Single malt whisky - tasting notes

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 Black Art 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.

Score: 83/100


We’ve seen an unusual amount of independent Glengoyne 1972 releases lately. It started with the Glengoyne 1972 bottled by Malts of Scotland, then a second bottling from the same cask, a bottling by Jack Wiebers, one by The Whisky Agency and now this Glengoyne 1972 by The Bottler Formerly Known As Daily Dram. There have been great 1973 Glengoynes as well by the way.

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 1972 37y Daily DramGlengoyne 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.

Score: 91/100


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.

Have a look at the previously reviewed Goldlys Limousin cask.

 

Goldlys Sherry Wood 1989 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.

Score: 71/100


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 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).

Score: 82/100


Nikka All Malt

25 May 2010 | * Blends

In general, blended whisky is created by mixing malt whisky (malted barley distilled in a pot still) with grain whisky (unmalted barley distilled in column stills, also known as Coffey stills).

For this Nikka All Malt, the Japanese group Nikka used only malted barley but distilled in both types of stills at their Yoichi and Miyagikyou distilleries. It’s quite unusual to distill malt whisky in a column still and the end result is a unique product.

In the Battle of the Stunners hosted in January, Nikka All Malt had a lot of fans and was even named the overall winner by some.

 

Nikka All Malt Nikka All Malt (40%, OB 2009)

Nose: a very candied profile with marshmallow and vanilla. Some lemon sweets. Ripe apples and cinnamon. Honey. A bit of creamy toffee as well (hints of Baileys). Some tobacco, leather and the lightest hint of smoke. Mouth: a shy attack, very mellow and again very creamy. Barley sugar. Notes of raisins. A bit too sweet maybe. Oily aftertaste. Finish: rather short with some honeysuckle, wood and coconut.

This Nikka All Malt is less simple than you would expect. It’s filled with flavour and highly drinkable. Check it out if you like sweeter malts or Irish whiskey. Around € 25 which means it’s definitely a stunner and a nice introduction to Japanese whisky.

Score: 82/100

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Laphroaig is rarely a bad buy, they’re all technically well made and they never seem to disappoint. The Whisky Agency has bottled a whole range of Laphroaigs over the last two years, and this ex-bourbon 1989 single cask is the latest addition to their list.

 

Laprhoaig 1989 Whisky Agency Laphroaig 21 yo 1989 (53,1%, Whisky Agency 2010, Perfect Dram V 197 btl.)

Nose: warm and smokey. Big notes of vanilla cream, marzipan and candy sugar. Sweet and rounded. Some maritime notes (fish on a beach barbecue, brine). Hay. Thyme. Hints of warm candle wax. Water makes it slightly sharper with hints of lemon and mint. Really good. Mouth: thick and oily, with bold peat that’s nicely balanced with notes of yellow apples. Some salty liquorice and seaweed. Quite sweet, but water adds sharper citrus notes again. It also brings out pepper and medicinal notes (more so than on the nose). Finish: rather long. Liquorice, smoked bacon and Lapsang tea.

A very fine Laphroaig, older than we usually see from independent bottlers, and more complex. An example of the distillery house style at this age. Good availability, good price, good whisky. Around € 120.

Score: 89/100


When you have a look at Whiskyfun’s distillery ranking, most of the 5-star ‘grand crus classés’ are well-known brands: Ardbeg, Brora, Lagavulin and Talisker. The fifth one is a name you don’t see very often: Glenugie. Instead of giving you more information, let me guide you to this website.

I’ve had one Glenugie 1982/2009 OMC before and it was pretty wonderful. Today I’m trying a single cask Glenugie 1977 31 years old.
What should you know about this one? 
– bottled by Signatory, 
– 24 years in bourbon oak + 7 years in oloroso sherry oak, 
– picked up a silver medal at the 2009 Malt Maniacs Awards.

I don’t think I’ve reviewed a Signatory Vintage Cask Strength release before, but they’re usually very interesting, and not only for their nicely shaped bottle.

 

Glenugie 1977 31y SV Glenugie 31 yo 1977
(58,1%, Signatory Vintage 2009, cask #7, 577 btl.)

Nose: starts on milk chocolate and lovely fruits (gooseberry, kiwi) with spicy oak. Honey. The sherry adds meaty / rubber notes which I find a bit of a bummer because it mutes the freshness of the fruits. Water helps to hide the rubber and bring out leather and more fruit though. Complex. Mouth: spicy, quite herbal and slightly resinous. Underneath there are fruity notes: strawberries, oranges, cassis this time. Not the classic old Speyside profile but not heavy sherry either. Water adds meaty notes and chocolate. Some nutmeg. Quite savoury and a bit half-hearted maybe but very powerful and confident. Finish: dry and slightly bitter. Slightly tannic with hints of tea.

I was less impressed than last time because the fruit basket is less exhuberant, and the powerful spicy oak keeps it out of the 90’s for me. But it’s certainly rewarding and anything but mediocre. Around € 160. A sister cask (cask #1 – same oloroso treatment) was released a few weeks ago.

Score: 87/100


There’s a tendency to release extremely old malts as exclusive bottlings in fancy boxes for outrageous amounts of money. Once in a while though, an old whisky is marketed as a drinker’s whisky at an affordable price. Master of Malt fits this description with their range of undisclosed old Speysiders. There’s a 30 year-old, a 40 year-old and now a 50 year-old!

 

Master of Malt 50 years Master of Malt Speyside 50 yo
(40%, Master of Malt 2009)

Nose: great nose, fruity and spicy. Apricot pie and yellow raisins. Oranges. Heather honey. Vanilla and a little cellulose varnish. Woody notes and pine needles as well, but actually less than expected for such an old malt. Some mint. Cinnamon. A lovely touch of candle wax and even engine oil. Quite excellent. Mouth: ah, here’s the wood. Immediately spicy with nutmeg and cloves. Quite phenolic as well which is a nice addition. Some chocolate. Hints of tea and olive oil. Getting quite tannic. Maybe a few extra degrees would have balanced it better? Finish: rather short, spicy and not too dry.

A stunning nose with beautiful fruit and smooth signs of age. On the palate it misses some punch, which means there’s more emphasis on the wood than on the fruits. Very nice. Around € 290 which is a lot of money but still relatively cheap considering the age.

Score: 91/100

ps/ Master of Malt now offers 3cl samples of more than 60 whiskies, including this 50 years old Speysider.


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Coming up

  • Benriach 1991 (MoS for QV.ID)
  • Bowmore 2003 (The Whiskyman)
  • Ardmore Legacy
  • Balblair 2000 single casks
  • Lagavulin 12yo (2014 release)
  • Craigellachie 17 Year Old
  • Cardhu 18 Year Old
  • Clynelish 21yo 1992 (Cadenhead)
  • Ledaig 2005 (Maltbarn)
  • Aberlour 8yo (cube, small cork)

1639 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.