Single malt whisky - tasting notes

At the top of the Teeling range we have the Vintage Reserve Collection. It includes this Teeling 26 Year Old Gold Reserve and the Teeling 30 Year Old Platinum Reserve which is believed to be the oldest bottling of Irish single malt whiskey recently released.

The 26 year-old was double distilled in 1987 (at Cooley then? or a Bushmills experiment?), matured in ex-bourbon barrels and then married / finished for 12 months in white Burgundy wine casks.



Teeling Vintage Reserve 26 YearsTeeling 26 yo 1987 ‘Vintage Reserve – Gold Bottling’ (46%, OB 2014, Batch 1, 1000 btl.)

Nose: bingo. Bang-on fruits. Pears, greengages, apricots, papaya and banana. The melon and white grape aromas from the wine work well here. It’s warm, exotic and highly seductive. Gentle spices and vanilla. It also has lots of honey notes, polished oak and a hint of linseed oil to balance the fruitiness. Excellent. Mouth: fruit galore again. Pineapple, mirabelles, papaya, banana, kiwi… with hints of Moscatel wine. Much more spices now, mainly white pepper and cinnamon, as well as some liquorice. Hints of Earl Grey tea. Finish: long, still fruity, with soft spices and more hints of tea.

This is cracking whiskey, well composed from high quality casks. Compared to the 21 Year Old though, you’re paying quite a big premium: around € 500-600.

Score: 92/100

Another Invergordon, this time much older. It was distilled in 1972 and bottled in 2011 in Duncan Taylor’s Rare Auld series.



Invergordon 1972 - Duncan Taylor Rare AuldInvergordon 38 yo 1972 (45,5%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld 2011, cask #85255, 163 btl.)

Nose: vanilla cream and grated coconut. Mashed bananas and maybe ripe apricot. Hints of buttered popcorn. Other than the fact that this is fairly dry on the nose (due to more oak shavings aromas), the notes are similar to other grain whisky from different ages. Invergordon 1988 is practically the same for instance. Mouth: very sweet, very liqueur-like. Orange syrup, vanilla syrup, pineapple sweets, bananas and hints of papaya. Its a mixture of Caribbean rum, American whiskey and a few drops of Irish whiskey. A decent amount of wood which gives this one a very light soapy edge. Finish: long, with the same holy trinity of vanilla, coconut and powder sugar.

It’s not that I don’t like grain whisky for a change, but a blog with only grain whisky would be utterly boring. Or utterly consistent. Similarly aged bottlings are now around € 250 or more.

Score: 83/100

Nose Art is a recent series from Whisky-Doris in Germany. It has, well… original labels. We’re trying a 1988 grain whisky from Invergordon, with a yearly production of 40 millions litres of alcohol one of the biggest distilleries in Scotland.



Invergordon 1988 - Nose ArtInvergordon 27 yo 1988 (47,4%, Whisky-Doris ‘Nose Art’ 2015, bourbon hogshead #8096, 141 btl.)

Nose: very creamy and coconutty, with plenty of vanilla and some very ripe yellow plums and apricots. Bananas flambéed with clotted cream. White chocolate notes and butter croissants. Hints of varnish and popcorn. Mouth: quite an oily, rummy style, really sweet and simple. Malibu liqueur, strawberry liqueur, banana liqueur. Some golden raisins, cinnamon and orange syrup. Some oaky notes and ginger, which make this an adult drink after all.

This Invergordon 1988 is very smooth, very sweet and quite rummy. I’m glad it overcomes most of the issues I had with a similar bottling. Around € 120, available from Whisky-Doris.

Score: 83/100

The other day I was selecting bottles for a whisky tasting I hosted, with all kinds of different styles. The tasting included anCnoc, GlenDronach, Lagavulin, Elijah Craig and a really old Glen Grant 1972, but I also felt the Springbank style was a must-have.

A good chance to open a recent batch of the classic Springbank 10 Years, it had been a while since I tried it.



Springbank 10 Year OldSpringbank 10 yo
(46%, OB 2015, 15/103)

Nose: still the mineral classic indeed. Earthy / rooty notes, hints of chalk and a certain ‘green’ fruitiness, some lemon and maybe unripe nectarine. Whiffs of sea air. Some candle wax and gentle peat, more the sharp kind of peat than the warm smokiness of Islay. Mouth: oily, with a sweet malty notes to start with, quickly followed by more green, leafy notes, hints of acrid wood and some herbal tea. Mildly peated. Salted nuts. Peppery notes, with a charred (lightly bitter) edge towards the end. Finish: not too long but in line with the rest. Slightly bitter liquorice, mild peat and salty notes.

Above all I find this an intruiging whisky and a style that reminds me of whisky from the 1950s and 1960s. I believe it has only gotten better since the other batches I tried. Around € 50.

Score: 88/100

We continue our reviews of some Whisky Exchange exclusives from The Whisky Show. Today Caol Ila 1983 selected from the Signatory stocks.



Caol Ila 1983 cask #5294 for TWECaol Ila 31 yo 1983 (48,1%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange 2015, hogshead #5294, 255 btl.)

Nose: gentle and rather fruity with some subtle baked banana up front. Maybe mango, then some mint and vanilla cream. Hints of cod oil and salted butter. Wet gravel. Lots of leathery notes and library dust as well. Very refined and sophisticated, by no means a huge Islay whisky even by Coal Ila standards. Mouth: sweet onset, but quickly becoming more coastal and more camphory than the nose suggested. After that it starts going in different directions. There’s something vegetal / animal about it, but also something fragrant (peppercorn). Hints of herbal liqueurs, kippers, olive oil. Rather umami… I don’t know. Finish: long, smoky, with a vague sweetness, chamomile tea and hints of black olives.

Excellent nose. A few uncommon touches on the palate make it drop just below 90 points, while others from the same era are often a little more to my liking. Around € 340, available here.

Score: 89/100

The Whiskyman just released two new bottlings in its Hard Rock series: this Ledaig 2006 “Drink with your boots on” and an Auchentoshan 1990 “Cold hearted stillman”.



Ledaig 2006 - The WhiskymanLedaig 2006
(53,3%, The Whiskyman 2015, 154 btl.)

Nose: quite some organic notes at first. Not just farmy, there’s also a little cabbage and sulphur involved. It clears up after a while. Soot and tar. Anchovies and sea air. Soft menthol. In the background there are hints of toffee, Demerara sugar and a touch of pineapple sweetness. These become more apparent and much nicer after a while, be sure to give it some time. Mouth: sweet and fruitier now. More phenolic as well. Plenty of lemons with salt. Toffee. Kippers, olive brine and deep tarry notes. Some Lapsang tea. It’s powerful but nicely balanced. Some pipe tobacco. Finish: long, salty and smoky with a hint of candy sugar.

Like most of these young Ledaigs: good, very straightforward but not one-dimensional. A relatively complex, peaty profile suits the theme of this series. Around € 85.

Score: 86/100

This was one of the drams we tried at the latest Fulldram tasting. It is the previous version of Highland Park 25 Year Old, released early 2000s. It didn’t live long because it was replace by the current oval bottles around 2006. It contains 50% first-fill sherry casks.



Highland Park 25 YearsHighland Park 25 yo
(50,7%, OB 2004)

Nose: starts a little musty and meaty, with damp leaves and a floral kind of peat. Hints of caramel. I expected bolder sherry notes from its colour. Herbal notes (eucalyptus, heather) and coastal touches. Hints of red berries and a little vanilla. Very complex. Mouth: slightly sharp. Herbal wood and heathery peat, with big chocolate notes and spices. Roasted notes, including coffee. Tobacco leaves and leather. Tart oranges and lemon. Fades on all kinds of spices (pepper, eucalyptus, nutmeg). Missing a bit of sherry roundness maybe, but again complexity is very high. Finish: long, on toffee, walnuts and orange peel.

Technically an entertaining and complex whisky, yet somehow it didn’t impress me entirely because of the relative sharpness. Auction value around € 350.

Score: 89/100

I reviewed the GlenDronach 15 Years back in 2009 when it had just been relaunched by its new owners. I wasn’t entirely convinced because of some sulphury notes so now I’m keen to see what the recent batches are like, five years later.

As you may know, GlenDronach was mothballed from 1996 until May 2002. This production gap forces the distillery to use much older casks for certain expressions. I bought this 15 Year Old a few weeks ago and was bottled May 2014, which means the whisky inside must be at least 18-19 years old. Bargain alert!

Unfortunately this is also why this bottling has become a bit more expensive lately and – more importantly – really hard to find. The biggest UK retailers are out of stock. I’m not even sure if there were any bottlings in 2015? In any case GlenDronach is phasing it out until it can use proper 15yo casks again, some time in 2017-2018.



GlenDronach 15 YearsGlenDronach 15 yo ‘Revival’
(46%, OB 2014)

Nose: really nice! Intense sherry notes, with prunes, raisins and dried apricots, as well as some blackberry jam. Light chocolate notes. Hints of tobacco. Some nice hints of raspberry ganache. Cherries. Also nutty notes (honey-coated pecans) and oranges with cloves. Mouth: dried fruits again, mixed with loads of milk chocolate. Figs and dates. Hints of coffee. Cinnamon and pepper. Maybe lacking a bit of the compact power that most single casks do have, but nonetheless a clean, balanced sherried whisky. Finish: long, with a spicy sweetness, chocolate and red fruits.

A big improvement. Once again this proves that popular whiskies can have significant batch variation. Now you’re disappointed, in a year or so you might love it. Good stuff and undeniable value for money. Grab it if you can. Around € 50-60.

Score: 87/100



November 2015
« Oct    

Coming up

  • Lindores 2015 festival bottling
  • Amrut 2009 (cask #2701)
  • Glenlivet 1981 (#9468 for TWE)
  • Lagavulin Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Talisker Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
  • Mortlach 1959/1960 (G&M Royal Wedding)

1930 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.