Sunday, 11 June 2017

GlenDronach 14 - Oak influence

GlenDronach 14 is an interesting release due to the combination of casks. It is initially matured in re-charred European oak puncheons and finished in American virgin oak casks. I assume that the puncheons have been used to mature sherry. The combination of casks can help to answer some questions concerning cask influence.

How much sherry influence do we have from the puncheons?

        I find no sherry influence. Since the cask is re-charred, it has probably been used to mature whisky several times sucking the sherry out of the wood. Then the inactive casks have been re-charred, probably removing the remainder of sherry if any at all.

How much European oak characteristics like tannins do we have? Will a re-charred European oak cask have any influence at all?

-      Re-charring a cask will boost the vanilla influence, caramelize hydrocarbons and give a smoky influence. The caramelized hydrocarbons will give colour to the whisky. Characteristics like tannins and lactones are depleted and will not be regenerated by charring. The result is that the re-charred casks mainly gives vanilla, sweetness, colour and a minor smoky character to the whisky.

Will an American oak virgin cask give the whisky a bourbon like character?
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        An American oak virgin cask is the same type of cask used for maturing bourbon. I assume that the cask is charred. The cask gives typical bourbon characteristics like vanilla, coconut and tropical fruits.

The conclusion is that the GlenDronach 14 has many of the characteristics of a bourbon. It is an atypical scotch whisky, and a good alternative to bourbon, swapping corn with barley. GlenDronach 14 can absolutely be recommended.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Tullibardine - a vertical tasting

The Tullibardine new make is surprisingly clean and sweet with strawberry yoghurt, fruitiness and some citrus on the nose. The new make is unpeated and without the characteristic feinty sheep barn off-note. The new make should be a good base for wood maturation. Tullibardine has a nice concept for learning about the effect of maturation in different types of casks.

The base product Suvereign is matured for ten years in first fill bourbon barrels. Then we have the cask finishes 225 Sauterne, 228 Burgundy and 500 Sherry that are matured for one extra year in the respective casks. The number indicate the size of the cask.

The Suvereign has a nice clean vanilla, citrus and delicate oak nose. It is fruity with apple, pear and marzipan. Coconut is more prominent towards the finish which is relatively short.

The Sauterne finished is floral, sweeter and more intense than the Suvereign. It is creamy and citrusy with some orange and pineapple. It has a lot of vanilla and honey. It is perhaps too much, and I probably would prefer the Suvereign in the long run.

The Burgundy is finished in pinot noir casks. The Suvereign is increased with chocolate, spice and red berries. Surprisingly there is nail polish remover, new make and potato starch on the nose. It is a bit sour with vinegar, and it dies with water, turning into tannins. It is not my favourite, but neither as bad as the description should indicate.

The Sherry finished has some new make on the nose, but it is far less than the Burgundy. It has prunes, crème brulee, cinnamon and nutmeg on the nose, and it is a bit sour with a tiny bit of sulphur, and perhaps a bit metallic. It has a quite dry and salty finish. A nice whisky but I probably prefer the Suvereign. I can think of many sherry matured whiskies that I would prefer to this one.

The 20 year old matured in first fill and second fill bourbon barrels and the 25 year old matured in first fill and second fill Oloroso hogsheads seem interesting. The same does The Marray 2004 which is matured in first fill bourbon casks and bottled at 56.1%. I still have to try these.