On the day of the UK’s EU referendum I took a tour of some European malt whiskies including a new Ardbeg.
Domaine des Hautes Glaces ‘Les Moissons’ (42%, OB, c.2016)
This is an organic single malt made in the alpine region of France and is matured in a combination of virgin oak, Cognac, and white wine casks. Colour: white wine Nose: it’s all cask to start with white wine vapors, then getting sweeter notes of almond and cherry. Very reminiscent of an aged grappa, but not a high quality one Mouth: more almond, pastry (almond croissant?), with growing lemon citrus Finish: Short, apricot and dark chocolate Comments: I really wanted this to be good, but it just didn’t live up to expectations. I enjoyed the grappa notes but it wasn’t as good as a decent grappa, certainly not a decent whisky. 75 points
Mackmyra Iskristall (46.1%, OB, c.2016)
This one features Mackmyra’s signature spirit with an added finish in Pedro Ximénez casks. Colour: deep copper Nose: noticeably young, chocolate raisins. The sherry is prominent and they seem to be using good casks. Mouth: sweet arrival with toffee and almond with a spicy finish. With water it becomes spicier and more bitter on the finish. Comments: I find this to be an average spirit in a pretty good sherry jacket. I’d be very interested to see Mackmyra after longer maturation. 82 points
Slyrs Bavarian Single Malt Whisky (43 %, OB, c. 2016)
This German single malt isn’t easy to get hold of in the UK but it’s been winning wards and we’ve got some to try now. Colour: deep gold Nose: ok, I’m seriously getting sauerkraut. Really, its quite pronounced. Also some vegetable stock and sherry. Weird. To begin with the sweet and savory of this nose doesn’t work at all but over time it’s appeal does start to grow. Mouth: completely different to the nose with lots of dry citrus, melon and lime juice. I really like this! Comments: It’s like a sauerkraut margarita. The nose will put you off but the taste will make you want to keep drinking it. Confusing! I wonder what would happen if you decanted it a few times? 84 points
Hammerhead 23YO 1989 (40.7%, OB, c. 2016)
This Czech single malt, we are told, was distilled jut before the iron curtain fell and has been matured in Czech oak casks. Colour: burnished Nose: melon, dry sherry, some leather notes developing Mouth: stewed apple, creme brulee, licorice Finish: drying Comments: this one needs time. it is a pleasing, rather complex malt which deserves your attention. Also very good value for money. 86 points
Zuidam Millstone 100 Rye Whisky (50%, OB, c.2016)
I’ve heard good things about this Dutch rye. It’s 100 proof, 100% pot still and was matured for 100 months (8 years, 4 months). Colour: mahogany Nose: wood spice, clove, cinnamon Mouth: big, oak, plum, tannin. With water it gets sweet and fruitier.Conclusion: a simple but very enjoyable rye. This is good quality stuff. 85 points
Ardbeg Dark Cove (46.5%, OB, c.2016)
To finish off we have the new limited edition release from Ardbeg, matured in ex-bourbon and ‘dark’ sherry casks. Colour: deep copper Nose: sweet, raisin, bbq, savoury Mouth: wow, there are very dstinct waves of sweet caramel, bbq meats, coffee, tobacco, ginger fruit cake Finish: excellent, long licorice, menthol Comments: It’s a lot like Uigeadail but with extra char and a but less sherry. Wowsers. 91 points
Quite an odd combination of malts in hindsight and despite ending with an outstanding Ardbeg I keep thinking about that Slyrs with its very odd nose!