Dram Review: Isle of Jura 1977

Jura Fortnight continues with this dram I was sent by Tom Thomson of Tom’s whisky reviews. 35 year old Jura and a bit of a cracker!

Here are the dramstats:

jura1977

 

  • ABV 46%
  • Distilled 1977
  • Price £693

Nose: Carrot cake, vanilla Mr Whippy ice cream, rich tea biscuit, mint, pineapple cubes and liquorice. Excellent!

Palate: Huge pineapple, grapefruit, oak, spices, liquorice all sorts, coconut mushrooms.

Finish: Wow, pineapple and grapefuit lilt goes on and on with layers of oak wood. Definitely not too woody. Just awesome.

Verdict: I love it! Of course it goes without saying that at nearly £700 I will never even consider buying it. But it does taste wonderful.

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Dram Review: Isle of Jura Turas Mara

Yesterday was Jura day at the Islay festival of malt and music and it was also the date of their 50th anniversary tweet tasting. I was part of that tasting of 5 different Isle of Jura expressions. I also have 9 other samples/bottles of Jura in the house that I’ve been saving up for an event here on dramstats.

So, without further ado I’m kicking off Isle of Jura FORTNIGHT!!!!

2 weeks on dramstats of Isle of Jura dram reviews and, who knows, maybe a distillery profile and an interview?

This first dram of Jura fortnight is Turas Mara. This is travel retail at the moment, but I have word from Jura that the plan is to make this a permanent expression. It is a mixture of 4 different types of casks including bourbon barrels, spanish sherry butts, french oak barriques and portuguese port pipes. Here are the dramstats:

juraturasmara

 

  • ABV 42%
  • Price £40 (travel retail at the moment)
  • No Age Statement

Nose: Bakewell tart, almond marzipan, raspberry jam, vanilla icing and maybe a hint of black forrest gateau. A bag of penny mix, cherry menthol and cherry pie filling. There is a touch of dark chocolate ginger after a first taste. Lovely stuff

Palate: Cherry pie filling, chopped almonds and raspberry jam

Finish: Almond marzipan and a touch of oak with cherry juice and jam notes all firing in the background with a ‘salty tang’ a bitterness you might find in under ripe cherry.

Verdict: This is easily the nicest travel retail exclusive whisky I have tasted. I want some. The question is do I wait until it goes on general release and hope the price holds, or do I book a flight somewhere? “Check in” with dramstats tomorrow as Jura fortnight will pick up some steam!

 

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: Old Malt Cask Glenrothes 21

This is a special dram for me. It was my last birthday present and I opened it on a balcony on the shores of Loch Lomond. The beautiful setting, the lochside air, the day and the whisky all came together in a great moment for me. I took a photo of that moment and you can see it above the title of this post.

The other reason that this dram is special is that it was a surprise present from Mrs dramstats. There were no hints. In fact I’d never heard of this whisky. But she’d done some research, found this was a well reviewed indie bottling with notes that she thought I might like, and bought me it. Honestly, I think she bought me a better whisky here than I would have had I chosen myself, at least in terms of how interesting it is.

Old malt cask was part of the now broken up Douglas Laing brothers’ company. I think this brand is now in the hands of the company calling themselves Hunter Laing. The principal is that they find excellent casks of old rare single malt, and bottle them at 50%. This cask is 21 years old and from Glenrothes distillery. Here are the dramstats:

omcglenrothes21

 

  • Price (it was a present so I refuse to look)
  • ABV 50%
  • No Colouring
  • Non chill filtered

Nose: A spice bomb! Ground ginger, pepper, zesty lemon and lime, then rich orange maramlade. So nice! Spicy ginger bread and zesty marmalade.

Palate: Ginger, toffee topped doughnut, the filling from caramel shortbread.

Finish: Orange barley sugar then marmalade with crackly oak, ground ginger and pepper.

Verdict: A cracker and a great example of the spicy character that makes Glenrothes a popular malt with the blenders. Plenty of orange and ginger spice. This is my first Old Malt Cask, but I will be trying others. I must also try to get some Glenrothes. If they still sell this expression, I don’t have a bad word to say about it!

 

Dram Review 53.135 ‘Ambush by the sound of Islay’

I’ve had this sample from Tom Thomson (of Toms Whisky Reviews) for a while and only recently found it.

It’s SMWS and the code means the 135th cask bottled from Caol Ila Distillery on Islay. You can’t pick this one up any more, but SMWS get plenty of Caol Ila and the younger stuff can often be relatively inexpensive. Here are the dramstats:

  • ABV 66.0%
  • Age 9yo
  • Distillery Caol Ila

Nose: Peat and citrus. Sweet with honey and lavender but all the while the peat is dominant and huge. Lovely Islay nose for the peat heads!

Palate: Sweet smoke then a huge pepper/peat explosion. “Ambush”? More like “Punch in the face by the sound of Islay”, or “ABH in Port Askaig” This is a huge huge peat monster. Water makes this less of a violent dram and releases some fresh fruit salad and apple.

Finish: Huge peat, smoke, sweetness and some spice. Water leaves a mild fruit juice note in the finish.

Verdict: This is a really cool dram. 9 year old Caol Ila is worth checking out but be warned, it’s not for the faint hearted!

Dram Review: anCnoc Peter Arkle ‘Bricks’

I was sent this sample by anCnoc, and you may be the judge of whether or not this has affected the impartiality of my review.

Peter Arkle describes himself as a “freelance illustrator of books magazines and ads” (this from his website), and he was apparently inspired when visiting the home of anCnoc single malt, Knockdhu distillery. This has led to a range of limited edition “Peter Arkle” releases, of which “Bricks” is the 4th. Each time, Peter Arkle designs the bottle sleeve.

The thing is, I just can’t seem to get the connection between the illustrator and what is in the bottle. I have tried 3 of the 4 of the series now, and whilst they are all reasonable whiskies, there is no story I can find (even reading the descriptions of the whiskies on the anCnoc website) that links the whisky in the bottle to either the illustrator or the illustrations. I understand that the bottle designs each reflect something interesting about the distillery, but then why can’t these be limited edition designs for the standard 12 or 16 year old expressions?

The lack of interesting story behind each new liquid makes me somewhat apathetic when I hear about each new release. Perhaps this is just the view of one consumer that is more interested in the story of the liquid than the story of the bottle, and I may well not be in the majority on this. I buy whisky for what is in the bottle and whether the idea of it, or the taste (if I have had it before), excites me at the right price.

So, with that in mind what are the bottle contents like? Here are the dramstats:

ancnocbricks

  • Price £50
  • ABV 46%
  • No colouring
  • Non chill filtered

Nose: Rubber balloons at first, some raisin and cereal notes as well. After 5 minutes, fig rolls come through and these are really nice. Nutrigrain cereal bars with date filling. The rubber keeps distracting me between sniffs though. With water some apple comes through as the bourbon fights to be heard, then blood orange and lime with vanilla cream.

Palate: Juicy raisins on the delivery and the fig rolls really come through. Water brings out vanilla and some white chocolate.

Finish: Spicy and biscuity, a touch of white chocolate vanilla with drying oak and some orange pith bitterness.

Verdict: Can’t decide if I prefer this with water or without. Without it’s all raisins and fig rolls, which I love, and with the bourbon notes come through and it’s much more interesting. The rubber notes are annoying but I would still enjoy a bottle of this and £50 is an OK price, though maybe more than I am really happy with.

Whilst the whisky is enjoyable enough, two problems stand out. (1): The bar set by the standard 12 year old (£34) and the standard 16 (£62) is extremely high and this limited edition struggles to reach it. (2): I just can’t find a connection between the drawing of a brick wall on the carton and label and the whisky in the bottle or the uniqueness of the distillery it comes from. The quality of the standard 12 and 16 (particularly the 16 which I absolutely love) is such that I would not buy a bottle of this limited edition over either of those.

Dram Review: SMWS 26.92

This is a 28 year old Clynlish called “Hard Glazed Pretzel Sticks” that I tried down at SMWS queen street. At the time of writing there are 56 bottles left so it’s a relevant review.

Here are the dramstats:

  • Price £91.90
  • Age 28
  • Cask type: refill sherry

Nose: New make in a still room, spirit safes and very clean sherry with raisins, wort, hay, green apple peel, wood. The colour is light but the raisin note is very clear and unctuous. Great stuff!

Palate: Woody, hay, raisin apples and light vanilla cream.

Finish: Spicy oak and pine wood with a hint of raisin.

Verdict: I love the nose on this, I could sniff it all night. The palate and finish was a touch woody for my tastes, so I’m not picking up a bottle. It’s excellent, but I decided to buy 31.26 (Jura reviewed here) instead and I’m not made of money 😉