The Japanese Hanyu distillery is no longer operational. In the 1980’s they had some financial problems and the distillery was closed in 2000. Ichiro Akuto, the grandson of the distillery founder, bought 400 casks of Hanyu whisky that are now being sold, most of them in the Ichiro’s Malts series in which every bottle is named after a playing card (Three of Diamonds, Ace of Spades…). Akuto also started a new distillery: Chichibu.
This sherry butt was bottled by No.1 Drinks in their Noh series – in two parts. A smaller part (200 bottles) had already been bottled for Full Proof Europe in Holland featuring… well… another type of butt on the label. Sister casks #9305 and #9307 have also been bottled for Full Proof.
Nose: spicy notes to start with: Christmas cake, a bit of menthol and other medicinal things, a bit of incense. Deep fruity notes as well: cherries, plums, raisins. Hints of smoked meat (cecina). Also a few whiffs of matchsticks but much less than comparable Karuizawa bottlings for example. Some resinous notes and roasted almonds as well. Quite complex. Mouth: intense with typical dried fruits, sultanas and lots of tobacco. Black cherries. Cinnamon and ginger. Liquorice. Certainly woody, but not too dry. A little chilli pepper. Finish: long and peppery with a dry herbal touch.
An impressive Hanyu, showing a large range of intense flavours while at the same time remaining very drinkable. Around € 160.
Glen Mhor is closely related to the Glen Albyn distillery. It was founded by John Birnie, a former distillery manager of Glen Albyn who managed to take over his old employer in 1920. Both were sold to DCL in 1972 (now Diageo) and closed in 1983. There are a couple of official Rare Malts releases – independent bottlings are increasingly rare.
Nose: grassy / flinty, with an alcohol kick and some minor fruity / honey notes. Faint hints of coconut and leather. A bit of lemon zest and menthol. A wee touch of soot. Interesting because it’s quite rough and delicately floral at the same time. Old-style. Mouth: sweet and punchy attack. Quickly turns to grassy and flinty flavours again, with a bitter tang and lemon zest. Then showing a few floral notes, liquorice and clove. Finish: long and dry with herbs, lemon and green tea.
An old-fashioned Speysider. A bit of a challenge as it goes in different directions and keeps you wondering about its true character. Around € 135.
We’re a few entries short of 500 on this website (in less than two years), so I was thinking to have something special for that occasion. Here are a few extraordinary drams that are waiting in my sample stock. Which one should I try? Feel free to leave a comment with your suggestion.
Glen Elgin 35 yo 1975 (46,4%, The Whisky Agency 2010, Perfect Dram VI, 98 btl.)
Nose: fruity start. I get some pear aromas, orange zest, some lemon. Slightly tropical but rather green, unripe tropical fruits. A few grassy notes. Some wax and limestone. Hints of heather and mint. Fresh, clean and very “natural”. Mouth: fresh with a similar type of slightly subdued fruitiness (stone fruits, citrus). Some mineral notes now. Pleasant resinous flavours and a faint smokey undertone. Delicate ginger. Finish: rather long and drier. More spices than on the palate.
An nice old-fashioned Speysider with different aspects, not just fruits. Less aromatic than the one from Berry Bros, but still very good. Around € 160.
Nose: a nice, dry, medium-strength peat aroma with roasted nuts and some bread crust. Nicely balanced with some sherry influence: raisins and prunes. A hint of ginger. Water highlights dried fruits and some cocoa. Mouth: quite huge, really powerful – actually too strong to unfold itself. Peaty with a tarry / liquorice edge, lots of spices and herbs. Resinous oak. Water makes it more smokey and brings out unexpected notes of sweet cider apples. Finish: long, sweet and spicy (nutmeg, cinnamon).
A young and unconstrained Bunnahabhain – I can’t think of many other drams with this profile. It’s peaty but very different from other Islay malts. Available from Whisky-Doris for € 42.
Deanston is not a very popular distillery. Its history is fairly short (founded in 1965 and silent from 1983 until 1990) although the site was used as a cotton mill since the 18th Century. The official 12yo is hard to find and usually described as just so-so. Based on the quality of previous Thosop bottlings, I’m expecting a surprise!
Deanston 33 yo 1977 (43%, Thosop Import 2010, 205 btl.)
Nose: starts mashy and cardboardy, but I was told to give it some time. After some twenty minutes and a bit of hand warmth it’s a totally different story. Now very much on creamy notes, chocolate cream desserts, cake, moccha. Rather oily and surprisingly sweet. A mixture of overripe fruits with honey, some citrus and nutty notes. A subtle hint of oak. I feel this one really needed the hand warmth to fully expose its qualities. Mouth: not extremely punchy, but plenty of nice flavours. A toffee sweetness again, developing on fresher, fruitier notes over time (sweet grapefruit and oranges). There’s still a malty and nutty side to it. Finish: not too long – in line with the palate.
It’s true: even the worst distillery has beautiful bottlings. Kudos to Thosop for proving this, if you ever wanted to own a good Deanston, this is your chance! Personally I think the best part is the nose. Around € 150.
The Haig blend largely relies on Glenlossie – single malt releases are quite rare. A 10 years old Flora & Fauna bottling is the only official expression today.
Glenlossie 35 yo 1975 (49,3%, The Whisky Agency 2010, bourbon hogshead, 151 btl.)
Nose: clearly more sensual and elegant than the Glenlossie 1984 by Signatory Vintage. More oak (of the old, polished kind – cedar maybe?) and more prominent fruits (strawberries with cream, some lime). Whiffs of vanilla and wax. A little leather. Some tobacco leaves. The flinty / wet cardboard aromas are still present, but on a second level. Nice balance of old and fresh elements. Mouth: still fruity with a lot of citrus. Hints of mint and other green notes. Initially sweet, then more herbal and grassy, evolving to gin tonic with lemon zest. Great evolution. No need to add water. Finish: half citrusy, half herbal. Long.
A lovely nose and a great evolution on the palate. Maybe not as warm and rounded as other old Speysiders, so this one is recommended for people who like a punchy and slightly zesty / herbal variation. Around € 160.
Glenlossie was founded in 1876 by John Duff, a former manager of GlenDronach. Another distillery, Mannochmore, was built on the same site in 1971 and the joint workforce used to alternate between the two, keeping them active for 6 months a year. Now they’re both working the year round.
Nose: a pleasant foundation of red fruits, but there’s a lot of oak polish, wet limestone, grass and alcohol, making it a bit sharp. Quite some earthy notes. Wet cardboard. Over time it constantly switches between a fruity profile and a mineral, austere profile. Water makes it more fragrant (citrus flowers) and flinty. Mouth: leaning towards fruity notes now (dried apricot, lime, oranges) with lots of spices (ginger, pepper). Getting herbal towards the finish (dark herbal tea, liquorice) with a few bitter notes (tonic, aspirin) and some matchsticks. Water takes away some of the rough edges, but it’s still not completely enjoyable. Finish: half bitter, half spicy.
A rough and slightly schizophrenic Glenlossie. Personally I’m not a big fan of its heavy herbal / bitter notes. Around € 120.