So the final posting of September… in October (yeah I procrastinated a bit…or a lot; so shoot me!). It’s been a hell of a month, and I’ve been kept busy with work (ugh!), and some other whisky related things like WhiskyLive. As a side note I promise I will work extra hard to finish out October shortly after as there are quite a few interesting bottles coming. This update has been a hard one as there are three bottles, one of which is a complete mystery to me… and the internet as it would seem. Without further heel-dragging, lets take a look at the offerings. So this round not a pair; but a trio of bottles arrives for our savouring pleasure. What did the LCBO provide us with round? Big heavy malts this time around, and a newcomer to the shelves.
First up, Isle of Arran Sleeping Warrior. This 11 year old single malt comes at us full strength (54.9% ABV). As part of a limited production (6000 bottles worldwide), a portion of the sales went to support the National Trust for Scotland to assist withe the preservation of foot paths on Goatfell (the largest mountain on Arran). This is a big bottle from Arran, with big notes to follow. Rich marmalade and milk chocolate on the nose, lots of fruit preserves, very sweet like a fruit salad sort of thing happening here (oh yeah, imagine that image of melted milk chocolate over fruit salad…. splash a little cream liqueur in there… I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was hungry). Hints of oak and spices in the background round out a real whopper of a nose. In the mouth there are more dried/macerated fruits, but now the malty sweetness comes out. Lots of things happening here including cherries (overripe), leather, sweet grains and subtle oaky spices. There is a subtle waft of wood smoke and caramel in background along with hints of candied ginger and vanilla cremes. The finish is quite long and spicy. Lots of malty notes with dried fruits and spiced caramel interspersed. Water helps smooth things out, but drops the nose’s intensity a bit from the raging torrent that I like. This is one heck of a dram at a reasonable price. I strongly suggest trying this out as it gives an idea of why I’m so crazy for the Arran whiskies. Check your local LCBO <HERE> for your bottle. Priced at only $99.95 for a bottle of this calibre at this strength, is a darn good deal that just won’t last.
Next up is another brilliant bottling from the indie company Weymss. Not only a bottling from an excellent indie, but of my favourite distillery; Mortlach. This is a Diageo owned distillery (and you know how I feel about Diageo), that produces nothing for public offering, but instead goes to make up the backbone of the Johnnie Walker blends. It does from time to time, however, show up in the hands of indie bottlers. This gives you the chance to delve into a little known distillery outside of the blends it is used within. This bottle is a 21 year old, nicknamed Sugar & Spice, which lives up to all the reasons I rave about Mortlach. Served at 46% ABV and presented without chill filtration or colouring, this is one of the best Mortlach’s to come through the LCBO in years (IMO). The nose is heady with exactly what the name says; sugar (like brown sugar or Demerara), and spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, grains of paradise and the like), permeate the nose. But buried deep behind this lovely warm and spicy nose is a brooding beast. Rich, chewy and meaty/malty notes that are the cornerstones of Mortlach’s spirit lurk in the shadows. In the mouth a full on Christmas cake assault! Beautiful spice blends with subtle molasses and brown cane sugar sweetness bloom, followed with baked almonds and subtle sherry-ish fruit notes (kind of red-y purple sherry soaked fruits), and hints of malted barley hang about. Then underneath it all; driving the palate is the chewy fresh and sweet malt of Mortlach. There is a cooked tomato puree note mingling about, and also a bit of a wine-y note that becomes almost meaty like bison or venison (but not gamy venison). Oh god, this is good. The finish is long and drawn out, carried by the meaty malt, the spices and oak interplay here with caramel, vanilla and Demerara notes. The empty glass still shows that big sweet malt now subdued with oak and vanilla cake. I am head over heels for this bottle, the only unfortunate part is the LCBO price, at $155/bottle I would have liked to see a bit more ABV scale. Considering this is one of the best bottles in recent my recent memory from the LCBO, I’ll let it slide and I might even come away with a bottle. I don’t think its a purchase for everyone at that price, but trust me if you do indulge…. well you’ll know why I’m so crazy (over the whisky, not losing my marbles crazy… although). Check your local LCBO <HERE>, or have them order you a bottle in as there aren’t many in the province.
Last but not least is the one I’ve had so much trouble with. THis bottle has been the hold out for this article. The last bottle is from Leinburn (also referred to as Glen Leinburn), 12 year old. The reason I’ve had so much trouble with this is the lack of information available on it. Quite a few months back I noted a Glen Leinburn 18 year old bottle on the shelf for $85 (Item <HERE>), served at only 40% ABV. Hey at $85 for an 18 year old (stop snickering while reading that), ‘how bad can it be?’ was my general sentiment. Looking at the bottle there is no information on it and no real annotations; other than a pretty plain navy blue label with some awful brownish-gold writing. It peaked my interest as I’ve never seen it before, so when the chance to try it came up, I leaped and immediately went looking for more information. This is where the trail goes cold, even in the vast sea of electronic information the only thing I find is a repeated phase from the website. A paltry website featuring a single page; notes that this is a Speyside distillery that was started by Whiskynet in 1998. It has evolved into a supplier of whisky to a number of customers worldwide for use under their labels as well as their own. That’s it, that’s all. I’ve called about and scoured the interweb for more information, but I see nothing and have gotten nothing back from my sources other than more questions. So I’ll let you in on what I did try; a rich and manly Speyside with a real sharp fruit character. The nose shows caramel, rhubarb compote and some sharp pear candy notes. I also get some wood spice, rough leather and very distant peat. In the mouth, there is some heft with a blast of heat in the palate, but I’m not getting what the nose showed me here. It seems much fruitier than before, and the heft seems to have dissipated into heat. Lots of notes of cream liqueur and some floral fruity notes, but nothing that is easy to distinguish. This seems like a young whisky to me, the notes are unrefined and hard to pinpoint in the glass. The finish shows it the most tough. I found it medium to short, lots of hot oak, dry vanilla and spice in the finish. With water, the fruits balance the heat out and it becomes far more palatable. I’m not too sure what to make of this bottle, and it doesn’t seem to fit with what’s on the shelves. I have tried the 18 too, and am almost in the same quandary over that. I have some notes on the 18 that I’ll dig up and post.. but the 12 year old has me confounded. There just isn’t enough for me to suggest anything other than to try it if you get the chance. Served at 43% ABV, and to my eye there is caramel and chill filtration happening (you’ll have to be the judge as most of my insiders haven’t even heard of this company, let alone bottling information). Check your local LCBO <HERE> for your bottle, but be forewarned. The 18 year old is still widely available and is $5 cheaper, but 3% lighter. I recall it being rather floral on the nose, but like I said earlier I’ll have to dig up my notes and be sure before I recommend that instead.
Okay, well that finally concludes this, or rather last, month’s reviews. Now on to October and so much more. I’ll try and dig around on that Leinburn as it now is really eating away at me to get to the bottom of it. So as always I conclude; keep your stick on the ice and the ice out of your glass.