Range Review - Adelphi & Ardnamurchan
Our take on a few semi-recent releases from Adelphi!
Thanks to our good friends at Baranow's Emporium - who bring the wonderful independent bottlings from Adelphi into the country - for getting us some samples to review and can share!
Read on for our thoughts on a few expressions that recently landed on our shores from the inimitable Mr Alex Bruce of Adelphi.
Adelphi 1998 Jura Single Cask #2146 | Sherry Cask | 21 Years Old | Single Malt | 54.2%
1 of only 265 bottles from cask 2146
A rare older bottling from this famous Island, the Jura has a lovely colour of old oak and having spent its life in a refill Oloroso sherry Hogshead.
Nose: One of the most enticing and interesting Jura’s on the nose I’ve ever come across. Golden syrup on hot pancakes, freshly heat knifed beeswax, cinnamon sugar, dried figs and some funky sherry notes (like a sherry glass the morning after).
Palate: A three ring circus with dried Christmas fruits, cloves and cedar wood headlining. The bitterness of the wood is matched and complemented by the juiciness of the fruits and married by the oily, dark clove threads woven throughout.
Body: Medium/Heavy tending towards the heavier end of the spectrum
Length: Medium length sustained by honey/fruitcake
Burn: A bit of sting on entry but perfectly quaffable with the alcohol taking a back seat (as it should) once the palate is warmed up.
Complexity: Decent amount going on – plenty to mull over with each sip. Definitely no one trick pony.
Expressiveness: The ABV and the flavours work well together here, with all of the flavours you would expect presented from an Oloroso sherry casked whisky showing cleanly, without any muddling or muting.
Texture: A light and clean oily mouthfeel which grows thicker with each revisit.
Balance: The balance is good on this one – the sherry cask influence which on glancing at the colour would seem to be poised to smother the spirit completely, actually works well with the lighter Jura spirit instead of crushing it.
Nose Enjoyment: Delightful with a bit of everything a sherry aficionado would look for in a balanced sherried whisky.
Palate Enjoyment: Follows on from the nose – a sherried whisky fans jam, without overpowering the mild but enjoyable Jura spirit.
Overall enjoyment: Have not enjoyed a lot of Jura’s to date to be perfectly honest, but found this extremely drinkable and enjoyable. Keen for more like this!
Find it here!
Adelphi Private Stock | Blend | 54.2%
A limited batch release, Solera method, blended Scotch whisky with a high percentage of well-aged malts. A favourite tipple of many whisky consumers, writers and purveyors, this blend has an aroma which presents an interesting meeting of north-east and south-west characteristics; Speyside pear-drops and Islay peat smoke.
Nose: Bright vanilla and straw clover honey (the super pale, ‘high’ sweet honey aroma). Some faint earth and citrus notes – like a hint of squeezed orange oil and crushed geraniums. Amazing nose overall.
Palate: Starts and ends on butterscotch. In the middle we get a warming sweet vanilla cupcake note, some suggestions of lemon and honey tea and jersey caramels.
Body: Lighter than expected but still makes an impression – not underwhelming by any means.
Length: Short/Medium length – fades on a sweet and delicate butterscotch note.
Burn: Zero. If you have a penchant for ‘smooth’ (or annoying friend who bangs on about how smooth is the best) this one is for you. Also if you are a cask strength fiend, this one is also for you as it’s an excellent reminder that sometimes we don’t need a massive ABV to have a good dram/time.
Complexity: Not overly complex – but that doesn’t seem to be the point of blends, particularly this one. Blends tend to work on being balanced and rounded. Which this one most definitely is.
Expressiveness: Life begins at 40. 40 percent that is. This dram is a humbling reminder that you don’t always need a big ABV to get your point across. In fact the beautiful delicacy of this dram is served by the chosen bottling strength.
Texture: A light almost sugary feeling. Like the aftermath of letting a jersey caramel sit in your mouth slowly dissolving.
Balance: The balance is spot on with this one and is a reminder of why blends are still important and should NOT be overlooked. That and the price!
Nose enjoyment: If you are a sweet tooth and like drams you can sniff without doing yourself an injury you are in luck.
Palate Enjoyment: A real easy drinker but without the lack of complexity and flavour that sometimes comes with. Could happily drink this any night of the week.
Overall Enjoyment: I am actually very open to trying and buying blends thanks to some excellent expressions coming through these days (looking at you Compass Box!) but this is a timely reminder to try more as the rewards are often worth the risk.
Find it here!
Ardnamurchan Spirit 2019 AD | Single Malt Spirit | 54.4%
The 4th work in progress release from Ardnamurchan, the new distillery owned by Adelphi.
Nose: A vibrant, rich and very ‘clean’ sherried nose of candied orange peels, fat dark plump sultanas, cinnamon, nutmeg and marzipan.
Palate: Salted honeycomb (try it if you haven’t!), dried candied paw paw and pineapple, a molasses dark sweetness verging on a good rum, cardamom and cloves and juicy fat, dark sultanas and blackberries.
Body: Medium weight once the initial sherry bomb hit subsides.
Length: Medium length with a lingering sultana taste at the back of the mouth.
Burn: The alcohol makes it’s presence known but lingers in the background like a bodyguard in a black suit and tie combo. You know it’s there but it never smacks you in the mouth – it just puts a big meaty paw on your shoulder and moves you along with a ‘gentle’ shove.
Complexity: Impressive in its own right but even more so considering it can’t be more than 3 or 4 years old? The sherry casks obviously doing some heavy lifting here but the spirit is definitely contributing it’s fair share which is super impressive as there is a LOT of sherry influence in this dram.
Expressiveness: This is a fairly young and brash spirit that has zero trouble getting its point across.
Texture: Interesting as the initial sherry hit presents rather oily but does not linger. Texture tends towards dry as the spice and wood accumulate on the palate.
Balance: Hard to rate this one as it is objectively not balanced in a traditional sense but all of the big notes it has hit the lizard brain all at once creating so much happiness it almost simulates balance (if that makes even the slightest bit of sense?). Maybe just enjoy and not overthink it.
Nose Enjoyment: One of the richest sherried noses on a whisky I have tried in ages. As much as I am pulling more towards less cask influenced, more spirit driven expressions these days, this is an excellent reminder of why sherried whisky is still so popular (and good).
Palate Enjoyment: Pretty much the opposite of the Adelphi Private Stock Blend. Big, boisterous, fruity, and almost over the top. If you are looking for a good time, but not a long time this is the dram for you.
Overall Enjoyment: Thoroughly enjoyed and interesting to see the spirit progressing year on year through the 2016AD, 2017AD, 2018AD and now the 2019AD. If current trends continue Ardnamurchan will be the one to watch.
Find it here!
Adelphi The Glover Fusion | 18 Years Old | Blended Malt | 54.2%
The Glover 18 is the third in a series of whiskies honouring ‘Scottish Samurai’ Thomas Blake Glover and celebrating the long history of trade and friendship between Scotland and Japan.
Nose: Fruit all round with some slight nose prickles. Deep red sweet apples (Ambrosias a current fav), fresh lemon peel, and the faintest hit of cinnamon and star anise. Agave Nectar.
Palate: Lemon sherbet, Manuka honey still in the wax. Some heat/spice like ground chilli flakes or Szechuan peppers. The kind of heat that builds and lingers in the back palate over time.
Body: Medium – not too heavy and not too light. A hint of minerality like what I imagine damp limestone would taste like and rock salt.
Length: Medium length sustained by honey and lemon zest.
Burn: Can definitely feel the alcohol in this compared to the three whiskies above – possibly being exacerbated by the zing of the citrus notes? Not painful by any stretch but if you have a low tolerance proceed slowly and take your time dipping into this one. It’s worth it.
Complexity: A lot going on in this one. Another excellent example of why blending is an art, not a crime.
Expressiveness: Several major notes on the palate – all with plenty of space to visit each in turn without getting muddled or lost in the mix. The alcohol definitely highlights the citrus elements for me.
Texture: A fascinating texture – super reminiscent of a good Clynelish. Waxy, bright and citrusy all at once.
Balance: The balance is spot on here.
Nose Enjoyment: The more I sniff this the more I become convinced I have poured myself a good Highland single malt. Not my favourite of the lot but not far off.
Palate Enjoyment: Ironically, my favourite as it presents as a single cask, cask strength Scotch to my palate/brain and it’s none of those things. What it is a bright, waxy, zesty delight.
Overall Enjoyment: This feels like being schooled in how a good blend is put together – class dismissed!
Find it here!
Adelphi 2004 Laphroaig Single Cask #700170 | Bourbon Cask | 14 Years Old | Single Malt | 54.2%
1 of only 321 bottles from cask 700170
Drawn from a refill ex-Bourbon hogshead, this appears to have had a west coast maturation – gradual loss of alcohol with good retention of volume (win-win). Summer gold in colour, this shows a moderate bead.
Nose: I hate that I find so many smoked meat/maritime notes and memories in a lot of peated Islay whiskies. This is no exception….. Definite notes of whipped salt sea spray and foam from a storm rolling in from the sea. Smoked almonds and ham hocks. Fat drippings sizzling and smoking on hot coals.
Palate: Glad I tasted this one last. A king tide of earthy wet driftwood thrown on a roaring bonfire. Salty and sweet bacon that has been slightly charred. Fresh pineapple lightly dusted with salt with seaweed and sesame snacks on the side.
Body: Medium – although would suspect without the peat would tend more towards the light side.
Length: Medium length – the peat once again adds its contribution and pushes out the finish.
Burn: Basically none. Although well over 50% the smoke, salt and sweetness are either hiding the burn or have smothered it.
Complexity: Peated whiskies generally present as more complex. Once again the combination of flavours from the cask, the distillate and the peat smoke definitely make for a fun, complex dram worthy of exploring the depths in a good pour.
Expressiveness: Unmistakeably Islay with a big upfront wave of smoke and smoked meats with a follow up tidal swell of salt, tropical fruits and malty goodness. I often find the Iodine in Laphroig can overwhelm other aspects of the whisky but everything here is easy to distinguish from first sip to last.
Texture: Oily, but the smoke seems to create some back palate dryness which belies the oils so on the balance feels slightly tacky rather than chewy.
Balance: Excellent which is saying something as I am pretty harsh on Laphroig in general, which I find can be all over the place or very unbalanced – not this one 😊
Nose enjoyment: Great nose for an Islay (and I like Islay). Makes me a little sad as I can’t be on a beach right now rugged up in my Captain Haddock Pea Jacket around a bonfire with friends and a bottle of this to share.
Palate Enjoyment: A balanced, classic Islay with all the hallmarks Laphroaig fans love but in measured and balanced proportions – good stuff.
Overall Enjoyment: Enough to make a fan of Ardbeg or Bruichladdich look over the fence.
Find it here!
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