The latest release in the Archives series is this Aultmore 2007, bottled at a whopping strength of 67,4%.
Aultmore 8 yo 2007
(67,4%, Archives ‘Fishes of Samoa’ 2015, sherry butt #900016, 172 btl.)
Nose: sweet and spicy, like gingerbread. Red fruits (raspberry, strawberry). Caramel and molasses. Light vegetal hints (tomato plants) as well as some fresh oak shavings. Mouth: drinkable at full strength, but rather closed. Sweet, showing red fruit candy and pomegranate. Pepper. With water more jammy fruits, milk chocolate and fig syrup. Rum and raisins. Mocha. Noticeable oak, with a minty / peppery edge. Finish: long, sweet fruits and spicy oak.
Another high pressure youngster from a very active cask. I think the Daily Dram version was slightly better, this one needs some fiddling with water to get it right. Available from Whiskybase, around € 65.
SPEY is a brand created by Harvey’s of Edinburgh, a Scottish company with a history in whisky that goes back to the 18th Century. They owned Dundashill, Yoker, Bruichladdich and Aultmore and for instance. It’s still a family business with a presence that’s biggest in Asia (especially Taiwan).
A few years ago the family bought the Speyside distillery which is also responsible for the Cu Dhub whisky and brands like Drumguish.
The range seems to change according to your location. The core range seems to consist of a Spey 12 Year Old, this Spey 18 Year Old and the Port-finished Spey Tanné. I’ve also found references to a Spey Chairman’s Choice, Royal Choice, Lord Byron’s Choice, Golden Choice and a Michael Owen Limited Edition (this former football player acts as a global ambassador for the brand).
Spey 18 Year Old is a limited edition of 1500 bottles, matured in fresh sherry casks.
Spey 18 yo
(46%, OB 2014, 1500 btl.)
Nose: nice actually. Creamy fruits (gooseberries, pears, caramelized figs). A lot of honey as well as some pleasant waxy notes. Vanilla custard. Vanilla fudge. Sweet walnuts too. Mouth: again sweet and creamy, smooth and approachable. Vanilla cream, orange candy. Too bad it becomes a little bland and rough after a while, with spicy notes and a bitter edge. Finish: long, but the roughness remains.
All this Michael Owen marketing tends to have an adverse effect on me, but on the nose I was pleasantly surprised by by the simple, attractive aromas. The palate is a bit less convincing. Not bad but € 105 isn’t cheap of course.
Cadenhead is still going strong. They release some older malts that few other independent bottlers have in their warehouses. Today we’re looking at a single cask Glenburgie 1985, almost thirty years old.
Glenburgie 29 yo 1985 (55,3%, Cadenhead Single Cask 2014, bourbon hogshead #95/36/10, 222 btl.)
Nose: quite lovely. Very aromatic hints of vanilla marshmallows and green banana skin. Stewed fruits (apples, oranges) with cinnamon. Honey. Dried flowers. Hints of exotic polished woods, not unlike what you sometimes get in bourbon-aged Karuizawa actually. Just lovely. Mouth: thick and very fruity (citrus, hints of banana and pineapples, figs). A minty kind of oak. Honey and vanilla cake icing sugar. Again a lightly marshmallowy / Turkish delight kind of aroma. Very pleasant. Finish: long, with brown sugar, sweet berries and light spices.
An excellent Glenburgie, you only get this kind of profile from long ageing in a great bourbon cask. Still a few bottles available – recommended. Around € 170.
GlenDronach bottled a 9 year-old for Professional Danish Whisky Retailers last year. It was matured in Pedro Ximénez casks, but I doubt it was a full maturation, rather a finished / re-racked whisky.
This bottling is often referred to as Darth Vader because of the uncommon black labeling.
GlenDronach 9 yo
(48%, OB for Denmark 2014, Pedro Ximénez casks, 3000 btl.)
Nose: not the thick sherry I expected. It’s fairly mineral, with some wet limestone and a hint of gunpowder up front. Roasted nuts. Behind this you get more classic notes like dried apricots and creamy toffee. Orange peel and spices (pepper, ginger) as well as some oak shavings. Mouth: sweet and spicy. Berries, figs and a hint of molasses. Stewed fruits. Pepper and ginger again. More oak-driven and less sherry-driven, always with this mineral edge which makes it feel a little thinner. Finish: long, dry, mainly on pepper and oak.
Interestingly, this 9 year-old feels slightly older than it actually is, but also less fully sherried than most GlenDronach releases. Clearly a relative of GlenDronach Octarine in that respect. Around € 60. Thanks, Wim.
At the time when this was bottled, most of the whisky that was used for the BenRiach 16 Years was significantly older, due to erratic production in some years. Around 80% was 18 years old BenRiach and the other 20% were second and third fill casks of 20 years old.
I’m not sure how this situation has evolved in the meantime, I haven’t tried more recent versions. In any case it also contains some peated BenRiach.
BenRiach 16 yo (43%, OB 2008)
Nose: light, with the same elements as the younger versions. Rather grainy, with notes of dark bread and toast. Less fruity. Instead more nutty notes and grasses. Some honey. Mouth: quite a nice, spicy start. There’s some very light peat smoke, but hardly recognizable and well integrated. Toffee and apples. Some peach. Finish: quite herbal now, with clear oak influence. Vanilla with a hint of green banana.
Pleasant and gentle but lacking some punch, like the rest of the base expressions. A pretty harmless Speyside profile for an interesting price. Around € 40.
Laphroaig distillery is celebrating its 200th Anniversary in 2015. All kinds of bicentennial events are planned throughout the year and we can expect no less than seven special editions (how about a 21 Year Old in September and a 32 Year Old in December?). First up is this Laphroaig 15 Year Old 200th Anniversary edition.
It’s a revival really, as Laphroaig 15yo (the favourite whisky of Prince Charles, apparently) was first launched in 1980. It was discontinued in 2009 and replaced by an 18 Year Old, but now we can enjoy it once again.
Laphroaig 15 yo ‘200th Anniversary’ (43%, OB 2015, 72.000 btl.)
Nose: nice. It’s a slightly unmodern style, which means less peat and more (subtle) fruits. Ripe banana, nice papaya / mango and a hint of grapefruit. Lots of dried seaweed and antiseptic. Tobacco notes, a little flax. Vanilla and honey. I really like this nose, despite or because of the peat smoke being a bit restrained. Mouth: again quite smooth and rounded, with a creamy mouthfeel. Sweet tobacco. Lime and pear syrup. Drier after a while, with a peppery kick. Sooty notes in the background, with liquorice and a hint of brine. Finish: medium long, with some salt water and smoky honey.
Fans of the modern, more intensely peated Laphroaig profile may find this underpowered and lacking in smokiness. I really like it for its old-style fruitiness and complexity. I think it may have reached 90 points with a slightly higher strength. Around € 100. Due to arrive in stores globally.
Have you ever tried Compass Box Orangerie? It is a refreshing infusion of blended whisky with the hand-zested peel of Navelina oranges, cassia bark and clove. Instead of going towards orange liqueurs with lots of sugar, it was staying on the dry side.
When I read about Amrut Naarangi, I expected it would be in the same style as Orangerie, but it follows a slightly different route (and the end result is totally different). Amrut filled casks with Oloroso sherry and added orange peels to them. This mixture was left to season the wood for over two years. Afterwards, three years old malt whisky was put in the casks and it was left to mature for an extra period of three years.
It’s an interesting strategy. Whisky regulations in Europe say that adding anything to a whisky disqualifies it from being called whisky, but this way the orange flavours can still be transferred into the spirit.
Only 900 bottles of Naarangi were shipped to Europe, Asia and Canada but we can expect new batches in the future.
Amrut Naarangi (50%, OB 2015, 900 btl.)
Nose: very sweet and aromatic, although it certainly shows less oranges than expected. Instead it’s more on dried fruits (apricots, figs) and Spanish membrillo. Then it moves towards (subtle) Triple Sec (of course) with lemon zest and light pepper. Blood orange juice and sawdust too. Mouth: sweet (or rather sirupy) and spicy. Yes, more oranges now, both sweet juice and zesty notes. Pepper, hints of cloves, tangy oak. Finish: long, with the syrupy notes holding strong but also a lot of oak spices and a hint of mint.
This is an interesting but fairly simple dram, slightly different from what we expected. The oranges are not taking the lead – instead you get a sherried dram with plenty of spices and hints of oranges. Of course orange notes are pretty ‘classic’ in the sense that they commonly occur in non-flavoured whisky as well. I wonder how this technique would work with something that’s really off the map. Cherries, passion fruits, star anise, you name it. Around € 60-80.