware of pricing)

 


Review: Talisker Port Rhuige Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45.8%
Aging
Finished in Port Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Talisker (Carbost, Scotland)

I quite like port matured or port finished whiskies, and it isn't as common to see port finished peaty whisky. This was released alongside Talisker Storm and Dark Storm as a set of three NAS Taliskers in 2013, and was the most expensive of the bunch...but my favorite.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L4184CM000 0357286

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Vanilla, rancio, almond, cacao - the port fits in well, but doesn’t overtake everything else. On the palate – things are wonderfully balanced. The fruitiness of the port offsets the smoke and spice, and the rancio plays wonderfully with the wood and the smoke as well. On the end, dried leaves, light creaminess, a touch of malt, dried apple…I imaged this would be one of my least-favorite Taliskers but I was very wrong. Also nearly the unanimous favorite Talisker of the lineup of all 5 core expressions when I did a tasting of them with some friends in January of 2016.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, nearly high, at $110. If Scotch was the only whisky category, this might be higher against the market.


Review: Kavalan Concertmaster Single Malt Taiwanese Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
American Oak and then finished in Port Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Kavalan (Yuanshan, Taiwan)

This whisky is finished in port casks - three kinds in fact (ruby, tawny, and vintage) after a maturation in American oak.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N.A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

Very sweet on the nose – stewed plums and stewed peaches – but with a very intriguing earthy edge to it as well and quite significant black licorice. The barley comes through as well – earthy – but the wine is definitely there as well, and to me they don’t quite fit together perfectly – they aren’t integrated but rather quite separate without a good bridge. On the palate –a bit underpowered, with a lot of that licorice coming through and red wine tannins. It reminds me of a dried fruit chutney that I made once – with dried papaya, pineapples, mangos, and raisins cooked with sherry and star anise. Actually, that sums up the palate quite nicely. It finishes with a continued good grip of tannin and licorice, with a bit of clove, nutmeg, and a touch of rancio. Not really my style at all, particularly with the licorice dominating as it does.

Value: Low. This whisky isn’t up my alley, so I wouldn’t be interested in paying $130 for it. Others might though, depending on preference, but this is too discordant in the wrong areas for me.


Review: Amrut Portonova Indian Single Malt Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Amrut Portonova.jpg
ABV
62.1%
Aging
American Oak and Port Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Amrut (Bangalore, India)

This whisky, in some batches at least, receives some of the highest scores that I see in whisky. The whisky is unpeated, aged in american oak barrels (new and ex-bourbon) before being finished in port casks for a few months and then dumped back into ex-bourbon casks to marry before bottling. It isn't aged long, like most Amrut whiskies, only about 3 years before finishing.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 5

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Amrut is wonderful at cask strength. Grape, corn husks, fruity malt, raisins, prunes, and loads of maraschino cherries, and oak…quite a brilliant nose. A bit of toffee with time. Very concentrated at cask strength – the aromas – time softens them nicely. The grain is a bit earthy – I quite like it when that side of the barley is highlighted, and it is wonderful here. The palate is full of stewed fruit, with quite a bit of barley showing too, especially just before the finish before it is concentrated. The end shows quite a bit of dried fruit to it as well – full of flavour. And lots of toffee. Nutmeg and cinnamon on the finish too. High quality stuff, though not as captivating as the peated CS version I had earlier. Not too many port monsters that you see nowadays…this is quite beautiful, restrained, yet full of flavour. Some batches, I’ve heard, are quite unbelievable.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low. A good whisky, it came to me by $150. Perhaps a better batch, or if I liked it as much as some of my friends, might push it into the “average” category.