Single Malt Whisky

Review: Inverleven Lowland 1990 Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Gordon & MacPhail) by Jason Hambrey

Inverleven 1990.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
15 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Inverleven (Dumbarton, Scotland)

This distillery was once known as Dumbarton and was a massive distillery complex which fed the Ballantines blends. It still distills grain whisky for ballantines, but, at one time, it had a pot still and a lomond still which produced single malt. However, the distillery stopped making malt whisky in 1991, so this is right near the end of that production.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2005

The nose has dry malt, apple, vanilla, and a bright earthiness (like a hardwood forest in the summer). The palate is dry, light, sweet, and soft – with lots of pepper and fruit. The finish has lots of earthy barley, with some British bitter style hops (like east kent goldings) and dried fruit take the finish. The oak really builds towards the finish.

Quite good, but nothing spectacular.

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

Value: N/A


Review: Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask Single Malt Taiwanese Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Kavalan Solist Bourbon 2.jpg
ABV
56.3%
Aging
First Fill Bourbon Barrels
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Kavalan (Yuanshan, Taiwan)

This whisky, similar to the Fino cask I just reviewed, is Kavalan matured in an ex-bourbon barrel, bottled straight from the barrel.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: Cask R061113041

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2012

The nose, indeed, has rich bourbon aromas - and is immediately complex, one of those noses that you know you can find much in if you take time to look. Brilliant oily corn, bourbon nuttiness, sour raisin, buttery vanilla pudding, earthy oak, nutmeg, dried mango….

 The palate has coconut, pear, peach crumble, corn, dried apricot, dried mango, banana cream pie, icing sugar dusted pastries (though this is not overly sweet) – and it’s not even very hot at 56.3%, and brilliantly syrupy.

Big and sweet finish. Some spice – and deep caramel toffee. Drying in the way that makes your mouth water a bit, which always makes you want to keep sipping.

Once again, not that great watered down, like the Fino cask - but I like it quite a bit more.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low, at $225.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: B141217065A (173 bottles) 58.6%

  • Bottling Code:  2019.07.03 13:45 CA

  • Bottling Date: 2019

So, this whisky is just over 4.5 years old. It yielded only 173 bottles, so that’s an evaporation rate of about 10.4% per year! My last sherry cask from Kavalan sat at about 5% per year – but it is a bigger cask (which means less evaporation) and may have been in a part of the warehouse with different maturation conditions.

The nose here is creamy, filled with apricot, peach, custard, spice, vanilla, corn husks, sharp and rich baking spice, and dried durum pasta. The palate is sharp, rich, sweet – with a light grainy character, more dried pasta, dried stone fruit, fresh apricots, and woody spices. The custard is just so nice at cask strength – creamy and big, backed by woody spice and alcohol heat. The finish has a custard character, stone fruit, apple cider, and a bit of tobacco – too. Some nice woody notes on the end – sandalwood, I think.

Really an enjoyable dram, but not a transcendent cask or quite as good as the above. Still…very good.

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

Value: Low, based on $180.


Review: Bruichladdich Bere Barley Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Bruichladdich Bere 1.jpg
ABV
50%
Aging
9 years; Ex-bourbon
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Bruichladdich (Bruichladdich, Scotland)

This is made from Bere Barley - a strain of barley which has significantly less yield compared to most commercial varieties. Because yields are low, you get more barley flavor in a distillate. I always like it when distilleries experiment with grains like this, both from an agricultural and a consumer perspective. And, it seems, they are yielding good results.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: Barley grown on Dunlossit Estate on Islay, Vintage 2008 from grain grown in 2007

  • Bottling Code: L/161885 17/334 2018 0123 15:48

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Very vibrant on the nose. Pear, orange peel, clove, nutmeg (quite spicy), vanilla pudding, milk chocolate, and stewed apples. Nice graininess, and a bit piney. It really opens with water, or time. The palate has chocolate, clean oak, a light smoky/earthy character, and fantastic mouthfeel. It feels quite distillate driven. Finish has dried fruit, spices, vanilla, oak, and some more citrus.
It really opens up nicely with time – it becomes incredibly grainy and creamy, and it just comes together really well. If you have this, set it aside for 20-30 mins and then come back to it. It’s almost a completely different whisky….


I’m quite partial to the Islay Barley bottle from 2009 that I reviewed a few years ago. How does this compare? That one is much more earthy and bright, but not as grainy. This one is softer. I like the style of Islay Barley more, but this one has a bit more depth and develops more but doesn’t quite have the depth on the nose. I do like the centrality of grain here.


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

Value: Average against the market for $110, in terms of what I’d expect/hope.


Review: anCnoc 125th Anniversary 16 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

AnCnoc 16 Year 2.jpg
ABV
56.3%
Aging
Ex-bourbon barrels; 16 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Knockdu (Knock, Scotland)

I don’t drink too many anCnocs (we don’t see too many in Canada) but I couldn’t pass this one up after numerous recommendations. This was a special edition released for Knockdu’s 125th anniversary.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

A rich, malty nose here – a lot of depth. Hay, green apples, toffee, white pepper, over-ripe pear, coconut, pot barley, stewed orchard fruits, vanilla, balsamic vinegar, and light sweet oak. The nose is so vibrant and layered. How about the body? Very well balanced, with a nice rich body. The palate has a great mouthfeel, with a very nice dose of honey, almond, and dried apricots. The finish has some brown sugar, malt, green apples, hay, and a touch of tobacco. The maltiness just stays and grows.

Based on the above tasting notes, I’d probably not be inclined to think that I’d like this as much as I do. It’s very well put together.

Oddly enough, this is one that I like either at cask strength, or diluted all the way down to around 40% (or even a touch lower). The mid-ranges (~45-50%) which is my typical sweet spot for medium-bodied Scotches doesn’t quite seem to do it for me.

Very very nice.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average bang for your buck, at $150.


Review: Archives No. 00044 Tamdhu Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Archives Tamdhu.jpg
ABV
57.8%
Aging
11 Years; Ex-Koval cask
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Tamdhu (Knockando, Scotland)

Apparently, ex-Koval casks (a micro distillery in Chicago which makes, among other things, a rather interesting millet whisky). It is bottled by Archives, a very interesting bottling company which has sprung out of an online whisky community called Whisky Base (one of the largest in the world).


Review (2019)

  • Batch: No. 00044

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

The nose has lots of dried fruit – dried apricot, white pepper, and a nice farmy barley character – it is sweet throughout. The dry spiciness works quite well with the body of the nose. The palate is sweet and dry – very full of a bourbon-like character. Again, lots of nice dried fruit and we have a growing emergence of white-wine type flavours. The finish is big, fruity, and slightly sour – with some tea, notably. The youth comes off pretty easily – I think it would do a bit better without the youth, but it does show off an impressive distillate.

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

Value: N/A