Ledaig 15 yo 1997 (51,1%, Liquid Sun 2012, refill hogshead, 265 btl.)
Nose: starts with a sourness of berries, slightly rancid butter and tobacco juice. Not unpleasant. Cider apples. Hints of tequila. Peat as well, of course, with charcoal and tar, but not overwhelmingly so. Sea spray and seaweed. Hints of bicycle tube to top off. Mouth: a deep, tarry and earthy taste. Soot and tobacco. Pepper. In the background I found a little candy sugar. Gentian. Again a few rubbery / plastic hints. Finish: long, very rooty. Growing slightly medicinal. Salmiak and a herbal bitter edge.
This one is typical in the sense that the nose is a little quirky. On the palate it’s more straightforward with lots of tarry and earthy flavours.
An attempt to regain a balance after the much debated perfumy Auchentoshan by Master of Malt. Here’s another one of their recent bottlings, a 19 years old Springbank 1993. There were two casks, #129 and #482, both filled in the same year. At first it was said they could only bottle one, but now it seems both are available.
Springbank 19 yo 1993 (57,8%, Master of Malt 2012, hogshead #129, 221 btl.)
Nose: very good and multi-dimensional. Oranges, berries and peaches for sweetness, juniper and mint for spices. Macadamia nuts. A little chalk and candle wax too. Shoe polish. Typical and entertaining. Mouth: oily, quickly developing a big spicy dryness. Pepper. Again some peach (pits) and kumquats. Hints of tonic and aspirin, not uncommon for a Springbank. Cloves. A salty Manzanilla feeling as well. Herbal notes in the end. Finish: quite long, showing some cocoa, still a certain herbal bitterness and a whiff of pipe tobacco.
This Springbank finds a nice balance of sharp minerality and smooth fruitiness. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was told it was a Fino or Manzanilla cask. Available for around € 85.
Funny how I sometimes decide which whisky to review next. While thinking about a system to organize my samples, I noticed a small crack in the stopper of this sample. Although the safety closure was rather intact, it’s probably better to try it right away.
Nose: juicy and quite direct, with lots of citrus notes (clementines, warm oranges, fresher lemons) and plenty of mint. A bit of wet gravel and hay. Nice beeswax and pollen. Dandelions. There’s also a tiny bit of farminess in the background, which reminded me of the Clynelish 1974 for The Whisky Fair. Pretty great. Mouth: nice balance of juicy fruits (grapefruit, lemon, pineapple on syrup) and honey with a more pronounced earthy / peaty edge. Mint again. Mustard seed. A grassy / oaky bitterness in the end. Finish: long, staying right in between the fruits and the mineral sharpness.
Excellent stuff, another mix of Clynelish and Brora characteristics. Originally around € 100. Now easily € 250 and more in auctions.
Interesting, an Auchentoshan with stunning Bowmore characteristics… Distilled in 1984 and bottled last year by Master of Malt.
Auchentoshan 27 yo 1984 (58%, Master of Malt 2012, bourbon barrel, 209 btl.)
Nose: heady, slightly sharpish with some fresh sawdust and lemon. Unripe fruits (green apple, green plums) and plenty of floral notes. Dandelions, violets and hints of freshly cut grass. Mouth: immediately soapy. Lavender, roses, perfume… the dreadful FWP. Brrrr… not worth another sip, I’m afraid, but let’s be nice: there’s blueberry candy in the background. Finish: pepper with the same tangy, alcoholic and perfumy aftertaste.
Stanley P. Morrison bought Auchentoshan in 1984, after they had already acquired Bowmore earlier on. It seems they introduced (or at least experimented with) the same methods leading to the 1980′s Bowmore profile of cheap perfume. You should experience this. Once. And then avoid it at all cost, in my humble opinion. A strange addition to the usually highly recommendable bottlings by Master of Malt. Around € 115.
It has been a while… I’ve moved to a new house and my internet provider decided to create an administrative mess. A week without internet, phone or tv. Thanks to everyone who suggested to make it public on Twitter, suddenly it was taken to a higher gear.
Spirito DiVino is a beer and drinks shop in Wevelgem, Belgium. A small shop, but as they wanted to move into whisky, they decided to buy a parcel of Longmorn 1971 and stick their label onto it. It was not a huge success: everyone seemed to agree it was very good, but as a semi-official bottling it was expensive, and the small yield stayed available for a long time. As far as I know the shop didn’t venture another bottling.
(57,3%, OB for Spirito DiVino 2009, 56 btl.)
Nose: starts on apples, apricot jam and fruit tea, with a soft grassy side to it. Citrus, a little mint, sage and wax. There’s also a tropical touch (guava, banana) but less so than most of the 1975/1976 expressions. Fairly high on spices (nutmeg, ginger). Also a faint coastal note. Complex but not the most sexy version. Mouth: starts on oak spices and herbs, but after this a beautiful wave of fruits comes rushing in: pineapple, tangerine, pink grapefruit, banana and passion fruit. Overall more fresh / citrusy than warm / tropical again (more 1976 than 1975 if you like). Fades on fruit tea and a dryness from the oak. Finish: long, still citrusy and gingery.
A spicy and slightly oaky Longmorn of high quality. It surely wasn’t cheap at the time (around € 190), but even then it’s remarkable that this didn’t sell like hotcakes at the time. Now they’re gone.
Another very old Karuizawa, recently release by Number One Drinks from the stock that they bought from previous owner Mercian. This one is bottled from a 450 liter sherry butt filled in 1970.
Karuizawa 42 yo 1970 (64,3%, Number One Drinks 2012, sherry butt #6177, 326 btl.)
Nose: huge, clean sherry nose with dried fruits (dates, figs), fresh fruits (raspberries, plums, quinces, citrus) and a slightly curious (but quite enjoyable) smell of overdue bananas. Quite fragrant, with eucalyptus oil, polished cedar wood and hints of old roses. Cocoa powder. Turpentine. And a whole array of soft spices (cinnamon, ginger, cumin). Very rich. Mouth: whoa, hot. Full of raisins, plums, brambles, raspberries and oranges. A thick, jammy yet sparkling fruitiness. A peppery kick too (peppercorn and wasabi). Drying black thee and some woody tannins in the end. Finish: long, with a nutty dryness and spicy notes (pepper, clove, mint). Still some raisins.
This Karuizawa 1970 is showing the same kind of oakiness that’s present in most other 40+ whiskies, but the sherry brings enough fruits to make it a highly enjoyable experience. I prefer this one over the Karuizawa 1969 but at this price level shopping advice is probably less relevant anyway… Around € 600.
This is the second expression in the Peter Arkle range by anCnoc. The partnership, launched in April 2012, revolves around a series of limited anCnoc expressions presented in packaging designed by the artist. This No.2 is made up of 50% Spanish oak sherry butts and 50% American oak bourbon barrels from different vintages, some young and some grown up.
Nose: in line with the first expression by Peter Arkle. Still a little rubbery and unfresh impression at first. Lots of sticky toffee. Gradually moves towards figs, milk chocolate and more dried fruits. Honey. Quite a lot of oak too. Not my kind of sherry, but it gets away better than the first release after all. Mouth: not as punchy as I would have expected. Starts on baked apples with spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, aniseed) and a little caramel / sultana sweetness. After some time it looses the sweetness and trades it for more spices and slightly savoury notes with a light salty toffee twist and liquorice. Finish: not very long, spicy with some chocolate and a soft herbalness from the oak.
Better, but I’m not the biggest fan of the whisky inside these beautifully designed tubes. The Peter Arkle travel retail version is still my favourite. Around € 60. Available in the UK, USA, Russia and across selected European markets.
That Boutique-y Whisky Company is a series of single malt / single grain bottlings by the chaps from Master of Malt. They’re often taken from miniscule parcels of forgotten stock / lost casks / split cask leftovers. None of them carry age statements or other details, it’s just the distillery character that’s at the centre of this range. Obviously they are not single casks, most of the time it will be a blended (vatted) malt.
Plenty of thought has gone into the labeling. They’re hand-illustrated and most of them feature a well-known collector, blogger, writer… This Springbank batch #1 features Neil and Joel from Caskstrength.net.
Springbank batch #1
(54,6%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company 2012, 274 btl., 50 cl)
Nose: dry and oily, with flinty notes, lamp oil or graphite oil. Hints of dried algae and heather. Some paraffin. Very delicate hints of peat and smoke. Mouth: slightly sweeter, with some oranges and sweet lemon before it goes back to its Spartan side of ginger, grapefruit bitterness and briny notes. Again a bit of peat. Something of tequila too. In the end it goes back to a vague sweet fruitiness and honey. Finish: long, with liquorice roots, salt and heather.
All the typical Springbank elements are here, both the rounded side and – a tad louder – the austere coastalness. A nice vatting. Around € 75 for a 50 cl bottle, available from Master of Malt.