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
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: 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: Convalmore
Age: 40 yo
Limitation: 522 bottles
unchillfiltered / uncoloured Whiskybase link
Another whisky in the stunning lineup to celebrate Cadenhead’s 175th anniversary! I only have a very small sample left, so I’ll make the best of it to get my first tasting notes for a Convalmore up!
The nose is still surprisingly vibrant and alive for a 40 yo whisky! Definitely not an overoaked, dead dram (hey, I’ve seen it happen, they usually come in crystal decanters and expensive lacquered boxes!)! A massive waft of orange peel up front, mixed with gooseberries, apricots, mangos, sweet grapes, pickled ginger – let’s call it a seasonal (summery) fruit basket. But there’s more to it! A few mint leaves rubbed onto a lacquered oak box (ahem) held together by a leather belt, a cinnamon stick and a pinch of ground allspice. Noses more like a 25 yo whisky at first, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, does it? Give it time and time and time again, and it settles down, with the fruity notes getting darker / more condensed. Continue reading “Tasting: Convalmore 1977 40 yo – Cadenhead’s 175th anniversary”
Dram data: Distillery: Benriach
Bottler: official bottling
Bottled: ca. 2016
unchillfiltered; uncoloured Whiskybase link
It’s been quite a while since I last had a Benriach, a distillery I’ve often had a bit of trouble with (with exceptions, such as the rather nice daily dram the 12 yo is). So let’s try this 20 year-old sipling!
The nose is very promising upon first contact, soft and mellow, yet rich, with an “aged” base and heavily sherried! Old banana, banana chips, vanilla sauce, sweet grapes, some pickled ginger, fresh figs, rum-soaked plums and juicy sultanas. The fruity component rests on a bed of slight cask smoke, a whiff of dunnage warehouse and spices – cloves and cinnamon come to mind. Rich, juicy, fruity and dark, without too much wood, just about right for a 20 yo dram. Continue reading “Tasting: Benriach 20 yo”
Dram data: Distillery: undisclosed
Bottler: The Whisky Agency
Age: 40 years
Casks: Fino Sherry Butt
unchillfiltered; uncoloured Whiskybase link
When you get the chance to taste a stunning dram like this one, you better bring your tasting notebook with you! Because it was originally handwritten, this review is slightly shorter than the usual ones, but I’ll try to keep it interesting nonetheless!
The nose promises great things right from the first contact. Deep and rich, with old, sweet tropical fruits. We’ve got Mango, papaya, dried apricots, all stored on the oak shelving of an old-style Scottish candy shop with un-lit beeswax candles being stored nearby. Very rich, dense and interwoven, a style only lots and lots of time and a good cask can create. Continue reading “Tasting: Speyside Region 1975 40 yo by The Whisky Agency”
It’s been a while a long time since part three of the #dram16 stories, but better late than never, right? *ahem*. Well, #dram17 is around the corner so no better time than the present to relive some memories!
The best stories in life happen by accident. We weren’t supposed to do anything that morning. My brother and I didn’t get tickets for any exciting events so our plan was to drop our friend Jo off at Ballindalloch distillery and then drive on to Glenlivet for a breakfast, for which we had bought tickets. Who buys tickets for breakfast anyway? Crazy!
Getting out of the car at Ballindalloch distillery we were greeted warmly by Mr. Russell, the distillery’s founder and owner of the Ballindalloch Estate. As we later heard, he personally greets everybody who makes the effort to visit his distillery. He’s even there every morning at 7 a.m. to meet Colin, the distiller. Feeling properly welcome, my brother and I couldn’t resist asking whether we could “hop on” the tour since we were already there and all. Long story short – and a popular vote by all of those who had booked onto the tour later – we were on and found ourselves in the distillery’s comfy lobby, sitting in armchairs, a cup of tea in our hand and listening to the brilliant and ever so cheeky “tour guide” Brian telling us everything there was to know about the distillery. This surprise tour would turn out to be a real highlight of the entire festival – way over two hours of in-depth, completely un-rushed, un-branded, no-BS enjoyable time. Continue reading “Speyside trip 2016: Part four – a surprise tour at Ballindalloch, a surprise “lunch” at Glenlivet, a not-so-surprising tasting with Dave Broom and Martine Nouet book launch”
Dram data: Distillery: Mortlach
Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Age: 58 years
Limitation: 347 bottles
Casks: 1st Fill Sherry Butt
chillfiltered and uncoloured Whiskybase link
Let’s review the oldest whisky in the house – 58-year-old Mortlach, to be exact… just because it’s Christmas!
The nose starts out surprisingly restrained. Not an over-oaked dram at all, as I initially feared. Delicate even, but what a nose! Lots going on in the glass! A myriad of warm, sweet, dried fruits. Seriously! An abundance of dried plums, cherries, figs and a sneaky date as well. But oh so mellow and as elegant as dried fruits can be! Of course we’ve also got spices. But mellowed, gentle spices, no harshness at all. Cloves, a cinnamon stick, bay leaves and allspice. And herbs. Wormwood, perhaps? But that’s not all, of course. The fruits and spices are accompanied by cherry-flavoured pipe tobacco with black cavendish, the leather jacket of an orchard worker, an bee-keeper’s oak cabinet and a slice of chocolate fruit cake. Dense, interwoven, layered, “aged” and still very elegant. What a nose! I really hope the palate will be the same! Continue reading “24 drams till Christmas 2016 #24: Mortlach 1954 58yo by Gordon & MacPhail”
Dram data: Distillery: Macallan
Bottler: Official bottling
Casks: 7 different types
unchillfiltered and uncoloured Whiskybase link
The Macallan, probably one of the most widely recognised luxury whisky brands in the world, released their 2nd “edition” whisky, this time made up of no less than seven different cask types. It would be rude not to give it a proper review after being given a blind sample for a competition amongst malt mates!
The nose opens with dense, heavily sherried, aged aromas. You could bury your nose in there for a long time. Let me rephrase that – you CAN! The European oak spices dominate, paired with mixed sherry impressions. Cinnamon, star anise and a pinch of nutmeg rubbed on a new leather jacket lying on a boardroom with old oak flooring. Raisins, caramelised ginger, dark chocolate too.
Very interesting and dense – but after close to a quarter of an hour in the glass and having taken a sip something happens: The nose gets much lighter, less “dark” and intense. Most whiskies improve with time in the glass, this one, strangely, seems to lose. A LOT! This happened to me on the first, blind tasting and now upon retasting as well. Let’s see what the palate has in store! Continue reading “24 drams till Christmas 2016 #11: The Macallan Edition No.2 NAS”
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