The Haig blend largely relies on Glenlossie – single malt releases are quite rare. A 10 years old Flora & Fauna bottling is the only official expression today.
Glenlossie 35 yo 1975 (49,3%, The Whisky Agency 2010, bourbon hogshead, 151 btl.)
Nose: clearly more sensual and elegant than the Glenlossie 1984 by Signatory Vintage. More oak (of the old, polished kind – cedar maybe?) and more prominent fruits (strawberries with cream, some lime). Whiffs of vanilla and wax. A little leather. Some tobacco leaves. The flinty / wet cardboard aromas are still present, but on a second level. Nice balance of old and fresh elements. Mouth: still fruity with a lot of citrus. Hints of mint and other green notes. Initially sweet, then more herbal and grassy, evolving to gin tonic with lemon zest. Great evolution. No need to add water. Finish: half citrusy, half herbal. Long.
A lovely nose and a great evolution on the palate. Maybe not as warm and rounded as other old Speysiders, so this one is recommended for people who like a punchy and slightly zesty / herbal variation. Around € 160.
Glenlossie was founded in 1876 by John Duff, a former manager of GlenDronach. Another distillery, Mannochmore, was built on the same site in 1971 and the joint workforce used to alternate between the two, keeping them active for 6 months a year. Now they’re both working the year round.
Nose: a pleasant foundation of red fruits, but there’s a lot of oak polish, wet limestone, grass and alcohol, making it a bit sharp. Quite some earthy notes. Wet cardboard. Over time it constantly switches between a fruity profile and a mineral, austere profile. Water makes it more fragrant (citrus flowers) and flinty. Mouth: leaning towards fruity notes now (dried apricot, lime, oranges) with lots of spices (ginger, pepper). Getting herbal towards the finish (dark herbal tea, liquorice) with a few bitter notes (tonic, aspirin) and some matchsticks. Water takes away some of the rough edges, but it’s still not completely enjoyable. Finish: half bitter, half spicy.
A rough and slightly schizophrenic Glenlossie. Personally I’m not a big fan of its heavy herbal / bitter notes. Around € 120.
Did you know Banff used to supply the British House of Commons with their house malt? The parliament is still bottling whisky by the way, both single malts and blends (it’s quite easy to find this blend by Gordon & MacPhail).
This Banff 1975 was matured in a refill hogshead.
Banff 32 yo 1975 (48,7%, Douglas Laing
Old Malt Cask 2008, DL ref. 3971, 164 btl.)
Nose: aromatic start with lemon, apples and pears. Slightly syrupy with a hint of vanilla. Hints of buttercups. Then it starts to evolve on wet limestone and gravel that I find pretty typical for Banff, maybe even some coal. Whiffs of oak mixed with coastal notes. An old-style Highland whisky. Not the most complex Banff ever, but very satisfying – fruity and austere at the same time. Mouth: takes off on mustard seeds and something metallic / mineral. Then a wave of oak and spices comes along – very strong pepper notes! Over-infused tea. Quite sharp and invasive (hardly any fruit to be found) but very clean and very expressive. Finally, it fades on slightly bitter tonic water with a dash of lemon. Finish: long, slightly mustardy again with lemon and apples.
You’ve got to be a fan of austere whisky to appreciate this. The label says it’s sweet, but I wouldn’t count on that too much (although there’s quite some fruit on the nose). A difficult whisky, but a very good example of this particular style. Around € 125.
I know that officially the ageing or maturation of whisky is defined as the time spent in oak casks, but apart from that, do you believe in any form of ‘bottle ageing’ being accountable for changes in the flavour of whisky over a period of years whilst still in the bottle?
This will be my last single cask BenRiach for this year’s batch #7.
This BenRiach 1980 was matured in a new oak barrel. Sister casks #2534 (bottled for LMdW France) and #2535 (part of single cask batch #3) were bottled in 2006.
BenRiach 30 yo 1980 (51,2%, OB 2010,
cask #2532, Virgin American Oak, 181 btl.)
Nose: very sensual, with truckloads of vanilla and lovely hints of cotton candy. Deeply fruity as well: apricot, some banana, tangerine, strawberrries… Honey. A bit of chocolate. Invigorating spices as well, mainly pepper and cinnamon. A subtle hint of cigar boxes. Not immensely complex maybe, but once you’ve nosed it, that doesn’t matter any more. Mouth: still very fruity (apricot again, strawberry marmalade, more tropical fruits as well). Nice sweetness with soft vanill and a great “bite” of spices from the virgin oak. A little pine resin. Finish: long and spicy with fruits and mocha.
A full maturation of 30 years in new oak normally doesn’t work (the oak is too active and overtakes the original spirit) but for BenRiach it turns out lovely, especially because the fruit basket is big enough to counterbalance the spices.
Around € 160. Sold out…
For the latest edition of Whisky Live in Japan, four casks of Japanese whisky were selected as festival bottlings. This 19 years old Karuizawa(cask #6446) was one of them. After the festival, it showed up in different shops.
Karuizawa 19 yo 1990 (60%, OB for Whisky Live 10th Anniversary 2009, sherry butt #6446)
Nose: starts quite fresh and aromatic but also more winey than older vintages. A few bourbonny notes with vanilla and almonds. Orange liqueur. Mint and cinnamon. Water brings out apples with cinnamon and oak shavings, plus a few flowery notes (geranium). Very good – much less extreme than most older, legendary Karuizawa. Mouth: powerful attack. Fruity (oranges, white cherries). Big gingery notes and a little pepper. More malty notes than older Karuizawa. With water: more spices, more oak but overall a bit thinner, a lot of the fruity flavours seem to be drowned. Finish: long, slightly oaky. Still based around the spices.
This Karuizawa has less explosive sherry influence than we’re used to – its style reminds me of the Karuizawa 1988 cask #3397. It’s firm and enjoyable, but less complex. For me one of the lesser bottles from this distillery but that’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s still very good.
BenRiach 33 yo 1977 (52,2%, OB 2010,
cask #1033, Pedro Ximénez finish, 331 btl.)
Nose: heavy sherry! Raisins with a chocolate coating. Strawberries and red berries with cocoa powder. A light beefiness (ham) and hints of oak polish. Sweet tobacco. Let’s try water. Hmm, that doesn’t change much. Mouth: very punchy. Cherry liqueur, some rancio. Figs. Spiced bitter chocolate (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves). Growing more herbal (a little resin and mint). A bit of orange liqueur. Quite fruity although there’s a tannic, dry oaky side to it as well. Maybe a little more winey than its GlenDronach siblings. Adding water highlights the herbal side but helps to balance the oak. Finish: a little drier, but still very rich. Blackcurrant marmalade and spices.
This kind of heavy sherry expression eliminates the boundaries between BenRiach and GlenDronach almost completely. This could have easily been produced at GlenDronach. As such it is less unique than the 1970 PX, but it’s certainly recommended. Around € 240.
I usually don’t publish multiple messages in a single day, but let’s break that habit and throw in a review of a new Whisky Agency release right away!
When I first read about this Bowmore 1995 and the fact that it was matured in an ex-sherry cask, I was hoping for something close to the Bowmore 1995 by Single Malts of Scotland. The colour is very different though. As I mentioned before, half of this cask was bottled by The Nectar of the Daily Drams at a lower strength of 46%.
Bowmore 15 yo 1995 (54,1%,
The Whisky Agency – Anatomy series 2010, ex-sherry butt, 132 btl.)
Nose: despite the difference in colour, the first impressions of the nose are very similar to the SMOS bottling. Leather, big hints of kelp, pipe tobacco, walnuts… A couple of wet dogs. After a while it becomes clear that the TWA release has less emphasis on chocolate and dried fruits, yet more coastal / mineral notes and whiffs of fresher fruits (orange zest, lemon or yellow plums). The longer you let them breathe, the further they move away from each other. Overall the TWA nose is cleaner, albeit a little less expressive and less complex. But still very nice. Mouth: very punchy, with heavy earthy peat, some ginger and pepper and a faint honeyed edge. Hints of oranges and leather again. Almost none of the sherry / chocolate notes that we found in the SMOS version. Again: cleaner and simpler. Finish: less dry than its sister, with more oranges, peat and a hint of salt.
Well, this Bowmore 1995 has a slightly different profile than the SMOS bottling. There’s less sherry influence so the end result is a little cleaner and a little more straightforward. Still these 1995 casks all seem to be of high quality.
Around € 70.