This Tomatin 1988 is more or less a private bottling. Frank Leyens of Vinothek Massen and several friends and colleagues living in the (wide) Eifel area decided to share this cask. The remaining part was passed on to a nearby whisky club.
Tomatin 24 yo 1988
(48,7%, Eifelboys & Vinothek Massen 2013, first fill bourbon cask, 70 btl.)
Nose: quite a full-bodied nose, sweet and fruity. Lots of stewed apples and apricot jam. Hints of vanilla ice cream with fragrant blueberries and hints of Parma violets. Also hay and leafy notes, evolving into soft herbal notes and heather. Mouth: slightly grassier right away now. Ginger, nutmeg and pepper, some toasted notes and chamomile tea. Fruity notes are still there, oranges, soft kiwi and fruitcake. I also found a hint of fragrant eucalyptus oils and floral notes, which was slightly disturbing. Ends nicely on some vanilla cream with caramel topping. Finish: quite long, half fruity, half spicy.
An honest Tomatin. High quality no doubt, even though it’s not the most straightforward example I’ve come across. Not for sale. Thanks, Pieter.
Before the introduction of its vintage concept in 1994, Glenrothes had an official 12 years old expression bottled by Berry Bros. & Rudd as well as several releases by independent bottlers.
Gordon & MacPhail had this Glenrothes 8 years old from the late 1960’s until recently (in the MacPhail’s Collection). The bottle reviewed here was bottled mid 1970’s.
Glenrothes 8 yo
(40%, Gordon & MacPhail, mid 1970’s)
Nose: very grainy and pretty rough. Cereals. Big notes of apple peel and citrus (lime peel). Golden syrup. Also a green, vegetal edge. Mouth: surprisingly sweet. Lots of honey. Again rather malty, with some vanilla custard, toffee, candy sugar and cooked fruits. Hints of coconut cream. Finish: medium long, neutral and sweet.
An interesting dram, not for its quallity, but for educational purposes. Distilled late 1960’s, its profile is rather close to the 1950’s and 1960’s blends I could try. I always thought the peculiar blended profile was mostly due to the grains (which were young and plenty back then) but apparently the young malts in the blends, like this Glenrothes, must have been responsible for it as well. Fetches up to € 200 in auctions, expensive for what it is.
There is a new batch of Archives releases, featuring new, attractive labels nicknamed The Fishes of Samoa after a book that was published over 100 years ago. Apparently they will take inspiration for their labels from scientific books and references to historic archives of the world. The labels were even printed on a historic press. Very consistent marketing guys!
There’s a Bunnahabhain 1973 and an undisclosed Speyside 1995 but we’ll start with this Tormore 1984.
Tormore 29 yo 1984 (51%, Archives ‘The Fishes of Samoa’ 2013, barrel #3669, 90 btl.)
Nose: fruity sweetness with plenty of oranges, as well as apples, pineapples and other citrus fruits, mainly pink grapefruit. Fresh, with nice aromatic bergamot notes, and coated with hints of marshmallows. Some vanilla and white chocolate. Soft ginger, pepper and new oak. Mouth: still fruity (orange, apple and pineapple) but definitely more spices now, mainly nutmeg and pepper. Even a little mustard heat before slowing down to chocolate notes. Finish: medium long, lingering fruits and still this generous spicy kick.
A nicely unique Tormore with a big fruity side but also strong wood spices. Around € 145, available from the Whiskybase shop.
This is the first proper bottling of a Belgian bottler named Brachadair (“maltman” in Gaelic). Well, not really the first, but the previous ones were bottled by A.D. Rattray and selected by Brachadair.
Braeval didn’t really exist in 1991, it was still called Braes o’ Glenlivet back then. A common mistake other bottlers are making as well. Braeval is one of these ‘one-man’ distilleries that are highly computerized and efficient, aimed at high volumes and low manpower.
Nose: slightly grassier than I remember 1991 expressions from other bottlers. Fresh hay. Malty sweetness with apple, melon and lemon peel. A buttery hint, close to vanilla cream. Gingery oak. Nicely uplifting. Mouth: punchy attack, rather creamy but not quite as fruity as expected. Lots of ginger and pepper, grated coconut flakes as well as a candlewax note. A slight bitterness as well, and a fragrant floral edge. Modern whisky, clean and formed by the oak. Finish: medium long, still some coconut, with fresh oak and cocoa.
A fine dram and a nice entry for this new bottler. Let’s keep our eyes open for following releases. Around € 80, available from The Bonding Dram.
True, I’m late with this one. It’s the downside of going on vacation, I guess, but I’ll be catching up with some recent releases in the next couple of days.
We’re having a Dalmore. No vintage, no age, just some Dalmore. Not a common practice for an independent bottler to leave out so many details but of course it fits this particular distillery. The cask was chosen by a group of whisky lovers for the sixth anniversary of The Bonding Dram. Previous results of this selection method have been great, I especially think of the excellent Macduff 2000 and Clynelish 1997.
Dalmore (49,1%, Asta Morris for The Bonding Dram & Huis Crombé 2013, ref. AM005)
Nose: really malty, more so than I tend to like. Soaked grains. Heather, cocoa and a caramel-like sweetness that I tend to associate with blends from the 1950’s. Even the hints of a vegetal dirtiness that they can express. Hmmm. Some paraffin. Luckily it seems to fold open (or rather calm down) to some lovely vanilla cake and hazelnut cookies. Ripe oranges and honey too. An above average complexity, but the aromas are not really seductive. I think it’s strange that a large group of tasters picked this. Mouth: again the same kind of overweight roasted malt, caramel and cocoa. Baked apple and raisins. Honey sweetness. Butter and some leafy notes. Dried flowers. Pretty complex again but lacking a bit of a fresh sparkle. Finish: not too long, medium sweet, heathery and fairly herbal.
A rather intriguing selection but also slightly bloated as Dalmore can be. Heathery with plenty of sweet malt. One of the lesser Asta Morris releases, in my humble opinion, but you can’t have all aces. Anyway the nice new label and the low price make up for part of it. Around € 45. Still available from both participating shops.
Nose: smooth, slightly shy and immediately fruity. Pineapple, banana, melon, juicy pear, papaya and tangerine. After this warm fruit compote, grassy notes and hay set in. Honey and vanilla as well. Grows leathery over time and slightly minty, slowly drying and taking away some of the fruity sparkle. Mouth: shy attack again, with a sourness and sappiness of oak alongside the fruits (now simpler: banana and oranges). Cardamom and liquorice. Getting a little thin in the end with faint mineral notes. Finish: medium long, juicy, with drying hints of strong fruit tea.
All these Tomintouls from the late 1960’s are easy to like, but they are on their last legs. This expression is on par with the others we’ve tried. Around € 220.
This Glenfarclas 1953 was one of the big releases everyone talked about in 2012, for different reasons.
Firstly because it was the oldest cask Glenfarclas had lying around (58 years old no less). At that time at least, its sister cask #1675 was bottled a bit later in 2012 as part of the Family Cask series, and just a couple of weeks ago Glenfarclas announced a third 1953 single cask (nearly 60 years) which they bottled in pair with a 1953 Hine cognac. I believe another 1953 cask will be bottled later this year, and after that one cask is still in the warehouses, so there’s more to come.
Secondly because it was bottled for WealthSolutions, a Polish company that provides alternative solutions for people’s wealth (yes, such a problem sometimes). Michal Kowalski, vice president, has a weak spot for art, primeur wines and whisky. This Glenfarclas - selected with the help of Serge Valentin and other insiders – was their first venture into the world of investment whiskies. In the meantime, they’ve also bottled a Karuizawa 1964. Of course it saddened the whisky community that these whiskies were openly sold for their potential rise in value. They feared it would probably never be savoured properly, merely “transactioned”, but let’s face it, they were never within reach of a normal whisky enthusiast anyway. Also, it has to be said that they’ve surrounded the release with a lot of information so that buyers are at least educated and invited to taste.
Thirdly, but you may not have heard about this, because WealthSolutions generously distributed a couple of dozens of samples for reviewing (thanks guys!) but some of them popped up in online auctions. That’s certainly against their intention to share this exceptional dram with enthusiasts.
The cask itself, an American oak sherry cask #1674, was filled on 20th November 1953 and bottled on 13th February 2012. It comes in a beautiful wooden box, together with a special book by Ian Buxton.
Glenfarclas 58 yo 1953 (47,2%, OB for Wealth Solutions 2012, first fill sherry butt #1674, 400 btl.)
Nose: surprisingly, not the oldest feeling nose in this little series. Yes, there’s a certain metallic sourness, but it overcomes that with a nice sweet & sour fruitiness of orange peel, apricots and passion fruit. Also a kind of waxiness that you can only get at high ages, in between precious polished woods and lipstick. Also the usual slight leafiness, mint and resin. Hazelnuts and almonds. An impressively noble oldness. Mouth: oily, partly fruity, partly floral at first. The apricots are back, with garden fruits, but it shows only a very light sweetness. It’s more of a fruit tea palate. The whole is rather leathery, nutty and spicy. Cashews, fresh peppercorns and ginger. Liquorice towards the end. Finish: pretty long considering the age, with the dryness of cinnamon powder and a pleasant warmth of toasted oak.
Impressive to say the least. It’s not enough to buy any old cask and think it will be a great investment because it’s old and rare. It has to be the best of its kind as well, and indeed that’s probably what it is. Around € 8500, only available from Master of Malt.
Say Glenfarclas 1968 and you think Luc Timmermans. Most of the information about his latest cask #5241 is in my earlier post about the wonderful presentation dinner.
In fact there are several dinners around the world, check out Glenfarclas.be for practical details if you’re interested in attending the Paris, Singapore or Taipei dinners later this year.
I hadn’t posted my notes so far, but this verticale seems like a perfect occasion:
Glenfarclas 44 yo 1968 ‘My Tribute’
(54,4%, OB Family Cask for Luc Timmermans, cask #5241, 175 btl.)
Nose: this cask is stunningly fragrant and fresh for such an oldie, with a most elegant sherry influence. I’m guessing the relatively high alcohol volume is an advantage here and helps to bring out the flavours. There’s thick apricot and raspberry jam, ripe figs, cherry pie and raisins. Hints of Havana tobacco leaves, chamomile tea and vanilla fudge. The varnished, slightly bourbonny oak comes forward but not without its balancing honeycomb sweetness and scented waxiness. Teasing spices too, like cinnamon and nutmeg. All this interwoven with a soft veil of smoke and eucalyptus. Wonderfully vibrant. Mouth: it develops the mint and eucalyptus theme a little further. It shows mirabelles and plums, crystalized oranges and dried figs. Some chocolaty notes as well as soft resin. Impressive how there’s no obvious dryness from the oak, just spices like anise and cloves, and hints of cough sweets. Goes on with leather, cocoa and orange liqueur. Fades out slowly and elegantly, on Seville oranges, dried fruits, mint and hints of herbal tea.
This is the perfect tribute to 175 years of classic Glenfarclas craftsmanship, with a hell of a lot of boxes ticked. It’s accessible yet complex, predictable yet surprising. An example of how a sherried Glenfarclas should be. Available at one of the dinners.