Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Movember whiskyDuring the month of November each year, Movember asks men across the world to grow a moustache with the aim of raising vital funds and awareness for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer.

Master of Malt is supporting this charity by the release of a 9 years old Glenfarclas (the youngest we’ve tried so far), distilled in September 2002 and taken from two oloroso hogsheads. It will go on sale today.

 

Glenfarclas 2002 - Movember - Master of MaltGlenfarclas 9 yo 2002 (53%, OB for Master of Malt 2011, oloroso hogsheads #2659 & 2662)

Nose: clean, rich sherry with plenty of rum & raisins, raspberry jam and kirschy notes. Some spicy chocolate. Oranges and red grapes. Hints of almond liqueur. A very juicy (and slightly more balanced) version of Glenfarclas 105. Mouth: in that same tradition of the 105. Deep sherry with dark sugar and raisins all over. Plums. Gets spicy (cardamom, pepper) with a savoury and lightly herbal (even salty) touch. Finish: baked pear with caramelized sugar, dried orange and a fair amount of oak.

Maybe these casks were pre-destined for the 105, but they turned out to be better than average? The result is very nice indeed. Around € 45 of which around € 11 will be donated to Movember. Please note that both Master of Malt and Glenfarclas are working at cost price on this project. Great initiative.

Score: 87/100


The guys from eSpirits in Germany are steadily moving forward with their own Liquid Treasures range, focusing on accessible bottlings, more than most other German bottlers.

Following the tradition of their colleagues from The Whisky Agency, they’re now using different themes for the labels. This Bruichladdich 1991 is part of the second series “Seabirds” – the first series was “Boats”, the third and latest series is “Lighthouses”.

 

Bruichladdich 1991 Liquid TreasuresBruichladdich 20 yo 1991 (50%, Liquid Treasures ‘Seabirds’ 2011, bourbon hogshead)

Nose: clean, punchy barley with quite a moderate fruitiness (peach and apple). A few grassy notes. Hints of porridge. Some nice waxy touches as well as a coastal, briney veil. Quite naked, not a lot of cask influence. Mouth: fruitier now, with peach, pear, apple and lots of lemon peel. It quickly turns to a slightly sharp spiciness (white pepper, mustard, ginger). Pleasantly salty with the sweet fruits somewhere in the background. Finish: medium long, quite zesty.

As natural as it gets, very much to-the-point. Nicely coastal as well, but the lack of cask influence makes it feel younger than it actually is. Available from eSpirits, around € 90.

Score: 84/100


After the Bunnahabhain 1980 from Whisky-Doris, here’s a Port Ellen 1982 recently launched by the same retailer.

 

Port Ellen 1982 Whisky-DorisPort Ellen 29 yo 1982 (58,5%, Whisky-Doris 2011, bourbon hogshead #18, 212 btl.)

Nose: quite a mineral Port Ellen, with big notes of limestone, wet rocks, wool, coal oven… but a nice underlying fruitiness (yellow apples, huge lemon) makes sure it doesn’t get too austere. Overtones of menthol and medicinal aromas. Quite layered and balanced, I really like this. Mouth: punchy delivery on oily peat, lemon and liquorice. Less rounded now, fairly dry, still showing quite some iodine and medicinal touches. A little salt and ginger before it settles on grassy and mineral notes. Finish: very long, half grassy / half fruity, with a clear salty twist.

An great Port Ellen, with an excellent nose and a textbook palate if you fancy the mineral, grassy and slightly austere type of Port Ellen. Available from Whisky-Doris, € 210.

Score: 90/100


BenRiach logoAsta Morris has quickly gained a reputation for excellent BenRiach releases. Bert Bruyneel is trying to bottle at least one benchmark BenRiach for every vintage (check the BenRiach 1975 cask #7227 and BenRiach 1978 cask #7037 released previously).

I had an early look at this brand-new 1977 bottling as Bert asked me to write tasting notes for the tube and bottle. Here’s a more elaborate version of these notes.

 

BenRiach 1977 #9119 Asta MorrisBenRiach 33 yo 1977 (45,7%, OB for Asta Morris Belgium 2011, refill bourbon cask #9119, 175 btl.)

Nose: fresh spring fruits (tangerine, pear, nectarine) sprinkled with lime and orange juice. A crisp and ‘indigenous’ fruitiness rather than the warm, exotic, marmalade-type fruitiness we’ve come to expect from 1975-1976 BenRiach. This one is more subtle, more interwoven with oak. There’s also a layer of spearmint / eucalyptus notes which adds to the fresh appeal, as well as some flowery notes (orange blossom, honeysuckle) and hints of pollen. Soft ginger and vanilla notes. A true gentleman – a little reticent at first but complex and very refined. Mouth: fresh with big fruity notes (yellow plum, kumquat, pink grapefruit, peach), again slightly “green” and definitely not cloying. There’s a fine exotic fruitiness (banana, passion fruits) but it’s in the background. Almond notes. Then the spices from the oak kick in (ginger, mint). Develops on fruit tea and heather honey. Citrus zest. Very smooth. Finish: long and clean, balancing between fresh fruits and soft oak.

Not just a benchmark for the 1977 vintage, but an exquisite BenRiach in general. Interesting how its profile is yet again different from both the 1975 and 1978. Arriving in stores any day now. Around € 230.

Score: 92/100


Linkwood is one of these distilleries I can’t seem to pin down. I really enjoyed some expressions (e.g. Linkwood 1973 for TWE) but most expressions left me cold. Age, cask type… didn’t seem to matter.

This Linkwood 1987 is probably very different, the label says “peated type” and I’ve never seen peated Linkwood before.

 

Linkwood 1987 Liquid SunLinkwood 24 yo 1987 (54,6%, Liquid Sun 2011, bourbon hogshead, peated, 329 btl.)

Nose: well, yes, moderately peated. It’s a rather dry peatiness with lots of grainy notes and subtle hints of moss or wet ferns. There’s something half fruity / half buttery hidden in the back as well. Almonds maybe. Quite closed and neutral. Water doesn’t change it much. Mouth: again peaty and quite grainy. It develops into sweeter and slightly fruity notes (lemon) with a tangy herbal / bitter / grassy edge towards the end. With water: not better. Very very neutral, peated wodka with a little sugar? Finish: long, peaty with faint herbal notes and caramel.

It’s always nice to discover a peated version of an otherwise unpeated distillery, but unfortunately it doesn’t win me over. No real flaws, no excitement either. Educational whisky, I would say, certainly at around € 120. By the way, Malts of Scotland has just released a similar bottling (MoS 11008).

Score: 76/100


The latest addition to the long list of Longmorn 1975 / 1976 bottlings from The Whisky Agency. A Longmorn 1975 in the Perfect Dram series. Could it be the last 1970’s cask from this bottler?

 

longmorn 1975 Perfect DramLongmorn 36 yo 1975 (50,6%, The Whisky Agency ‘Perfect Dram’ 2011, ex-bourbon hogshead, 163 btl.)

Nose: starts very fruity, with tangerine, peach, banana, papaya and some nice strawberry bubble gum notes. Quite some vanilla. Touches of wax and almonds. I’ve had a lot of these Longmorns but I’ll never get tired of them. Mouth: punchy start on fruity notes, mainly oranges and pink grapefruit. Then there’s some rather obvious oak and some drying notes of pine resin and tea. Some mint, nutmeg and aniseed. Finish: long, with the same oak / fruit theme and some herbal tea.

On the nose, those bubblegummy notes are a nice extra, but I’m afraid the oaky notes on the palate are louder than how I remember them in previous releases. Still pretty amazing how high the quality of these casks is! Around € 190.

Score: 88/100


Age of Discovery is a new series by Glenfiddich, celebrating the Portuguese explorers in the 15th Century. The first release is this 19 year-old finished in Madeira casks which were brought over from the Canterio warehouse of Henriques & Henriques, a famous Madeira producer.

 

Glenfiddich Age of Discovery MadeiraGlenfiddich 19 yo ‘Age of Discovery’ (40%, OB 2011, Madeira finish)

Nose: fresh and quite luscious. Starts with plenty of sparkling fruity notes: apricot, peach, juicy pear, gooseberries. After a while it moves to sweeter notes of vanilla, a little marzipan, honey and fruit pies. Subtle oak. Also a very soft earthy hint of moss or tobacco leafs. How nice! Mouth: smooth but very lightweight and slightly winey. Not overly sweet. Lots of oranges, with spicy hints of ginger, pepper and cinnamon. Balanced oak. Hints of toffee towards the end. Silenced by the lack of strength. Finish: still fairly dry and gingery. Marmalade, vanilla and nutty notes. Medium long.

It started with a lovely nose and plenty of freshness, but it’s lacking oomph to really stand out in the mouth. A complex Glenfiddich, probably one of the best finishes I’ve ever had. Too bad it’s so soft! Around € 100.

Score: 85/100


Here’s the 14 years old Ben Nevis 1992 I tried in The Glengarry last week-end. I’ve bought a bottle myself a few weeks ago so I was happy to be able to try it.

This Ben Nevis was matured in a sherry cask for 13 years, then watered down, then further matured for one year and finally bottled at 46%. On the label they call this “double maturation”.

 

Ben Nevis 1992 cask 2623Ben Nevis 14 yo 1992
(46%, OB 2007, sherry cask #2623, 815 btl.)

Nose: starts a little sharp and not as sherried as I had hoped. Plenty of orange peel, liquorice and some mineral notes, even a few coastal hints. It takes a while, but it opens up nicely with rounder chocolate and nutty notes. Some leather. Soft herbs. Mouth: good strength, with more sherry notes now. Sweet raisins, kumquats, chocolate. Orange liqueur. Hints of ginger. Something delicately smoky in the background. Still a surprising coastal hint. Finish: medium long on rounded sherry, spices and a bit of wood.

Not an easy one to describe or score. Don’t be fooled by the first impression – it takes a very long time to display its full potential. Around € 100 if you can still find a bottle.

Score: 87/100


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  • Taco: I'm about finished with a bottle of this and am still amazed at how good it is. It's much more subtle than the popular sherry finished whiskers, but
  • Tony: I guess they are not planning on selling much to the likes of us. "Premiumisation" gone mad...
  • Johan Andersson: I'm in Campbeltown right now for the Springbank Open Day on Thursday. This review is really spot on. I really love Longrow and especially the 18 it be

Coming up

  • anCnoc 24 Year Old
  • Aberlour a'bunadh Batch #50
  • Paul John Edited
  • Ledaig 42 Years Old
  • Bowmore Gold Reef
  • Tomatin 1997 (Liquid Library)
  • Springbank Vintage 2001
  • Mortlach Rare Old

1789 notes by Ruben

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