Nose: starts on furniture polish but after a few moments this makes place for a fruitier profile. Prunes and dried apricots. Hints of tangerine and chamomile. A bit of freshly cut mint. Very elegant, very balanced, very superb. Water brings out some wet wool but diminishes the overall power. Mouth: gentle attack but a wonderful development. Fruity and quite minty again, fig marmalade, beautiful tannins and spices (cloves, cinnamon). Some almonds. Finish: smoothly fading, getting more herbal with the wood taking the upperhand (not drying though).
As expected, great stuff. At around € 115, you can’t go wrong. Sold out at most places but Duncan Taylor releases similar cask at regular times. None of them was ever bad.
This 13 year-old Laphroaig 1996 was part of the latest batch of Single Malts of Scotland releases. It comes from a single bourbon hogshead.
Laphroaig 13yo 1996 (46%, Single Malts of Scotland 2009, cask #1983, 280 btl.)
Nose: rather mellow. Wood smoke mixed with lime juice. Some iodine and marzipan. Typical although fruitier and sweeter than usual, very integrated overall. Water intensifies the sweetness and shows some slightly floral notes. Mouth: very fruity and sweet again. I’m not a smoker, but I guess this tastes like citrus candy after a good cigar. Hints of black pepper and almonds. Finish: sweet and ashy with notes of liquorice and a gently bitter edge (over-infused Lapsang).
Not a wham-bam Laphroaig but quite subtle, sweet and very drinkable. Available from TWE (€ 55).
There are only three distilleries who can claim to be “royal”: Royal Brackla, Glenury Royal and Royal Lochnagar, the favourite distillery of Queen Victoria. It’s Diageo’s smallest operational distillery and bottlings are quite rare. There’s an official 12 year old and the Selected Reserve from 2008 (half sherry, half bourbon, around 18yo).
Royal Lochnagar 19yo 1990 (54,6%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld 2009, cask #356, 259 btl.)
Nose: starting rather mineral and grassy but the fruit comes out after a while, mainly zesty citrus. Heather honey. There’s a delicious peat base, hints of wet rocks and sawdust. Spicy edge (ginger, mint, even chives). Classy Highland character I would say. Mouth: powerful attack, starts on fruit cake. Evolves on oranges, some liquorice. Grassy notes as well, mixed with lemon marmalade. Hints of violets and rosemary. Finish: rather long and hot. Getting grassy and lemony again. Dark caramel in the aftertaste.
A very solid Highland malt with some intriguing aromas. A Royal Lochnagar to recommend!
Around € 85.
Macallan doesn’t need an introduction. There are plenty of bottlings, both official and independent. This 19 year old Macallan 1990 was drawn from the cask four weeks ago so it should be available shortly.
Nose: not the most expressive nor a very fruity Macallan. Malty start with hints of fresh apples. A bit of vanilla and honey. Mouth: much more punchy now, with hints of sugared almonds and candied pineapple. Banana with cinnamon. Slightly roasted as well, with hints of mocha and chocolate. Finish: drops rather soon. A bit of candy sugar and whiffs of oak.
This one is all right (non-sherry for a change) though probably not the most interesting Macallan. Good on the palate, but the nose and finish are less convincing. Around € 85.
Duncan Taylor seems to have a special nose for Glenrothes from the 1968-1970 period. The company released a whole series of such casks and most were really good, like the Glenrothes 1968/2006 I reviewed before.
This 1970 cask was selected by our Belgian bottler The Nectar.
Glenrothes 39 yo 1970
(47,9%, Duncan Taylor for The Nectar 2009, cask #10567, 127 btl.)
Nose: superb Speyside associations: candied apple, very ripe bananas, passion fruit, pineapple. Some spices. Lovely hints of furniture polish and beeswax. Hints of cherries as well, which is less common. Citrus. Honey. Very attractive overall. Mouth: oaky but not at all drying. Hints of coconut which are quite spectacular (Malibu!). Bananas again, with vanilla. Hints of bubblegum and cream. Almonds. Spicy gingerbread. Very balanced and perfect strength for this kind of profile. Finish: long, on fruit jams with just enough wood influence (ginger and cinnamon). A touch of butter.
Another great Glenrothes from Duncan Taylor.
I hope they keep these casks coming! Around
€ 170, which is quite pricey (previous Glenrothes by Duncan Taylor were around € 120-150).
Here’s the latest Malts of Scotland release. They keep launching new bottlings at a high rate and most of them are really worth a review.
As you know, independent Glengoynes are very rare, so we should thank Malts of Scotland for their Glengoyne 1972, Glengoyne 1973 and this new Glengoyne 1998. It comes from a first-fill sherry hogshead and the colour is quite fabulous. Blacker than Black Bowmore?
Long, slow legs announce a great spirit. Nose: a truly classic oloroso nose with sultanas, dried prunes and dried oranges. Slightly prickly but
spot on! Sweet black cherries, raspberry and hints of tobacco. Some vanilla toffee and lovely pine resin. Mouth: bold sherry again: prunes, honey, fruit cake. Hints of liquorice and dark chocolate. A very clean cask without rubber or sulphur. Finish: long, on raspberry jam and raisins. Fading out on cloves.
An excellent Glengoyne for “dark sherry” lovers, although you could argue that the sherry dominates the distillery character. This will be a hit anyway. Great price as well: € 60.
Apart from the Macallan Speymalt 1970/2009, this Lochside is another Gordon & MacPhail release exclusively for La Maison du Whisky. It will be presented at Whisky Live Paris.
Lochside 28yo 1981 (56,1%, G&M for La Maison du Whisky 2009, refill sherry hogshead #803, 205 btl.)
Nose: very aromatic and complex. There’s so much going on that it was difficult to write everything down before another association came up. A rather sharp, mineral start. After two minutes, there is lovely lemon grass. Fruits as well, starting on grapefruit and tangerine but evolving into the tropical fruits (mango, pineapple). Obvious waxy notes as well (rather close in style to Clynelish). A few flowery notes. The sherry is rather shy. Mouth: very assertive. More oak influence now, fruity marmelade, still some wax. Lemon. Slightly peppery. Dried oranges. Finish: quite long on grapefruit. Drying with a spicy edge (pepper, liquorice).
A Lochside with a terrific nose that can entertain for a long time. On the palate, it’s less of a kameleon but still very very good. At around € 115, very good value for money.
I’ll compare it to the Lochside 1987/2008 by The Whisky Agency (Perfect Dram series) in a few days.
Bunnahabhain normally produces an unpeated spirit, but occasionally you can find a peated version. A lot of these were distilled in 1997, when the distillery manager decided to make something for “peatophiles”.
This is one of the recent additions to the Malts of Scotland range.
Nose: it’s the peated barley that’s talking here. Ashes. Quite peppery, hints of tyres and chalk. Pleasant notes of pencil shavings and pear in the distance. The sherry shines through in notes of eucalyptus and a bit of butter caramel, but it’s not at all overpowering so it may have been a second fill cask. After a while, some candy sugar appears which makes it a bit more expressive and rounded. Mouth: very powerful attack, very peaty and a tad bitterish. Very smokey. Again the sherry is on a second level, but it’s still trying to fight back (faint notes of fruit marmelade). Roasted nuts. Salty liquorice as well. Not the most complex whisky but still nice and balanced. Finish: long, quite organic with a dash of salt.
A very good Bunnahabhain with big muscles. Around € 60.