Ah, the famous Springbank sherry style of the 1960’s… Even though they sometimes refer to this profile when describing recent expressions, nothing comes close.
Springbank 15 yo 1964
(45,7%, OB for Samaroli Import 1979, sherry wood, 75 cl, 360 btl.)
Nose: rich sherry, with a list of aromas including but not limited to: prune sauce, eucalyptus, leather, gingerbread, cherries, pine resin, wax, cigar boxes, old books, soft smoke… A very light metallic note and hints of dried mushrooms. Yes! Mouth: not too wide but nicely oily with a combination of sweet & sour cherries. Dates, figs, walnuts, some Grand Marnier notes and herbs. Tobacco and hints of smoke as well. Fading on lovely dark chocolate. Finish: long, on a drier sherry profile now.
Quite grand, this old Springbank from sherry wood, even though it was bottled at a relatively young age. The real thing indeed. Around € 750.
1970 is one of the top vintages for Bruichladdich. This expression was released as a crown jewel in the distillery stocks, not long after the takeover in 2001 by Jim McEwan, Mark Reynier and others. It was bottled from American Oak hogsheads.
(44,2%, OB 2002, 4200 btl.)
Nose: aromatic. Perfect fruitiness of juicy apricots, pears and melons. Gooseberries and hints of passion fruits. Honeysuckle and different types of blossoms. Traces of vanilla. Quite some mint. It’s held back a little by grassy and oily notes as well as a faint coastalness. Mouth: very smooth, quite oily and still very fruity. Ripe melon, apricot again. Then some fruit teas and ditto cake. Very well-balanced oak. Coconut. Overall quite sweet although the grassy / minty edge returns towards the finish. Finish: long, smooth, rounded with a yellow raisin sweetness and a few grassy notes.
An excellent old Bruichladdich. Fresh considering its age, showing beautiful fruity notes. Around € 350.
This Caperdonich 1967 in the Platinum Selection series by Douglas Laing was highly regarded when it was bottled in 2004. Some people even named it the best Caper ever, and Jim Murray gave it the Best Single Malt award in 2005, but remember the best 1972’s hadn’t been bottled at that point. Note the high alcohol volume.
Caperdonich 36 yo 1967 (57,9%,
Douglas Laing Platinum 2004, 167 btl.)
Nose: typical Caperdonich fruit basket of both fresh and dried fruits. Apricots, oranges, raisins, figs, some pineapple and coconut. What sets this apart from the 1972 fruitiness is a much clearer oaky layer as if it had been matured in new oak (although it disappears when you get used to the alcohol). Also typical beehive notes (thick honey and wax) and less typical mocha / praline / nougat elements. Lovely. Mouth: very punchy – very oaky that is, with plenty of spices. A lot of mint. Hints of fruitcake, sour oranges and bitter grapefruit. Still some pineapple. Ginger and cloves. Finish: long on oak and grapefruit.
Great whisky with a big oak influence. This makes it slightly less attractive than the best 1972’s in my book, but still quite excellent. Around € 400 now. Many thanks Bert.
We’ll go back in time a little further and try this Ardbeg 1965. Rarely seen and way too expensive to even think about acquiring. Distilled April 1965 and bottled July 1978.
Ardbeg 13 yo 1965
(46%, Cadenhead 1978, 75 cl)
Nose: very clear metallic notes, say silver polish. Some wax and minerals. Also wet wool and a bit too much cardboard. Slightly disappointing, certainly because it does show a soft fruitiness hidden in the back. Old but not a classic Islay profile. I’m wondering how much of this comes down to the original spirit and how much to bottle aging. Mouth: not very punchy, again quite metallic, with different sorts of mint (fresh mint, mint tea). Cough drops. Herbal liqueur. Big hints of tea as well. Not exactly what I expected (hardly any peat for instance) but quite enjoyable. Finish: not too long, dry with traces of wood and metallics again.
I’m not really sure how to score this Ardbeg. I haven’t tasted many things like this and the metallic nose and shy finish seem to indicate it might have spent a few too many years in the bottle. The result is a very expensive cough syrup. Around € 1800.
Ah, single cask Ardbeg, from the Provenance vintage. Bottled for the Norwegian market.
Ardbeg 31 yo 1974 (51,0%, OB 2005, bourbon cask #2749, 120 btl.)
Nose: trademark soot, charcoal and relatively soft peat. Bacon on the barbeque. Some flax rope. A few rounded notes like blackberries, honey and soft vanilla. Nice. Old cupboards and some leather. A deliciously subtle hint of medicine as well. Great nose, complex and nicely delicate. Mouth: more peat now, more coastal notes as well. A little sharper altogether. Camphor. Zesty lemon. Plenty of oily notes. Smoke. Too bad the honey and roundness seems to be far away now, it could have brought some extra balance. Finish: long on camphory peat and lemon oils.
A lovely nosing Ardbeg with a sharper and seemingly thinner palate. Typical high-quality Ardbeg but not on the same level as the Provenance(s). Around € 900 the last time it appeared on WhiskyAuction. Thanks Geert.
With all those interesting new releases constantly popping up on the market, it’s becoming difficult to find some time to publish older drams that are long gone from regular stores. I really feel I might have neglected this part of my whisky passion so let’s focus on a few oldies in the next couple of days.
In the 1980’s Italian bottler Sestante had a 14 year-old and this 20 year-old version of Mortlach, both bottled with the same bagpiper label. This would be have been distilled at the beginning of the 60’s.
Mortlach 20 yo
(43%, Sestante 1980’s, 75 cl)
Nose: old-style sherry with a thick liqueur-like character. Lots of old polished oak and leather. Old books and incense. A very soft smokiness too. Raisins, a hint of caramel maybe. Also a sweet beefy note and burnt fruit cake. Mouth: dry, pretty oaky (a tad too much for my taste). There’s still an underlying dark sweetness of sultanas, but it grows resinous and herbal as well, with a slight sourness. Again some smoke in the distance. Feels nicely old but maybe a bit past its prime. Finish: long, dry, still some herbal notes, oak and smoke.
A nice experience but you’ll have to stand some old oak and herbs. It’s closer to a Mortlach 1936 for example than to recent expressions. Around € 450, rather hard to find.
Aultmore 28 yo 1982 (46%, Mo Òr 2011, bourbon hogshead #2219, 300 btl.)
Nose: very malty, with all kinds of grainy notes, hints of porridge. Usually not my kinda profile, but this is quite creamy, with hints of butter and milk chocolate, and adds some apple cake with cinnamon and nice honey. Hay, dry grasses and a fair amount of spices. Hints of old cupboards. Nice. Mouth: good attack with herbs and spices up front (eucalyptus, chamomile). Then a wave of citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemon peel). Developing nuttiness over time as well as a bitterness of Seville oranges, walnut skin and oak. Finish: medium long, medium dry with toasted oak and herbs.
A good Aultmore with plenty of character and a firm bitterness. Better than the A.D. Rattray version. Around € 125 for a 50 cl bottle.
I must admit I’ve never been a big fan of recent Bowmore (except the Bowmore Tempest) but the recent wave of indie expressions distilled between 1993 and 1998 are making me change my mind. This one was bottled by Asta Morris.
I tried this as a cask sample and I couldn’t really get to grips with it, a bit too weird and slightly harsh. Now I’m trying it from the bottle and I’m glad to see it has gained some roundness.
Nose: quite a peculiar profile, it starts on moderate peat and plenty of minerals (wet gravel), wet wool, wet cardboard maybe, ferns and slightly musty wood. Don’t get me wrong, it’s actually quite enjoyable and really “old-style”. On top of this there’s a great roundness of ripe fruit, sweet smoke and honey. Hints of citrus as well. A lovely combination, and it’s something we’re seeing quite often in Bowmore from this period lately. Mouth: smoky at first, a bit rubbery as well. A little mint. Candy sweetness again (grapefruit) but less obvious now. Then burnt herbs (slightly bitter), ginger and hints of salty liquorice. Finish: long, with soft peat and sweet smoke.
Uncommon Bowmore with nice fruity sparkles. I started with a 90 score on the nose, but on the palate I find it lacking a bit of cohesion to maintain this score. Complex whisky though, and a nice catch for the Asta Morris label. Around € 60 but I think it’s sold out.