Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Here’s another recent release by The Nectar of the Daily Drams.

 

Bowmore 1989 Daily DramBowmore 21 yo 1989 (48,1%,
Nectar of the Daily Drams 2011)

Nose: clean, with peat, seaweed and wet wool. Quite maritime. A little sharp in my opinion and a bit too narrow. Some grassy notes, brine, pepper and mint. A faint vanilla note but very much in the background. Water makes it slightly fragrant (luckily not too flowery though). Mouth: rather dry, very peaty, eartht, with secondary grassy notes and a little lemon. Again a faint vanilla note. Pleasantly salty. Faint hints of Schweppes tonic. Finish: medium long, in line with the palate.

This is not the horrible kind of early 1980’s Bowmore, but I don’t think it’s as good as many 1990’s vintages either. A lukewarm expression in my opinion, very focused but lacking some roundness in addition to the peat and brine. Around € 110.

Score: 82/100


Independent Ardbeg is rare. This 12 years old Ardbeg 1998 bottled by The Nectar of the Daily Drams seems to have been introduced without much ado. It didn’t even appear in some places, they must have known Ardbeg sells like hot cakes these days, even if you don’t announce it.

 

Ardbeg 1998 Daily DramArdbeg 12 yo 1998 (55,4%,
Nectar of the Daily Drams 2011)

Nose: clean, peaty and medicinal. Sea air. Hints of green olives. Less grassy / earthy / peaty than a standard Ardbeg 10yo though, with added almonds and floral notes. Adding water highlights the fruity side, with pear drops and a hint of vanilla. Mouth: very deep peat smoke with a nice layer of sweet fruity notes. Very focused. Almonds, sweet lemon. Liquorice. Big marzipan notes. Smoked fish. Nicer, even sweeter and more aromatic when brought down to 46%. Finish: very long, sweet, smoky and peaty.

A nice variation on the traditional Ardbeg Ten. Slightly rounder, sweeter and slightly wider as well. Play around with water to bring out all of its layers. Around € 80 in Belgium and € 90 in Holland.

Score: 88/100


Here’s a blind sample I received a couple of months ago. I was immediately impressed by the farmy / leathery nose and guessed correctly that it could only be Brora. This is my 700th post so I wanted to present something a little exceptional.

 

Brora 1972 / 2001 DL PlatinumBrora 29 yo 1972 (59,5%, Douglas Laing Platinum 2002, 240 btl.)

Nose: instant farminess and typically Brora, with sheep stable and manure. Earth and hemp. Then some maritime notes. The peat is well integrated and quite fruity. Beautiful layer of beeswax. A little honey and marmalade. Sweet pipe tobacco and leather. When digging a little further, I noticed some rice milk… and a little chocolate? Nice! Something minty and peppery as well (close to prickly iodine). Really impressive. Mouth: very peaty now with lots of tar and pepper. Rather sweet at first, but growing drier and more leathery, with a slightly bitter / earthy finale. Some oak. Drops of lemon. Again a slightly sharp iodine edge. Finish: goes on forever. Peat, tar, ashes, leather…

This Brora shows heavier peat than any other Brora I’ve tried. I think it’s even a little unbalanced on the palate because of this, but the nose is drop dead gorgeous. I’m not hoping to find a bottle, it will be too expensive anyway. Heartfelt thanks for the sample, Thomas!

Score: 94/100


Pretty funny to read opinions on this Coleburn 1979 in the Rare Malts series. Everyone seems to think it’s not particularly good, but still most say it’s the best Coleburn ever bottled…

Coleburn distillery went down in the 1980’s like so many of its neighbours.

 

Coleburn 1979 Rare MaltsColeburn 21 yo 1979
(59,4%, Rare Malts 2000)

Nose: floral and zesty with waxy undertones. A little damp and earthy. Crystallized orange. After some time it shows sweeter notes as well, I’d say cereal cookies and hints of coconut cream. White grapes. Lemon. Always some delicate peat in the background. Mouth: a sourish citrus kick up front, with some mint, then gaining sweetness with some apple juice. Clean and slightly perfumed. Lemon peel. Overall quite neutral, fading on ginger and oak. Finish: again quite neutral. Bitter oak. Ginger. Some pepper.

Given the reputation of Coleburn, this is a nice surprise. Especially if you’re a fan of an old-fashioned, slightly austere Speyside style. Still available in some stores, for around € 180.

Score: 87/100


Strathmill is part of the Diageo group. There’s a 12yo in the Flora & Fauna series, two butts bottled in 1992 and recently one 1996 single cask in the Manager’s Choice series. That’s it. Even independent releases are rarely seen. The J&B blend takes up most of its production.

 

Strathmill 1976 AdelphiStrathmill 31 yo 1976
(44,8%, Adelphi 2008, cask #1126, 227 btl.)

Nose: warm apple cake with cinnamon. Malt, dried grass and dust. Not super-fresh, there are hints of a melon that’s past its prime. Honey. Something minty / flowery – close to being soapy. Sandalwood. Mouth: starts herbal and rooty, with hardly any fruits (a bit of lemon peel maybe). Plenty of spices (pepper, ginger, cloves). A bit austere. After a few seconds, it starts to get bitter – very bitter and quite harsh. Woody and resinous aftertaste. Finish: long on tonic and lemon zest with very bitter chocolate.

This Strathmill has some glorious elements, especially on the nose, but overall I don’t find it particularly enjoyable. Too expensive anyway. Around € 175.

Score: 77/100


Quarter casks are small casks originally used to transport whisky on horseback. Nowadays it’s mostly associated with the Laphroaig expression. As these casks are smaller (around 125 litres), the whisky matures more quickly.

Glenfarclas 1987 Quarter CaskGlenfarclas also had a couple of quarter cask experiments. This one mixes two casks filled on 03/07/1987 and two casks filled on 11/09/1987. Note that they’re not QC finishes (like Laphroaig) but full term maturations.

 

Glenfarclas 18 yo 1987 (46%, OB 2006, Quarter cask #3704 + 3707 + 3859 + 3860, 1299 btl.)

Nose: a dry nose, with hints of breadcrust standing out. Slightly more sour and oaky than your regular Glenfarclas. Tobacco and leather chairs. A bit of library dust. Mouth: quite dry, with some oaky hints and a distinct smokiness. Then some prunes, oranges and cocoa. Roasted coffee beans and toffee. Finish: long, drying and toasted.

Interesting smoky / roasted notes in this Glenfarclas Quarter Cask. Not the classic sherry style but a nicely different variation with more oak. Still available in Germany. Around € 70.

Score: 84/100


Glen Ord 30 Years

03 Jun 2011 | Glen Ord

A couple of months (or years?) ago, Diageo dumped some of its premium whisky stock on the market. Suddenly € 600 bottles were available for € 200. One of them was this Glen Ord 30 years old, a limited release from the Black Isle distillery.

 

Glen Ord 30 YearsGlen Ord 30 yo
(58,7%, OB 2005, 6000 btl.)

Nose: starts malty and grassy (hay, dried flowers). Geraniums? Furniture polish and freshly treated sandalwood. Some peaches on syrup. A little wax (scented candles) and mint syrup. Herbal accents. It takes some time to discover this nose. It’s complex and full of character, but it fails to convince me completely. Mouth: starts spicy (pepper) and fresh with some cereal notes and a faint aromatic (slightly soapy) edge. Herbal honey. Malt. Ginger. Orange, grapefruit and apple compote. Quite some oak as well, but nicely integrated and not tannic. Finish: oaky, gingery with hints of grapefruit and liquorice.

Still available for around € 150 in some shops. By no means a bad whisky, and a very good deal at this price, but too rough to be a real cracker in my opinion.

Score: 88/100


Yesterday, in a lovely local bar hidden from civilisation, it was time for the 25th edition of the Weedram Masters. This is a regular “super-tasting” of the Weedram whisky club. Bert Bruyneel selected a few stunning old bottles like a Longmorn 1969 (G&M #3716/3717), Jura 1966 (SV #1485) and Ardbeg 1974 (SV #1045). More about this in the weeks to come.

At the end of the evening, a new 35yo BenRiach 1975 was officially presented. Cask #7227 was selected by Bert Bruyneel for his new label called Asta Morris. During his latest trip to BenRiach, he nosed over 60 casks and this was ‘the one’.

Bert thinks it was a Fino sherry cask. I don’t share that opinion (not dry / spicy enough), but in any case it was not a very active cask: the influence is too subtle to pin down the cask type.

 

BenRiach 1975 Asta MorrisBenRiach 35 yo 1975 (51%, OB for
Asta Morris Belgium 2011, sherry hogshead #7227, 236 btl.)

Nose: the first fifteen minutes, I thought it would not be as good as the highly praised 1976 casks. It was nice and fruity but rather silent. It’s only after some time and airing that it shows its true character. Great citrus notes (pink grapefruit and tangerine), evolving to warmer, exotic fruits like pineapple, mango and strawberries. Quite some honey. Subtle oak adds some spices to the mix. Great nose which keeps evolving in the glass. Don’t be hasty. Mouth: a little sweeter than expected – honey sweetness again. Now lovely notes of fresh apricots and melon, with sweet/sour hints of passion fruit. Ripe mango. Typical BenRiach fruitiness with soft oak in the background. Finish: long and fruity, with pink grapefruit taking the lead in the fruit basket.

Everybody wondered whether this is a new classic and whether it is better than cask #3557. I didn’t have them head-to-head and I don’t think it really matters anyway. All I can say is that it’s different from the 1976’s. It takes more time to seduce you but the evolution in the glass is really a textbook example of great BenRiach. Well done Bert!

Available as of today, but probably sold out before you know it. Around € 250. There’s also a 1978 cask from Asta Morris due next week.

Score: 93/100


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Coming up

  • Cardhu 18 Year Old
  • Benriach 1991 (MoS for QV.ID)
  • Blair Athol 1991 (Wemyss Malts)
  • Ledaig 2005 (Maltbarn)
  • Ardbeg 15yo 1973 (Sestante)
  • Aberlour 8yo (cube, small cork)
  • Balblair Millennium

1638 notes by Ruben

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