Single malt whisky - tasting notes

I opened this sample on a lazy Friday afternoon and I have to say I didn’t know what to expect, well… except for the fact that 1960s whisky is always interesting so it deserves quite some time to investigate. Oh boy what a surprise. It’s only afterwards that I found out this Lochside 1966 bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society is said to be one of the best Lochsides ever.

Most Lochsides from this era are single blends by the way (the distillery produced both malt and grain whisky) – this is a single malt version.

 

Lochside 1966 SMWS 92.7Lochside 32 yo 1966
(61,2%, SMWS 1998, ref. 92.7, 224 btl.)

Nose: perfect sherry goodness from Ye Olden Days. In order of appearance: mint, Ginjinha, warm sand, cedar oak, chocolate ganache, lovage, cigar box, Amontillado sherry, old furniture, maple syrup, caramel flan, liquorice, Pan de Higo and an overall nuttiness. Huge sherry, but such a deep fruitiness and such elegance! The exotic oak and deep sherry push it in the direction of Karuizawa, while the mint and liquorice add some vermouth character. Mouth: thick, dry, concentrated, herbal sherry. Blackcurrant, lovage again, caramel toffee, herbal honey, walnuts, black cherries, coffee powder, dark chocolate, spearmint. All kinds of old oak. So intense that it comes close to tarry, medicinal notes. Touches of Fernet-Branca in that respect. Finish: heavy and looong, dry but not over the top. Plenty of spices.

Complex, stunning stuff. Maybe not typical Lochside, this could have been Strathisla or Macallan or Glenfarclas or Karuizawa, but who cares? Heavy on the oak as well, but I love it. TWE has had it on sale for around € 600.

Score: 95/100

One more birthday dram…


Again an oldie, Glengoyne 1969 this time, one of these green bottles in Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection, topped with a golden seal. Although it has an excellent reputation among Belgian whisky enthusiasts, it seems to be much less appreciated in other circles. Always make up your own mind.

There is another version at 62,8% which is 27 years old. Both seem to have similar profiles.

 

Glengoyne 1969 / 1996 CadenheadGlengoyne 26 yo 1969 (63%, Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection 1996, Chairman Stock)

Nose: very jammy fruits: apricot jam, quince jelly, whitecurrants, mirabelles, gooseberry pie… Stewed fruits, but also fresh and fragrant apricots and strawberries. Hints of marshmallow / rosewater lokum. Peonies. A little vanilla. Some fruit tea and late harvest wine. Also lots of polished oak and beeswax, mixed with pollen, honey and other beehive notes. Very elegant oak. Mouth: quite oily and again, such a fruit basket! In line with BenRiach 1976, Longmorn 1969 or Caperdonich 1972. Apricots, oranges, greengages, pink grapefruit, white cherries… Juicy yellow raisins. Honey and these lovely waxy notes again. Moves towards cinnamon and mint, exotic woods (cedar?) and blonde tobacco. Some pepper and an oaky dryness towards the finish but what a delicious palate. Finish: long, half spicy, half fruity, with traces of menthol.

 

All these Maniacs who think this is worth 88 points, I’ll take your bottles please, thank you very much. This is just excellent Glengoyne, full of (tropical) fruits and beehive notes (a combo that always does it for me). Thanks Luc.

Score: 94/100


Let’s have a few more legendary drams to celebrate the 5th anniversary of this little blog

Bunnahabhain 1968 ‘Auld Acquaintance’ is probably the most legendary Bunnahabhain ever bottled. It’s a Hogmanay dram, i.e. it was distilled on the 31st of December.

At the time of bottling during the Islay Jazz Festival in 2002, it was the third in a series of limited editions of Bunnahabhain single malt (after a 1965 and 1966), and it cost £ 100.

 

Binnahabhain 1968 Auld AcquaintanceBunnahabhain 34 yo 1968
‘Auld Acquaintance’ (43,8%, OB 2002, 2002 btl.)

Nose: very expressive and delicate at the same time. Juicy sherry notes, prunes and raisins mostly. Citrus and red berries. Christmas cake. What makes it special, is the additional layer of wet stones and dusty books, as well as a big amount of waxy notes. Frankly it’s more than waxy, it’s fat and greasy (I’m thinking used Blanc de Boeuf) which works very well. Soft spices (pepper, mint) and a hint of smoke. Some darker notes as well (coffee, cocoa, tar). Mouth: creamy and mildly sweet again, with a profile that’s much more influenced by herbal notes and spices now. Liquorice roots, herbal teas, a faint salty note and a hint of cough syrup. Mint chocolates. Still some berries but overall less fruity. A bit of a coastal old Macallan, with an excellent balance of sweet / dry / bitter. And a subtle hint of smoke again. Finish: long, with some dry oak, chocolate, red berries and spices.

A very rich and inspirational Bunnahabhain, maybe the best one ever made. The combination of Bunnahabhain’s relatively gentle Islay profile with this kind of old-style sherry is pretty exceptional. Popping up in auctions once in a while – today’s value seems to be around € 800.

Score: 94/100


WhiskyNotes' 5th birthday

 

Diageo’s Special Releases 2013 have started to arrive in stores (at least in the UK), so what better way to celebrate 5 years of WhiskyNotes than with the new Brora 35 Year Old?

 

Brora 35 2013While last year’s Brora 35yo (2012) was a mix of 1976 / 1977 casks, all refill American oak, I’ve been told the new one is composed of casks filled in 1977, and both refill American oak and European oak.

Even with the € 900 price tag, shops don’t seem to have problems in selling their allocation…

 

 

Brora 35 Years 1977 - 12th release 2013Brora 35 years old 1977 (49,9%, OB 2013, 12th Annual release, 2944 btl.)

Nose: starts fresh and lively, very much old Clynelish style. Honey, apricots / pineapple, a little vanilla and lots of trademark waxy notes. Polished furniture, hints of coconut oil. Then it changes with some emerging herbal notes, peat and earthy notes. Sharpish lemongrass and seaweed. A little wet wool in the background, as well as a whiff of smoke, but it’s not the farmy Brora of earlier in the 1970s. Mouth: first a wave of coastal / earthy notes (seaweed, hay) and herbs. Quite salty. Only a bit later do the fruits appear: lemon (both zest and candy) and some yellow grapefruit. Smokier and slightly more severe than last year – which means none of the tropical fruits of last year. Waxy / resinous notes. Ashes and a late chocolate sweetness. Liquorice and menthol, eucalyptus, getting quite medicinal towards the end. Finish: long, sharper with a leathery dryness. Mint and ashes with plenty of wood spices.

 

When comparing it to my notes of last year’s Brora, I think this is a move towards more minerals, more wood, more peat smoke. Some would say back to Brora after a few Clynelish years. Nonetheless the lower complexity and bigger austerity make me prefer the former version. But still an excellent Brora and an extraordinary whisky altogether.

Score: 93/100


I’ve heard nice things about this Glen Garioch 1990 bottled by Kintra. Glen Garioch can be austere and a little rough, let’s see whether the sherry cask made this one behave differently.

 

Glen Garioch 22 yo KintraGlen Garioch 22 yo 1990 (51,2%, Kintra 2013, refill sherry hogshead #7934, 302 btl.)

Nose: sweet and rummy, with some banana / Pisang notes. Papaya, melon, red fruit gums. Mount Gayrioch? Garioch Club? A nicely candied sherry influence anyway. But there’s more: eucalyptus and mint, some exotic woods, cigar boxes. And a very light coastal kick. Mouth: again surprisingly fruity. Juicy pears, fig syrup, some pink grapefruit and apricot jam. Lots of yellow raisins. Then a wave of spices from the oak: ginger, mint, cloves. Heather honey. Even a wee touch of smoke in the background. Finish: long, sweet and spicy with a resinous finale.

It’s surprising to come across a Glen Garioch that’s so Caribbean in a way. Very entertaining and easily drinkable, recommended. Around € 80.

Score: 89/100


 

Tomatin 1988 Perfect DramTomatin 25 yo 1988
(49,7%, The Whisky Agency ‘Perfect Dram’ 2013, refill hogshead, 304 btl.)

Nose: sweet, candied fruits. Angelica cake. Gooseberry pie. Lime. Violets? Also a grassy / herbal side (hay, aniseed, heather). Vanilla. Then some blonde tobacco and banana leafs. Liquorice as well. Pretty complex and wide. Mouth: sweet and rounded, with lemon sweets, gooseberries again, marzipan. Quite oily. Faint hints of pink grapefruit, and again very light violet notes. Evolves towards more grassy notes, with a little nutmeg and liquorice. Ginger too. Finish: medium long, sweet and spicy. Oranges and mocha.

High quality Tomatin, with echoes of the 1970’s but more focused on green notes and sweet herbs than usual. Around € 140.

Score: 87/100


Another Bunnahabhain 1987! A lot of bottlers seem to have them these days. While the Perfect Dram was a Fino cask, this one is much darker and probably Oloroso matured.

It’s part of the new Fishes of Samoa releases, the new Archives label.

 

Bunnahabhain 1987 ArchivesBunnahabhain 26 yo 1987 (50,2%, Archives 2013, dark sherry cask #2557, 233 btl.)

Nose: juicy sherry. Figs and dates, but only half-dried I would say. Also jammy cherries and red grapes (hinting towards raisins, but not quite yet). Toffee. Caramelized banana. Subtle exotic spices and pencil shavings. Cinnamon and cardamom, also a little ginger. Soft iodine. Whiffs of dried mushrooms and tobacco. Mouth: full-flavoured with sweet, sour, salty and spicy elements. Prunes and oranges. Cinnamon and nutmeg. Lots of chocolate / mocha notes, as well as some roasted chestnuts, even charcoal. Balanced oak. Fades on liquorice and herbal liqueurs. Finish: very long, with chocolate, herbs and nuts alongside the emphatic coastal character.

Big, heavily sherried whisky that manages to fit in a long list of flavours and still keep a nice balance. Really good, with traces of the famous Karuizawa power. Around € 145, available from Whiskybase.

Score: 90/100


As you know, four members of the Lindores whisky club turned 40 this year, and for this occasion they threw a birthday party on the eve of the Lindores Whisky Fest.

After some delicious mussels, we were treated with a glorious line-up of drams. Each member selected five bottles from his personal collection. Here goes, in alphabetical order:

Quite impressive, I’m still recovering! With one or two exceptions these were all high 90’s scorers. Especially the BenRiach 1976 Kinko II, the Ardbeg 1974, Clynelish 1973 Prestonfield and the Lagavulin 15yo made a big impression.

 

 

Here’s another one of my personal highlights, a Brora distilled in March 1972 and bottled April 2002 for Germany. Thanks for sharing, Dominiek.

 

Brora 1972 Douglas Laing OMC - Alambic ClassiqueBrora 30 yo 1972 (46,6%, Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask for Alambic Classique 2002, 204 btl.)

Nose: interestingly sharp and elegant at the same time. Camphor and bandages, paraffin, growing peat, wet fur, a tyre shop, subtle horse stables… Still these aromas are quite subdued which makes them intriguingly attractive. The nose gets rounder over time, with sweet pipe tobacco and a vague fruitiness. Sublime balance. Mouth: the same kind of elegant play with flavours. Oily, with hints of peat and different herbs, as well as dry oak and resin. Pu-Erh tea. Liquorice root. Evolves on pear and lemon syrup. Dark chocolate. Vague honey. Pepper and eucalyptus. Again slightly farmy in the background. Finish: long, with ashes, coastal notes and something tarry.

Typical early 1970’s Brora I would say, with a Port Ellenish coastal character. Excellent whisky, every whisky enthusiast should try such old Brora. Very rare and well over € 1000 in auctions nowadays.

Score: 94/100


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Coming up

  • Benromach 1976 vintage
  • Littlemill 1991 (Eiling Lim)
  • Jura 1972 SMWS 31.4
  • Balblair 2002
  • Jura Origin
  • Kavalan Solist sherry (for LMdW)

1573 notes by Ruben

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