Yamazaki 12 Year Old is a small step up from the 10yo which used to be the youngest expression in the core range of this pioneering Japanese distillery, until they launched a no-age Distiller’s Reserve last year and discontinued the 10.
Back in 1984, when this 12yo first hit the market, it was actually the first truly commercial Japanese whisky. Look where they are today…
Yamazaki 12 yo (43%, OB 2013)
Nose: starts oily, even quite dusty. Malty and grainy core that slowly grows fruitier. Peach and apple with light vanilla. Dried flowers and hay. A faint minty edge too. Mouth: relatively thick and creamy but a little middle-of-the-road. Some fruits (apples) and honey, with delicate sweet spices (cinnamon mostly). Hints of dried coconut. Maybe the lightest hint of peat. Finish: medium length, slightly biscuity with cinnamon, sweet wood and honey.
This Yamazaki 12 Years is a fine malt, but not one that will stick with me. Of course the 18 Year Old is easily twice as expensive nowadays, but I’d save my money for that one any time. Around € 80.
Tamdhu Batch Strength is the latest high-strength addition to the core range, which complements the existing Tamdhu 10 Year Old. It was matured in a combination of American and European oak sherry casks (a large proportion being first-fill) and bottled at a generous 58,8% alcohol.
Tamdhu Batch Strength
(58,8%, OB 2015, Batch #001)
Nose: folds open nicely. Juicy fruits (red apples, sultanas and berries) and lots of nutty notes (hazelnuts and walnuts). Rose pepper. Malty sweetness and a whiff of vanilla. Finish: rich and sweet, but increasingly peppery and spiced. Cinnamon buns and vanilla cake. Oranges and berries again. Heavy caramel / sticky toffee pudding in the background. Coffee beans and chocolate. Some light (spirit) sulphur as well. Finish: long, spicy, with roasted notes and hints of dried apricots.
This is an intense, spiced up version of the regular Ten. A similarly bloated, slightly sulphury style with much more punch this time. Around € 70.
A Linkwood 1987, bottled by The Whisky Agency in October 2014. Reviews are rare, so it’s still available in stores.
Linkwood 27 yo 1987 (47,3%, The Whisky Agency ‘Perfect Dram’ 2014, rum finish, 179 btl.)
Nose: holding the middle between mildly fruity notes (overripe apple and banana) and grassy notes (hay, wet leaves). Dried herbs and a slight mustiness. Eucalyptus tea. Light pepper. Mouth: again mildly fruity (melon, apple) with herbal honey and different kinds of tea. A bit of salted caramel. Eucalyptus again, a little ginger as well, bringing a gentle bitterness. Finish: long, even more herbal, with aniseed and grapefruit zest.
Good Linkwood, but not great. Totally outclassed by the Linkwood 1984 that was presented by the same bottler simultaneously. Around € 175.
The Whisky Experience in Edinburgh released this 21 years old blend commemorating the opening of the new visitor experience. It was quite expensive (£ 100) so it was still available until recently. They also had a 25 years old version (blue label).
I’ve read somewhere that it is made up of 60% grain whisky (mainly Girvan) and 40% malt whiskies from Mortlach, Balvenie, Aberfeldy and Bowmore. Not sure how reliable this information is though.
Nose: a pleasant nose with no harsh notes whatsoever. Sweetish notes (stewed fruits and a little toffee) with a hint of sherry. Also leafy notes, eucalyptus and oily touches. Nicely old-style, almost a recreation of common 1960’s blends, only fresher. Mouth: similar style, quite sweet, fruity and creamy, with some floral hints and a whiff of smoke. Serge seems to think this has FWP – maybe his glass wasn’t rinsed properly. Finish: medium long, slightly grainier now, but pleasantly fruity again.
A very decent blend, with nice hints of what blends were like 50 years earlier. Thanks, Jelle.
Benromach Organic is made from biological barley and matured in new American oak barrels from sustainable forests. It meets the rigorous UK Soil Association standards for growing the ingredients, distillation, maturation and bottling – hence Organic.
This concept was unique in 2006 when it was launched. Nowadays it’s still rare – few distilleries manage to certify entirely. We’re trying the latest Benromach Organic 2008 edition, matured in virgin American oak casks.
Benromach Organic 2008 (43%, OB 2014)
Nose: still clearly a member of the family, but less un-modern than the 10 yo. Malty sweetness, vanilla and citrus (oranges mainly). Banana. Just a hint of dust and peat. A little mint, clove and liquorice, as well as a clear green touch (wet grass). Mouth: grainy and surprisingly oaked (virgin oak!). Quite earthy and spicy: nutmeg, pepper, liquorice. Green tea. Some melon. Hints of peat again, but very subtle. Finish: long and earthy, pleasantly dry, with some medicinal notes, ginger and herbs.
A nicely ‘green’ whisky, slightly less unique than the 10yo or even the 5yo, but nonetheless a great style. The Ten still wins hands down, especially since you’re paying a premium for the certificates and all that. Around € 65.
Whiskymanufaktur is a small chain of whisky shops in and around Berlin, Germany. It was started by Lars Wiebers, also the founder of the independent bottler Jack Wiebers Whisky World (Jack is his nickname, thank you Herbert for confirming).
This Glendronach is a mixture of bourbon and sherry casks, which makes it kind of an independent version of the GlenDronach Octarine.
Nose: starts with light whiffs of sulphur, but it freshens up after a while. Lots of sticky toffee pudding and caramel notes, as well as (slightly overripe) oranges and yellow apples. Raisins. Nut cake. Stewed berries and hints of vanilla. Mouth: sweet, creamy and vanilla’d. Not very complex, but easy drinking at this strength. Baked apples and toffee again. Malty notes and spicy oak. I’m sure this would have been quite spicy with a bit more alcohol. Finish: rather long, still some fruity sweetness but also woody touches.
This Glendronach is not as exciting as official (full sherry) bottlings, but it’s a good value drinker’s whisky. Around € 45.
Bruichladdich makes different profiles – let’s dive right in and find out what this 2004 cask is all about.
(55,5%, Malts of Scotland 2015, bourbon barrel, MoS 15010, 312 btl.)
Nose: okay, so it’s peated. Very interesting actually, it’s no ‘in your face’ peat but instead a kind of farmy smell that I really like. Not quite a Brora farminess, but still. Wet forest soils and moss. Plastics. Mashed potatoes as well. Chives? A sea breeze. Old-style in a way. Hmm… Mouth: oily and peaty, with a weird side that holds the middle between fragrant herbs and lemon soap (but without the soapiness – does that make sense?). Hints of antiseptics. Lots of lemon peel and stem ginger. Earthy peat. Peppery heat. Finish: medium length, peppery and lemony.
Not sure what to write, except: try it yourself. It’s a bit of a weird thing with ups and downs, but definitely not a Laddie to avoid. Around € 80.
An independent Macallan, where do you find that nowadays? Especially from an ex-bourbon cask. It was bottled by The Whisky Agency in 2013 as a Formosa exclusive (that’s the name of Taiwan when it was in Dutch hands). Just 36 bottles…
Nose: very much on apples and pears, fairly neutral. Hints of sweet beer and Calvados. Ginger biscuits and almonds. Develops some damp leafy notes after a while and hints of porridge. After a long wait also nice orange blossom water. Mouth: very sweet, with plenty of pears and apples again, as well as berries and breakfast cereals. A funny mix of maturity and new-make. A nice waxiness as well. Honey. Thick spirit with little external influences. Finish: long, jammy, picking up both grassy notes and a little vanilla latte.
I can’t say I was hugely impressed by this kind of naked Macallan, but it’s flawless spirit. And I believe the name alone works wonders in Asia.