Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Whisky Bible 2011

12 Oct 2010 | * News

Whisky Bible - Jim MurrayYes, I still buy it. But I can’t help being stunned sometimes. Take this review of the Littlemill 1990 bottled by Malts of Scotland (cask #915).

N23 […] adorably curious […] T23 […] too good to be true […] F22.5 […] B22.5 Sukinda Singh has somehow bagged himself an eminently drinkable Littlemill. As if to prove, against the odds, that such a thing exists. He sometimes amazes me, that bloke. How does he do it…?

Well… Malts of Scotland is a German bottler. Single Malts of Scotland on the other hand (owned by Sukhinder Singh) is a series by The Whisky Exchange in the UK. Sukhinder sometimes amazes me as well, but not with this Littlemill! Jim’s obviously not tasting blind (or at least writing part of his notes after having seen the bottler’s name), how can such an error make it into the printed version?

As a side note, all of the entries of Malts of Scotland bottlings mention “192 bottles” or “96 bottles”. I suppose he was sent miniatures because MoS always fills 192x 5cl bottles (or 96x) apart from the actual run of full bottles. I can imagine people asking themselves why the 70cl bottle in their store has different numbers on the label.

Now I’m checking out the Lochside 1981 by The Whisky Agency. According to the Bible, there were two releases (54% and 55.5%, both sherry, no further information like bottling date, series, number of bottles…). Has anyone heard of this 55.5% version? I think there’s only one Lochside, but they get two different scores.

Update: Carsten Ehrlich from TWA was so kind to clarify. The 55.5% version is this one bottled for Whiskybox.de. While this cask was provided by TWA, I guess it would be hard for customers to recognize it based on the Bible’s description. Also, the 54% version (Insects series) is ex-bourbon wood. Thanks Carsten!

I appreciate Jim’s work and I must say I agree with a lot of scores this year (well… maybe not the award winners). But the basic information should be pristine in an encyclopaedic work.


The Japanese Hanyu distillery is no longer operational. In the 1980’s they had some financial problems and the distillery was closed in 2000. Ichiro Akuto, the grandson of the distillery founder, bought 400 casks of Hanyu Hanyu Big Butt - Full Proofwhisky that are now being sold, most of them in the Ichiro’s Malts series in which every bottle is named after a playing card (Three of Diamonds, Ace of Spades…). Akuto also started a new distillery: Chichibu.

This sherry butt was bottled by No.1 Drinks in their Noh series – in two parts. A smaller part (200 bottles) had already been bottled for Full Proof Europe in Holland featuring… well… another type of butt on the label. Sister casks #9305 and #9307 have also been bottled for Full Proof.

 

Hanyu 1988 Noh 9306 Hanyu 21 yo 1988 (55,6%, No.1 Drinks 2009, sherry butt #9306, 625 btl.)

Nose: spicy notes to start with: Christmas cake, a bit of menthol and other medicinal things, a bit of incense. Deep fruity notes as well: cherries, plums, raisins. Hints of smoked meat (cecina). Also a few whiffs of matchsticks but much less than comparable Karuizawa bottlings for example. Some resinous notes and roasted almonds as well. Quite complex. Mouth: intense with typical dried fruits, sultanas and lots of tobacco. Black cherries. Cinnamon and ginger. Liquorice. Certainly woody, but not too dry. A little chilli pepper. Finish: long and peppery with a dry herbal touch.

An impressive Hanyu, showing a large range of intense flavours while at the same time remaining very drinkable. Around € 160.

Score: 90/100


Glen Mhor is closely related to the Glen Albyn distillery. It was founded by John Birnie, a former distillery manager of Glen Albyn who managed to take over his old employer in 1920. Both were sold to DCL in 1972 (now Diageo) and closed in 1983. There are a couple of official Rare Malts releases – independent bottlings are increasingly rare.


Glen Mhor 1982 SV 1327 Glen Mhor 27yo 1982 (55%, Signatory Vintage 2010, cask #1327, 235 btl.)

Nose: grassy / flinty, with an alcohol kick and some minor fruity / honey notes. Faint hints of coconut and leather. A bit of lemon zest and menthol. A wee touch of soot. Interesting because it’s quite rough and delicately floral at the same time. Old-style. Mouth: sweet and punchy attack. Quickly turns to grassy and flinty flavours again, with a bitter tang and lemon zest. Then showing a few floral notes, liquorice and clove. Finish: long and dry with herbs, lemon and green tea.

An old-fashioned Speysider. A bit of a challenge as it goes in different directions and keeps you wondering about its true character. Around € 135.

Score: 83/100


500 posts… almost

10 Oct 2010 | * News

We’re a few entries short of 500 on this website (in less than two years), so I was thinking to have something special for that occasion. Here are a few extraordinary drams that are waiting in my sample stock. Which one should I try? Feel free to leave a comment with your suggestion.

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Glen Elgin 1975 Whisky AgencyThis Glen Elgin 1975 is part of the latest releases from The Whisky Agency. Interesting to compare with the Glen Elgin 1975 / 2007 by Berry Bros.

 

Glen Elgin 35 yo 1975 (46,4%, The Whisky Agency 2010, Perfect Dram VI, 98 btl.)

Nose: fruity start. I get some pear aromas, orange zest, some lemon. Slightly tropical but rather green, unripe tropical fruits. A few grassy notes. Some wax and limestone. Hints of heather and mint. Fresh, clean and very “natural”. Mouth: fresh with a similar type of slightly subdued fruitiness (stone fruits, citrus). Some mineral notes now. Pleasant resinous flavours and a faint smokey undertone. Delicate ginger. Finish: rather long and drier. More spices than on the palate.

An nice old-fashioned Speysider with different aspects, not just fruits. Less aromatic than the one from Berry Bros, but still very good. Around € 160.

Score: 88/100

Re-tasted 18/04/2012: -1


Doris Debbeler is bringing us a young Bunnahabhain, peated and matured in a sherry cask. Two versions are available, one at 59% (180 bottles) and another one at 46% (120 bottles – € 6 off).


Bunnahabhain 2000 Whisky-Doris Bunnahabhain 9 yo 2000 
(59%, Whisky-Doris 2010, sherry butt, 180 btl.)

Nose: a nice, dry, medium-strength peat aroma with roasted nuts and some bread crust. Nicely balanced with some sherry influence: raisins and prunes. A hint of ginger. Water highlights dried fruits and some cocoa. Mouth: quite huge, really powerful – actually too strong to unfold itself. Peaty with a tarry / liquorice edge, lots of spices and herbs. Resinous oak. Water makes it more smokey and brings out unexpected notes of sweet cider apples. Finish: long, sweet and spicy (nutmeg, cinnamon).

A young and unconstrained Bunnahabhain – I can’t think of many other drams with this profile. It’s peaty but very different from other Islay malts. Available from Whisky-Doris for € 42.

Score: 85/100


Deanston is not a very popular distillery. Its history is fairly short (founded in 1965 and silent from 1983 until 1990) although the site was used as a cotton mill since the 18th Century. The official 12yo is hard to find and usually described as just so-so. Based on the quality of previous Thosop bottlings, I’m expecting a surprise!


Deanston 1977 Thosop Deanston 33 yo 1977
(43%, Thosop Import 2010, 205 btl.)

Nose: starts mashy and cardboardy, but I was told to give it some time. After some twenty minutes and a bit of hand warmth it’s a totally different story. Now very much on creamy notes, chocolate cream desserts, cake, moccha. Rather oily and surprisingly sweet. A mixture of overripe fruits with honey, some citrus and nutty notes. A subtle hint of oak. I feel this one really needed the hand warmth to fully expose its qualities. Mouth: not extremely punchy, but plenty of nice flavours. A toffee sweetness again, developing on fresher, fruitier notes over time (sweet grapefruit and oranges). There’s still a malty and nutty side to it. Finish: not too long – in line with the palate.

It’s true: even the worst distillery has beautiful bottlings. Kudos to Thosop for proving this, if you ever wanted to own a good Deanston, this is your chance! Personally I think the best part is the nose. Around € 150.

Score: 87/100


The Haig blend largely relies on Glenlossie – single malt releases are quite rare. A 10 years old Flora & Fauna bottling is the only official expression today.


Glenlossie 1975 (whisky agency) Glenlossie 35 yo 1975 (49,3%, The Whisky Agency 2010, bourbon hogshead, 151 btl.)

Nose: clearly more sensual and elegant than the Glenlossie 1984 by Signatory Vintage. More oak (of the old, polished kind – cedar maybe?) and more prominent fruits (strawberries with cream, some lime). Whiffs of vanilla and wax. A little leather. Some tobacco leaves. The flinty / wet cardboard aromas are still present, but on a second level. Nice balance of old and fresh elements. Mouth: still fruity with a lot of citrus. Hints of mint and other green notes. Initially sweet, then more herbal and grassy, evolving to gin tonic with lemon zest. Great evolution. No need to add water. Finish: half citrusy, half herbal. Long. 

A lovely nose and a great evolution on the palate. Maybe not as warm and rounded as other old Speysiders, so this one is recommended for people who like a punchy and slightly zesty / herbal variation. Around € 160.

Score: 88/100


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Coming up

  • Glen Flagler (70° proof)
  • Ben Nevis 1997 (Abbey Whisky)
  • Blair Athol 1993 (First Editions)
  • Blair Athol 2002 (Hepburn's Choice)
  • Braeval 1994 (Tasting Fellows)
  • Tomatin 1988 (Malts of Scotland)
  • Ben Nevis 2002 (Port cask #334)

1594 notes by Ruben

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