November 2019 - Supreme Quest for The River Mouth
We revert to our usual random offerings, with an unusual Japanese distillery, a distillery famed for not really putting a foot wrong, and back to Islay for one of the lesser known but highly regarded distilleries on the island.
1. Togouchi Kiwami
RRP: £47.00 (Master of Malt)
Kiwami (meaning 'supreme') is a blended Japanese whisky from Chugoku Jozo who mature their whiskies in a 361 metre long tunnel rather than a warehouse. Eddie was recommended one of their more premium offerings, which unfortunately proved to be more scarce when trying to source our samples. So went with the entry level spirit from this intriguing distillery.
On the nose it wasn’t the most eager of impressions, with light oaky notes at the fore.
Palate-wise we had some describing it as ‘beautifully smooth’ but there was very mixed feedback with some vocal disliking of it, and a lot of disagreement with the notes.
The finish was short and bland, leaving us with not too much to talk about (for once!) We quickly moved on in search of greener pastures to graze from!
Tasting Notes (Master of Malt):
Nose: Sweet, soft, spicy vanilla.
Palate: Sweet at first, then opening up to a blast of oak and dark
Finish: Refined finish with a mouthful of oak and sugar.
Finally, once the price was revealed we agreed that it certainly wasn’t worth it in our opinion, and it was perhaps riding on the coattails of other more highly regarded Japanese offerings.
2. The Macallan Quest
RRP: £64.95 (Master of Malt)
As we distribute the next dram around the eager group, immediately people start nosing it and exploring what they could only hope was an improvement. My goodness were they not disappointed.
On the nose immediately we get toffee notes, licorice notes, marzipan, apples and butterscotch coming to the fore
On the palate it dances on the tongue with the toffee and caramel sweetness, an edge of spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and a body of oakiness.
The finish is long and carries the oaky vanilla note, with dried fruits and toffee, a touch of brown sugar.
Tasting Notes (Master of Malt):
Nose: Gentle lemon notes arrive first, with milk chocolate and butterscotch leaping out afterwards.
Palate: Slightly spicier than the nose, with warming oak and cinnamon developing underneath caramel notes.
Finish: Touches of raisin and vanilla pod.
Absolutely no comparison, £13 more than the previous offering and you get such a rounded drink, that really you would be happy to provide to anyone that visits. This could easily appeal to non-whisky drinkers as it has an inviting softness, but with enough edge to keep a veteran whisky drinker interested too. As usual The Macallan delivers a great dram.
3. Fèis Ìle 2019 Mòine French Oak 2008
RRP: £95.00 (Feis Ile 2019 Exclusive) Selling at time of writing for circa £160.00 (online retailers November 2019)
The final one, you guessed it – a Feis Ile exclusive! Eddie really did go to town while he was over there, but I for one am not complaining!
The statement from the distillery:
Under the watchful eye of our Senior Blender, Dr. Kirstie McCallum, a 10 Year Old Bunnahabhain Mòine was singled out from one of our eight warehouses, overlooking The Sound of Islay. Recently rejuvenated French Oak hogsheads were chosen to enhance the peated notes of this exquisite whisky and the result is this full bodied Single Malt, full of rich, oily wood spice, sweet smoke and a creamy mouthfeel. Limited to 1872 bottles.
On the nose it is as usual; immediately apparent that it is an Islay offering. The smokey, peaty notes that are synonymous with the territory really leap out of the glass.
“That’s an Islay isn’t it!”
It has the maritime peatiness with iodine and a bit of salt, but with an underlying sweetness, perhaps the influence of the French oak coming in there.
A very rich palate, that coats the mouth beautifully; in particular the inside of your cheeks as the cask strength warmth emanates around you mouth and throat. Some exclaimation at ‘creamy’ being used in the official tasting notes, but most concur.
The finish is long, warming and leaves you with a wonderful spicy, peaty tingle that lasts long after the glass has left your lips.
Tasting Notes (Bunnahabhain official):
Nose: Rich oak, vanilla, caramel, hints of iodine, and peppery spice.
Palate: Creamy mouth feel, rich oils, wood spice, vanilla, hints of berries and roasted nuts balanced with a full bodied peppery smoke.
Finish: Long and lingering sweet spicy smoke.
As ever the peat and smoke isn’t to everyone’s preference, and continues to be the biggest divider of the club. Some love it and some hate it, which is what makes this hobby so wonderful, and promotes healthy debate about the merits of each and every dram that we try.
We look forward to welcoming a representative of Paul John distillery for the December meeting – a bit of a coup to have secured our first distillery visit to the club, and a fantastic tribute to where we have progressed as a club for our 2 year anniversary.