It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to participate to a Tweet Tasting, thanks to Brexit and the pain it is to ship whisky, even samples, from the UK to Europe, especially France. More paperwork, duties, taxes… many distilleries don’t include European tasters any more in their Tweet Tastings. Sometimes just French ones, because it’s even more of a pain here, thanks to Customs and our taxes agency. No thank you to all those responsible! But Keith Bonnington, The Whisky Cellar founder, that we now know very well here, wanted me to be able to participate anyway, so he had the same tasting pack (and tee-shirt) sent to me as the other tasters. Thanks again Keith! No Whisky Cellar release this time, but five drams, four whiskies and one rum, from his other brands: The Easy Sipper, Brig O’ Perth and Pintail.
North British 11-Year-Old The Easy Sipper Review
Bottled under The Easy Sipper brand, we start with a North British 11-year-old single grain whisky. The Easy Sipper is a brand from The Whisky Cellar, targeting sipping and sharing whiskies. This North British is a vatting of two first-fill American oak ex-bourbon barrels (#317,443 & 317,444 for this batch), produced in about 500 bottles batches. This very batch gave 554 bottles filled at 46.4% (easy to sip, remember, so no cask strength), without colouring nor chill filtration. One of the other targets of The Easy Sipper brand is low prices, and the RRP for this North British is £39. Still easily to be found in the UK, at Aberdeen Whisky Shop and Whisky Castle for instance, but at many other shops too.
Neat: This young grain whisky displays a slightly spirited aroma, as expected. Scents of frosted cereal, lemon, vanilla, marzipan, and a hint of caramel are present, followed by notes of peach and apricot. Additionally, there is a touch of uncooked cookie dough.
With water: The addition of water enhances the aroma, bringing out hints of white chocolate, pineapple, and agave syrup.
Neat: The palate starts with a pleasant citrus taste, followed by a warm pepper and ginger kick. Despite an ABV of 46.4%, it feels stronger. The mouthfeel is oily and rich, with flavours of rhubarb, grapefruit, wood polish, and a mild astringent leafiness.
With water: Water brings out additional fruit notes, a taste of sugarcane juice, and a hint of tropical IPA.
The finish is characterised by a citrusy and slightly bitter taste, with the mild astringency from the palate lingering on and a gentle pepper heat. It has a good length.
A lovely sweet nose, a sweet but also spicy and sour palate without being too much of any, a lively finish, this has all the ingredients for a whisky that evaporates quite quickly. Contrary to many young grains, this one really is flavourful and interesting. I’d buy one if I could find one shipping to France.
Blair Athol 2011 Brig O’Perth Review
We introduced the Brig O’ Perth brand at the last Whisky Cellar Tweet Tasting I could attend, so if you want to know more about the brand, I’ll let you go read what I wrote last time. It started with a blend, but they also bottle single malts, and here we have a Blair Athol distilled in 2011 and bottled at 11 years of age. It was finished in a ‘Vino de Color’ Sherry Cask for 3 months but it was enough to give it a very dark colour. Vino de Color is a mix of unfermented Pedro Ximenez grape juice with dark sherry, and it is one of the oldest styles of Spanish Sherry Wine. It seems casks of this type are very hard to come by, and when this 150-year-old one came up for sale, Keith jumped on it and immediately bought it. The outturn is 467 bottles filled at 54.7%, non-chill filtered nor coloured, for an RRP of £75.
Neat: This Blair atoll whisky has a strong aroma of rancio, nuttiness, old wood, and leather, reminiscent of an old leather armchair and dusty leather-bound books. Scents of overripe dates and figs, a hint of soy sauce umami, and shoe polish are also present, along with balsamic vinegar and sesame oil.
With water: The addition of water brings out a raisin aroma.
Neat: This Blair Athol has a powerful sherry flavour, accompanied by the strong rancio notes and nuttiness, which make it seem like it could be mixed with a very old Armagnac. The taste of a double espresso, treacle syrup, caramel, and cherry liqueur are also present, along with smoked plums and a touch of balsamic vinegar.
With water: The addition of water brings out raisin and strawberry liqueur flavors.
The finish is characterized by an abundance of liquorice, balsamic vinegar, leafy notes, leather, hazelnuts, and almonds, with a long and lingering aftertaste.
This Blair Athol bottled under the Brig O’Perth brand is a delicious and intense sherry bomb. Though I’m not as inclined towards sherry bombs as I used to be, I was very pleasantly surprised by the balance, complexity, and enticing aroma and flavour of this whisky. I wouldn’t hesitate to have a few bottles on hand.
Linkwood 2008 Pintail Review
We now move to Pintail, another of their brands. Targeting ‘funky wine cask finishes’ (their words), this is another old ‘heritage’ brand acquired by Keith Bonnington. Pintail was a Matthew Gloag & Son stablemate of Brig O’ Perth, launched in 1931 initially as a Dry Sherry. It seems it was advertised in the ’40s and ’50s in high society publications like Tatler, and won international awards as the ‘perfect 11 o’clock to serve to guests before lunch and during meals’. The brand was acquired last year and they decided to keep its black bottle with the white label look and the Pintail duck in flight. The first release we’re trying from them is a Linkwood 2008 having received a 12-month-long finish in a Manzanilla Sherry cask (#9067). The 309 bottles extracted from that cask were filled at 53.5%, without chill filtration nor colouring. The suggested retail price is £75.
Neat: The aroma of this Linkwood whisky is bright, fruity, and rich, with scents of apricot, tobacco leaves, and an unlit cigar. There are also tropical fruit notes of pineapple, guava, and mango, as well as mint, camomile tea, aniseed, pine resin, and eucalyptus.
With water: Reduction brings orange zest and even more pineapple, but this time roasted.
Neat: This whisky presents a bright and fruity flavour profile with dominant notes of orange, lemon pie, and raspberry jam. A hint of oak can be detected in the background.
With water: Reduction enhances the profile with notes of pineapple, a spicy kick of chili and Tabasco, and a touch of creamy milk chocolate.
The long finish is characterised by a lively blend of citrus and confectionery flavours, along with a bright mixture of orchards and tropical fruit notes. The finish is rounded out by a hint of spice.
This Linkwood bottled under the Pintail brand is a delightful, summery whisky that can be enjoyed year-round. Its fruity and bright flavour profile won me over, and I would be delighted to purchase a bottle or two if it were available through European importers.
Mannochmore 2008 Pintail Review
The fourth dram and last whisky of the tasting was a Mannochmore 2008 that received a 6 months finishing period in a Tokaji Aszú cask. Tokaji is a Hungarian sweet wine and is one of the oldest known European wines, going back to the Roman times, around AD 300. This 14-year-old Mannochmore was distilled in 2008 and bottled in 2022, at 14 years of age, and filled at 55.1% without chill filtration nor colouring. The RRP of the 289 bottles is £80.
Neat: offers aromas of ripe peaches, freshly mowed grass, fennel, and yellow grape skin. It has a sweet, floral quality that brings to mind a pink cocktail I have no idea the name of.
With water: Reduction brings hay but also unfortunately a touch of soap that becomes evident.
Neat: The palate surprised me with a thick, oily and sweet arrival, with a spicy kick. The flavour profile is reminiscent of a grape juice mixed with lime, a hint of tabasco, pineapple juice, grapefruit, pepper, a touch of mint, lychees and a drop of pastis.
With water: The flavours of pineapple and spices become more pronounced, and a slightly herbal character emerges.
A long-lasting ginger and cinnamon spice complemented by notes of orchard fruit and a touch of dry oak.
This is a delightful whisky, but in my opinion, it falls slightly short of the Linkwood and the Blair Athol. It offers a fruity and spicy profile, but lacks the brightness of the Linkwood. I noticed a slight soapy note on the nose after dilution, which was a disappointment, as this detracts from the overall experience. Despite this, it is still a very good whisky.
XO Single Origin Panama Rum 14-year-old Pintail Review
The fifth and last dram of the tasting is not a whisky but a rum, also bottled under the Pintail brand. This Extra Old (XO) Rum is made from two barrels from a Single Origin Panama 2008 Vintage. It was matured for fourteen years in American Oak and married together, then gave 525 bottles filled at 54% ABV. Still available in the UK for about £85 a bottle.
Neat: Neat, this Panama rum has a rich and decadent aroma of banana foster paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. No additional notes are needed. (And to be honest, that’s all I’m getting.)
With water: With reduction, the nose picks up hints of blood orange and triple sec, enhancing the overall profile.
Neat: This rum has a flavour profile that evokes a vanilla-infused amber rum from Mauritius, with notes of aniseed and liquorice. It has a pleasant sweetness combined with a spicy kick, and a charming touch of funk.
With water: The flavours become slightly spicier with a touch of pepper and a light bitter note.
The finish of this rum is long and warming, with a return to the flavours of banana foster and liquorice. A generous pinch of pepper and a hint of tabasco add heat and depth to the finish.
I hate bananas. I obviously hate banana foster as well. And despite that, this rum is good fun. It may not have a lot of complexity, but it has a pleasing taste that I appreciated. I don’t have a lot of experience with rum, so my tasting notes may not be very detailed, but I thoroughly enjoyed this rum nonetheless.
But Don’t Trust Our Word For It…
‘Dram it Mick’ from The Whiskey Chaps has reviewed some of these drams, and Brian ‘Malt Musings’ has reviewed the four whiskies on his blog as well, go read their reviews for another point of view on these whiskies!
Samples provided by The Whisky Cellar.