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Bruichladdich, Peat


The Bruichladdich distillery had some difficult times in the past : after being mothballed in 1994, it reappeared in the early 2000's, and it's managed since then by Jim Mac Ewan, former director of the Bowmore distillery, and an emblematic character of the Isle of Islay and winner of Distiller of the Year for an unprecedented three times. Since 2002, three single malts are produced at the distillery: Bruichladdich of course, but also a peaty malt, called Port Charlotte at 40 PPM and the earth shattering Octomore - the world's heaviest peaty whisky at an astounding 80.5 PPM.

Since some time, Bruichladdich creatively reinvents itself : Bruichladdich has tried to capture the Islay personality in their new 'Trilogy' of whiskies; Waves, Rocks and Peat. All evocative words that make one undoubtedly think of Islay. Perhaps not the idillyc Islay you might have experienced, but the real Islay.

Rocks will be the lightest of the lot, with fresh and fruity tones thanks to French Oak casks. Listed as a good aperitif whisky.

Waves will be mild, with hints of peat (15ppm, apparently). This is an "anytime of the day" whisky, is exactly the right time of day to pour your first dram.

Peat will be, er, peaty. Replacing the 3D series this is slightly toned down at 35ppm (so lower than Ardbeg) still with a rich peat flavor but without the more medicinal undertones.

Let's have a look at the Peat :

Smell : smoke, peat, and barely nothing else. Some faint hint of fruit, apple and pineapple.
Taste : Peat, and smoke again. Quite peppery aftertaste. Some tobacco in the aftertaste. A bit like Talisker, but friendlier and less complex.

The verdict : yummy ! A surprising friendly peated whisky, not too complex, but not boring either. Very well balanced between fruity and smoke. Excellent introduction into the world of peated whiskies. Time for another dram !

Scapa, 14yo


In the shadow of the Highland Park distillery lies Scapa. Not so famous as its neighbour, this distillery produces one of my most favorite whiskies. The first bottle I tasted from Scapa was the 13yo, which was great, light, and fresh. The only drawback was its price tag. I was pleasantly surprised when I found its 14yo brother in my usual shop, but with a price tag that was 10 Euros cheaper.

What immediately hit me was the golden color : only one year more mature, this 14yo is much darker than its 13yo sister. Turns out this is not the only difference.

Let's skip the chitchat, won't we, and go straight to business :

The smell : floral, malty, fresh fruit, a gentle vanilla scent (though not too sweet)
The taste : malty again, quite some difference with the 13yo. Again quite fruity, mostly pear. Some complexity, vanilla, followed by dark chocolate. Spicy, with a strong sherry taste.

Conclusion : quite a difference from the gentle 13yo, even in such a degree, that judging from the taste & color, I almost would say this whisky must have aged in different kind of barrels than its younger sister. Whereas the 13 reminds me more of a gentle Speyside, this has the taste of a typical Highland whisky. But still, a magnificent taste, light, friendly, but with a surprising complexity.

Scapa rules, a stellar whisky.

Talisker, 10yo


Talisker is one of the renowned distilleries in Scotland, located on the isle of Skye. Situated on the banks of loch Harport, the Talisker distillery was created by the brothers Mac Askill in 1830. It changed hands and was renovated a few times before 1915 when a consortium including John Dewar & Sons and John Walker & Sons took it over. Until 1928, Talisker triple distilled their spirit. The distillery was badly damaged by a fire in 1960 and 5 replacement stills, exact replicas, had to be made.

Talisker is since 80 years an important ingredient in Johnny Walker, and their logo (the striding man) was on their bottles until the eighties. It's almost 46%, which makes it a malt for men. I hesitated long before buying this, mainly because it is said to resemble Lagavulin (I ain't a big fan of Lagavulin).

The taste then :

Smell : almost exactly the smell I remember from Lagavulin, lots of smoke, peat, saltiness, some sort of cheese. This doesn't promise lots of good.

Taste : this is a strong whisky, it numbs the mouth, and is difficult to drink pure. Again lots of smoke, sweeter tones, creamy. The salty taste stays absent, luckily. Much sweeter than expected. Pepper and a hint of mint in the aftertaste. It's ... alot : rich, and complex and creamy and satisfying and ... good. I like its complexity and creaminess.

As I said before : a grand whisky for real men. Not something to sip, but to drink in large gulps. A drink to get warm by after a long days work in the cold pouring rain.

The Balvenie, 12yo


The Balvenie distillery is settled in the very heart of the Speyside area. The distillery has been built in 1892 from an old manor from the 18th century. The first distillation took place in 1893. Very few has changed since that time, and the distillery is really proud of its roots, and does everything it can to preserve it. The stills come from the Lagavulin and Glen Albyn distilleries, because the distillery wanted to be sure the stills are working and producing a good spirit.

The Balvenie Doublewood Single Malt Scotch Whisky is a 12 year old single malt which gains its distinctive character from being matured in two woods. During its period of maturation The Balvenie Doublewood is transferred from a traditional oak whisky cask to a first fill Spanish oak sherry cask. Each stage lends different qualities to the resulting single malt - the traditional casks, having previously held bourbon, soften and add character, whilst the sherry wood brings depth and fullness of flavour.

Tasting notes - the smell : honey, fruity, with a strong hint of pear.
The taste : again pear. Soft sherry tones, smooth and mellow.

Not overall impressive, this is a nice and mellow malt though, presenting a enjoyable daily dram.

Highland Park, 12yo


Highland Park is the northernmost whisky distillery in Scotland as Blackwood distillery on the Shetlands is not yet producing whisky. Highland Park is positioning itself to enter the top 10 selling single malts over the next 5 years and have launched their line in new, award winning packaging. Unusual for distilleries, HP's water is hard and many feel that this has a great influence on the unique character of its whisky. Only 4 other distilleries have hard water, and there is a myth that soft water is necessary for the production of good whisky.

Sometimes lovingly refered to as HP sauce, Highland Park is well known for adding depth of flavour to blended whiskies. But Highland Park is a respected brand as a single malt, winning awards and accolades the world over. Michael Jackson has called it 'the greatest all-rounder in the world of whisky" and F. Paul Pacult decided the 18yo was "The Best Spirit in the World" in 2005.

Tasting notes :

The smell : brown sugar, anise, sweet, but with a complex layer. Some fruit, most likely pear.

The taste : whoa, even more complex. Herbal, spicy, some pepper. Is that a whisp of smoke ? Very malty, very rich flavour.

Conclusion : I like it. I like this alot. Very complex, but quite balanced. Lots of tastes which all go along. Not like Lagavulin, where the many tastes sortof collide. Definitely something completely different from which I'm used to. Deserves a permanent place in every whisky cabinet. Surely in mine.


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