Girvan is a Lowlands grain distillery. It is said to be the most modern, industrialized distillery of Scotland. They are part of the William Grant group (Glenfiddich / Balvenie) and produce the grain whisky that is necessary for their blends. This 1964 expression was bottled in the latest Fights series by The Whisky Agency.
Girvan 48 yo 1964 (49,5%, The Whisky Agency ‘Fights’ 2012, ex-sherry butt, 487 btl.)
Nose: a lot of freshly shaved oak and a hint of glue in this one. Baked bananas, coconut oil and vanilla. Toffee apple. A little grassiness and leather as well. Those are common aromas for a grain and in this case they’re nicely integrated with whiffs of medium-aged rum and bourbon. A little wood-driven overall, and there’s a slight pungency to it. Mouth: again very much like rum, with molasses, baked bananas, caramel, yellow raisins and a pineapple / coconut combo. A little toffee too, roasted almonds and then soft spices and liquorice. Finish: medium long, drier and gingery but not too oaky.
This Girvan grain whisky is fresh, not too oaky, and very classy. An intriguing crossover of rum, bourbon and grain whisky. Around € 220.
Last year’s Brora 32 years old introduced older expressions, after a series of 30 year-olds and one 25 year-old. The latest version contains whisky distilled during 1976 and 1977 – that’s 35 years and therefore the oldest Brora ever. It is made up of refill American oak casks.
Last year I wrote “it’s kinda worth € 350”, I’m not sure this can be repeated with this year’s inflated price tag of nearly € 600.
Brora 35 years old
(48,1%, OB 2012, refill American oak, 11th Annual release, 1566 btl.)
Nose: yes sir. Starts on white grape juice, evolving to pineapple juice, mixed with a peculiar waxiness that only Brora could produce. In between fat crayons, plasticine and Barbour grease I’d say. Hay. Luscious honeycomb aromas. There’s soot and petrol too, more so than last year’s release, but I wouldn’t call this really smoky. Plenty of coastal notes, especially after a while. Fresh eucalyptus and mint too. This shows more of the early 70s Brora profile than the last 30 year-olds, but on the other hand it doesn’t have their degree of farminess. You may say it’s closer to Clynelish than to Brora, but in that case you must have the best Clynelish in mind. Mouth: a little more peat and smoke now, more oak too, but it’s combined with a lovely medium tropical fruitiness (mango, passion fruits). Crystallized oranges. Lots of waxy notes again, some mineral flavours. Aniseed and soft liquorice. Faint hints of cough drops. A pinch of salt towards the end (seaweed?). Finish: fairly long, fairly dry, waxy and leathery. Just a hint of coal ashes.
A wonderful Brora again, quite extraordinary in terms of complexity and unique flavours. More minerals than last year, something in between old Clynelish and late 70s Brora. Most people seem to find this is slightly better than the 2011 release, I’m giving them the same score until I can do a proper head-to-head. Around € 500-600 – too expensive but nevertheless hard to find already.
This is third bottling by anCnoc with the cooperation of graphic designer Peter Arkle (launched at the same time with the second bottling which we’ll try later). Check my review of the anCnoc Peter Arkle first edition for background information.
It’s a travel tetail offering so you can pick it up at airports and on ferries. The packaging is inspired by an old-fashioned traveller’s leather suitcase. The whisky inside has been matured in first fill bourbon casks.
Nose: fresh citrus, lots of lemon and grapefruit. White peach and green apple. A little sawdust and hints of dough. Then some soft vanilla, honey and a marshmallow sweetness. Hints of ginger and touches of flowers. Perfect spring whisky I’d say. Mouth: more of the apples and pears, also a few cereal notes. Lemon again. Fresh oak shavings. It’s all about the bright side of the whisky spectrum, but it’s not too delicate or soft either. Finish: not as long as I hoped, with quite some bourbon wood left in the end. Still bright and citrusy though.
Probably the brightest, lightest anCnoc I’ve had. Very modern, easy-to-like whisky. Around € 50. Available in the near future.
There are three new releases in the Angel’s Choice series (35cl bottles) by Malts of Scotland: a misspelled Glenalaichie (Glenallachie) 1973, this Glen Grant 1972 and another one that’s only available in Germany.
Glen Grant 40 yo 1972 (54,2%, Malts of Scotland ‘Angel’s Choice’ 2012, sherry hogshead, MoS 12045, 136 btl., 35 cl.)
Nose: characteristic nose on honey, stewed plums and quite some wax and paraffin. Polished furniture. Hints of papaya and marzipan. A little mint and cinnamon. Bee pollen as well, and light hints of potpourri flowers. Mouth: beautiful combination of dried apricots, plum jam and figs. On the other hand there’s more oak now, considerably more, but still the nicely polished, minty type. Faint hints of bitter oranges. Aniseed and nutmeg, and a little fruit tea. Again a floral edge. Finish: medium long, with the oak up another notch. Still these oranges and spices.
A beautiful Glen Grant which received a lot of applause at the Spirits in the Sky festival. Not unlike some Caperdonich from the same year – that’s always good news. Too bad the price is considerably higher than the similar release bottled earlier this year. Around € 130.
The new series by The Whisky Agency is nicknamed Fights and features fighting animals on the labels. First up is this Laphroaig 1995.
Laphroaig 17 yo 1995
(53,9%, The Whisky Agency ‘Fights’ 2012, bourbon barrel, 253 btl.)
Nose: a warm and smoky Laphroaig, starting coastal and medicinal but growing more buttery over time. A sweet lemon / yellow apple combo. Almond syrup. Even cherry fruit candy. Then back to soot, bonfires, tobacco and liquorice wood. Quite an excellent balance. Mouth: starts slightly candied but becomes much less rounded now, with brine, lots of white grapefruit and lemon zest. Liquorice and ginger. Black olives, soy sauce, tar and hints of antiseptic. Back to a faint sweet note in the very end. Finish: long, peppery, with cough syrup and a slight bitterness.
The nose of this Laphroaig made me expect a slightly different palate, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Best of both worlds? Around € 105.
By now you must have noticed the wave of 1967 / 1968 / 1969 Tomintoul that we saw from several bottlers. Recently Whisky-Fässle had this 1968 expression, and there’s a 1967 in the latest series by The Whisky Agency as well.
Tomintoul 44 yo 1968 (45,5%, Whisky-Fässle 2012, bourbon hogshead)
Nose: fruity, with both tropical notes and orchard fruits. Juicy pears and white peaches, banana, pineapple, a little passion fruit. Hints of leather and soft sourish oak. Some mint. Mouth: nicely fruity again, with some vanilla sweetness. Still not a warm fruitiness, but lighter, slightly unripe fruits with “green” hints. Grapefruit, unripe banana, orange peel. Malty notes too. Mint and liquorice in the end. Finish: medium long, drier. Fruit tea and mint.
Elegant and fruity with a balanced dose of oak. On par with the other late 1960’s Tomintoul. Around € 210, available from Whisky-Fässle of course.
Last weekend at the festival stand of The Nectar, there were a couple of recent Daily Dram releases: Dailuaine 1982, Ardmore 1992, Clynelish 1997, Glenturret 1977 and this Mortlach 1989.
Mortlach 22 yo 1989
(56,1%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams 2012)
Nose: a lot going on in a short amount of time. Crystallized oranges, something faintly rubbery, quite a lot of grainy undertones and a greasy / waxy note. A typical half-dirty Mortlach nose. Some chalk and subtle oak. A perfumy edge after a while, as well as some honey. Mouth: again a malty core, goes from sweeter grains to slightly bitter flavours. Leather. Pears in the distance. Orange peel. Walnuts. Lots of pepper in the end. Finish: medium long, dry, still some bitter notes, zesty orange and ginger.
This is quite a grainy and greasy expression. A tad uneasy but that’s Mortlach, I guess. Around € 90.
This is the second time J & G Grant have released an older expression of the iconinc cask strength Glenfarclas 105 – the first was in 2008 when a 40 Year Old 105 was released to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the first bottling of 105. The new version is 20 years old and bottled at 60%, in a limited release of 4000 bottles.
Glenfarclas 105 20yo
(60%, OB 2012, 4000 btl.)
Nose: pretty wide. There’s a big top note of oranges, tangerines, fresh mint and glue, but also a deep note of chocolate and smoke. A slightly gunpowdery smoke but far from dirty. Elegant and fairly dry. Figs and cocoa in the middle, but it’s mostly the minty freshness that stands out instead of a thick fruitiness, if you know what I mean. Demerara sugar. Some nuts. A bit of pepper. Mouth: powerful. Oranges again, dates and caramelized apple, but on the whole rather dry. Nice hints of cocoa and coffee. Burnt wood. After Eight. Softly bitter liquorice. A little nervous. Mouth: long, strong, with a dry and peppery sherry theme as well as citrus sourness.
A nice but slightly rough high-strength variation, with plenty of punch of course. Interesting how it goes from dryness to smokiness and sweetness. The dryness wins in the end. Around € 200.