This bottling actracted my interest because it said “matured in a wine treated butt”. I’m not sure what this means, but I suppose it’s an American oak butt that has been infused with sherry for a couple of weeks (without the wine actually being matured in this cask) before being filled with whisky.
Nowadays this practice is more common than you may know (‘real’ sherry casks are expensive), but it’s rarely mentioned as such. I really appreciate this kind of transparency.
Port Ellen 27 yo 1983 (55,7%, Signatory Vintage 2010, cask #231, 501 btl.)
Nose: like an embering fire on a beach, that you’ve just fuelled with some diesel oil. Smokey and coastal. Sweet hints of almonds, or even better, almond butter cookies. Some wax and lemon. Hints of overripe fruits, could this be the wine influence? Quite medicinal as well. Really high-end. Water makes it a bit more feminine, with a tiny hint of vanilla, more wax and hints of fruity wine. Pretty awesome. Mouth: big and compact, peaty, sweet and salty at the same time. Pepper and citrus. Lots of iodine. Grows sharper over time. Very explosive. Here as well, water lifts the sweeter notes, mutes the peat and highlights some zesty citrus. Finish: peppery and grassy hints, fading on sweet peat smoke.
Don’t be fooled by the wine treatment, this is an exceptional Port Ellen that compromises very little. It’s great to play around with water and watch it switch between its monstruous peat side and its feminine vanilla side.
Not exactly cheap though: around € 190. Available from most international shops. Master of Malt also sells samples.
Bruichladdich is known for its ACE’d bottlings (additional cask enhancement) which are basically wine finishes. A couple of years ago, we already had a Blacker Still of which this is the successor.
The 19 years old Bruichladdich Black Art is a tribute to alchemy. It was finished in bourbon casks as well as different types of wine casks in warehouse n°12. The spectacular pink hue already informs you about the wine treatment.
Bruichladdich 19yo 1989 ‘Black Art’ (51,1%, OB 2009, 6000 btl.)
Nose: definitely wine treated. Hints of port wine with sourish notes that remind me of cellars and of raspberry vinegar. Lots of red berries, strawberry marmalade, grapes, hints of cherry liqueur. A bit of musty oak as well. Enticing, but very very winey. Mouth: less fruity sweet than I expected although there is still berry juice to be found. Fresh, sour notes again, then some grapefruit, heavy wine and wood. Cooked strawberries. Finish: warm, quite long, winey.
This Bruichladdich won’t convert me to the dark religion of wine treatment, but it does show beautiful notes of red fruits. Thumbs up for the packaging by the way. Still available. Around € 80.
It would have been interesting to have them all in a direct comparison, but for now it’s just this Daily Dram vs. the Malts of Scotland version.
Glengoyne 37 yo 1972 (52%, Nectar of the Daily Drams 2010)
Nose: very fruity with tangerine, lemon, pineapple and hints of strawberries. A bit of mint. Very tropical and honeyed. Obviously in line with the Malts of Scotland version, but maybe a tiny bit fruitier, with a higher degree of vanilla. Less oaky spices as well. I prefer this Daily Dram version for having a wider array of flavours, but it’s close. Mouth: an oily attack, fruity with a pleasant acidity. The pineapple and honey are supported by more spices (ginger and cloves) and hints of resinous oak, but less so than in the Malts of Scotland release. Very nice integration. Water brings out soft coconut and some dried prunes. Slightly grassy aftertaste. Finish: long, spicy and drier.
An admirable Glengoyne with a delicious fruitiness and well balanced oak influence. I have a slight preference for this one over the 1972 Malts of Scotland version, although the differences are small. The lower price makes it even more interesting: around € 145. Recommended.
Goldlys is a Belgian distiller who uses malt, rye and maize as basic ingredients and both pot stills and column stills for the distillation of its whisky. They were the first to produce whisky in Belgium, and they have the oldest stocks.
Goldlys 21 yo 1989 Sherry wood
(46%, OB 2010, 680 btl.)
Nose: the first thing I pick up – and quite strongly so – is Nivea cream. You know, the white, fat cream that our grandmothers use to moisturize their skin. Not bad, but rather unexpected. This fades after a while and makes place for notes of rye, oak polish and dried banana. A whiff of mint. There’s a sweet, fruitier side to it from the sherry, but overall it’s not really my kind of profile. Mouth: quite oaky and peppery with a big emphasis on the rye, so it seems. Green banana skin. Some eucalyptus and cloves. Not much sherry influence here. Finish: smooth but it drops very quickly.
This single cask Goldlys should arrive in stores as we speak, just in time for Father’s Day. If your dad likes rye whiskey (or some bourbons like Woodford Reserve), this could be an interesting gift with a nice wooden box. If he’s into single malts, then you’re taking quite a risk. Around € 30.
Nikka produces three pure or vatted malts (officially “blended malts” now) with colour titles. Nikka Pure Malt Black mainly contains malts from the Yoichi distillery (blended with Scotch malt), Nikka Pure Malt Red is composed around Miyagikyou malt and Nikka Pure Malt White is a blend of Yoichi and Islay malts.
Nikka Pure Malt Black
(43%, OB 2009, 50cl)
Nose: a nice marriage of sweet, fruity notes (peach marmalade, oranges) and dry, earthy notes (peat, faint smoke, oak). Noticeable vanilla. Hints of flowery honey. Mouth: more peat now, even phenolic hints of gouache. Slightly peppery. Ripe fruits and a bit of toffee. Salty hints of liquorice in the very end. Finish: spices, sweet cocoa and smoke.
A good all-rounder with a firm character and balanced peat (I’ve compared Yoichi to Highland Park before…). Around € 30. Good value for money, even with the smaller bottles (50cl).
In general, blended whisky is created by mixing malt whisky (malted barley distilled in a pot still) with grain whisky (unmalted barley distilled in column stills, also known as Coffey stills).
For this Nikka All Malt, theJapanese group Nikka used only malted barley but distilled in both types of stills at their Yoichi and Miyagikyou distilleries. It’s quite unusual to distill malt whisky in a column still and the end result is a unique product.
In the Battle of the Stunners hosted in January, Nikka All Malt had a lot of fans and was even named the overall winner by some.
Nikka All Malt (40%, OB 2009)
Nose: a very candied profile with marshmallow and vanilla. Some lemon sweets. Ripe apples and cinnamon. Honey. A bit of creamy toffee as well (hints of Baileys). Some tobacco, leather and the lightest hint of smoke. Mouth: a shy attack, very mellow and again very creamy. Barley sugar. Notes of raisins. A bit too sweet maybe. Oily aftertaste. Finish: rather short with some honeysuckle, wood and coconut.
This Nikka All Malt is less simple than you would expect. It’s filled with flavour and highly drinkable. Check it out if you like sweeter malts or Irish whiskey. Around € 25 which means it’s definitely a stunner and a nice introduction to Japanese whisky.
Laphroaig is rarely a bad buy, they’re all technically well made and they never seem to disappoint. The Whisky Agency has bottled a whole range of Laphroaigs over the last two years, and this ex-bourbon 1989 single cask is the latest addition to their list.
Laphroaig 21 yo 1989 (53,1%, Whisky Agency 2010, Perfect Dram V 197 btl.)
Nose: warm and smokey. Big notes of vanilla cream, marzipan and candy sugar. Sweet and rounded. Some maritime notes (fish on a beach barbecue, brine). Hay. Thyme. Hints of warm candle wax. Water makes it slightly sharper with hints of lemon and mint. Really good. Mouth: thick and oily, with bold peat that’s nicely balanced with notes of yellow apples. Some salty liquorice and seaweed. Quite sweet, but water adds sharper citrus notes again. It also brings out pepper and medicinal notes (more so than on the nose). Finish: rather long. Liquorice, smoked bacon and Lapsang tea.
A very fine Laphroaig, older than we usually see from independent bottlers, and more complex. An example of the distillery house style at this age. Good availability, good price, good whisky. Around € 120.
When you have a look at Whiskyfun’s distillery ranking, most of the 5-star ‘grand crus classés’ are well-known brands: Ardbeg, Brora, Lagavulin and Talisker. The fifth one is a name you don’t see very often: Glenugie. Instead of giving you more information, let me guide you to this website.
I’ve had one Glenugie 1982/2009 OMC before and it was pretty wonderful. Today I’m trying a single cask Glenugie 1977 31 years old.
What should you know about this one?
– bottled by Signatory,
– 24 years in bourbon oak + 7 years in oloroso sherry oak,
– picked up a silver medal at the 2009 Malt Maniacs Awards.
I don’t think I’ve reviewed a Signatory Vintage Cask Strength release before, but they’re usually very interesting, and not only for their nicely shaped bottle.
Nose: starts on milk chocolate and lovely fruits (gooseberry, kiwi) with spicy oak. Honey. The sherry adds meaty / rubber notes which I find a bit of a bummer because it mutes the freshness of the fruits. Water helps to hide the rubber and bring out leather and more fruit though. Complex. Mouth: spicy, quite herbal and slightly resinous. Underneath there are fruity notes: strawberries, oranges, cassis this time. Not the classic old Speyside profile but not heavy sherry either. Water adds meaty notes and chocolate. Some nutmeg. Quite savoury and a bit half-hearted maybe but very powerful and confident. Finish: dry and slightly bitter. Slightly tannic with hints of tea.
I was less impressed than last time because the fruit basket is less exhuberant, and the powerful spicy oak keeps it out of the 90’s for me. But it’s certainly rewarding and anything but mediocre. Around € 160. A sister cask (cask #1 – same oloroso treatment) was released a few weeks ago.