Nose: a rather rounder version than other 1991 casks I could try. Buttercups, honey and vanilla. Some coconut cream. Nice oranges and pineapple. Marzipan. Soft herbs in the background. A faint hint of metal polish as well, which works nicely on the fruity backbone. Maybe a hint of eucalyptus. Mouth: much spicier now (pepper, nutmeg), with more (green) oak. Less exotic fruits – just apple now. Becomes more earthy and zesty, with bittersweet elements. Finish: medium long, still bittersweet with some briny echoes.
The Glen Gariochs from these years can be quite austere, but this one strikes a good balance and adds a nice fruitiness. Around € 110.
Nose: very fruity, with melon and papaya, and hints of icing sugar. Sweet apple, tangerine and peach. A bourbonny hint of oak. Orange peel. Marzipan. It’s not all sweetness, it’s balanced by soft grassy notes. Mouth: sweet and creamy. Still some citrus but the fruitiness is less pronounced. It shows more of a custard sweetness. Cinnamon and marzipan. Zesty notes (grapefruit bitterness) and ginger towards the end. Finish: medium long, with light oak, coconut oil and touches of white pepper.
A fairly classic, no-nonsense Speysider, with a creamy bourbon oak influence and a nice fruitiness on the nose. Around € 85 (fair price I’d say), available from the Whiskybase shop.
Another new release from the Mollusc and Medusa series byThe Whisky Agency. This bottle holds a 33 years old blended malt, with all components distilled in 1980. Interesting.
Blended Malt 33 yo 1980 (45,8%, The Whisky Agency 2014, refill butt, 636 btl.)
Nose: sweet and sour fruitiness. Inviting red berries and stewed fruits. Sour oranges and plums. Williams pears. Soft floral notes and hints of vanilla. Faint tobacco as well as a little green tea. Mouth: a similar kind of fruitiness, fruit teas, this time mixed with more woody notes. Mint and soft sherry notes. Oranges. Ginger and cardamom. Hints of toasted cookies. Finish: quite long, rather fresh and fruity. Drying oak in the end.
Well-rounded and smooth, with characteristics of different distilleries. Some oak is present but within limits. Nonetheless I seemed to expect a little extra. Around € 190.
Jura Tastival was created for the Jura Whisky Festival 2014. They followed an interesting recipe. After an initial maturation in ex-bourbon American oak barrels, no less than six varieties of French oak were used to finish it (oak produced in the regions of Jupilles, Bertanges, Limousin, Tronçais, Allier and Vosges). Kind of a terroir study in French oak.
It’s a limited edition of 3000 bottles. I suppose the majority will have been sold at the festival, but some have started to arrive in stores across Europe.
Isle of Jura Tastival (44%, OB 2014, French oak finish, 3000 btl.)
Nose: I really like this. There’s lots of red apple and baked banana, as well as almond paste / marzipan and toffee sweetness. Banoffee pie. A subtle smokiness is found in lacquered bacon, with hints of salty roast beef. Subtle herbal notes. Nice balance of sweet and savoury notes. Mouth: very sweet again. Stewed fruits. Some nuts and caramel notes. Evolves to more savoury notes like liquorice. After that, a wave of nice roasted notes (coffee, biscuits) and mocha butter cream comes out. Finish: long, sweet and herbal, with some wood influence.
When I read the recipe, I was a little skeptical. The end result is original to say the least, but I like it very much. I hope something like this will be part of the core range some day. Around € 100.
Mollusc and Medusa, that’s the name of the latest series from The Whisky Agency. As always, the labels are bold, colourful and classy.
One of the bottlings is a Bowmore 2002. The other releases include a BenRiach 1991, Bunnahabhain 1987, Glenturret 1977 and a Blended Malt 1980.
Bowmore 12 yo 2002 (53,2%, The Whisky Agency 2014, refill hogshead, 348 btl.)
Nose: clean, smoky but also a tad fruity. Apples and blood orange, tinned pineapple, youngish pear, maybe litchi and a bit of honey sweetness. The peat smoke sits below, or in between, these fruits. Of course a sea breeze and minerals as well. Mouth: oily, much more phenolic and ashy, with a sweet and spicy side that reminds us of gingerbread. Candy sugar and citrus. Sweet grapefruit and peach. Pepper, some liquorice and heather. Finish: long, smoky, with some herbal and buttery notes now.
A sweet, fruity Bowmore, still youngish but nicely balanced with the peat smoke already. One of the more affordable bottles in this batch. Around € 85.
This Port Ellen 1983 is one of the new releases from Maltbarn, presented at The Whisky Fair in Limburg, yet it was bottled back in 2012.
Port Ellen is virtually impossible to get these days, especially for independent bottlers. Maybe this was a leftover or ‘lost stock’, or maybe Martin Diekmann already bought them some time ago and decided to wait a while before bringing them to the market.
Port Ellen 29 yo 1983 (52%, Maltbarn 2012, bourbon cask, 86 btl.)
Nose: very pure, with classic notes of linseed oil and walnuts. Tarry ropes, wet stones, a bit of soot, tar and charcoal. Hints of camphor. A nose that stays on the mineral / coastal side – no loud vanilla or sweetness here, although there is definitely an almond and citrus roundness after a while. Unfolds nicely – not immensely complex, but rather perfectly on target. Mouth: definitely more sweetness now. Sweet peat, creamy lemon and almond oil. Cocoa and a vague fruitiness. A little ginger with briny notes. Fades on white pepper and ashes, with a soft herbal bitterness. Finish: long, still quite balanced. Salty almonds and ashes.
An excellent Port Ellen. On the nose it seemed to be too mineral / rough for my preferences, but it gains balance over time and comes out quite wonderfully. Really nice but expensive: around € 600.
I guess this could be something we’re going to see more often in the future: intentional delaying (not to say speculation) among bottlers, especially for rare distilleries. If you don’t need the cash right away, then you might as well bottle a cask and keep the bottles behind to release them at a later point, at a higher price. At the time of bottling, merely two years ago, this would have been sold for around € 250.
New Archives releases have arrived. After the fishes of Samoa, the label of this Littlemill 1988 is adorned with another sea creature, some kind of crab. The series is called Voyage dans l’Amérique Méridionale.
Nose: starts on the grassier side of Littlemill, with a bit of oak dust and chalk. The some waxy and grainy notes before moving to fruits. Red apples. Peaches, grapefruits and green banana. Hints of limoncello. After a while, a nice soft strawberry note and vanilla. Mouth: quite typical again. This time the creamy fruits come out first. Banana and sweet pear, followed by sharper and more bitter notes. Ginger, lemon zest, grapefruit. Resin and anise, maybe even something synthetic in the background (glue). Finish: long, bittersweet, in line with the rest.
Really good, what did you expect? I didn’t really get a ‘Holy Crab!’ experience though. Around € 135, available from the Whiskybase shop.
In the upper regions of the Johnnie Walker range, this Platinum Label is the only one to have an age statement: all of its components are 18 years old.
It sits just under the most expensive Johnnie Walker Blue Label and above the Gold Label Reserve, which has now lost its previous 18yo statement and seems to be discontinued altogether in some countries. Not sure how the marketing guys explain all this shifting around, to me it just seems confusing…
Johnnie Walker 18 yo Platinum Label
(40%, OB 2013)
Nose: subtle, as you would expect from 40%, but quite nice. Fruity core: apricots, pears, a hint of pineapple, golden raisins. Also a citrusy note. Soft leathery notes that hint towards older Speyside whiskies, and a very subtle touch of wood smoke in the background. Quite rich for a blend – the biggest compliment is probably that it noses like a (light) single malt. Mouth: smooth, although disappointingly smooth now. Sugary and watery – no recognizable fruits. Evolves towards herbal notes and bittersweet caramel towards the end. More typical blend notes (grains) now, and still a hint of smoke. Not bad, but less convincing than the nose. Finish: medium long, sweet, malty and peppery.
A sweet and spicy Johnnie Walker. Platinum Label has a really nice nose, sure it’s soft, but it’s hardly recognizable as a blend. The palate is too bland and caramelly to convince me and certainly less complex than a single malt of the same price. Around € 60 but price differences between shops tend to be high.