At the end of August, together with the six new GlenDronach single casks, BenRiach launched its 8th batch of single casks, twelve in total ranging from a 40yo 1971 to an 18yo 1993.
Eight of them were finished, two were peated. The oldest casks were classic Speyside style, like this BenRiach 1976 cask #6942. Always a highly anticipated vintage for this distillery.
BenRiach 34 yo 1976 (57,8%, OB 2011, butt #6942, 469 btl.)
This one has a more tawny colour than most 1976’s. I reckon it was a sherry cask? Nose: indeed not the classic 1976 (tropical) fruitiness. More polished oak to begin with. Cedar wood. Leather and some wax. Tobacco. Then the fruit comes out. A lot of juicy plums and raisins. Black cherries. Pastry with apricot marmalade. Whiffs of eucalyptus. A little pepper and cinnamon. Subtle roasted almonds and hazelnuts, maybe even traces of peat smoke? Very faint turpentine. It needs some time but it’s certainly high-class. Mouth: snappy, with roasted nuts again and dried fruits. Quite some spices (cinnamon and nutmeg), herbs and wood. Hints of orange marmalade and Christmas cake. Cherry brandy. Mango? Dark chocolate. Works well, juicy enough and none of the components gets too loud. Finish: drier now, balancing between dried fruits, grapefruit and spices.
This BenRiach 1976 requires a totally different point-of-view than the legendary tropical versions. Then again it’s a pretty great example of its sherry style. Around € 230 – already hard to find.
Among the summer releases from The Nectar, there are two new Daily Dram bottlings (Caperdonich 1994 and Glen Ord 1996). Earlier this summer there was a Bowmore 1994 and this Imperial 1995, both bottled by Signatory Vintage for The Nectar. While this Imperial is only available in Belgium, a similar release (cask 50306 + 50307) has been widely available since March.
Imperial 15 yo 1995 (46%,
Signatory Vintage for The Nectar 2011, hogshead #50309, 281 btl.)
Nose: bright start, young in a good way. Juicy fruits (white peach, apples and pears, melon). Quite some barley notes (maybe a tad too grainy but that’s fine). A few sparkles of mint and citrusy sourness. Mouth: slightly oily attack, quickly getting hotter (pepper) and spicier (soft cinnamon). Nice fruity notes (melon, pear, citrus again) as well as vanilla sweetness. Simple but nice and clean. Finish: medium long, half sweet, half spicy.
Nothing spectacular but perfectly enjoyable. A bright young Speysider at an excellent price. Around € 45.
In this little series of the fourth batch of single casks, here’s one of the younger casks, the GlenDronach 1992 cask #161.
GlenDronach 19 yo 1992 (59,2%, OB 2011, oloroso butt #161, 500 btl.)
Nose: a more pronounced version. It has some lovely polished oak and nutty aromas. A little heather honey. Natural caramel. Kirsch and raspberry liqueur. Hints of bread crust. Silky vanilla and almond paste too. There’s a subtle herbal / earthy side as well which makes it stand out. All of this on the expected background of dried fruits and sultanas. Very good, nicely balanced and more complex than the 1989 and 1990 (just like the sherry I would say – PX can be a little mono-dimensional). Mouth: spicy sherry (cinnamon, pepper) with a nice raspberry / cocoa combo. Sweet and sour. Orange cake. Again a range of herbal flavours. Heather honey. Vanilla and nuts. Pretty great. Finish: long, fading on chocolate and herbs.
A very entertaining cask, with all the expected elements but also a wealth of additional layers. Very attractive. If you’d ask me to recommend one of the more accessible bottles of this batch, this would be the one. Around € 115.
Our next GlenDronach single cask was filled in 1990. A Pedro Ximénez sherry pucheon just like the 1989 cask #2917.
GlenDronach 20 yo 1990 (50,1%, OB 2011,
PX sherry puncheon #1032, 728 btl.)
Nose: this one seems a bit duller and flatter than the 1989. It has more typical, sticky Pedro Ximénez elements with dried fruits and moscovado sugar. Dark polished wood. Some leather. Thick and jammy (blackberry or plum jam). Mouth: sweet cocoa flavours. Almonds and honey. Red fruit candy. Plums. Different types of jam again. Spices are quite delicate, and there’s not a lot of wood. Some sweet tobacco. Sweetness all over actually. Finish: still quite sweet and rounded, medium long.
This 1990 may be a more coherent package than the 1989, but you have to like a sweet and sticky malt. Rather faultless but slightly overdone for me. Around € 120.
The fourth batch of GlenDronach single casks has arrived in stores. The line-up is quite predictable, with a 1971 and 1972 cask, this GlenDronach 1989 cask #2917 and three 1990’s casks.
GlenDronach 21 yo 1989 (54,1%, OB 2011, PX sherry puncheon #2917, 618 btl.)
Nose: nice sherry, with the obvious dried fruits (mainly dates but also dried prunes and raisins) as well as some sparkling, fresher elements (clementine, strawberry, fresh figs). Something muscaty. Faint hints of rosewater lokum. Rich with a big base of aromas but lots of subtle layers as well. Mouth: quite heavy and sticky now. Dried fruits (dates, raisins). There’s also a more sourish side (balsamic) but this disappears after some time in the glass. A little pepper, followed by liquorice. Some tannins as well towards the end. Finish: medium length, with a more classic cocoa / roasted nuts combination. Still a sourish element.
I really like the nose of this GlenDronach 1989 but the palate seems a bit schizophrenic (heavy stickiness on one hand, slightly sour on the other). Not a bad start of this series but I prefer the 1989 cask #3315 which I tried last year. Around € 125.
The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show (London) is coming up Friday 7th and Saturday 8th October 2011. Head over to their webpage for all the details.
For now we’ll focus on the upcoming new bottlings that will be presented at the show.
First there is the inaugural bottling of Elements of Islay Kh1, the first independent bottling of Kilchoman. It will be accompanied by Bn1, Lp3, Cl2, Br2 and Pe5 (if that last one arrives in time).
The Whisky Exchange showcases a Lochside 1964 Single Blend (46 years old). It contains malt and grain whisky distilled in 1964. Interesting to see it was vatted immediately after distillation. I’m sure this will be great.
There’s also a Bowmore 1993 Masterpiece, said to be considerably peatier than normal for the distillery. Next up are a Glen Garioch 1971 (OB for TWE), new Single Malts of Scotland releases from Clynelish 1972 and 1982, Ardmore 1992, Aberlour 1990 and Whisky Trail bottlings (Caol Ila 1999 and Macallan 1990).
And this is not all, there will be new releases by Number One Drinks (Karuizawa 1981), Highland Park, Longrow, Buffalo Trace, Amrut etc. It will surely be an event to remember.
BenRiach 32 yo 1978 (48%, OB for Asta Morris 2011, sherry hogshead #7037, 79 btl.)
Nose: very jammy, with big apricots and thick honey. Tropical fruits as well: mango, guava, clementine. Pineapple syrup. Faint camomile tea. Less citrusy than #7227, less complex and more direct as well, but really juicy and delicious. Mouth: again quite direct, with a nice coconut / banana combination and citrus (oranges and mandarin). Some “darker” elements like natural caramel – even hints of bread crust. Strawberries and cream. Light vanilla. This one doesn’t show the 1975/76 grapefruit in the end, but stays on warm, oak-infused flavours. Finish: lengthy, still fruity and full-bodied with soft spices.
It seems most people think of the 1975 as a slightly higher class than this 1978, but personally I think the difference is not that big. Different styles – both quite excellent. Around € 210. Now sold out.