A very Happy New Year, and a hearty welcome to 2021!
I have seen a few new years, but I never been so glad to see a year go as I am about the passing of 2020 – it has truly been horrendous.
However, it is now in the rear-view mirror and I’m looking forward to much better things ahead. Including some really good whiskies.
Over the break, I opened three new bottles. One from “stock”, the other two were greatly appreciated manna from the Whisky Gods.
And I have to say that all three are extremely interesting and lovely drops!
Here, then, are my tasting notes and comments for you.
Young Prince English Malt Whisky
Distillery: Ludlow Distillery, South Shropshire.
The Ludlow distillery is part of a vineyard, located south of Shrewsbury (of the biscuits fame), parallel with Birmingham and about two thirds of the way to the Welsh border.
Back Story: Cousins found this bottle and very thoughtfully brought it back to NZ for me as a gift. I am delighted they did, not only for the thought but also for the quality of the whisky!
I am generally not crass enough to ask the price of gifts but, as it was so unusual and they knew I would be writing it up on this website, my cousins were happy to say that the price was in the order of £38 (around NZ$80) for a 35cl bottle at 40% abv.
Made in a 200-litre pot still, the Young Prince was first released in November 2018. It has won a Gold Award at the Cotswalds’ Artisan Drinks Awards in February 2016 – in my opinion, most deservedly
Colour: Light amber.
Nose: Sweet stewed apricots in syrup, with dark wood and fruit jubes. There is a slight brine note, but the nose unfolds with exposure to become quite complex.
Palette: Again, sweet but with a slightly sour undertone. I found a light tongue heat, and cereal. Slightly floral, softly creamy & buttery.
Finish: Medium+, with a lingering wood taste.
Comment: How can I get some more??? This bottle is way too small! And I really want to try this at an abv somewhere around the late 50% range.
I went looking at their on-line shop over Christmas, but sadly it was shut.
Then, in early January, it came to life again! And they do have a 60% Cask Strength at £65 for a 70cl bottle – around NZ$165. Even if I add freight costs to NZ, that would still be a bargain!
It doesn’t appear that Ludlow send on-line purchases to NZ, but I am making enquiries with them to see if we can overcome that difficulty. It might require some heavy-duty disinfect if it arrives, but it’s got to be worth a shot!
The Flower of Youth – SMWS 72.75 (Miltonduff, Speyside)
ABV 61.3%, described as a “tiptoe through a summer forest with aromatic flowers, confection and savoury nourishment.”
Colour: Lighter amber
Nose: Sweetness, with fresh fruit and berries. There seems to be a sherry barrel influence, possible oloroso. The whole is rich & full.
Palette: Alcohol heat is my first impression. And fruit.
It is wide in the mouth then going a bit sour – if I am right about the oloroso barrel, this could be from there. Lollies and lingering sweetness follow.
It leaves an oily mouth film and lining on my tongue. There is Christmas pudding, and the alcohol level clears the nasal passages.
Finish: Long and going a bit tannic. Again the high abv left my lips slightly numb.
Comments: Yummy! To quote Oliver Twist, “please sir, can I have some more?”.
But I am starting to wonder if the SMWS is tending to bottle at too high an abv level. The up-front alcohol here initially overrides the real pleasantness in this dram. In my view, the abv could be dialled back a bit without adverse effect.
Islay Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
This bottle was given to me by very kind friends .
Colour: Amber yellow
Nose: Maritime, like a trip on the Interisland Ferry: ozone, salt air and sea spray. This is followed by a (thankfully) brief nose of sheep shed in mid-summer.
Palette: Sweet start. Tongue heat is followed by that taste of sheep shed, then sweetness and the salty air returns. A bit thin in the mouth at first, but then it builds.
Finish: Medium +. Slight sourness with a small amount of tannin and waxy
Comment: Somewhat against my expectations, I found this to be very interesting and a pleasant drop. It is not particularly peaty, but there is an obvious peat influence in the background.
It is hard to pick the contributing whiskies, but I suspect Ardbeg is involved.
About half an hour after finishing my dram I had a faint lingering taste of soil in the mouth, like you’re not washed your hands properly after gardening.
Sheep on Islay are a bit weird. They are black at the front and on the bottom of their legs, they graze on the beaches and they have total right-of-way on the roads.
And they get bathed in the best tasting Sheep Dip ever! Can’t be all bad.
An interesting by-story: The Sheep Dip title comes from days when people in the West Country used to make their own whisky and hide it in barrels marked “SD” to avoid paying taxes on it.
Good for them!