Single malt whisky - tasting notes

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.


In the past, sister casks were bottled by Bladnoch (#6965, 6966), Berry Bros (#6968) and Malts of Scotland (#6969). As Doris & Herbert told me last weekend, they wanted to show a different kind of Inchgower after the Inchgower 1974 bottled last year.

 

Inchgower 1982 Whisky-DorisInchgower 28 yo 1982 (56,6%, Whisky-Doris 2010, bourbon hogshead #6971, 192 btl.)

Nose: unique notes of very ripe banana, buttercups and a slightly strange milky element (like a milk steamed Oolong tea or even hints of buttermilk). Quite oily. Hazelnuts and almond paste. Plenty of vanilla cream. Hay. Faint coastal notes. Very complex and quite unique. Mouth: again it shows a certain buttermilk note, even something of a Hollandaise sauce (now that may sound strange but it’s actually quite nice). Sweet marzipan and vanilla. Intense pepper and sharper grassy notes. Sugared camomile tea and a hint of bitter oak. Finish: quite long with pepper and salt and a praline note.

I don’t think I’ve tasted anything like this before. Impressive butteriness, that works out well. Very complex altogether, with intense spicy, salty, sweet, buttery, bitter and nutty flavours! Bonus point for having such a unique character, although I suppose many people will find this way too strange. Around € 110.

Score: 90/100


Whisky Fair 2011So it’s all true. The Whisky Fair in Germany is probably the best whisky festival out there. Full stop.

It’s even bigger than I expected, and the number of both newly launched bottles and legendary old stuff is impressive. The best thing is that I hardly saw standard supermarket whisky, this is a place where bottlers and retailers are working hard to impress their customer.

Here are a few of my highlights. I’ve brought home samples of most of these, so expect a full review in the near future:

All of these new Whisky Agency / The Nectar / Daily Dram releases are very high quality by the way (Glen Keith 1970, Glenury Royal 1973…).

And then there was a whole bunch of old things. A great Longmorn 1969/1999 (DL OMC) at Mara’s stand, a Saint Magdalene 1965 (G&M CC) from Bert Vuik, a 1920’s blend from Berry Bros (thanks Magnus), a series of Moon Import bottles chez Diago Sandrin, etc.

Also worth noting was the Liquid Sun stand, a sister company of The Whisky Agency. Originally meant for Japan and Sweden, I’ve heard some rumours that their bottlings would come to Belgium in the near future.

As a final note, I was surprised to see so many Glenfarclas 175th Anniversary and Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix bottles being sold at different stands. They’re far from being sold out.

On to next year!


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  • Tudval: Just because canadian whisky 'can' have other stuff in it, doesn't mean it does. Regulation is not the be all and end all. Certainly these days there
  • Gal(WhiskyIsrael): Just tasted this one. WOW. i am very very impressed Ruben. Amazing BFYB for 40 euro. this feels much older and so complex. WOW again. dang!
  • bakerman: I will look for the cheaper unpeated Caol Ila as I am interested to compare it with the younger versions released earlier (8 and 12 years). I will als

Coming up

  • GlenDronach 1990 (PX cask #2970)
  • Highland Journey
  • GlenDronach 1993 Oloroso cask #494
  • Glen Elgin 1985 (Maltbarn)
  • Fettercairn Fior
  • Cardhu 18 Year Old
  • Ben Nevis 2002 (Port cask #334)
  • Tomatin Cuatro series

1614 notes by Ruben

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