Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Ardbeg Kildalton

05 Mar 2011 | Ardbeg

Ardbeg Kildalton was the result of an unpeated run at Ardbeg, originally for a third party but in the end it was released as a distillery bottling. There has been a 1981 version as well, in 5 ml bottles as part of “The Peat Pack” sampler.


Ardbeg Kildalton 1980Ardbeg 1980 ‘Kildalton’ 
(57,6%, OB 2004, 1300 btl.)

Nose: fragrant / floral and nicely fruity (lemon, orange, apricot). Despite a hint of vanilla, it’s not a particularly warm fruitiness though. It’s rather prickly, with hints of nail polish remover. Slightly waxy as well (lemon scented candles). Citrus tea. A nutty marzipan aroma as well and some pine wood. I doubt it’s completely unpeated. Mouth: oily and sweet with dried / cooked fruits (pineapple, orange) and a little vanilla. Quite malty. Bread. Clear oak, again slightly tingling with some pepper and ginger. Liquorice. A tiny bit of peat? Finish: long and hot, fading on chocolate.

Nice enough, I like the fruity sweetness with the light hints of peat. But it’s not exceptionally elegant like I expected it to be. Shops that have this on offer, ask around € 600.

Score: 88/100

World Whisky Awards 2011It’s award time again. Whisky Magazine has announced the World Whiskies Awards 2011. Awards are popping up everywhere but WWA can be seen as one of the more reliable.

Here are the most important results of this fifth edition:


Yamazaki 1984

Best Single Malt Whisky:
Yamazaki 1984
Best Blended Whisky:
Hibiki 21 years
Best Blended Malt Whisky: 
James Martin’s 30 years 
Best American Whiskey:
Parker’s Heritage 10yo wheated bourbon
Best Canadian Whisky:
Wiser’s Legacy
Best Grain Whisky:
Greenore 15 years

Congratulations to Suntory for winning the big prize with their partly Mizunara-matured Yamazaki 1984. Don’t rush out to buy it though – unless you have a spare € 600. Hibiki 21yo and Greenore 15yo are winning in the same categories as last year.

Amongst the subcategory winners (Best Speyside, Best Islay…) are Glenfarclas 40yo, Glenmorangie Signet, Bowmore Tempest, Redbreast 15yo

I was wondering… Yamazaki 1984 was released in July 2009. It won Silver at the 2009 Malt Maniacs Awards. How far can you go back in time for 2011 awards? I’m sure they’ll find an explanation (it was launched in Zimbabwe last January?) but still it wears away the concept of choosing the best product of the past 12 months. The same goes for Glenmorangie Signet, launched in 2008. Sigh, awards…

Bladnoch was bought by Raymond Armstrong in 1994 and production restarted in 2000 after some years of mothballing and renovation. This Bladnoch 1990 single cask was taken from the inherited stock and was the oldest available official release at the time of bottling.


Bladnoch 1990 cask 136Bladnoch 20 yo 1990 
(52,4%, OB 2010, cask #136)

Nose: fragrant and light, with some fresh grass, cut apples and a few floral notes. Some vanilla and honey. After a while, it seems to gets ‘older’ with notes of hay and something like stone dust. Mouth: sweet and nicely punchy, with the same flavours now backed up by spices (pepper, cloves) and oak. Big notes of lemons. Grapefruits. Slightly synthetic in its fruitiness I think, which turns into perfumy / soapy notes, especially when you add some water. Returns to dried grass before getting slightly bitter and herbal. Finish: bittersweet, spicy and a little perfumy. Quite long.

Very sippable and lively. A little mono-dimensional with a slightly disturbing perfumy touch but the price makes up for part of these problems. Around € 55. Sold out but a new 20yo single cask is available. Thanks for the sample swap, Stuart.

Score: 82/100

Daily DramOur final review of the new releases by The Nectar of the Daily Drams: a 20 years old Laphroaig 1990. I’m getting the feeling that the quality of this little series was very high!


Laphroaig 1990 Daily DramLaphroaig 20 yo 1990
(52,8%, Nectar of the Daily Drams 2010)

Nose: a fragrant Laphroaig with a nice peppery side (Szechuan) and a medicinal / herbal side (menthol, antiseptic). Faint fruity notes in the background, with sweet smoke and some farmy notes / wet dogs. I’m picking up notes of green tomatoes as well. With water the farminess grows stronger while it also turns to lemons. Nice – well balanced (read: not very peaty) on the nose. Mouth: slightly kippery, then growing more medicinal for a few moments but sweeter as well, with sugared lemon juice. After that, there’s a late burst of peat with some liquorice and pepper again (chilli). Finish: long, quite rounded with sweet smoke and soft hints of green peppers in the end.

Laphroaig of this age shows a little less peat on the nose, but still displays it with full power on the palate. I like the balance of this all-rounder. Limited availability. Around € 125.

Score: 87/100

This 28 years old Port Ellen 1982 was a single cask selected by Luc Timmermans for two whisky shops. The biggest part was bottled for
De Druiventuin / Whiskysite in Leiden (Holland) and a smaller part is available from QV.ID in Huldenberg (Belgium).


Port Ellen 1982 - Whiskysite / QV.IDPort Ellen 28yo 1982 (57,5%, / QV.ID 2010, refill sherry puncheon, 136 btl.)

Nose: an array of typical Port Ellen notes. Gentle peat and maritime notes (seashells). Hints of plaster. Velvety vanilla as well (which I think is essential in a good Port Ellen). Almonds. Soft hints of sweet fruits but no real sherry character. Gets a tad drier over time with some nutmeg and tobacco. Mouth: mouth-coating and creamy, again nicely sweet and fruity. Sugared lemon juice. A bit of pepper, a bit of salt. More peat than on the nose, as well as some mineral notes, but it returns nicely to soft vanilla and a little honey. Rich and balanced. Finish: lemon and smoke with a hint of aniseed in the very end.

A couple of years ago, it seemed 1982/83 were lesser years for Port Ellen. We already know it’s not true. Congratulations to Luc, Jack and Koen for this great selection. Around € 200 – now sold out.

Score: 92/100

Tamnavulin is a modern and very young distillery: production started in 1966 so this must have been one of the first casks ever to be filled. The distillery was mothballed in 1995, re-opened in 2007 as part of the White & Mackay group but is currently (again) silent. It goes without saying that releases are rare.

This 1967 single cask is bottled from a bourbon hogshead.

Tamnavulin 1967 Whisky Agency - Still LifesTamnavulin 43 yo 1967 (41%, Whisky Agency 2010, Still Lifes II, 204 btl.)

Nose: a muted fruitiness, with some dried oranges and apples. Slightly grassy. Oak is certainly not the main element here, although it shows some dry spices, mainly nutmeg and cinnamon. Very faint hints of wax. A bit of dust as well. Pleasant enough, although not the most exciting profile and slightly shy. Mouth: quite warm, enough punch. Again playing on the edge of sweet garden fruits and subtle spicy wood. Malty notes. Nutmeg, ginger, a little mint. Never crossing the line of antiquity. Nice. Finish: medium length, warm and gently fading on grassy notes.

Nothing spectacular in my opinion yet anything but boring. Interesting release, certainly because Tamnavulin is such a ‘problematic’ distillery with hardly any expressions available. Around € 170.

Score: 85/100

This is the second new release from Daily Dram, a Japanese Hanyu 1991. The label says “red oak heads” which means the top and bottom surfaces of the hogshead were made of red oak, a typical Northern American type.

It was probably a finish as red oak is very open-grained and prone to leaks, it simply can’t be used for 20 years. A sister cask #378 was bottled in the Ichiro’s Malt series last year.


Hanyu 1991 Daily DramHanyu 19 yo 1991 (56%, Nectar of the
Daily Drams, cask #377, Red Oak heads)

Nose: very spicy, a little oriental (cinnamon, ginger, mint). Big notes of cigar boxes. Some tangerine and cloves (hints of a high-end vermouth). Butterscotch and fruit cake. Pancake syrup. Nice hints of beeswax and leather. Mouth: powerful and pleasantly oaky with intense spices again. Pepper, some liquorice, a little ginger. Faint hints of aniseed. Sweet dried fruits as well (prunes to name just one) but overall quite savoury. A few smoky undertones. Finish: long but only the deeper spicy notes seem to stand out, most of the freshness disappears. Not too dry.

Hanyu traditionally shows a high oak influence with plenty of spices. This is no different, and I know for some people it will be “too Japanese”. Quite a hefty price as well: around € 180. The combination of its particular profile and price means this will probably be on the shelves a little longer.

Score: 88/100

anCnoc 1996

25 Feb 2011 | AnCnoc

A couple of weeks ago, anCnoc launched a new website, which I personally think is ahead of its time compared to other distillery websites. The styling follows the clean and attractive packaging. Congratulations guys.

Apart from the 12yo and anCnoc 16yo, there’s always a vintage in the core range (around 14 years old). Tonight the new anCnoc 1996 vintage was presented in a Twitter tasting by Gordon Bruce, Knockdhu distillery manager.


anCnoc 1996anCnoc 1996 (46%, OB 2011)

Nose: clean but definitely more sherried than the 12yo or 16yo – especially more nutty notes (hints of peanut butter). There’s a dry and slightly musty (sulphury?) side to it, but there’s still honey and garden fruits from the bourbon casks (nice red apples, peaches). Vanilla. Pollen. Over time it shows a little mocha and toffee. Quite assertive as well. Mouth: sweet to start, then developing a unique fruitiness (pears, a little raspberry). Creamy mouthfeel. Slightly candied (lokum). Demarara sugar. Again a few nutty hints. Some fruit tea and soft spices. Finish: quite long, drier with a spicy kick and citrus notes.

This is simply a well-made malt although the 12yo is slightly better and better value for money as well. Probably around € 45 (not yet available). They may not cause a lot of fuss, but anCnoc makes high-quality no-nonsense whisky.

Score: 81/100



November 2015
« Oct    

Coming up

  • Amrut 2009 (cask #2701)
  • Glenlivet 1981 (#9468 for TWE)
  • Lagavulin Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Talisker Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
  • Mortlach 1959/1960 (G&M Royal Wedding)

1933 notes by Ruben

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