Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Ledaig 1994 (Mo Or)

24 Apr 2012 | Ledaig

Can you believe this is the oldest Ledaig I’ve tried so far? You’re right, I should really try those lovely 1970’s expressions, but not today. This Ledaig 1994 was bottled in the Mo Òr Collection.


Ledaig 1994 - Mo Or CollectionLedaig 16 yo 1994
(46%, Mo Òr Collection 2011, bourbon hogshead #228066, 330 btl.)

Nose: wait, where’s the peat? This is surprisingly vibrant with a nice sweetness and a citrus sparkle. Plenty of oranges. There are distant hints of flints and paraffin, but otherwise this is quite different from the 2000’s production. No peat monster. Not complex either, but nice and clean. Mouth: starts sweet: barley sugars, yellow apple, hints of toffee. Slowly there’s subtle peat creeping in, a coastal sharpness as well as nice mocha / roasted coffee beans. Nicely different. Finish: ever more coastal and waxy, although it doesn’t loose the sweetness and a hint of smoke.

This Ledaig unites some flavours that are not often found together. Certainly not as peaty as recent releases, something in between Ledaig and Tobermory? Around € 80.

Score: 87/100

Jan Kok and Marcel Bol, both Keepers of the Quaich and responsible for Whisky Import Nederland (WIN), distribute a lot of whisky brands in the Netherlands but they also select their own casks in the First Cask series. They haven’t really featured on this blog before (except for a quick heads-up on a Glen Grant 1985) so let’s try this recent Longmorn 1988.


Longmorn 1988 First CaskLongmorn 23 yo 1988
(52,6%, WIN ‘First Cask’ 2012,
refill sherry hogshead #14379, 259 btl.)

Nose: obviously sherried, with cooked fruits, berries, oak polish and mint. Raisins and apples. On a second level there are hints of old grain whisky (banana / coconut / vanilla), interesting to have these elements combined. Evolves mostly on spicy notes. Mouth: very sweet and candied. Nicely sherried again although there’s still a sugary barley  core to be found. Plums, apples with cinnamon, pear candy. Again a sweet coconut edge. Hints of fruit cake. Some milk chocolate. Remains very sweet until the end. Finish: long and creamy, on sweet fruit biscuits with soft spices.

A very sweet Longmorn full of candied fruits and some unexpected touches. I really enjoyed it. Around € 100.

Score: 89/100

Springbank 21 years old is an iconic whisky (read this if you don’t know what I’m talking about). Several batches were bottled in the 1980’s and 1990’s but since 2005 the reserves had dried up. As the distillery was closed from 1979 until 1989, it was clear that it wouldn’t come back before 2011. And here it is… matured in fresh and refill sherry casks and presented in a 1980’s gay golden packaging.


Springbank 21yo 2011Springbank 21 years
(46%, OB 2011, 1560 btl.)

Nose: well, very good. Rich sherry notes: juicy plums and rhubarb jam. Hints of heather honey and roasted sugar. Not exactly sweet though, there are plenty of spices (ginger, pepper) as well as some wood tones and a certain musty cellar theme to keep it on the dry side. The modern Springbank austerity (minerals, brine, wax) is also showing. Quite complex. Mouth: starts fruity (cassis, raisins) but quickly becomes spicy and sour / vinous. Orange peel, liquorice, ginger, cinnamon. More oaky dryness now. Very faint smoke as well. Finish: long, half-sweet, half-dry, on anise, grass and raisins.


A very complex dram, probably the best modern Springbank. I have to admit I was quite skeptical but in the end it did win me over. It takes the old profile and blends it with the new distillery character. A worthy successor if not for the winey side (but that’s also a modern feature I guess).

Originally around € 250. Already gone now and the last remaining bottles are fetching € 500. Would I trade one of the old ones against this new version? Don’t push it. No.

Score: 91/100

The Caroni rum distillery had been in business since 1918 in Trinidad but it was closed in 2002 due to industry consolidation, leaving Angostura as the only active distillery in Trinidad and Tobago.

In October 2008 the distillery still had an estimated 5300 casks of aged rum in stock which occasionally find their way to independent bottlers like A.D. Rattray (especially the 1997 casks, or so it seems). Silver Seal, which have a great tradition in rum, also bottled a cask in 2011.


Caroni 1997 Silver SealCaroni 1997
(46%, Silver Seal 2011)

Nose: very aromatic, with overripe banana and cinnamon sweetness as the first impressions. Then some marzipan and caramel. Typical Caroni hints of engine oil and tar as well. Plenty of vanilla. Whiffs of mint. Very nice. Mouth: pretty austere. Some oak resin mixed with earthy notes (dried mushrooms) and leather. Again a tarry note and something slightly medicinal. Some liquorice and spices. Burnt sugar too. Finish: long, bold and tarry with a salty twist and whiffs of cinnamon.

Good, slightly heavy rum with some unique traces of cognac and Islay-style aromas. Caroni is closed but luckily we’ll be able to enjoy it during the years to come. Around € 77.

This Glenrothes 1970 is a joint bottling by eSpirits in Germany and Acorn in Japan, in honour of the 150th Anniversary of the German – Japanese friendship.

In 1861, the King of Prussia and the Tycoon of Japan signed a treaty of peace and constant friendship and indeed in 2011 both countries still enjoy close and friendly relations.


Glenrothes 1970 eSpirits & AcornGlenrothes 41 yo 1970 (45,1%, eSpirits & Acorn 2011, bourbon hogshead, 113 btl.)

Nose: at first it suffers from an avalanche of polished oak, varnish and wood glue. After some time these notes start to give way to nice fruits underneath. Apricots, pineapple, guava, tangerine. A little mint and leather. Mouth: easy drinking strength, again a tropical fruitiness of pineapple / coconut, gooseberries and papaya. Again some oak in the background – better under control now, but showing some herbs and fruit tea as well as a slightly bitter edge. It remains pretty juicy though. Finish: medium long, on sweet oak and spices, mainly ginger.

This Glenrothes is a nice drinking whisky, but the recent expressions in the TWA Romantique series and Angel’s Choice series were more to my liking (less oaky) and a tad cheaper. Around € 250.

Score: 87/100

Dominiek, the man behind The Whiskyman, has a sweet spot for Clynelish so it’s no surprise both the classic label series and the Thosop Handwritten label series simultaneously feature a Clynelish.

The handwritten Clynelish is a 1989 vintage which we’ll try head-to-head with the Clynelish 1989 by Malts of Scotland.


Clynelish 1989 ThosopClynelish 22 yo 1989 (53,5%, Thosop 2012, bourbon barrel, 138 btl.)

Nose: all these 1989’s seem to share a vanilla theme and a pastry-like quality. This one is certainly the same family, with sweet gooseberries, yellow apples and warm beeswax. No strawberries or pastry though. Instead it displays more coastal notes, brine and minerals than the MoS version, as well as more ginger and seaweed. Mouth: wow, rather perfect Clynelish style. Thick and sweet with vanilla, a little honey and candied lemon. All of this backed up by typical minerals and paraffin. A little pepper and whiffs of ginger. Developing on soft grassy notes. Great balance. Finish: long, fully displaying its mineral side now, its trademark wax and a soft hint of peat.

Although the Malts of Scotland version had something unique (a buttery warmth and interesting jammy notes), this one is more typical with a balanced character of coastal notes and sweetness. It’s a more quintessential expression of this distillery. Dominiek and Luc sure know how to pick their Clynelish.
Around € 130.

Score: 92/100

Clynelish 1997 The WhiskymanHere’s a picture of the Clynelish 1997 (a second cask after the Clynelish 1997 bottled last year) with a new Whiskyman label designed by yours truly.

It’s the start of a new series (nicknamed “classic label”) for drams that will bring a smile to your face without breaking the bank: accessible prices but still high quality drinking whiskies.


Clynelish 15 yo 1997 (53,5%,
The Whiskyman 2012, refill sherry
hogshead, 180 btl.)

See my tasting notes here. It’s the same whisky. Around € 60.

Score: 89/100

Today is a special day for me… I’m getting married!
That calls for a special dram.


The oldest cask in the GlenDronach warehouses is an oloroso sherry cask filled in 1968. When you hear the GlenDronach team talking about this cask, they refer to it as cask #1.

In 1993 however, long before the current owners had bought GlenDronach, an official 25 year-old 1968 vintage was released and a number of batches (seven casks, or more?) were bottled exclusively for Nippon Airways and mentioned a specific cask number. One of them was named… cask #1. Is this the same cask that’s still lying around? Probably not. All I’m saying is don’t take this too seriously, it’s probably just a nice way of indicating the oldest cask available at the time of writing.

I was lucky enough to try a sample drawn from this cask in 2011. As far as I know, it’s still uncertain when and in which form it would be bottled. There should still be a couple of 1968 casks by the way, so how long before we see sister casks popping up in the yearly Single Cask releases?


GlenDronach 1968 cask 1GlenDronach 43 yo 1968
(48,3%, cask #1, distillery sample)

Nose: quite punchy for such an oldie, as if the classic figs and dates (which are well present) are now soaked in brandy. Other things that I notice when comparing this to 1971 or 1972 casks is added wax / waxed furniture, mint and ripe apricots. Really nice. Classic sherry with leather, parsley and cardamom. A hint of smoke. After some time: cherries and raspberries. Mouth: very rich but a little on the dry side maybe. Herbs, raisins and chocolate. Mint. Prunes. Quite some liquorice and cinnamon. I’m missing a little fruitiness here maybe, but it’s certainly not woody. Finish: very long, with chocolate, oak and hints of oranges.

This GlenDronach 1968 cask #1 has an amazingly fresh nose, and I adore its profile. I didn’t have the occasion to put it against my favourite 1970’s casks but it might be the best GlenDronach nose I’ve tried. Not available (yet), let’s hope it keeps going uphill until being bottled. Thanks for this unique sample, Joeri. Much appreciated.

Score: 94/100



November 2015
« Oct    

Coming up

  • Amrut 2009 (cask #2701)
  • Lagavulin 12 Years (2015)
  • Lindores 2015 festival bottling
  • Glenlivet 1981 (#9468 for TWE)
  • Talisker Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
  • Mortlach 1959/1960 (G&M Royal Wedding)

1929 notes by Ruben

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