Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Kintra is regularly bottling casks without telling us what is really is. While the contents remain confidential, most of our sources claim it’s a “teaspooned” Balvenie. A very small amount of another whisky is added, in this case probably from the neighbouring Glenfiddich distillery. Technically not a single malt, but close enough.

 

 

Kintra 4th Confidential Cask - Balvenie?4th Confidential Cask, 20 yo 1993 (50,3%, Kintra 2013, bourbon hogshead #1791, 295 btl.)

Nose: quite a modern, oak-driven profile (vanilla galore). A lot of biscuity notes with garden fruits like green apples and pears. Hints of flower honey and orange blossom. Pepper and ginger. Sawdust. Good but it’s got a slightly disturbing, plankish edge. Mouth: sweet and malty. Lots of pear and lemon candy, orange sweets and honey. Almond cream and vanilla custard. After that it turns towards the woody side again. Cloves, pepper, some zesty grapefruit. Some raw cereals and floral notes in the background. Finish: sweet and zesty, with echoes of warm toffee.

The teaspooned Balvenie guess makes sense. In fact this one reminds me of the recent profile that this distillery is showing in the Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel releases (although this one is slightly older). Modern and American oak-driven. Around € 60.

Score: 84/100


Douglas Laing seems to have bought quite a few Isle of Jura 2003 casks and they’ve started to bottle them. There were at least 2 or 3 similar releases in 2013.

 

Jura 2003 | Douglas Laing ProvenanceJura 9 yo 2003 (46%, Douglas Laing Provenance 2013, ref. 9305)

Nose: gristy, grainy and peaty. It’s really young spirit, with newmakeish notes of pear drops, porridge and spearmint bubblegum. That doesn’t mean it’s bad – there’s a nice oiliness to it and a pleasant dustiness. Hints of walnut husks. Mouth: very sugary. It’s fairly rounded, with vanilla, honey and cinnamon sweets. Peaty notes, some iodine. Unfortunately also a faint wodka-like roughness. Finish: medium. Some apples and grains.

A simple, peaty dram. It’s not a bad drink, but it should have matured for a couple of more years before being bottled. Around € 50.

Score: 78/100


The youngest from the Age Matters series by The Whiskyman. Fifteen years old Ledaig 1997.

 

Ledaig 15 1997 - The Whiskyman 'Age Matters'Ledaig 15 yo 1997 (51,9%, The Whiskyman ‘Age Matters’ 2013)

Nose: what the… There are a few aromas that I usually don’t appreciate in whisky. Dirtbin odours, rubber, porridge with milk… This one has them all. It’s buttery, peaty and quite raw, almost industrial. There are hints of wet things: hay, leaves, sheep and their manure… Then some brighter fruity notes, but only in the background. It’s not exactly a gentleman, but I admit, it possesses an authenticity and a certain beauty. In the same way Permeke’s lying farmer is truly beautiful, if you know what I mean. Mouth: again firm, peaty, briny, buttery and ashy. Then a lemon / barley sweetness, almost candied. Some farmy notes. Liquorice and seaweed. Peated apple juice and pepper. Finish: long, sweet and peaty, moving towards lapsang souchong.

You know, it’s challenging to present a mix of all kinds of nasty aromas and get away with it because the end result is a coherent, ‘proud’ whisky. In a way this is a concept dram, like the Littlemill 1988, and it’s just as hard to score. Tomorrow I might love it. A bold whisky. Around € 70.

Score: 85/100


Dun Eideann is a sublabel of Signatory Vintage, the independent bottler founded by Andrew and Brian Symington in 1988. Dun Eideann was primarily intended for export markets like Switzerland, France, Spain and Italy, where Donato & C. is still the distributor).

From this series we’re trying a Springbank 1967 bottled in 1989.

 

 

Springbank 1967 (Dun Eideann)Springbank 20 yo 1967 (46%, Dun Eideann for Donato & C. 1989, cask #3131 – 3136)

Nose: old-style, dusty sherry, not too aromatic but nicely complex. Starts citrusy, with lots of oranges, then it settles on dried figs, Nutella (both hazelnuts and chocolate) and plenty of silver polish. Hints of smoke and old books. Whiffs of dried coconut flakes as well. Soft notes of dried herbs, which stresses the fact that it’s hardly fruity. Mouth: quite soft, again very dry, waxy and dusty. Old pipe tobacco and some Seville oranges (including zest). Lots of mint, hints of cardboard. Minerals and herbs. It lacks a bit of roundness but it’s typical for this style. Finish: long and resinous, with the smoke moving forward.

It’s always nice to try very old Springbank, although I think there are even better examples. It felt a little tired. Almost impossible to find.

Score: 90/100


Glenfarclas 105 is one of the first whiskies I ever reviewed on this blog (see here). Around 2008 it used to be one of my favourite daily drams. It never hurts to revisit this kind of stuff, batches are replaced often anyway (although Glenfarclas doesn’t advertise them so it’s impossible to recognize them).

As you know Glenfarclas 105 is their popular high strength expression, it refers to 5 over proof which is 60% alcohol, and it’s supposedly around 8 years old. Since +/- 2010 it comes in an updated (wider) bottle and packaging.

 

Glenfarclas 105Glenfarclas 105 (60%, OB 2013)

Nose: intense sherry, with plenty of raisins, redcurrants, milk chocolate and toffee apples. Some fudge. Sweet but not cloying, there’s a bright hint of raspberry jam and a slight citrus tingle. Hints of mulled wine – some rich spices in the back. Soft tobacco as well. Mouth: powerful but not anesthetizing at full strength (well, maybe a tiny bit). Thick sherry, hints of mocha and orange liqueur. Dried prunes and raisins. Treacle. Cinnamon, pepper and ginger. Some molasses. Still some berry jams, but overall a little on the dry side, although water helps in this respect. Finish: long, rich, sweet and spicy but also a tad nuttier (almonds and hazelnut).

Still a good dram to show how well sherry and whisky can get along. Also a good introduction to high strength whisky. Slightly more modern when compared to the older bottling, but still good value. Widely available. Around € 50 these days, but sometimes a promotion can bring it down to € 30.

Score: 85/100


Elijah Craig is a Kentucky straight bourbon produced by Heaven Hill distilleries (they also produce Bernheim Original among others). The Baptist minister Elijah Craig is credited for having invented the usage of new, charred casks for the maturation of bourbon whiskey.

This expression was bottled for The Nectar in Belgium.

 

Elijah Craig 12 years - The NectarElijah Craig 12 yo (47%, OB ‘full barrel’ for The Nectar 2013, 94 Proof)

Nose: a medium dry nose with lots of sawdust and a typical rye note. Nicely balanced with sweeter corn and pastry notes. A little orange marmalade. Almonds and raisins. Quite a lot of mint as well. Mouth: again on the dry side, lots of mint and eucalyptus at first (slightly medicinal hints even). A rye tingle again, with some leathery notes. Fresh, toasted oak. Vanilla and cinnamon, a little pepper too. Caramel and brown sugar, even a hint of coconut. Dried fruits and spiced honey. Finish: long, with a corn sweetness and some orange flavours alongside the lingering spices.

I’m not an American whiskey expert, but for me this has elements of classic bourbon and rye whiskey. It shows a drier, more oaky and spicy kind of style. Good sipping whiskey for the price. Around € 40.

Score: 84/100


Every whisky deserves a second chance, so even though we’ve had a disappointing Deanston 1997 very recently, we’ll see if this one from the Archives / Fishes of Samoa series is more attractive.

 

Deanston 1997 - ArchivesDeanston 15 yo 1997 (55,8%, Archives ‘Fishes of Samoa’ 2013, hogshead #1959, 327 btl.)

Nose: grassy notes (wet hay) with overripe apples. A little dirty, with decomposing leaves, closely related to the Asta Morris cask in that respect. A lot of butter, some mashy / porridgy notes, some nutty notes too. Heather honey. A slightly sharp, spicy tingle as well. Mouth: sharp and grainy at first, slightly alcoholic, and kind of blend-like actually. A gingery / peppery heat to sharpen the edges even more. It is softened by a more creamy middle, with, vanilla and honey, and a slightly indefinite fruitiness, but it returns to green tea and liquorice. Finish: medium long, dry and spicy, with slightly peaty / salty overtones.

I didn’t really like the Asta Morris version, and this one is just as mashy on the nose and even sharper on the palate. Personally I would have labeled it as blending whisky. Around € 55.

Score: 80/100


This is a very rare bottling. The Whisky Connoisseur, from what I’ve found, was part of a whole series of mail order / web companies (Scotland Direct, Scottish Gourmet, The Home Gift Shop…) run by Arthur J.A. Bell in Thistle Mill, Biggar.

During the 1990’s they seem to have bottled quite a lot of single malts, mostly with concealed (but always consistent) names. My miniature says The Ellisland but the backlabel mentions ‘containing Old Pultney’ (sic). Here’s a list of their naming conventions in case you’re interested.

In 2009 the company was nominated for the award of best online outlet by Whisky Magazine but in the meantime they seem to have disappeared and their website redirects to another mail order company. I’ve read that the founder had to stop due to health problems.

Anyway back to our bottle. It’s a single cask Old Pulteney distilled in 1974. I couldn’t find references to a full bottle, so maybe this was just a miniature release.

 

The Ellisland - Old Pulteney 1974Old Pulteney 18 yo 1974
‘The Ellisland’ (57,8%, The Whisky Connoisseur ‘The Robert Burns Collection’ 1993, cask #1132)

Nose: a big maritime character. Sea air and kelp. Some wet chalk. Also herbal teas, mint and a little chamomile. Buttercups too. I’m quite sure this was peated. Some buttery notes, hay and meadow flowers. Not entirely sexy but a nice surprise. Mouth: punchy, quite a bit sweeter than expected. Honeys and fruit jams. Tinned pineapple and oranges. Vanilla cake. Still a peaty base and these typical maritime notes, as well as some ginger and liquorice. Finish: long, half peaty, half fruity.

A pleasant surprise, both for its relatively peaty profile and for its pleasantly sweet fruitiness.

Score: 88/100


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  • Roberto Sikora: This is really a great, great bottling. One of my favourite Littlemills so far... :-) Thank you, Ruben for this review!
  • george: i see you have tried st magdalene and say it is harder to find i am a collector of st magdalene and i have 40 bottles i am selling these date from 196
  • sjoerd972: I wish the guys at Bushmills would demand the labels to say "Northern Ireland" so we didn't have to speculate on the booze's origins.

Coming up

  • Bowmore Devil's Casks - Batch 2
  • Tomatin 1988 (Malts of Scotland)
  • Aberfeldy 12 Year Old
  • Blair Athol 2002 (Hepburn's Choice)
  • Fettercairn Fior
  • Bowmore Laimrig 15yo
  • Ben Nevis 2002 (Port cask #334)

1601 notes by Ruben

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