Overeem ‘Port Cask Matured’

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

Ratings:
90/100 – Whisky Bible 2015

I present to you the Australian single malt ‘Overeem’ or, as we know it in the UK, ‘Overpriced’. But in Holland they know it as “that cheap stuff from down under”. There are several online shops in the UK that sell this bottle of Overeem for £140. For that amount I’d expect a live kangaroo to be thrown in for free! In Holland they sell it for the Euro equivalent of £56. With €15.99 postage to the UK, you could order 2 bottles and still be less than the British price. If the world were a fair place, all those in Britain would get a free bottle of Overeem with every episode of Neighbours they managed to watch. You need something to numb the pain!

The Whisky Bible has very little to say about this bottle of Overeem, which is “heavily alcoholic sticky treacle pudding” but 90/100 ranks this single malt as “brilliant”. For a passionate review, here’s a You Tube video by The Booze Baron, which includes his impression and tasting notes:

Overeem Port Cask NAS 70cl

Seagram’s VO

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

Ratings:
91/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
82/100 – RalfyHis YouTube review here (Feb 2010)

I’d given my only example of Canadian whisky away as a gift, so I was on the lookout for a replacement. The obvious choice was a full 70cl of Canadian Club, which a couple of supermarkets stock in the UK. But that seemed too easy! With a good selection on the Dutch online shop ‘Best of Whisky’ I spotted the Seagram’s VO for £11.50. With a good review from Ralfy and scoring 91/100 in the Whisky Bible, it sounded like an interesting buy.

91/100 is a great score for a whisky that has been through quite a change in the last 10 or so years. In the Whisky Bible 2006 it scored 85/100 where the author, Jim Murray, was detecting a decline where the whisky had “lost both its distinctive rye character and its claim to greatness”. By 2009 the Bible score had gone down to 80/100 where Mr Murray was saying the ‘VO’ now stood for ‘Very Ordinary’. By 2015 the review begins with “the king of rye-enriched, Canadian, VO, is dead. Long live the corn-dominant VO”. The author laments the loss of the rye-based VO but concedes that Seagram’s new corn creation “is a playful affair, full of vanilla-led good intention, corn and complexity”. Mr Murray goes on to say “thoroughly blended and with no little skill, I am impressed”. He looks forward to seeing how it develops in future years. So do I!

Seagram's VO NAS 70cl

Ancient Age 90 Proof

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

Ratings:
86.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014

I had to go back to the Whisky Bible 2014 for a review as this bottle of Ancient Age is missing in the 2015 edition. It looks like this 45% bourbon has been replaced by a 40% version which Jim Murray, the bible author, only scores 74.5/100 with the comment “basic: no frills and certainly no thrills”. I’m glad I have the older, better version! Although, in the Whisky Bible 2015 there are 3 versions of ‘Ancient Age’ all of which score over 90/100! Clearly Mr Murray likes where the distillery is going with its brewing.

My bottle of Ancient Age gets the bible remark of “a quite beautiful tapestry of lively spice and rich, sweetened tannins arrive from the first moment…and last most of the course. More than just a passing nod to this distillery’s glory.” And 86.5/100 classifies this bourbon as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”.

Ancient Age 90 Proof 75cl

Amrut ‘Fusion’

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

Ratings:
94.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2015 (for batch 10)
88/100 – RalfyHis YouTube review here (Oct 2011)

Whisky from India shouldn’t be a surprise in 2015, especially as the Amrut distillery was founded in 1948. The word ‘Amrut’ means a golden pot containing the Elixir of life. And ‘Fusion’ refers to a combination of Indian barley and Scottish peat thrust together to form a single malt with a hefty 50% abv. At least that’s what it says in the book ‘101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die’ where I first encountered the Amrut Fusion. On the bottle’s tube it says “Indian and Scottish barleys” and makes no mention of “peat”. Perhaps the recipe has changed?

The Whisky Bible 2015 only lists two releases of the Fusion – Batch 1 (released in 2009), which scores the acclaimed 97/100 and Batch 10 (released in 2011), which scores a very healthy 94.5/100. I hope that standards have been kept up because my bottle is Batch 27, released in August 2014. But who knows because Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, says Batch 10 should be “plotted on a different map to the now legendary Whisky Bible award-winning Batch 1”. If batches can be so different, it make a mockery having the 97/100 mark for Batch 1 on the tube of Batch 27 produced 5 years later. It’s not the same whisky! But it’s an award so Amrut naturally want to shout about it.

Currently Waitrose are selling the Amrut Fusion for £50, or you can get it from an online UK shop for £42, or from Holland for £28.

Amrut Fusion NAS 70cl

Santis Malt – Swiss Highlander

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

Ratings:
88/100 – Whisky Bible 2013

If I ever open my own online whisky shop, I can guarantee I’ll be better than ‘Best of Whisky’ at providing bottle information. The picture they included for this Santis Malt was the wrong version but I managed to work that out before buying it. The worst crime was where they said the source distillery was “Arran”. So that’s Arran in Switzerland is it? At least they didn’t falsely add a Whisky Bible rating like they did with the Belgian whisky I previously blogged about.

I had to go back to the Whisky Bible 2013 to find a review for this Swiss single malt. That usually means it’s been discontinued. I’m always happy to get something that’s no longer being manufactured, so long as it used to get good ratings. Jim Murray, the bible author, only has 4 words in his review, which are “light, fruity and impressive”. I’m pleased with that. I’ll be interested to taste what the maturation in oak beer casks is like. The label on the back of the bottle says it’s these casks that give the whisky its dark gold colour, which is all natural. It’s also non-chill-filtered, and in a very nice bottle shape.

Santis Single Malt Edition NAS 70cl

Goldly’s Double Still Owner’s Reserve

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

Ratings:
88/100 – Whisky Bible 2015 (for 10yo version)
61/100 – Mark Dermul, Belgian whisky reviewer – review link here

This is my first Belgian whisky to continue my quest for more international examples of the whisky world. I’ve added the Whisky Bible rating because it was included against this bottle on the Dutch website, even though it’s for a 10-year-old version of this Goldly’s. There is no “10-year-old” label on my bottle, and it states on the back “matured for more than 3 years in firstfill bourbon casks”. Ooops, so that’s 3 years and 1 day then! Clearly I have a younger, non-age statement version.

What I’m sure still applies from the Whisky Bible review is the comment about the presence of “caramel”. Unfortunately the author, Jim Murray, says it does “great damage to the finish in particular” but it’s still a solid enough whisky to score 88/100. Let’s hope my younger version has these sturdy qualities to stand up to the caramel!

Perhaps a better assessment of this dram is from the Belgian whisky reviewer Mark Dermul. Scoring only 61/100 I’m left feeling the £24 I paid was about £23 too much! Mark likens it to gin, which the manufacturer is better known for. The good news is, I like gin! So will I end up adding tonic and a slice of lemon? Whatever it takes to get the best experience!

Goldlys Owners Reserve Double Still NAS 70cl

Aberlour A’bunadh Batch 50

Bought: Waitrose, 23rd January 2015

Ratings:
88.75/100 – Whiskybase (average from 4 member votes)

Having started my A’bunadh addiction with batch 45 in 2013, I’ve added batch 47 and now batch 50. It’s very early days yet in the Whiskybase ratings for this new batch, but here is how the last 6 batches stack up with their Whiskybase votes:

  • 88.75/100 – Batch 50 (4 votes)
  • 89.18/100 – Batch 49 (52 votes)
  • 85.33/100 – Batch 48 (18 votes)
  • 88.27/100 – Batch 47 (92 votes)
  • 85.67/100 – Batch 46 (95 votes)
  • 86.8/100 – Batch 45 (129 votes)

One thing that instantly jumps out is how consistently high the ratings are. I’m glad so many people agree with me that the A’bunadh is a fantastic dram!

Personally I prefer to have a glass of A’bunadh as my second whisky, following on from a standard strength Speyside single malt. It’s like driving a normal car before moving to a Rolls Royce to show what real luxury feels like. The comparison is quite remarkable.

Aberlour A'bunadh Batch 50 70cl

Glenfarclas 21-year-old

Bought: Amazon, 22nd January 2015

Ratings:
83/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
85.5/100 – Whiskybase (average from 224 member votes)

Although 83/100 in the Whisky Bible might not sound amazing it still classifies this mature single malt as “good whisky worth trying”. The author’s review reads “a chorus of sweet, honied malt and mildly spiced, teasing fruit on the fabulous mouth arrival and the middle compensates for the few blips.”

85.5/100 on Whiskybase is an excellent mark. A few reviewers express disappointment at a lack of depth, which they were expecting from 21 years of maturation, but others found it opened out nicely and had a good level of complexity. It sounds like the sort of whisky that needs a bit of getting used to in terms of adding water and giving it time to breath.

My boxed bottle came with the book “101 World Whiskies to Try Before You Die” which, not surprisingly, includes the Glenfarclas 21-year-old. For £55, including the book and free delivery from Amazon (another ‘Daily Deal’) it was a bargain. Even at its normal price of £70, it’s hard to find another 21yo single malt at such good value.

Glenfarclas 21yo 70cl

 

Caol Ila ‘Moch’

Bought: Waitrose, 21st January 2015

Ratings:
87/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
83.66/100 – Whiskybase (average from 127 member votes)
82/100 – RalfyHis YouTube review here (August 2012)

I’m beginning to think of Caol Ila as ‘the easy drinking Islay’. An Ardbeg is like Guinness, where a couple of glasses are delicious but very rich, deep and filling. Caol Ila on the other hand is like an easy-sipping beer. The whole night can slip by without you realising how many glasses you’ve had until you try and get up and your legs go to jelly.

87/100 in the Whisky Bible is excellent, and the author confirmed my view of Caol Ila by saying “Easy drinking Islay” then concluding with “though I think they mean “Mocha”.” Ralfy’s review gives an interesting summary of the flavours. If I manage to detect half of his list I’ll be happy! He thinks the Moch is mostly 7 to 8-year-old whisky.

Two reviewers on Whiskybase compare the Moch to the Caol Ila 12yo saying it’s “softer and sweeter” and “more complex and more fruity” than its older brother. Whiskybase scores the 12yo 83.86/100, so almost identical to the Moch, and the Whisky Bible has the 12yo two points ahead with 89/100. Comparisons aside, the Moch sounds like a very pleasant dram.

Caol Ila Moch NAS 70cl

Tullibardine 225 Sauternes Finish

Bought: Sainsbury’s, 13th January 2015

Ratings:
85/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
80.24/100 – Whiskybase (average from 27 member votes)

Having got the Tullibardine ‘Sovereign’ from Sainsbury’s last year, it was only a matter of time before I fell for the second Tullibardine that Sainsbury’s stock. My reluctance was the cost. At £45, it’s expensive for a NAS (non-age statement) single malt, which struggles in reviews to match others in its price bracket. Even with a £10 discount it competes with some heavyweights like the Macallan Gold and Glenlivet 15yo. But I have a soft spot for Tullibardine, so I had to have it.

The bible has very little to say about this single malt, which is “hits the heights early on in the delivery when the honey and Lubeck marzipan are in full throttle”. On Whiskybase, a respected reviewer says “I find it to be a very pleasant whisky in which the wine played a merely supporting role. Something for dessert.”

85/100 in the Whisky Bible classes this single malt as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”.

Tullibardine 225 Sauternes Cask NAS 70cl