Single malt whisky - tasting notes

The new Aberfeldy 15 Years is matured in bourbon re-fill and re-char casks and finished in Bordeaux red wine casks from the Pomerol region for 4 to 5 months.

 

 

Aberfeldy 15 Years - Pomerol finishAberfeldy 15 yo (43%, OB 2019, batch #2919, Pomerol Bordeaux wine finish)

Nose: the winey side is well controlled. It’s quite fruity, with apricots, red apples but also added strawberry notes and red berries. Nice honeyed notes. Mint. A little resin. Light spices (cinnamon) in the background. Mouth: rather oily, with an initial sweetness of Gummi bears and cherry liqueur. Raspberry filled chocolates. Still some honey. Then it turns more towards oak (including some tannins and cloves) and a more obvious winey character. Also liquorice, tobacco and minty notes. Chocolate. Finish: medium, with clove and much more mulled wine now, walnuts and green oak.

This is like a rosé version of Scotch malt, but overall fairly mild and expertly executed (until the finish perhaps). One of the few red wine finishes that I would recommend. Available in most European markets, check The Whisky Exchange for instance.

Score: 86/100


Two Tormore 1995 bottlings from the French bottler Le Gus’t (Cave Conseil). Looking at the colour, they are quite different.

I don’t have a lot of experience with Tormore from this era, but boy, what a pleasant surprise this was!

 

 

Tormore 1995 Le Gus't (butt)Tormore 24 yo 1995 (45,4%, Le Gus’t ‘Selection XX’ 2019, butt, 398 btl.)

Nose: starts in an old school waxy way, with hints of sunflower oil, engine oil and paraffin. Burlap. Quite mineral, but there’s citrus and yellow apple around the corner. Apricot pie. Minty notes. Mouth: fresh fruity notes like yellow plums, peaches, oranges and a hint of banana. Mentholated notes, drizzles of herbal honey and hints of pine wood. Maybe a few raisins. Again a waxy side. Very subtle zesty bitterness (grapefruit) towards the end. Finish: long, citrusy and totally fresh.

An old Manzanilla butt, perhaps? Great combination of fruitiness, minty freshness and this old-school je-ne-sais-quoi. Heaps of character: great selection. Around € 125 from Le Gus’t in France.

Score: 89/100

 

 

 

Tormore 1995 - Le Gus't (hogshead)Tormore 24 yo 1995
(55,8%, Le Gus’t ‘Selection XXII’ 2019, hogshead #20046, 71 btl.)

Nose: lots of cedar oak or polished Ipe, a rather exotic style of woodiness that you usually only find in much older whisky. A little brown sugar and mint. Broken branches. Butter rolls. Dusty malt. After a lot of airing it gradually becomes more fruity, slightly tropical even. Charred pineapple maybe. Minty notes as well. Too bad the fruits never manage to come out of the oaky shade entirely. Mouth: much more powerful than the other bottling. Starts on spicy oak, biscuits, herbal tea and cocoa. Then it bursts into tropical fruits, definitely pineapple now, as well as pink grapefruits and papaya. Quite wonderful. Great mentholated notes (sometimes a sign of light peatiness). Finish: long, on citrus, old wood and charred pineapple.

Woodiness can be a huge asset in my opinion, especially if it’s not the straightforward plankish kind. Excellent whisky, especially with the lovely fruity palate. Around € 150 from Le Gus’t in France.

Score: 90/100


When I reviewed the Secret Highland 1983 a while ago, I told you there was also a Secret Highland 1987 bottled by the WhiskyNerds. Both sherry casks, but this one has a darker colour with more red hues.

 

 

Secret Highland 1987 - WhiskyNerdsSecret Highland 31 yo 1987
(49,7%, Whisky Nerds 2019, refill sherry hogshead #27, 167 btl.)

Nose: darker, certainly more sherried than the 1983 but a similar un-modern style. Plums and raisins, lots of leathery notes, moss and slightly damp, leafy notes. Cigar boxes. Mixed nuts. A subtle mineral side too. Mouth: a fairly dry, spicy profile, fairly wood-driven. Leathery sherry, hints of rancio and old oak. Tobacco. Herbal tea. Walnuts and Seville oranges. A little all-spice. Lacking just a little juicy fruitiness perhaps. Finish: quite long, on oak, tobacco and herbal tea.

A dry sherry profile, far away from the modern, first-fill / seasoned versions. Great selection again, even though the 1983 is more special. Around € 300, some bottles left I believe.

Score: 89/100


Talisker Bodega Series

This little whisky blog was started 11 years ago, we’re celebrating…

The Bodega Series focuses on the long standing connections between whisky distilleries and sherry bodegas. Apparently the Talisker archives proved they have already been buying sherry casks from Delgado Zuleta (one of the oldest sherry producers in the area) since their founding in 1830.

The first release was a Talisker 40 Year Old, matured in refill barrels before being finished in five sherry butts that were taken from a superb Amontillado solera. The wine which was matured in these butts is called Quo Vadis, also (at least) 40 years of age – which for sherry means an average age. I often have difficulty explaining to people that I’ve paid € 275 for a 3 cl sample of this, no kidding.

The second instalment is a Talisker 41 Year Old, bottled a few months ago. They turned to Delgado Zuleta again and used six Manzanilla casks this time, from the La Goya solera, their flagship wine and the precursor to Quo Vadis. In both cases you can assume the casks were very old, often over a century, only the age and type of the wine would be different.

Supposedly a third entry will round off this series. Next year perhaps?

 

 

 

Talisker 40 Years - Bodega SeriesTalisker 40 yo 1978 (50%, OB ‘Bodega series’ 2018, Amontillado finish, 2000 btl.)

Nose: very rich and warm, with a sweet exotic fruitiness that brings us back to the 1960s or 1970s. Pineapple, orange peel, sultanas, hints of papaya and tangerines. Beautiful hints of polished sandalwood and cigar boxes, with whiffs of jasmin tea and lime leaves. Light sea breeze. Honeyed touches and just very mellow phenolic notes and peppercorns. Lovely. Mouth: more powerful than expected, with the typical peppery notes coming out, against a backdrop of waxy fruits and oak. More smoke as well. Peaches, pears, lime. A zesty note mixed with salt. Soft herbal notes. Very elegant and complex. Finish: good length, with the same complex mix of fruits and salinity. Subtle smoke and polished oak.

A remarkable dram, especially on the nose where this is more balanced and more special than its older sister. The old-style fruitiness and balanced sandalwood is great. Still pretty perfect on the palate, the best Talisker I’ve tried so far. Still available from The Whisky Exchange and other places.

Score: 93/100

 

 

Talisker 41 Years - Bodega SeriesTalisker 41 yo 1978 (50,7%, OB 2019, Manzanilla finish, 2000 btl.)

Nose: slightly sharper, and it misses some of the exotic fruits. It’s more on apples, plums and banana, with a much bigger fresh side of mint leaves and salty top notes. Subtle hints of roasted nuts, vanilla cake and slightly more smoke than in the younger version. Old waxed paper. Interesting differences. Mouth: this one grows more gradually, with a sweet and slightly medicinal onset, growing to b

lack pepper, leather, baking spice and coastal notes. Salted caramel. Nutty notes. Apple peel. Finish: quite long, with smoky notes, pepper, orange peel and the return of the minty freshness.

This one is slightly less complex and misses some of the fruity magic. It does unfold theatrically on the palate though, with more coastal notes overall. What a pair! (TWE / MoM). Thanks for making this possible, Arno.

Score: 92/100


This Cragganmore 12 Year Old was one of the surprises among this year’s Special Releases because it is lightly peated. I don’t think we’ve seen smoky Cragganmore before, but apparently they did some trial runs around 2006.

 

 

Cragganmore 12 Years - Special ReleaseCragganmore 12 yo 2006
(58,4%, OB ‘Special Release’ 2019, refill American oak, 18.000 btl.)

Nose: some dry, ashy smoke indeed, in a fairly gentle way (Ardmore style, let’s say). Behind it there are sweet and youngish notes of banana, pears and icing sugar, as well as waxy lemons. Fresh pine wood and leathery notes. A nice combo. Mouth: a tad hot, with a surprising salty edge. Apples, zesty grapefruits, a drop of honey and hints of cake. Then some toffee and white pepper. Peaty notes, as well as a buttery and chalky touch. Finish: medium, fairly dry and peppery, with some charred leaves and oak spice.

A bit mind-bending at first: the rather ethereal Cragganmore with flashes of smoky Ardmore or peppery Talisker. Not bad though, and fairly cohesive. (TWE / MoM)

Score: 86/100


This Glenlivet 2004 was a special Connoisseurs Choice release from Gordon & MacPhail for the festive season, together with a Craigellachie 2005. It comes at a whopping strength of 64% and it is only available in the UK market.

 

 

Glenlivet 2004 - G&M Connoisseurs ChoiceGlenlivet 14 yo 2004 (64%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Connoisseurs Choice’ 2019, refill bourbon barrel, 162 btl.)

Nose: sweet, with marshmallows and white chocolate up front. Vanilla custard. Sablé breton biscuits. Also floral (almost potpourri) hints, which work well here. Light leafy notes and peppercorns. Very nice. Mouth: a lot of baked apples and apple pie, with more biscuits, yellow plums. However it’s way too hot, bringing out walnuts skins and a tannic edge, so let’s add some water. This brings out bananas, charred wood, vanilla cake and roasted nuts. Also a slight whiff of cologne, I’m afraid, which is less to my liking. Ginger and lime as well. Finish: long, with butterscotch, hazelnut and sweet lemons.

A really nice nose, but playing around with water turned out quite difficult. Available from The Whisky Exchange.

Score: 86/100


In the past few months Timorous Beastie, the Highland blended malt from Douglas Laing, got a Winter Edition, fully matured in sherry casks, as well as a limited edition 25 year-old. Let’s have look, starting with the Timorous Beastie 10 Year Old.

 

 

Timorous Beastie 10 YearsTimorous Beastie 10 yo (46,8%, Douglas Laing 2018, Small Batch #1)

Nose: fresh and rather sweet, with vanilla up front, pears and some banana. Almonds, hints of fudge. Some newish oak as well. Mouth: creamy, still fruity, now on apricots and apples. On the lighter side of the spectrum, but not boring. Some citrusy notes. Ginger and white pepper. Hints of buttered toast as well. Finish: medium, on garden fruits, peppery oak and a little honey.

This is in line with what we’ll find in the 25 Year Old, except for a big youtful spicy kick. Good start of this session, and good value for money. Limited stock available from Master of Malt for instance.

Score: 83/100

 

 

 

Timorous Beastie 16 Years - Winter EditionTimorous Beastie 16 yo ‘Winter Edition’ (45,8%, Douglas Laing, sherry casks, 400 btl.)

Nose: juicy red berries with plenty of raisins and dates. Toffee, a hint of mocha and cinnamon pastry. Cocoa biscuits. Orange peel as well as some candied ginger. Deeply sherried but not overdone, nice. Mouth: slightly darker. A lot of toffee again, milk chocolate, raisins, pepper and cinnamon. Oranges and jammy darker fruits. Christmas cake. Reminds me of Tamdhu expressions of late. Finish: medium long, mostly on spices and cocoa. Cinnamon, oak and orange peel.

This Timorous Winter Edition is rich, deeply sherried and still nicely balanced. At around € 65, exceptional value for money I would say. A limited yield though, sold out now.

Score: 87/100

 

 

 

There’s also the  new Timorous Beastie 25 Year Old, launched in October, matured predominantely in ex-bourbon barrels.

 

Timorous Beastie 25 YearsTimorous Beastie 25 yo (46,8%, Douglas Laing 2019, 1600 btl.)

Nose: sweet and honeyed, with red apples, apricots and hints of vanilla custard. Summery fruits, like berries and nectarines, as well as golden raisins. Hints of panettone cake and light whiffs of oak. A generous profile, nicely balanced. Mouth: starts on juicy pears and rich honey, moving towards slightly tropical fruits like pink grapefruit, tangerine and pineapple. Peppery notes in the background, as well as some ginger. Marmelade as well. Finish: long, gentle, still on this great fruity theme with orange peel, vanilla and mellow oak.

A great composition with enticing fruits at its core. Available from The Whisky Exchange and perhaps your local retailer.

Score: 89/100


Whivie is a Belgian whisky blog managed by Mark, Niek and Ilse. To celebrate their 10th anniversary they decided to bottle a whisky.

It’s a single cask blended malt, blended at birth apparently. Most of these undisclosed Speyside blended malts of late originated at (former) distilleries of the Highland Distillers group and were intended as the malt base of their blends. This particular release is probably something along the lines of a Macrothes, if you know what I mean…

 

 

Speyside blended malt 1993 - WhivieSpeyside Blended Malt 25 yo 1993 (47,1%, Whivie 2019, sherry cask, 100 btl.)

Nose: leafy sherry, with raisins and plums, roasted malt, plenty of toffee and brioche. Also brighter fruits like juicy apricots and orange juice, maybe mirabelles. Shoe polish. Back to chocolates filled with coffee ganache. Subtle tobacco and menthol too. Rich, clean, all good. Mouth: same dark style, with a lot of stout beer, croissants with a burnt edge and just a hint of cough syrup. Big caramel sweetness, mixed with herbal notes. Bitter Turkish coffee. Sour oranges, tobacco and leather. Roasted nuts. Liquorice. Finish: long, slightly earthy with oranges, pepper and a few drops of Fernet Branca.

A very rich and rather dark sherry bottling with echoes of cough syrup and such. Plenty of character. Head over to Whivie if you want one of the few remaining bottles.

Score: 87/100


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Whisky reviews coming up

  • Nikka Days
  • Aberfeldy 15 Year Old
  • Glen Elgin 1995 (Single Malts of Scotland)
  • Glengoyne 17 Years (TBWC)
  • Johnnie Walker Ghost & Rare - Glenury Royal
  • Nectar Grove Batch Strength (Wemyss)
  • Glenugie 1977 (Signatory Vintage)

My article about sherry casks

3154 notes by Ruben

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