Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Clynelish is a Diageo distillery that’s appreciated by many connoisseurs for its subtle, lighter style with lots of waxy notes and the usage of lightly peated malt. Clynelish (sister of the wonderful Brora) tends to be a bit unusual, but always rewarding. This 1996 distillation was from a sherry butt.

 

Malts of Scotland - Clynelish 1996 Clynelish 12yo 1996 (58,1%, Malts of Scotland 2009, cask #8245, 304 btl.)

Nose: prickly nose but it opens up with some hand warmth, there’s lovely apricot captured by Clynelish’s typical wax. Hints of gin tonic and cut grass. Some oranges and almonds. Hints of violets. Lots of character really. Mouth: wonderful violet candy mixed with other fruity notes. Very sugary lemon juice. Sweet as marshmallows. So beautiful. Becoming oily and resinous. Oranges with nutmeg. Finish: medium length, balancing between waxiness, fruitiness and spiciness.

If you like vibrant, candied Clynelish, this is highly recommended. Around € 50 which makes it an absolute stunner! Thumbs up for Malts of Scotland. Find a shop in Germany that ships outside of the country.

Score: 90/100


Longmorn was founded by John Duff who also started the BenRiach and Glenlossie distilleries. It is one of the few distilleries who never stopped production during the 20th century. The spirit is seen as one of the better blending malts, and the heavily sherried independent releases from the 1970’s are brilliant. At the moment, there is one official bottling, the 16 years old which is just so-so.

 
Longmorn 14y 1994 - Douglas Laing Longmorn 14y 1994
(50%, DL OMC 2008, ref. 4804, 352 btl.)

Nose: fresh on citrus and barley. Also sweeter notes of honey. Hints of cake. Balanced oak influence (cigar box) with some spicy touches (vanilla, ginger, cinnamon). Mouth: very spicy (peppery) attack. As soon as this calms down, there’s a huge vanilla wave. Bitter oranges. Finish on vanilla with hints of cherries. Citrus and oak again. Quite sweet at first, gets more bitter towards the end. Apple cake.

Quite good, this Longmorn from a refill hogshead has character and a firm taste.

Score: 82/100.


This is one of the three latest releases in the Daily Dram series (check Daily Dram Auk’s Choir and Daily Dram High Dark Plan as well).

Ciao All, as you all know, is the Italian sister distillery of Caol Ila. It’s 12 years old so let’s pour a dram of the official Caol Ila 12 years as well and compare…

 

Daily Dram - Ciao All Caol Ila ‘Ciao All’ 12yo 1996 
(46%, Daily Dram 2009)

Nose: initially a coastal impression. Iodine mixed with rather sweet peat smoke. Hints of toffee and motor oil. Sweeter, rounder, less austere than the original bottling. More biscuity as well. Lemon as usual, with a hint of vanilla. Less apple. Slight hints of tobacco. Mouth: oily and rather sweet again, peaty but still quite delicate. Some pepper and nutmeg. Growing intensly salty towards the finish. Overall much smoother than the regular version, despite the extra 3% alcohol. Finish: balanced smokey/sweet, with some peat and milk chocolate.

This ragazzo takes the original profile and adds a certain creamy smoothness. It’s tasty, powerful enough and extremely drinkable. The price level of around € 50 is probably a tad too expensive , compared to the quality of the distillery bottling (around € 35).

Score: 82/100


Macduff distillery is one of the younger plants in Scotland. It was built during the whisky boom of the 1960’s, specifically to produce malt for blends. It’s rarely released as a single malt. There is one official release (10yo) with the name Glen Deveron (from the name of the founding company) but independent releases are usually named Macduff. It’s currently owned by Bacardi / Dewar’s.

Macduff 1990 - Malts of ScotlandThis 18 year-old Macduff 1990 was bottled in March 2009 by the new German brand Malts of Scotland. It was matured in a sherry hogshead.

 

Macduff 18yo 1990 (53,1%, Malts of Scotland 2009, cask #1423, 124 btl.)

Nose: obviously from an active cask, probably first-fill. It’s a mix of raisins, dry figs, oranges, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon, caramel… Hints of sweet & sour sauce. A bit dusty as well, with a few organic notes. Maybe not completely free of rubbery notes, but they disappear. Mouth: heavy sherry impact with chocolate, coffee, pear syrup. Raisins. Minty edge. Finish: not too long, on dark cherries and dark chocolate. Drying oak.

This one is for sherry lovers only, but in its genre it’s really nice. You don’t seem to find many good Macduffs recently, but here you have one. Available on the German market for around € 70.

Score: 86/100


Glenrothes 1988 / Glenrothes 1998 The Glenrothes recently announced two new expressions, a 20 year-old Glenrothes 1988 and a 10 year-old Glenrothes 1998. Both will be released in the Far East first, so no need to rush to your local supplier.

This is the official character description on the label of the 1988 vintage: “Rich candied orange peel, fruit compote”. And for the 1998 vintage: “Lemon citrus, rich vanilla, cinnamon hints”.

By the way, The Glenrothes’ Master Distiller, John Ramsey, is retiring after 43 years in the industry. The 1988 is his last creation and the 1998 will be the first for his successor Gordon Motion.

ps/ John Ramsey’s favourite Glenrothes of all times is still the Glenrothes 1979.

ps/ Check Stefan Hennig’s website if you’re interested in The Glenrothes.


Ardbeg sure knows how to pick unpronounceable names. It’s funny to hear what people make of this… The name refers to the second lake down from Uigeadail and means ‘place of the beast’.

 

Ardbeg Airigh nam beist Ardbeg 1990 ‘Airigh nam beist’ 
(46%, OB 2006)

Nose: starts surprisingly floral and fresh. Over time, with a bit of hand warmth, it changes to a more powerful, medicinal profile.  Some lemon, peach, even vanilla ice cream. A few salty notes. Overall nicely integrated with the peat smoke. Mouth: creamy impact. Less fruity than on the nose. Lemon again. Seaweed, pepper and more extravert peat. Smoked bacon. Some chocolate. Finish: long with predominant liquorice and smoke. Sweet coffee as well.

Ardbeg at its (affordable) best, I would say. Strong and sharp but balanced with a good foundation of sweet malt. Still available (newer batches). Around € 65.

Score: 87/100

Thanks Johan, for this sample.


Auchroisk is a relatively young Speyside distillery built in 1974 by J&B. It still produces mostly for blending purposes, but there’s an official 10yo in the Flora & Fauna series and there were a few “Singleton” bottlings.

Daily Dram Auks ChoirAs far as I know, this is one of the oldest Auchroisks ever to be bottled, apart from the 28yo 1974 Rare Malts release. With an out-turn of just 97 bottles, it’s very limited.

 

Auchroisk ‘Auk’s Choir’ 34yo 1975
(41,3%, Daily Dram 2009, 97 btl.)

Nose: very appealing, fruity / floral start, punchy enough considering the low alcohol volume. Peaches and orange marmelade. Pink grapefruit. Hints of strawberry candy. Vanilla cake. Marzipan / almonds. Faint notes of nail polish remover as well. Some subtle wood. With water: more citrus. Mouth: still fruity but with more wood with soft spices. Liquorice as well. Some resinous notes, slightly bitter towards the end. Not overly complex, and not a good swimmer either. Finish: rather long and drying. Some spicy cake again.

Interesting Auchroisk with a great nose, but on the palate it doesn’t stand up to some other 30+ year-old whisky. I expected a bit more. Around € 135.

Score: 83/100


Malts of Scotland

23 Jun 2009 | * News

Malts of Scotland A new independent bottler was born a couple of months ago: Malts of Scotland. In March 2009, they released a first range of 11 single cask whiskies (cask strength, no colouring, no chill-filtration) with prices between 40 and 140 euro. They claim to have several hundreds of casks from more than 60 distilleries ageing in their warehouses.

 

Port Charlotte 2001 (Malts of Scotland)The brand was founded by Thomas Ewers, who has been acquiring interesting casks over the last couple of years and is now releasing them.

I’ll be reviewing most of their current products soon. Some of the highlights in the range:

  • Bunnahabhain 1976
  • Clynelish 1996
  • Glenkinchie 1975
  • Macduff 1990
  • Port Charlotte 2001 (fully sherry matured)

Website: www.malts-of-scotland.com


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Coming up

  • Glen Grant 1992 (Le Gus't)
  • Auchentoshan 15yo (Kintra)
  • Lagavulin 1997 Distillers Edition
  • Ben Nevis 1997 (Maltbarn)
  • Tomatin 1978 (Cadenhead / Nectar)
  • Aultmore 2007 (Daily Dram)
  • Glenglassaugh 1978 (Madeira)
  • Karuizawa 45 Year Old (cask #2925)
  • Glengoyne 1999 (Palo Cortado)

1504 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.