Tormore, owned by Pernod-Ricard, is one of the younger and fairly low-profile distilleries. This 1996 single cask is part of the Mo Òr Collection.
Tormore 14 yo 1996 (46%, Mo Òr Collection 2011, bourbon hogshead #6868, 500 btl.)
Nose: quite malty (sugared Frosties) and softly perfumed, with a kind of orange blossom / Turkish delight sweetness. Lots of apple juice, even soft tropical notes of mango and pinepple. Vanilla cake. Hints of honey. Mouth: thick and creamy, sweet and candied again. Pineapple cubes, pear juice, mango, mandarin. Some spices like cardamom and cinnamon. Quite biscuity at times, topped with white chocolate and marzipan. A faint hint of wax too. Finish: medium length, still pleasantly fruity with fading spices.
This Tormore 1996 is a simple but curiously creamy and candied dram. Maybe too sweet for some people, but overall rather unique and interesting. € 75.
New members of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society get a membership pack which includes four minis of recent Society bottlings.
A few months ago, one of them was this 20 year-old Laphroaig matured in a sherry butt (alongside an Auchentoshan, Mortlach and Glen Ord). Only available for new members as far as I know,I don’t think it was released in the regular 70cl bottles that regular members can buy.
Laphroaig 20 yo (59,6%, SMWS 29.99 “Power and Scorched Earth”, sherry butt, 10 cl)
Nose: my God, that’s sticky. Full of raisins, oranges, thick honey, figs, hazelnuts… Huge tobacco notes as well, hints of leather. Isn’t this sherry, matured in a Laphroaig cask? Well no, there are indeed notes of ashes and cigarettes, and a few coastal hints, but less than any other Laphroaig, and they take some time to come out. Mouth: ah, here it is. More peat and smoke now, some medicinal notes, a few hints of rubber as well, I’m afraid. Fairly fruity, plenty of raisins, before fading on nothing but ashes and tobacco. Finish: long, smoky, with a winy edge and some oak.
That’s strange, a Laphroaig being overpowered by a fireworks of sherry. The typical aromas get blocked out – only on the palate does it fight back with plenty of ashes and smoke. It’s like a beginner’s attempt at getting the balance between sherry and peat right, add as much as you can of both and see what happens.
(52,9%, Elements of Islay 2012, 50 cl)
Nose: clean, fresh Islay nose with tight peat, plenty of coastal notes (seashells, kelp, gravel) and fresh walnuts. Some lemon, eventually growing towards sweet kiwi. Hints of wet wool and oil. Also distinctive floral notes. Mouth: very much in line. Smoke, fizzy lemon and hints of pineapple in the background. Liquorice and salt, a little resin maybe. A nice hint of mocha in the aftertaste. Finish: long, still on coastal notes and salty liquorice with a soft grapefruit bitterness.
If you wanted to discover the typical character of Bowmore, here’s a suitable bottle for you. A classic example of the 1990’s Bowmore style, if only a little rough. Around € 75. Available from The Whisky Exchange or selected retailers.
Part of the latest batch of Archives bottles, this Caol Ila 1982 has a very fair price tag for a thirty years old whisky.
Caol Ila 30 yo 1982 (51,2%, Archives 2012, bourbon hogshead #758, 207 btl.)
Nose: beautifully elegant and mellow. Gentle medicinal notes, pretty rounded mineral notes and sweet peat. A nice coastal theme too. Lemon and hints of carbolic soap in the background. There’s a beautiful hint of ripe banana and butter too. Aniseed and mint. Almonds. Quite complex and well integrated. Mouth: punchier, slightly sharper too, with peat, smoked fish, still some medicinal notes and citrus. A light saltiness. Fades on ashes and gentle herbs. Liquorice and ginger. Finish: long, on a nice salt & pepper combo and lingering peat.
Another excellent Caol Ila. Rich, complex, punchy yet easily drinkable. Nice to see a pleasant fruity side besides the peat and brine. Around € 135.
Glen Keith will reopen in 2013. That should be good news. The 1970 expressions released in 2010/2011 were great, but even the younger ones are pretty enjoyable.
Glen Keith 19 yo 1992 (49,1%, Whisky-Fässle 2012, bourbon cask)
Nose: as most of these young Glen Keiths, it’s fairly malty with a nice, fresh fruitiness. Nectarine, gooseberry and orange. Barley sugar, a little honey. Buttercups and hay. Some vanilla as well. Mouth: fruity (orange, pineapple sweets, yellow plums) with a pleasant sweet & sour balance. Again some vanilla. Then some grassier notes and a little ginger, leading to a soft bitterness. Hints of liquorice and light oak. Finish: medium long, again mostly on green fruits and light spices.
This one is easy to like, even though I find it quite simple. It’s crisp and fruity, a good example of a modern, medium aged bourbon expression. Around € 90.
You’re right, The Whisky Agency is now moving into rum!
I’ve been extremely impressed with a rum once, a Long Pond distilled in 1941. Long Pond, the birthplace of Captain Morgan, was a Jamaican distillery, so the one we’re trying today may be from the same family, although there are many more estates on the island, like Appleton, Hampden, Monymusk, Coruba…
Jamaican Rum 35 yo 1977 (52,9%, The Whisky Agency & The Nectar 2012, single barrel, 256 btl.)
Nose: there’s some sugar cane and corn syrup, overripe bananas (flambéed if you like) and elegant hints of cigar boxes. Coconut liqueur. Some dates and vanilla. There’s also a layer of garden herbs like dill and parsley, not sure if that’s caused by the age or the region. The old Long Pond had this as well, but in much bigger quantities. Mouth: sweet and spicy, with a certain up-front oakiness that reminds me of American whiskies. The classic vanilla / coconut combo too. A little fruit cake. And then a late arrival of soft coffee notes and pecan pie. Finish: long, with lots of warming spices and a raisiny sweetness.
A talented rum, easily drinkable yet with a kind of depth, complexity and oak influence that comes close to old Scotch whisky. Around € 160.
Highland Park 24 yo 1986 (46%, Mo Òr Collection 2011, bourbon hogshead #2275, 300 btl.)
Nose: typically flinty and coastal at first, with some dried hay and ashes. But it’s also nicely sweet, with vanilla fudge, gooseberries and heather honey. A little lemon balm and wax. Beautifully balanced and rather exemplary for a bourbon HP. Mouth: quite peaty compared to the nose or HP in general. Sweet honey and lemonade again. Sugared grapefruit. Marzipan. Soft spices. Liquorice and some grassy notes. Finish: long, slightly earthy / peaty. Still quite sweet with some herbal accents.
This is a nice Highland Park, showing typical coastal notes alongside a sweetness and peatiness that are bigger than usual. Good stuff. Around € 153 (expensive indeed).
Nose: quite a vegetal nose. Oxtail stock, rancid butter, stale water, organics… rubber, even a sulphury veil. Improves with airing, and opens up towards nutty notes and prunes. Then also fresher notes, some gooseberries and figs. In the end it totally fails to win me over , it stays on the beefy side and doesn’t reach a nice balance. Mouth: thicker, more sherried. Lots of dark, medium bitter chocolate. A dash of herbal liqueur and a certain oaky sourness. Molasses. Light salt as well. Some sulphur. Not as pleasant as the bourbon version from the 1980’s. Finish: medium length, slightly burnt, or so it seems. Again a bit salty.
When was the last time a TWA release had me wondering what to think of it, pour it back into the sample bottle to retry the next day, only to make me scratch my head even more? In fact, was there a last time for that? I spent more time with this one than other releases, but I still don’t get it. Around € 150.