Kilchoman Sanaig

Kilchoman SanaigDistillery: Kilchoman
Region: Islay
Age: No age statement
abv: 46%

Kilchoman has been hugely successful in gaining an early fan base (myself included), who eagerly lap up all the limited editions that the distillery releases. Since Kilchoman’s whisky is so very drinkable from a young age, there have been several cask finishes to generate income while the rest of the distillery’s stock matures. While some of these releases have been excellent (the Port Cask was particularly brilliant), it is always a little bit sad when you finish your bottle and there is no way to get another. Luckily, Kilchoman Sanaig is now here to stay, forming Kilchoman’s core range together with Machir Bay.

Like Loch Gorm, Sanaig is named after a geographical feature close to the distillery. As whisky makers continue to release new bottlings, I have to say the topographical references become more and more obscure (Bowmore Black Rock or Old Pulteney’s Lighthouse Series are good examples), but hey, every whisky needs a name… More importantly, Kilchoman Sanaig has received an additional maturation in Oloroso sherry casks, imbuing the whisky with sweet, fruity notes, as well as a bit of extra character. While this dram retains plenty of punch and smoke, Sanaig is much more graceful and complex when compared to the peaty onslaught of Machir Bay. I think the sherry finish complements the distillery character rather well, and this a very well-balanced and enjoyable dram!

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Laphroaig Distillery

Laphroaig Water to Whisky Experience

I’ve visited quite some distilleries over the years, and at most you will be warmly received with a short tour of the premises, followed by a generous helping of the local liquid. While I love these distillery visits, there is no denying that by and large, they mostly show the same thing. This is why it’s so refreshing that Laphroaig has put on something more extensive for the die-hard whisky fan. The tour is called the Water to Whisky Experience, it takes around 4,5 hours and will currently set you back £90 (it was much cheaper when I went in 2011, but did admittedly not involve taking home your own bottle). A trip to Islay is always something special, but this distillery experience really is the icing on the proverbial cake.

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Aberlour A’bunadh (Batch 53)

Aberlour A'Bunadh reviewDistillery: Aberlour
Region: Speyside
Age: No age statement
abv: 59.7%

The story of A’bunadh (meaning The Origin in Gaelic) is an interesting one. How much of it is marketing and how much is truth is hard to say, but the tale goes as follows.

Business was booming in the 1970s, so Aberlour decided to put in a new pair of stills in 1975. When installing the stills, workmen had to remove a name plate, behind which they discovered a time capsule. It was a bottle of Aberlour wrapped in a newspaper from 1892, containing an article about the fire that destroyed the original Aberlour distillery. Although the workmen reportedly emptied out almost the whole bottle, the leftovers were duly handed to the distillery manager, who sent the sample to the lab to be evaluated. The lab results showed that the dram was a marriage of whiskies of different ages, all matured in European oak and bottled at cask strength.

Aberlour A’bunadh is an attempt to recreate this whisky and celebrate the origins of Aberlour. Since only a handful of people ever tasted the original I can’t say whether they succeeded, but oh my have Aberlour created a wonderful dram! A’bunadh is bottled in different batches, each very similar but subtly different. All batches are a vatting of different Aberlours, ranging in age from 3 to 30 years. With the exclusive maturation in European oak, A’bunadh is the ultimate sherry aged whisky, positively exploding with sweet, spicy flavours. Add the high alcohol content (this batch is one of only a few to fall short of 60%) and you have a truly special whisky that is unquestionably the crown jewel in Aberlour’s range.

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