Nose: starts lemony, briny and slightly resinous but quickly there are sweeter notes (clementine, marzipan) and a hint of vanilla – just enough to balance it. Quite some medicinal elements, cold ashes and gentle smoke. Seems younger than it is. Mouth: powerful. More peat now, a dry kind of peat. Then it grows typically austere and coastal, with walnut skin, medicinal notes, all kinds of citrus zest, hints of salmiak and big salty notes. Big flavours. Finish: long, zesty, briny with quite some ashes.
Quite a powerful Caol Ila, which hasn’t lost any of its youthful nervosity. Around € 125. Available from eSpirits in Germany.
ps/ There’s a similar Caol Ila 1981/2011 in the Liquid Sun series. That one’s a tad less rounded on the nose and even more powerful (not to say brutal) in the mouth.
This BenRiach 1984 cask #7193 is part of the 8th series of single casks by BenRiach. It’s a peated Speysider finished in a Virgin oak cask.
BenRiach 26 yo 1984 (54,1%, OB, cask #7193, peated, Virgin oak finish)
Nose: is this a sherried Ardbeg? Or Karuizawa? Nice anyway, I really like the combination of sweet peat, embering fires and punchy spices. Smoked ham and sweet tobacco. Blackcurrants and dates. Pepper and nutmeg. Some cedar wood. It’s big in different directions and the balance is spot-on. Mouth: punchy, still quite smoky, spicy and sweet, only now there’s also a slightly disturbing sourish element (raspberry vinegar maybe). Dry oak as well. Growing herbal notes. Anything but subtle, even a bit over the top now. I’d suggest a few drops of water. Finish: long, spicy, drying and peaty.
I thought we had an absolute cracker based on the nose, but on the palate it gets a little out of balance. Recommended for fans of extreme whisky. Around € 125.
Ootori is a Japanese blended whisky produced by Mercian Corporation, the owner of Karuizawa (malt) and Kawasaki (grain) distilleries. The bottle and its golden packaging are very similar to the (non-related) Hibiki blend.
Ootori 15 yo (40%, OB, 66 cl.)
Nose: malty and biscuity. Plenty of vanilla cake. Green banana. Coconut. Some hay. Sweet with big grain notes but also a volcanic / spicy / flinty hint of Karuizawa malt. Mouth: light, a bit strange, sweet and mineral, creamy and slightly harsh at the same time. Shows malty notes and some fruits (oranges and the light coconut / banana combo again). Finish: quite short with some vanilla and chocolate.
Certainly enjoyable, but at times the grain and malt components seem to fight each other rather than… well… blend. Interesting but too expensive for what it is. Around € 75.
Nose: starts a bit musty and mossy, hiding the usual Clynelish vibrance. Leather notes. With some water it seems to find its character, with apple peelings and a little paraffin. Still not the freshest Clynelish. Mouth: sweeter and fruitier now, with very nice pear drops, oranges and almond notes. No obvious waxy notes on the palate. Quite some leather again, a hint of rounded oak and very soft spices. Not very different after adding some water. Finish: medium long, quite fruity. Faint grassy notes as well.
Not the most typical Clynelish in my book, but decent drinking whisky nonetheless. Around € 65.
During the month of November each year, Movember asks men across the world to grow a moustache with the aim of raising vital funds and awareness for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer.
Master of Malt is supporting this charity by the release of a 9 years old Glenfarclas (the youngest we’ve tried so far), distilled in September 2002 and taken from two oloroso hogsheads. It will go on sale today.
Glenfarclas 9 yo 2002 (53%, OB for Master of Malt 2011, oloroso hogsheads #2659 & 2662)
Nose: clean, rich sherry with plenty of rum & raisins, raspberry jam and kirschy notes. Some spicy chocolate. Oranges and red grapes. Hints of almond liqueur. A very juicy (and slightly more balanced) version of Glenfarclas 105. Mouth: in that same tradition of the 105. Deep sherry with dark sugar and raisins all over. Plums. Gets spicy (cardamom, pepper) with a savoury and lightly herbal (even salty) touch. Finish: baked pear with caramelized sugar, dried orange and a fair amount of oak.
Maybe these casks were pre-destined for the 105, but they turned out to be better than average? The result is very nice indeed. Around € 45 of which around € 11 will be donated to Movember. Please note that both Master of Malt and Glenfarclas are working at cost price on this project. Great initiative.
The guys from eSpirits in Germany are steadily moving forward with their own Liquid Treasures range, focusing on accessible bottlings, more than most other German bottlers.
Following the tradition of their colleagues from The Whisky Agency, they’re now using different themes for the labels. This Bruichladdich 1991 is part of the second series “Seabirds” – the first series was “Boats”, the third and latest series is “Lighthouses”.
Nose: clean, punchy barley with quite a moderate fruitiness (peach and apple). A few grassy notes. Hints of porridge. Some nice waxy touches as well as a coastal, briney veil. Quite naked, not a lot of cask influence. Mouth: fruitier now, with peach, pear, apple and lots of lemon peel. It quickly turns to a slightly sharp spiciness (white pepper, mustard, ginger). Pleasantly salty with the sweet fruits somewhere in the background. Finish: medium long, quite zesty.
As natural as it gets, very much to-the-point. Nicely coastal as well, but the lack of cask influence makes it feel younger than it actually is. Available from eSpirits, around € 90.
Port Ellen 29 yo 1982 (58,5%, Whisky-Doris 2011, bourbon hogshead #18, 212 btl.)
Nose: quite a mineral Port Ellen, with big notes of limestone, wet rocks, wool, coal oven… but a nice underlying fruitiness (yellow apples, huge lemon) makes sure it doesn’t get too austere. Overtones of menthol and medicinal aromas. Quite layered and balanced, I really like this. Mouth: punchy delivery on oily peat, lemon and liquorice. Less rounded now, fairly dry, still showing quite some iodine and medicinal touches. A little salt and ginger before it settles on grassy and mineral notes. Finish: very long, half grassy / half fruity, with a clear salty twist.
An great Port Ellen, with an excellent nose and a textbook palate if you fancy the mineral, grassy and slightly austere type of Port Ellen. Available from Whisky-Doris, € 210.
Asta Morris has quickly gained a reputation for excellent BenRiach releases. Bert Bruyneel is trying to bottle at least one benchmark BenRiach for every vintage (check the BenRiach 1975 cask #7227 and BenRiach 1978 cask #7037 released previously).
I had an early look at this brand-new 1977 bottling as Bert asked me to write tasting notes for the tube and bottle. Here’s a more elaborate version of these notes.
BenRiach 33 yo 1977 (45,7%, OB for Asta Morris Belgium 2011, refill bourbon cask #9119, 175 btl.)
Nose: fresh spring fruits (tangerine, pear, nectarine) sprinkled with lime and orange juice. A crisp and ‘indigenous’ fruitiness rather than the warm, exotic, marmalade-type fruitiness we’ve come to expect from 1975-1976 BenRiach. This one is more subtle, more interwoven with oak. There’s also a layer of spearmint / eucalyptus notes which adds to the fresh appeal, as well as some flowery notes (orange blossom, honeysuckle) and hints of pollen. Soft ginger and vanilla notes. A true gentleman – a little reticent at first but complex and very refined. Mouth: fresh with big fruity notes (yellow plum, kumquat, pink grapefruit, peach), again slightly “green” and definitely not cloying. There’s a fine exotic fruitiness (banana, passion fruits) but it’s in the background. Almond notes. Then the spices from the oak kick in (ginger, mint). Develops on fruit tea and heather honey. Citrus zest. Very smooth. Finish: long and clean, balancing between fresh fruits and soft oak.
Not just a benchmark for the 1977 vintage, but an exquisite BenRiach in general. Interesting how its profile is yet again different from both the 1975 and 1978. Arriving in stores any day now. Around € 230.