Caroni 1999/2013 (56%, Kintra, Barrel RR619, Trinidad & Tobago)

Erik Molenaar (again)Kintra is no stranger to these pages but up untill now, all Kintra products were Single Malt Whiskies, but this time Erik Molenaar surprises us with a Rum, and not just any Rum, but one form Caroni, a Rum distillery sadly closed for over a decade. Caroni is a rum from Trinidad (& Tobago). Founded in 1919 and in its final form, worked from 1975 to 2002. Caroni is known for its heavy style that was perfect for British Navy Rum.

Color: Orange-brown

Nose: Very vegetal and smells from under the bonnet. Oil, petrol and fumes. Industrial and automotive, but in a good way. Lots of dry oak and tree sap. Unlike Whisky, a heavy style Rum like this Caroni, can cope with lots of oak, especially this Caroni’s dirty style! Furniture polish, burnt sugar and some tangerine skins. Black tea and when snorted up vigorously, a little hint of mint. Perfumy like the best kind of Rye Whiskey or high rye content Bourbon. Leaps out off the class with lots of complexity and very good balance. It’s a Rum that you want to smell over and over again, it never ceases to give. Wonderful. Amazing how something can smell dirty and industrial, ánd elegant at the same time.

Kintra CaroniTaste: Again a lot of oak, but as with the nose, this Rum can cope with the wood. The whole is quite dry and very aromatic, but very balanced. yet less complex on the palate. It does resemble Rye Whiskey a lot on the palate. Just cancel out the burnt sugar note and some other slight markers that are typical of Rum… The oakiness is well masked, but it really shows itself on the slightly bitter, waxy and drying finish.

Truth be told, this actually stayed too long in the cask, but since the Rum itself is so overwhelmingly rich, it can deal with the oak that’s there in abundance. Is that a problem? No it certainly is not. It’s the only small issue, but Rum, like Whisky, is what it is because of ageing in oak, and we all want nice woody tastes to begin with but quickly complain when we taste too much wood. Finally here is a Rum that deals with a lot of wood and keeps it in check. I really, really hope this is not a one-off deal for Kintra. An excellent find from a beloved closed distillery and a very nice price to boot. Thanks Erik, keep up the good work. More Rum please!

Points: 88

The Glenlivet Guardians Chapter (48.7%, OB)

Once upon a timea few teams were sent out around the world by The Glenlivet Distillery with three potions made by Whisky wizard Alan Winchester. Wizard Alan wanted to know the taste of the world, or should I say, the tastes of the four corners world. Thus three potions were concocted and named as follows:

  • Revival, Exotic & ClassicClassic: The quality of timelessness and enduring excellence,
  • Exotic: The quality of rich diversity and enigmatic depth,
  • Revival: A regard and passion for past styles, reinterpreted with a contemporary twist.

With lots of patience the teams set out and traveled many, many miles to visit groups of Whisky geeks all ’round the world. I use the term “geek” lightly, because I’m a Whisky geek myself and probably a geek in many other respects too, but I digress…

37 countries were visited, and many different countries showed many different results. Some liked the Classic potion best and some liked the exotic potion better, but the next country liked the revival potion the best. Valuable information in its own right, since different places have different tastes. Alan WinchesterAs luck would have it Mr. Al-Kindi, an Iraqi mathematician from the ninth century A.D., planted a seed that would eventually become statistics, and with this statistical knowledge one of the potions was voted the best by all members of all countries that had the opportunity to try all of the potions. The expression called “Exotic” was chosen by 39% of the tasters. Which brings us to today. The exotic-expression mentioned above is now bottled as The Guardians Chapter, and here are my findings…

Color: Orange Gold

Nose: Lots of Sherry upfront with creamy butter. Very full and bold. Whiffs of citric acidity. This Whisky really wants to leap out of the glass, to be snorted up first, to asses its merits and make you want to take a sip, but lets not indulge ourselves just yet. Very heavy on the Sherry actually, thick and cloying and very sweet. A bit heavy and aromatic. It was first called “Exotic”, but the Alpha I reviewed earlier, was more exotic that this. Lots of sugared fruits come next. Apricots, lime, hints of banana, and finally also some oak comes to the front. All in all a very bold expression, no subtleties here. After the oak a breath of fresh air emerges from my glass. Well crafted and modern Whisky. It smells a bit ‘designed’. Bold aromas of fruit and sweetness. Perfect for a young public that wants to be introduced to Whisky. Extremely drinkable and I guess a bottle like this will be finished quite quickly. More citrus now, toned down orange skin. The wood gives off whiffs like it has some virgin oak in the mix.

The Glenlivet Guardians Chapter

Taste: Sweet yes, caramel and toffee first (American wood). Very syrupy, with some elegant wood and wax polish. A little bit of (Sherry) cask toast (with tannins) and tar (European wood). A vegetable and dry grassy note. Warming and a nice finish. Good balance. It’s all here, a new oak twist with thick cloying Sherry notes and nice clean Ex-Bourbon cask in the mix.

Just like the Alpha, a nicely crafted Whisky. Very likeable and drinkable. A modern and very bold NAS Whisky that wants you to know it’s here. I guess this is somehow aimed at a young public, but I can imagine this sitting in my collection of open bottles, this will be empty soon. Compared to Alpha, this is definitely bolder, heavier and more up front. This is a loud whisky where Alpha was more fresh and elegant. For me the Alpha was even more of an exotic whisky. Nice to see how different these two limited releases of The Glenlivet are, and they are finally moving into the 21th century.

Points: 85

Thanks go out to JJ “The Marathon man”, for again, this rather large sample.

 

Piraat (9%, 33 cl, overaged)

Cleaning out the closetCleaning out the closet, I found some (but not a lot) Beers well beyond their best before dates. Most can be, and should be aged like most Trappist and some Abbey beers. This Piraat (Pirate) is a heavy blonde beer with refermentation in the bottle, isn’t one of them though. Yesterday I poured two beers into the sink, clear examples that you shouldn’t age everything. Those two were Kasteel Blond 11 and Abdij van ‘t Park Blond.

Out of that old batch comes this Piraat, and with this one I’ll take the plunge. Please don’t compare it with a freshly brewed Piraat, because the extra ageing does a lot for taste and smell. Treat this review as an experiment after which you can decide if you want to age a Beer like this. By the way, best before date on this bottle is 12/02/2010! How did that happen?

Piraat is brewed by Brouwerij Van Steenberge, from Ertvelde Belgium, which also makes Augustijn and Gulden Draak, but also Bornem Dubbel, Celis White, Leute Bokbier and Sparta Pils.

PiraatColor: Orange gold with, not a lot of, off-white foam.

Nose: Very murky, canals in the rain. Dust and lots of esters. Burnt sugar and heated orange skins, and that’s all the fruit that can be had from this nose. Not extremely pleasant, but not bad as well. Lets try a sip.

Taste: Heavy in alcohol, and the first sip is needed to was the smell away. Good warming qualities, and nice depth. The murkiness of the nose, and that has probably a lot to do with the yeast depot, shows its head in the taste too. This beer starts well, refreshing, hints of sweet banana and heavy on the alcohol. Aged alcohol, although there is no such thing. The middle is deeper due to the murky yeast and the finish has candied yellow fruits, combined with a little bit of bitterness.

First of all, before tasting this beer I didn’t think I should score it. Usually Blonde Beers that are aged too long are usually destroyed or undrinkable. This one however seems to have survived due to sheer quality? Still it has a depth to it I can’t imagine is there from the start. I can only compare this to a fresh bottle when the opportunity presents itself. For the time being, this Piraat is still a nice Beer, and therefore I’ll give it a score (but don’t take this score too seriously), since I feel a freshly bought Piraat will perform differently.

Conclusion, would I advise you to age this Beer? Most definitely not. This Beer was never intended for ageing. It probably didn’t get better after ageing, nor is it a style of beer that should be aged to boot. But, the Beer didn’t fold, it’s still drinkable and nice, where fellow Beers had to be poured down the drain, and that’s an accomplishment.

Points: 80

Tomatin 12yo 1997/2009 (57.1%, OB, First Refill Bourbon Barrel #4326, 244 bottles)

Here is another Tomatin, the tenth already if I’m not mistaken, but this time no obscure independent bottling, but an official bottling, yet not from standard range, but a limited release. Some sort of official bootleg so to speak. I hear this particular bottling was distributed in western Europe and Japan. Tomatins from the standard range that are from ex-Bourbon casks are quickly disappearing. The 25yo is no longer with us and who knows what will happen with the 15yo, the only true Bourbon casked Tomatin left.

Here we have a Tomatin that is 12 years old and comes from a refill Bourbon Barrel. You can’t get them more original than this, nor is the cask tampered with in a sense that the barrel is rebuilt as a Hogshead, nor has the distillery character been changed by (part) maturation in ex-Sherry casks or even by a first fill Bourbon Barrel. To sum things up, this is an official bootleg that probably will show a lot of distillery character. A real natural Whisky.

Tomatin 12yo 1997/2009 (57.1%, OB, First Refill Bourbon Barrel #4326, 244 bottles)Color: White wine.

Nose: Spicy wood, sweet and lots of vegetal notes. Alcohol. Vanilla and wood and a little bit of white pepper, but more is going on here. Slightly fruity and tiny hints of licorice and mushrooms. All in all a very clean nose.

Taste: Sweet at first, with again spices and white pepper. Even with this high alcohol content, it seems very smooth and even the finish is half long only. Warming and fatty. In the back of the mouth the alcohol has some acetone notes to it. But above all its zesty and shows signs of lemon. Lemon curd is stated on the back label and that’s what it is. The vanilla pod transforms into creamy ice-cream. Good balance.

Having just opened the bottle it seemed to be very closed and even a little bit unforgiving, but some five months of breathing did the Whisky a lot of good. Again an example of a Whisky that is closed and needs some time to really “wake up”. Just like me I suppose.

This Whisky is actually all about the details, and all details are tiny and restraint. Due to its high alcohol content, no-one will pick this up first, but when it’s tasted after a few other Whiskies, the subtleties are gone. Definitely use this as an aperitif, or when you are planning to have only one dram. If you stick to these “rules” you will be rewarded. I like it.

Points: 86

Aberlour 18yo 1994/2012 (59.6%, The House of MacDuff, The Golden Cask, Bourbon Cask CM 193, 234 bottles)

Back to core-business! To finish off the month of March, here is a review about an indie Aberlour. Aberlour is a very interesting distillery that in my opinion keeps on producing good malts, correction, good Sherried malts at affordable prices. Just have a look at my review of the excellent A’bunadh. This here is the first independently released Aberlour, and as with most Aberlours that are released by independent bottlers this is from an Ex-Bourbon cask, they probably need all the Sherry casks for themselves.

Aberlour 18yo 1994/2012 (59.6%, The House of MacDuff, The Golden Cask, Bourbon Cask CM 193, 234 bottles)Color: Light gold.

Nose: Fresh at first, creamy and very fruity. Biscuits and slight hints of mint. It smells somehow sweet, caramel and toffee in a good (not added) way. Pencil shavings. It seems like a good spirit with quite a nice full on sweet, cookie dough, and funky, body. In the distance it does remind me of White Wine (Barrel aged and buttery Chardonnay).

Taste: Spicy wood and not as sweet as the nose suggested. Wood, pears and a little bit of vanilla. Although not the most complex Whisky, the cask gave off more woody notes (all in check), and less of the Bourbon notes the cask could have given off. Having said that, the Whisky is actually quite nice in a toned down sort of way. It’s almost a shy Aberlour, not confident about itself,  because it didn’t come from a Sherry Butt, quite unneccessary so. It’s nice but only a little bit quiet and introvert in character. The high-proof matches the sweetness, the creaminess and the cookie dough perfectly. Not hot at all. Finishes off with oak, again toned down.

A very interesting malt. Without the independents we would hardly have a real clue about the quality of the Aberlour spirit, since most Aberlours that are released by the owners themselves have a huge amount of Sherry cask thrown in. This is more a naked version of Aberlour. It reveals a lot that the spirit behaves well in an ex-Bourbon cask. It would be quite nice to compare this to an independently bottled Oloroso Sherry cask at cask strength.

Points: 85

Berghs Bier (6.5%, 33 cl)

Martin OstendorfAfter Santpoorts Bier, here is another local Beer. Where Santpoorts Bier was linked to Santpoort, this Berghs Bier is linked to Berghem, a town in between Den Bosch and Nijmegen in the Southern part of The Netherlands. The Beer is brewed by Martin Ostendorf in his Muifelbrouwerij in Berghem, so this is the Beer Martin made for his own home town. I have come across some other beers of Martin’s and they usually are pretty good, so expect more Muifel Beers on these pages.

The Muifel brewery started up in 2006 and its mission is to produce excellent beers in styles as diverse as possible. The name comes from the words ‘Megen’ (again a town) and ‘Duivel’ (the devil, after the Belgian Beer “Duvel”). The Muifelbrouwerij started out as a hobby brewery where a Duvel-style Beer quickly was known as ‘Muifel’.

Berghs BierColor: Beautiful dark amber, nice brown and red hue, with a fine dark cream foam (not quite Cappuchino).

Nose: Wet dog and dishwater. Spicy and a nice light hoppy freshness. Malts and caramelized sugar. Warm apple sauce and hints of cinnamon. It actually is quite hard to describe the nose. It’s almost like it doesn’t want to come out of the glass, especially when it drunk at the advised temperature of 8 degrees Centigrade, which for me seems a bit too cold.

Taste: Warming at first and deep. Slightly too low in alcohol, because after the initial sip the beer seems very light and sweet. Light body. Not what I expected. The taste is actually at its best just before the finish kicks in. The finish is more Pilsener in style (a bit sour), but most of the flavours emerge just before the slightly bitter finish. That middle part has some nice complexity too it, it’s refreshing and sometimes it even reminds me of a nice Alsacian wine. The middle part is stellar, if only the rest of the beer would be as good.

A pretty decent beer, but I have to admit, pretty light, and slightly unbalanced. The start somehow doesn’t match the beautiful body, and after this beautiful body the finish is a bit sour and a bit weak. Luckily Martin isn’t afraid of experimenting and is learning on the spot. Soon it will be apparent that some of his other beers really are hitting the bullseye. This one is good, but not one of his best. Still, there is a lot to enjoy in the middle part, so I’m now going to enjoy the rest of what’s in my glass.

Points: 79

Humala IPA (7.3%, 33 cl)

Humala is a Spanish Beer brewed by The Nómada Brewing Company at Companyia Cervesera del Montseny in Catalonia, Spain. I don’t quite understand the workings of their website, but they have an interesting page on Facebook (if you can read Spanish).

Pale ale originally was an Ale that had been brewed from pale malt, lightly hopped and quite different from later pale Ales, with less smoking and roasting of barley in the malting process, and hence produced a paler beer. The East India Company requested a more strongly hopped pale ale for export to India. These early IPA’s, were only slightly higher in alcohol than most Beers brewed and would not have been considered to be strong Ales. In general more of the wort is well-fermented, resulting in fewer residual sugars, and the beer is more strongly hopped.

Nómada Humala IPAColor: Orange yellow, with heaps of shiny Sugar foam (peach yoghurt in color).

Nose: Very Sunny and fresh, very appetizing. I have to spoon out the foam to get to the Beer. Lovely fruity and very perfumy, but also a whiff of pee. This has really a great nose, and the pee-bit somehow seems to fit, although it would have been nicer without it. The whole comes across as refreshing, and does reminds me of half-sweet white wines.

Taste: Greatly balanced, all the flavours are behaving as a whole. Again a lot of fruityness and seems lighter in style than it is. Never would I have guessed this has more than 7% ABV. It seems so terrace in style, enjoying it watching people pass by, but it does have a kick, when you downed the whole bottle. Excellent, but when I sit down outside, in the city, with a beer to enjoy the sun and the people passing by I usually order a Duvel, which is widely available and also quite high in alcohol.

Well I have never looked at Spain as a country to look for beers, but that is probably a huge prejudice since most countries produce good beers. Don’t drink this too cold as you would miss a lot of great aroma’s. Not a perfect Beer but still I consider this a true find. Lovely stuff I wouldn’t mind drinking again and most definitely will order if I would find it in a bar.

Points: 86