Single malt whisky - tasting notes

01 Dec 2010

Malt Maniacs Awards 2010

Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in * News

Here are the Gold medal winners of this year’s Malt Maniacs Awards (no less than 12):

Have a look at the full score card

Of 262 entries, 219 received a medal. Yes, I also find that a high percentage but remember that bottlers and distilleries are sending their “best of the best”.

The conclusions are remarkably similar to last year: GlenDronach came in first with one of its (already legendary) 1972 releases. Congratulations to them, it’s clear that they have some stunning 1970’s casks waiting to be bottled. Also, it’s obvious that Karuizawa (as well as other Japanese brands) is still very popular. Note that the new Karuizawa 1968 came in below a few 1970’s bottlings. La Maison du Whisky is still the king of proprietary independent releases.

Kudos to Glenfarclas for its 40yo! It’s not very common for a (large batch) standard bottling to get such a high score.

I’m glad I already picked up the Caperdonich 1972 by Duncan Taylor – by far the cheapest option in this list, which gives it the best quality / price ratio (as often with old Caperdonich).

Malt Maniacs Awards 2010 Ruben Luyten 2010-12-01
  • Steffen Bräuner

    I noted that japanese has done very well, and that Kavalan and Amrut is also doing very very well.


  • Luc Timmermans

    Yes Kudos to Glenfarclas. That 40yo is indeed a stunning whisky. I’m not at all surprised it did better than the over-rated Karuizawa 1968 !!

  • Luc Timmermans

    Oh yes….and just like all previous years…..all GOLD medal winners are coming from a sherry cask.

  • Dede

    Are you sure that the Caperdonich, with only 136 bottles, is an ex-sherry cask ?

  • Ruben

    It’s probably the only exception. As often with Duncan Taylor, the bottle only says “matured in an oak cask”. It could be a refill sherry though.

  • Charlie

    Wow! I am a proud owner of the GlenDronach 1972 Cask #700!

  • MARS

    did you know where it is possible to find a bottle of the glendronach?

    I have one bottle of the karuizawa 1976 and 2 of the caperdonich 1972(tryed to get a third one, but too late).

    The glengoyne perfect dram is still available on TWE I think.
    Maybe I will buy the glenfarclas, too many good review on this one.(but 245€ is a lot of money, still)

  • Charlie

    The GlenDronach 1972 Cask #700 was sold out quickly in Taiwan today. The sale price soared to around €500 following the MMA 2010 announcement. Fortunately, I managed to grab a few bottles at around €360. I was told that some people might toss it on whiskyauction.

    Yes, too many gold medals for this year. Therefore, I decided not to buy all of them. Otherwise, my wife will kick me in the butt when she finds out!

  • MARS


    if you have one bottle left of this one I am very interested(for my glendronach collection).
    I can also exchange it for something else.

    360€ is already very expensive. I was trying for some time to get one of the glendronach release for taiwan(they are others than this one)but didn’t find anyone who agree to send me one (yet).

    Anyway, I am not mad enough yet to badly want any bottle. The choice is quite huge already.

  • Duffer_dk

    Malt Maniacs – Glenmorangie PX Sonnalta – from 73 to 90 points, average 84
    Jim Murray – Whisky Bible 2010: Best Scotch New Brand – 96.5 Points
    I wonder if they tasted the same whisky… :-)

  • Michael

    This sealed a purchase of Glenfarclas 40YO for me :-)
    I missed Karuizawa 1975 (I thought at that time that I bought too many Karuizawa bottles and was afraid that my wife would lose it ;-))

  • Ruben

    Concerning the Sonnalta: I can understand that this modern kind of sherry maturation is great for some people but strange for others.

  • Jonathan Matthews

    As a frequent/occasional visitor to Sherry country in and around Jerez de la Frontera in south-west Spain I have had the pleasure of visiting some of the finest bodegas in this area over a period of many years: Gonzalez Byass (who, incidentally, have just opened their new Sherry and tapas bar, Bar Pepito, in Kings Cross – I can heartily recommend it), Harveys, Garveys, Sandeman, and also one or two of the smaller independent cellars that still operate within the old town. However, as a new convert to the wonders of single malts – I know, I know, converts make the worst fanatics, especially when they start late in life – it came as a welcome surprise that there were so many malts which had been finished with Sherry, such as Oloroso, Pedro Ximenez and I understand, even a Manzanilla from the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

    So while having a few drams of The Macallan Sherry Oak with some friends of mine recently we got to discussing the role of sherry in finishing malt whiskies. Judging by the recent sale of the Macallan 64 year old at auction in Sotheby´s, New York, for the princely sum of 460,000$ it seems clear that Sherry oak casks have played a very significant part in shaping the character of certain malts. According to their website ´the Macallan 64 years old is the oldest Macallan ever released by the distillery in its 186 year old history. It has been vatted from three casks all built from sherry seasoned Spanish oak. The first was filled in 1942, the second in 1945 and the third in 1946).

    From what I can tell most single malts can be finished in any one of a variety of American bourbon casks, American and European oak sherry butts, French Limousin oak barrels or even Portuguese port pipes – clearly somethng for all tastes, Old World or New.
    As we were sipping away the debate centred on which of the two, sherry or wood, played the biggest role in shaping and defining the malt´s final character.

    However, as the evening drew to a close we were still no clearer on which of the two was the major player.
    Presumably the wood can be sourced from any forest and then is subejct to the tender loving care of the cooperages in their respective regions: Louisville for Bourbon in Kentucky, Jerez for Oloroso etc in Andalucía, and so on. But what about the liquid itself? Is a Bourbon from outside Kentucky as good/authentic as a Bourbon from Kentucky.
    Equally, if the wood comes from a Jerez cooperage can a wine similar to Sherry eg. Montilla from Córdoba, be used to season the butts?
    Having looked at the fine array of single malts currently on the market which are labelled as matured in Sherry oak barrels, The Macallan Sherry Oak, Old Pulteney 23 year Old Limited Edition, Laphroaig Three Wood, to name but a few, Sherry seems to occupy a pre-eminent position in the finishing process.

    I would be grateful if someone could clarify this matter about the provenance of the respective fillings for both Bourbon barrels and Sherry casks.
    Many thanks,

    Jon Matthews

  • Ruben

    That is like asking to clarify the importance of the grape variety in wine. Small libraries have been written about this subject.
    In a way the wood is simply the transporter and a filter for the sherry flavours that are transmitted to the whisky. Fino and oloroso finished whisky can be totally different, even if they both use Spanish Oak, so the type of sherry is probably more important for the end result than the type of wood that was used.
    Surely Montilla-Moriles “sherry” is used to season whisky casks, Oban Distillers Edition clearly does and I’m sure many others do so without actually admitting it.

  • Duffer_dk

    I’m a great fan of sherry casks – especially Oloroso.
    Funny you should mention Oban Distillers Edition, I just tasted that one (1993) yesterday. That was an experience I could do without… !!! Yakk…

  • Michael

    I was very hesitant to comment on it but I do find a spread of scores, in this and other tastings a bit puzzling:

    Yamazaki 1995/2010 – lowest 78, highest 93
    Hanyu 21yo 1988/2009 ‘Noh’ – lowest 70, highest 94

    That is why, I do not “trust” many tests and I come back to this and one other whisky Web site.

  • Ruben

    I don’t see the problem with a bit of diversity in the scores. It just takes some time and effort to get to know all the Maniacs and to find out whose preference you can relate to.
    It could be interesting to make some kind of profile for each of the MM’s :-)

  • Michael

    Absolutely, Ruben. I see that BB does not like Karuizawa but 68 points for Karuizawa 1985/2009 … 😉

  • Ruben

    Well, Bert is known for making bold statements once in a while 😉

  • MARS

    Bert was hard with his rating with almost all the whiskies.

    Some whiskies are not consensual and some poeple will like and others will hait the very same whisky.
    It’s also more easy to give a bad note when it’s tatsted blind.

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November 2015
« Oct    

Coming up

  • Glenlivet 1981 (#9468 for TWE)
  • Lagavulin Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Talisker Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
  • Mortlach 1959/1960 (G&M Royal Wedding)

1933 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.