Imperial 19 yo 1991
(55,3%, Silver Seal 2011, 199 btl.)
Nose: a full nose, rather aromatic, with malty notes, vanilla, fruits (especially apple and orange) and a dash of honey. A fine layer of fresh herbs and oak. A few mineral notes as well. Everything we expected from this kind of Imperial. Mouth: nice interplay of soft syrupy fruits (vaguely tropical, but fading quickly) with lots of spices (ginger, pepper) and an obvious bitterness (Seville oranges and pine resin). I’ve had rounder and more candied expressions but it’s still nice. Finish: medium long on liquorice, grass and oak.
Quality-wise we’re not complaining. Even with the slight oakiness it’s pretty much in line with expectations. But why are Silver Seal bottlings 20 to 50% more expensive than similar releases from other bottlers? The last few days we’ve seen many comments about increasing prices – in the case of Silver Seal it’s actually quite stunning. Around € 130.
Both Malts of Scotland and The Whisky Agency have recently launched a Clynelish 1989.
Clynelish 22 yo 1989
(53,2%, Malts of Scotland 2012, bourbon hogshead MoS 12012, 235 btl.)
Nose: close to the Clynelish 1989 TWA Moody Lions, with a slightly buttery tarte tatin sweetness and ripe melon. Some honey. Hints of strawberry jam even? Quite warm compared to other Clynelish expressions, not many mineral / coastal notes. Of course the classic beeswax is present, and some heather / leafy notes as well, but the whole is surprisingly round and pastry-like. Mouth: very complex, very beautiful. Lemon and warm waxy notes. Again a certain vanilla sweetness in the background. Sweetened grapefruit juice. Candied ginger. Finish: long, jammy with wax and a faint bitterish (zesty) note in the very end.
A sweeter and jammier version of Clynelish. Quite delicious in my opinion. On top of that it’s well-priced so you might want to consider this one for your collection: around € 115.
This Port Ellen 1983 is a joint bottling of the Silver Seal label with their Dutch distributor Whiskybase. Fifty bottles as a joint bottling, the rest with a regular Silver Seal label. Update: a couple of bottles are bottled for The Auld Alliance bar in Singapore.
There’s a surprising amount of Port Ellen 1983 releases at 55,5% these days. The Whiskyman, Old Bothwell and now Silver Seal. These same bottlers had similar or shared casks before, so it’s not impossible that it’s all the same stuff.
Port Ellen 28 yo 1983 (55,5%, Silver Seal & Whiskybase 2011, cask S1462, 60 btl.)
Nose: very good or at least exactly how I like my Port Ellen: sophisticated and subtle with bits of everything. Sharper notes (camphor, coal, wet wool) balanced by rounder elements (green banana, apple, vanilla). Lemon and mint. Pepper. Leather. Very much in line with the PE 1983’s mentioned before. Mouth: starting on briny notes, peat and soot. Iodine. Returns slightly towards creamier notes but the sharpness never goes away. Finish: very long, with peat and liquorice.
Could this be a shared cask? Yes, possibly, or else it’s a similarly high quality neighbour cask of the one(s) we reviewed before. Recommended, although it stretches the boundaries of whisky capitalism once again: € 245, € 275 or € 300 depending on who you buy it from.
Here’s the latest release by the German whisky shop Whisky-Fässle, in their series with the Duck labels (well, a certain part of a duck in this case…). This Bowmore was distilled in June 1997.
Bowmore 14 yo 1997 (51,8%, Whisky-Fässle 2012, bourbon hogshead)
Nose: a mild peatiness and big, fresh, coastal notes (seaweed, wet sand on a shore). A hint of leather. Develops a nice sweetness in the background (lime, yellow plums) as well as soft medicinal notes. Excellent balance. Less fruity than the great Bowmore 1993 releases but it has a similar roundness and elegance. Mouth: again relatively smooth. Starts on round notes (sweet lemon, tangerine, hints of vanilla and cinnamon) mixed with clean, sweet peat. Some briny notes. Hints of camphor and liquorice. High all-round quality. Finish: long, minty and peppery with lingering peat.
Excellent balance of the coastal Islay character with a sweeter roundness. Great selection, recommended. Around € 80.
Comparing a bourbon and a sherry version is probably not very meaningful, but let’s try another early 90’s Glen Scotia. This time a Glen Scotia 1992 bottled by Silver Seal.
Glen Scotia 19 yo 1992
(59,2%, Silver Seal ‘Sestante Collection’ 2011, sherry butt, 321 btl.)
Nose: very punchy and overt. A good example of gunpowder sherry. Mineral notes, graphite and quite some vegetal notes and meaty notes. Not exactly dirty but not very enjoyable either. Mouth: pretty rough and extremely hot (not only alcohol, but a burning chilli pepper sensation). Gunpowder and flints again. Burnt grass. Liquorice. A hint of tar. Lots of herbal notes towards the end, almost like a medicinal herbal potion. It seems the nose was the better part after all. Finish: long, full, with a tiny sweetness and some dry, bitter notes.
Fireworks in a bottle, in more than one sense. Around € 140 in Holland, € 160 in Belgium and Italy. Not something you should buy without trying beforehand, certainly not at such a goofy price.
A brand-new Glen Scotia 1991 bottled by Malts of Scotland.
Glen Scotia 20 yo 1991 (54,5%, Malts of Scotland 2012, bourbon hogshead MoS 12009, 158 btl.)
Nose: elegant nose with lots of pipe tobacco (the sort of mild tobacco with a nice vanilla edge) and hints of cigar boxes. Very subtle exhaust fumes. Underneath is a leathery element and hints of toffee sweetness and raisins to round it off. Old linen and library dust as well. Different kinds of fresh herbs. Vanilla. Needs some airing, but it’s certainly complex with a subtly out-of-bounds character that works really well. Mouth: again quite unusual, with the same kind of tobacco feeling and hints of dust. The old Campbeltown style. Quite some herbal notes and roasted nuts. Oranges. A light saltiness and bitterness as well. Liquorice and aniseed. Finish: long, with dried grasses and a very faint caramel / chocolate note.
Another Glen Scotia that’s all but middle-of-the-road. I love how they can be complex but strange and intriguing at the same time. An adventurous dram, I adore it. Around € 100.
I’m a little late with this, but it’s too good to just forget about it. This Linkwood 1984 was one of the first releases by The Whiskyman.
Linkwood 26 yo 1984 ‘Eleanor Whisky’
(49,2%, The Whiskyman 2011, 88 btl.)
Nose: aromatic and rather sweet, with fruity elements (apple, apricot, orange). Nicely balanced by some mint and heather. Hints of orange blossom. Excellent beehive notes as well (beeswax, honey, pollen). A hint of vanilla. Fresh oak. Over time it develops some damp earthy notes (not sure about this, but at least it doesn’t bring down the otherwise very attractive nose). Mouth: quite fruity again (oranges, apples, pineapple) with honey and a malty base. Elegant spicy notes from the oak (mint, ginger, anise, peppermint). A little heather again. Well-balanced with a gentle woody kick giving it some depth. Finish: long and warm, with fruits and drier notes from the wood.
One of the best Linkwoods I’ve had so far. Great Speyside fruitiness with balanced spices. Around € 120 at the time. Now sold out.