About this blog:

This blog will feature tasting notes, reviews, distillery visits and whisky news with focus mainly on Scottish single malts. This will sometimes be accompanied by politically incorrect (whisky) opinions. You have now been warned! :-)
The views expressed here are entirely my own, unless otherwise stated.

Friday, 28 September 2012

CAOL ILA 1982 - ARCHIVES BATCH 4

Like Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila Distillery on Islay has views to the Sound of Islay and Jura.
Unlike Bunnahabhain, the still house at Caol Ila has huge windows facing the Sound and the impressive Paps of Jura.

We've seen loads of Caol Ila's recently in the age category around 30 years - and almost all have been good - and some even better, so lets see how this one is...

This Caol Ila review also concludes the series of Archives batch#4 - I hope you've enjoyed it!

Caol Ila 1982 (2012) 30yo 51,2%, ex-bourbon hogshead#758, 207 bottles, Archives

Golden straw in colour

Nose:
Very multi-layered! In no particular order: oak, lightly scented soap, drain cleaner (yes, I know!! weird, huh?) citrus and salted almonds, tarry ropes, wet sand and toasted oak, almost no peat and an almost Bowmore-ish flowery note to it...

Taste:
Sweet boiled fruits, then spicy oak and camp fire style smoky layer fading on honey, citrus, tar and ash. Nuts and oils in here too...Then a coastal note I can only identify as being on the pier as a kid, fishing...  the long finish sends signals to me of white rum maybe?

This certainly is a great Caol Ila! One that evokes memories long forgotten...

90/100!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

eBAY TO BAN ALCHOHOL SALE ON THEIR AUCTION SITE

Its with the risk of getting flamed by US readers, I'm putting up this post...although some may be very keen on upholding the 21yo drinking rules...? (No, wait - I don't have any US readers not into spirits here)

 
It seems like the Puritans of America and press is lashing out at the alcohol business once again.
This time with the story how an American teenager easily can buy alcohol through the eBay auction site.

And this is all so bad... why? I really don't get it!
Let the kids get drunk - at least they wont do drugs then when they get their high from the booze. Or does the US just need to revise their legislation on alcohol? I mean, here in Denmark if kids want to drink, they'll drink... they will always find a way to get their hands on alcohol.

Anyway, its a pretty controversial decision for purchasers getting their stuff on eBay IMO... I wonder if this will only apply the eBay US or if other countries eBay sites will be affected as well

You can read more about the whole 'scandal' here and here.

GLEN ORD 1997 - ARCHIVES BATCH 4

Glen Ord, along with Teaninich and Clynelish are the 3 Diageo representatives for the North Highland region north of Inverness. Clynelish is by far, IMO atleast, the best of the 3 distilleries.

Teaninich goes mainly into blends though some get bottled by the independent bottlers.
Glen Ord also have some of its whisky sold off to the independents, but also not in great quantities. Most I've seen have been bottled by Signatory, Cadenhead and SMWS.

Distillery bottling Glen Ord has previously also been sold as 'The Singleton' which was sold mainly in the US, but also some was released onto the UK market.
Best Glen Ords I've tried have been the 28yo and 30yo Distillery bottlings, which carried a beautiful style all the way through.

Here's one from 'Archives'

Glen Ord 1997 15yo xx.04.1997/xx.04.2012, Hogshead#800083, 54,2%, 64 bottles, Archives

Colour is white whine

Nose:
Fresh and spirity, light grassy and lemon citrussy, barley sugars and washing up liquid.
Also getting some sweetness that could suggest a very well used sherry hogshead, maybe a 3rd fill?

Taste:
Perfumy, then raw spirit with grape fruits and a dusty coal-like feeling.
Water brings out some pear and soft malt notes, it then turns into fruit schnaps.

Strange creature, this one, but still an ok dram.

83/100!

Monday, 24 September 2012

ARDMORE 1992 - ARCHIVES BATCH 4

Ardmore is one of those distilleries that still lives in relative anonymity in the East Highlands, some 15miles south of Huntly. Still very much a traditional Highland Distillery, they insist on peating all of their malt to retain the old highland style.

Its more of an aromatic style of peat used at Ardmore and this also show in their whisky, which is far from as pungent as e.g. Islay whiskies.

Its been a while since I've had an Ardmore, so looking forward to this one...

Ardmore 1992 20yo xx.06.1992/xx.06.2012, ex-bourbon barrel#4764, 48,6%, 90 bottles, Archives

Straw coloured

Nose:
This is just one of those noses... Incredibly complex, warm vanilla and pear/apple crumble, rosehip for sure too along with a layer of smoke and a beautiful measure of oak.

Taste:
Spices first, then a dash of smoke giving away to fruit and honey - melon even?
The finish supply a sooty chimney smoke feeling, then getting very citrussy + peaches and pineapple too. Tannins follows this delicious dram to the end...

This is great stuff!

89/100!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

NORTH BRITISH 1962 - ARCHIVES BATCH 4

Now, as I've mentioned before, I'm not that much into grain whiskies - I simply find them too sweet. After exploring my options a bit I then found, that North British carries a style that is still sweet, of course - but also a bit more on the spicy side, which for me, certainly does things to the otherwise sometime cloying sweetness that some grain whiskies have.

Its all a matter of personal taste, of course - I know people that lap up grain whiskies fast, but not here... usually 1 dram - and I'm good for the night!

Here's a cask of North British from 'The Beatles'-years...

North British 1962 50yo 31.05.1962/24.07.2012, Hogshead#29, 45,2%, 168 bottles, Archives

Light amber in colour

Nose:
Not getting the fruity impact here as you often do with these old grain whiskies. To get some you really need to take a deep whiff of this. Instead, I get a dusty felling and an (olive?) oily feeling on the nose. Aslo getting a guacamole/avocado greenish note and some licorice and tobacco leaves.

Taste:
Not as spicy (oaky) as expected for having spent ½ a century in a cask.
Very smooth, in fact... Now getting some of the tropical fruits I expected on the nose to begin with, especially the all-present (in grain whisky) coconut note - also getting banana and tinned pineapple. On the finish, spices show themselves along with some mint.


This North British remains a little dusty with traces of dunnage and old furniture... and definately not an overly sweet one - I like it!

88/100! ...and I'm not that keen on grains - so pretty good IMO!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

GLEN SCOTIA 1992 - ARCHIVES BATCH 4

Malts from the Glen Scotia Distillery have long had a reputation for being 'not the best out of Campbeltown', though apparently a few good ones have appeared from the SMWS lately. GS often had a reputation for being metallic on the palate and generally not very pleasant, but maybe I'm certainly up for a try on this one...

Rumours says this one is good, so I'm diving right in...

Glen Scotia 1992 20yo xx.02.1992/xx.05.2012, hogshead#08/71, 50,4%, 80 bottles, Archives

Light gold in colour

Nose:
Salty licorice, slightly medicinal, cough syrup style and crushed mint leaves and cinnamon sprinkled apples + a vague metallic and peaty note. Also a little freshly grounded black pepper.

Taste:
Spicy arrival, then a malt avalanche sets in only to be replaced by some sea freshness/briny notes mid palate. Also finding roasted nuts, herbs and oil in here as well. Also maybe a hint of rum in here? Finishes off with more sweet barley and a little peat.

Best G'Scotia I've come across... 85/100!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

BUNNAHABHAIN 1990 - ARCHIVES BATCH 4

This hidden gem of an Islay distillery has for a long time been a favorite of mine...

And not only is the whisky good, its location looking out over the Sound of Islay towards Jura makes for an absolutely stunning location. Add in visiting the place on a sunny summers day and you'll feel yourself swept away to a place far more tropical in nature as the blue and green waters around the bay caresses your eyes and mind.

Enough romanticising :-)

How's this particular 'Bunna'?

Bunnahabhain 1990 21yo xx.12.1990/xx.03.2012, fresh sherry cask#14, 52,3%, 62 bottles, Archives

Mahogany in colour

Nose:
Spicy European sherry oak for sure. Pretty clean too...
Fairly light in style with raisins, menthol, coffee, a little furniture polish and dusty earthen floors.

Taste:
Burnt sugar, leather, more spicy oak, prune juice, dry and bit of dark chocolate, nuts? Caledonia tobacco blend.... A little 'dirty' feel to the sherry now, compared to the nose. Some sulphury style notes appear on the finish, but its maybe really more of a salty/meaty and not sulphur as such. It certainly adds am extra heavy dimension to the finish on this one...

Another good Bunna, fur sure!     87/100!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

UPDATE TO THE MALT DESK - LINKS TO OTHER BLOGS AND WEBSITES


Finally got around to doing a links section on the blog. This resulted in 2 new sections, actually... One that does other blogs with a feed that posts their recent activity. Its placed at the bottom of the right column.



The other one is a list of links without active feeds and can be found at the bottom of the left column. There's links to both established bloggers and websites and also room for a couple of more recent ones - just like myself... :-)

Please visit these websites too...

Thank you!

Monday, 17 September 2012

MACDUFF 2000 - ARCHIVES BATCH 4

The Dutch boys from Whiskybase.com have been at it again by picking out some whiskies for us - and again they've come up with some good ones. This time too, they bottled stuff from all over Scotland and certainly, this time, around in a huge age-span - from 11yo to 50yo!

Lets start with the first one and see how it fares...

Macduff 2000 11yo xx.11.2000/xx05.2012, refill sherry cask#5803, 48,2%, 90 bottles, Archives

Full straw in colour

Nose:
Some initial sweetness with a hint of yeast to begin with. Then some melon, honey and pineapple. Also in here are a little mint and wet lawn, as in grass and dirt and also maybe a little hint of farmyard.

Taste:
Light and delicious arrival. Then it gives away to some more heavy notes of malt and coating oils that carries a spicy sweetness with them. Also more fruit comes into play here. Finishes off with a bit of bitter oak, but is saved again by fruits, before fading out.

I find it maybe a bit straight forward (and certainly nothing wrong with that!)
A very enjoyable malt, still...

85/100!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

PRE-LAUNCH OF THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY IN DENMARK


 
Thursday September 6th, saw the pre-launch of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Denmark.

The Society has been brought to Denmark by Terje Thesbjerg, co-owner and CEO of Select Hotels/Best Western 'Torvehallerne' in the city of Vejle, Denmark.

Vejle is centrally located for most people in Denmark as its close to the bridge connecting the island of Fionia and Zealand further on. Going north you find Aarhus, Denmark's 2nd largest city with a substantial number of whisky enthusiasts, to whom I'm sure the branch in Vejle will be a great addition. Only drawback is for the people up north (200km+) e.g. like me. Still, I ventured to this event in high hopes to see what face SMWS will have to show for themselves in Denmark.


The SMWS Bar in Vejle, Denmark


The venue as such is very much in touch with the Scandinavian style, as one might expect being in Denmark, though a few leather couches also have snug their way in.

John McCheyne, Ambassador for the SMWS, opened the evening with a short speech in Danish.
A pretty good effort for such a short rehearsal time.

After that John explained a bit about the Society in general and their goals and history.



John McCheyne from SMWS
The Dining area

























Next up, Terje Thesbjerg & Co. served a 4 course meal accompanied by whisky, wine and beer.

We had:
  • 64.33 'Antics of a Prankster' (Mannochmore)
  • 26.87 'Passion-fruit scented candles' (Clynelish)
  • 4.168 'Gunpowder, treason and plot' (Highland Park)
  • 66.34 'Hornby Double 0' (Ardmore)
  • 30.71 'Burnt Crumpet and Highland toffee' (Glenrothes)
These were enjoyed in the good company of John McCheyne, Chris+1, and a couple of Danish 'whisky regulars' at the table (you know, who you are).

Half way through the evening, we were also entertained by the pretty unique combination of a piper and stand up comedian Claus Reiss - a funny guy indeed - even the attending Scots had never seen that combination - read more about him here.

All very good drams this evening - and if SMWS DK keeps itself up to date and gets all the newest releases every time they show up it has a very good base setup for pleasing the otherwise spoiled Danish punters :-)

Finally, you can visit the Danish SMWS website here

Hint, Hint ;-)) Maybe that big shiny 'Carlsberg' sign in the bar should come down and be replaced with something more Scottish?

Best of luck to SMWS Denmark and thanks to Terje Thesbjerg for the invite to this event!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

SPRINGBANK 17YO PORT CASK - ARDSHIEL HOTEL & RESTAURANT EXCLUSIVE

Here is one of those bottles you probably only see and try once - ever....

Why? since its a one off - yes, a one off... a hand bottled duty paid sample from a single cask exclusively for the Ardshiel Hotel mentioned in the Glendronach post from Saturday 8th September.

Springbank August 2012 © The Malt Desk

When I spotted this one in bar, I just knew I had to try it.
Amazing colour on it and its my experience that Springbank goes well with port maturation... and even though it was £11 a nip, I treated myself to it, as a dessert :-)

Springbank 17yo, bottled 2012, 54,2%, (full maturation in) Fresh port cask, Hand bottled, Duty paid sample for Ardshiel Hotel & Restaurant

Colour: Dark brown/red - just like an old tawny port

Springbank 17yo for Ardshiel Hotel © The Malt Desk
Nose:
Amazing how the first thing that hits you is the Springbank character - salt, some peat, heavy oils and pepper. Then the wine hits with an avalanche of crushed red grapes, blackcurrant and even hits of strawberry - and finally going back to a slightly maritime theme on tar, salt and peat. I find this very multi-layered...

Taste:
Heavy arrival on mainly fruit and what I'll just refer to as 'Springbank' incl. a surprising amount of peat - again very surprising how much original character there's left in this one. After a short while more delicate notes appear - dried fruits, as in your muesli, blackcurrant, some licorice, then huge on wet tobacco and a drying wood, dried red grapes and peat on the finish.

This is a lovely dram - but you'll have to like port finishes to really like this one.

Anyway, I'll bring it up to a solid 90/100!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

BENROMACH 1976 - CADENHEAD

This next dram in this small 3-parter, is from the smallest distillery in Speyside - Benromach Distillery in the town of Forres.

Benromach was closed during the early 80's along with many other distilleries and was silent for 15 years before independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail took started distilling there again in 1998.

Today, G&M runs a very successful operation at the site and it is, IMO, a small distillery certainly worth visiting if you're in the area.


Its an older Cadenhead bottling of Benromach, all the way back to when Cadenhead brought out their bottlings in clear green glass. Back in the day, they filled their casks at a much higher abv% than they do today - which also shows in this bottling here... 61,5% after 20 years in the cask - impressive!

Benromach 1976/1997 (12.76/04.97) 61,5% from an oak cask, Cadenheads Authentic Collection

Colour: White wine

Nose:
Green soft (soda) drink (DK Specialty?), cut grass, caramel, hay and a bite of alcohol. Also Froggy washing up liquid and vanillas.

Taste:
Honey, drying then sweet oak, dark musty cellar, cremé on a warm dessert, burnt sugar (cremé brulee style), with water more cask notes comes out to give it a bitter sweet finish.

A lovely Benromach, indeed!

88/100!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

GLENDRONACH 1990 - CADENHEAD AUTHENTIC COLLECTION

Over the next few days, I'll review 2 older bottlings and 1 very exclusive bottling tried during my recent trip to Scotland. All drams were had in the very well stocked bar at the Ardshiel Hotel in Campbeltown. I can certainly recommend you going there if you're in Campbeltown!


© Ardshiel Hotel


I'm pretty much staying locally in Campbeltown during these 3 reviews as I will be doing 2 from Cadenheads and 1 exclusive Springbank.

First up...

Glendronach is often classified as a Speyside distillery, though it is located a bit further east, near and south of the town of Huntly and therefore (often, atleast) classified as a Highland distillery. Glendronach has been mothballed for number of years before being taken over by first Pernod Ricard and later the Benriach Distillery Company and are now producing since 2001.

Glendronach has always been known for its heavily sherried bottlings but this time a bourbon cask has escaped this Aberdeenshire distillery - lets try it...

Glendronach 1990 13yo 55,4%, bottled July 2003, 222 bottles from an ex-bourbon barrel, Cadenhead Authentic Collection

Straw coloured

Nose:
Vanilla and apple at first nosing, then the wood section at the home improvement market. Also some hay and lemony notes.

Taste:
Spicy oak, vanilla again, oily. Then malted barley sweetness and boiled white fruits - a nice dram...


86/100!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

JAPANESE WHISKY SPECIAL - KAWASAKI 1981 - NO. ONE DRINKS COMPANY

Located in the town by the same name, Kawazaki grain distillery closed in 1986.
Not much information is available on this distillery other than its still was a traditional coffey-still and about 90% of the production was grain with 10% malted barley in the mix.

This is also the last Japanese whisky in Japan special...

Kawasaki 1981 28yo, 62,4%, ex-bourbon cask - 120 bottles total, No. One Drinks Company for Part Des Anges (closed)

Colour: Full gold

Nose:
Light and very fresh for an old grain. Very sweet with vanilla, huge on tropical fruits and coconut and maybe some pineapple as well - all in beautiful measures... Do I detect some coriander in there?

Taste:
Cinnamon for sure, Xmas bakings, then coconut and tropical fruits. Gets a lot more spicier with water...

Not seriously complex on the palate, but still very enjoyable and not overly sweet which I like in a grain whisky.

88/100!

Monday, 3 September 2012

JAPANESE WHISKY SPECIAL - KARUIZAWA 1981 - NO. ONE DRINKS COMPANY

Fabled japanese distillery Karuizawa is fast reaching the same cult status as Scottish counterparts Brora and Port Ellen.

Located in the Japanese Alps, the closed Karuizawa distillery -originally a vineyard- started distilling in 1956, though the first single malt was not released until 1987. It used purely Golden Promise malt for its production, like Macallan previously did. Karuizawa even had it malt delivered from Simpson Maltings in Berwick, UK - talk about a trip around world for that barley!

Well, is Karuizawa any good? Rumors say so...

Karuizawa 1981 57,5%, 1st fill sherry cask#6256, 573 bottles, Number One Drinks Company (closed)

Colour: Light mahogany

Nose:
Damp tropical forest, woods all sorts, clean spicy sherry coating, hints of milk chocolate, mint and herbal liqueur dressed in pepper, hints of mustard and wood shavings.

Taste:
Heavy on the alcohol, Medium sweet sherry and hints of peat... then dried fruits and a malty sweetness. Some wood polish and a veggie note, Hint of orange blossom and chocolate. The aftertaste is goes on with wet spicy oak and a thin layer of peat.

Very, very nice too...

90/100!