A new month and a new style of feature. From now on I shall be rounding up my tasting notes and thoughts into a monthly ramble. I’ll still be posting a feature review once a month too, as well as anything else interesting that crosses my path.
If you have any comments or feedback on these changes please do get in touch.
Anyway, on with the the October Session…
This month features a new release in Duncan Taylor’s Octave Project, the latest from The Lakes Distillery, the inaugural indie release from Badachro, a rum cask finished Smokehead and a new red wine finished 18 year old from Aberfeldy.
Bad Na H-Achlaise Batch 1,Badachro, IB, 46%abv (press sample)
This is the first independent whisky release from Badachro Distillery who are best known for their Gin. This expression is distilled at an undisclosed Highland distillery, is a blend of peated and unpeated spirit, both of which have been matured in Tuscan red wine casks before being married together and bottled at Badachro. (which should probably be enough clues for you to hazard a guess as to where it is from…)
Wafts of gentle peat and a damp smokiness open the nose along with a red berry jus, a handful of green leaves and some charred oak. It is heathery with slight touches of earth.
The palate moves from the lingering sweetness of the nose to a slight more dry affair. It is faintly meaty and malty with a redcurrant and blackcurrant tartness, with a light menthol and perhaps rubbery undertone.
The finish isn’t as punchy and vibrant as I would have guessed from the nose. However there is a pleasant lingering smoke with touches of charred oak and faint tar.
A great first release and a solid, decent value dram. I’m excited to see what the team at Badachro release next.
Put them on your radar.
This is priced around £49 and available from the Badachro webshop.
(Authors note: Batch No1 has already sold out but Batch No2 is imminent)
Aberfeldy 18yo, OB, 43% abv, (press sample)
This 18 year old expression has had several additional months of finishing in a Pauillac red wine cask. I’ve not always got on with wine finished whiskies but with Aberfeldy being quite light in its character I am definitely approaching with curiosity rather than trepidation…
The nose is full of red apples, honey and hedgerow fruits. There is a touch of light oak, cinder toffee and fragrant heather.
The famous Aberfeldy honey is definitely there with the additional touches of orange, tart and tangy redcurrants and toffee. There’s a mild dark chocolate note that lingers in the background. The red wine finish is making its prescence known much more on the palate than the nose.
The finish leaves tingling spices, is drying and a little tannic. A few soft wood notes mix with some toffee and distant ginger.
Definitely a subtle enhancement to the sprit rather than an overbearing influence, the red wine finish is very well done. Aberfeldy is perhaps a dram that single malt enthusiasts leave behind on their whisky journey but there is always an interesting single cask available at the distillery as well as a few high quality releases recently.
A distillery to pay more attention to.
Available for £95 from the Aberfeldy Distillery Webshop
Glenkeith 26yo, Duncan Taylor (The Octave), 53%abv, (press sample)
This release forms part of the Duncan Taylor Octave Project, which does rather sound like a progressive jazz / funk fusion band but is in fact the interesting way that this well established independent bottler has chosen to mature these whiskies.
For those unfamiliar with an octave it is a much smaller cask – approximately 1/8th the size of a Sherry Butt (hence the name) – which allows for much more wood / spirit interaction and in theory allowing more flavour to be imbued from the wood in a smaller timeframe.
This particular expression spent 3 months in octave before being bottled.
I was sent a sample of the Glen Keith both pre and post octave however please note only the post octave expression is available to buy.
Pre Octave Tasting Notes
The nose is full of fresh pears and green apples mixed with gooseberry full, blossoms and a touch of spun sugar. The addition of water brings boiled sweets and a touch of faint rhubarb.
The palate is fruity, floral and faintly honeyed with green fruits and touches of light wood and white chocolate.
It finishes with touches of pepper and spice and a light perfumed florality.
Post Octave Tasting Notes
Immediately the post octave spirit is much darker and richer. Full of Manuka honey, slices of grilled grapefruit sprinkled with sugar, faint leather, various wood polishes and Braeburn apples.
The palate is fruity and sweet with rich honey and toasted oats, cedar wood, vanilla pods and a few cloves as well as red grape and a few redcurrants.
The finish has crystallised ginger, pepper, a few tannins and a handful of biscotti.
Definitely an interesting comparison, showing the turbo charging that an Octave can provide. Perhaps in future it might be fun if they included a sample of the pre-octave version for consumers to have the same tasting experience.
Pre octave it was a little light and perhaps slightly too subdued. Post octave however its very good indeed. Nicely balanced and full of interesting flavours. Worth picking up a bottle if you have a little extra money to spend and are looking for something that little bit more off the beaten track.
Priced at around £220 it is available here.
Whiskymakers Reserve No.3, Lakes Distillery, 54% abv, (press sample)
The third release in The Lakes Distillery’s Whiskymaker’s Reserve series. Matured in a combination of PX, Oloroso, Cream Sherry and red wine casks. It is non chill filtered and presented at its natural colour.
The nose is full of orange oils, vanilla essence and a big drizzle of honey. There is a chocolate note (specifically Green & Blacks Maya Gold) alongside some old polishes, water melon, heather and warm cedar. There is a slight herby undertone, perhaps dill, mixed with a very fragrant florality.
The palate is rich and tannic and more than a little buttery. Full of raisins steeped in cold tea a miscellany of old woods giving it a perceptible dryness.
The finish is full of drying spices and redcurrants coated in vanilla infused butter, as well as a touch of wood – namely pencil wood or perhaps balsa.
Despite coming from a miscellany of casks it is superbly balanced but yet remain wonderfully flavoursome. After last years excellent release the quality bar is set at a high level. This release, from what is fast becoming my favourite English distillery, continues to set a similarly high standard.
I’ve almost forgiven them for releasing Steel Bonnets.
Priced at around £65 and available here.
Smokehead Rum Rebel, Ian Macleod Distillers, 46% abv (press sample)
This Islay single malt has been finished in Caribbean rum casks and has been bottled by Ian Macleod Distillers, owners of Glengoyne, Tamdhu and the soon to be resurrected Rosebank. Smokehead has been styled as “the wild one of Single Malt Whisky and is not for everyone”
This must be one of these ‘category disruption’ expressions we hear so much of these days.
Initially full of peat reek but with undertones of wet newspaper, ink, sweet cure bacon and a touch of burnt sugar. There is a lingering sweetness that remind me a little of Irn Bru sweets.
The palate is ashy and minerally with a platter of cured Italian meats. The sweetness from the nose isn’t immediately obvious here as it remains quite dry in the mouth. There is a wisp of cask char and perhaps a little burnt vanilla too.
The finish is dry and still full of ash, perhaps a touch sooty. The slightly sweet / meat notes make a return before fading to leave distant, lingering smoke.
This is a fun everyday dram for those evenings when you are looking for something that is a little smoky – with the added bonus of a little sweet twist that the rum cask provides.
Priced at around £55 and available here
BEST OF THE BUNCH
Octobers top dram is The Lakes Whiskymakers Reserve No.3. An ambassador for the increasing quality of English whisky.
An honourable mention for the Duncan Taylor Glen Keith that, as well as being an excellent dram, allowed me to indulge in some geeky cask comparison fun.
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You can find more of my tasting notes in the Amateur Drammers Archives.
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