Ready to take the Fall.

Taste Review #136 Aber Falls Inaugral release

Time waits for no man and that is a saying that I’m only too aware of. It’s been some time since I’ve written, but forgive me, it has been a hectic time at work. Like so many other professions, we find ourselves short of people and I’ve just not had the energy to catch up with my backlog after shift. With so many reviews in hand, it means I have been a bit reticent about reviewing other samples or bottles lest I fall behind even further.

But in my line of work we often accept that as long as we are not moving backwards, then that is a good thing and I’ve decided to take a plunge in my run of tasting anything but Scotch to try another Welsh whisky. Quite a risk after having the last one which I’ll only remind you that I was glad not to have bought a full bottle.

The inaugural Aber Falls was a keenly anticipated release, but unfortunately wasn’t released in a large volume, with only 2000 bottles reaching market. These were quickly snapped up by those who wanted to drink them and those greedy cretins who wished to flip and make profit. Kudos to the Aber Falls distillery for making a realistic charge of only £45 for your first bottling. Ya boo sucks to those marketing it now for over £300. You are despicable.

I could waste a lot of time by telling you about the distillery but I feel it better to let you visit the website of the distillery itself, so the link is here :- www.aberfallsdistillery.com


Aber Falls Inaugural Release

Region – Wales Age – NAS (3 yrs) Strength – 46% abv Colour – Tawny (1.4) Cask Type – American / European Oak, Spanish Sherry, Virgin Oak, Orange Wine Casks Colouring -Not stated Chill Filtered – Not Stated

Nose – quite tropical initially. Got a big hit of passion fruit. Butterscotch angel delight, orange citrus, vanilla, dried fruit, raisins, sultanas. Slightly nutty, walnuts.

Palate – medium bodied and gives a pleasant mouthfeel. Gingery heat builds straight away but is well controlled. The orange wine casks play a big part, and I get plenty of marmalade notes. The heat subsides and becomes a bit more biscuity and syrupy and floral sweetness, akin to heather honey. This morphs into a creamy smoothness, something similar to American Ice cream soda with that magical tickle on the tongue.

Finish – Medium finish. Coffee, dark chocolate, honey, ginger and oak spices. Drying towards the end.

Conclusions

I was quite surprised by this dram. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but it was quite drinkable, despite the young age. The continual fashion of releasing young whisky irks me somewhat. It is rapidly apparent that this whisky is going to be a good one, so why release it so early? It just seems to be that another couple of years in the cask would have done it a world of good, but I can only imagine that the accountants and those waiting on returns on their investments had other ideas.

So many other distilleries have been releasing at a young age and it seems to have flooded the market with whisky that has just passed its exams and is trying to take on those with a lot more experience. I’ve tasted whiskies which to me did not manage this at all in my opinion, so why make your whisky one more face in that crowd? I’d think it would be a better idea to follow the Adelphi way of thinking and wait 5 yrs to get an nicely balanced whisky with a couple more years under its belt like Ardnamurchan.

Of course this is only my opinion, but getting whisky out as soon as possible seems to also please the flippers who can make tons of money by flipping three year old spirit. The only thing that makes me happy is knowing that those who have paid flipper rates for a £45 whisky will essentially be left with nothing once better, more mature Aber Falls comes out, as that is I suspect to be a very delicious prospect.

One thing I am thinking is whether or not the long line of cask types in this release is sustainable and will they have a core release of say ex-bourbon so we can get a better idea of distillery character? The Orange wine cask had quite an influence on this bottling but I am wondering what a standard core release will taste like. The second release was only £26 so based on this tasting, that is a bargain if it meets the quality of this one.

Despite my various reservations, I would recommend this whisky. The problem is that only 2000 bottles were released and it is fair to assume that those opened will now be long gone, so your only hope is to find one going cheap at auction. During a bit of research for this post, I had seen one for sale at £449 at whiskys.co.uk. Absolutely scandalous pricing as this whisky can never expect to hold up to that and anybody stupid enough to pay that must either be really desperate to try it or they have more money than sense. On secondary market, even £100 is overpriced unless you really enjoy it when you drink it.

If you are really interested in trying it, Master Of Malt still had samples at the time of writing (29th March 2022) costing £5.28 for 3cl.

Yours In Spirits

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


Photo Credits

All Photos – Authors Own

Don’t Mention The War!

Taste Review #130 – TBWC – Slyrs Batch 3

What is the first thing you think of when you think of the Germans?

It’s unfortunate that most people think of the Second World War, but Germany is much more than that. You can’t tar them all with the same brush because one Austrian goes mental and tries to take over Europe. I’ve just finished working with a German supervisor and on the one night we had nothing to do, it was suggested that we watch a movie. I had asked my colleague what he fancied watching, adding “I bet you don’t want to watch a war movie!” I was right. I followed it up a couple of days later by replying when asked what was happening that day “I don’t know – I was thinking of invading Poland.” Yes, the Germans aren’t known for their sense of humour, but this is a mistaken stereotype. So is the idea that Germans don’t have a word for fluffy; they just don’t use it much.

I like Germany. Nearly every German I’ve met has been very friendly and extremely hospitable. The country has many really beautiful sights and it’s unfortunate that many fixate on something that happened in the last century. It truly is worth going out and about and seeing what surprises Germany has to offer.


Less than an hour south of Munich. On the autobahn to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Makes the Cairngorms look like molehills.

You might also be amazed to find out that Germany has more distilleries than the UK. It surprised me to find out that Germany has some 29,000 distilleries. Most of these distilleries produce fruit spirits, but they surprisingly have more whisky distilleries than Scotland. There are up to 800 dealing with whisky in Germany, far surpassing the Scottish total, though according to deutschland.de, 130 of these are expressly whisky distilleries, slightly short of the Scottish number.

I’ve always been tempted to try whisky made in Germany, but haven’t been able to get a full sized bottle, as well as not wanting to risk the money on something I may not like without trying first. Thankfully Drinks By The Dram have come to the rescue and I’ve been able to get a mini of German whisky, this being from the Slyrs Distillery and bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company.

The Slyrs Distillery is based in Bavaria, to the south east of Munich in a town called Schliersee Neuhaus, and is owned by the Stetter family who have a connection to the Lantenhammer distillery to the north in Hausham. This is due to the marriage of Anneliese Lantenhammer and Sigfried Stetter. It was their son, Florian Stetter who founded the Slyrs distillery. He had joined the Lantenhammer distillery in 1985. The distillery made brandy, but it was during a study trip to Scotland in 1994, had noticed similarities with his home in Bavaria – Mountains, fresh spring water and clean air. He felt that it would be possible to produce a whisky in Bavaria.

Florian had bet his friends a crate of beer that he could distill a Bavarian whisky and by 1999 his dream had been realised and the first whisky had been distilled. The result was a release of 1600 bottles of whisky in 2002. It wasn’t until 2007 that the Slyrs distillery was completed and a mountain store warehouse was completed on Mount Stümpfling.

Nobody I know personally has tried a German whisky, other than people I have met online through my blog and social media interactions, so I thought it best to just go ahead and try for myself.



TBWC Slyrs Batch 3

Region – Germany Age -3 y.o Strength – 52.6% Colour – Russet (1.3) Cask Type -American Oak, Crocodile char Colouring – No Chill Filtered – No Nose – Apricot jam, vanilla, fresh croissants, mandarin peel, coconut. Palate – Sweet arrival, honey, coconut, butterscotch, orchard fruit – possibly pear slightly nutty note too. Finish – Still a bit sweet but hot on departure. Honey with peppery heat, Sichuan peppers possibly. Sense a wee bit of the char coming through. Honey



Conclusions

I have to say that I have enjoyed this whisky. Despite being at what I suspect is an undiluted cask strength, it was an extremely easy drinker. It was on the fruity side with a funk to the nose, but sweetness continued throughout the dram, with various flavours coming through, with no note particularly overpowering any other.

There was a bit of heat that started in the mid palate which continued through to the finish and didn’t overpower the sweetness. All in all quite pleasant. Water subdued the heat a bit and allowed the honey to show on the finish which was of mid to long length.

This is still available at the Master of Malt Website for £74.95. I won’t be buying one right now, but would recommend if anybody was thinking of trying a German whisky, then this is one I’d recommend to try. It won’t be around forever, as only 395 bottles were produced, but I’d imagine TBWC will have more casks in waiting. If you want to dip your toe in before you commit to a whole bottle, 3cl samples are available for £6.90.

Yours In Spirits.

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


Photo Credits

All Photos – Authors Own

Sweet Dreams?

Taste Review #107 – Kingsbarns Dream To Dram

They say that every cloud has a silver lining. The larger demand making some whiskies harder to get has been tempered by the fact that there has been a massive influx of new distilleries on the scene. Not so long ago, there were only 3 operational single malt distilleries in the Lowland region; Auchentoshan, Bladnoch and Glenkinchie, but now this has been expanded by a handful more becoming operational. The most famous arguably being Daftmill which released its first whisky at 12 years old in 2018. Also releasing its first whisky in 2018 was Eden Mill Distillery, and the Kingsbarns Distillery with its first Founders Release. Following on in the same year was the Dream To Dram bottling.

Dream to Dram was quite an appropriate name for such a whisky, as the concept of a distillery was born through the dream of former caddie Douglas Clement. Funding was initially gained through contacts he had made during his time as a caddie, but funding still fell short, so the project was sold to the Wemyss family to see the project through to conclusion. The distillery has been built in a former farm steading on the Cambo Estate, which the Wemyss have historical family connections to.



Kingsbarns Dream to Dram

Dream to Dram was the first publicly available bottle from Kingsbarns. I’m not in the habit of chasing first releases, especially those which have been released at a young age. However just because a whisky is young, doesn’t mean that it will be a poor whisky. In this case, rather than buy a full bottle I decided to use Drinks By The Dram, which offered the chance to purchase a 3cl sample. And, this is a dram that has won several awards such as – World Whisky Awards 2020 – Best Scotch Lowlands Single Malt Scotch Whisky, World Whisky Awards 2020 – Category Winner, Lowlands Single Malt Scotch Whisky (12 Years & Under), Spirits Business Scotch Whisky Masters 2019 – Silver, International Spirits Challenge 2019 Taste – Silver, Scottish Whisky Awards 2019 – Highly Commended. It seems that there is little chance of getting a duff dram, so lets find out.

Details

Kingsbarns Dream To Dram

Region – Lowland Age – 3 years old Strength – 46% Colour – Pale Gold (0.2) Cask Type – 90% 1st Fill Bourbon, 10% 1st Fill STR Barrique Colouring – No Chill Filtered – No Nose – Bananas, Pears, Green Apple, Lemon, Honey, light cereal note. Palate – Light body, quite thin. Creamy taste, vanilla, honey, peppery spices, ginger Finish – Medium – Short, towards the short side. Alcohol burn on the way down the throat, lemon, honey, ginger, pepper.


‘Dream to Dram’ sample

Conclusions

Well, in my life in the oil and gas industry, I have seen many great things promised and yet fail to deliver. To rework the saying in the first paragraph of this review, ‘Every Silver Lining has a Cloud’. I do realise that this dram has won multiple awards, but I don’t see anything in this dram to take it above average. The mouthfeel is light and watery, the finish has a firey alcohol burn which I didn’t experience when tasting my last cask strength whisky neat.

The one thing that many new distilleries seem to do is release whiskies as soon as it is possible and it could be that the drive behind it is to get income into the business. I really think if this was case, it wasn’t the best plan. The whisky lacks any really definitive character in the palate and the finish is short and rough in my opinion. Personally I think the approaches taken by Daftmill and Ballindalloch are much more realistic to release a whisky when it is truly ready and not just when it is drinkable. If your spirit is good, then waiting a bit longer would definitely be worth it. That’s my honest take on it, though I am aware many would disagree.

It’s not to say that this is a bad dram just because I didn’t take to it at all. Taste is indeed subjective. The spirit is good – they’ve bottled at a decent strength, no added colour, no chill filtration. Long fermentation and clear wort will fill the spirit with ester-y goodness. But for me I think it needed longer in the cask. It crosses my mind that when thinking of ‘Dream To Dram’ I’d suggest that a lie – in was needed.

I’m sure however this is definitely a distillery to watch out for with older releases. I can’t wait.

Yours In Spirits

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.

Photo Credits

All Photos – Authors Own