Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Mo Or whisky collectionMo Òr is a whisky collection of single casks bottlings released by The Whisky Talker, a Dutch company focusing on whisky investments with its World Whisky Index and other projects.

Mo Òr means “My Gold” in Gaelic  and the goal behind the collection is to include at least one cask of every distillery found in Scotland. The current batch (launched in 2011) contains 53 releases spanning different years and regions. There’s a Bowmore 1968, a Kinclaith 1969 (both well over € 1000) but quite some accessible bottles as well, e.g. a Highland Park 1996 or Arran 1996 (both around € 70).

There’s a choice of 50 cl. bottles as well as selections of 25 ml miniatures in nice wooden boxes. The collection seems to be aimed at collectors and high-end hotels and restaurants. The packaging, the website, in fact the whole brand oozes a certain quality which is reflected in the pricing. You will certainly find cheaper alternatives for some of the younger releases in the range, but the strength is really in the whole range including some hard-to-find distilleries and vintages.

Mo Òr is a focused and well executed concept. In the next few days and weeks we’ll review a couple of their bottlings:

Glen Garioch is one of these distilleries that produced awesome whisky in the past (as well as soap-wrecked rubbish) and that seems to have lost its unique qualities in later years. I’m curious to see try this Glen Garioch 1990, part of the latest Archives series..


Glen Garioch 1990 ArchivesGlen Garioch 21 yo 1990
(54%, Archives 2012, hogshead #252, 267 btl.)

Nose: a lot of cereal notes with caramel and butter. Some vegetal notes. Hay. Cider apples. Not the freshest nose (you can call it old-style if you like). A soft smokiness as well. Honeyed tea and faint floral notes. Mouth: quite grainy again, a little harsh and pungent. Mineral elements, walnuts, quite some honey sweetness, red apple and spices (liquorice, ginger). It’s rather oily and even shows some coastal hints and hints of peat. Finish: medium long, malty and slightly earthy.

Quite interesting as a showcase of typical coastal Highlands elements, but also a little too rough and grainy to win me over. Around € 70. Available from the Whiskybase shop.

Score: 81/100

It’s been a while since we’ve had an Amrut. This Amrut Intermediate Sherry, launched in 2010, had a complex maturation: first in ex-bourbon and new oak casks, then in sherry and finally in bourbon again. The spirit was shipped to Spain (and filled casks back to India) in order to avoid infection problems with shipping empty sherry casks (and the even more problematic desinfectation with sulphur sticks).


Amrut Intermediate SherryAmrut Intermediate ‘sherry matured’ (57,1%, OB 2010)

Nose: light sherry notes, locum or raspberry macaroons rather than the usual figs and dried fruits. Blueberries. Hints of Mandarine Napoleon as well. Spiced up by some exotic notes of ginger and flowers. Vanilla cake. A very sensual type of sherry, which in a way reminds me of Glenmorangie Sonnalta. Mouth: rich and fruity, sweet and again more candied and feminine than other sherry bottlings. Oranges, grapes and cherries. Plum jam. Locum again (rosewater). A whole array of spices (cinnamon, light pepper, anise). A little leather and a faint oaky touch as well. Finish: medium long, very fruity with a gentle zesty bitterness.

This half-sherried Amrut is a very successful experiment. The smoothness of the sherry is amazing and the bourbon oak adds compexity with vanilla and spices. Great stuff and there are still a few bottles out there. Around € 80.

Score: 90/100

Ardmore 1992 is something many independent bottlers are offering these days. Today we’re trying the release by Single Malts of Scotland.


Ardmore 1992 SMOSArdmore 19 yo 1992 (49,3%, Single Malts of Scotland 2011, bourbon cask, 207 btl.)

Nose: fairly malty and neutral at first, not too much smoke. Light buttery notes. Some vanilla and soft fruits (peach, papaya, melon). All this mixed with an interesting leafy / mossy character and the lovely sooty, diesel-like aromas that we’ve found in Ardmore before. Mouth: oily mouthfeel, sooty at first. Then a terrific burst of tropical fruits. Lovely balance of fruits and smoke. Light pepper. A nice, slightly medicinal twist towards the end. Very good. Finish: medium long, medium dry with smoked almonds. Unfortunately also a slightly soapy / zesty note which I don’t like too much.

Another great Ardmore 1992, balancing between zesty / mineral notes and tropical fruits, with a smooth underlying sootiness. Sold out at The Whisky Exchange. Update 22/02/2012: back in stock for now.

Score: 90/100

This Bunnahabhain was distilled in December 1990 and aged in a single Spanish oak butt for 20 years before being bottled for Master of Malt in November 2011.


Bunnahabhain 20y 1990 | Master of MaltBunnahabhain 20 yo 1990
(54,1%, Master of Malt 2011, sherry butt)

Nose: starts with some clean matchsticks (pleasant enough, not unlike some Karuizawa) and hints of oxo broth (less pleasant to be honest). Quite savoury, as often with these sherried Bunnas. Plenty of dried fruits (figs, dates) but there’s a sparklingly fresh red berry note as well. Hints of cocoa and bread crust. Mouth: nicely vibrant with sultanas, prunes and blackberry jam. Big spicy notes as well (cinnamon, soft pepper, aniseed). Roasted almonds. Hints of smoke in the background. Finish: long  and dry, on cocoa, prunes and Chinese five-spice.

A richly sherried Bunnahabhain. It adds some savoury / meaty aromas to the mix so it might not appeal to everyone. Around € 85, available from Master of Malt. They also offer samples.

Score: 83/100

Villa Konthor whiskyVilla Konthor is the well-known whisky bar in Limburg, Germany. They have a proprietary label for bottlings that are usually similar to the Whisky Agency releases. Be sure to visit them if you’re heading for the Whisky Fair festival in April.


Isle of Jura 1988 Villa KonthorIsle of Jura 23 yo 1988
(56,3%, Villa Konthor 2011, sherry cask)

Nose: a peculiar and very interesting profile again. There’s very ripe fruit, a lot of hay and nice Brora-esk farmy notes. More farmy than how I remember the Whisky Agency version. Quite some cigar leaves and leather again. Fresh herbs and heather. A slight caramel / chocolate note. Iodine in the background. Mouth: earthy, peppery and rather peaty. It grows on bitter herbal notes and something vaguely medicinal. Some walnuts and a little salt. Oak. Ginger. Maybe a little too herbal compared to the TWA version. Finish: warm and dry with some grassy notes (or pine needles) and nuts. Medium long.

I think this is a beautiful profile that is not commonly found these days. One of the rare occasions that I’ve found Brora elements in another distillery. Not the most balanced palate, but definitely worth a try. Around € 105. Sold by their partner webshop eSpirits.

Score: 90/100

La Maison du WhiskyI owe you the rest of my La Maison du Whisky experience (remember that I ordered the Karuizawa 1981 #2634).


LMdW investigated my case (wrong stock indication, incorrect reminder e-mail, seemingly random order allocation) and sent me an answer. The clarification of the situation contains two arguments:

  • Karuizawa is theoretically reserved for the domestic market and selling a big portion to international customers would bring logistic problems and criticism from French customers.So I suppose you have a higher chance of obtaining LMdW bottles if you enter a French shipping address? Didn’t expect that. Also I’m not sure can I agree with this policy. After all we’re all customers and you’re selling on the internet, not on Minitel. Also it’s not like there are plenty of other distributors of Karuizawa. In any case I’m sure it’s technically possible to limit certain products to certain countries (before the actual sale) and avoid the hassle.
  • Because there were so few bottles, there is a system of allocations (by country, domestic on-license, domestic off-license and internet). But the system is not able to follow in real-time with highly popular releases.I understand the need for allocations (LMdW shop vs. website for example) but this doesn’t explain the problems. The website apparently didn’t respect any allocation at all, it just kept selling and selling.


The bottom line of the e-mail is this:

We have managed to resolve the problem and are working on putting in place measures to avoid similar problems in the future. We have managed to negotiate some bottles – which were originally allocated to other customer networks – so that we are now able to fulfil your orders, and to send you the bottles that you previously wanted: we hope that this goes some way to restoring your confidence in us.

They didn’t comment on the false reminder e-mail and I’m still not sure there is a real-time stock indication on the website after the “measures” they’re talking about. Let’s hope there’s at least some kind of (quick) response mechanism which limits sales of rapidly selling bottles. It’s better to sell just a few bottles and eventually offer the remaining stock after a few days than just take all the orders you can and having to refund most of them.

Anyway thanks to La Maison du Whisky for taking the time to investigate. I’m sure I’ll enjoy this Karuizawa twice as much now!

Although Yamazaki distillery was opened in 1923 (as the first malt whisky distillery in Japan), it’s uncommon to see vintage releases distilled before the 1980s (apart from one or two 1979s).


Yamazaki 1980 Vintage MaltYamazaki ‘Vintage Malt’ 1980
(56%, OB 2004, refill sherry)

Nose: immediately shows huge hints of scented cedar wood (cigar box). Typically Japanese in this respect.  A lot of plums, raspberries and chocolate. Hints of tobacco leaves and dried mushroom. Cinnamon. The slightest hint of smoke. Very clean sherry with that oriental je-ne-sais-quoi. Mouth: starts sweet and sour. Plenty of fruity notes (forest berries, prunes, grapes) with bags of spices and herbs (pepper, ginger, liquorice, thyme). Some meaty hints as well. Herbal tea. Bitter oranges. Very powerful. Finish: long, more noticeably woody now. Cloves and blackberry notes.

Very big and full-flavoured but maybe slightly past its due date already. Quite expensive if you’re looking to buy a bottle: around € 380. Look at for example. Thanks Jack!

Score: 90/100



October 2015
« Sep    

  • David S: Does LMDW just throw the rare bottles on their website, or is there a mailing list, or are they just held for "friends and family"?
  • Tony: The Brora at 1500 Euros seems to recognise that last years similarly priced just hasn't sold, so no increase there (and even a slight drop). Then agai
  • kallaskander: Hi there, I remember that Bacardi said all the Last Great Malts would carry an age statement. Which is true. I thought they promised they would all b

Coming up

  • Bunnahabhain 1987 (Maltbarn)
  • Glen Garioch 1993 (Maltbarn)
  • Royal Brackla 16 Year Old
  • Teeling 26yo Vintage Reserve
  • Kavalan Podium

1895 notes by Ruben

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