Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Daily Dram - Philo Raga Daily Dram - Oat Mint Quick news: 2 new bottlings in the Daily Dram range. An 11 year-old Laphroaig ‘Philo Raga’ from 1998 (57,5%) and a 43 year-old Tomatin ‘Oat Mint’ from 1965 (48,1%).

The Laphroaig should be an interesting replacement for Hag Rap Oil and Aloha Grip.


This Bruichladdich 3D3 is the third bottling in a series of peat experiments in which heavily peated Port Charlotte was blended with Bruichladdich whisky of lower peating levels. 3D3 stands for 3 vintages, 3 warehouses and 3 peating levels. It was composed by Jim McEwan as a tribute to Norrie Campbell, the last traditional peat cutter on Islay.

3D3 contains regular Bruichladdich (unpeated), Port Charlotte (40ppm) but also the first Octomore ever (80ppm), distilled in 2002 and only 3 years old at that time. The spirit was matured in a combination of bourbon, sherry and madeira casks.

Bruichladdich 3D3 Bruichladdich 3D3 ‘Norrie Campbell’ (46%, OB 2006)

Nose: like hanging over a chimney: big, powerful peat as you could expect. Burnt vanilla. Freshened up with some lovely notes of green apple juice and citrus. A bit grainy with hints of dry straw. Really dense and dark peat. Mouth: ashes, coal, peat smoke and sweet toffee. Big. Sweeter than on the nose, and although quite smokey, rather gentle at the same time. Interestingly, there are hardly any medicinal notes so it’s “clean” peat in a different way than Laphroaig or Ardbeg. Getting quite peppery. Finish: pepper again, toffee and of course lots of peat smoke.

It’s multi-layered, but also quite rough. The peat doesn’t allow much other flavours to shine through. There’s some mighty young Octomore together with fruity notes of the other Bruichladdich spirit and sweet sherry and madeira notes. For peat lovers and chain smokers only. Around € 45.

Score: 85/100


A new series that I would like to introduce on this blog: “Ten days of…”. It will consist of 3 or 4 posts with tasting notes from a single distillery and / or with a common theme and spread over 10 days. I’ll start with a couple of peated Bruichladdich releases.

First, a word or two about peat. Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter (swamp forrest), a few thousands of years in age. It can be cut in the form of bricks, dried and used as a fossil fuel. Prior to distilling whisky, the barley is malted and dried.  Traditionally on Islay, they used the heat from peat fires for this. Interestingly, peat smoke chemically ‘sticks’ to barley grains, which is the reason why the exotic aroma of peat smoke can still be experienced in the distilled spirit.

Peat in Scotch whisky is measured in parts per millions (ppm). Only a few percent of the production is peated, but on Islay that percentage is a lot higher. An “unpeated” Scotch may clock in at 5 to 10 ppm. A typical Lagavulin, Ardbeg or Laphroaig will contain between 30 and 50 ppm of peat phenols which makes a huge difference in the taste. Recently, there has been a small race in obtaining the highest level of peat. Bruichladdich introduced the Octomore which contains a stunning 131 ppm. Soon after that, the Ardbeg Supernova was announced, which weighs in at around 100 ppm. This race is quite useless, but it’s a fact that peated whisky is gaining popularity and even distilleries outside of Islay are experimenting and releasing peated versions of their spirit (e.g. BenRiach, Caperdonich, Longrow…). 

Bruichladdich logo Although Bruichladdich is on Islay, they don’t have a tradition of using much peat in the production of their whisky. The new owners started some peated experiments in 2001, such as the 3D series (now replaced by Bruichladdich Peat) and the Port Charlotte bottlings.

Let’s have a look at some of those peated experiments from Bruichladdich in the next couple of days, starting tomorrow with the Bruichladdich 3D3.


Laphroaig 18 years OBThe Laphroaig 15y is considered to be one of the most controversial bottlings in the current range of Laphroaig, and it will be replaced in a couple of weeks. The 15 year old introduced a new style of rounder, more mellow Laphroaig, but recent batches returned to a bolder style, closer to the standard 10y which itself got smoother if you compare it to batches from the 1990’s.

The Laphroaig 18y will be bottled at a higher strength of 48% alcohol (the same as the Laphroaig Quarter Cask). I’m sure this is a good thing, as it indicates Laphroaig is moving towards a more powerful, intense profile.

The price will remain more or less the same (pretty uncommon considering the 3 additional years and today’s pricing strategies).

Here’s the official tasting notes:

Nose:  sweet toffee, faintly spicy, traces of delicate phenols and fruit.  Overall smoothness. With water: seaweed and salt but not enough to overpower the vanilla and honey sweetness. A trace of new mown hay and peat at the finish.

Body:  Exceptionally balanced and warming with intense depth. Warming smoke, smooth floral scents, oaky nuttiness. Sweetness on the taste. With water: peaty warmth with a sweet chocolate smoothness. This is balanced by rich toffee and a hint of heather and peat smoke.

Finish:   Full bodied, long with a luxurious oily smoothness.

Some extra information and tasting notes by Tim at TWE blog.


William Larue Weller

28 Mar 2009 | * USA

This whiskey is produced at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort (USA), home of numerous other great whiskies such as Buffalo Trace, George T Stagg, Eagle Rare, Blanton’s, Sazerac… William Larue Weller is a wheated bourbon (made from corn + wheat instead of corn + rye or barley) and is part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.

William Larue Weller 62.65%
William Larue Weller 
(62,65%, OB 2008, 3rd release)

Nose: BIG nose, resinous and spicy (cinnamon, vanilla). Dried figs and raisins. Pine trees. Notes of nuts, cigar box, tobacco and something of paint / nail polish remover. Really powerful and full. Mouth: dark, toasted notes, still hints of paint (don’t get me wrong, these are not necessarily off-notes, they are quite pleasant). Caramel, vanilla, lots of charred oak. Maple syrup, peppermint. Quite smokey. Finish: warm but maybe a bit short. Hints of chocolate, vanilla pudding and dark fruit.

Bourbon on steroids. Perfect after a strong chocolate mousse. Around € 120.

Score: 87/100.


St. Magdalene can be a little difficult to find. The Lowlands distillery was closed in 1983, a year in which lots of good distilleries (e.g. Port Ellen) were halted because of a decreasing interest in whisky. Too bad some of the most interesting distilleries were on that list…

Douglas Laing released a number of St. Magdalene casks from December 1982 in their Old Malt Cask range (at least 7 in the last 2-3 years). Most of them were good, so let’s hope they still have some casks lying around. This one is from a refill butt.


 

St. Magdalene 26y 1982 DL OMC St. Magdalene 26y 1982 (50%, DL OMC 2008, ref. 4712, 511 btl.)

Nose: aromatic and fruity with lots of oranges. It’s not really complex at first, but after some time (and a bit of hand warmth) it opens up. Flowers. Some paraffin, chalk, green tea with lemon, a hint of smoke. Chlorophyl. Sweet lavender and lemon sweets. Quite attractive. Mouth: citrus notes again (orange, lemon). Something that reminds me of tequila as well. Juicy and honeyed. Some vanilla. Some coastal hints as well. Finish: quite sweet, on pear and peaches with soft spices. Not very long.

Elegant whisky with a nice balance. There’s something feminine about it, although that’s hard to define. Around € 120.

Score: 86/100


Linkwood is one of Diageo’s distilleries that is mostly producing blending whisky (for Haig, Dimple, White Horse…). Only a small amount is released as single malt.

Linkwood 1976 27y Cask & Thistle

Linkwood 27y 1976
(46%, Cask & Thistle 2003, 336 btl.)

Nose: sweet and fruity. A lot of estery notes. Apple cake with some cinnamon and mango. Some pineapple and milk as well (piña colada anyone?). Mouth: not very powerful. Vanilla, almonds, citrus fruit, yoghurt and floral notes (rose water which is so typical for Linkwood). A rather short finish, nice but nothing spectacular.

Overall good stuff, no flaws. But I would expect a 27 year old whisky to have something extra maybe?

Score: 84/100.


This is the 50th post on my blog. For special occasions, there’s always…
Port Ellen. The Norse Cask Selection is a brand of the Danish  importer and distributor Quality World. In december 2007, they bottled a hogshead cask of 1979 Port Ellen. It was sold for just € 120.

Port Ellen 28yo 1979 - Norse Cask Selection
Port Ellen 28y 1979 (53,7%, Norse Cask Selection 2007, Cask QW1311, 277 btl.)

Nose: very typical, wonderful Port Ellen smell. Needs of bit of hand warmth to open up but after that, it just keeps going. Wet stones, salt, lemon skin, ash, lots of smoke, seaweed, vanilla, mint… Wonderfully complex and clean at the same time. Some green leaves and grassy notes, with a medicinal touch. I’ve spent 45 minutes just nosing this, really excellent. Mouth: sweet and fruity attack but heavily peated at the same time. Pine wood, pepper. Chocolate. The aftertaste shows salty liquorice notes and lime, leaving behind some coal smoke and pepper as well.

Overall great balance between sweet, grassy, salty and peaty flavours. Terrific. A shame that I only had a small sample, every drop was more evidence for its genius!

Score: 93/100.


Categories

Calendar

July 2014
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Coming up

  • Glen Elgin 1995 (Liquid Art)
  • Benromach 1976 vintage
  • Jura 1972 SMWS 31.4
  • Balblair 2002
  • Kavalan Solist sherry (for LMdW)

1577 notes by Ruben

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