Single malt whisky - tasting notes

While reviewing the GlenDronach single casks, there was one cask that I didn’t post, the GlenDronach 1996. Given its low price, it was sold out very soon.

 

GlenDronach 1996 single cask 193 GlenDronach 13yo 1996 (59,4%,
OB 2009, oloroso butt #193, 399 btl.)

Nose: this one is the most rubbery of all the single casks. Nothing nasty, just plain rubber. I don’t really mind. Of course heavy sherry as well: raisins, prunes, chocolate. Some mint. Leather. Kirsch. A tad more meaty than the other casks as well (tajine lamb?). Mouth: A bit sharp, hints of sweet & sour. Figs and dates. Cherry liqueur again. Classic notes of coffee in the aftertaste. Finish: very long, a bit dry. Dark chocolate. Added notes of oranges.

The 1996 is the youngest and roughest cask of the GlenDronach single cask series. Close to being over-sherried. The rubbery nose costs a few points, but overall still decent value for money. Around € 65.

Score: 83/100

ps/ Its sister cask #209 (a 1996 vintage as well) is now promoted in Belgium by the GlenDronach “cask in a van” event. You can fill your own bottle straight from the cask.


Aberlour 14 yo 1995 (Duncan Taylor NC2)NC2 is a series by Duncan Taylor. It stands for “non coloured” and “non chill filtered”. These bottlings are usually a little younger and cheaper than the ones from other DT series.

Aberlour 14yo 1995
(46%, Duncan Taylor NC2 2009)

Nose: fresh, fruity start on peaches and pears. Hints of cereals and butter, a few lactic notes. Very little wood influence. After a while, some flowers appear, mainly violets and roses. Nothing spectacular but nice enough. Mouth: sweet start, quite some vanilla and apple juice. Orange candy. Muesli. Strawberries. Growing spicier in the aftertaste (soft pepper, ginger). Finish: medium length. Liquorice.

Simple but charming and highly drinkable daily dram. Around € 45. Available soon.

Score: 80/100


This Glenfarclas 1968/2009 is a private Family Cask bottling by the Lindores Society to celebrate their 5th Anniversary. It will be presented at the Lindores Whisky Fest on the 24th and 25th of October 2009.

One of their founding fathers, Luc Timmermans (the man behind whiskysamples.eu), is a well-known Glenfarclas collector. He picked this 41 years old 1968 vintage (his birth year), matured in a sherry cask from the excellent bodega Gonzalez Byass.

 

Glenfarclas 1968 #699 Glenfarclas 1968 (51%, OB 2009, Family cask for Luc Timmermans, cask #699, Lindores 5th Anniversary, 35 btl.)

Nose: very sophisticated. Complex layers of fruit mixed with sweeter notes of marzipan and marshmallows. Gentle sherry with honey and some vanilla. Cinnamon, pepper, toffee and cake. Some wax / oak polish, which brings it close to old Clynelish at times. A real gentleman. Mouth: big attack, fruity with hints of leather. Fresh raspberry jam and plums. Again slightly peppery with added notes of cloves. Very punchy and slightly meaty. Finish: very long, on spicy oranges. Hints of tobacco. Getting drier.

Superb Glenfarclas. Though the oak is certainly present, it’s never excessive, and the whole is never tired either. An example of perfect sherry balance. Definitely one to try if you’re visiting the LWS Fest. Available for
€ 295 (cheap if you compare it to offical 1968 Family casks).

Score: 93/100


This Arran was matured for 8 years in traditional bourbon casks and finished for a further 6 months in bordeaux wine casks from Château La Conseillante. The château uses mainly new French oak.


  
Arran Pomerol Arran 8yo ‘Pomerol finish’ (50%, OB 2009, bordeaux wine cask, 9420 btl.)

Nose: very rubbery I’m afraid, like wine finishes can be. Hints of cooked red fruits (strawberry) and cinnamon. Some blood oranges. Hints of vanilla and cranberries. Mouth: plums and oak. Again some strawberries with malty notes. Liquorice. After a while, big notes of ginger. Too much (new) wood. Finish: oaky, slightly peppery with hints of cereals.

A curious Arran. I still don’t get why Arran, Edradour or Bruichladdich keep finishing in wine casks so much. Apart from a few exceptions, I find the results rarely satisfying. Arran Peacock shows their normal maturation is much better.

Score: 65/100


Bowmore Tempest

28 Sep 2009 | Bowmore

Described as being “unlike any other Bowmore single malt”, the long-anticipated Bowmore Tempest is a small batch release of only 2000 cases from Islay’s oldest distillery.

It’s great that Bowmore doesn’t follow the trend to make big profits on limited (young) bottlings. This 10 year-old cask strength Tempest costs around € 45. Quite fair.

 

Bowmore Tempest 56.3%

Bowmore 10yo Tempest
(56,3%, OB 2009, Batch #1, 12.000 btl.)

Nose: a fresh mix of orange marmalade and sea air. Nice and soft, citrus is the main component here. Then the floral notes appear, with hints of violets. Totally different than those soapy lavender Bowmores though. Strawberry candy! Sultanas. Some vanilla cream as well. Some maritime notes and ginger syrup. Mouth: citrus again, but the peat kicks in now. Nice evolution with rather big salty notes, oranges, a little sherry and a nice bitterness. Earthy smoke. Some pepper. Finish: medium length on salt, iodine and slightly bitter green tea.

I have not been a fan of recent official Bowmores, but the least you can say is that this is a nice surprise! The nose is very pleasant and this Tempest is a fresh, enjoyable dram overall. Very good value for money.

Score: 89/100


When it opened not so long ago, Kilchoman was the first new distillery to be built on Islay in 124 years. It’s very small and unique in that their Optic barley is grown on the farm and malted, distilled and matured at the distillery. The release of their first real whisky, a 3yo with 50ppm phenols (like Ardbeg) and a 5 month oloroso finish, was a highly anticipated event.

 

Kilchoman 3y inaugural Kilchoman 3yo ‘Inaugural release’
(46%, OB 2009, 8450 btl.)

Nose: I was a bit disappointed because it’s still close to the last new-make samples, with the usual hints of (artificial) banana and rhubarb. I liked the new-make but my expectations for the extra years were too high, I guess. Full of coal smoke / bonfire of course. Some medicinal associations. Quite some vanilla as well. Hardly any sherry. Mouth: not very punchy at first and a bit unbalanced, but it grows bigger. The full flavours only come out in the aftertaste. Big, both in terms of peatiness and sweetness , although the oak brings some dryness as well. Peppery and smokey. Again no sherry that I can get. Hardly any fruit either for that matter. Finish: very long. Ashtray with some sweet vanilla.

Unlike the new-make releases, this 3yo is in the big boys class now, but I prefer to wait a couple of years longer before getting this for my cabinet. I see potential but given its very limited complexity, I can’t give the current product a whopping score like most other reviewers do, just because of the potential. Anyway, it took about 3 seconds to sell out, so it doesn’t really matter what I say… Around € 55.

I’m still looking forward to a mature Kilchoman by the way!

Score: 75/100


Dalwhinnie 15y

24 Sep 2009 | Dalwhinnie

Dalwhinnie represents the Central Highlands in the Classic Malts series of Diageo. It is one of the highest situated distilleries of Scotland (326m above sea level) and among the top-15 of most sold Dalwhinnie 15single malt whisky worldwide. Production and releases are limited though, there’s only the 15 years old and the 17 years old Distiller’s Edition (15 years + 2 years in oloroso sherry casks).

 

Dalwhinnie 15yo (43%, OB 2007)

Nose: light, malty (beer and cereal notes) and very honeyed. Slightly phenolic. Fruity (peach, citrus). Rather expressive, I must say. Mouth: quite malty and honeyed. Oily. Some heather and vanilla. Lemon. Again a little more smoke than I expected. A few roasted and sugary notes. Slightly herbal towards the end. Finish: falls down a bit. Rather grassy.

A good middle-of-the-road dram: full-bodied, clean and sweet without being cloying. Indeed a representative of the Highlands style and great quality for the price.

Score: 84/100


ardbeg_logo Yesterday, I’ve had a look at the brand new Ardbeg Corryvreckan. Let’s find out how it compares to the Airigh Nam Beist (its predecessor), and the Supernova which is the “heavy duty” offer in the Ardbeg range.

 

Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist
Much more candied and floral than the Corryvreckan. You can hardly pick up the peat at first, such a difference! Bigger fruitiness, more vanilla (lovely white chocolate), Ardbeg Supernovaless burnt notes. Less grassy notes as well. If you go back to the Corryvreckan after this, it seems like a Supernova. I have to say I appreciate the Airigh Nam Beist more after this comparison.

Ardbeg Supernova
This one is definitely stronger, peatier, ashier. More tar, espresso and more camomile. There are also (pleasant) notes of rubber and pencil shavings that I didn’t get in the Corryvreckan. Overall more mono-dimensional though.

 

Basically the new Corryvreckan (30% fruit / 70% peat, I would say), sits in the middle between the feminine, candied Airigh Nam Beist (70% fruit / 30% peat) and the monstruous Supernova (5% fruit / 95% peat). It seems the overall Ardbeg profile is moving towards less complexity, with a darker taste and heavier peat (except for Blasda, that is). I’m pretty sure Corryvreckan will be a hit, although the price is considerably higher than previous standard Ardbegs.

After this comparison, I decided to give the Airigh Nam Beist one extra point and the Supernova one less.


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Coming up

  • Cardhu 18 Year Old
  • Benriach 1991 (MoS for QV.ID)
  • Blair Athol 1991 (Wemyss Malts)
  • Ledaig 2005 (Maltbarn)
  • Ardbeg 15yo 1973 (Sestante)
  • Aberlour 8yo (cube, small cork)
  • Balblair Millennium

1638 notes by Ruben

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