Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Cutty Sark Tam o’ Shanter is a new variant of the existing Cutty Sark 25yo blend created by master blender Kirsteen Campbell. According to the press release, it adds a distinctly darker, wilder side.

It comes in an elaborate wooden box with a book featuring over 50 illustrated scenes based on the famous Robert Burns poem which gave the whisky its name. It’s limited to 5000 bottles.


Cutty Sark Tam o'Shanter Cutty Sark 25 yo ‘Tam o’Shanter’
(46,5%, OB 2012, 5000 btl.)

Nose: a rich and sherried nose which has a malty profile rather than a blended one. Very nice roasted nuts and tobacco. Sandalwood. Plenty of spices: aniseed, cinnamon, sweet ginger. A little wax and leather. Ripe fruits (plums and figs). Very light smoke in the background. Pretty wonderful. Mouth: starts sweet and sherried again. More nuts. Clearly also vanilla from the grains (which are more noticeable now). Then the bitter notes move forward, a combination of herbs, slightly stingy oak and citrus zest which is maybe a tad too loud. Evolves on cloves and pepper with dark chocolate. Finish: long, mostly on drying oak and spices now. Whiffs of eucalyptus in the end.

A great achievement as a blend, that’s for sure. The nose alone deserves a near 90/100 score and hardly shows blend characteristics. A lot of good whisky was used to create this, and the result is a quality collector’s item. Around € 240.

Score: 88/100

We don’t see too many independent Glenglassaugh. This 1978 vintage was selected by and bottled for Villa Konthor.


Glenglassaugh 1978 Villa KonthorGlenglassaugh 32 yo 1978
(46,2%, Villa Konthor 2010)

Nose: malty, very slightly alcoholic, with lots of apple aromas up front. Something sourish / metallic. Then it develops some chamomile tea, faint floral notes and spicy oak. A few dusty notes as well. Mouth: it seems to start in a fruity way but this is drowned by malty notes before it can really develop. Taken over by some grassy notes, walnuts and a bit too much oak and spices. Liquorice. A bit of citrus zest. Hints of wax. Finish: medium long, with some apple, citrus and oak.

This old Glenglassaugh is surprisingly spirity which means the fruity notes turn into a kind of eau-de-vie rather than an old, smooth whisky. Around € 140.

Score: 83/100

This Micro Provenance series is subtitled Cask Evolution Exploration. It’s one of these pseudo-scientific names Bruichladdich uses for their wine finishes. Most of them are 1992 single casks bottled for a specific whisky retailer / distributor or in this case “for Belgium”.

As always the packaging is nicely done with a frosted glass bottle, excellent typography and an embossed metal tin.



Bruichladdich 1992 Micro Provenance BrunelloBruichladdich 18 yo 1992 (51,2%, OB ‘Micro Provenance series’ 2010, bourbon cask #004, Brunello wine finish, 288 btl.)

Nose: a candied nose, say red fruit candy and blackcurrants with hints of blood orange juice. Hints of figs. Really not bad, it shows the wine character without any of the nastiness. There’s a slight off-note though, something musty / rubbery. Mouth: again notes of fruit candy, now accompanied by some oak spices and caramel / toffee. Hints of chamomile? Less impressive than the nose, more wine influence. Finish: medium length. Soft pepper and traces of wine.

Yeah well… a wine finish, though certainly not the worst in its genre. Around € 80.

Score: 79/100

Mo Òr whiskyOur first whisky from the Mo Òr collection is this 19 years old bourbon aged Macallan 1991.

Sister casks #21437 and #21439 were bottled by Duncan Taylor. Blackadder had a few #214xx casks as well.



Macallan 1991 Mo ÒrMacallan 19 yo 1991 (46%, Mo Òr 2010, bourbon hogshead #21436, 429 btl.)

Nose: a vibrant nose with some grassy elements as well as rounder, candied notes. Apples and cinnamon. Almonds. A little oak resin. Hints of fresh herbs as well. Mouth: very fruity and floral with big hints of Earl Grey tea, bergamot oil and orange blossom water. Some barley. After these fruity notes, the oak gets stronger and brings spices, liquorice and a faint sourness. Hints of vanilla. Finish: drier, with more oak, malt and spices.

An interesting middle-aged Macallan with some typical elements as well as a few surprises. Whisky for Earl Grey fans! Around € 105 (for a 50 cl bottle). There’s also a ‘Luxury pack’: a box which includes a bottle and two 2,5cl samples of the same whisky. It costs around € 105.

Score: 85/100

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



November 2015
« Oct    

Coming up

  • Lindores 2015 festival bottling
  • Amrut 2009 (cask #2701)
  • Glenlivet 1981 (#9468 for TWE)
  • Lagavulin Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Talisker Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
  • Mortlach 1959/1960 (G&M Royal Wedding)

1931 notes by Ruben

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