Tag Archives: Rosebank

A Quick Trip To Japan

I recently had to make a quick trip back to Japan. This was far from a planned trip and even further from what any reasonably financially conscious person could consider appropriate given my current financial state of affairs. Especially with tickets running at about $1200/each and that like any self respecting posse I roll deep – four deep to be precise.

As many of my friends are quick to remind me, I shouldn’t be complaining. Instead I should be grateful for the opportunity to head back across the pond and enjoy the food and booze. Admittedly, both did take some of the financial sting away, at least temporarily. I did make the best use of my time to eat as much as possible while over there and I have the extra 5 pounds around my gut to prove it, but since this is a whisky blog I will stick to the whisky side of things.

Let’s face it there is still a lot more going on in the world of whisky over in Japan than there is here in the States. Be it the Japanese obsessiveness with being authentic and seeking to obtain the best whiskies or the States’ antiquated and oft nonsensical liquor laws, we usually have slim pickings. So I’m going to share a couple of my whisky experiences that I had during my brief visit last week.

Truth be told there are some whisky products that I am not all that disappointed are not available here. One would be the ever popular trend of the canned highball. The canned highball is as popular as ever – at least partially due to the huge highball commercial campaign by Suntory. I popped into one of the local grocery stores and their were at least six different canned highballs to chose from – even good old No. 7, Jack Daniels has entered into the canned highball fray. Out of curiosity I picked up a canon the limited – winter only – Suntory yuzu highball. It was pretty tasty actually, the synthetic yuzu flavoring did over power any possible remnants of whisky though. Light, refreshing and sweet, it is like the wine cooler of whisky drinks or a Chu-hi if you are familiar with the canned sochu drinks.

On to more positive whisky experiences…Liquors Hasegawa is a regular stop for me when I get over to Tokyo station. This great retailer is located inside of the vast underground city of Tokyo station and can be difficult to find your first time. But it will be well worth your efforts to find it. Liquors Hasegawa has a great selection of all types of spirits, wine and beer to just whisky. You can find 1960’s vintages of Armagnacs, Cognacs and Calvados. The best part is that they will pour you 10ml samples of certain bottles for a small charge.

I was fortunate enough to make two trips to Liquors Hasegawa. Realistically, even two was far from sufficient to taste everything that I wanted to. So I had to attempt to prioritize. On the first visit I started off with a sample of the newly reopened Japanese distillery Mars Shinshu 25 plus 3 (28 y/o). As you can tell by the age statement this is from their old stock before it was closed. The nose was fresh with apples, exotic spices and fragrant wood. While the palate was slightly bitter with the same fragrant wood, pencil shavings and some pepper.

Feeling like something a little richer I went with GlenDronach’s 21 y/o Parliament. This one did not disappoint. Plenty of rich sweet prunes and raisins along with stewed cherries. There was some sulphur on the nose but it had a nice chewy mouthfeel. Feeling like staying in the sherry realm, I decided to try the 2011 Whisky Live Tokyo single grain Kawasaki that was aged in a sherry butt. Not as big on the sherry as the GlenDronach but tasty nonetheless. A little synthetic, sweet dark sugar, cereal, the sweet grain softened it up.

Having enough of the sherry I decided to completely switch gears and went with a 25 y/o Signatory Port Ellen. At about $5 for a sample, why the hell not? This was one of those very clean fresh Port Ellen’s. Fresh, big peat on the nose along with falling autumn leaves. Along with the peat on the palate there was some flint and metallic edges to it.

I thought I was done but spotted something I have been wanting to try for some time: Four Roses Super Premium which is not available in the US. The sweet syrup on the nose gave way to the charred oak but was overall fairly restrained. The mouth was smooooooth but full and well balanced. Nice hints of vanilla and cherry cough drops. Balance was the key to this one for me.  Since it was still 11:30am by the time I emptied out the last of the Four Roses, I figured that I should get some food and be a little more productive with my day in Tokyo…

 

 

 

 

I did return a couple of days later and knocked out a few more samples while I was there: Acorn’s 19 y/o Rosebank, BB&R 38 y/o Glenlivet, OB Talisker 25 and an odd ball 1986 Dupont Calvados just for fun at the end. Why the US does not allow for retailers to sell samples like this is irritating to say the least. There were no derelict drunkards terrorizing the city because unlimited small 10ml samples were being sold. Well except for me…

 

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Another Rosebank. Gordon and Macphail 16 Year Old

Well I went through the Rosebank gauntlet a couple of months ago but here I am again with another Rosebank.  Last time through I gave my impressions of the Gordon and Macphail 18 year old and mentioned that it had replaced the now extinct 16 year old.  Well, leave it up to my Rosebank fiend buddy Derek to find a bottle of the old 16.

Stats:
Distilled in 1991
Aged in oak casks for 16 years
46%ABV

Color:  Light gold.

Nose:  Green apples, basket of light fruits and the distinctive floral tones, hints of spice, straw.

Palate:  Very clean, heather, apples, nice malt background, soft at the start with some firm punch at the end.

Finish: Medium, faint cinnamon.

Comments:  Nicely balanced, very drinkable.  Another nice easy going but flavorful Rosebank. I forgot to snap a picture of the bottle, but will update this post when I do.

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Part V of the Rosebank Tasting: Signatory Cask Strength Collection 1990

Well I figured I better get this last post of my Rosebank tasting in before I ventured into other whiskies.  Please excuse the long delay in posting this from Part IV.  I was really looking forward to tasting this expression as I have enjoyed almost every Signatory Cask Strength Collection that I have had – including Highland Park, Dallas Dhu, Brora and Monnochmore.

Distilled June 22, 1990
Bottled February 20, 2006
Cask 1509
Bottle 178/285
56.6% ABV

Color – Light Straw

Nose – Very subdued for 56.6%, doughy, baked goods sweetness, malty, pears, “springy”

Palate – Big malt, sweet, alcohol up front, some oak is in there but not much else, didn’t take on as much flavor as I expected, a dead cask?

Finish – Alcohol, oak, total lack in depth of flavor.

Man, was this a disappointment. There really wasn’t much to this at all. I had really high hopes for this Rosebank but it utterly failed. I have heard that can happen sometimes with Rosebanks. Time to go dig out another Signatory Cask Strength Collection bottle to make up for this……….

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Part IV of the Rosebank Tasting: SMWS 25.51 18 Year Rosebank

Continuing into the realm of the cask strength bottlings of Rosebank we found ourselves pouring the Single Malt Whisky Society’s (SMWS) 25.51. The actual name that SMWS decided to give this bottle of Rosebank is a treasure trove of material for anyone looking to engage in some sophomoric humor: “Cherry Lips and Bitter Nuts.” I will just leave it at that.

My experiences with SMWS bottlings have been great – from ash and coal Islay’s to other heathery soft Lowlands. So I was really looking forward to trying this one.

18 Years Old
52.7% ABV
Refill Bourbon Casks

Color – Champagne/light yellow

Nose – BAM! Bourbon! Tobacco and um…more bourbon, apple cider, dark fruits, grain, a little bit of a “highland-y” nose

Palate – Dry oak, cherries, cola, huge bourbon influence with the tobacco and dark spices, there might be trace amounts of heather in there but I think it was just my mind telling me that there should be.

Finish – Cola on the way out, chewy almost syrupy, and that bourbon is still hanging around

I think there was originally some Rosebank in there – it just got completely obliterated by the bourbon. Not a good one if you are looking to actually taste some of the traditional Rosebank flavors.

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Part III of the Rosebank Tasting: Gordon and Macphail’s Cask Strength 1991 Rosebank

Gordon and Macphail Cask Strength


Yes, another 1991 Rosebank.  However this time it is only 13 years old.  Up until now we were leisurely sipping on 43%ABV whisky – this bottle initiated the cask strength invasion on our palates.

Distilled on April 25, 1991
Bottled on December 7, 2004
Refill Sherry Hogshead (Cask #1536)
59.3%ABV

Color – 14K gold, orange/yellow

Nose – Toffee, green/vegetables?, stiff jab of alcohol burn – definitely tell it is cask strength, a soft hint of smoke, very lively.

Palate – Viscous and chewy, natural malty sweetness, big and bold!, heather, licorice or fennel seed, the smoke is in the background too.

Finish – Alcohol heat lingers, heather.

This one is a challenge, big bold flavors – not your subtle docile Rosebank. This one fights back. I am really happy that the sherry influence stayed in the back and didn’t overpower. I really enjoyed this one a lot – probably my favorite of the lot.

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Part II of the Rosebank Tasting: Gordon and Macphail’s Connoisseurs Choice 1991 Rosebank

Gordon and Macphail Rosebank

This is the replacement for the former 16 year old Rosebank – I had it but failed to take any notes on it. We felt that this would be a good follow up after the Signatory Vintage bottling because the other three were bottled at cask strength. The one odd thing about the labeling is that the front label states it is bottled at 46% but the label on the back states 43%. I thought it felt like 46% but snooping around the internet it appears that 43% is the true value.

Color – Light yellow

Nose – Sugar cookie sweetness, bread dough, heather

Palate – Oak-dryness, the flowers make themselves present, subtle sweetness, big up front but fades away rather quickly

Finish – floral, malty and doughy.

This is another relaxing dram. Something to sit back and enjoy. It is not going to over power you or make you work hard for it.

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Tasting Notes on Singatory Vintage 15 y/o Rosebank

This will be the first of a series of 5 posts on the silent distillery Rosebank.  Rosebank was a lowland distillery that was mothballed in 1993 and is usually known for subtle floral notes.  They tend to be lighter and more delicate.  It is on the other end of the spectrum from Islay malts.  My buddy Derek is a Rosebank fiend – he buys bottles as fast as he can find them.  I originally rolled over to his house this week to grab dinner but it turned into an in-prompt-to Rosebank tasting.  We lined them up in the order we thought would flow best.  The first one in line was a 15 year old Signatory Vintage Collection.

Signatory Vintage Collection Rosebank

Distilled November 27, 1991
Bottled November 27, 2006
Cask Number 4767 (Bourbon)
43% ABV

Color – White wine

Nose – Lots of malt, light powdered sugar, the distinct floral notes, a touch of the bourbon cask comes through too.

Palate – Soft subtle heather, a natural sweetness, oak/bourbon forward but with the floral notes in the background, some bitterness too.

Finish – Oak, a slight wisp of smoke.

This expression exemplifies a good Rosebank. Subtle but at the same time full of flavor. I really liked this one.

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