A very dark, almost black sherry bottling of Bunnahabhain 1969 by Signatory Vintage. Distilled 17/02/1969 and bottled in January 1995.
By the way, the rare oldies we’re having lately were part of a tasting at Villa Konthor in November 2012. A worthy tribute to the Mara tastings. Thanks a million for passing along some great leftovers, Carsten!
Nose: intense sherry. Raisins, dates, cherry liqueur, prunes, very ripe yellow apples. A little eucalyptus. Tobacco. Deeply fruity in a way, but with a herbal layer and some oak creeping in. Walnuts. Nice hints of waxed antique furniture. Mouth: rich sherry, still high on dried fruits but now the dryness is a lot bigger as well. Bitter chocolate, cloves, chicory and coffee. A little cough syrup and burnt bread. Quite heavy, almost too massive. Sweeter and more enjoyable with a few drops of water, yet never really rounded. Finish: very long, dry, with roasted nuts, bitter herbs and traces of tobacco.
A powerhouse, this old Bunna, with some oaky tannins on top of extreme sherry. Reminds me of certain (older) Strathislas. Around € 350 in auctions.
Fourteen years old Bowmore 1991 that scores 94 points on Whiskyfun! It’s bottled by Bill & Maggie Miller of the Scotch Single Malt Circle in 2005.
Bowmore 14 yo 1991 (59,6%, Scotch Single Malt Circle 2005, cask #575)
Nose: punchy, with medium peat and lots of spices (pepper, ginger, clove). Maritime notes of dried seaweed and light hemp. Lots of flinty notes. Clay. Then more on tobacco and leather. Light farmy notes as well, which add a hint of Brora (the 1980s kind though). Mouth: quite hot. Tobacco and tar, mixed with a vague fruitiness and rounded (subtle) sherry notes. Big chilli pepper. Noticeable oak. Salty liquorice and Seville oranges. Slightly harsh. With some water, it gets rounder, with Mokatine candy. Finish: long, peaty and peppery.
A slightly fierce Bowmore but very good once water is added. Sharp, phenolic with an above average complexity. This may have been a nice surprise in 2005, but I think in the meantime it became clear that the 1993-1995 production is even better.
A sherry butt filled 13/12/2002 and bottled 04/07/2012, which makes it one of the youngest Miyagikyo single casks I’ve seen so far.
Nikka Miyagikyo 9 yo 2002 (62%, OB 2012, refill butt #101127, 517 btl.)
Nose: full of juicy barley, vanilla cake and marzipan. Oranges, pineapple and apple compote. Buttercups and Lilies of the Valley. Also a very delicate Manzanilla kind of coastal note, but overall definitely fruity and rounded. Mouth: just as bright and wow, very punchy. Lots of honey, yellow plums, apricot jam and whitecurrants. Lemon zest. Youngish malt, slightly candied. Some fresh oak, plenty of pepper and ginger, and again a salty edge. Finish: medium long, with the same flavours and a light liquorice dryness.
Beautiful Miyagikyo, a vibrant cask that was certainly not too young to be bottled. It comes at an exaggerated price though. Around € 160, still available in several stores.
Balcones is one of the better known craft distillers in America, getting a lot of publicity after raving reviews by Jim Murray and recently in the World Whiskies Awards 2013. The distillery is producing corn whisky in Texas since 2008.
Balcones True Blue is made with blue corn (maize), which is toasted before going into the mash. Spirit is matured in charred American Oak and European Oak casks. New oak casks, although to meet the law a couple of litres of alcohol are poured in and taken out immediately, hence making a used cask…
Apart from True Blue (available in 100 Proof and cask strength versions) there is a Baby Blue, a Single Malt and a smoked Brimstone expression.
Nose: butter and popcorn galore with a heavy sweetness of maple syrup and caramel. Honey pops. Soft sawdust. Cocoa cookies. Cinnamon. Hints of dried and slightly musty flowers as well. Mouth: a lot of oak spices and heavy char. Lots of chilli pepper, hints of ginger and salt. Caramelized nuts. Hints of baked banana. The sawdust notes are now a little disturbing, it’s just planky and even a little cardboardy. Goes back to cocoa. Finish: long, sweet, spicy and again a little tannic.
It’s a unique and promising dram and I’m sure being 100% blue corn based accounts for most of its character. Even though I’m not a huge popcorn fan, I like the base flavours. The oakiness is already very high, let’s hope they manage to control that in later (older?) releases. Around € 80.
While batch #2 is here already, this is the first batch of “unspecified” Arran by TBWC. The comic label features the Glasgow-Arran ferry passing by a tropical beach.
Arran batch #1 (49,1%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company 2013, 211 btl., 50 cl)
Nose: quite fresh and malty, with cut apples, vanilla and bright lemon notes. A little mint and slightly grassy oak. Mouth: sweet and sparkling. Nicely fruity (apples, pears, gooseberries) with a candy sugar coating. Some biscuity notes and grated coconut. White pepper, grassy notes and traces of ginger. Finish: medium long, showing oranges and warming oak.
A natural, summery Arran that’s close to the barley. A pretty honest product. Around € 52 (only 50cl though), available from Master of Malt.
All Talisker expressions now have new packaging designs, predominantly blue with pictures of crashing waves and rocky shores. The latest Distillers Edition 2001/2012 also comes in the new disguise.
In the tradition of the Distillers Editions, it is more or less the standard Talisker 10 Year Old but finished in sherry casks, Amoroso type in this case. That’s not really a kind of sherry on its own, it’s an oloroso with added sweetness, usually from blending in sweet Pedro Ximénez. Not as cloyingly sweet as a Cream sherry or an actual PX though.
Talisker 2001 ‘Distillers Edition’
(45,8%, OB 2012, Amoroso sherry finish)
Nose: crisp, balanced and relatively fruity. Sets off on coastal aromas and lots of oranges. Hints of yellow plums and raisins. Tobacco leaves. Trademark pepper but in a mild way. Mouth: very nice, now the peat smoke comes out more. Earthy notes, pepper again, balanced by a vague toffee / fruit sweetness in the background. Fades on heathera and mint. Finish: long, spicy with hints of pepper, dried fruits and herbs.
Very mild and fruity on the nose, only on the palate does the volcanic character of Talisker come out. A well balanced whisky, better than the standard 10 in my opinion. Prices tend to go from € 45 to around € 65.
A new release in the Ducks series by Whisky-Fässle: Glen Grant 1992. It’s crazy how the 1990s seems like yesterday and it’s 20 years ago already. If this is middle-aged, it means I’m getting old…
Glen Grant 20 yo 1992
(50,4%, Whisky-Fässle 2013, bourbon hogshead)
Nose: bright and fruity. Green apples and pears. Citrus juice. Unripe banana. Touches of coriander seeds and parsley. Also buttery notes and hints of chalk / wool. With its malty core and fruity notes, it reminds me of certain Belgian triple beers. Mouth: sweet, fruity, rather easy. Candy sugar, peach and pear drops. Soft white pepper and vanilla. A little dough. Citrus again. Finish: long, just as fresh. Citrus zest and spices.
A very fresh and vibrant whisky, coming across slightly younger than it actually is. Around € 90, available from Whisky-Fässle of course.
Always happy when an old Ben Nevis crosses my path. There is also a 55,9% version, also 26 years old and bottled in the same year.
Ben Nevis 26 yo 1968
(54,6%, OB 1994, 213 btl.)
Nose: very waxy, with lamp oil, graphite and a little silver polish. Carnauba wax too – lipstick indeed. Some apple aroma and honey in the back. Warm cedar wood. Soft menthol. Hints of almonds and hazelnuts. Mouth: slightly hot. Sweet and spicy – not exactly fruity whisky but still nice apricot, grapefruit and pineapple. Again clear waxy components (paraffin). Fades on herbal teas and chamomile. Finish: long, slightly harsh with ginger and an alcohol kick.
Not an easy dram, interesting but slightly rough and with plenty of waxy notes. I personally love Ben Nevis for this lipstick greasiness, but there are more enjoyable examples. Nowadays around € 275 in auctions. Thanks Carsten.