Single malt whisky - tasting notes

A couple of years ago, The Whisky Agency set up a kind of Taiwanese link. Some of the releases are now exclusively available in Taiwan. You rarely hear of these bottlings over here in Europe, so we’re pleased to try a couple of them.

Let’s start with the nicest label, designed by two artists who also signed each bottle and the accompanying wooden box. This Clynelish 1996 is nicknamed ‘Eagles want to fly’. From what I’ve heard, it is a commemorative bottling for some kind of bird research programme. I hope Google Translate didn’t let me down here.

 

 

Clynelish 1996 - The Whisky Agency - TaiwanClynelish 18 yo 1996 (50,4%, The Whisky Agency 2014, refill hogshead, 304 btl., Taiwan)

Nose: a lot of candy sugar and barley sugar at first, alongside some sappy notes (pine) and typical wax. Quite some mint, moving towards medicinal / coastal notes like iodine. Grassy notes. Fragrant lemon. Very clean and enjoyable. Mouth: classic. Citrus fruits (both juices and skins), just enough before it moves to chalky notes, waxes and a grapefruit zestiness with gentle bitter touches. Also a faint earthiness, as well as a hint of salty liquorice. Finish: long, coastal and earthy, almost an impression of peat (although I doubt it is really peated).

In general I like my Clynelish rounded and waxy, but in this case the earthy, coastal and almost peaty profile is also a nice surprise.

Score: 90/100


Tobermory is part of the Burn Stewart group, which also owns Bunnahabhain and Deanston. Their results have been pretty good lately and most of the ranges have been revamped and upgraded recently. Tobermory is frequently seen on the market in the peated Ledaig form lately, especially from independent bottlers.

This Tobermore 10 Year Old was first released in its current form in 2007.

 

 

Tobermory 10 Years OldTobermory 10 yo (46,3%, OB 2014)

Nose: raw grains, lots of porridge. Wet hay. Overripe apples. Not as fresh as I hoped. Goes on with salty seaweed, moss and oily notes. A touch of butter toffee as well. Hardly any fruitiness. Not that this is obligatory, mind you. It’s different, but maybe not entirely convincing for me. Mouth: better. Still oily but slightly sweeter (oranges, acacia honey, berries) which works well alongside the softly briny / mineral notes. Hay. Pepper and liquorice. Whiffs of smoke too. Finish: quite short, showing a malty / chocolaty sweetness and a hint of pepper.

It’s nice to see a standard 10 Year Old taking a slightly different route, but not everything in this malt is successful. Around € 33.

Score: 80/100


Wemyss Malts announced the release of six new single casks. We’re trying the Bowmore 1998 nicknamed Cacao Geyser.

 

Bowmore 1998 Cacao Geyser - WemyssBowmore 1998 ‘Cacao Geyser’ (46%, Wemyss 2014, sherry butt, 737 btl.)

Nose: reminds me of the Bowmore 1995/2008 SMOS. Huge tobacco notes, with a bit of dusty leather and huge notes of Mexican chocolate discs. Figs. Also flinty notes and whiffs of gunpowder and rubber (nothing dirty). Lots of ashes. After a while it settles on a sweet & sour balance, with echoes of Balsamico. Mouth: slightly fruitier than expected, with pretty spectacular notes of blackcurrants. The dark chocolate is also present of course, but I would have chosen Cassis Geyser. Deep cigar smoke. Hints of prunes, with a peppery / gingery base. Jaffa cakes and salty liquorice towards the end. Finish: long, smoky and briney with lingering sherry.

This Bowmore shows the biggest blackcurrant notes I’ve ever encountered in whisky – I love that. A nice profile that you don’t see too often. Around € 95, arriving in stores as we speak.

Score: 89/100


The Whisky Mercenary already released a Glenlossie 1992 in 2012. At the end of 2014 he released a similar expression selected by BYOB-C, which stands for Bring your own bottle club, a newish Belgian whisky club.

 

Glenlossie 1992 - Whisky Mercenary for BYOB-CGlenlossie 22 yo 1992
(48,2%, The Whisky Mercenary for BYOB-C 2014, 48 btl.)

Nose: aromatic with a firm fruity base (pears, gooseberries, melons). Touches of vanilla, mint and fresh grass. Soft waxy notes. Clean and easy, all fine. Mouth: apples, pears, maybe a little more citrus now. Still very fruity, with an underlying fructose sweetness. Soft spices (ginger, pepper) which grow louder towards the end. Also moving from sweetness towards gentle bitterness. Finish: medium, sweet, gingery.

You can’t fault this Glenlossie in any way. It’s bright and fruity with enough body. That said, the sequel isn’t better than the original in this case. Around € 110.

Score: 84/100


We have too little Blackadder whiskies on this website, I guess. This label by Robin Tucek has a pretty good reputation, but somehow it manages to stay out of my focus.

This Bunnahabhain 1987 was distilled November 1987 and bottled May 2014. Plenty of similar casks in the 24xx-25xx range have been bottled in the past couple of years.

 

 

Bunnahabhain 26yo 1987 BlackadderBunnahabhain 26 yo 1987
(61,7%, Blackadder Raw Cask 2014, hogshead #2488, 192 btl.)

Nose: some estery notes at first, moving towards garden fruits and oranges as well as some golden raisins. Polished oak. Honey and cinnamon buns. Unfolds nicely, growing slightly more tropical and jammy. Some earthy and spicy notes in the background. Mouth: rich and fruity (apricots, raisins, oranges and whitecurrant), quite sweet and honeyed with hints of vanilla, mocha and chocolate. Subtle drier notes of cinnamon, tobacco and walnuts. Enough oak, but the pleasant kind. Grassy notes too, but these soften with a few drops of water. Finish: long and rather green, half fruity (candy apple), half grassy with some ashy touches.

A beautiful Bunnahabhain, probably from a refill sherry cask. We’ve had all kinds of 1987 casks (bourbon, subtle sherry, dark sherry) and they were all pretty great. This one needs a bit of water. Around € 180. Thank you, Angelo.

Score: 90/100


New Cragganmore expressions rarely hit the market (the last one was four years ago already, not counting the yearly Cragganmore Distillers Edition). This makes it even nicer to find it amongst Diageo’s Special Releases.

Cragganmore 25 Year Old was distilled in 1988 and aged in refill American oak casks.

 

 

Cragganmore 25 Years 1988 (2014 Special Release)Cragganmore 25 yo 1988 (51,4%, OB 2014, refill American oak, 3372 btl.)

Nose: sweet with lots of vanilla, heather honey and hints of honeydew melons. Nice bits of dried mango. The fruitiness is balanced (or muted if you like) by green, spicy oak and liquorice. Soft buttery hints (popcorn). Fresh mint and apple blossom. Mouth: creamy, still rather sweet with some honey and orchard fruits. Nice hints of pineapple and coconut. The oaky notes, ginger, pepper and plenty of vanilla make this one typically American oak, but they also make it seem younger than it is. A lot of distilleries have this profile at half the age and a fraction of the price. Finish: medium long, fruity with zingy spicy notes from the wood.

Good whisky, but youngish in a way, due to active American oak, which makes it seem even more difficult to justify the price. Readily available. Around € 425.

Score: 87/100


Mackmyra Midnattssol was the second release in a new limited range that takes over from the Mackmyra Special series. The series is based on the seasons. Midnattssol means Midnight Sun and represents the summer. Recently it was followed up by Mackmyra Iskristall, the winter edition.

The Swedish distillery produced this expression from a combination of American and Swedish oak casks that previously held sherry and bourbon. About half of the final composition was then finished for about five months in casks that contained Swedish wine made from birch sap. Mackmyra doesn’t mention an age statement but it’s said to be 7 to 8 years old.

 

 

Mackmyra MidnattssolMackmyra Midnattssol (46,1%, OB 2014)

Nose: honey and quite some floral / grassy notes. Lots of berry fruits and banana. Walnuts. There’s also a clear woody side, with freshly cut wood (maybe not oak but rather pine wood), cloves and some resinous notes. Different, quite nice, but a little spirity as well. Mouth: spicy with a spirity touch again. Active wood. Mint and pepper. Fairly dry, but with a little berry and citrus sourness hidden below. Lemon zest. Maybe lime blossom. A couple of herbal notes as well. Finish: settles down a little, with a grapefruit bitterness and wood spices.

I’m not sure what birch wine is like – maybe this unique finish is what makes Midnattssol taste really woody. Interesting experiment and not a bad result. Around € 75.

Score: 80/100


The Whisky ExchangeThe Whisky Exchange has just released a single cask Millstone, produced at the Dutch Zuidam distillery. Founded in 1975, they have been producing single malt whisky since 2007, with some peated examples, finished malts and rye whiskies.

This one is produced from rye grain milled by Dutch windmills, distilled in January 2004 in small pot stills and matured for over 10 years in a new American oak cask.

They say Sukhinder likes this whisky so much that he keeps pinching the sample bottle…

 

 

Millstone rye 10 years - single cask for The Whisky ExchangeMillstone rye 10 yo 2004 (58,6%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 2014, cask #667, 245 btl.)

Nose: an alcohol kick at first, but highly aromatic after that. Typical rye notes: lots of peppery, bready notes and some sour overtones. A slightly bourbonny sweetness underneath, with vanilla pods, caramelized sugar and bananas flambéed. Oranges. Cinnamon and fresh mint. Hints of pencil shavings too. Mouth: richly oaked and spicy. Pepper, ginger and cloves, as well as some (also Dutch) liquorice. Some lightly bitter grassy notes. Burnt toast with maple syrup, coconut and dark chocolate. Finish: long, leaving some heat in the mouth. Pepper, polished oak and still this burnt, bitter edge.

I haven’t been particularly impressed with Millstone single malt whisky so far, but they do know how to make a nice rye. The burnt notes are quite loud on the palate, but it’s definitely up there with Canadian or American rye whiskey. Around € 115, available from The Whisky Exchange.

Score: 87/100


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  • WhiskyNotes: Good point Diego, it's important to coat the glass with whisky indeed. It helps it to evaporate and bring out the aromas, and take away the residuals
  • Diego Sandrin: i agree, N.5. The way i use it is i fill it up 2cl and then put it flat (horizontal) on the table, don't fill it more than 2cl or it will spill out, a
  • Basidium: I am partial to the Glencairn Crystal Canadian Whisky Glass as it is closer to what I am used to in a standard whiskey tumbler. It still narrows the t

Coming up

  • Clynelish 'distillery only'
  • Bunnahabhain 1980 (Eiling Lim)
  • Balmenach 2001 (Liquid Treasures)
  • Auchentoshan Heartwood
  • Strathisla 1948/1961
  • Benromach 15 Years

1819 notes by Ruben

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