One of the famous vintage casks from the Glenfarcas Family Casks series covering the years from 1952 to 1996. Last year the distillery released the 7th series already.
Glenfarclas 32 yo 1978 (46,3%, OB Family Cask VII 2011, refill sherry hogshead #590, 240 btl.)
Nose: a fairly neutral and oak-driven expression. Different kinds of apples (both sweeter and more sourish varieties), a little cider. Crystallized oranges. Some earthy notes as well as herbs and heather. Even horseradish. I’m missing a bit of sweetness and fruitiness here. A Fino cask maybe? Mouth: a little more rounded and sweeter now, but unfortunately still quite naked. Apple flavours. Hints of vanilla and honey. Quite some malty notes. Then the grassiness from the oak grows stronger. Some pepper. A few floral notes. Finish: medium long, sweetened apple juice mixed with some sharpish, earthy elements and plenty of oak juice. Late cocoa in the very end.
A slightly unbalanced expression in my opinion, with a rather sharp malty core and assertive herbs. Not entirely my style. Funnily I’ve said more or less the less same about a Glenfarclas 1977. Anyway this is not why I love Glenfarclas. Around € 400.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned the Swiss website for The First Editions before. A good place to stay updated. There seems to be a new Glenturret 1977 and Strathmill 1989 among others. Today we’ll have the highly anticipated Clynelish 1989 bottled earlier this year.
Clynelish 22yo 1989 (52,5%, The First Editions 2012, refill bourbon hogshead, ref. ES 009/02, 241 btl.)
Nose: fresh, fruity profile. Gooseberries, peach, kumquats. Some floral notes as well, summery grass. Nicely balanced with slightly sharper notes of minerals, ginger and a seaside breeze. Waxy notes. What sets it apart is a clear, sweet butter milk note, interesting. Complex and pleasant. Mouth: punchy, slightly sweet at first (lemon liqueur) but quickly showing its spicy side (pepper, liquorice, ginger). Some garden herbs and again a mineral touch. Hay and a little paraffin. Citrus zest. Finish: long, with some salty, lemony and grassy elements.
Another exemplary Clynelish, with a nice balance of coastal whiffs and sweet, fruity notes. Good selection. Around € 130.
Just a small part of a cask, probably, this Glen Scotia 1992 in the Archives series. I would never buy any Glen Scotia without trying them first. I’ve had nice surprises but quite some disappointments as well, even from the same period and bottler. What will it be today?
Nose: roasted chestnuts (plus other nuts) and soft smoke at first. Simmering fire. Then some grassy notes, heather, olives and ferns. A little rubber and coastal notes. Slowly moving towards caramel aromas and baked apple. Not the easiest profile. Mouth: an intensely vegetal taste, with lots of leaves, tobacco juice, green herbs, pine sap… Fairly salty and bitter. Something sweet and caramelly in the background, as well as a lot of cough syrup. A cardboard-like flavour as well. Some peat. Nutmeg and hints of ginger. Brrr. Finish: long, salty and earthy, with liquorice and bitter herbs.
A perfect example of a Campbeltown whisky, dixit Whiskybase. They’ve got a point, it’s old-fashioned, coastal and a little rough. An outsider with some flavours in uncommon amounts. The vegetal notes and the adversarial character make it difficult for me to simply enjoy it. Around € 85.
The heavily peated 40ppm Port Charlotte started as PC5 with a yearly follow-up. This year’s release has reached 10 years of age. There’s a limited yearly release at cask strength (59,8% named ‘Tro Na Linntean’) but afterwards it will be available as part of the core range as well, cut down to 46% (pictured below).
Port Charlotte 2001 ‘PC10’
(59,8%, OB 2012, 6000 btl.)
Nose: medium peat, with a very elegant combination of soot, linseed oil and nuts. Sugared almonds and walnuts. One of the first times that I notice clear oak in a Port Charlotte of this strength. Deeper inside there’s a malty sweetness with warm, ripe fruits and caramelizing sugar. Hints of mint too. The nicest PC nose so far. Mouth: oily start, takes a few seconds and then bursts on peat, roasted malt and vanilla biscuits. Some tar, ashes and pepper. Sweet fruits in the background. Good balance of earthy notes, sweetness and coastal notes. Finish: warm, long, half earthy, half honeyed, with embers of peat and a salt / lemon combo.
A very good peated dram. One to keep aside for when the winter returns. If you take the heavy price into account (around € 95), then Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength is a better buy.
We know Balmenach 1979 through the recent bottling by Maltbarn. Here’s another one, a joint bottling by The Whisky Agency together with The Nectar.
Balmenach 33 yo 1979 (52,8%, The Whisky Agency ‘Perfect Dram’ 2012, bourbon hogshead, 202 btl.)
Nose: bright fruits with an acid edge: lime, grapefruit, passion fruit, apple, kiwi, unripe gooseberries. Lemon sorbet. Then some dusty / leafy notes: heather, green tea, cardamom. Floral notes (both fresh and dried). A little vanilla after a while. Mouth: sweeter than expected. Banana and oranges with honey. Quickly growing spicier and oakier with a hot mouthfeel. Ginger, white pepper, liquorice. Goes back to fruity notes but it looses the sweetness (grapefruit and lemon balm). A little rounder with a few drops of water. Finish: medium length, with a slightly bitter orange taste, some wax and glue.
Another enjoyable Balmenach with some sweet, sour, spicy and bitter elements. A nice bourbonny oldie. Around € 180.
Another release by The Maltman: Bowmore 21 years old, distilled in 1989.
Bowmore 21 yo 1989
(46%, The Maltman 2012)
Nose: nicely coastal, with seaweed, brine and sweet peat. Delicate smoke and a vague vanilla sweetness in the background. Faintly medicinal with a lemon / linseed oil combination. Less fruity touches than I remember in previous Bowmore 1989 releases. Mouth: it has a slightly diluted feel, as if the Bowmore coastalness was cut with sugary water. Sweet lemon drops, some pepper and liquorice. Fading on leafy notes. Finish: medium long, smoky, with a light herbal bitterness.
We already knew Bowmore 1989 can be very nice, but in this case I feel the reduced strength brings smoothness but also takes away part of the magic. Around € 85.
Another Sea Life release by The Whisky Agency. Plenty of Littlemill to be found these days, distilled between 1988 and 1991. But not many refill sherry butts, as far as I know.
Littlemill 22 yo 1990 (52,2%, The Whisky Agency ‘Sea Life’ 2012, refill sherry butt, 719 btl.)
Nose: one of the grassy and varnished Littlemills, with minerals and a little wool up front. Mint as well. Less of the dried fruits or tobacco that we found in other, slightly more sherried Littlemills. Maybe this was a Fino? Hints of dry wood smoke in the background, as well as classic citrus fruits, almonds and some vanilla. Mouth: starts fairly dry and spicy (mint, ginger). Evolves on a beautiful wave of trademark grapefruit, lemon zest, apple and soft vanilla. Again less of a fruit burst here. A few leafy notes. Then back to pepper and liquorice. Cloves. Finish: medium long, half fruity, half grassy. A herbal end, rather dry.
Maybe not my favourite among the many Littlemills, for being grassier and a little shy on the fruits – more typically Lowlands maybe – but still a very good and rather complex whisky. Around € 120.
The Whisky Agency already bottled a Caol Ila 1984 in their premium Private Stock series. Now there’s one in the recent Sea Life series. Same alcohol volume (coincidental I suppose).
Caol Ila 28 yo 1984 (53,5%, The Whisky Agency ‘Sea Life’ 2012, bourbon hogshead, 254 btl.)
Nose: curiously sweet and bubblegummy for a while. The classic (medium) peat and lemon are there, with some lovely coastal character of iodine and sea water, but it’s backed by generous amounts of vanilla, tinned pineapple and strawberry candy. Slightly unusual for Caol Ila but very attractive. A little mint and grasses. Leathery notes and smoke. Mouth: briny and lemony. More classic and a tad sharper I’d say, although there’s still some sweet almonds and vanilla custard. A good dose of peat and charcoal, with a faint medicinal hint before it fades on fruitier marmalade. Secondary hints of walnut skin and kippers. Finish: long, balancing between medicinal notes and fruity sweetness.
A great Caol Ila, with the typical coastalness coupled to a bigger fruitiness than usual. I always like that combination. Recommended. Around € 150.