Isabella was the name of a sailing ship launched in 1890. Later on, it was fitted with an engine and its name was changed to Fortuna. The herring trawler has been restored under the name Isabella Fortuna and it is currently the last drifter in Wick Harbour.
The sales figures and popularity of Old Pulteney have gained a lot in recent years. Their products are marketed as the “genuine maritime malt” and in January 2010, they launched this WK499 (the registration number of the boat) as a tribute to the Isabella Fortuna. The whisky doesn’t have an age statement, but is said to be less than 10 years old and is only available in travel retail.
Old Pulteney WK499 ‘Isabella Fortuna’ (52%, OB 2010, 18.000 btl., travel retail, 100cl)
Nose: fresh and crisp start with vanilla and quite some fruits, mostly apples and pears. Some citrus. A hint of sweet coconut and more vanilla. After a while, the typical Old Pulteney saltiness comes through with notes of wet grains and limestone. Slightly youngish but really attractive. Mouth: fierce attack on dry grassy notes, salt and lemon. A bit harsh in that respect – like the salty first sip of a margarita cocktail. There’s a malty sweetness but it’s not big enough to find a pleasant balance. Maybe still a hint of vanilla in the background? Hints of peat as well. Finish: really dry and fairly bitter, with lemon and salt again. Medium long.
This Old Pulteney WK499 took a great start with a characterful and attractive nose. Unfortunately it goes a bit downhill after that. The tangy salt and dry, bitterish notes are a little overpowering. Around € 40 for a litre bottle.
On my way back from Southeast Asia, I passed through Heathrow’s new Terminal 5. Considering the amount of high-end shops there, I was eager to see the World of Whiskies branch as I expected something special.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. WOW in itself is still very interesting, but apart from a handful of exclusive bottlings, the range of single malts in Terminal 3 (regular Duty Free) seemed almost the same to me than the specific WOW in T5.
Anyway, if you’re interested in whisky and you’re flying, be sure to check out World of Whiskies.
Among the current WOW exclusives are a Jura 30yo, a Glenfiddich 1973, a well-priced Caol Ila 25yo (Douglas Laing Platinum) and an Auchentoshan 1999. I decided to go for the Old Pulteney WK499 Isabella Fortuna (travel retail only). Review coming up shortly.
Renegade Rum Company is related to Bruichladdich and brings premium rum to Islay, gives it an extra finish and releases it in gorgeous bottles.
Moneymusk was one of the oldest plantations in Jamaica. It was recently closed down. This pot-still rum was given an additional 3-month maturation in a Tempranillo Cask from Ribera del Duero.
Moneymusk 5 yo (46%, Renegade 2009, tempranillo finish, 3960 btl.)
Nose: sweet banana pie. Apricot and tinned lychee. Some marzipan and nougat. Yellow raisins. Nice balance between the grapes and the sugar cane molasses. The tempranillo wine doesn’t overpower the typical Jamaican rum profile, which is nice. Mouth: a little less enjoyable – the grapes and the alcohol kick give it a kind of cheap brandy profile. A pity. Some toffee notes, spiced up with mint and pepper. Finish: short but elegant finish.
A light rum with the wine finish luckily in the background. This doesn’t make me a rum fan, but it’s enjoyable.
Douglas Laing has an impressive range of bottlings: Old Malt Cask, McGibbons Provenance, Old & Rare, Premier Barrel… They also have a tradition of bottling smaller 20cl samples, both as advanced OMC samples and Cigar Malt Selection. Most of the OMC samples are later bottled in 70cl versions, whereas most of the Cigar Malts are not available as full bottles. This particular release is an exception, as I’ve now spotted it at Brussels Airport as a standard 70cl bottle (354 bottles – same style as the OMC packaging with a cigar on the label). The 20cl bottles are a nice way of trying out different malts without braking the bank.
This Bowmore stayed in a refill hogshead for 9 years. The bottle only mentions the age, not the year of distillation. My purchase ticket did say 1997 however, so I guess the store had extra information or simply made a quick calculation.
Attractive nose: immediate sea associations (seaweed, fish oils) and quite vegetal and earthy. As the label says: “rather smoky”. The peat smoke is gently integrated with some sweeter (honeyed) and floral notes (but nothing like the floral / soapy notes that are common for 80’s Bowmores). Good! Mouth: creamy and full of youth. Peaty attack. Evolves on spicy pepper. Again some sweeter notes. Finish: the chocolate sweetness slowly turns into dryness and salt. Still some peat smoke. Medium length.
Overall a clean and confident malt. It confirms once more that Bowmore is producing good whisky lately, and that it doesn’t always need lengthy aging to have character. Around € 20 (20cl) – good value.
Rosebank 19 yo 1990 (50%, Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask 2009, 444 btl., DL ref. 5082)
Nose: fresh, honey-sprinkled barley. Light, citrusy and floral. Whiffs of pollen and gentle beeswax. Hints of lavender as well (not soapy though). Lovely gooseberry and a few herbal accents to add depth. Enticing. Mouth: sweet and creamy, with generous honey. Fruit marmalade. In a second wave, there are spices (cinnamon, light pepper) and again a waxy edge. Fades to milk chocolate and herbs. Finish: warming hints of spicy oak. Slowly drying.
This Rosebank doesn’t seem 20 years old, it’s very clean and sweet. Maybe not the most complex whisky, but perfectly faultless. Around € 100.
I was going to write “my first Glen Albyn” but it turns out I’ve already reviewed a very good one before, the Glen Albyn 1974 by Clydesdale. This 26 years old Rare Malts release is the only official bottling.
Glen Albyn 26 yo 1975
(54,8%, Rare Malts 2002)
Nose: grassy nose with a big peppery kick. It seems harsh at first, and quite closed, but there are pleasant fruity / flowery notes. Mint and lemon. Straightforward oak. A hint of soap but it gets away with it. Mouth: firm but rather malty and mineral. Clean oak, grains, grass and a faint fruity note that’s difficult to define. Overall rather sharp. Evolving on slightly bitter grapefruit. Finish: more wood bitterness with hints of citrus.
A clean but rather aggressive Glen Albyn. Clearly below the Clydesdale bottling in my opinion. Still available in some shops. Around € 120.
We’ve tried other releases from the Fossils series by The Whisky Agency before (e.g. Coleburn 1983 and Strathisla 1967). This Coal Ila 1982 was bottled at the same moment. It was finished in a rum cask – not very common but sometimes it works out well.
Caol Ila 27 yo 1982 (50%, The Whisky Agency 2009, rum finish, 115 btl.)
Nose: strange nose, with harsh, sour notes alongside a syrupy sweetness. Some gouache paint and thinner. Not much smoke. Water highlights the sweetness and brings out farmy notes and wet limestone. Mouth: again slightly harsh with a peppery burn. Then it goes into the coastal notes (salted fish, brine) with light smoke. Finally a few associations from the rum emerge: brown sugar and green banana. Finish: long, pungent. Water eases it a little.
One of the very few releases by Whisky Agency that didn’t really appeal to me. Let’s just blame the rum and forget about it. Around € 120 at the time.
Some of the titles that are given by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society are wonderfully accurate and witty at the same time. I wonder where the description “Smoked duck à l’orange” came from.
It’s a 17 year-old Highland Park bottled in 2001.
Highland Park 17 yo 1987
(51,3%, SMWS 2005, 4.102, 260 btl.)
Nose: curious combination of heather and flour. Hints of pineapple, mango and vanilla. Quite some wax. There’s indeed a lovely hint of orange candy, like the hard candy in the form of a mandarin slice. Mouth: roasted nuts, sugar coated almonds, mocha. Then mixing with fresher citrus notes. Toasted, sour yet quite sugary. Yellow plums. Also faint smoke. Finish: nicely candied, with oranges, a little liquorice and a hint of mint.
I guess the comparison with duck à l’orange lies in the roasted / orange combination. A slightly odd Highland Park. Around € 80 back then.