Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Bladnoch was bought by Raymond Armstrong in 1994 and production restarted in 2000 after some years of mothballing and renovation. This Bladnoch 1990 single cask was taken from the inherited stock and was the oldest available official release at the time of bottling.

 

Bladnoch 1990 cask 136Bladnoch 20 yo 1990 
(52,4%, OB 2010, cask #136)

Nose: fragrant and light, with some fresh grass, cut apples and a few floral notes. Some vanilla and honey. After a while, it seems to gets ‘older’ with notes of hay and something like stone dust. Mouth: sweet and nicely punchy, with the same flavours now backed up by spices (pepper, cloves) and oak. Big notes of lemons. Grapefruits. Slightly synthetic in its fruitiness I think, which turns into perfumy / soapy notes, especially when you add some water. Returns to dried grass before getting slightly bitter and herbal. Finish: bittersweet, spicy and a little perfumy. Quite long.

Very sippable and lively. A little mono-dimensional with a slightly disturbing perfumy touch but the price makes up for part of these problems. Around € 55. Sold out but a new 20yo single cask is available. Thanks for the sample swap, Stuart.

Score: 82/100


Daily DramOur final review of the new releases by The Nectar of the Daily Drams: a 20 years old Laphroaig 1990. I’m getting the feeling that the quality of this little series was very high!

 

Laphroaig 1990 Daily DramLaphroaig 20 yo 1990
(52,8%, Nectar of the Daily Drams 2010)

Nose: a fragrant Laphroaig with a nice peppery side (Szechuan) and a medicinal / herbal side (menthol, antiseptic). Faint fruity notes in the background, with sweet smoke and some farmy notes / wet dogs. I’m picking up notes of green tomatoes as well. With water the farminess grows stronger while it also turns to lemons. Nice – well balanced (read: not very peaty) on the nose. Mouth: slightly kippery, then growing more medicinal for a few moments but sweeter as well, with sugared lemon juice. After that, there’s a late burst of peat with some liquorice and pepper again (chilli). Finish: long, quite rounded with sweet smoke and soft hints of green peppers in the end.

Laphroaig of this age shows a little less peat on the nose, but still displays it with full power on the palate. I like the balance of this all-rounder. Limited availability. Around € 125.

Score: 87/100


This 28 years old Port Ellen 1982 was a single cask selected by Luc Timmermans for two whisky shops. The biggest part was bottled for
De Druiventuin / Whiskysite in Leiden (Holland) and a smaller part is available from QV.ID in Huldenberg (Belgium).

 

Port Ellen 1982 - Whiskysite / QV.IDPort Ellen 28yo 1982 (57,5%, Whiskysite.nl / QV.ID 2010, refill sherry puncheon, 136 btl.)

Nose: an array of typical Port Ellen notes. Gentle peat and maritime notes (seashells). Hints of plaster. Velvety vanilla as well (which I think is essential in a good Port Ellen). Almonds. Soft hints of sweet fruits but no real sherry character. Gets a tad drier over time with some nutmeg and tobacco. Mouth: mouth-coating and creamy, again nicely sweet and fruity. Sugared lemon juice. A bit of pepper, a bit of salt. More peat than on the nose, as well as some mineral notes, but it returns nicely to soft vanilla and a little honey. Rich and balanced. Finish: lemon and smoke with a hint of aniseed in the very end.

A couple of years ago, it seemed 1982/83 were lesser years for Port Ellen. We already know it’s not true. Congratulations to Luc, Jack and Koen for this great selection. Around € 200 – now sold out.

Score: 92/100


Tamnavulin is a modern and very young distillery: production started in 1966 so this must have been one of the first casks ever to be filled. The distillery was mothballed in 1995, re-opened in 2007 as part of the White & Mackay group but is currently (again) silent. It goes without saying that releases are rare.

This 1967 single cask is bottled from a bourbon hogshead.


Tamnavulin 1967 Whisky Agency - Still LifesTamnavulin 43 yo 1967 (41%, Whisky Agency 2010, Still Lifes II, 204 btl.)

Nose: a muted fruitiness, with some dried oranges and apples. Slightly grassy. Oak is certainly not the main element here, although it shows some dry spices, mainly nutmeg and cinnamon. Very faint hints of wax. A bit of dust as well. Pleasant enough, although not the most exciting profile and slightly shy. Mouth: quite warm, enough punch. Again playing on the edge of sweet garden fruits and subtle spicy wood. Malty notes. Nutmeg, ginger, a little mint. Never crossing the line of antiquity. Nice. Finish: medium length, warm and gently fading on grassy notes.

Nothing spectacular in my opinion yet anything but boring. Interesting release, certainly because Tamnavulin is such a ‘problematic’ distillery with hardly any expressions available. Around € 170.

Score: 85/100


This is the second new release from Daily Dram, a Japanese Hanyu 1991. The label says “red oak heads” which means the top and bottom surfaces of the hogshead were made of red oak, a typical Northern American type.

It was probably a finish as red oak is very open-grained and prone to leaks, it simply can’t be used for 20 years. A sister cask #378 was bottled in the Ichiro’s Malt series last year.

 

Hanyu 1991 Daily DramHanyu 19 yo 1991 (56%, Nectar of the
Daily Drams, cask #377, Red Oak heads)

Nose: very spicy, a little oriental (cinnamon, ginger, mint). Big notes of cigar boxes. Some tangerine and cloves (hints of a high-end vermouth). Butterscotch and fruit cake. Pancake syrup. Nice hints of beeswax and leather. Mouth: powerful and pleasantly oaky with intense spices again. Pepper, some liquorice, a little ginger. Faint hints of aniseed. Sweet dried fruits as well (prunes to name just one) but overall quite savoury. A few smoky undertones. Finish: long but only the deeper spicy notes seem to stand out, most of the freshness disappears. Not too dry.

Hanyu traditionally shows a high oak influence with plenty of spices. This is no different, and I know for some people it will be “too Japanese”. Quite a hefty price as well: around € 180. The combination of its particular profile and price means this will probably be on the shelves a little longer.

Score: 88/100


anCnoc 1996

25 Feb 2011 | AnCnoc

A couple of weeks ago, anCnoc launched a new website, which I personally think is ahead of its time compared to other distillery websites. The styling follows the clean and attractive packaging. Congratulations guys.

Apart from the 12yo and anCnoc 16yo, there’s always a vintage in the core range (around 14 years old). Tonight the new anCnoc 1996 vintage was presented in a Twitter tasting by Gordon Bruce, Knockdhu distillery manager.

 

anCnoc 1996anCnoc 1996 (46%, OB 2011)

Nose: clean but definitely more sherried than the 12yo or 16yo – especially more nutty notes (hints of peanut butter). There’s a dry and slightly musty (sulphury?) side to it, but there’s still honey and garden fruits from the bourbon casks (nice red apples, peaches). Vanilla. Pollen. Over time it shows a little mocha and toffee. Quite assertive as well. Mouth: sweet to start, then developing a unique fruitiness (pears, a little raspberry). Creamy mouthfeel. Slightly candied (lokum). Demarara sugar. Again a few nutty hints. Some fruit tea and soft spices. Finish: quite long, drier with a spicy kick and citrus notes.

This is simply a well-made malt although the 12yo is slightly better and better value for money as well. Probably around € 45 (not yet available). They may not cause a lot of fuss, but anCnoc makes high-quality no-nonsense whisky.

Score: 82/100


The Nectar of the Daily Drams has three new releases: a Laphroaig 1990, a Japanese Hanyu 1991 and this Tomatin 1976 (a joint bottling with La Maison du Whisky in France).

Tomatin had a very active period between 1975 and 1980 and was the largest distillery in Scotland at that time (more production than Glenfiddich today). With the recent revival and broadening of the range, the future of Tomatin looks good.

 

Tomatin 1976 Daily DramTomatin 34 yo 1976 (51%, Nectar of the Daily Drams 2010, sherry butt)

Nose: very smooth and feminine, with an intense fruit basket. Tangerines, white peach. Tropical fruits like guava and mango. Some apricot marmalade. Pink grapefruit. A hint of vanilla. Lots of honey. Lovely whiffs of mint as well. Fruity but not too sweet as it also shows a warm herbal side. Excellent. Mouth: starts spicy (a little pepper), which made me expect a fair amount of oak, but it doesn’t break through. After a few seconds it goes back to fruit candy, sweet grapefruit, vanilla, oranges, marmalade, a little banana… Then some fresh herbs and cinnamon. Finish: medium length, a tad more woody dryness but still very fruity and warm.

A Tomatin that’s well-aged while maintaining its juicy fruitiness. Recommended. Around € 145. Be quick if you want a bottle.

Score: 92/100


Our third / fourth and final Bowmore 1993 (for now?) is a proprietary release of the German internet retailer Whisky-Fässle.


Bowmore 1993 Whisky-FässleBowmore 16 yo 1993
(53,5%, Whisky-Fässle 2010, 226 btl.)

Nose: a bit more smokey and a the same time a bit sweeter than the others. At least initially, because after some time they seem to converge. Still this one stands out: it shows nutty / mocha / chocolate notes that I didn’t find in any of the others. Hints of almond paste. While they’re nice, it seems to mask part of the fruitiness as well (fruits seem to come and go). The most sandy / coastal of the quartet as well, with nice hints of wet dogs and fishing nets. Mouth: holds the middle between the Thosop and Whisky Agency versions. Clean and punchy with both the lemony / zesty edge and some candied fruitiness. Medium peat. Again hints of almond paste. Not too herbal or salty. Finish: clean, half peaty, half coastal with a dash of lemon.

It’s great to find a mixture of the Whisky Agency’s power and the Thosop fruity elements. Again no peat bomb but a great all-rounder.

Score: 90/100


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Coming up

  • Lagavulin 12yo (2014 release)
  • SIA Blended Scotch
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  • Clynelish 21yo 1992 (Cadenhead)
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1643 notes by Ruben

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