Bunnahabhain Ceòbanach 46.3%

Ceòbanach is a new limited release NAS bottling from Bunnahabhain (apparently around 10 years old). It will be released in Sweden in February and probably in Norway in March. The name means “smoky mist”, which sounds promising. We’ll see.

Nose: Noticeable smoke, fresh peaches and red currants, then fruit compote. Malt loft (malted barley and dust). Water brings out lemon or tart melon and bonfire (there may be some painted or varnished wood on the fire).

Palte: Smoke, freezer ice (the one that forms on the inside of the freezer walls), black peppercorns, sweet peach (but much less fruit than on the nose). Still mostly smoke with water, but smoke containing a lot of other things. Is someone burning juniper wood? Has someone thrown a bag of peppercorns on the fire?

Comments: One of those where you could spend an evening trying to put names to what you’re smelling and tasting. As it’s also exceedingly nice, I can’t ask for more. As a session dram I think I’d prefer it without water, but for the full experience a few drops are neccessary.

Highland Park Drakkar 40%

15-20 % first fill european ex-sherry casks.


Nose: (Somewhat sweaty) milk chocolate. Tendencies towards rubber that fade after a while. Hint of smoke, dried apricots, oak, lightly minty.

Palate: Very oily, some ashes, some rather sharp wood (bitter notes).

Comments: Gets better after a while in the glass. A little too sharp/bitter on the finish, but the nose is really good once that rubber fades.

Glenglassaugh Torfa 50%

glenglassaugh_torfaNose: Smoked fudge. With water it develops into smoked cardboard box.

Palate: Foam banana sweets dusted with sugar that have spent som time in the smoke oven (or perhaps the kiln).

Comments: As a peatfreak I naturally like this. However it’s not complex enough, neither is it THAT good, so I wouldn’t consider buying a bottle. But if you’re offering I’ll have another dram.

Ardbeg Auriverdes 49.9%

ardbeg_auriverdesNose: It smells like Ardbeg. Well, ok, smoke, a little banana, log cabin, a little varnish and some dark chocolate. Water brings out a bit of wax and rosemary and leaves a lot of smoke.

Palate: Smoky log cabin and dark chocolate. Cold rock on the finish. With water the smoke is still dominant, but I find some tropical fruits and a hint of menthol. A little bitterness develops on the finish, and I conclude I prefered it without water.

Comments: For a peathead this is obviously not bad, but it’s not exactly worth the asking price, either. You get smoke, and plenty of it, cheaper from other sources. The nose is best with a little water, the taste without. I will probably drink the rest of my share (I split the bottle with a couple of other people) without adding water.

Bunnahabhain Eirigh Na Greine 46.3%

Well, I can’t say I was jumping for joy when I discovered that Bunnahabhain have discontinued Darach Ur and replaced it with another Travel Retail Exclusive. I would have liked a little forewraning, at least, so that I could stockpile some bottles of one of my favourite whisky bottlings EVER. Well. Since I have liked what Bunnahabhain have done with their NAS bottlings in general, I picked up an Eirigh Na Greine when I cam through Aberdeen Dyce on my way home from the Orkneys (more, much more, on that later).

bunnahabhain_eirigh_na_greineNose: Malt and sweet plums, dryish wood fire, milk chocolate. With water I get chutney made from tropical fruits, with more water the fruity impression becomes fresher.

Palate: Malt, spices, orange peel, tropical fruits, milk chocolate. A lightly bitter finish. Water brings out digestives with orange marmalade.

Comments: Slightly too bitter on the finish for my palate, and it does not hit the mark in teh way the Darach Ur did. Still, it’s a pretty good dram, with a lot of action both on the nose and the taste considering the price.

Highland Park Dark Origins 46.8%

Highland Park announces the launch of a new whisky: Dark Origins. According to the press release it is ” inspired by the cunning spirit and courageous personality of its founder, Magnus Eunson.”

Magnus was a cunning soul, apparently, working as a beadle during the day, but as a smuggler and possibly illicit distiller by night. He has been connected to the founding of Highland Park distillery, though the story they tell on their website is somewhat more academically hesitant than the Dark Origins press release.

In any case, a new, widely available expression of Highland Park is interesting news. The only “leak” about it prior to the press release embargo of 1st July 00.01 is the label design, which  has fallen into the hands of The Whisky Ledger.

hp-dark-originsDark Origins is bottled at a strength of 46.8% ABV, is non-chillfiltered and non-coloured, and substantial amounts of first-fill sherry casks have been used in its maturation, twice as many as for the standard 12 year old. As Dark Origins is a NAS (No age statement), the use of the casks may be a necessary virtue, sherry is known to mask a lot of things, and youthful spirit is one of them. With the market the way it is, the release of a NAS comes as no suprise and may be a very wise move. The important thing, as ever, is what does the whisky taste like, not how old it is.

I’ve been lucky enough to receive an advance sample of Dark Origins, and so I present you with my tasting notes:

Nose: Milk chocolate, fudge, newly struck matches and very subtle smoke. Warm wood and spices, I think cumin comes closest to what I’m finding. The nose loses some sweetness after some time in the glass, and aquires tarter and fruitier notes, which are emphasised with water. Tart mango? With water the sherry cask is also immediately more obvious, with burnt matchs and leather, but also grilled meat. Spareribs?

Palate: Surprisingly little sweetness. Ashes, heather and lemon. A little sufur. Water emphasises the cask on the palate as well, dry sherry, burnt oak and old leather. There is smoke, but though obvious it is not overwhelming.

Comments: A lot of people are going to like this (though if you dislike the smell of burnt matches you might just hate it). Some may be disappointed at the lack of sweet notes, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well the dryness suits this whisky. Out of interest I tried it against the very lovely Arran sherry cask (sherried island whisky against sherried island whisky) and actually liked it even better than when I tried it first on its own. Dark Origins doesn’t beat the single cask, but it holds its own, and that’s quite impressive in a NAS. A very good candidate to one of those “must always have a bottle at hand” slots in the cupboard for those nights when you just want a good dram and for bringing along to social occasions to share with friends.

Dark Origins will be rolled out internationally starting now, and to attract some attention Highland Park are planning The Dark Expedition in the second half of august. I’ve been invited to join, and since I like sailboats even more than I like whisky (if that’s at all possible) I hastily cleared my calendar. There are also two places up for grabs to a Highland Park fan, so if you fancy a trip across the North Sea, check out the details at whiskynyt.dk.

Addendum: Highland Park has now written about Dark Origins on their blog and we can see the final label design (which differs somewhat from the leaked version).

Highland Park Cask Strength Edition 56%

This is a bottlig of Highland Park which was launched in 2013 exclusively for Sweden, in half bottles. It’s a NAS and it’s been matured in European ex-sherry casks. It’s still widely available in Sweden for the relatively nice price of 299,- SEK.

hp_csNose: Milk chocolate, burnt oak and ice cream. The relatively high strength is very obvious, despite the sherry influence which often masks a high ABV. With a little water added I can get my nose deeper in the glass and find dried orange slices, honey and old, dry leather. A little liquorice and a touch of manthol. Another drop of water and it suddenly develops a nice, flowery character. Sweet lilac crossed with flowering heather.

Palate: A hint of smoke, burnt oak and also a hint of burnt rubber. With water I get barbequed orange peel and herbs, and the rubber disappears. A whiff of smoke lingers in the background.

Comments: Perhaps a candidate for our travelling dram this summer? A very, very able dram for everyday wear. It’s not a stunner, but I could drink dram after dram without becoming bored, and 35 cl is a very handy format.