The Whisky Mercenary Tasting

The Whisky Mercenary
presents
A whisky tasting by Whisky&More©


I mentioned the Belgian whisky shop called Whisky&More© on here before, it's still a newcomer on the market with a rather small collection of whisky on offer, slowly expanding while opening up to other territories as well, like cigars and other tobacco paraphernalia. The evening was hosted by distinguishes whisky veteran and independent bottler, Jürgen Vromans, aka the Whisky Mercenary.

WiskMercAnd I must say, Jürgen was a most eloquent host, guiding us through the selection on offer, without bogging down into too much detail. Most importantly he brought his own personal tough to the story, as the owner of The Whisky Mercenary and exclusive importer of Liquid Treasures, he has given these whiskies his personal stamp of approval.

The evening's line-up however only contained one of The Whisky Mercenary's own products, as his old stocks have been depleted and the new joint Gordon&MacPhail releases have yet to be bottled. The listing was pretty straightforward: commence with a soft young Irish, move towards more full bodied drams, introduce a young peated Islay and allow two older Highlanders to outclass it.
I was particularly excited about the Balmenach as this would be my introduction to this obscure Speyside distillery. According to the more seasoned connoisseurs, it comes with a very particular profile: rich and full bodied, serving as a packer for the Diageo blends.

LU

1. Irish Malt (Cooley) 6yo (2009/2015)
2. Balmenach  14yo (2001/2015)
3. The Nameless One 18yo (1995/2015)
4. Islay Malt (Lagavulin) 7yo (2007/2014)
5. Ben Nevis 18yo (1996/2014)
6. Glen Garioch 24yo (1991/2015)

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Limburg Dramclub
Liquid Treasures
The Whisky Mercenary
Liquid Treasures
Liquid Treasures
Liquid Treasures
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51.4% ABV
51.9% ABV
46.8% ABV
51.9% ABV
50.7% ABV
51.9% ABV

Let's dive right in, this review follows the classic "Pandemonium of Single Malts" format, with the small exception that both the overall verdict and individual scores can be found at the end of the page. Note to self: take proper pictures of the bottles yourself!

 

Irish Malt (2009/2015)

Soft Gaelic Sip

Irish maltDescription: Distilled at Cooley in Ireland, this bastard malt was matured in bourbon barrel for as few as 6 years. Bottled for the members of the whisky club that organises the well known Whisky Fair, Limburg Dramclub at 51.4% ABV. Pale in colour as one would expect from a refill Bourbon cask.

Nose: an enjoyable fusion of fruity, flowery and mineral styles, with prime notes of gooseberry, lemon and dandelion, pastry flour and a faint hint of vanilla.

Mouth: light and dry body with  a kick of alcohol and metallic (copper) notes on the palate. A bouquet of fruity tones: grapefruit, lemon, banana and red apple, accompanied by the odd flavour of wet granite.

Finish: a short drying, slightly bitter finish with a just a dash of ginger in the tail.

 

Balmenach (2001/2015)

Uncharted Speyside

BalmenachLTDescription: matured in refill sherry hogshead for 14 years. Bottled by Liquid Treasures after being watered down to 51.9% ABV. Light gold in colour.  

Nose: a retched mouldy, slightly vegetable nose with a bouquet of salty herring, green malt, yeast, lemon squash and moss on offer, slightly enhanced with a drum of mixed industrial chemicals: turpentine, plasticise and wood polish.

Mouth: an easy going full bodied dram, slightly creamy on delivery with soft notes of wood smoke from the oak cask, tobacco, green tea and crumbly caramel.

Finish: medium long, with notes of roasted Arabica coffee beans and a touch of chocolate.

 

The Nameless One (1995/2015)

Bucket of Paint

THenamelessDescription: a single sherry cask release from a Speyside distillery by The Whisky Mercenary, which lost its identity on her way to become blend fodder. Miraculously saved by Jürgen and bottled at 46.8% .

Nose: a sherried, buttered nose full of fruity notes: cherries, plums and red currant,  along a soft touch of wood smoke, a pinch of pepper and punch of wet paint.
(with water added: a new fragrance makes its introduction, identified by others as taxus).

Mouth: a surprisingly fresh and rich body, ample in spice on the palate, offering a bouquet of tropic fruits: orange, kaki persemon and grapefruit.

Finish: rather short and drying, no notes that really stand out.

 

Islay Malt (2007/2014)

Atypical Lagavulin

IslaymaltDescription: matured for 7 years (2007/2014) in a Bourbon cask (#1997/737), bottled at 51.9% ABV.  Colour: white wine.

Nose: a clean, austere and polished profile: less depth than one would expect from a Lagavulin. Main notes of oysters, lemon squash and tar, softened with a smidgen of vanilla and fresh almonds.

Mouth: young and slightly nervous body, fruity fresh on the palate with less peat than the nose would suggest. A layer of lemon, green apples and conference pears, with a sharp peppery edge .

Finish: medium long, with notes of lemon and ash.

 

Ben Nevis (1996/2014)

The Candyman

Ben Nevis.KJSDescription: Matured for 18 years (1996/2014) in a bourbon hogshead, bottled at 50.7% ABV.  Nice long legs in the glass, burnished gold in colour.

Nose: opens with highly sugared notes: sugar spin, cotton candy, marshmallow, adds a layer of fruit: yellow apples and peaches and leaves you with a whiff of Cointreau.

Mouth: syrupy body, on the palate: orange marmalade, wood scrapings, a whiff of smoke, and soft lemony flavours.

Finish: a long clean finish with notes of lemon and the drying bitterness of acorns.

 

 

Glen Garioch (1991/2015)

Austere Highlander

GlenGarioch2Description: Bottled at 51.9% ABV after 24 years of maturation in a bourbon cask (my guess). Dark gold in colour.

Nose: grassy styled nose, wet leaves, a basket of mango and passion fruit, with a faint whiff of peat and milk chocolate crumbles.

Mouth: thick  body, but quite austere in style on the body. Wood smoke, cloves, apples, peach, dry hay, with soft white pepper spice.

Finish: long and lingering, a tad nutty maybe.

 

The Verdict

Well, let's just  start at the beginning.

Irish Malt: an easy starter, that perfectly fits the general profile of the "easy" and "accessible" Irish Whiskey. But luckily for us it lacks those dreaded predominant vanilla notes. A simple, gentle, easy sipper from Cooley, probably a Tyrconnell, does not come cheap for a 6yo: priced at €79. A great Irish, worth exploring, but not worth the price.

Balmenach by Liquid Treasures: From my point of view, there are two kinds of whisky worth spending your money on: the good and the interesting. Solely based on its nose, this one should be classified in the latter category: what a glorious mess. It might not appeal to the general public, but I thought it was delightful.

The Nameless one by Whisky Mercenary: Our Jane Doe of the evening, was a most enjoyable dram, a true drinking whisky. Whether she was a Balvenie, Benrinnes (my guess), or a Glen Keith, doesn't matter: this is a whisky I can see myself buying. Part II of the very same cask is well on its way to be offered to the public in the near future.

Islay Malt by Liquid Treasures: One has to wonder, with the scarcity of Lagavulin casks on offer to the Independent Bottlers what their motivation was to bottle this cask at such an early age. An interesting to the Lagavulin family for true fans, but who knows what a few extra years could have added in flavour.

Ben Nevis by Liquid Treasures: My favourite dram of the evening, what a pleasant surprise this whisky is. An atypical for Ben Nevis as some claimed, but I'm not familiar enough with this West Highland Distillery to comment on this. If I had to pick a bottle it would be this one.

Glen Garioch by Liquid Treasures: I'll be honest, by the time we got to the final dram of the evening, my palate was already spoiled, so might have missed on a few key notes. Given the high scores this whisky generally receives, it is only fair that I should give it a second try in the near future.!

Irish malt BalmenachLT2 THenameless
Score: 82
Nose:
20
Taste:
22
Finish:
20
Balance:
20
Score: 84
Nose:
23
Taste:
21
Finish:
20
Balance:
20
Score: 86
Nose:
22
Taste:
23
Finish:
20
Balance:
21
Islaymalt Ben Nevis.KJS GlenGarioch2
Score: 84
Nose:
22
Taste:
22
Finish:
19
Balance:
21
Score: 87
Nose:
22
Taste:
23
Finish:
21
Balance:
21
Score: 86
Nose:
23
Taste:
21
Finish:
20
Balance:
22

< 75: undrinkable, avoid at all costs
75-79: acceptable, give it a try but don't spend to much money on it
80-84: average, enjoyable whiskies mostly easy sippable entry-level single malt 
85-89: above average drams, often well aged expressions, open your wallet
90-94: excellence, sorry kids no x-mas presents this year, daddy needs this bottle
95-99: divinity, call your bank manager for another mortgage on your house