Coopers Choice is a brand of the Vintage Malt Whisky Co, an independent bottler founded in 1992. They’re mostly known for Finlaggan and Ileach, their undisclosed Islay malts.
The Coopers Choice range is a selection of single cask bottlings covering all ages and all regions of Scotland.
Auchentoshan 17 yo 1991
(43%, Coopers Choice 2009)
Nose: grassy and slightly cheesy. Mashed potatoes. Not really fruity, although it develops on nice lemon candy. A few hints of linseed oil. Too bad there’s not enough freshness to make the citrus stand out. Mouth: very sweet, lemon candy again. Hints of peppermint gum and pepper. Develops on grainy notes, like a flavoured vodka. Finish: sweet, grainy and slightly grassy.
Well, it didn’t impress me at all. One for real Auchentoshan fans perhaps? Around € 50.
A few weeks ago, fellow blogger Jason (GuidScotchDrink) invited me to be part of his Whisky Round Table. Each month, one question will be answered by 12 bloggers and the answers will be published on one of our blogs.
The first question is “What rules have you set for yourself in your whisky lives and how have you rationalized breaking them?”
As it turns out, most whisky lovers don’t have rules. Are we surprised…?
Read the full answers here.
The Bruichladdich Sherry Editions are interesting experiments in which the same whisky is finished in different sherry casks for two years.
For the 2008 edition they selected an Oloroso and a Manzanilla cask. Last year it was a Fino cask and a Pedro Ximénez cask from the Bodegas Fernando de Castilla (Ximinez is not exactly a misprint, but it’s not the common spelling either). I’m not sure if they have much more cask types to choose from, maybe a Palo Cortado or an Amontillado?
I was especially interested in the PX cask, as it has proven to get nice results. It’s the most luxurious and sticky kind of sherry.
Bruichladdich 17 yo 1992 ‘Sherry Edition 2 – Pedro Ximinez’ (46%, OB 2009, 6000 btl.)
Nose: honeyed sherry with fresh raspberry notes. Reminded me of Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX in a way. More oak though and slightly more vinous. Darker notes of blackcurrent. After a while, spices show up (ginger, cardamom). Mouth: pears poached in wine. Other fruits as well: plums, melon, strawberry marmalade… Quite sweet, thankfully the spices add more depth. Hints of nougat. Finish: lingering cardamom, raisins, oak and caramelized sugar.
The Pedro Ximénez has brought an intense sweetness and deep fruitiness to this whisky and the balance with the spirit is pretty good.
Around € 75.
This bottling actracted my interest because it said “matured in a wine treated butt”. I’m not sure what this means, but I suppose it’s an American oak butt that has been infused with sherry for a couple of weeks (without the wine actually being matured in this cask) before being filled with whisky.
Nowadays this practice is more common than you may know (‘real’ sherry casks are expensive), but it’s rarely mentioned as such. I really appreciate this kind of transparency.
Port Ellen 27 yo 1983 (55,7%, Signatory Vintage 2010, cask #231, 501 btl.)
Nose: like an embering fire on a beach, that you’ve just fuelled with some diesel oil. Smokey and coastal. Sweet hints of almonds, or even better, almond butter cookies. Some wax and lemon. Hints of overripe fruits, could this be the wine influence? Quite medicinal as well. Really high-end. Water makes it a bit more feminine, with a tiny hint of vanilla, more wax and hints of fruity wine. Pretty awesome. Mouth: big and compact, peaty, sweet and salty at the same time. Pepper and citrus. Lots of iodine. Grows sharper over time. Very explosive. Here as well, water lifts the sweeter notes, mutes the peat and highlights some zesty citrus. Finish: peppery and grassy hints, fading on sweet peat smoke.
Don’t be fooled by the wine treatment, this is an exceptional Port Ellen that compromises very little. It’s great to play around with water and watch it switch between its monstruous peat side and its feminine vanilla side.
Not exactly cheap though: around € 190. Available from most international shops. Master of Malt also sells samples.
Bruichladdich is known for its ACE’d bottlings (additional cask enhancement) which are basically wine finishes. A couple of years ago, we already had a Blacker Still of which this is the successor.
The 19 years old Bruichladdich Black Art is a tribute to alchemy. It was finished in bourbon casks as well as different types of wine casks in warehouse n°12. The spectacular pink hue already informs you about the wine treatment.
Bruichladdich 19yo 1989 ‘Black Art’ (51,1%, OB 2009, 6000 btl.)
Nose: definitely wine treated. Hints of port wine with sourish notes that remind me of cellars and of raspberry vinegar. Lots of red berries, strawberry marmalade, grapes, hints of cherry liqueur. A bit of musty oak as well. Enticing, but very very winey. Mouth: less fruity sweet than I expected although there is still berry juice to be found. Fresh, sour notes again, then some grapefruit, heavy wine and wood. Cooked strawberries. Finish: warm, quite long, winey.
This Bruichladdich won’t convert me to the dark religion of wine treatment, but it does show beautiful notes of red fruits. Thumbs up for the packaging by the way. Still available. Around € 80.
It would have been interesting to have them all in a direct comparison, but for now it’s just this Daily Dram vs. the Malts of Scotland version.
Glengoyne 37 yo 1972 (52%, Nectar of the Daily Drams 2010)
Nose: very fruity with tangerine, lemon, pineapple and hints of strawberries. A bit of mint. Very tropical and honeyed. Obviously in line with the Malts of Scotland version, but maybe a tiny bit fruitier, with a higher degree of vanilla. Less oaky spices as well. I prefer this Daily Dram version for having a wider array of flavours, but it’s close. Mouth: an oily attack, fruity with a pleasant acidity. The pineapple and honey are supported by more spices (ginger and cloves) and hints of resinous oak, but less so than in the Malts of Scotland release. Very nice integration. Water brings out soft coconut and some dried prunes. Slightly grassy aftertaste. Finish: long, spicy and drier.
An admirable Glengoyne with a delicious fruitiness and well balanced oak influence. I have a slight preference for this one over the 1972 Malts of Scotland version, although the differences are small. The lower price makes it even more interesting: around € 145. Recommended.
Goldlys is a Belgian distiller who uses malt, rye and maize as basic ingredients and both pot stills and column stills for the distillation of its whisky. They were the first to produce whisky in Belgium, and they have the oldest stocks.
Goldlys 21 yo 1989 Sherry wood
(46%, OB 2010, 680 btl.)
Nose: the first thing I pick up – and quite strongly so – is Nivea cream. You know, the white, fat cream that our grandmothers use to moisturize their skin. Not bad, but rather unexpected. This fades after a while and makes place for notes of rye, oak polish and dried banana. A whiff of mint. There’s a sweet, fruitier side to it from the sherry, but overall it’s not really my kind of profile. Mouth: quite oaky and peppery with a big emphasis on the rye, so it seems. Green banana skin. Some eucalyptus and cloves. Not much sherry influence here. Finish: smooth but it drops very quickly.
This single cask Goldlys should arrive in stores as we speak, just in time for Father’s Day. If your dad likes rye whiskey (or some bourbons like Woodford Reserve), this could be an interesting gift with a nice wooden box. If he’s into single malts, then you’re taking quite a risk. Around € 30.
Nikka produces three pure or vatted malts (officially “blended malts” now) with colour titles. Nikka Pure Malt Black mainly contains malts from the Yoichi distillery (blended with Scotch malt), Nikka Pure Malt Red is composed around Miyagikyou malt and Nikka Pure Malt White is a blend of Yoichi and Islay malts.
Nikka Pure Malt Black
(43%, OB 2009, 50cl)
Nose: a nice marriage of sweet, fruity notes (peach marmalade, oranges) and dry, earthy notes (peat, faint smoke, oak). Noticeable vanilla. Hints of flowery honey. Mouth: more peat now, even phenolic hints of gouache. Slightly peppery. Ripe fruits and a bit of toffee. Salty hints of liquorice in the very end. Finish: spices, sweet cocoa and smoke.
A good all-rounder with a firm character and balanced peat (I’ve compared Yoichi to Highland Park before…). Around € 30. Good value for money, even with the smaller bottles (50cl).