There was a slightly peculiar Tomintoul 1967 among the latest Malts of Scotland releases. It was (fully?) matured in a rum barrel.
Tomintoul 1967 (51,3%, Malts of Scotland 2012, rum barrel MoS 12020, 139 btl.)
Nose: a seemingly normal Tomintoul nose. Some fruits (citrus, apricot, melon) and flowers (both dried and fresh). A little heather honey. Quite discreet and quite malty too, nothing stands out of the middle, or so it seems. Mouth: sweet and fruity. A slightly uncommon mix of jams, honey, (quite loud) bitter grapefruit and sweet mocha. Bittersweet in a way that I haven’t seen many times before. It’s coated in a kind of molasse sweetness, but that’s more or less the only reference to rum I could make. Fades on spices (clove, pepper). Finish: warm, quite long, with peppery oak and a quieter bitterness now.
A bit of a mixed bag in my opinion. The nose is nice, smooth and slightly tame, but the palate is quite explosive in terms of heat and bitterness. Interesting stuff, though not the obvious winner like some of the other 1960’s Tomintouls. Around € 190.
A last review of the Fulldram supertasting whiskies, a Clynelish distilled in 1974 and bottled for The Whisky Fair in Germany. It received a gold medal and the “supreme bourbon cask award” at the 2006 Malt Maniacs Awards and a 95 score in the Whisky Bible 2008. We’ve learned not to rely on awards too much, but it’s an impressive pedigree nonetheless.
Clynelish 32 yo 1974 (58,6%, The Whisky Fair 2006, bourbon hogshead, 266 btl.)
Nose: as if a Clynelish cask and a Brora cask were mixed. It shows a restrained Clynelish fruitiness and a little pollen, but also much more flints, minerals and peat than most other Clynelishes. Leather. Farmy notes too (hay, stables). Clean coal and cold ashes. A fair amount of oak spices and herbs as well (pepper, liquorice). Mouth: quite assertive, even more peat now, nicely oily with big peppery notes. A mustard sharpness up front, and nice fruity roundness in the back. Grassy notes, herbs. Some tar. On the palate more Brora than Clynelish I’d say. Finish: long and peppery. A lot of liquorice notes but still whiffs of fruit.
Was this a mix-up of spirit? We’ll never know, but a wonderful combination of Clynelish elements with big Brora influence. We can only applaud it of course – it’s stunning. In my ranking at the tasting, it came in third place, but now I fear I should have placed it a little higher. The top-3 was full of gems, but maybe this one should have won. Around € 280 in auctions, one to look out for.
This Bowmore 1968 was served at the latest Fulldram supertasting. Bottled in 2006, I believe it was one of the last (if not the last) official 1968 bottlings.
Bowmore 37 yo 1968 (43,4%, OB 2006, bourbon oak, 708 btl.)
Nose: typical ‘68 fruit basket, albeit a little delicate, especially on tropical fruits. Passion fruit, pink grapefruit, tangerine, kumquat, kiwi… Very silky. Freshly crushed mint and a little eucalyptus oil as well. Rosehip. Cedar wood. Something of diesel oil in the background. Very nice to say the least. Mouth: medium body, on grapefruit / kumquat to start with, then green banana and papaya. Fresh and slightly sourish, due to the citrus and the oak. Grows spicier (nutmeg, clove, pepper). Aniseed and mint again. Faint mineral notes too. Finish: medium long, still very fruity but in a more zesty way, with oak growing stronger.
Lovely stuff, even though it plays only two cards: fruits and oak. In my memory the 1968 Anniversary Edition was slightly better. Rarely seen on the market, expect to pay around € 750 anyway.
An Isle of Jura 1988 in the Archives series. Similar casks have been bottled by Wilson & Morgan (#747) and Mo Òr (#756). Other recent bottlings by The Whisky Agency and Villa Konthor were very much to my liking.
Isle of Jura 24 yo 1988 (51,3%, Archives 2012, bourbon cask #752, 60 btl.)
Nose: a curious nose. There’s sweet heather honey, almond paste and some caramel. Roasted chestnuts. Lovely farmy notes as well (hay, wet stables, hints of manure). Leather. Cigar leaves. Then nice menthol notes and back to fruitier notes (overripe apricots). Some mineral notes. Impressive complexity. Unusual but very nice. Mouth: starts on oranges, herbs and liquorice, followed by some earthy and rooty notes. Hints of peat even. Ginger. Malty notes underneath. A coastal twist as well. Finish: medium long, rather grassy and herbal, with a nutty edge and a zesty bitterness.
On the nose this Jura is truly unique, with a wonderful hint of farmy Brora to it. It’s slightly herbal and tangy on the palate, but lovely entertainment nonetheless. Around € 85 (quite a lot cheaper than comparable releases), available from Whiskybase.
There are whiskies from more than 115 Scottish distilleries on this blog and yet today we’re trying one that hasn’t featured yet, an Aberfeldy 1994. A series of sister casks (all #401x or #402x) have been bottled by Gordon & MacPhail, Signatory, A.D. Rattray, Van Wees… before.
Aberfeldy belongs to the Dewar’s group and more than any other group, they’re focused on blend production. This is why there aren’t many official single malt bottlings (a 12yo and 21yo) nor many independent releases. Things are starting to change though, as recently a couple of single casks (the first ever) were released. Note that in 1994, Aberfeldy was still owned by Diageo.
Aberfeldy 16 yo 1994 (46%, Mo Òr 2011, bourbon hogshead #4016, 460 btl.)
Nose: a nice surprise. It’s fresh and fragrant but also quite assertive. Nice fruity notes: lemon candy, pineapple, pear, tangerine. Sweet marzipan. Some fresh oak and leather notes. Quite a lot of heather honey as well. Bright and crisp. Mouth: creamy and sweet. Fruity notes again, vanilla cake, juicy barley. Honey. Sweet almonds. Cinnamon. Then moving towards oaky notes, a little ginger. Grows “greener” and a tiny bit mineral over time. Finish: quite long, with some caramel sweetness and a herbal oakiness, fading to an earthy bitterness in the very end.
Good whisky. Sweet, fruity, a nice after dinner malt. Around € 75 for a 50 cl bottle.
To raise awareness for ALS in Belgium, a cask of Old Pulteney 1997 was bottled for the fundraising organisation of Alain Verspecht, a whisky enthusiast who is suffering from the disease.
The first fill bourbon cask was provided by Gordon & MacPhail and distribution is done through two Belgian shop: The Bonding Dram and De Clercq & Zoon. Sister casks have been bottled for LMdW and The Whisky Castle by G&M in the past.
Old Pulteney 1997 (57%, Gordon & MacPhail for Alain Verspecht, first fill bourbon barrel #1199, 224 btl.)
Nose: starts in a fruity way that we don’t see too often in Old Pulteney (a certain pineapple / coconut combo, nice). A little vanilla as well. After that it becomes floral and very malty, which means the fruitiness doesn’t manage to stay in the front row. Typical coastal whiffs too. Hints of nutmeg and herbal tea. Mint. Mouth: focuses on its fruity side again, nicely sweet pear and peach aromas. Some coconut oils. Then a wave of wood shavings and bitter oranges. Fades on coastal dryness. Finish: medium long, with liquorice and slightly tangy oak.
Although it may not be perfectly balanced, I definitely prefer this kind of fresh bourbon cask (à la Pulteney 17yo) over the sherried officials. Around € 65 (including a complementary Glencairn) of which € 4 is donated to the ALS Liga. Click here to buy it online.
As you know, independent Glenfiddich is extremely rare. Among the available releases is this 1964 cask bottled by J. & J. Hunter, a beer, wine and spirits wholesaler near Belfast. In 1992 they also bottled a second cask #10790 (at 58%).
(56%, J. & J. Hunter 1992, cask #10802)
Nose: loud sherry with all the bells and whistles. Prunes, raisins, demerara sugar, pear syrup. Plenty of chocolate notes. Blackcurrant jam. Christmas cake. Rather perfect. Maybe even a hint of coal smoke in the background. Mouth: intense with a development that I’ve rarely encountered. It starts sherried and full, quite rummy, but after a few seconds it develops something I would describe as a mix of library dust, old roses and diesel? Something metallic as well. Then it grows really tannic (grape seeds, walnut skin) with a bitter edge (dark chocolate with aspirin notes). Obviously not so perfect any more, but highly individual. Finish: still dusty with hints of cold coffee and aspirin.
What started really well on the nose, got a bit out of hand in the mouth. Maybe this Glenfiddich was not in perfect condition (bottled 1992 and open for some time now) but I’m sure the bottled spirit must have been a little past its due date already. Lovely nose though. The Whisky Exchange in London is selling a bottle of the 58% version for around € 450.
Nose: balancing between sharper notes (wet sand, lemon juice, a little peat) and rounder notes (apricots and vanilla). Honeydew melon. Hay. A peppery herbal note in the background, which keeps the whole punchy and assertive. Mouth: nicely candied citrus, plenty of pink grapefruits, then growing warming and sweeter towards papaya, strawberry and creamy vanilla. Some mineral / coastal notes and a spicy wave to finish it off (pepper, cinnamon). Nice evolution. Finish: long, with the spices in the foreground, a hint of peat and some coffee beans in the background.
All-round Littlemill. Coastal, fruity, zesty notes… it goes in different directions but it’s very rewarding overall. I still like the sherried versions better but this is very high quality as well. Around € 100.