Here’s another new Laphroaig 1990, bottled by Malts of Scotland. Expectations are high after some recommendations by other whisky lovers.
Laphroaig 20 yo 1990 (52,6%, Malts of Scotland 2011, bourbon hogshead #2229, 178 btl.)
Nose: smoky and maritime again, but more aromatic compared to the Whisky Agency release. The fruity banana is much bigger and there’s less antiseptic to be found. Definitely rounder, even a bit floral. Lime instead of lemon. Vanilla. A little marzipan and praline. Hints of graphite. Beautiful and balanced, excellent Laphroaig. Mouth: a smoky and peppery attack, which gets rounder. Lemon sweets. Peat blast. Marzipan. A pinch of salt and brine. A little mint as well, which is a nice touch. Finish: long with a nice balance of dry smoke, brine and sweet lemon juice.
This Laphroaig 1990 may be marginally less powerful, but it gains balance and complexity, which makes it more to my personal preference than yesterday’s Whisky Agency version. Recommended indeed. Well priced as well: around € 110.
No shortage of good Laphroaig. This Laphroaig 1990 was released by The Whisky Agency as a joint bottling with Dutch distributor Bresser & Timmer. Easily found on Dutch websites such as Whiskysite.nl.
Laphroaig 20 yo 1990 (56,3%, The Whisky Agency ‘Perfect Dram’ with Bresser & Timmer 2011, ex-bourbon, 237 btl.)
Nose: quite peaty and smokey, exceptionally high on maritime notes (seaweed, smoked fish). Antiseptic notes. Some wax / fat. Wet gravel and mineral notes. Quite dry and grassy, the expected lemon juice and almonds are present, as well as some banana, but the dominating layer is certainly the maritime smokiness. Intense. Mouth: assertive, oily and coastal. Big smoke with lemon, evolving to drier lemon zest. Salted fish. Sweet almonds and other nutty flavours. Hints of burnt grass and seaweed again. Finish: very long and deeply smoky / peaty. Getting even drier, with liquorice notes.
A very big and maritime Laphroaig. Smoky, powerful and flawless. What’s not to like? Around € 120.
The name Ichiro’s Malt comes from Ichiro Akuto, the grandson of the founder of Hanyu distillery. After the distillery was dismantled in 2004, he saved around 400 casks. In 2008 he opened a new distillery named Chichibu, and this Double Distilleries is a vatting of both whiskies: sherry matured Hanyu and Chichibu new-make from a Japanese oak cask.
Ichiro’s Malt Double Distilleries
(46%, OB 2010)
Nose: sweet and rounded, quite biscuity with a fruity hint of honeysuckle and apple. Plenty of oak as well, mainly freshly cut wood and a hint of varnish. A little bourbonny I would say. After a while, it turns to slightly oriental sandalwood aromas. Mouth: starts spicy (nutmeg, cinnamon, a little pepper), followed by a wave of young malty notes. The combination of youth and plenty of oak flavours is a bit strange. There’s also a slightly disturbing soapy note. Finish: drier and faintly bitter with oak flavours, mint, some ginger and liquorice.
The duality of Hanyu and Chichibu results in an interestingly different dram. If only the woodiness were a little less invasive and the price a little lower. Around € 85.
Glen Elgin 35 yo 1975 (51,5%, The Whisky
Agency ‘Landscapes’ 2011, ex-bourbon hogshead, 186 btl.)
Nose: in a way, this reminds me of malts bottled in the 60’s or 70’s. It shows a typical dustiness and faint yeasty notes, as well as hints of dried flowers and chamomile. You have to give it 15 minutes and then it really starts talking. Unripe fruits and heather. Slightly less fruity than the Berry Bros version, or rather on a deeper layer, but the slightly higher strength makes it more aromatic as well. More bee pollen. A little mint and lots of herbal tea. Mouth: punchy, quite malty at first but also fruitier than on the nose. Citrus, mint and a little verbena. Nice spices. Herbal tea again. A bit of wood in the background. Finish: quite long, sweet lemon at first and then some drying spices.
Great old-fashioned Speyside style, no big fruitiness but plenty of green / herbal notes. Around € 170. Still available in some places.
Glenfarclas 17 years is not a commonly found expression in the Glenfarclas range. It is bottled in limited quantities and sold primarily in the US and Japan as well as in travel retail. Occasionally you can find it in stores outside these regions as well.
Glenfarclas 17 yo (43%, OB)
Nose: roasted nuts (hazelnuts, almonds) and caramel. A lot of toffee notes. Quite some dates as well. A light hint of eucalyptus and with a heathery / resinous edge. Plenty of fresh herbs like parsley. Beautifully composed. It seems this one is a tad more smokey than other Glenfarclas bottlings as well. Mouth: good attack, again a herbal note up front. Hints of pine needles and resin. Some liquorice. Sherried but malty at the same time. Oak, but not overwhelming. Cloves. Cinnamon sticks. Finish: long, nutty and drying on spices and oak.
One of the more herbal and smokey members of the Glenfarclas range. Around € 55.
That Tomatin seems to be gone now, but a similar release has just been announced by The Whisky Agency in the new Grotesque Crocs series. Let’s do a little comparison.
Tomatin 34 yo 1976 (51,3%, The Whisky
Agency ‘Grotesque Crocs’ 2011, refill sherry butt, 309 btl.)
Nose: difficult to spot differences between both versions. Both are wonderfully tropical: mango, tangerine, apricot and banana with silky vanilla and mint. The pink grapefruit notes were a bit stronger in the Daily Dram version, the TWA focuses more on oak (+ polish) and seems to show more spicy / herbal notes and also a soft layer of dried fruits. But you know, as soon as I swirl my glasses and put my nose back in, I’m wondering whether it’s not simply imagination. The similarities are far more striking than the differences anyway. Mouth: impressive fruitiness again (tropical fruits and citrus), backed up with spices (nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon, vanilla) and oak. Again the spices in this TWA version seem a little louder and the DD version has more pronounced grapefruit. A little dryness in the end, which seems bigger here. Finish: medium long, fruity and spicy.
For those who were unable to get the Daily Dram version: here’s an almost identical Tomatin – again not the most complex whisky but otherwise just as excellent and extremely drinkable. Great tropical fruits tied together by oak spices. Should arrive in stores shortly. Around € 150.
Head over to Whisky Israel (by Gal) for this month’s Whisky Round Table.
The twelve of us are discussing this question:
The Single Cask. A distinct point in time, A unique combination, of a cask, maturation climate, location, and magic. the whisky world’s version of a “singularity”. No two casks are ever the same, and once finished, only a memory is left”.
What was the best single cask bottling you have had the pleasure of sampling . Where did you try it, did you own the bottle, and what made it so good?
Did you ever come by a single cask bottling which was really bad?
What’s your take on Vatting two extraordinary casks together? is a Quasi single cask vatting better than a “classic” single Cask?
The idea came from Euan Mitchell, managing director of Arran, and the seven casks will be blended by BenRiach’s Master Distiller Billy Walker.
The combined contribution will produce approximately 2000 bottles with 1200 available in the UK. The remainder will be shipped to Japan with some being donated for sale in New Zealand to assist with relief in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake.
With the support of suppliers and partners, including retailers, a conservative estimate is that at least £50,000 will be donated to the relief effort.