The Macallan ‘Fine Oak’ 10yo (40%, OB, Circa 2010)

To be honest, I’d rather review a Macallan from the times of the old 10yo 100 proof I reviewed earlier, but instead I’m having a 10yo from the Fine Oak series. When the Fine Oak series was released some ten years ago, it was the time the real Macallan was killed off by the owners. Macallan was then a Whisky for aficionado’s and people with taste and the Fine Oak Macallan is marketed more to be hip. Maybe the change happened because there was a shortage of Sherry casks, or maybe it was a pure marketing move. Who knows, and who cares. For those of you who don’t remember, The Macallan used to be the finest Speyside Whisky around, known for heavy use of Sherry. Something Glendronach is known for now. Glendronach didn’t sell well and even closed because of the Sherry success of Macallan. So here we have a entry-level Macallan with an age statement. So let’s have a look what the legend has become.

Macallan Fine Oak 10yoColor: Light gold, with a pink hue.

Nose: Sweet and malty, hints of creamy Sherry in the distance. Cream, vanilla, lemon and sugar with that typical sherried wine-note. Hints of oak, yet very light. If you want to, you can still smell a bit of the original distillate which still is excellent. Ear-wax again, with mocha and a nutty component. Something like almond-cream. After some time, the sugary sweetness gets some help from honey. Also a powdery note enters the mix as does some cardboard.

Taste: Malty and sometimes close to new make spirit. Sweet with lots of toffee and caramel notes. A little back-bone from the oak. I taste a lot of Bourbon cask in this 10yo, and it does get some character from Sherry casks, which in my opinion aren’t all Oloroso, since typical Fino notes are here too. Maybe a plethora of different Sherry casks went into this. The sweetness is definitely a sugary sweetness. This Macallan would make an excellent filling for bonbons. It somehow would complement the taste of chocolate for me. The finish somehow is a bit unbalanced, with wood and cardboard. It splits like a hair, and is rather short to boot. After 10 years it should have been better, it still says Macallan on the label you know…

When reviewing this, should I forget about the old Macallan? Sure, this has nothing to do with The Macallan that used to be, but on the other hand, the name is still on the label and on the back label Macallan is still considered a legend. If I were to get this blind, this could have been anything.

Points: 77

Marieke – Oostenburgs Blond Bier (6.8%, 33 cl)

Marieke is, after Fonkel, the second Beer by Brouwerij Oostenburg. The people behind the brewery still don’t have their own brewery yet, but make their beers at the brewery of De 7 Deugden in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Earlier you could read about the wonderful Fonkel, and today we’ll have a look at the just released Blonde Beer by Brewery Oostenburg. For those of you who can read Dutch, you might enjoy the nice romantic language on their site.

Brewery Oostenburg like so many others, started out as a hobby brewery but is rapidly becoming more serious, brewing special Beers for special occasions. The brewers, (no names are mentioned on the website), are trying to brew Beers with a flavor combination that was not there yet, so in that sense they started with the wonderful Fonkel (cloves). Marieke is a Blonde Beer, which to me doesn’t sound like something “special” since there are already numerous Blonde Beers around. Also a glance at the ingredients doesn’t tell us anything special. Still the wonderful Fonkel fills me with anticipation…

MariekeColor: Dark blonde, maybe even amber, with just the right amount of ivory foam, but less than Fonkel.

Nose: Fresh citrus odor. Hits of yeast and hops, but both are not very upfront. Advised drinking temperature for this beer is 6 – 8º C and that’s a temperature the nose of a Beer usually is pretty closed. What stays is the fresh or refreshing smell this Beer has. Very appetizing. The foam is about two centimetres thick, holds on for a while and then disappears rather quickly.

Taste: Very light when the beer enters the mouth. Light woody (hoppy naturally) bitterness and estery (tiny hint of banana) taste. Not the body I’ve expected. Short finish. The alcohol is not upfront. The refreshing nose doesn’t come back in the taste. And the whole taste dances around its, not too heavy, bitterness.

The strong points of this beer is in the beginning. Nice color, nice amount of foam. Clean looking with some dabs of yeast. Also nice is it’s smell. Is smells appetizing and refreshing. The taste however, for me, is too light. At entry, a nice bitterness helps the Beer along, but in the end the bitterness is too weak to give Marieke a nice voluptuous body. Marieke has a slim body, and actually, she doesn’t leave a lasting impression. That’s maybe Mariekes weakest point, a very light finish of hops and yeast which dissipates too quickly.

This beer has just been released and readers of my Beer posts will remember I believe in ageing Beers. This is freshly brewed and might gain from ageing. The brewers already got a lot right so I can imagine next batches of this beer to be even better. When tasting this Beer, I have found better development at a higher temperature than advised. 8 to 10º C seems more right to me.

In the end I’m quite disappointed with Marieke. Fonkel really is a Beer with an idea behind it and it seems to me the recipe was perfected over time (in a kitchen or something). This idea of brewing something special was conveyed onto us by word of the website, but Marieke, to me, has not that special idea behind its creation and may have been released too quick.

Points: 72

Fonkel – Oostenburgs Amberbier (7%, 33 cl)

This is the first beer of Brouwerij Oostenburg, that’s why I’m posting it first, but I’m tasting it áfter the Marieke which will feature in the next review. Marieke by the way, is Brouwerij Oostenburgs new Blond Beer. Out now! I’m tasting the beers in reversed order, because I got them out of the fridge together and according to the brewers, Marieke needs to be drunk at a lower temperature. Second, Fonkel is an Amber beer at 7% ABV and Marieke is a Blond Beer, lighter in style with “only” 6.8% ABV. So first up is Fonkel since it’s the brewers first beer and next time I’ll review Marieke, including a little bit of info about the brewers.

FonkelColor: Dark orange amber. It’s like having fire in a glass. Perfect thick and firm dark ivory foam. Medium residual yeast that transferred into my glass. Yummie!

Nose: Definitely a darker nose than Marieke. Fruity and even slightly fishy and dishwater (burnt sugar in water) like smell. This adds to the character. This may sound negative to you, but believe me, this is no bad thing. From a distance the beer smells floral and gives off a lovely smell. You’ll read about it next time, but Marieke too is a nice smelling beer. The added spices are easily recognizable. Coriander, but above all cloves! A real winter warmer by the fireplace. I like the use of cloves in this beer, it brings back my childhood at Christmas. My mother always put some oranges on the table with cloves sticking out of the skin and exactly that is what I get from this beer.

Taste: At entry, this is a very nice Beer, loads of character and well made. I like it. A little bit of deep citrus skins, predominantly oranges and tangerines. But yes, here the cloves play a nice part to. Just read the part about the nose of this beer and copy it here. The taste matches the smell of this beer perfectly. Good masculine finish with medium bitterness combined with spices. The finish is long and stays with a nice hint of cloves. (Personally I would have liked a little bit more clove even, and maybe a tad of cinnamon in this beer, but that may not work, I’m not a brewer).

Well made and very tasty beer, which hits the right chords. With beers like this in your collection, who wouldn’t like winter! Advised to drink around 8 – 10 C, and I guess that’s about right. Recommended if you can get a hold of it since it seems to be only sold locally.

Points: 84

Dailuaine 1999/2012 (59.3%, The House of MacDuff, The Golden Cask, Cask #CM172, 270 bottles)

Almost another year has passed since reviewing my last Dailuaine, bottled by Jürgen a.k.a. The Whisky Mercenary. This time a younger version, distilled in 1999, with a fairly light color, so probably not a very active cask.

Dailuaine 199920/12 (59.3%, The House of MacDuff, The Golden Cask, Cask #CM172, 270 bottles)Jürgen’s version was quite strong and with a cask picked by John McDougall I again have some high hopes for this Dailuaine. Let’s see if this light Dailuaine packs some punch, and does it also have some cannabis I picked up in several other Dailuaines?

Color: Light citrussy gold.

Nose: Vegetal, fern and high on malt. High alcohol too, sweet. Thin honey, toffee and hard caramel. Pretty anonymous. This cask didn’t do a lot for the spirit. One use too many I guess. Tine hint of soapy foam. A very “green” Malt, and actually not very interesting. Dull.

Taste: Malty and powdery and yes, some wood. Pretty powerful and sweet. Rustic. A Malt from the country so to speak. Lots of marzipan and very fresh and likeable. Strangely enough there is a citrussy soury note that only shows itself in the finish. I know it s the oil from orange skins! Although likeable, something is not quite right here. (The strange soury note?).

Typical high strength Whisky where the cask didn’t impair a lot, or so it seems. There maybe something wrong with this one, but nothing to worry about too much, yet this one doesn’t speak to me. Good enough for bottling it is as single cask, but personally I wouldn’t have. Tasted blind I would have thought this was a Cadenheads bottling, since they have released lots of Whiskies like this in the recent past, but they bottle a lot. The House of MacDuff bottle considerably less, so you could expect only nice picks in their range. If so, why was this one picked? Probably for its malty sweetness I guess (or the orange?). No cannabis this time though.

Points: 81

Linkwood 21yo 1985/2007 (43%, The Secret Treasures, Bourbon Cask #4548, 348 bottles)

Linkwood 21yo 1985/2007 (43%, The Secret Treasures, Bourbon Cask #4548, 348 bottles)Here we have a Linkwood bottled by German outfit Secret Treasures (Haromex). Their website is quite amateurish and uninformative. Some basic information is there, but seems a bit outdated. The firm is known for some great rums, like Demarara and Guadeloupe, and apart from Whisky also bottles a Bitter (Els from herbs only found in the Eiffel region), a Gin and some fruit distillates. Their Whiskies are bottled at 43% ABV, a strength that also seems a bit outdated where single cask bottlings are concerned. Bottle looks nice though!

Color: Gold

Nose: Spicy wood, sweet with some vanilla notes. The typical smell of a Whisky coming from a Ex-Bourbon Cask. Some flowery notes by also some candy sweetness. Mocha, tiny hint of mocha coffee. Small hint of cask toast mingled with some dry old spices. Creamy and powdery. I think you get the picture. It smells reduced and easily drinkable.

Taste: Vanilla and oak. Small hint of cannabis, which is not quite unusual for this type of oak. Wax, maybe ear wax. Vanilla ice-cream with some pencil shavings and fresh almonds. Even though this is reduced to 43% it is quite hot and the hotness stays around for a while. The finish itself, tastewise, is much shorter. Hints of fermentation (yeast, cow dung?) and then a bit sour.

Quite sweet and in part too light. Nice sweet body with a hot finish that stays longer than the taste itself. To me this Whisky shows some small faults in distillation. Initially it seems a nice Malt, with a nice smell and so forth, but the taste already shows some unbalance. Nice entry, than heavy on the sweet part, and full body, but a hot and weak finish. Not bad, but should have been better.

Points: 81

Glen Scotia 18yo 1992/2010 (52.6%, Kintra, Sherry Hogshead #141, 62 bottles)

These days some people pick their Whiskies by the color and, this one has color abundant. A nice dark Sherried Campbeltown Malt. Some Sherried Malts work wonders and some are too heavy. Judging by the color, you never know what you’re  gonna get. I almost sound like Forrest Gump here don’t I. Glen Scotia is hardly a working distillery and it hardly is a popular distillery. Well, what kind of Whisky is this then, was it a gamble picking this up, and is it worth the money? Let’s see…

Glen Scotia 18yo 1992/2010 (52.6%, Kintra, Sherry Hogshead #141, 62 bottles)Color: Copper gold

Nose: Smoky sherry with a nice touch of oak. Red fruits in alcohol. Nice cask toast (uniquely acidic) and also slightly tarry. Sweet. The red fruits make way for deeper black fruits. Excellent development! The combination of these three and the fashion they fit together does remind me a bit of Demerara rums, although without the sweetness. The way the burnt, woody and toasty parts of the nose fit together is excellent. All this from a Sherry Hogshead with Glen Scotia in it. Great. Who would have thought. With some air, also some powdery and floral notes pop up, with tiny hints of lavender soap.

Taste: Sweet and creamy, but (luckily) again helped by the character building qualities of the toasted wood of the Sherry cask and the right kind of Sherry that was in it. Mocha, milk chocolate and Demerara Sugar (on the lips). Not weak and also not cloying or heavy. Great balance and very, very tasty. The acidity from the nose, the wood and the burnt sugar stay on to form the finish. The finish is a wee bit to dry (wood and paper) and could have benefitted from a little bit of honey and slightly better balance. Still, that’s me nit-picking, this is excellent stuff.

A stunning pick by Erik Molenaar. He only bottled 62 bottles of this so I’m wondering where the rest of the cask has gone. Could he only get 62 bottles, was the rest of the cask already sold? Who knows. Just like his other 19yo Glen Scotia, this is an excellent Whisky and if anywhere encountered, don’t hesitate to pick one or both up.

Points: 88

Blair Athol 25yo 1988/2014 (46%, The Ultimate, Refill Sherry Butt #6918, 712 bottles)

Here is another Ultimate bottling I tried recently. Dutch outfit Van Wees are getting some pretty good bottles released recently and there is a buzz going on about this 25yo Blair Athol. Blair Athol isn’t a very popular distillery, so when something like this is “buzzin'” we can’t ignore it now can’t we? This is from a refill Sherry Butt number 6918. More casks from this series are bottled this year by Van Wees: 6922, 6927 and 6928. All reduced to 46% ABV. Meanwhile in Scotland…

In 2014 Andrew Symington is releasing 25yo Blair Athol’s from 1988 too. Signatory Vintage, his company, is releasing some pretty good Cask Strength Blair Atholls with the following cask numbers: 6914, 6919, 6920+6924 and 6925. Seems like some sort of gentleman’s agreement doesn’t it? Well nothing wrong with having some good friends. I’ve tried one of these and it was very good. Now let’s see how Blair Athol behaves when Van Wees add some water to it…

Blair Athol 25yo 1988/2014 (46%, The Ultimate, Refill Sherry Butt #6918, 712 bottles)Color: Copper gold.

Nose: Intense Sherry nose, and I don’t mean Fino people. Floral and perfumy. Nice and laid back. Funky wood and also some sulphur. Hard candy powder. Toffee and black fruit. Blackcurrant and blueberries. Nice fruity sherried Whisky. Well balanced nose. Dry and aromatic and with some hints of soap. No sight of raisins or cloying sweetness in this dark-colored malt. Otherwise a typically dark sherried nose, with some acidic oaky notes.

Taste: Toffeed Sherry, yet it doesn’t seem sweet. It does have its Sherry-sweetness but that is pushed back by the dryness of the wood. The taste is quite dry (the wood again) but all seems to be in check. Not a very sweet and cloying malt. In the distance some notes of coal and elements of old malts. The dark fruits return in the finish, which makes for an excellent finish. Still it’s not over the top. It’s not overly woody, and the fact it’s not sweet makes for an easier drinkable Sherry malt.

This is a pretty funky Whisky, if you ask me. The funkiness is there when it’s freshly opened, but also when it’s freshly poured into a glass. I hope you don’t drink your Whisky from the bottle now don’t you? This tells us the Whisky needs some air, and time, to breathe. The air gives it a more elegant feel, but also more balance, the aroma’s tend to fit better to each other. I must say, al be it from a sister cask, I like this one, way better at higher strength, but this reduced one is also pretty good by itself, uncompared. Recommended!

Points: 86