Single malt whisky - tasting notes

This Glengoyne is part of the second batch from German bottler Malts of Scotland. While independent Glengoynes are not very common, MoS managed to release three casks at the same time, a 1997 sherry butt, a 1973 bourbon barrel and this 1972 refill sherry butt.

 

Glengoyne 1972 36y - Malts of Scotland Glengoyne 36yo 1972 (52,8%, Malts of Scotland 2009, cask #3195, 305 btl.)

Nose: beautiful sherry influence, which is not at all “in your face” but gentle and well integrated. Great hints of fruit candy (tangerines with more tropical fruits – guava, pineapple) and all sorts of jams. Some grapefruit. Notes of polished oak, vanilla and soft cinnamon. No signs of over-ageing or sulphury sherry whatsoever. Mouth: again very tropical and slightly candied. Prune jam. Tangerine. Passion fruit. Rich honey with more wood influence now and more spices (mostly cinnamon and cloves). With water, there’s some coconut. Getting slightly drier and tannic in the end. Finish: long, sweet, fruity and slightly nutty.

This Glengoyne has a lot to offer. The big fruitiness is terrific and the whole is remarkably fresh and lively after 36 years. Totally flawless. Not cheap though: around € 180.

Score: 90/100


This was the second blind sample from the Cask Six session.

There are quite some private owners of Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte casks. Most are small bloodtubs (32 liter) but this one is from a bigger cask (first fill sherry hogshead) shared by three Italian guys (Giorgio d’Ambriosio, Franco di Lillo & Nadi Fiori, who was behind Intertrade and is now behind High Spirits). The spirit was matured for 5 years and filled into 3x 134 bottles with 3 resembling labels.

 

Port Charlotte 2002 - Nadi Fiori Port Charlotte 5y 2002
(46%, Nadi Fiori 2009, first fill sherry)

Nose: peat and barbecue ashes but with a fruity, sherried side (citrus, tangerine, melon). Hints of wet stones, slightly burnt bacon and eucalyptus. Tobacco. Very powerful and expressive but I thought it was a tiny bit young (read new-makeish) maybe, in the same way PC7 was better than PC5. Mouth: quite clean smoke with a salty edge. Sweet peat, some pears covered in chocolate. Lemon juice with lots of sugar. Keeps getting sweeter. Finish: long, sweet and peaty. Notes of roasted peanuts with a sugar coating. Barbecue ash again.

The peat in this Port Charlotte is really countered by the very sweet sherry. If Glenfarclas was ever to produce a heavily peated bottling, could it be similar? An interesting battle between two powers. Around € 115.

Score: 86/100


Some may notice that this score is slightly higher than the blind score I gave earlier. I know most reviewers tend to pursuit “objective” scores (i.e. based on the liquid regardless of distillery, price, age, packaging or “uniqueness”) but personally I find it justified to give one or two bonus points if it turns out to be exceptional value for money or unusual / invidiual whisky compared to its region or age. Think of it as school results: a first grader can get the same score as a sixth grader, although “objectively” they don’t have the same level of knowledge of course.


I was able to taste this as part of a recent Cask Six blind session where the participants could taste two blind samples and guess the region, distillery, alcohol volume and age. My guesses may not have been succesful, but it was interesting whisky anyway, so here are my tasting notes.

Amrut is an Indian distillery that has been producing some very interesting stuff and keeps getting better (check the Amrut Fusion which uses a mixture of unpeated Indian and peated Scottish barleys – review coming up), even more so if you take into account their incredibly young ages (Amrut is generally 3-5 years old).

 

Amrut Blackadder BA 5/2009 Amrut NAS (46%, Blackadder 2009,
cask BA 5/2009, 295 btl.)

Nose: very sweet and fruity (pink grapefruit, peach, pear, banana). Hints of bees wax and honey. A touch of mint as well. After a while, more influence of wood and spices (cinnamon, faint pepper). Fruit cake. Very very nice. Mouth: more of the same basically. Fruit marmalade, citrus. More wood influence (slightly tannic), more spices as well (cloves, nutmeg, white pepper). Grapefruit again. Finish: medium length, warm and quite spicy.

The nose could really make you think this was a 20 year old Speysider (although the alcoholic side is a bit too present for that to be true). Balance and evolution are very nice, it starts fruity and develops on the spices. Top quality at this age. And only € 40!

Score: 87/100


Old Bothwell is a company specializing in personalized gifts (whisky, cognac, liqueurs… with your own label). You may think the contents of those kinds of products is of very low importance, but recently they’ve made the news with a couple of single cask Port Ellen releases.

This particular Port Ellen was bottled for the Lindores Whisky Society (Belgium) who celebrated their 5th anniversary on May 31st 2009. Only 11 bottles were made available (one for each member) which makes it by far the most exclusive whisky I’ve ever tasted (where’s the rest of this cask? Luc, Dirk… whose basement is it in?).

 

Port Ellen 1979 Old Bothwell - Lindores 1654 Port Ellen 29yo 1979 (52%, Old Bothwell for Lindores 2009, cask #1654, 11 btl.)

Nose: one of those “green” Port Ellens, with notes of cut grass and olive oil. Wet limestones and lemon peel. Reminds me of aspirin as well. Also quite maritime on oysters and seashells. Ink. Relatively low-key peat / tar / smoke. This description may not appeal if you read it, but the nose is complex and very convincing, albeit quite austere and not for beginners I would say. Mouth: starts off a bit sourish with lots of lemon. Much more peat now. Again grassy and a bit herbal. Oysters with a bunch of pepper. Soft saltiness towards the finish. Finish: long, a peaty backbone with lemons and salt.

This cask has a similar profile as the Port Ellen Norse Cask Selection cask QW1311. Not a rounded whisky nor a peat bomb, but clean, natural and rather excellent. Not for sale.

Score: 91/100


Highland Park Hjarta Highland Park announced a new 12 years old bottling named Hjarta, which is now available at the distillery and through their website (possibly in Swedish stores as well, later on).

It is bottled at cask strength (58,1%), limited to 3924 bottles and costs £ 65.

Such a shame that the online shop of Highland Park doesn’t ship outside of the UK by the way. Why not? Laphroaig can do it, and I’m sure they’re making a good business! 

 

These are the distillery tasting notes:

Nose: glorious combination of spice and heather, caramelised pineapple and fresh lemon peel with delicate smoke. Mouth: silky vanilla, hints of coconut. Heather peat smokiness. Finish: long gentle, smokey finish.

ps/ The announced Highland Park 50 yo turns out to be a 1968 vintage. A 1964 vintage is planned as well. I haven’t decided yet whether I’m going to buy one of these or a new car…


There have been quite a few Clynelish releases in the Single Malts of Scotland series already: a couple of 30+ years old 1972’s but also a few younger vintages. The latest addition is a 16 year-old from 1992, matured in ex-bourbon wood.

Clynelish 1992 16yo SMOS 

Clynelish 16yo 1992 (46%, SMOS 2009, cask #5871, 293 btl.)

Nose: grassy start, needs some air to open up. After a while, there’s Clynelish’s trademark wax with oranges and yellow apples. A rather big fruitiness. Fresh walnuts and a touch of vanilla. Lemonade. Mouth: oranges again, grapefruit, lime. Peach. You get it, fruit. A slight gin-tonic kind of bitterness towards the end. Finish: medium long on violet candy, chili pepper and hints of wax.

Another interesting Clynelish from The Whisky Exchange. Nice and clean but not very typical. Around € 55.

Score: 85/100


Malts of Scotland is currently releasing new bottlings such as three Glengoyne (1972 sherry, 1973 bourbon and 1997 sherry), a new Laphroaig and a Speyside 1993 sherry (the distillery named Speyside, not the region).

In the meantime, let’s review another bottling from the first series, an 8 year-old Bowmore distilled in 2000 and matured in an ex-bourbon cask.

 

Bowmore 2000/2009 Malts of Scotland Bowmore 8yo 2000 (60,1%, Malts of Scotland 2009, cask #800267, 215 btl.)

Nose: maritime associations (iodine, seaweed) with quite a lot of soaked breakfast cereals. Walnuts, wet wool. Medium ashy / smokey. At the same time, there are some candied elements (apple, lemon). Traces of sweet coffee and marzipan. Mouth: quite a malty start with a pleasant mouth-feel and lots of citrus, developing on medium peat and phenols. Getting rather hot and spicy but overall clean. Finish: medium long, very very salty now. Lemon and ginger.

Recent Bowmores can be pretty mature at very young ages, and this one is a good example. Interesting saltiness as well. Around € 42.

Score: 84/100


Talisker introduced this 18 year-old expression in 2004. Of the standard malts, this is an all-time favourite for many malt lovers. It won the award for best single malt at the World Whiskies Awards in 2007. Lately the price has gone up and there are rumours that it would be discontinued soon.

 

Talisker 18 years old Talisker 18 yo (45,8%, OB 2007)

Nose: sweet and fruity. Peat smoke in the background. Chocolate coated orange. Vanilla. Flowery honey. Some marshmallows. Nectarine? Quite feminine for a Talisker if you ask me. Mouth: soft arrival, still rather sweet but getting a powerful, smokey kick after a few moments. Peppery with subtle peat. Getting drier on spices, with a bit of sherry burried somewhere underneath the smoke. Finish: classy development, soft and balanced. Vanilla and wood. Still some pepper.

Flawless Talisker and surprisingly fresh whisky. Around € 65.

Score: 87/100

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Coming up

  • Dallas Dhu 1979 (Cadenhead Cask Ends)
  • Cardhu 18 Year Old
  • Port Askaig 19 Year Old
  • Ledaig 2005 (Maltbarn)

1664 notes by Ruben

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