Single malt whisky - tasting notes

Andrea Caminneci, a German of Italian descent, started a wine & spirits company in 2005 and became the importer of Glenglassaugh for Germany. As such, he managed to select and bottle many outstanding Glenglassaugh expressions, the 1972 cask #2896 for example.

His own series C&S Dram contains a long list of single cask whiskies from different distilleries. Recently a sub-series C&S Dram Exceptional was launched for special drams. It’s not surprising that the first release is a Glenglassaugh 1972.

We don’t know the cask number, but the whisky was distilled 22nd of December 1972, which is the same date as cask #2934 bottled by the distillery in a Rare Cask decanter in 2008.

 

 

Glenglassaugh 1972 C&S Dram Exceptional 40 YearsGlenglassaugh 40 yo 1972 (43,1%, C&S Dram Exceptional 2013, refill sherry butt, 300 btl.)

Nose: starts rather disappointingly on grains and muesli but opens up nicely. Mirabelles, green mango, lots of mandarins and lemons. A bit of floral honey and dried flowers. Candied ginger. Typical waxy notes as well: polished oak, pollen. It’s a mix of Caperdonich 1972 (though more floral) with a subdued hint of Clynelish. Mouth: half fruity, half oaky. Apricots, pineapples, oranges, sprinkled with honey but also with a more mineral waxy note. Together with a peppery kick this leaves a rather oaky impression. Almonds and vanilla cream. Subtle warmer sherry notes towards the end. Finish: decent length, with the fruits starting to fade and the oak spices growing stronger.

Maybe not a total stunner like #2896 but a very fine, typical waxy Glenglassaugh nonetheless. Still available in Germany for around € 385.

Score: 90/100


This Karuizawa 1971 cask #7267 was bottled exclusively for Taiwan. Although the Geisha label says ‘bottled 2012’ it didn’t hit the market until the summer of 2013. At the same time the Karuizawa 1977 cask #4010 was released.

 

Karuizawa 1971 cask #7267 for TaiwanKaruizawa 1971 (62,8%, OB for Taiwan 2012, cask #7267, 467 btl.)

Nose: quite stunning right from the start. These high-strength Karuizawas can be closed right after pouring, but this one is immediately expressive. Typical pipe tobacco and humidors but the fruity notes are really big as well. Strawberry jam, figs, ripe bananas. A fragrant peaches and faint hint of old Sauternes. Quite sweet – there’s an earthy side to it as well, but on a second level. Lots of old Oloroso notes. After a while it becomes more ethereal with lots of exotic woods and beeswax, aromatic citrus oils and as some balsamic top notes. Very wide and just wonderful. Mouth: very intense with a gingery heat and the slightly tannic dryness of dark fruit teas when sipped neat. A lot of toasted notes and wood spices (chilli). Needs a few drops of water to totally shine. Dark chocolate combined with brambles and raisins. Black cherries. Tobacco leaves. Mouth: very long, on sweet coffee, dark chocolate, mint and cinnamon powder.

Muscular whisky, but quite excellent. On the nose, I prefer this one to the 1977, but on the palate it becomes too dry to score higher. It helps to add (just a tiny amount of) water though. Almost impossible to find – easily € 1000 in auctions.

Score: 92/100


More bottlers are releasing middle-aged Ben Nevis, most of them in the 1995-1997 regions. This Ben Nevis 1997 is the latest release from Maltbarn.

 

Ben Nevis 1997 MaltbarnBen Nevis 16 yo 1997 (53,2%, Maltbarn 2013, bourbon barrel, 91 btl.)

Nose: I’m not exactly attracted. It shows overripe melon and brown banana… A tad musty. Soaked grains as well. Honey and burnt sugar. Hints of citrus peel. Wet hay, which evolves towards wet newspapers. Add some undefined savoury notes and a little linseed oil. A tad difficult to enjoy for me. Mouth: oily, with nicer notes now, cherries and strawberries up front. Vanilla custard and bananas that are not overdue. Sweet, but growing spicy and grassy notes. Nutmeg and firm pepper. Mocha notes towards the end. Still not very seducative – or just not my kinda profile. Finish: medium long, with more oak and a hint of caramel sweetness.

Slightly peculiar whisky, but peculiar is the middle name of Ben Nevis, right? Be sure to try this one for yourself. Around € 75.

Score: 80/100


Sometimes I don’t really get the whisky market. Take this Glenfarclas 1980 for example. It was a single cask release bottled in 2002 for the Belgian market, so you’d think after 12 years it has become impossible to find. However a couple of weeks ago, it suddenly turned up in several stores in Belgium and The Netherlands. Did someone invest in a pallet of Glenfarclas and recently cashed in, or has Filliers cleared part of its forgotten stocks?

It was distilled 23rd of December 1980 – that’s the day before the various 1980 Christmas Editions.

 

Glenfarclas 1980/2002 Dark Oloroso - BelgiumGlenfarclas 21 yo 1980 (53%, OB for Filliers 2002, dark oloroso cask, 574 btl.)

Nose: very big sherry, up to the point where it becomes flinty and almost smoky. Lots of prune juice, chocolate coated cherries, espresso and herbal notes like rosemary and eucalyptus. Tobacco leaves and leather. A whole array of aromas from earthy notes all the way to sour overtones. Mouth: sherried whisky can hardly get more sherried than this. Dried fruits, dark herbal teas. Again a slightly funny smokiness. Leathery notes, lots of herbs as well as liquorice. Dark cocoa powder. Ginger. Quite massive and oaky. Finish: long, still quite heavy, with hints of herbal liqueurs and some woody astringency.

Well it’s certainly interesting to see how far you can go with sherry maturation – this is very herbal and earthy with a hint of smoke and some medicinal edges. Maybe not the best example of balance or complexity, but a big sherried dram nonetheless. Around € 125.

Score: 89/100


When you see “undisclosed Speyside distillery”, a first guess is always Glenfarclas, so we’ll keep it at that. The Nameless One is 18 years old and bottled by The Whisky Mercenary.

 

 

The Nameless One - The Whisky Mercenary‘The Nameless One’ 18 yo 1995 (46,8%, The Whisky Mercenary 2014, sherry cask)

Nose: the fruit cake / stewed fruits kind of sherry. Hints of apricot jam, juicy plums, cherries and baked apples. Gooseberries. Echoes of fruit eau-de-vie. A little vanilla and soft caramel. Buttercups as well – it’s a fairly fatty spirit. Mouth: fresh and fruity again. Orange juice, melons, hints of Pitahaya. There’s something exotic about it that I can’t really put my finger on. Nice anyway. Light oak and spices grow bigger towards the end. Hints of liquorice. Finish: medium long, still fruity, with softly drying notes.

A very pleasant, easy-drinking whisky with a peculiar, really nice sherry influence. Above all nicely fruity. Around € 80.

Score: 87/100


There are now over 50.000 bottles of whisky in the Whiskybase database. They’ve celebrated this event by bottling a Burnside 1989. Burnside, you ask? They are quite open about it, this 24 year-old whisky is actually Balvenie with a teaspoon of Glenfiddich added to it.

 

 

Burnside 1989 WhiskybaseBurnside 24 yo 1989 (51,7%, Whiskybase 2014, barrel #12452, 207 btl.)

Nose: fruity with lots of beehive notes. Apples, kiwi juice, mirabelles. Floral honey and beeswax. Hints of marshmallows. A hint of fresh, minty oak as well. Fairly simple but I love this beehive profile. Mouth: again fruity and sweet. Pears on syrup, apricots and honey. Almonds. Hints of sugared Greek yoghurt. After that, it becomes quite oaky and bourbonny – in a fresh way but not without tannins. Some grassy notes and ginger. A few fragrant, flowery touches as well. Finish: medium long, with the fruity sweetness alongside oaky notes and a hint of vanilla.

A very enjoyable springtime whisky, full of fruits and waxy notes. It feels slightly younger than it is, if not for the noticeable oaky touches. Around € 92 – it went quickly – all sold out already.

Score: 88/100


Cadeanhead’s Small Batch series seems to be a hit. They keep a nice balance of younger and older whiskies from a wide array of ditilleries. Some releases rapidly made a name for themselves.

Here’s a new Tomatin 1978 bottled for their Belgian importer The Nectar. We already saw a similar (general) release last year.

 

 

Tomatin 1978 - Cadenhead's Small Batch - The NectarTomatin 35 yo 1978 (46,5%, Cadenhead Small Batch for The Nectar 2014, hogshead, 216 btl.)

Nose: fruity. Hey, what did you expect? A slightly ‘greener’ fruitiness than most 1976’s though. A little more bubblegummy too, but really nice nonetheless. Oranges, stewed rhubarb and banana. Hints of yoghurt and quite some spearmint. A light, grassy oakiness. Aniseed. Oh wait, after some time it becomes even more aromatic, with some classic tangerines and pink grapefruit. Really good. Mouth: even more fruity. Bananas, tangerines, orange candy, pineapple. Hints of mango and strawberry candy. Rather sweet from the start, which makes this a great lemonade. Some candy sugar before it fades to pepper and cinnamon. An echo of the grassy notes as well, but no loud oak, nor any excessive dryness. Finish: long, slightly drying now but still pleasantly fruity and sweet.

Now that the legendary 1976’s are gone (?), this is probably the closest we can get to their profile. Slightly more bourbonny but overall a very similar, sweet fruit bomb character. Around € 270.

Score: 91/100


What if… you took some quality gin, produced in Belgium, and finished it in a whisky cask? This is the concept behind the NOG! Gin which is set to be launched next week. The label calls it ‘whisky infused gin’.

NOG! stands for No Ordinary Gin, but nog also means more! in Dutch. After his whisky and rum releases, this is another brainchild of Bert ‘Asta Morris’ Bruyneel.

The first edition was finished in the cask that previously contained his Dalmore NAS whisky. We can already give away that there will be a second edition soon, basically the same gin but finished in different cask previously bottled by Asta Morris.

Let me warn you that I do appreciate a gin & tonic as an aperitif (when there’s no decent dry sherry available), but I’m certainly not an experienced gin taster.

 

 

Nog! gin - Asta MorrisNog! gin
(46%, Asta Morris, batch n°1)

Neat. Nose: quite assertive, with juniper, big lemon notes, hints of mint and liquorice. A floral touch as well. Enticing and bright, a very nice nose. Mouth: slightly less assertive at first, with a fairly neutral, sweet grainy note. Then some spices (pepper, liquorice, maybe coriander) but overall not very pronounced compared to the nose.

With Fever Tree Mediterranean. Nose: Again very aromatic and highly seductive on the nose. It’s almost as if you’ve added a bit of lime and mint to make a perfect summery drink. I’d say pineapple cubes as well. A piece of grapefruit zest is recommended as a garnish – makes sense. It balances the nice candied fruity note in the background. Mouth: the candied theme keeps going. Sweet, with some vanilla and marzipan – not what I expected and definitely amplified by the tonic. This must be the wood talking, but again I’m not an expert when it comes to (aged) gins. Lime. Sugar cane, a faint hint of caramel? A soft floral bitterness as well, but the sweetness is definitely bigger.

I love the clarity and wide aromatic profile of the nose. I had some difficulty with the sweetness of the palate, especially when you’re aiming for a (dry) aperitif, but that’s partly because aged gins are new to me, I guess. The vanilla and marzipan certainly add complexity that you will rarely find in commercial gins. I would say this is very much a sipping gin, one I’d have with different garnishes but without tonic. No ordinary gin for sure.

Nog! gin will be presented at QV.ID – 2nd of May and Crombé – 3rd of May. Probably in other stores soon after. Around € 50.


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Coming up

  • Benromach 10 Year Old
  • Benromach 1976 vintage
  • Littlemill 1991 (Eiling Lim)
  • Jura 1972 SMWS 31.4
  • Balblair 2002
  • Jura Origin
  • Kavalan Solist sherry (for LMdW)

1572 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.