Allt-A-Bhainne was mothballed in 2002 and re-opened in 2005. They’re producing almost exclusively for blending purposes.
Allt-A-Bhaine 18 yo 1992
(56,1%, Malts of Scotland 2011, bourbon hogshead #6, 273 btl.)
Nose: natural nose on barley and sweet grains. Hay. Some nice stone fruits in the background. Light oak influence with a little mint and juniper. Also a hint of chalk or dust. Mouth: oily and sweet. Quite spicy (pepper) and a little hot. Something of a fruit liqueur although I wouldn’t call it fruity. Slightly raw and spirity, even with water. Finish: rather long and neutral, with hints of liquorice and pepper.
A simple malt that’s very punchy and without obvious flaws. Typical blenders whisky I would say. We should applaud bottlers who try to find something different, even when they’re not always highflyers. Around € 80.
Even tough we’re comparing a 1989 and 1990 Tamdhu, I think they might be sister casks. Earlier releases from casks #8113, #8126 and #8132 were also 1989 production so it doesn’t seem to be a chronological numbering.
This cask is part of the new Malts of Scotland releases.
Tamdhu 20 yo 1990
(49,8%, Malts of Scotland 2011,
sherry butt #8119, 209 btl.)
Nose: a profile that’s similar to the Tamdhu 1989 Liquid Treasures. Lots of rum & raisins again. A little gunpowder and flints. More and darker chocolate, something of burnt sugar as well. It doesn’t have the slightly sour notes of balsamico. Dates. A few gamey notes. Roasted nuts. Mouth: sweet with smoky undertones. Raisins, prunes and dates. Roasted almonds. Big sherry. A nice dark chocolate bitterness. Then back to muscovado sweetness and light pepper. Some liquorice. Finish: long, marked by sherry and mocha with a nice dryness.
High power sherry. Very similar to the Liquid Treasures bottling, equally nice altogether, differences will come down to personal preferences. Around € 80.
German bottler eSpirits released a Tamdhu 1989 in the Liquid Treasures series. We’ll compare it to a 1990 cask tomorrow.
Tamdhu 21 yo 1989
(50%, Liquid Treasures 2011, sherry butt)
Nose: takes a few minutes to settle down. After that, it shows chocolate and raisins mixed with flinty notes and matchsticks. Prune jam, a little leather. Soft hints of balsamic vinegar. Roasted nuts. Mouth: heavy sherry with a nice balance of sweetness, soft sourness and toasted elements in the background. Plenty of dried fruits (prunes especially) with a few nutty notes. Side notes of pepper, liquorice and coffee. More accessible with a few drops of water. Finish: long, slightly drier, with sherry and liquorice.
A Tamdhu with a rich first fill sherry character and nice roasted notes. Around € 80.
Private Stock is a series by The Whisky Agency, offering only exceptional (old) whiskies. Today we’re trying a 45 years old Bunnahabhain.
Bunnahabhain 45 yo 1965
(40%, The Whisky Agency ‘Private Stock’ 2010,
refill hogshead, 195 btl.)
Nose: delicate with a nice banana fruitiness right from the start. Unripe pineapple. Hints of mint. Soft vanilla and hay. A faint hint of smoke and varnish. Nice dustiness. Quite light. Mouth: silky but really thin and silent. There’s a bit of oak juice and tobacco, with again a faint smokiness in the back. Lightly fruity (sourish oranges). No dryness but the flavours are muted. I’m not sure whether to call this subtle or just weak. Finish: medium length, soft with hints of chocolate and apple.
It’s nice to find this kind of elegant fruitiness with smoky hints and a proud kind of oldness. On the other hand, it’s rather thin and perhaps slightly over-aged.
Around € 240. Still available.
Here’s a recent Malts of Scotland release with a slightly different presentation (tube and different label) as it is a joint bottling with The Whisky Agency. This Strathisla 1970 was bottled from a dark sherry hogshead and presented at the recent Whisky Fair in Limburg.
Would you believe this is the most recent Strathisla I’ve made notes of?
All the others were 1960’s distillation.
Strathisla 40 yo 1970 (59,6%, Malts of Scotland & The Whisky Agency 2011, sherry hogshead, 109 btl.)
Nose: very intense oloroso aromas. Dried fruits (raisins and figs) and liquorice. A hint of cherry liqueur. Fruit jams. Melon with Port. After a while it shows more nutty notes and some tobacco. Some butterscotch and cigar boxes. Clean and quite excellent: heavy sherry the way it should be. Mouth: lots of oomph and very concentrated. Water required! Still big, with plenty of dried fruits, some herbal notes and resin. Liquorice and walnut liqueur. Prunes. Dark chocolate. A little cough syrup. A rather ‘dark’ palate. A dry mouthfeel overall but it shows lovely jammy flavours towards the end. Finish: very long, with the same dark and dry sherry theme.
This kind of sherry can only be expected of Strathisla and a handful of other distilleries like GlenDronach. Very good but quite expensive as well. Around € 300.
Glenrothes 41 yo 1968 (43%, Duncan Taylor 2010, cask #9974, 139 btl.)
Nose: this one is much more biscuity than the Malts of Scotland version. More vanilla custard, great white chocolate notes and something caramelly. Over time it smells like a chocolate store really. Lovely dusty elements. The same kind of freshly sawn oak. Then back to gooseberries and apricots, pineapple, honey, even some volatile strawberry notes. Slightly wider and more complex than the other. Mouth: creamy, with the same kind of sweet / fruity vs. sour / oaky combination. Thicker and creamier than the Malts of Scotland, despite the slightly lower strength. Soft fruits (oranges, mango) and soft spices (cinnamon, cardamom). Custard with caramel. Finish: long and sweet, half spicy / half citrusy with apples and hints of aniseed.
A great cask, no doubt, showing both fresh fruits and warmer vanilla / chocolate notes. The thicker structure seems to hide the oak influence more. More expensive though: around € 260.
The excellent German bottler Malts of Scotland has just released a new series of bottlings. Among the new releases, I was looking forward mostly to both Caperdonich 1972 casks and this Glenrothes 1968.
Glenrothes 42 yo 1968 (45,2%,
Malts of Scotland 2011, bourbon hogshead #13509, 108 btl.)
Nose: fresh and fruity, but not a fruitbomb as there’s also a certain oaky dryness. Lots of citrus notes (especially orange and tangerine), hints of passion fruit and some new leather. A bit of wax. Hints of dry flowers and hay. Over time it seems to fade out a little and focus more on the (nicely fresh) oak. Faint hints of moccha. Mouth: quite a sour attack with plenty of oak. Ginger, cinnamon and lemon with the warmer fruits being pushed to the background. Hints of cardamom and cloves. Slightly tannic but still very enjoyable. Finish: drying and spicy with lingering fruits and hints of tea.
A Glenrothes of this age usually can’t hide the oak influence. This is no different, but only on the palate did it bother me a little. Other than that, it’s a bright Speysider with sparkling citrus fruits. Around € 200.
Scott’s Selection is a range of whiskies picked by Robert Scott, a former Master blender at Speyside Distillers in Glasgow. They bottled this North Port at 58% but they also have a later version at 48%.
North Port (also called Brechin or Townhead) is not a well known distillery. It was part of the Diageo empire but it was closed during the whisky crisis of 1983. Stocks are now believed to be very low.
North Port 24 yo 1980
(58%, Scott’s Selection 2004)
Nose: quite a strong nose, very malty. Oatmeal. Some vegetal elements (potatoes). Butter caramel. A little lamp oil. Faint smoke maybe? Mouth: grainy, malty and quite boring. Sweet, slightly hot and flat. Malt? Muesli with a dash of alcohol? Not much to say I’m afraid. Caramel again. A faint hint of apple. The spices are the best part (nutmeg, some pepper, something mustardy). Finish: oily, slightly grassy but again quite boring.
This North Port is not exactly bad whisky, but there are very few elements that stand out of the malty / sweet toffee centre. Some distilleries were closed for a good reason, you know. Around € 100 and still available.