Jim McEwan Signature Collection 7 (7.1, 7.2 & 7.3)


We're starting the week looking at the 7th release from the Jim McEwan Signature Collection.

Jim McEwan Signature Collection 7.1 Bruichladdich cask #RO8/153-5

Region: Islay

ABV: 61.2%

Price: £325.00

Distilled on 2nd November 2007, this whisky spent its life maturing in a 1st fill Premier Cru Sauternes Barrique and was bottled on 22nd February 2023 at 15 years old. 256 bottles were released.

Nose

We’re met with lots of upfront salinity, more than expected. Alongside that, there’s a real meatiness here, cured ham, maple syrup and a little aged balsamic. Giving it some time and air brings out some red fruits, cranberry, dried raspberries and earthy rhubarb. There’s a real mustiness too, almost a light smoke sitting in the background. It’s a unique nose, one we’ve not experienced before.

Palate

The palate has lots of upfront sweetness, honey, apricot, mixing into meatier flavours of BBQ pork, salted caramel sauce and sharp lemon acidity as the palate develops. There’s a fair whack of tingly alcohol here, although it feels surprisingly in balance with some of the strong flavours coming through. The mouthfeel is really nice, syrupy, and the dram lingers on for a good length, a bit of dry oak, dark chocolate and soil. The Sauternes maturation really shines through here, mixing nicely with the Laddie spirit.

Nose (with water)

Reduced, the nose gets even funkier, a mixture of caramel wafers, nail varnish and maple coated bacon. Behind this we’re getting sweeter vanilla, foam bananas and toffee with a hint of smoke in the background. A few of the red fruits start peering through after some time in the glass. Overall it’s not too dissimilar to the unreduced nose.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate has more red fruit upfront, raspberry jam with a pinch of Maldon sea salt, strawberry purée and black pepper. It’s still a bit spicy, and slightly drier, grapefruit, cinnamon bark and a touch of clove too. The water has made it drier overall, we wouldn’t say the dram needs it.

Conclusion

We had different expectations for this dram, but it’s surprised us. Super salty, earthy and rich, perhaps a little spicy and funky too. A dram to sit with and ponder. It’s good quality whisky which many people will enjoy.

Score: 7/10

Value

You don’t need us to tell you that these aren’t great value. If you’re buying these it’s for the pedigree of the whisky.


Jim McEwan Signature Collection 7.2 Port Charlotte cask #2554

Region: Islay

ABV: 60.6%

Price: £225.00

Distilled on 18th July 2012, this whisky spent its life maturing in a 1st fill bourbon cask from Jack Daniels, and was bottled at 11 years old in February 2023. 209 bottles were released.

Nose

The nose opens with beeswax, smouldering earth, singed cardboard, and a fair punch of alcohol sitting underneath the peat. We’re also getting sweet vanilla, candied apple (very sweet, without too much acidity), pinecones and some oak-smoked ham. There are not too many different or competing aromas, they’re quite well integrated with each other. Time and air bring out used fryer oil, artificial strawberries and a dollop of cream. Sweet peat, what’s not to like?

Palate

The palate brings forward heaps of upfront sweetness, quickly followed by the peat that sweeps in afterwards. It’s not overly strong peat, just a lingering smoke that builds. There’s a really pleasant, mouth coating texture here. Flavour wise, it’s pretty simple, it’s sweet and it’s peaty.. A little fudge, salted caramel, bonfire smoke, with a finish that really does keep going. The finish is predominantly just the peat flavours, a little sweet oak too. For 60% ABV it’s very drinkable.

Nose (with water)

A little more vibrancy appears on the nose now, it has a newfound piquancy. The smoke feels slightly more restrained, and we’re now finding some stem ginger, lemon zest, blueberries and toffee. It’s almost gained a few years in age, it’s starting to get an older whisky aroma. We’re surprised it’s changed so much - it’s like a completely new whisky. We’re quite enjoying the reduced nose.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate brings out more upfront peat, battling a little bit with the bourbon cask sweetness. It’s a bit zestier now, but maintains a nice creamy mouthfeel - albeit maybe slightly less thick than before.

Conclusion

This is a really pleasant expression of Port Charlotte, very well balanced, good amount of smoke without overpowering the spirit or cask, perhaps a little simple but it’s one we really enjoyed sipping. One that could be used to indoctrinate your peat-fearing (a.k.a Speyside drinking) friends into the land of smoke. We preferred the nose with water, but preferred the palate without.

Score: 7.5/10

Value

See our previous comment on the Laddie.


Jim McEwan Signature Collection 7.3 Octomore cask #539

Region: Islay

ABV: 64.5%

Price: £265.00

Distilled on 5th November 2014 and peated to 156 PPM, this whisky matured in a 1st fill bourbon cask from Jim Beam and was bottled in February 2023 at 8 years old. 228 bottles were released

Nose

We’re finding this very easy to nose - an unexpected sensation given the monstrous ABV of the dram. It’s got a real dirty peat, coal mines, chimney soot, as well as wholewheat rosemary crackers. We’re also getting suet, Greek oregano.. it’s quite a savoury dram. Time and air reveals lighter aromas of sea spray, simple syrup and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Palate

The palate gives you a false sense of security.. then hits you around the head with the ABV. Drizzly caramel sauce, an earthy peat smoke that builds and builds into a sweeter, yet still filthy, peaty finish. A lovely silky mouthfeel, creme caramel, a little white pepper and red apple. Time and air brings out more vanilla, sponge fingers and some of those herbal rosemary and oregano flavours from the nose.

Nose (with water)

Reduction brings out more of the smoke on the nose, earthy, vegetal, slightly salty too. We’re also finding more oak showing, but sweeter oak rather than the drying oak that adding water can occasionally bring out in a whisky. Powdered sugar, citric acid and pencil shavings also make an appearance after a while.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate maintains the big punch of alcohol, and we’ve lost a touch of the silky mouthfeel we enjoyed. Saying that, there’s still good flavours and texture coming through. We’re getting rubber tubing, asphalt, sugar syrup and a bit of oak spice on the finish.

Conclusion

For us, this is a really enjoyable Octomore. The dirty, heavy peat notes sneak up on you, but there’s lots of sweetness that works well with the smoke. It’s got a great mouthfeel, although the finish could be a touch longer. The nose has less peat than we expected, but the palate delivered.

Score: 8/10

Value

We wish it was good value as we do enjoy an occasional dram of Octomore... but alas..

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  • 10 - Perfection. One in a million
  • 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
  • 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
  • 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
  • 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
  • 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
  • 4 - Below average. Passable.
  • 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
  • 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
  • 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.

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