I found it quite strange to see a 9 year-old whisky being labeled Perfect Dram but then we shouldn’t judge a dram by its age, right? It was distilled at Bruichladdich in 2002 and it’s heavily peated so we’d better call it Port Charlotte.
Bruichladdich 9 yo 2002 (57,7%, The Whisky Agency ‘Perfect Dram’ 2011, ex-bourbon cask, heavily peated, 179 btl.)
Nose: quite aromatic for such a high alcohol content. Sweet peat and plenty of minerals (wet sand, graphite, wet wool). Very focused on peat but luckily we also find some hay and leather. Even tiny farmy notes. Mouth: a sweet blast of peat and soot. Then the sweetness fades and the whole gets earthy, rooty and more herbal, with a soft zesty bitterness in the background. Only for peatheads. Finish: long, ashy and lemony with some liquorice root.
Port Charlotte with a straightforward, deep peat blast. Maybe not the best value for money compared to other independent Port Charlotte or the official releases, but certainly good quality. Around € 100.
Nose: similar indeed. This time it’s the gunpowder / unlit matchstick note that strikes me first. Then a mossy, earthy hint of forests after the rain. Brighter notes of honey, orange marmalade and raisins. Nuts and grains. Quite alright if you don’t mind the gunpowder. Mouth: lots of berry notes and grapes before the spices come rolling in: ginger and liquorice. Some dry herbs. Still some gunpowder notes – hints of smoke as well. Strangely winey with a sour / bitter combo that’s not very refined. Finish: long, herbal and still slightly bitter. Cloves and dark chocolate.
A little rough around the edges with strong herbal flavours, faint winey notes and gunpowder. An adventurous mix. Not the best Macduff 2000 we’ve seen lately (there were so many) and I liked the sister cask better. Around € 50.
Glen Grant 39 yo 1972 (54,1%, Malts of Scotland ‘Angel’s Choice’ 2012, sherry hogshead MoS 12006, 78 btl., 35 cl.)
Nose: typical Glen Grant 72, full of sweet, juicy fruits. Quince marmalade, stewed prunes and papaya. Over time this evolves into almond notes and cinnamon. Highlights of mint. A little wax and paraffin. Lovely. Mouth: still fruity with a little more oak now. Nice balance of fruity sweetness (raisins, fruit cake) and oaky sourness. Nutmeg and pepper. Oranges. Hints of strawberry jam but they’re gone before you know. Fades on mint liqueur. Finish: medium long, on oranges and drying spices.
Another good Glen Grant 1972, perfect for this high-quality Angel’s Choice series. Around € 95 (half bottle). Not sure if this is still available.
This upcoming anCnoc 1998 is the replacement for the bright and high-quality anCnoc 1996 launched in 2011. Both are part of the distillery’s tradition to release a small batch vintage each year.
It was composed from American oak bourbon and sherry casks. With 850 cases available, the availability is slightly wider than last year.
(46%, OB 2012, 5100 btl.)
Nose: overall fresh and malty with some sparkling fruity notes (peach, orange, pear), honey and toffee. A bit of freshly sawn oak. As with the 1996, there’s also this nutty / buttery / porridge touch that sets it apart. Mouth: creamy with a distinct sourish profile. Grapes, pears and Granny Smith. After that a sweeter wave of caramel and roasted almonds. Soft wood. Finish: medium long, honeyed with a soft bite of liquorice.
This anCnoc 1998 is quite natural, which means it has to be well-made since there’s not much to cover up the naked spirit. I don’t see a reason to give this one a different score than last year’s anCnoc 1996. Another well-made dram with a nice character. Around € 55. Expected in stores later this month.
A Glenlivet distilled in 1978 and bottled in 2010 for The Whisky Fair in Limburg, together with Three Rivers in Tokyo.
Glenlivet 32 yo 1978 (52,9%, The Whisky Fair & Three Rivers 2010, bourbon hogshead, 250 btl.)
Nose: an elegant nose on juicy garden fruits (apples, peaches, oranges) with a light hint of tropical fruitiness and vanilla. Rich barley notes. Subtle dried grass. Pastry notes as well, with nice beeswax in the background. Mouth: creamy mouthfeel with quite some vanilla. Sweet and fruity at first (yellow apples, melon, mango). Then an array of spices like ginger and cinnamon, fading to drier oaky notes and cloves. Strangely enough, after the second or third sip, it seemed my mouth could only pick up the oak and filtered out the fruits. Too bad, it becomes slightly tangy with a hint of peat. Finish: fairly dry and tannic with less of the fruity goodness.
This Glenlivet sets off with lovely Speyside fruits and a rich creaminess, but on the palate the oak gets louder by the minute. Overall I was more impressed with the Glenlivet 1977 by Whisky-Doris for example. Around € 140. Still available in the Whisky Fair shop.
Nose: obviously similar to the Dailuaine 1983 by Asta Morris, although it shows more vanilla and a nice custard sweetness. A tad more fruits as well. Lime rather than lemon. Oranges and yellow apples. Still the same chalkiness and big grassy notes. Butter and malt. Mouth: oily and bittersweet. A strange mixture of (not so fresh) fruits (cider apple, tangerine), beeswax and gingerbread. Vanilla cake or rather the dough to make it. Orange flower honey. Quite a lot of heather again. Zesty grapefruit. Finish: medium long, creamy, gingery and zesty.
Slightly strange stuff again (feel free to read “unique stuff”), though the added sweetness and vanilla makes this one a tiny bit more ‘classic’ than the Asta Morris version. Around € 85, sold in the bottler’s own Whiskybase shop.
Nose: starts rather delicately on hay, chalk and heather. Slightly musty. Then quite some waxy notes, plenty of grassy and floral notes. Hints of buttercups. Bread crust as well. Some fresh citrus and ginger. Mouth: waxy and spicy. Thyme. A certain sweetness too, although it’s not exactly a fruity sweetness. Honeyed ginger tea? Hints of bitter oak and grapefruit. There’s a kind of raw spirity edge to it as well. Finish: rather long, bittersweet with some herbs, lemon zest and grass.
This sample has been on my desk for three or four months now, and I couldn’t get to grips with it. Sometimes I like it, but most of the times it sets me off for the most part. Some of the aromas are difficult to pin down, so even though I’m not the biggest fan I still appreciate its unique signature. Around € 90, only a few bottles left.
Honestly I haven’t found a Bladnoch so far that had me jumping for joy. Maybe this Bladnoch 1990 bottled by Duncan Taylor in November 2011 can change my mind.
Bladnoch 21 yo 1990 (55,2%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, cask #3450, 134 btl.)
Nose: intense and slightly alcoholic. Nice lemon pie and tropical fruits (lime, mango, pineapple) with hints of bubble gum and nail polish remover. A little vanilla and grassy notes. Interesting but it stays quite neutral and grainy. Mouth: punchy. Grainy centre, rounded off by a similar mix of (sourish) lemon and sweeter vanilla (cake). Some pepper and citrus zest. Liquorice. Hay. Green tea. Finish: long, with the slightly bitter citrus zest getting quite loud now.
Too bad. I didn’t really enjoy this Bladnoch either, it’s too rough and biting and it doesn’t show much diversity. The nose was quite captivating though. Around € 70. Thanks Herbert.