Single malt whisky - tasting notes

I’ll be reviewing two 1967 Strathislas head-to-head. The first one is a 42 year-old Strathisla bottled earlier this year by the German Whisky Agency in their Fossils series. It was matured in a bourbon cask.

 

Whisky Agency - Strathisla 1967 Strathisla 42yo 1967 (44,5%, Whisky Agency 2009, Fossils series, 120 btl.)

Nose: very elegant. A soft fruit salad (plums) with hints of almonds (marzipan). Walnuts and honey. Slightly leathery. After a while, it shows a ‘green’ edge, with hints of green pine cones or very unripe fruits. Fresh herbs. Impressive and uncommon at the same time. Mouth: big oakiness, over-infused tea, some spices and liquorice. A bit of menthol. The fruit is completely overtaken by the wood now, which is a shame. Finish: not too long, on spicy oak and tea again. A fairly dry end. 

Although Strathisla is known to take age better than usual, 42 years is still a lot. If you don’t mind the obvious oak, go for it. A lot to say after so many years, but certainly not perfect. Around € 200.

Score: 86/100


It was difficult to make a selection from the Carn Mor vintage collection. There’s a bit of everything, so I decided to go for whiskies I didn’t know too well.

Tobermory 1994 Carn MorAlthough it’s one of the oldest distilleries in existence, Tobermory is not very popular. Sales decreased and production capacity is limited. Apart from unpeated whisky, they also make a peated version named Ledaig.

 

Tobermory 1994 (46%, Carn Mor 2009, sherry butt #5125, 2744 btl.)

Nose: there’s sulphur and there’s sulphur. This is the eggy type. A few mashy and grainy notes with hints of a drain. Cereals with milk. Some pears. Hints of shoe polish. 15 years really? There’s a fruity side to it, but it doesn’t shine through. Mouth: a bit cardboardy, lots of liquorice. Some nougat and caramel. Pears again and oranges. Shampoo and cologne in the aftertaste. Finish: medium length, becoming surprisingly candied and caramelly with notes of lavender.

I’m not sure what to make of this. Weird anyway and not my idea of decent whisky, so let’s not try to examine it too far. Bad choice. I’m afraid a lot of the 2744 bottles will end up in the sink.

Score: 45/100


Hesperia Scotch BarThe Hesperia Madrid is one of the best known high quality 5* hotels in Madrid. Their Scotch Bar is quite a cosy place, though a little old-fashioned.

Location: Paseo de la Castellana 57 – 28046 Madrid (Spain)
Range: +/- 50 single malts (menu available without descriptions, but lots of whiskies are mentioned in the wrong region, and lots of spelling mistakes)
Price: € 12,50 to € 42

What I’ve had: Glengoyne 17
Price: € 15 (+/- 6cl)
Glass: tumbler (eventually changed for a cognac glass)
Extra: poured at the table, ice offered separately, different nuts

Pros: generous portions, professional staff, excellent cocktails as well
Cons: no clients on a Saturday evening, expensive, menu full of mistakes


This Japanese Yamazaki 1990 won a silver medal in the 2008 Malt Maniacs award (best sherry cask). It has an extraordinary, deep brown colour. Yamazaki is part of the Suntory lineup.

 

Yamazaki 1990 / 2008 sherry Yamazaki 1990 (60%, OB 2008, sherry cask #0N70645, 471 btl.)

Nose: slightly dusty, smokey sherry. Big on cocoa. Chocolate. Intense red fruits (Mon Cherie, strawberry jam). Some aniseed. Quite some wood as well, big in every aspect. More fruity notes and some coffee if you add water. Cigar leafs. Mouth: a bit too strong. With water, it’s more accesible. Lots of spices now, mostly cinnamon and pepper. Some mocha and strawberries. Tobacco. Finish: quite dry, not very long. A bit winey, with big oak influence.

Phenomenal strength. If you remember to add water though, this is a very rewarding dram. I guess it could have been even better with a few extra years of softening, although the wood influence would probably make it undrinkable by then.

Score: 88/100


Pappy Van Winkle is Kentucky Straight Bourbon. It was produced by the Stitzel-Weller Distillery which ceased operations in June 1992. It means there’s probably not much 20yo spirit left. It’s now part of the Buffalo Trace imperium.

 

Pappy Van Winkle 20 yo Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 20 years old
(45,2%, OB)

Nose: expressive. Immediately mentholated. Slightly bubblegummy / cotton candy, some darker sugar, very big notes of varnish. Tobacco and old leather. Vanilla and other more powerful spices (white pepper). Much more oak than commonly found in bourbon, but still within the limits. Slightly dusty. Mouth: hmm interestingly weird. Not very complex, pretty much on burnt caramel and liquid wood extract (does that exist?). A bit too much oak I’m afraid. Pine trees with pepper and big hints of herbal cough syrup. Unique but rather flat, lacking richness that I do find in other bourbons. Finish: not very long, woody and resinous.

This Pappy Van Winkle 20 gained a bunch of awards but for me it’s not really worth the price (around € 110). I fear bourbon has more to say at younger ages.

Score: 80/100


As you probably know, I wasn’t too enthousiastic about the general release of Kilchoman 3yo. Let’s find out how it compares to the single cask they’ve released for La Maison du Whisky at Whisky Live Paris. It was only sold to people who attended the whisky dinner.

While the regular 3yo was finished in sherry casks, this is the first bourbon version of Kilchoman.

 

Kilchoman 3 years #232 LMdW Kilchoman 3yo 2006
(61,1%, OB for LMdW 2009, cask #232)

Nose: amazingly different. Almost none of the banana / rhubarb smell that is so characteristic of new-make. More iodine this time, much more vanilla as well. A great farminess that was completely absent in the regular release. Big peat of course. Mouth: even bigger peat, now accompanied by smoked fish with a generous pinch of salt. I don’t know many whiskies that are this salty, but it works well. Quite unique. Less pepper than the general release. Not much fruit either, some apple maybe in the aftertaste, but certainly on a very low level. Finish on medicinal notes and peat. The smoke stays active for a very long time.

Now we’re talking! This is more or less what I expected from Kilchoman. Kudos to LMdW for making this cask available and to Whiskysamples for sharing their bottle.

Score: 85/100

ps/ I’ve just found out that this spirit was distilled on my birthday!


Whisky Agency

15 Nov 2009 | * News

The Whisky Agency German bottler The Whisky Agency announced its upcoming releases. There’s a new Flowers series (after the Fossils, Sharks and Butterflies) as well as an undisclosed ‘House Malt’ release and a Third series of The Perfect Dram.

These are a few of the highlights:


Laphroaig 10 year old cask strength has been a favourite of many peat heads. As of February 2009, Laphroaig started mentioning a batch number on the bottles. The first batch has been around for a while now, but still it’s not widely available so I guess batch #002 will not be released soon.


Laphroaig 10yo CS Batch 001 Laphroaig 10 yo Cask Strength (57,8%, OB 2009, Batch #001)

Nose: immediately smokey and medicinal. Dry ashes and tar. Lots of phenols. There’s certainly less fruit than the former 10 Year Old CS. I do get some sweet peach but the whole is too smokey to make it stand out. Charcoal. Quite a lot of rubber / tires as well and hints of pencil shavings. Mouth: peppery peat smoke, starting sweet but getting quite dry after a few moments with a remarkable wood influence. Hints of salty liquorice and seaweed. Still no obvious fruit, although there is some apple skin to be found. Finish: again smokey, quite dry and salty. Long aftertaste.

Laphroaig 10 years old CS confirms itself as a very powerful dram although a bit more mono-dimensional than previous batches. Only recommended if you’re into heavy smoke. Around € 50.

Score: 86/100


Laphroaig 10yo CS
(bottling code LG010R2K)

- relatively fruity with vanilla
– sweet peat smoke
– medicinal
– balanced smoke

Laphroaig 10yo CS
(Batch #001)

- less fruit, faint hints of vanilla
– tar, charcoal and burnt notes
– rubbery
– big emphasis on smoke


I’ll repeat the remark I’ve made for Ardbeg Corryvreckan and the recent Lagavulin 12 years old: there seems to be a general tendency towards heavier smoke and ‘burnt’ peat. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, just an observation.


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Coming up

  • SIA Blended Scotch
  • Ardmore Legacy
  • Cardhu 18 Year Old
  • Clynelish 21yo 1992 (Cadenhead)
  • Ledaig 2005 (Maltbarn)
  • Aberlour 8yo (cube, small cork)

1644 notes by Ruben

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