Single malt whisky - tasting notes

07 Nov 2011

Spirits in the Sky 2011

Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in * News

Yesterday I went to Leuven for the Spirits in the Sky festival (5th edition if I’m not mistaken). It’s organised by our Belgian importer The Nectar so the brands in their portfolio (too many to sum up these days) are the main attraction. It’s a good place to find out about the new stuff that’s going to hit the shelves.


Cardhu 1984 Whisky Agency FunghiFestival highlights

Here are some of them most interesting new things I was able to try. Most of these will be reviewed in depth in the following weeks.

  • Strathmill 1974 (44,4%, Daily Dram)
  • Miyagikyo 1988 for La Maison du Whisky
  • Bruichladdich 5yo vatting by Jim McEwan for The Nectar’s 5th Anniversary, Château d’Yquem finish
  • Glenallachie 38yo 1973 (44%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon cask #11018)
  • Glen Grant 1972 (Whisky Agency “Private Stock”)
  • Cardhu 27yo 1984 (52,6%, Whisky Agency)
  • Port Ellen 27yo 1983 (55,5%, The Whiskyman)



Ardbeg 1974 / 1992 Cadenhead

And two excellent oldies:

  • – Talisker 1957 (53,3%, G&M Cask 1989)
  • – Ardbeg 18yo 1974 (57,7%, Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection 1992, 150th Anniversary bottling)

Of course there were also a few disappointments. Maybe not bad whisky, but expectations were higher than the actual result for the GlenDronach 21yo Parliament (clean but too sticky, too caramelly), the new Bruichladdich 10yo ‘The Laddie Ten’ and sadly also the new official Brora 32yo (see comments).

I was told there would be one more official Brora after this, a Brora 40 years old. Let’s hope it will be outstanding and not priced with Taiwan in mind.




The Whisky Agency masterclass “not yet bottled”

Carsten Ehrlich, the driving force behind The Whisky Agency, brought five samples to the festival from casks that were yet to be bottled. We had a chance to try them (blind) and select our favourite which will be bottled as a special edition Whisky Agency & Spirits in the Sky in the near future. Carsten doesn’t like to host tastings, so Mario Groteklaes had to take his place.

Whisky Agency masterclassThe first three samples were Bowmore 1999 (focused on oily peat, not complex but good drinking whisky), Glen Scotia 1992 (dirty sherry, old-style and definitely not my cup of tea) and a typical Glen Elgin 1984 (similar to the Daily Dram release of last year).

Then there was a terrific Glen Grant 1972 (sherry hogshead) with a superb fruity / jammy nose (cherries, apricot pie, honeysuckle) and a fruity albeit slightly tannic profile in the mouth. Similar to the Glen Grant 1972 bottled for The Whisky Fair 2009.

This Glen Grant was chosen by our tasting committee, although a lot of people preferred sample number 5, a Tomatin 1976. We’ve had quite a lot of these and it’s easy to recognize the tropical fruits. High quality again (some said the best Tomatin 76 so far, especially on the palate) – a close second place.

Keep in mind that all five will be bottled at one time or another (some probably with Liquid Sun or Liquid Library labels). I know many people will look out for the Tomatin but personally I still think the Glen Grant was the best choice!

Spirits in the Sky 2011 Ruben Luyten 2011-11-07
  • Jelle

    The strathmill was stunning imo :-)

  • Rob Borghmans

    nice review of the TWA masterclass. As you mentioned my pick of the day was the Tomatin, but closely followed by the Glen Grant. Let’s watch out for them when they hit the shops.

    Unfortunately the whole masterclass went a little bit too fast to really enjoy all the samples and get all the flavors out of it. What’s your opinion on this ?

  • Charlie

    Wow, another Tomatin 1976 from The Whisky Agency?

  • Ruben

    @Rob: I immediately picked out n°4 or 5, but you’re right, it was a little rushed to investigate in depth. Next time, bring sample bottles and take your time to try them again 😉

    @Charlie: yes and a very good one!

  • Sam Gutenwik

    You did not like the latest Brora OB 32y? It surprises me very much. I thought it was fantastic, the best annual release since 2007.

  • Ruben

    At the festival, I sniffed it for ten minutes and had a small sip. I’ve just tried the rest of my sample in depth and I have to say I was wrong. It’s really good, I’ll post my review in a couple of days.

  • Quakelord

    Hello Ruben!
    I´m a big fan from your Homepage ..
    Which Tomatin 1976 did you tast???
    Thank you!

  • Ruben

    They were 5 samples of casks that have not been bottled yet. They will be bottled in the near future, but nobody knows the details. I will keep you updated as soon as I find out more.

  • Quakelord

    Thank you!

  • Mark Dermul

    It was the third edition of Spirits in the Sky (not the 5th). I’m soooo sorry I had to miss this edition (family commitments).

  • Mark Dermul

    Update: 4th edition, but 3rd in Leuven.

  • Ruben

    I’m pretty sure the first edition (Liège) was in 2007, I was there. Did they skip a year then?

  • Maie

    5th Edition, for sure…2007 in Liege, 2008-2011 in leuven, 2012 also…

    Glad you liked the Samples; next year we will have 2 Tastingrooms to have a bit more time. But 40 min for 5 whiskies : could work if you try hard 😉

    @ Ruben : come’on Ruben, my name….

  • Ruben

    Woops, too many ooo’s. Corrected Mario!

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December 2015
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Coming up

  • 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)

1935 notes by Ruben

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