Monday, March 20, 2017

Independent Bottler Maltbarn & Miltonduff 25 yrs Review

The German independent bottler Maltbarn was recently brought to my attention.
As to my knowledge Maltbarn was founded by ex-malt maniac Martin Diekmann, who are running Maltbarn as a small family owned company.

I really don’t know what to make of Maltbarn? It’s like there’s almost a hardcore religious philosophy behind not wanting to draw attention to the Maltbarn brand, but letting the whisky speak for itself. When I googled around for Maltbarn and Martin Diekmann to learn more about them, I came up empty handed. The only thing I could find was one single German interview that Martin Diekmann had appeared in.

When I visit their webpage, this is what met me;We started Maltbarn when we were moving into a farm with a very big barn attached to it. I always wanted to bottle whisky myself and now I even had a name – although the barn has never been used for malt storage or for malt processing. From then on I followed the idea, went hunting for some great casks and a couple of months later I was ready to go.”

“We at Maltbarn offer a select choice of whiskies both under our own label and from other bottlers. The only criterion for our product selection is quality: We don`t care about the latest hype, marketing tricks or fancy packaging. Instead we only sell whisky we love to drink ourselves! Browse around – we hope you like it here!” And apparently if you don’t, that you’re lost not really theirs. Even if you try to place an order in their web shop, you are greeted with the following message; we don`t run a proper shop system. To order bottles from this website please write us an e-mail.

Unbelievable!… Absolutely freaking unbelievable! I already like Maltbarn, even though I have yet to taste their whisky.

It’s almost like they are really saying; we love to drink our whisky ourselves, that’s why we don’t attend to sell it. I know smarter men than me, would argue that underplaying your marketing strategy, can be a smart strategy itself, especially when all your competitors tries to create the most amazing and colorful stories, to go with their brands. But whatever the play is, it defiantly works on me.

The first whisky Maltbarn ever bottled was a 30 yo. Caol Ila which was bottled in 2011, so it’s fair to assume that Maltbarn was established then. Since 2012 Maltbarn has released around 12 bottlings each year, 62 in total. Only 10 of the 66 offerings are available from Maltbarn’s web shop, the rest of them are already sold out, so I seem that Maltbarn are doing something right. 

Click here to visit Maltbarn's website


Miltonduff 25 yrs - From A Single Cask Review

Maltbarn. NO. 25 - Miltonduff – 25 yrs 

Single Malt Scotch Whisky – From a Single Cask
Non Chill-Filtered/No added colouring

Distillery: Miltonduff
Bottler: Maltbarn
Region: Highland
Age: 25 Years Old
Proof/ABV: 51,2%
Distilled: 1989
Dk price: $174USD/1200Dkk.  
Release: Limited 156 bottles release
Cask: Bourbon

Points: 90/100

I have previously described The Miltonduff distillery in this Installment series, back when I reviewed Chapter 7’s 6 years old bottling, but for the once in the cheap seats, who wasn’t paying attention, I’m more than happy to repeat myself.

The Miltonduff distillery is a rather unknown distillery, mainly because they are no longer officially releasing whisky under the Miltonduff name. Miltonduff is still operational, but the majority of their whisky goes into Chivas Regal’s blended whiskies. However more than a handful of independent releases have started to see the light of day and some of them are pretty old, like Hunter Lang’s 34 year old Miltonduff edition, bottled for their Old & Rare Platinum range.

The Miltonduff whisky distillery was founded by Robert Bain and Andrew Peary in 1824,
and are located at Elgin, Morayshire in the Scottish whisky region Speyside. Nowadays Miltonduff is owned by Pernod Richard, who also owns the Chivas Regal brand.

With its 25 years, this Miltonduff is going to be the oldest offering in this series.

Deep layers of sherry. Yeah, I know it hasn’t been nowhere near a sherry cask, but still!… Raw sugarcane, acacia honey and hay.  

The palate is kind of like chewing on a whole pepper corn. Malty and nutty upfront. Hazelnuts and almonds, nutmeg and black pepper.

Short to medium long old oaky finish

Overall Impression:
This old Miltonduff have a great feeling surrounding it. It’s one of those rare whiskies that you would like to spend an entire evening with, simply because its far better company, than you can find anywhere, on a midnight hour in a small town like this.

Review By: Hasse Berg

Photo by: (All rights reserved)

Son of Winston Churchill has kindly been granted permission to use the photo in this review.     


Previous articles and reviews in this Independent Bottlers Installment Series:  


The Adventures Of Whisky Pete - Part #28

Breaking out the good glasses for a little experimental flight... Hoping for the best.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Saint Patrick's Day Review of Bushmills Original

One of the many myths behind Irish Whiskey is that Jameson is Catholic and Bushmills is Protestant whiskey. Apparently so many people find that myth to be true, that even David Simon had Detective Jimmy McNutty, one of my all time favorite TV characters from The Wire, state that fact, when offered a pour of Bushmills.

I believe the myth started because Bushmills is located in predominantly Protestant Northern Ireland, and Jameson is produced in the heavily Catholic Republic of Ireland.

Since master distiller Colum Egan at Bushmills is Catholic, and John Jameson himself was likely Protestant and Scottish, for that matter, and neither of the distilleries is in Irish hands anymore - Jameson is owned by Pernod Ricard, and Bushmills now belongs to family owned Jose Cuervo, producers of the best selling tequila brand in the world - I think we can all agree to put a pin in that myth.

The Old Bushmills Distillery is dated back to 1784, although 1608 is printed on Bushmills bottles. Bushmills thereby claim the title, to be Ireland’s oldest whiskey distillery, but the year 1608 refers to the license that was granted to Sir Thomas Philips by king James 1 to distill whisky in the area where Bushmills are located.

The distillery was established by Hugh Anderson, an even though the records are defective from the first period of time, we do know that the distillery had numerous periods where it wasn’t operational. In 1860 Jame McColgan and Patrick Corrigan bought the distillery. In 1885 The Old Bushmills Distillery burned down to the ground, and had to be rebuild. Five years later, Bushmills sets sail with their SS Bushmills steamship, which made its voyage to deliver Bushmills to America and Singapore. Last year Bushmills released its limited edition Steamship Collection to mark the 125th anniversary of its maiden voyage.

The Bushmills Original is made out of grain whiskey, said to have been matured for five years, before blended with malt whisky. 

Bushmills Original
Blended Irish Whiskey
Triple distilled

Distillery: Bushmills
Region: Ireland
Age: NAS
Proof/ABV: 40%
DK Price: $29/200dkk
Release: Ongoing

Points: 70/100

Floral and grainy with apricot.

Very straight forward. Mineralic and creamy with vanilla ice cream, and a tiny hint of black pepper.

Short, lightheaded with a taste of oat bread.

Photo & Review By: Hasse Berg

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tasting: Noah's Mill

Noah’s Mill
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Distillery: Kentucky Bourbon Distillers
Age: Unknown use to be 15years
Proof/ABV: 114.3 Proof
Mash Bill: Unknown
Average US Price: $50
Release: Ongoing


Noah's Mill is a product of Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (KBD) also known as Willett. Most of the brands owned by (KBD) do not actually identify KBD or Willett as the producing company, but rather they use fake distillery names like Noah's Mill Distillery or Old Bardstown distillery. Noah's Mill is one of the small batch offerings that comes from Willett, it is 114 proof and in the ballpark of 8-12 years old. The original Noah's Mill use to have a 15 year age statement, but that was removed in 2012, and it now states aged until fully matured.

KBD did not operate as a distillery from 1980-2012. They operated as a non-distilling producer during that time, which instead of distilling they purchased bourbon from other distilleries and aged it in their own warehouses. In January 2012 Willett resumed distilling and now has their own rye and bourbon. Earlier this year Willett released Old Bardstown Bottled in Bond which is their own distillate.

Pepper, light cinnamon, caramel, toffee, chocolate, raisins and toasted wood.

Sweet caramel, vanilla cream, toasted nuts, figs, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, chocolate , mint, and oak.

Nice long finish. Sweet corn, pepper, peanuts, tobacco, and oak.

Photo & Review By: Aaron Cave

Monday, March 13, 2017

New 1792 Review Series - Part #1 - Tasting: 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Small Batch 8 Year

While the actual date is a little unclear it was sometime around 2002 - 2004.  I was on vacation in Florida and stopped by to visit an uncle who happened to be vacationing there at the same time.  We were sitting around his kitchen table catching up when he got up and said, “I have something new for you to try.”  He walked over to a cabinet and pulled out a bottle of bourbon I’d never seen or had.  We each poured a drink and continued to chat.

This was before I really started to “enjoy” bourbon like I do today.  While I don’t remember specific aromas or the palate, after piecing some dates and personal family events together I now know that what I had that day was the original Ridgewood Reserve 1792.

We know it as just plain old 1792 today.  And before that, 1792 Ridgemont Reserve.  Thanks to a lawsuit filed by Brown-Forman that was settled in 2004, Barton was forced to change the name.

While the name has obviously changed and the 8-year age statement dropped, the actual bourbon hasn’t changed.  Or so Barton (a Sazerac company) would like us to believe.  That’s one of the things I aim to find out with this review series.

I have never owned one of the early bottles of Ridgewood Reserve 1792.  Based on the secondary prices I’ve seen, I probably won’t.  Especially when all that literally changed in the early days of the brand was the name and label.  The 8-year age statement wasn’t dropped until 2013.  With that said, I do own a bottle of 1792 Ridgemont Reserve 8 year.  And that’s exactly what I’m kicking this series off with.

This series will also include reviews of the old label 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Small Batch (sans age statement), the new label 1792 Small Batch, Sweet Wheat, Port Finish, Single Barrel, High Rye and Full Proof.  For the traditional expressions I will include a few side-by-side notes.  For example the 8-year age stated next to both NAS expressions (once I’ve reviewed the two NAS bourbons).  Heck, I might even throw in a few notes on some really nice store picks that I’ve been fortunate to add to my collection.

Without further ado, let’s kick this thing off!

1792 Ridgemont Reserve Small Batch 8 year

Distillery: Barton
Age: 8 years
Proof/ABV: 93.7/46.85%
Mash bill: Higher rye, thought to be approx. 75% Corn, 15% Rye, and 10% Barley
Availability: Discontinued
U.S. Price: $50 USD (1.75ml)

Points: 85/100

Nose: Musty oak, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, light pepper and sugar.  It’s very oak and vanilla forward but once it opens up a bit the sugar really starts to poke through along with hints of mint.

Palate: It’s medium bodied with a slightly viscos mouth feel.  It has some really nice but subtle rye spice to it with notes of cinnamon and red pepper.  The oak comes alive on the palate, dusting off that mustiness from the nose.  Toward the end there are some mild clove and tobacco flavors.

Finish: The finish is medium with cinnamon upfront and nice caramel and tobacco flavors toward the end.  To round out this pour the mint from the nose pokes its head back in the door to wave goodbye.

Overall I really enjoy this whiskey.  It’s an easy drinker AND it’s higher rye, which I really enjoy.  If you happen upon a bottle of this age stated expression, especially still at retail (approx. $25-$30 for 750ml and $50-$55 for 1.75ml) it’s definitely worth picking up.  Having lost it’s age statement just four years ago I wouldn’t really considerate it a true dusty, but it’s still a fun find.  Especially since it should provide a nice comparison to todays NAS.

Extra Credit

Where did Barton get the name “1792?”  I’m glad you asked.  In 1776 Kentucky officially became part of Virginia and was called Kentucky County.  Then, just 4 years later Kentucky County was divided up into Fayette, Jefferson and Lincoln Counties.  After a few failed government petitions, on June 1, 1792 Kentucky officially became the 15th state to join the Union.

Photos & Review By: Seth Brown