Saint Magnus is the second part of the Highland Park tribute to the Inga saga (the first release was called Earl Magnus). All of these releases are bottled in a hand-made brown bottle with a label design based on a 150 years old bottle of Highland Park.
Saint Magnus was matured mainly in Spanish sherry oak, of which 20% were first fill casks. It is bottled at 55%.
The third edition in this series, Highland Park Haakon, will be bottled as an 18 year-old. Expected in the second half of 2011.
Highland Park 12 yo 1998 Saint Magnus (55%, OB 2010, 12.000 btl.)
Nose: starts with a few unfresh smells, especially in comparison with yesterday’s 1986 by Daily Dram. Hints of rubber and meat. This is not uncommon for sherry releases, but I have troubles with it sometimes. After a while it fades and shows more classic dried fruits and honey lacquered meat (overall not very sweet though). A little yeast. Apples and cinnamon. Heather. Subtle peat. Some barbecue smoke, leather and plenty of spices. Mouth: very spicy (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg) with toffee notes, apples and a hint of wax. A little pepper. Some bitter liquorice. In the end there’s something like burnt oranges and still some rubber. Finish: rather long, dry / bitter and sherried with peat smoke.
I had high hopes for this, but they’re not entirely fulfilled. It’s nicely coastal and relatively peaty but I’m more a fan of fresh, juicy (second fill?) sherry influence. Quite expensive as well: sold for € 100.
This Highland Park 1986 is one of the most recent releases by The Nectar of the Daily Drams. Independent bottlings of Highland Park can go in different directions, let’s see where this is going…
Highland Park 24 yo 1986 (51,8%, Nectar of the Daily Drams 2010)
Nose: mixed fruity notes and coastal elements. Not wham-bam candied fruit but a nice, elegant sweet layer of oranges and ripe apple. More fruits than usually found in this distillery. Nice eucalyptus and wax. Vanilla. On the other hand quite some dry flinty notes and a hint of chalk. Very good. Mouth: oily, mineral and slightly resinous. A hint of peat as well. Quite dry, the sweeter layer with vanilla is now in the background. Grapefruit. Develops on leafy / grassy notes with a hint of bitterness and liquorice. Still pretty coastal (oyster, lemon). Finish: medium length, with hints of herbal liqueur, dry resin and earthy notes.
A high quality dram with different elements: very fruity but also mineral, waxy, coastal elements… An nice all-round Highland Park. Very different from distillery releases though, so be careful if you’re only searching for that kind of profile. Around € 105.
Jefferson’s Reserve is a small-batch, handcrafted bourbon. In fact it’s just a label for different whiskies bottled independently by McLain & Kyne in Kentucky. Only occasionally do they reveal the producer of the spirit.
There’s a regular Jefferson bourbon whisky (note that they don’t spell it the American way) and this higher-strength brother Jefferson’s Reserve. A previous batch was labeled “15 years old” but not this time, so we can assume this new batch is a little younger. Each batch is around 2400 bottles.
Jefferson’s Reserve (45,1%, OB 2010)
Nose: very smooth and gentle, with sweet corn, lovely notes of vanilla and a white chocolate bar filled with banana cream. Some raisins and apricots as well. Hints of black cherries, nice! A little mint. Not very complex but with a kind of “sherried” sweetness and great elegance. It suggests a higher age than regular bourbon. Mouth: medium-bodied, much more oak influence now, with spices, mint and nougat. Raisins again. Hints of cigar leafs. There are not many other flavours to be found. Finish: spicy and dry with hints of polished oak and tannins.
I really liked the sophisticated nose, but on the palate I think it switches too much towards oak and spices. Around € 60.
It’s a series of ten expressions, each representing a certain style of whisky rather than a region. It’s marketed as an “initiation” to Scotch whisky.
The bottles are ordered from light
(00, a single grain) over medium
(05, a sherried Speysider) to heavy
(09, a heavily peated Islay malt). The whisky comes from the Signatory Vintage stocks.
All of them are pretty young (2000 to 2005 vintages) so this time it’s really the style that makes the difference rather than the age. Priced from € 29 to € 46 or € 340 for the complete series.
As an introduction series, I think 50cl or even 20cl bottles could have been more successful (people would more easily buy multiple bottles to check the differences). Also, mentioning the distillery name instead of just the style and region would help starters to find their way in their quest for a great dram. Anyway, an innovative idea.
Old Pulteney 17 years old is made up of around 90% refill American bourbon barrels and a small percentage of refill oloroso / PX casks.
Old Pulteney 17 yo (46%, OB 2010)
Nose: very feminine compared to the
12 years old or WK209, also lighter and fresher. None of the beefy notes. Instead lots of vanilla and wax (how far is Clynelish distillery from Wick?). Pears and a little apricot. Even some tropical estery notes. Then it develops more grassy and austere notes. Very nice. Mouth: full-bodied, oily attack. Fruity (apples) and vanilla again. Honey. Clearly noticeable oak: some tannins, many spices (cinnamon, nutmeg). Beautiful balance. Finish: quite long with a little chocolate and lingering spices.
This Old Pulteney 17 years old is maybe the least typical member of the core range. So be it. The vanilla / wax / fruit combo really does it for me. A great dram worth the extra investment over the 12yo.
Around € 65.
After the travel retail exclusive Old Pulteney WK499 that I picked up in Heathrow last year, a new “duty free” expression is due to be released.
Just like its sibling, Old Pulteney WK209 is named after the registration number of a herring boat called “Good Hope” and based in Wick harbour. In its time, it was a unique boat that was different from all the others.
Contrary to WK499, the new WK209 is matured entirely in first-fill European sherry oak. There’s no age statement on the bottle, but it’s said to contain 8 and 10 year old casks. It is bottled at 46%, non chill-filltered, natural colour and limited to 9600 bottles of 1 litre.
This evening, a handful of bloggers attended a Twitter tasting hosted by Malcolm Waring, distillery manager of Old Pulteney. We tried Old Pulteney 12yo, 17yo and the new WK209. Thanks again Malcolm and Lucas!
Old Pulteney WK209 ‘Good Hope’
(46%, OB 2010, 9600 btl.,
travel retail, 100cl)
Nose: starts unfresh in my opinion: meaty notes, distinct rubber, even plain sulphur… but other tasters liked that. Anyway it gradually turns towards more traditional sherry notes. Nutty aromas: praline, chestnuts… A hint of sour apples and a little mint. Coastal elements. Leather maybe. Apart from the sulphur problem, I’m missing the attractive freshness and the coherence of the WK499. Mouth: dried fruits, dark chocolate, overall rather dry. Strong coffee. Plenty of spices (cinnamon, pepper, mustard). Now also the typical Pulteney salty edge. Liquorice. Brown sugar. Nice fade on roasted nuts. Finish: medium length, half-sweet / half-dry, with hints of salt and cold coffee.
WK209 is meant to be a different dram, just like the boat it was named after. They’ve certainly succeeded, but I still prefer WK499 as a more typical and balanced Old Pulteney. WK209 will be available around March for about € 50.
In the successful series Elements of Islay by The Whisky Exchange, there are two Lagavulins so far. This was the first one: Lagavulin Lg1. While it is still available, there also a newer Lg2 (sweeter I’m told).
None of the Elements of Islay have an age statement.
Nose: gristy and earthy. All kinds of wet things: wet leaves, soaked cereals, rubber boots… Sooty with tar and some nice bread crust. Salted smoked fish. When you dig a little further, there’s also a sweet background note (ripe banana?). Mouth: big! Nice development from the initial peat blast and coal smoke towards berries and tropical fruits. The sweetness keeps growing. Still quite grainy. Also a medicinal side and farmy notes that seem bigger than in official Lagavulin. Finish: very long on earthy peat, liquorice and pepper.
Official Lagavulins are 12 or 16 years old – it’s easy to tell this one is younger. I don’t think that’s a downside, because the youngish fruity notes work well here. Around € 45.
1975 may not be from the most common vintage for Longmorn, but we all know other vintages from the 1970’s can be great.
The Nectar of the Daily Drams (formerly called Daily Dram – much easier) released this 35 year-old simultaneously with The Whisky Agency who bottled a similar cask at 52,5%. Instinct tells me these casks are all from the 394x or 395x series that were also released by Whisky-Fässle (recently) and Three Rivers (some time ago).
Longmorn 35 yo 1975
(44%, Nectar of the Daily Drams 2010)
Nose: very elegant and rich. A big amount of peaches, tangerines and almond cookies. Hints of papaya and banana. Lots of honey notes. Lovely beeswax. Also quite some esters: shoe polish, even some hints of marshmallows (these notes fade after a while). Nougat. Subtle mint and spices. Altogether pretty brilliant and hugely attractive. Mouth: starts on wood and spice (soft pepper, nutmeg, some aniseed and mint) but quickly regains its fruitiness, mainly oranges. Less harmonious than on the nose, but punchy and entertaining. Fades on lovely tangerines and pink grapefruit. Finish: long, rather sweet, with citrus candy and honey. Drying in the end.
Great selection by Daily Dram. I would say this is anything but a daily dram though! I’ve also tried the Whisky Agency version (sadly not directly head-to-head) and I had a slight preference for this one. Around € 200 but it will be difficult to find as I was told it was very very limited.
ps/ Yet another Longmorn 1975 cask will be bottled by Daily Dram. It will be the last cask of the series, this time with more bottles available. Keep your eyes open at the beginning of February. Other upcoming bottlings by Daily Dram: Tomatin 1976, Ardbeg 1998 and Laphroaig 1990.