Single malt whisky - tasting notes

A young Ledaig 2004 bottled by Whiskybase shop as part of their Archives series (the new “First release” – the “Inaugural release” doesn’t count). Its cask number is close to the Ledaig 2005 #900008 by Berry Bros but that was a sherry cask and as we know, nowadays a “cask number” is sometimes just an arbitrary reference so let’s not count on them being sister casks.

 

Ledaig 2004 ArchivesLedaig 7 yo 2004 (61,9%, Archives 2012, hogshead #900009, 302 btl.)

Nose: coastal (seaweed, cod-liver oil) and peaty with a lot of zesty lemon freshness. Some medicinal notes (iodine, menthol). Very light hints of rubber fishing boots. Very clean and simple. Mouth: punchy yet perfectly quaffable at full strength. Very clean again. Young peat (more than on the nose), lots of lemon and plenty of pepper. Nice evolution towards slightly sweeter pear notes. Huge focus which also means limited complexity. Finish: peaty, clean and long.

I know many people adore this kind of extra-pure Islay-esk profile. Feel free to add a few extra points if you’re a peathead – this was made for you! Well-priced: around € 35. Available from the Whiskybase shop.

Score: 84/100


whisky festival gentIn case you haven’t got a ticket yet for the upcoming Whisky Festival in Gent this weekend, just send an e-mail to info {at} whiskynotes.be.

Be sure to include your postal address. Since it’s 2012, the 12th person who responds will get the ticket.

I won’t be able to go there myself, so I will send you my ticket tomorrow. It’s valid for one person on Saturday or Sunday and it includes a tasting glass and three drams. Enjoy!

Only Belgian addresses please, otherwise the ticket won’t arrive in time.


A Glen Grant from a lesser known vintage, bottled by The Whisky Agency in their Fungi series.

 

Glen Grant 1975 (TWA Funghi)Glen Grant 36 yo 1975 (50,7%, The Whisky Agency ‘Fungi’ 2011, bourbon cask, 127 btl.)

Nose: leathery and spicy with some herbal touches. Very minty as well. Not exactly what I expected, although there are nice traces of warm oak and honey in the background. Oranges. Not bad, but hardly any tropical fruits or jammy notes. Mouth: rather creamy, half fruity, half spicy. Now there’s quite some apricot and citrus but they’re slightly overpowered by oak, ginger, nutmeg and herbal teas. Slightly bitter notes as well. Not as luscious as the 1972 expressions. Finish: more oak and spices (pepper, nutmeg) as well as a little apple.

Phew, my banker will be glad to hear this isn’t yet another stellar old Glen Grant. By no means a bad whisky though, just much more focused on oak and spices than my favourite (sherried) Glen Grant expressions from the same bottler. Around € 170.

Score: 86/100


Nikka Yoichi 20 years old has an excellent reputation. Most of this is based on the 20yo vintage releases like the 1987/2007 which won the 2008 World Whiskies Awards. Even the WWA website is still mixing it up with the regular (non-vintage) 20 years old that we’re trying today. But anyway, the regular 20 year-old is still pretty great. It’s the oldest member of the single malt Yoichi core range.

 

Nikka Yoichi 20 yearsNikka Yoichi 20 yo
(52%, OB 2008, 22G10B)

Nose: big notes of cedar wood up front. Cigar boxes. Tobacco leaves. Old leather. Nice to see there’s also an estery note (nail polish) but this fades away quickly. Dark forest fruits remain. After that, some earthy smoke, burnt cake and a little tar. Hints of dried mushrooms and soft spices. Incense as well. Light matchstick notes from the sherry. Excellent complexity and typically Japanese. Mouth: punchy (bordering on pungent). Again quite savoury and leathery. Walnuts and roasted pecans. Deep, earthy peat smoke. Pepper, liquorice, anise, a pinch of salt. In the background a strong bitter-sweet harmony of burnt fruit cake and dark chocolate. Slightly sourish tobacco leaves. Finish: very long, smoky and chocolaty with traces of dry oak.

It’s a delicious and uniquely Japanese profile, but for some people it might be too extreme in its earthy savouriness. I love it though. Around € 230 for recent batches. Thanks Joeri!

Score: 91/100


By now they’re selling a second batch of Archives releases (Glen Grant 1975 and Dailuaine 1983 among others), but we’re still reviewing one of the Inaugural Releases, a 14 years old Clynelish 1997.

 

Clynelish 1997 ArchivesClynelish 14 yo 1997 (53,9%, Archives 2011, bourbon hogshead #4634, 160 btl.)

Nose: a slightly austere Clynelish which starts on linseed oil, flints and wax, followed by light fruity notes (lemon skin, apple) and some flowery hints. A very mineral profile. Mouth: sharp and pretty mineral again. Apples again and big zesty lemon (homemade limoncello without the sugar). Hints of tonic water. Grows more austere with grassy notes, ginger and salt. A tad too raw for my taste. Finish: medium long, clean, sharp and zesty.

Young Clynelish that’s behaving more like a lemon brandy. Around € 65. Available from the Whiskybase shop.

Score: 85/100


BenRiach 1976This must be one of the most interesting tastings I’ve ever come across. If I’m not mistaken, it will feature every BenRiach 1976 single cask ever bottled by the distillery, no less than 19 in total.

Our friend and BenRiach collector Serge Reijnders is behind the tasting.

His collection contains the well-known casks such as #8079 for Craigellachie and #8080 for The Nectar, as well as lesser known casks for Asia (#3029 for Shinoya, #3041 for BBI, #3010 for Auld Alliance…) and of course the casks for Germany and France (#3550 / #3558 for The Whisky Fair and #3551 / #3557 for LMdW). There’s also a couple of 1976s bottled by Signatory and in between the flights there will be a peated whisky to balance the fruit galore.

Quite an unbelievable line-up. The tasting will be held in Mol, Belgium on June 23rd 2012. A barbecue and homemade desserts will round it off.

In case you’re interested, check out the Facebook event page. Even though the entrance fee of € 200 may seem high, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. See you there!


Glenfiddich 21 years (2012)Glenfiddich has fiddled a lot with the name of its 21 year-old. First it had an explicit “Havana reserve” nickname. That turned out to be a disadvantage on the US market, so it became “Gran Reserva”. Now it’s simply the Glenfiddich 21 years old with a small print explaining the Caribbean rum finish.

The recently launched 2012 edition is presented in the new, bulkier Glenfiddich bottle and a larger box. It’s probably also a new batch of casks but for now we’re trying the old 2010/2011 edition.

 

 

Glenfiddich 21 yearsGlenfiddich 21 yo
(40%, OB 2010, Caribbean rum finish)

Nose: a very pleasant nose packed with fruits: fresh oranges, pineapple candy… Typical banana aromas as well, but well integrated. Like tropical fruit chewing gum. Hints of vanilla and toffee. Nice, but 21 years old really? Mouth: quite soft, very smooth. It takes a while before the oak hits in and it regains some punch. Sweet barley. Plenty of spices (ginger, cinnamon, mint) – in the end it becomes rather oaky. Hints of leather. Finish: medium length, gentle with oranges and warming spices.

I enjoyed the nose, which benefits from the rum without overdoing it. On the palate it’s strangely soft (ditch the 40% for higher end bottlings, guys!) and oaky at the same time. Mixed bag. Around € 90. The 2012 version seems a little more expensive.

Score: 82/100


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.


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Coming up

  • Highland Park 1990 (Master of Malt)
  • Laphroaig Lp6 (Elements of Islay)
  • Bruichladdich 1964 (G&M #3676-3677)
  • Scallywag Cask Strength
  • Woodford Reserve Master's Collection
  • Highland Park 1990 (Master of Malt)
  • Springbank 2001 vintage

1843 notes by Ruben

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