Laphroaig 12 yo 2000 (51,7%, The Whisky Agency ‘Perfect Dram’ 2013, refill sherry hogshead, 291 btl.)
Nose: powerful smoke and ashes, a little antiseptic and Vicks. Also a nice sherry sweetness in the background, some red fruit preserve maybe. Hints of eucalyptus. I like it, it’s really balanced. Mouth: good balance of sweet peat and herbal notes again. Peated cough syrup. Camphor and mint. Caramelized almonds and toffee. Candied fruits. Not bad but lacks a little depth, I’d say. Finish: medium long, sweet and peaty. Nothing new happening.
The sherry influence in this Laphroaig is relatively subtle, which makes it seem like a standard Laphroaig, just sweeter and slightly more fruity. Good Islay whisky but not a must-have like the Laphroaig 1991 Liquid Sun, in my opinion. Around € 80.
I noticed Malts of Scotland already bottled a 1973 with the same cask number in 2011. Butts are big casks and 156 bottles indicates it could be part of a shared cask. But in this case my notes don’t match at all. So maybe this is another case of fake cask numbering, or the cask fundamentally changed (and gained alcohol) during those two extra years, which seems unlikely.
Bunnahabhain 40 yo 1973 (50,6%, Archives ‘Fishes of Samoa’ 2013, butt #3463, 156 btl.)
Nose: very aromatic, fruity nose. Nectarine, pear and whitecurrant. Hinting towards tropical notes of mango and clementine. A little Malibu. Also nice candlewax notes, some dried grass and minerals. Pretty great. Mouth: very fruity again, but hard to pin down individual aromas. A general ‘yellow’ fruitiness with a sweet marzipan and banana coating. Vanilla. Evolves towards the mineral and waxy notes again. Mild traces of triple beer. Ginger and salt. Grapefruit zest. Finish: long, a tad hot at first but slowing down to sweet oak and zesty, grassy notes.
Very rounded, soft, fruity Bunnahbhain of a quality that is sadly becoming rare these days. Around € 245, available from Whiskybase.
This Tomatin 1988 is more or less a private bottling. Frank Leyens of Vinothek Massen and several friends and colleagues living in the (wide) Eifel area decided to share this cask. The remaining part was passed on to a nearby whisky club.
Tomatin 24 yo 1988
(48,7%, Eifelboys & Vinothek Massen 2013, first fill bourbon cask, 70 btl.)
Nose: quite a full-bodied nose, sweet and fruity. Lots of stewed apples and apricot jam. Hints of vanilla ice cream with fragrant blueberries and hints of Parma violets. Also hay and leafy notes, evolving into soft herbal notes and heather. Mouth: slightly grassier right away now. Ginger, nutmeg and pepper, some toasted notes and chamomile tea. Fruity notes are still there, oranges, soft kiwi and fruitcake. I also found a hint of fragrant eucalyptus oils and floral notes, which was slightly disturbing. Ends nicely on some vanilla cream with caramel topping. Finish: quite long, half fruity, half spicy.
An honest Tomatin. High quality no doubt, even though it’s not the most straightforward example I’ve come across. Not for sale. Thanks, Pieter.
Before the introduction of its vintage concept in 1994, Glenrothes had an official 12 years old expression bottled by Berry Bros. & Rudd as well as several releases by independent bottlers.
Gordon & MacPhail had this Glenrothes 8 years old from the late 1960’s until recently (in the MacPhail’s Collection). The bottle reviewed here was bottled mid 1970’s.
Glenrothes 8 yo
(40%, Gordon & MacPhail, mid 1970’s)
Nose: very grainy and pretty rough. Cereals. Big notes of apple peel and citrus (lime peel). Golden syrup. Also a green, vegetal edge. Mouth: surprisingly sweet. Lots of honey. Again rather malty, with some vanilla custard, toffee, candy sugar and cooked fruits. Hints of coconut cream. Finish: medium long, neutral and sweet.
An interesting dram, not for its quallity, but for educational purposes. Distilled late 1960’s, its profile is rather close to the 1950’s and 1960’s blends I could try. I always thought the peculiar blended profile was mostly due to the grains (which were young and plenty back then) but apparently the young malts in the blends, like this Glenrothes, must have been responsible for it as well. Fetches up to € 200 in auctions, expensive for what it is.
There is a new batch of Archives releases, featuring new, attractive labels nicknamed The Fishes of Samoa after a book that was published over 100 years ago. Apparently they will take inspiration for their labels from scientific books and references to historic archives of the world. The labels were even printed on a historic press. Very consistent marketing guys!
There’s a Bunnahabhain 1973 and an undisclosed Speyside 1995 but we’ll start with this Tormore 1984.
Tormore 29 yo 1984 (51%, Archives ‘The Fishes of Samoa’ 2013, barrel #3669, 90 btl.)
Nose: fruity sweetness with plenty of oranges, as well as apples, pineapples and other citrus fruits, mainly pink grapefruit. Fresh, with nice aromatic bergamot notes, and coated with hints of marshmallows. Some vanilla and white chocolate. Soft ginger, pepper and new oak. Mouth: still fruity (orange, apple and pineapple) but definitely more spices now, mainly nutmeg and pepper. Even a little mustard heat before slowing down to chocolate notes. Finish: medium long, lingering fruits and still this generous spicy kick.
A nicely unique Tormore with a big fruity side but also strong wood spices. Around € 145, available from the Whiskybase shop.
This is the first proper bottling of a Belgian bottler named Brachadair (“maltman” in Gaelic). Well, not really the first, but the previous ones were bottled by A.D. Rattray and selected by Brachadair.
Braeval didn’t really exist in 1991, it was still called Braes o’ Glenlivet back then. A common mistake other bottlers are making as well. Braeval is one of these ‘one-man’ distilleries that are highly computerized and efficient, aimed at high volumes and low manpower.
Nose: slightly grassier than I remember 1991 expressions from other bottlers. Fresh hay. Malty sweetness with apple, melon and lemon peel. A buttery hint, close to vanilla cream. Gingery oak. Nicely uplifting. Mouth: punchy attack, rather creamy but not quite as fruity as expected. Lots of ginger and pepper, grated coconut flakes as well as a candlewax note. A slight bitterness as well, and a fragrant floral edge. Modern whisky, clean and formed by the oak. Finish: medium long, still some coconut, with fresh oak and cocoa.
A fine dram and a nice entry for this new bottler. Let’s keep our eyes open for following releases. Around € 80, available from The Bonding Dram.
True, I’m late with this one. It’s the downside of going on vacation, I guess, but I’ll be catching up with some recent releases in the next couple of days.
We’re having a Dalmore. No vintage, no age, just some Dalmore. Not a common practice for an independent bottler to leave out so many details but of course it fits this particular distillery. The cask was chosen by a group of whisky lovers for the sixth anniversary of The Bonding Dram. Previous results of this selection method have been great, I especially think of the excellent Macduff 2000 and Clynelish 1997.
Dalmore (49,1%, Asta Morris for The Bonding Dram & Huis Crombé 2013, ref. AM005)
Nose: really malty, more so than I tend to like. Soaked grains. Heather, cocoa and a caramel-like sweetness that I tend to associate with blends from the 1950’s. Even the hints of a vegetal dirtiness that they can express. Hmmm. Some paraffin. Luckily it seems to fold open (or rather calm down) to some lovely vanilla cake and hazelnut cookies. Ripe oranges and honey too. An above average complexity, but the aromas are not really seductive. I think it’s strange that a large group of tasters picked this. Mouth: again the same kind of overweight roasted malt, caramel and cocoa. Baked apple and raisins. Honey sweetness. Butter and some leafy notes. Dried flowers. Pretty complex again but lacking a bit of a fresh sparkle. Finish: not too long, medium sweet, heathery and fairly herbal.
A rather intriguing selection but also slightly bloated as Dalmore can be. Heathery with plenty of sweet malt. One of the lesser Asta Morris releases, in my humble opinion, but you can’t have all aces. Anyway the nice new label and the low price make up for part of it. Around € 45. Still available from both participating shops.
Nose: smooth, slightly shy and immediately fruity. Pineapple, banana, melon, juicy pear, papaya and tangerine. After this warm fruit compote, grassy notes and hay set in. Honey and vanilla as well. Grows leathery over time and slightly minty, slowly drying and taking away some of the fruity sparkle. Mouth: shy attack again, with a sourness and sappiness of oak alongside the fruits (now simpler: banana and oranges). Cardamom and liquorice. Getting a little thin in the end with faint mineral notes. Finish: medium long, juicy, with drying hints of strong fruit tea.
All these Tomintouls from the late 1960’s are easy to like, but they are on their last legs. This expression is on par with the others we’ve tried. Around € 220.