Single malt whisky - tasting notes

It becomes nearly impossible to find / buy 1950’s-1960’s whisky these days – usually bottled a long time ago already. Especially the more established distilleries are out of reach.

Glen Moray isn’t one of them, so it’s usually not outrageously priced. This 30 years old expression was distilled 26 March 1959 and bottled October 1989, so it spent almost the same amount of time in the bottle already.

 

Glen Moray 1959/1989 30yo Dun EideannGlen Moray 30 yo 1959 (40%, Dun Eideann 1989, ref. 84/611-1, 75 cl.)

Nose: perfectly expressive, given the 40%. Guavas, passion fruits and tangerines up front, sort of an old Lochside fruitiness. Then some waxed old floors and lovely hints of Neroli (orange blossom oil). Bergamot. Sweet almonds with honey and a little vanilla (pastry-like indeed). There’s also an old-style dusty note in the background, as well as some eucalyptus. A delight. Mouth: less oomph now, but just as fruity. Citrus (lots of oranges), green mango, a little melon and quinces. Vanilla again. Surprisingly candied actually. The waxy beehive notes are still prominent. Fades on soft pepper, a hint of cinnamon and subtle oak. Finish: struggles to keep its voice, which is normal, but very graceful. Fruit tea and soft nutty notes.

It may be slightly soft-voiced but it still swings like hell with its typical 1950-1960’s fruitiness. Old Glen Moray is underrated I tell you! Around € 375 in auctions. Thanks Luc.

Score: 93/100


Whiskyfun was particularly fond of this Teaninich 1983 bottled by Signatory. The distillery may not enjoy big fame, at least not among single malt lovers, but it’s highly respected by blenders and a standard ‘workhorse’ for Compass Box for example. I don’t think I’ve ever had bad Teaninich and some of them have been really nice surprises.

 

Teaninich 1983 Signatory #8071Teaninich 29 yo 1983 (57,5%, Signatory Vintage 2013, refill butt #8071, 471 btl.)

Nose: graphite and industrial oils. Paraffin and plastics. Limestone and brine. Surprisingly mineral. There’s a sweetness in the background, a slightly synthetic one of unripe pineapple, green banana and lime. Hints of tequila as well. Hints of pepper. Mouth: punchy, with a more prominent marzipan sweetness now. Apples and cane sugar. Lemon drops. Floral notes as well as metallic notes. Chalk. Petrol. A bit of a strange combination, really interesting though. Hints of tonic water and liquorice towards the end. Toasted / smoked oak as well. Finish: quite long, waxy, with malty notes, herbs and a soft bitter edge.

This Teaninich revolves around an intriguing industrial side, a tequila side and plenty of minerals. A bit of the Highlands, a bit of the Lowlands. Not your typical Teaninch in any case, so one bonus point for its highly individual character. But I wasn’t totally blown away either. Thanks for the sample, Joeri. Around € 135.

Score: 90/100


The Limburg Dramclub was recently founded. For € 99 you get a one year membership, as well as the club bottling (currently this Glenallachie 1999), a ticket for the next edition of The Whisky Fair and a 5% discount on releases from The Whisky Agency, The Whisky Fair, Villa Konthor, Sansibar, The Nectar… and other related bottlers.

 

Glenallachie 1999 - Limburg DramclubGlenallachie 15 yo 1999 (57,3%, eSpirits for Limburg Dramclub 2014, ex-sherry cask)

Nose: nice, fairly modern whisky. Candy apples, berries, rum & raisins. Hints of raspberry jam and brown sugar. Honey notes and some leather as well. Sweet and sherried, but not too much, I like it. Mouth: powerful and juicy – now slightly less sweet than expected. A malty base, topped by plenty of berries and raisins. Gentle oak sets in, with subtle herbs.  A little ginger and liquorice. Bitter oranges. Chocolates with liqueur filling. A little marmalade too. Finish: quite long, quite a bit ‘greener’ and more leathery now, with hints of bitter oak.

It’s not the most complex dram, but it’s well-composed and so easy to drink. Sometimes these membership gifts are just things they want to get rid of – but surely not this time. Around € 80 without the membership.

Score: 87/100


Convalmore is one of the distilleries that were closed during the whisky crisis of the early 1980’s. The site is now owned by William Grant and the abandoned buildings are used to store casks of Glenfiddich and Balvenie.

This is the Convalmore 24 Year Old 1978 that was part of the Rare Malts series.

 

Convalmore 24 Years 1978 (Rare Malts)Convalmore 24 yo 1978
(59,4%, Rare Malts 2003)

Nose: interesting, with hints of unripe banana, dried fruits and soft vanilla but also more austere notes. Tarry ropes, wet limestone, a few metallic notes. Lamp oil. Plenty of medicinal touches as well. Hints of almond cream and mint. This style is now extinct. Mouth: again fruity notes and hints of cake, mixed with sharper austere notes. Bitter oranges as well as candied ones. Candied ginger. Oily notes again, waxed oak. White pepper and herbs. Becomes slightly soapy with water. Finish: long, although it’s mainly on spices and herbal notes, with a malty sweetness in the back.

This is far away from modern Speyside whisky, it’s more demanding and has some rough edges. Not quite 90’s material but definitely one to try if you have a chance. Auction value around € 300.

Score: 89/100


There are three new releases by Eiling Lim: a Littlemill 1991, a Clynelish 1997 and – the most uncommon dram if you like – this Ben Nevis 1970.

We’ve seen single blend Ben Nevis 1970 in the past, but this is a single malt.

 

Ben Nevis 1970 - Eiling LimBen Nevis 43 yo 1970
(44,8%, Eiling Lim 2014, 60 btl.)

Nose: smooth and rather fruity, with Williams pears, oranges, bananas and mirabelles. Rhubarb and papaya. There’s also this Ben Nevis je-ne-sais-quoi that I can only describe as half metallic, half lipstick. Some chamomile tea and waxed papers. A little nail polish remover. Floral honey. Maybe a little tiger balm. Lovely hints of spearmint bubblegum as well. Elegant and quite intriguing. Mouth: again very minty from the start. Moroccan mint tea. Whiffs of Earl Grey as well. Hints of walnuts. Chartreuse. A kind of dry bourbon-like oak influence, with quite some leathery notes and spices. In the background there’s still quinces and apricots, as well as a hint of lime. Finish: medium long, on similar resinous notes and tobacco leaves.

A rare chance to try the old Ben Nevis profile. Even though the best ones have already been bottled, this one is still a real pleasure to try. Just over € 300 – intended for the Asian market.

Score: 89/100


A BenRiach 1993, finished in virgin American oak. It was selected by The Whisky Agency – sister cask #7976 had been bottled last year.

 

BenRiach 1993 cask #7977 virgin oak TWABenRiach 20 yo 1993 (52,3%, OB for The Whisky Agency 2014, cask #7977, Virgin American oak finish, 308 btl.)

Nose: intensely oak-infused, but in a very nice way. Dried coconut, waxed leather, mint syrup and vanilla. Traces of grain whisky, traces of rum, traces of American whiskey too. Apricots and bananas. Quite a lot of sawdust and oak polish. Hints of hay and spices. It’s not your classic Scotch, but it’s really enticing. Mouth: thick, sweet and oily, with lots of vanilla and pencil shavings. Actually this could have been made in America. Coconut cream and barley sugars. Mango and green banana. Some biscuity notes. Ginger and pepper. Finish: long, spicy and sweet. Almost a whisky liqueur.

I think BenRiach is one of the only distilleries that really master the art of virgin oak maturation / finishing, in a way that doesn’t hurt the character of the spirit and results in interesting new profiles. At some points surprisingly close to an actual bourbon. Around € 120.

Score: 87/100


In late 1980’s there were a couple of famous Glen Garioch 21 Year Old releases distilled in 1965 (white label with grey / golden / black letters according to the strength). By 1990 they were replaced by a 21yo with a black label.

We’re trying a rare 1973 vintage bottled in 1995 for the US market.

 

Glen Garioch 21 years 1973Glen Garioch 21 yo 1973 (43%, OB for Duggans Distillers NY 1995, 75 cl.)

Nose: flinty and mineral, but elegant at the same time. Waxed papers and linseed oil. Some peat, grapefruit and lemon zest. Leafy notes and eucalyptus. Could be mistaken for a Clynelish or Brora. Mineral, with a camphory / medicinal sharpness, but overall not too austere. Mouth: surprisingly sweet and thick, mixed with peat and liquorice roots. Peppercorns and mint. Hints of menthol and sweetened herbal tea. Some resin-like bitterness and leathery notes. Chalk. Finish: long, slightly sharp, with some smoke and sweet liquorice.

The intensity and boldness of this old-style Glen Garioch 21yo is quite stunning considering the modest 43%. That’s craftmanship. I think we’ve had even more complex (at least wider) 1970’s examples but this is still pretty great. Around € 300 in auctions. Thanks Carsten.

Score: 92/100


Bunnahabhain is without doubt the most widely available Islay distillery among independent bottlers these days. They seem to take advantage of the current shortage and popularity of Islay malt.

This is a heavily sherried Bunnahabhain 1990, like we’ve seen a couple of times recently.

 

Bunnahabhain 1990 ArchivesBunnahabhain 23 yo 1990
(47,9%, Archives ‘Fishes of Samoa’ 2014, sherry butt #52, 201 btl.)

Nose: full-bodied nose, with juicy fruits and lots of sweet Oloroso sherry. Black cherries, rum & raisins, blackberries… Sweet but also quite spicy, with pepper and hints of curry. Nice tobacco too. Touches of balsamic and soy. Also the typical flinty and (subtle) gunpowder note that’s often found in heavily sherried Bunna. Mouth: full of raisins, figs and dark chocolate. Starts sweet and fruity – quickly turns towards spices. Think cloves and nutmeg. Walnuts. Slightly tannic / leathery in the end. Finish: medium length, with liquorice, coffee and cinnamon powder.

The nose is sweet, intense and entertaining. On the palate the dry side is quite heavy, which makes this release end a little lower than I initially expected. Around € 105, available from Whiskybase.

Score: 86/100


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  • WhiskyNotes: It says 'single cask Scotch whisky' on the label, so yes, technically it can even contain a bit of Girvan grain. Not that it matters a lot though.
  • kallaskander: Hi there, could be a teaspooned blenders cask... technically not a single malt then.... that seems more probable than letting an IB bring out the fir
  • Glenn Vanbellingen: If you put the 12 y origin at 40% head to head with the 12 y origin 46% you see it immediately or better you taste it immediately.

Coming up

  • Jura 1972 SMWS 31.4
  • Balblair 2002
  • Kavalan Solist sherry (for LMdW)
  • Tullibardine 1980 (Malts of Scotland)
  • Ardbeg 1998 (Malts of Scotland)

1579 notes by Ruben

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