Next up in the Angel’s Choice series by Malts of Scotland: a Glenrothes distilled in 1970.
Glenrothes 1970 (44,5%, Malts of Scotland ‘Angel’s Choice’ 2011, bourbon hogshead MoS 11026, 135 btl., 35 cl.)
Nose: huge (but volatile) notes of oak polish at first. Some banana and pineapple candy, apricot jam, then big hints of strawberry bubble gum and marshmallows. A little honey. Whiffs of mint and cinnamon notes but it’s really 95% fruit candy here. Lovely. Mouth: still plenty of fruits, much more tropical now. Bordering on the profile of old grain whisky: pineapple and coconut. Banana. Vanilla and some spices, but less influenced by the oak than the Glenrothes 1970 by The Whisky Agency. Fruit tea. Finish: long, very fruity (pineapple) with only traces of oak. Hints of cocoa as well.
Five years ago I was already in love with the Glenrothes 1968 / 1969 / 1970 releases by Duncan Taylor and now it seems the Germans have managed to find a couple of similar casks. Recommended. Around € 120.
This is only the sixth single cask BenRiach from the 1979 vintage as far as I know. Bert Bruyneel is scanning their warehouses trying to find one stunning cask from every year (check his previous 1975, 1977 and 1978 releases).
Here’s my official short description as printed on the label:
Fruit cocktail with tangerine, candied pineapple and a sprinkling of strawberry marshmallows. Warming vanilla and delicate heather honey.
BenRiach 32 yo 1979 (47,3%, OB for
Asta Morris 2012, refill bourbon barrel
#8507, 192 btl.)
Nose: starts on a fruit cocktail of tangerine, green banana and gooseberries. Grows sweeter with a luscious layer of candied pineapple and papaya cubes. Quite some creamy vanilla and honey. After some time it even shows strawberry marshmallows – love that! All this sugary elegance is balanced by delicate heathery notes and sprinkles of freshly sawn oak. Ambrosial stuff really with a little more vanilla than most other 1970s BenRiach. Mouth: creamy mouthfeel. The same kind of sweet fruitiness (apricot jam, banana and more citrus now) with a candied coating (honeysuckle). A nice pineapple / coconut combo as well, and hints of vanilla pudding. It shows gentle spices from the oak but the fruits are much stronger. Lovely profile. Finish: long and smooth with plenty of sweet citrus.
Compared to the 1977, this is more candied (but certainly less so than the 1978), with more vanilla and less polished oak. If the 1977 is spring then this is summer. Excellent whisky and a worthy end of the 1970s series. Bring on the 1980s, Bert!
A young Ledaig 2004 bottled by Whiskybase shop as part of their Archives series (the new “First release” – the “Inaugural release” doesn’t count). Its cask number is close to the Ledaig 2005 #900008 by Berry Bros but that was a sherry cask and as we know, nowadays a “cask number” is sometimes just an arbitrary reference so let’s not count on them being sister casks.
Nose: coastal (seaweed, cod-liver oil) and peaty with a lot of zesty lemon freshness. Some medicinal notes (iodine, menthol). Very light hints of rubber fishing boots. Very clean and simple. Mouth: punchy yet perfectly quaffable at full strength. Very clean again. Young peat (more than on the nose), lots of lemon and plenty of pepper. Nice evolution towards slightly sweeter pear notes. Huge focus which also means limited complexity. Finish: peaty, clean and long.
I know many people adore this kind of extra-pure Islay-esk profile. Feel free to add a few extra points if you’re a peathead – this was made for you! Well-priced: around € 35. Available from the Whiskybase shop.
A Glen Grant from a lesser known vintage, bottled by The Whisky Agency in their Fungi series.
Glen Grant 36 yo 1975 (50,7%, The Whisky Agency ‘Fungi’ 2011, bourbon cask, 127 btl.)
Nose: leathery and spicy with some herbal touches. Very minty as well. Not exactly what I expected, although there are nice traces of warm oak and honey in the background. Oranges. Not bad, but hardly any tropical fruits or jammy notes. Mouth: rather creamy, half fruity, half spicy. Now there’s quite some apricot and citrus but they’re slightly overpowered by oak, ginger, nutmeg and herbal teas. Slightly bitter notes as well. Not as luscious as the 1972 expressions. Finish: more oak and spices (pepper, nutmeg) as well as a little apple.
Phew, my banker will be glad to hear this isn’t yet another stellar old Glen Grant. By no means a bad whisky though, just much more focused on oak and spices than my favourite (sherried) Glen Grant expressions from the same bottler. Around € 170.
Nikka Yoichi 20 years old has an excellent reputation. Most of this is based on the 20yo vintage releases like the 1987/2007 which won the 2008 World Whiskies Awards. Even the WWA website is still mixing it up with the regular (non-vintage) 20 years old that we’re trying today. But anyway, the regular 20 year-old is still pretty great. It’s the oldest member of the single malt Yoichi core range.
Nikka Yoichi 20 yo
(52%, OB 2008, 22G10B)
Nose: big notes of cedar wood up front. Cigar boxes. Tobacco leaves. Old leather. Nice to see there’s also an estery note (nail polish) but this fades away quickly. Dark forest fruits remain. After that, some earthy smoke, burnt cake and a little tar. Hints of dried mushrooms and soft spices. Incense as well. Light matchstick notes from the sherry. Excellent complexity and typically Japanese. Mouth: punchy (bordering on pungent). Again quite savoury and leathery. Walnuts and roasted pecans. Deep, earthy peat smoke. Pepper, liquorice, anise, a pinch of salt. In the background a strong bitter-sweet harmony of burnt fruit cake and dark chocolate. Slightly sourish tobacco leaves. Finish: very long, smoky and chocolaty with traces of dry oak.
It’s a delicious and uniquely Japanese profile, but for some people it might be too extreme in its earthy savouriness. I love it though. Around € 230 for recent batches. Thanks Joeri!
Nose: a slightly austere Clynelish which starts on linseed oil, flints and wax, followed by light fruity notes (lemon skin, apple) and some flowery hints. A very mineral profile. Mouth: sharp and pretty mineral again. Apples again and big zesty lemon (homemade limoncello without the sugar). Hints of tonic water. Grows more austere with grassy notes, ginger and salt. A tad too raw for my taste. Finish: medium long, clean, sharp and zesty.
Young Clynelish that’s behaving more like a lemon brandy. Around € 65. Available from the Whiskybase shop.
This must be one of the most interesting tastings I’ve ever come across. If I’m not mistaken, it will feature every BenRiach 1976 single cask ever bottled by the distillery, no less than 19 in total.
Our friend and BenRiach collector Serge Reijnders is behind the tasting.
His collection contains the well-known casks such as #8079 for Craigellachie and #8080 for The Nectar, as well as lesser known casks for Asia (#3029 for Shinoya, #3041 for BBI, #3010 for Auld Alliance…) and of course the casks for Germany and France (#3550 / #3558 for The Whisky Fair and #3551 / #3557 for LMdW). There’s also a couple of 1976s bottled by Signatory and in between the flights there will be a peated whisky to balance the fruit galore.
Quite an unbelievable line-up. The tasting will be held in Mol, Belgium on June 23rd 2012. A barbecue and homemade desserts will round it off.
In case you’re interested, check out the Facebook event page. Even though the entrance fee of € 200 may seem high, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. See you there!