Single malt whisky - tasting notes

At the “televoting tasting” of last week, this Glenlivet 1972 (sorry:
The Glenlivet) bottled by The Whisky Agency didn’t get into the top-3, but it was still one of the highlights of the evening.

 

Glenlivet 1972 Whisky AgencyGlenlivet 37 yo 1972 (56,8%, The Whisky
Agency – Perfect Dram III 2009,
bourbon hogshead, 141 btl.)

Nose: a rather spirity and grainy start. Folds open with floral notes, pollen and stewed fruits, but overall it keeps hovering around malty aromas. Citrus and apricot jam. A little vanilla and oak polish. Liquorice. Soft spices. Traces of wet limestone. Mouth: intense and very spicy. Still a generous amount of cereal notes. Ripe fruits (pineapple, gooseberries). Slightly bitter tangerine. Vanilla. Almonds. Some grassy notes. Finish: medium length, slightly hot with oak and spices, especially pepper.

This Glenlivet is surely a nice old Speysider, but it failed to impress me as much as it seemed to impress other people. It’s really complex though, and very coherent. A few drops of water take away some of the rough edges by the way. Sold out.

Score: 87/100


Kilchoman is surfing the wave of exclusive single cask bottlings. There has been cask #232 for La Maison du Whisky, #154 for The Whisky Show, #120, #211 and recently #252 for The Netherlands… A quick look at Whiskybase tells us they’ve released at least 50 expressions already!

This single cask was bottled for the Belgian whisky festival Spirits of the Sea. It was distilled on the 10th of October 2007 and bottled on the 14th of October 2010, perfectly timed to call it whisky.

 

Kilchoman cask 334 BelgiumKilchoman 3 yo 2007
(62,4%, OB 2010, bourbon cask #334)

Nose: starts peaty and sweet with remarkable notes of olive juice and mild green chilli pepper. Quite oily as well. None of the synthetic sweetness that we disliked in earlier Kilchoman. Water brings out ashes and walnuts. Mouth: hugely peaty and smokey with a citrus sweetness and big briney notes. Salt water. Olives again. Water highlights the smoke again. Like a concentrated Laphroaig. Finish: long, half sweet, half briney with a few hints of dark smoked tea. Ashes.

This is one of the best releases I’ve tasted from Kilchoman. It’s also one of the first to hide its age. I would say they’re on their way to success if not for the price: around € 75 seems to be a standard price for recent single casks.

Score: 85/100

ps/ Even though the original price was very heavy already, soon after the festival it was being offered on different websites for € 149 and € 170. You have to be out of your mind to pay such prices. It’s not worth it and I seriously doubt it will become a valuable collectors item if so many are dumped on the market and collected by so many people.


Here’s another new Laphroaig 1990, bottled by Malts of Scotland. Expectations are high after some recommendations by other whisky lovers.

 

Laphroaig 1990 - Malts of ScotlandLaphroaig 20 yo 1990 (52,6%, Malts of Scotland 2011, bourbon hogshead #2229, 178 btl.)

Nose: smoky and maritime again, but more aromatic compared to the Whisky Agency release. The fruity banana is much bigger and there’s less antiseptic to be found. Definitely rounder, even a bit floral. Lime instead of lemon. Vanilla. A little marzipan and praline. Hints of graphite. Beautiful and balanced, excellent Laphroaig. Mouth: a smoky and peppery attack, which gets rounder. Lemon sweets. Peat blast. Marzipan. A pinch of salt and brine. A little mint as well, which is a nice touch. Finish: long with a nice balance of dry smoke, brine and sweet lemon juice.

This Laphroaig 1990 may be marginally less powerful, but it gains balance and complexity, which makes it more to my personal preference than yesterday’s Whisky Agency version. Recommended indeed. Well priced as well: around € 110.

Score: 90/100


No shortage of good Laphroaig. This Laphroaig 1990 was released by The Whisky Agency as a joint bottling with Dutch distributor Bresser & Timmer. Easily found on Dutch websites such as Whiskysite.nl.

 

Laphroaig 1990 TWA & Bresser TimmerLaphroaig 20 yo 1990 (56,3%, The Whisky Agency ‘Perfect Dram’ with Bresser & Timmer 2011, ex-bourbon, 237 btl.)

Nose: quite peaty and smokey, exceptionally high on maritime notes (seaweed, smoked fish). Antiseptic notes. Some wax / fat. Wet gravel and mineral notes. Quite dry and grassy, the expected lemon juice and almonds are present, as well as some banana, but the dominating layer is certainly the maritime smokiness. Intense. Mouth: assertive, oily and coastal. Big smoke with lemon, evolving to drier lemon zest. Salted fish. Sweet almonds and other nutty flavours. Hints of burnt grass and seaweed again. Finish: very long and deeply smoky / peaty. Getting even drier, with liquorice notes.

A very big and maritime Laphroaig. Smoky, powerful and flawless. What’s not to like? Around € 120.

Score: 88/100


The name Ichiro’s Malt comes from Ichiro Akuto, the grandson of the founder of Hanyu distillery. After the distillery was dismantled in 2004, he saved around 400 casks. In 2008 he opened a new distillery named Chichibu, and this Double Distilleries is a vatting of both whiskies: sherry matured Hanyu and Chichibu new-make from a Japanese oak cask.

 

Ichiro's Malt Double DistilleriesIchiro’s Malt Double Distilleries
(46%, OB 2010)

Nose: sweet and rounded, quite biscuity with a fruity hint of honeysuckle and apple. Plenty of oak as well, mainly freshly cut wood and a hint of varnish. A little bourbonny I would say. After a while, it turns to slightly oriental sandalwood aromas. Mouth: starts spicy (nutmeg, cinnamon, a little pepper), followed by a wave of young malty notes. The combination of youth and plenty of oak flavours is a bit strange. There’s also a slightly disturbing soapy note. Finish: drier and faintly bitter with oak flavours, mint, some ginger and liquorice.

The duality of Hanyu and Chichibu results in an interestingly different dram. If only the woodiness were a little less invasive and the price a little lower. Around € 85.

Score: 81/100


The Glen Elgin 1975 by Berry Bros came in second in the recent televoting tasting by Fulldram. Here’s another Glen Elgin 1975 recently bottled by The Whisky Agency in the Landscapes series.

 

Glen Elgin 1975 TWA LandscapesGlen Elgin 35 yo 1975 (51,5%, The Whisky
Agency ‘Landscapes’ 2011, ex-bourbon hogshead, 186 btl.)

Nose: in a way, this reminds me of malts bottled in the 60’s or 70’s. It shows a typical dustiness and faint yeasty notes, as well as hints of dried flowers and chamomile. You have to give it 15 minutes and then it really starts talking. Unripe fruits and heather. Slightly less fruity than the Berry Bros version, or rather on a deeper layer, but the slightly higher strength makes it more aromatic as well. More bee pollen. A little mint and lots of herbal tea. Mouth: punchy, quite malty at first but also fruitier than on the nose. Citrus, mint and a little verbena. Nice spices. Herbal tea again. A bit of wood in the background. Finish: quite long, sweet lemon at first and then some drying spices.

Great old-fashioned Speyside style, no big fruitiness but plenty of green / herbal notes. Around € 170. Still available in some places.

Score: 88/100


Glenfarclas 17 years is not a commonly found expression in the Glenfarclas range. It is bottled in limited quantities and sold primarily in the US and Japan as well as in travel retail. Occasionally you can find it in stores outside these regions as well.

 

Glenfarclas 17 yearsGlenfarclas 17 yo (43%, OB)

Nose: roasted nuts (hazelnuts, almonds) and caramel. A lot of toffee notes. Quite some dates as well. A light hint of eucalyptus and with a heathery / resinous edge. Plenty of fresh herbs like parsley. Beautifully composed. It seems this one is a tad more smokey than other Glenfarclas bottlings as well. Mouth: good attack, again a herbal note up front. Hints of pine needles and resin. Some liquorice. Sherried but malty at the same time. Oak, but not overwhelming. Cloves. Cinnamon sticks. Finish: long, nutty and drying on spices and oak.

One of the more herbal and smokey members of the Glenfarclas range. Around € 55.

Score: 83/100


Last Monday I attended a great “televoting tasting” by whisky club Fulldram. Each member could nominate 6 bottles from a list of 20.

The resulting line-up contained eight drams, with a few highlights like the Glen Elgin 1975 by Berry Bros, Port Ellen 1983 (cask #66 by Malts of Scotland) and Glenlivet 1972 Perfect Dram (notes will follow). The preferred whisky of most members turned out to be the Tomatin 1976 released by Daily Dram.

That Tomatin seems to be gone now, but a similar release has just been announced by The Whisky Agency in the new Grotesque Crocs series. Let’s do a little comparison.

 

Tomatin 1976 Whisky Agency CrocsTomatin 34 yo 1976 (51,3%, The Whisky
Agency ‘Grotesque Crocs’ 2011, refill sherry butt, 309 btl.)

Nose: difficult to spot differences between both versions. Both are wonderfully tropical: mango, tangerine, apricot and banana with silky vanilla and mint. The pink grapefruit notes were a bit stronger in the Daily Dram version, the TWA focuses more on oak (+ polish) and seems to show more spicy / herbal notes and also a soft layer of dried fruits. But you know, as soon as I swirl my glasses and put my nose back in, I’m wondering whether it’s not simply imagination. The similarities are far more striking than the differences anyway. Mouth: impressive fruitiness again (tropical fruits and citrus), backed up with spices (nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon, vanilla) and oak. Again the spices in this TWA version seem a little louder and the DD version has more pronounced grapefruit. A little dryness in the end, which seems bigger here. Finish: medium long, fruity and spicy.

For those who were unable to get the Daily Dram version: here’s an almost identical Tomatin – again not the most complex whisky but otherwise just as excellent and extremely drinkable. Great tropical fruits tied together by oak spices. Should arrive in stores shortly. Around € 150.

Score: 91/100


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Coming up

  • Convalmore 1978 (Rare Malts)
  • Littlemill 1991 (Eiling Lim)
  • Glen Moray 1959/1989
  • Jura 1972 SMWS 31.4

1571 notes by Ruben

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