Nose: starts on warm oak with cinnamon, sherry notes and some grainy / grassy notes. This evolves to “wet” notes (gravel after the rain, a little wet newspaper) and a little wax. A sweet layer of dried apricots, fresh tangerine and honeydew melon. Mint. Gets a bit rounder and more sherried with water. Mouth: punchy and thick, quite sweet with dried fruits from the sherry cask (prunes), even a tropical hint of mango. Then the sweetness makes place for nervous grassy notes and spices (pepper, ginger, mint). Toffee and caramel towards the end. Finish: sweeter again, slightly malty with pepper and ginger.
These Littlemills distilled around 1990 are really building up a reputation, and this one is probably my favourite
so far. It adds some subtle sherry character to the classic grassiness and spices. Around € 120.
Lindores member Geert Bero holds one of the world’s biggest Ardbeg collections. He started collecting in 2003 and now owns more than 200 different OB Ardbeg bottles.
The collection includes the expensive Ardbeg 1965 and the different editions of the Double Barrel case, but also less common releases like the clear glass Ardbeg 10yo bottled in the 1970’s (black label, white letters).
I recently designed a new website for his collection. Bottles are still being added as we speak, but please head over to www.ardbeg.eu already to get an idea.
This market house Auchentoshan 1978 was created in 1997 by blending
13 casks. Half of them were distilled on 04/09/1978, the other half on 21/11/1978. Recently a new 1978 vintage was bottled (30 years old).
Auchentoshan 18 yo 1978
(58,8%, OB 1997, 13 casks
#295x + #436x + #437x)
Nose: fresh malt and sweet gooseberries. Buttercups and dandelions. Marzipan. Quite intense, with a spicy prickle and fresh oak. A little caramel. There’s a lovely dusty / leathery element as well. Mouth: punchy with a rather oily mouthfeel. Great mixture of toffee, dark honey and traces of smoke. Fruit tea. Roasted nuts. Orange peel, spices, oak, vanilla… quite complex. Finish: malty and spicy, with leather and hints of lemon.
Not the usual Lowlands whisky, with a bold profile and uncommon (oily, smoky, leathery) elements.
A bit too strong when neat, but really nice with a drop of water.
Millstone is one of Holland’s whisky brands. The Zuidam distillery uses traditional Dutch windmills to slowly grind their malted barley and stills with an unusually large contact surface. Both techniques should ensure a specific profile. Maturation of the spirit is done in new oak or first fill casks in a rather warm and dry warehouse. This forces the whisky to age quickly with a double amount of Angel’s share.
For the first 6 years of this expression, they used Jack Daniels barrels. After that, it was finished for 2 extra years in new French Oak.
Millstone 8 yo 2000
(40%, OB 2009, French oak finish)
Nose: fruity, soft and quite elegant. Apricot notes and apples. Fresh wood as well with plenty of spices. Interesting, on the one hand the fruit makes it really summery, on the other hand the spices make me think of Christmas. Mouth: less full than I had hoped for and a little flat. Like a spicy lemonade. Oranges and cinnamon. Nutmeg and vanilla. Some honey. Hints of mint. Finish: not too long, spicy and oaky.
Pleasantly fruity whisky with nice spicy notes in the tradition of a Glenlivet 15yo French Oak. It doesn’t come near to the original though and you’re paying almost twice the price. Around € 60.
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 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.
Here’s one these Daily Dram bottlings exclusively for Germany, a 15 years old Clynelish 1995.
Clynelish 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.
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 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.
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 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.