Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Balvenie Whisky AcademyThe Balvenie Warehouse 24 has now been expanded with a Whisky Academy. It contains four modules explaining a lot of common aspects about whisky (history, production, types of whisky, regions, aromas…) as well as some less common subjects (investing, quality vs. appreciation, terroirs…)

Balvenie’s Global Ambassador David Mair and whisky doctor Sam Simmons (now brand ambassador) are hosting 35 videos, and they’re interviewing people like David Stewart, Gavin D. Smith, Sukhinder Singh, Eddie Ludlow and Charles MacLean.

I don’t usually pass along press releases, but this time you should really check it out and dedicate some time to the videos.

http://www.thebalvenie.com/en/whisky_academy.php


You all know I love Caperdonich and 1972 was known to be a top vintage. One of my favourite distilleries and one of my favourite independent bottlers. Prepare for some fireworks.

Luc Timmermans really sparked a hype around this one. One Facebook message was enough to have it almost sell out before this first review shows up!

 

Caperdonich 1972 - Perfect DramCaperdonich 38 yo 1972 (58,4%,
Whisky Agency 2011, refill sherry, 145 btl.)

Nose: truckloads of apricot jam, with nice furniture polish and backed up by other juicy fruits like mango, tangerine, pears, quinces, even white cherries. Over time these change slightly towards (subtle) dried fruits (apricot, figs) and almonds. Apart from the fruit basket, it shows a whole range of elegant beehive notes (wax, honey, pollen). Hints of fruit tea and mint, later on soft spices as well. Hints of cigar boxes. Lovely pastry notes (lemon pie) with warm vanilla cream. Some cocoa. Candied, jammy, packed with flavours, and simply delicious! Mouth: starts fruity and rounded (figs, apricot). Then the firm oak comes rushing in (yet never too dry) with plenty of spices and mint. Slightly leathery. Really elegant and a few drops of water keeps the fruitiness alive. Finish: very long, half fruity / half oaky, and polished. Traces of liquorice and vanilla.

 

Punchy, aromatic, complex, fruity, spicy… The nose alone keeps me happy for a whole evening. The luscious apricots and figs lift it above other great 1972’s like cask #7424 for The Nectar. Last year TWA brought us the famous Longmorn 1972, and this Caperdonich promises to be one of the highlights of 2011 already! Around € 200 but I’m afraid there aren’t too many bottles left.

Score: 93/100


Malts of ScotlandA few months have gone by since we’ve tried new releases by Malts of Scotland, but they’re alive and kicking. Expect a whole bunch of reviews over the next couple of weeks. There’s an Inchgower 1982, Glencadam 1985, Highland Park 1986, Ardmore 1992, Longmorn 1976 etc.

Let’s start with this 30 years old Miltonduff 1980, bottled a few weeks ago but not yet distributed as far as I know. Note that Malts of Scotland releases now come in a box by the way.

 

Miltonduff 1980 - Malts of ScotlandMiltonduff 30 yo 1980 (44,7%, Malts of Scotland 2011, bourbon hogshead #12429, 259 btl.)

Nose: pineapple sweets, freshly cut apples, hints of green banana… a nice, creamy fruitiness mixed with sawdust and some floral / grassy notes. A little mint and soft herbs. Honeysuckle. Lovely Speyside style – gets warmer by the minute. Better neat as too much water brings out a slight soapiness. Mouth: again some fresh fruits on a background of grassy notes that make sure it’s not too cloying. Now more pronounced oak. Vanilla. Golden apples. Hints of calvados? Honey. Cinnamon. A few nutty flavours as well. Again better without water. Finish: still fruity but quickly drying on spices and oak.

A Miltonduff with a surprisingly young profile that’s warm and fresh at the same time. It’s a rather unknown distillery that often surprises me with great value for money. Around € 130.

Score: 89/100


Hazelburn CV

10 Mar 2011 | Hazelburn

Hazelburn is the triple distilled spirit from Springbank distillery. Hazelburn CV is a vatting of different ages (6 to 10 years old), the majority being from bourbon casks.

 

Hazelburn CVHazelburn CV (46%, OB 2011)

Nose: straw and malt aromas with some sort of metallic pear-like note. A muted fruitiness at best, and a rather artificial fruitiness for that matter. Cider apples. Some lemon drops. Quite some orange peel. A little unfresh. Mouth: big malty sweetness with cereal notes. Some oranges and vanilla cream. Hints of dry, bitterish herbs and more than just a hint of cardboard which seems to flatten it. Finish: medium length, with more spices and caramel.

I find this a strange whisky that doesn’t seem “natural” at all. I don’t know how to express it, but in a way this reminds me of blends from the 60-70’s. Disappointing. Around € 30.

Score: 70/100


The Whisky Exchange 10th AnniversaryThe Whisky Exchange was founded in 1999. In 2009/2010 they presented a series of excellent 10th Anniversary bottlings: Linkwood 1973, Karuizawa 1982, Glenglassaugh 1978, Clynelish 37 years, Longmorn 1969 and one or two others that we haven’t tried.

This Lochside 1981 is their latest (probably last?) anniversary edition.

 

Lochside 1981 57.5% TWELochside 29 yo 1981 (57,5%, The Whisky Exchange 2010, oloroso cask)

Nose: great fruity notes (redcurrant, some tangerine, grapefruit, passion fruit) – fresh fruits mixed with dried fruits (raisins) and a lovely layer of oak polish / wax. Quite aromatic with a few floral touches. Some spices to add some depth. Whiffs of mint. Rounder than most of the Fino casks that we’ve seen recently, or so it seems. Mouth: starts on sweet grapefruit followed by plenty of spices and some grassy notes. The honeyed oloroso is noticeable in the background. Then getting drier and sharper with ginger and pepper and a growing bitterness (citrus zest). Still slightly waxy. Finish: like other Lochsides from this era: long with lemon zest and a Palo Cortado kind of woodiness.

It’s difficult to choose between all the great 1981 Lochsides we’ve seen lately. This is one of the more rounded with attractive fruits on the nose (more than the Fino casks). It’s just the bitterish and zesty flavours that keep me from scoring it much higher, but that’s part of the Lochside character as well. Excellent and exemplary – one of the best 1981’s for me. Available from TWE, around € 160.

Score: 90/100


This is the second Inchgower bottled by Whisky-Doris (after the 25yo bottled in 2006). The distillery is located in Speyside, next to the sea.

 

Inchgower 1974 #1476 Whisky-DorisInchgower 36 yo 1974 (55,5%, Whisky-Doris 2010, refill sherry cask #1476, 167 btl.)

Nose: a very complex mixture of subtle fruits (dried apricot, citrus) and a slightly sharp coastalness (sea air with a little iodine). Quite some spices (ginger, pepper, cinnamon) with elegant oak. Hand warmth brings out nice vanilla. Apart from this there’s a whole range of tiny notes that come and go: leather, wax, damp earth, flowers… They don’t make ‘em like this any more. Fruitier and more complex with some water, even slightly smoky. Mouth: fruity notes (apricot again, oranges, grapefruit, lemon zest) with a clear peaty undertone. Coffee and almonds. Getting bitter (very dark chocolate) and salty in the end. Maybe a tad too sharp although a drop of water makes it rounder. Surprisingly coastal for a Speysider.  Finish: long, dry with plenty of spices and some bitter lemon zest.

One of the most coastal Speyside whiskies I’ve tried. Add the uncommon peaty edge and you’ve got something special. Not an easy dram, but full of character. Available from Whisky-Doris – € 150.

Score: 90/100


Jura 1973 (cask 3155)

07 Mar 2011 | Jura

A 30 years old Isle of Jura 1973 matured in an oloroso cask from the renowned Gonzalez Byass bodegas in Jerez de la Frontera.

 

Jura 1973 - 3155Jura 30 yo 1973
(55%, OB 2003, cask 3155, 468 btl.)

Nose: big notes of cigar boxes mixed with quite some wine and camphor. Interesting and smooth. Dried fruits. Makes me think more of Port wine than of sherry. Toffee. Hints of mint. Mouth: too much wood which means the fruity side of the sherry gets drowned. Rum / raisins. Notes of nutmeg and ginger. It shows nice coastal notes (iodine and salt). Getting quite resinous, mineral and slightly bitter, on Seville oranges. Finish: dry (walnuts) and winey with some salty liquorice.

This Jura is interestingly different but a tad too old. The palate is too oaky for my taste and can’t match the otherwise attractive nose. Worth around € 350 now.

Score: 86/100


Ardbeg Kildalton

05 Mar 2011 | Ardbeg

Ardbeg Kildalton was the result of an unpeated run at Ardbeg, originally for a third party but in the end it was released as a distillery bottling. There has been a 1981 version as well, in 5 ml bottles as part of “The Peat Pack” sampler.

 

Ardbeg Kildalton 1980Ardbeg 1980 ‘Kildalton’ 
(57,6%, OB 2004, 1300 btl.)

Nose: fragrant / floral and nicely fruity (lemon, orange, apricot). Despite a hint of vanilla, it’s not a particularly warm fruitiness though. It’s rather prickly, with hints of nail polish remover. Slightly waxy as well (lemon scented candles). Citrus tea. A nutty marzipan aroma as well and some pine wood. I doubt it’s completely unpeated. Mouth: oily and sweet with dried / cooked fruits (pineapple, orange) and a little vanilla. Quite malty. Bread. Clear oak, again slightly tingling with some pepper and ginger. Liquorice. A tiny bit of peat? Finish: long and hot, fading on chocolate.

Nice enough, I like the fruity sweetness with the light hints of peat. But it’s not exceptionally elegant like I expected it to be. Shops that have this on offer, ask around € 600.

Score: 88/100


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Coming up

  • SIA Blended Scotch
  • Ardmore Legacy
  • Cardhu 18 Year Old
  • Clynelish 21yo 1992 (Cadenhead)
  • Ledaig 2005 (Maltbarn)
  • Aberlour 8yo (cube, small cork)

1644 notes by Ruben

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