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Benromach Sassacaia Wood Finish

Reviewed by: Richard

Benromach Sassacaia Wood FinishThis one was recommended to me by a friend who knows my fondness for sweeter whiskies… So first up – a little bit about the distillery:

Benromach is a Speyside distillery founded by Duncan McCallum and F.W. Brickman in 1898 and currently owned and run by Gordon and Macphail of Elgin. It is situated near Forres in Morayshire and is fed with spring water from the Chapelton Springs in the Romach Hills beside Forres.

And now – on with the review:

This has been matured in a Sassacaia barrel, so an introduction to the wood is in order!
Sassicaia is one of the most sought-after Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the world and made history recently, being the first single wine to be granted its own DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata – quality assurance label for Italian food products, especially Italian wine and cheese)
The Sassicaia estate is located at Bolgheri and lies in the Province of Livorno in Tuscany, Italy.

So, shut up, tell us about the whisky…

This is a 2006 distilled expression and bottled this year – there’s an older 2005 release, a 2004 release and a few older bottlings.
All I can find out is that it’s put in an ex bourbon barrel for around 7 years, and then put in a Sassacaia barrel for around 29 months – just over 2 years.
The colour is golden pink! Well lightly pink – if the sun hits it just right…

Nose: It’s got a real soft nose – dry toasted oak, vanilla, fruity, toffee, nutmeg, and that definitive wine note.
The nose is right up my alley – really sweet and bold, but not sickly…
Now to stick it in my mouth!

Palate: Cherries, raspberries & vanilla, spices, subtle smoke, malty toffee, and wine!
The palate is quite dry, which I find a lot with red wine finishes for some reason… tannic influence maybe? I find they make my mouth water a bit…

Finish: A medium-long finish with hints of fruit and another whiff of smoke.

This is a session whisky (if there’s such a thing) for sunny afternoon, sitting under a tree, in the shade, with some olives, sourdough, semidried tomatoes, cheese and some good friends…I’m amazed at the influence the wine has made, the light smoke and the fruit notes. I’ve tried the standard 10yo Benromach, which is one of my favourites – this is better, not by a lot, but still, better, and juicier…
A bloody fine whisky to add to any collection!

★★★

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Balblair 2000

Reviewed by: Richard

Balblair 2000

Up until I had the bottle in my hands, I’d not heard a lot about Balblair Distillery, and as you do, did a bit of research in to it…

It’s a Scotch whisky distillery located in Edderton, Ross-shire, Scotland. Originally founded in 1790, the distillery was rebuilt in 1895 by Charles C Doig, and so good was its original water source that the rebuilt distillery chose to ignore a nearby burn in favour of the original Ault Dearg burn. To this day, the Balblair Distillery continues to use this original water source.

Balblair has one of the oldest archives in distilling, with the first ledger entry dated 25 January 1800. John Ross himself penned that first entry, which read: “Sale to David Kirkcaldy at Ardmore, one gallon of whisky at £1.8.0d”. Ahhhhh, the good old days when you could get a gallon of whisky for under 2 quid…

The distillery is owned by Inver House Distillers Limited, whose other distilleries include one of my favourites, the Old Pulteney Distillery as well as Balmenach Distillery.

The Balblair distillery is unusual in the use of vintage dates rather than age statements. This means that Master distiller Stuart Harvey has more flexibility with its offerings and it provides the drinker with a ‘snapshot’ of that moment in time rather than a stationary age statement.
So, enough rambling – on with the review – so, this one I have in my hand is:

Balblair 2000 (2nd Release) 43.0% in an ex-bourbon cask

Colour: rose gold

Nose: Sweet and creamy – almost custardy! Apples & Manuka honey, toasted bread…

Palate: Beautiful malty palate with straight up vanilla & coconut, hints of honey & toffee apple and coconut. Nicely balanced with a lovely mouthfeel. Let it sit for a while, you’ll get tinned pears, vanilla ice cream. This is a great whisky – super drinkable (just ask Mooresey!)

Finish: long! With vanilla and some dry oaky wood

I found it did not need water… (I tried adding some, and while the nose picks up some more floral notes, the body & character drops away, and the whisky becomes way too soft and mellow)

All in all, a delicious whisky… one that I have gone back to many times now! (perhaps too many times by the looks of the bottle!) Rumour has it they have made a similar whisky but used Sherry Barrels instead of Bourbon… perhaps I shall try and track it down, and see how it compares, but that’s a story for another day…

★★★★

The Tasmanian Whisky Appreciation Society

Posted by: Nick and Ted

We may have mentioned (once or twice) that we live in Tasmania. Within our little state we have the joy of seeing the local whisky industry going from strength to strength. Around it we’ve also seen the development of a real whisky community, which is both exciting and satisfying to be a part of.

At the forefront of this community is the Tasmanian Whisky Appreciation Society, known to one and all as TWAS. Headed up by Heartwood Malt Whisky’s own Tim Duckett and as well as Richard Stewart, TWAS is a great repository of knowledge, observations, and experience about the Tasmanian whisky scene (and the wider world of whisky in general).

TWAS whisky waffleTWAS hold tasting evenings open to the general public at intervals determined by the amount of time required to get over the previous one. The lads at Whisky Waffle sadly live at the wrong end of the state and have not yet made it along to one of these gatherings (although we definitely hope to in the future). In the meantime we’ve managed to bag ourselves the next best thing!

Whisky Waffle are proud and excited to welcome TWAS’ own Richard Stewart aboard the good ship WW as a guest contributor. Tune in tomorrow to catch his first review (what could it be?), and over the coming months for the odd update about TWAS, and in the best tradition of this blog, random wafflings about whisky.

Find out more about TWAS at their website, or for more regular updates check out their Facebook and/or their Twitter.

The Whisky Waffle community

Posted by: Nick

The more I discover about the Tasmanian whisky scene, the more I appreciate the close-knit little community that has developed. People are friendly, enthusiastic and willing to help out one another to ensure this thriving industry continues to boom. Our website is only a tiny part of the bigger picture but we would love to help foster this sense of community.

And on that note, we would like to announce the next writer upon Whisky Waffle: YOU! Well – it could be you! If anyone has a piece they are keen to share with the world, or a dram they are desperate to review, send us an email at whiskywaffle@gmail.com and let us know!

So with no further ado may I introduce our first guest contributor: Mr Alex ‘Mooresy’ Moores!

Mooresy and Nick are in 'good spirits' after meeting Jim McEwan. See what I did there?

Mooresy and Nick are in ‘good spirits’ after meeting Jim McEwan. See what I did there?

I met Mooresy while attending the Jim McEwan night last Thursday and was impressed by his enthusiasm and passion for the water of life. His first review will hit the site tomorrow and I assure you, it’s a cracker of a read. Make sure you stop by to check it out!

Until then, keep waffling!

 

Photo provided by the TWAS. Used with permission.