Cù Bòcan is the name of a legendary dog-like creature that has stalked residents of the remote Highland village of Tomatin for centuries. It gave its name to the recent Tomatin Cù Bòcan, a lightly peated whisky (15 ppm) matured in a combination of bourbon, sherry and virgin oak casks.
Tomatin distillery only produces peated spirit during one week of the year, good for about 60.000 litres. The peated part of the whisky is aged 8 years, but the whole composition doesn’t have an age statement).
Tomatin Cù Bòcan (46%, OB 2013, 18.000 btl.)
Nose: sweet and citrusy. Oranges, lemons, grapefruit, both sweet juice and slightly tangy zesty notes. Some biscuity notes – that’s the younger spirit talking. Hints of ginger and grasses. Smoke is only found in the background. Mouth: a little more smoke now, with slightly sharpish grains and quite a big emphasis on new oak. Youngish and unbalanced. Chilli pepper. Ginger, cloves and aniseed. Finish: quite long, but a tad harsh and spicy.
I’m not sure what to make of this. It’s peaty but in a summery way that doesn’t fit the image of a haunting creature. The regular Tomatin fruits are drowned in pepper and virgin oak. A missed opportunity for Tomatin. Around € 50.
Angus Dundee started as a blending company in London but in recent years they’ve acquired distilleries like Tomintoul and Glencadam, and they launched labels like Old Ballantruan. They also sell independent bottlings under the names Mackillop’s Choice and Montgomerie’s Rare Select.
Today’s dram is a 27 years old Dalmore 1986. Sister casks #3090 and #3096 have been bottled in the Mackillop’s series. What’s interesting is that you rarely see independent Dalmore. Most blenders tend to exchange new spirit though, so this may have been an exchanged parcel.
Nose: fairly neutral with lots of sweet cereals. Some apples, fresh oranges and orange blossom. Nutmeg and wet sawdust as well. Hints of hay. Mouth: quite punchy, with lots of citrus notes (both sweet orange and slighty sharper grapefruit zest) but also plenty of oak now. Pepper, ginger, some vanilla. Very faint hints of coconut and pineapple, but hidden behind the grainy facade. Finish: medium long, compact and malty with a lingering sweetness.
It’s not a bad whisky, with nice orange notes, but overall too malty and neutral for my taste. Not worth the asking price of around € 145 in my opinion.
The eighth release of the hugely successful Balvenie Tun 1401 found its way to Belgium at the end of 2013.
Batch 8 brings together the largest number of casks in the series so far, 9 American oak bourbon casks and 3 European oak sherry butts. One of them was filled in 1991, two in 1981 and 1982, but all the rest is 1970’s whisky. It’s the darkest Tun 1401 I’ve come across, a first hint of its character?
Balvenie Tun 1401 (50,2%, OB 2013, batch 8, 2.700 btl.)
Nose: it seems immediately different from the others. Rather more overtly sherried. But stunning notes of American whiskey as well. I would say it’s fuller and warmer than the ones I’ve tried before. Mirabelles on syrup, black cherries, ripe banana and candy apples. Plenty of acacia honey and beeswax. Creamy vanilla. Cinnamon sticks and leather. Faint mocha. Excellent. Mouth: richly sherried again. There’s more cinnamon, dried fruits and strawberries, as well as top notes of orange peel and ginger cake. Vanilla pods and chocolate. Some woody spices, wax and pine resin in the end. Finish: long, leathery. Still some plums alongside the oaky touches. A tad too tannic to be truly heavenly.
Excellent Tun 1401, slightly different from the others, with a slightly ‘darker’ sherry influence, and my favourite batch so far (although batch 5 comes close). I believe the official price was around € 200 but as always with these kind of whiskies, some shops are not afraid to ask € 300 or more.
The last whisky I’ll review from the GlenDronach single casks batch 9. The 1991 and 1992 were not very convincing, let’s hope the 1993 cask #5 can fulfil its promises.
GlenDronach 20 yo 1993
(53%, OB 2013, oloroso cask #5, 645 btl.)
Nose: excellent. Lots of fresh figs and juicy plums, with a bright top note of orange blossom and rose petals. A slightly rummy / brandy-like aroma as well. Soaked raisins. Lovely pipe tobacco and cigar boxes. Hints of incense. Almonds and vanilla cake. Soft hints of those chocolate-covered coffee beans. Mouth: rich, initially sweet but growing drier and spicier in a nice evolution. Figs and dates again, raisins and chocolate. Cinnamon and cloves. Lacking a tad of body in the middle, but still very good. Ginger and herbal notes (mint). Finish: long, quite dry and rather ‘darker’, with hints of dried fruits, dark chocolate and mild oak.
I’ve said it before, but those GlenDronach butts filled on the 15th of January 1993 are just great (casks #1-#35 more or less). Around € 130.
The Yamazaki Puncheon is matured in American oak puncheons (large 480 litre casks, often even larger). Larger casks, so slower ageing and supposedly elegant and spirit-driven. While puncheons are usually seasoned with sherry or rum, apparently the ones Yamazaki used had previously contained bourbon whiskey. I hadn’t heard of bourbon puncheons before.
It has been released in 2011 and 2012 already, and the 2013 version is said to be the final release.
(48%, OB 2013)
Nose: fresh and fruity, with lots of American oak influences indeed. Pears, peaches and vanilla, with nice hints of pineapple and banana. A little bubblegum. Hints of floral honey. Quite some fresh oak as well. Overall it’s bright but also a little youngish. Mouth: bright, malty and fruity again. Yellow plum, peach and orange. Pear drops and lime. Coconut. Vanilla ice cream. Becoming fragrant, a tad too floral maybe. Exemplary for American oak, very predictable as well. Finish: medium long, sweet and slightly gingery.
Well made, clean and fruity whisky that’s easy to like. On the other hand its ambition doesn’t reach beyond showcasing the wood it was matured in. Between € 105 and 125.
The Auld Alliance is a high-class whisky bar in Singapore which boasts one of the largest collections in South-East Asia. It is run by Emmanuel Dron, a Frenchman who worked for La Maison du Whisky before.
Since 2013, Auld Alliance also has its own line of whisky bottlings. This Littlemill 1992 is the fourth release.
Nose: maybe not a full fruitiness this time. There’s apple, pear and marzipan sweetness at first, but also linseed oil and lots of waxy notes: wax candles and paraffin. Vanilla cake and soft herbal notes. In the end it turns towards the typical citrusy notes and lemon balm. Whiffs of marshmallows too. Mouth: oily, starts on these waxy notes and minerals again, before the nice burst of lemons, pink grapefruits and lime. Hints of lemon grass and, well… normal grass. Quite resinous towards the end. Finish: long, with the same lemon theme. Lime zest, grapefruit and the lingering grassy notes.
Highly enjoyable Littlemill again, with slightly bolder waxy and zesty notes this time. Really good stuff.
I can’t remember other Irish whiskey from The Whisky Agency, but now they have two at the same time. It’s a single malt so either produced at Bushmills or Cooley. This one was distilled in 1988, the year Cooley started distilling, but that doesn’t tell us anything. Update: according to the Teeling brothers, Cooley distilled it first malt in 1989. Bushmills it is?
Irish single malt 25 yo 1988
(51,1%, The Whisky Agency ‘Old Times Diving’ 2013, 212 btl.)
Nose: all the yellow fruits you can expect from Irish whiskey. Especially Maracuja sherbet. Also pink grapefruit (BenRiach 1976’s style), white apricots and hints of Charentais melon. Orange blossom. Bags of gummy bears. Very fresh, with a definite acidity, although there’s a warmer vanilla theme in the background. Soft notes of herbal honey. Mouth: sweet, still lots and lots of this passion fruit sherbet, simply lovely. There’s some oak and liquorice, as well as fresh herbs, but they don’t stand a chance, the tropical fruitiness is ten times bigger. Bananas, mandarins and a little coconut. Triple Sec. Truly a fruit bomb. Hints of cinnamon and mint. Finish: long, still sweet, slightly nuttier and more chocolaty now.
Just excellent Irish whiskey, it turns the fruity volume up to 11 but it wouldn’t be a Whisky Agency release if it didn’t show complexity as well. It doesn’t matter, but this time my guess would be Bushmills. Highly recommended, even at € 200.
The Glenrothes 2001 vintage is the latest vintage from this distillery. It has been selected from a variety of casks to deliver a “conversational style”. Try to meet the wonderful Ronnie Cox if you ever have a chance. He’ll tell you all about the different “moods” they’re trying to create, and how a new vintage replaces the previous while recreating the same style.
The Glenrothes 2001 is the youngest offering in their range, and the first vintage of the new millennium. This is the European version at 43%. Apparently the Asian version is 40%.
Glenrothes 2001 (43%, OB 2013)
Nose: bright, with juicy barley, vanilla and icing sugar. Stewed apples. Fresh oak and honey, with some lemon peel top notes. Just a little butterscotch in the background. Classic Glenrothes. Mouth: shy attack, it feels slightly underpowered at first, but it folds open nicely. First citrus notes (lemon pie, lemon zest), apples, then brazil nuts and heather honey. Orange peel. Growing spices from the wood, mainly cinnamon and nutmeg with a bittersweet edge. A hint of kirsch as well. Finish: medium long, slightly sweet, citrusy but mainly quite spicy.
A nice, clean dram that’s both light, citrusy and spicy at the same time. Around € 55.