Single malt whisky - tasting notes

It’s funny that the distillery named Speyside is technically not located in the Speyside region, because the river Spey is running on the wrong side of the distillery. But anyway, it’s the closest distillery to the source of the river, hence the name.

Apart from their malt whisky production (bottlings are very rare), the distillery is home to the Scott’s Selection independent bottlings, as well as the Cu Dhub black whisky (basically caramel with a dash of Speyside whisky).

 

Speyside 1993 Malts of Scotland Speyside 15yo 1993 (61,7%, Malts of Scotland 2009, sherry cask #636, 180 btl.)

Nose: quite tingling (well, not surprising at this strength). Hints of rum raisin (molasses, very dark raisins) and natural caramel. Cereals. Toasted bread. Plums. With water, notes of red berry jam emerge. Mouth: sweet, almost sugarish. Plums again, a little pepper. Slightly grainy, hot and not very expressive. Water doesn’t help much, I’m afraid, it stays rather flat. Finish: plums, malt, caramel. Another variation on the same theme. Still hot, even with water. Lots of camomile tea in the end.

This Speyside is quite alcoholic, rather closed and it doesn’t open up with water. Basically it displays the same aromas from the beginning until the end. It’s going in the right direction, but there’s not enough depth for me. Around € 70.

Score: 79/100


A 43 year-old Tomatin is not something you try every day. This 1965 vintage was bottled in March 2009 by German shop Whisky-Doris. What’s even more interesting, is that around the same time, a similar cask was bottled, the Daily Dram Oat Mint. I’ll have them side by side.

 

Tomatin 1965 Whisky-Doris Tomatin 43yo 1965 (48,2%, Whisky-Doris 2009, cask #20950, 194 btl.)

Nose: very assertive nose, with sweet fruits. Melons, peaches, some passion fruits. Maybe less creamy than the Daily Dram. Less vanilla as well. Pears and mango. Fresh mint. White pepper, more so than in Oat Mint. A tad sharper as well, less gentle. Mouth: fat and spicy. Nutmeg, mint again, pepper. Peach and pears mixed with a decent amount of wood. Hints of peat! Again less gentle than Oat Mint. Finish: long. Big oak now and big spices.

This Tomatin is more punchy than its Belgian sister but I’m not sure that’s a good thing. The Daily Dram has a slightly more fruity, mellow profile. If you prefer spicy whisky though (with more oak), this is the one to go for.
Price: 150 euro. Still available.

Score: 88/100


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


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  • SK: And just to prove a point, all of the bottles are still available in places where they usually run out. Lets see how many will be still available whe
  • SK: 2 years ago I tried the Caol Ila 1982 from Archives. What a fantastic whisky. Since then I always try to stock these Caol Ila from the 80s. Sadly no
  • WhiskyNotes: The real problem is that Caol Ila isn't selling (mature) casks to independent bottlers any more, from what I've heard, so chances are low we'll see mo

Coming up

  • Inchgower 1975 (Maltbarn)
  • Octomore 6.3 258ppm
  • Peated Irish 1991 (Eiling Lim)
  • Elements of Islay Cl7
  • Benromach 5 Year Old

1680 notes by Ruben

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