Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Together with the GlenDronach 1971 cask #483, this GlenDronach 1972 is the king (queen?) of the current single cask releases.

 

GlenDronach single cask 1972 719 GlenDronach 37yo 1972 (54,8%, OB 2009, oloroso cask #719, 474 btl.)

Nose: the aroma is “darker” than the 1971, with more toasted notes. It has a more nutty aroma with more wood influence as well. There are even some farmy / wild mushrooms notes in the background (nothing dirty though). On the whole this 1972 is a bit closer to old bourbon than the 1971, with hints of worn leather and resin. Huge hints of oak polish. Punchy fruit as well, but I would say blueberries and blackberry jam rather than red fruits. Some liquorice. Terrific complexity. Mouth: a lot of dried fruits (figs, apricots), strawberry jam and sultanas. Milk chocolate. Even a faint waxiness. Getting drier, much spicier and slightly tannic towards the finish, but the wood influence is still within the limits for me. Long finish, round and slightly tannic again. Chocolate and berries.

In my opinion, this GlenDronach 1972 is a lot bolder and more expressive than the 1971, and it really explodes when warmed up to body temperature. A very big and self-confident malt. Cheaper than the 1971 (wait, make that “less expensive”) around € 300.

Score: 94/100

 

Are the 1971 and 1972 worth the extra money over the 199x bottlings? For me, the 1971 isn’t. The 1972 sure can’t beat the others in an absolute price vs. quality comparison, but it does have a truly sublime profile that you can only experience at certain ages… I would choose the 1972 over the 1971 any time, even with the extra wood. If you want bang for your buck, I would suggest the 1992.


GlenDronach dug up a 37 and 38 years old cask to be the headliners of this year’s single cask line-up. They have a wonderful dark copper colour that promises two sherry bombs.

 
GlenDronach single cask 1971 483 GlenDronach 38yo 1971 (49,4%, OB 2009, oloroso cask #483, 544 btl.)

Nose: lovely notes of coffee beans, sultanas and leather. I picked up some hints of matchsticks as well, but they disappeared before I got the chance to dig a little deeper. Nothing to worry about anyway. Quite some sharper, fruitier notes as well, mainly raspberries and cherries. Red, fresh, lush fruit mixed with the sherry. Amazingly playful after so many years. Chocolate with hazelnuts. Mouth: again a very fresh and vibrant impression. Raisins covered in chocolate with a perfect bitter-sweet tone. Dry figs, some cinnamon. Tangerine. Very elegant. Finish: long, on chocolate again with a minty touch.

The GlenDronach 1971 is a rich and enticing whisky with only one downside: € 330 is a lot of money. Of course you pay a premium for the age and limited availability. Let’s find out how it compares to the 1972 tomorrow.

Score: 88/100


Managers choice single cask selection There are interesting rumours that whisky giant Diageo will soon announce a new series of exclusive bottlings named The Manager’s Choice Single Cask Selection. They’ve selected one single cask from each of the 27 distilleries in their portfolio and the first six will be released in October 2009. A new Rare Malts series is born.

I’m not sure which distilleries will be in the first batch, but the picture shows Oban, Teaninich and Mortlach.

Also, as part of their yearly special releases, there will be a Port Ellen 30yo and probably a new Brora 30yo this year.

Update: it’s not simply a rumour. Check this website and this movie clip
Update 2: here are some prices (are they out of their mind?)


Amrut Fusion

28 Aug 2009 | * World

It’s a common thread that Amrut whiskies are bottled at very young ages (usually 3 to 5 years). This can be explained by the hot Indian climate which causes an angel’s share of around 12% a year. The accelerated maturation makes it unnecessary to wait longer.

Amrut Fusion is a mixture of 25% peated Scottish barley and 75% unpeated Indian malt, both mashed and distilled independently. The result was matured in old and new American oak barrels at the distillery in Bangalore.

 

Amrut Fusion Amrut Fusion (50%, OB 2009, batch #01)

Nose: very all-round with clean barley, fruity notes (blood oranges), brown sugar, vanilla and very gentle peat. It has a biscuity quality and the peat gives it an extra dimension. Mouth: mostly oranges and vanilla at first. Reminds me of turkish delights and some kinds of bubblegum. Good oakiness. Some mocha. The peat is on a second level but it complements the profile quite well and grows stronger over time. Finish: long, rich, orangey. Very good balance between sweet, spicy and peaty.

After the independent Amrut 5/2009 by Blackadder and this official Amrut Fusion, it’s clear that India is a serious player with a bright future. They produce very enjoyable all-round whisky. Amrut Fusion is a steal at around € 35.

Score: 85/100

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Craigellachie (meaning “Rocky Hill”) was associated with the White Horse blend until the distillery was sold to Bacardi Martini in 1998. Their whisky was available in Diageo’s Flora & Fauna line (now one of the rarest F&F bottlings) which was replaced by an official 14yo in 2004.

The village of Craigellachie is also home to the world famous Craigellachie Hotel, which has one of the largest single malt selections in the world.

This is the first Craigellachie released by The Whisky Exchange.

 

Craigellachie 1994 15y SMOS Craigellachie 15yo 1994
(46%, Single Malts of Scotland 2009, cask #5901, 325 btl.)

Nose: holds the middle between orangey and buttery notes. Orange cake? Slight hints of shoe polish and a bit of vanilla. Yellow apples. Very fruity in a “warm”, biscuity kind of way. Mouth: malty / fruity, quite creamy with lots of vanilla fudge. Hints of fruit liqueurs. Dried pineapple cubes, some marmelade. Not very powerful but pleasantly drinkable. Spicy oak influence after a while, but nothing huge. Finish: long enough, basically on the same flavours. A few added hints of nutmeg.

Very pleasant stuff. It seems that few Craigellachies are spectacular but most of them are very enjoyable. A late summer whisky. Around € 52.

Score: 84/100


Duncan Taylor recently launched a premium blend, Black Bull, made up of 50% malt whisky and 50% grain, vatted in the 1970’s and matured for more than 30 years. This is highly unusual because blends are usually vatted after separate maturation. Its availability is rather limited.

 

Black Bull 30y Black Bull 30 yo (50%, Duncan Taylor 2009)

Nose: nicely integrated oloroso sherry with figs, chocolate and orange marmalade. Lots of raisins. Some cocoa and espresso. Cake. Hints of leather. The whole works very well with the grain, it really balances. Mouth: nice mouth-feel, nice spices (cinnamon, ginger) which give it the flavours of a christmas cake. Hints of “Mon chérie” (chocolate filled with a cherry and liqueur). Finish: roasted coffee beans, milk chocolate ganache, cinnamon and cherries again. A bit of tobacco.

This certainly is a blend that will appeal to many malt lovers (give it to them blind). Very smooth and gentle. It’s probably the best blend I’ve ever had. Around € 90.

Score: 89/100


This one is the second 16 year-old in this year’s selection of GlenDronach single casks (bottled at cask strength, non chill filtered and not coloured). This batch will be marketed in 15 countries worldwide.

Let’s compare it to the GlenDronach 1992/2009 16y.

 

GlenDronach 1993/2009 16y - cask 523 GlenDronach 16yo 1993
(60,4%, OB 2009, oloroso butt #523, 634 btl.)

Nose: More powerful than the 1992, a bit more prickly on the nose (the alcohol difference is not that big though). I don’t have to tell this has some heavy oloroso influence as well. The raisins, the dried fruits, the chocolate, they’re all here. Compared to the 1993, more notes of fresh leather and a bit of nail polish remover (more towards an old bourbon). Raspberries. I’m missing the added notes of toffee and vanilla here. More herbal notes (sage, mint). With water: hints of a dusty cellar, some beeswax and very light hints of a stable. Very nice. Mouth: good depth in the mouth. Spicy, fruity, slightly toasted. There’s papaya and dried figs. Prunes. Some rancio in the background. Hints of coffee. Quite sweet overall. Finish: very long and quite sirupy. Getting drier on oranges and figs. Less bitter notes in the end here.

The GlenDronach 1992 and 1993 are equally sherried and equally flawless, I would say. The differences in flavours are a matter of personal preference. I was amazed by the soft vanilla nose and the spectacular fruity effect of the 1992 (with water), so that one has a small edge for me. Around € 90.

Score: 86/100


Now that GlenDronach has been taken over by the Walker family, they are following the BenRiach tradition of yearly special releases. The new owners have shown what they can do for an undervalued distillery so we should have high hopes for these new releases.

This year, there are five single casks:

GlenDronach 1992/2009 cask 1140 GlenDronach 16yo 1992 (57,2%, OB 2009, oloroso butt #1140, 598 btl.)

Nose: big big sherry. Hints of raisins, milk chocolate, worn leather. Maraschino cherries / kirsch. Sweet notes of toffee, even some vanilla. Walnuts. Hints of roasted nuts and smoke in the distance. With water, bang, a fruit explosion: tangerine, lovely raspberry and red currant. Very sweet and juicy. Mouth: prunes, cherry liqueur, some balsamic vinegar. A bunch of fruit jams as well (figs, prunes, blackcurrant). Light cinnamon. In the aftertaste, there is some beef stock and more leather. Finish: amazingly long, on sherry, hazelnuts and spices (cloves and a bit of ginger). Evolves to very dark, slightly bitter chocolate.

Now you have to like heavy sherry of course, but if you do, you will love this GlenDronach. No nasty sulphur effect whatsoever, which can be a problem with heavy sherry bottlings. Clean and complex. Too bad for the oaky bitterness in the end, which I found a bit distracting.

Not available yet, but on its way to the stores as we speak. Around € 90.

Score: 90/100


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  • WhiskyNotes: It says 'single cask Scotch whisky' on the label, so yes, technically it can even contain a bit of Girvan grain. Not that it matters a lot though.
  • kallaskander: Hi there, could be a teaspooned blenders cask... technically not a single malt then.... that seems more probable than letting an IB bring out the fir
  • Glenn Vanbellingen: If you put the 12 y origin at 40% head to head with the 12 y origin 46% you see it immediately or better you taste it immediately.

Coming up

  • Jura 1972 SMWS 31.4
  • Balblair 2002
  • Kavalan Solist sherry (for LMdW)
  • Tullibardine 1980 (Malts of Scotland)
  • Ardbeg 1998 (Malts of Scotland)

1579 notes by Ruben

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