LovingWhisky - Independent tasting notes on whisky and other distilled spirits by Ansgar Speller

Wolfburn Aurora

From the Wolfburn Distillery recently a new expression was released called Aurora that is bottled at 46% and matured in a combination of American oak and Spanish Oloroso sherry casks.

On the nose I find notes of fresh made apple juice and a note of some young spirit but with a warm spice and warm fruit mixture in it, so it is not bothering me at all, even adding to the experience, giving me the feeling of a warm apple pie in the glass. Notes of marzipan, raisins, roasted malt and nuts are added into the mix with a soft note of liquorish, lemon, orange, dried fruits and hint of blackcurrant to make it a sweet nose.

On the palate I get a warm honey, fruity and vanilla feeling. Apple Strudel with warm vanilla sauce comes to mind, Fruit, nuts, hint of dry heather, thyme and warm spices. Balanced dram with soft creamy citrus notes and red apples.

A medium length finish with a forrest fruit mixture in it from fresh cranberry, redcurrant, blackcurrant and cherry. A good dram and addition to their range. Young still, could maybe use just a bit more ageing but also like it this way, very promising and already full of different flavours and balanced with the short maturation period. Great work again guys and thanks to Wolfburn for sharing the sample for the review!

Three Ships - 10 year old - 2005 vintage

Before I dive into this whisky I just want to say it is wonderful to see how a spirit like whisky can connect people sometimes from all over the world, whether it is being an amateur or professional, it really does not matter, only a shared passion for something is important. Weaving a #whiskyfabric blanket with patterns and lines with some more colourful patches representing moments that connect it all. 

An example of one of these colourful patches in our blanket are meetings like the one Thomas and I had after some interaction on social media with Andy Watts, flying into Amsterdam from the South African James Sedgwick Distillery a couple of years ago, giving us a chance to share a dram or two with him. Listening to the passion that goes into the making of Bains and Three Ships whisky. We kept in touch and our dream of one day visiting South Africa and the distillery only grew stronger. A moment to remember and woven strongly into our blanket. More of these moments with other people and places keep enriching it all more and more through the years. A lovely journey. Learned me to always keep discovering and learning. 

Since meeting Andy we tasted more of their expressions, did an interview with Andy, made some notes, told people on holiday to go to the distillery, shared bottles around on different events to just share the spirits and story. Lately there was a release of an exclusive 15 Year Old Pinotage Cask Finish and this 10 year old limited edition first South African single malt whisky with a vintage statement on it. From this last one a sample recently was delivered by the mailman to us from the Three Ships Whisky team in South Africa to have a closer look at. The bottle states that it is bottled at 43% and distilled in July 2005. My notes on it you can read below and Thomas his notes from this distillery you can find on his blog of course. 

On the nose I find soft black grounded pepper with malt and soft oak notes. Mixed with vanilla, buttercups, shortbread and a light nutty note also giving it an lovely soft nose. Below this all I also find some notes of dried banana slices and a soft bitter fresh note of gooseberry and grapefruits mixing in with the malty and sweet notes. The palate is also sweet and malty with an array of notes appearing like red apples, raisin, vanilla, fresh ripe banana, dried apricots, hint of cherry, redcurrant, raspberry, marzipan, coconut shavings, oranges, soft ginger and lemon. The medium length finish shows an overall sweet feeling with creme vanilla, toffee, fruit and a hint of oak and old spice. A balanced and enjoyable dram for sure! Looking forward to what the future will bring from this distillery! Thanks for sharing this! 

Compass Box - 3 Year - Old Deluxe

You all must have heard about the Transparancy Campaign that Compass Box has been running for a while now to explore the EU and UK regulations that are prohibiting the sharing of information about the ages of the whiskies used in their blends to see how it can be opened up to change. This latest blended malt expression of them called 3 Year - Old Deluxe is all about that. Bottled at 49.2%, non-chill filtered, natural colour and only 3,282 bottles made available worldwide. This is what they can tell us about it. 

For various reasons (including, believe it or not, ‘Brexit’) it is unlikely that any satisfactory change in EU or UK laws will be achieved in the short-term, but that does not mean we cannot continue doing what we have always done and blend whiskies of different ages to create complexity and balance. And with that in mind, we are proud to introduce you to our newest Limited Edition Scotch whisky: 3 Year-Old Deluxe... 

…a Blended Malt whisky composed of just under 1% three year-old malt whisky produced near the village of Brora, a little over 90% malt whisky of an unstated but considerably older age from the same distillery and 9% peaty malt whisky, distilled on the Isle of Skye. Regulations permit us only to share details of the age of the youngest component! No matter. For it is this three year-old component that we think is truly special – aged by us, from the time it was new-make spirit just off the still, in our own high quality first-fill American oak casks. 

It imparts a lively vivacity to the blend, as well as representing a milestone in our development as whiskymakers, as it is from our very first campaign of laying down new-make spirit. 3 Year-Old Deluxe is a celebration of the role that whiskies of all ages can play in a well-constructed blend. We like to say that it is … precociously mature. However you drink it, whoever you share it with, above all share and enjoy. 

John Glaser, Whiskymaker

So, what can I tell you about this expression? Not much more that I can publicly reveal sadly, I know you really want to know, but please contact Compass Box for the answers. What I can share is my tasting notes on this one and tell you what I found in it. Whisky produced near the Village of Brora and on the Isle of Skye? Well, you might be able to guess the general notes from it then, but I was still really pleased with the thick waxy fruity spicy complex nose that first hit my nose and that brought a smile to my face immediately. Very promising. But knowing the Compass Box expression my expectations are high because they keep surprising me. Lets dive in a bit deeper...

On the nose a hint of soft heathery smoke is detectable that reminds me of a smouldering campfire. Notes of honey, ripe mango, oranges, lemon, mint, dried cranberry, marshmallow, milk chocolate flakes and fudge. Getting a hint of salted peanuts and almonds between the warm apple pie, warm spices, green tea and white chocolate shavings. 

The palate does pack a warm punch for sure with a bunch of fruit flavours from a citrus, orchard or tropical kind. Mixed with honey and spices, making it very yummy! Creamy vanilla notes of warm pudding with fresh ripe strawberries, redcurrant and a red summer fruit syrup on top of it all. Lingering notes of spices, some soft leather and a hint of floor wax running through this sweetness. 

The notes from the nose I can clearly find back in the palate making it a very balanced dram with a long sweet finish that turns more and more into a combination of banana, red apple, chocolate and fudge. This expression is available for around €250 in the stores at the moment, wishing we would have that money lying around at the moment so we could purchase a bottle. What a beauty this is again! Curious to read another opinion on this expression why not check out Thomas his note then on it! Thank you Compass Box for sharing a sample! From nose to finish a joy to explore! 

Compass Box - Spice Tree Extravaganza

Imagine coming home after a long day at work, opening the door and finding the house filled with soft notes of a a pot roast simmering for hours with honey, chilli pepper, all spice, clove, cinnamon, garam masala and ginger. Some freshly baked cookies are just being pulled out of the hot oven and releasing a sweet syrupy honeyed malty note with some almonds and baking spices. Some new potatoes with some fresh citrus thyme are just being roasted in the pan with a good slice of butter to make them nice and crispy brown. Getting hungry all ready? Yeah, me too...

That are some of the first things that come to mind when nosing this whisky, a blended malt from Compass Box called Spice Tree Extravaganza. An expression bottled at 46%, bottled in August 2016 and 12.240 bottles released worldwide. It is build out of the following six different components. If you would to like any more details on this then please contact Compass Box to receive more information.

Glen Ord - unknown period in a first fill ex-Sherry Butt - 32.6%
Benrinnes - unknown period in a first fill ex-Sherry Butt - 17.2%
Allt-a-Bhainne - unknown period in a refill American Standard Barrel - 2.6%
Highland Blended Malt* - unknown period in a light / medium toast Hybrid Cask - 27.7%
Highland Blended Malt* - unknown period in a refill Hybrid Cask - 4.3%
Highland Blended Malt* - unknown period in a heavy toast Hybrid Cask - 15.6%

*composed of 60% aged Clynelish, 20% aged Dailuaine and 20% aged Teaninich, re-casked and matured for another four and a half years. 

I have sit down with this dram a couple of times due to it being soft and seems to need some time to show all of its flavours. But think I got a good nose and taste in the end to see what more I could find in it and write this note on it. On the nose I find also some cherries, eierkoeken, oranges, maple syrup, hint of soft leather, pomolo and fresh citrus notes. 

The palate gives me really a sweet fruit, honey and spice explosion at first. Some cinnamon, vanilla, stack of pancakes with loads of maple syrup, mixed fresh summer fruits (getting hungry even more now), richly filled cake notes, some nuts, fresh and dried fruits, mango, oranges, sugar lemon fruit, kiwi and carrot cake. 

A good length finish with a light cassis note and creamy milk chocolate (that one with fudge and sea salt). Scoring me an 8/10, a good full whisky for sure with loads of different type of notes! Thanks Compass Box for sharing a sample! 

Wagging Finger Gin - Batch #2

Photo copyright Thomas Speller
You probably have seen the WhiskySpeller article called 'No Guts, No Glory' coming by on one of the social media platforms telling the story of the Wagging Finger distillery with Erik Molenaar as a distiller making some great gins. A while back I had a closer look at batch 1 and Interludium Gin (specially bottled for MMM) but with the bottom of the batch 2 bottle in sight due to the recent warm summer nights it was time to write some notes down on it.

Lots of similar notes I can find in batch 1 and batch 2. But in this new bottling, with an adjusted recipe (love to see these kind of experimentations being done) it is fresher with more citrus and juniper notes that are more in the front then before. Mixed with Fever-Tree tonic water and Fever-Tree elder flower tonic water on different occasions, putting it to the test I liked both results very much. But with the elder flower tonic it tones down the juniper note a bit and makes a lovely fruity/floral mix due to the elder flower. But with the normal tonic added it explodes in citrus freshness and spices.

Tasted neat I get on the nose loads of creamy lemon cheesecake and freshly made lemon lemonade notes with angelica root, mace, tangerines, hint of clove, mint, thyme, baking spices, fresh and sweet apples, vanilla, juniper, liquerish root and something that lingers towards gummi bears (cant pin it down). The creamy palate shows me some notes of marzipan, honey, buttery cookie dough, dried cranberry, juniper, raspberry and vanilla. This all mixed with citrus fruits and a hint of pine, thyme and mint giving it a fresh and fruity sweet feeling. The medium length finish has some notes of baking spices, soft vanilla, angelica root, black current and juniper berries. The list with favourite gins like Kirsty's Gin, Botanist Gin, Whiskper Man's Gin, Dutch Courage aged gin and Eden Mill Gins (still have to make some notes on these, coming soon) keeps growing and growing (some more things to explore still) and this one from Wagging Finger is another one added to it for sure! Looking forward to seeing more from this distillery! Thanks Erik for sharing!