Is it just me or is there really quite a bit of Indie-bottled Benrinnes floating around on the shelves these days? At least Cadenhead’s seem to have bottled quite a few of them recently. I’m certainly not complaining as I’m usually quite partial to a drop from the stills of the distillery nestled at the foot of the mountain it was named after (well, more of a pimple to us Austrians…). During the 2016 Speyside Whisky Festival I had booked an event that was supposed to contain a tour of this distillery – sadly this never happened because apparently Diageo was unable to find anyone to do the tour, which seemed really strange at the time and was a pity, but hey… Anyway, this is about the whisky – at 24 years this was made back in the day when they still did a somewhat whacky partial triple distillation. Yeah, you read that right. Don’t ask me to explain it…
Dram data: Distillery: Benrinnes Bottler: Cadenhead’s Distilled: 1995 Bottled: November 2019 Age: 24 Limitation: 216 bottles Cask: Bourbon Hogshead Alcohol: 49,4% uncoloured / not chill filtered Whiskybase link
Tamnavulin? This Speyside distillery is probably unknown to all but the most devoted whisky drinkers. It’s not a malt you will find in supermarkets, most of the output is used in Blended Whisky production – probably mostly by owners Whyte & Mackay. It’s not a desirable whisky for collectors and not too often featured by independent bottlers. So why did I pick up a bottle at auction recently? Well, it was cheap-ish and a bottle that had been sitting around for a couple of years judging from the label and the condition of the tin with a bit of rust. I would guess it was bottled around 2005 or not too long after that – the year when the 12-year-old expression was officially launched. Basically this malt piqued my curiosity as to what kind of quality of spirit went into bottle roughly 10-15 years ago before the current explosion in whisky production. Well, this and the fact that I’ve actually never tried a Tamnavulin before… I needed to change that!
Dram data: Distillery: Tamnavulin Bottler: official bottling Distilled: – Bottled: ca. 2005 Age: 12 Limitation: – Cask: oak Alcohol: 40% colouring added / chill filtered Whiskybase link
Usually we as a human race like to have special drinks (Champagne, Wine, Whisky) to celebrate special events. And then there’s the opposite: Letting a fine drink create a special event. I’ve been holding on to this sample of 50 year-old, sherry-matured Strathisla from Speyside for quite a while now. Let’s see if will succeed at creating a special occasion …
Dram data: Distillery: Strathisla Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail Distilled: 09.12.1965 Bottled: 20.01.2016 Age: 50 years Limitation: 418 bottles Cask: First Fill Sherry Puncheon Alcohol: 43% Uncoloured Whiskybase link
I love blind tastings. They are a great way to make a huge fool of yourself. Ahem. Okay, let’s try this again. I love blind tastings. They are very educational and let you focus on the whisky without any preconceptions. A prime example of this was last year at a blind tasting at the Campbeltown whisky festival where I rated an Inchmurrin highest and a Littlemill lowest. Would I have scored them the same if I had known beforehand what the were? I hope so – but can’t say for sure!
Peter Moser, who runs the German-speaking whisky site fosm.de has invited me to take part in his blind tasting sets for the last few rounds – which have always yielded very interesting, sometimes sobering results. For round seven in his series, he sent us three samples, labelled #1-3 and with very little clues other than it being a big distillery in the process of reinventing itself and all of the samples being from the same distillery. In the end, the distillery turned out to be Glenfiddich. No, I did not guess that correctly but I was close-ish At least that’s what I tell myself… That has to count, right?
Now, for the full dose of public humiliation and poking fun at myself on my own site I’ll reveal the three drams – complete with translations of my original tasting notes:
Dram data: Distillery: Longmorn-Glenlivet
Bottler: Gordon & Macphail, licensed bottling
Age: 12 years
unknown colouring/filtering Whiskybase link (similar, but older bottling)
There are things you just can’t say no to – like this wee old miniature bottle of whisky I stumbled across in Arkwright’s Wine and Spirit shop earlier this year. Who would pass on the opportunity to experience what whisky bottled decades ago tasted like? This was bottled in the 1980s as a licensed bottling by Gordon & Macphail, distilled in the 1970s – some of the new make might have even been produced when Longmorn was a distillery with only two stills and those were fired directly. Back then what we now call “Single Malt” was called “Pure Malt” and distilleries proclaimed their region by attaching “-Glenlivet” to their name. Those were the times – and they are now bottled history! Anyway, all of that means almost nothing if the whisky is bad, so let’s dive right in!
The nose features a surprising amount of alcohol for a 40% whisky. Once the alcohol settles down, a dry, layered, spicy, sherried whisky is revealed. We’ve got orange peel, ginger, nutmeg, a whole truckload of cloves and cinnamon and dusty beeswax on a base of dried apricots and sulphured sultanas with a smidgen of motor oil on top (the good kind, you know…). Nicely layered and balanced, not flabby at all. We’re off to a very good start here. Let’s check the palate! Continue reading “Tasting: Longmorn-Glenlivet Pure Malt 12 yo (1980s)”
Dram data: Distillery: Benromach
Bottler: official bottling
Age: 19-20 years
Limitation: 3000 bottles
Casks: 1st fill oak casks
uncoloured / unchillfiltered Whiskybase link
20 years ago, Gordon & Macphail brought back Benromach distillery and started distilling again. To commemorate this occasion, they bottled a 20th anniversary edition of 19-20 yo whiskies, made during the first year the distillery was back up and running. Just 3000 bottles are available (400 at the distillery) and should be hitting stores at the time of posting in spring 2018. Since the distillery sent over a sample for a tweet tasting it would be a shame not to do proper tasting notes. Let’s dive in!
The nose has a bit of an alcoholic kick at first. This will work nicely with a bit of water, but let’s stay with “neat” for a while! There’s the tiniest hint of signature Benromach smoke paired with pepper and citrus – and then the fruits appear – strawberries, strawberry-flavoured gummy bears (is there such a thing?), red apples and red pears, condensed apricot juice with flower petals on top (no FWP!). A nice balance between cask and spirit, not overdone on either side. Time to add a few drops of water! Ah! That worked wonders, unearthing a hint of earthiness and a hint of oak, balancing out the whisky. A rock-solid, well-made dram. Let’s check the palate! Continue reading “Tasting: Benromach 1998 20th anniversary bottling”
Dram data: Distillery: Glen Grant
Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Age: 45 years
Limitation: 1121 bottles
Casks: 4 refill US hogsheads, 1 first fill sherry butt
probably chill filtered; uncoloured Whiskybase link
First whisky review of the year 2018 – let’s make it count! I’ve tried a few fairly well-aged Glen Grants from G&M before, some “overdone”, some stellar. This one is made up of mostly American oak casks, which is a very promising sign!
Aaaaaah! The nose promises great things! That old-timey smell which nothing but good wood and long age can give a good distillate! We’re entering e beekeeper’s dusty wood workshop. Wax is in the air, mixed with barrel-aged honey stored in grandfather’s oak cupboard, a bouquet of summer flowers hanging upside down to dry. We also get a whiff of caramelised ginger, oranges, baked sweet apples with cinnamon and cloves. This is absolutely beautiful, light, yet sophisticated, the oak influence is there but in no way overbearing. Fingers crossed this profile holds up on the palate!Continue reading “Tasting: Glen Grant 45 yo 1966-2012 by Gordon & MacPhail”
Dram data: Distillery: Miltonduff
Bottler: Whisky Circle Pinzgau
Age: 10 yo
Casks: Hogshead #381
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Oh boy, I’ve really let things slide a bit, it’s been a while since the last review. Let’s make it a special one then! Malt mate Rainer sent over a sample of a 10yo Miltonduff – bottled for the 10th anniversary of the Whisky Circle Pinzgau. Let’s dive in without further ado!
Colour: ripe straw
The nose … oh, that’s a strange one – in a good way. An olfactory puzzle. Initially, there’s a waft of alcohol, not surprising at 10 years of age, followed by “green” notes. Errr… caramelised cucumber? Is there even such a thing? Cucumber water with a pinch of vanilla, freshly cut herbs, green apples, rhubarb and apple-rhubarb pie. Told you it’s a strange one! Adding a few drops of water releases a waft of coconut with a few fruits trailing behind – slightly sour grapes and gooseberries! Let’s check the palate!
Dram data: Distillery: Dufftown
Bottler: The house of MacDuff
Age: ca. 31
Casks: Sherry Butt CM156
uncoloured / unchillfiltered Whiskybase link
People save special whiskies for special occasions, but sometimes it’s drinking a special whisky on an ordinary day that makes for a special occasion. It’s not every day you get to drink a 1979 Dufftown (or any indie Dufftowns, for that matter…), so let’s see if this malt does indeed make this mundane evening special!
Big, bold, dry Oloroso sherry on the nose. Boom. That was to be expected, looking at the colour of the whisky. Huge sherry, European oak and, hello? Where’s the spirit character? Doesn’t really knock me off my socks initially, to be honest, but let’s dive deeper and give it some time! We’ve got liquorice, wood polish, an oak wood tray filled with herbs (including wormwood) and propolis sprinkled on top, distilled plums and cherries, with cherry stone bitterness. The distillate and alcohol give a quite noticeable, fresh, zesty top note. This does nose more like a 10 to 15-year-old whisky filled into very active Sherry casks rather than something from 1979. With a few drops of water, the lighter alcoholic and citrus notes gain influence. Let’s check the palate!Continue reading “Tasting: Dufftown 1979-2010 “The Golden Cask””
Dram data: Distillery: Caperdonich
Age: 39 yo
Limitation: 462 bottles
unchillfiltered / uncoloured Whiskybase link
This is the last one in the trilogy of whiskies distilled in the 1970s at now “lost distilleries”, bottled for the 175th anniversary of the independent bottler Cadenhead’s. Unlike the Convalmore, I’ve got a slightly bigger sample, so let’s give it a thorough taste!
This is the most heavily sherried whisky of this release! The nose is immediately filled with deep, dark, bold aromas. Oak floorboard polished with wax (but not too oaky!), liquorice, cherry and plum syrup, herbal Swiss cough drops rubbed in allspice and forgotten for a few years in a rusty tin box. In fact, can I please call this a fruity cough syrup for grown ups? In a good way, of course! Not much sweetness going on, which is good, but the cask is definitely strong and not much distillery character remains – which is to be expected from a sherry monster of such a calibre. Still a very good balance between oak and fruit, this has not yet gone overboard! Let’s check the palate!Continue reading “Tasting: Caperdonich 1977 39 yo – Cadenhead’s 175th anniversary”