The Whisky Exchange “New Chichibu and the final card – Hanyu The Joker” – Japanese Whisky News


New Chichibu and the final card – Hanyu The Joker

Ichiro Akuto

Ichiro Akuto

Around two hours’ drive north-west of Tokyo, near the city of Saitama, is the largely mountainous town of Chichibu and the home of Chichibu distillery – Japan’s youngest. Although Ichiro Akuto only started planning this distillery in 2007, he and his family have a long tradition of producing alcohol and – more recently – whisky in Japan. The Akuto business dates some 400 years, when they started making sake in the Chichibu area. In 1941, Ichiro’s grandfather set up a new headquarters in Hanyu city and gained a whisky-making licence in 1946. It wasn’t until the 1980s, however, that they started to make a serious attempt at making single malt whisky, and thus Hanyu was born.

At this point they were still making sake, and with single malt whisky much less in demand than blended, in 2000 he decided that it was best to stop distilling altogether. In 2004, Ichiro’s father sold the company to new owners who were not interested in making whisky. The stills and distilling equipment were destroyed and, had Ichiro not stepped in, the whisky – some of it 20 years old – would have been disposed of. Thankfully, he managed to retain all of these lovely casks and stored them in a warehouse.

A year on and he released his first bottles from these casks. As the Hanyu name now meant very little, seeing as it no longer owned the distillery, Ichiro decided to call his new range Ichiro’s Malt. The first release was a 1988 single malt of just 600 bottles, which took two years to sell out. When making this first bottling, Ichiro teamed up with a designer friend to create a label – his suggestion was a playing card, and Ichiro instantly fell in love with the idea. The initial design was well received, and Ichiro decided to make a further 53 whiskies, with this evening’s final Joker whisky being the 54th card in the series.

A few of the Hanyu Cards

A few of the Hanyu Cards

 Ichiro has picked up a lot of experience over the years through working not only for Suntory, but also a period at Karuizawa in 2006 and further year at Benriach in 2007. He then returned to Japan to the town of Chichibu, where his new distillery had finally been made, and in February 2008, he started distilling. Production is small in comparison to many other distilleries: he can only mill 400g of barley at one time, his mash tun is a mere 2,400 litres and his eight beautiful mizunara washbacks are just 3,000 litres. By comparison, Balvenie’s 10 washbacks are 50,000 litres each and Bowmore’s mash tun is 38,582 litres. He was also rather pleased with his two ‘small, short and straight’ spirit stills, both with a downward-pointing lyne arm.

Such is the attention to detail and precision of the running of Chichibu that Ichiro and his team travel to Scotland each year to make their own malt which is done the traditional way by floor malting. The malt is made in Scotland and the finished product sent to Japan. Barley is being grown near the distillery, however, and the company is in the process of making a floor malting, as well as using a Japanese variety of barley, which is machine malted, to make whisky, which is currently sitting in casks. Hopefully it’s not too long before we see this in a bottle.

But on to the whiskies!

Chichibu Floor Malted

Chichibu Floor Malted. 50.5% abv

Nose: Lovely and fruity, packed with red cherries, summer berries (red), quite light with some roasted cereal notes and a malted character. Dave Broom joined us for the evening to present the whiskies and he also picked up crème caramel and white chocolate.

Palate: Quite light in texture, red fruits coming through as with the nose, but with a floral lift to them. Although it starts light, this one develops in the mouth, gets chunkier and develops a lovely weight. Those toasted cereal notes are there also, with some granola thrown into the bowl. This time I can spot the white chocolate – or did Dave put that flavour in my mind? With water added, the chocolate character becomes much more prominent and takes over the fruit as the leading role.It becomes oilier, rounded and has a much better texture to it which feels a little more balanced.

Finish: A lovely finish that’s long lasting. There’s cereal, granola, pannacotta, and coffee going on but it remains gentle and comes through with a touch of sweetness.

Comment: This comes to life with water. Ichiro bottles his range at varying strengths, specific to each whisky. For me, this is a little too strong on its own, but with just a tiny drop of water it becomes soft, rounded and has that lovely cereal character with a subtle chocolate undertone.

Chichibu Port Pipe

Chichibu Port Pipe. 54.5% abv

This whisky starts its life in ex-bourbon casks and matures in them for two years before being transferred into portpipes for the final year.

Appearance: I don’t often comment on the colour or appearance of whiskies but I just had to mention this one. It has an onion-skin colour with a pink hue, almost reminiscent of Tavel rosé wine.

Nose: There’s a lovely spicy character to this one and the colour of the whisky comes through onto the nose. I’m getting pink flowers, cranberry, rhubarb, Turkish delight (rose), some gentle red fruits and lovely sweet spice.

Palate: Dried cranberry, raspberry, touch of tannins, lots of fruit, rose petals, floral, and slightly hot on the tongue. With water, raspberries begin to dominate. Still some tannins present and a herbal note lurking in the background. It’s gentle, soft, sweet and something like a red-apple-skin flavour going on.

Finish: Quite hot, but the fruit lingers much longer than the alcohol, bringing a sweet and spicy character.

Comment: Really fruity and fresh for a port finish. I often find these styles have a clawing, musty character which is nowhere to be seen in this one. It’s surprisingly like its colour, too – lots of pink and red fruits.

Chichibu Chibidaru

Chichibu Chibidaru. 53.5% abv

Time for a short lesson in Japanese. Chibi is Japanese for small, and daru means cask. Can you guess what’s unique about this one yet? It’s aged in a quarter cask. There is a small difference to this one however. To make these casks, they chop both sides off a traditional 225l barrel (leaving just the middle section) and put new ends on. The new barrels are small and dumpy like cigars in appearance and don’t have the sloping sides and small ends you would find on a traditional quarter cask. This technique actually came about by accident – as is often the way with many things whisky related. Ichiro didn’t have a cooperage nearby that could make quarter casks, and when some of his standard casks developed a leak, he chopped the ends off and put new ends on – hey presto, he had made his own quarter casks. The cask for this one is ex-bourbon but with new heads – which will be much larger than those on a traditional quarter cask.

Chichibu now has a cooperage on site, headed up by a 97-year-old cooper who previously owned the (now closed) local cooperage before retiring. He now comes to the distillery to train new coopers, although sometimes he doesn’t show up for work if it’s quite hot. Or if it’s raining…

Nose: Lots of caramel, toffee, stone and orchard fruits, notably nectarines and ripe peach, roses and some scented Japanese spices in the background along with marzipan.

Palate: Toffee, caramel, slightly sweet, lovely creamy texture, bold and quite rich, very forward, ripe Braeburn apples, nectarine, ripe peach, coconut, strawberry bootlaces, wild thick-set honey, menthol.

Finish: Caramel, sweetness, peach, creamy and that menthol note comes out a bit more.

Comment: Seriously rich, sweet and fruity. There’s a lovely thick-set honey flavour on the palate and a light lift on the finish.

Chichibu On The Way

Chichibu On The Way. 58.5% abv

I like the name of this one. Ichiro starting distilling whisky at Chichibu in 2008 and On The Way was bottled in 2013 containing a portion of his oldest, five-year-old whisky, along with other barrels distilled between 2008 and 2010. In essence, Chichibu is on its way to bottling a straight five year old, but it’s not quite there yet. Each individual cask that goes into this, much of it his Floor Malted, starts its life in an ex-bourbon cask before spending a final year in mizunara wood.

Nose: Beautiful. Sweet spice, mint, cut grass, green, herbal, fennel, anise, floral, less fruity than the others, but there is some pear or apple maybe in there.

Palate: Sweet, oily, thick and spicy. Lots of exotic fruits such as papaya, mango, lychee and guava, full of heat and that herbal note is back. With water this remains rich but becomes creamier and an incense flavour comes into play and pushes the tropical fruits into the background. It’s not strong incense, however, it’s more akin to standing near a Buddhist temple; you know that somewhere nearby there is incense burning, but it’s softer and less pungent.

Finish: Sweet spice, incense, temples and a firm grip with some tannin.

Comment: The use of mizunara really brings this one out. Without water, it’s bold and full of tropical fruit, but just a tiny drop of water and the mizunara comes to play and that incense character shoots into the limelight.

Chichibu Peated

Chichibu Peated. 50.5% abv

Nose: I’m back on Islay, stood by the shore between two distilleries and there is a smoked-meat festival taking place behind me on top of the hill. Or, more simply, I’m getting peat, brine, salty sea air, smoked sausage, cut grass, a garden bonfire, wood smoke and smoked ham.

Palate: Smoked meats again – ham and sausage – green fruits, bonfire, ash, full of smoke, waxy and very big in the mouth. There’s a serious punch of heat coming through here which is intensified by the smoke.

Finish: Summer bonfires and smoked meats.

Comment: This is big and punchy. It feels a little less complex than the other whiskies, with just smoke and smoked meat coming through for me – but that certainly doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good. A great winter-evening dram.

Chichibu Peated 2013

Chichibu Peated Bottled 2013. 53.5%

Slightly paler than the previous peated whisky, Ichiro has increased the peating levels and abv for this bottling. For me, the difference is huge.

Nose: Full, clean, much more restrained and elegant than the older bottling. The smoke, brine, grassy notes are all still there but they seem much more integrated.

Palate: Elegant, creamy, well-balanced alcohol, vanilla, brine, white peach, apple, scented aromatic spices. Delicious.

Finish: Soft, delicate smoke and white fruits. I finished off my notes here with ‘divine’.

Comment: The difference between these two bottling is quite vast. He’s taken something that was good and taken it up several levels. It’s interesting to note that even with a higher level of alcohol and peating, there is much more restraint in this one and it’s balanced. All the flavour and power is there, but it approaches you slowly and woos you, it doesn’t need to do anything fancy, no chat-up lines required – it sits back and lets you fall in love with ease.

Hanyu The Joker

Ichiro’s Malt Card Series – Hanyu The Joker. 57.7%

So, here we are, the final card in the series: The Joker(s). For his final card, Ichiro has released two Jokers; the first, a vatting of 14 casks over six vintages of Hanyu from 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991 and 2000. The casks types for this are sherry butt, puncheon, hogshead, Cognac, chibidaru, Madeira hogshead and bourbon; 3,640 bottles of this were made. The second Joker has a monochrome label and much rarer – sadly we didn’t get to try this one, although this is not surprising given that this is just one cask from 1985 and only 241 bottles have been made.

Appearance: Dark caramel, copper/amber

Nose: Soft caramel, polished brass, fragrant wood, cedar, so much depth. It’s waxy, rich, concentrated, stewed dried prunes and dates, bitter orange peel (dried), pink peppercorns, old leather. Given a bit more time to open up in the glass, a floral note kicks in, with some rose petals and Turkish delight in the background.

Palate: Caramel, it starts quite soft, almost retrained, and slowly develops on your palate. There’s no big hit; it just slowly offers more and more over time. There’s ripe red and black fruits, blackberry, prune, fig, bitter orange peel, it’s rich but subtle. Grapefruit and dried citrus peel come forward after time.

Finish: Seriously long. It’s warm, with that bitter citrus peel backed with blackberry, fig, and a subtle woody note.

Comment: This doesn’t scream at you, it introduces itself and lets you get acquainted. It starts out slightly shy and opens up over time. Once you get to experience all that it has to offer, though, you won’t be upset. This has so much going on, and each time I revisited it, I was welcomed by a new aroma and taste, with each one was as delicious as the next.

As always, our thanks go out to Akuto-san and Dave Broom for hosting such a fantastic evening.

You can read more about Chichibu in Tim’s post from when he visited, and you can sign up to receive an email when the new Chichibus and the Joker are available on the following links: Chichibu On The Way, Chichibu Peated 2013 and Ichiro’s Malt – The Joker. They should be available by mid-May.

Originally published on The Whisky Exchange Blog – New Chichibu and the final card – Hanyu The Joker

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 AA Kymah


Pernod Ricard Travel Retail Europe has unveiled the latest of its much-anticipated, limited edition Single Cask Editions – The Glenlivet Kymah. This exclusive edition is limited to 528 hand written and individually numbered bottles and is launching exclusively with Heinemann Duty Free at Frankfurt airport. The Glenlivet Kymah has been hand-selected by co-owner Claus Heinemann and will be the main focus of a The Glenlivet portfolio activation running across Frankfurt airport during May 2014. Also highlighted will be two other Travel Retail exclusive expressions from The Glenlivet – Master Distiller’s Reserve and the newly-launched, Nàdurra Oloroso.

Each expression in the Single Cask Editions range is non-chill filtered and offers a unique take on The Glenlivet’s flawless and complex character. Sourced from a single cask, each bottle is extremely limited and showcases The Glenlivet Distillery’s commitment to craft production.

The Glenlivet Kymah Single Cask Edition takes its name from the Kymah Burn, a tributary of the River Livet, which evokes the natural beauty of the celebrated Speyside region. It is a rare, limited edition whisky that has been aged in a single ex-sherry butt for 16 years, and is bottled at 60.1% ABV.

The striking brand spaces in the Heinemann shops at Frankfurt airport have been designed to mirror The Glenlivet’s contemporary style. As well as being introduced to the Guardians of The Glenlivet – the brand’s global community of consumers – travellers passing through Frankfurt B-East will be invited to relax and play a game of pool on a custom-built The Glenlivet table. Further visibility is achieved via multiple sampling points and wooden and glass product glorifiers reinforcing The Glenlivet’s story and handcrafted credentials, while highlighting its unique positioning as the single malt that started it all. In Frankfurt B-Schengen eye-catching sensory pods will bring The Glenlivet’s tasting notes to life, further encouraging consumers to interact with the brand.

Jessica Spence Senior Consumer and Digital Marketing Manager, Pernod Ricard Travel Retail Europe, comments “We are very passionate about our Single Cask Editions range; each whisky highlights the subtle, complex and elegant style synonymous with The Glenlivet. Kymah’s journey is unique as it began high on the slopes of Carn na Glascoill in the Ladder Hills. We are very happy to have been able to offer Heinemann Duty Free, one of our key customers, the opportunity to select such a rare expression. What makes this activation even more exciting is that it’s presented alongside two other Travel Retail exclusives from The Glenlivet. We really look forward to seeing travellers’ and whisky enthusiasts’ responses to such a highly prized expression.”

Claus Heinemann, co-owner of Gebr. Heinemann, said “We are delighted to have partnered with Pernod Ricard Travel Retail Europe in the creation of The Glenlivet Kymah Single Cask Edition. As a loyal fan of The Glenlivet myself, I was honoured to be invited to The Glenlivet Distillery in 2014 to hand-select the single cask in which The Glenlivet Kymah was matured. We are very excited to unveil this rare and exceptional whisky as a Heinemann exclusive in our Frankfurt stores.”

The Glenlivet Kymah Single Cask Edition 70cl bottle retails at 249€.


The Glenlivet Kymah Single Cask Edition

Beginning high on the slopes of Carn na Glascoill in the Ladder Hills near the Distillery, the Kymah Burn is one of the many tributaries of the River Livet which winds through the valley of Glenlivet; the valley of the smooth, flowing one.

The Glenlivet Kymah Single Cask Edition Non Chill-Filtered – 60.1% ABV – 16 Years Old

Tasting notes
Nose: A rich harmony of the syrupy, sweetness of moist, juicy raisin and toffee and the warm, subtle spice of ginger.
Palate: Beginning with a delightfully sweet, soft toffee that echoes the nose then rounding off to a medley of fruity orange marmalade, cinnamon and rich dark chocolate.
Finish: Long and sweet with a lingering, delicate spice.

The Glenlivet is the No. 2 single malt Scotch whisky in the world. Crafted in the remote Livet Valley since 1824, it is the only whisky with the unchallengeable right to be called The Glenlivet.

Chivas Brothers is the Scotch whisky and premium gin business of Pernod Ricard – the world’s co-leader in wine and spirits. Chivas Brothers is the global leader in luxury Scotch whisky and premium gin. Its portfolio includes Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s, Beefeater Gin, The Glenlivet, Royal Salute, Aberlour, Plymouth Gin, Longmorn, Scapa, 100 Pipers, Clan Campbell, Something Special and Passport.

For further information please visit

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Glenglassaugh 1972 (C&S Dram)

Andrea Caminneci, a German of Italian descent, started a wine spirits company in 2005 and became the importer of Glenglassaugh for Germany. As such, he managed to select and bottle many outstanding Glenglassaugh expressions, the 1972 cask #2896 for example.

His own series CS Dram contains a long list of single cask whiskies from different distilleries. Recently a sub-series CS Dram Exceptional was launched for special drams. It’s not surprising that the first release is a Glenglassaugh 1972.

We don’t know the cask number, but the whisky was distilled 22nd of December 1972, which is the same date as cask #2934 bottled by the distillery in a Rare Cask decanter in 2008.



Glenglassaugh 1972 CS Dram Exceptional 40 YearsGlenglassaugh 1972 CS Dram Exceptional 40 YearsGlenglassaugh 40 yo 1972 (43,1%, CS Dram Exceptional 2013, refill sherry butt, 300 btl.)

Nose: starts rather disappointingly on grains and muesli but opens up nicely. Mirabelles, green mango, lots of mandarins and lemons. A bit of floral honey and dried flowers. Candied ginger. Typical waxy notes as well: polished oak, pollen. It’s a mix of Caperdonich 1972 (though more floral) with a subdued hint of Clynelish. Mouth: half fruity, half oaky. Apricots, pineapples, oranges, sprinkled with honey but also with a more mineral waxy note. Together with a peppery kick this leaves a rather oaky impression. Almonds and vanilla cream. Subtle warmer sherry notes towards the end. Finish: decent length, with the fruits starting to fade and the oak spices growing stronger.

Maybe not a total stunner like #2896 but a very fine, typical waxy Glenglassaugh nonetheless. Still available in Germany for around € 385.

Score: 90/100

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Karuizawa 1971 (cask #7267)

This Karuizawa 1971 cask #7267 was bottled exclusively for Taiwan. Although the Geisha label says ‘bottled 2012’ it didn’t hit the market until the summer of 2013. At the same time the Karuizawa 1977 cask #4010 was released.


Karuizawa 1971 cask #7267 for TaiwanKaruizawa 1971 cask #7267 for TaiwanKaruizawa 1971 (62,8%, OB for Taiwan 2012, cask #7267, 467 btl.)

Nose: quite stunning right from the start. These high-strength Karuizawas can be closed right after pouring, but this one is immediately expressive. Typical pipe tobacco and humidors but the fruity notes are really big as well. Strawberry jam, figs, ripe bananas. A fragrant peaches and faint hint of old Sauternes. Quite sweet – there’s an earthy side to it as well, but on a second level. Lots of old Oloroso notes. After a while it becomes more ethereal with lots of exotic woods and beeswax, aromatic citrus oils and as some balsamic top notes. Very wide and just wonderful. Mouth: very intense with a gingery heat and the slightly tannic dryness of dark fruit teas when sipped neat. A lot of toasted notes and wood spices (chilli). Needs a few drops of water to totally shine. Dark chocolate combined with brambles and raisins. Black cherries. Tobacco leaves. Mouth: very long, on sweet coffee, dark chocolate, mint and cinnamon powder.

Muscular whisky, but quite excellent. On the nose, I prefer this one to the 1977, but on the palate it becomes too dry to score higher. It helps to add (just a tiny amount of) water though. Almost impossible to find – easily € 1000 in auctions.

Score: 92/100

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The Kilchoman Loch Gorm Vintage Is Now Available To Order at Loch Fyne Whiskies – Scotch Whisky News

Loch Fyne Whiskies is delighted to announce that the brand new Kilchoman Loch Gorm vintage has arrived. Bottled in 2014 this sensational expression promises to be one of their most exciting ever releases. Only available while stocks last!

The Loch Gorm was filled into fresh Oloroso sherry butts in 2009 and bottled in spring 2014. This full ex-sherry cask maturation creates a unique balance of classic Kilchoman character and rich Oloroso sherry influence.

Nose: Mixed preserved fruit, particularly lemon and rich peat smoke
Palate: Dry cereal flavour develops into honey and biscuit with lingering peat
Finish: Rich, sweet and smoky

Click here to buy – £67.00

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Tomatin 1988 Vintage – Scotch Whisky News

23414 Tomatin 1988 Bottle  Box Lo 


The Tomatin Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky range has always offered a wide range of flavours with its variety of wood finishes including Sherry, Bourbon and, more recently, Virgin Oak.

Along with our new 14 Year Old Port Wood Finish, we are delighted to announce the addition of a 1988 Vintage expression to our core range. This expression will be released in batches.

The contents have been vatted from a combination of ex-Bourbon and ex-Port casks.


Cask Type: Matured in a combination of Bourbon casks and Port pipes

Strength: 46% alc./vol.

Availability: Batch 1 (2500 bottles) available worldwide from April 2014, permanent addition to core range.

Distribution: Worldwide

Price: RRP £159.99 per 70cl bottle / $250 per 75cl bottle

This whisky is sweet and fresh – a delicious whisky which, on the nose, smells like breakfast in a glass!

AROMA; Strawberry jam, honey glazed ham, Cantaloupe melon, freshly squeezed orange juice.

PALATE; Sweet with buttery notes; candy floss, Victoria sponge. Red fruits, eucalyptus, mint, coconut. Fading smoke.

FINISH; Fresh with lots of depth.


• LAUNCH DATE: April 2014

• LAUNCH DETAILS: The launch will be supported by competitions on the brand’s social media channels and a Product Film on You Tube.

• The Tomatin Distillery Co Ltd is a producer and blender of Scotch whisky, boasting a strong core range of single malt whiskies along with a range of popular blends.

• Website:  


Twitter Instagram: @Tomatin1897


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Ben Nevis 1997 (Maltbarn)

More bottlers are releasing middle-aged Ben Nevis, most of them in the 1995-1997 regions. This Ben Nevis 1997 is the latest release from Maltbarn.


Ben Nevis 1997 MaltbarnBen Nevis 1997 MaltbarnBen Nevis 16 yo 1997 (53,2%, Maltbarn 2013, bourbon barrel, 91 btl.)

Nose: I’m not exactly attracted. It shows overripe melon and brown banana… A tad musty. Soaked grains as well. Honey and burnt sugar. Hints of citrus peel. Wet hay, which evolves towards wet newspapers. Add some undefined savoury notes and a little linseed oil. A tad difficult to enjoy for me. Mouth: oily, with nicer notes now, cherries and strawberries up front. Vanilla custard and bananas that are not overdue. Sweet, but growing spicy and grassy notes. Nutmeg and firm pepper. Mocha notes towards the end. Still not very seducative – or just not my kinda profile. Finish: medium long, with more oak and a hint of caramel sweetness.

Slightly peculiar whisky, but peculiar is the middle name of Ben Nevis, right? Be sure to try this one for yourself. Around € 75.

Score: 80/100

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The Whisky Exchange “Le Nez du Whisky – follow your nose” – Whisky News


Le Nez du Whisky – follow your nose

Regular readers of the blog will know one thing that we’re always keen to learn more about is all things olfaction-related (see Tim’s post last August). So when I was offered to chance to try the new Le Nez du Whisky aroma kit, how could I say no?

Jean Lenoir's Le Nez Du Whisky

Le Nez du Whisky in all its glory

French wine expert Jean Lenoir first released Le Nez du Vin, a set of the most common aromas found in wine, in 1981. The success of the original, now translated into more than 10 languages, including Russian and Chinese, led to further forays into the worlds of coffee and Armagnac, and now into whisky.

Le Nez du Whisky

It’s quite bright

At £275, it’s not cheap, but does contain a wealth of information – 54 aromas to nose, a flavour wheel giving the ‘answers’, and a 140-page book. The book is compiled by Lenoir with help from whisky writer Charles MacLean (12 tasting notes and 100 years of Scotch malt whisky), Martine Nouet (whisky and food pairing) and professor of chemistry Hubert Richard – the latter who, along with aromatician Karine Lasalle, helped to perfect the aromas.

So, what did the practical tests reveal?

Testing it out on my colleagues, it became clear that some people are better at deciphering the contents than others. They are intended to be extreme versions of the flavours one finds in whisky – upon opening the set, you are hit with a waft of different aromas, a melange of herbaceous, fruity and smoky notes. It should also be said that some of the aromas are more obvious, two particularly instantly recognisable ones being custard and pineapple (the former not something I often get as a tasting note).

Rocky Smells

Rocky smells…

As can be seen from the photos, I found some are more pleasant to the nose than others. The smells range in pungency, with a few hitting you in the face as soon as you take the lid off, while others are much more subtle.

Just a dab behind the ears...

Just a dab behind the ears…

Broiled (grilled) meat was one of my favourites (even though they look like little aftershave bottles, I’d advise you against dabbing them on skin rather than simply smelling them – I’m struggling to get that particular smell off my neck) and the pear bottle filled me with dread (I’m unusual in being ‘pear-phobic’, so rare that I can’t even find it mentioned in The Phobia List, although it seems I’m not alone).

One thing that was interesting, and indeed a question that has puzzled the whisky community, is why some people are particularly sensitive to sulphur and others aren’t. Nosing the vial, I was struggling to pick out any aroma, whereas Billy identified it immediately.

The book explains each aroma in detail: for example, the paragraph on geraniums gives a basic description of the flower, before going into technical detail. Each flavour is listed with a list of whiskies that the aroma can be found in – these vary in size, from seven for geraniums up to four columns for oak. I can’t help feeling however that it would be just as useful, if not more so, to have a list of aromas by whisky, rather than the other way round.
I tried it out using one of my favourite whiskies, Compass Box Hedonism, where I could pick out the orange and caramel notes without much effort, but the toasted almond was harder to detect (although being batch variable, this wasn’t entirely surprising). Aromas can also transport us back to places and memories, and upon sniffing seaweed and seashell, I was immediately reminded of my visit to Islay’s Machir Bay on a cold windswept day in February.

Machir Bay

The maritime aromas transported me back to a windy February day at Machir Bay on Islay

My overall impression is of a fascinating and enlightening kit – something that has enhanced my knowledge of the sense of smell in whisky. At the price, it’s aimed at aficianados who want to add some extra knowledge when writing tasting notes or describing whiskies. Producing 54 vials to such a standard must have been a painstaking task. The book is a fascinating read on its own, with an in-depth description of whisky regions, the production process, how to nose and why it’s important – it would make a great book in its own right. It’s also an excellent reference point for helping to decipher flavours in whiskies – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve smelt a whisky and racked my brain to try and remember what the aroma reminds me of.

Coming from a wine background, I’m familiar with Le Nez du Vin and indeed Le Nez du Armagnac, and this is a superb addition to the range. It’s not perfect and there are tweaks that could make it even better – the listing by whiskies as mentioned earlier, and some common aromas not being included (toffee is a glaring omission), but this is by far the best kit I’ve come across on the market and is invaluable for those who wish to learn more about the wonders of olfaction.

Originally published by The Whisky Exchange – “Le Nez du Whisky – follow your nose” and appears here with permission.

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Ballantine’s 17 Year Old Signature Distillery Glentauchers Edition 2


Ballantine’s, the world’s No. 2 Scotch whisky, has today announced the release of Ballantine’s 17 Year Old Signature Distillery Glentauchers Edition. This special blend completes a set of four limited editions, each of which has been created to demonstrate the unique structure of Ballantine’s 17 Year Old and how this is achieved.

Of all of the malt and grain whiskies used in Ballantine’s 17 Year Old, four stand out as ‘signature’ malts – Scapa, Miltonduff, Glenburgie and Glentauchers. Each of these plays a unique and crucial role in the creation of the final masterpiece that is Ballantine’s 17 Year Old.

Building on the successful global release of the Scapa, Miltonduff and Glenburgie Editions, Glentauchers is the last of the signature malts to be showcased in the Ballantine’s 17 Year Old Signature Distillery Editions. Located in the heart of Scotland’s celebrated Speyside whisky region, the Glentauchers Distillery is one of Scotland’s few remaining manually operated distilleries, where centuries of knowledge and traditional methods of Scotch whisky making are passed down to new generations of craftsmen.

The integrity of Glentauchers malt whisky is safeguarded by three generations of the same family, who have worked at the distillery since 1920. The whisky itself has a light citrus character, which is present after distillation as a result of the production process unique to the distillery. Its soft berry notes are the product of a fusion of influences from both distillation and maturation, while the spirit’s signature nutty character and warm, lingering finish are the result of long maturation in American oak casks.

The premium packaging for the Glentauchers Edition takes its inspiration from the lightness of the tasting notes: a burgundy colour from the lingering taste of soft berries, and an elegant blush sheen from the sweet, citrus fruit flavours. Staying true to the style of the previous Signature Distillery Editions, the use of metallic paper stock highlights the edition’s exclusive positioning within the Ballantine’s range, while differentiating itself from the original Ballantine’s 17 Year Old with an illustration of the Glentauchers Distillery, ‘limited edition’ script and unique colour scheme.

Sandy Hyslop, Ballantine’s Master Blender, comments: “We are proud to provide whisky enthusiasts with another opportunity to experience the single malts that shape the taste profile of Ballantine’s 17 Year Old, and to showcase the high quality of the single malt produced at the Glentauchers distillery.

“Lighter and more delicate in style, the Ballantine’s 17 Year Old Signature Distillery Glentauchers Edition highlights some of the more subtle flavours within the original blend, whilst showcasing the key contribution of the Glentauchers malt with a lingering finish of soft berries.”

Peter Moore, Global Brand Director for Ballantine’s, adds: “The release of the Ballantine’s 17 Year Old Signature Distillery Glentauchers Edition completes the picture of how Ballantine’s 17 Year Old achieves its signature style through the art of our skilled Master Blender, Sandy Hyslop. As with the other Ballantine’s 17 Year Old limited editions, the Glentauchers Edition is a highly collectible and giftable expression, and will appeal to whisky lovers looking for something unique, as well as to loyal followers of Ballantine’s.”

Ballantine’s 17 Year Old Signature Distillery Glentauchers Edition is launching within a number of Ballantine’s key markets including Asia Travel Retail, China and Japan, from May, with a retail price of $78 (USD). It was first unveiled in Korea in November 2013.

Ballantine’s 17 Year Old Signature Distillery Glentauchers Edition


Tasting Notes
Nose: Bursting with sweet citrus fruit flavours (tangerine and sweet clementine) with hazelnut notes and a hint of delicate floral heather coming through in the background.
Taste: Coats the mouth with smooth, soft berry flavours of raspberry and blackcurrant, combined with a tantalising taste of barley sugar sweets.
Finish: Incredibly long and luscious.

About Ballantine’s
Ballantine’s is the No. 1 Scotch whisky in Europe and the world’s No. 2 Scotch whisky by volume, and the range sells over 70 million bottles a year worldwide. Ballantine’s has won more than 120 trophies and medals at international competitions in the past 10 years for quality, as a result of its unique richness of character and perfect balance. The range, from Ballantine’s Finest to the exclusive 40 Year Old, is the most extensive in the world of Scotch and is maintained by the latest in a tradition of Master Blenders that dates back to 1827.

About Chivas Brothers
Chivas Brothers is the Scotch whisky and premium gin business of Pernod Ricard – the world’s co-leader in wine and spirits. Chivas Brothers is the global leader in luxury Scotch whisky and premium gin. Its portfolio includes Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s, Beefeater Gin, The Glenlivet, Royal Salute, Aberlour, Plymouth gin, Longmorn, Scapa, 100 Pipers, Clan Campbell, Something Special and Passport.

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Glenfarclas 1980 (Dark Oloroso)

Sometimes I don’t really get the whisky market. Take this Glenfarclas 1980 for example. It was a single cask release bottled in 2002 for the Belgian market, so you’d think after 12 years it has become impossible to find. However a couple of weeks ago, it suddenly turned up in several stores in Belgium and The Netherlands. Did someone invest in a pallet of Glenfarclas and recently cashed in, or has Filliers cleared part of its forgotten stocks?

It was distilled 23rd of December 1980 – that’s the day before the various 1980 Christmas Editions.


Glenfarclas 1980/2002 Dark Oloroso - BelgiumGlenfarclas 1980/2002 Dark Oloroso - BelgiumGlenfarclas 21 yo 1980 (53%, OB for Filliers 2002, dark oloroso cask, 574 btl.)

Nose: very big sherry, up to the point where it becomes flinty and almost smoky. Lots of prune juice, chocolate coated cherries, espresso and herbal notes like rosemary and eucalyptus. Tobacco leaves and leather. A whole array of aromas from earthy notes all the way to sour overtones. Mouth: sherried whisky can hardly get more sherried than this. Dried fruits, dark herbal teas. Again a slightly funny smokiness. Leathery notes, lots of herbs as well as liquorice. Dark cocoa powder. Ginger. Quite massive and oaky. Finish: long, still quite heavy, with hints of herbal liqueurs and some woody astringency.

Well it’s certainly interesting to see how far you can go with sherry maturation – this is very herbal and earthy with a hint of smoke and some medicinal edges. Maybe not the best example of balance or complexity, but a big sherried dram nonetheless. Around € 125.

Score: 89/100

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