St. Magdalene can be a little difficult to find. The Lowlands distillery was closed in 1983, a year in which lots of good distilleries (e.g. Port Ellen) were halted because of a decreasing interest in whisky. Too bad some of the most interesting distilleries were on that list…
Douglas Laing released a number of St. Magdalene casks from December 1982 in their Old Malt Cask range (at least 7 in the last 2-3 years). Most of them were good, so let’s hope they still have some casks lying around. This one is from a refill butt.
Nose: aromatic, very grassy and slightly fruity with lots of oranges. It’s not really complex at first, but after some time (and a bit of hand warmth) it opens up. Dried flowers. Some paraffin, chalk, green tea with lemon, a hint of smoke. Chlorophyl. Hints of lemon sweets. Quite attractive. Mouth: citrus notes again (orange, lemon). Plenty of apples (including piths). Something that reminds me of tequila as well. Juicy and honeyed. Some vanilla. Subtle coastal hints as well. Finish: quite sweet, on pear and peaches with soft spices. Not very long.
Elegant but old-school whisky with a nice balance. There’s something feminine about it, although that’s hard to define. Around € 120.
Nose: sweet and fruity. A lot of estery notes. Apple cake with some cinnamon and mango. Some pineapple and milk as well (piña colada anyone?). Mouth: not very powerful. Vanilla, almonds, citrus fruit, yoghurt and floral notes (rose water which is so typical for Linkwood). A rather short finish, nice but nothing spectacular.
Overall good stuff, no flaws. But I would expect a 27 year old whisky to have something extra maybe?
This is the 50th post on my blog. For special occasions, there’s always… Port Ellen. The Norse Cask Selection is a brand of the Danish importer and distributor Quality World. In december 2007, they bottled a hogshead cask of 1979 Port Ellen. It was sold for just € 120.
Port Ellen 28y 1979 (53,7%, Norse Cask Selection 2007, Cask QW1311, 277 btl.)
Nose: very typical, wonderful Port Ellen smell. Needs of bit of hand warmth to open up but after that, it just keeps going. Wet stones, salt, lemon skin, ash, lots of smoke, seaweed, vanilla, mint… Wonderfully complex and clean at the same time. Some green leaves and grassy notes, with a medicinal touch. I’ve spent 45 minutes just nosing this, really excellent. Mouth: sweet and fruity attack but heavily peated at the same time. Pine wood, pepper. Chocolate. The aftertaste shows salty liquorice notes and lime, leaving behind some coal smoke and pepper as well.
Overall great balance between sweet, grassy, salty and peaty flavours. Terrific. A shame that I only had a small sample, every drop was more evidence for its genius!
Probably Islay’s least appreciated distillery? An outsider anyway, with less of the typical Islay characteristics. You can still detect the sea though.
Bunnahabhain 12y (40%, OB +/- 2008)
Fresh nose. Honey and ginger. Fruity with hints of dry sherry. Really mild, the smoke is only noticeable in the distance and peat is virtually absent. Mouth: mellow and really sweet. Just a tad smokey. Weak attack (it seems over-diluted) but it gets more powerful after a few seconds. More smoke and coffee in the aftertaste. A tiny bit of peat as well (or was that just imagination?).
Not bad actually. Nothing special either. Around € 30.
There are two Nikka malt whisky distilleries: Yoichi and Miyagikyo. Yoichi produces rich, peaty and masculine malt. It is located on the Hokkaido island (Japan), with influence from the sea and cold climate, just like in Scotland. The whisky gets its aroma and body from direct heating distillation, in which the stills are heated with finely powdered natural coal (the traditional method that is hardly ever used today, even in Scotland – Springbank still uses it).
The Yoichi 10yo exists in different batches that share the same flavour profile, but there can be significant differences as well.
Nikka Yoichi 10y (45%, OB, batch 08G34B)
Fresh nose on apple, apricot and pineapple candy. Orange peel. Spicy notes as well (clove, ginger). It’s immediately fruity and attractive but it shows more depth after a while. Faint notes of new leather and subtle peat. Doesn’t tolerate a lot of added water. Mouth: some vanilla. The oakiness grows stronger and the peat influence is more powerful than on the nose. Lots of sweet and roasted notes, but there’s also a salty, peaty edge towards the finish. Long aftertaste.
This Yoichi is a well made, all-round single malt, with no rough edges whatsoever (you can think of that as a positive as well as a negative remark). It contains lots of common flavours found in different types of whisky, and combines them in a balanced way. Around € 60.
Well, after the Bowmore 1983 25yo (DL OMC) that seemed to be sponsored by Sunlight soap, let’s prove Bowmore made wonderful stuff as well. It’s always a previlege to taste really old whiskies. Especially a Bowmore from the Sixties, because it’s made in the “old style”. That is before they’ve changed their profile to the smoky, salty and slightly perfumed profile that we know today.
Bowmore 32y 1968 ‘Anniversary edition’ (45,5%, OB 2001, 1860 btl.)
Nose: very aromatic and an avalanche of fruits. You name it, it’s there. At first: delicious cavaillon (orange melon) and tangerine, but these notes fade rather quickly. Then grapefruit and apple. Excellent vanilla pudding. Back to the tropical fruit. More candy-like now: mango and passion fruit sweets. Pineapple too, again with a hint of vanilla and a bit of mint. This is like an exquisite ice cream with fresh tropical fruits. Strangely enough, hardly any Islay notes. Well, there’s something slightly maritime and smokey, but it’s hard to notice and gone before you know it. Absolutely wonderful.
Mouth: very big with the same fruits: passion fruit, grapefruit and tangerine. Some pear and lemon. A bit of peat now and more noticeable smoke, but still far from the current Islay style. A faint hint of coffee. Good balance between sweet and bitter fruit notes. Slightly peppered as well, but overall refined. Finish: beautiful. The tangerine and passion fruit fade slowly. In the end only the bitter grapefruit notes remain.
Wow, incredible whisky and the best fruit juice I’ve ever had! The most expensive fruit juice as well: the value of this bottle is around € 500. Not for Islay fans though, because it doesn’t have the Bowmore profile we are used to from recent bottlings.
Bowmore made some good stuff and some bad stuff. The youngest bottlings seem to have improved, but it’s safe to say Bowmores from the eighties are risky. There are more bad ones than good ones from that era. How about this Douglas Laing bottling?
Nose: relatively sweet, lemony. Oranges. Peaty for a Bowmore, with maritime notes. Ouch, after that it starts to become perfumy as well (lavender). Mouth: Sunlight soap. Violet candy, strawberry and strong peat. Slighty peppered. Finish: eau de cologne and grapefruit, getting quite dry. More perfume in the aftertaste.
Last year at the festivals of Liège and Gent, Douglas Laing brought us a few stunning malts, such as the OMC Banff 36y 1971. This year, their range was a bit of a disappointment. This Bowmore is a perfect example. So not worth € 150 in my opninion. I’m sure they have better stuff lying around.
Adelphi has a good reputation as an independent bottler. Their Inchgower 26y 1980 won a gold medal at the 2008 Malt Maniacs Awards, and their undisclosed ‘Breath of Islay’ and ‘Breath of the Isles’ bottlings are also highly regarded.
Now they’re launching another undisclosed whisky named Fascadale (meaning “ship’s haven”). It’s a limited release of 3797 bottles. Charles McLean’s tasting notes sound very interesting:
Tobacco pouch, Highland Toffee, smoked bacon, distant peat fires and salty rock pools with a rich creamy texture and a bracing kick of chilli pepper to finish.
Attention, spoiler coming up: it’s a Talisker. They’ve married five 1993 and five 1998 casks, reduced to 46% which is marginally higher than a standard Talisker 10. It will be priced around € 45 which seems good value.