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.
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…
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.
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.
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 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.
This was post n°100 on WhiskyNotes (hooray), so it had to be something special, right?
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.
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.
This 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.
ps/ Three new Daily Dram releases coming up.
A Caol Ila, a Highland Park and a Auchroisk 34yo (“Auk’s Choir”).
The Balvenie Signature was launched in 2008 to celebrate David Stewart’s 45 years in the William Grant company. He’s the award winning Malt Master who composed some wonderful Glenfiddich and Balvenie. This 12 year-old Signature should be the proof of his knowledge and qualities.
It is made up of different casks: sherry oak, first fill bourban and refill sherry.
Balvenie 12y ‘Signature’
(40%, OB 2008, batch n°1)
Nose: wonderfully aromatic and rich. Immediately fruity: peaches on syrup, apricot, oranges. Balvenie’s trademark honey. Vanilla. Some floral notes as well. Very light influence of sherry, noticeable in notes of dried fruits (raisins). After a while, there’s a wave of toffee. Mouth: quite soft. Again quite fruity (marmalade) and spicy (cinnamon, bergamot, nutmeg). The lightest whiff of smoke. Rather short finish on oak and spices. Slightly dryish in the end.
Very smooth and integrated. Delicious nose, but the mouth-feel is a bit less due to the low alcohol. Around € 40. Recommended.
Auchentoshan is a lowland malt and currently the only triple distilled whisky in Scotland (well, apart from Hazelburn and other ‘experiments’ outside of the regular ranges). They’ve had some extra publicity lately due to their new brand identity. The design of the bottles improved greatly, and the range of expressions was revised: the 10 year old was renamed ‘Classic’ and an 18 year old was added to the line.
The Three Wood is matured in different casks: at least ten years in bourbon wood, one year in oloroso and six months in the sirupy Pedro Ximénez.
Auchentoshan Three Wood
(43%, OB 2008)
Nose: it’s possible to distinguish the different casks. There is clear sherry influence with notes of raisins, plums, dates and oranges. Bourbon associations as well. Some vanilla, apricot, apple and cinnamon. Toffee. Tobacco. In a way, it’s interesting to have the different influences, but on the other hand, it doesn’t work together as a whole. Too much oak to be refined. Mouth: sweet, lots of toffee and chocolate. Caramel and nuts. Quite “dark” with some burnt sugar and even some rubber (although it’s not unpleasant). Liquorice as well. The finish shows some bourbon-type flavours: cedar and pine wood, mint and spices. With water: lemon grass. Quite dry.
Sometimes I don’t mind unbalanced whiskies, because they dare to be different and tend to have a unique character. But this is a bit too rough and completely overpowers the Lowland character. Around € 45.