Plantation is a premium series of rum produced by small independent distilleries in different Caribbean countries (Barbados, Trinidad, Panama… which all have their own style of rum).
They have a unique “double aging” technique: first the rum is matured in small ex-bourbon or ex-sherry casks in the humid Caribbean climate, but after that, the casks are shipped to France where they are matured for another year in the cellars of the Château de Bonbonnet to give them more refinement and roundness. This technique was common in the 18th and 19th century, but it had almost disappeared.
This Plantation single cask rum was distilled in Barbados and is 11 years old. It has been selected by The Nectar (our Belgian whisky distributor).
Plantation 11 yo (45%, OB 2009,
single cask #01 for The Nectar)
Nose: lots of molasses, sort of a caramel smell. Unrefined Demerara sugar. Some vanilla and cinnamon. Great depth with smooth flavours but also notes of slightly burnt sugar. After 15 minutes in the glass and some hand warmth, a wonderful ripe banana smell comes through (Pisang Ambon) with beautiful notes of coconut cream. Mouth: the coconut is taking the lead now (Malibu) with caramelized banana. A flowery element that is quickly overtaken by the oak. Tropical fruit juice. Some raisins. Sweet and smooth. Finish: medium length, basically the flavours of the palate that fade slowly.
One thing is for sure: this Plantation single cask is a rum for savouring rather than mixing. It’s a lot sweeter than your regular Scotch whisky, but it’s definitely worth looking for. Whiskies are usually more complex than rum, even this kind of rare vintage rum, but they’re priced a lot higher as well. Around € 40.
The results of this year’s WWA10 have been announced:
Best Single Malt Whisky: Ardbeg Corryvreckan
Best Blended Whisky: Hibiki 21 Years Old
Best Blended Malt Whisky: Taketsuru 21 Years Old Best American Whiskey: Rittenhouse Straight Rye 100 proof
Best Whisky Liqueur: Wild Turkey American Honey
Best Grain Whisky: Greenore 15 Years Old Best New Release: Parker’s Heritage Collection Golden Anniversary
This year’s winners are probably less common than in previous editions. Rittenhouse is a rye whiskey, Greenore 15yo normally doesn’t get high scores (apart from Bert Bruyneel who gives it a consistently high score) and most of the American whiskeys can be pretty hard to find in Europe anyway.
Is Ardbeg Corryvreckan really the best single malt whisky of last year? I’m afraid not (at least not for me), but bear in mind that the World Whisky Awards only score high yield releases with a big focus on official bottlings. It would have been nice to publish a list of all the entries to get a better idea of the competition.
Noh, or Nogaku, is a form of classical Japanese musical theatre with a history dating back to the 14th century. It is played by men. Many of them are masked as they also play female roles. By having a series of whisky with this name, No.1 Drinks (the European distributor of Karuizawa, Hanyu and Chichibu) pays tribute to this form of art, full of respect for Japanese tradition.
Is this 32 years old 1976/2009 Noh a new star among the highly praised Karuizawa 1970’s casks?
Nose: big sherry, yet less explosive than some previous Karuizawa. Very nutty with big hints of new leather, together with juicy tangerine and honey. Lots of fresh matchsticks (a common thread in 1970’s Karuizawa). Some figs. Ginger. Lovely raspberry jam. Water brings out hints of cigar cases and delicate smoke. So nice! Mouth: hot hot hot, but I pick up some oak, very dark chocolate and liquorice. Let’s add water. Cherry liqueur. Again quite nutty. A pinch of pepper. Gets slightly medicinal in the end, which is a great addition to the Karuizawa profile. Finish: dry with herbal notes and liquorice. Hints of Lapsang Souchong. Very long.
If anyone doubts the quality of Japanese sherried whisky, try this! Very big and flawless. Perhaps too wild and powerful to be hugely complex, but still a benchmark for heavily sherried whisky. More refined than Wait La Mazurka, with more delicate gunpowder notes and a better balance with the sherry. Around € 165 but sold out in the major shops.
Former Malt Maniac Luc Timmermans is one of the most active whisky personalities in Belgium. He has practically built his house around his huge collection, sells extraordinary bottles on www.whiskysamples.eu and selects interesting casks for his label Thosop. Yesterday he organized a tasting to celebrate his 42nd birthday.
As expected, the line-up was impressive. All of these whiskies are extinct expressions:
Ambassador blend 25 yo (43%, OB – Taylor & Ferguson pre-1974)
Cardhu 12 yo (43%, OB – Wax & Vitale pre-1974)
Miltonduff 13 yo (43%, OB – Salengo Import 1970’s)
Glenfarclas 42 yo 1966 (44,4%, SMWS 2008, 1.146, 76 btl.)
Caol Ila 1969 (54,6%, G&M for Meregalli 1986)
Longmorn 1969 (54,6%, G&M for The Whisky Fair 2008, cask #3724)
Ardbeg 18 yo 1974 (54,6%, Wilson & Morgan 1993, 285 btl.)
Without going into detail: awesome! Especially since the line-up was spiced up with a few comparison drams like the Ardbeg 1976/2002 cask #2390 or a legendary Springbank 12 yo for Samaroli which Whiskyfun scores 98/100. Thanks a million for sharing these beauties with us. I’ll review a couple of them later, but here’s one to start.
Nose: hints of glue and wood polish. Pineapple candy. Passion fruits. Wonderful notes of marshmallow. It goes from Turkish rosewater delight to orange water and actual flowers (which is probably why they called it Dusky Maiden – a rose variety). A candy store really, but a few background notes of spicy oak and dusty books tell you this is older than it may seem. Very special. Mouth: a rather oily mouthfeel, again very fruity with oranges and honey. The oak is also on the foreground now, with a spicy kick of cinnamon and ginger. Finish: long, exotic and spicy. Very elegant.
Old Glenfarclas from a bourbon cask is not very common, but this is a unique example full of exotic fruits. The nose is on a higher level than the palate. Around € 200 at the time but sold out now.
ps/ The rest of the bottle is available on his website
Glen Albyn is a distillery which we haven’t had before on this blog. That’s not really a surprise as it was closed in 1983 (just like the other two distilleries in Inverness) and demolished in 1986. Bottlings are very rare. Apart from a Rare Malts 26yo 1975, there never were official bottlings. Even independent releases can be counted on one hand.
Nose: starts on freshly cut grass and grains. After a while, it develops fruity notes of unripe mango, green apple, tangerine and lime. Faint strawberries. Quite “green”. A bit of leather and clean oak. After a while, an unexpected whiff of sea air can be detected. Quite smooth and harmonious. Mouth: good attack, again high on citrus with added spices (cinnamon, a bit of pepper). Big hints of unripe stone fruits and apples. Gets drier towards the end with some pine oak and resinous notes. Finish: long, lots of lemon with dry oak and a slightly bitter edge.
An unusual but very interesting dram that needs time. Nevertheless it convinced me completely. Great cask selection by The Clydesdale. Around € 150 if you’re lucky enough to find one.
Clydesdale is an independent bottler with a full range of whisky brands and offices in the UK and Sweden. It started in 1998, but it became better known after a redesign and new marketing strategy in 2006.
The casks are being selected by Robin Tucek, the man behind the Blackadder label (mostly known for the Raw Cask series in which burnt sediments of the cask are found in the bottle). Clydesdale whiskies are always single casks at cask strength, un-chill-filtered and uncoloured. That’s the way we like it!
Tomorrow I’ll review the Glen Albyn 33 yo 1974/2008 cask #0016/1601 that won a silver medal in the 2008 Malt Maniacs Awards.
It’s a nice concept: visitors of the Spirits in the Sky festival could attend a masterclass by independent bottler Duncan Taylor and select the next single cask bottling for Belgium. This Glen Grant 1974 was chosen over four other cask samples (Caperdonich 1972, Royal Lochnagar 1986, Glenlivet 1970 and Macduff 1969).
Duncan Taylor has a whole series of 1970/1972/1974 Glen Grant casks, and a lot of the subsequent numbers (#16569 up to #16582) have already been bottled (but apparently none of the 1974’s are as good as the excellent 1972’s and 1970’s).
Glen Grant 35 yo 1974 (55,2%, Duncan Taylor 2009 for The Nectar, cask #16582, 168 btl.)
Nose: a bit shy at first, it needs some hand warmth to show its full potential. Fruity of course, with tangerine, lemon, apples… Rich honey and a bit of marzipan. A nice oakiness. Not as much oak polish as in the Glen Grant 1972 for The Whisky Fair, as far as I can remember. Mouth: cooked fruits with hints of vanilla. Less tropical than I expected. Honey. Marmalade. Significantly more spicy than on the nose with the oakiness becoming very noticeable (but still within limits). Finish: rather long, drying with lots of spices.
This Glen Grant 1974 is not as great as I hoped it would be. It’s very good however, and based on reviews of its sister casks, I think this is the best of the series. It turns out 1974 was a slightly lesser year than 1972 or 1970 for this distillery maybe? Around € 130.
ps/ The box contains an error. The bottle says “cask 16582″ but the certificate says “cask 16882″.
Last year we saw the release of a new Springbank 18 years old. It was matured mainly in sherry casks and it was received very well by reviewers.
I was told it contained quite a lot of older whisky. In fact 21yo would have been a more accurate name. This year, there’s a new version limited at 9000 bottles with the same cask distribution (80% sherry, 20% bourbon). It’s likely to sell out really soon.
Springbank 18y (46%, OB 2010)
Nose: it takes a while to open up, but it’s clear the berries are the key element again. Blueberries, strawberries… an unusual but very enjoyable fruit mix. Underneath is a darker layer of roasted grains, very gentle smoke and hints of marzipan and vanilla. A slightly earthy / dusty edge as well, which makes it a classic Springbank. While it’s still very balanced and entertaining, I remember last year’s release to be more expressive and complex. Mouth: same remark, it seems rather tame. Quite oily with the sherry standing out a bit (dried fruits, some spices, nuts). Slightly bittersweet. A hint of smoke. Finish: medium length but really nice, with notes of blueberries, chocolate and spices.
While it’s still a good whisky, I was underwhelmed by this new version. Maybe it’s the power of imagination (I didn’t have a chance to taste them head-to-head), but the new version seems to be playing in a lower league. Quite expensive: around € 100.