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Bruichladdich Octomore 6.1 Review

“But seriously, Octomore, is that even a real whisky?”

That was basically my first reaction when I heard about Octomore. It is a limited whisky produced from one of my favourite distilleries, Bruichladdich. You see, I am not the kind of guy who does things by halves, especially when it comes to food and flavours. If a recipe says to add one chilli, I’ll make sure my bases are covered and add three. Four tablespoons of lemon juice? Better make it a cup. And please don’t get my wife started on my use of pepper. I go through a packet of the stuff in a fortnight.

So when I heard my favourite distillery has made a whisky with more of my favourite flavour in it (peat) than ever, I couldn’t believe my luck.

Peat bricks being dried, ready for a fuel source

Peat bricks being dried, ready to be used as fuel

Let’s take a step back. What is peat? No, it is not our fearless Gentleman-in-charge here at the Cabinet, Pete Stevens. It is actually organic material that has died and fallen in a bog. If, like me, you have an inner chemistry nerd, you can read more about it here.

In the whisky world, peat is taken from the earth and used as a fuel source to dry malted barley. You will know when peat has been used because the whisky will have a smoky flavour. In this process, the smoke from the peat, which has a higher ‘phenol’ content than other fuel sources, is absorbed by the barley itself. When the barley is fermented and then distilled, the phenols from the peat carry through to your glass.

In a nutshell; peat equals smoky flavour. The more peat, the more smoke. Octomore is peatiest, smokiest whisky out there, which is why I love it.

The colour of the dram is a very light, pale yellow colour. This is not surprising, as the whisky itself is only 5 years young, making it the youngest whisky I have ever tasted (excluding White-Dog Rye of course). I give it a swirl around my glass, curious to see what the legs have to offer. Wait, does this thing even have any legs? It takes a full 3 seconds for the fine trails of liquid to form and start to move down the side of the glass. My mouth is now watering at the thought of this dram having a thick treacle-like feel to it. I love my whiskies super peaty and super thick.1378141800Octomore6.11520White

On the nose, mountains and mountains of smoke. Thick, plum-like, sweet smoke. Underneath all of this is some oily iodine, which is to be expected from the phenols, but I also pick up a strong wet-barley scent. This final scent is almost addictive in its’ complexity. The fact that I can detect more than just smoke in the peatiest whisky is a testament to the skills and craftsmanship of the Bruichladdich team.

Now I am stuck. I mean, literally, seriously stuck. Let’s see if I can explain how I feel to towards how this whisky tastes. Have you ever had a moment where you are listening to some music, and you hear a song that changes your life? You don’t know what it is about the music, but it leaves you in complete shock, stuck there, with the volume dial pushed to breaking point. Playing the song over and over again, you are thinking ‘yes, yes, yes, this is it! This is my song, the song of my life! How have I not heard this before? How will I ever listen to another song again?’ Everything about the tune resonates with you.

So I am sitting here, sipping on this dram, and wondering how I will ever drink another whisky again. Taking a small taste, it feels like I’ve gulped in a mouth full of smoke. It is thick and coating every millimetre of my palate. Different flavours rapidly emerge, including vanilla, nuts and an apple-pear combination. When I say emerge, I don’t mean bubble up gently. I mean sweep across my tongue like a tidal wave. They are bold, strong, robust and authoritative, reminiscent, I think, of the makers of the dram. But the odd thing is, there is no punch. No wham.

I was expecting to be hit in the face, but instead, I am picked up and swept along by the tidal wave of flavours, carried on a journey through the rugged land of the Hebrides.

The finish is long, very long. The longest I’ve encountered as a matter of fact. There is sticky sweetness that lingers in the mouth, and it is almost as if the smoke I can taste is coming from a campfire in my stomach; warm and comforting.

What do you say in closing about a whisky that has just basically upstaged every other whisky for you? The pale straw colour, the campfire scent in my glass, the liquid roller-coaster of flavours, with a finish so warm it could contribute to global warming. It seems that, like me, the team behind Octomore were not interested in doing things by halves either. It is truly a whisky after my own heart.

To sum up:

Nose: smoke everywhere. Barley, smoke, iodine, smoke, wet hay, smoke and then at the end, a small sweet kick, with some smoke.

Taste: I’ll say it differently. Tres smoke.  A small hint of vanilla-like sweetness from the American oak, with a nutty emergence at the end.

Mouth feel: thick, thick, thick.

Finish: So warm, with smoke everywhere still. I feel like I will be warm on the inside for days.

Sound track: The dulcet tones of Matt Corby

~ Written by Lex Getley

Tamdhu 10 year whisky review

When you think of Scotland, what comes to mind? Before I lived there, I thought it was a country of blue and white painted faces, haggis, kilts and whisky. A land of “ooooaye git-oot.” Beyond that I didn’t know too much about the country. I think that goes for most of the world. When I told people I had spent a year living in Scotland they responded with, “oh cool. So, uh, why Scotland then? What’s that place all about?”

Believe it or not, but there was a time when Scotland was one of the most important countries in the world, and it wasn’t just for their jolly nectar of malt. As the great 18th century philosopher, Voltaire, put it; “We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilization.” Scotland was THE pioneering and driving force for industry. In Scotland bicycles were invented, steam engines perfected, economics was born and there were studies into a crude form of psychology.

All of this is significant for tonight’s dram. The Tamdhu 10yr has really enforced to me that there is always more than meets the eye. The amber tipple in my glass comes from a distillery that was at the forefront of technology and innovation. Hence the name, ‘the Spirit of Enlightenment’. When the distillery first opened in 1897, the owners sort not only to make whisky, but to perfect the way whisky was made. Not just with heart, but with efficiency. And, I think they came pretty darn close.

The colour of the whisky is the normal amber colour, but the legs running down the side are super duper slow. Straight away, I am thinking that this will be a very thick and sticky whisky.

On the nose at first sniff there is that typical Speyside mellow vanilla and honey. Underneath I’m getting some dried fruit, like sultanas and just a hint, a whiff, of some spices. Second sniff, I pick up some salt and brine, which surprises me as I normally associate that with coastal distilleries like Oban, and Tamdhu is a fair way in from the North Sea.tamdhu 10

On the tongue that mellow creaminess carries through very nicely. There is a certain dry sweetness that has me checking the bottle. Oh yes, there it is. In very small print, ‘matured in sherry casks.’ Normally that is emblazoned across the label so you cannot miss it. Just goes to show that this is one distillery that likes to defy convention. A drop of water cancels out the honey and really heats up that dryness. I’m experiencing an almost tannic mouthfeel as I swish it around.

I normally don’t reach for a Speyside as I like to be roundhouse kicked in the face by an Islay, but this one is complex and I’m digging it.

An interesting one too, as instead of having layers of flavour, there is a broad spectrum of different notes that hit the palate all at once.

The finish is spicy and warming. After you swallow and then exhale, there is the faintest note of pepper that is still there, almost like Uncle Jeff who is still on the dance floor after everyone else has departed. Barely present or strong, but still entertaining.

I paired this malt with an Illusione R Rothchild, a small smoke with a strong earthy character, which matched the mellow sweetness of the whisky very nicely.


To sum up:

Nose: creamy vanilla and honey. Very mellow, causing no nostril offense

Taste: a 3 course meal all at once. Sweet honey, spicy, with some citrus and also a touch of dry-sweetness

Mouthfeel: very thick. I love whiskies where the smallest sip feels like you have a mouth full, and this was one of them

Finish: very warming, a great winter malt this one I think. You can feel the warmth all the way down to your toes

Accompanying tracks: in light of their recent troubles, I dedicate this tasting to the Blink-182 that was

Ave Maria St George Belicoso – Cigar Review

Our friend Scott over at whisgarsblog recently reviewed the Ave Maria St George Belicoso. Here is what he had to say:

“There are many things in life that will catch your eye, things we ‘must look’, admire or lust for; the Lamborghini that just overtook me, the woman in red from the matrix…I think you catch my drift. Well Gents, I was faced with one of these moments when I discovered Ave Maria; ever heard of it? And before you get too far ahead of yourself, it’s not the name of mysterious and beautiful Italian woman.

ave maria st george belicoso1What is it then you ask? Well it’s better, it’s a manufacturer of cigars – The Ave Maria St George Belicoso. The second I laid eyes on this cigar I knew I had to have it; I’d never heard of it, seen it or knew it existed until the exceedingly elaborate label caught my eye. Don’t brand me a plebe just yet, I don’t smoke labels, I smoke cigars, admittedly this label really does attract ones attention.

Looking past the Knight Templar guarding this cigar I was introduced to one of the smoothest, finest looking wrappers I think I have ever seen on a cigar.  It was oily polished like a fine piece of timber furniture and finished like one too; not a single defect, lump, bump or significant vein to be seen. Just by appearance this cigar was a calibre of that comparable with a Lamborghini, but well within reach.

I gazed upon this magnificently constructed Belicoso for weeks in the humidor.  I found myself almost religiously inspecting and sniffing it.  There may have even been a few sneaky strokes thrown in there, but with ruthless self-restraint I kept putting it back in. Eventually I elected to ask it out on a date, and being the charming, handsome gentleman that I am, the cigar eagerly accepted.

Getting the show on the road started with a cold draw; a greeting kiss on the first date maybe? A peck on the cheek…?

This particular cigar is called St George…. So no, not a god damn kiss, I shook his hand and this is no longer a date; it’s a professional meeting.

It wasn’t long that George made himself seem like a professional too, the cold draw offered notes of dried hay, tobacco, coffee and wood. Good way to start a meeting off if you ask me.

Flavours on the first light consisted of mellow coffee, wood, leather with a subtle spicy tingle hiding in the background. Body would be a light to medium, and the flavours were exceedingly smooth. Smoke production was excellent with good clouds of semi-thick average moisture content smoke.

As the cigar smoked on through the thirds no significant addition of flavours arose, the existing flavours were constant and ever-changing, disappearing and re-appearing with every draw.  The body of this stick increased to near full as the cigar progressed, but at no time did it become overpowering or sharp.  In fact, the smooth character offered by this cigar existed from start to finish and never faltered.

This cigar is a delicate smoke which can change based on the rate at which you smoke it, it comes with a throttle I suppose; open it up to increase excitement.

Throughout the meeting with this cigar my attention never deviated, the complexity of this cigar was amazing, the flavours of wood, coffee, spice, sweetness and leather melded together in perfect synergy to deliver one of the most pleasurable smoking experiences I have ever had.

Coupled with its flawless appearance, perfect burn and delicious aroma of wood and toast this cigar throughout its considerable course was more captivating than the climax of a Wilbur Smith book.

“There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart – Pursue these”

The measure this quote asks us to use is our heart (or in the case of cigars, our senses) If it catches the attention of these, then it is worthy of pursuit. This sums up my experience of Ave Maria cigars and if I could ever recommend a cigar to someone, it would wholeheartedly be an Ave Maria. To date this has been THE best cigar I have ever smoked. You simply have to try at least one of these, or forever regret not knowing what you missed out on…

Pairing Notes:

In pairing with this cigar, I’ve elected to keep it quite general. Something slightly sweet and sharp with minimal peat. Anything from Glenfiddich or Chivas regal will suffice. I experienced this cigar with Chivas 18 and it was brilliant; a quick sharp finishing whisky to meld with the long finish of a fuller bodied cigar.

I’m drooling right now…….

ave maria st george belicoso2In Conclusion:

Look: Smooth polished and perfect like a brand new piece of timber furniture

Feel: With this stick in hand you know you’re holding a masterpiece, not a lump, bump or soft spot could be found.

Taste: The flavours offered by this stick were magical; leather, wood, espresso, sugar, toast.

Burn: Textbook perfect.

For the Detailed Review Visit my Blog


The Glendronach Revival 15

One of the many privileges I enjoy in writing for the Gentleman’s Cabinet is to introduce to you new people who will be sharing their thoughts and experiences in the world of fine spirits and cigars. I met Simon Smith as my ‘boss’ of the whisky bar I was working at in Scotland, The George Hotel in Inveraray.

Simon grew up in Tambourine Mountain, QLD, and moved to the UK 6 years ago. Starting out as a humble bartender, he rose through the ranks and became the bar manager. Not one for being content with the status quo, he worked hard and was awarded Scottish Bar Manager of the year for 2014. As well as being a super guy to work for, Simons’ knowledge and passion for fine spirits is not only deep, but infectious. He won the Benedictine Cocktail Challenge for 2014, mixing up a fantastic concoction involving the great spirit. Having moved on from The George, he is soon to be taking charge of one of the top cocktail establishments opening in Glasgow, One Lynedoch, and is working with the Drinks Cabinet UK (the name a coincidence), a consulting and training group for premium spirits. A Gentleman of character, he continues to spread the love for a ‘stunning drink’ (his words) amongst individuals and the public (like in this video). We are very excited to have him writing for us, giving us insights into the whisky world all the way from Scotland. Enjoy.

~ Lex

When one enters a bar these days, it’s not always easy to to enjoy exactly what one desires. A man might simply want to sit in a quiet corner of a dimly lit room, watching the pale blue wisps of nicotine smoke paint the air with their pallid brush strokes (ah, the Halcyon days), and enjoy a well made, or possibly just perfectly aged, libation of choice.

 However, in these days of brightly lit, cavernous ‘super-pubs’, with their gaming machines, aluminium furniture and gleaming surfaces, a battered old wooden chair is seldom to be found, let alone claimed as one’s own. However, sometimes one must endure such things in order to pursue the finer things in life. On this occasion, one has a rather healthy measure of Glendronach 15 in front of him.

img_15year_lrg On admiring the deep, rich, nut brown colour of the liquid, the image of the chesterfield couch one so yearns for flashes across the mind’s eye. A mental journey has begun in an instant, but is far from finished. As the glass is raised to the nose, the olfactory senses are almost overwhelmed – a true Madeleine Moment. As the elegant cacophony of scents are realised, you find yourself sitting in a Gentleman’s Club (no, not that kind) in 19th Century London.

 The sheen of highly resined leather, the hearty amber of a glass of ale, the scarlet joy of a snifter of sherry – and where did this monocle come from? All these images are evoked simply through scent, in such a way that it’s easy to forget you should actually be drinking this, not simply wafting it about under your nose, eyes closed – and frankly, by now, starting to receive rather strange looks.

 When finally the temptation to taste is succumbed to, the sensory expedition simply steps up a gear. At the top of the flavour profile are spices from the East Indies (yeah you’re in full British Empire mode by now), a hint of molasses – as you might expect from a Spanish style rum. And always, always, that perfect sherry presence that really gives this dram a unique quality. Aged exclusively in Oloroso casks, there are aspects to this whisky that no Pedro Ximenez cask can come near (cue outrage and indignant spluttering).

 The finish on this dram stays around longer than that last guest at a party who was drunk by eight thirty and is somehow still there at two in the morning.

It has a lovely lingering quality that, in a way, has it’s own mouth feel, which allows you to explore its nuances more intricately than the first taste.

 To my eternal shame I am no cigar aficionado. However, in my short yet varied existence, I have realised that most enjoyment comes from context. Put me in a comfortable chair with this (near) perfect dram and you could light up any thing half decent for me and I’d be a happy, happy man.


In brief:

 Nose – currants, oak, sherry, spice.

 Taste – heavy sherry, wood, molasses.

 Mouth feel – huge, soft, velvet 

Finish – ongoing, intriguing, sublime

 Accompanying tunes – Cheek to Cheek – Fred Astaire, or any classic rhythm and swing.

~ Simon”

Gran Patron Burdeos

I bet of all the reviews you’ve read/will read from our blog, you never expected to read one on tequila did you? I mean, we have all had our tequila moments haven’t we. You know what I mean, no need to go into detail.

Poor old tequila! A noble spirit with a very rich and deep history. The Aztecs made a crude form of tequila long before the Spanish arrived in the 1500s. Now, it has the unfortunate stereotype of being the drink of young party animals. But please, I beg you, give this spirit more of a chance then the meat between the salt and lemon sandwich.

Patron is recognisable as the top-shelf go-to for tequilas, and for good reason. Their tequila is great both in cocktails and as a sipping spirit. The one I am tasting tonight is the grand-daddy of Patron. The Gran Patron Burdeos.

Like all tequilas, it is made form 100% Blue Agave in Mexico. But interestingly, and this is the only spirit I know of where this happens, it is distilled, aged in barrels for 12 months, then re-distilled and aged further. The name ‘Burdeos’ comes from the barrels it is aged in the second time round, as they are sourced from the famous Chateaus of Bordeaux.

The spirit itself is clear in appearance and orange-gold in colour. It looks very thick and sticky in my glass, the slow travelling legs down the side confirm this. I don’t mean thick like treacle, but it just looks dense.

There is a lot more packed into this 30mL than there is with other spirits.

The nose is just pure bliss. I’m thinking a cool breeze across the hot night of a Mexican desert. I’m thinking a resort on the coast of Puerto Vallarta with ocean sounds and sea salt in the air. I’m thinking the rugged tough landscape of Mexico with all its dangerous and beautiful glory. There is spice, there is pepper, there are Cajun chillies, there is earth, there is leather and there is also a touch of salt. The density of the scent matches its looks.

gran-patron-burdeos            Forget what you thought you knew about tequila being a spirit that burns and makes you cringe after your shot, this chihuahua is smooth. At first there is some caramel at the front. Did not expect that. Wash it around the mouth and some orange peel and sweet spices come alive. I mean real Mexican spices, none of this stuff from the Orient. If I were a cartoon there would be tiny chillies and peppers dancing with maracas on my tongue when the camera zooms in. The after taste is very earthy combined with some dry leather. Underlying all this is a brilliant sweet smokiness that is known and loved by all agave fanatics. It lingers for a long time, which is very impressive, shows depth of flavour.

It is a great shame it started raining just after I poured out my taster, as I think this would be well with a smooth and spicy Cuban, such as a Trinidad Reyes, with some nice vanilla notes.


To sum up

Nose: full of Mexico. Spicy and leathery and dirty. Don’t forget that smoke.

Tastes: Toffee caramel and vanilla on the front, spicy goodness in the middle and leathery smokiness to finish

Mouth feel: super light, the spirit doesn’t feel as dense as it looks, smells and tastes.

Finish: a very long and lingering smoke combined with leather and earth. Like a good pair of cow-boy boots

Accompanying tracks: Alt-J, a new band to contrast the old and noble spirit.

– Written by Lex Getley

Tatuaje 10th Anniversary Belle Encre

tatuajeIf you’ve never heard of the cigar brand Tatuaje, you will soon. I could write forever about the contributions they have made to the modern world of fine cigars. But I will say only this; Pete Johnson, the man behind Tatuaje, is more than your average Gentleman. He named his brand Tatuaje, Spanish for ‘tattoo’, as he has arms full of bold ink, just as bold as his cigars. PJ came out with his brand of full bodied cigars in 2003, and has been selling cigars faster than he can create them since then.

Last year was Tatuaje’s 10th anniversary. The brand has a reputation for always bringing out limited releases and editions. Everyone, including myself, was wondering what PJ would do to celebrate the occasion. However, instead of some special limited edition, he re-released his famous and esteemed brown label saying; “when you have a blend like the Brown Label, why f**k with a classic?” The special release features the same Nicaraguan filler and binder as the classic brown label with an Ecuadorian wrapper, but in new sizes.

I have never smoked this vitola before, which I believe is called a ‘celestiales finos’. A figurado, slightly tapered at both ends, but neither coming to a point. You don’t see many cigars this shape any more, so I was intrigued straight away.

The cigar has an absolutely gorgeous shiny wrapper. I mean, seriously, I could almost see my reflection and use it to shave. I have pulled this smoke out of my cigar fridge many times, just to look at the flawless construction, feel the oily wrapper and sniff the sweet and spicy foot. I almost didn’t want to smoke it because it looked so darn good. Nah, only kidding, I never thought that.

The cold draw is similar to dark spicy Christmas cake, and I can’t wait to light it up. The Christmas spice is strong in the first third of the cigar. There are thick cocoa and black pepper notes coming through too. I’m not sure why I ate dinner before hand, as this cigar has so much to it, it’s almost a meal in itself. Oh wait, I do know. It’s because this cigar has already started out medium, and I can already tell it will finish medium-full.tat 10th 7

As I enter the second third and get down towards the fatter part of the cigar, the Christmas spice is still present in all its glory. The cocoa has gone from the dark, slightly bitter kind to more of a milky chocolate, and now there is some sweet coffee coming through too. There are some cigars that I smoke and think ‘oh cool, dried tobacco, that was a good way to spend an hour or so’. Then there are others, such as this one, where the smoke actually tells me the story of the people behind it. I can see why Pete is held in such high esteem in cigar circles. This cigar is not just a bunch of dried leaves, but a mans passion to create something that borders on perfection, purely for other people to enjoy.

I know I am smoking 10 years plus worth of commitment from PJ to his art and passion.

As I enter the last third, the strength switches from med to med-full as I expected. The leather notes that I have come to know and love in a Tatuaje begin to arise and finish with a massive POW right on the end. The chocolate has gone, and there is an increase in coffee and that strong Christmas spice that has been consistent and loyal the whole time. I finish the cigar needing to run my fingers under cold water as I had smoked it right down to the nub.

For a brand that is always looking for the next new cigar, looking to create the next craze, I am really impressed that PJ has turned around and looked back to celebrate his 10 years in the business. This brilliant cigar was a great tribute to Tatuaje’s journey and is a reassurance that they are here to stay.

I paired this with The Organic Whisky from Bruichladdich, a smooth, sweet and syrupy malt that was a nice refreshing compliment to such a strong cigar.


To Sum up

Look: so shiny and smooth and delicious looking. This cigar would not be out of place in an art gallery. But then, that would be such a waste

Feel: there were no imperfections or veins to be found at all in the wrapper, and very little sponge, which I prefer

Taste: classic Tatuaje flavours, but I think they are more pronounced due to the slight tapering of the shape. Spice, both dark and light coco, coffee and leather. The progression of flavours is outstanding.

Burn: straight and sharp, never needing a touch up or relight

Accompanying tracks: I actually sat outside and listened to the Braveheart sound track, an old classic to match this new classic

A big shout out to my good friend Adam, who sourced this cigar from the US for me. Thanks mate!

~ Written by Lex Getley

Benriach Heredotus Fumosus

Sometimes I wonder what the world was like before certain combinations were invented or discovered. For example, what did people use to do before the discovery of adding salt to hot chips? Eat them plain? Huh? Also, what was going on before tomato sauce was invented? If you try and tell me that the Romans had just plain sausages at their BBQs, and enjoyed it…I will slap you.

I have a great love for heavily peated whiskies. Also, sherry cask/finish whiskies hold a special place in my heart. So imagine my delight when I was given a sample of Benriach that is both heavily peated AND sherry finished. It is taking two of my favourite things and adding them together, much like a bacon and banana melt. Seriously, try it. After tasting this peated sherry finish, I don’t remember what life was like before hand!

BenRiach_Heredotus_Fumosus             The first thing that strikes you when you remove the bottle from its tubing is the intense colour. A  very deep rusty-gold. ‘Depth’ of colour is an abstract term, I know. Let me try and flesh it out. You’ve  heard of the colour ‘ocean blue’ right? You might have seen it on a car or on a colour swatch. But when you head to the beach and see the real ocean, you understand what ocean blue is. The colour is vibrant, almost living. It is the same with the Benriach peated sherry.

 The rusty-gold is a colour I just can’t take my eyes away from. It is intense, clear and striking.

After watching the video on how to taste a whisky on our Facebook page, I rotate the liquid around  the glass to coat the edges. Thin legs slowly gather and run down the side. This is to be expected of a whisky that is 50% ABV. The high viscosity, seen in the slow moving drips down the side, tell me that it is choc full of juicy oils and esters. My favourite.

The smell gathering at the top of my nosing glass is amazing. Sweet peat, some stewed dried fruit,  with a slight citrus/berry back drop, most likely due to the Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks. My third whiff brings out a really strong sultana note. Which is to be expected, as sultanas are a great mix of sweet and tart.

The flavour has a slight floral note that I wasn’t expecting. Almost an English winter garden flowers. Of course there is peat. Oh glorious, sweet, smokey, sticky, sumptuous, slippery peat. Different to its other heavily peated relatives, this peat flavour tends to linger more at the front of the tongue. The back of the mouth and the finish is strong with that sweetness present in sherry. I find the sultana is present in the finish too. A very long finish, that slowly fades into a dull spice as one breathes out. This is a whisky you continue to taste for a while after you sip.

As I flip the bottle back the right way from trying to shake every last drop out, I see something that makes my heart drop a bit. “Limited Production.” Of course! Typical, introduced to something that takes me to a new world, only to find out it’s all gone. Oh well. As they say, better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all! But I’m comforted by the fact that this combination is so good, someone else is bound to do it.


Summing up:

Appearance: normally I don’t have a section for appearance, but that deep, deep colour in the whisky is itself a work of art

Nose: peat, raw sugar, sultanas and a slight berry note. In that exact order actually

Tastes: sweetened peat, floral English flowers and sweet stewed fruit from the sherry finish

Mouth feel: definitely a whisky you can chew on. Your mouth actually has a smoky English garden in it

Finish: an evolving finish. Starts smokey, moves to sweet and berry like, then ends as slightly spicy.

Accompanying tracks: the sweet smokiness of Louis Armstrong. I love a jazz man singing a French classic.

~ Written by Lex Getley

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Sullivans Cove French Oak Single Malt Review

Review of Sullivans Cove French Oak Single Malt Have you ever come across a whisky with so much story and hype behind it, the whisky itself almost takes on a personality? As in, you actually start to think about the whisky as a living thing? This was the case for me for Sullivans Cove French Oak.

In case you haven’t heard about this single malt from Tasmania, let me fill you in. It is one of the most demanded whiskies in the world, with a 2-month waiting list. Understandable for a malt that has won 10 different awards, including the World’s Best Single Malt in the 2014 World Whisky awards. Yes, you read that correctly. The number 1 whisky worldwide comes from a little distillery in Hobart. If this doesn’t put Tassie on the global map, I don’t know what will!

So to say I was nervously excited about tasting this malt is an understatement. I poured myself a dram tonight, and sat back for about 10 minutes before actually tasting. No reason to this, other than that my balcony in the Blue Mountains overlooks the plains, and I can see the twinkling lights of bustling Sydney. Sometimes I just enjoy sitting back and thinking, ‘life could be a lot worse. I’m relaxed and happy right now’. But I digress. The whisky.

As I sat and appreciated the light amber liquid in my tasting glass, my feelings ranged from intimidation to scepticism. On one hand I felt out of place. I had a highly decorated Australian ambassador in front of me and I was wearing a hoody. On the other hand, I was almost saying out loud, ‘come on now, surely you can’t be that good’.

On the nose, wow. There are layers upon layers to the aroma of this malt. Dirty, earthy chocolate and cinnamon. An explosion into the olfactory sense.

Upon drawing back and taking the scent just above the glass there, is also a hint of nuttiness. So many fine nuances that are delicate and appetising, I can really only name 3. The name ‘French oak’ makes me think of French vanilla yoghurt I used to have as dessert when I was a kid. These days, dessert now consists of a dram and a nice fine Cuban. I was surprised to find a real vanilla-yoghurt type taste on my first sip, with a certain sweet-tartness to it. Adding water really brings out an earthy-dark chocolate and fruitcake taste, and really opens up the aroma, bringing out a strong orange peel scent. The finish is spectacular. A lingering of spicy dried fruit. I think the finish is really what gives this whisky its character. I like the word personality, because I think it truly applies to this malt. I can honestly relate it to people I know. We all have that one friend who everybody loves. They are big in presence, but soft at heart. Everyone knows them or wants to know them. This is how I see the Sullivans Cove French Oak. An amazing malt. I understand why it is so highly awarded.

As my glass empties, I am no longer stunned at the fact that Australia beat Scotland and Japan, as this is truly, a world-class malt. I paired this with a Por Larranaga Petit Corona. I had heard this whisky was smooth and creamy, and I knew that the PLPC was a cigar that oozed caramel and cream, so I thought I should pair them. I don’t like to brag, but I nailed it.

To sum up:

Nose: Cinnamon, spice, orange peel and dark chocolate. A very ‘natural’ aroma probably due to the all Australian ingredients.

Tastes: So much depth and character to this flavour profile. Most prominent were vanilla, spice, chocolate and fruitcake.

Mouth feel: Even the smallest sip, it felt like I had taken a massive mouthful

Finish: Very long and lingering dried spicy fruit, which is why I strongly recommend pairing this with your favourite cigar

Accompanying tracks: I had to match this with a man with a big personality, Kent DuChaine.

Written by Alex Getley

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