Imperial is officially a lost distillery since early 2013 but a new plant is built, which will get a new name.
This Imperial 1995 is part of the 10th Anniversary bottlings by Whisky-Doris. Congratulations on the jubilee and keep up the good work! Four bottlings have been released already and two more will follow if my information is correct.
Nose: malty and minty at first. More fruits after a while, apple, peach and melon. Hints of hay. The mint makes place for garden herbs and a few mineral / flinty notes. Fresh, clean, quite nice. Mouth: a lovely ripe apricot flavour, very creamy and fruity. A good dash of honey. Also tangerines. Slightly liqueur-like in its fruitiness. Hints of almond cream. Grows clearly spicy in the end, with pepper and ginger. Finish: long, with some fresh, grassy oak and hints of citrus zest.
A pleasant Imperial that impressed me most on the palate. A deep fruitiness alongside the oak spices. Around € 75.
Nose: half malty, half fruity in a nice balance. Ripe orchard fruits (apple, peach). Some toffee and vanilla cream. A little honey. Then back to sugared breakfast cereals. Hints of hay and linseed oil as well. Mouth: sweet and vibrant, first showing fruity notes (plums and tinned peach) with creamy notes and vanilla. Toffee apples. Juicy barley and Frosties again. Almonds. Then moving to cake, light chocolate and spices, mainly pepper and cinnamon. Finish: long, sugary and creamy, with spices in the background.
Dailuaine is the core element in the Johnnie Walker blend. That’s because it produces this kind of all-round no-nonsense whisky. A solid festival dram. Around € 55. In case you’re not visiting the festival, also available from Whiskysite.nl (and currently you get a 10% discount with the code WS2013).
Croftengea is peated Loch Lomond (the favourite whisky of Captain Haddock in Tintin). It’s an active low-key distillery you rarely hear of, and they have a peculiar set of stills: copper pot stills, Lomond stills and a Coffey still. With this equipment they claim to produce eight different styles of whisky, both grain and malt.
They’re also using a slightly obsure array of names: Loch Lomond, Croftengea, Old Rhosdhu, Inchfad, Inchmoan, Inchmurrin, Craiglodge… it’s all produced at the same place. Today we’re having an official single cask release, distilled 26/01/1996 and bottled 06/09/2005.
The distillery is not too healthy and it’s said to be looking for new investors.
Croftengea 9 yo 1996 (45%, OB 2005, sherry finished hogshead #283, 380 btl.)
Nose: full of dry smoke, with earthy overtones. Cold barbecue ash. Then lots of dark chocolate with syrupy sultanas and even hints of raspberry ganache. Cecina de León. Mouth: same story. Big peat smoke, burnt grass and lots of pepper. Moves to slightly herbal and bitter notes (espresso). Gets thinner in the end and leaves a sourness of oak. Finish: long, smoky, peppery and slightly sour.
Not a bad dram, even hinting towards sherried Port Ellen but a little thin and rough to play in the same league. Quite cheap in auctions, rarely over € 60-70. Although this shop thinks it’s worth € 450, ha! Thanks Bert.
While Mortlach is known for its heavy, usually sherried and slightly dirty spirit, Bert Bruyneel aka Asta Morris proposed a middle-aged bourbon expression as the latest Fulldram club bottling.
Mortlach 17 yo 1995 (50,2%, Asta Morris for Fulldram 2013, AM 022, 314 btl.)
Nose: juicy fruits that grow stronger over time. Garden fruits at first (apple blossom), gooseberries, after a while also pineapple and mandarin. Cooked banana. Some vanilla cake and ginger. Faint mineral notes. Mouth: malty start, but again plenty of fruit flavour, both fresh and candied. Pineapple, apple, lemon, orange. Also a marzipan / frangipane note. Hints of candy sugar. Finish: still sweet, also more spices and fresh oak now.
An atypical Mortlach (although several other bourbon expressions from the same period exist) but atypical is a compliment here. Slightly ‘modern’ but bright and fruity drinker’s whisky. The AM house style? Around € 70. Most bottles are reserved for club members, but as usual, QV.ID distributes the remaining bottles.
This Ardmore 1991 seems to be different from the other 1990-1992 expressions we’ve seen in recent years. This one was fully matured in a rum barrel. Let’s see what the benefit was.
Ardmore 22 yo 1991
(53,8%, Malts of Scotland 2013, rum barrel, MoS 13018, 234 btl.)
Nose: immediately fresh, lots of citrus alongside the soft smoke. Sweet and sour fruits, say gooseberries and tangerine. Slightly candied. Some cut grass, moss and gentle garden herbs. In line with similar Ardmores, not sure what the added value of the rum was (maybe pushing aside the more austere notes), but very good anyway. Mouth: sweet and sour again, plenty of oranges, lemon candy and zest, pineapple and banana. Indeed those could be signs of rum but regular Ardmores show this as well. Really juicy. Soft peat smoke on a second plan. Some honey. Quite rounded. Finish: long, now the mineral notes are back (but still quite gently). Smoke and herbs in the end.
I know most people are a little wary of uncommon aging, like (full) rum maturation. In this case the influence is quite subtle, but it complements the natural fruitiness of this kind of Ardmore really well. Around € 100.
The new batch of Malts of Scotland releases contains a Longmorn 1992, Auchentoshan 1991, Ardmore 1991 and this North British 1962. A 51 years old grain whisky!
North British 51 yo 1962 (41,5%, Malts of Scotland 2013, bourbon hogshead, MoS 13017, 85 btl.)
Nose: very soft notes of roasted malt, apple and hints of chocolates with coconut filling. Bounty, yes. Quite some hazelnuts. Leather and a general underlying idea of dryness. Really elegant. Mouth: very smooth and quite oily. Caramel and hazelnuts again. Sure it’s subtle, but no loud oak in any case. Lots of rummy notes (banana). Hints of orange liqueur, corn and soft spices, with hints of rye whisky. A little nougat. Finish: obviously not too long, slightly soft but nicely rounded and elegant.
It’s stunning how little woody notes there are in these 1960’s North British releases. This isn’t overdue at all, this is how long it takes to achieve its character. Perfect drinking strength as well. Arriving in shops soon. Around € 250.
A very dark, almost black sherry bottling of Bunnahabhain 1969 by Signatory Vintage. Distilled 17/02/1969 and bottled in January 1995.
By the way, the rare oldies we’re having lately were part of a tasting at Villa Konthor in November 2012. A worthy tribute to the Mara tastings. Thanks a million for passing along some great leftovers, Carsten!
Nose: intense sherry. Raisins, dates, cherry liqueur, prunes, very ripe yellow apples. A little eucalyptus. Tobacco. Deeply fruity in a way, but with a herbal layer and some oak creeping in. Walnuts. Nice hints of waxed antique furniture. Mouth: rich sherry, still high on dried fruits but now the dryness is a lot bigger as well. Bitter chocolate, cloves, chicory and coffee. A little cough syrup and burnt bread. Quite heavy, almost too massive. Sweeter and more enjoyable with a few drops of water, yet never really rounded. Finish: very long, dry, with roasted nuts, bitter herbs and traces of tobacco.
A powerhouse, this old Bunna, with some oaky tannins on top of extreme sherry. Reminds me of certain (older) Strathislas. Around € 350 in auctions.
Fourteen years old Bowmore 1991 that scores 94 points on Whiskyfun! It’s bottled by Bill & Maggie Miller of the Scotch Single Malt Circle in 2005.
Bowmore 14 yo 1991 (59,6%, Scotch Single Malt Circle 2005, cask #575)
Nose: punchy, with medium peat and lots of spices (pepper, ginger, clove). Maritime notes of dried seaweed and light hemp. Lots of flinty notes. Clay. Then more on tobacco and leather. Light farmy notes as well, which add a hint of Brora (the 1980s kind though). Mouth: quite hot. Tobacco and tar, mixed with a vague fruitiness and rounded (subtle) sherry notes. Big chilli pepper. Noticeable oak. Salty liquorice and Seville oranges. Slightly harsh. With some water, it gets rounder, with Mokatine candy. Finish: long, peaty and peppery.
A slightly fierce Bowmore but very good once water is added. Sharp, phenolic with an above average complexity. This may have been a nice surprise in 2005, but I think in the meantime it became clear that the 1993-1995 production is even better.