Littlemill 1990 (55,1%, Malts of Scotland for Dram Brothers & Tongerse Whiskyvrienden 2015, bourbon barrel, MoS 15006, 158 btl.)
Nose: dried grasses and hay stand out here, as well as some oak dust. The usual fruity notes are present, but not in the first row. Some banana ice cream, vanilla and guava juice. Waxy notes / lemon balm as well. Spanish horchata. Warmer than others. Mouth: brighter and sharper now, with the full-blown tropical fruits that we were looking for. Mango, pink grapefruits (truckloads, almost 1970’s BenRiach style), pineapple, including slightly more mundane lemons. Becomes drier, earthier even, with green tea and more lemon zest. A hint of salty liquorice. Finish: medium long and zesty, with added herbal notes and mint.
Another great Littlemill. It’s lovely how they all share the same things, but they still find a unique twist. I can’t stop recommending these. Around € 165.
I’m not sure they are the best whiskies I’ve ever tasted, but some of them are close, and I still feel there’s something special about Brora 30 Year Old. When I started with whisky almost ten years ago, I thought of these bottles as the holy grails.
I can’t stop thinking Brora has been surpassed (in terms of collectability or auction values) by other legends like Karuizawa, The Macallan or Port Ellen. It’s less in the spotlight than it once was, or so it seems. Yet I still think it’s the connoisseurs choice with the most unique character.
I had already tried all yearly releases of Brora between 2007 and 2013 except this 2010 release.
Brora 30 yo (54,3%, OB 2010, 9th Edition, 2958 btl.)
Nose: smooth and rounded, with just a very subtle farmy note. Honey coated almonds with vanilla and marzipan. Oranges. Cinnamon cookies. It’s just the light coastal side, the waxy notes and distant peat that prove it’s really Brora. This is a rather great nose, just not very typical for the 30 year-olds. Could have been Clynelish as well. Mouth: slightly sharper, with clearly more peat and a medicinal edge. Briny notes and a lemon / salt combo. Suddenly a whiff of dried apricot and vanilla custard, but then back to light mustard and herbal teas. Becomes more typically waxy with a drop of water. Finish: long, with the warmer, waxy side balancing the herbal notes and lingering smoke.
Simply very good whisky, with fruity sweetness and subtle peat. On the other hand, the typical Brora features aren’t loud and clear. Water brings them to the fore. Originally around € 300, now around € 700 in auctions.
Nose: a rather naked but fairly aromatic nose. Lots of juicy fruits, apple compote, pears, indeed some rhubarb jam as well. Yellow raisins and red berries. Hints of vanilla biscuits and honey. A few beer-like / malty notes as well. Mouth: bright and sweet again, with stewed fruits and wine gums. A bit youngish alright, but very pleasant. Rather floral at first, but it becomes more muscular over time, darker, with some toffee, hazelnuts and hints of mocha. Finish: medium long, with sweet spices and just a hint of savouriness.
This is just a really pleasant, bright and slightly understated Benrinnes. Very good middle-aged whisky.
Nose: green Irish notes (pears, lemons, a little banana skin) but generally much grassier and grainier than the ones produced at Bushmills. Subtle whiffs of nail polish remover as well. Muesli. Hints of vanilla. A bit of aniseed. Mouth: a slightly surprising mixture of juicy grapefruits, lemon zest, apple juice and a big mineral side. Huge ginger, with waxy notes, capsicum, green leafy notes… Herbs and bitter tonic. Finish: long, on ginger, liquorice and wax, with some candied touches.
An interesting dram, just don’t expect a fruit bomb. Kind of a Lowlands versions of Ireland. Around € 85, or € 65 if you only want the bottle without the other advantages. Also available outside of Limburg, or so it seems.
Glenfarclas 40 yo 1971 (51%, OB Family Cask VII 2011, sherry butt #150, 468 btl.)
Nose: very vibrant – the sherry is big but not too loud. Plenty of plums, redcurrants and raspberry jam. Lovely polished oak. A little vanilla and treacle toffee. Rum & raisins. Very light hints of lemon candles. Very seductive. Mouth: fresh, again a really nice fruitiness of red berries, juicy plums and a little cranberry juice. Fruitcake. Honey. Liquorice. There’s a certain grassiness but no excessive wood. Finish: medium long, with the same grassiness but still fruity notes as well.
Always a pleasure, these old Glenfarclas Family Casks. This one is just as good as its siblings. Not sure what the original price was, now around € 500-650 now.
Nose: lots of smoked fish, peated malt and clean lemony notes. A bit of tar and burnt heather. Roasted notes, like coffee and almonds. Clean and focused, but there’s a nice fat roundness to it (vanilla custard), as well as a mentholated edge. Mouth: quite sweet (vanilla syrup, pears and wine gums) before it gets peatier and more peppery. Smoked herbs. Fairly youngish in showing hints of fruit spirits. Liquorice sweets. Subtle earthy notes and gentian too. Finish: long, clean and ashy. Dark chocolate with a pinch of salt.
Bold whisky again, youngish but well made. Nowadays independent Islay whisky doesn’t come cheap though: around € 90.
Springbank 12 Years Cask Strength is matured in a combination of 70% sherry and 30% bourbon casks. The latest batch n°10 was bottled at 53,2%.
Its malt is first dried over a peat fire and then over hot air.
Springbank 12 yo ‘Cask Strength’ (53,2%, OB 2014, Batch 10, ref. 14/532)
Nose: typical Springbank notes like leather and wet chalk, with some zesty grapefruit and brine. Hints of grass. Sharp lemon. Some medicinal notes and smoke. There is however a rounder side to it, a bit of vanilla and dried coconut flakes. Mouth: surprisingly honeyed now. Sweet mint and pepper. Bags of lemon peel. After a while the grassy bitterness takes over and you get gingery notes and juniper. Liquorice and hints of pickle brine. The peat level seems a bit lower than in previous batches. Finish: long, bittersweet, with ashes and a lemon / salt combo.
Springbank really masters this profile. I seemed to like this one more than other batches, maybe because the peat is less prominent. Around € 65.
Nose: very rich and highly aromatic. A true sherry bomb. Lots of black cherries, ginjingha, rum & raisins, moeilleux with bits of raspberry, all the usual suspects really. Cinnamon and clove. Hints of walnuts. Very nice touches of polished oak as well. On par with the best GlenDronach releases. Mouth: similar chocolate cake associations, with red fruits, dates, cassis and cinnamon rolls. Molasses. Very thick, but also fairly dry after a while, with mint, cloves and the kind of dry oakiness of high-strength bourbons. Finish: not as long as expected, but a tad rounder again. Figs and spices.
Pretty great Bunnahabhain if you’re into sherry bombs. You’ll also have to stand some oak, mid-palate. Bloody intense and definitely up there with GlenDronach. Around € 160. Thanks Wim.