This is probably my favourite label by The Whisky Agency. While you’re often seeing lots of similar casks being released at the same time, the best casks are often bottled in the Private Stock range. But they’re usually very hard to obtain.
Glenlossie 38 yo 1975 (46,6%, The Whisky Agency ‘Private Stock’ 2013, bourbon hogshead, 91 btl.)
Nose: at first sight, elegant and easy-going, medium fruity and quite waxy. Gradually developing a lot more complexity. Meadow flowers, soft herbs, waxed paper, apples, greengages, mint, heather… Some oaky notes. Mouth: sparkling fruits (peach, apple), quite fresh, but with a soft but distinct oaky bitterness in second plan (grapefruit zest). Lemon balm. Berries. A grassy / leafy note too (herbal tea leaves). Finish: long, with citrus, tea and a little bitter oak.
This Glenlossie 1975 is in line with the previous casks by The Whisky Agency (see here or here). Indeed this one has a slight edge, so it does deserve the Private Stock label. Around € 250.
Last week marked the 30th anniversary of the closure of Brora. Not exactly a happy date, but a good reason to dig up a bottle of this legendary distillery. This Brora 25 year old was the only time Diageo had a special release younger than the usual 30 years (and then 32yo and 35yo).
Brora 25 yo
(56,3%, OB 2008, 7th Edition, 3000 btl.)
Nose: being a 1980’s Brora, it’s luckily not too mineral. Elegantly smoked, nice fruits (nectarine, lemon) and a subtle grassiness / leafiness. Greasy notes. Almonds. Soft sea air. After a while also a distinct nuttiness. Really good but different from most 30 year-olds. Mouth: fairly dry start, very spicy (pepper, mustard, ginger). Slightly rough around the edges. Then a wave of sweeter notes (pear drops, apples, lemon) and smoke. Hay. Liquorice. Walnuts. Finish: long, spicy with light tarry notes and horseradish.
Even though it’s not on the same height as some of the 30yo’s, this is still great whisky. It finds a good balance between the mineral sharpness and the fruity softness. Originally around € 230, now easily over € 300 in auctions.
A Master of Malt single cask release from November 2012, a 17 years old Tobermory 1995. I’m still looking forward to trying a really good Tobermory. Maybe next time…
Tobermory 17 yo 1995
(57%, Master of Malt 2012, 274 btl.)
Nose: a mixture of porridgy notes, paraffin and white pepper. Hints of dough and yeast. There’s vanilla and a slightly synthetic sweetness in the background. Mouth: very sweet. Lots of melon, vanilla, ripe banana and icing sugar. Again slightly synthetic, then bringing forward some cardboardy notes, cheap tequila and an earthy bitterness. Still plenty of pepper. A little weird. Finish: long, slightly pungent. Chilli with a lingering sweet undertone.
A bit of a challenge and not really my idea of an enjoyable dram, although there were some attractive elements amid the jungle. Around € 70, available from Master of Malt.
The sixth batch of Balvenie Tun 1401 already. Read this for more insight into its concept. Batch n°6 was a USA exclusive, just like batch n°3. While its composition is similar (seven bourbon casks, three sherry casks) it is said to have less sherry character than its predecessor.
Batch n°7 should be arriving in travel retail stores any time now.
Balvenie ‘Tun 1401’
(49,8%, OB 2012, batch 6, 2500 btl.)
Nose: less sherry maybe, but definitely more bourbon than other version. Polished bourbon oak, that is. Sawdust. Leather. Orange peel as a common thread in all Tun 1401 releases. Hints of cigar boxes. Evolving mostly on floral notes (chamomile). Mouth: sweet attack with hints of vanilla and honey, but quickly turning to woody notes again. Sourish oak, coupled to lemon and a bit of pepper. Some tobacco. Loosing some of its body along the lines. Finish: medium long, dry and zesty, with slightly bitter oak.
I had the impression other batches were fruitier, richer and less oak-driven. It’s doesn’t really disappoint but it makes it drop below 90 points in my book. While meant for the US, Whiskysite.nl in Holland has some on offer for € 400.
After GlenDronach’s UK exclusive cask #4681, released Christmas 2011, The Whisky Exchange decided to buy the sister cask #4682 and keep the whole cask for themselves. The spirit was distilled on November 8th 1995 and bottled just a few days ago.
GlenDronach 17 yo 1995 (56,6%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 2013, Pedro Ximenez puncheon #4682, 631 btl.)
Nose: sticky sherry with black cherry preserve up front. Blackberries and raisins. Christmas cake. Figs. Mendiants. Also meaty hints (mince pie or oxtail broth) in the background. The darker, savoury side of GlenDronach, rich and rather heavy. Mouth: again a deep start, showing dark chocolate brownies, toffee and spicy notes (cinnamon, pepper). Sticky dates and hints of balsamic. Pretty dry: walnuts, liquorice and light tannins. Also a brighter note of orange liqueur. Finish: medium long and spicy. Dried fruits, clove, toasty notes and a hint of mint.
Summer’s still far away, so it’s fine to have this kind of winter whisky. A sherry bomb that may be slightly over the top for me, with the meaty hints on the nose and the oak on the palate, but it’s a good example of this style, so it will be popular nonetheless. Available from TWE for around € 80.
Caol Ila 22 yo 1990
(52,1%, The Whiskyman 2012, refill bourbon hogshead #12505, 114 btl.)
Nose: really elegant. Coastal notes up front (iodine, sea breeze). Citrus and apple peel, as well as a fat / waxy note. Warm hay in the sun. Also very faint pineapple candy / bubblegummy notes. Hints of vanilla. A little bergamot even? Beautiful nose, complex and delicately weighted. Mouth: punchy, showing more (sweet) peat, lemon (or rather lime) and smoked fish. Slightly camphory with hints of menthol. Sugared mocha in the aftertaste. Finish: long, smoky with sweet liquorice and lemon.
Another very pleasant Caol Ila, slightly more complex, offering both the coastal side and a more delicate part. Around € 95.
That Boutique-y Whisky Company aka Master of Malt also bottled a grain whisky in their series of releases that focus on distillery character rather than a certain vintage or cask.
Invergordon batch #1 (41,6%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company 2012, 252 btl., 50 cl)
Nose: sweet, very high on vanilla with traces of mocha. A white chocolate latte? Some flowery notes (buttercups). Light caramel. Apple or peach syrup. Also traces of bourbon whiskey (leather). Hints of wax. Smooth with surprisingly few sawdusty / grassy notes. Mouth: surprisingly silent and “slow“ compared to the nose. Then it develops on a mixture of woody extracts (ginger, nutmeg and a herbal sourness), oily notes and a toffee sweetness. Again not far from certain bourbons. Dried coconut flakes. Finish: long, spicy and drier. Some lingering coconut.
A good grain whisky. Especially the nose stands out with a pleasant sweetness and roundness. The palate shows its lower strength and high oak extraction. Around € 70.
The Explorer’s Club Collection is a series of Johnnie Walker variations inspired by travels and the adventures of explorers. Three bottlings are planned, sold only in duty free shops: The Spice Road (around € 40), The Gold Route (€ 80) and The Royal Route (€ 140, available this summer), all in one litre bottles.
Johnnie Walker Explorer’s Club Collection ‘The Gold Route’
(40%, OB 2013)
Nose: medium sweet, with a soft fruitiness of banana and pitahaya. More vanilla than in other J.W. versions. Lemon zest, oranges and ginger. Fresh but all quite subtle, there’s still a prevailing idea of grains and a vague spiciness. Mouth: not too bold, sweet and grainy. Mixed fruit syrups. Now slightly more tropical: hints of pineapple juice and guava. Vanilla again. Some caramel. Faint trademark smoke in the background. Finish: not too long, showing spices and light smoke.
The Gold Route is an above average blend, although there’s quite some Johnnie Walker “genericness” to be found in the mix, if you know what I mean. The promised tropical fruit notes that should evoke Latin America don’t stand out very well, so it’s slightly hard to justify its single malt price level. Around € 80 for 1 litre.