Single malt whisky - tasting notes

One of the latest additions to the Elements of Islay series by TWE is this Bruichladdich Br2.

 

Bruichladdich Br2 - Elements of IslayBruichladdich Br2
(49,3%, Elements of Islay 2011, 50 cl)

Nose: a fairly rounded malt with a gristy touch. On the one hand fruity notes (apple, lemon, melon) and on the other hand a soft, coastal saltiness. Some mineral notes. It also shows a “green” element of grasses or fresh herbs like parsley. Mouth: sharper than expected from the nose, and a great deal drier. Herbal and spicy notes at first, with some ginger and a peppery kick. Then faint notes of lemon and honey before settling on dry lemon zest. Finish: quite long, spicy and citrusy.

Pretty exemplary Bruichladdich. Clean, mineral and zesty, injected with whiffs of sea air. Around € 60, available from The Whisky Exchange.

Score: 83/100


The Dun Bheagan label was introduced in 1999 by Ian McLeod Distillers who are also behind the “Chieftain’s” and “As we get it” ranges, the Smokehead label and the Glengoyne distillery.

Since I’ve tried a nice Glenburgie 1988 Duncan Taylor and the Glenburgie 1997 Asta Morris, I’m on the lookout for other versions.

 

Glenburgie 1998 Dun BheaganGlenburgie 11 yo 1998 (43%, Dun Bheagan 2010, cask #4980 + 4983, 642 btl.)

Nose: starts a little undefined and overly malty, but after a few minutes it becomes nicely rounded with plenty of vanilla and some toffee sweetness. Apple, lemon candy, sugar cane, Frosties… Also hints of buttercups and some waxy notes. Tiny hints of marshmallows after fifteen minutes. Excellent development for such a young malt. Mouth: sweet and malty again, with some sweet citrus, apple and gooseberry flavours. Fresh oak and gentle spices (vanilla up front, but ginger as well). Some cocoa. Slightly less wide than the nose, but still nothing to complain about. Finish: medium long, spices from the oak and a little toffee.

Another well-made Glenburgie. These youngsters are really nice and offer excellent value for money. Around € 40. Thanks Mars.

Score: 86/100


Archives is the proprietary range of bottlings from the Whiskybase shop. Now if you remember the Strathmill 1974 Daily Dram, this could be great.

 

 

Strathmill 1974 ArchivesStrathmill 37 yo 1974 (44,5%, Archives 2011, bourbon hogshead #1231, 180 btl.)

Nose: very fruity and honeyed, although maybe a tad less thick and buttery. Big hints of sweet orange juice. A little pineapple, less banana this time. Some vanilla cake. Over time it also shows some softly herbal, “green” notes and mint. Mouth: still fruity but again it’s less warm with more sourish and slightly bitter fruits (oranges, tangerine). Hints of green tea. More oak spices as well (especially ginger). Finish: medium long on oranges and lemons. Hints of tea with some warming oak.

It may be less stellar than its sister cask by The Nectar of the Daily Drams, but on its own it’s still a great dram from an otherwise underrated distillery. Around € 170.

Score: 90/100


In 2008, Longrow released its first 18 year-old followed by this second version in 2011. The spirit is distilled twice with a peating level of around 50 ppm. One of the Islay-style whiskies produced on the mainland. It used to be an experiment at Springbank but distillation has taken place regularly since 1992.

 

Longrow 18 yearsLongrow 18 years
(46%, OB 2011, 2280 btl.)

Nose: great nose with a smooth mixture of mineral notes (wet stone, sand), coastal notes (soft brine, seaweed) and rounder fruity notes (apple and pear). It shows a kind of gentle peatiness and balance that reminds me of some of the best (though much older) Port Ellens. Mouth: oily, with a slightly sharp peatiness. Some medicinal notes. A spicy kick (pepper and ginger) and a zesty bitterness (tonic). After this first wave the balance returns with sweeter notes of citrus candy and apple, although the bitterness never disappears completely. Finish: long, half peppery, half sweet, half bitter (that’s three halves…) with some earthy peat.

I really love the sophisticated nose but there’s a certain roughness in the taste which keeps me from rating it higher. Very nice whisky anyway. Originally around € 130.

Score: 90/100


It seems Coal Ila 1981 is easy to find these days. We’ve seen bottlings by Liquid Treasures, Liquid Sun, Thosop and Malts of Scotland.

 

Caol Ila 1981 (Malts of Scotland 11009)Caol Ila 30 yo 1981 (59,2%, Malts of Scotland 2011, ex-bourbon hogshead, MoS #11009, 117 btl.)

Nose: very elegant and sweet. Marzipan, clementine, some banana. Hints of vanilla and pastry, some creamy notes (rice milk, Almendrina paste). Very interesting, and overall very refined and balanced. Develops some medicinal notes and very soft ashy touches but it never becomes an Islay monster. Great silky elegance. Mouth: oily mouthfeel with much more (grassy) peat now. More pronounced coastal notes as well. Still this almond creaminess. Some sweet lemon and punchy pepper. Finish: long, initially salty and herbal but then returning to citrus and pepper.

This Caol Ila develops nicely from a discreet, rounded nose to a powerful, relatively peaty body without losing its balanced smoothness. High quality and fairly priced. Around € 130.

Score: 90/100


Tormore 1995 Whisky-DorisI’ve never tried a modern Tormore. It’s a new release by Whisky-Doris. The bottle is released in memory of Horst Manthée, the artist who made all the illustrations (views of distilleries) for the bottles of Whisky-Doris. He died in December 2011.

 

Tormore 16 yo 1995 (53,4%, Whisky-Doris 2011, bourbon hogshead #20213, 132 btl., In memoriam Horst Manthée)

Nose: a mixture of youngish, fruity sweetness (pear drops, apple juice, oranges, pineapple) with buttery malt and a little vanilla. Soft pepper dust. Water makes it a little more grassy. Mouth: fairly thick. Sweet and fruity again (apricot, orange marmalade, citrus candy) with a big dash of honey. Some toffee. Then it grows spicier (mainly pepper again, maybe even a little mustard cress). Finish: long, sweet and peppery.

A nice profile, very sweet and very spicy at the same time. Pleasantly vibrant. Around € 70.

Score: 85/100


Longmorn… I can’t think of another distillery that produces outstanding examples of both bourbon maturation and sherry maturation. Especially at high ages. Glenfarclas maybe, but bourbon examples are very rare. It’s one of the reasons why I like Longmorn so much, it seems like two high quality distilleries in one.

This Longmorn 1965 was bottled for Limburg (home of The Whisky Fair and The Whisky Agency) by Gordon & MacPhail, which is no surprise as they practically own the complete stock of old Longmorn.

 

Longmorn 1965 G&M Limburg #370Longmorn 46 yo 1965 (51,8%, Gordon & MacPhail for Limburg 2011, Book of Kells, first fill sherry butt #370)

Nose: oh how great is this. A mixture of the best sherry fruits (fig jam, apricots, raspberries), all kinds of waxes (polished sandalwood, leather polish, tiny notes of oil paint and varnish), surprisingly exotic all-spice and subtle oak. Hints of eucalyptus. It shows elements of both old cognac and old rums. Just exquisite. Mouth: very punchy and so fruity again. Figs, raisins, apples with cinnamon, blood oranges… Herbal honey. Leather. Mint. Pleasantly oaky with a chocolate dryness towards the end. Finish: very long, not too dry with cinnamon, cocoa and menthol.

One of my favourite sherried Longmorns already. Impressive freshness at such an age. Recommended, even though the price will probably prevent you from rushing to the nearest whisky shop. Around € 370.

Score: 93/100


Glen Moray is often overlooked and as far as I know this 36 years old Glen Moray 1973, bottled in 2010, was a one-off for The Whisky Agency as well.

Duncan Taylor had a few similar releases (cask range #70xx), it wouldn’t surprise me if they were related.

 

Glen Moray 1973 Perfect DramGlen Moray 36 yo 1973 (53,1%,
The Whisky Agency ‘Perfect Dram’ 2010,
joint bottling with Three Rivers Tokyo,
bourbon hogshead, 301 btl.)

Nose: stewed fruits (apricots, prunes) with tropical touches (mango, melon, coconut). A lot of vanilla and oak, or rather oak polish, which gives this one a bit of a bourbon profile, maybe even a Japanese oak character. Beehive notes (honey, wax) and spices (cinnamon, mint). Mouth: again oaky with bags of spices (cinnamon, vanilla, pepper, nutmeg). Fruity notes like plums and oranges. Hints of coconut and pineapple. Sweet malt. Some leathery touches. Finish: long and vibrant with oranges and spices.

A little water takes away the harshness of the oak and releases its full potential of nice fruits, wax and spices. A nice surprise with a slightly exotic character.
Around € 170, but we’re too late now…

Score: 90/100


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Coming up

  • Strathisla 1948/1961
  • Dos Maderas 5+3
  • Karuizawa 1988 (Whisky Fair)
  • Glenglassaugh 1972 (Carn Mor)
  • Bruichladdich 1964 (G&M #3676-3677)

1838 notes by Ruben

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