Single malt whisky - tasting notes

There’s a new batch of A. Dewar Rattray releases and two of them fit our € 50 requirement, so let’s have the first one right away.

 

Macallan 1995 A.D. RattrayMacallan 15 yo 1995 (46%, A.D. Rattray 2011, bourbon cask #11251, 334 btl.)

Nose: caramelized apple with cinnamon. Heather honey. Apple cake. Muesli bars. Nice duality of sticky sweet (almost greasy) butterscotch notes and a more fresh and sour fruitiness. Traces of toasted cereals. Herbs in the background. Nice. Mouth: starts a little soft. Not the amount of sweetness I expected, more like a herbal fruitiness. Cider apples, peaches and citrus. Honey and caramel. Sweet grains. Soft liquorice. Not bad but lacking some punch in the middle. Finish: not too long but nice chocolate notes and hints of Turkish delight. Still some apple flavours.

This Macallan started with an inviting and interestingly different nose, but the palate wasn’t totally convincing. Should be € 50 round.

Score: 83/100


The Icons of Arran is a limited series of 12yo releases which highlight different typical elements of the island. First there was Arran Peacock, next Arran The Rowan Tree and now Arran The Westie, a tribute to Ruaraidh, the West Highland Terrier of the distillery manager.

It is composed of 22 oloroso sherry hogsheads from 1998.

 

Arran WestieArran 12 yo 1998 ‘The Westie’
(46%, OB 2011, 6000 btl.)

Nose: fruity and slightly acidic, with sour cherries, orange zest and lemon sherbet. Something of a soda lemonade as well. Hardly any oloroso influence if you ask me. Fresh oak. Hints of honey. A few floral notes too. Mouth: a malty centre with spicy and nutty overtones. Again a zesty kind of citrus flavour. Growing warmer with vanilla, apricots and more noticeable oak. Lemon pie. Finish: medium long, drier, with leather and spices. Traces of mocha.

Quite a smooth Arran, this Westie. Fresh, fruity and convincing as a whole. The oloroso casks must have been second fill or rather third fill, because there’s hardly any sherry to be found. Around € 40.

Score: 84/100

 

ps/ There’s another limited edition Arran ‘The sleeping warrior’, 10 years old and released to help The National Trust for Scotland. It’s more expensive (around € 60) but it’s cask strength and remember part of your money goes to Scotland’s natural heritage.


Clynelish 1997 Whisky FairHere’s an accessible Clynelish 1997 launched in Germany. It was part of a whole series bottled to celebrate The Whisky Fair 2011.

 

Clynelish 13 yo 1997 (48,9%, The Whisky Fair 2011, bourbon hogshead, 170 btl.)

Nose: typical round Clynelish, with sweet apples and pears, some vanilla and a few flinty / waxy notes. A little leather. Fresh lemon. Fresh oak shavings. Faint grassiness. Unsurprising but that’s not a bad thing! Mouth: even sweeter than expected, with pineapple sweets and pear drops. Some rounded oak which gives way to a little pepper and ginger. Wax. Then moving to grassy notes and softly bitter notes (grapefruit). Finish: medium long and zesty with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Young and solid Clynelish. Around € 50, readily available. Good value for money.

Score: 86/100


DYC

16 Jul 2011 | * Blends

DYC is short for Distilerías y Crianza del Whisky (distilleries and maturation of whisky). It is a Spanish distillery, located in the wonderful city of Segovia near Madrid. It was founded in 1959 and has a massive capacity – 2 times Glenfiddich. In their home country they have a market share of nearly 50%. This is their standard DYC blend.

Logo DYCAs the letters are not pronounced individually, think twice before ordering this in English!

 

DYC whiskyDYC (40%, OB 2010)

Nose: fresh and fragrant, with a simple, malty character. Very youngish. Vanilla and melon. Soft oak. A bit synthetic but certainly not disgusting. In typical Spanish weather, this works fine. Mouth: very sweet start on powder sugar. Vanilla again, some fruity notes with a very soft peppery edge. Then it grows too synthetic and the flavours are overblown by industrial alcohol (think cheap vodka). Ice cubes help in this respect. Finish: very short, very sweet with a slightly nasty aftertaste.

This DYC is supposed to be mixed or at least chilled with ice, so I didn’t expect anything. It costs € 8 in Spain (with a free bottle of Coca-Cola taped to it when you’re lucky) yet I never felt the urge to pour it away. That’s an achievement already. When you’re in the mood for Spanish whisky, I’d rather recommend the DYC Pure Malt (€ 15) or the 10yo ‘Collección Barricas’ – a single malt version, which is much more interesting and still very cheap (around € 20).

Score: 60/100

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Caol Ila Moch

15 Jul 2011 | Caol Ila

Caol Ila Moch is a no-age release, but I’ve heard it’s around 8 years old. Moch means ‘dawn’ – it’s marketed as a lighter version of the standard Caol Ila 12yo and 18yo.

 

Caol Ila MochCaol Ila Moch (43%, OB 2010)

Nose: fresh and youngish. Mildly smoky with a sweet, candied profile. Lemon zest and lemon pie. Ginger lemonade. Hints of lemongrass. Coastal notes as well. Pleasantly harmless. Mouth: oily but the body is a little soft. Sweet, malty and quite fruity. Gentle peat with wood smoke. Creamy lemon (which sometimes had a fragrant, soapy edge). Still quite maritime. Finish: not too long, with the sweet malt fading first and the smoke having the last word.

The lightness of this Coal Ila Moch made me think of Ardbeg Blasda in a way, although this is certainly more peaty, more typically Islay and more balanced. An elegant introduction to Islay, less bold than the standard bottlings. Around € 30-35.

Score: 82/100


Not the best choice if you're looking for cheap whiskyThe holiday season has arrived, everyone is trying to save some money in order to go on vacation. The financial crisis isn’t helping us either…

This is the time to look at some cheaper whisky (make that “more accessible” whisky), available for € 50 or less. I know there are good bottles to be found in this market segment.

It will be quite a random anti-crisis selection, we’ll have newly released Scotch single malts (both official bottlings and independent releases) but also Spanish and American whisky and a single grain. There’s even an uncommon brand of Japanese whisky that we haven’t tried before.

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This Caol Ila 1979 was part of the joint releases by The Whisky Agency and The Nectar. Presented at The Whisky Fair, they are still available in most stores.

 

Caol Ila 1979 Whisky Agency & The NectarCaol Ila 32 yo 1979
(52%, The Whisky Agency & The Nectar 2011, bourbon hogshead, 242 btl.)

Nose: beautifully fresh and warm at the same time. The freshness comes from maritime notes (seaweed, shells, mercurochrome) and eucalyptus, while warmer notes are added by yellow apples, soft buttercups and vanilla. The balance is perfect! Hints of limestone. Wax. Leather. And a soft veil of smoke. Mouth: dry, medicinal notes up front (bandages, iodine), with some camphor and kelp. Then a spicy / salty wave, herbal tea and liquorice. A little tar. Leather. Lemon and grapefruit zest. Finish: long, again balanced, softly briny with a coating lemon sweetness.

I would have loved a little more rounded sweetness on the palate, but nonetheless a delicious Caol Ila. Refined as always, very drinkable and extremely consistent.
Around € 190.

Score: 90/100


Scapa single maltThe first Scapa on ths blog, distilled in September 1993 and bottled by Douglas Laing in the Old Malt Cask series.

 

Scapa shares the island of Orkney with Highland Park. In 1994, the distillery was mothballed, refurbished, operated during short intermittent periods, and re-opened in 2005 (although they still only operate Monday to Wednesday). They’re only maturing in first fill bourbon wood and the complete production is bottled as a single malt.

 

Scapa 1993 Douglas Laing OMCScapa 15 yo 1993 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC 2008, refill hogshead, ref. 4713,
331 btl.)

Nose: starts fresh and youthful with a nice fruity sweetness. Apples and pears. Vanilla. Very lightly coastal. A few heathery notes and a little wax maybe. Simple but certainly not bad. Mouth: grainy with a bittersweet aroma that holds the middle between fizzy aspirin and grapefruit juice. Not an attractive development in my opinion… Then a soft vanilla sweetness, dusty flavours and resin. And again big grapefruit flavours. Really bitter at times and hard to spot other flavours. Finish: long, bittersweet with a lemon / salt combo.

I’m afraid this Scapa doesn’t hit the right notes for me. There must be better expressions of this distillery. Around € 70.

Score: 72/100


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Coming up

  • Inchgower 1975 (Maltbarn)
  • Octomore 6.3 258ppm
  • Peated Irish 1991 (Eiling Lim)
  • Ardbeg 1974 for Christmas
  • Spirit of Freedom 30 Years
  • Arran #3 (TBWC)
  • Auchentoshan 1990 (Archives)
  • Ben Nevis 1996 (Whisky Mercenary)
  • Elements of Islay Cl7
  • Benromach 5 Year Old

1681 notes by Ruben

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