Bunnahabhain normally produces an unpeated spirit, but occasionally you can find a peated version. A lot of these were distilled in 1997, when the distillery manager decided to make something for “peatophiles”.
This is one of the recent additions to the Malts of Scotland range.
Nose: it’s the peated barley that’s talking here. Ashes. Quite peppery, hints of tyres and chalk. Pleasant notes of pencil shavings and pear in the distance. The sherry shines through in notes of eucalyptus and a bit of butter caramel, but it’s not at all overpowering so it may have been a second fill cask. After a while, some candy sugar appears which makes it a bit more expressive and rounded. Mouth: very powerful attack, very peaty and a tad bitterish. Very smokey. Again the sherry is on a second level, but it’s still trying to fight back (faint notes of fruit marmelade). Roasted nuts. Salty liquorice as well. Not the most complex whisky but still nice and balanced. Finish: long, quite organic with a dash of salt.
A very good Bunnahabhain with big muscles. Around € 60.
This Macallan 1970/2009 is one of the exclusive single casks that will be presented at Whisky Live Paris 2009 (September 26-28).
La Maison du Whisky often has exclusive Gordon & MacPhail releases, like the recent Linkwood 1990/2009 for LMdW. They’ve proven to pick some very interesting casks.
Macallan ‘Speymalt’ 1970 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMdW 2009, sherry butt #8326, 530 btl.)
Nose: following the tradition of the great 18yo sherry bottlings. Big on prunes, hints of a chocolate store, blood oranges and tangerine. Raisins, nuts and fig jam but at the same time fresher, younger fruit, like raspberries. Bananas glazed with rum. Heather honey. Very interesting hints of ginger, cumin and other fresh herbs. This was obviously a wonderful cask. Mouth: very elegant and coating. Dried fruits, figs again, baked apples and notes of bergamot tea.Oranges. Strawberries. Hints of natural caramel and smoke. Roasted coffee beans. Some nutmeg and pepper. Finish: light wood influence, slightly drier. Hints of toffee, dried fruits, tobacco and liquorice.
A very noble dram. This Macallan is lively and perfectly balanced. Not too woody for me. Recommended, certainly because the price is acceptable (€ 195).
As you know, new make spirit needs to be matured for at least 3 years in oak casks before it can be labeled “whisky”. This Glentauchers 2006 is whisky, but only barely.
Glentauchers is a Chivas-owned distillery without official bottlings. Although it has a significant production capacity, everything is blended into the Ballantine’s and Chivas Regal blends. Independent bottlings have also been available from Duncan Taylor, Blackadder, Gordon & MacPhail… This 20cl bottling is part of the Càrn Mòr vintage collection.
Glentauchers 3yo 2006
(46%, Carn Mor 2009, 921 btl.)
Nose: still very typically new-make, very sweet with hints of banana and Frosties (Frosted Flakes). The raw materials are easily recognizable. Some hints of fruit (pear, tinned pineapple) and vanilla but not complex. Mouth: this is interesting. More fruit, marshmallows, sweet apples and quite some spices (nutmeg, pepper, ginger). Some cocoa towards the finish. Hints of speculoos? Finish: very long, very sweet and slightly peppered.
In a way, this is quite enjoyable, although you can’t compare it to proper malt whisky. I would be happy to have it as an aperitif. Around € 10 for 20cl.
A couple of weeks ago, The Scottish Liqueur Centre launched Càrn Mòr, a series of 24 different vintages, one for each year between 1983 and 2006. They’re all from a different distillery and bottled in 20cl bottles.
I like the idea of smaller bottles, because I’m more of a taster than a drinker and most of my open bottles take months or years to finish. The complete collection costs around € 450 with single bottles between € 10 – 30.
I’ll be reviewing some of the expressions really soon:
The Japanese Yamazaki distillery is owned by the Suntory holding and is based in the outskirts of Kyoto. Unlike most Scottish distilleries, the stills at Yamazaki are all different in size and shape. They used some Japanese oak casks in the period after World War II, which gave the whisky a unique flavour profile, but nowadays they use sherry casks as well.
This March 1982 vintage was matured in sherry wood and has a wonderful amber colour. It seems impossible to find this bottling any more.
Yamazaki 15y 1982
(45%, OB 1997, Sherry Wood)
Nose: delicious notes of cedar wood (cigar box) and walnuts. Plum jam. Some toffee and raisins. Clearly sherried, but not full-on. Minty chocolate. Roasted nuts and caramel. Mouth: more in-your-face sherry now. Prunes, dried fruit, bitter oranges. Grapes. Berries. Long finish, getting very dry (cloves) and rather oaky. Hints of Pedro Ximenez sherry in the aftertaste.
Very well made, with a wonderful nose. Too much oak to be stunning though.
There’s a new Daily Dram bottling and it promises to be a very good one. Synch Elli is the anagram for Clynelish. It’s a 1982 vintage, matured for 27 years. The price is around € 100.
You may already know this whisky, because it’s actually the same cask as the Clynelish that The Perfect Dram released a couple of weeks ago.
There are three other new Daily Drams: a Laphroaig Rigah Opal (13yo 1996 – € 70), a Glen Garioch Glaring Echo (18yo 1991 – € 80) and the new Daily Dram Undercover n°4 (19yo undisclosed Speysider, Balvenie maybe? - € 75).
Stay tuned for a review.
The second cask that was bottled for The Whisky Fair. Slightly higher strength, significantly higher out-turn. Let’s see how it compares to the BenRiach 1976 cask 3550.
BenRiach 33yo 1976 (47,4%, OB for The Whisky Fair 2009, hogshead cask #3558, 162 btl.)
Nose: interesting how similar casks can play in the same league and still bring lots of differences. Vanilla is the key to this one, the fruit is sweeter and less tropical. At the same time, a bit more wood and more expressive notes of menthol. Vanilla again, fruit cake. More wood influence, which makes it a tad nuttier, “darker” and warmer. Less tangerine, less grapefruit. Hints of ginger. Mouth: now it gets taken over by the grapefruit, just like the #3550. Still a bit more vanilla and toffee. Spicier and more powerful, I would say. Pepper and ginger. Finish: slightly dry and minty. Grapefruit as well, you guessed it.
Well, difficult. Most other reviewers seem to prefer the BenRiach #3550. I must say I like both but the #3558 contains less dominant grapefruit and adds lovely vanilla which make it stand out a bit. The #3550 lacks a bit of punch as well (it seems younger, although that’s a ridiculous way of discribing it). Around € 190 (sold out).
The year 1976 has given us some excellent BenRiach, the best ones being probably those for The Nectar (BenRiach 1976/2007 cask #8080) and for La Maison du Whisky (BenRiach 1976/2006 cask #3557).
Recently, The Whisky Fair released two casks that are already legendary.
BenRiach 33yo 1976 (46,2%, OB for The Whisky Fair 2009, hogshead cask #3550, 103 btl.)
Nose: a fresh start on oak varnish and menthol which take a while to fade. In the meantime, notes of exotic fruits start growing stronger. Very fresh, quite citrusy. Pineapple, mango, passion fruits, tangerine… A lot of pink grapefruit as well and a light touch of star anise and nutmeg. A fruit basket with a slightly flowery edge. Not far away from a Bowmore 1968 Anniversary. Mouth: very fruity again, dominated by the grapefruit which gives it a slightly dry edge. Medium oakiness with hints of pepper in the end. Long finish on grapefruit, tangerine, oak and pepper.
You can only have respect for this kind of whisky. It’s wonderful how a 33 year-old kan be this fresh and fruity. The nose of this BenRiach is stunning, the rest is very very good. Around € 190 (sold out).