Single malt whisky - tasting notes

We will be looking at some recent bottlings next week, but for now I’m still enjoying myself with some very nice oldies.

This is part of a small batch of 1964 Bruichladdich casks that was bottled by Gordon & McPhail in three vattings: #3670-3672 which I’ve reviewed before, #3673-3675 and #3676-3677.

 

 

Bruichladdich 1964/1995 G&M #3676-3677Bruichladdich 30 yo 1964
(50%, Gordon & McPhail Cask Strength 1995, cask #3676-3677)

Nose: a warm, seductive and almost tropical fruitiness. Lots of apricot jam, quinces and honey. All kinds of beehive notes actually – beeswax, pollen, reminds me of Caperdonich 1972. Melons, pineapples. Polished oak, moving towards mint and a light metallic note. Maybe silver polish, but not the OBE kind. Mouth: still very fruity and very minty. Also more oak, including ginger, pepper and a little nutmeg. Peaches, Cantaloupe, grapefruit. Mint. It has a slight sharpness, maybe it’s peat, maybe it’s resinous oak, maybe this metallic edge. Finish: medium long, a mouthwatering combo of juicy oak and fruits, with a very light smoky touch.

I loved this one, even though the oak is getting a little loud on the palate. I think I prefer the #3670-3672 bottling as well, but anyway: great whisky.

Score: 91/100


While we’re at it, let’s throw in a younger expression, Glen Avon 8 Year Old. Again there are lots of variations, with a colour label (younger?) or grayscale (older?), with a red 8 or a green 8. Even funny decanters with the shape of a still.

 

 

Glen Avon 8 Years OldGlen Avon 8 yo
(40%, Gordon & MacPhail, 1990s, 75 cl)

Nose: quite nice, with less sherry influence but a nice fruitiness of oranges and peaches. Gooseberry pie. Sweet barley, Frosties, a hint of mocha and vanilla cream too. Honey. After a while some spicy notes. Fresh and bright, but with an oldskool dusty / grainy side to it. Mouth: really fruity and creamy again, even though it’s nothing special (apples, oranges, pears). Muesli with sultanas. Caramel toffee. A mild walnut dryness towards the end. Finish: pretty long, sweet and fruity, with a smooth honey note and a hint of pepper.

This could be much worse! It’s only 8 years old but it’s smooth, fruity and really full-bodied considering the low alcohol volume. Simply very decent whisky.

Score: 82/100


Saying that Glen Avon was a kind of hotchpotch brand of Gordon & MacPhail (more precisely its sister company Avonside Whisky) would be unrespectful. In any case it was made with stocks from an undisclosed Highland distillery – some say Glenfarclas, some say it could have been different distilleries depending on the batch.

There’s a whole list of versions, ranging from Glen Avon 5 Year Old all the way to pre-war Glen Avon 50 Year Old, including some vintages like 1953, 1955, 1958 and 1959. A lot of them seem to have found their way to Italian distributors.

This was a cylindrical, standard bottle whereas most of the 25 year olds seem to be bottled in square bottles, sometimes with a greyscale version of the label.

 

 

Glen Avon 25 Year Old Glen Avon 25 yo
(40%, Gordon & MacPhail, 1980s, 75 cl)

Nose: quite superb old sherry, rather fruity with some raisins, apricots and juicy oranges. Fresh plums. Also a classic dusty side, think leather chairs and old books. Hints of Mexican chocolate. Plenty of mint and menthol too. Dry hay. Ultra-classic. Mouth: soft but not too weak, with the herbal notes and spices from the sherry wood coming to the fore. Mocha. Tobacco and hints of smoky oak. Chocolate again. A tad less fruity than the nose suggested, but very nice anyway. Finish: quite long given the strength, almost entirely on chocolate now, with hints of ground pepper, liquorice and caramel.

Lovely 1950s or 1960s sherried whisky. I’ve been hesitating between a high 80s score or 90. Maybe nostalgia played a part. Glen Avon used to be fairly affordable until a few years ago, now its fame has spread and auctions prices have risen significantly.

Score: 90/100


Karuizawa 1983 Nepal Appeal - The Whisky Show

 

The Whisky Show 2015, which will be held in October this year, announced one of the world’s most expensive whisky tastings ever. Each of the 45 tickets costs nearly € 8500 and allows you to try four Karuizawa expressions which are no longer available by retail:

On top of this, all participants will receive their own bottle of the Karuizawa 1983 cask #3557 ‘Nepal Appeal’, a special release of only 50 bottles. Two of the remaining bottles will be auctioned on Whisky.auction and Bonhams Hong Kong.

Before you start ranting about excessive prices and the general Karuizawa hype: all proceedings will be shared with five charities that support the victims of the recent Nepal earthquake. This way, The Whisky Exchange is hoping to raise more than € 380.000 if all tickets are sold. I think this is a noteworthy and very generous idea.

I just checked my savings account and I’m afraid I won’t be attending the tasting… However The Whisky Exchange was kind enough to share a small sample, so here are my impressions of the upcoming charity bottling.

 

 

Karuizawa 1983 ‘Nepal Appeal’ (59%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 2014, sherry cask #3557, 50 btl.)

Nose: delicious. It has this combination of juicy cherries, tobacco leaves and a lightly ethereal touch of exotic wood – three things that pretty much define a great Karuizawa in my opinion. Moelleux au chocolat. Prunes, mocha and hazelnuts, a little incense. Eucalyptus and After Eight. Some meaty and flinty notes, dry cinnamon and a little balsamic after a while. Quite excellent. Mouth: thick, leathery and very spicy without water. Lots of cinnamon, cumin and pepper. Coffee powder and huge tobacco notes. Strong fruit tea and lightly medicinal hints of liquorice and mint. Still some prunes, figs, black cherries and fudge in the background. It takes quite a bit of water, which releases more fruits (even some pink grapefruit and bergamot) and highlights the aromatic cedar / sandalwood. Finish: very long, rather dry, on cocoa powder, pepper and blackberries.

There aren’t many 1983 expressions available, but most of them have been great. I can only confirm this is an excellent, very heavy Karuizawa. If you have the money to spare, this would be a unique way to support Nepal and get a rare Karuizawa in return. You can register online – the 45 tickets will be selected at random in three weeks.

Score: 93/100


Loch Lomond is Captain Haddock’s whisky, although taking advice from a comic figure is probably not the best idea. The distillery has several types of stills and produces both grain whisky and malt.

It has little fame but there were quite a few expressions: a no-age-statement Loch Lomond, a 12 Years Organic, a peated Green Label and this Loch Lomond 18 Years Old. Recently they were replaced with a single malt Loch Lomond Original and two blends, Loch Lomond Reserve and Signature.

 

 

Loch Lomond 18 Year OldLoch Lomond 18 yo (43%, OB +/- 2014)

Nose: not good. Quite vegetal, with cooked cabbage. A lot of toast with butter. Soaked porridge. Musty wood, gradually becoming sharper. Behind this there are overripe melon and some rotting oranges. It isn’t exactly making me smile. Mouth: decent attack, quite sugary with (fresher) oranges now and hints of toffee. However the bitterness of the wood returns. Some pepper. Harsher than a lot of blends actually. Something of burnt toast again. Finish: medum long, lemony and cardboardy, leaving an aftertaste of industrial alcohol.

In today’s world of standardized, computerized whisky production with few real failures, this feels like a dinosaur from a different era. It’s not good. Around € 70.

Score: 63/100


Remember the Glengoyne 1972 bottled by Malts of Scotland in 2012? Back then it was the whisky of the year for me and one of the best Glengoyne ever.

A couple of days ago I was thrilled to find out yet another Glengoyne 1972 had been bottled in the exclusive Warehouse Diamonds series. A bourbon cask this time, and only half the yield.

 

 

Glengoyne 1972 - Malts of Scotland - Warehouse DiamondsGlengoyne 42 yo 1972 (45,2%, Malts of Scotland ‘Warehouse Diamonds’ 2015, bourbon barrel, ref. Mos 15037, 132 btl.)

Nose: very typical with its warm fruitiness. Plenty of tangerine, kumquat, mirabelles and hints of mango. Some fruitcake. Tinned pineapple. Evolves on beehive notes like honey and beeswax. Hints of leather and mint. Mouth: oily and waxy start until the fruits take over. Apricots, pink grapefruit, papaya and echoes of passion fruit sherbet. Very tropical, with a wink at BenRiach, Longmorn and some Irish malts. Stays honeyed and excellently waxed, with hints of polished oak but no oaky dryness whatsoever. Finish: medium long, mildly dry, with fruits and traces of resinous honey.

I’m quite sure some people will say this is just as good as the sherry version, maybe even better. I think the sherry bottling has a slightly higher complexity, but this is a glorious profile as well (with less oaky notes as well). Already one of the highlights of 2015! Around € 400. Rather fair if you consider the other one was € 300 in 2012. Thanks for the dram, Koen.

Score: 93/100


It seems there’s a new Dalwhinnie 25 Year Old coming up as part of the Diageo Special Releases 2015, but for now we’re trying the old version distilled in 1987 and part of the Special Releases in 2012.

Dalwhinnie 25yo was matured in rejuvenated American oak hogsheads. That means they scraped the inside of tired casks that had been used for whisky maturation several times. This gives you a new surface of active wood, which is then charred and ready to be used again.

 

 

Dalwhinnie 25 Year Old 1987Dalwhinnie 25 yo 1987
(52,1%, OB 2012, 5358 btl.)

Nose: opens fairly soft but at the same time quite aromatic. The rejuvenated oak is clearly noticeable, with lots of roasted chestnuts, forest aromas (ferns, moss), liquorice and cloves. Slightly burnt herbs. Heather honey. Crème brûlée. Cinnamon. Quite a lot of hay. Soft fruity notes in the background (peach). Mouth: nicely waxy now, quite some heather honey again, liquorice and mint. A short hint of fruits (grapefruit, marmalade). After that it turns towards wood resin, leather, herbal liqueurs and plenty of spices like cardamom, clove and ginger. Finish: long, rather grassy but also nicely minty.

This Dalwhinnie shows a lot of Highlands character, even hints of Highland Park. And plenty of oaky notes, of course. Still available in many places for around € 220. Despite the limited interest, I’m sure the new release will be at least twice that price, wanna bet?

Score: 87/100


Mannochmore – the sister distillery of Glenlossie – is one of the younger distilleries. Production started in 1972 which is only five years before this Mannochmore 37yo 1977 went into a bourbon hogshead. Given the low availability of expressions, I think it’s fair to say this is the oldest Mannochmore every bottled?

It’s part of the Cadenhead single cask series, with the golden labels.

 

 

Mannochmore 37 years - CadenheadMannochmore 37 yo 1977 (49,4%, Cadenhead Single Cask 2015, bourbon hogshead, 210 btl.)

Nose: quite fresh and aromatic, with nice citrus, some grassy touches and a light hint of honey. White fruits (nectarine, pear), subtle floral hints and mint. Also a pleasant layer of polished oak.  Mouth: still very much on lemons, grapefruits, oranges and apricots, with a more pronounced honeyed note. Moderate white pepper and fruit tea. Candied ginger. Hints of cedar, but overall this is not a woody whisky. Finish: rather long, with some grains, cocoa and grassy notes.

This one shows some excellent elements of a well-matured, bourbon cask whisky. Not the most complex dram ever but nonetheless very pleasant. Around € 390. Thanks for the dram, Angelo.

Score: 90/100


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  • Tony: Yes, lower! It is almost unheard of for a more recent and older aged bottling to be 30% cheaper than the previously released one. Maybe that also help
  • Tony: True - I had it in my basket in one web shop as soon as it was announced, but it disappeared before I could check out! Luckily I have some of the prev
  • WhiskyNotes: I don't know, Gal. This kind of bottle is either sold out through pre-orders, or in a webshop five minutes after it appears online.

Coming up

  • Irish Single Malt 16yo 1999 (The Nectar of the Daily Drams)
  • Bunnahabhain 1987 (Maltbarn)
  • Glen Garioch 1993 (Maltbarn)
  • Glenlivet 42yo (Cadenhead)
  • Auchentoshan 1994 (Whisky Agency)
  • Blended Malt Extra Old (Whisky Agency)
  • Woodford Reserve Master's Collection
  • Teeling 26yo Vintage Reserve
  • Springbank 2001 vintage

1863 notes by Ruben

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