Sunday, 18 May 2008

Tasting 4 whiskies from Alc-hem-ist

This blog has been inactive for a while now. This is partially due to a crual lack at time... The maintenance of the site www.whisky-distilleries. info and its associated forum are both time consuming activities...
But here are some tasting notes for bottles from an indepedent bottle I just discovered recently: Alc-hem-ist.
Even if Alc-hem-ist is relatively new in the spirit independent bottlers world (not only for single malts, as they market also Calvados and Armagnac), the founder of the society is far to be unknown in this world. It is Mr Gordon Wright. The same Gordon Wright who founded Murray McDavid together with Mark Reynier and Simon Coughlin and who is a member of the new direction of Bruichladdich, after it re-opening in 2000.
Gordon is also a member of the Mitchell family who owns the Springbank distillery.All single malts are bottled at 46%. I have had the pleasure to taste 4 single malts in this series. The general impression is that the whiskies in this range are quality whiskies at fair prices. Which seems to become more and more difficult to find nowadays. Price of the bottles is about 45 euros, with an exception which is the Apple Mac I could find at 60 euros. The prices are those of my liquorist who is getting internationaly famous for his fair prices, Van Zuylen.
The tasted bottles are: Highland Park 15 years, Caol Ila 10 years, and two Macallan: a 15 years old and a 16 years old called Apple Mac... as it is a Calvados finish.

Highland Park, 15 years

The nose is both fresh and smoky. Smells of heather and an amazing salty and minty freshness recalling the "Fisherman's friend" drops make soon room for a very pleasant smell of green apple.
The mouth is very fresh, with hints of freshly (and sweet) cut grass developing slowly on cashew nut notes and then on ripe fruit. The texture of the mouth is particularly oily.
The finish is very long and pleasantly balanced between nutty notes and chocolate.
This Highland Park is an excellent introdution to the series and gives an idea of the potential of the collection.
Caol Ila 1996 (10 years)
The nose is clearly marked by a smell of oily peat and some sea hints.
In the palate, a nice smoke and a beautiful variation on one unique theme: peat., even though rather discrete. Despite a kind of monotony, this mouth remains rather complex. Pleasant and smooth.
The finish is rather long and remains on the same register as nose and mouth, which gives it quite a smooth character.

Macallan 1990 (15 years)
A both fruity and malty nose with quite discrete hints of chocolate.

The mouth is dominated by pleasant notes of cooked plum and chocolate. Amazing mouth, pleasant and rather complex, even if it remains on a quite limited tastes palette.
The finish is lingering and warm, and the memory of chocolate notes remains for long minutes.

The last bottle of the series was also the only deception. But this is probalby due to the fact it is a finition, and that I genarally do not like cask finishes...

Macallan 16 ans, Apple Mac ( Calvados finish)

The nose is very fresh and could be the one of an excellent Lowlands. Hay and green apple, hints of smoke.

The mouth is rather complex, dominated by a smooth mix of apples, malt and toffee, and seems quite far away from the nose impressions. Strangely complex and rather far from traditional Macallans.

The finish is pervasive with its after tastes of toffee intermixed with hints of chocolate and nuts. This finish clashes with the rest of the tasting and is close to be unpleasant.