Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Coal Ila selected a 12yo cask for Feis Ile 2009. It was highly anticipated because it was the first single cask ever to be bottled by the distillery and because it was matured in European Oak (ex-sherry). It was distilled on December 12, 1996.

 

Caol Ila - Feis Ile 2009 Caol Ila 1996 (58%, OB 2009, Cask #19313, Feis Isle 2009)

Nose: sparkling nose, rather minty. Fresh citrus on one hand, and darker, roasted notes on the other hand (coffee beans, freshly baked bread). Interesting duality. Smokey / peaty but in a rather subtle way, with a whiff of vanilla and Caol Ila’s typical sweatiness as well. Delicate farmy notes when slightly warmed. Chocolate notes from the sherry cask. Mouth: mmhhh, very nice. Banana at first, sweet attack with fruity notes (oranges too) fighting the peat smoke. A serious pinch of salt and seaweed as well. Again with a toasted edge, really delicious. Finish:  peppered start with some cocoa notes. The sweetness evolves into a long, ashy aftertaste.

I was really impressed by this Caol Ila 1996 and I would definitely have bought a bottle (around € 85). Just wonderful.

Score: 92/100


This year’s Laphroaig Cairdeas was the first cask chosen by distillery manager John Campbell. Like the previous Laphroaig Cairdeas 2008 (a big hit both at Feis Ile and on eBay), this 12 year-old is bottled at cask strength and the remaining bottles were made available for Friends of Laphroaig after the festival. It was matured in Makers Mark bourbon barrels.

 

Laphroaig Cairdeas - Feis Ile 2009 Laphroaig Cairdeas 12yo
(57,5%, OB 2009, Feis Isle 2009, 5000 btl.)

Nose: starts off on mellow peat smoke with woody undertones. Young wood, “pencil shavings” as Robert Hicks describes it. Some refreshing citrus, banana and red fruit. Very nice. Like last year’s Cairdeas: almonds and marzipan. Overall very creamy and rather sweet, with hints of burnt sugar. Mouth: starting on lemon, growing sweeter and more candied. Lemon pie. Roasted almonds, some espresso. Some liquorice and more spices than the Cairdeas 2008. Good stuff with a good balance (although on the dry side). Finish: long with diminishing sweetness, leaving the peat smoke behind and getting very dry in the end.

Personally, I think this is a major improvement over the previous Cairdeas. It’s smoother and fruitier but just as rich and intense. Excellent value for money as well (£ 40). People who are waiting for their Friends of Laphroaig bottle: it’s well worth the wait.

Score: 88/100


feislogo Feis Ile is the yearly festival on Islay. It’s not all about whisky, but traditionally each of the distilleries presents a special bottling only available at that time. The festival is over and I’ve had a shipment with most of this year’s releases, so let’s get dramming.

Over the next ten days, I’ll be reviewing the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2009, the first ever single cask Caol Ila (1996), the Bruichladdich ‘Oirthir Gaidheal’, both Ardbeg Toasted Oak single casks (1998), etc. Stay tuned.

Tags:

Daily Dram - High Dark Plan (Highland Park) Daily Dram - Auk's Choir (Auchroisk) Daily Dram - Ciao All (Laphroaig)

Again three funny names for brand-new releases that can only come from our Belgian bottler The Nectar in their Daily Dram series.

  • High Dark Plan – Highland Park 10yo 1998 (46%) – around € 45
  • Auk’s Choir – Auchroisk 34yo 1975 (41,3%, 97 btl.) – around € 135
  • Ciao All – Caol Ila 12yo 1996 (46%) – around € 50

The three will be released in the next couple of days and they will be reviewed shortly. In the meantime, check out our reviews of a few previous Daily Dram bottlings: Oat Mint (Tomatin 1965), Philo Raga 
(Laphroaig 1998), Our Angel (Cooley 1999), Adieu Lina (Dailuaine 1973) and other Daily Drams

ps/ Samples of these Daily Drams are already available at Luc’s www.whiskysamples.eu


Tomintoul 40y

09 Jun 2009 | Tomintoul

Although Tomintoul launched single malt bottlings as early as 1974, in the current market it’s not one of the big players. Most of the production is used for blending and the distillery itself is quite industrial (built in the 1960’s and very modern).

This independent bottling by the sister company of The Whisky Exchange (better known for their series “Single Malts of Scotland”) is a marriage of two 40 year-old hogshead casks. Although the alcohol level is just 43,3%, it is actually cask strength.

 
Tomintoul 40y - Specialty Drinks Tomintoul 40yo
(43,3%, Specialty Drinks 2008, 335 btl.)

Nose: very fruity, on citrus and exotic fruits. Huge notes of clementines (tangerine). Overripe oranges (zest) and kumquats. Apple juice (cider). Marmelade. Slightly solventy and floral as well (old roses). Vanilla. Honey. Typical old Speyside style yet beautifully fresh for a 40 year old. Mouth: interesting! Starts quite spicy and evolves to strawberry, pears and grapefruit. Sweet and delicately bitter. Honey and vanilla are still there. Some cinnamon and nutmeg. Finish: keeps a nice balance between sweet and bitter flavours. Pear. Clear oak influence but it doesn’t take over at any point.

Better on the nose, but still quite nice overall.
Around € 130.

Score: 84/100.


Springbank claims to be the only distillery that performs the complete production process in its own facilities — including floor malting, maturation, and bottling.

There are many versions of this rather legendary Springbank 21yo. They were bottled in dumpy bottles during the 1980’s. After that, regular bottles appeared with a cardboard box and slightly different printing, first with a jagged label and then with a straight cut label. In 2005, the last batch was released (2400 bottles).


Springbank 21yo Springbank 21y (46%, OB mid 90’s, jagged label)

Nose: wow, one of the most impressive noses I’ve come across. Dry fruits (plums, apricot). A strong whiff of heather. Wonderful notes of old wood, dusty cellars. Just the right amount of sherry influence. Something of biscuits and sweet honey. Coconut? Cherries? Blueberries? Waxy notes as well and even a slight coastal edge. Hints of leather. Oh man, I could go on and on… Complex but so smoothly balanced. Mouth: liquid velvet. Fruity start, candied even. Developing on raisins and cassis. Heathered honey again. Growing spicier (cinnamon, vanilla) and oakier. Very nice touching of coal smoke, but really subtle. Salty liquorice towards the end. Finish: very long, regaining raisin sweetness.

Really excellent, although it’s a tad more spectacular on the nose than on the palate. This is high class. If you find a bottle of this Springbank, expect to pay around € 350.

Score: 94/100

 

This was post n°100 on WhiskyNotes (hooray), so it had to be something special, right?


There are very few independent Lagavulin bottlings. Most of them are sold under a different name (e.g. Classic of Islay, Vanilla Sky).

Lagavulin 1979 MMDThe label on this bottle contains a misprint. It says “distilled: January 1979 – bottled: May 1988” but also “19 years old”. It was released in 1998 instead of 1988.

 

Lagavulin 19y 1979 (46%, Murray McDavid 1998, cask #MM8593, bourbon cask)

Nose: dense peat, but also rather sweet and perfumy at first. Vanilla. After that, more typical notes of diesel oil and seaweed. Camphor. Some lemon. Hazelnut. Interesting but not overly complex. Mouth: sweet attack, fruitier than official Lagavulins. Soon becoming grassier and drier, with the peat taking over. Not overly powerful. Some cardamom. Rather bitter towards the finish (cloves, grapefruit). Finish: medium long, peaty and smokey. Iodine. Slightly metallic. The bitterness is still here. A pinch of salt.

Good nose, but the taste lacks some complexity. I like most of the original Lagavulin expressions better.

Not available any more. Score: 83/100


In the 1970’s, Tomatin was the biggest distillery in Scotland. In the 1980’s it went downhill and encountered some serious financial problems. After that, it was the first Scottish distillery to be acquired by a Japanese company. Nowadays it’s a healthy but rather small producer.

Oat Mint - Daily DramThis 43 year-old Tomatin ‘Oat Mint’ is one of the oldest drams I was able to try so far. The price (around € 175) is relatively low considering its age.

 

Tomatin 1965 ‘Oat Mint’
(48,1%, Daily Dram 2009, 210 btl.)

Nose: wonderfully creamy and fruity. It reminds me of a baby fruit puree (banana, apple, orange and a “Vitabis” grain cookie – delicious). Honey. Some frangipane and vanilla. Fresh flowers. Mango. Waxy notes and quite some mint as well. Great how the anagram really works here. Excellent complexity. Mouth: less fruity, much more spices. Nutmeg, mint again, vanilla, pepper, cinnamon. Still some banana, peach and strawberry candy. Oaky, but in a really mellow way. Finish: again some oak and spices (cinnamon and cloves). Hints of bergamot. Long, warm aftertaste.

Very punchy for its age. Great stuff.

Score: 90/100

 

ps/ Three new Daily Dram releases coming up.
A Caol Ila, a Highland Park and a Auchroisk 34yo (“Auk’s Choir”).


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  • Jorn: I agree, the first expressions tend to go up in value the most, - ofcourse -, but do you really think the Bowmore DC 2 will sink below 150,00 euro? N
  • WhiskyNotes: I tend to disagree. I would just wait for n°III and make sure you inform your favourite retailer that you want one beforehand. Buying a hyped product
  • Jorn: It's worth 150 allright, but mainly from a collector's point of view. That's where the market is. Like precious little stamps (Nothing wrong with that

Coming up

  • Tomatin 1988 (Malts of Scotland)
  • Aberfeldy 12 Year Old
  • GlenDronach 1994 PX cask #3397
  • GlenDronach 1994 PX cask #326
  • GlenDronach 1993 Oloroso cask #494
  • Blair Athol 2002 (Hepburn's Choice)
  • Fettercairn Fior
  • Bowmore Laimrig 15yo
  • Ben Nevis 2002 (Port cask #334)

1601 notes by Ruben

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