Loose Ends, Spring 2023

A random unrelated quartet.

Bimber [2020] Ob. for Selfridges ex-Gonzalez Byass Oloroso Butt finish #544-7/67 [936 bts] 51.5% WB86.30[36] WLP[83]

Firstly some housekeeping and another reminder that Selfridges can ‘do one’.

I’ve tried this once before [WLP] with a provisional ‘tried outside’ score of 83. With a decent 10cl to play with, here’s my official review.

  • N: With notes of bubblegum, Refreshers and Rhubarb & Custard sweets, and old=new leather, today I find it somewhat cognac-like with a hint of madeira. Before, I picked up a burnt plastic note – toasted char in conjunction with that aforementioned smorgasbord from the sweet shop is what I was adhering to.
  • T: Bubblegum/sherry-flavoured rum/neutral spirit pretty much sums it up.
  • F: To the sherried bubblegum comes charred rubber with ripples of burning peat, but where’s the barley spirit let alone the spirit-cask interplay?
  • C: Way less desirable than I found it in 2020, giving the cask too much credit at the time. Regardless of all the permutations involved in the production of this particular release, this is a whisky style I can live without.

Scores 80 points


Staying youthful:

Allt-a-Bhainne 2007/2012 04yo Jean Boyer The Witc6’s Bottling [37 bts] 64.9% WB85[15]

Only 37 bottles from a sherry cask after just four years?! Unless there was some kind of incident/accident, I’m guessing the rest went to be bottled elsewhere [WB}.

  • N: With initial trepidation, there was no need to worry about this young spirit with its high octane abv. Having taken on plenty of oak extraction, the result [on the nose] is neither complicated nor uninviting, We are talking Bakewell Tart with cherry & raspberry jam, cherry Mini Milk, budget white chocolate [is there any other kind?], lime chews, Rich Tea biscuits, cinnamon-dusty wooden furniture, a soft sherry pong, cotton wool,…
  • T: With a powerhouse arrival into a powerhouse delivery, certainly add water but not as much as you might initially think. Coating the palate with an untypical greasy savoury-sweet vegetal mouthfeel, that particular vegetal plastic-y sherry pong leads the flavour charge.
  • F: Swelling and pulsating in intensity, it suddenly drops down the gears to arrive at its soft clean barley sugar destination and done.
  • C: Not for the faint-hearted or those who suffer from acid reflux. That said, there’s plenty of appeal. You’d never guess the age. With thanks to Malt Martin who gifted this sample to me yonks ago.

Scores 86 points


Ardbeg Hypernova [2022] Ob. Committee Release 51% WB87.16[413] DF5/10 HdS

Arriving late to the party as per usual, what’s apparent is just how micro-managed and market-targeted this Hypernova release was. I searched the web for 20 minutes [at time of writing] only to find review after review posting Ardbeg’s media statement verbatim with very little extra content of their own if at all. You can trust that the Whisky Loving Pianist not follow suit. Leaving all official flannel aside, simply put, this is Ardbeg’s smokiest expression at 170ppm – Ardbeg’s Octomore if you will – with an rrp of £190.

  • N: Like with Octomore, extra ppm’s don’t necessarily translate to an obviously smokier experience for the consumer. Indeed, here it’s the emergence of the distillate-derived creamier elements that surprise and please me the most. Opening out, we are talking of a [pina/mezcal] vegetal [vanilla] sweet < sour profile, passing notes of baked shelled crab and smoked salty pickled gherkins & jalapenos, oven-roasted lemon/smoke infused lemon juice,…. [make your own lists]. I’m picking up only American ex-bourbon cask maturation and, age-wise, youth! I’d be surprised if this was any older than six years in the main.
  • T: Deeply peated, certainly, with a firm charcoal > ashy vegetal bitterness, this is Ardbeg with a very husky voice. Again reminiscent of mezcal on occasion, the husky distillate-chewy bitterness continues. With a fairly neutral flavour profile, the wood influence itself talks of clean vibrant resinous white oak whilst seemingly contributing a sweeter vanilla influence to the emerging barley-led creaminess.
  • F: Not a great deal more to add, the entrenched bitter phenols and vibrant spice continuing their reign.
  • C: I’ve no idea whether this will become a permanent in-house fixture for Ardbeg, but I guess this stunt is being used to test us/the market. I don’t mind it, but I much prefer the balance of Uigeledail or Corryvrecken and it’s worth pointing out the price of one bottle is the equivalent of 4-5 Ardbeg 10s! What’s different about Hypernova compared to the rest of Ardbeg’s range, is its voluminous quality. That said, Bruichladdich has nothing to worry about in any department.

Scores 86 points


Bowmore 11yo [2017] Ob. Feis Ile 2017 [2000 bts] 53.8% WB88.22[220]

What are the chances of getting anything meaningful from 1cl of juice in a 3cl sample bottle acquired at Feis Ile in 2017? With an open mind, let’s crack on.

  • N: It’s a testament to the abv and to alcohol in general that this small sample remains alive and kicking and one that offers a unique fruity smoky profile. With phenols, wine/sherry, salt, oysters, flint, lambswool, moist flannel, air-moist dried nuts, witch hazel, and clove oil amongst others, we’ve nasal reminiscences of not just the distillery but the town itself. .
  • T:  An acute fruit-intense dry oaky delivery with a storyline that talks of oysters wrapped inside a port/brandy-flambeed pancake served alongside a Grand Marnier [cognac & bitter-orange liqueur] served with dry savoury ‘fush fush’ cream, and – because I’m looking for it – a hint of parma violets.
  • F: A little more clove oil and ‘fush fush’ into [less salty] oysters and dry savoury ash, the abv keeping this one afloat all the way through to the end.
  • C: In hindsight, perhaps I should paid more attention to this particular Bowmore at the time.

Scores 88 points



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