Sometimes I tend get bored of modern malts and I turn to my sample archive to dig up a sample I collected long ago. Bottles that nobody opens these days… too expensive. Today: Glen Garioch 1968 hogshead #625 which is the best cask from this era, according to some.
Glen Garioch 29 yo 1968
(57,2%, OB 1997, hogshead #625)
Nose: ah yes, one of these glorious sherry casks. Full of blackberries, juicy strawberries and dates. Rum & raisins. Black Forest gateau and chocolate. Dark baked pastry. Hints of cigar boxes. Underneath is a layer of toasted oak and warm tarmac, at the top end there are hints of Pedro Ximénez vinegar and the acidity of raspberry juice. It’s very wide and intense at the same time, not unlike Karuizawa or Kavalan, but so juicy and with lots of tiny nuances! Mouth: excellent again. Cherries, blackberries, raspberries, plus vanilla and lots of herbs (mint, eucalyptus, hyssop). Very thick and compact, with a nice smokiness. Liquorice, some leafy notes. Leather and hints of tobacco. It keeps going on and on. Finish: long, with the herbs and dark chocolate having the last word.
A perfect example of classic heavy sherry. Sure the sherry is a little overwhelming but boy is this good! Around € 1000 in auctions.
Nose: a light, youngish nose, full of banana yoghurt, creamy peach and white raisin juice. A lot of malty sweetness. Hints of mint and vanilla. A little paraffin as well. Sherry? Where? Mouth: very creamy texture, less straightforward, and a bit funky in its combination of flavours. I get honey, slightly artificial banana, strawberry and apple candy and a grassy / hoppy flavour. Firm peppery notes, toffee, paraffin again… And linseed oil. Sweet, bitter, peppery – all-in-one. Finish: quite long and malty, with grapefruit and liquorice.
A bit of a weirdo, but in an interesting way. It’s an uncommon dram, with some unique flavours, even though it doesn’t feel entirely integrated. Be sure to try it yourself, you will either love it or hate it. Around € 85.
(50,2%, Elements of Islay 2015, 50 cl)
Nose: a very classic, clean and balanced Bowmore. There’s medium smoke and medium coastalness, on the same level as the rich sweetness. Creamy vanilla. Lemon candy, tinned pineapples and faint tangerine. Also a nice fresh minty note. Mouth: coastal start, slightly hesitating, but then a great wave of pink grapefruit, mango and sweet lime comes along. Almost as if they vatted a few litres of Irish whiskey as well. Excellent, especially because the usual peat smoke, pepper and kippers make some way. Sweet and fruity Bowmore. Finish: maybe not that long, but rounded and smooth.
Perhaps too sweet with too little smoke for some, but I love this style. Recommended stuff. Too bad it’s also quite expensive: around € 125.
This is the second official release of Port Ellen, and the one with the highest alcohol strength. It’s also the widest release, if I’m not mistaken, with 12.000 bottles, and therefore one of the least expensive yearly releases.
Port Ellen 24 yo 1978 ‘2nd release’ (59,35%, OB 2002, 12.000 btl.)
Nose: one of the sharp and austere noses. Cutting phenols, vegetal oils and plenty of grassy notes. Lemon. Moves towards camphor and even a hint of ammonia. Eucalyptus. Farmy notes in the background. After some time a very light fruity / honeyed note comes out. It’s quite sharp alright but it also shows a remarkable finesse in a way. Mouth: a tad hot, but also chewier and sweeter than expected. Oranges and pears, lemonade. Medium peat and a good dose of salt. Actually more ashes than real peat. Still a farmy edge that hints towards Brora. A bit of coffee (this may be the alcohol), a little wax and liquorice too. Finish: long, slightly bittersweet, with sweet peat and some wood.
Judging by the nose, I was afraid it would be too harsh and one-dimensional, but on the palate it really showed its complex aromas and balance. Maybe not my favourite release but definitely not the worst. Around € 1000 in auctions.
Nose: totally naked Tomatin. Plenty of garden fruits like apples and peaches but also sweeter green melon and hints of mango. Some greener notes as well, like apple seeds and grasses. Hints of leather. Mouth: very sweet, almost syrupy if not for the peppery touches and grassy notes again. Juicy pears, pineapple, peaches on syrup. Hints of candy sugar. Tiny hints of dough and vanilla. Finish: rather long, with liquorice, subtle herbs and zesty lemon.
No fuzz, just well made and straightforward Tomatin with some old-style touches. Very good card players whisky, as they say. Around € 90.
This Laphroaig 1998 is another new exclusive for The Whisky Exchange, bottled by Signatory Vintage. Again it is not a completely undiscovered series, adjacent sherry butts have been bottled for La Maison du Whisky and others.
Laphroaig 16 yo 1998
(59,9%, Signatory Vintage for TWE 2015, refill sherry butt #700389, 585 btl.)
Nose: a very sooty kind of Laphroaig. Lots of earthy smoke and leafy notes, wet limestone and leather. Exhaust fumes and hints of matches. There’s a dark sweetness to it as well, with lacquered roast meat and beef jerky as well as something of prune sauce. Peppery chocolate and subtle medicinal notes. A very dark style. Mouth: really dark smoke again, with tarry notes and mineral notes. The charred raisins on the outside of a raisin roll. Liquorice and Pu’ehr tea, with some cough candy. Espresso. A nice mintiness (After Eight) and sweet tobacco lift it up a little. Finish: long, still very smoky and leathery, with some salted almonds and cinnamon.
An interesting, dense and dark Laphroaig. The spirit overpowers the sherry in this case, but that is obviously not so bad. As you know sherried Laphroaig doesn’t come cheap these days: around € 170. Available from TWE.
This is Batch 4 of the GlenDronach Cask Strength, matured in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks. Shops keep selling this as a ‘sherry bomb’ but based on the colour, we expect a slightly lighter, fruitier dram.
GlenDronach Cask Strength (54,7%, OB 2015, Batch #4, 17.806 btl.)
Nose: more stewed fruits than dried fruits. Fig compote, honey and yellow raisins. Cinnamon pastry, peppery oak and a hint of herbal tea. Apricots. Roasted nuts. A slightly lighter, but very juicy version of GlenDronach’s sherry character. Mouth: spicy attack (ginger / pepper combo) followed by apricots and prunes. Sultanas and gingerbread. Cinnamon cookies and honey. A nice, spicy sherry influence with big juicy fruits underneath. Finish: long, showing the same spices and fruits, with touches of peppery oak.
A really good GlenDronach, with a fruitiness that comes close to batch #1. Not entirely what I call a sherry bomb, but definitely a very nice, sherried whisky. Around € 75.
The latest release from Eiling Lim is an Auchentoshan 1992. In general I don’t get excited when I see this distillery, but this one turned out a bit different.
Auchentoshan 23 yo 1992
(45,7%, Eiling Lim 2015, 132 btl.)
Nose: a light, flowery and rather ethereal nose. Blossoms in spring, nectarine, unripe apricots, green banana and light tropical fruits. Hints of bubble gum and jawbreakers. Very fresh, with some menthol and quite a lot of waxy notes (lipstick). A bit of vanilla. Mouth: starts fruity and sweet, with lots of unripe fruits again. White nectarine, oranges, melon. A subtle Irishness. Light ginger and touches of green oak, making it slightly bittersweet. Some waxy notes again – it’s rather perfumed in a good way. Finish: fairly long, with citrus, green apple and a light grassiness.
The Lowlands are not my favourite region and Auchentoshan not my favourite distillery, but this is nicely different, very refined and just very good within its style. Definitely a spring whisky.