Glenlochy distillery started up during the whisky boom at the end of the 19th century and closed down in the whisky crisis of 1983. Glenlochy occured twice in the Rare Malts series (both bottles are highly sought after) but other than that it’s a truly rare name.
This particular cask was bottled by Part des Anges, a label set up by Laurent Buob and Thierry Richard, French wine / champagne sellers. The Closed Distilleries series is a collection of single casks from… closed distilleries of course. It seems the series never gained much popularity, it started in 2006 but the tempo has always been quite slow.
Glenlochy 27 yo 1980
(58,3%, Part des Anges ‘Closed Distilleries’ 2007, cask #2826, 231 btl.)
Nose: minerals, turpentine, wax… this is typically a Highland whisky and not the most accessible. Quite peaty as well, not unlike the 1980’s Brora style in fact, but maybe more medicinal than Brora. At the start it showed beautiful round notes (apple pie, fruit syrup) but these disappeared quickly. Settles on paraffin and grasses. Mouth: punchy, again waxy and mineral but it show a little more roundness now (lime, apple). Spices (ginger, pepper). Some earthy notes and peat. Camphor and mint. A slightly oaky dryness as well. Finish: long, kind of hot and peaty.
A confident example of the Highlands austerity. Therefore not a real seducer but more of an intellectual malt. Around € 180.
Highland Park started a new limited quartet (similar to their Saint Magnus trilogy) called Valhalla Collection. In the best story-telling tradition, all four will be named after Norse legends and gods and the first one is Highland Park Thor. Loki, Freia and Odin will follow later.
The whisky is 16 years old, cask strength (“Thor” strength) and it’s presented in an impressive boat-like wooden frame. For more information, head over to the official website Whisky of the Gods.
Highland Park Thor
(52,1%, OB 2012, 23.000 btl.)
Nose: the first thing that strikes me is its sweetness (as I don’t associate sweetness to a God like Thor). I get peach jam, stewed yellow plums, vanilla, barley sugars. Candied ginger. Over time the peatiness and sooty smoke move forward. I like this combination a lot, it’s fresh and relatively powerful at the same time. Mouth: punchy, with a more earthy kick of peat and smoke, but it retains this sweet coating of candied apples and pear candy. Quince jelly. Hints of cassis even. Dollops of honey. Vanilla biscuits. A faint salty twist. Finish: long, still fruity (citrus) and subtle spices. Still a hint of smoke in the very end.
This is not just a nice packaging, it’s a rather fruity Highland Park, mixed nicely with some peat smoke and spices. It’s certainly a different style of HP but a lovely one. If you ask me this Valhalla Collection started off in a much better way than the previous trilogy already. It’s not all positive news though as it’s way overpriced, so in that respect I would have dropped the wooden frame. Around € 150.
The yearly Islay festival Feis Ile 2012 is coming (26th of May until 2nd of June). Here are some of the things worth looking out for.
Kilchoman will release a Feis Ile bottling at 4 years of age, 100% Islay produced, matured in first fill bourbon and finished in oloroso sherry.
Bowmore will release a limited 15 years old. Only 750 bottles. There’s also a commerorative Bowmore 1985, only 200 bottles.
Lagavulin offers a 14 year-old distilled in 1998 and matured in a refill sherry butt, cask strength (55,1%), 654 bottles. £ 85.
From Coal Ila comes an 11 year-old distilled in 2001 and matured in a sherry butt. Again cask strength (60,4%) and 618 bottles. £ 85.
Ardbeg is celebrating 2nd June 2012 as the first global Ardbeg Day. People can take part in the “Islay-limpics”: phenolic gymnastics tastings, Marathon tastings, sprint tastings, etc. They will also release an Ardbeg Day 2012 bottling, without age statement. It’s an assembly of two vintages matured in bourbon casks and married / finished in refill sherry casks previously used for Ardbeg Uigeadail. Cask strength 56,7%. It will be available from the distillery but also from the various Ardbeg Embassies around the world (in Belgium we have four).
Speyburn, part of the Inver House group that also houses anCnoc and Old Pulteney among others, had a recent brand makeover. The new bottles are more modern and they’ve presented Clan Speyburn, a community for fans of the distillery.
One of the privileges of the Clan members is the possibility to purchase exclusive whisky releases. The first of these Clan casks (available February 2013), is a Speyburn 1975 single cask. Cask #3413 comes from the famous Pedro Domecq bodegas in Jerez de la Frontera and ‘most probably’ held Pedro Ximénez sherry.
I had a chance to try a March 2012 sample of this cask and I was quite charmed…
Speyburn 37 yo 1975 ‘Clan cask’ (55,8%, OB 2012, Clan Speyburn exclusive, sherry butt #3413)
Nose: plays the card of polished oak and sherry. Raisins and elegant spices. Quite some citrus / orange marmalade. A few floral hints (dandelions) and hay as well. Some tobacco. After a while the oak polish (with quite some estery hints of glue at first) diminishes and makes place for juicy red fruits (raspberry jam and redcurrant). Quite excellent. Mouth: sweetish start, quite assertive and immediately spicy: pepper, ginger, cinnamon. Still nice and fruity, hints of forest fruit candy. Chocolate mousse. Hints of mint and liquorice. It’s not totally free of tannins but it’s impressively vibrant. Finish: long, half fruity / half oaky. Still nicely fruity.
This is an excellent sherried whisky and a great surprise from Speyburn. Around € 270. Sadly only available for UK customers. That’s a shame and disappointing for a supposedly worldwide clan.
Comus was the son of Bacchus, God of wine. This latest version of Octomore was matured in bourbon oak with a finish in French oak casks that held Sauternes dessert wine from Chateau d’Yquem. It contains 167 ppm phenols which makes it the most heavily peated whisky again.
Octomore Comus brings a new version of the Octomore packaging, with a frosted bottle and a white tube: a feminine version?
Octomore 5 yo 04.2 ‘Comus’
(61%, OB 2012, 18.000 btl.)
Nose: tarry and smoky, although the peat blast may not be as heavy as expected (we say this every time we try an Octomore, don’t we?). This is because there’s an equally important biscuity sweetness. Quite some thick fruity notes as well (apricots, grapes). A heathery, grassy, herbal theme too. Added complexity and balance compared to previous expressions. Mouth: oily and very grapey I must say. Pear syrup, tinned peaches. It’s easy to recognize the Sauternes. Mixed with tar liqueur, burnt grass and medicinal notes, the combination works very well. Finish: long, on sweet lemon and peat.
A nice marriage of seemingly contradictory elements. The best Octomore I’ve tried so far. Around € 125.
What a odd name! They are old types of casks (60 and 80 litres respectively) used in the 17th and 18th century. Like the quarter casks from Laphroaig or the Octaves used by Duncan Taylor, they are used to speed up maturation, due to the added surface contact with the wood.
Springbank Rundlets & Kilderkins was distilled in November 2001 and bottled in January 2012 at 10 years old.
Springbank Rundlets & Kilderkins
(49,4%, OB 2012, 9000 btl.)
Nose: starts on hay and nutmeg and gets then more syrupy with hints of dried fruits, toffee and honey. Hints of nougat, roasted nuts and milk chocolate. There is some pepper and herbs but it’s certainly not woody. Nice to find a couple of coastal notes as well, even a very soft farmy / medicinal veil. Mouth: oily and pretty smoky now, really nice. Great balance between honeyed sweetness (rhubarb, peach jam, raisins) and spices from the oak (pepper, cinnamon). Hints of caramelized apple. Tobacco and leather. Full-flavoured, really good. Finish: medium long, sherried, with pecan nuts, toffee, liquorice and a lingering maritime edge.
A very rich and well-made Springbank, taken out of the casks at the perfect moment. I’d be happy to see more experiments like this, or even a regular “small cask” release in the core range? Around € 68.
Can you believe this is the oldest Ledaig I’ve tried so far? You’re right, I should really try those lovely 1970’s expressions, but not today. This Ledaig 1994 was bottled in the Mo Òr Collection.
Ledaig 16 yo 1994
(46%, Mo Òr Collection 2011, bourbon hogshead #228066, 330 btl.)
Nose: wait, where’s the peat? This is surprisingly vibrant with a nice sweetness and a citrus sparkle. Plenty of oranges. There are distant hints of flints and paraffin, but otherwise this is quite different from the 2000’s production. No peat monster. Not complex either, but nice and clean. Mouth: starts sweet: barley sugars, yellow apple, hints of toffee. Slowly there’s subtle peat creeping in, a coastal sharpness as well as nice mocha / roasted coffee beans. Nicely different. Finish: ever more coastal and waxy, although it doesn’t loose the sweetness and a hint of smoke.
This Ledaig unites some flavours that are not often found together. Certainly not as peaty as recent releases, something in between Ledaig and Tobermory? Around € 80.
Jan Kok and Marcel Bol, both Keepers of the Quaich and responsible for Whisky Import Nederland (WIN), distribute a lot of whisky brands in the Netherlands but they also select their own casks in the First Cask series. They haven’t really featured on this blog before (except for a quick heads-up on a Glen Grant 1985) so let’s try this recent Longmorn 1988.
Nose: obviously sherried, with cooked fruits, berries, oak polish and mint. Raisins and apples. On a second level there are hints of old grain whisky (banana / coconut / vanilla), interesting to have these elements combined. Evolves mostly on spicy notes. Mouth: very sweet and candied. Nicely sherried again although there’s still a sugary barley core to be found. Plums, apples with cinnamon, pear candy. Again a sweet coconut edge. Hints of fruit cake. Some milk chocolate. Remains very sweet until the end. Finish: long and creamy, on sweet fruit biscuits with soft spices.
A very sweet Longmorn full of candied fruits and some unexpected touches. I really enjoyed it. Around € 100.