The Yamazaki Puncheon is matured in American oak puncheons (large 480 litre casks, often even larger). Larger casks, so slower ageing and supposedly elegant and spirit-driven. While puncheons are usually seasoned with sherry or rum, apparently the ones Yamazaki used had previously contained bourbon whiskey. I hadn’t heard of bourbon puncheons before.
It has been released in 2011 and 2012 already, and the 2013 version is said to be the final release.
(48%, OB 2013)
Nose: fresh and fruity, with lots of American oak influences indeed. Pears, peaches and vanilla, with nice hints of pineapple and banana. A little bubblegum. Hints of floral honey. Quite some fresh oak as well. Overall it’s bright but also a little youngish. Mouth: bright, malty and fruity again. Yellow plum, peach and orange. Pear drops and lime. Coconut. Vanilla ice cream. Becoming fragrant, a tad too floral maybe. Exemplary for American oak, very predictable as well. Finish: medium long, sweet and slightly gingery.
Well made, clean and fruity whisky that’s easy to like. On the other hand its ambition doesn’t reach beyond showcasing the wood it was matured in. Between € 105 and 125.
The Auld Alliance is a high-class whisky bar in Singapore which boasts one of the largest collections in South-East Asia. It is run by Emmanuel Dron, a Frenchman who worked for La Maison du Whisky before.
Since 2013, Auld Alliance also has its own line of whisky bottlings. This Littlemill 1992 is the fourth release.
Nose: maybe not a full fruitiness this time. There’s apple, pear and marzipan sweetness at first, but also linseed oil and lots of waxy notes: wax candles and paraffin. Vanilla cake and soft herbal notes. In the end it turns towards the typical citrusy notes and lemon balm. Whiffs of marshmallows too. Mouth: oily, starts on these waxy notes and minerals again, before the nice burst of lemons, pink grapefruits and lime. Hints of lemon grass and, well… normal grass. Quite resinous towards the end. Finish: long, with the same lemon theme. Lime zest, grapefruit and the lingering grassy notes.
Highly enjoyable Littlemill again, with slightly bolder waxy and zesty notes this time. Really good stuff.
I can’t remember other Irish whiskey from The Whisky Agency, but now they have two at the same time. It’s a single malt so either produced at Bushmills or Cooley. This one was distilled in 1988, the year Cooley started distilling, but that doesn’t tell us anything. Update: according to the Teeling brothers, Cooley distilled it first malt in 1989. Bushmills it is?
Irish single malt 25 yo 1988
(51,1%, The Whisky Agency ‘Old Times Diving’ 2013, 212 btl.)
Nose: all the yellow fruits you can expect from Irish whiskey. Especially Maracuja sherbet. Also pink grapefruit (BenRiach 1976’s style), white apricots and hints of Charentais melon. Orange blossom. Bags of gummy bears. Very fresh, with a definite acidity, although there’s a warmer vanilla theme in the background. Soft notes of herbal honey. Mouth: sweet, still lots and lots of this passion fruit sherbet, simply lovely. There’s some oak and liquorice, as well as fresh herbs, but they don’t stand a chance, the tropical fruitiness is ten times bigger. Bananas, mandarins and a little coconut. Triple Sec. Truly a fruit bomb. Hints of cinnamon and mint. Finish: long, still sweet, slightly nuttier and more chocolaty now.
Just excellent Irish whiskey, it turns the fruity volume up to 11 but it wouldn’t be a Whisky Agency release if it didn’t show complexity as well. It doesn’t matter, but this time my guess would be Bushmills. Highly recommended, even at € 200.
The Glenrothes 2001 vintage is the latest vintage from this distillery. It has been selected from a variety of casks to deliver a “conversational style”. Try to meet the wonderful Ronnie Cox if you ever have a chance. He’ll tell you all about the different “moods” they’re trying to create, and how a new vintage replaces the previous while recreating the same style.
The Glenrothes 2001 is the youngest offering in their range, and the first vintage of the new millennium. This is the European version at 43%. Apparently the Asian version is 40%.
Glenrothes 2001 (43%, OB 2013)
Nose: bright, with juicy barley, vanilla and icing sugar. Stewed apples. Fresh oak and honey, with some lemon peel top notes. Just a little butterscotch in the background. Classic Glenrothes. Mouth: shy attack, it feels slightly underpowered at first, but it folds open nicely. First citrus notes (lemon pie, lemon zest), apples, then brazil nuts and heather honey. Orange peel. Growing spices from the wood, mainly cinnamon and nutmeg with a bittersweet edge. A hint of kirsch as well. Finish: medium long, slightly sweet, citrusy but mainly quite spicy.
A nice, clean dram that’s both light, citrusy and spicy at the same time. Around € 55.
I tried this Ben Nevis 1995 quickly but couldn’t detect anything special. I was in a hurry so I poured it back and tried it again three days later. Sometimes waiting long enough makes all the difference between a regular whisky and a special one.
Ben Nevis 18 yo 1995 (51,8%, The Whisky Agency ‘Old Times Diving’ 2013, refill hogshead, 242 btl.)
Nose: starts surprisingly un-fruity compared to the rest of this series. Sweet cereals, mineral notes and some waxy / fatty notes. Meadow flowers. After some time and hand warmth it becomes warmer and unfolds its fruits: first grapefruit and lemon balm, then more exotic banana, maybe kiwi. Hints of vanilla. Quite a “Littlemillian” evolution in a way. Mouth: even more similarities to some Littlemill expressions: bright, slightly exotic fruits. Tangerines, lemon sweets, a little passion fruit and pink grapefruit. A good dose of fresh bourbon oak too, as well as a cirtusy zestiness, ginger and grassy notes. The waxy notes are still present. Finish: medium long, still fruity.
Fresh whisky with a fruitiness that starts shy and hits you on the palate. Typical Ben Nevis minerals as well. A nice surprise. Around € 95, arriving in stores as we speak.
Nose: a delicate nose, on dried flowers, soft honey and allspice. A subtle fruitiness of orange peel and lemon cake. Candied ginger. Overall rather dry and waxy. Some old-style oak and walnut husks. The lightest hint of sea breeze as well. All rather discreet, but pretty complex, it grows on you. Mouth: dry with lots of herbal notes, liquorice and a load of oak juice and nuts (without becoming astringent though). Yellow apples and orange peel again, mixed with soft pepper and a pinch of salt. A bit of bitter grassiness towards the end. Maybe Fino sherry? Finish: medium long, dry, with apple peel, liquorice root and nutmeg.
A herbal, oak-infused Bunnahabhain that steps out of the box at times but manages to keep you interested. It could be mistaken for an old-style, discreet Speysider. Around € 170.
GlenDronach 21 yo 1992 (59,8%, OB 2013, Oloroso butt #195, 566 btl.)
Nose: very dense, even a little closed at first. Dark chocolate and coffee liqueur. Some roasted chestnuts and toasted bread crust. Some oak spices (pepper, clove). It’s only after a while that brighter red fruits and kirsch gets noticeable. Also an earthy and rubbery side. If I remember correctly, cask #161 was more open and accessible. Mouth: quite fiery, with lots of black prunes, liquorice and roasted nuts. Plenty of herbs, cloves and walnut skin. Again a rubbery edge, pfff. Black coffee and dark chocolate. Slightly oaky and lacking a bit of brightness, although there are some oranges to be found. Finish: long, dry with prunes and lots of spicy notes.
I may have picked the wrong single casks this year. Although better than the 1991 cask #5405, it feels overweight and bulky again. Let’s hope the 1993 vintage can live up to its name. Around € 150.
Another Glentauchers 1996, this time in the Liquid Library series. The colour of this one is slightly lighter than the Glentauchers 1996 bottled by Tasting Fellows. Let’s see where the differences are.
Nose: lots of fresh barley again, but less candied and with less vanilla. More mineral notes (limestone). The fruity notes are still there, but they’re ‘greener’. Lemon and grapefruit, unripe gooseberries and green banana. Still slightly rummy in a way, but less tropical. Mouth: the fruity notes and sweet spirit come are louder here, they get more room as the oak is less obvious. Green banana again, lemon sweets, something bubblegummy, before the grassy notes set in and the whole gets a bitter edge. Finish: medium long, very close to the barley, with some grassy notes and fresh oak.
This one seem a tad younger than the Tasting Fellows cask (refill vs. first fill?), but mainly because the oak spices are less pronounced. This will come down to personal preferences. Around € 90.