The Malt Vault

Last Friday the fiancée and I decided it was time to paint the town a bit. We’d been working hard all week and barely got to spend time together, so we went to the Malt Vault in Utrecht to catch up over drinks. The Malt Vault is an absolutely stunning location, located in one of the old storage rooms along the old Utrecht wharf. We chose the place because of the beautiful historical location, but also because they have a lovely selection of cocktails for her, and a vast collection of whiskies for myself.

The Malt Vault has a very well thought out system for ordering your drinks. Along the old walls of the vault are three sections and three shelves, stuffed to the brim with bottles of whisky. The sections represent  flavour profiles: Light, Rich, and Smokey. The shelves represent the value of the drams, with fixed prices for the entire shelve. You can order single pours, or a flight. When you order a flight you choose a row: Lust, Bliss, or Ascendance. And then you choose a dram from each section, so your flight takes you through all three flavour profiles.

There’s plenty of choice, so it took me a while before I figured out what I was going to get. I quickly decided on taking a flight through the Bliss category. But making choices inside that category “proofed” more challenging, there was just so much to choose from. In the end I chose to kick things of with a dram of Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2013, followed by dram of Green Spot Chateau Montelena. The final choice landed on Ardbeg Corryvreckan. And ofcourse, while sipping, I took the liberty to write down some tasting notes to share with you all!

Tasting Notes: Bruichladdich  Islay Barley 2013

Stats:

ABV: 50% (100 proof)

Age: 8 years old

Distillery: Bruichladdich

Owned by: Rémy Cointreau

Category: Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Islay but unpeated)

Awards: Unknown

Chill Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Nose:

The Islay Barley has a very floral nose, which reminds me a bit of violets. There’s some white grapes as well and the ever so slight hint of malt. All that is dominated by the smell of freshly cut grass and hay though, which makes me reminisce about growing up in the country side and playing in the fields. A wonderfully playful nose, that came with a trip down memory lane. A drop of water surprisingly added some sea spray and sea weed to the mix, which I hadn’t noticed at all before. Still.. it reminds me more of the countryside than of the coast.

Palate:

The initial sip was surprisingly spicy. Surprising, because I did not pick that up from the nose at all. Once the surprise of it wore off a bit it was still there but other flavours came to the fore as well. The palate is dominated by licorice root, vanilla and oak. There’s also some malt, but way less than I thought there’d be. After the first few sips I also start discovering some figs in there. Altogether it makes for quite an intriguing palate. Here the drop of water had an even more profound effect. The sweetness of the licorice root was accentuated and it added dark chocolate to the mix.

Finish:

The finish is long and slightly bitter. The hints of fig remain and the malt I somehow expected starts to take on a bigger role. It even starts to remind me somewhat of beer, a pale ale to be more precise. There’s also some hints of green tea, but it’s only ever so faint. A drop of water changes the bitterness. It doesn’t get turned up or down, it just… changes it. It’s a different kind of bitter, less rash but still very much present.

Verdict:

I truly appreciated this dram. It was my pick from the “light” section of my flight and I do have to say that it barely fitted in there. Personally I think it sits very close to my dram from the “rich” section in intensity and complexity. This is a not a dram to sip casually, this is a dram to take your time with so you can appreciate the story it has to tell. The flavours themselves might usually be called light, but in this dram their presence is big and bold. And personally.. I love that.

Rating:

88/100

Value:

B+

Tasting Notes: Green Spot Chateau Montelena

Stats:

ABV: 46% (92 proof)

Age: 11 years old (Regular Green Spot finished for 12 months in Zinfandel casks)

Distillery: Midleton (Produced for Mitchell and Son’s)

Owned by: Pernod Ricard

Category: Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Awards: The Irish Whisky Masters Silver (2020) and Gold (2019), IWSC Silver (2019)

Chill Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Nose:

The nose is fresh and immediately reminded me of a babbling brook. There’s some apple, a grassy note and hint of vanilla. But it’s the green apple that dominates even though there’s a sweetness like a lemonade in there at times too. It’s like spending time underneath the shade of an apple tree, lounging in the grass with your feet dangling in the water. Pleasant, like the first warm days of summer. A drop of water holds a bit of magic this time, it turns the apples from green to red. It screams “Pink Lady” apples at me now.

Palate:

Wow this is way more explosive than I expected. I get torn from the orchard and find that the stream has become a torrent. There’s lot’s and lot’s of sweetness here and it’s thick like a syrup. It reminds me a bit of barrel aged maple syrup. There’s hints of oak keeping it from becoming overly sweet, but all the syrupy sweetness is defnitely there. A little red pepper also tries to show itself, but it can barely reach above the fields of cane. A drop of water tames the palate somewhat and it brings forward the finish much faster.

Finish:

A feint bitterness appears that grows stronger over time. The apple also seems to reappear but the bitterness only grows stronger and pushes the memory of apples further back. Over time the apple evolves into lemon. The finish is not as long as the previous dram, I would put it at medium length. A drop of water adds some chocolate to the finish but it also turns up the bitterness even more. The finish is not my favourite part of this dram.

Verdict:

This is a good and pleasant dram. That nose has the stuff to inspire dreams. But after the nose it does go slightly downhill. The palate is a bit too sweet for my liking, but still complex enough to have plenty on offer for those who do appreciate that particular flavour profile. So even though it’s not really my thing, I still consider it a good palate. However, I do feel like the finish is a let down. It’s just not a dram that you can sip and afterwards bask in its afterglow for a while. And that’s a shame, because I like that sort of thing.

Rating:

85/100

Value:

B

Tasting Notes: Ardbeg Corryvreckan

Stats:

ABV: 57,1% (114,2proof)

Age: NAS

Distillery: Ardbeg

Owned by: Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy

Category: Single Malt Scotch Islay Whisky

Awards: International Spirits Challenge Gold (2019), Liquid Gold Award Jim Murray (2014), San Francisco World Spirits Competition Double Gold & Winner (2013) Silver (2017), The Scotch Whisky Masters Master (2013), WWA World’s Best Single Malt & Best Islay Malt (2010), IWSC Silver Outstanding (2013 & 2017) & Silver (2014 & 2019)

Chill Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Nose:

Immediately the peat smoke hits you in the face like a hammer. There’s some sea spray, driftwood and brackish water as well but nothing that can overwhelm the peat. There’s no sweetness at all. It’s rough and untamed. Like a wild beast you will never learn to control, it holds all the raw power and all you can do is enjoy the ride. Don’t try to tame it with water either, I doubt even a gallon could accomplish such a trick.

Palate:

It’s straight in your face, like a drunken sailor trying to pick a fight. Overwhelmingly thick and smoky but also sweet. But not overwhelming in a bad way, more like being swept away by a strong current while knowing you’ll land safely back on the shore. It’s the ride of a lifetime. There’s honey, peat, and driftwood comes floating by. And even some cherry’s drift by in this whirlwind of a dram. This dram is named after a whirlpool in the Scottish ocean and all I can say to whoever named the dram is: Job well done! This is complex, passionate, luxurious and thick. Wonderful!

Finish:

This finish sets a new standard for the word “long” as a descriptor. It’s not just long, it’s very long. It’s spicy and there’s some oak but not overwhelming at all. The sweetness is still there and a bitterness shows up as well but it fades evenly, slowly and beautifully. The storm closes and slowly the world turns back to normal.

Verdict:

This was the highlight of the night without a doubt. Though I must add that you do have to be somewhat of a peathead to appreciate this dram. I let my fiancée try a sip and she was plainly stated; revolted. In pure disbelief how I could enjoy a drink like that. But I thought it was wonderful and glorious. Like you rode the storm and witnessed a story to tell the ages. Do not use this dram to introduce someone to the peat category, use it to take a peathead on an experience of a lifetime. This will definitely be added to my collection at some point sooner rather than later.

Rating:

92/100

Value:

A-

Click here to learn more about how I come up with my tasting notes and how I determine rating and value.

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