Glenfiddich has great old casks lying around, although they’re usually quite pricey. I tried this 1973 Private Vintage bottled for LMdW at the Weedram Masters XXV, head-to-head with the regular Glenfiddich 12 years old.
Glenfiddich Private Vintage 34 yo 1973 (46,6%, OB for LMdW 2007, hogshead #28563, 209 btl.)
Nose: starts fruity (big apricot aromas, oranges, grapefruit) and oaky (polished oak). Orchard fruits, some honey as well. A gentleman but really wide and complex. Soft spices (pepper, vanilla, subtle gingerbread) as well as some waxy notes. Very light nougat. Mouth: smooth and citrusy (grapefruit) with a herbal oakiness (soft tannins). Develops on dried fruits. Bittersweet with a minty edge. Bergamot tea. Finish: rather long, fruity with a bitter touch.
Starts great but the score is brought down by the slightly oaky palate. Around € 390 at the time, now sold out.
Bottled last June, this 14yo Dalmore 1996 is one of the latest releases by the chaps of Master of Malt. It was aged in a single refill hogshead. You don’t see many independent Dalmore release, so let’s dive in…
Dalmore 14 yo 1996
(55,5%, Master of Malt 2011)
Nose: sweet with intense barley aromas. Some porridge. Malt. Apples, peaches pears. Punchy spices: pepper with a hint of mint and ginger. After a while hints of gravel show up, and a very vague smokiness in the distance which helps the neutral, youngish and slightly spirity nose to stand out a little. Mouth: pretty light and not as sweet as I thought. There are sugary barley notes but they are countered by spirity notes (pear liqueur, plum eau-de-vie) and a slightly bitter grassiness. Lemon zest and tonic. Again pepper. Finish: medium long, balancing between fruity pear notes and zesty bitterness.
A young Dalmore that’s natural and not entirely typical for the distillery in my opinion. On the MoM website it says “sherry cask”… are they sure about that? I can’t really figure out why they’ve selected this one. Available from Master of Malt for around € 52.
In 2011, Kilchoman will release three new products: Kilchoman 5 years old (November), a full sherry matured version (September) and this Kilchoman 100% Islay, a 3 year-old made from barley grown malted, distilled, matured and bottled on Islay.
This fits the idea of being a farm distillery producing their own ingredients. It’s similar to Bruichladdich‘s ‘Islay Barley’ bottling, but their barley was still malted on the mainland.
Apart from this regular bottling at 50%, there’s also a limited edition, bottled at cask strength (61,3%) and presented in a hand-crafted American oak box, available for a slightly surreal € 215. As far as I know, it’s a different vatting, not just a different strength.
Kilchoman 3 yo ‘Inaugural 100% Islay’ (50%, OB 2011)
Nose: a powerful attack displaying an almost aggressive youthfulness. Instant lemon / grapefruit aromas, slightly synthetic rhubarb and intense coal smoke. Some grainy vanilla biscuits. Chalk. Faint medicinal notes as well. Mouth: sweet, peaty and smoky. Initially there are the medicinal notes again, but these evolve into softer, sweeter notes. Roasted grain cookies and lemon zest again. Apples. Finish: medium long, peaty with a fruity sweetness and whiffs of pepper.
Until the older releases arrive, Kilchoman can only offer a rather immature whisky (with quite some potential). While this is still the case, they seem to achieve a nicer balance even at the same young age. Quality is going up and so are the prices. Around € 80.
Bladnoch, Acorn and Douglais Laing have bottled casks of Teaninich 1982 in the last few months, which is great as we don’t see Teaninch on the market very often. Today we’re trying a release by Liquid Sun.
Teaninich 28 yo 1982 (50,5%, Liquid Sun 2011, bourbon hogshead, 114 btl.)
Nose: elegant and medium fruity (apples, quinces, white grape juice) with plenty of oak polish and linseed oil. Some gristy notes as well. Hay and wet leaves. Mint, soft pepper. Nice balance of fruits and a Highlands austerity. Mouth: gentle start, but full of flavour, again rather gristy with hints of sawdust. After that it grows sweeter and fruitier, with honey, sweet barley and warming oak spices. Cloves and white pepper. Finish: spicy dryness from the oak, with hints of vanilla and tea.
A fairly neutral Teaninch, with pleasant Highlands elements, soft fruits and a perfect dose of oak influence. A nice bottling if you want to get acquainted with this low profile distillery. Around € 120.
Ardbeg distilled in 1975 is usually quite stunning. But not always…
Ardbeg 18 yo 1975 (43%, Signatory Vintage 1993, cask #2464-67)
Nose: gentle start with mellow peat and a softly honeyed sweetness. Then it takes off in two different directions. There’s a medicinal / maritime side, quite nice, with seaweed, antiseptics and menthol. The other side is lemony but also a little fragrant and flowery. Overall very good but maybe not stellar like other 1970’s Ardbeg. Mouth: a bit too soft. Lemony and oily. Smoke, some earthy peat. Picks up strength but also less impressive notes, a mix of bitter oranges and soap. Bugger. Not as bad as Bowmore 1980’s kind of soap, but not what we were expecting either. Finish: rather long and warm, but by now I can’t focus on anything else but the soapiness.
One of the least impressive Ardbegs I’ve ever had. The nose saves it from a 70’ish score.
Tasting really old malts asks for a specific set of descriptors. I don’t feel very confident with whisky distilled before +/- 1965, but it never hurts to gain some experience. The fact that these ancient malts are difficult to describe is exactly what makes them interesting.
This Glenlivet was distilled in 1954 and imported by Baretto, their exclusive Italian importer at that time.
Glenlivet 15 yo 1954
(45,7%, OB for Baretto Import Milano)
Nose: dried fruits with honey and quite some vanilla. Smoked apricot? Bread crust. Candle wax. Whiffs of coal. Caramel and milk chocolate (hints of Milky Way). Nuts. Rather great, excellent example of old style, “hand-made” malts. Mouth: not too thick. Toffee and almonds. Hints of peat in the distance? Praline and nougat. Waxy and slightly smoky. Camomile tea. Develops a few savoury notes as well. Finish: still quite sweet, with dried fruits and a soft bitterness. Cocoa.
A very enjoyable and classy Glenlivet. It’s a bit soft on the palate (not uncommon for such old malts) but that’s about the only downside. Certainly high quality. Auction value around € 400-500? Many thanks, Dominiek!
The time has come. Every autumn, Diageo, owner of 28 Scottish single malt whisky distilleries, unveils a small and highly desirable collection of limited edition single malt Scotch whiskies. Here are this year’s Special Releases.
Brora 32 yo 1978 (54,7% – € 350 – 1404 btl.)
Caol Ila unpeated 12 yo 1999 (€ 60 – 6000 btl.)
Glenury Royal 40 yo 1970 (€ 650 – 1404 btl.)
Knockando 25 yo 1985 (46% – € 160 – 4500 btl.)
Lagavulin 12 yo (57,5% – € 70)
Port Dundas 20 yo 1990 (57,4% – € 130 – 1920 btl.)
Port Ellen 32 yo 11th Release (53,9% – € 350 – 2988 btl.)
Rosebank 21 yo (53,3% – € 180 – 5604 btl.)
Update 1: prices have been added. Thanks Jack! Update 2: official information now added.
This means no Talisker but instead a couple of interesting distilleries that we don’t see too often, like Knockando, Rosebank and the Lowlands grain distillery Port Dundas. The first ever grain Special release, right?
Bottlings are due in December. In the meantime they will refresh the Distiller’s Editions of Talisker, Glenkinchie, Royal Lochnagar, Dalwhinnie, Cragganmore, Coal Ila, Clynelish and Lagavulin.