Single malt whisky - tasting notes

The Glenlivet 18 Years sits in the middle of the Glenlivet core range, in between the 12/15 and the 21/25 yo. It is a combination of first fill American and second fill European oak casks.

 

The Glenlivet 18 yearsThe Glenlivet 18 yo
(43%, OB +/- 2013)

Nose: quite a robust nose with fruits (yellow apples, oranges, golden raisins, plums) and a good dose of sherry. Also honey and a minty overtone. Some blossomy notes and subtle oak spices. Something vaguely tropical comes out after a while. Mouth: more punchy now, more oak-driven as well. Malty notes, honey and lots of sweet apples. Oranges and raisins. Toffee. The oak brings cinnamon, ginger and liquorice. Maybe a tad too grainy / harsh towards the end, with some tannins. Finish: not too long, quite dry but clean, with some toasted oak and grains.

A solid all-rounder. The nose is elegant, relatively complex and with the typical floral touch of Glenlivet. After that it goes downhill, with a harsher palate and a short finish. Between € 50 and € 70.

Score: 83/100


Plantation rumDreadlocks: check, ganja: check, dub riddim playlist: check. Ya man, all set to crack this lil’ beauty. Rasta Morris is the rum division of Asta Morris. Bert Bruyneel selected a 15 years old single cask rum distilled in Barbados and finished in a sherry cask.

 

Plantation 15 years Barbados rum - Rasta MorrisBarbados 15 yo rum
(42%, Plantation for Rasta Morris 2013, single cask #115, sherry finish, 450 btl.)

Nose: fairly dry and leathery. There’s a pleasant reminder of dusty books before it shows sweeter oranges and caramel. Baking spice. After a while some dried banana comes out. Mouth: very smooth and sweet – much sweeter than the nose suggested, now displaying more common flavours. Baked bananas, vanilla cream and coconut. Heavy molasses, hints of sticky dates as well. Cinnamon and caramelized nuts. Sweet butter pastry and treacle. Honey. Finish: still very sweet, a bit cloying now. Warm spicy echoes alongside the caramel.

A very smooth rum. It seems the sherry finish gave it an extra boost of date sweetness and sticky toffee. A dessert rum. Around € 65.


Longmorn 1992 is another one of these whiskies that we’ve seen very often lately. On Whiskybase there are +/- 30 expressions bottled in 2013 alone. I’m sorry but I won’t bother to try every sample I have as there are very little deviations.

 

 

Longmorn 1992 Whisky-FässleLongmorn 21 yo 1992
(51,1%, Whisky-Fässle ‘Ronny’s Choice’ 2013, bourbon hogshead)

Nose: rather typical Speyside / ex-bourbon combination. Garden fruits (apples, gooseberries, greengages) mixed with vanilla and touches of coconut. Hints of strawberry marshmallows after a while. A little mint as well. Mouth: full-bodied, fruity (oranges, apples, peaches) with the expected pepper / ginger combination of the white oak to muffle the sweetness a little. Faint grassy notes. Finish: medium long, still fruity (a little more on the zesty side now) with some citrus green tea.

Honest, well-made whisky. Maybe its only problem is that there are so many similar casks to be found so it’s difficult to understand why Ronny chose this particular version. Around € 80.

Score: 86/100


I have to admit I didn’t have William Grant’s blended whisky before. Their ambassador Ludo Ducrocq was kind enough to let me try the whole range but I didn’t go for the basic expressions right away – let’s start at a decent level with the Grant’s 18 Year Old. It used to be nicknamed ‘Classic Reserve’.

As a reminder, William Grant & Sons is a top-5 producer of Scotch whisky. They own Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Kininvie and Alisa Bay malt distilleries and the grain distillery Girvan. They also produce Hendrick’s Gin among other drinks.

After a separate maturation, the malt and grain whiskies for this 18 Year Old are brought together and finished in Port casks.

 

 

Grant's 18 Year Old blendGrant’s 18 yo (40%, OB +/- 2013)

Nose: a rich nose, very honeyed, with figs and red berries. Raisins. Orange zest and fresh lemon. A nice Port influence, a little on the winey side but it works well here, with some intriguing grape notes. Toasted almonds and soft earthy notes as well. Mouth: again a dried fruits / sherried kind of dram, with caramelized pear and citrus zest before a light bittersweetness sets in. Nice hints of smoke and toasted nuts. Raisins and heather honey. Vanilla and warm spices. Finish: decent length, quite elegant, with oaky notes, chocolate sweetness and pepper.

I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Some would say the Port influence makes it winey, but on the other hand I prefer this to the grainy harshness of other blends. It’s thick, honeyed, and well composed. It doesn’t seem to be widely available, but worth a try. Around € 65.

Score: 83/100


Kintra has three new bottlings: a 6 years old Aultmore, a 15 years old Auchentoshan and this Inchgower 1990. Nice to see they’re going against the flow: these expressions don’t seem to be very popular among bottlers these days.

 

Inchgower 23yo 1990 KintraInchgower 23 yo 1990 (48,3%, Kintra 2013, bourbon hogshead #6746, 108 btl.)

Nose: starts creamy with hints of almond milk. Or coconut water? Moves towards nougat and soft vanilla. Then green tea with citrus. Overall quite subdued, you need to work in order to get the flavours out. Mouth: creamy and very sweet, as if someone added powder sugar. Other than that, a bit silent again. Malty flavours, sweet lemon and pear. Some vanilla. Goes on with marzipan and a kind of vague fruitiness. In the end a bitter edge from the oak sets in. Finish: medium long, sweet like lemonade, with pepper and other spices from the oak.

A mixed bag. The hints of tropical sweetness are charming, but it lacks focus and depth. The nose was the best part. Kudos to Kintra for presenting something different. Around € 105.

Score: 82/100


Hepburn's Choice whiskyHepburn’s Choice is a new label of the Hunter Laing company. They’re all single cask releases at 46%. There have been one or two batches so far.

The Braeval 2001 we’re trying today was part of the first releases.

 

Braeval 2001 - Hepburn's ChoiceBraeval 12 yo 2001 (46%, Hepburn’s Choice 2013, sherry cask, 807 btl.)

Nose: young, fairly malty, with sweet berries and apple. Lemon candy. Creamy notes too, soft white chocolate and almond paste. Nice enough. Mouth: very sweet, with yellow apple and lemon candy again. Modern vanilla notes. Yellow raisins. A peppery note in the background. Finish: medium long, citrusy but still very sweet.

A young, sweet Braeval. I feared it would be too neutral and generically modern, but the creaminess is quite pleasant. Slightly harder to find, or so it seems. Around € 55.

Score: 83/100


We can’t get enough of these juicy Littlemills. Let’s hope they keep ‘em coming for the next few years. This Littlemill 1989 is part of the latest Liquid Library batch.

 

Littlemill 1989 Liquid SunLittlemill 24 yo 1989 (50,4%, Liquid Library 2014, refill hogshead, 212 btl.)

Nose: rather great, typical Littlemill, with the classic fruity notes that we expected. Lime, sweet oranges, mango and lots of tangelo. Quite some banana and vanilla as well, nice. Hints of pink marshmallows. Subtle hints of grass and gravel. Mouth: still quite fruity, although there’s a much bigger minerality and grassiness this time. More classic Lowlands style if you like. Citrus zest, a bittersweet variation on the fruits. Grapefruit juice. Leafy notes and hints of liquorice root. Ginger as well. Finish: medium long, clean, zesty with a bitter edge.

Good stuff, although the juicy fruits are countered by a ‘green’ bitterness on the palate, which makes it a lot sharper than some other expressions. Similar to the Littlemill 1988 Liquid Sun in that respect. Around € 140.

Score: 85/100


A Speyside single malt produced at a mystery distillery (there’s reason to believe it is Glenfarclas) and matured in a Port cask. In fact it is a marriage of two casks, filled in December 1967 and bottled March 1993. Sister cask #8923 was bottled the year after.

 

Speyside single malt - Port Cask 1967 G&MUndisclosed Speyside 1967 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail 1993, port cask #8921 – 8922)

Nose: pretty aromatic being 40%, slightly vinous but in a nice way. Starts on toffee apples and a lot of red plums. Redcurrant jam, over time also very nice strawberries. Hints of oranges. Mild oak, some dried flowers. Soft raspberry vinegar. Just a hint of herbs. Mouth: sweet start, quite creamy, with blackcurrant and strawberries again, soft honey and hints of kirsch. Plums and raisins. Gradually more oak and drier, herbal notes. Liquorice. Also slight rummy notes in the very end. Finish: long, still a bit rummy, with a growing leathery dryness.

This could have been a sherry cask, which is a good thing. Maybe the strawberries and the rummy notes give away the Port cask? In any case it’s impressively vivid. Nice stuff that will be easily overlooked as it lacks a distillery name.

Score: 91/100


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Coming up

  • Lagavulin 12yo (2014 release)
  • SIA Blended Scotch
  • Ardmore Legacy
  • Cardhu 18 Year Old
  • Clynelish 21yo 1992 (Cadenhead)
  • Ledaig 2005 (Maltbarn)
  • Aberlour 8yo (cube, small cork)

1644 notes by Ruben

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