Single malt whisky - tasting notes

The Blue one…

 

Johnnie Walker Blue LabelJohnnie Walker Blue Label (40%, OB)

Nose: surprising amounts of toffee, with a sharpish / acidic side to it as well. Cereal notes (bread), some dried fruits and orange peel. Berries. Some lime. Vanilla. Give it some time and it develop into a decent blended nose. Mouth: medium bodied, nice enough, with toasted notes, grains and citrus. Quite a lot of floral notes alongside the soft sherry. Berries and ginger. Toffee. Good balance of sweet, spicy and acidic, but a bit characterless if you ask me (a bit of everything but nothing in particular). Fades on oak and citrus tea. Finish: not too long, returning to the grainy notes, with ginger and a slight zesty note.

It’s smooth and balanced, but it’s not a very proud blend, if you know what I mean. Although we expected a bit more at this price point, Johnnie Walker Blue Label isn’t conceived as a high quality whisky, it’s aimed at people who can simply spend more money and want to make this clear by buying something ‘premium’. At around € 150, I can think of a whole list of single malts which offer more individuality and intensity.

Score: 81/100


I believe I’ve only had one Glentauchers so far, a very young dram. This little known distillery became part of Pernod Ricard in 2005.

 

Glentauchers 2005 SansibarGlentauchers 8 yo 2005
(48,2%, Sansibar 2013, sherry cask, 244 btl.)

Nose: sweet plums and red apples, sugared cereals, maybe some muesli with raisins. Develops on mint and cinnamon, with hints of walnut liqueur. The fruity notes grow stronger and become slightly tropical (pineapple cubes and lime). Quite nice. Mouth: again sweet and fruity. Rounded, candied, not very complex but really pleasant. Apple pie and citrus. Light honey. Some toffee. Soft peppery notes as well. Finish: medium long, fruity with quite a lot of mocha, orange and a very light oaky touch.

An enjoyable little whisky. Well made, no fuss, easy drinking. Around € 70.

Score: 84/100


This GlenDronach 1959/1960 is part of a series by Gordon & MacPhail to commemorate the marriage of Prince Andrew to Sarah Ferguson on 23rd July 1986.

The mini-series also contains a Linkwood, MacPhail’s, Mortlach and Macallan (labeled ‘Pride of Strathspey’). Each of these whiskies are a vatting of 1959 and 1960 casks, the birth years of both royals.

 

 

Glendronach 1959/1960 G&M Royal WeddingGlenDronach 1959/1960 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail 1986, Royal Wedding)

Nose: quite an aromatic nose, very juicy and jammy, not as heavy as modern day GlenDronach. Fresh plums, fruit cake, apple pie and apricot jam. Heather honey and other beehive notes. Waxed furniture. A bit like a sherried Balvenie, very balanced. There’s something of toasted bread, maybe even soft smoke in the background, as well as a faint metallic note (could be a little OBE). Lovely. Mouth: sweet, lots of stewed fruits again. Apricots, yellow apples, plums. Lime. Some cinnamon and mint. Definitely smoky notes now. Just 40%, easy to drink but not weak. Finish: not too long – slightly disappointing but this is probably the low alcohol. Fairly malty, with dried fruits, soft spices and some oak.

Excellent whisky really, with a relatively subtle type of sherry. Modern GlenDronach is much more intense but this is equally enjoyable.

Score: 91/100


Laphroaig 1976

01 Nov 2013 | Laphroaig

Together with the 1977, this is one of the earliest vintages bottled by Laphroaig. These casks were bought back from private owners. Based on the L6 bottling code, this was bottled in 1996, slightly below 20 years old. It was meant as a travel retail expression.

1976 was a particularly hot summer – the back label of this bottle mentions this. Could this be one of the reasons this vintage delivered so many wonderful drams from different distilleries?

 

Laphroaig 1976Laphroaig 1976
(43%, OB 1996, 5.400 btl.)

Nose: starts in a coastal way, with kelp and harbour ropes. A little heather. Over time menthol appears and just a hint of antiseptic. Mild for Laphroaig, there are peaty and smoky hints but quite subdued. The most wonderful thing about this nose, however, is the appearance of tropical fruits. Pink grapefruit à la BenRiach 1976, some passion fruits and kumquats. Mouth: the old-style Islay profile, with ashes and soot rather than plain peat. Also lots of sweetness and tiny fruity sourness. Pink grapefruit again, passion fruits, maybe unripe mango. Pears. Some woody / herbal undertones come forward towards the end. Hints of heather honey. Finish: long, again a softly bitter herbalness but the fruity sweetness and soot are stronger.

Like most Islay drams from the 1970’s, this is a true delight. This used to be sold for around € 50 – now easily € 1000.

Score: 93/100


Fary Lochan

31 Oct 2013 | * World

Fary Lochan is not the first, nor the only Danish single malt, but I believe it’s the first distillery in Denmark which is producing malt whisky according to Scottish traditions, with pot stills made by Forsyth’s.

The distillery is located in a small village named Farre, not far from Billund and Legoland. Fary is the old spelling and Lochan indicates the small lake that is found near the distillery.

The first Fary Lochan release was bottled September 14th, 2013 and a few bottles are still for sale on their website for a supposedly symbolic € 200.

 

 

Fary LochanFary Lochan (48%, OB 2013, batch #1, cask #2010-02, 03 and 04, 555 miniatures)

Nose: not too new-makey which already a good thing. It is all on grist and cereals. Hints of yeasty dough. A bit of sawdust. Underneath is a clear vanilla note and maybe vague fruity notes. Soft pepper and aniseed. Over time it settles down and becomes a little rounder. Mouth: punchy, with an alcohol tingle to it. Sweet cereals. Vanilla again, with more new oak and a lot of spices (pepper, clove). Quite dry and a little plankish, but really not bad for a first release. Finish: medium long, the sharpness fades and a nice fruity sweetness remains.

Let me start by saying that I’ve seen much worse efforts from start-up distilleries. It’s quite enjoyable, but young and a little rough. Let’s see what the future brings. Thanks to Steffen for passing on this sample.

Score: 75/100


Sansibar whiskyAt the South shore of the Sylt island lies the Sansibar restaurant / bar, a fashionable place where they also have their own line of whiskies.

Just a couple days ago they released the new line-up of single casks which includes this Glengoyne 2001. Still a distillery you don’t see very often from independent bottlers.

 

Glengoyne 2001 SansibarGlengoyne 12 yo 2001
(46%, Sansibar 2013, sherry cask, 216 btl.)

Nose: typically the kind of stewed fruits, berries and raisins that you would expect from modern sherry bottlings, including the slightly winey aspect. Lemons and oranges. Some treacle / soft caramel. Soft pepper and vanilla. Mouth: raisins and lots of berries again. Plums. Evolves on apple flavours (red apple, including apple pith). Some tobacco leaves. Hints of cocoa. Liquorice. Soft pepper and clove. Finish: medium long, sweet berries stay strong, with a soft spicy touch and some warming oak as well.

Good whisky, with a youthful, vivid sherry influence. Available from Sansibar directly or from select retailers like Whisky-Fässle or Whiskysite.nl. Around € 75.

Score: 85/100


I know some people like Fettercairn, but the ones I’ve had so far were always a tad below par. I still have to try one of these newer official bottlings though. This middle-aged version was bottled by Signatory a couple of years ago.

 

Fettercairn 1995 Signatory #405 #406Fettercairn 16 yo 1995 (59,9%, Signatory Vintage 2011, bourbon barrels #405+406, 368 btl.)

Nose: fairly sweet, malty and fruity (apples, gooseberries), quite modern in that respect. A little vanilla. Some spices (pepper) and fresh oak. Not much to say really, this isn’t too bad but it’s very neutral and not very expressive in the first place. Mouth: strange, with chalky notes, a beer-like note, some bread and a pretty big rubbery note (not sherried rubber, but something of a fresh cleaning glove). Also a lemony note that evolves into soap or toilet refresher. Lots of herbal notes and a bitter zestiness in the end. Not sure what to make of this, it’s a challenge. Finish: green herbs, pine wood and grapefruit zest.

Very strange whisky, especially with the rubber / soap. Around € 70, still available in some places. I can understand some drams are not within my preferred profile, but this comes close to faulty production if you ask me.

Score: 69/100


Edradour, the smallest distillery in Scotland, with the smallest stills as well, is now owned by Signatory. So it’s no surprise they are sharing this straight “Ibisco” decanter with the wide stopper.

Marsala, Bordeaux, Port, Madeira, Sauternes, Chardonnay, Sassicaia, Barolo, Moscatel… Edradour will use virtually any type of cask they can lay their hands on. You could even say this first fill bourbon expression is quite a rare “experiment”! Probably the only distillery that can be experimental using very traditional oak…

 

Edradour 2003 Decanter bourbonEdradour 2003 (57,4%, OB 2013, first fill bourbon cask, Ibisco decanter 4th release)

Nose: lemon and vanilla. Some grassy notes and mint. Floral notes too, white flowers and rose petals. Not too bad, not sulphury or anything, quite bright but not very complex. Mouth: intense, with plenty of alcohol. A firm fruitiness of gooseberries, apples and lemon. Again floral hints, even slightly soapy hints now, hmmm. Fresh, slightly tangy oak. Pepper, ginger and mint. Some mineral notes. Heather honey. Better with water: less fierce, the honey comes out more, and there’s a nice vanilla custard note. But I find the oaky bitterness and floral hints a little distracting. Finish: quite long, with lemon tea, mint and lots of fresh, bitterish oak.

Good things, bad things… Even though it’s not as boringly modern (or modernly boring) as some other first fill bourbon whiskies, it falls between many stools in my opinion. Around € 65.

Score: 80/100


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Coming up

  • Glen Grant 1992 (Old Particular)
  • Glen Grant 1992 (Le Gus't)
  • Auchentoshan 15yo (Kintra)
  • Lagavulin 1997 Distillers Edition
  • Ben Nevis 1997 (Maltbarn)
  • Tomatin 1978 (Cadenhead / Nectar)
  • Aultmore 2007 (Daily Dram)
  • Glenglassaugh 1978 (Madeira)
  • Karuizawa 45 Year Old (cask #2925)
  • Glengoyne 1999 (Palo Cortado)

1503 notes by Ruben

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