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.
Old Glen Grant, is there a better way to start a new winter week? This Kintra release is bottled from a 1973 cask, and we’ve seen some excellent bottlings from that era in the past. Just 24 bottles, another shared cask.
Glen Grant 36 yo 1973 (46,2%, Kintra 2010, refill sherry cask 6591, 24 btl.)
Nose: attractive start on dried fruits (figs, raisins) and honey. Apple compote and cooked peaches. Fresh whiffs of mint. A shy nougat / moccha note as well. Beeswax. Luxurious Speyside style. Mouth: still a decent amount of fruits but the oak kicks in as well. Oranges and spices (ginger, nutmeg, a little pepper). Some herbs. Fading on dark chocolate. Finish: long with chocolate, oak and a few herbal notes.
Another great Glen Grant form the seventies. Maybe a tiny bit more oak than other 1973 casks, but still well balanced with a nice sherry influence.
Around € 150.
This was a nice finale for our little Kintra series. There’s a new 18 years old Glen Scotia waiting to be bottled. Looking forward to it already.
This Kintra single cask is a 10 years old Bowmore bottled from a bourbon hogshead. There are just 60 bottles which suggests that it’s a shared cask, probably from the 800xxx series that we saw from Malts of Scotland, Berry Bros, Van Wees and others.
Nose: clean and youngish, pleasantly fruity with some apple and unripe citrus notes. Light vanilla. Reminds me of Kilchoman in a way, but a lot more gentle. After some breathing, it develops light peat and oysters. A hint of charcoal. Even though Bowmore is never heavy, this is really subtle. Mouth: firm and definitely more Islay-esque now, with peat, ashes and clear coastal notes. Good strength. Oysters and kippers. still some refreshing lemon. Hints of salty liquorice. Finish: medium length and quickly drying.
This is obviously faultless whisky, though maybe not at its optimum age yet. In a direct comparison with the Bowmore 2000 by Malts of Scotland, the Kintra comes out nicely clean and citric, while the MoS is more bourbonny and seductive. Both are very pleasant but relatively simple. Around € 45.
It seems a new Ardbeg expression is ready to be launched: Ardbeg Alligator.
Alligator is the name of the deepest way of charring casks. It refers to the resulting scale-like pattern of burnt wood, similar to a croc’s skin. Almost all bourbon makers use this type of charring, but for Scotch distilleries it’s quite uncommon.
Ardbeg did some experiments with toasted new oak casks (mind you: toasted, not charred) and released two of them for Feis Ile 2009: Ardbeg 1998 cask 1189 and Ardbeg 1998 cask 1190. I liked those casks A LOT because they focused less on peat smoke and more on bourbon flavours (vanilla, cocoa, mint, tobacco).
In stores around September, with a limited Comittee Release on the 1st of June 2011.
Update: the 1998 were toasted casks instead of charred casks (not burnt, just browned). The end result of the Alligator may be different from those experimental casks, but I guess we can still expect a palette that’s based around bourbon flavours.
Next up in our little Kintra overview is a 25 years old bourbon hogshead filled at Macduff distillery in 1984. We’ve recently seen a similar 1984 release from Thosop (same strength and also a rather limited number of bottles) and a sherry cask from Berry Bros with a similar cask number 3148.
Nose: malty / fruity with apple, vanilla and almonds. Initially there’s also a vegetal side to it, but this seems to disappear after a while. Some fresh oak. Develops further when you add a little water. Gets slightly flowery and brings out vanilla cake. A little leather. Mouth: nice body, very fruity – mainly citrus (tangerine, lemon). Cinnamon and soft pepper. A little herbal tea, which grows stronger over time. Slightly grassy towards the end. Finish: quite long and drying with spices and herbal notes.
This Macduff 25yo is a nice dram that unfolds itself in different ways if you wait long enough and add some water. It reminds me a lot (a lot!) of the Thosop bottling. If it’s not the same whisky, then it’s certainly a closely related sister cask.
Around € 90.
Caol Ila 25 yo 1984 (51%, Kintra 2010, bourbon hogshead, cask #5395, 60 btl.)
Nose: quite pungent and very smokey. Wet earth, ashes, seaweed and peat… full of power. Some mint. Slightly more medicinal than an average Caol Ila (iodine). What’s great is the faint, sweet background of blackcurrant although it’s difficult to pin down. Nice balance. Mouth: oily, very earthy and smokey (bacon). Starts half-sweet with roasted coffee beans. Then growing medicinal and peppery with the sweetness fading to slightly bitter notes of tonic water and grapefruit zest. Liquorice as well. Finish: long and salted, with medicinal notes and peat again.
Very punchy and smokey, with a balanced amount
of citrus zest and a tiny drop of sweetness. Exactly what we hope for when trying a mature Caol Ila. Recommended and well priced: around € 110.
Kintra is a Dutch company managed by Erik Molenaar. Apart from the organisation of tastings and whisky workshops, they release around
8 single cask bottlings a year, all uncoloured and non-chillfilltered.
Originally only available in the Netherlands (in an ever expanding list of shops), they are now also available in Belgium (www.whiskyhuis.be).
The labels are colour-coded to recognize the whisky region. The most recent batch of Kintra bottlings was presented mid October 2010.