Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Next up in the new Whiskyman releases is a Littlemill distilled in 1988 and nicknamed “Sympathy for the Whisky”. Did you notice how this year’s releases all refer to a Rolling Stones song?

 

 

Littlemill 1988 WhiskymanLittlemill 24 yo 1988 ‘Sympathy for the Whisky’ (54,2%, The Whiskyman 2012, 159 btl.)

Nose: you know the kind of cheesecake with a layer of lemon marmalade on top? This is the liquid version. Really, it’s packed with citrus fruits, more specifically all sorts of candied citrus zests. Closest to yuzu or ugli I’d say, kind of a greenish citrus aroma with some orange aromas. There’s no citrus sourness though, it’s really candied and sort of pastry-like. Some hints of bergamot oil as well. Mouth: still this wonderful combo of refreshing citrus fruits (more tangerine now) and candied sweetness, although this is now balanced by a very soft bitterness and gentle spices from the oak. Superbly focused. Finish: medium long, mostly sweet with the same underlying soft spiciness.

I’m quite sure nobody has ever tasted anything like this, even if you’ve tried all other Littlemill on the market. It’s totally unique, very attractive and easily drinkable. On the other hand, it’s not complex – I’d even say we’re getting into the territory of cask-strength Grand Marnier here. Around € 120. Recommended.

Score: 88/100

 

Please pay even less attention to my score than in other reviews. Complexity is a key element in my scoring and this whisky doesn’t really fit that criterion. Nonetheless there’s a good chance you will absolutely adore it (as I do). Be sure to try it yourself and make up your own mind.


Here’s another one of these interesting 35 cl. Angel’s Choice releases by Malts of Scotland. It seems this Glen Elgin 1975 is only found in Belgium.

 

Glen Elgin 1975 Angel's ChoiceGlen Elgin 1975 (46,8%, Malts of Scotland ‘Angel’s Choice’ 2011, bourbon hogshead MoS 11024, 47 btl., 35 cl.)

Nose: great profile, very polished. Lots of furniture polish really. It takes a while to open up. Then it shows subdued yet elegant fruits (melon, yellow apple) and honey. There’s a soft herbal side to it as well: mint, heather and chamomile. Mouth: gentle and fruity at first (pear, citrus, apricot) but quickly gaining spiciness (pepper, liquorice). Some waxy notes and a little oak resin, sure. Finish: long, still pretty fruity with hints of herbal tea.

An excellent Speysider, totally in line with earlier Glen Elgin 1975. Plenty of fruits and herbs. Around € 90 (exactly 50% of what a full bottle would cost) so here’s an opportunity to experience this profile without breaking the bank.

Score: 88/100


La Maison du WhiskyThis is the second time La Maison du Whisky is playing tricks on me.

I won’t go into details but last Friday around 13h25 I received their promotional e-mail about the new Karuizawa single casks. I ordered one of these and received a confirmation at 13h52.

My brother in law wanted to order the same bottle as well, but around 16h they were already out of stock. He clicked the “send me an e-mail when new stock arrives” button. On Saturday morning 7am he received an e-mail claiming that indeed new stock had arrived but by the time he saw the e-mail, they were out of stock again. Bad luck.

 

Today, about an hour ago, I received this e-mail from their client support:

Dear Sirs, We want to thank you for your order. Unfortunately the product Karuizawa 1981 cask 2634 is out of stock. Do you want to replace the product or to be refunded? Best regards, Audrey – La Maison du Whisky

Funny. How can a product be out of stock for a customer who ordered on Friday if you send an e-mail to customers on Saturday that new stock arrived? How hard is it to have an accurate (if not real-time) stock indication anyway, if you’re a proclaimed specialist since 1956 with an emphasis on online sales?

Is LMdW selling bottles only to preferred customers regardless of the ordering queue? Or is their logistics really that terrible? Beats me.

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Last year Master of Malt released a wonderful Inchgower 1974. Now there’s a younger version at the same price.

 

Inchgower 1982 Master of MaltInchgower 29 yo 1982 (53,9%, Master of Malt 2011, refill hogshead, 190 btl.)

Nose: initially fairly malty with quite some spicy notes and waxy overtones. There’s a very nice sweetness of plums and berries (think cassis / blueberry and gooseberries) which makes it stand out. Hints of gingerbread. Also notes of vanilla ice cream. Hints of garden herbs as well, even something of… sweet cucumber? This may sound bizarre but it’s quite a unique and interesting nose. Mouth: again a strangely attractive combination of vanilla cream, toffee, nuts and a faint hint of wet paper. Nice enough though. Then back to blueberries with brown sugar and cocoa. Finally some spicy oak with a hint of resin. Finish: medium long, with cocoa / praline up front.

A whirlpool of uncommon flavours and a slightly quirky result, just like to the Inchgower 1982’s I’ve had before (by Malts of Scotland and Whisky-Doris). Maybe not the complex old style of the 1974 but still very interesting and good fun to drink. Around € 85. Available here.

Score: 87/100


Angel's Choice - Malts of ScotlandOnce in a while someone comes up with a brilliant idea. In this case Malts of Scotland who launched a brand-new and very interesting series called Angel’s Choice.

It will be used to release low-yield bottlings from old casks with a high angel’s share (hence the name). To let as much people as possible enjoy these casks, they’ve chosen a 35 cl. bottle with a similar shape as their full size bottles. I think it’s an excellent idea, it allows you to try more whiskies for the same budget, or experience something that would have been out of your reach in a standard bottle. True, we’ve seen a similar idea before, but I’m hoping it will really gain a foothold now!

Note that the yields can be extremely low. This particular release (from an undisclosed distillery founded in 1836) only has 55 (half) bottles! Given the low numbers of bottles, not every release will be sold in each country.

In this first batch, Belgium will see a Glen Elgin 1975 apart from the 41 years old Glenfarclas seen below. I’ve also noticed a Glenrothes 1970, Tomatin 1966 and Glenlossie 1975 in German shops.

 

 

Glenfarclas 1970 (Malts of Scotland - Angel's Choice)“1836” 1970 (53,5%, Malts of Scotland  ‘Angel’s Choice’ 2011, sherry cask MoS 11025, 55 btl., 35 cl.)

Nose: a deeply fruity kind of sherry. Sultanas, figs and quinces but also juicy raspberry jam and grenadine. Everything’s coated by some very refined oak varnish, mint and old roses. Great. Whiffs of herbal tea and aniseed. Fudge. Also a soft smoky note and a clean matchstick note, but very much in the background. Very high class, especially the fresh fruits make it stand out. Mouth: rather sweet attack on strawberries and blood oranges. Kirsch. Fruit cake. Quickly overtaken by drier notes: different kinds of herbs as well as liquorice and hints of cough syrup. Oak as well. A tad rounder with a few drops of water. Finish: long, rather dry, minty and slightly resinous with echoes of chocolate and fruity notes.

Great deeply sherried Glenfarclas with a juiciness that’s certainly above average. Around € 140 for this half bottle.

Score: 91/100


You may remember we had a wave of Ardmore 1992 releases last year (by Malts of Scotland and Daily Dram among others). Now The Whiskyman has one in its series with the 1970’s-style label.

 

Ardmore 1992 WhiskymanArdmore 20 yo 1992 ‘Peat fighting man’
(49,9%, The Whiskyman 2012, 146 btl.)

Nose: starts earthy, mineral and slightly sooty but after a while this is nicely balanced by rounder, fruity notes. Seville oranges. The longer you wait, the more it becomes (tropically) fruity, with great papaya / banana notes. Some oils, maybe even a hint of diesel. All very lovely and perfectly integrated. Mouth: very smooth with sweet smoke, peat (subtle peat, think old Ardbeg) and yellow apple. Almonds. After that, there’s clearly a hint of pink grapefruit and again some tropical hints of passion fruit and pineapple. Some coastal notes as well. Very nice. Finish: long, rather sweet again. Almonds and soft smoke.

It seems some of these Ardmores show potential to bring back some old-style Ardbeg / Brora with balanced peat and a nice fruitiness. This one’s my favourite so far, but be sure to give it enough time to unfold its complexity. Around € 85. On its way to stores.

Score: 90/100


One of the latest additions to the Elements of Islay series by TWE is this Bruichladdich Br2.

 

Bruichladdich Br2 - Elements of IslayBruichladdich Br2
(49,3%, Elements of Islay 2011, 50 cl)

Nose: a fairly rounded malt with a gristy touch. On the one hand fruity notes (apple, lemon, melon) and on the other hand a soft, coastal saltiness. Some mineral notes. It also shows a “green” element of grasses or fresh herbs like parsley. Mouth: sharper than expected from the nose, and a great deal drier. Herbal and spicy notes at first, with some ginger and a peppery kick. Then faint notes of lemon and honey before settling on dry lemon zest. Finish: quite long, spicy and citrusy.

Pretty exemplary Bruichladdich. Clean, mineral and zesty, injected with whiffs of sea air. Around € 60, available from The Whisky Exchange.

Score: 83/100


The Dun Bheagan label was introduced in 1999 by Ian McLeod Distillers who are also behind the “Chieftain’s” and “As we get it” ranges, the Smokehead label and the Glengoyne distillery.

Since I’ve tried a nice Glenburgie 1988 Duncan Taylor and the Glenburgie 1997 Asta Morris, I’m on the lookout for other versions.

 

Glenburgie 1998 Dun BheaganGlenburgie 11 yo 1998 (43%, Dun Bheagan 2010, cask #4980 + 4983, 642 btl.)

Nose: starts a little undefined and overly malty, but after a few minutes it becomes nicely rounded with plenty of vanilla and some toffee sweetness. Apple, lemon candy, sugar cane, Frosties… Also hints of buttercups and some waxy notes. Tiny hints of marshmallows after fifteen minutes. Excellent development for such a young malt. Mouth: sweet and malty again, with some sweet citrus, apple and gooseberry flavours. Fresh oak and gentle spices (vanilla up front, but ginger as well). Some cocoa. Slightly less wide than the nose, but still nothing to complain about. Finish: medium long, spices from the oak and a little toffee.

Another well-made Glenburgie. These youngsters are really nice and offer excellent value for money. Around € 40. Thanks Mars.

Score: 86/100


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Coming up

  • Bunnahabhain 1980 (Eiling Lim)
  • Balmenach 2001 (Liquid Treasures)
  • Auchentoshan Heartwood
  • Elements of Islay Lp6
  • Glenlivet 1981 for TWE
  • Strathisla 1948/1961
  • Benromach 15 Years

1820 notes by Ruben

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