Hot Young Thing: Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2006 (Dunlossit)

I concur with the sentiment that Jim McEwan is the Willy Wonka of Scotch. Whenever I venture off the standard bottlings, I find that Bruichladdich is always walking the line between innovative and gimmicky, and this one is no exception. This one is more gimmicky than innovative, though.

Nose: This is where it wins. Creamy, banana, and at times, almost a pina colada. Sweet, vanilla and custard, cinnamon and nutmeg. A real dessert dram. The nose is surprisingly clear and not at all prickly for something so young in the 50% ABV range. It has a scent that I can only say reminds me of “London”. Not in a bad way, either.

Palate: It’s a bit hot, but much less so with a good helping of water. It swims well. The hot nature of it is something you’d expect from a whisky about 6 years old, so it doesn’t surprise me. Barley, sweet vanilla, medium-oily with the cinnamon. Some lemon curd on toast.  Oak notes, too.

Finish: Initially, some raw alcohol, but then it returns to the vanilla, lemon custard, and barley.

Grade: B-

This one is rather straightforward. Tasty, but straightforward. The nose promises a lot more flavour and smoothness than the palate delivers. This one can surely deal with a lot of water, though, and that really tames the hot palate. Serving suggestion for this one: a tablespoon of water. It goes a long way.

Hot-Tempered from Bangalore: Amrut Fusion

Ever since Curt at All Things Whisky raved about the Amrut Fusion (giving it a whopping 91.5/100) and all Amrut in general, I’ve been meaning to pick up a bottle. Instead of being skeptical about non-scotch whisky, I was eager to try it, and at $69.10, you couldn’t really beat the price for something at 50% ABV.

Months went by and I hadn’t done anything about it until a few weeks ago when a spot opened up in the cabinet. The first dram was heaven, the second was mediocre, and we’ve had a seesaw relationship since, but I think things are finally starting to come around…

Nose: A masala of spices, mixed with honey and chocolate sweetness right off the bat. Think cinnamon and cardamom. Also a cereal quality to it. Spend some time with it and then you get apricots, orange and mixed nutes.

Palate: Oaky with plenty of honeyed oats on the palate. Salty apricot and coriander. Smoke as well.

Finish: Medium, salty, oak and oats.

Grade: B

I don’t know if it’s just me, but here’s another tempermental whisky. It doesn’t swim at all, probably due to it’s youth. A drop or two of water at best. It’s better to let it sit, though, 30 minutes easy. You’re much better rewarded to have the alcohol evaporate than to water down both it and the flavour of the whisky. It gets hot and dull with too much water. This one is at the lower end of my B, just a few darts away from the B-. If the notes were all more pronounced and clean, it’d be a solid B. Maybe future batches will be. In any case, definitely worth a try, but if you’re not used to high ABV whisky, this one may not be for you, as the usual watering-down technique will only worsen the experience.

Review Stub: The Arran Malt, Amarone Cask Finish

A friend’s recent birthday get together just happened to be at a bar with a decent Scotch collection, stocking many whiskies that I would be unlikely to buy a bottle of because of the price and/or review consensus. This is review 2 of 2 for that series.

Nose: Rich and thick with all sorts of berries. More savoury than sweet. Leathery. A little salt and smoke, too.

Palate: Spicy, woody, with plenty of chocolate cherries and sour berries. Not all that thick. The full-bodied dry wine characteristic is there, but not overpoweringly so. Almonds.

Finish: Medium length with almonds all over the place.

Grade: B-

This one was a bit of a step up from the Glenfarclas 15 I had that night. Still rougher than I’d like my whisky to be, but at what is about 7 years younger, this one was smoother than the Glenfarclas. A little different from what you expect in a Scotch, but I’m always up for new whisky experiences. Am I glad I didn’t buy a bottle when this hit the shelves? Mostly (if only for the fact that my cabinet was rather full at the time.) But, after two tastes of some relatively good Arran, am I going to buy the 12yo CS Arran when it comes out? You betcha.