Dominiek Bouckaert is distributing Malts of Scotland in Belgium, he’s running the Thosop handwritten releases and since a couple of months he launches casks in his own series The Whiskyman.
This Clynelish 1997 is the fourth release in this series already. Time to review a few others in the near future.
Clynelish 14 yo 1997 ‘All you need is whisky’ (50,5%, The Whiskyman 2011, ex-bourbon, 160 btl.)
Nose: fruity and fragrant. A lot of juicy pear and gooseberry aromas. A little sweet oak and vanilla. Creamy banana. Lime candy. Very seductive, the usual mineral / waxy notes are certainly there, but they’re wrapped in a sweetness. Very nice. Mouth: oily and quite sweet again, with some pineapple sweets and apple / pear. Lime and grapefruit. Punchy and much spicier than the nose suggested (ginger and nutmeg). Some oak shavings and waxy notes. Finish: half fruity, half spicy with the trademark wax.
Great young Clynelish, especially the nose is spectacular for such a youngster. Better than the similar Whisky Fair bottling but also a little more expensive. Around € 65.
Strathmill, the slightly obscure Speyside distillery operated by Diageo. We don’t see too many bottlings yet a lot of people thought this was the highlight of the Spirits in the Sky festival!
Released under the Daily Dram label in cooperation with The Whisky Agency.
Strathmill 37 yo 1974 (44,4%, Daily Dram 2011, joint bottling with The Whisky Agency)
Nose: excellent start – sweet and buttery (fresh croissant, vanilla) with huge beehive notes (honey, mead, beeswax). Very fruity as well – first ripe banana, melon and apricot, then moving to crispier oranges. Hints of praline, coconut and dried flowers. Great nose, very thick and honeyed. Mouth: gentle and elegant. Almost completely on honey and oranges (fresh and liqueur). Backbone of malt, medium oak and spices (soft pepper, cinnamon). Nice vanilla, apricot and coconut. Finish: slightly drier, with some tannins and spices, dried oranges and faint nutty notes.
What an excellent, luscious nose! The palate is less unique but certainly high quality. Soon in stores. Around € 150 if I’m not mistaken. Recommended.
Yesterday I went to Leuven for the Spirits in the Sky festival (5th edition if I’m not mistaken). It’s organised by our Belgian importer The Nectar so the brands in their portfolio (too many to sum up these days) are the main attraction. It’s a good place to find out about the new stuff that’s going to hit the shelves.
Here are some of them most interesting new things I was able to try. Most of these will be reviewed in depth in the following weeks.
Strathmill 1974 (44,4%, Daily Dram)
Miyagikyo 1988 for La Maison du Whisky
Bruichladdich 5yo vatting by Jim McEwanfor The Nectar’s 5th Anniversary, Château d’Yquem finish
Glenallachie 38yo 1973 (44%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon cask #11018)
Of course there were also a few disappointments. Maybe not bad whisky, but expectations were higher than the actual result for the GlenDronach 21yo Parliament (clean but too sticky, too caramelly), the new Bruichladdich 10yo ‘The Laddie Ten’ and sadly also the new official Brora 32yo (see comments).
I was told there would be one more official Brora after this, a Brora 40 years old. Let’s hope it will be outstanding and not priced with Taiwan in mind.
The Whisky Agency masterclass “not yet bottled”
Carsten Ehrlich, the driving force behind The Whisky Agency, brought five samples to the festival from casks that were yet to be bottled. We had a chance to try them (blind) and select our favourite which will be bottled as a special edition Whisky Agency & Spirits in the Sky in the near future. Carsten doesn’t like to host tastings, so Mario Groteklaes had to take his place.
The first three samples were Bowmore 1999 (focused on oily peat, not complex but good drinking whisky), Glen Scotia 1992 (dirty sherry, old-style and definitely not my cup of tea) and a typical Glen Elgin 1984 (similar to the Daily Dram release of last year).
Then there was a terrific Glen Grant 1972 (sherry hogshead) with a superb fruity / jammy nose (cherries, apricot pie, honeysuckle) and a fruity albeit slightly tannic profile in the mouth. Similar to the Glen Grant 1972 bottled for The Whisky Fair 2009.
This Glen Grant was chosen by our tasting committee, although a lot of people preferred sample number 5, a Tomatin 1976. We’ve had quite a lot of these and it’s easy to recognize the tropical fruits. High quality again (some said the best Tomatin 76 so far, especially on the palate) – a close second place.
Keep in mind that all five will be bottled at one time or another (some probably with Liquid Sun or Liquid Library labels). I know many people will look out for the Tomatin but personally I still think the Glen Grant was the best choice!
Nose: starts lemony, briny and slightly resinous but quickly there are sweeter notes (clementine, marzipan) and a hint of vanilla – just enough to balance it. Quite some medicinal elements, cold ashes and gentle smoke. Seems younger than it is. Mouth: powerful. More peat now, a dry kind of peat. Then it grows typically austere and coastal, with walnut skin, medicinal notes, all kinds of citrus zest, hints of salmiak and big salty notes. Big flavours. Finish: long, zesty, briny with quite some ashes.
Quite a powerful Caol Ila, which hasn’t lost any of its youthful nervosity. Around € 125. Available from eSpirits in Germany.
ps/ There’s a similar Caol Ila 1981/2011 in the Liquid Sun series. That one’s a tad less rounded on the nose and even more powerful (not to say brutal) in the mouth.
This BenRiach 1984 cask #7193 is part of the 8th series of single casks by BenRiach. It’s a peated Speysider finished in a Virgin oak cask.
BenRiach 26 yo 1984 (54,1%, OB, cask #7193, peated, Virgin oak finish)
Nose: is this a sherried Ardbeg? Or Karuizawa? Nice anyway, I really like the combination of sweet peat, embering fires and punchy spices. Smoked ham and sweet tobacco. Blackcurrants and dates. Pepper and nutmeg. Some cedar wood. It’s big in different directions and the balance is spot-on. Mouth: punchy, still quite smoky, spicy and sweet, only now there’s also a slightly disturbing sourish element (raspberry vinegar maybe). Dry oak as well. Growing herbal notes. Anything but subtle, even a bit over the top now. I’d suggest a few drops of water. Finish: long, spicy, drying and peaty.
I thought we had an absolute cracker based on the nose, but on the palate it gets a little out of balance. Recommended for fans of extreme whisky. Around € 125.
Ootori is a Japanese blended whisky produced by Mercian Corporation, the owner of Karuizawa (malt) and Kawasaki (grain) distilleries. The bottle and its golden packaging are very similar to the (non-related) Hibiki blend.
Ootori 15 yo (40%, OB, 66 cl.)
Nose: malty and biscuity. Plenty of vanilla cake. Green banana. Coconut. Some hay. Sweet with big grain notes but also a volcanic / spicy / flinty hint of Karuizawa malt. Mouth: light, a bit strange, sweet and mineral, creamy and slightly harsh at the same time. Shows malty notes and some fruits (oranges and the light coconut / banana combo again). Finish: quite short with some vanilla and chocolate.
Certainly enjoyable, but at times the grain and malt components seem to fight each other rather than… well… blend. Interesting but too expensive for what it is. Around € 75.
Nose: starts a bit musty and mossy, hiding the usual Clynelish vibrance. Leather notes. With some water it seems to find its character, with apple peelings and a little paraffin. Still not the freshest Clynelish. Mouth: sweeter and fruitier now, with very nice pear drops, oranges and almond notes. No obvious waxy notes on the palate. Quite some leather again, a hint of rounded oak and very soft spices. Not very different after adding some water. Finish: medium long, quite fruity. Faint grassy notes as well.
Not the most typical Clynelish in my book, but decent drinking whisky nonetheless. Around € 65.
During the month of November each year, Movember asks men across the world to grow a moustache with the aim of raising vital funds and awareness for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer.
Master of Malt is supporting this charity by the release of a 9 years old Glenfarclas (the youngest we’ve tried so far), distilled in September 2002 and taken from two oloroso hogsheads. It will go on sale today.
Glenfarclas 9 yo 2002 (53%, OB for Master of Malt 2011, oloroso hogsheads #2659 & 2662)
Nose: clean, rich sherry with plenty of rum & raisins, raspberry jam and kirschy notes. Some spicy chocolate. Oranges and red grapes. Hints of almond liqueur. A very juicy (and slightly more balanced) version of Glenfarclas 105. Mouth: in that same tradition of the 105. Deep sherry with dark sugar and raisins all over. Plums. Gets spicy (cardamom, pepper) with a savoury and lightly herbal (even salty) touch. Finish: baked pear with caramelized sugar, dried orange and a fair amount of oak.
Maybe these casks were pre-destined for the 105, but they turned out to be better than average? The result is very nice indeed. Around € 45 of which around € 11 will be donated to Movember. Please note that both Master of Malt and Glenfarclas are working at cost price on this project. Great initiative.