Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Hepburn's Choice whiskyHepburn’s Choice is a new label of the Hunter Laing company. They’re all single cask releases at 46%. There have been one or two batches so far.

The Braeval 2001 we’re trying today was part of the first releases.

 

Braeval 2001 - Hepburn's ChoiceBraeval 12 yo 2001 (46%, Hepburn’s Choice 2013, sherry cask, 807 btl.)

Nose: young, fairly malty, with sweet berries and apple. Lemon candy. Creamy notes too, soft white chocolate and almond paste. Nice enough. Mouth: very sweet, with yellow apple and lemon candy again. Modern vanilla notes. Yellow raisins. A peppery note in the background. Finish: medium long, citrusy but still very sweet.

A young, sweet Braeval. I feared it would be too neutral and generically modern, but the creaminess is quite pleasant. Slightly harder to find, or so it seems. Around € 55.

Score: 83/100


We can’t get enough of these juicy Littlemills. Let’s hope they keep ‘em coming for the next few years. This Littlemill 1989 is part of the latest Liquid Library batch.

 

Littlemill 1989 Liquid SunLittlemill 24 yo 1989 (50,4%, Liquid Library 2014, refill hogshead, 212 btl.)

Nose: rather great, typical Littlemill, with the classic fruity notes that we expected. Lime, sweet oranges, mango and lots of tangelo. Quite some banana and vanilla as well, nice. Hints of pink marshmallows. Subtle hints of grass and gravel. Mouth: just as fruity, although there’s a bigger minerality and grassiness this time. More classic Lowlands style if you like. Citrus zest, a slightly bittersweet variation on the fruits. Grapefruit juice. Leafy notes and hints of liquorice root. Ginger as well. Finish: medium long, clean, zesty with a bitter edge.

Good stuff, although the juicy fruits are countered by a ‘green’ bitterness on the palate, which makes it slightly sharper than some other expressions. Similar to the Littlemill 1988 Liquid Sun in that respect. Around € 140.

Score: 87/100


A Speyside single malt produced at a mystery distillery (there’s reason to believe it is Glenfarclas) and matured in a Port cask. In fact it is a marriage of two casks, filled in December 1967 and bottled March 1993. Sister cask #8923 was bottled the year after.

 

Speyside single malt - Port Cask 1967 G&MUndisclosed Speyside 1967 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail 1993, port cask #8921 – 8922)

Nose: pretty aromatic being 40%, slightly vinous but in a nice way. Starts on toffee apples and a lot of red plums. Redcurrant jam, over time also very nice strawberries. Hints of oranges. Mild oak, some dried flowers. Soft raspberry vinegar. Just a hint of herbs. Mouth: sweet start, quite creamy, with blackcurrant and strawberries again, soft honey and hints of kirsch. Plums and raisins. Gradually more oak and drier, herbal notes. Liquorice. Also slight rummy notes in the very end. Finish: long, still a bit rummy, with a growing leathery dryness.

This could have been a sherry cask, which is a good thing. Maybe the strawberries and the rummy notes give away the Port cask? In any case it’s impressively vivid. Nice stuff that will be easily overlooked as it lacks a distillery name.

Score: 91/100


Les Bowmore 2003 sont arrivés… This one is sold by Whisky-Doris.

 

Bowmore 2003 Whisky-DorisBowmore 10 yo 2003 (53,4%, Whisky-Doris 2013, bourbon cask #20188, 179 btl.)

Nose: could this one be slightly more aromatic than the Bowmore 2003 selected by Whisky-Fässle? Slightly bigger lemon notes, including the nice aroma of lemon balm (I mean the herb, not the waxy stuff). Same mineral notes, wet stones, chalk and olives. Very very difficult to set them apart after a while. Mouth: same perfect mixture of brine, lemons, peat and sweetness. Punchy but nicely drinkable. Maritime notes. Sour fruits. Hay and pepper. Finish: long, tequila-ish, or mescal given the smoke. No worm though.

So, let’s repeat that recent production at Bowmore was good, clean and enjoyable. Not too difficult either. Around € 80. Sold out.

Score: 88/100


Balblair 2003

14 Mar 2014 | Balblair

Balblair 2003 is a recent release, launched at the end of 2013 together with the 1990 (2nd release) and 1983 (1st release) vintages. It was composed from 18 bourbon casks.

 

Balblair 2003Balblair 2003
(46%, OB 2013, first release)

Nose: really young and a tad undescriptive. The usual pear drops and apples, mixed with a bit of vanilla. Soft lemon. Meadow flowers, say buttercups. Hints of orange blossom. Very light honey. Mouth: smooth, decent body, still largely characterized by the barley. A young profile again. Slightly less sweet than expected, with more grassy notes, pepper and heathery notes. Muesli. Oranges and zingy lemons. Finish: not too long, fading on the same elements. Sparkles of ginger.

Too young for me, too naked. Even the new-make notes aren’t completely gone. I think the early young vintages (Balblair 2000) were a bit better. Around € 40.

Score: 78/100


 

Bowmore 2003 Whisky-FässleBowmore 10 yo 2003 (50,2%, Whisky-Fässle 2013, bourbon hogshead)

Nose: chiselled, modern Bowmore which means moderate but ultra-clean peat, seaweed and lots of briney notes. Quite some nice leafy notes, wet ferns and damp cellars. Some wet chalk and olives. But also fresh citrus and traces of sweetness and pepper in the background. Impeccable spirit. Mouth: briny, lemony. Perfect strength, with lots of punch but also a nice silkiness. More peat than on the nose, though still no peat blast. Again a chalky note and crystallized lemons. Ginger and a zesty bitter touch. Sandy beaches. A little pepper. Finish: smoky and zesty, with some sweet herbs showing up.

Recent production at Bowmore was of high standards. At just 10 years old, the result is fairly simple (much more so than 1990′s production) but very difficult not to like. Around € 80.

Score: 87/100


I’ve never tried a truly magnificent Auchroisk. Most of them were okay – I would only call the Auchroisk 30yo 1982 really good.

 

Auchroisk 1996 - Liquid LibraryAuchroisk 17 yo 1996 (48,2%, Liquid Library 2013, refill barrel, 208 btl.)

Nose: big notes of yellow apple and pear. Some hay and buttercups. Chalky notes and lots of plain barley notes too. Settles mainly on the fruity notes: plums and peaches. Fairly neutral spirit, not my style. Mouth: similar. Slightly harsh fruit spirit. Barley juice meets grain vodka meets grappa meets plum liquor. Just hints of vanilla and pepper. Not very wide. Finish: rough, short to medium long, with grains and a pinch of salt.

Not the most interesting dram in the recent Liquid Library series. A lot of the Auchroisk production goes to the J&B blend. Around € 80.

Score: 78/100


It’s clear that independent bottlers are running short of available Littlemill casks. Douglas Laing now classifies them in the Director’s Cut series that are usually fairly expensive.

This one was distilled in February 1992 and bottled in September 2013 at cask strength.

 

Littlemill 1992 - Douglas Laing Director's cutLittlemill 21 yo 1992 (55,2%, Douglas Laing Director’s Cut 2013, hogshead  ref. 9970, 113 btl.)

Nose: less overtly fruity than some other Littlemills. I mean not that many lemons and tangerines, it’s focusing more on oily / waxy notes, minerals and grasses. A big malty core. Also walnuts and gooseberries. In the background a nice hint of strawberries and cream. Mouth: quite sweet, malty and creamy at first. Caramel sweets (Mokatine). Some pink grapefruit but again not very loud, more zesty than fruity. Waxy notes and some oak. Sugared green tea. Quite spicy towards the finish. Finish: long, zesty and peppery with a hint of heather honey.

Maybe not the typical Littlemill citrus bomb, but an interesting whisky nonetheless. Expensive: around € 160.

Score: 86/100


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Coming up

  • Arran 17 Years Old
  • Glen Grant 1992 (Old Particular)
  • Glen Grant 1992 (Le Gus't)
  • Auchentoshan 15yo (Kintra)
  • Lagavulin 1997 Distillers Edition
  • Ben Nevis 1997 (Maltbarn)
  • Tomatin 1978 (Cadenhead / Nectar)
  • Aultmore 2007 (Daily Dram)
  • Glenglassaugh 1978 (Madeira)
  • Karuizawa 45 Year Old (cask #2925)
  • Glengoyne 1999 (Palo Cortado)

1503 notes by Ruben

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