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.
This is a slightly older Maltbarn release. It has been available for quite a long time, but now it seems to be sold out. A low yield for a sherry butt by the way, maybe a split cask?
I’ve been wondering how many casks of Tomatin 1976 are still lying around in warehouses, does anyone have an idea? Other highly acclaimed 1970s whiskies like BenRiach 1976 or Caperdonich 1972 are almost completely gone.
Nose: it seems a slightly less fruity Tomatin, with rather more herbal notes (sage, mint, dill, chamomile). Lots of honey. Maybe more oaky than some previous casks as well. Gingery. In the background: plum jam, banana and red berries. Soft sherry. Mouth: beautifully fruity. It could be mistaken for a good BenRiach 1976, with its mango, melon and truckloads of pink grapefruit. Pleasant soft oak and herbal notes towards the end. Finish: herbs and fruits trade places, bringing along a slight resinous dryness of the wood.
Very good Tomatin with a surprisingly fresh fruitiness on the palate. Maybe not the most expressive / fruity nose though. Around € 250, sold out.
In their series of A-Z bottlings, the chaps from Caskstrength.net have reached the letter C. Contrary to Arran and BenRiach, it’s a blend rather than a single malt this time. It has been created with the help of Cutty Sark’s Master Blender Kirsteen Campbell.
It’s different from regular Cutty Sark expressions for a couple of reasons: it’s high-strength UK 90 proof (seems a prerequisite to me if your name is Caskstrength.net) and there’s a hint of peat in it.
Cutty Sark ‘Cask Strength’
(51,4%, OB for Caskstrength.net, 500 btl.)
Nose: nice, with lots of pastry qualities and lemon custard. Hints of honey and yellow apple. Very soft pepper. Lemon blossom. Mouth: rather youngish, with slight new-make notes (apple and pear), which adds to the freshness of course. Lemon drops. Vanilla cake. Soft spices again. A little bitter harshness in the back. Finish: not too long. Takes the zesty bitterness a bit further. Hints of grapefruit and apple skin. Indeed also an echo of smoke, far away.
While this is fresh and enjoyable, I don’t really feel a special treatment or anything, the Neil & Joel magic, let’s say. For me it is what it’s supposed to be: a cask strength version of the (basic) Cutty Sark. There are 500 hand-signed bottles, available from Master of Malt for £ 35, approximately € 42.
One of these semi-official Strathisla bottlings by Gordon & MacPhail, bottled at 21 years. The label mentions the fact that it’s the oldest Highland malt distillery in Scotland.
Strathisla 21 yo (40%, G&M +/- 1985)
Nose: aromatic sherry nose, but actually not too dark and heavy. Quite fruity with banana flambéed, blackberry and cherry jams. Candy sugar. Something vaguely tropical after a while (papaya) and floral hints. Also quite some beehive notes (wax and honeys). Excellent balance. Mouth: again just medium sherried. The same jamminess for starters, quickly joined by malty notes and spices like ginger, pepper and cinnamon. Slightly more herbal and drying towards the end (leather, tobacco leaves). Finish: medium long, warming, with spices and traces of raisins and coffee.
A classic example of good, juicy sherry. Although it may not be totally stellar, it is very well made in the old style of the 1960’s. Varying prices in auctions, between € 150 and € 350.
Whiskysite.nl bought one of the four casks of BenRiach 1976 that were recently reserved for Holland. We’ve already tried BenRiach 1976 cask #3031. In the meantime #3042 has arrived (bottled “for The Netherlands”) and the last one is yet to come, if I’m correctly informed.
Of course the downside of releasing several similar casks at (more or less) the same moment, is the fact that people can easily compare. So here goes, #3012 in one glass, and #3031 in another glass.
BenRiach 36 yo 1976 (40,1%, OB for Whiskysite.nl 2013, cask #3012, refill hogshead, 118 btl.)
Nose: aromatic peaches, tangerines and yellow plums. Stewed fruit salad, but slightly shier and less tropical than the best 1976s. Honey biscuits. A bit more vanilla than most other 1976s, I ‘d say. Hints of mint and green leaves but less resinous notes than cask #3031. Quite excellent even though it’s soft and misses a bit of the archetypal pink grapefruit. Similar to cask #3010 for Auld Alliance in that respect, at least in my memory. Mouth: ah, here it is. Definitely BenRiach 76. Pink grapefruit, sourish pineapple, passion fruit and mead. More oak as well now – not exactly dry or tangy, but the zestiness and sourness reveals its age. Slightly less punchy than cask #3031, but not at all weak. A little honey and soft spices in the background. Finish: medium long, fades rather quickly but still revolves around citrus and oak.
It’s great that these Dutchmen have managed to bring four casks of BenRiach 1976 to their country. They’re bottled just in time. Sold out already (€ 300). Cask #3042 is still available but it’s rather more expensive.
The Nectar must be one of the better distributors of GlenDronach if you rank them by the number of proprietary single cask bottlings. This one is an oloroso butt filled in 1993. Bottled together with La Maison du Whisky.
GlenDronach 19 yo 1993 (53,7%, OB for LMdW & The Nectar 2012, oloroso sherry butt #12, 623 btl.)
Nose: rum & raisins, with a little more oak polish than expected from a butt. Milk chocolate and coffee powder. Caramel. Dried figs. Mon Cheri candy. Really nice, leaves enough room for the spirit, it’s not just sherry. Mouth: very sweet, with cherries and raspberry ganache. Moving to herbal notes (cinnamon, clove) and chocolate. Slightly bitter espresso and liquorice underneath. Finish: long, warming, with mainly the herbs talking.
These butts aren’t always fresh and vibrant, but this cask #12 is well selected by LMdW and The Nectar. A sweet dram with a big emphasis on chocolate and herbs. Around € 120.