Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Duncan Taylor has a big stock of old Glenrothes casks. Many of their 1968 casks have been bottled in the prestigious Peerless series. The most recent release was this 41 year-old at 43%.

As a matter of fact, the Duncan Taylor casks are so good that Glenrothes decided to buy back a whole bunch of casks. Does it mean there’s a very expensive official release planned in the near future?

This is slightly darker whisky than yesterday’s Glenrothes 1968 by Malts of Scotland.

 

Glenrothes 1968 DT PeerlessGlenrothes 41 yo 1968 (43%, Duncan Taylor 2010, cask #9974, 139 btl.)

Nose: this one is much more biscuity than the Malts of Scotland version. More vanilla custard, great white chocolate notes and something caramelly. Over time it smells like a chocolate store really. Lovely dusty elements. The same kind of freshly sawn oak. Then back to gooseberries and apricots, pineapple, honey, even some volatile strawberry notes. Slightly wider and more complex than the other. Mouth: creamy, with the same kind of sweet / fruity vs. sour / oaky combination. Thicker and creamier than the Malts of Scotland, despite the slightly lower strength. Soft fruits (oranges, mango) and soft spices (cinnamon, cardamom). Custard with caramel. Finish: long and sweet, half spicy / half citrusy with apples and hints of aniseed.

A great cask, no doubt, showing both fresh fruits and warmer vanilla / chocolate notes. The thicker structure seems to hide the oak influence more. More expensive though: around € 260.

Score: 89/100


The excellent German bottler Malts of Scotland has just released a new series of bottlings. Among the new releases, I was looking forward mostly to both Caperdonich 1972 casks and this Glenrothes 1968.

 

Glenrothes 1968 - Malts of ScotlandGlenrothes 42 yo 1968 (45,2%,
Malts of Scotland 2011, bourbon hogshead #13509, 108 btl.)

Nose: fresh and fruity, but not a fruitbomb as there’s also a certain oaky dryness. Lots of citrus notes (especially orange and tangerine), hints of passion fruit and some new leather. A bit of wax. Hints of dry flowers and hay. Over time it seems to fade out a little and focus more on the (nicely fresh) oak. Faint hints of moccha. Mouth: quite a sour attack with plenty of oak. Ginger, cinnamon and lemon with the warmer fruits being pushed to the background. Hints of cardamom and cloves. Slightly tannic but still very enjoyable. Finish: drying and spicy with lingering fruits and hints of tea.

 

A Glenrothes of this age usually can’t hide the oak influence. This is no different, but only on the palate did it bother me a little. Other than that, it’s a bright Speysider with sparkling citrus fruits. Around € 200.

Score: 87/100


Scott’s Selection is a range of whiskies picked by Robert Scott, a former Master blender at Speyside Distillers in Glasgow. They bottled this North Port at 58% but they also have a later version at 48%.

North Port (also called Brechin or Townhead) is not a well known distillery. It was part of the Diageo empire but it was closed during the whisky crisis of 1983. Stocks are now believed to be very low.

 

North Port 1980 - Scotts SelectionNorth Port 24 yo 1980
(58%, Scott’s Selection 2004)

Nose: quite a strong nose, very malty. Oatmeal. Some vegetal elements (potatoes). Butter caramel. A little lamp oil. Faint smoke maybe? Mouth: grainy, malty and quite boring. Sweet, slightly hot and flat. Malt? Muesli with a dash of alcohol? Not much to say I’m afraid. Caramel again. A faint hint of apple. The spices are the best part (nutmeg, some pepper, something mustardy). Finish: oily, slightly grassy but again quite boring.

This North Port is not exactly bad whisky, but there are very few elements that stand out of the malty / sweet toffee centre. Some distilleries were closed for a good reason, you know. Around € 100 and still available.

Score: 75/100


All the Glen Elgin 1975 I’ve had before were good, some even excellent.
In case you want to compare, check these similar releases.

 

Glen Elgin 1975 - Whisky-FaessleGlen Elgin 35 yo  1975
(46,1%, Whisky-Fässle 2010, bourbon cask)

Nose: fruity in an “unripe” way, with a certain dryness to it. Fresh citrus, apricots and lime with soft waxy notes. A little leather. Some mineral notes as well. Delicate vanilla. Hints of mint and heather. After a while, it becomes quite aromatic and floral. White flowers, jasmin maybe? Mouth: fresh, citrusy and rather dry with a nice oaky touch. Pear, orange, passion fruits. Delicate ginger and herbal notes. Some liquorice towards the end. Finish: medium length, with oranges and citrus tea.

Quite similar to the 1975 bottled by Whisky Agency, which is not a bad reference of course. Around € 160. Available from Whisky-Fässle in Germany.

Score: 88/100


You may have noticed that we’ve had a lot of very old whiskies lately, with very high scores. It’s simply the time of the year. The Whisky Fair, the Fulldram supertasting, the Weedram Masters in two weeks… these events have a big focus on exceptional old stuff. And of course we’re more excited about a
Glen Keith 1970 than the next Glen Wonka 2000.

 

We were stunned by the Glen Keith 1970 released by The Whisky Agency
a few months ago. Now Malts of Scotland has a similar bottling, probably from a sister cask? This one is slightly darker, more golden coloured.

 

Glen Keith 1970 Malts of ScotlandGlen Keith 40 yo 1970 (47,9%, Malts of Scotland 2011, bourbon hogshead #6042, 163 btl.)

Nose: juicy ripe fruits (pears, gooseberries, peaches, tangerine, banana) with honey. Again a faint “green” edge of soft spices, mint and flowers. Maybe the warm vanilla / coconut side is even slightly bigger here, it seems the TWA version was slightly more acidic? All kinds of beehive notes here (honey, balm, pollen). Leather. Almonds. Wonderfully big and attractive. Mouth: the same kind of fruitiness, joined by a soft bitterness. Superb pineapple with coconut. Apricot jam. Vanilla. A little cinnamon and pepper. Mint. Finish: more of the same really, softly oaky and citrusy backed by spices.

 

Wow, another Glen Keith 1970 of exceptional quality. Personally I think this one has the better nose and the TWA version has the better palate, but differences are very very small and both are exactly my style. Great if you missed out on the other one. Around € 200.

Score: 93/100


This must be one of the rarest whiskies I’ve ever had. Just 22 bottles. It was presented at the recent Fulldram Supertasting. If you know this was voted third place (of five whiskies), you’ll understand that the line-up was very good. We’ll review a few others shortly.

This Glen Grant 1959 was a leftover of a cask bottled in 1999 by Samaroli (at least that’s what I’ve heard). In 2007 the bottles were relabeled by the people of Whisky Club Austria (Konstantin Gregoriadis and others). The label says “designed by Serge Valentin”.

 

Glen Grant 1959 - Whisky Club AustriaGlen Grant 40 yo 1959 / 1999 (48,9%, Whisky Club of Austria 2007, sherry cask, 22 btl.)

Nose: almost everything you would expect from old dark sherry. Prunes, raisins, Portuguese Ginjinha, dark chocolate and roasted nuts. Balsamic syrup. All kinds of herbs. Something that holds the middle between fuel and dusty notes (bottle ageing?). High octane sherry without any possible off-notes. Mouth: very intense. Dried fruits but there are fresher notes as well (grapefruit, cherries, oranges). Some oak but never too dry. Nutty flavours again. Some pine resin. Mint. Finish: beautiful, long and very rewarding.

A very impressive and very intense Glen Grant. You need to be a sherry lover of course. No need to look for this bottle, I would say, although once there was a bottle on Whiskyauction.

Score: 93/100


The new Karuizawa Noh releases were available at different stands at
The Whisky Fair. There’s a 19 years old Karuizawa 1991 cask #3206 and a 13 years old Karuizawa 1997 cask #3312.

They decided to use small 20cl bottles, officially because the volume left in the cask was so small. That has nothing to do with exceptional angel’s share, it’s simply because Whisky Magazine bottled part of both casks in full 70cl bottles to support Oxfam.

 

Karuizawa 1991 Noh 3206Karuizawa 19 yo 1991
(60,8%, OB 1991, sherry butt #3206)

Nose: starts a bit dirty (something in between sulphury and farmy) but airing helps. Tobacco, matchsticks, hints of incense. A lot of pencil wood and limestone. There are some raisins and blood orange notes from the sherry, but on a second level. Ginger. Mouth: powerful with a big peppery kick. Rather sweet, with orange honey. Cigars, maybe even some smoke? Getting quite dry in the end, with an earthy umami flavour. Some vanilla as well. Finish: long, lots of pepper again. Tobacco. After a few hours, an empty glass smells like cured ham.

Big as Karuizawa can be, with the same elements as older versions but with a little less depth. The 1997 is slightly fruitier and less complex. Around € 60 for a 20cl bottle.

Score: 86/100


Whisky FairEach year, a few special bottles are released to celebrate The Whisky Fair in Limburg. One of them was a Strathisla distilled 21/02/1963 and bottled 24/03/2011 by Gordon & MacPhail. A similar Strathisla 1960 was bottled last year.

 

 

Strathisla 1963 G&M for Whisky FairStrathisla 48 yo 1963 (51,8%,
Gordon & MacPhail for The Whisky Fair,
Book of Kells, first fill sherry butt #576)

Nose: the first thing that struck me is a wonderful “green” herbalness. Not the most common herbs, but cardamom, parsley, dill. Cough syrup. At times it reminded me more of old rum (more specifically the Long Pond 1941 cask #76 by G&M) than of old whisky, but after a while it changes and comes back to typical sherried whisky aromas: dried fruits, old leather with a faint meaty note. Wax. Mineral notes. A little mint sauce. Mushrooms. Dusty cedar wood. But all very subtle. Impressive complexity and difficult to express in words. Mouth: beautiful sherry influence, dried apricots, resin, hints of forest fruits and raspberries. Almonds. Quite dry but no prominent herbal notes this time. A little cocoa. Oranges. Nicely balanced oak and intense fruits. Finish: dry, long, with spices, liquorice, faint nutty notes and lingering dried fruits.

Strahisla is the champion when it comes to extremely long maturation, and Gordon & MacPhail have the best casks. Nice selection, even better than the 1960 bottled last year!
€ 300 is a heavy price, but worth it in my opinion.

Score: 93/100

ps/ some other people thought the nose was a slight setback,
so be sure to form your own opinion.


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  • Roberto Sikora: This is really a great, great bottling. One of my favourite Littlemills so far... :-) Thank you, Ruben for this review!
  • george: i see you have tried st magdalene and say it is harder to find i am a collector of st magdalene and i have 40 bottles i am selling these date from 196
  • sjoerd972: I wish the guys at Bushmills would demand the labels to say "Northern Ireland" so we didn't have to speculate on the booze's origins.

Coming up

  • Bowmore Devil's Casks - Batch 2
  • Tomatin 1988 (Malts of Scotland)
  • Aberfeldy 12 Year Old
  • Blair Athol 2002 (Hepburn's Choice)
  • Fettercairn Fior
  • Bowmore Laimrig 15yo
  • Ben Nevis 2002 (Port cask #334)

1600 notes by Ruben

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