Single malt whisky - tasting notes

This Arran 1995 must be one of the youngest and most affordable releases ever by The Whisky Agency, at least in the regular series. On the other hand the distillery opened in 1995 so it could be one of the oldest expressions around: kinda special after all.


Arran 1995 Whisky AgencyIsle of Arran 16 yo 1995
(53,2%, The Whisky Agency & The Nectar 2012, refill hogshead, 188 btl.)

Nose: aromatic, fruity and pretty complex. Citrus fruits, some almond cake aromas. Marzipan and vanilla. Very sweet raspberry candy in the distance. Not all young and candied though, it also shows leather and spices (cinnamon, ginger). Also hints of hay and wet sand. Tiny coastal notes. Nice. Mouth: still fresh and sweet, quite a bold attack. Orange sweets. Clear oak now, pepper, light liquorice. Lemon balm and ginger, a few floral notes as well. Nice balance of sweetness, bitterness and spices. Finish: long and quite hot (pepper, ginger and alcohol). Fixed easily with some water.

Fresh, clean, complex, and nothing covered up with wine or sherry. The best Arran I’ve had so far, simple as that. Around € 70.

Score: 88/100

Malts of Scotland bottled quite a few things from less common distilleries this time: Glen Moray, Banff, Lochside, a Tomintoul matured in a rum cask, and this Bladnoch 1990.


Bladnoch 1990 Malts of ScotlandBladnoch 21 yo 1990
(54,4%, Malts of Scotland 2012,
bourbon barrel, MoS 12019, 115 btl.)

Nose: nicely candied. The usual grassiness is present, alongside a few gristy notes, but it’s sweetened by dried pineapple and Honey Pops. Lemon wine gums. Lime juice and Demerara sugar. A slightly tropical version of the Lowlands, although it returns to slightly sharper grainy and lemony notes over time. Mouth: punchy, nicely balanced between citrus notes (grapefruit, lemon zest) and a rounder, candied touch. Quite a peppery kick. More grassy this time, slightly more bitter as well. More grapefruit. Hints of tonic. Finish: rather long, grassy and lemony. Grapefruit tea.

I’m not a fan of the typical grassiness and zesty bitterness of Bladnoch but I have to say this one adds a few rounder notes which makes it much more attractive. Probably the best Bladnoch I’ve tried, certainly on the nose. Around € 100.

Score: 87/100

Maltbarn is a new bottler set up by German Malt Maniac Martin Diekmann. He recently moved into a farm and the attached barn gave him the idea.

He will basically only release whiskies that he really loves himself, not just anything that’s popular. Given Martin’s impressive tasting record of course we’re very interested. Most of the Maltbarn releases will be older drams, simply because he likes them more than younger ones. The goal is maybe 6 or 8 bottlings a year.

The first two releases are a Caperdonich 1972 and this Caol Ila 1980 matured in an ex-sherry butt. Sherried Caol Ila is always something to look out for, as the distillery doesn’t show this character in official bottlings (except for an odd Feis Ile release now and then). Only 66 bottles.



Caol Ila 1980 MaltbarnCaol Ila 30 yo 1980 (56,3%, Maltbarn 2011, ex-sherry butt, 66 btl.)

Nose: starts crisp and coastal, typical for Caol Ila, but after five minutes it slightly moves away from that profile and adds lovely sherry notes (raisins, red fruits). Light smoke. Leather and tobacco. Cedar wood. Seaweed. Great to see jammy forest fruits balancing the zesty Caol Ila style. Close to sherried Port Ellen in that respect (think PE1 for instance). Mouth: powerful, oily and quite sweet. Nice sweet tobacco and chocolate. A little fruity sourness too which works very well. Grapefruit. Cherry liqueur. Then the briney notes and liquorice. More peat, a little camphor. Finish: long, peppery, still a perfect balance of sweetness and coastal peatiness.

A great start for this German bottler. Excellent combo of peat and sherry, with typical Caol Ila elements as well as other Islay characteristics. Around € 150. I’ve only seen it over at Whiskybase so far but you can contact Martin Diekmann directly to get bottles as well.

Score: 91/100

After 3 and a half years, here’s post n° 1000 on!

Since 2005, The Macallan and French glass designers Lalique have been working together on an exclusive series of limited edition decanters as part of Macallan’s Six Pillars collection, based around six specific characteristics of the distillery. The fourth decanter is called “curiously small stills” and finds its inspiration in the riveted opening of the stills. As a refined detail, the stopper was cast using copper from decommissioned Macallan stills.

Inside the exquisite Lalique bottle is 60 years old whisky obtained from five sherry butts filled on the 9th and 10th of November 1950 and produced from a mix of American and Spanish oak. It is meant to be a collector’s item (more than a drinker’s whisky I suppose) so the production is restricted to only 400 bottles.





Macallan Lalique 60 yearsMacallan 60 yo ‘Lalique’ (53,2%, OB 2011, Lalique decanter, 400 btl.)

Nose: a little to my surprise, quite amazing. Is it a drinker’s whisky after all? It has an excellent ethereal quality and starts mostly on herbal elements (eucalyptus, rosemary, fir tree honey, parsley) and precious waxed oak. Cinnamon. Classic dried fruits from the sherry, but it develops some lovely fresh fruity notes as well, mainly oranges, apricots and rhubarb. Even tangerine and melon. Very light smoke but not as much as we would have expected from a 1950’s distillate. Wonderful freshness overall. Mouth: quite full, with more or less the same development. Starts herbal, slightly earthy even and then evolves on dried fruits and toffee. Oranges. Sour plums. Then espresso notes and a nuttiness (peanut butter?). Chlorophyll. A light sourness of pipe tobacco. Walnuts. The tannins are present but they’re well controlled given the age. A light peatiness in the background? Finish: not extremely long but not overly dry, mixing fading fruity notes with mint and resin.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a sample big enough to grasp all layers and unravel its complexity. On the other hand it was big enough to know that this is fabulous whisky: it’s about much more than just a nice bottle and a marketing story. It’s extremely old but also surprisingly fresh and fragrant. Around € 20.000. A medium-sized car indeed. Thanks for the sample, Jack!

Score: 94/100

A Springbank 1970 bottled by Adelphi. For me this was the best dram at the recent Fulldram Supertasting, but I have to say the top-3 was so close together that I kept switching places before settling on a final ranking.


Springbank 33 years AdelphiSpringbank 33 yo 1970
(54,4%, Adelphi 2003, sherry cask #1622)

Nose: heavy sherry but in a very positive way. Surprisingly fresh fruity notes: baked apples, redcurrant jam, juicy plums, blood oranges. Then some dried fruits, mainly raisins and prunes. Pleasant raspberry vinegar syrup. Some tropical hardwood. Something ethereal. Lots of oak polish and wax. A very light whiff of smoke, even earthy / farmy touches after a while. Mouth: sweet and quite syrupy. Sour cherries, raisins, redcurrant. Waxy undertones, beautiful herbal touches (cinnamon, cardamom, clove). Hints of aniseed. Again more than just a hint of smoke. Turning towards bitter and sour balsamic notes in the end. Finish: very long, quite herbal, with the same dried fruits and restrained bitterness and mint.

This is definitely heavily sherried, with the obvious oak notes, but the flavours stay so rounded (and intense) that it seduced me almost instantly. With a little less sourness this could have been out of this world. Long gone I’m afraid.

Score: 93/100


Belgian bottler Asta Morris is just in time for father’s day to present this Blair Athol 1998. Indeed not a common distillery or vintage, which makes us even more curious.


Blair Athol 1998 - Asta MorrisBlair Athol 14 yo 1998
(47,8%, Asta Morris 2012, 345 btl.)

Nose: interesting combo: honeysuckle, linseed oil and some rhubarb compote. Nicely oily and mineral while there’s always a candied sweetness in the background. Hints of marzipan and apple pie. Leather. Whiffs of buttercups. Dusty grains as well. It quickly grabs your attention and keeps showing extra layers. Impressive for a relatively young malt. Mouth: oily / creamy again, quite sweet as well. Pineapple and pear candy, gooseberries, stewed apples and a little vanilla. Then it grows grainier (sweet cereals) and more herbal. Ginger. Grassy notes. Finish: long, candied again, with warming spices now as well.

By now we trust Asta Morris’ Bert Bruyneel in his selections of course. Again this is high quality, interesting and entertaining whisky. Around € 50 which is a bargain price. Only available through 3 Belgian whisky stores: QV.ID, Crombé and Single Malt Whisky Shop.

Score: 89/100


We’ve seen quite a lot of Littlemill distilled in 1989 and 1990 over the last few years, and also one unique Littlemill 1988 by The Whiskyman. This brand-new version by Whisky-Fässle is a lot darker – more sherried.


Littlemill 1988 Whisky-FässleLittlemill 23 yo 1988
(52,4%, Whisky-Fässle 2012, sherry cask)

Nose: very complex. It started in a ‘green’ herbal / spicy way, then moved towards sherry and subtle dried fruits (raisins, fruitcake), then precious woods and leather. Then there was a lovely wave of oily garage smells (hint of diesel?) and tobacco. And surprisingly enough after some time it also shows fresh, even slightly tropical fruits, like pink grapefruit, tangerine and mango. What a wonderful combination. Closest to the Littlemill 1989 in the Archives series I’d say. Mouth: punchy, spicy start with peppery oak but also lots of fruity notes. Raisins and prunes combined with citrus, lemon and bergamot. Hints of coffee as well. Some ginger and liquorice. Finish: long, peppery, with oak, ginger and cardamom.

Another lovely Littlemill. The sherry adds a lot of complexity to the already juicy mix of Lowlands citrus and spices. I love this profile and it won’t come back. Recommended. Around € 125.

Score: 91/100


The previous Miltonduff 1980 releases that I could taste, were quite up my alley. As it turns out, they were all sister casks: #12427, #12429 and now #12431 in the Mo Òr Collection.


Miltonduff 1980 Mo OrMiltonduff 30 yo 1980
(46%, Mo Òr Collection 2010, bourbon hogshead #12431, 321 btl.)

Nose: complex nose. Starts on fruits (apple, banana) and light honey / chocolate and almonds, evolves on freshly cut timber and some floral notes. A few spicy / herbal and dusty notes. Complex but over time it becomes a little narrower with plain barley. Mouth: fruity (oranges, apples) and spicy (first soft vanilla, then slightly punchier pepper and aniseed). The sweetness slowly evolves to soft bitterness (grapefruit, ginger) with hints of grassy sourness, herbs and liquorice root. Finish: medium long, lemony / gingery with drying oak.

Again a very interesting Miltonduff. Consistent quality compared to the other casks. More expensive though, as often with this collection aimed at collectors, hotels and restaurants. Around € 145 (50 cl bottle).

Score: 90/100



November 2015
« Oct    

Coming up

  • Lindores 2015 festival bottling
  • Amrut 2009 (cask #2701)
  • Glenlivet 1981 (#9468 for TWE)
  • Lagavulin Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Talisker Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
  • Mortlach 1959/1960 (G&M Royal Wedding)

1931 notes by Ruben

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