Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that most people are not interested in € 200 bottles which they can’t find in their shop anyway. So let’s review a brand that’s very popular in bars and supermarkets: Glenmorangie.

Glenmorangie Original is their entry malt. It’s 10 years old and the only release in the current range that’s bottled at 40%.

 

Glenmorangie Original Glenmorangie 10 yo Original
(40%, OB 2008)

Nose: malty/fruity start with tangerine, ripe gooseberry, lots of pear and honey. Vanilla cream. Some caramel. There’s a buttery side to it that I don’t like too much, but overall not bad. Mouth: weak delivery. Again fruity. Apples, pears, oranges, but with less appealing flowery, even perfumy hints as well (geranium?). Slightly spicy and zesty. Almond. Dry oak. Finish: short but quite warm, with apple and nutmeg.

Not bad as an entry level malt with a sharp pricing. Not something I would actively recommend though. Around € 30.

Score: 77/100


Duncan Taylor Duncan Taylor & Co is one of my favourite independent bottlers. They have a wide collection of high-quality bottlings with a stylish no-nonsense approach to packaging and labels. Especially their Rare Auld Collection (single cask whisky over
30 years old) is something I always look out for.

The company was founded in 1938 and two years ago, they celebrated their 70th Anniversary with a special Anniversary Malt. It’s a vatting of 1967 whisky distilled at Glenfarclas and Highland Park, the personal favourites of the company.

Duncan Taylor 70th Anniversary Malt Duncan Taylor 70th Anniversary Malt 41 yo 1967 (46,3%, Duncan Taylor 2008, 375 btl.)

Nose: it starts like a fruity old Speysider but it soon gets pretty special. There are hints of camphor and clear notes of old wax and dusty churches. I guess this is where the HP starts talking. Lots of flints, heather, some honey and (shy) peat. Quite a lot of mint mixed with other spices (pepper and nutmeg). Then it goes back to fruity notes, with apricot marmalade, oranges and apples. Lovely pastry and almonds come out when you warm it up a little. What a wonderful marriage of two distinctive distilleries. Mouth: dry and mineral, with camphor, cloves, a bit of pine resin and oils… Hints of lemon balm and stone fruit but I’m missing a bit of a sweet coating to round it off at the edges. More HP than Glenfarclas on the palate I guess. Finish: long, warm and dry with woody notes, lemon and ginger.

What an excellent birthday present! Be sure to try this one if you have a chance. Still available in some places – around € 140.

Score: 92/100


The undisclosed Master of Malt 30 years old was our favourite expression in the Master of Malt series so far. They also have a 40 years old version and even a 50 years old. They’re competitively priced considering their age, so let’s find out how they perform.

 

Master of Malt 40 years Undisclosed Speyside distillery 40 yo
(40%, Master of Malt 2008)

Nose: big notes of dates and dried figs. Oak polish. Sour notes of red fruits (redcurrant, raspberry) and tangerine. Hints of sherry vinegar that work quite well. There’s also a great nuttiness in the background. The whole is a bit sharp but very entertaining. I hope I can be just as vibrant at the age of 40. Impressive. Mouth: fruity start, good attack but the fruity notes can’t keep up very long. The oak comes rolling in and takes over the whole mouthfeel. Tannic and resinous. Again some notes of vinegar. Finish: long, nutty and fruity. The oak is less prominent. Hints of dark chocolate.

Good stuff but a malt of ups and downs. The nose is very nice, the palate is disturbed by the oak and in the finish the battle between fruit and wood seems to end in a draw. Around € 160.

Score: 87/100


This 37 years old Longmorn 1972, bottled by Whisky Agency in their Perfect Dram IV series, is the ideal sparring partner for yesterday’s Longmorn 1972 by La Maison du Whisky.

 

Longmorn 1972 Perfect DramLongmorn 37 yo 1972 (51,3%,
Whisky Agency & Three Rivers Tokyo 2010, Perfect Dram IV, 231 btl.)

Nose: superb refill sherry – it shares a lot of influences with the LMdW bottling, but it’s definitely more elegant. The fruity side is bigger (mostly tangerine, banana and mango) and there are more flowery notes (violets and rosewater with some dry flowers). Big hints of furniture polish and cake. More almonds. Rum & raisins. A delicate whiff of peppermint. The heavy sherry of the LMdW bottling made place for a more fragrant and more complex profile with a better balance. No smoke in this one. Water brings out more red fruit (lovely redcurrant) and amplifies the flowers. Really outstanding. Mouth: very rich with lots of red fruits but also apples and apricot marmalade. Leather. Hints of tea yet never dry. A bit of water makes it even more juicy with fresh figs and lush forest fruits. Finish: very long. The oak is easy to notice but it’s not nearly as invading as in the LMdW.

This Longmorn is exactly how I like my sherry bottlings! One of the best sherried whiskies I’ve come across lately, so “Perfect dram” may well be the truth! Around € 185, but sold out in most places. Too bad I didn’t discover it a bit earlier, because this is a jewel…

Score: 95/100


Gordon & MacPhail have provided La Maison du Whisky with a few remarkable Longmorn releases. In 2007 there was this Longmorn 1972 (cask #1088), followed in 2008 by a Longmorn 1964 (cask #1538) and a Longmorn 1969 in 2009 (cask #5295).

This Longmorn won a Gold medal in the 2006 Malt Maniacs Awards.

 

Longmorn 1972/2006 G&M LMdW Longmorn 34 yo 1972 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMdW 2006, cask #1088, 607 btl.)

Nose: obviously first fill sherry, but very fresh and lively. The usual raisins and dark chocolate are present, but there’s also fresh raspberry, apricot, banana and a few tropical notes. Gentle smoke. Really heavy sherry with beefy notes. A drop of water makes it slightly more herbal but it also amplifies the lush red fruits. Mouth: more smoke now, a few earthy notes and much more wood. Lots of kirsch and Mon Cherie. Moving to liquorice and almonds. Water adds bitter chocolate. Finish: more liquorice, plain salt and Ginjinha (Portuguese cherry liqueur). Long but a bit too dry and rather oaky.

A great Longmorn. The beefy nose and oaky finish will probably appeal to sherry lovers only, but it’s perfectly clean and pretty complex. Long gone.

Score: 91/100


I think this is the first Glenesk I’ve ever tried, they’re quite rare (I’ve tried a Hillside 1970 / 1996 Rare Malts though, which was distilled at the same distillery). Glenesk was closed in 1985 and dismantled in 1996, but it’s still operational as a maltings plant.

 

Glenesk 1983 DT #4931 Glenesk 25 yo 1983 (55,7%, Duncan Taylor 2009, sherry cask #4931, 294 btl.)

Nose: very rubbery and huge notes of Maggi (herbal extract for making soup). Chicken stock. Dried peas. Muesli. Hay. Ferns? Very organic. A bit of sulphur as well. Water brings out hints of wet cardboard and other moist things. Mouth: pungent and very herbal. Lots of pine resin. Big pepper. Bitter orange peel. Espresso. Dark tea. Hints of salty butter. A few drops of water add chocolaty sherry notes, but not enough to really sparkle through. Finish: spicy, mashy and grassy.

I don’t think I’ve ever come across something like this. I’m not sure what to think of it. It’s quite harsh and certainly not my definition of an enjoyable dram. I hope one day I’ll find a Glenesk that I really like… Around € 110.

Score: 65/100


Lord of the Isles is a vatting of Ardbeg casks distilled in 1974, 1975 and 1976. It contains 15% sherry matured spirit and 85% ex-bourbon.

 

Ardbeg Lord of the IslesArdbeg ‘Lord of the Isles’ 25 yo 
(46%, OB 2007)

Nose: starts quite shy and mostly fruity. After being warmed up, it shows a remarkably gentle and elegant character. Very leathery, with mellow peat smoke, orange marmalade, yellow apples, marzipan, warm cake… Subtle hints of boat rope and tar. A light layer of earthy and farmy notes. Some tobacco. Overall very complex, very integrated and a masterpiece of balance. Jim Murray says there’s a light soapiness on the nose – I don’t agree, although there’s a noticeable floweriness. Mouth: still quite some fruits, a tad more tropical and sweeter than on the nose (lime). More peat and smoke now. Leather and tobacco again. Walnuts. Some spices (pink pepper). Lightly salted. Finish: long, drier, smoky and slightly medicinal. Hints of chalk.


An Ardbeg in the old style, a lot more refined than the modern stuff. Respect. It could have been truly heavenly at cask strength though. Still available in a few stores for around € 300.

Score: 92/100


There’s one thing I don’t like about the restyled The Nectar of the Daily Drams bottlings, the fact that they give us little information. The labels  simply state the distillery, the age and the year of distillation / bottling. None of the recent bottlings include a cask number, the number of bottles available, the cask type or other information that in my opinion adds to the professionalism of a bottler.

This is a 25 years old Glen Elgin distilled in 1984. Did you know the Glen Elgin distillery was designed by an architect named Charles Cree Doig who designed a whopping 56 Scottish distilleries and co-designed a similar amount? He’s also the inventor of the pagoda roof.

 

Glen Elgin 1984 25yo | Daily DramGlen Elgin 25 yo 1984
(43,8%, Nectar of the Daily Drams 2010)

Nose: juicy and fruity in the great Speyside tradition, with quite some citrus and pear, peach and a dash of honey. There’s also a crisp spiciness and hints of heather and orange blossom. Soft wax as well. Malt and grains. Punchy enough despite the slightly lower strength (note that it’s probably still cask strength?). Mouth: starting fruity but not overly sweet, quickly getting drier and developing on a sourish wood / lemon skin combo. Citrus again (grapefruit rather than oranges). Hints of ginger and mint. Growing quite malty, oaky and salty, balanced by tangerine and a faint hint of smoke (or is that just imagination?). Finish: warm, malty and oaky with hints of cider apples.

A diverse Glen Elgin. The nose is definitely the part I like the most. Around € 95.

Score: 85/100


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Coming up

  • GlenDronach 1993 Oloroso cask #494
  • Glen Elgin 1985 (Maltbarn)
  • Fettercairn Fior
  • Cardhu 18 Year Old
  • Ben Nevis 2002 (Port cask #334)
  • Tomatin Cuatro series

1616 notes by Ruben

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