Single malt whisky - tasting notes

The Dutch Usquebaugh Society selected a single cask Glen Garioch 1990 from the stocks of the Creative Whisky Company to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the club.



Glen Garioch 1990 - Usquebaugh SocietyGlen Garioch 25 yo 1990 (56,7%, Usquebaugh Society 2015, cask #7937, 228 btl.)

Nose: a slightly curious combination of aromas, but very interesting. Silver polish, soft hints of dusty peat, a bit of Play Dough, but also pineapple sweets and some strawberries with cream. Tobacco. Buttery toffee, greasy notes in the background, and a light hint of mint. Mouth: a bit hot / peppery at first, and then again this creamy, buttery, almost milky note again. After that it becomes earthier, with some liquorice and gentian adding a mild bitterness. Peppermint. Lemon peel. Apricots. Soft smoke. Finish: long, spicy, with ginger and some waxy notes.

This is a really nice, typical Glen Garioch, with plenty of character, including some Highlands austerity. You can tell this was selected by a club of advanced whisky lovers. Around € 100, available from the Usquebaugh website.

Score: 88/100

Although the label says it has been bottled in 2014 already, this Highland Park 1990 in Master of Malt’s Single Cask series has only just been made available on their website.



Highland Park 1990 - Master of MaltHighland Park 24 yo 1990 (57,5%, Master of Malt 2014, bourbon hogshead, 201 btl.)

Nose: very natural, with nice hints of yellow apples and half-dried grasses, alongside sea air and a hint of dry Riesling. Hints of cold ashes and wet stones. A bit of honey and sugar-coated cereals. Mint too. Pleasantly coastal with an above average complexity. Mouth: rather sweet and nicely old-style with this ashy side again. Sweet apples and honey, quickly followed by big peppery notes and a little ginger from the oak. Hints of liquorice and salt. Maybe some fragrant hints of violets or bergamot but that works well in this case. Finish: long, a tad hot, with pepper and liquorice, as well as some walnuts and a smoky touch.

This is an intense Highland Park, rather naked but nicely full-flavoured and complex. A rather unique profile that you don’t really get from other distilleries. Around € 300, still available.

Score: 88/100

So, Danish whisky. Braunstein distillery, which started as a brewery, produces all kinds of spirits (gin, vodka, rum), including whisky since the early 2000s.

They started with a series of limited expressions in a Library Collection (usually two releases per year) and a Cask Edition series which holds one yearly cask strength expression.

Now they have a slightly wider range called Danica, with an unpeated and peated version. Like all of their whiskies, they are organic (although the certification is not complete yet because barrels from organic wood are so hard to get).

Like most young distilleries, they focus on first-fill bourbon barrels, but their warehouse also includes some sherry, cognac, Sauternes and virgin casks. Danica is matured in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks.



Danica whisky (Braunstein)Danica whisky – unpeated
(42%, Braunstein +/- 2015)

Nose: some rather dominant woody (white oak) aromas, with lots of vanilla, cinnamon and honey. Soft hints of bubblegum and a light hint of varnish / potpourri. Also fruity notes, banana and strawberry, plus hints of white chocolate. Mouth: very sweet and peppery. Oranges, lemons, distant hints of dried mango. Vanilla cream again, before the spices take over entirely (pepper, ginger, nutmeg). Finish: medium long, spicy, with plenty of grassy oak.

Not bad. Of course this is fairly young, and you can’t rush maturation, so it’s understandable to get quick flavours by using very active wood. Around € 80. Primarily found in Denmark and Sweden but also from and others.

Score: 79/100

One of these samples of relatively new whiskies that I’ve had on my desk for too long, because I thought I new exactly what to expect from Port Charlotte 2002. Still a nice surprise.



Port Charlotte 2002 - Malts of ScotlandPort Charlotte 2002
(55,4%, Malts of Scotland 2015, bourbon barrel, ref. 15011, 238 btl.)

Nose: how nice, this is one of the farmiest, most Brora-inspired noses I’ve had lately. The same goat stables and greasy notes. Hay and ferns. Horse saddles. Then a nice move towards pipe tobacco. Underneath there are hints of yellow apples and vanilla. Quite lovely. Mouth: deeply sooty again, less farmy notes but still a kind of fattiness. Dutch liquorice, lots of salty notes with a herbal, minty touch. No sharpness whatsoever, this is warm and pleasantly drinkable. Hot peppers. Fades on sweeter notes: pear and salted caramel. Finish: long, still very warm and smooth, with a salty, tarry end.

A great Port Charlotte, deeply peated but also surprisingly rounded and balanced. Maybe not the most typical PC but you know I have a sweet spot for farmy notes and you don’t find them easily. Around € 140 and still available.

Score: 90/100

Sometimes you get really excited about a dram (Glenglassaugh is one of the distilleries that had an above-average production in 1972), only to find out you’re actually experiencing a flash-back… A Carn Mor flashback today.



Glenglassaugh 1972 - Carn MorGlenglassaugh 40 yo 1972 (43,1%, Càrn Mòr ‘Celebration of the Cask’ 2013, sherry butt 13/08/01, 200 btl.)

Nose: a lot of polished oak, with hints of glue and even some hair spray in the background. After some airing this becomes beeswax and pollen with a lot of bright, flowery notes. Mango, tangerine, bergamot. Granny Smith. Very good, but be sure to give it some time. Mouth: a bright fruity core again. Pineapple, mirabelles, nectarine. Full of waxy notes and honey, with some mild spices and oak. Fades towards (citrus) green tea and liquorice. Faint hints of salted toffee. Finish: not too long and a bit flat. Ginger and pepper from the oak.

Good Glenglassaugh, but you’ll have to work your way through the oak to discover its best side. After writing my review, I found out this is the other half of the Glenglassaugh 1972 C&S Dram. A shared cask. Around € 600.

Score: 90/100

This Karuizawa 1988 was part of a duo that was bottled for The Whisky Fair in 2007. A small part of this sherry butt was bottled by in their Great Cask series.

You know, I believe this may well be one of the last Karuizawas I’ll ever review. I have no samples left and with the current prices, who can afford to actually open one, let alone share it with others?



Karuizawa 1988 - The Whisky FairKaruizawa 19 yo 1988 (58,3%, The Whisky Fair 2007, refill butt, 480 btl.)

A surprisingly pale colour on this. Nose: a rare chance to try Karuizawa without the heavy sherry, but not the usual bourbon profile either. Without Oloroso, that is, there are some hints of chalky Fino. Dusty cellars and waxed paper, as well as huge minty notes and cigar boxes. Faint peat. Underneath are some fruity notes (yellow plum) and a hint of tiger balm and incense. It’s funny how this one is rather oriental and rather Karuizawa, even though it misses the most obvious side. Mouth: quite sweet (pear, pineapple) but also quite herbal / bitter (ginger tea, heavy salty liquorice). A smoky hint of matchsticks. Surprisingly peaty. Finish: long, peaty, with lemon zest, bitter wood and ginger.

This is an odd cask – I can’t think of any other Karuizawa like this. On the one hand, very interesting to find similarities and differences with the classic profile. On the other hand it falls below the usual level of this distillery. Around € 1500.

Score: 85/100

It has been a while since we’ve reviewed a rum, but I stumbled upon this interesting one through my sherry exploration.

Dos Maderas (which means Two Woods) is a molasses rum produced by the sherry bodegas Williams & Humbert. They start from Caribbean rums, matured for 5 years in Barbados and Guyana. These are shipped to Jerez de la Frontera, where they are blended and finished for three years in Palo Cortado casks (used in the solera of the very good 20 year-old Dos Cortados VOS sherry).

They also have a 5+5 version (which is the 5+3 with an extra 2 years in Don Guido Pedro Ximénez casks) and a Luxus version of 10+10 years old (only PX).



Dos Maderas 5+3 rumDos Maderas 5+3
(37,5%, Williams & Humbert 2014)

Nose: vanilla and brown sugar up front, with a bit of toasted oak. Clearly influenced by American oak. The fruitiness of a classic Caribbean rum (banana, orange) is present, but there’s also a drier side to it, a more sherried side if you like. Some leathery notes, nougat, golden raisins and nuts (pecan). It also shows a hint of sherry brandy. Mouth: smooth, with similar notes of Demerara sugar, papaya and butterscotch. Spices grow stronger, alongside some toasted oak. Vanilla. Mild liquorice. Overall it may be a bit soft for some. Finish: medium long, with spicy, nutty oak and a hint of Turkish coffee.

This is quite a unique rum, because of the added hints of sherry (and sherry brandy) on top of its Caribbean base. Interesting and pleasantly falling between different stools. Around € 35.

Did you notice we’ve been reviewing more old bottlings lately? It is rather quiet in the whisky scene – summer, you know.

Gordon & MacPhail has a tradition to do special bottlings to commemorate royal weddings (we’ve tried Andrew & Fergie before). For the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Di on 29th of July 1981 they released vattings of 1948 and 1961 casks. There’s Glen Grant, Glenburgie and Strathisla, as far as I know.



Strathisla 1948-1964 - Charles & DianaStrathisla 1948 / 1961 ‘Royal Wedding’ (40%, Gordon & MacPhail 1981, for Charles & Diana)

Nose: maybe not the freshest nose at first (sticky toffee with a meaty twist), but this kind of old bottles deserve a bit of airing. Not a classic sherry nose in any case, it’s more on aromatic herbs and juicy fresh fruits than on the typical raisins or spices. Lemon verbena, lime leaves and mint. Oranges and pineapples, with a pleasant sourness. Mouth: much sweeter, with quite some vanilla and a list of fruity notes (dried apricots, tangerine). Becomes considerably drier, on ginger, dark chocolate and cardamom. Some resinous notes. Finish: malty and spicy, rather short.

This is a subtle Strathisla with a light, elegant profile. Really good but it may be a bit soft at 40%. Worth around € 500.

Score: 89/100



November 2015
« Oct    

Coming up

  • Glenlivet 1981 (#9468 for TWE)
  • Lagavulin Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Talisker Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
  • Mortlach 1959/1960 (G&M Royal Wedding)

1933 notes by Ruben

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