The first Scapa on ths blog, distilled in September 1993 and bottled by Douglas Laing in the Old Malt Cask series.
Scapa shares the island of Orkney with Highland Park. In 1994, the distillery was mothballed, refurbished, operated during short intermittent periods, and re-opened in 2005 (although they still only operate Monday to Wednesday). They’re only maturing in first fill bourbon wood and the complete production is bottled as a single malt.
Scapa 15 yo 1993 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC 2008, refill hogshead, ref. 4713,
Nose: starts fresh and youthful with a nice fruity sweetness. Apples and pears. Vanilla. Very lightly coastal. A few heathery notes and a little wax maybe. Simple but certainly not bad. Mouth: grainy with a bittersweet aroma that holds the middle between fizzy aspirin and grapefruit juice. Not an attractive development in my opinion… Then a soft vanilla sweetness, dusty flavours and resin. And again big grapefruit flavours. Really bitter at times and hard to spot other flavours. Finish: long, bittersweet with a lemon / salt combo.
I’m afraid this Scapa doesn’t hit the right notes for me. There must be better expressions of this distillery. Around € 70.
This 21 years old Bowmore was selected by Luc Timmermans and Dominiek Bouckaert for the Belgian shop QV.ID and the Dutch shop Whiskysite.nl. The same fine people also selected a Port Ellen 1982 earlier this year.
Nose: quite some sea air, seaweed and hints of iodine. Ashes. Wet wool. Lemon. Bold and coastal but nicely softened by almond paste, vanilla and hazelnut butter. Soft hints of mashed potatoes. Develops sweet moccha over time. Entertaining and balanced. Mouth: even bolder now, with plenty of peat and smoke, with a sharp grassiness and brine. Pepper. Lemon. Very clean. It’s not very dry but it misses some roundness compared to the nose. Hints of apple maybe? Fades on slightly bitter notes (tonic). Finish: long, with smoke, lots of salty liquorice and some lemon zest.
A very clean Bowmore, with the balanced nose as its best feature. Better than the recent Bowmore 1989 by Daily Dram and almost 20% cheaper as well. Around € 95.
It seems old casks of Tomintoul are more accessible to independent bottlers than younger Tomintoul these days. We’ve tried some 1960’s casks before but this was distilled in August 1992 and bottled in 2008 by Norse Cask Selection, a side project of Danish bottler Qualityworld.
Nose: malty with fresh oak and citrus. Apples and pears. Light Speyside style. Soft floral notes and some hay. A little wax maybe. Mouth: there’s the same sweet maltiness with orchard fruits and vanilla, but it’s now slightly harsher. Liquorice and a salty tang. Some bitterish herbal notes as well. Finish: long, half fruity, half bitter.
This Tomintoul starts gentle and slightly boring, but takes off on the palate and bursts into different directions. A bit of Speyside anarchy, quite entertaining even tough it’s not entirely succeeded. Sold out. Thanks Bert.
The Glenrothes 1995 was the first Glenrothes ever to be laid down as a vintage with a “designed” character. Before ‘95, they simply composed vintages “ad hoc” from the available stocks. The previously released Glenrothes 1998 was also an intentional vintage, but of course that was distilled later.
Glenrothes 1995 is composed of 30% sherry treated casks (both American and Spanish oak) and 70% refill casks. I was able to try it at The Whisky Fair in Limburg thanks to Stefan, their German ambassador.
Glenrothes 1995 (43%, OB 2011)
Nose: high on butterscotch, milk chocolate and toffee notes, which is very typical for Glenrothes but the recent releases (1991, 1994, 1998) didn’t seem to focus too much on these characteristics. Great to see they’re back in the 1995. There’s also quite some honey and vanilla. Malty notes. Cake. Raisins. Caramelized apple and cinnamon. Mouth: very sweet and rather thick. Vanilla custard and fruit syrup. Sweet malt and caramel. Soft oak spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper). Toffee fudge and honey again. Peanuts. Subtle lemon. Finish: medium length with citrus and caramelized spices.
Good to see The Glenrothes is moving back to its rich toffee and butterscotch style. Nothing mind-boggling but good value for money. Around € 50.
Mannochmore is one of these active distilleries that is hardly seen on the market. It’s modern (founded in 1971 on the grounds of the Glenlossie distillery) and focused on producing blender’s whisky. Here’s a 28 year-old single cask bottled by Liquid Sun.
Mannochmore 28 yo 1982 (49,4%,
Liquid Sun 2011, bourbon hogshead, 131 btl.)
Nose: slightly neutral start on malt and grassy notes. Green apples and lemon. Some flowery top notes as well. Then grows a bit warmer, with quite a lot of hay. Soft leather. Rather elegant, it seems younger than it actually is and the fruitiness is pleasantly dry and mineral at the same time. Mouth: quite soft at first, with orchard fruits, grassy notes and some spices. There’s a nervousness / hotness with herbal notes growing over time. Again an interesting mix of sweet notes and lots of dry, spicy (even slightly earthy) elements. Finish: medium length, spicy with a bitter edge.
A Mannochmore with a pleasant “green” fruitiness and quite some grassy / mineral notes. Give it some time to open up.
Around € 110.
Let’s start by checking out this Tomatin 1976. We’ve seen similar releases with Daily Dram and Whisky Agency labels recently.
Tomatin 34 yo 1976
(48,7%, Liquid Sun 2011, sherry butt, 366 btl.)
Nose: typical Tomatin fruitiness, although it starts nutty / musty and develops the fruity notes over time. Tangerines, apricots, mangos. Excellent strawberries as well. Blueberry jam. Very fruity, with silky sherry and soft polished oak. Quite some mint and eucalyptus as well, more so than I remember from previous releases. Mouth: big tropical fruitiness (the whole shebang: mango, guava, tangerine, banana, soft citrus, a little cassis). Almost no oak (a faint peppery note though). Finish: long, fruity with more spices and a little cocoa.
Wow, this Tomatin 1976 combines the best elements from the other recent releases, in my opinion. Very exemplary. The bottle will be empty before you know it. Around € 150.
Some independent German bottlers have a huge pile of available casks. This leads to a whole array of sub-brands. Liquid Sun is the latest series by The Whisky Agency.
While the first Liquid Sun bottlings (with a minimalist white label) were aimed at the Swedish and Asian markets, the new releases (with a more commercial, more sunny label) have showed up in German shops as well so maybe the rest of Europe will follow soon?
At first I thought the chosen casks were meant to be younger and better value than other Whisky Agency ranges, but I’m not sure about that anymore. Here are a few bottlings from the recent series:
I had another Longmorn 1976 waiting to be reviewed, one that is unfortunately long gone from stores. It was released by Whisky-Fässle in 2008 and back then it was quite an eye-opener for these great bourbon matured Longmorns.
Longmorn 32 yo 1976 (54,7%,
Whisky-Fässle 2008, bourbon hogshead)
Nose: starts slightly less tropical than the Thosop version. More mineral notes, more lemon as well. Oranges as the main element, although the gooseberries and apricots show up after some time. Big waxy notes. Not unlike some Clynelish. Mouth: very fresh and citrusy, plenty of tangerine and grapefruit (both pink and yellow ones). A bit of roasted maltiness as well. Not much oak and less spices than the other releases. Almond notes. Not the most complex Longmorn, but the lack of oak makes it very very enjoyable. Finish: long and citrusy with a tad more oak now.
It would be interesting to make a grid of these Longmorn 1976’s. You could order them by vanilla / honeyed notes (with the MoS leading the pack) or by tropical fruitiness (Thosop) or by waxy minerality (Whisky-Fässle). They’re all very good so in the end it comes down to your personal preferences.