Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Around this time, the new batch of Malts of Scotland is being presented in tastings all over Belgium. This Highland Park 1986 concludes my reviews of the new series.

 

Highland Park 1986 - Malts of ScotlandHighland Park 24 yo 1986 (50,7%,
Malts of Scotland 2011, bourbon hogshead #2296, 234 btl.)

Nose: plenty of typical heather notes. Aniseed and ginger, a little eucalyptus and mint. Grass and pine needles. Very “green” you could say. A muted fruitiness of garden fruits (mainly apples), pushed aside by mineral and waxy notes – even hints of bandages. Mouth: waxy with more peat than usual. Lemon zest, grapefruit, rhubarb, some grass again. A little coastal. Again some pine needles and resin. Gets slightly bitter towards the end. Finish: medium long on lemon, dry resin and a salty edge.

The grassy / bitter / salty notes take away some of the fruits and roundness of this Highland Park, but it does have plenty of Islands character. Also, this is interestingly different from the officials. Around € 120.

Score: 85/100


Here’s one these Daily Dram bottlings exclusively for Germany, a 15 years old Clynelish 1995.

 

Clynelish 1995 - Daily Dram GermanyClynelish 15 yo 1995 (52,7%, Nectar of the Daily Drams for Germany 2010, ex-bourbon)

Nose: starts a little raw maybe but it settles down nicely. Quite maritime, with brine and seaweed. Sweet pineapple and vanilla. Over time it shows notes of hay and paraffin. A little less typical than I hoped it would be. Mouth: sweet start with the typical waxiness now. Lemon balm. Nicely rounded with honey, citrus and marzipan but quickly developing more austere grassy notes and an interesting saltiness. A little pepper. Spiced oak. Hints of peat? Finish: quite long, with Seville oranges, punchy spices and a salty edge. Still hints of peat, or is that my imagination?

A nice Clynelish which combines typical and less typical elements. Available from German web retailer eSpirits. Around € 65.

Score: 86/100


The internet shop www.dailydram.de (eSpirits) is a German distributor for the Daily Dram releases that originated in Belgium. Apart from a new series called “Nectar of the Daily Drams for Germany” they started a proprietary series called Liquid Treasures. This Balmenach 2000 is the first release. It’s a joint bottling with Villa Konthor.

 

Balmenach 2000 Liquid TreasuresBalmenach 10 yo 2000 (46%, Liquid Treasures & Villa Konthor 2011, bourbon hogshead)

Nose: a fragrant nose, quite sweet and fruity (gooseberries, apples, pears, lemon candy). Fresh with a faint gristy note in the back, as well as some “green” notes. Exemplary young Speyside style. Mouth: again quite playful with unripe pear, malty sweetness, honey and soft spices. Plenty of vanilla. Fresh oak with hints of ginger and green lemon. Developing a warm mocha note in the end. Finish: medium length with fruits and a hint of liquorice.

Light, pleasantly simple and completely flawless. A nice daily dram – a bottle of this would be empty before you know it. Around € 50. It has just arrived in the eSpirits web shop.

Score: 84/100


My final report of the Fulldram “televoting tasting”. A Port Ellen 1983 bottled by Malts of Scotland from a refill sherry cask.

Let’s repeat that Port Ellen was produced as a young blender’s whisky, kind of an instant peat blast you could add to a blend. Casks were never intended to be bottled at 25-30 years, so it’s especially the inactive casks (useless when still young) that are now the best ones.

 

Port Ellen 1983 Malts of ScotlandPort Ellen 27 yo 1983 (56%, Malts of Scotland 2010, refill sherry cask MoS66, 322 btl.)

Nose: clean and coastal. Coal smoke and grist. Wet rocks. Citrus zest. A soft sweetness in the background. Well-balanced peat. Hints of olive oil. All good. Hardly any influence of sherry – probably second or rather third fill. Mouth: again mostly coastal notes and fresh citrus zest talking. Some grassy notes. Oysters with lots of pepper. A bitter ginger tonic note as well. Grapefruit. Finish: long, smoky with some liquorice.

A clean, mineral Port Ellen. Unlike some of my favourite Port Ellens, there’s no vanilla or wax to be found, but among the more austere PE’s it’s perfectly fine. High quality comes at a price though: around € 190.
Some stores still seem to have stock.

Score: 89/100


This Miltonduff 12yo was bottled in the 1970’s by George Ballentine’s. At that time, the distillery was owned by Hiram Walker Gooderham & Worts, but distribution and administration was handled by Ballentine’s.

Milton-duff Glenlivet 12yoMiltonduff is still a major component of the Ballentine’s blend.

 

Milton-duff Glenlivet 12 yo (43%, OB, Ballentine’s, 75cl)

Nose: very fresh and playful, with a summery fruit salad and some mint. Buttercups. Orange juice. Sugared corn flakes in the background. Quite attractive. Mouth: rather grainy, cereals with sugar again. Very neutral and a little weak, with a slight alcohol tang. Herbal tea. Finish: medium length,

The nose is nice enough. The palate not so much. Very simple old-style whisky. Reminds of young Glen Grant bottlings from the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Score: 75/100


Our first Glendullan! This Speyside distillery was founded in 1896 but rebuilt completely in 1972 next to the old premises. In 1985, the old plant was closed.

Glendullan is one of the largest distilleries in the Diageo portfolio, but apart from the Singleton of Glendullan bottling, it is rarely seen in stores. One of the latest releases was a 1995 single cask in the Manager’s Choice series.

 

Glendullan 1978 Rare MaltsGlendullan 26 yo 1978
(56,6%, Rare Malts 2005)

Nose: warm malty flavours with vanilla, lovely pear drops and citrus. Apple pie with cinnamon and toffee. Orange cake. Whiffs of spices. Mint. Toasted oak in the background. After a while, it develops floral overtones. Quite entertaining. Mouth: strong attack, full and warm. Biscuity flavours, dried fruits and citrus tea. Some vanilla and ginger. It looses a lot of the sweeter notes and shows herbal notes, liquorice and grass towards the end. Aromatic Szechuan pepper as well. Finish: long, honeyed with gingery oak.

It surprises me this Glendullan is still available
in so many places, even for less than € 100.
It’s a very good malt from a rare distillery and an interesting investment in my opinion.

Score: 87/100


At the “televoting tasting” of last week, this Glenlivet 1972 (sorry:
The Glenlivet) bottled by The Whisky Agency didn’t get into the top-3, but it was still one of the highlights of the evening.

 

Glenlivet 1972 Whisky AgencyGlenlivet 37 yo 1972 (56,8%, The Whisky
Agency – Perfect Dram III 2009,
bourbon hogshead, 141 btl.)

Nose: a rather spirity and grainy start. Folds open with floral notes, pollen and stewed fruits, but overall it keeps hovering around malty aromas. Citrus and apricot jam. A little vanilla and oak polish. Liquorice. Soft spices. Traces of wet limestone. Mouth: intense and very spicy. Still a generous amount of cereal notes. Ripe fruits (pineapple, gooseberries). Slightly bitter tangerine. Vanilla. Almonds. Some grassy notes. Finish: medium length, slightly hot with oak and spices, especially pepper.

This Glenlivet is surely a nice old Speysider, but it failed to impress me as much as it seemed to impress other people. It’s really complex though, and very coherent. A few drops of water take away some of the rough edges by the way. Sold out.

Score: 87/100


Kilchoman is surfing the wave of exclusive single cask bottlings. There has been cask #232 for La Maison du Whisky, #154 for The Whisky Show, #120, #211 and recently #252 for The Netherlands… A quick look at Whiskybase tells us they’ve released at least 50 expressions already!

This single cask was bottled for the Belgian whisky festival Spirits of the Sea. It was distilled on the 10th of October 2007 and bottled on the 14th of October 2010, perfectly timed to call it whisky.

 

Kilchoman cask 334 BelgiumKilchoman 3 yo 2007
(62,4%, OB 2010, bourbon cask #334)

Nose: starts peaty and sweet with remarkable notes of olive juice and mild green chilli pepper. Quite oily as well. None of the synthetic sweetness that we disliked in earlier Kilchoman. Water brings out ashes and walnuts. Mouth: hugely peaty and smokey with a citrus sweetness and big briney notes. Salt water. Olives again. Water highlights the smoke again. Like a concentrated Laphroaig. Finish: long, half sweet, half briney with a few hints of dark smoked tea. Ashes.

This is one of the best releases I’ve tasted from Kilchoman. It’s also one of the first to hide its age. I would say they’re on their way to success if not for the price: around € 75 seems to be a standard price for recent single casks.

Score: 85/100

ps/ Even though the original price was very heavy already, soon after the festival it was being offered on different websites for € 149 and € 170. You have to be out of your mind to pay such prices. It’s not worth it and I seriously doubt it will become a valuable collectors item if so many are dumped on the market and collected by so many people.


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  • Jorn: I agree, the first expressions tend to go up in value the most, - ofcourse -, but do you really think the Bowmore DC 2 will sink below 150,00 euro? N
  • WhiskyNotes: I tend to disagree. I would just wait for n°III and make sure you inform your favourite retailer that you want one beforehand. Buying a hyped product
  • Jorn: It's worth 150 allright, but mainly from a collector's point of view. That's where the market is. Like precious little stamps (Nothing wrong with that

Coming up

  • Tomatin 1988 (Malts of Scotland)
  • Aberfeldy 12 Year Old
  • GlenDronach 1994 PX cask #3397
  • GlenDronach 1994 PX cask #326
  • GlenDronach 1993 Oloroso cask #494
  • Blair Athol 2002 (Hepburn's Choice)
  • Fettercairn Fior
  • Bowmore Laimrig 15yo
  • Ben Nevis 2002 (Port cask #334)

1601 notes by Ruben

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