The Oak Barrel: Wine, whisky, spirits, craft beer and cider

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  • North Star Aultmore 11-Year-Old Single Cask Whisky

    North Star Aultmore 11-Year-Old Single Cask Whisky

    A full bodied, sweetly rich Aultmore in a rare showing of the distillery in cask strength, single cask nakedness.

    This cask has been released by Iain Croucher’s Glasgow-based independent bottler, North Star. This is part of their fourth series of releases.

    This was distilled at the Speyside distillery in October 2006 and spent 11 years in an refill ex-bourbon hogshead when it was bottled in February 2018. At 52.3% the cask yielded just 150 bottles worldwide.

    Aultmore found fame as a key component of the Dewars blend and it is usually on the sweeter, fresher end of the flavour scale. This particular cask is fuller, however, the cask strength nature giving oils and heavier sweets.

    Official tasting notes:

    Nose: Caramel, toffee, light spice and ginger sponge.

    Palate: Angel cake, nutmeg and light oak.

    Finish: Ginger, orange sweetness and lasting spice.

    Tasting notes by Serge at

    Nose: Very nice, with some fudge, cappuccino, shortbread and butterscotch, custard, brioche, Ovaltine… Not much to add, this is modern in the best sense of that word. With water: lovely waxy tones ala Clynelish. More raw barley as well.

    Palate: Really very good. Lemon liqueur, mocha, panettone, custard, orange blossom, fudge… In short it’s one of those newish Scottish bourbons, with extra-care given to the wood. Again, nothing against that. With water: it is perfect, everything was under control, it’s full and oily, it’s got pastries and just a few spices (caraway)… But the finish will tell. The finish always tells…

    Finish: Indeed the oak’s a little louder, with more tea tannins, but no scandal.

    Comments: wondering if that refill HHD hadn’t been rejuvenated (scratched and re-burnt), since it’s bright as a penny. In any case, very very good whisky. 

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  • Yume Symphonia Saperavi Rose 2017

    Yume Symphonia Saperavi Rose 2017

    From what is surely one of the most spectacular vineyards in the King valley. Around 450m above sea level, the soils are iron-rich red clay, the vineyard lies on an east-facing slope. As such, there is a high diurnal temperature variation and a propensity for the soils to retain cool and moisture, contributing to high acidity and floral notes in the wines whilst the grapes achieve optimum ripeness. The grapes are unirrigated, cropped at low levels, hand picked, copper and sulphur applied when necessary. 

    With just a mere 4 hours of skin contact, this pours a deep, garnet red. On the nose there's red forest fruits sweetly spiced with cardamom and cinnamon, a whiff of mint and an earthy ferrous undertone. 

    Bright, plush red fruits and dark cherry on the palate are framed by plummy tannins, wit ha streak of vibrant acidity to lift and drive. 

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  • Choya Green Tea Umeshu 720ml

    Choya Green Tea Umeshu 720ml

    Refreshing green tea umeshu, with tropical fruit and a light but prominent green tea flavour. Delightful.

    Choya has become a leader in umeshu production, having been making it since 1959; they have committed to using only natural flavours, without any colouring or additives.

    For this matcha (green tea) umeshu, Choya have cold brewed high quality Uji green tea leaves from Kyoto with their already great base umeshu, resulting in this delightful drink.

    As with most of our umeshu’s we recommend this over ice or this would be great in a number of cocktails (e.g Mojito).

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  • Julie Balagny Fleurie Sex Appeal 2015

    Julie Balagny Fleurie Sex Appeal 2015

    A bold, deep Gamay from Fleurie. Rich dark fruits with supple tannins on the palate, excellent fruit forward characteristics of dark cherry and plum. Easy to drink now but will last several years. 

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