Single malt whisky - tasting notes

The Glenfarclas £511.19s.0d Family Reserve is a special released to celebrate the 150th anniversary of family ownership of the Glenfarclas distillery.

On the 8th of June 1865, John Grant, 1st generation of the Grant family, bought the distillery for the amount of £511.19s.0d. His grandsons, John and George, later formed the company J&G Grant and to this day it remains an independent business and firmly in the hands of the family’s 5th & 6th generation.

The whisky is a vatting of predominantly first fill sherry butts. The age is undisclosed, it’s probably a mix of different vintages.


Glenfarclas 150th Anniversary


Along with the release of £511.19s.0d, the distillery celebrated the anniversary by filling 10 sherry butts and 10 sherry hogsheads, ready for the future generations.



Glenfarclas £ 511.19s.0d Family ReserveGlenfarclas £ 511.19s.0d Family Reserve (43%, OB 2015, 12.000 btl.)

Nose: nicely juicy with loads of honey. Lots of stewed plums and mirabelles, apples and a fresh hint of lime. Apricot jam. Hints of vanilla and golden syrup. There’s some classic sherry, including some nutmeg and milk chocolate, but on a second level. Light hints of strawberry candy as well. Mouth: soft but not weak. A whole lot drier than expected. Still some honey and golden raisins but also orange marmalade, nutty notes, cinnamon powder and nutmeg. Light toasted oak and a hint of burnt cake. Funny how the palate is more earthy and savoury than the nose suggested. Finish: long, on oranges, nuts, apples and nutmeg.

This is a fairly light, elegant version of Glenfarclas’ classic sherry bottlings. I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of really old casks went in. Around € 100.

Score: 86/100

There’s a new exclusive bottling for the members of the Whiskybase community, a GlenDronach 1995 bottled from a Pedro Ximénez sherry puncheon.

Now that the remaining casks from the excellent 1993 vintage are officially ‘on hold’ (read: reserved for official releases), most shops seem to turn to the 1995 vintage for their bottlings.



GlenDronach 1995 #3804 for WhiskybaseGlenDronach 19 yo 1995
(54,2%, OB for Whiskybase 2015, PX sherry puncheon #3804, 694 btl.)

Nose: starts in a heavyweight, bloated style, not entirely my favourite, with a certain old blend character (organics) and some oxtail soup. Big toffee notes, balsamic syrup and toasted pastry. Hazelnuts and prunes. After breathing I get some nicer, brighter hints of grapes and apricot jams, but they don’t seem to last. Bugger. Mouth: again a little overweight, syrupy with plenty of prunes and gooey chocolate. Liquorice, a lot of burnt toast and hints of bitter oranges. Reminds me of a burnt moelleux. Cinnamon, chilli and coffee roast. Finish: long, mixing syrupy notes, chocolate and oak spices.

Well, I’ve seen other 1995s that were similar and that I had difficulties with – even though they were applauded by many others. Too meaty on the nose, too much burnt notes on the palate. I think the previous 1993 for Whiskybase had more fruits, more sparkle and more quality, in my opinion. Around € 150, exclusive to Whiskybase.

Score: 84/100

The Irish single malt 1988 from The Nectar has a younger sister, although it could be more like a niece.

I’m not sure this 16 years old Irish single malt 1999 was produced in the same distillery. Probably not, actually. As you know indie casks are mostly sold in larger lots, and most 1999s point to Cooley.



Ireland 16 yo 1999 - The Nectar & LMdWIrish single malt 16 yo 1999 (53,5%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams 2015, joint bottling with LMdW)

Nose: a slightly greener kind of fruitiness. Plenty of citrus, especially grapefruit. Hints of lemon (blossom) and white peach. Nice banana liqueur and banana bubblegum in the background, as well as white gummi bears and light spices and herbs (caraway). Also waxy hints (how far is Clynelish from Ireland)? Mouth: bananas aplenty. Grapefruits and lemonade. Fresh, green and gingery. Becomes fairly spicy with pepper and liquorice. Green tea. The waxy notes are still present. Finish: medium long, same notes. Bright fruits and spices.

Maybe Cooley, yes. Really nice whisky again, the kind of profile that keeps you sipping all night long. Around € 85. Thank you, Angelo.

Score: 87/100

Maltbarn presented four new releases: Bunnahabhain 1987, Glen Garioch 1993, Auchentoshan 1992 and this Inchgower 1990.



Inchgower 1990 - MaltbarnInchgower 24 yo 1990 (51,4%, Maltbarn 2015, bourbon cask, 135 btl.)

Nose: quite bright and fruity although a bit restrained as well. Some white grapes, lime, canary melon and white peach. Gummi bears. Freshly cut grass with a few white flowers. Something of lemon yoghurt and sugared green tea. Caraway seeds. A bit uncommon but far from unpleasant. Mouth: again very bright and citrusy, with lime and pear, hints of vanilla and some floral notes. Green apples. Some oily notes and a little pepper. Sweet, creamy malt. Some liquorice and oak towards the end. Finish: medium long, with lime and spices, including a light salty touch.

This Inchgower is a bit unconventional (aren’t they all?) but pretty good. Slightly winey in a (good) way and rather summery, I’d say. Around € 130.

Score: 85/100

With the recent boom of Japanese whisky and the direct connection of Bowmore with Japan (they are owned by Beam Suntory), we now welcome a new Bowmore Mizunara Cask finish.

Mizunara oak only grows in specific parts of Asia and although it grows slowly and it is a little difficult to work with, Mizunara casks have always been used in Japanese whisky production to induce some unique aromas. Suntory only produces around 100 casks per year and this is the first time an Islay whisky is finished in these casks (which are probably refill Yamazaki casks).


Bowmore Mizunara cask

Bowmore Mizunara cask is officially NAS, but all the whisky is 1990s distillation – which makes it seem strange to avoid an age statement… It’s a mix of bourbon casks and some sherry casks which are then transferred to Mizunara for three years. Traditionally, Mizuanara oak needs quite a long time to make its unique profile noticeable, so we’re keen to find out how big the effect is after a relatively short finish.



Bowmore Mizunara Cask finishBowmore Mizunara Cask finish (53,9%, OB 2015, 2000 btl.)

Nose: bright and vibrant, with Bowmore’s trademark gentle peatiness and quite a big amount of fruits, including the lovely tropical notes (pineapple, mango, green banana) that are common in mid-1990s Bowmore. Also nice heathery / herbal notes. Some vanilla roundness as well as subtle flinty notes. The Mizunara influence seems small, maybe it shines through in the wealth of spices (cinnamon, clove) and a slight hint of sandalwood. Mouth: now I’m more impressed than on the nose. It starts coastal and briney, with a good dose of earthy peat before a burst of fruits appears. Lime, pink grapefruit, hints of passion fruit, maybe lychee. Still quite spicy (pepper, cinnamon). Back to eucalyptus honey and vanilla cream. Finish: long, slightly leathery with oriental spices and peat.


Sure, it’s expensive. Around € 1000 means you’re paying a considerable ‘investors supplement’ even when it’s a unique product. On the other hand it’s also very good, with a balanced combination of peat and tropical fruits and a (really subtle) oriental twist.

Score: 91/100

It seems the latest batch of Whisky Agency releases passed by with a little less fuss than we’ve come to expect. They’ve been on the market for a while, but I’ve only been able to try two or three. Here’s the Auchentoshan 1994 from the Circus series.



Auchentoshan 1994 - The Whisky Agency 'Circus'Auchentoshan 21 yo 1994 (54,8%, The Whisky Agency 2015, refill hogshead, 216 btl.)

Nose: rather naked, with some nice fruity notes (unripe pineapple, green banana, greengages) and light grassy notes. Slightly less common notes of menthol. Some flinty hints, as well as some waxy lipstick notes. Nice and simple. After some time I get some candy necklaces – do you remember these? Mouth: green and grassy at first, before moving to garden fruits (nectarine, apple) and light citrus (mainly grapefruit). The mentholated side became really big now and is amplified by some eucalyptus and herbal notes. A bit funny, but quite nice. Hints of bittersweet oak too. Finish: medium long, zesty, herbal and grassy.

This is dram that goes into the “interesting” category for me, more than in the “enjoyable” category. By no means a bad dram though. Around € 135 – still available in many places.

Score: 86/100

Any shopkeeper will tell you a lot of people are anxiously waiting for new independent Irish whiskey, especially these (officially undisclosed) Bushmills casks that seem to have been brought to the market by the Teeling brothers. This is a brand-new one, already sold out in most places.



Irish single malt 1988 - The Nectar of the Daily Drams & LMdWIrish single malt 27 yo 1988 (49,5%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams 2015, joint bottling with LMdW)

Nose: another generously exotic nose (guava, tinned pineapple, kiwi, banana). Rather warm and honeyed, slightly buttery, maybe a little less of the acidity that you find in other examples, but more redcurrant jam and nice hints of fresh cassis. Melon, strawberry candy (marshmallow). In the background there’s vanilla cream, cinnamon and hints of cedar wood. Light mint. Mouth: very, very exotic again. Mango, maracuja, litchi, quince, gradually joined by spicy notes (ginger, aniseed) and some grapefruit zest. Blackcurrants. Grand Marnier. Hints of salty oak towards the end. Finish: long, creamy but with more spices (nutmeg, ginger), zesty notes and a light hint of tobacco.

I’ve tried this one on three occasions now. The first time I was struck by the hints of red fruits (sherry?), which made it rather special for me. However these notes were softer the next time, showing a more classic, exotic profile. Anyway another excellent Irish malt. Around € 210.

Score: 91/100

The Whisky Mercenary selected his newest bottling from the Gordon & MacPhail stocks. Twenty years old indie Highland Park. We’re not complaining!



Highland Park 1995 - The Whisky MercenaryHighland Park 20 yo 1995
(50%, Gordon & MacPhail Exclusive for The Whisky Mercenary 2015, refill bourbon hogshead #1485, 325 btl.)

Nose: sweet heather honey and zesty notes at the same time. Green apple, white peach and lemon candy. Slightly youngish banana and pear. Subtle coconut notes and a touch of mint / menthol. Very soft peat smoke and limestone. A rather summery version of Highland Park, thanks to the bourbon oak. Mouth: rich and fruity, with stewed fruits and a banana and pineapple combo. Candy sugar. Nice oranges and coriander seeds. The whisky translation of a Belgian triple beer, in a way. Some hay. Marzipan and honey sweetness. After that, light spices, hints of peat, creamy chocolate and quite some pepper. Finish: long, fruity with lemon, a touch of smoke and faint hints of cocoa.

Good stuff, very fruity and incredibly drinkable. Expensive but better than a lot of official releases. Arriving in stores as we speak. Around € 145.

Score: 88/100



November 2015
« Oct    

Coming up

  • Glenlivet 1981 (#9468 for TWE)
  • Lagavulin Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Talisker Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
  • Mortlach 1959/1960 (G&M Royal Wedding)

1933 notes by Ruben

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