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Whisky Review Round Up: Five Lions/Claxton Independent Scotch Bottlings

Whisky Review Round Up: Five Lions/Claxton Independent Scotch Bottlings

To shortly introduce what can be a prolonged evaluation, we’re going over a six-part assortment of older Scotch whiskies offered to us as samples to evaluation which all herald from unbiased bottlers and never the distilleries themselves.

Nearly all of them are from Five Lions, a United Kingdom-based unbiased bottler targeted particularly on Scotch. Generally, this bottler acquires what they contemplate to be extraordinary particular person casks from Scottish distillers to bottle and promote underneath the Five Lions model, primarily together with the essential particulars on the bottle and never altering something concerning the whisky itself.

The ultimate pattern comes from Claxton’s, a Yorkshire-based bottler that primarily does the identical factor as Five Lions (buying casks of Scotch to promote underneath their very own model).

All of those whiskies are imported to the USA and Canada in restricted portions by Glass Revolutions Imports.

Glenburgie 20-year-old (picture by way of Five Lions)

Tasting Notes: Five Lions –Aberlour Eight-year-old, first-fill Oloroso Sherry

Very important Stats: The primary and youngest is an eight-year-old Aberlour, a distillery in Speyside presently owned by Chivas Brothers/Pernod Ricard (of Chivas Regal if that wasn’t already clear). It was aged in Oloroso casks and bottled at 57.9% ABV.

Look: In a glass, this comes out a typical golden amber, maybe a bit mild in comparison with all whiskey on the earth however about common for Scotch whisky.

Nostril: Hits the nostril with a nostril with an apparently bitter mixture of spice and citrus, like a tart with lots of lemon, a punch of ginger and a touch of flowers within the background. That mellows out right into a semisweet toffee with a notice of espresso and touches of nutmeg and oak.

Palate: Whereas the primary sip hits the tongue like a pleasantly floral honey, that lasts for barely a second earlier than sharply snapping into a really potently spicy character, primarily with notes of clove and pepper. That blast continues via swallowing earlier than ultimately easing off right into a spicy, earthy caramel aftertaste with an undercurrent of smoke. Subsequent sips develop into extra manageable because the tongue acclimates to the upper ABV – taking over extra character of the caramel end – however it nonetheless has small sharp pangs of clove and pepper.

The Takeaway: This Aberlour is definitely an fascinating dram when you get used to it, however it’s nonetheless troublesome to recover from the efficiency of this Eight-year-old, particularly for a candy tooth like me. Even including a couple of drops of water solely barely toned that down. So, whereas this can be a nice whisky, it might have been even higher as a stronger ingredient of a extra historically Speyside mix.

Rating: three.5

Tasting Notes: Craigellachie 10-year, first-fill bourbon

Very important Stats: This Scotch comes from the Speyside Craigellachie Distillery, owned by Dewar & Sons (which is in flip owned by Bacardi). The whisky spent 10 years in first-fill bourbon casks and is bottled at 55.9% ABV.

Look: Very pale even so far as Scotch goes. Whereas nonetheless golden in hue, it comes off as showing extra like an alloy with some silvery component, persevering with with the metallic analogy.

Nostril: Begins off very faint and delicate with only a trace of miscellaneous flowers wafting into the nasal passages. That ultimately turns into stronger and positive aspects a subdued caramel character with hints of oak and allspice.

Palate: Entry is as soon as once more very delicate with only a mild contact of flowers and honey on first contact with the tongue. That lasts for a second earlier than a nutmeg-like spice begins to construct, shortly ramping as much as a average burn on the tongue. Swallowing as soon as once more strips that right down to a wealthy caramel earlier than a clove-like burn begins to construct up once more, rising to a different average burn earlier than easing again into the wealthy caramel with a contact of smokiness. That burn sometimes flares up once more for an additional minute or so.

The Takeaway: I actually respect that this one is ready to take its imbiber on a journey between a really delicate honey-like character to a harsher than common spice. It nonetheless obtained a bit harsh for me at occasions, however number of experiences is one thing I worth far more extremely in a Scotch.

Rating: four

Tasting Notes: Five Lions – Westport 18-year-old blended malt

Very important Stats: You gained’t probably discover a lot a few Westport distillery in Scotland as a result of this whisky is a “teaspoon whisky,” which means it’s primarily from one distillery save for a “teaspoon” of one other distillery’s whisky. This one was for 18 years in a first-fill sherry butt and bottled at 59.7% ABV.

Look: Darker than common amongst all whiskey and significantly darker than the opposite Scotch whiskies on this evaluation, coming off like a deep-red copper.

Nostril: The primary sniff brings within the aroma of a wealthy molasses with notes of cocoa and condensed milk giving an added creamy character and hints of clove and smoke including a little bit of spice. That progressively eases into extra of a wealthy, creamy caramel with extra pronounced clove and smoke.

Palate: The primary sip hits the tongue with a wealthy, creamy caramel with a little bit of smoky character. Regularly it builds to have extra of a spicy taste frivolously burning the tongue like cinnamon and clove. Swallowing strips the flavour again right down to the caramel earlier than the spicy notes slowly construct again as much as a light-weight burn, which then regularly eases again to a smoky caramel end.

The Takeaway: Whereas it was wealthy, candy, spicy this Westport simply usually appeared to be each unobjectionable and unremarkable. It hit all the of candy and spicy notes a Scotch could be anticipated to the touch on, nevertheless it did so with out a lot character that might set it aside.

Rating: three.5

Tasting Notes: Five Lions – Glenburgie 20-year-old Single Malt Scotch

Very important Stats: This single malt was distilled in 1995 on the Speyside Glenburgie, an previous distillery that noticed many begins and stops in its historical past, together with being shuttered in 2000, demolished, and rebuilt by 2004. This expression was aged for 20 years in second-fill American Bourbon Hogshead casks and bottled at cask power of 53.7 ABV.

Look: A bit lighter than common, however nonetheless a golden amber that’s typical of Scotch.

Nostril: Very delicate on the nostril to the purpose of being virtually indiscernible, the scents I might detect included a mellow, wealthy vanilla with vaguely floral notes. That ultimately positive factors an earthy hay character with a really mild contact of pepper to the combination.

Palate: As with the nostril, the primary sip is extraordinarily delicate, coming off like a floral honey with only a trace of lilac setting itself aside from the indiscernible flowers within the combine. The honey stays the undercurrent whereas spicy notes of ginger and clove start to tickle the tongue and steadily construct to a average burn. Swallowing elicits a pointy pang of that burn earlier than very slowly truly fizzling out into to the floral honey from the start.

The Takeaway: Whereas I used to be initially unimpressed with this Glenburgie on the nostril, I discovered its subtlety very rewarding on the tongue. I appreciated not solely the restraint of this whiskey, but in addition the way it nonetheless managed to additionally hit the spicy and candy sides of Scotch with out going excessive. I’d decide this one up in a heartbeat if I ever come throughout it.

Rating: 5

Tasting Notes: Five Lions ­– Burnside 22-year-old Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

Very important Stats: This whisky is a 22-year-old aged in a second-fill Oloroso Sherry Hogshead cask and bottled at cask power of 55.5% ABV.

Look: A reasonably normal golden amber, a bit darker than most Scotch however a bit lighter than whiskey general.

Nostril: Once more, a really delicate vanilla that’s virtually indecipherable. Ultimately it develops and earthier dynamic with notes of candy apple, cinnamon, and barley, although once more very delicate.

Palate: Eases its approach on the tongue like a fragile vanilla – this time pretty brilliant and candy versus mellow and wealthy – with a little bit of an earthy, smoky character. That smokiness progressively will get stronger because the sip develops a spicy, nutmeg-like undercurrent that lightly tickles the tongue.

The Takeaway: Since Scotch older than 12 years is a uncommon for me to come across, it ought to come as no shock that I discovered this 22-year-old is superb. I appreciated that it was delicate and took me by way of particular levels of spicy and candy. Nevertheless, these levels weren’t as distinct as I’d usually like with this one, versus the 18-year-old Glenburgie. Whereas nonetheless nice, it fell a bit brief the excessive normal that the Glenburgie set for me.

Rating: four.5

Tasting Notes: Claxton’s The Single Cask ­– Cambus 25-year-old

Very important Stats: This one comes from the defunct Cambus distillery within the Lowlands, which ended manufacturing in 1993 leaving a plethora, albeit restricted amount, of barrels for others to scoop up. This launch was aged for 25 years in a refilled sherry butt, particularly cask 1725-103028, and bottled at 52.1% ABV.

Look: Once more, a shiny gold that’s lighter, even for Scotch, however not the lightest of this entire grouping.

Nostril: The primary inhale is an assertive – however not overwhelming – wave of candy vanilla, a barely less-pronounced notice of charred oak including a little bit of earthy smoke, and additional touches of banana and pine nuts. Whereas these aromas stay, the bouquet shortly turns in a spicier course dominated ginger, hay, and a extra pronounced smokiness that makes the sweetness appear extra like a crème brûlée crust.

Palate: Entry slides on the tongue with smoothness of a mild vanilla syrup with a contact of flowers within the background, particularly lilac. That taste quickly develops spicier notes that develop as they continue to be on the tongue, primarily tasting of cloves, ginger, and a contact of oak. Swallowing wipes away all however a fragile, smoky mixture of oak and vanilla earlier than the clove taste progressively resurges and builds into a light-weight tingle all through the mouth. After a crescendo to a light burn, the flavour eases again right into a smoky, wealthy vanilla that lingers as a coating on the tongue for a pair minutes.

The Takeaway: Whereas a number of the different whiskies on this assortment may need been higher as components in a mix, this Cambus cask of 25-year-old whisky holds up nice by itself. A dram is nice, wealthy, earthy, and a bit spicy, with out leaning an excessive amount of in any of these instructions. My solely minor criticism is that the palate was at occasions a bit too delicate to detect a lot nuance, however that is nonetheless what I personally search for once I drink Scotch.

Rating: four