Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Over the last few years, Tomatin had a makeover. A couple of years ago, there was just a standard 10 Year old, but nowadays they have a whole range of bottlings (12, 15, 18, 25, 30 and 40 Years old).

This single cask Tomatin 1980 was released in 2008.

 

Tomatin 1980 single cask 994 Tomatin 1980
(47,4%, OB 2008, cask #994, 172 btl.)

Nose: fresh start. Fruity notes (peaches, cherries) with marshmallow. Lovely passion fruits. Citrus. Some unripe banana and pineapple. Lots of vanilla. Gets a bit creamy after a while, absolutely delicious. Liquid dessert. Mouth: basically the same story with lots of fruits and notes of bubblegum and honey. Not far from some Irish profiles, but more complex I would say. Added hints of pink grapefruit. Unripe mango. Tropical but without the warmth or the sweetness that goes with it. Fresh, fruity, malty (hints of cereals) and slightly mineral. Finish: not too long. A bit more spicy notes (whiffs of ginger and cinnamon) and certainly sweeter.

A very nice Tomatin. Not cheap (around € 180) but really beautiful. Samples are available at Whiskysamples.eu

Score: 89/100


As you know, BenRiach is a Speyside distillery with a tradition of making peated batches as well. The Whisky Exchange bottled quite a few BenRiach from the 1980’s in their Single Malts of Scotland range, and most of them were really worthwhile.

This BenRiach 1984 won a silver award at the 2008 Malt Maniacs Awards.

 

BenRiach 1984/2008 SMOS BenRiach 23 yo 1984 (54,2%, SMoS 2008, cask #194, 214 btl.)

Nose: clearly a peated version, even though it’s not at all monstrous. Nice dark ashes. Smoked ham. Surprisingly coastal for a BenRiach, with tarry ropes and whiffs of sea air. Nonetheless it’s beautifully balanced with marmalade and honey which makes this one very attractive. Hints of diesel oil. Waves of citrus. Very entertaining. Mouth: very thick and powerful. Much more peated. Really dark, almost like burnt whisky. Lots of pepper (red chilli even) but again there’s a sweet coating. Finish: a bit drier, with coal and diesel oil. Hints of liquorice.

A high quality peated Speysider, very muscular. I really loved the nose, too bad I find the peat a tad overpowering on the palate. Sold out (around € 75 at the time so great value for money).

Score: 87/100


Glenrothes 1994

15 Feb 2010 | Glenrothes

The Glenrothes 1994 vintage has been around since 2006, at least in Europe. In the States, it was introduced at the beginning of this year and it will hit the shelves any moment now. I guess the US version is still the same batch because the label says “distilled Oct 94 – approved Apr 06”.

The 1994 vintage was composed as a lighter, stimulating and uplifting expression of The Glenrothes.

 

Glenrothes 1994 Glenrothes 1994 (43%, OB 2008)

Nose: the first few seconds are filled with buttery toffee which is typical for The Glenrothes. After that, a wave of zesty lemon shows up and make it a lot fresher. Its spring-character shows juicy pears and orange fruit gums with a touch of vanilla. Very citric. Lemon pie. Slightly flowery with hints of Cif (the cleaning cream). None of the spices that we see in older Glenrothes bottlings. Mouth: rather weak and watery. Quite malty with a fruity layer of fresh plums. Hints of hazelnuts in the aftertaste. Finish: not very long and quite soft. Pears. Light ginger and nuts.

On the nose, this is the closest to a Lowlander that The Glenrothes will probably ever get (although the trademark toffee is still there). Great to see such a variation on the distillery profile. Probably very teasing as a summer dram, although I prefer the spicier profile. A higher alcohol volume could make it more punchy as well. Around € 55.

Score: 82/100


After the standard Penderyn Madeira, let’s compare it to a sherried version. It was finished in dry oloroso sherry casks.

 

Penderyn Sherrywood Penderyn Sherrywood
(46%, OB 2008, June 08 sample)

Nose: interestingly different. All sorts of fruits, from fresh mirabelle / damson and oranges to dried prunes. There’s also an artificial fruitiness to it, but it’s nicely integrated. Some green apples. Hints of freshly cut herbs and peppermint. Also a distinct butter-nuttiness (almond butter, praline, hazelnut). Pleasant. Mouth: sweet attack (banana and quite a lot of Spanish ‘membrillo’), but not very powerful. Slightly Irish in that respect. The oloroso sherry is not really noticeable as such. Quickly growing spicier (ginger, nutmeg, a little pepper). Finish: rather short on damp wood, powder sugar and honey.

Much more balanced than the standard version. Sweet and soft. Still youngish but the sherry helps to mask its age and adds depth. It would be difficult to compare this to Scotch whisky, because Penderyn has a profile of its own. Let’s see how this evolves in the following years. Around € 50.

Score: 80/100


Penderyn was founded in 1998 by four private individuals. It’s the one and only Welsh distillery and quite different from Scottish or Irish whisk(e)y because the complete process from wash to new make is done in a single still. Also, they buy their wash from a regional beer brewer instead of preparing it themselves.

At the moment there are three core expressions. This standard Penderyn is matured in bourbon barrels and finished in madeira casks. There’s also a sherried and a peated version, together with a few limited editions such as a “rich madeira” bottling.

 

Penderyn whiskyPenderyn ‘Madeira finished’ (46%, OB 2008)

Nose: fruity and mildly perfumed. Big notes of white wine and oak. Some juicy vanilla as well. Slight apple and peach. Not bad. Stranger, dusty notes as well, mixed with hints of new-make (artificial banana). Let’s say it’s different. Mouth: malty with a few young bourbon notes: pine wood, sweet vanilla. Blood oranges. Also lokum (turkish delight) with rose water. Hints of bubble gum that are not really integrated. Gets spicier towards the finish. Finish: honeyed and sweet. Creamy toffee.

Well, I think this Penderyn would have been a lot worse without the Madeira finish, because underneath is basically immature whisky (probably around 4 or 5 years). With the wine, it’s more interesting but really focused on sweet notes and a bit mono-dimensional. Young whisky is already fruity-sweet and a Madeira cask exaggerates this. I’m sure a sherried version (reviewed tomorrow) will offer more flavour variation. Around € 40.

Score: 72/100

 

Please note that there seems to be a significant batch variation in Penderyn releases. Even though the bottles look identical (apart from a bottling code), Jim Murray scores the April 2007 batch 76/100 and the June 2007 batch 95/100 with everything in between. Maybe I had one of the lesser batches (my 5cl sample didn’t mention a batch code).


Macduff is one of five Dewar / Bacardi distilleries and the one that sells most single malts (even though it’s still less than 10% of total production). It’s popular in France and Italy and also known under the name of Glen Deveron. This 25 years old expression is bottled and distributed by Luc Timmermans’ Thosop company.


Macduff 1984/2009 Thosop Macduff 25 yo 1984 (54,9%, Thosop 2009, Bourbon cask, 120 btl.)

Nose: malty and fresh. Quite some clean oak (hints of paper and almonds as well). Tonic with a dash of lemon. Nice mix of fruity and drier notes. A very good swimmer – water brings out flowers, apricot marmalade and vanilla cupcakes. The longer you let it breathe, the more fruity it gets (pears). Mouth: fruity with some herbal notes and hints of camomile tea. Some pepper in the back. Add a little vanilla and tiny hints of sweet lemons and oranges. With water: more wood and a little milk chocolate. Some liquorice as well. Finish: pleasantly warm and quite long. Spicy, still reminds me of herbal tea.

Take your time and enjoy. There’s a lot in this Macduff 1984 that you won’t pick up in a first of second impression. A challenging dram with different layers. Remember to add water as well. Around € 70.

Score: 86/100


You may recognize the name of this bottling, which is very similar to the Kornog Taouarc’h Kentan reviewed before. It’s the 2009 release of the peated Glann ar Mor whisky (30-35 ppm) – the French Ardbeg so to speak.

This second release comes from two ex-bourbon barrels and one Sauternes cask and is brought down to 46%. It’s again very limited and virtually impossible to find.

 

Glann ar Mor Kornog Eilvet 2009 Glann ar Mor ‘Kornog Taouarc’h Eilvet’ (46%, OB 2009, second release)

Nose: not as fresh as the previous release. The citrus is almost gone and replaced by hints of very ripe (rotten?) fruits. After a few moments this fades out and the whole evolves back to the profile of the previous version. Light smoke. Less bubblegummy but also less of the marvellous vanilla cake of its older brother. More grassy, slightly more maritime and bigger medicinal notes. Overall less complex and a tad less appealing. Mouth: basically the same remarks. The fruitiness is not as fresh and the lower strength seems to take away some of the complexity as well. First a creamy wave of peat, then sweeter notes (pears, peaches), then back to fat peat and hints of tar. Nice coffee in the end. Finish: medium length with hints of moccha and spices.

For me, this Kornog Taouarc’h Eilvet is a small step back from the first release. I guess this is due to the Sauternes influence which I usually like (as a finish) but doesn’t seem to work that well here (as a vatting). There’s a noticeable increase in maturity but also a decrease in complexity (even after the previous release was brought to the same strength).

Score: 80/100


This was the festival bottling in Gent, a peated Connemara 1999 from the Irish Cooley distillery. Contrary to what is mentioned on the festival website, it was distilled in 1999, the alcohol volume is 60,3% and the bourbon cask produced 222 bottles. By the end of the festival, only a handful were left.

 

Connemara 1999 - Whisky Festival Gent Connemara 10 yo 1999 (60,3%, OB 2010, Whisky Festival Gent, 222 btl.)

Nose: I really like this Irish type of peat. It’s sooty but not in-your-face and mixed with lots of sweet notes, like sugared almonds and pear candy. A faint farmy edge as well (wet hay, sheep). If you add a drop of water, some crême brulée with vanilla shines through. The more water you add, the more flowery and candied it gets. Mouth: too hot at cask strength. With water: very sweet with sugared corn flakes and chocolate. Peppery, drying oak. A lot of peat. Liquorice towards the finish. Finish: long and drier. Hints of burnt grass with some vanilla and spicy sweet coffee.

This Connemara 1999 is a sweet hottie, with a peppery kind of peat. Lovely on the nose and a tad sharper in the mouth. Overall very enjoyable. Around € 50.

Score: 85/100


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Coming up

  • Littlemill 1988 (Liquid Treasures)
  • Tomatin Cuatro series
  • Tomatin 1997 (Whisky-Fässle)
  • Ben Nevis 2002 (Port cask #334)
  • Cardhu 18 Year Old
  • Old Pulteney 1990 (lightly peated)

1623 notes by Ruben

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