62%, 70cl, 2008, White Oak Puncheon #3Q70047, 52-W-18-5, Ohmi Aging Cellar
This whisky is a real curiosity. The Yamazaki distillery isn’t really known for its peat, an element more commonly associated with its older sister Hakushu, which has released a number of very popular “Heavily Peated” versions. And yet the combination offered by this bottling for The Cask range is an absolute winner and sees Yamazaki’s rich, unctuous and fruity character paired with an assertive and medicinal peat. As a whole, the ensemble has great character and I regret never having tasted another Yamazaki like it.
63%, 70 cl, 2008, Recharred Butt #80283, Warehouse No.23
I have to admit that I am particularly fond of this Miyagikyo, which seems in some ways to have two sides to it. In one, we are swept up in the fruity and almost rich notes that take us to the world of confectionery with fruit cheeses (quince, apricot), salted butter caramel and spice bread. In the other, we find far more woody, dry and peppery notes accompanied by a smoky, salty peat that leaves a long-lasting and pleasantly bitter imprint on the palate. A deeply complex whisky that constantly exceeds the expectations of those lucky enough to taste it.
48.1%, 70cl, 2012
Of all the Brora Annual Releases, this version—which we are lucky enough to have a bottle of at the Golden Promise—particularly caught my eye. With balance and grace, it develops with a combination of citrus fruit—without the sharpness (lemon, bitter orange), exotic fruit (mango), and ointments and other pommades that reveal vegetal (aniseed, mint, eucalyptus) and camphoric notes. This is all seasoned with a hint of smoke, as is often the case for Brora vintages, such as 1972 and 1977. A perfect example of what this now sadly closed distillery was, until very recently, capable of.
62%, 70cl, 2002, Sherry Cask
Peat is rarely paired with sherry, and even more rarely is the combination a success. But when it is, it is nothing short of miraculous! This is the feat beautifully achieved in this Talisker, which is full of nuance despite its undeniable power, revealing a discreet but decisive sherry influence that brings notes of cured meat (pastirma) and aromatic herbs (thyme, rosemary). Where this Talisker really comes into its own, however, is in its ability to avoid being overpowered by the cask, allowing us to enjoy its delicious salty, smoky (angelica, vetiver) and peppery notes.
53.4%, 70cl, #6707, For La Maison du Whisky
Nicknamed “Glen Grant No. 2” when it first opened—because it was created to support its illustrious neighbour Glen Grant—this distillery closed for the first time following the Pattison financial crash that shook the Scottish whisky industry in 1902. It was only when it reopened in 1965 that it took the name Caperdonich. After being mothballed in 2002, it was permanently closed and dismantled in 2010. I love the freshness of this version bottled in 2007 exclusively for La Maison du Whisky. The aroma palette repeatedly evokes the colour white, with lilac, lily of the valley, anemone, milk and almond ice cream, and nectarine notes, all sprinkled with grey pepper. The flavour palette, too, brings the same hue to mind, with pepper, ready to bake bread dough, and flowers, pepped up with a light herbaceous bitterness (root) and a hint of peat. Outstanding freshness and elegance!
59.8%, 70cl, First Fill Bourbon
This unpeated version released in 2006 was the first of a long series, and the distillery has released a cask strength bottling without its peaty, smoky garb every year since. In fact, although it is better known for its typical Islay profile, Caol Ila began producing an unpeated spirit for use in blends in the 1980s. This version proves the malt’s charm does not come solely from its peat and maintains its resolutely marine character. The nose is lively, herbaceous and peppered with notes of lime zest and spices (fresh ginger). It then becomes richer, revealing freshly baked bread and salted butter caramel. The palate is rich, oily, and confirms the notes found on the nose. Herbaceous, iodine, mineral and incredibly fresh... an unmistakably coastal whisky! Takes very well to a dash of water.
53.7%, 70 cl