A few months have gone by since we’ve tried new releases by Malts of Scotland, but they’re alive and kicking. Expect a whole bunch of reviews over the next couple of weeks. There’s an Inchgower 1982, Glencadam 1985, Highland Park 1986, Ardmore 1992, Longmorn 1976 etc.
Let’s start with this 30 years old Miltonduff 1980, bottled a few weeks ago but not yet distributed as far as I know. Note that Malts of Scotland releases now come in a box by the way.
Miltonduff 30 yo 1980 (44,7%, Malts of Scotland 2011, bourbon hogshead #12429, 259 btl.)
Nose: pineapple sweets, freshly cut apples, hints of green banana… a nice, creamy fruitiness mixed with sawdust and some floral / grassy notes. A little mint and soft herbs. Honeysuckle. Lovely Speyside style – gets warmer by the minute. Better neat as too much water brings out a slight soapiness. Mouth: again some fresh fruits on a background of grassy notes that make sure it’s not too cloying. Now more pronounced oak. Vanilla. Golden apples. Hints of calvados? Honey. Cinnamon. A few nutty flavours as well. Again better without water. Finish: still fruity but quickly drying on spices and oak.
A Miltonduff with a surprisingly young profile that’s warm and fresh at the same time. It’s a rather unknown distillery that often surprises me with great value for money. Around € 130.
Hazelburn is the triple distilled spirit from Springbank distillery. Hazelburn CV is a vatting of different ages (6 to 10 years old), the majority being from bourbon casks.
Hazelburn CV (46%, OB 2011)
Nose: straw and malt aromas with some sort of metallic pear-like note. A muted fruitiness at best, and a rather artificial fruitiness for that matter. Cider apples. Some lemon drops. Quite some orange peel. A little unfresh. Mouth: big malty sweetness with cereal notes. Some oranges and vanilla cream. Hints of dry, bitterish herbs and more than just a hint of cardboard which seems to flatten it. Finish: medium length, with more spices and caramel.
I find this a strange whisky that doesn’t seem “natural” at all. I don’t know how to express it, but in a way this reminds me of blends from the 60-70′s. Disappointing. Around € 30.
This Lochside 1981 is their latest (probably last?) anniversary edition.
Lochside 29 yo 1981 (57,5%, The Whisky Exchange 2010, oloroso cask)
Nose: great fruity notes (redcurrant, some tangerine, grapefruit, passion fruit) – fresh fruits mixed with dried fruits (raisins) and a lovely layer of oak polish / wax. Quite aromatic with a few floral touches. Some spices to add some depth. Whiffs of mint. Rounder than most of the Fino casks that we’ve seen recently, or so it seems. Mouth: starts on sweet grapefruit followed by plenty of spices and some grassy notes. The honeyed oloroso is noticeable in the background. Then getting drier and sharper with ginger and pepper and a growing bitterness (citrus zest). Still slightly waxy. Finish: like other Lochsides from this era: long with lemon zest and a Palo Cortado kind of woodiness.
It’s difficult to choose between all the great 1981 Lochsides we’ve seen lately. This is one of the more rounded with attractive fruits on the nose (more than the Fino casks). It’s just the bitterish and zesty flavours that keep me from scoring it much higher, but that’s part of the Lochside character as well. Excellent and exemplary – one of the best 1981’s for me. Available from TWE, around € 160.
Nose: a very complex mixture of subtle fruits (dried apricot, citrus) and a slightly sharp coastalness (sea air with a little iodine). Quite some spices (ginger, pepper, cinnamon) with elegant oak. Hand warmth brings out nice vanilla. Apart from this there’s a whole range of tiny notes that come and go: leather, wax, damp earth, flowers… They don’t make ‘em like this any more. Fruitier and more complex with some water, even slightly smoky. Mouth: fruity notes (apricot again, oranges, grapefruit, lemon zest) with a clear peaty undertone. Coffee and almonds. Getting bitter (very dark chocolate) and salty in the end. Maybe a tad too sharp although a drop of water makes it rounder. Surprisingly coastal for a Speysider. Finish: long, dry with plenty of spices and some bitter lemon zest.
One of the most coastal Speyside whiskies I’ve tried. Add the uncommon peaty edge and you’ve got something special. Not an easy dram, but full of character. Available from Whisky-Doris – € 150.
A 30 years old Isle of Jura 1973 matured in an oloroso cask from the renowned Gonzalez Byass bodegas in Jerez de la Frontera.
Jura 30 yo 1973
(55%, OB 2003, cask 3155, 468 btl.)
Nose: big notes of cigar boxes mixed with quite some wine and camphor. Interesting and smooth. Dried fruits. Makes me think more of Port wine than of sherry. Toffee. Hints of mint. Mouth: too much wood which means the fruity side of the sherry gets drowned. Rum / raisins. Notes of nutmeg and ginger. It shows nice coastal notes (iodine and salt). Getting quite resinous, mineral and slightly bitter, on Seville oranges. Finish: dry (walnuts) and winey with some salty liquorice.
This Jura is interestingly different but a tad too old. The palate is too oaky for my taste and can’t match the otherwise attractive nose. Worth around € 350 now.
Ardbeg Kildalton was the result of an unpeated run at Ardbeg, originally for a third party but in the end it was released as a distillery bottling. There has been a 1981 version as well, in 5 ml bottles as part of “The Peat Pack” sampler.
Ardbeg 1980 ‘Kildalton’
(57,6%, OB 2004, 1300 btl.)
Nose: fragrant / floral and nicely fruity (lemon, orange, apricot). Despite a hint of vanilla, it’s not a particularly warm fruitiness though. It’s rather prickly, with hints of nail polish remover. Slightly waxy as well (lemon scented candles). Citrus tea. A nutty marzipan aroma as well and some pine wood. I doubt it’s completely unpeated. Mouth: oily and sweet with dried / cooked fruits (pineapple, orange) and a little vanilla. Quite malty. Bread. Clear oak, again slightly tingling with some pepper and ginger. Liquorice. A tiny bit of peat? Finish: long and hot, fading on chocolate.
Nice enough, I like the fruity sweetness with the light hints of peat. But it’s not exceptionally elegant like I expected it to be. Shops that have this on offer, ask around € 600.
It’s award time again. Whisky Magazine has announced the World Whiskies Awards 2011. Awards are popping up everywhere but WWA can be seen as one of the more reliable.
Here are the most important results of this fifth edition:
Best Single Malt Whisky: Yamazaki 1984 Best Blended Whisky: Hibiki 21 years Best Blended Malt Whisky: James Martin’s 30 years Best American Whiskey: Parker’s Heritage 10yo wheated bourbon Best Canadian Whisky: Wiser’s Legacy Best Grain Whisky: Greenore 15 years
Congratulations to Suntory for winning the big prize with their partly Mizunara-matured Yamazaki 1984. Don’t rush out to buy it though – unless you have a spare € 600. Hibiki 21yo and Greenore 15yo are winning in the same categories as last year.
I was wondering… Yamazaki 1984 was released in July 2009. It won Silver at the 2009 Malt Maniacs Awards. How far can you go back in time for 2011 awards? I’m sure they’ll find an explanation (it was launched in Zimbabwe last January?) but still it wears away the concept of choosing the best product of the past 12 months. The same goes for Glenmorangie Signet, launched in 2008. Sigh, awards…
Bladnoch was bought by Raymond Armstrong in 1994 and production restarted in 2000 after some years of mothballing and renovation. This Bladnoch 1990 single cask was taken from the inherited stock and was the oldest available official release at the time of bottling.
Bladnoch 20 yo 1990 (52,4%, OB 2010, cask #136)
Nose: fragrant and light, with some fresh grass, cut apples and a few floral notes. Some vanilla and honey. After a while, it seems to gets ‘older’ with notes of hay and something like stone dust. Mouth: sweet and nicely punchy, with the same flavours now backed up by spices (pepper, cloves) and oak. Big notes of lemons. Grapefruits. Slightly synthetic in its fruitiness I think, which turns into perfumy / soapy notes, especially when you add some water. Returns to dried grass before getting slightly bitter and herbal. Finish: bittersweet, spicy and a little perfumy. Quite long.
Very sippable and lively. A little mono-dimensional with a slightly disturbing perfumy touch but the price makes up for part of these problems. Around € 55. Sold out but a new 20yo single cask is available. Thanks for the sample swap, Stuart.