Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Our third / fourth and final Bowmore 1993 (for now?) is a proprietary release of the German internet retailer Whisky-Fässle.


Bowmore 1993 Whisky-FässleBowmore 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.

Score: 90/100


Thosop handwrittenThis 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.

 

Bowmore 1993 ThosopBowmore 17 yo 1993 (53,7%, Thosop 2010, bourbon cask 477, 198 btl.)

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.

Score: 90/100


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 1993 Perfect DramBowmore 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).

Score: 87/100

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.

Port EllenThe 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 10th release 1978Port 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 /
salty combo.


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.

Score: 95/100


Whisky & Jazz - Hans OffringaThis 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 Jazz EditionSpringbank 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.

Score: 77/100


With well over 100 distilleries here on WhiskyNotes, we’ve still not covered all of them. Glenallachie is a young distillery (founded in 1967 by Mackinlay) in the Chivas Brothers group. In 2005 a 16yo official bottling was released in the Chivas Cask Strength series. Apart from this, there are a handful of independent releases.

This Glenallachie 1972 was matured in a bourbon hogshead. There’s now a new Glenallachie 1971 from The Whisky Agency in the same Perfect Dram series.


Glenallachie 1972 Whisky AgencyGlenallachie 38 yo 1972 (49,9%, Whisky Agency 2010, The Perfect Dram VII, 102 btl.)

Nose: starts fresh and fruity with lemon and a few waxy notes. Citrus and grasses, and a few fragrant floral overtones. Cotton candy! It’s not too sweet or overly fruity though, there are hints of wet newspaper that give it an old-style charm. Even a hint of glue? Very soft spices. Nice. Mouth: oily and remarkably fizzy. Lemon peel and lime juice. Citrus candy. Lovely waxy notes. Not overly complex but very fresh, not too far from certain Lowlands distilleries. Finish: drying but still very lemony.

A nice introduction to Glenallachie. Such freshness and 38 years old, really? Still available in some places. Around € 165.

Score: 86/100


Announced a couple of weeks ago, Glenfarclas 175th Anniversary is now being distributed across Europe and Asia and even sold out in many places.

It is composed of 18 casks from six decades and even the oldest cask in the distillery warehouse was added (cask #1711 filled in 1952). For more information, read the original announcement.

 

Glenfarclas 175th AnniversaryGlenfarclas 175th Anniversary
(43%, OB 2011, 6000 btl.)

Nose: a fairly gentle nose with different layers. Sweet barley sugar and young fruity notes to start with (coconut, berries). Some heather and vanilla biscuits. Much ‘older’ sherry as well (figs, dark chocolate) and a layer of subtle oak (old roses, light spices). Wax. Dusty books and gravel. Very complex and well integrated. Mouth: not the biggest impact. Rather spicy (cinnamon, pepper). Hardly any young notes now. There’s a fruity side to it - orange liqueur and Seville oranges rather than bolder sherried notes. Then growing more herbal with heather, old oak and leather. The herbal / bittersweet profile was not really expected. Finish: medium length, with some mint, apples and a cocoa note.

 

It’s great to see so many ‘old notes’ in a bottling that’s accessible thanks to the addition of younger malts. Adding the oldest cask was not a marketing trick, you really get a sense of old Glenfarclas here. Around € 95 but prices are going up as it seems to sell like hotcakes.

Score: 89/100


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Coming up

  • NOG! gin #1 (Asta Morris)
  • Tomatin 1978 (Cadenhead / Nectar)
  • The Nameless One (Whisky Mercenary)
  • Auchentoshan 15yo (Kintra)
  • Ben Nevis 1997 (Maltbarn)
  • Aultmore 2007 (Daily Dram)
  • Karuizawa 45 Year Old (cask #2925)
  • Glengoyne 1999 (Palo Cortado)

1508 notes by Ruben

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