Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Jura Tastival

30 May 2014 | Jura

Jura Tastival was created for the Jura Whisky Festival 2014. They followed an interesting recipe. After an initial maturation in ex-bourbon American oak barrels, no less than six varieties of French oak were used to finish it (oak produced in the regions of Jupilles, Bertanges, Limousin, Tronçais, Allier and Vosges). Kind of a terroir study in French oak.

It’s a limited edition of 3000 bottles. I suppose the majority will have been sold at the festival, but some have started to arrive in stores across Europe.

 

 

Jura TastivalIsle of Jura Tastival (44%, OB 2014, French oak finish, 3000 btl.)

Nose: I really like this. There’s lots of red apple and baked banana, as well as almond paste / marzipan and toffee sweetness. Ginger and oak. Banoffee pie. A subtle smokiness is found in lacquered bacon, with hints of salty roast beef. Subtle herbal notes. Nice balance of sweet and savoury notes. Mouth: very sweet again. Stewed fruits. Some nuts and caramel notes. Oranges. Evolves to more savoury notes like liquorice and ginger. After that, a wave of nice roasted notes (coffee, biscuits) and mocha butter cream comes out. Finish: long, sweet and herbal, with some wood influence.

When I read the recipe, I was a little skeptical. The end result is original and uncommon to say the least, but I like it very much. I hope something like this will be part of the core range some day. Around € 100.

Score: 88/100


Mollusc and Medusa, that’s the name of the latest series from The Whisky Agency. As always, the labels are bold, colourful and classy.

One of the bottlings is a Bowmore 2002. The other releases include a BenRiach 1991, Bunnahabhain 1987, Glenturret 1977 and a Blended Malt 1980.

 

 

Bowmore 2002 - The Whisky AgencyBowmore 12 yo 2002 (53,2%, The Whisky Agency 2014, refill hogshead, 348 btl.)

Nose: clean, smoky but also a tad fruity. Apples and blood orange, tinned pineapple, youngish pear, maybe litchi and a bit of honey sweetness. The peat smoke sits below, or in between, these fruits. Of course a sea breeze and minerals as well. Mouth: oily, much more phenolic and ashy, with a sweet and spicy side that reminds us of gingerbread. Candy sugar and citrus. Sweet grapefruit and peach. Pepper, some liquorice and heather. Finish: long, smoky, with some herbal and buttery notes now.

A sweet, fruity Bowmore, still youngish but nicely balanced with the peat smoke already. One of the more affordable bottles in this batch. Around € 85.

Score: 87/100


This Port Ellen 1983 is one of the new releases from Maltbarn, presented at The Whisky Fair in Limburg, yet it was bottled back in 2012.

Port Ellen is virtually impossible to get these days, especially for independent bottlers. Maybe this was a leftover or ‘lost stock’, or maybe Martin Diekmann already bought them some time ago and decided to wait a while before bringing them to the market.

 

Port Ellen 1983/2002 MaltbarnPort Ellen 29 yo 1983 (52%, Maltbarn 2012, bourbon cask, 86 btl.)

Nose: very pure, with classic notes of linseed oil and walnuts. Tarry ropes, wet stones, a bit of soot, tar and charcoal. Hints of camphor. A nose that stays on the mineral / coastal side – no loud vanilla or sweetness here, although there is definitely an almond and citrus roundness after a while. Unfolds nicely – not immensely complex, but rather perfectly on target. Mouth: definitely more sweetness now. Sweet peat, creamy lemon and almond oil. Cocoa and a vague fruitiness. A little ginger with briny notes. Fades on white pepper and ashes, with a soft herbal bitterness. Finish: long, still quite balanced. Salty almonds and ashes.

An excellent Port Ellen. On the nose it seemed to be too mineral / rough for my preferences, but it gains balance over time and comes out quite wonderfully. Really nice but expensive: around € 600.

Score: 92/100

 

I guess this could be something we’re going to see more often in the future: intentional delaying (not to say speculation) among bottlers, especially for rare distilleries. If you don’t need the cash right away, then you might as well bottle a cask and keep the bottles behind to release them at a later point, at a higher price. At the time of bottling, merely two years ago, this would have been sold for around € 250.


New Archives releases have arrived. After the fishes of Samoa, the label of this Littlemill 1988 is adorned with another sea creature, some kind of crab. The series is called Voyage dans l’Amérique Méridionale.

 

 

Littlemill 1988 ArchivesLittlemill 25 yo 1988 (51,9%, Archives 2014, bourbon hogshead #12, 134 btl.)

Nose: starts on the grassier side of Littlemill, with a bit of oak dust and chalk. The some waxy and grainy notes before moving to fruits. Red apples. Peaches, grapefruits and green banana. Hints of limoncello. After a while, a nice soft strawberry note and vanilla. Mouth: quite typical again. This time the creamy fruits come out first. Banana and sweet pear, followed by sharper and more bitter notes. Ginger, lemon zest, grapefruit. Resin and anise, maybe even something synthetic in the background (glue). Finish: long, bittersweet, in line with the rest.

Really good, what did you expect? I didn’t really get a ‘Holy Crab!’ experience though. Around € 135, available from the Whiskybase shop.

Score: 88/100


In the upper regions of the Johnnie Walker range, this Platinum Label is the only one to have an age statement: all of its components are 18 years old.

It sits just under the most expensive Johnnie Walker Blue Label and above the Gold Label Reserve, which has now lost its previous 18yo statement and seems to be discontinued altogether in some countries. Not sure how the marketing guys explain all this shifting around, to me it just seems confusing…

 

Johnnie Walker Platinum LabelJohnnie Walker 18 yo Platinum Label
(40%, OB 2013)

Nose: subtle, as you would expect from 40%, but quite nice. Fruity core: apricots, pears, a hint of pineapple, golden raisins. Also a citrusy note. Soft leathery notes that hint towards older Speyside whiskies, and a very subtle touch of wood smoke in the background. Quite rich for a blend – the biggest compliment is probably that it noses like a (light) single malt. Mouth: smooth, although disappointingly smooth now. Sugary and watery – no recognizable fruits. Evolves towards herbal notes and bittersweet caramel towards the end. More typical blend notes (grains) now, and still a hint of smoke. Not bad, but less convincing than the nose. Finish: medium long, sweet, malty and peppery.

A sweet and spicy Johnnie Walker. Platinum Label has a really nice nose, sure it’s soft, but it’s hardly recognizable as a blend. The palate is too bland and caramelly to convince me and certainly less complex than a single malt of the same price. Around € 60 but price differences between shops tend to be high.

Score: 81/100


I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to spend today’s prices for new Port Ellen releases… easily € 600 even from independent bottlers. No matter how rare they now are, that’s well above my personal limit.

Luckily we have a small stock hidden away, bought in better times. Like this one, a Port Ellen 1982 single cask bottled by Douglas Laing for The Nectar in 2009.

 

Port Ellen 1982 - Douglas Laing for The NectarPort Ellen 26 yo 1982 (56,2%, Douglas Laing OMC for Daily Dram 2009, refill hogshead, ref. 4900, 193 btl.)

Nose: quite vibrant. One of these Port Ellens that strike a nice balance between coastal sharpness and vanilla smoothness. Above average medicinal notes, rather than plain peat. Pine needles and wet tree leafs. Bright citrus notes. Nice grassy notes, evolving towards peppery notes. A fresh orange / banana / apple fruitiness in the background. Very complex. Mouth: more power, more peat, more sharpness. Very punchy, with pepper, salt, lemon and peat smoke. Still some sweetness (oranges, honey, vanilla). Fades on grassy notes and ginger. Finish: very long, quite sugary, with a few maritime notes and lemon peel.

Simply excellent Port Ellen. Douglas Laing owned a large number of casks from this distillery, and The Nectar surely knew which one to pick. Intense, but showing a marvelous amount of tiny notes and delicate refinements.

Score: 93/100


Jura Diurach’s Own

23 May 2014 | Jura

Isle of Jura - DiurachsDiurachs are the inhabitants of the Isle of Jura – their symbol is stamped on the bottle. Like the people, the whisky is said to have a strong character.

Most official Jura releases now have a nickname. Jura 10 Year Old is Jura Origin. The limited 12 Year Old is called Jura Elixir. The peated versions are Superstition and Prophecy. Jura Duirach’s Own is the 16 Year Old.

Jura Diurach’s Own is first matured in American white oak and spends the last two years in Oloroso sherry casks (Amoroso actually). We’re trying the European version at 40%. It seems the US version is bottled at a higher 43%.

 

Jura Diurach's Own - 16 Years OldIsle of Jura ‘Diurach’s Own’
(40%, OB +/- 2014)

Nose: pretty rich. There’s a honeyed base with fudge and caramel. A few hints of mixed berries and chocolate. Subtle coastal notes and a clear note of pine trees and resin. Sweet (caramel) and sour (citrus) combination. Mouth: really sweet, very caramelly. Butter pastry. Vanilla custard. Maple syrup. A bit too sticky sweet for me, although it returns nicely to spiced oak and Mexican chocolate. Subtle clove. Finish: hesitating between the milk chocolate sweetness and drying oak.

Diurach’s Own is really okay – probably the best of the core range bottlings. On the other hand I can’t say it’s complex or really balanced. For milk chocolate lovers. Around € 50.

Score: 82/100


The Whisky Fair means new releases by The Whisky Agency. One of them is yet another Littlemill, distilled in 1989.

 

Littlemill 1989 Liquid LibraryLittlemill 24 yo 1989 (48,7%, Liquid Library 2014, refill hogshead, 199 btl.)

Nose: fruity fruity! Mangos, oranges, apples. Lime and banana. A good dose of vanilla as well. Less of the mineral / grassy notes we saw in similar casks, or so it seems. Maybe a little beeswax. Mouth: excellent. A slightly Irish fruitiness, with banana, maracuja and tangerines. A hint of pink grapefruit bitterness. More than a hint of tropical fruits, you get it. Lemon pie and a hint of barley sugar. Quite some grassy notes / green tea as well. Finish: long, more zesty fruits with a hint of aspirin sharpness.

I’ve reviewed +/- 20 ex-boubon Littlemill 1988-1992 expressions in the last two years and this is one of my favourites. Recommended. Around € 150.

Score: 90/100

ps/ Picture is slightly different, waiting for the new label, sorry.


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Coming up

  • Benriach 1991 (MoS for QV.ID)
  • Craigellachie 17 Year Old
  • Glen Scotia 1992 (The Whiskyman)
  • Lagavulin 12yo (2014 release)
  • Balblair 2000 single casks
  • Ardmore Legacy
  • Cardhu 18 Year Old
  • Clynelish 21yo 1992 (Cadenhead)
  • Ledaig 2005 (Maltbarn)
  • Aberlour 8yo (cube, small cork)

1639 notes by Ruben

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