Single malt whisky - tasting notes

This is called the “resurrection dram” because it was the first distillation after Bruichladdich was re-opened by its new owners, on 23/10/2001. It was made from medium peated barley (10 ppm instead of the usual 3-5 ppm).

 

Bruichladdich 2001 Resurrection Bruichladdich 2001 ‘Resurrection’ 
(46%, OB 2008, 24000 btl.)

Nose: heavier peat than expected. Also quite farmy (wet dogs, not unlike some Broras) and even medicinal (iodine). Slightly smokey. Mouth: again rather peaty and coastal with a salty tang. Pretty far from the usual, fruity Bruichladdich profile. Lots of spices, mostly pepper and mint. With water, there are hints of coffee and peanuts. Finish: rather hot, starting on cocoa and evolving to more grassy / vegetal notes. Peanuts again.

A manifestation of Bruichladdich’s geographical roots (on Islay, the peaty island), rather than its historical roots (as the fruity distillery). Around € 45.

Score: 83/100


Ardbeg Supernova

29 May 2009 | Ardbeg

A lot has been said about the Ardbeg Supernova. First there was the announcement shortly after the Bruichladdich Octomore. Then there was the Committee sale that ended within 2 hours after its start. Now there is the general ‘Stellar’ release which is still rather short in supply.

As you know, it’s the peatiest Ardbeg to date at over 100 phenolic parts per milion.

 
Ardbeg SupernovaArdbeg Supernova
(58,9%, OB 2009)

Nose: gristy, tarry peat. Smokier than the Ardbeg 10yo (duh). Very earthy but rather sweet as well. Some lemon. Camomile and heather. Tobacco and espresso. Nice. Mouth: oily, thick and coating. Coal smoke. Again rather grassy. Develops on white pepper and liquorice. Finish: lovely espresso with a little chocolate. Some citrus. A pinch of salt and slight hints of rubber. Endless peat smoke.

A powerful cask-strength Ardbeg. Maybe less extreme than expected and a tad less “experimental” than the Octomore, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Around € 85.

Score: 85/100


Here’s another St. Magdalene that I’ve tasted alongside the St. Magdalene 1982 26y by Douglas Laing. Did you know the St. Magdalene distillery was built at the site of a former lepers colony?

This Rare Malts release is pretty rare, the 1979/1998 version is a lot more common. If you’re able to spot a bottle, expect to pay around € 300.

 

St. Magdalene Rare Malts 1970 St. Magdalene 23y 1970 (58,1%, RM 1994)

Nose: powerful and direct. Fruity but… quite some sulphur as well. Too bad really. I decided to let it air for 20 minutes. That helped, but the off-notes didn’t disappear completely. There’s definitely peat on the nose, and some burnt caramel / toffee. Some orange candy, but nothing like the femininity of the 1982 Douglas Laing St. Magdalene OMC. I, fact, this one didn’t appeal much to me. Mouth: powerful and rather grassy (burnt grass even). Slightly nutty (almonds). Oil, marzipan, herbs. Finish: very long and chewy. Herbal notes again, light peat and dry oak.

I find it difficult to evaluate this one. It definitely has some qualities, but I’m missing some finesse. I think “obscure” fits this bottling well. I prefer the Douglas Laing.

Score: 78/100


Daily Dram glass

27 May 2009 | * News

Daily Dram glas Last week,  I’ve had a sneak peek at the brand new Daily Dram whisky glass.

The bowl is closely related to a tulip / ISO glass, but there’s no stem, not even a foot. It’s rather small and comfortable to hold. I personally don’t like my whisky too cold, so I like the fact that your hand will inevitably warm up your whisky when holding this glass (although I’m sure others will dislike it).

Around € 20 for a six pack.


Macallan 18y 1983

26 May 2009 | Macallan

The 18 years old Macallan vintages are highly regarded. They are fully matured in sherry oak casks from Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), which is getting uncommon these days (too expensive). They have been around since the 1980’s (distilled late 1960’s).

 

Macallan 1983 18yo Macallan 18y 1983 (43%, OB 2001)

Nose: classic sherry maturation. Chocolate, lots of raisins, dry fruit, prunes. Still, the fruitiness and freshness of this Macallan is exceptional. A bit of vanilla and smoked bacon. Some notes of an old cognac. Mouth: as expected, really rich again. Prunes, raisins, oranges, chocolate… Rather sweet and very smooth. A bit of oak. Finish: long aftertaste on chocolate and soft spices (cloves). Getting drier in the end, with more wood influence.

The Macallan 18yo is a must-try for sherry lovers and a benchmark for other sherry bottlings. It may be blasé to say, but it’s also a bit predictive (the huge over-influence of sherry means this is quite close to other sherry bombs such as the much cheaper Aberlour A’Bunadh). Anyway, it surely is a great whisky.

Price: around € 250 for such an old version. Around
€ 100 if you take the recent Macallan 1990/2008.

Score: 89/100


Ardbeg Ten (2006)

25 May 2009 | Ardbeg

The Ardbeg Ten is one of the most enigmatic of all the commonly available standard malts. In last year’s Whisky Bible, Jim Murray gave it an incredible score and declared it whisky of the year. Apart from that, it’s generally highly regarded. In fact, it doesn’t make sense to publish tasting notes, because I believe everything is written already.

It is said that recent batches contain quite a lot of older whisky (almost twice the age), because there was a shortage of younger casks.

 

Ardbeg Ten 10yo Ardbeg 10yo ‘Ten’ (46%, OB 2006)

Nose: peat, but not so much the medicinal type that you find in Laphroaig. Ashes, a bit of tar. Sea air. Fresh, fruity notes as well, mostly apple and lemon. Walnuts and roasted almonds. Well integrated flavours. Mouth: smokey-sweet and full bodied. Nicely oily. Apple and lime. Lovely notes of roasted coffee towards the finish. Finish: peaty with a touch of vanilla. Getting drier and grassier in the end.

I have to say my opinion on the Ardbeg Ten changes over time. At first, I didn’t see what the fuzz was all about. Nowadays, I appreciate it more (depending on my mood, I guess) and I have to agree it’s an outstanding malt considering the age and the price (€ 35).

Score: 86/100


The Glenrothes released a 25 year old and 30 year old whisky exclusively for travel retail in the past couple of years. Now, there is a new bottling for duty free shops, the Robur Reserve. It is the first expression in a new cardboard box and a stretched version of the distinctive bottle.

 

Glenrothes Robur ReserveThe name derives from Quercus Robur, the Latin name for European / Spanish oak. This Glenrothes was matured in first-fill ex-sherry casks. There’s no age statement.

 

Glenrothes Robur Reserve
(40%, OB 2008, 1 liter)

Nose: instant toffee. Some vanilla, dried fruits and oranges. Hints of leather. Some soft flowery notes as well. Mouth: very velvety and smooth. Malty and fruity flavours, vanilla again, rather sweet sherry. Fresh plums. Caramel. Hints of clove. Finish: medium long, starting rather sweet and developing on toffee and spices.

Not bad, although it won’t blow you away. Really mellow and easy-going, but less sherry than you would expect from first-fill casks. Around € 50 (1 liter). I like the Glenrothes Select Reserve better, and it’s about the same price.

Score: 79/100


Until 1955, when they entered the Japanese whisky industry, Karuizawa was a vineyard. The distillery is very old-fashioned, sticking to Scottish traditions and focusing on small-scale production. Karuizawa uses 100% Golden Promise barley, wooden washbacks, small stills and sherry casks sourced from Spain.

The distillery composed an epic whisky last year when releasing the oldest Japanese whisky ever, the Karuizawa 1971. Now there is a slightly younger follow-up, the 36 years old 1972.

 

Karuizawa 1972/2008 Karuizawa 36yo 1972
(65%, OB 2008, cask #7290, Japanese wine cask, 528 btl.)

Nose: the alcohol really hits you, but it’s still very expressive. Big sherry (well, Japanese wine) influence. Wonderful tobacco notes, like a recently opened cigar box. Plums. Kirsch. Spicy chocolate (cinnamon) and orange marmalade. Some leather. A light hint of smoke. Very complex, very good. Mouth: wow, very powerful and hot. Water needed here (and I don’t say that very often). Very intense, with a peppery attack. Fruity notes (lemon and tangerine) with a strong woody dimension. Raisins. Hints of smoke. Finish: very long finish on oak and spices. Warm and drying.

Again a true classic. Not cheap but simply excellent. Expect to pay around € 185.

Score: 92/100


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  • Roberto Sikora: This is really a great, great bottling. One of my favourite Littlemills so far... :-) Thank you, Ruben for this review!
  • george: i see you have tried st magdalene and say it is harder to find i am a collector of st magdalene and i have 40 bottles i am selling these date from 196
  • sjoerd972: I wish the guys at Bushmills would demand the labels to say "Northern Ireland" so we didn't have to speculate on the booze's origins.

Coming up

  • Blair Athol 1993 (First Editions)
  • Bowmore Laimrig 15yo
  • Tomatin 1988 (Malts of Scotland)
  • Ben Nevis 1997 (Abbey Whisky)
  • Aberfeldy 12 Year Old
  • Blair Athol 2002 (Hepburn's Choice)
  • Fettercairn Fior
  • Ben Nevis 2002 (Port cask #334)

1598 notes by Ruben

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