The Balvenie Signature was launched in 2008 to celebrate David Stewart’s 45 years in the William Grant company. He’s the award winning Malt Master who composed some wonderful Glenfiddich and Balvenie. This 12 year-old Signature should be the proof of his knowledge and qualities.
It is made up of different casks: sherry oak, first fill bourban and refill sherry.
Balvenie 12y ‘Signature’
(40%, OB 2008, batch n°1)
Nose: wonderfully aromatic and rich. Immediately fruity: peaches on syrup, apricot, oranges. Balvenie’s trademark honey. Vanilla. Some floral notes as well. Very light influence of sherry, noticeable in notes of dried fruits (raisins). After a while, there’s a wave of toffee. Mouth: quite soft. Again quite fruity (marmalade) and spicy (cinnamon, bergamot, nutmeg). The lightest whiff of smoke. Rather short finish on oak and spices. Slightly dryish in the end.
Very smooth and integrated. Delicious nose, but the mouth-feel is a bit less due to the low alcohol. Around € 40. Recommended.
Auchentoshan is a lowland malt and currently the only triple distilled whisky in Scotland (well, apart from Hazelburn and other ‘experiments’ outside of the regular ranges). They’ve had some extra publicity lately due to their new brand identity. The design of the bottles improved greatly, and the range of expressions was revised: the 10 year old was renamed ‘Classic’ and an 18 year old was added to the line.
The Three Wood is matured in different casks: at least ten years in bourbon wood, one year in oloroso and six months in the sirupy Pedro Ximénez.
Auchentoshan Three Wood
(43%, OB 2008)
Nose: it’s possible to distinguish the different casks. There is clear sherry influence with notes of raisins, plums, dates and oranges. Bourbon associations as well. Some vanilla, apricot, apple and cinnamon. Toffee. Tobacco. In a way, it’s interesting to have the different influences, but on the other hand, it doesn’t work together as a whole. Too much oak to be refined. Mouth: sweet, lots of toffee and chocolate. Caramel and nuts. Quite “dark” with some burnt sugar and even some rubber (although it’s not unpleasant). Liquorice as well. The finish shows some bourbon-type flavours: cedar and pine wood, mint and spices. With water: lemon grass. Quite dry.
Sometimes I don’t mind unbalanced whiskies, because they dare to be different and tend to have a unique character. But this is a bit too rough and completely overpowers the Lowland character. Around € 45.
Linkwood produces mostly for blends like Johnnie Walker and White Horse. Although there are very few official releases, independent bottlings are much more common.
This first-fill oloroso cask was bottled by Gordon & MacPhail, exclusively for La Maison du Whisky. They already had a similar Linkwood 1990 in 2006. A few hundreds of bottles are available.
Linkwood 18yo 1990 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail for La Maison du Whisky 2009, cask #6962)
Nose: heavily sherried. Lush notes of plums and raisins. Kirsch. Some balsamic syrup. Hints of meat (tajine lamb) and soy sauce. Dark chocolate. Very exuberant, thick sherry. Mouth: quite uncommon. Starting sweet on orange marmalade, but getting more woody and very sweet & sour. Rather sharp. Very dark, bitter chocolade. Hints of sweet vinegar. Roasted nuts, even slightly tarry. Finish: long and drying, with hints of candied lemon and walnuts. Some espresso. Quite some liquorice as well.
Difficult whisky, very intense and a tad sharp. But very interesting and as sherried as whisky can get. We’re really on the edge of tasting an old (dry) oloroso here. Still available from LMdW at this moment. € 78.
This is called the “resurrection dram” because it was the first distillation after Bruichladdich was re-opened by its new owners, on 23/10/2001. It was made from medium peated barley (10 ppm instead of the usual 3-5 ppm).
Bruichladdich 2001 ‘Resurrection’
(46%, OB 2008, 24000 btl.)
Nose: heavier peat than expected. Also quite farmy (wet dogs, not unlike some Broras) and even medicinal (iodine). Slightly smokey. Mouth: again rather peaty and coastal with a salty tang. Pretty far from the usual, fruity Bruichladdich profile. Lots of spices, mostly pepper and mint. With water, there are hints of coffee and peanuts. Finish: rather hot, starting on cocoa and evolving to more grassy / vegetal notes. Peanuts again.
A manifestation of Bruichladdich’s geographical roots (on Islay, the peaty island), rather than its historical roots (as the fruity distillery). Around € 45.
A lot has been said about the Ardbeg Supernova. First there was the announcement shortly after the Bruichladdich Octomore. Then there was the Committee sale that ended within 2 hours after its start. Now there is the general ‘Stellar’ release which is still rather short in supply.
As you know, it’s the peatiest Ardbeg to date at over 100 phenolic parts per milion.
(58,9%, OB 2009)
Nose: gristy, tarry peat. Smokier than the Ardbeg 10yo (duh). Very earthy but rather sweet as well. Some lemon. Camomile and heather. Tobacco and espresso. Nice. Mouth: oily, thick and coating. Coal smoke. Again rather grassy. Develops on white pepper and liquorice. Finish: lovely espresso with a little chocolate. Some citrus. A pinch of salt and slight hints of rubber. Endless peat smoke.
A powerful cask-strength Ardbeg. Maybe less extreme than expected and a tad less “experimental” than the Octomore, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Around € 85.
Here’s another St. Magdalene that I’ve tasted alongside the St. Magdalene 1982 26y by Douglas Laing. Did you know the St. Magdalene distillery was built at the site of a former lepers colony?
This Rare Malts release is pretty rare, the 1979/1998 version is a lot more common. If you’re able to spot a bottle, expect to pay around € 300.
St. Magdalene 23y 1970 (58,1%, RM 1994)
Nose: powerful and direct. Fruity but… quite some sulphur as well. Too bad really. I decided to let it air for 20 minutes. That helped, but the off-notes didn’t disappear completely. There’s definitely peat on the nose, and some burnt caramel / toffee. Some orange candy, but nothing like the femininity of the 1982 Douglas Laing St. Magdalene OMC. I, fact, this one didn’t appeal much to me. Mouth: powerful and rather grassy (burnt grass even). Slightly nutty (almonds). Oil, marzipan, herbs. Finish: very long and chewy. Herbal notes again, light peat and dry oak.
I find it difficult to evaluate this one. It definitely has some qualities, but I’m missing some finesse. I think “obscure” fits this bottling well. I prefer the Douglas Laing.
Last week, I’ve had a sneak peek at the brand new Daily Dram whisky glass.
The bowl is closely related to a tulip / ISO glass, but there’s no stem, not even a foot. It’s rather small and comfortable to hold. I personally don’t like my whisky too cold, so I like the fact that your hand will inevitably warm up your whisky when holding this glass (although I’m sure others will dislike it).
The 18 years old Macallan vintages are highly regarded. They are fully matured in sherry oak casks from Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), which is getting uncommon these days (too expensive). They have been around since the 1980’s (distilled late 1960’s).
Macallan 18y 1983 (43%, OB 2001)
Nose: classic sherry maturation. Chocolate, lots of raisins, dry fruit, prunes. Still, the fruitiness and freshness of this Macallan is exceptional. A bit of vanilla and smoked bacon. Some notes of an old cognac. Mouth: as expected, really rich again. Prunes, raisins, oranges, chocolate… Rather sweet and very smooth. A bit of oak. Finish: long aftertaste on chocolate and soft spices (cloves). Getting drier in the end, with more wood influence.
The Macallan 18yo is a must-try for sherry lovers and a benchmark for other sherry bottlings. It may be blasé to say, but it’s also a bit predictive (the huge over-influence of sherry means this is quite close to other sherry bombs such as the much cheaper Aberlour A’Bunadh). Anyway, it surely is a great whisky.
Price: around € 250 for such an old version. Around
€ 100 if you take the recent Macallan 1990/2008.