Single malt whisky - tasting notes

My final report of the Fulldram “televoting tasting”. A Port Ellen 1983 bottled by Malts of Scotland from a refill sherry cask.

Let’s repeat that Port Ellen was produced as a young blender’s whisky, kind of an instant peat blast you could add to a blend. Casks were never intended to be bottled at 25-30 years, so it’s especially the inactive casks (useless when still young) that are now the best ones.

 

Port Ellen 1983 Malts of ScotlandPort Ellen 27 yo 1983 (56%, Malts of Scotland 2010, refill sherry cask MoS66, 322 btl.)

Nose: clean and coastal. Coal smoke and grist. Wet rocks. Citrus zest. A soft sweetness in the background. Well-balanced peat. Hints of olive oil. All good. Hardly any influence of sherry – probably second or rather third fill. Mouth: again mostly coastal notes and fresh citrus zest talking. Some grassy notes. Oysters with lots of pepper. A bitter ginger tonic note as well. Grapefruit. Finish: long, smoky with some liquorice.

A clean, mineral Port Ellen. Unlike some of my favourite Port Ellens, there’s no vanilla or wax to be found, but among the more austere PE’s it’s perfectly fine. High quality comes at a price though: around € 190.
Some stores still seem to have stock.

Score: 89/100


This Miltonduff 12yo was bottled in the 1970’s by George Ballentine’s. At that time, the distillery was owned by Hiram Walker Gooderham & Worts, but distribution and administration was handled by Ballentine’s.

Milton-duff Glenlivet 12yoMiltonduff is still a major component of the Ballentine’s blend.

 

Milton-duff Glenlivet 12 yo (43%, OB, Ballentine’s, 75cl)

Nose: very fresh and playful, with a summery fruit salad and some mint. Buttercups. Orange juice. Sugared corn flakes in the background. Quite attractive. Mouth: rather grainy, cereals with sugar again. Very neutral and a little weak, with a slight alcohol tang. Herbal tea. Finish: medium length,

The nose is nice enough. The palate not so much. Very simple old-style whisky. Reminds of young Glen Grant bottlings from the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Score: 75/100


Our first Glendullan! This Speyside distillery was founded in 1896 but rebuilt completely in 1972 next to the old premises. In 1985, the old plant was closed.

Glendullan is one of the largest distilleries in the Diageo portfolio, but apart from the Singleton of Glendullan bottling, it is rarely seen in stores. One of the latest releases was a 1995 single cask in the Manager’s Choice series.

 

Glendullan 1978 Rare MaltsGlendullan 26 yo 1978
(56,6%, Rare Malts 2005)

Nose: warm malty flavours with vanilla, lovely pear drops and citrus. Apple pie with cinnamon and toffee. Orange cake. Whiffs of spices. Mint. Toasted oak in the background. After a while, it develops floral overtones. Quite entertaining. Mouth: strong attack, full and warm. Biscuity flavours, dried fruits and citrus tea. Some vanilla and ginger. It looses a lot of the sweeter notes and shows herbal notes, liquorice and grass towards the end. Aromatic Szechuan pepper as well. Finish: long, honeyed with gingery oak.

It surprises me this Glendullan is still available
in so many places, even for less than € 100.
It’s a very good malt from a rare distillery and an interesting investment in my opinion.

Score: 87/100


At the “televoting tasting” of last week, this Glenlivet 1972 (sorry:
The Glenlivet) bottled by The Whisky Agency didn’t get into the top-3, but it was still one of the highlights of the evening.

 

Glenlivet 1972 Whisky AgencyGlenlivet 37 yo 1972 (56,8%, The Whisky
Agency – Perfect Dram III 2009,
bourbon hogshead, 141 btl.)

Nose: a rather spirity and grainy start. Folds open with floral notes, pollen and stewed fruits, but overall it keeps hovering around malty aromas. Citrus and apricot jam. A little vanilla and oak polish. Liquorice. Soft spices. Traces of wet limestone. Mouth: intense and very spicy. Still a generous amount of cereal notes. Ripe fruits (pineapple, gooseberries). Slightly bitter tangerine. Vanilla. Almonds. Some grassy notes. Finish: medium length, slightly hot with oak and spices, especially pepper.

This Glenlivet is surely a nice old Speysider, but it failed to impress me as much as it seemed to impress other people. It’s really complex though, and very coherent. A few drops of water take away some of the rough edges by the way. Sold out.

Score: 87/100


Kilchoman is surfing the wave of exclusive single cask bottlings. There has been cask #232 for La Maison du Whisky, #154 for The Whisky Show, #120, #211 and recently #252 for The Netherlands… A quick look at Whiskybase tells us they’ve released at least 50 expressions already!

This single cask was bottled for the Belgian whisky festival Spirits of the Sea. It was distilled on the 10th of October 2007 and bottled on the 14th of October 2010, perfectly timed to call it whisky.

 

Kilchoman cask 334 BelgiumKilchoman 3 yo 2007
(62,4%, OB 2010, bourbon cask #334)

Nose: starts peaty and sweet with remarkable notes of olive juice and mild green chilli pepper. Quite oily as well. None of the synthetic sweetness that we disliked in earlier Kilchoman. Water brings out ashes and walnuts. Mouth: hugely peaty and smokey with a citrus sweetness and big briney notes. Salt water. Olives again. Water highlights the smoke again. Like a concentrated Laphroaig. Finish: long, half sweet, half briney with a few hints of dark smoked tea. Ashes.

This is one of the best releases I’ve tasted from Kilchoman. It’s also one of the first to hide its age. I would say they’re on their way to success if not for the price: around € 75 seems to be a standard price for recent single casks.

Score: 85/100

ps/ Even though the original price was very heavy already, soon after the festival it was being offered on different websites for € 149 and € 170. You have to be out of your mind to pay such prices. It’s not worth it and I seriously doubt it will become a valuable collectors item if so many are dumped on the market and collected by so many people.


Here’s another new Laphroaig 1990, bottled by Malts of Scotland. Expectations are high after some recommendations by other whisky lovers.

 

Laphroaig 1990 - Malts of ScotlandLaphroaig 20 yo 1990 (52,6%, Malts of Scotland 2011, bourbon hogshead #2229, 178 btl.)

Nose: smoky and maritime again, but more aromatic compared to the Whisky Agency release. The fruity banana is much bigger and there’s less antiseptic to be found. Definitely rounder, even a bit floral. Lime instead of lemon. Vanilla. A little marzipan and praline. Hints of graphite. Beautiful and balanced, excellent Laphroaig. Mouth: a smoky and peppery attack, which gets rounder. Lemon sweets. Peat blast. Marzipan. A pinch of salt and brine. A little mint as well, which is a nice touch. Finish: long with a nice balance of dry smoke, brine and sweet lemon juice.

This Laphroaig 1990 may be marginally less powerful, but it gains balance and complexity, which makes it more to my personal preference than yesterday’s Whisky Agency version. Recommended indeed. Well priced as well: around € 110.

Score: 90/100


No shortage of good Laphroaig. This Laphroaig 1990 was released by The Whisky Agency as a joint bottling with Dutch distributor Bresser & Timmer. Easily found on Dutch websites such as Whiskysite.nl.

 

Laphroaig 1990 TWA & Bresser TimmerLaphroaig 20 yo 1990 (56,3%, The Whisky Agency ‘Perfect Dram’ with Bresser & Timmer 2011, ex-bourbon, 237 btl.)

Nose: quite peaty and smokey, exceptionally high on maritime notes (seaweed, smoked fish). Antiseptic notes. Some wax / fat. Wet gravel and mineral notes. Quite dry and grassy, the expected lemon juice and almonds are present, as well as some banana, but the dominating layer is certainly the maritime smokiness. Intense. Mouth: assertive, oily and coastal. Big smoke with lemon, evolving to drier lemon zest. Salted fish. Sweet almonds and other nutty flavours. Hints of burnt grass and seaweed again. Finish: very long and deeply smoky / peaty. Getting even drier, with liquorice notes.

A very big and maritime Laphroaig. Smoky, powerful and flawless. What’s not to like? Around € 120.

Score: 88/100


The name Ichiro’s Malt comes from Ichiro Akuto, the grandson of the founder of Hanyu distillery. After the distillery was dismantled in 2004, he saved around 400 casks. In 2008 he opened a new distillery named Chichibu, and this Double Distilleries is a vatting of both whiskies: sherry matured Hanyu and Chichibu new-make from a Japanese oak cask.

 

Ichiro's Malt Double DistilleriesIchiro’s Malt Double Distilleries
(46%, OB 2010)

Nose: sweet and rounded, quite biscuity with a fruity hint of honeysuckle and apple. Plenty of oak as well, mainly freshly cut wood and a hint of varnish. A little bourbonny I would say. After a while, it turns to slightly oriental sandalwood aromas. Mouth: starts spicy (nutmeg, cinnamon, a little pepper), followed by a wave of young malty notes. The combination of youth and plenty of oak flavours is a bit strange. There’s also a slightly disturbing soapy note. Finish: drier and faintly bitter with oak flavours, mint, some ginger and liquorice.

The duality of Hanyu and Chichibu results in an interestingly different dram. If only the woodiness were a little less invasive and the price a little lower. Around € 85.

Score: 81/100


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Coming up

  • Bunnahabhain 1987 (Asta Morris)
  • Arran #3 (TBWC)
  • Spirit of Freedom 30 Years
  • Linkwood 1984 (Whisky Agency)
  • Bunnahabhain 1980 (Whisky Agency)
  • Inchgower 1991 (Liquid Library)
  • Auchentoshan 1990 (Archives)
  • Ben Nevis 1996 (Whisky Mercenary)
  • Elements of Islay Cl7
  • Benromach 5 Year Old

1686 notes by Ruben

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