Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Peter Thomson Ltd. was a whisky blender and wine merchant established in 1908 and known for its whisky mail ordering business in the 1920’s. They produced the Beneagles blend among others. In the 1960-1970’s they moved to wholesale before being acquired and merged in 1983. Eventually, through Charles Mackinlay, they became part of the White & Mackay group.

This bottle of The Glenlivet 7 Years Old was bottled by Peter Thomson, probably some time in the late 1960’s. It was a bottle that had been sitting in a Scottish restaurant before finding a new home in a famous Belgian cellar.



The Glenlivet 7 Years Old - Peter Thomson - 75° proofThe Glenlivet 7 yo ‘Pure Malt’ (75° Proof, OB for Peter Thomson – Perth, 26,6 fl.oz.)

Nose: not extremely thick, but nicely aromatic and sherried. Oranges, apricots, surprisingly fresh and jammy even. Real sherry. Subtle OBE metallics. Hints of mint and waxed papers. Faint cedar in the background. Just great. Mouth: same feeling, not weak but not totally full-bodied either. Relatively sweet. Honey, blood oranges, a bit of almond cake and fruit skins. Toffee. Some Earl Grey tea. A little tobacco and touches of liquorice. Finish: medium long, a mix of fruity notes and cough syrup.

This one is totally not tired and it shows some nice old-skool whisky / old-bottle notes. A pleasure. Thank you for sharing, Eiling!

Score: 90/100

Another whisky matured in Port wood. This Ben Nevis 2002 was taken from warehouse n°2, where it matured (full-time) in a cask that previously held white port, which is quite rare for whisky.


Ben Nevis 2002 - Port pipe #334Ben Nevis 10 yo 2002 (56,4%, OB 2013, Port pipe #334, 710 btl.)

Nose: pretty young spirit, with sweet apple juice, pine needles, and a bubblegum type of aroma. Some wet cardboard and hay. Lots of waxy notes, in between lipstick and lamp oil. In the background there’s a kind of sweet fruit syrup, orange squash, currants and marzipan. Some vanilla. Mouth: very fruity, honeyed start. Sweet whitecurrant jam, orange candy, maybe even pomegrenate? Underneath is some clear wood with plenty of spices (clove, ginger, pepper). Hints of tobacco and a slight floral bitterness. Finish: long, bittersweet. Cane sugar, honey and rose pepper.

Ben Nevis can be whacky – this one is. It’s an interesting experiment, not really comparable to other drams I can think of, but not something I would buy a full bottle of, especially at this price. From around € 160 in the UK up to € 230 from LMdW.

Score: 82/100

This Tomintoul 12 Year Old ‘Portwood finish’ is more or less the standard 10 Year Old which spent an extra 20 months on Port barrels. It says limited edition on the label but it has been around for almost five years, if I’m not mistaken.

Notice the new bottle design?


Tomintoul 12 Years PortwoodTomintoul 12 yo ‘Portwood finish’
(46%, OB 2014)

Nose: starts a little restrained on sugared breakfast cereals, before showing strawberries and cream. Plum compote. Red berries and milk chocolate. Hints of toast. Not bad actually, sweet, fruity, fragrant and quite easy-going. Mouth: rather soft. Quite fat and creamy. Strawberry jam and pomegranate syrup. Sweetened cranberry juice. Cinnamon and raisins. Also a few peppery notes and muscovado sugar. Finish: a little short, but still rather fruity. In the very end also a drier, nutty note.

In general I’m not a big fan of these strawberry notes, they can be a little ‘synthetic’, but this is actually one of the nicer examples of Port finishing. Around € 40.

Score: 81/100

Clynelish 1997, nicknamed Cayenne Cocoa Bean by the tasting panel at Wemyss Malts. It’s part of their latest batch of single cask releases.


Clynelish 1997 - Wemyss MaltsClynelish 1997 ‘Cayenne Cocoa Bean’ (46%, Wemyss Malts 2014, hogshead, 373 btl.)

Nose: typical Clynelish waxiness and oiliness, paraffin, lemons and apple skin. Some oranges as well. Vanilla. Plenty of brine and quite some pepper as well. Hints of buttercups. Mouth: a slightly bittersweet profile, with sweet apples, lemonade and jellybeans. Then more crystallized grapefruit and orange zest. Underneath there’s always a slight peppery heat and an oaky kick. A little icing sugar. Some slightly fragrant notes as well, a kind of lemon soap but without the nasty soapiness (does that make sense?). Finish: long, bittersweet, with citrus zest and indeed hints of spiced chocolate.

A good Clynelish 1997 – we’ve had plenty of them and this one stood out a little. Lots of vanilla, spices and interesting variations on citrus. Around € 90.

Score: 86/100

Glengoyne 21 Year Old used to be the oldest expression in the core range of Glengoyne, until the 25 Year Old came along. It is matured in first-fill European oak sherry casks. With the recent rebranding of the bottles, it seems the price has gone up a bit, but it’s still pretty good value.


Glengoyne 21 YearsGlengoyne 21 yo ‘sherry matured’
(43%, OB 2013)

Nose: very lively and attractive. Richly sherried. Sour oranges. Red fruits (raspberries and redcurrants, candied apples) and cinnamon. A little leather and nuts. Vanilla cake and light cocoa. Touches of menthol as well. Balance is key. Mouth: starts fresh and slightly sour, with very nice sherry notes but also a certain lightness that works well. Raspberries again. Apples, oranges. It then grows creamier (butterscotch, biscuits). Finally a wave of toasted oak and spices (especially cloves) which brings a slightly tangy dryness to it. Finish: medium length, with cinnamon and green tea. Maybe a tad too dry now.

For such a large-scale release, Glengoyne 21 is very aromatic. Excellent balance and full of character. This could have been a cracker with a slightly higher ABV (like the 25) and a tamed oakiness towards the end. Around € 100 but prices seem to vary a lot.

Score: 86/100

In the 7th series of Liquid Treasures releases, there is a Ben Nevis 1996, a Ledaig 2004 and this Littlemill 1988. It was bottled as an anniversary bottling for the eSpirits online shop.


Littlemill 1988 - Liquid TreasuresLittlemill 26 yo 1988
(52,7%, Liquid Treasures 2014, bourbon hogshead, 147 btl.)

Nose: this one tends to stay more on the grassy / mineral side. Some chalky notes and oak dust. Dried Mediterranean herbs. Grated coconut, grapefruit and green banana. Hints of paraffin and butter. Not as (tropically) fruity as some others. Mouth: bags of lemon and grapefruit, as well as some creamy banana. Lots of green tea. Fennel and aniseed. Hints of mint and grasses. Ginger. Finish: medium long, citrusy with a light bitterness of grapefruit zest.

Littlemills from this era are rarely a deception, but some versions are more tropically fruity than others. This is one of the grassier, more typically Lowlands versions if you like. Around € 160.

Score: 87/100

When you see a vintage like 1997, do you also think it’s a rather young whisky while it’s actually 17 years old already? It happens to me often…

In any case this is one of the younger vintage Tomatins I’ve had, a Tomatin 1997 bottled by Whisky-Fässle.


Tomatin 1997 - Whisky-FässleTomatin 17 yo 1997
(48,3%, Whisky-Fässle 2014, hogshead)

Nose: a slightly green and gristy kind of Tomatin, close to the raw ingredients. Malty notes, sweet notes of apple, peach, melon and caramelized pumpkin. Not a young kind of sweetness though, and it’s balanced by soft earthy touches, a bit of liquorice and delicate smoke. A kind of dustiness / oiliness which works well too. Mouth: again an oily, old-style profile. A malty core, enriched with fruits… in a garage. Apple peelings, unripe pineapples, hints of candy sugar. Lemon zest, white pepper, liquorice again. Fruit pits. Delicate herbal touches. Finish: medium long, still fruity but the zesty and spicy notes become prominent.

A really pleasant, un-modern Tomatin, which is a nice surprise. Around € 85, still available from Whisky-Fässle.

Score: 87/100

Malt Whisky Yearbook 2015In a couple of weeks, the brand-new Malt Whisky Yearbook 2015 will be available in most book stores and whisky shops. This yearly overview of the whisky industry is an essential read for dedicated whisky lovers.

Obviously it is still the most accurate list of new releases that appeared over the last year, an overview of distillery profiles and at least 200 pages of data and statistics. I’d say this is the reference part.

Like other years, there’s also a reading part with in-depth articles by renowned writers like Charlie McLean, Gavin D Smith, Ian Buxton, Dom Roskrow and Neil Ridley.


Here are the themes that are discussed this year:

  • The microcosmic view on maturation, investigating the physical, biological and chemical laws of ageing whisky, warehouse characteristics, etc.
  • Pimp my whisky, an article about serving trends (highballs, specific waters and other things that may be a little shocking to purists)
  • Proud to be Irish, a look into the Irish whiskey market and why it is the fastest growing category in the world.
  • The last decade in Scotch, an interesting view on a decade of roaring sales, premiumisation, super-distilleries, micro-distilleries, small batches and NAS expressions.
  • Whisky’s next decade, the crystal ball… with special attention to the growing wealth and the growing lack of aged whisky.
  • The tyranny of twelve, a comparison of views on age statements since the 1930s.
  • What’s another year, another article about age statements and NAS.


Malt Whisky Yearbook - Ingvar Ronde


Malt Whisky Yearbook 2015 – 10th anniversary

This is the tenth release of the Malt Whisky Yearbook, so looking back on the last decade and looking forward to the next is an obvious choice. On top of this, it’s not a big surprise that age statements and the NAS trend are featured in several articles. The book provide a good insight into the problems of today’s whisky industry.

I will keep repeating this: if you’re interested in whisky, whatever your level of knowledge, this should be considered your yearly bible. It’s more up-to-date than any other book and it is fed by articles from the best writers. It’s an interesting era for whisky, and it shows.

The Malt Whisky Yearbook 2015 is sold through whisky shops all over Europe, distillery visitor centres or you can buy it online for £ 14.



May 2015
« Apr    

Coming up

  • Images of Dufftown (Malts of Scotland)
  • Ardbeg 1998 (Fulldram 10th Anniversary)
  • Aberlour a'bunadh Batch #50
  • Amrut Naarangi
  • Laphroaig 15yo 200th Anniversary
  • Ledaig 42 Years Old
  • Tomatin 1997 (Liquid Library)

1775 notes by Ruben

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