Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Cocktails at Nine - AntwerpenCocktails at Nine is a cocktail bar in the city of Antwerp, owned by a retired tv presenter. Their range of whiskies is not exceptional but they have an interesting focus on Japanese brands.

Location: Lijnwaadmarkt 9, 2000 Antwerpen (Belgium)
Range: +/- 10 single malts
Price: € 6 to € 16
(€ 16 for a Highland Park 18yo)

What I’ve had: Blood & Sand
cocktail (€ 12)
Glass: martini

Pros: professional staff,
good selection of Japanese whisky, nice atmosphere with fireplaces
Cons: cocktails are more interesting than their single malts

 

 

Blood and Sand cocktail - HeeringBlood and Sand cocktail (with Laphroaig)

This Blood & Sand cocktail was quite a revelation because I hadn’t seen many cocktails based on Laphroaig 10yo (although it can be made with any kind of Scotch whisky). It’s a slightly hazy drink with an impressive red colour.

The smokiness of Laphroaig complements nicely with the sweetness of the Heering cherry liqueur and the bitter edge of the vermouth.

If you’re interested, mix 3 parts of Laphroaig, 3 parts of fresh orange juice, 2 parts of sweet red Vermouth and 2 parts of Cherry Heering. Shake over ice cubes, strain into a chilled martini glass and serve.


As you know, Laphroaig is now bottling its 10yo Cask Strength in small numbered batches that seem to last about one year. I’m late with this one – it was bottled in January 2010 so batch #003 is probably on its way to be released.


Laphroaig 10yo CS #002Laphroaig 10 yo Cask Strength 
(58,3%, OB 2010, batch #002)

Nose: fruitier than the 10yo CS Batch 001, right from the start, with berries and peach syrup. Also more notes of butter toffee and sweet vanilla latte. Still enough smoke to satisfy any Islay freak I guess. Earthy peat and some iodine as well. Mouth: very deep smoke which keeps growing. Quite dry with a lot of smoked bacon. Roasted coffee. Sweet liquorice that fades to big peppery notes. Nicely developing. Again more vanilla and fruit. Finish: long, smokey and medicinal – slowly drying out.

Even though the complexity is still not up to the standards of the old (no-batch) 10 year-old, I think the mixture of powerful smoke and added sweetness is still uniquely Laphroaig.

Hmm, I like the nose of batch 2 better than
batch 1, but on the palate it’s the other way around. Peatheads may prefer batch #001, but
for me #002 gets one extra point. Around € 45.

Score: 87/100


Linlithgow is just another name for the Lowlands distillery St. Magdalene - the name of the village where the distillery is located.

This 26 year-old expression was distilled in October 1982 and bottled in June 2009. It was matured in a wine treated butt (see this Ardmore 1990 review for more information). A sister cask #2201 was bottled in 2008 for La Maison du Whisky in France.


Linlithgow 1982 Signatory 2200Linlithgow 26 yo 1982 (61,2%,
Signatory Vintage 2009, wine treated
cask #2200, 225 btl.)

Nose: expressive and quite fresh. Quite fruity at first (white peach, lemon, apples) and then showing more uncommon notes like straw, a little soot, paper and Schweppes tonic. Enough sweetness to make sure it’s not too unsexy. Lovely waxy notes as well. Uncommon but very good. Mouth: oily delivery, high strength of course. Again a fruitiness that comes and goes (this time pear and pineapple candy), some honey as well. Adding water makes it even more candied. Sugared lemon juice. Overall a little mono-dimensional. Finish: medium length, with yellow apple and lemon.

A very enjoyable and uncommon dram, yet a little narrow. No wine influence at all if you ask me. A little expensive, but you’re buying rare whisky of course: around € 155.

Score: 86/100

 

ps/ Does anyone know why some are called Linlithgow and others St. Magdalene, even when from the same year and bottler? There doesn’t seem to be a logical explanation.


Happy new year

01 Jan 2011 | * News

whisky 2011I wish everyone a happy 2011 full of interesting whisky releases!


Traditionally, I have a look at my Google Analytics data to reveal some trends. In general the number of visitors has more than doubled this year (around 23.000 a month now). A big thank you to all you loyal visitors.

Ardbeg and Laphroaig are still the most visited brands, but Port Ellen has overtaken Highland Park in third place. Port Ellen is less rare than bottlers want us to think, so expressions are seen more regularly on the shelves than a lot of active distilleries.

Although it has gone down a bit, Laphroaig Triple Wood was still the most popular release. Ardbeg Rollercoaster was the most visited 2010 release. The GlenDronach single casks are traditionally very popular as well.


I’ve had a lot of glorious whisky last year. Some of the best bottles were released before 2010, like the Karuizawa 1967 cask #6426 for LMdW & TWE or the Laphroaig 1964 by Berry Bros.

For the real newcomers, this would be my shortlist:

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Glenfarclas 175th AnniversaryHappy birthday Glenfarclas!

Glenfarclas distillery was founded in 1836 and purchased by the Grant’s in 1865 who still run this family company.

The 175th Anniversary of the distillery in 2011 will be celebrated by a limited edition Glenfarclas 175th Anniversary.

It is composed of multiple barrels, one three from every decade that is still found in the warehouses (the oldest is from 1952) and bottled at 43%. The box carries different labels of Glenfarclas bottlings, both old and new designs.

Update: it will be priced around € 100 and it should be available mid January. The UK will get 1800 bottles – 6000 bottles worldwide.

Update 2: it contains 3 casks from every decade, so 18 casks in total. The 50′s and 60′s will add heavy sherry, the 70′s and 80′s bring fruitiness, and the 90′s and 2000′s will add freshness and youth. This should be very interesting.


As some distilleries don’t allow independent bottlers to mention their name, Gordon & MacPhail invented the Secret Stills range. The ‘Isle of Skye’ clue gave it away though – the label doesn’t say Talisker but there’s only one distillery on Skye. This release was made up of three first fill sherry casks.


Talisker 1986 - Secret Stills 1.2Talisker 21 yo 1986 (45%, G&M Secret Stills 2007, cask #1361-1363, 1860 btl.)

Nose: starts in a lovely old-fashioned style, with wet dogs, some garage smells and peat smoke. Nice coastal notes as well: seaweed and soft iodine. Then it grows less austere, with creamy sherry notes, some oranges, vanilla and chocolate. Makes me think of much older Ardbeg in a way. Delicious. Mouth: a weakish, bittersweet attack with peat and Seville oranges. Some iodine again. Quite minty / herbal as well. Hints of liquorice and pepper. Finish: medium length, with smoke, herbal notes and liquorice.

A Talisker with a great balance between peat smoke and half-sweet sherry. Still available in some places. Around € 100 in the UK and € 140 in Europe. It beats me why certain lovely releases stay on the shelves for such a long time!

Score: 89/100


anCnoc 16 Years

29 Dec 2010 | AnCnoc

Another distillery that we didn’t have before on WhiskyNotes (at least not with published tasting notes): anCnoc. It was founded in the whisky boom of 1893 as Knockdhu. The name was changed in 2003 to avoid confusion with Knockando. Together with Balblair, Pulteney, Balmenach… they are owned by ThaiBev, one of the big producers of alcoholic products in Asia.

The 16-year-old is the only anCnoc available which has been fully matured in American oak casks.


AnCnoc 16 yearsanCnoc 16 yo (46%, OB 2010)

Nose: malty and fruity, quite aromatic in a way that reminds me more of fruit tea rather than the actual fruits. Maybe that’s also because of the distinct camomile notes. Citrus, peach, pear, strawberry. Big vanilla and toffee, as well as light grassy elements. Nice. Mouth: again a particularly tea-like flavour palette (due to the herbal / grassy notes maybe), with dashes of honey and glazed apples. Zesty citrus. Oak shavings with some tannins. A little mocha. A bit light in comparison with the nose maybe. Finish: medium length, with sweet cereals, some mint and vanilla.

This anCnoc 16 Years old is aromatic with young fruits and freshly cut oak. More of a summer whisky, I think. Around € 55.

Score: 84/100


Glencadam is a distillery we’ve never had before on WhiskyNotes. Most of its production went to the Ballantine’s blend. Due to overproduction, it was closed in 2000, sold and revived in 2003 by Angus Dundee who also own Tomintoul.


Glencadam 1974 - Malts of ScotlandGlencadam 35 yo 1974 (48,9%, Malts of Scotland 2010, cask #3214, 216 btl.)

Nose: sweet sherry nose, with huge hints of dates. Treacle / brown sugar notes, caramelized apples and a range of dried fruits (figs, plums). Hints of toasted cereals. Soaked raisins. Freshened up by orange peel and almonds. Even a few estery notes (nail polish remover). Well aged. Mouth: again quite a sweet start, with some dark chocolate, coated raisins and a little malt. Then showing a rather big oak influence and tea with spices and herbs (cloves, pepper, ginger, a pinch of salt) and a drying mouth-feel. Finish: medium length, with a slightly bitter spiciness.

A rich and nicely different Glencadam with sweet and herbal elements. Around € 140 – still available in a few shops.

Score: 87/100


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  • Roberto Sikora: This is really a great, great bottling. One of my favourite Littlemills so far... :-) Thank you, Ruben for this review!
  • george: i see you have tried st magdalene and say it is harder to find i am a collector of st magdalene and i have 40 bottles i am selling these date from 196
  • sjoerd972: I wish the guys at Bushmills would demand the labels to say "Northern Ireland" so we didn't have to speculate on the booze's origins.

Coming up

  • Bowmore Devil's Casks - Batch 2
  • Tomatin 1988 (Malts of Scotland)
  • Aberfeldy 12 Year Old
  • Blair Athol 2002 (Hepburn's Choice)
  • Fettercairn Fior
  • Bowmore Laimrig 15yo
  • Ben Nevis 2002 (Port cask #334)

1601 notes by Ruben

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