Let’s compare yesterday’s Daily Dram with a similar Ardmore 1992 bottled by Malts of Scotland. Did you know Ardmore was one of the last distilleries to abandon direct heating of the stills by coal in 2002? Nowadays indirect heating by steam is the common way of working.
Ardmore 18 yo 1992 (49,4%, Malts of Scotland 2010, bourbon barrel 5014, 185 btl.)
Nose: coal smoke again, a bit more sooty than the Daily Dram version. This time there’s slightly less vanilla, less fruits and more (burnt) grassy notes. Mineral peat. Green apples. This one seems sharper and more peaty, which is probably highlighted because the waxy notes are muted (differences are small though). Hints of iodine and heather. Mouth: really sweet again, with sugared cereals, almonds and nice lemon / lime flavours. Again more smoke, or so it seems. Liquorice. Round peat. Apples. Finish: long, very smoky with a faint herbal edge.
Subtle differences again, both sooty (rather than peaty) with sweet almond flavours to compensate. Around € 90 which is quite a bit more than what other bottlers are asking. The quality is certainly good, but I’ve made the same remark about a high price when comparing two Miltonduff 1980 a couple of days ago. Let’s hope it’s not a permanent evolution.
Ardmore 18 yo 1992
(47%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams 2010)
Nose: a smoky nose with charcoal. Some apple / pear notes and ripe banana (maybe papaya even) but what sets it apart are the waxy / oily overtones (candle wax). Nicely integrated whiffs of oak and vanilla. Some heathery notes. A bit austere maybe, but I love the wax. Mouth: sweet and remarkably soft, with honeyed lemon juice, green apples, peach and sugared almonds. Some cereal notes. Earthy peat, still some waxy notes and a faint salty note. Finish: clean and long but not very intense, with a nice almond / banana combination, soft brine and lingering smoke.
This Ardmore shows a nice interplay of dry soot and sweeter fruity notes. The nose is the best part for me, as it looses some subtlety on the palate. Around € 70 (which means good value for money). Still available from LMdW – hard to find in other shops.
Since 2007, A.D. Rattray released one Glencadam 1990 a year, all sister casks in the 597x – 598x range.
Glencadam is an Eastern Highlands distillery located in the town of Brechin. After some periods of whisky crisis, it is the last remaining distillery in the area. It’s a smart distillery, renovated in 1959 and now mainly producing whisky for blenders.
Glencadam 20 yo 1990 (58,1%, A.D. Rattray 2011, bourbon cask 5987, 290 btl.)
Nose: a sweet and fragrant nose. A nice coconut / vanilla combo with some kind of strawberry ice cream aroma. Frosted cereals. Some apricot notes. Stewed fruits. Almonds. Soft oak and pencil shavings with some white pepper. Really nice, especially if you like ‘modern’ whisky. Mouth: starts fruity and sweet but it evolves on big spices (ginger, nutmeg, pepper). Green banana. Pears. Cream pudding. Toasted oats. Finish: medium length, spicy, with liquorice, toffee, plenty of oak and a bitter herbal edge.
This is a modern-style Glencadam, probably the result of clever wood management. If you like whisky with a Virgin Oak character and punchy spices, this one is for you. Around € 60.
We’ll place a Laphroaig 1998 by Malts of Scotland against the Whisky Agency release we reviewed yesterday. As usual for Laphroaig, both were matured in bourbon casks.
Laphroaig 12 yo 1998 (59,6%,
Malts of Scotland 2011, bourbon hogshead 700272, 152 btl.)
Nose: it’s remarkable how similar this is: deep smoke, seaweed, antiseptic – the same ingredients and the same result. If we’re really splitting hairs, then this version has less citrus notes and something lightly fragrant (like a vanilla floweriness). But maybe it’s just the higher strength? Anyway very clean and without surprises. Mouth: just as powerful but a tad less sweet. It shows more lemon and other citrus fruits. Big peat and big lemon. A little liquorice. Very fresh but a tad less complex than the Whisky Agency cask. Develops an earthy grassiness as well. Finish: sooty, long, with some pepper and cocoa.
I have some difficulty writing about these Laphroaig, because the distillery has such a small deviation! Apart from a few details, bottles from a certain era can be really interchangeable. Around € 65.
Laphroaig 12 yo 1998 (52,4%,
The Whisky Agency ‘Liquid Library’ 2010,
bourbon hogshead, 158 btl.)
Nose: everything you’d expect from medium aged Laphroaig: big smoke (slightly bigger than normal), coal, car workshop aromas, coastal notes (seaweed, oysters), medicinal notes (iodine, antiseptic). It’s rather dry, although there are faint sweet almond notes in the background as well and a hint of citrus. Laphroaig’s recipe is still perfectly accurate. Mouth: powerful, quite sweet now with marzipan notes and barley sugars. Earthy peat and big smoke. Getting salty with hints of liquorice. With some water, the sweetness is replaced with typical lemon notes. Mouth: long with a nice balance of rounded sweetness and dry peat. Some liquorice.
This is a perfect daily dram for peat lovers, not too complex and simply faultless. In fact I think you can never go wrong with this kind of Laphroaig. Around € 65.
Nose: while it shares a lot of elements with the Whisky Agency bottling, this one shows much more vanilla and pastry notes. You could say the TWA version is more fresh and citric while this one is warmer. A little more tropical as well (ripe mango). Gooseberries. Interesting that both have a different character while they also share common things: a little mint, a little polished oak, a few spices… Less hints of dried grass in this one I would say. Water highlights the vanilla. Both very high quality, but personally I prefer the warmer version. Mouth: again different, with a more bourbonny character which means more wood varnish, more mint and cinnamon. A little eucalyptus again. Hints of vanilla fudge. Herbal tea in the end. Finish: long, drier than the TWA Longmorn. Otherwise quite similar, with mint and grapefruit.
This would be a difficult choice. I prefer the nose of this Malts of Scotland release, but on the palate it gets rather bourbonny. It’s quite unique and I personally don’t mind but I guess that’s not the case for everyone. It’s somewhat drier as well. Anyway no need to force a choice, both are high quality and have the same price. Around € 180.
The nose immediately shows a big fruitiness. If you don’t mind a little generalisation, ‘76 tends to be less tropical than ‘75 Longmorn. It seems right. This one shows quite some kumquat and fresh oranges. Apricots and gooseberries. Lemon balm as well as a little mint and eucalyptus. It shows a nice dustiness and faint flinty notes, but they seem to come and go. Cinnamon. Soft oak. Water brings out grapefruit. Mouth: quite oily. Now the citrus fruits stand out – mainly oranges. Hints of pears. A few resinous notes from the oak. Ginger lemonade. Evolves on grapefruit. Very nice, with a light hint of smoke. Finish: long, on lemon and mint with a little resin again.
This is a very attractive Longmorn, less luscious and less tropical than some of the 1975’s we’ve had, but still really excellent. Around € 180. Limited availability.
Miltonduff 30 yo 1980 (44,5%, A.D. Rattray 2011, bourbon hogshead #12427, 240 btl.)
Nose: candied, slightly tropical, with fresh fruits, vanilla and sawdust. Some fragrant dandelion notes. A little mint and honeysuckle. Apple notes grow stronger when you let it breathe. Great freshness, maybe a little more hints of dusty warehouses than the sister cask, but those work very well here. Mouth: rounded and fruity with a nice buttery mouth-feel. Some vanilla and honey, citrus, light grassy notes, maybe a tad more oak and spices than #12429. Almonds and cinnamon. Finish: quite long, warmer and spicier with a nice woodiness and cocoa in the end.
As expected, very few differences with the Malts of Scotland cask except for a little more wood. On the other hand, this will only set you back around € 95, that’s € 35 cheaper. Makes it easy to choose, right?
ps/ Starting tomorrow, we’ll have a few other side-by-side comparisons. Longmorn 1976, Ardmore 1992, Laphroaig 1998… similar casks from different bottlers.