There are two reasons to visit the Limburg Whisky fair – the first one is the people you meet, the second one is the whisky that’s available there. This Johnnie Walker Red label, bottled in the 30’s or 40’s (let me know if you can narrow it down further), is an example for the latter. Never having tried an old version of this extremely well-known blend I thought it would be a good investment of 10€ for a 2cl sample… let’s give it a try, shall we?
Colour: light amber
The nose reminds me of an old mechanic’s workshop. A concrete floor soiled with several decades worth of oil and grease and freshly spilt cherry syrup mixed with extra dry vermouth. Lots of vermouth, actually. Perhaps the tiniest hint of smoke? Alcohol is noticeable on the nose, albeit only slightly. This has absolutely nothing in common with the modern variant, except for being on the “light and easy” side of things but let’s keep in mind that this has been sitting around for decades in unknown conditions and I’m lacking comparison. Let’s move on to the palate!
Dram data: Distillery: Royal Lochnagar
Bottler: official bottling
Age: 12 years
coloured / chill filtered Whiskybase link
While this should probably be tasted head to head with a recently bottled sipling, lacking a sample of one I’ll have to make do with what I’ve got – a Royal Lochnagar distilled in the “dark days” of the 1980s, bottles sometime in the 90s. Let’s see how this one fares!
Colour: light copper
The nose is quite delicate upon the first contact, with the alcohol vapours being somewhat noticeable. Once the nose cuts through that, there’s a tiny whiff of smoke – not peat smoke, mind you – on a base of sweet things! Vanilla, sweetened coconut milk, fudge, dried mango pieces, canned peaches and apricots with a pinch of ready-made spice mixture on top. This is very likeable indeed and quite a lot deeper than modern supermarket drams in this price range. Let’s see if it holds up on the palate!Continue reading →
Bottler: official Long John bottling
Distilled: late 60s/early 70s
Bottled: late 70s / early 80s
Age: 10 years
unknown filtering/colouring Whiskybase link
Colour: orange-ish gold
On the nose you immediately get a hard to define smell from yesteryear, something lost in modern day whisky. In this case it is comprised of waxy fruits, oranges, red apples, apricots and sweet tinned peaches+tangerines wrapped in wax paper. This reminds me of a 30 yo Tomatin I have yet to review – that kind of fruitiness is lost in modern whiskies. Very lovely stuff indeed. Not over-the-top complex or mid-90s score worthy, just oh so much more lovely than 99% of current mass-market supermarket whiskies (which, essentially, is what this was 30-some years ago). Back to the nose. The fruitiness is paired with background notes of an old leather book cover, pickled ginger, the tiniest hint of menthol, chewing gum base rubberiness (Hubba Bubba chewed on for 2 hours?) and a whiff of makeup powder sprinkled over an oak stave used for maturing Cointreau (as if…). Very delightful stuff indeed, perfect for this hot summer weather! Continue reading →
Dram data: Distillery: Dalmore
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: 70s to early 80s
Bottled: late 80s, early 90s
Age: 12 years
Most likely chill filtered and coloured Whiskybase link
Colour: dark orang-ey gold
Woohoo! my nose is finally working again and properly calibrated after being stuffed for well over a week! So it’s back to business with an old Dalmore 12, bottled in the mid-80s to early 90s. This might very well contain whisky distilled in the 70s! I’m excited! The nose is, well, recognisably Dalmore-ish! Light, fruity, sweet and pleasant but not without depth. The first thing you notice is a sweet – but not cloying – rich sweet sherry and fruit sweetness. Px sherry, dried dates and figs, dried pears for making fruit-bread, plum spread, seasoned with Swiss herbal cough lozenges and a dash of plum distillate (with cracked kernels!). Continue reading →
Dram data: Distillery: Four Roses
Bottler: bottled in Austria
Age: 6 years
Casks: fresh oak casks
Alcohol: 86 Proof (43%)
unchillfiltered; natural colour Whiskybase link (not the exact same bottle!)
This post is dedicated to grandparents who don’t really drink “hard stuff” and stash bottles they once received as gifts for decades in their cellar! Cheers!
The nose opens with old vanilla pods – the kind you left lying around over night, all scraped out. Overall light, yet flavourful. Slightly alcoholic with an acetone tingle – a common occurrence in Bourbons, not influenced by decades in the bottle. It is, however, quite a bit more mellow than modern bourbons, soft and gentle, not as loud on the corn nor the cask influence and with gentle spices (cinnamon and cloves) not usually found in American oak. Continue reading →