Dram Review: Longmorn 20 Master of Malt Single Cask series

This was my christmas present from Mrs dramstats. Unsolicited (in fact I’d not even heard of this one when I opened it), and unexpected, I was again really pleased.

Before my birthday this year, I just have to make sure that mrs dramstats knows where my SMWS membership card is and how to use it!

I passed Longmorn distillery a few times whilst in Speyside this February. On the road between Rothes and Elgin, the distillery is not open to the public, but makes some excellent single malt whisky (most of which makes its way into Chivas’ Brothers range of blended whisky.

Here are the dramstats:

longmorn20mom

 

  • ABV 55.5%
  • Age 20
  • Price (it was a present)

Nose: Vanilla, ovaltine, malty, nesquik chocolate. Cinnamon spice. The reduced nose has even more spice. Wood, pepper, strawberry whips with cocoa powder.

Palate: Sweet icing sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and honey. With water it’s very malty with milk chocolate.

Finish: Peppery with oak and cinnamon before a sweetness of malty vanilla and strawberry haribo.

Verdict: Excellent. I love whisky with this malty ovaltine note and this is great. Even better with water. From the picture, you’ll note that I’ve reviewed this one to death. Great stuff! I wonder what my next birthday present will be…

 

Dram Review: Master of Malt 50 Year old Speyside (3rd edition)

Finally, I’ve got around to posting my review for day 24 of the whisky advent calendar. The 50 year old Master of Malt Speyside. This is the oldest whisky I’ve tasted and I waited for a special occasion.

I took this up to Aberlour and had it on my anniversary in a cottage at the foot of Benrinnes in Speyside. Immersed in the location and with the oldest whisky I’ve ever tasted, here are the dramstats:

  • ABV 43%
  • Age 50
  • Price £370.95

Nose: Vanilla, nougat, rhubarb and custard boiled sweets. Floral pot pourri then lots of wood. Fruit salad chews, ozone and the wood gets stronger over time. Dry smoke.

Palate: Not as sweet as expected. Oak, soft mouthfeel, mild pear and nougat.

Finish: Vanilla milkshake, mild rhubarb and custard, quite woody with a touch of smoke.

Verdict: A privilege to taste old whisky like this. However, it wasn’t as mind blowing as I was hoping. Quite a lot of wood but extra well rounded. Actually this really lifted the myth about old=quality for me. There is nothing wrong with it, it’s very nice, but I would never pay £370 for this and be happy. No doubt £370 is very cheap for 50 year old whisky, particularly at today’s prices, but will you taste it and think “worth every penny”? That depends on how much you usually spend on whisky. I usually spend up to £100 and this is not nearly 4 times better than anything I’ve ever bought. You can buy a dram of this for around £20, and that is worth it for the experience.

Review: Boxes Blend

Blended whisky month on dramstats rolls on with Boxes Blend, from Master of Malt. By way of full disclosure I was sent this sample by the chaps at master of malt, and I am very grateful.

Boxes Blend was created by Athlete bassist Carey Willets, named after his solo project “Boxes”. I wonder if he created it entirely on his own or if he had expert guidance? I’d love to create a blend… Anyway, I digress, here are the dramstats:

boxes-blend

 

  • ABV 40.9%
  • Price £55.95

Nose: Initially floral with creamy toffee and werthers original. Becomes quite woody with coriander seeds and pepper. Fresh.

Palate: Treacle toffee, peppery spice, creamy and buttery, hint of honey then wood sap.

Finish: Buttery toffee sauce, pepper, oak, drying but with fading caramel sweetness then a final hint of smoke.

Verdict: It’s lovely. Complex and I’d probably need another dram or three before I really got to the bottom of it. Slightly on the woody side from these first impressions, and I’m not entirely sure I want to buy a full bottle in order to get there. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the dram a lot. But this is one of the most expensive blends I’ve tasted so far this month, and I preferred a number of the others.

 

 

Review: Master of Malt 8 Year old Blended Scotch Whisky

It’s the last day of our 12 blends competition and it’s the turn of the chaps at Living Room Whisky. They’ve served up this classy dram of Master of Malt 8 year old blended scotch whisky. Part of their secret bottling series.

I’m going for some compass box Hedonism, though this reminds me a little in the finish of something we had earlier in the competition.

Here are the dramstats:

Picture from Tom's Whisky Reviews

Picture from Tom’s Whisky Reviews

  • ABV 40%
  • Price £20.95 from here

Nose: Vanilla, apple and white chocolate mousse, marshmallow and whipped cream, and a touch of aftershave.

Palate: Spicy, vanilla, whipped cream again, and some honeyed-oak.

Finish: Creamy and with white pepper, oak, and white chocolate mousse.

Verdict: Very enjoyable if a little slow to open up. Was a little put off by the aftershave note, so I think I’d probably not buy a full bottle of this (though it is well priced).

So that’s 12 blends finished. It’s been great and a real education. Myself, and indeed all of the whisky bloggers struggled in the dark guessing these drams but it was a lot of fun. We whisky geeks don’t pay enough attention to the blended stuff and there can be a certain level of snobbery about blends (though not from any of the guys in the competition). I think we all had our eyes opened, and I for one will be trying a lot more blends from now on. Thank you to all of the blenders: @ardbaggie, @sjjgo @galg @LRwhisky @mynameisgone @steveprentice @dvdbloke @whiskydiscovery @rodbodtoo @WhiskyMarks and, lastly and most importantly to Tom (@ifotou) for doing all of the organising and sorting the prize. Follow all of these guys on twitter for interesting whisky stuff.

Finally, blended whisky month here on dramstats will continue on Sunday with another interesting blend!

Benrinnes Batch 1, That Boutique-y Whisky Company

Thanks once again to Master of Malt for sending me this for review.

Benrinnes is an interesting distillery. Last time I was in Speyside, you may remember I spent a lot of time cycling around looking for distilleries. Benrinnes was one of those I looked for and found.

Overlooking the peak of the mountain after which it was named, Benrinnes, one of the Diageo group of distilleries, cuts a very run down figure from the outside. It’s not open to the public and the sign looks as if weather beaten since the early seventies. I cycled round the plant and, to be honest, felt sorry for the place. “This is what happens to those distilleries that don’t make it into single malts”, I thought.

Still, Benrinnes makes a lot of malt for the Diageo range of blends and we have the odd expression to taste. That includes this baby from Master of Malt. As usual, this is blended from multiple casks of Benrinnes by the Master of Malt crew and bottled with a stylish cartoony style label, this one depicting the characters from the whiskyfun comics, Pete McPeat and Jack Washback having a conversation about the Benrinnes process.

Here are the dramstats:

BenrinnesTBWC

  • Price £43.95 here.
  • ABV 48.9%

Nose: Slightly burnt toffee and lychee, touch of rubber (from a bunsen burner cable), apricot, peach and raisin. Baked apple crumble.

Palate: Drying, chalky mouthfeel, lychee juice that gets over run by the burnt notes and that rubbery quality from the nose.

Finish: Burnt rubber and fireworks. Dries a lot.

Verdict: I really don’t like this. Sorry Master of Malt. Nice notes linger in the background and threaten to show themselves, but my nose and tastes can’t get beyond the rubberiness and the drying.

 

Braes O’Glenlivet Batch 1 That Boutique-y Whisky Company

Another Boutique-y gem from the guys at Master of Malt. This time the label depicts the master of malt chaps driving up to Braes with a car full of Evian water. Those guys…

Here are the dramstats:

Braes_o_GlenlivetTBWC

  • ABV 47.2%
  • Price £51.95 here

Nose: Touch of honey, vanilla and brandy sauce (the stuff us brits have on christmas pudding, or used to before we all switched to double cream). Faint whiff of pineapple when water is added. I get a touch of aftershave, which I’m not so keen on.

Palate: Spicy with vanilla and oak pepper followed by faint um-bongo tropical fruit juice.

Finish: The faint um-bongo suddenly releases a very nice burst of cocoa powder so that there is a dark chocolate truffle feel to the end as oak rounds the finish. This is a long and lovely finish. Good value per sip!

Verdict: The nose is quite closed but I love the finish. So unexpected given what went before. There is something on the nose I’m not a fan of, so it’s not for me, but this finish really shows off the skills of the blenders and I like it. So if you do buy me a bottle, it won’t go to waste!

 

Dram Review: Ben Riach Batch 1 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

Thanks to master of malt for sending me this sample. Ben Riach is the sister distillery of Glendronach and, when you pass it in Speyside, it looks like it should have a visitor centre. For example, there are flags and attractive signs outside that are not normally seen at distilleries that are closed to the public. However, they do not admit visitors (at least not at the time of writing), though I hear this could be changing soon…

This expression is part of master of malt’s “Boutique-y whisky company” range. This means artistic labels, 50cl bottles and, usually, excellent whisky! On the label, you see monkey’s turning the barley. This links to the distillery because Ben Riach malt their own barley. If you are not sure about the monkey’s, read up on “Monkey Shoulder”.

Here are the dramstats:

BenRiachTBWC

  • ABV 48.2%
  • Price £49.95 here

Nose: Vanilla, fruit pastils, faint green apple and citrus, creme brulee, faint hint of fudge and cherry yogurt.

Palate: Fudge, toffee, vanilla, hint of salted milk chocolate (yes you can buy that now and it’s awesome!), strawberry (but the kind that you find dried in a cereal bar).

Finish: Vanilla fudge and toffee with drying oak. It becomes calky with furniture polish and a hint of chocolate to cover the fudge.

Verdict: I like it and the price is good to. To be honest though, I’d like to try an unpeated official bottling before deciding whether this was an excellent example of a Ben Riach. I mean they could all be amazing and this could just be par for the course 😉