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Friday, September 21, 2012

Single Malt Report: A flock of Indies (Part 3) courtesy of OC Scotch Club

This is the third of three posts covering the whiskys I tried on July 12th with the OC Scotch Club.

You can find Part 1 here.
You can find Part 2 here.


Whisky #3 - Bowmore 11yr 1999 (Murray McDavid)

Distillery: Bowmore
Ownership: Suntory (via Morrison Bowmore)
Bottler: Murray McDavid
Age: minimum 11 years
Maturation: Bourbon and Sauternes casks
Finished: Chateau d'Yquem casks
Region: Islay
Chillfiltered? Nope
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Limited bottling: 2300

With this one, I had my doubts.  My previous run-in with a Murray McDavid bottled Bowmore "ACE'd" in a sweet French wine cask introduced me to one of the most feculant f**ked-up fluids I've ever had the regrettable opportunity to taste.

I figure if you have to hit the whisky with TWO different sweet wine oaks, then the original distillate must have been pretty sad.  But I'll only live once, so what the hell.  I tried 0.5 ounces if it neat in a Glencairn glass...

The color is a deep dark gold, likely from the one of the wine casks.  The nose is full of brown sugar, maple syrup, malt, and apples.  The brown sugary note continues into the palate, then gets a little salty. Stone fruits and flowers follow.  The wine influence is surprisingly held in check.  The medium-length finish is sweet and very floral.

My reaction was, "Huh."  It was quaffable.  Either the wine casks were refills OR that cask strength Auchentoshan stripped the tastebuds out of my face.  In any case, what the wine(s) brought to the whisky was sweetness and flowers and that's about it.  Thankfully.  I could even imagine trying this again in the future.  Score one for MMcD.

Availability - Some liquor specialists, though you'll need to do some snooping
Pricing - $60-$70
Rating - 82

Whisky #4 - Bunnahabhain Cruach-Mhona
Distillery: Bunnahabhain
Ownership: Burn Stewart Distillers
Age: young stuff (likely under 8 years) and old stuff (20-21 years)
Maturation: young stuff in ex-bourbon, old stuff in ex-sherry
Region: Islay
Chillfiltered? No
Colored? No
Alcohol by Volume: 50%

President Bob of the OCSC snuck this one out for the surprise finish.  It's not an independent bottling, BUT it's only for sale (in one liter bottles) via some Duty Free shops.

In 2008, Bunnahabhain released the Toiteach, a moderately-peated 10-year.  I think that one finally reached US shores this year.  Cruach-Mhona (pronounced Cru-ach Vhona and translating roughly to "peat stack"), or BCM, is a peatier, un-colored, unfiltered version of the Toitech with a mix of very young whiskys from bourbon casks and much older whiskys from sherry casks.  Hmm, I can think of another Islay distillery who does something much similar...

The BCM's color is a medium gold.  The nose is of a candied-oaky Ardbeg 10, followed by peat cinders smoldering in butter.   That Ardbeg & oak character continues into the palate, followed by a sprinkle of brown sugar.  Then there's a vegetal note along with what might be sherry.  It finishes all peat and sweet.

I actually had an opportunity to add water. Interestingly, that made the peat more aggressive on the nose, while the palate grew sweeter.

So, yes, Ardbeg is the other Islay distillery who has made some dynamic crafty mixes of their old and new whiskies from different sorts of barrels.  But this one isn't like The Corryvreckan or Uigeadail.  It's like a friendlier version of an Ardbeg Ten, even though that one is all ex-bourbon matured.  The BCM might have a little less complexity, but also may be easier on some constitutions.  It was a pleasant discovery.  And I still haven't found a Bunnahabhain that I don't like.

Availability - Duty free and The Whisky Exchange, only
Pricing - $95 without shipping
Rating - 83

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