Sutherland 5 Year Old Highland Blended Malt (Thompson Bros) & Thompson Bros GlenAllachie 2011


Today we’ve got two release from an independent bottler that’s been impressing us lately.

Sutherland 5 Year Old Highland Blended Malt (Thompson Bros)

Region: Highlands

ABV: 48.5%

Price: £90.00

A blended malt with whiskies distilled in the Sutherland area (North Highlands). As we understand it this will be Clynelish, Dornoch and Brora. This release was bottled to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the WhiskyFun. 590 bottles were released.

Nose

Initial impressions are of a warming ginger spice, intertwined with the sugary sweetness of cotton candy, lemon peel and roasted s'mores. There’s also an earthy note reminiscent of freshly turned soil lingering in the background. As we continue to nose, additional notes of strawberry syrup and tangy orange marmalade come through. Returning to the nose after a few minutes, we detect a subtle vanilla creaminess and a hint of white pepper. We suspect that the non-Dornoch whisky used in this blend is of an older age.

Palate

The first flavours to hit our palate are ripe mango and peaches. As we continue to taste, white pepper and a zing of lemon juice linger on the good-length finish. The mouthfeel is decent at 48.5%, with a reasonable warming alcohol bite. Revisiting, we detect marshmallows, cotton candy, and the sweetness of caramel wafers. An earthy dirt note, similar to the nose, is also present, that’s akin to the taste of mushrooms and beetroot freshly plucked from the soil. It’s good, but we are a touch disappointed that the waxiness of Clynelish isn’t particularly noticeable.

Nose (with water)

The addition of water brings out more complexity on the nose, revealing toasted barley, whipped cream, liquorice, treacle, lime zest, and caramel syrup. The underlying earthy note is still present, though it is now less pronounced, and overall less is citrus-forward than before.

Palate (with water)

The palate becomes much hotter with water, the chilli and ginger spice becoming more pronounced. There’s now an abundance of caramel wafers, honeycomb, and toffee cinders. A lot of the fruit notes from before are lost, but the sweetness is still present. We’re also detecting a slight bitterness here too. The mouthfeel remains unchanged and the alcohol bite is still present. The finish is still a good length, but it's not as sweet as before.

Conclusion

While we were disappointed that the waxiness of Clynelish is not as noticeable as we were expecting, the flavours and aromas present in this blend are still enjoyable. It's a touch expensive, but just about worth it. We’ll stretch to an 8/10.

Score: 8/10


Thompson Bros GlenAllachie 2011

Region: Speyside

ABV: 52.9%

Price: £70.00

This release was distilled 6th November 2011 and laid to rest for just over 10 years in a refill sherry hogshead before being transferred to a PX hogshead for an 8 months finish. 306 bottles were made available.

Nose

We’re initially getting aromas of tomato ketchup, and rich toffee sweetness, however, there's also a burnt and yeasty note that we are not particularly fond of. As we continue to nose it we detect some red wine that reminds us of a bottle that has been left open for too long, and fresh woody notes of oak and pine. There’s also nutty undertones of pistachios and almonds with a subtle hint of blackcurrant. We were hoping for a little more sweetness out of the nose.

Palate

Initially the palate is fairly sour, but there's a nice sweetness here that balances it out. Notes of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom appear on the mid palate. Along with these there's a slight bitter note that appears briefly, but then the sweetness reappears and carries on throughout the long finish along with some chill spice. We didn't expect to enjoy the palate as much as we did, and as we go back to it we’re reminded of both warm mulled wine and a chai latte.

Nose (with water)

The addition of water has greatly improved the nose, the red wine is freshly opened and the yeasty note has faded. The aroma is now more savoury, with notes of charred wood and nuts. Sadly, the fruit notes don't tend to come through as much with reduction.

Palate (with water)

The notes are largely unchanged, but there’s more synthetic sweetness coming though when water is added, and some of the flavours we enjoyed have been muted, but the spice on the finish is more pleasant now. The bitterness is also now gone. It’s still a nice warming dram, but the mouthfeel was better pre dilution.

Conclusion

We may sound pretty critical of this, but that’s just because it was an interesting dram that really got us talking. We wish we could have had the diluted nose and the undiluted palate as that would have been perfect, but you can’t have everything. It’s not perfect but it’s more that good enough to get a 8/10.

Score: 8/10

  • 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
  • 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
  • 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
  • 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
  • 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
  • 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
  • 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
  • 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
  • 2 - Pour it out
  • 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.

    Interested in trying drams like these? We've created the Two Whisky Bros Dram Club to help you get access to high quality, rare whisky by the dram.

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