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.
Very few 1960’s casks of Karuizawa have been rescued from this lost distillery, the oldest one dating back to 1960. This one is a 400 litre ex-bourbon cask, most likely the oldest of this type.
Karuizawa 42 yo 1969 (61,3%, Number One Drinks 2012, bourbon cask #8183)
Nose: very bold bourbon oak influence. Different sorts of warm wood, sandalwood, cedar from cigar boxes, some thuja… In fact I like this kind of oakiness, it’s elegant and matches the oriental character. There’s also varnish and solventy notes. Leather. Underneath it has apricot jam, yellow plums and vanilla-coated berry cake. Touches of mint, with floral overtones. Mouth: this is where the wood starts to show more astrigency. Fruits are now heavily infused fruit tea. Slightly tangy ginger and clove as well. A little coconut oil. Unfortunately also a planky note which coats your mouth and a little tobacco sourness. Orange peel. Spruce needles. Again some flowery touches. Finish: long, quite floral and heady. Mint and traces of the apricot jam.
Of course the bourbon cask makes it difficult to compare, but I’d still say this is much closer to the Karuizawa 1968 than to the legendary Karuizawa 1967. The nose is too good to let it drop below 90 points, but on the palate I’m having some trouble with the abundance and dryness of the bourbon wood. Around € 750.
Next up in the new batch of Liquid Sun releases: a Littlemill 1988. There seems to be a real revival of Littlemill, now that the indies straightened the path there’s even an official 21 years old (which I’ve heard is not so great).
Littlemill 24 yo 1988 (52,9%, Liquid Sun 2012, refill bourbon hogshead, 326 btl.)
Nose: a rather grassy expression. Dried grasses, fresh chives, all the way to moss and musty cellars. Wet gravel. Then some paraffin and a little butter. A little menthol. It does develop some fruity notes (citrus and some green banana) but they’re shy – all quite typical but we’ve been spoiled by some surprisingly fruity Littlemills lately. Mouth: again quite green and grassy. Lots of citrus zest, grapefruit juice, oily lemon. Mint and ginger. Slightly simple but with a nice Riesling dryness. Also a soft leafy bitterness. Hints of liquorice. Finish: medium long, clean and citrusy.
A slightly “green”, zesty and dusty version of Littlemill, a little less seducing when compared to the slightly atypical versions that were released in the last few months. Probably around € 130.
In the near future there will be three new releases in the Classic series by The Whiskyman. Two of them are destined for a specific market (more info later) and the third is this Bowmore 2001 that’s bottled for three shops in Belgium and Holland: QV.ID, Single Malt Whisky Shop and Whiskysite.nl. It should be available in the next couple of days.
Bowmore 11 yo 2001 (50,6%, The Whiskyman 2013, bourbon cask, 240 btl.)
Nose: quite a gristy nose, with a deeply malty core. Hints of digestive biscuits and batter. A few buttery notes. Light charcoal notes, rather than real smoke or peat, and a vague ripe fruitiness in the background (I’d say banana and citrus). The longer you let it breathe, the fruitier it gets (nice tangerine after some time). Even a few farmy notes. More complex than you’d expect on first sight. Mouth: oily, more phenolic now, more coastal as well. Still these dough or batter associations. Liquorice and gentle peppercorns. Sweet citrus notes. Finish: medium long, warming and rather sweet, with balanced cold ashes and a soft earthiness.
In my view, Bowmore is the new Caol Ila. All these younger drams are faultless and more often than not very entertaining whiskies. And while other Islay whiskies are sometimes hard to get from indie bottlers, Bowmore is still readily available. Around € 65.
This cask of Glenglassaugh 1972 was selected by Andrea Caminneci, a German keeper of the Quaich and the owner of a wine & spirits importer and consultancy company.
Glenglassaugh 39 yo 1972 (57,5%, OB for Germany 2012, refill butt #2896, 516 btl.)
Nose: warm and exceptionally fruity, reminding me most of early 70’s Caperdonich or 60’s Longmorn. Think tropical fruits (bananas flambéed, mango, pineapple, blood orange, clementine), lots of mirabelles, white raisins and great beehive notes (honey and wax). Vanilla cake. Almonds. A few floral notes. Traces of menthol. Rather brilliant. Mouth: punchy and utterly fruity (the same banana, mirabelles, apricots, very ripe gooseberries, citrus, even a little strawberry). Then growing spicier (pepper, cinnamon, mint) with a hint of heather honey and soft herbal notes. Very elegant, really old-style fruitiness. Finish: long, with a similar balance of spices and deep fruity notes.
The best Glenglassaugh I’ve had. This was one of my highlights of 2012, no doubt, only we didn’t discover it in time for our yearly round-up. Let’s add it right away. Around € 400. That’s a lot of money, but it’s a wonderful whisky. Still a few bottles available. Thanks Herbert.
With Caperdonich dismantled (and two of its stills sold to the Belgian Owl distillery), I’m sure it will become more popular and bottlers will start to look for other interesting vintages apart from 1972.
This is a Caperdonich 1992, part of the new batch of Liquid Sun releases which is due to arrive in stores over the next few weeks.
Caperdonich 20 yo 1992 (51,9%, Liquid Sun 2012, refill hogshead, 303 btl.)
Nose: nicely aromatic, with a big banana fruitiness as well as citrus fruit gums and a hint of kirsch. Pineapple tarte tatin. Secondary grainy and gristy notes. Evolves on pepper, slightly musty and yeasty elements as well as on floral honey notes. Mouth: again this juicy barley, citrus and curiously youngish banana / marshmallow flavour, quickly accompanied by firm spicy notes now (chilli pepper, cloves). Some nuts and vanilla. Herbal tea, hay and an earthy note in the end. Even whiffs of smoke? Finish: medium long, half fruity, half herbal. Hints of lemongrass.
It’s surprising how medium-aged Caperdonich still has this slightly synthetic fruitiness and also shows other unusual notes like earthy notes. I’d love to know how this will behave after ten more years in a cask. Available soon, price unknown.
Everyone knows the Kilchoman distillery on Islay, but did you know they also act as an independent bottler? They have a series called MacBeatha (after the clan who lived near Kilchoman), presenting whisky from other Islay distilleries in the distillery shop. Note the bottle shape which is also used for official Kilchomans. This Bowmore 1997 was the fourth release in this series.
Nose: chalk, sea air, dry peat smoke, hay, lemon… pretty much everything you would expect of young Bowmore. Focused but rather simple perhaps. After a while some biscuity roundness comes out, with light vanilla. Mouth: the peat is quite heavy on the palate and it seems amplified by a strong peppery kick. Becomes earthy and slightly resinous with a leafy bitterness. Lemon balm. Cardamom. Liquorice. Finish: long, with grapefruit zest, herbs and a pinch of salt.
A very clean Bowmore, quite faultless but I’ve had more complex 1997 independent expressions that were cheaper as well. Around € 110.