There are only three distilleries who can claim to be “royal”: Royal Brackla, Glenury Royal and Royal Lochnagar, the favourite distillery of Queen Victoria. It’s Diageo’s smallest operational distillery and bottlings are quite rare. There’s an official 12 year old and the Selected Reserve from 2008 (half sherry, half bourbon, around 18yo).
Royal Lochnagar 19yo 1990 (54,6%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld 2009, cask #356, 259 btl.)
Nose: starting rather mineral and grassy but the fruit comes out after a while, mainly zesty citrus. Heather honey. There’s a delicious peat base, hints of wet rocks and sawdust. Spicy edge (ginger, mint, even chives). Classy Highland character I would say. Mouth: powerful attack, starts on fruit cake. Evolves on oranges, some liquorice. Grassy notes as well, mixed with lemon marmalade. Hints of violets and rosemary. Finish: rather long and hot. Getting grassy and lemony again. Dark caramel in the aftertaste.
A very solid Highland malt with some intriguing aromas. A Royal Lochnagar to recommend!
Around € 85.
Macallan doesn’t need an introduction. There are plenty of bottlings, both official and independent. This 19 year old Macallan 1990 was drawn from the cask four weeks ago so it should be available shortly.
Nose: not the most expressive nor a very fruity Macallan. Malty start with hints of fresh apples. A bit of vanilla and honey. Mouth: much more punchy now, with hints of sugared almonds and candied pineapple. Banana with cinnamon. Slightly roasted as well, with hints of mocha and chocolate. Finish: drops rather soon. A bit of candy sugar and whiffs of oak.
This one is all right (non-sherry for a change) though probably not the most interesting Macallan. Good on the palate, but the nose and finish are less convincing. Around € 85.
Duncan Taylor seems to have a special nose for Glenrothes from the 1968-1970 period. The company released a whole series of such casks and most were really good, like the Glenrothes 1968/2006 I reviewed before.
This 1970 cask was selected by our Belgian bottler The Nectar.
Glenrothes 39 yo 1970
(47,9%, Duncan Taylor for The Nectar 2009, cask #10567, 127 btl.)
Nose: superb Speyside associations: candied apple, very ripe bananas, passion fruit, pineapple. Some spices. Lovely hints of furniture polish and beeswax. Hints of cherries as well, which is less common. Citrus. Honey. Very attractive overall. Mouth: oaky but not at all drying. Hints of coconut which are quite spectacular (Malibu!). Bananas again, with vanilla. Hints of bubblegum and cream. Almonds. Spicy gingerbread. Very balanced and perfect strength for this kind of profile. Finish: long, on fruit jams with just enough wood influence (ginger and cinnamon). A touch of butter.
Another great Glenrothes from Duncan Taylor.
I hope they keep these casks coming! Around
€ 170, which is quite pricey (previous Glenrothes by Duncan Taylor were around € 120-150).
Here’s the latest Malts of Scotland release. They keep launching new bottlings at a high rate and most of them are really worth a review.
As you know, independent Glengoynes are very rare, so we should thank Malts of Scotland for their Glengoyne 1972, Glengoyne 1973 and this new Glengoyne 1998. It comes from a first-fill sherry hogshead and the colour is quite fabulous. Blacker than Black Bowmore?
Long, slow legs announce a great spirit. Nose: a truly classic oloroso nose with sultanas, dried prunes and dried oranges. Slightly prickly but
spot on! Sweet black cherries, raspberry and hints of tobacco. Some vanilla toffee and lovely pine resin. Mouth: bold sherry again: prunes, honey, fruit cake. Hints of liquorice and dark chocolate. A very clean cask without rubber or sulphur. Finish: long, on raspberry jam and raisins. Fading out on cloves.
An excellent Glengoyne for “dark sherry” lovers, although you could argue that the sherry dominates the distillery character. This will be a hit anyway. Great price as well: € 60.
Apart from the Macallan Speymalt 1970/2009, this Lochside is another Gordon & MacPhail release exclusively for La Maison du Whisky. It will be presented at Whisky Live Paris.
Lochside 28yo 1981 (56,1%, G&M for La Maison du Whisky 2009, refill sherry hogshead #803, 205 btl.)
Nose: very aromatic and complex. There’s so much going on that it was difficult to write everything down before another association came up. A rather sharp, mineral start. After two minutes, there is lovely lemon grass. Fruits as well, starting on grapefruit and tangerine but evolving into the tropical fruits (mango, pineapple). Obvious waxy notes as well (rather close in style to Clynelish). A few flowery notes. The sherry is rather shy. Mouth: very assertive. More oak influence now, fruity marmelade, still some wax. Lemon. Slightly peppery. Dried oranges. Finish: quite long on grapefruit. Drying with a spicy edge (pepper, liquorice).
A Lochside with a terrific nose that can entertain for a long time. On the palate, it’s less of a kameleon but still very very good. At around € 115, very good value for money.
I’ll compare it to the Lochside 1987/2008 by The Whisky Agency (Perfect Dram series) in a few days.
Bunnahabhain normally produces an unpeated spirit, but occasionally you can find a peated version. A lot of these were distilled in 1997, when the distillery manager decided to make something for “peatophiles”.
This is one of the recent additions to the Malts of Scotland range.
Nose: it’s the peated barley that’s talking here. Ashes. Quite peppery, hints of tyres and chalk. Pleasant notes of pencil shavings and pear in the distance. The sherry shines through in notes of eucalyptus and a bit of butter caramel, but it’s not at all overpowering so it may have been a second fill cask. After a while, some candy sugar appears which makes it a bit more expressive and rounded. Mouth: very powerful attack, very peaty and a tad bitterish. Very smokey. Again the sherry is on a second level, but it’s still trying to fight back (faint notes of fruit marmelade). Roasted nuts. Salty liquorice as well. Not the most complex whisky but still nice and balanced. Finish: long, quite organic with a dash of salt.
A very good Bunnahabhain with big muscles. Around € 60.
This Macallan 1970/2009 is one of the exclusive single casks that will be presented at Whisky Live Paris 2009 (September 26-28).
La Maison du Whisky often has exclusive Gordon & MacPhail releases, like the recent Linkwood 1990/2009 for LMdW. They’ve proven to pick some very interesting casks.
Macallan ‘Speymalt’ 1970 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMdW 2009, sherry butt #8326, 530 btl.)
Nose: following the tradition of the great 18yo sherry bottlings. Big on prunes, hints of a chocolate store, blood oranges and tangerine. Raisins, nuts and fig jam but at the same time fresher, younger fruit, like raspberries. Bananas glazed with rum. Heather honey. Very interesting hints of ginger, cumin and other fresh herbs. This was obviously a wonderful cask. Mouth: very elegant and coating. Dried fruits, figs again, baked apples and notes of bergamot tea.Oranges. Strawberries. Hints of natural caramel and smoke. Roasted coffee beans. Some nutmeg and pepper. Finish: light wood influence, slightly drier. Hints of toffee, dried fruits, tobacco and liquorice.
A very noble dram. This Macallan is lively and perfectly balanced. Not too woody for me. Recommended, certainly because the price is acceptable (€ 195).
As you know, new make spirit needs to be matured for at least 3 years in oak casks before it can be labeled “whisky”. This Glentauchers 2006 is whisky, but only barely.
Glentauchers is a Chivas-owned distillery without official bottlings. Although it has a significant production capacity, everything is blended into the Ballantine’s and Chivas Regal blends. Independent bottlings have also been available from Duncan Taylor, Blackadder, Gordon & MacPhail… This 20cl bottling is part of the Càrn Mòr vintage collection.
Glentauchers 3yo 2006
(46%, Carn Mor 2009, 921 btl.)
Nose: still very typically new-make, very sweet with hints of banana and Frosties (Frosted Flakes). The raw materials are easily recognizable. Some hints of fruit (pear, tinned pineapple) and vanilla but not complex. Mouth: this is interesting. More fruit, marshmallows, sweet apples and quite some spices (nutmeg, pepper, ginger). Some cocoa towards the finish. Hints of speculoos? Finish: very long, very sweet and slightly peppered.
In a way, this is quite enjoyable, although you can’t compare it to proper malt whisky. I would be happy to have it as an aperitif. Around € 10 for 20cl.