Since social distancing is a thing and most countries are still in some sort of lockdown, online tastings are being given en masse. This was already on the rise but has now increased rapidly. Not surprising, of course, because this is currently the only way to get together and enjoy a dram. In the meantime, I also participated in some of these and one of them was a Van Wees’ tasting.
The tasting consisted of 6 blind samples, 4 of which I saved for this review. And I also had a sample of an Aberfeldy from Van Wees at home, which I added as well. So, let’s start with that one first.
This Aberfeldy has matured a hogshead for 6 years and is bottled at 46% ABV. Cask no. 304375 (This one wasn’t included in the tasting)
Aberfeldy 2013 tasting notes:
Nose: You can smell immediately that it’s young as it’s very spirity. Barley, oats and lemons. A faint hint of vanilla. Cookie dough. A whiff of steaming hay. And Tonic oddly enough.
Taste: Liquorice and that’s about it?? Some vanilla now, but very faint. Salty, but also a hint of icing sugar and those banana candies. A bitter edge in the end.
This is a whisky that I really don’t understand why it’s bottled. It feels too young, it doesn’t have much taste and what is in it isn’t very tasteful and then that bitter taste at the end … A pity, because I actually expected a bit more from this.
This Linkwood has matured in a charred wine hogshead for 9 years and is bottled at 56.5% ABV. Cask no. 306195
Linkwood 2010 tasting notes:
Nose: Oh this is nice. All kinds of red fruit so it seems: Red berries, red apples, red grapes. Then quite some tobacco. A hint of coconut. And later also raisins.
Taste: There is something in this that I can’t define but I find it rather interesting and pleasant, but also a bit strange if that makes any sense! Raisins, dried plums, plenty of minerals and a whiff of smoke. Red berries again. Honey too. And a hint of nutmeg and chilli peppers.
Finish: Mid-long, milk chocolate and plenty of honey.
Overall: An a-typical Linkwood, because of that charred wine hogshead. That wouldn’t normally be my preference, but it certainly made it an interesting whisky. It’s certainly not everyone’s friend but I really like it. I would have loved to have a bottle of this!
This Whitlaw has matured in a dechar /rechar butt and is bottled at 46% ABV. Cask no. 436.
Whitlaw (Highland Park) 2014 tasting notes:
Nose: A whiff of smoke. Followed by fresh pears and red apples. Biscuits and a hint of barley sugar.
Taste: Elegant peat here, a tad more than in the nose. Plenty of honey. Barley sugar again. Oats. And a touch of vanilla. Dark chocolate. It’s a bit peppery and has liquorice in the background. A slight bitter edge by coffee?
Finish: Short. With mostly honey and peat.
Overall: When I first heard the name Whitlaw it didn’t ring a bell. But it turns out, it’s a Highland Park! Usually bottled under the name Secret Orkney or just Orkney, since bottlers can’t use the name, Highland Park. But this single malt is named after the Whitlaw hills that can be found behind the Highland Park distillery. It’s Only 5 years old and therefore even younger than the Aberfeldy, but it definitely tastes better. It’s a little bit boring maybe and it tastes also very young which, of course, isn’t so weird considering its age. Somewhat flat in the taste but the flavours that are in there are nice and work well together. Still, I’m not entirely convinced by this one, it feels like there’s something missing.
This Edradour has matured in a 1st fill Marsala hogshead for 8 years and is bottled at 60.7% ABV. Cask no. 81.
Edradour 2011 tasting notes:
Nose: a little meaty at first, like a beef broth. But also forest fruits, such as blackberries and blueberries. Then hazelnuts take over, which is quickly followed by honey. Later redcurrants. With water: more towards the nutty aspect.
Taste: a very sweet honey. Red fruit, strawberries and redcurrants. Caramel fudge. Then some spices, such as cinnamon, pepper and a hint of liquorice. With water: softer, less spicy and also here more towards hazelnuts and caramel.
Finish: Quite long. Spicy and hazelnuts. With water: the spices are gone.
Overall: I was looking forward to this, Van Wees has already had quite a few Edradour releases this year and they all score very high. But I’ve missed them all so far. Different from all those other releases is that it has matured in a 1st fill Marsala hogshead instead of a 1st fill sherry butt. So it’s a bit of an outsider but I think it’s quite good. You don’t get much of the youthfulness, I actually thought it was somewhat older when I tasted it. Really enjoyed this one. But a drop of water is recommended.
This Ballechin has matured in a 2nd fill sherry butt for 11 years and is bottled at 59% ABV. Cask no. 171.
Ballechin 2007 tasting notes:
Nose: sweet peat, a lit match. Plenty of honey. Red apples. Some milk chocolate. A hint of leather. Later also mint, lemon and liquorice.
Taste: peat again, of course. Sweet cherries and blueberries. Milk chocolate. Liquorice. Mint here too. Later gooseberries and red berries.
Finish: long. with mostly gooseberries, milk chocolate and liquorice again.
Overall: A little straight forward. But it’s a nice dram.