Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Loch Lomond is Captain Haddock’s whisky, although taking advice from a comic figure is probably not the best idea. The distillery has several types of stills and produces both grain whisky and malt.

It has little fame but there were quite a few expressions: a no-age-statement Loch Lomond, a 12 Years Organic, a peated Green Label and this Loch Lomond 18 Years Old. Recently they were replaced with a single malt Loch Lomond Original and two blends, Loch Lomond Reserve and Signature.



Loch Lomond 18 Year OldLoch Lomond 18 yo (43%, OB +/- 2014)

Nose: not good. Quite vegetal, with cooked cabbage. A lot of toast with butter. Soaked porridge. Musty wood, gradually becoming sharper. Behind this there are overripe melon and some rotting oranges. It isn’t exactly making me smile. Mouth: decent attack, quite sugary with (fresher) oranges now and hints of toffee. However the bitterness of the wood returns. Some pepper. Harsher than a lot of blends actually. Something of burnt toast again. Finish: medum long, lemony and cardboardy, leaving an aftertaste of industrial alcohol.

In today’s world of standardized, computerized whisky production with few real failures, this feels like a dinosaur from a different era. It’s not good. Around € 70.

Score: 63/100

Remember the Glengoyne 1972 bottled by Malts of Scotland in 2012? Back then it was the whisky of the year for me and one of the best Glengoyne ever.

A couple of days ago I was thrilled to find out yet another Glengoyne 1972 had been bottled in the exclusive Warehouse Diamonds series. A bourbon cask this time, and only half the yield.



Glengoyne 1972 - Malts of Scotland - Warehouse DiamondsGlengoyne 42 yo 1972 (45,2%, Malts of Scotland ‘Warehouse Diamonds’ 2015, bourbon barrel, ref. Mos 15037, 132 btl.)

Nose: very typical with its warm fruitiness. Plenty of tangerine, kumquat, mirabelles and hints of mango. Some fruitcake. Tinned pineapple. Evolves on beehive notes like honey and beeswax. Hints of leather and mint. Mouth: oily and waxy start until the fruits take over. Apricots, pink grapefruit, papaya and echoes of passion fruit sherbet. Very tropical, with a wink at BenRiach, Longmorn and some Irish malts. Stays honeyed and excellently waxed, with hints of polished oak but no oaky dryness whatsoever. Finish: medium long, mildly dry, with fruits and traces of resinous honey.

I’m quite sure some people will say this is just as good as the sherry version, maybe even better. I think the sherry bottling has a slightly higher complexity, but this is a glorious profile as well (with less oaky notes as well). Already one of the highlights of 2015! Around € 400. Rather fair if you consider the other one was € 300 in 2012. Thanks for the dram, Koen.

Score: 93/100

It seems there’s a new Dalwhinnie 25 Year Old coming up as part of the Diageo Special Releases 2015, but for now we’re trying the old version distilled in 1987 and part of the Special Releases in 2012.

Dalwhinnie 25yo was matured in rejuvenated American oak hogsheads. That means they scraped the inside of tired casks that had been used for whisky maturation several times. This gives you a new surface of active wood, which is then charred and ready to be used again.



Dalwhinnie 25 Year Old 1987Dalwhinnie 25 yo 1987
(52,1%, OB 2012, 5358 btl.)

Nose: opens fairly soft but at the same time quite aromatic. The rejuvenated oak is clearly noticeable, with lots of roasted chestnuts, forest aromas (ferns, moss), liquorice and cloves. Slightly burnt herbs. Heather honey. Crème brûlée. Cinnamon. Quite a lot of hay. Soft fruity notes in the background (peach). Mouth: nicely waxy now, quite some heather honey again, liquorice and mint. A short hint of fruits (grapefruit, marmalade). After that it turns towards wood resin, leather, herbal liqueurs and plenty of spices like cardamom, clove and ginger. Finish: long, rather grassy but also nicely minty.

This Dalwhinnie shows a lot of Highlands character, even hints of Highland Park. And plenty of oaky notes, of course. Still available in many places for around € 220. Despite the limited interest, I’m sure the new release will be at least twice that price, wanna bet?

Score: 87/100

Mannochmore – the sister distillery of Glenlossie – is one of the younger distilleries. Production started in 1972 which is only five years before this Mannochmore 37yo 1977 went into a bourbon hogshead. Given the low availability of expressions, I think it’s fair to say this is the oldest Mannochmore every bottled?

It’s part of the Cadenhead single cask series, with the golden labels.



Mannochmore 37 years - CadenheadMannochmore 37 yo 1977 (49,4%, Cadenhead Single Cask 2015, bourbon hogshead, 210 btl.)

Nose: quite fresh and aromatic, with nice citrus, some grassy touches and a light hint of honey. White fruits (nectarine, pear), subtle floral hints and mint. Also a pleasant layer of polished oak.  Mouth: still very much on lemons, grapefruits, oranges and apricots, with a more pronounced honeyed note. Moderate white pepper and fruit tea. Candied ginger. Hints of cedar, but overall this is not a woody whisky. Finish: rather long, with some grains, cocoa and grassy notes.

This one shows some excellent elements of a well-matured, bourbon cask whisky. Not the most complex dram ever but nonetheless very pleasant. Around € 390. Thanks for the dram, Angelo.

Score: 90/100

The original Scallywag blended malt dates was launched in 2013 and is now marketed as part of a series called Remarkable Malts (with Big Peat, Timorous Beastie and Rock Oyster).

The mischievous fox terrier now has a louder cask strength brother. How nice of Douglas Laing to make the wee dog’s eyes pop, his ears blow open and his monocle ping on the packaging.

It is a blend of Speyside malts, including Mortlach, Macallan, Glenrothes and others.



Scallywag Cask StrengthScallywag Cask Strength (53,6%, Douglas Laing 2015, 6000 btl.)

Nose: a sweet and spicy profile, with some sherry influence. Sugary prunes, slightly overripe oranges, clove and cinnamon, giving it a slight gingerbread note. Toffee with light vanilla cake. Mocha and honey. Mouth: good impact, mostly on stewed fruits with plenty of chocolate, honey and toffee again. Growing spicier, with pepper and ginger. A lightly toasted hint, roasted coffee beans. Easily drinkable at cask strength. Finish: medium long, with notes of tobacco and bitter cocoa nibs.

Mostly the sherried, spicy character of this Scallywag Cask Strength stands out, more than its supposedly fruity Speyside core. One for chocolate lovers. Around € 70.

Score: 84/100

Diageo Special Releases 2015

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. Based on some label designs that were recently approved by the American Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (search for vendor code 14617 here), we already know what will come out of Diageo’s Special Releases hat shortly. At least we know six of the most important expressions.


Diageo Special Releases for 2015:

  • Brora 37 Year Old (50,4%, OB 2015, 2078 btl.) – € 1750
  • Caol Ila 17 Year Old 1997 “unpeated style” (55,9%, OB 2015, ex-bourbon barrels) – € 120
  • Clynelish Select Reserve (56,1%, OB 2015, 2946 btl.) – € 750
  • Dailuaine 34 Year Old 1980 (50,9%, OB 2015, 2952 btl.) – € 550
  • Dalwhinnie 25 Year Old 1989 (48,8%, OB 2015, refill hogsheads, 5916 btl.) – € 440
  • Lagavulin 12 Year Old (56,8%, OB 2015, 15th release) – € 100
  • Port Ellen 32 Year Old 1983 (53,9%, OB 2015, 15th annual release, 2964 btl.) – € 3250
  • Pittyvaich 25 Year Old 1989 (OB 2015) – € 320
  • Caledonian “The Cally” 40 Year Old 1974 (53,3%, OB 2015, single grain whisky, 5060 btl.) – € 950


That means a new Brora distilled in 1977/1978 (probably both as there doesn’t seem to be a mention of a vintage).

Also the first Port Ellen annual release that wasn’t distilled in 1978 or 1979, but in 1983, the last year of production. Does this mean the 1970’s stocks are completely gone, or are they saving some casks for a truly special release, let’s say in 2018?

Clynelish gets a new NAS expression (called Select Reserve like last year) “crafted for taste from hand selected casks”.

All pretty much as expected. The expressions we couldn’t really predict are the Dalwhinnie 25yo 1989, the Cally 40yo and the Pittyvaich.



Update 15/08/2015: Pittyvaich 25 Year Old and The Cally 40 Year Old (a single grain that will be part of the Classic Malts) appeared online.

Update 18/08/2015: A Dailuaine 34 Year Old 1980 (50,9%) appeared online, but it’s uncertain whether this will be part of the Special Releases or a standalone release.

Update 07/10/2015: pictures and first prices appeared online (some changes may still occur due to exchange rates). All information is now final. Bottles will appear in stores by the end of October.

The Dutch Usquebaugh Society selected a single cask Glen Garioch 1990 from the stocks of the Creative Whisky Company to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the club.



Glen Garioch 1990 - Usquebaugh SocietyGlen Garioch 25 yo 1990 (56,7%, Usquebaugh Society 2015, cask #7937, 228 btl.)

Nose: a slightly curious combination of aromas, but very interesting. Silver polish, soft hints of dusty peat, a bit of Play Dough, but also pineapple sweets and some strawberries with cream. Tobacco. Buttery toffee, greasy notes in the background, and a light hint of mint. Mouth: a bit hot / peppery at first, and then again this creamy, buttery, almost milky note again. After that it becomes earthier, with some liquorice and gentian adding a mild bitterness. Peppermint. Lemon peel. Apricots. Soft smoke. Finish: long, spicy, with ginger and some waxy notes.

This is a really nice, typical Glen Garioch, with plenty of character, including some Highlands austerity. You can tell this was selected by a club of advanced whisky lovers. Around € 100, available from the Usquebaugh website.

Score: 88/100

Although the label says it has been bottled in 2014 already, this Highland Park 1990 in Master of Malt’s Single Cask series has only just been made available on their website.



Highland Park 1990 - Master of MaltHighland Park 24 yo 1990 (57,5%, Master of Malt 2014, bourbon hogshead, 201 btl.)

Nose: very natural, with nice hints of yellow apples and half-dried grasses, alongside sea air and a hint of dry Riesling. Hints of cold ashes and wet stones. A bit of honey and sugar-coated cereals. Mint too. Pleasantly coastal with an above average complexity. Mouth: rather sweet and nicely old-style with this ashy side again. Sweet apples and honey, quickly followed by big peppery notes and a little ginger from the oak. Hints of liquorice and salt. Maybe some fragrant hints of violets or bergamot but that works well in this case. Finish: long, a tad hot, with pepper and liquorice, as well as some walnuts and a smoky touch.

This is an intense Highland Park, rather naked but nicely full-flavoured and complex. A rather unique profile that you don’t really get from other distilleries. Around € 300, still available.

Score: 88/100



November 2015
« Oct    

Coming up

  • Lindores 2015 festival bottling
  • Amrut 2009 (cask #2701)
  • 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)

1931 notes by Ruben

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