Single malt whisky - tasting notes

As some distilleries don’t allow independent bottlers to mention their name, Gordon & MacPhail invented the Secret Stills range. The ‘Isle of Skye’ clue gave it away though – the label doesn’t say Talisker but there’s only one distillery on Skye. This release was made up of three first fill sherry casks.


Talisker 1986 - Secret Stills 1.2Talisker 21 yo 1986 (45%, G&M Secret Stills 2007, cask #1361-1363, 1860 btl.)

Nose: starts in a lovely old-fashioned style, with wet dogs, some garage smells and peat smoke. Nice coastal notes as well: seaweed and soft iodine. Then it grows less austere, with creamy sherry notes, some oranges, vanilla and chocolate. Makes me think of much older Ardbeg in a way. Delicious. Mouth: a weakish, bittersweet attack with peat and Seville oranges. Some iodine again. Quite minty / herbal as well. Hints of liquorice and pepper. Finish: medium length, with smoke, herbal notes and liquorice.

A Talisker with a great balance between peat smoke and half-sweet sherry. Still available in some places. Around € 100 in the UK and € 140 in Europe. It beats me why certain lovely releases stay on the shelves for such a long time!

Score: 89/100


anCnoc 16 Years

29 Dec 2010 | AnCnoc

Another distillery that we didn’t have before on WhiskyNotes (at least not with published tasting notes): anCnoc. It was founded in the whisky boom of 1893 as Knockdhu. The name was changed in 2003 to avoid confusion with Knockando. Together with Balblair, Pulteney, Balmenach… they are owned by ThaiBev, one of the big producers of alcoholic products in Asia.

The 16-year-old is the only anCnoc available which has been fully matured in American oak casks.


AnCnoc 16 yearsanCnoc 16 yo (46%, OB 2010)

Nose: malty and fruity, quite aromatic in a way that reminds me more of fruit tea rather than the actual fruits. Maybe that’s also because of the distinct camomile notes. Citrus, peach, pear, strawberry. Big vanilla and toffee, as well as light grassy elements. Nice. Mouth: again a particularly tea-like flavour palette (due to the herbal / grassy notes maybe), with dashes of honey and glazed apples. Zesty citrus. Oak shavings with some tannins. A little mocha. A bit light in comparison with the nose maybe. Finish: medium length, with sweet cereals, some mint and vanilla.

This anCnoc 16 Years old is aromatic with young fruits and freshly cut oak. More of a summer whisky, I think. Around € 55.

Score: 84/100


Glencadam is a distillery we’ve never had before on WhiskyNotes. Most of its production went to the Ballantine’s blend. Due to overproduction, it was closed in 2000, sold and revived in 2003 by Angus Dundee who also own Tomintoul.


Glencadam 1974 - Malts of ScotlandGlencadam 35 yo 1974 (48,9%, Malts of Scotland 2010, cask #3214, 216 btl.)

Nose: sweet sherry nose, with huge hints of dates. Treacle / brown sugar notes, caramelized apples and a range of dried fruits (figs, plums). Hints of toasted cereals. Soaked raisins. Freshened up by orange peel and almonds. Even a few estery notes (nail polish remover). Well aged. Mouth: again quite a sweet start, with some dark chocolate, coated raisins and a little malt. Then showing a rather big oak influence and tea with spices and herbs (cloves, pepper, ginger, a pinch of salt) and a drying mouth-feel. Finish: medium length, with a slightly bitter spiciness.

A rich and nicely different Glencadam with sweet and herbal elements. Around € 140 – still available in a few shops.

Score: 87/100


Valentino Zagatti

 

Giacconi, Casari, Giuliani, Begnoni, Righi, Ambrosio… all famous Italian whisky collectors. Valentino Zagatti is one of them.

He bought his first bottle (a Gilbey’s Spey Royal) in June 1958. To celebrate 50 years of collecting, he selected a couple of casks from Linkwood, Springbank, Glenlivet, Mortlach and Caol Ila bottled by High Spirits.

 

 

In this series there’s also this 16 years old Clynelish, bottled from an obviously very active oloroso sherry cask. I opened this bottle a couple of months ago with some whisky friends, and the first thing that struck us was a slightly sulphury smell. While I fully agreed at that time, a little airing seems to have changed it for the better – I can’t find any sulphur now.

 

Valentino Zagatti - Clynelish 1991Clynelish 16 yo 1991 (46%, High Spirits 2008, Valentino Zagatti’s Personal  Choice)

Very very dark. Nose: over the top sherry, dry and herbal with notes of dried fruits, coffee, walnut liqueur, crushed pecan nuts and a quite some wood. The sulphur has disappeared, but there are still traces of matchsticks and ashes to be found, which I don’t find disturbing. Water brings out orange peel and nice apricot aromas. A slightly exaggerated nose. Mouth: really dry. It starts on cold coffee flavours, then shows very dark chocolate and finally some Campari and Seville oranges. Quite nutty and a little tannic as well. This is an Octomore amongst heavy sherry bottlings. Finish: long, nutty, bitterish and slightly smokey.

Apart from the sulphur story, this could have been any whisky, as it’s 95% sherry influence and 5% Clynelish. Sherry extremism, I would say, which is a pity if you know the true character of young Clynelish.
Around € 80.

Score: 79/100

ps/ If you want this kind of profile, why not buy actual dry oloroso or Palo Cortado sherry? Lustau Don Nuño or the 30 year-old Gonzalez Byass Apostoles (both € 20-25) are well worth it.


Merry Christmas everyone! A nice oldie to celebrate…

This Ardbeg 1975 was bottled for the French market. Similar bottles exist: a 1975/1988 by Auxil as well as some releases with an almost identical Gordon & MacPhail label (a 1975/1997 for Meregalli for example). This makes sense as Jas. Gordon & Co. refers to James Gordon who founded G&M together with John Alexander MacPhail.

It’s really a previlege to taste Ardbeg 1975 bottled at such a young age.
A big thank you to Ardbeg collector Geert Bero who brought this bottle to the Lindores Whisky Festival.


Ardbeg 1975 / 1989 Jas. Gordon AuxilArdbeg 1975 (40%, Jas. Gordon & Co. 1989, imported by Auxil France, 75 cl)

Nose: very smooth profile. The typical Ardbeg notes are present (bandages, some tar, peat, camphor, oyster juice) but it’s incredibly delicate. It’s also quite fruity, with yellow apple and lemon. All of this is coated with marmalade and creamy toffee. A little wax. Marzipan. A hint of spearmint. Mouth: a bit soft but great aromas. Almost like a breakfast whisky, showing a lovely mixture of bergamot, lemon tea and honey. Oranges. Sweet almonds. The middle is a bit less impressive (slightly papery?), but it returns nicely to medicinal and smokey notes (more smoke than on the nose), lemon marmalade and mineral notes. Finish: smoked fruit and hints of parsley.

Classic stuff. Overall very good but the nose is the really fabulous element here!

Score: 91/100


Let’s try another member of the Glenfarclas Family Casks. While the Family Cask 1990 was obviously an excellent first fill sherry cask, this 1977 vintage (cask #61) was a refill butt – hence the lighter colour. It was bottled in November 2006.

 

Glenfarclas 1977 Family Cask 61Glenfarclas 1977 Family Cask
(59%, OB 2006, cask #61, 582 btl.)

Nose: the other side of Glenfarclas, more “naked” and true to the original spirit. Grains with a dash of honey. Heather and fresh herbs (marjoram?). Spicy as well, with some mint and soft pepper. After a while subtle fruits come out, like apricots and yellow raisins, but not enough to make this a balanced nose. Mouth: much sweeter and fruitier, but still rather grainy. Plenty of spices again (mainly pepper and cloves). Slightly waxy. Faint sherry influence with cocoa notes in the aftertaste. Finish: remarkably short, but warm and enjoyable. Hints of vanilla.

I’m not sure of this one. The heavy spices and strong malty notes are not entirely my style. A bigger fruitiness would have been welcome. Around € 260.

Score: 82/100


Glengoyne Christmas CaskGlengoyne distillery is launching a very special bottling. Each Christmas from now until 2014, they will take 70 litres from a single cask of Glengoyne (oloroso cask #790 distilled in 2002) and make 100 bottles available in the distillery shop.

As the filling level of the Christmas Cask becomes lower, evaporation and maturation speed will increase. It’s an interesting experiment and a great chance to follow the maturation of one specific cask throughout the years.

Bottles will be available on 28th of December, priced £ 100.


Glenfarclas Family Casks is a collection of single casks from each year between 1952 and 1994. Since the launch in 2007, some vintages were released multiple times. This 1990 cask #5095 was part of release 5.

 

Glenfarclas Family Cask 1990Glenfarclas 1990 Family Cask (56,5%, OB 2010, cask #5095, 459 btl.)

Nose: great sherry power. Plenty of thick sherry, dark rum & raisins, demerara sugar, cherry liqueur. Some toffee and nutty notes. Very juicy and much richer than I expected from a 1990 cask. Water makes it more fragrant with hints of polished wood and apples with cinnamon. Mouth: again juicy, lively and full of flavour. Loads of oranges, dried fruits and plums. The oak comes marching in as well, which makes it drier and a bit herbal towards the finish. Water hardly changes it - an extra hint of mocha maybe. Finish: long and drying on oranges, spices and tannins.

This one takes the intense profile of Glenfarclas 105 and develops it a bit further, with quite some added oak but still an impressive balance. Juicy oloroso and plenty of punch at cask strength. Be prepared
for a heavy price tag though: around € 170.
A special treat for the holidays?

Score: 89/100


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Coming up

  • NOG! gin #1 (Asta Morris)
  • Tomatin 1978 (Cadenhead / Nectar)
  • The Nameless One (Whisky Mercenary)
  • Auchentoshan 15yo (Kintra)
  • Ben Nevis 1997 (Maltbarn)
  • Aultmore 2007 (Daily Dram)
  • Karuizawa 45 Year Old (cask #2925)
  • Glengoyne 1999 (Palo Cortado)

1508 notes by Ruben

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