The Whisky Fair 2019 is well behind us, but I had a chance to try some of the festival bottlings, which are usually quite excellent.
Let’s start with a Cragganmore 1989, Glen Keith 1995 and a Highland Park 2003, all from bourbon casks.
Cragganmore 27 yo 1989 (49%, The Whisky Fair 2018, bourbon hogshead, 177 btl.)
Nose: pastry sweetness mixed with great polished oak and light beeswax. Tarte tatin, hints of honey and dandelions. Autumn leaves, then back to buttery cake with oranges. Nicely aromatic and rather old style, I would say.
Mouth: quite juicy and citrusy now, with orange and grapefruit, stil a bit of cake and biscuits. Apricots. Green pepper and subtle mint. Gentle oak spice.
Finish: medium long, drier but it keeps the juicy fruits as well.
A mature and multi-faceted Cragganmore, with a great juicy side. Very good, a nice start of this session. Not cheap, still available for around € 250 from eSpirits.
Glen Keith 23 yo 1995 (52,1%, The Whisky Fair 2019, bourbon hogshead)
Nose: the typical green fruitiness, with Granny Smith, rhubarb and lemons. This one also has a cidery / sour dough side and lime tree blossoms. Newly mown lawn. A little wet chalk.
Mouth: plenty of apple (peelings) and grassy notes again. Liquorice wood, plum spirit and kiwi. Fairly high acidity and an eau-de-vie kind of fruitiness. Lemon peel. Fizzy lemonade. Subtle bitterness as well.
Finish: medium, with zesty citrus, leafy notes and a pinch of white pepper.
Very chiselled, with a firm zesty grassiness. Therefore a little less to my liking. Still available for around € 140 from eSpirits.
Highland Park 15 yo 2003 (52,6%, The Whisky Fair 2019, bourbon hogshead)
Nose: hints of wet canvas, rocks and chalk. Great lamony notes, grapefruit peels and green apples. Waxy notes. Chlorophyll. Engine oils. Quite immaculate, with a beautiful coastal austerity and a balancing rounder side. Classic stuff.
Mouth: quite a bit sweeter than expected, but with the same coastal intensity. Chalk, herbal notes, sunflower oil and paraffin, as well as bready notes and malt. Sweet lemons, hints of mead. Rich, pristine distillate and no silly tricks.
Finish: long and waxy, with light medicinal notes, mineral oils and some salted lemons.
Naked spirit but boy, this is good. Lots of reliable indie releases from this distillery lately. Nicely textured, aromatic and coastal. Close to much older Clynelish, in a way. Still available for around € 125 from eSpirits.