Being the only distillery on the Isle of Skye, Talisker opened in 1830, but most of it was rebuilt in 1960 after a fire. It never managed to be a first rate whisky in terms of interest and sales, but the ‘Classic Malts of Scotland‘ series helped it to become one of the most talked about distilleries. This bottling was only available at the distillery, alhough I didn’t buy it there. Some stores have access to it through Friends of Classic Malts Switzerland.
There’s no age statement but it is said to be between 8 and 10 years old. Not sure how limited this is. My bottle is number 2010. In 2007, they released an updated version at 53,9%.
Talisker NAS (59,2%, OB 2003, ‘for sale only at the distillery’)
Nose: starts on earthy smells, a forest after the rain and wet stones. Sharp peat with some lemon and a nice touch of cinnamon. A tad farmy. The usual pepper and sea air is here as well. Very good but on the downside, it’s a little clean and I’m missing a bit of the volcanic warmth of other Taliskers. Mouth: a powerful attack and oily delivery. Really peaty and peppery. More smoke than on the nose. Quite hot, not much else to taste after that. Gets slightly bittersweet in the aftertaste.
Not your average Talisker. Very good and punchy but still there seems to be an iron harness around this dram, which prevents it from breaking open and showing its true complexity. Otherwise it could easily have been a 90+. Water didn’t help much.
Linkwood distillery was established in 1821, but it was not very popular until the 20th century. Now it’s highly regarded in the blending industry. There is basically just one official bottling (in the Flora & Fauna series) but a few months ago, Diageo launched 3 new expressions of 26 year old, finished Linkwoods (rum, port and red wine finish).
Linkwood 23y 1974
(61,2%, Rare Malts, 1997)
Nose: starts pretty waxy and grassy. Mineral notes. You could think this was Clynelish. After some time, sweeter flavours become noticeable: tangerine, apple and papaya. Roses and other floral notes as well. Fresh mint leaves. Quite expressive although not too complex. Mouth: a bit alcoholic, starts on vanilla with oranges. Some melon and oak influence as well. Gets drier with spicy notes. Peppery finish. Good, especially the nose.
I’ve missed out on most of the Belgian whisky festivals last year, so I’m definitely going to Gent. Let’s hope there are lots of interesting things to discover: the new Daily Dram bottlings will be there (with a new Irish Our Angel), or the festival bottling maybe, a BenRiach single cask n°83038 (ex-bourbon). I’ve heard that Jim Murray won’t be there – no signed Bible this year.
Peaty, but not overwhelming. Very round, with even less smoke and iodine on the nose than the Cairdeas. Lemon and sweet apple. Vanilla. Nice coastal notes which grow stronger if you add a drop of water. Powerful mouth. I really like the fact that there are different waves of flavour that seem to come and go: lemon at first, then getting spicier and hotter, a small peat explosion with a pinch of salt and afterwards notes of Napoleon lemon sweets (without the sour centre that is) and lemon pie with distant ashes. A parade of typical Laphroaig notes. Long, sweet finish.
Not a cheap dram (almost € 100) but a Laphroaig cask with a lot to offer. Sold out according to The Nectar, but a few stores still seem to have stock.
Only 2% of the production of The Glenrothes is used for single malt bottlings. The majority is used in blends such as Cutty Sark and The Famous Grouse. Interestingly, since 1993, they release vintage bottlings, each of a single year, instead of focusing on certain ages like most distilleries do. This is the result of Glenrothes being distributed by Berry Bros & Rudd, whose core business is selling wine.
I have a weak spot for The Glenrothes, especially because I think they have the nicest bottle design on the market (although Bruichladdich also realized that attractive design can boost sales).
The 1975 was launched in 2006 and is the rarest Glenrothes vintage ever. Only 3708 bottles were made available of this 31 year old whisky, and at the moment it’s almost extinct (expect to pay € 350 if you find one).
The Glenrothes 1975 31y
(43%, OB 2006)
Fruity nose (peach, orange), lots of vanilla. Hints of honey coated nuts as well. Really streamlined with a balanced wood influence. Mouth: big grapefruit coming through together with almonds and more vanilla. Soft finish on spices (lemongrass, pepper, cinnamon) with chocolate. It could have been more powerful (why not try 46% like other brands?) but it’s still very satisfying and harmonious. A showcase of Speyside.
John Hansell’s website announced a new range of Glenmorangie ”private expressions” today. The Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX will be the first release in this series. It will be finished in Pedro Ximenez casks, the darkest, richest type of sherry with intense notes of raisins and syrup (dessert wine of course).
It’s said to be fruity (raisins, coconut, banana, apple) and light, sort of an aperitif whisky.
Glenmorangie Sonnalta will be available in travel retail only for around € 70.
I will be reviewing most of the current Glenmorangie expressions (Original, Lasanta, Nectar d’Or, Quinta Ruban, Signet) in the next couple of weeks, by the way.
Let’s have another sample from my Advent Calendar. A very old blend, distilled during the reign of King George V: John Haig Gold Label, bottled in the 1940’s!
Haig Gold Label (40%, OB, 1940’s)
Quite a ‘dirty’ colour, hazelnut with a slight green hue. Nose: lots of roasted and burnt notes: really dark caramel, coffee, truffle, ‘beurre noisette’, buttered toast… you get it. Lots of toffee notes and a slight whiff of smoke. It gets ‘darker’ up to the point where a few off-notes become noticeable, like sulphur, dirt bin and some yeast. Special and interesting in its own way, but still a bit weird. Rather weak on the palate, with the same types of flavours. Coffee, burnt caramel, sweet almonds. Some bitter notes, like cloves. The aftertaste is short.
This dram had to grow on me. At first, I was overpowered by the burnt notes and it took me some time to appreciate its profile. Still, I’m grateful for having tasted a part of whisky history.
It would be unfair to score this one. I don’t have any references for this kind of whisky and it wouldn’t matter anyway because this whisky is almost gone. TWE is selling a few bottles (€ 200 – 250).
Glenfarclas has a big tradition of maturing whisky in sherry casks, and the Glenfarclas 105 is one of the current corner stones of this tradition. It was introduced in 1968 and the first commercially available cask strength bottling. 105 means 5 over proof which is 60% alcohol.
A limited, 40 years old version of the 105 is currently available as well. It scores 96 points in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible and was chosen the single malt of the year in the 40+ category. Unfortunately the retail price is £ 550 so we’ll have to do with the regular 105.
Glenfarclas 105 (60%, OB 2007)
This looks like liquid bronze if you see the colour. Nose: intense oloroso sherry with some toffee flavours. Red fruits, apples and grapes. After warming up, it gets ‘darker’ and meatier. Mouth: the sherry again, honey and dark sugar. Raisins. Lots of spicy stuff as well (chili, ginger). There’s liquorice, pear and milk chocolate in the finish. Becomes oakier and much drier.
This whisky has some really intense flavours. Together with the alcohol volume, I’m sure it won’t be appreciated by everyone. For me though, this is a very satisfying and balanced. It’s one of the bottes that I take from the shelf most often.