Nose: a very complex mixture of subtle fruits (dried apricot, citrus) and a slightly sharp coastalness (sea air with a little iodine). Quite some spices (ginger, pepper, cinnamon) with elegant oak. Hand warmth brings out nice vanilla. Apart from this there’s a whole range of tiny notes that come and go: leather, wax, damp earth, flowers… They don’t make ‘em like this any more. Fruitier and more complex with some water, even slightly smoky. Mouth: fruity notes (apricot again, oranges, grapefruit, lemon zest) with a clear peaty undertone. Coffee and almonds. Getting bitter (very dark chocolate) and salty in the end. Maybe a tad too sharp although a drop of water makes it rounder. Surprisingly coastal for a Speysider. Finish: long, dry with plenty of spices and some bitter lemon zest.
One of the most coastal Speyside whiskies I’ve tried. Add the uncommon peaty edge and you’ve got something special. Not an easy dram, but full of character. Available from Whisky-Doris – € 150.
A 30 years old Isle of Jura 1973 matured in an oloroso cask from the renowned Gonzalez Byass bodegas in Jerez de la Frontera.
Jura 30 yo 1973
(55%, OB 2003, cask 3155, 468 btl.)
Nose: big notes of cigar boxes mixed with quite some wine and camphor. Interesting and smooth. Dried fruits. Makes me think more of Port wine than of sherry. Toffee. Hints of mint. Mouth: too much wood which means the fruity side of the sherry gets drowned. Rum / raisins. Notes of nutmeg and ginger. It shows nice coastal notes (iodine and salt). Getting quite resinous, mineral and slightly bitter, on Seville oranges. Finish: dry (walnuts) and winey with some salty liquorice.
This Jura is interestingly different but a tad too old. The palate is too oaky for my taste and can’t match the otherwise attractive nose. Worth around € 350 now.
Ardbeg Kildalton was the result of an unpeated run at Ardbeg, originally for a third party but in the end it was released as a distillery bottling. There has been a 1981 version as well, in 5 ml bottles as part of “The Peat Pack” sampler.
Ardbeg 1980 ‘Kildalton’
(57,6%, OB 2004, 1300 btl.)
Nose: fragrant / floral and nicely fruity (lemon, orange, apricot). Despite a hint of vanilla, it’s not a particularly warm fruitiness though. It’s rather prickly, with hints of nail polish remover. Slightly waxy as well (lemon scented candles). Citrus tea. A nutty marzipan aroma as well and some pine wood. I doubt it’s completely unpeated. Mouth: oily and sweet with dried / cooked fruits (pineapple, orange) and a little vanilla. Quite malty. Bread. Clear oak, again slightly tingling with some pepper and ginger. Liquorice. A tiny bit of peat? Finish: long and hot, fading on chocolate.
Nice enough, I like the fruity sweetness with the light hints of peat. But it’s not exceptionally elegant like I expected it to be. Shops that have this on offer, ask around € 600.
It’s award time again. Whisky Magazine has announced the World Whiskies Awards 2011. Awards are popping up everywhere but WWA can be seen as one of the more reliable.
Here are the most important results of this fifth edition:
Best Single Malt Whisky: Yamazaki 1984 Best Blended Whisky: Hibiki 21 years Best Blended Malt Whisky: James Martin’s 30 years Best American Whiskey: Parker’s Heritage 10yo wheated bourbon Best Canadian Whisky: Wiser’s Legacy Best Grain Whisky: Greenore 15 years
Congratulations to Suntory for winning the big prize with their partly Mizunara-matured Yamazaki 1984. Don’t rush out to buy it though – unless you have a spare € 600. Hibiki 21yo and Greenore 15yo are winning in the same categories as last year.
I was wondering… Yamazaki 1984 was released in July 2009. It won Silver at the 2009 Malt Maniacs Awards. How far can you go back in time for 2011 awards? I’m sure they’ll find an explanation (it was launched in Zimbabwe last January?) but still it wears away the concept of choosing the best product of the past 12 months. The same goes for Glenmorangie Signet, launched in 2008. Sigh, awards…
Bladnoch was bought by Raymond Armstrong in 1994 and production restarted in 2000 after some years of mothballing and renovation. This Bladnoch 1990 single cask was taken from the inherited stock and was the oldest available official release at the time of bottling.
Bladnoch 20 yo 1990 (52,4%, OB 2010, cask #136)
Nose: fragrant and light, with some fresh grass, cut apples and a few floral notes. Some vanilla and honey. After a while, it seems to gets ‘older’ with notes of hay and something like stone dust. Mouth: sweet and nicely punchy, with the same flavours now backed up by spices (pepper, cloves) and oak. Big notes of lemons. Grapefruits. Slightly synthetic in its fruitiness I think, which turns into perfumy / soapy notes, especially when you add some water. Returns to dried grass before getting slightly bitter and herbal. Finish: bittersweet, spicy and a little perfumy. Quite long.
Very sippable and lively. A little mono-dimensional with a slightly disturbing perfumy touch but the price makes up for part of these problems. Around € 55. Sold out but a new 20yo single cask is available. Thanks for the sample swap, Stuart.
Our final review of the new releases by The Nectar of the Daily Drams: a 20 years old Laphroaig 1990. I’m getting the feeling that the quality of this little series was very high!
Laphroaig 20 yo 1990
(52,8%, Nectar of the Daily Drams 2010)
Nose: a fragrant Laphroaig with a nice peppery side (Szechuan) and a medicinal / herbal side (menthol, antiseptic). Faint fruity notes in the background, with sweet smoke and some farmy notes / wet dogs. I’m picking up notes of green tomatoes as well. With water the farminess grows stronger while it also turns to lemons. Nice – well balanced (read: not very peaty) on the nose. Mouth: slightly kippery, then growing more medicinal for a few moments but sweeter as well, with sugared lemon juice. After that, there’s a late burst of peat with some liquorice and pepper again (chilli). Finish: long, quite rounded with sweet smoke and soft hints of green peppers in the end.
Laphroaig of this age shows a little less peat on the nose, but still displays it with full power on the palate. I like the balance of this all-rounder. Limited availability. Around € 125.
This 28 years old Port Ellen 1982 was a single cask selected by Luc Timmermans for two whisky shops. The biggest part was bottled for De Druiventuin / Whiskysite in Leiden (Holland) and a smaller part is available from QV.ID in Huldenberg (Belgium).
Port Ellen 28yo 1982 (57,5%, Whiskysite.nl / QV.ID 2010, refill sherry puncheon, 136 btl.)
Nose: an array of typical Port Ellen notes. Gentle peat and maritime notes (seashells). Hints of plaster. Velvety vanilla as well (which I think is essential in a good Port Ellen). Almonds. Soft hints of sweet fruits but no real sherry character. Gets a tad drier over time with some nutmeg and tobacco. Mouth: mouth-coating and creamy, again nicely sweet and fruity. Sugared lemon juice. A bit of pepper, a bit of salt. More peat than on the nose, as well as some mineral notes, but it returns nicely to soft vanilla and a little honey. Rich and balanced. Finish: lemon and smoke with a hint of aniseed in the very end.
A couple of years ago, it seemed 1982/83 were lesser years for Port Ellen. We already know it’s not true. Congratulations to Luc, Jack and Koen for this great selection. Around € 200 – now sold out.
Tamnavulin is a modern and very young distillery: production started in 1966 so this must have been one of the first casks ever to be filled. The distillery was mothballed in 1995, re-opened in 2007 as part of the White & Mackay group but is currently (again) silent. It goes without saying that releases are rare.
This 1967 single cask is bottled from a bourbon hogshead.
Tamnavulin 43 yo 1967 (41%, Whisky Agency 2010, Still Lifes II, 204 btl.)
Nose: a muted fruitiness, with some dried oranges and apples. Slightly grassy. Oak is certainly not the main element here, although it shows some dry spices, mainly nutmeg and cinnamon. Very faint hints of wax. A bit of dust as well. Pleasant enough, although not the most exciting profile and slightly shy. Mouth: quite warm, enough punch. Again playing on the edge of sweet garden fruits and subtle spicy wood. Malty notes. Nutmeg, ginger, a little mint. Never crossing the line of antiquity. Nice. Finish: medium length, warm and gently fading on grassy notes.
Nothing spectacular in my opinion yet anything but boring.Interesting release, certainly because Tamnavulin is such a ‘problematic’ distillery with hardly any expressions available. Around € 170.