Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Glenfarclas cask 697You know that expression “you can’t stand on one leg”? Expect a few more celebration drams in the next couple of days.

This Glenfarclas 1968 cask #697 was selected by Luc Timmermans who previously selected cask #699 (Fino) and #702 / #5240 (Cream + Fino). All of these are 1968 casks of which he has been monitoring the evolution for a couple of years now.

This cask was previously used by Pedro Domecq to mature manzanilla, the most peculiar type of sherry, with a dry, briny and delicate profile – a coastal Fino so to speak. This type of wine is made exclusively in the charming seaside town called Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

 

Glenfarclas 1968 cask 697Glenfarclas 43 yo 1968 (47,5%, OB Family Cask ‘selected by Luc Timmermans’, Manzanilla cask #697, 133 btl.)

Nose: great nose, on aromatic fruits (kumquats, Seville oranges, peach pits, guava, yellow plums, grapes – not the usual oloroso sherry fruits) and beautiful waxy / mineral notes (paraffin, scented balm). Buttercups. Quite some spices (nutmeg, mint) as well as nicely integrated, polished oak. Light tobacco. Mouth: half sweet, half spicy. The fruits are more pronounced now, more jammy with slightly more tropical hints. Soft pepper and ginger, hints of eucalyptus. Distant traces of nuts. Growing savoury, more oaky and slightly bitter towards the end. Finish: long, with lingering fruit, chamomile tea (or is that the power of suggestion?) and drying spices. Indeed, there’s also a faint salty edge.

Another impressively complex Glenfarclas from 1968. It’s a little more ‘intellectual’ than the previous two, but it’s also more unique. The price is higher, perhaps because of the official label and the cardboard box: around € 380. Cheers Luc!

Score: 93/100


Note n°750 on this blog so let’s dig up something special for the occasion. And special it is, no doubt: a Laphroaig 10 years bottled in 1968. Yes, that’s 1950’s distillation! It’s bottled in clear glass, look at that colour…

Ardbeg collector Geert Bero managed to find a pristine case (!) of these beauties in the States (most of them rotation 1967 actually). Some people have all the luck… Well done of course and I was happy to able to taste it.

 

Laphroaig 10 (1968 Carlton)Laphroaig 10 yo (91,4 US Proof, OB 1968, 4/5 quart, Imported by The Carlton Company)

Nose: peatheads would be disappointed. No big fireworks. Instead it evokes tobacco leaves, cigar ashes in water and unlit coal bricks. All of this mixed with a lovely almond sweetness and even buttery pastry notes. Quite rounded and definitely sherried. There’s a whole range of tiny micro-notes as well: motor oil, leather, turpentine, tea, sea air, dust… Stunningly delicate old Laphroaig. Mouth: quite punchy and briney / salty. Then it grows sweeter with tobacco again (reminds me of the pralines with Havana leaves by Dominique Persoone). Smoked tea. A little toffee maybe. Hints of lemon. Relatively peaty for such an old malt with a slight earthiness in the very end. Great combination with the silky nose. Finish: long, rather sweet and smoky with toffee and liquorice.

This shouldn’t be evaluated like modern malts. The nose is exceptional: delicate and aromatic at the same time. On the palate there’s slightly less complexity but it’s still very beautiful. A lovely piece of history. Thanks Geert!

Score: 94/100


A couple of weeks ago, the Edrington Group sold Tamdhu distillery to Ian Macleod. In 2003, the same companies already exchanged Glengoyne. We can probably expect Tamdhu to be reopened in the near future. It was closed since 2009.

 

Tamdhu 1990 Liquid SunTamdhu 21 yo 1990 (48,1%, Liquid Sun 2011, sherry butt, 312 btl.)

Nose: heavy sherry with lots of dates, roasted nuts and chocolate notes. Rum & raisins. Prune jam. Soft meaty hints but nothing dirty here. Burnt sugar. Oranges. Similar to the Tamdhu 1990 by Malts of Scotland. Mouth: a thick mixture of sweet notes (syrup, moscovado sugar, dried fruits) and more savoury notes (herbs, slightly bitter chocolate, cinchona). Some eucalyptus and liquorice. Cocoa and roasted chestnuts. Obviously some wood as well (how else would it get this colour, right?). Finish: long, bittersweet with liquorice and dark coffee. Slowly drying.

Very heavy sherry, a bit too much for my taste actually and better suited for the winter time. On the other hand, it’s quite flawless and I’m sure it’s spot-on for markets with lots of sherry lovers. Around € 80.

Score: 86/100


This Glen Scotia 1992 was distilled in a problematic period. Between 1979 and 1999, this Campbeltown distillery was only operational for 7 years. It is part of the latest series by A. Dewar Rattray. It’s only half of the cask by the way, so we can expect the other half to be bottled on a later moment.

 

Glen Scotia 1992Glen Scotia 19 yo 1992 (59,6%, A.D. Rattray 2011, sherry butt #2 (part), 359 btl.)

Nose: a dirty start (some rubber, sulphur and organics) although it gets better after some breathing. Typical huge sherry: dried prunes, blackberry pie, walnuts, raisins… Some roasted malt notes and faint smoke in the background. Leather. Hints of mulchy leaves as well. Mouth: just as sherried. A slightly salty dryness alternates with a herbal sweetness (Ricola bonbons). Dry fruits. Roasted chestnuts and oak. Balsamic syrup. Some nice mocha as well. Plenty of caramel flavours. Reminds me of some 1950-1960’s blends in a way. Finish: quite long and dry, on spices, bitter chocolate and oak.

Difficult to assess, although I think it’s more consistent than the Glen Scotia 1992 by Malts of Scotland. You could argue it’s over-sherried with little distillery character left, but if you’re looking for a sherry monster, then it’s quite interesting. Around € 85. Distributed in Belgium by Jurgen’s Whiskyhuis.

Score: 82/100


I had another Laphroaig 1990 hanging around, let’s try it against the Private Stock release. This one has considerably less alcohol, not sure if it has been brought down by adding water.

 

Laphroaig 1990 Whisky-DorisLaphroaig 20 yo 1990 (47,3%, Whisky-Doris 2011, bourbon hogshead #10873, 225 btl.)

Nose: a more buttery version again, with some cake and soft vanilla underneath the coastal / medicinal notes. Even a farmy edge that I didn’t find in the other releases. Nice. But mind you, differences are subtle. Mouth: a tad softer due to the lesser strength. Briny, with sweet peat and smoked fish. Almonds. Definitely rounder and sweeter than the Private Stock. A hint of cocoa. Finish: long, smoky and salty with a marzipan coating.

All these 1990’s are similar and it will be down to your personaly preference if you were to pick a favourite. Personally I like a little sweetness to counter the coastal austerity. This one has a perfect drinking strength of course, so no need to fiddle with water. Around € 110 – now sold out.

Score: 90/100

 

ps/ All these similar Laphroaigs, whether they are 1990 or 1998 or 2000, are getting a little boring. Laphroaig is one of these distilleries with a high quality in general combined with a very small deviation.

I wonder if it’s a good thing for independent bottler to release so many nearly identical casks at the same time? Personally I haven’t bought any of them, simply because I never get the feeling of a unique opportunity. If I’d wish to buy one tomorrow, I think I wouldn’t have difficulty finding similar quality again.


This Laphroaig 1990 was bottled by The Whisky Agency in association with The Whisky Exchange (their first joint bottling as far as I know). I’ve only seen it available from German shops so far, but I expect we’ll see it arrive at TWE as well in the near future.

We’ll compare it to the Laphroaig 1990 by Malts of Scotland, bottled earlier this year and one of my favourite 1990’s so far. Tomorrow we’ll match it to another bottling.

 

Laphroaig 1990 Private StockLaphroaig 21 yo 1990 (55,9%, The Whisky Agency & The Whisky Exchange ‘Private Stock’ 2011, bourbon hogshead, 264 btl.)

Nose: starts very similar, with maritime hints (seaweed, oysters) and smoke. It evolves to a fresher profile though, with more lemon and almost none of the banana / cake / vanilla notes of the MoS version. More classical we’d say. Some green apple. Almonds. Soft medicinal notes in the background. Very clean overall. Mouth: quite dry, with oily elements, smoke, iodine and lemon. A pinch of salt. Liquorice. Slightly leafy towards the end. Balancing citrus. Definitely less sweet and rounded than the one from MoS, and more focused on coastal elements. Finish: long and dry, with salty notes, lemon zest and liquorice.

I’ve always had the impression ‘Private Stock’ was kind of a premium label within the TWA releases. While this Laphroaig is very good, I’m missing kind of a “wow” factor compared to other 1990’s even from the same bottler. Anyway the price is the same as before and the quality is certainly up there, so maybe I’m just confused by the label. Around € 120.

Score: 89/100


Last year several independent bottlers released one or more Inchgower 1974 casks (Whisky-Doris and Thosop as well as Dewar Rattray, The Whisky Agency, Douglas Laing, Daily Dram…).

You may say Master of Malt is coming late with their Inchgower, but it has to be applauded their version was available for around € 85 while the others were around € 150!

 

Inchgower 1974 Master of MaltInchgower 36 yo 1974 (53,4%, Master of Malt 2011, refill sherry hogshead)

Nose: nice old-style Speyside, with a little more vanilla than other 1974 releases. A lot of lemon balm and paraffin. Honey. Old oak. Dried flowers and soft spices (cinnamon, mint). A little leather. There’s also a lovely chalky dampness to it, even some coastal hints. Great complexity. Mouth: starts with a zesty fruitiness (oranges, lemon) and punchy spices (pepper, ginger, aniseed, mint). Big citrus notes. Still some waxy notes and leather. Hints of herbal tea towards the end. Even better (slightly rounder) with a drop of water. Finish: long and warming with citrus and spices standing out.

A high quality Inchgower again, very complex and certainly on par with the ones we’ve seen before. Think about the price and you know this was an unbelievable bargain! It was sold out, then it came back (06/08/2011), now I’m pretty sure it’s sold out completely…

Score: 90/100


Here’s another sherried Laphroaig, distilled March 1989 and bottled last year by Douglas Laing in the Old & Rare Platinum Selection range. In March 2011 another 1989 cask was bottled in the same series (58,5%).

 

Laphroaig 1989 Douglas Laing PlatinumLaphroaig 21 yo 1989 (56,9%, Douglas Laing Old & Rare Platinum 2010, refill sherry hogshead, 212 btl.)

Nose: the tar seems to be a little softer here, but apart from that, the nose is very similar. Big tobacco notes and cocoa. Dark fruity notes. Cigar boxes. Of course also the usual coastal notes, sweet peat and antiseptic. Some graphite. This one leaves a slightly sharper impression than the Liquid Sun bottling. A little mint maybe. Mouth: quite dry, with big peat, some walnuts and hints of olives. Pepper and lemon zest. Big smoke. Seaweed. Certainly less fruity, which makes it less unique (but perhaps more classically Laphroaig). Liquorice. A little ginger. Finish: long, dry and leafy, with salty and bitter touches.

From the nose I though this would be nearly identical to the Liquid Sun release, but on the palate it turns out less rounded and balanced, less sherried and more extreme. Not bad of course, but at this price? Around € 230 – now sold out. This year’s cask is still available but it will cost you over € 300, that’s just ridiculous. Thanks for the sample, Johannes.

Score: 88/100


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  • Jorn: I got myself a sample. For me the full, complete sweetness of this whisky tasted very nice. A whole different experience though.. Few layers, lots of
  • Newfie: Worst "whiskey" ever.... I found it to have more of the flavours you'd come to expect from a decent rum then a whiskey. as both a Jack Daniels and a
  • joeri: You're welcome. Unfortunately I bought this at an auction instead of selling it at an auction :-) 150€ was a bargain for a 1980 Macallan but way too

Coming up

  • Glenrothes Sherry Cask Reserve
  • Glendronach 1995 #4408 (for TWA)
  • Mackmyra Midnattssol
  • Glenlossie 1992 (Whisky Mercenary)
  • Dailuaine 1996 (Maltbarn)
  • Dailuaine 1996 (Archives)
  • Michters 10 Year Old

1711 notes by Ruben

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