Single malt whisky - tasting notes

The Whisky Jury started with an excellent first bottling, a Ben Nevis 1995. Recently this was followed by an excellent Caol Ila 1983 and this Ben Nevis 1996.

 

 

Ben Nevis 1996 - The Whisky JuryBen Nevis 23 yo 1996 (51,6%, The Whisky Jury 2019, refill hogshead #1315, 260 btl.)

Nose: starts fresh and slightly more vertical and citrusy than the 1995, or so it seems. Lemons and lime. Over time there’s also pineapple. Growing wet chalky notes and lovely paraffin. A late hint of vanilla as well. Mouth: here as well, slightly more citrusy at first. Lemon peel, greengages, plenty of grapefruits, mixing with green tea. In a second wave there are more tropical fruits: yellow grapefruit becomes pink, flashes of pineapple and guava. It’s slightly less Irish though, if you know what I mean. A nice combination of fatty texture and bright citrus. Finish: long and minty, with waxy echoes and a herbal edge.

We really can’t get enough of these Ben Nevis expressions from 1995 and 1996. The Whisky Jury definitely selected excellent examples. I may have a personal preference towards the 1995 but this is equally tasty. And sold out, if I’m not mistaken.

Score: 90/100


On this label you have The Whisky Kingdom, Duckhammer, Friends With Drams and Kyoto Fine Wine and Spirits. And I was told to mention Wu Dram Clan which seems to be a subset, or the ensemble, but that name is not actually mentioned. Next time also list the name of your dogs and mothers in law, please!

You may remember them from a really good Highland Park 2003 and a cracking Springbank 1992. Now they present a Springbank 2000 from a (very light) sherry hogshead.

 

 

Springbank 2000 - Wu Dram ClamSpringbank 19 yo 2000 (50,8%, The Whisky Kingdom for Wu Dram Clan 2020, refill sherry hogshead #669, 249 btl.)

Nose: the greasy / earthy style, with shoe polish, hints of beach sand. Sheep wool. Ashy notes but very much in the background. There’s also quite a juicy fruit note, a mix of green apples, lemons and grapefruit. Mouth: rather vivid with a marked sharpness, a good acidity and green citrus peel, as well as dry herbal touches. Oysters with lemon and mint. The mineral and peaty side is bigger than the nose suggested. Chalk and woody notes go hand in hand. Finish: long, with leather, green pepper, walnuts and a faint vegetal side.

Really good, very chiseled Springbank. A great selection again. Originally around € 250 but already sold out, I believe.

Score: 90/100


I’m trying this Glenrothes 1966 from one of 500 miniature bottles that were filled for The Master of Malt in 1993. They also had 50 full-size bottles pictured below.

At the same time Signatory Vintage had another 580 bottles as part of its dumpy bottle range, so it’s clear they provided the cask.

 

 

Glenrothes 1966 - Signatory for Master of MaltGlenrothes 27 yo 1966 (51,3%, The Master of Malt 1993; sherry butt #13512, 580 + 50 btl. + 500 miniatures)

Nose: rich figs and dates, old rummy notes and raisins. Jammy fruits underneath, like raspberries and oranges. Plenty of polished oak. Just a hint of smoke and roast coffee beans. Sticky toffee pudding. Great old-style sherry. Mouth: sort of ‘cooked down’ whisky with a big bitter side mixed with dark fruits. Charred wood. Heavily infused herbal tea and Fernet Branca. Blackcurrants, walnut liqueur, liquorice and espresso. Heavy oak and molasses. Loads of character, but a little heavyweight perhaps. Finish: very long, with the dry sherry and herbal notes lasting long.

Very rich and deeply sherried Glenrothes in a full-bodied style. It has a good deal of wood influence though, including herbal and slightly bitter notes. Auction material.

Score: 91/100


M&H Classic

31 Mar 2020 | * World

Milk & Honey, based in Tel Aviv, is probably the best known Israeli distillery, at least here in Europe. We’ve seen some limited expressions in the past couple of years and now they’ve launched M&H Classic, the first commercial single malt bottling so to speak. Still limited availability but now on the shelves in Holland, France, UK, Germany, Austria and Poland. It has also been introduced in Belgium this month.

M&H Classic is a combination of 80% ex-bourbon casks and 18% STR casks (red wine casks that are shaved, toasted, re-charred), as well as tiny portion of virgin oak casks. It is very young, between 3 and 4 years of age.

 

 

Milk & Honey ClassicMilk & Honey Classic
(46%, OB 2019, 10.000 btl.)

Nose: punchy start, including a boozy note. Some rather floral top notes, mixed with honey and fruits (the usual peach / apple combo). New furniture scents with vanilla and nutmeg. A faint whiff of red wine in the background. It’s assertive (good) but also a bit unbalanced. Mouth: better. The fruity notes are brighter (oranges, apples) with more honey. Of course there’s still a big oaky / spicy theme (green pepper, nutmeg, clove). Bready notes. Still a raw grainy side. Finish: medium, quite grassy and spicy.

So yes, this is really okay for a first wide-scale expression, but it’s too young and lacks some integration to recommend it. I would argue colder climates have better results with STR casks? Big progress though, I’m sure they’ll find a better balance in due time.

Score: 77/100


The Whisky Jury has just released its second and third bottling. We’ll start with this Caol Ila 35 Years, distilled in 1983.

Premium expressions like this will have a black label and a wooden box.

 

 

Caol Ila 35 Years - The Whisky JuryCaol Ila 35 yo 1983 (50,3%, The Whisky Jury 2019, refill hogshead #75, 90 btl.)

Nose: understated elegance and great complexity. Mentholated notes, waxed paper, wool, gentle herbal liqueurs, library dust. Not much smoke, this is all about refinement. Old leather jackets, paraffin, limestone. An endless array of aromas, you can smell this for hours and still discover something new. Mouth: impeccable. Sweet, saline and acrid. Quite punchy as well, with iodine, olives, sardines and moderate oaky notes. Kippers, hints of grapefruit, oily notes and pepper. Fades on a wee vegetal touch, maybe green tea. Finish: long, mineral, on walnuts, kippers and herbal notes.

Caol Ila at this age and from this era are rarely a disappointment. So it was to be expected: this is excellent whisky. Refined but definitely not shy. Around € 330, which is a fair price. Available from a handful of retailers in Belgium, Holland and Asia.

Score: 91/100


Most sources claim Diageo stopped the Flora & Fauna series around 2007, but if this is true, then why are so many releases still readily available after all these years? Does anyone know more?

Anyway, Mannochmore can be hard to find. Started in 1972 and operated in parallel with Glenlosse until 2007. Mostly producing whisky for blends, the only official bottlings are a few Special Releases and this Mannochmore 12 Years in the Flora & Fauna series.

 

 

Mannochmore 12 Years - Flora & FaunaMannochmore 12 yo
(43%, OB ‘Flora & Fauna’)

Nose: very light and youngish. Plenty of floral notes (soapy but not quite). Green apples and pears, lemon sherbet, aniseed, fresh grass and green malty notes. Light peppery oak and some mineral, chalky touches. Aperitif whisky. Mouth: sweet fruits (apple, melon, orange peel) mixed with peppery, grassy punch and some flinty notes. Some grainy notes and tea. Ginger and clove. Always this chalky undertone. Finish: medium long, on lemon zest and oak spice.

A lightweight start but a slightly more exigent palate with chalky notes and oak spice. A decent example of this style and still affordable. Available from The Whisky Exchange or The Whisky Barrel for instance.

Score: 81/100


Jacob Van Artevelde on a whisky label, an anachronism, I’m quite sure he never tried the water of life.

This Ardmore 2008 was part of the latest batch from Asta Morris. Probably a sister cask of the one released in 2018.

 

 

Ardmore 2008 - Asta Morris AM094Ardmore 10 yo 2008 (54%, Asta Morris 2019, fresh bourbon cask, 272 btl.)

Nose: floral honey with tinned peaches, limes and a good dose of garden bonfires and wet fabric. Some charcoal dust and raw peated malt. Not very wide but nicely elegant in a way, with hints of tiger balm. Mouth: smoky and fruity. Sweet apples, lemon skins and smoked peaches. Firm oak, with ginger, slightly grassy and resinous notes and a rather medicinal peaty side. Aniseed too. Finish: medium long, on smoked grass, leafy notes, soot and a wee coffee note.

Good stuff, you know. Not the most complex peated whisky but the balance is spot-on. Still some bottles available, if I’m not mistaken. Around € 70.

Score: 86/100


Maltbarn sent me some samples of its recent bottlings. They were supposed to be presented at the Limburg Whisky Fair, but it will probably note take place as planned at the end of April. Officially they cannot cancel either because the government has not taken measures for the planned dates yet.

Anyway Maltbarn decided to release some of them early, including this Clynelish 1996 from an ex-bourbon cask.

 

 

Clynelish 1996 - MaltbarnClynelish 23 yo 1996 (48,7%, Maltbarn 2020, bourbon cask, 170 btl.)

Nose: isn’t Clynelish the Albariño of the whisky world? This one has quite some fruity notes (peaches, yellow plums, grapefruits) as well as firm coastal notes, chalk, grassy notes and crushed leaves. A whiff of menthol. Also raw wool and classic waxy notes. After some time also marshmallow notes and Haribo. Mouth: lemons, lime, gooseberries, hints of aromatic peach. Again the chalky notes, some fennel seeds and candle wax. But also marshmallows and lokum notes. Textbook Clynelish. Finish: long, still on fruity citrus and mineral notes, with very little oak.

A Clynelish with an excellent balance of minerality and rounder, candied notes. Rather perfect. Around € 230. By the way, is that you on the label, Martin?

Score: 90/100


Whisky distilleries

Follow WhiskyNotes

Whisky reviews coming up

  • Ben Nevis 1996 (The Whisky Jury)
  • Port Askaig 12 Year Old (2020)
  • Orkney Super Bottle 15 Years (Whiskay)
  • Dallas Dhu 1974 (Signatory Vintage)
  • Bushmills Black Bush
  • Ben Nevis 1996 (Single Malts of Scotland)

My article about sherry casks

3243 notes by Ruben

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