Hazelwood 21 year 40%

From the Glen Grant & Sons stable, this blend came out a few years ago in travel retail with its glitz bottle, harkening to Art Deco heydays in select cities around the world.

We sampled it completely blind, with no clue what we were trying… Here is what we discovered…

Hazelwood 21 year 40%

  • Nose – Hay, malt, bit sharp, citrus, candy shop, coconut oil, husk, meethi (fenugreek leaves), horseradish, a bit of cinnamon, tobacco, a bit of nuts, wood, acetone, lots of honey
  • Palate – Sweet and spice, more of that horseradish, straight, honey water, no development on the palate, spice remains, thin with no body
  • Finish – Piquant finish, flat, some wood

While it may sound like a nice range of aromas, they all played within a fairly narrow band… overall it came across as quite “watery”… inoffensive and bland. We wondered if it could make a good mixer?

Before the reveal, one speculated it might be a blend. Turns out he was right! More precisely a blend of Kininvie, Girvan, and others…

Curious to know more? Why not check out what I found in an earlier tasting of the Hazelwood 21 year 40%.

What else did we try?

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Airport adventures with Àraid 21 year 43% for DFS SIN + HKG

Typically when traveling, I can be found hiding out in a lounge tapping away on my laptop however this trip from Mumbai to Jakarta via Singapore had no lounge access. So after picking up the new Bruichladdich PC 2007 CC:01, discovering my onward flight was delayed, slipped upstairs to browse through the rarified whiskies.2016-12-04-rusty-nail

I found myself chatting with the fellow behind the Long Bar by Raffles. He spotted my Bruichladdich and we began to swap whisky tales (as one does in such situations!). He shared insights into the session Murray Campbell, Bruichladdich Brand Ambassador did for the DFS team while I shared chance conversations with Murray at Whisky Live Singapore.

With time to kill, I spotted a nice little table beside the bar and settled down to get some work done while waiting for my flight.

Completely absorbed with writing on my laptop, first an exceedingly refreshing and indulgent rusty nail found its way into my hand.

Followed by a small sample of… something…

  • Nose – Citrus pineapple, peaches, honey, cinnamon, lightly woodsy, vanilla, subtle light bright inviting nose
  • Palate – Spice with substance, a contrast to the sunshine nose there is enough swirling around on the palate to properly keep one company
  • Finish – The spice lingers and becomes slightly tart and bitter

Was it a single malt? A blend? The reveal…

Àraid 21 yea4 43% Batch 15/0508, Selected 19.04.2015, Bottle No 1,182/3, 400.

2016-12-04-araid-21-year

A DFS Group exclusive blend for Singapore Changi International Airport (SIN) and Hong Kong International Airport (HKG).

“Àraid” is Scots Gaelic for “unique” and the whisky is intended as “an idea which summons the spirit of the selection process in which we collaborated to arrive at this magnificent whiskey.”

Here is what they have to say about it:

“A deep and luxurious whisky replete with a fresh and fruity nose of delicate character, a rich and silky palate and a long-lasting oaky finish.

This exquisite spirit inherits its silky texture and floral delicacy from the splendid malts in the Grant family’s whisky ledgers which have given them life. Its long-lasting finish, with a sweet laziness, completes this blend’s unique perfection.”

It was like having a high end Monkey Shoulder, brighter, lighter and more complex. Apparently it has some KinInvie & Glenfiddich and…?

Regardless of contents, sipping it was a rather nice way to while away my time til my flight to Jakarta… A “sweet laziness” is actually a rather good way to describe how this whisky leaves you…

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Hazelwood 21 year 40%

When the Hazelwood series first came out, I couldn’t help but be struck by the rather attractive packaging and decidedly art deco style. A little pricey for a 500 ml bottle, I passed it up a few times at duty free.

From William Grant & Sons, the Hazelwood blended whisky series was created to honour William Grant’s granddaughter Janet Sheed Roberts, after her Hazelwood house, full of art deco items, near their Glenfiddich distillery.

Each in the trio is dedicated to a city from the 1920s:

  • Hazelwood 18 year for Paris
  • Hazelwood 21 year for Bombay
  • Hazelwood 25 year for Shanghai

Fittingly, one fine evening in Mumbai, we polished off the last of the Hazelwood 21 year, in honour of a French friend leaving our fair land for other shores…

hazelwood-21-year

Hazelwood 21 year 40%

  • Nose – Mix of slight tobacco smoke, sweet, vanilla, apple crumble, cinnamon, fruits, berries with an overall sense of freshness
  • Palate – Smooth, soft and accessible, honey, sweet spices
  • Finish – Just a honey sweetness that slipped away relatively early

Overall it is exceedingly easy to drink. Jokingly it was described as quite a ‘homely’ whisky. One could even say ‘charming’. There is a danger in attributing gender to a whisky, but this one certainly seems to be trying to appeal to women.

Here is what they have to say:

House of Hazelwood 21 Year Old is inspired by the sultry beauty of Mumbai in the 1920s.

This release represents a bolder, somewhat spicier and more robust whisky balanced to perfection by the ageing of some of its malts for 21 years in sherry casks made of European oak.

  • NOSE: Dried fruits and spice dominate, alongside a sticky sweetness reminiscent of rich fruit cake. A splash of water alters the balance and adds complexity with a subtle hint of tobacco leaf.
  • TASTE: Cinnamon, cloves and woody spice, with a dry finish. Water accentuates the sherry cask influence, bringing out the sweet oiliness of treacle, dates and polished leather.
  • FINISH: Spice, Molasses, and Resin.

I can’t say that I agree with the “bold” part at all! Or many of the other elements that just didn’t jive with our experience. However in fairness, we sampled from a bottle that was already open so one never knows… it could have been at one time?

20161017-yamazakisipsmithhazelwood

Farewell gifts… and fare thee well my friend!

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Kininvie 17 year 42.6% – a quandary no more!

Earlier this year, I wrote about my quandary regarding the Kininvie 17 year. You see, I picked it up from Singapore duty-free but as a 1st bottling, wasn’t sure if I should keep it a bit longer or open it immediately. After all, I’m not in the collector’s league and whisky for me is something to enjoy!

Kininvie 17 sample

Kininvie 17 sample

At the time, Ronald Ding of Whiskyrific made a lovely offer – to share a sample on which basis I could make an informed decision to crack open or keep.

Alas my Singapore travel plans kept getting postponed and when I did finally go in June 2015, Ronald and I simply could not manage to connect.

So he made an even kinder offer – to post the sample to me in Mumbai, India.

Now… I had my doubts. Would it actually make it through customs to my doorstep without incident or hassle?

Remarkably it did!

Kininvie 17 year, batch 1, 42.6% (bottle #3959)

So here is what I found…

  • Nose – Instant grapey wine-like quality, a bit of oak, powder, floral, sweet, the usual flirting with vanilla and honey, then a slight nuttiness peeps out
  • Palate – Again grapes – as in serious grapiness (is that a word?), mellowed into a delightful dram, the usual maltiness, creamy, yes a bit buttery too, a hint of warm spice to round out
  • Finish – Did I say grapes before? This time think grape coolade…
  • Water – Nope – didn’t try as it is already quite light
  • Overall – Without a doubt smooth, light, classic Speyside… with grape!

I don’t think I’ve had a whisky that reminds me so forcefully of grapes… at first wine-like on the nose, then juicy grapes on the palate and grape coolade on the finish. I kid you not.

Which if you don’t like grapes means this isn’t the whisky for you.

But if you do… it is actually quite nice, pleasant, gentle, and grows on you sip by sip. I was disappointed when my wee sample dram was done.

KininVie 17

Kininvie 17, batch 1, bottle no 3752 with sample from no 3959

The Kininvie distillery is based in the Conval hills of Dufftown, part of the Balvenie distillery compound and I first encountered it as a component in the rather yummy Monkey Shoulder.

There were a few prior single malt releases under the ‘Hazelwood’ label in honour of Janet Sheed Roberts, granddaughter of Glenfiddich’s founder William Grant, who lived to a remarkable 110 years old. From lawyer to director of William Grant & Sons, as noted on the label, she opened the distillery in 1990.

Kininvie 21 then 17 year was initially released in Taiwan and now available in the UK. You can read more about Master of Malt’s insights on this distillery here.

The official tasting notes suggest:

  • Nose – Rich and full aroma with fresh fruit notes and a deep vanilla sweetness. Uniquely fragrant with a characteristic floral note that is accentuated through the addition of a little water
  • Taste – Beautifully sweet, buttery vanilla and slightly spicy
  • Finish – Long and lingering with a notable sweetness

So many thanks Ronald!! I do suggest you check out his assessment on Whiskyrific – Kininvie 17 year!

As for my quandary? I think I will hang on to it until the right opportunity presents itself… as in to share not save.

Slainthe!

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The Quandry of the Kininvie 17 year

I’m in a quandary… To open or not to open?

You see… on one of my many trips through Singapore in 2014, I splurged and picked up the Kininvie 17 year, batch 1.

Kininvie is based in the Coeval hills of Dufftown – built on the Balvenie distillery grounds and best known as a component in the rather yummy Monkey Shoulder. While Grant & Sons are well known, having this particular distillery come ‘out’ as Kininvie is relatively recent with just the 17 and 23 year on offer.

Kininvie 17 year

Kininvie 17 year

What do I know so far? Well…

  • 1st batch bottled for travel retail market
  • Matured for 17 years in 80% American Oak, 20% Sherry Cask
  • Strength 42.6%

The official tasting notes suggest:

Nose – Rich and full aroma with fresh fruit notes and a deep vanilla sweetness. Uniquely fragrant with a characteristic floral note that is accentuated through the addition of a little water

Taste – Beautifully sweet, buttery vanilla and slightly spicy

Finish – Long and lingering with a notable sweetness

However those are not the observations of either our monthly whisky tasting club or I…

So… why not just crack open the bottle now and check it out?

Well… you see… This particular bottle is designed to be ‘rare’ and if the initial reviews are any indication, may be worth hanging on to for a bit.

Or perhaps it is just hype.

I have never looked at whisky as an investment or something to ‘save’ for a later day. Instead whisky to me is a sociable affair – something to be savoured, shared and enjoyed with others passionate about such pleasures.

So… what should I do? Open now or save?

To open or not to open...

To open or not to open…

What others are saying about the Kininvie 17 year:

PS I finally did try it thanks to a sample from Whiskyrific! You can read my tasting notes here.

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