Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Banff was closed in 1983 and demolished in a fire in 1991. There’s limited stock left so expressions are pretty rare. The distillery doesn’t have much fame and Banffs tend to be a little unbalanced, but some early 1970’s expressions are great.

This Banff 1978 was distilled in October 1978, so within the first weeks of your reviewers existence. It has been matured in a sherry cask and bottled by Ian Macleod (owners of Glengoyne distillery) in their Chieftain’s range.


Banff 1978 Chieftain's 3771 Banff 26 yo 1978 (46%, Chieftain’s 2004, sherry cask #3771, 462 btl.)

Nose: a sherry nose allright. Dried fruits like sultanas and figs. Fresher, sparkling apricot notes as well. Sour apples. Some leather. Cinnamon and liquorice. A faint hint of smoke and fat, which makes this a nice full-bodied old-style nose. Mouth: spicy Christmas cake, a few burnt notes. Nutmeg. Sour cherries. Cinnamon. Raisins. Finish: not too long, spicy and drying, fading to liquorice.

Well, this Banff is not of exceptional quality, but it’s quite balanced and certainly enjoyable. Difficult to find, expect to pay around € 135.

Score: 84/100


Dalmore Mackenzie

20 Jul 2010 | Dalmore

Dalmore Mackenzie painting The Dalmore Mackenzie is a limited edition of 2400 bottles (+ 600 for travel retail) supporting the Clan Mackenzie Society. The bottle comes with a print of the Benjamin West painting “Fury of the Stag”, signed by John Mackenzie, the head of the Clan.

This famous Highland Clan owned The Dalmore for almost 100 years, and they are still connected through the family icon, the stag head, which The Dalmore uses to adorn their bottles. The partnership (which will not end after this special release) aims to raise funds to refurbish the Clan’s Castle Leod.


The Dalmore MackenzieDalmore Mackenzie 1992 (46%, OB 2010, port finish, 3000 btl.)

Nose: fragrant and fruity with redcurrant, cherry and fresh citrus (oranges, grapefruit). A hint of ginger. Underneath is a subtle aroma of mocha glaze and roasted nuts. Nice. Mouth: on the palate it has more body than on the nose, with lots of spices. It’s nuttier (almonds, hazelnut) and even slightly smoky. Nutmeg and ginger again. Still some fruity notes, but dried fruits this time (prunes). A tad winey. Hints of vanilla. Fades on liquorice. Finish: spicy with a return to candied oranges.

Dalmore Mackenzie is a good example of the Dalmore house style, while at the same time being lifted by the Port influence. Smooth and balanced, but a little expensive. Around € 140.

Score: 85/100


Ardbeg Lord Robertson Lord Robertson is a former Nato Secretary General born on Islay. Ten years ago, when he visited the distillery, a cask of Ardbeg was laid down for his charity project Erskine. About two weeks ago it was bottled and made available in the online shop.

It’s a fairly standard 10 years old Ardbeg, but as usual Ardbeg could charge £ 220 and still sell out in five hours, simply because it’s a single cask. At least this time the earnings are donated to charity.

 

Ardbeg 2000 Robertson #1217 Ardbeg 10 yo 2000 “Lord Robertson” (53%, OB 2010, Committee release, cask #1217, 202 btl.)

Nose: the sweetness of white chocolate, vanilla and marzipan is very nice. It shows sweet peat, but it’s not very smoky. Some apples and cloves. Faint hints of antiseptics and wet wool. Toffee. Water brings out freshly laid tarmac and burnt tyres with a citrus overtone. Mouth: a nice pepper / peat / lime combo. Dark soot and tar but at the same time that sweet barley coating again. Chocolate and sugared almonds. I’m missing a bit of complexity in the middle: there’s black soot and white chocolate but not much in between, if you know what I mean. Finish: long and smoky with a hint of cocoa.

An interesting young Ardbeg with a fairly sweet profile. Nice enough as long as you don’t take into account the price.

Score: 86/100


Monkey Shoulder

17 Jul 2010 | * Blends

Monkey Shoulder is a “triple malt”, a blended malt containing whisky from Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie (all three part of the same company). Kininvie is the newest distillery – it has been in production for over 10 years but we’ve never seen a single malt bottling.

Monkey shoulder - whiskyMonkey Shoulder is said to be around 6 years old. It is released in batches which may differ slightly, but overall the profile should remain quite constant.

 

Monkey Shoulder (40%, OB 2008)

Nose: Fresh, very fruity, candied and slightly youngish. Notes of apple sweets and honey. Some apricot and banana. There’s a flowery side to it (violets maybe?). Mouth: suddenly it becomes clear that this is not a single malt. The attack is very weak and the first flavours are quite generic (grains and caramel). It misses some punch. Is that vanilla? Or mint maybe, in the end? Finish: rather short, grainy and nutty in the very end.

Monkey Shoulder is very smooth, easy-going but also quite harmless. Probably a great base for a Manhattan, but for € 30 there are better options in the single malt shelf.

Score: 74/100


Caperdonich from the 1970’s is relatively easy to find – and one the best price / quality whiskies if you ask me – but 1960’s Caperdonich is a bit less common nowadays.

Lonach is a series by Duncan Taylor that blends underproof casks (below 40% alcohol) with higher strength casks to make sure the result can still be called whisky. Although they have a lower strength, most of them are still very full and flavoursome.

 

Caperdonich 1969 DT Lonach Caperdonich 39 yo 1969 (42,2%, Duncan Taylor Lonach 2008)

Nose: instantly more herbal than I expected. The usual tropical fruits are certainly present (mango, pineapple), but they are mixed with sour apples and some mint. Big hints of chamomile. Heather honey. A little grapefruit. Vanilla. Will we ever be disappointed by an old Caperdonich? Mouth: hmmm, it’s very oaky although not too dry. Minty / woody / grassy, some nutmeg but not much more, I’m afraid. The fruit is reduced to a vague sweetness. Finish: not too long, slightly tannic, showing some aniseed.

This is not a bad malt, not at all, but because of the lower strength and the age, the oak is relatively loud. There’s better Caperdonich to be found. Around € 100 at the time but difficult to find now.

Score: 84/100


Renegade Rum is owned by Murray McDavid and part of the Bruichladdich group. They apply the same ACE concept (additional Cask Evolution) to their rums as to some whiskies. They ship the rum to Islay, finish it in wine casks and bottle it at Bruichladdich.

This 10 years old Brazilian rum was distilled at the colossal and modern Epris distillery near São Paolo, where they also distill for Bacardi.

Renegade Epris 1999 rumCongratulations to Bruichladdich for the bottle design (again) and the nice metal name tag, although I must add that it’s almost impossible to pour a glass from this type of bottle without spilling (maybe this will be easier once the level starts to lower).

 

Epris 10 yo 1999 (46%, Renegade 2009, Chateau Lafite finish, 1380 btl.)

Nose: a mixture of dried fruits (plums) and fresher fruits (apricot, berries). Quite spicy. Some toffee. Hints of musty oak. Mouth: smooth, lots of berries again. Red wine gums. Caramel and brown sugar. Soft vanilla and spices. Finish: not too long. A very light hint of mint.

I don’t think this Brazilian rum was of special quality before being ACE’d by Renegade. The wine helped to add complexity in a nice way, but the end result is still not really exceptional (in the eyes of a rum novice). Around € 45.


The Balvenie Cuban Selection was a limited edition for the French market. It’s one of their rum finishes, in line with the former RumWood and GoldenCask releases.

Balvenie Cuban Selection Balvenie 14 yo ‘Cuban Selection’
(43%, OB 2009)

Nose: indeed, the rum notes are easily noticeable. Some sweet pear candy. Some nectarines and oranges. Trademark honey and hints of vanilla cake. Some peanut butter. Apples and cinnamon. Very round and feminine. Mouth: quite sweet again, with the honey coated fruits on the foreground and a few nutty notes in the back. Vanilla and cinnamon again. Butter toffee. Relatively soft and candied. Finish: medium length, warm and sweet.

An easy malt with a nice balance. Obviously finished, which adds a candied character and makes it perfect as an introduction to whisky, I would say. Around € 50.

Score: 83/100


Sherried Caol Ila can be great. Last year’s Feis Ile bottling – the first official single cask ever – was excellent. This new version is slightly younger but shares the same European oak maturation.

 

Caol Ila 1999 - Feis Ile Caol Ila 10 yo 1999 (61,9%, OB 2010, Feis Ile, sherry cask #305646)

Nose: freshly toasted bread with salted butter. Roasted malt and peat smoke. Nutmeg. More maritime than last year: seaweed, tarry ropes, fishnets. Some iodine and bandages. Quite dry – the sherry is very shy until you add water, then it becomes much more fruity with cooked fruits (tangerine, pineapple). I find this one more typical (also less surprising) than its older brother, but it really unfolds with water. Mouth: in line with the nose, with added citrus sweetness. Strong peat with a thin chocolate coating. Growing saltier towards the end, on olive juice and cocoa. Finish: salty / sweet. Long and ashy.

This Caol Ila seems more powerful than the 2009 Feis Ile edition. Sharper and less sweet. Very good but I prefer last year’s cask. Original price: around € 90.

Score: 89/100


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  • Irish Malt 1991 (The Whisky Fair)
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1592 notes by Ruben

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