Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Here’s our comparison cask, a Longmorn 1976 bottled by Malts of Scotland. While yesterday’s TWA Longmorn 1976 is practically sold out, this MoS version has just started to appear in stores.

 

Longmorn 34yo 1976 (51,5%, Malts of Scotland 2011,
bourbon hogshead #5892, 132 btl.)

Longmorn 1976 - Malts of Scotland 5892Nose: while it shares a lot of elements with the Whisky Agency bottling, this one shows much more vanilla and pastry notes. You could say the TWA version is more fresh and citric while this one is warmer. A little more tropical as well (ripe mango). Gooseberries. Interesting that both have a different character while they also share common things: a little mint, a little polished oak, a few spices… Less hints of dried grass in this one I would say. Water highlights the vanilla. Both very high quality, but personally I prefer the warmer version. Mouth: again different, with a more bourbonny character which means more wood varnish, more mint and cinnamon. A little eucalyptus again. Hints of vanilla fudge. Herbal tea in the end. Finish: long, drier than the TWA Longmorn. Otherwise quite similar, with mint and grapefruit.

 

This would be a difficult choice. I prefer the nose of this Malts of Scotland release, but on the palate it gets rather bourbonny. It’s quite unique and I personally don’t mind but I guess that’s not the case for everyone. It’s somewhat drier as well. Anyway no need to force a choice, both are high quality and have the same price. Around € 180.

Score: 91/100


Our first head-to-head this week are two Longmorns distilled in 1976. We’ll start with The Whisky Agency. It’s part of the series with Landscape labels.

 

Longmorn 1976 TWA LandscapesLongmorn 34yo 1976
(50,2%, The Whisky Agency ‘Landscapes’ 2010, bourbon hogshead, 139 btl.)

The nose immediately shows a big fruitiness. If you don’t mind a little generalisation, ‘76 tends to be less tropical than ‘75 Longmorn. It seems right. This one shows quite some kumquat and fresh oranges. Apricots and gooseberries. Lemon balm as well as a little mint and eucalyptus. It shows a nice dustiness and faint flinty notes, but they seem to come and go. Cinnamon. Soft oak. Water brings out grapefruit. Mouth: quite oily. Now the citrus fruits stand out – mainly oranges. Hints of pears. A few resinous notes from the oak. Ginger lemonade. Evolves on grapefruit. Very nice, with a light hint of smoke. Finish: long, on lemon and mint with a little resin again.

This is a very attractive Longmorn, less luscious and less tropical than some of the 1975’s we’ve had, but still really excellent. Around € 180. Limited availability.

Score: 91/100


Just a few days after the Miltonduff 1980 by Malts of Scotland, a sample of a sister cask arrived. Interesting! This one was bottled by A.D. Rattray as part of their March 2011 releases.

 

Miltonduff 1980 A.D. RattrayMiltonduff 30 yo 1980 (44,5%, A.D. Rattray 2011, bourbon hogshead #12427, 240 btl.)

Nose: candied, slightly tropical, with fresh fruits, vanilla and sawdust. Some fragrant dandelion notes. A little mint and honeysuckle. Apple notes grow stronger when you let it breathe. Great freshness, maybe a little more hints of dusty warehouses than the sister cask, but those work very well here. Mouth: rounded and fruity with a nice buttery mouth-feel. Some vanilla and honey, citrus, light grassy notes, maybe a tad more oak and spices than #12429. Almonds and cinnamon. Finish: quite long, warmer and spicier with a nice woodiness and cocoa in the end.

As expected, very few differences with the Malts of Scotland cask except for a little more wood. On the other hand, this will only set you back around € 95, that’s € 35 cheaper. Makes it easy to choose, right?

Score: 88/100

 

ps/ Starting tomorrow, we’ll have a few other side-by-side comparisons. Longmorn 1976, Ardmore 1992, Laphroaig 1998… similar casks from different bottlers.


Here’s a new Glen Garioch 1991 bottled by Malts of Scotland. A few months ago, the distillery announced a limited 1991 release at cask strength as well (batch N°38). Let’s hope we can have them side-by-side one day.

 

Glen Garioch 1991 | Malts of ScotlandGlen Garioch 19 yo 1991 (50,1%, Malts of Scotland 2010, cask #3175, 234 btl.)

Nose: white fruits at first (pear mostly, some apple), minerals, mint and citrus, then after some breathing it becomes very lightly sooty. Hints of coconut. Showing a fragrant side at times. Marzipan. Nice to see this light smokiness but overall not very expressive and a little youngish for a 20 year-old. Mouth: apple juice poured in an ashtray? No, not an ashtray – it’s just lightly smoky. Dry, earthy and heathery smoke. Still high on sweet apple juice. A bit of lemons and oranges. Almond notes again. Light spices. Finish: rather sweet and rounded. Almonds and apple.

Certainly not a bad Glen Garioch, as it’s pleasant and well-made but just not very fascinating in my opinion. Around € 90.

Score: 82/100


Balvenie Whisky AcademyThe Balvenie Warehouse 24 has now been expanded with a Whisky Academy. It contains four modules explaining a lot of common aspects about whisky (history, production, types of whisky, regions, aromas…) as well as some less common subjects (investing, quality vs. appreciation, terroirs…)

Balvenie’s Global Ambassador David Mair and whisky doctor Sam Simmons (now brand ambassador) are hosting 35 videos, and they’re interviewing people like David Stewart, Gavin D. Smith, Sukhinder Singh, Eddie Ludlow and Charles MacLean.

I don’t usually pass along press releases, but this time you should really check it out and dedicate some time to the videos.

http://www.thebalvenie.com/en/whisky_academy.php


You all know I love Caperdonich and 1972 was known to be a top vintage. One of my favourite distilleries and one of my favourite independent bottlers. Prepare for some fireworks.

Luc Timmermans really sparked a hype around this one. One Facebook message was enough to have it almost sell out before this first review shows up!

 

Caperdonich 1972 - Perfect DramCaperdonich 38 yo 1972 (58,4%,
Whisky Agency 2011, refill sherry, 145 btl.)

Nose: truckloads of apricot jam, with nice furniture polish and backed up by other juicy fruits like mango, tangerine, pears, quinces, even white cherries. Over time these change slightly towards (subtle) dried fruits (apricot, figs) and almonds. Apart from the fruit basket, it shows a whole range of elegant beehive notes (wax, honey, pollen). Hints of fruit tea and mint, later on soft spices as well. Hints of cigar boxes. Lovely pastry notes (lemon pie) with warm vanilla cream. Some cocoa. Candied, jammy, packed with flavours, and simply delicious! Mouth: starts fruity and rounded (figs, apricot). Then the firm oak comes rushing in (yet never too dry) with plenty of spices and mint. Slightly leathery. Really elegant and a few drops of water keeps the fruitiness alive. Finish: very long, half fruity / half oaky, and polished. Traces of liquorice and vanilla.

 

Punchy, aromatic, complex, fruity, spicy… The nose alone keeps me happy for a whole evening. The luscious apricots and figs lift it above other great 1972’s like cask #7424 for The Nectar. Last year TWA brought us the famous Longmorn 1972, and this Caperdonich promises to be one of the highlights of 2011 already! Around € 200 but I’m afraid there aren’t too many bottles left.

Score: 93/100


Malts of ScotlandA few months have gone by since we’ve tried new releases by Malts of Scotland, but they’re alive and kicking. Expect a whole bunch of reviews over the next couple of weeks. There’s an Inchgower 1982, Glencadam 1985, Highland Park 1986, Ardmore 1992, Longmorn 1976 etc.

Let’s start with this 30 years old Miltonduff 1980, bottled a few weeks ago but not yet distributed as far as I know. Note that Malts of Scotland releases now come in a box by the way.

 

Miltonduff 1980 - Malts of ScotlandMiltonduff 30 yo 1980 (44,7%, Malts of Scotland 2011, bourbon hogshead #12429, 259 btl.)

Nose: pineapple sweets, freshly cut apples, hints of green banana… a nice, creamy fruitiness mixed with sawdust and some floral / grassy notes. A little mint and soft herbs. Honeysuckle. Lovely Speyside style – gets warmer by the minute. Better neat as too much water brings out a slight soapiness. Mouth: again some fresh fruits on a background of grassy notes that make sure it’s not too cloying. Now more pronounced oak. Vanilla. Golden apples. Hints of calvados? Honey. Cinnamon. A few nutty flavours as well. Again better without water. Finish: still fruity but quickly drying on spices and oak.

A Miltonduff with a surprisingly young profile that’s warm and fresh at the same time. It’s a rather unknown distillery that often surprises me with great value for money. Around € 130.

Score: 89/100


Hazelburn CV

10 Mar 2011 | Hazelburn

Hazelburn is the triple distilled spirit from Springbank distillery. Hazelburn CV is a vatting of different ages (6 to 10 years old), the majority being from bourbon casks.

 

Hazelburn CVHazelburn CV (46%, OB 2011)

Nose: straw and malt aromas with some sort of metallic pear-like note. A muted fruitiness at best, and a rather artificial fruitiness for that matter. Cider apples. Some lemon drops. Quite some orange peel. A little unfresh. Mouth: big malty sweetness with cereal notes. Some oranges and vanilla cream. Hints of dry, bitterish herbs and more than just a hint of cardboard which seems to flatten it. Finish: medium length, with more spices and caramel.

I find this a strange whisky that doesn’t seem “natural” at all. I don’t know how to express it, but in a way this reminds me of blends from the 60-70’s. Disappointing. Around € 30.

Score: 70/100


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  • Tony: I suppose the Wemyss latest 1982 "Smoke on the Water" is comparable to a Bladnoch, and was "only" £120, with great reviews from Serge (although not c
  • Duty: My last 30-yo Caol Ila Single Cask was purchased at £55 about 5 years ago. The Bladnoch Forum CI 30 was 55 + the 25-yo was £45 as I recall.
  • Tony: yeah - the price is why I have held off. I bought 3 indie 30 year old Caol Ilas for the price of this one. There are nearly 6000 bottles - will be ha

Coming up

  • Caol Ila 30 Year Old (2014)
  • Elements of Islay Cl7
  • Benromach 5 Year Old
  • Bruichladdich Octomore 6.3 258ppm

1680 notes by Ruben

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