The Wu Dram Clan boys are pumpin‘ out serious gourmet sh.. on a regular basis. I am a sucker for many of their releases – WU is forever, remember that! Even the big Kahuna, an Ardbeg 2001 Single Cask, is among the bunch. As my nose is finally working again I can now throw in my 2p (sorry for late). Enjoy the reviews:
Cognac Bache Gabrielsen American Oak (Double Maturation) VSOP/4 y.o. for Kirsch, Single Cask, Fins Bois, 64,1%
Comment: This is a crazy one, very unusual. The producer with Norwegian roots is known for going modern and special ways in Cognac maturation. We loved the blue XO at cask strength from 15 years ago. This new release for Germany has spent its life in French and Tennessee oak and the Ugni Blanc grapes came from the Fins Bois region. Not your classic stats. But boy, taste this powerhouse. Heavy Hervé-style :).
With this one you can fool most people at a tasting – mix it among the whiskies and nobody complains. The mature nose is clearly showing American oak characteristics like vanilla, pineapple, banana, peaches and coconut. The grapes and raisins play second fiddle. Also there is some marzipan and white oak. Basically like a Pina Colada from the Charente! It tastes and swims well, no off-notes at all, vanilla-cream-style, and: more cognac shines through now. Honey, flowers, espresso, creme brulee, hints of tropical fruits. The sheer power is fun and the balance is surprising. Of course, it is no complexity monster after four years of maturation, but it tastes darn good! Not for cognac purists, but great for whisky fans and people who love to transgress borders. Simply a good drink. Stay curious! The long finish leaves you puzzled by what you just had. Cool and fun choice!
Finest Jamaican Rum, over 25 years old, Duckhammers / Wu Dram Clan, 164 btl., 50,1%
Comment: I love the label. And estery rums. So let’s dive into the parrot’s feathers: Often older Jamaicans lose their funk, but here it is well-preserved yet more balanced and mature – a great nose! It starts out with old brown bandaids soaked in iodine, olive tapenade, almonds, ripe banana, star fruit, hot mulch, glue and bitumen – all with a sweet overtone, enticing! Gletschereis drops (a classic German sweet for refreshment from way back, lemony-minty in taste) meet caramelized burnt sugar, licorice, veggie stew, burnt raisins, roots, fence coating colour can, malaga ice cream (rum-raisins), Yuzu and Sicilian lemon.
It tastes likewise and so goooood – noble funk! Milder than one would expect (great alcohol integration), all on high class, lending itself perfectly for the early session of estery rums – or for an introduction into this category on highest quality. Long finish! I NEED MORE. On the side, this probably is the most guyanese Jamaican I had, which is not a bad thing – both worlds meet here. Wow. Me want parrot now!
Ledaig 25 y.o. Wu Dram Clan / Duckhammers / The Whisky Kingdom / Kyoto FWS 1995 – 2021, Hogshead 143, 50,6%
Comment: Education first: The peated Tobermory has risen to stellar quality in the vintages 1972/73, when they shared the malted barley with Brora, Talisker and such, as rumors go. Try and you know what I mean. After these years, Ledaig somewhat changed into a lesser peaty, leathery dram with somewhat volatile distillates, not often bottled. Only after 2005, the heavy peat returned with partly great results and higher outturns in the indie market.
This specimen is a perfect example of an outlier of the good kind. I am glad the Wu-sters dug up this one. After a great younger Kraken which I loved, they follow up with the second octopus.
The nose clearly is in the in the sour-fruity and spicy camp, autumnal somehow (fallen leaves), very nice and off the beaten track. At first I am getting tangerine, raspberry, kiwi, kumquat, grapefruit, peach, lemon drops, ginger, malt, yeast, leather, willow wood (aspirin, anyone) and glazed nut pastries. Inriguing mix. There also is sheep wool in a woollen mill, wet earth and discrete peat, hay, ginger bread, hazelnut, vanilla, incense, licorice, egg salad, brine and pepper. Compexity! It keeps getting fruitier by the time.
On the palate it is powerful and laden with spices, sour fruits and leather. Old wood meets shoe shine on fine leather brogues, willow branch, peach and licorice again. Water is not hurting it, try as you please.
It finishes long while becoming sweeter, the spices remain, nuttiness also joins the crescendo. The perfect dram for this time of year on a walk through the forest. Beware of tree krakens! 🙂
Ardbeg 20 y.o. OB 24.05.2001 – 10.06.2021 Wu DRAM Clan’s Private Reserve, Refill Bourbon Barrel 348, 155 btl., 46,6%
Comment: Let’s start by NOT arguing about its price. It is a personal decision to splurge on great booze, which this undoubtly is, and such are prices of Single Cask releases by Ardbeg or DIAGEO these days. No one has to buy, so leave it there. I think it takes big hairy balls to bring such babies to the market. So kudos – why not! We don’t judge price , only quality matters.
Many people were so keen on trying this. I am glad to be in the position now, I gave it two sessions. Not the shabbiest of moments :).
A typical Ardbeg right from the start, the refill Bourbon barrel allows the oily spirit to shine. Weapon oil (Ballistol), tires, burning pine cone, iodine, peat, leather, ointment, tarry rope with kelp, lemonized oyster, chalk, minerality, coal, aloe, menthol and mezcal, dirty harbour smells, cannon smoke – the whole spiel of a great Ardbeg in sweet background, aaahhh.
It tastes even better than it noses as it takes the direction of old-style Ardbeg now on leather, soot, flinty smoke and pine resin – no off-note here, just classic mature South coast Islay goodness with the typical slim and sweet profile in the middle, which every Ardbeg should have (sorry 8).
The amazing finish swells with iodine, soot, peat, flint, chalk, hints of espresso and burnt tires. A very good mellow cask that takes us back into the 1970s for moments!