Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Private Stock is a series by The Whisky Agency, offering only exceptional (old) whiskies. Today we’re trying a 45 years old Bunnahabhain.

 

Bunnahabhain 1965 Private StockBunnahabhain 45 yo 1965
(40%, The Whisky Agency ‘Private Stock’ 2010,
refill hogshead, 195 btl.)

Nose: delicate with a nice banana fruitiness right from the start. Unripe pineapple. Hints of mint. Soft vanilla and hay. A faint hint of smoke and varnish. Nice dustiness. Quite light. Mouth: silky but really thin and silent. There’s a bit of oak juice and tobacco, with again a faint smokiness in the back. Lightly fruity (sourish oranges). No dryness but the flavours are muted. I’m not sure whether to call this subtle or just weak. Finish: medium length, soft with hints of chocolate and apple.

It’s nice to find this kind of elegant fruitiness with smoky hints and a proud kind of oldness. On the other hand, it’s rather thin and perhaps slightly over-aged.
Around € 240. Still available.

Score: 85/100

Re-tasted 18/04/2012: +1


Here’s a recent Malts of Scotland release with a slightly different presentation (tube and different label) as it is a joint bottling with The Whisky Agency. This Strathisla 1970 was bottled from a dark sherry hogshead and presented at the recent Whisky Fair in Limburg.

Would you believe this is the most recent Strathisla I’ve made notes of?
All the others were 1960’s distillation.

 

Strathisla 1970 | Malts of ScotlandStrathisla 40 yo 1970 (59,6%, Malts of Scotland & The Whisky Agency 2011, sherry hogshead, 109 btl.)

Nose: very intense oloroso aromas. Dried fruits (raisins and figs) and liquorice. A hint of cherry liqueur. Fruit jams. Melon with Port. After a while it shows more nutty notes and some tobacco. Some butterscotch and cigar boxes. Clean and quite excellent: heavy sherry the way it should be. Mouth: lots of oomph and very concentrated. Water required! Still big, with plenty of dried fruits, some herbal notes and resin. Liquorice and walnut liqueur. Prunes. Dark chocolate. A little cough syrup. A rather ‘dark’ palate. A dry mouthfeel overall but it shows lovely jammy flavours towards the end. Finish: very long, with the same dark and dry sherry theme.

This kind of sherry can only be expected of Strathisla and a handful of other distilleries like GlenDronach. Very good but quite expensive as well. Around € 300.

Score: 90/100


Duncan Taylor has a big stock of old Glenrothes casks. Many of their 1968 casks have been bottled in the prestigious Peerless series. The most recent release was this 41 year-old at 43%.

As a matter of fact, the Duncan Taylor casks are so good that Glenrothes decided to buy back a whole bunch of casks. Does it mean there’s a very expensive official release planned in the near future?

This is slightly darker whisky than yesterday’s Glenrothes 1968 by Malts of Scotland.

 

Glenrothes 1968 DT PeerlessGlenrothes 41 yo 1968 (43%, Duncan Taylor 2010, cask #9974, 139 btl.)

Nose: this one is much more biscuity than the Malts of Scotland version. More vanilla custard, great white chocolate notes and something caramelly. Over time it smells like a chocolate store really. Lovely dusty elements. The same kind of freshly sawn oak. Then back to gooseberries and apricots, pineapple, honey, even some volatile strawberry notes. Slightly wider and more complex than the other. Mouth: creamy, with the same kind of sweet / fruity vs. sour / oaky combination. Thicker and creamier than the Malts of Scotland, despite the slightly lower strength. Soft fruits (oranges, mango) and soft spices (cinnamon, cardamom). Custard with caramel. Finish: long and sweet, half spicy / half citrusy with apples and hints of aniseed.

A great cask, no doubt, showing both fresh fruits and warmer vanilla / chocolate notes. The thicker structure seems to hide the oak influence more. More expensive though: around € 260.

Score: 89/100


The excellent German bottler Malts of Scotland has just released a new series of bottlings. Among the new releases, I was looking forward mostly to both Caperdonich 1972 casks and this Glenrothes 1968.

 

Glenrothes 1968 - Malts of ScotlandGlenrothes 42 yo 1968 (45,2%,
Malts of Scotland 2011, bourbon hogshead #13509, 108 btl.)

Nose: fresh and fruity, but not a fruitbomb as there’s also a certain oaky dryness. Lots of citrus notes (especially orange and tangerine), hints of passion fruit and some new leather. A bit of wax. Hints of dry flowers and hay. Over time it seems to fade out a little and focus more on the (nicely fresh) oak. Faint hints of moccha. Mouth: quite a sour attack with plenty of oak. Ginger, cinnamon and lemon with the warmer fruits being pushed to the background. Hints of cardamom and cloves. Slightly tannic but still very enjoyable. Finish: drying and spicy with lingering fruits and hints of tea.

 

A Glenrothes of this age usually can’t hide the oak influence. This is no different, but only on the palate did it bother me a little. Other than that, it’s a bright Speysider with sparkling citrus fruits. Around € 200.

Score: 87/100


Scott’s Selection is a range of whiskies picked by Robert Scott, a former Master blender at Speyside Distillers in Glasgow. They bottled this North Port at 58% but they also have a later version at 48%.

North Port (also called Brechin or Townhead) is not a well known distillery. It was part of the Diageo empire but it was closed during the whisky crisis of 1983. Stocks are now believed to be very low.

 

North Port 1980 - Scotts SelectionNorth Port 24 yo 1980
(58%, Scott’s Selection 2004)

Nose: quite a strong nose, very malty. Oatmeal. Some vegetal elements (potatoes). Butter caramel. A little lamp oil. Faint smoke maybe? Mouth: grainy, malty and quite boring. Sweet, slightly hot and flat. Malt? Muesli with a dash of alcohol? Not much to say I’m afraid. Caramel again. A faint hint of apple. The spices are the best part (nutmeg, some pepper, something mustardy). Finish: oily, slightly grassy but again quite boring.

This North Port is not exactly bad whisky, but there are very few elements that stand out of the malty / sweet toffee centre. Some distilleries were closed for a good reason, you know. Around € 100 and still available.

Score: 75/100


All the Glen Elgin 1975 I’ve had before were good, some even excellent.
In case you want to compare, check these similar releases.

 

Glen Elgin 1975 - Whisky-FaessleGlen Elgin 35 yo  1975
(46,1%, Whisky-Fässle 2010, bourbon cask)

Nose: fruity in an “unripe” way, with a certain dryness to it. Fresh citrus, apricots and lime with soft waxy notes. A little leather. Some mineral notes as well. Delicate vanilla. Hints of mint and heather. After a while, it becomes quite aromatic and floral. White flowers, jasmin maybe? Mouth: fresh, citrusy and rather dry with a nice oaky touch. Pear, orange, passion fruits. Delicate ginger and herbal notes. Some liquorice towards the end. Finish: medium length, with oranges and citrus tea.

Quite similar to the 1975 bottled by Whisky Agency, which is not a bad reference of course. Around € 160. Available from Whisky-Fässle in Germany.

Score: 88/100


You may have noticed that we’ve had a lot of very old whiskies lately, with very high scores. It’s simply the time of the year. The Whisky Fair, the Fulldram supertasting, the Weedram Masters in two weeks… these events have a big focus on exceptional old stuff. And of course we’re more excited about a
Glen Keith 1970 than the next Glen Wonka 2000.

 

We were stunned by the Glen Keith 1970 released by The Whisky Agency
a few months ago. Now Malts of Scotland has a similar bottling, probably from a sister cask? This one is slightly darker, more golden coloured.

 

Glen Keith 1970 Malts of ScotlandGlen Keith 40 yo 1970 (47,9%, Malts of Scotland 2011, bourbon hogshead #6042, 163 btl.)

Nose: juicy ripe fruits (pears, gooseberries, peaches, tangerine, banana) with honey. Again a faint “green” edge of soft spices, mint and flowers. Maybe the warm vanilla / coconut side is even slightly bigger here, it seems the TWA version was slightly more acidic? All kinds of beehive notes here (honey, balm, pollen). Leather. Almonds. Wonderfully big and attractive. Mouth: the same kind of fruitiness, joined by a soft bitterness. Superb pineapple with coconut. Apricot jam. Vanilla. A little cinnamon and pepper. Mint. Finish: more of the same really, softly oaky and citrusy backed by spices.

 

Wow, another Glen Keith 1970 of exceptional quality. Personally I think this one has the better nose and the TWA version has the better palate, but differences are very very small and both are exactly my style. Great if you missed out on the other one. Around € 200.

Score: 93/100


This must be one of the rarest whiskies I’ve ever had. Just 22 bottles. It was presented at the recent Fulldram Supertasting. If you know this was voted third place (of five whiskies), you’ll understand that the line-up was very good. We’ll review a few others shortly.

This Glen Grant 1959 was a leftover of a cask bottled in 1999 by Samaroli (at least that’s what I’ve heard). In 2007 the bottles were relabeled by the people of Whisky Club Austria (Konstantin Gregoriadis and others). The label says “designed by Serge Valentin”.

 

Glen Grant 1959 - Whisky Club AustriaGlen Grant 40 yo 1959 / 1999 (48,9%, Whisky Club of Austria 2007, sherry cask, 22 btl.)

Nose: almost everything you would expect from old dark sherry. Prunes, raisins, Portuguese Ginjinha, dark chocolate and roasted nuts. Balsamic syrup. All kinds of herbs. Something that holds the middle between fuel and dusty notes (bottle ageing?). High octane sherry without any possible off-notes. Mouth: very intense. Dried fruits but there are fresher notes as well (grapefruit, cherries, oranges). Some oak but never too dry. Nutty flavours again. Some pine resin. Mint. Finish: beautiful, long and very rewarding.

A very impressive and very intense Glen Grant. You need to be a sherry lover of course. No need to look for this bottle, I would say, although once there was a bottle on Whiskyauction.

Score: 93/100


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  • Dirk V.: I think Inge L. does a fantastic job with her whisky flavoured chocolates ;-)
  • SK: And just to prove a point, all of the bottles are still available in places where they usually run out. Lets see how many will be still available whe
  • SK: 2 years ago I tried the Caol Ila 1982 from Archives. What a fantastic whisky. Since then I always try to stock these Caol Ila from the 80s. Sadly no

Coming up

  • Octomore 6.3 258ppm
  • Peated Irish 1991 (Eiling Lim)
  • Ardbeg 1974 for Christmas
  • Spirit of Freedom 30 Years
  • Arran #3 (TBWC)
  • Auchentoshan 1990 (Archives)
  • Ben Nevis 1996 (Whisky Mercenary)
  • Elements of Islay Cl7
  • Benromach 5 Year Old

1682 notes by Ruben

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