I thought I was lucky when I recently found a sample of the legendary Bunnahabhain Auld Acquaintance, but the last couple of weeks other Bunnahabhain from the same period have showed up.
This 43 years old Bunnahabhain 1967 was bottled by The Whisky Agency in a new series called Private Stock.
Bunnahabhain 43 yo 1967 (40,5%, The Whisky Agency Private Stock 2010, sherry hogshead,
Nose: the best sherry nose I’ve found in months. Wonderfully balanced, with red fruits, beeswax and whiffs of mocha. Lovely dried apricots and prunes but some tropical fruits as well (guava). Mint. Some cinnamon and a little ginger. Hints of tobacco and sandalwood. I’ve compared this to the Auld Acquaintance and I think this profile is even nicer. Mouth: some banana and almond milk. Papaya. Orange cake. Soon the wood kick in. It’s not overly oaky or but the tannins are certainly obvious. Resulting hints of dark tea. Overall the middle is fairly weak, a bit of extra strength could have lifted this. A little rummy. Finish: never really dry, but slowly fading on oak and soft pepper and mildly sherried orange notes.
A great old Bunnahabhain with a near-perfect nose. The palate is very good even though it can’t hide its respectable age. Around € 210. Recommended but difficult to find.
I can’t get enough of old Caperdonich. Not only do they show very high standards (exceptions are very very rare), they’re also quite accessible and reasonably priced. The distillery was mothballed in 2002 but the stock of old casks still seems pretty large among independent bottlers (especially 1970’s Caperdonich).
Caperdonich 36 yo 1968 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice 2004, refill sherry)
Nose: the usual fruit basket is slightly less expressive here, it’s more a sherried fruitiness with waves of dried peaches and raisins. Blood orange. Warm oak. More herbal notes than expected (hints of eucalyptus, pine wood, rosemary). Quite some mint as well. Subtle hints of ashes and bread crust in the back. Even some peat shining through. Greater complexity than most 1970’s Caperdonich but oakier and less exhuberant fruits. Mouth: again quite a lot of woody and herbal notes, with a subdued fruitiness as a result. Toffee and raisins. Milk chocolate. Spicy honey. Pine resin. Yellow grapes and candied notes. Finish: dry and oaky, medium length.
Bottled at the right moment, before getting too oaky. It’s clear that 1968/1969 Caperdonich is different from the highly praised 1972 versions. Both periods are great, the older stuff being less tropical and more influenced by the oak. Still available – around € 125.
The notorious Whisky festival organised by the Lindores Society is less than two months away. On October 22, 23 and 24, the Bero Hotel in Oostende is the place to be. Entrance is € 10 including a glass.
This festival is special because you won’t find distributors presenting new releases. Instead, expect to find collectors and specialized sellers (Massimo Righi, Diego Sandrin, Lothar Langer among others) with a whole range of rarities, antiquities and legendary bottles. Some of the Lindores members (Geert Bero and Luc Timmermans) will also present their impressive collections.
Another part of Lindores Whisky Fest are the tastings. There’s a 50’s, 60’s and 70’s Bowmore tasting, a Japanese dinner accompanied by 60’s and 70’s Karuizawa and an After-Breakfast with the 40yo Millennium Glenfarclas.
Let me know if you’ll be there as well, maybe we can meet.
The new release celebrates the sixth anniversary of the first bottling of BenRiach under its new independent owners. Master Distiller Billy Walker has selected ten highly distinctive casks from 1976 to 1993 for BenRiach aficionados.
Bottled in July 2010, the ten are all cask strength, natural colour and non chill-filtered. They are individually numbered and presented in a gift tube.
Master of Malt bottlings proved to be very interesting in the past. While the Master of Malt 30yo 2nd release is still available, there’s a 3rd edition of this undisclosed Speysider. The former was clearly sherry matured, but the colour of its successor suggests bourbon maturation.
Undisclosed Speyside distillery 30 yo
(40%, Master of Malt 2009, 3rd edition)
Nose: a classic bourbon matured profile with truckloads of honey and some lovely fruits (melon, apricot, ripe banana, papaya). Big big vanilla (coming close to actual bourbon at times) and hints of cinnamon. Sugared almonds. Warm oaky notes and wax are easy to notice, but the nose is not tired at all. Great nose. Mouth: a spicy attack, but it seems to fall flat soon after the arrival. Much more oak now, a bit too much even. Pine resin and nutmeg. Hints of grapefruit but overall not nearly as fruity as the nose made me expect. Finish: a bit undefined, with dry oak and subtle fruits.
The glorious nose and the woody palate reminded me of another undisclosed Speysider by Thosop. I wouldn’t be surprised if they came from the same distillery. Don’t get me wrong, I could sniff this all day and it’s certainly nice enough to justify the price tag (about € 125). Available from Master of Malt.
Glenury Royal could claim ‘royal’ in its name thanks to a friend of the founder, Captain Robert Barclay. The distillery was founded in 1825 and its license was cancelled in 1992. The site was sold for residential estate.
This 36 year old Glenury Royal was part of the Diageo Special Releases of 2005. Only 2100 bottles were made available at around € 600. It seems it has never been a great seller because recently they were offered in different shops for as low as € 200.
Glenury Royal 36 yo 1968
(51,2%, OB 2005, 2100 btl.)
Nose: scented and floral with a significant amount of oak polish and sawdust. A bit of vanilla. Mango. Hints of parma violets and lavender, but not really perfumy. Some peaches and apple compote. Gets quite leathery and chalky. Some peaty / farmy notes but they seem to disappear as soon as you pinpoint them. A complex and rewarding note. Fresh, fruity with a distinct ‘oldness’ to it at the same time. Quite lovely. Mouth: very juicy and fat, building up much more peat now. Lots of spices from the oak, sawdust and again a leathery foundation. Hints of smoke and roasted nuts. Some bitterness and herbal notes towards the finish. Finish: long, slightly bitter, with toasted oak, nuts and varnish.
A very complex malt with a unique but slightly difficult character. It seems to continuously switch between fruity notes, herbal notes, freshness, harshness and many other things… Still available with a nice discount.
There has been some debate about the high scores of these Ledaigs on Whiskyfun. As the price was reasonable, they sold out immediately (as often the case). Many people seem to forget our tastes are all different, so don’t get carried away and please, never trust reviewers (wink).
Nose: a typical young marriage of heavy peat and heavy sherry. Orangettes (orange filled chocolate), some tobacco. Whiffs of gouache. Lots of smoke and burnt biscuits rather than the plain earthy peat from yesterday’s Ledaig. Some briney notes. Sweet hints of red fruit marmalade and dark syrup. Some ginger. Water highlights soot, canvas fabric and a blackberry fruitiness. Mouth: again very peaty, this time with a bigger spicy component (pepper and ginger). Hints of toffee. Burnt pieces of meat. Coffee and bitter chocolate in the end. Water makes it slightly mentholated and even more sooty. Finish: long, smoky with a sweet edge.
Quite an aggressive malt – all of its dials are turned to maximum power. Indeed quite similar to the rapidly matured Port Charlottes of last year. Still not completely my taste (I’m quite a wuss you know…) but the sherry certainly adds depth and width compared to yesterday’s Ledaig. Around € 45.
Ledaig (pronounced Led-chick) is peated Tobermory, the only distillery on the Isle of Mull. The distillery has been closed more often than it was operational and production didn’t resume in a stable way until 1989. Half of their spirit output is unpeated, half is peated.
Ledaig 8 yo 2001
(61%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams 2010)
Nose: leathery peat with hints of seawater and tarry boat rope. Quite oily with a sweet background. Candied lemon peel. A hint of toffee. When compared to peated Islay whisky, it’s probably closest to Ardbeg or Kilchoman. Very clean but fairly mono-dimensional. Water makes it slightly fresher and adds hints of lemon. Mouth: straightforward peat (much more than expected), quite sweet and rounded, with a nice lemon/salt combination. Peated margarita? More candied with a few drops of water – hints of sweet tobacco in the aftertaste. Finish: peat, peat, sweet peat.
Well-made with a big peat blast and a coating sweetness. Promising for the future of the distillery but nothing exceptional and still quite youngish in character. Too focused on peat for my taste – a slightly lighter alternative for Kilchoman fans maybe? Around € 40 and readily available in this part of Europe.