Single malt whisky - tasting notes

This limited edition Old Pulteney 1990 vintage says lightly peated on the label, but contrary to what you would expect, it’s not made from peated malt. Instead it was classic (unpeated) Old Pulteney spirit matured in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks that previously held heavily peated spirit.

Although the distillery is not giving further information about the provenance of the casks, I’m wondering how this relates to the Old Pulteney 1990 cask #5253 that I’ve tried (a cask bought from Laphroaig) and the Balblair 1990 cask #1463 (Balblair and Old Pulteney are part of the same group). Apparently both distilleries did the same experiment at the same time.

 

Old Pulteney 1990 (Lightly Peated)Old Pulteney 1990 ‘Lightly Peated’ (46%, OB 2014, Limited edition, 900 btl.)

Nose: not much peat so far, more like a gentle smokiness. Otherwise very malty and rather sweet, with apple, peardrops and honey. Sweet citrus. Also a leafy, slightly dusty side and a very hints of sour dough and pepper. Mouth: much more peat now. It seems to highlight Old Pulteney’s coastal, bitterish, oily Manzanilla-like character. Plenty of grapefruit zest. Underneath there are sweeter notes of honey and berry fruits. Finish: long, with a similar bitterness, some woody notes, coastal elements and light smokiness.

An interesting variation on the original Old Pulteney character. The leafy, coastal side pairs well with the gentle peat but seems to clash with the sweet fruitiness of the spirit. On par with the single cask version I tried before, although the harshness surprised me a little. A nice curiosum. Around € 150.

Score: 85/100


Here’s the second part of the duo: Irish single malt 1989, reviewed alongside the Irish single malt 1989.

 

Irish single malt 1991 - The Nectar of the Daily Drams / La Maison du WhiskyIrish Single Malt Whiskey 22 yo 1991 (46,6%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams & La Maison du Whisky 2014, rum cask #10657)

Nose: starts more waxy, much more rummy as well. The fruits are just as tropical, but maybe a tad greener and fresher. Green mango, white peaches. Clear herbal notes as well (especially mint, some thyme as well). Littlemillian grapefruits. On the nose, I prefer this one over its older brother. The rum seems to work better here. Mouth: similar to its older brother, maybe just a tad more muted although we’re splitting hairs. Mango, maracuja, pear, the whole fruit basket. Liquorice, a little dried coconut, some coconut as well, fading towards a sweet grassiness. Nougat too. Finish: long, fruity, with citrus green tea.

Very good as well. I think the 1989 is certainly better on the palate, but the rummy notes work better for the 1991 in my opinion, especially on the nose. Score-wise very similar, but the 22yo is better value so I’d buy that one. Around € 140.

Score: 90/100


We’ll publish a small series of Irish whiskey if you don’t mind. There’s a sudden wave of (undisclosed) Irish single malt releases – a lot of them from the 1988-1991 period but also younger versions. We can’t be against that of course – most of them are attractive tropical fruit bombs.

Some suggest a link between these casks and the growing activities of the Teeling family. Also it’s becoming clear that a lot of them are probably Bushmills production.

That guess makes sense, especially for two new releases by The Nectar of the Daily Drams together with La Maison du Whisky. Why? Because they’re matured in rum casks, something that has only been done in Ireland by Bushmills as far as I know.

Today we’re trying the Irish single malt 1989, tomorrow its younger brother distilled in 1991. Both were presented at the recent Whisky Live in Paris.

 

Irish single malt 1989 - The Nectar of the Daily Drams / La Maison du WhiskyIrish Single Malt Whiskey 24 yo 1989 (42,2%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams & La Maison du Whisky 2014, rum cask #16262)

Nose: very creamy, with lots of vanilla crème. Banana, juicy pear, ripe mango and golden raisins. Faint hints of marshmallow and marzipan. Some buttery notes in the background, as well as a sharper note (white balsamic). Floral notes, pollen. Mouth: an explosion of tropical fruits, although I think the Irish Malt 1988 TWA beats it in terms of fruitiness. Mango, banana, maracuja. Some bramble. After a while, there’s a slight grassy sharpness as well as a fragrant hint of bergamot. Liquorice. Soft caramel. Hints of green tea. Finish: long, the oak is more clear now, there’s a soft pepperiness but also lingering fruits.

Good stuff. This one is particularly great on the palate. On the nose I have some difficulty with the sharper edges. Around € 190.

Score: 90/100


In the 1780’s, personal guests of John Jameson received a personal bottle at the end of their visit. This tradition lives on in the Jameson 12yo Distillery Reserve, which you can buy in the online shop, personalized with your own name.

It has been aged in bourbon and sherry casks for a minimum of 12 years and has a high pure Pot Still content. I’m not sure whether it’s different from the regular Jameson 12 Year Old.

 

Jameson 12yo Distillery ReserveJameson 12 yo ‘Distillery reserve’ (40%, OB)

Nose: rich and fruity (melon, apricot, banana) sprinkled with honey. Almond paste. Vanilla. A subtle layer of wood (cedar?) and soft hints of dried fruits. Mouth: not a very brave attack, but nice flavours nonetheless. Tropical fruits, tangerine, banana, fruit gums. Nutty flavours from the sherry, as well as light spices, gentle grains and a little oak. Toffee notes and cinnamon. Finish: medium length, soft with sweet grapefruit and lingering spices.

Fresh, lively, attractive and balanced. Faultless Irish whiskey and better than the 12yo Special Reserve in my opinion, at least the batches I’ve tried. Available at the distillery shop or in the online shop for € 60.

Score: 85/100


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


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Coming up

  • Lagavulin 12yo (2014 release)
  • SIA Blended Scotch
  • Ardmore Legacy
  • Cardhu 18 Year Old
  • Clynelish 21yo 1992 (Cadenhead)
  • Ledaig 2005 (Maltbarn)
  • Aberlour 8yo (cube, small cork)

1643 notes by Ruben

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