A couple of weeks ago, anCnoc launched a new website, which I personally think is ahead of its time compared to other distillery websites. The styling follows the clean and attractive packaging. Congratulations guys.
Apart from the 12yo and anCnoc 16yo, there’s always a vintage in the core range (around 14 years old). Tonight the new anCnoc 1996 vintage was presented in a Twitter tasting by Gordon Bruce, Knockdhu distillery manager.
anCnoc 1996 (46%, OB 2011)
Nose: clean but definitely more sherried than the 12yo or 16yo – especially more nutty notes (hints of peanut butter). There’s a dry and slightly musty (sulphury?) side to it, but there’s still honey and garden fruits from the bourbon casks (nice red apples, peaches). Vanilla. Pollen. Over time it shows a little mocha and toffee. Quite assertive as well. Mouth: sweet to start, then developing a unique fruitiness (pears, a little raspberry). Creamy mouthfeel. Slightly candied (lokum). Demarara sugar. Again a few nutty hints. Some fruit tea and soft spices. Finish: quite long, drier with a spicy kick and citrus notes.
This is simply a well-made malt although the 12yo is slightly better and better value for money as well. Probably around € 45 (not yet available). They may not cause a lot of fuss, but anCnoc makes high-quality no-nonsense whisky.
The Nectar of the Daily Drams has three new releases: a Laphroaig 1990, a Japanese Hanyu 1991 and this Tomatin 1976 (a joint bottling with La Maison du Whisky in France).
Tomatin had a very active period between 1975 and 1980 and was the largest distillery in Scotland at that time (more production than Glenfiddich today). With the recent revival and broadening of the range, the future of Tomatin looks good.
Tomatin 34 yo 1976 (51%, Nectar of the Daily Drams 2010, sherry butt)
Nose: very smooth and feminine, with an intense fruit basket. Tangerines, white peach. Tropical fruits like guava and mango. Some apricot marmalade. Pink grapefruit. A hint of vanilla. Lots of honey. Lovely whiffs of mint as well. Fruity but not too sweet as it also shows a warm herbal side. Excellent. Mouth: starts spicy (a little pepper), which made me expect a fair amount of oak, but it doesn’t break through. After a few seconds it goes back to fruit candy, sweet grapefruit, vanilla, oranges, marmalade, a little banana… Then some fresh herbs and cinnamon. Finish: medium length, a tad more woody dryness but still very fruity and warm.
A Tomatin that’s well-aged while maintaining its juicy fruitiness. Recommended. Around € 145. Be quick if you want a bottle.
Our third / fourth and final Bowmore 1993 (for now?) is a proprietary release of the German internet retailer Whisky-Fässle.
Bowmore 16 yo 1993
(53,5%, Whisky-Fässle 2010, 226 btl.)
Nose: a bit more smokey and a the same time a bit sweeter than the others. At least initially, because after some time they seem to converge. Still this one stands out: it shows nutty / mocha / chocolate notes that I didn’t find in any of the others. Hints of almond paste. While they’re nice, it seems to mask part of the fruitiness as well (fruits seem to come and go). The most sandy / coastal of the quartet as well, with nice hints of wet dogs and fishing nets. Mouth: holds the middle between the Thosop and Whisky Agency versions. Clean and punchy with both the lemony / zesty edge and some candied fruitiness. Medium peat. Again hints of almond paste. Not too herbal or salty. Finish: clean, half peaty, half coastal with a dash of lemon.
It’s great to find a mixture of the Whisky Agency’s power and the Thosop fruity elements. Again no peat bomb but a great all-rounder.
This evening Luc Timmermans announced that he will no longer act as an importer for Malts of Scotland in Belgium, and that he will no longer be responsible for the Thosop handwritten series (although he will still help to select interesting casks). Both tasks will now be in the experienced hands of fellow Lindores member Dominiek Bouckaert. Good luck Dominiek!
Luc decided to go in another direction, but I’m sure he will announce a new venture in the whisky world soon…
The second Bowmore 1993 is one of the latest releases by Thosop in their series with handwritten labels. Let’s compare it to the Whisky Agency releases and another one by Whisky-Fässle that is coming up tomorrow.
Nose: a little less dry. If you wait half an hour, it maintains the highest level of fresh fruity notes. Some gooseberries and oranges. A little kiwi. This also means it comes out as the least powerful / peaty of the pack and maybe the least typically young Bowmore. Nicely fruity. Mouth: sweet and mouth-coating. It suddenly displays a wave of medium peat but it stays very sugary and fruity. Evolves on berries again. Certainly less coastal / salty / herbal than both the Whisky Agency versions. The gentleman among the 1993’s
I would say. Finish: softer and rounder with a hint of peat smoke.
If you want the round, sweet Islay Bowmore among the 1993 versions, pick this one. Just remember it needs some time to open up in the glass. If you want a more assertive version (for slightly less money), go for a Whisky Agency release. Around € 110. Sold out.
1993 is a special year for Bowmore. After being taken over by Suntory, the Japanese decided to clean the distillery thoroughly and have a few things sorted. The distillery was running at a much slower pace, with doubled fermentation times and slower distillation. Few casks were filled that year and at this moment not a single cask remains on Islay. We’ve seen a couple of indy 1993 releases recently but it may be an extinct vintage really soon.
We’ll be comparing three of these Bowmores, actually four of them as I also dug up a previously reviewed Bowmore 1993 Perfect Dram IV for comparison.
Bowmore 17 yo 1993 (54,6%, Whisky Agency 2010, Perfect Dram VII, 226 btl.)
Nose: dry and mineral with moderate peat. Only after 15 minutes, it gets sweeter, rounder and even slightly tropically fruity (which is a common thing for all four and part of the 1993 magic). The 59,9% version shows more vanilla (really nice) and warmer notes. It seems more fruity as well. This 54,6% version is slightly more subdued with a papery element. A tad more briney and austere as well I would say. Still quite similar. Both have a faint floral touch as well. Mouth: punchy with a nice balance between bold peat and fruit, this time slightly sharper / citric fruits (lemon zest, white grapefruit). Bittersweet, slightly leafy, and growing herbal and salty in the aftertaste, just like the other one. A little tarry. Finish: peaty with a pinch of salt. A bit more gentle than its predecessor and returning to its fruity side.
Although the differences are subtle, I prefer the 16yo at 59,9% for being more complex, warmer and fruitier at the same time. Both versions seem to have slightly less fruit and more herbal notes than the ones that are coming up. Around € 100 (sold out).
I’ve noticed The Whisky Agency also has a Bowmore 1993 in their
Private Stock series, which is usually reserved for exceptional drams. Could that be the ultimate 1993? Although I’ve never seen it in stores, it makes me curious… Has anyone tried it?
This is our 600th post on WhiskyNotes. Traditionally, we’re celebrating round numbers with something special.
The 10th annual release of Port Ellen had the lowest yield ever: just 3000 bottles (other releases were generally between 5000 to 12.000). Let’s see how it compares to the others, and let’s hope this wasn’t the final release.
Port Ellen 31 yo 1978 ‘10th release’
(54,6%, OB 2010, 3000 btl.)
Nose: exactly the kind of Port Ellen I like. Peat as a supporting act rather than a show stealer. Quite coastal and sooty, but in an elegant way. Subtle candied notes, a little honey, yellow apples… some vanilla… sweet almonds… Lovely wax as well. Now that I think about it, I adore waxy notes and they’re missing in too many Port Ellens but here it is! Bonus point. Faint medicinal notes as well. Traces of cured meat (cecina de León). Very complex and so smooth! Stunning. Mouth: again it doesn’t come rolling in. Starts sweetish and spicy before going to salty, kippery and herbal notes. Quite medicinal and ashy now, with sharp lemon. Perfect development, with a crescendo from rounder notes to sharper elements, as if the nose was meant to mislead us before showing its true character. Again wow. Finish: very long, ashy, with coal smoke, lemon and a bitter /
My first impression was to put this on the same height as my (so far) favourite Port Ellen 7th release. That one shows more emphasis on floral notes and vanilla, but both share a mix of feminine and masculine Port Ellen, if you know what I mean, and these are the most beautiful expressions in my opinion. After a direct comparison, the 10th release is wider and more complex, as well as a little more typically PE, so it deserves a higher score. We have a new favourite.
Priced around € 275 at the time, but now only found at much higher prices. Luckily there’s a fixed distribution ratio among countries, so my best guess would be Spain or Portugal where there are less collectors.
This Springbank 14yo was bottled six months ago for the release of Whisky & Jazz (a book written by Hans Offringa) which links jazz musicians to whiskies. It was matured in a cream sherry cask (usually a low-quality mixture of oloroso and PX sherry) and bottled at cask strength.
Another book ‘Bourbon & blues’ will be released soon and again it comes with a Springbank release, this time a 1998 matured in ex-bourbon wood (of course).
Springbank 14 yo ‘Jazz Edition’
(56%, OB 2010, 600 btl.)
Nose: the first few minutes it’s hard to get over the big matchstick notes, gunpowder and traces of rubber. Nothing dirty in my opinion but worth noting - it’s a bit too prominent maybe. Then some orange peel, dried apricot and heather. Earthy notes. A slight coastalness. Mouth: sweet, hot and a tad sharp at first, very peppery with the dried fruits on a second level. Plenty of spices and herbs with a little salt as well. Something rooty. Bitter oranges. A little resin. Water highlights the savoury notes and makes it a bit flat. Finish: medium length, dry with some ginger, herbs and liquorice.
Not bad but I’m not a fan of this type of Springbank / sherry combination. I’ve read it should recall the famous Springbank sherry style of the 1960’s but I don’t share that view.
Around € 60.