Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Last year Master of Malt released a wonderful Inchgower 1974. Now there’s a younger version at the same price.

 

Inchgower 1982 Master of MaltInchgower 29 yo 1982 (53,9%, Master of Malt 2011, refill hogshead, 190 btl.)

Nose: initially fairly malty with quite some spicy notes and waxy overtones. There’s a very nice sweetness of plums and berries (think cassis / blueberry and gooseberries) which makes it stand out. Hints of gingerbread. Also notes of vanilla ice cream. Hints of garden herbs as well, even something of… sweet cucumber? This may sound bizarre but it’s quite a unique and interesting nose. Mouth: again a strangely attractive combination of vanilla cream, toffee, nuts and a faint hint of wet paper. Nice enough though. Then back to blueberries with brown sugar and cocoa. Finally some spicy oak with a hint of resin. Finish: medium long, with cocoa / praline up front.

A whirlpool of uncommon flavours and a slightly quirky result, just like to the Inchgower 1982’s I’ve had before (by Malts of Scotland and Whisky-Doris). Maybe not the complex old style of the 1974 but still very interesting and good fun to drink. Around € 85. Available here.

Score: 87/100


Angel's Choice - Malts of ScotlandOnce in a while someone comes up with a brilliant idea. In this case Malts of Scotland who launched a brand-new and very interesting series called Angel’s Choice.

It will be used to release low-yield bottlings from old casks with a high angel’s share (hence the name). To let as much people as possible enjoy these casks, they’ve chosen a 35 cl. bottle with a similar shape as their full size bottles. I think it’s an excellent idea, it allows you to try more whiskies for the same budget, or experience something that would have been out of your reach in a standard bottle. True, we’ve seen a similar idea before, but I’m hoping it will really gain a foothold now!

Note that the yields can be extremely low. This particular release (from an undisclosed distillery founded in 1836) only has 55 (half) bottles! Given the low numbers of bottles, not every release will be sold in each country.

In this first batch, Belgium will see a Glen Elgin 1975 apart from the 41 years old Glenfarclas seen below. I’ve also noticed a Glenrothes 1970, Tomatin 1966 and Glenlossie 1975 in German shops.

 

 

Glenfarclas 1970 (Malts of Scotland - Angel's Choice)“1836” 1970 (53,5%, Malts of Scotland  ‘Angel’s Choice’ 2011, sherry cask MoS 11025, 55 btl., 35 cl.)

Nose: a deeply fruity kind of sherry. Sultanas, figs and quinces but also juicy raspberry jam and grenadine. Everything’s coated by some very refined oak varnish, mint and old roses. Great. Whiffs of herbal tea and aniseed. Fudge. Also a soft smoky note and a clean matchstick note, but very much in the background. Very high class, especially the fresh fruits make it stand out. Mouth: rather sweet attack on strawberries and blood oranges. Kirsch. Fruit cake. Quickly overtaken by drier notes: different kinds of herbs as well as liquorice and hints of cough syrup. Oak as well. A tad rounder with a few drops of water. Finish: long, rather dry, minty and slightly resinous with echoes of chocolate and fruity notes.

Great deeply sherried Glenfarclas with a juiciness that’s certainly above average. Around € 140 for this half bottle.

Score: 91/100


You may remember we had a wave of Ardmore 1992 releases last year (by Malts of Scotland and Daily Dram among others). Now The Whiskyman has one in its series with the 1970’s-style label.

 

Ardmore 1992 WhiskymanArdmore 20 yo 1992 ‘Peat fighting man’
(49,9%, The Whiskyman 2012, 146 btl.)

Nose: starts earthy, mineral and slightly sooty but after a while this is nicely balanced by rounder, fruity notes. Seville oranges. The longer you wait, the more it becomes (tropically) fruity, with great papaya / banana notes. Some oils, maybe even a hint of diesel. All very lovely and perfectly integrated. Mouth: very smooth with sweet smoke, peat (subtle peat, think old Ardbeg) and yellow apple. Almonds. After that, there’s clearly a hint of pink grapefruit and again some tropical hints of passion fruit and pineapple. Some coastal notes as well. Very nice. Finish: long, rather sweet again. Almonds and soft smoke.

It seems some of these Ardmores show potential to bring back some old-style Ardbeg / Brora with balanced peat and a nice fruitiness. This one’s my favourite so far, but be sure to give it enough time to unfold its complexity. Around € 85. On its way to stores.

Score: 90/100


One of the latest additions to the Elements of Islay series by TWE is this Bruichladdich Br2.

 

Bruichladdich Br2 - Elements of IslayBruichladdich Br2
(49,3%, Elements of Islay 2011, 50 cl)

Nose: a fairly rounded malt with a gristy touch. On the one hand fruity notes (apple, lemon, melon) and on the other hand a soft, coastal saltiness. Some mineral notes. It also shows a “green” element of grasses or fresh herbs like parsley. Mouth: sharper than expected from the nose, and a great deal drier. Herbal and spicy notes at first, with some ginger and a peppery kick. Then faint notes of lemon and honey before settling on dry lemon zest. Finish: quite long, spicy and citrusy.

Pretty exemplary Bruichladdich. Clean, mineral and zesty, injected with whiffs of sea air. Around € 60, available from The Whisky Exchange.

Score: 83/100


The Dun Bheagan label was introduced in 1999 by Ian McLeod Distillers who are also behind the “Chieftain’s” and “As we get it” ranges, the Smokehead label and the Glengoyne distillery.

Since I’ve tried a nice Glenburgie 1988 Duncan Taylor and the Glenburgie 1997 Asta Morris, I’m on the lookout for other versions.

 

Glenburgie 1998 Dun BheaganGlenburgie 11 yo 1998 (43%, Dun Bheagan 2010, cask #4980 + 4983, 642 btl.)

Nose: starts a little undefined and overly malty, but after a few minutes it becomes nicely rounded with plenty of vanilla and some toffee sweetness. Apple, lemon candy, sugar cane, Frosties… Also hints of buttercups and some waxy notes. Tiny hints of marshmallows after fifteen minutes. Excellent development for such a young malt. Mouth: sweet and malty again, with some sweet citrus, apple and gooseberry flavours. Fresh oak and gentle spices (vanilla up front, but ginger as well). Some cocoa. Slightly less wide than the nose, but still nothing to complain about. Finish: medium long, spices from the oak and a little toffee.

Another well-made Glenburgie. These youngsters are really nice and offer excellent value for money. Around € 40. Thanks Mars.

Score: 86/100


Archives is the proprietary range of bottlings from the Whiskybase shop. Now if you remember the Strathmill 1974 Daily Dram, this could be great.

 

 

Strathmill 1974 ArchivesStrathmill 37 yo 1974 (44,5%, Archives 2011, bourbon hogshead #1231, 180 btl.)

Nose: very fruity and honeyed, although maybe a tad less thick and buttery. Big hints of sweet orange juice. A little pineapple, less banana this time. Some vanilla cake. Over time it also shows some softly herbal, “green” notes and mint. Mouth: still fruity but again it’s less warm with more sourish and slightly bitter fruits (oranges, tangerine). Hints of green tea. More oak spices as well (especially ginger). Finish: medium long on oranges and lemons. Hints of tea with some warming oak.

It may be less stellar than its sister cask by The Nectar of the Daily Drams, but on its own it’s still a great dram from an otherwise underrated distillery. Around € 170.

Score: 90/100


In 2008, Longrow released its first 18 year-old followed by this second version in 2011. The spirit is distilled twice with a peating level of around 50 ppm. One of the Islay-style whiskies produced on the mainland. It used to be an experiment at Springbank but distillation has taken place regularly since 1992.

 

Longrow 18 yearsLongrow 18 years
(46%, OB 2011, 2280 btl.)

Nose: great nose with a smooth mixture of mineral notes (wet stone, sand), coastal notes (soft brine, seaweed) and rounder fruity notes (apple and pear). It shows a kind of gentle peatiness and balance that reminds me of some of the best (though much older) Port Ellens. Mouth: oily, with a slightly sharp peatiness. Some medicinal notes. A spicy kick (pepper and ginger) and a zesty bitterness (tonic). After this first wave the balance returns with sweeter notes of citrus candy and apple, although the bitterness never disappears completely. Finish: long, half peppery, half sweet, half bitter (that’s three halves…) with some earthy peat.

I really love the sophisticated nose but there’s a certain roughness in the taste which keeps me from rating it higher. Very nice whisky anyway. Originally around € 130.

Score: 90/100


It seems Coal Ila 1981 is easy to find these days. We’ve seen bottlings by Liquid Treasures, Liquid Sun, Thosop and Malts of Scotland.

 

Caol Ila 1981 (Malts of Scotland 11009)Caol Ila 30 yo 1981 (59,2%, Malts of Scotland 2011, ex-bourbon hogshead, MoS #11009, 117 btl.)

Nose: very elegant and sweet. Marzipan, clementine, some banana. Hints of vanilla and pastry, some creamy notes (rice milk, Almendrina paste). Very interesting, and overall very refined and balanced. Develops some medicinal notes and very soft ashy touches but it never becomes an Islay monster. Great silky elegance. Mouth: oily mouthfeel with much more (grassy) peat now. More pronounced coastal notes as well. Still this almond creaminess. Some sweet lemon and punchy pepper. Finish: long, initially salty and herbal but then returning to citrus and pepper.

This Caol Ila develops nicely from a discreet, rounded nose to a powerful, relatively peaty body without losing its balanced smoothness. High quality and fairly priced. Around € 130.

Score: 90/100


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  • Taco: I'm about finished with a bottle of this and am still amazed at how good it is. It's much more subtle than the popular sherry finished whiskers, but
  • Tony: I guess they are not planning on selling much to the likes of us. "Premiumisation" gone mad...
  • Johan Andersson: I'm in Campbeltown right now for the Springbank Open Day on Thursday. This review is really spot on. I really love Longrow and especially the 18 it be

Coming up

  • Ledaig 42 Years Old
  • Irish malt 1991 (Whisky Mercenary)
  • Aberlour a'bunadh Batch #50
  • Bowmore Gold Reef
  • Tomatin 1997 (Liquid Library)
  • Springbank Vintage 2001
  • Mortlach Rare Old

1793 notes by Ruben

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