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.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

SPRINGBANK 1970 37YO OLOROSO CASK - SIGNATORY

Have you ever walked into your local wine dealer and been eyeing that bottle for a while - but you wouldn't spend the money on it, 'cause it's just too bl**dy expensive?

But recently I did buy it when I was shopping for bottles for a tasting in the local club, so that's another way of getting to try that bottle you've had your eyes on for what seems too long. Bottled in 2007, it still carried a hefty price tag, though it might have been increased a couple of times - I'm honestly not sure... It had been carrying the recent tag for quite some time, so I'm not sure if the price has been bumped up a couple of times.

You may think that this headed in the direction of another rant on whisky pricing, but instead I'll urge you to visit those small out of the way whisky shops either when you travel or just visit another town/city close to you... the prices may have gone up, but I know -also from a couple of friends- its still possible to find some older bottlings on the shelves at, maybe not entirely fair prices, but still within range for a few of you to maybe share a bottle or buy it as a club as I did with this particular one.

As you might have figured out by now from reading the headline I'll be reviewing some old Springbank and that alone have brought my expectations up a bit. It's also very sherried, so there's also a chance of it being all winey and/or even s*lph*r tainted... Let's hope not!

Stencil room @ Springbank May 10th 2011 © The Malt Desk


Springbank 1970 37yo (16.06.1970/28.06.2007) 53,9% sherry butt#1621, 370 bottles, Signatory Vintage Decanter Series

Colour is mahogany

Nose:
Old cellar, Drambuie and rum-like, peppery notes tickles your nose, hint of varnish that goes away with time, figs, I'm thinking strawberries dipped in chocolate or like sticking you nose into a box of liqueur filled chocolates.

Taste:
Old heavy sherry style, leather and a slightly burnt edge, tobacco shop, kirsch and oranges, raisins, soy sauce, sun dried tomatoes, very sherried but a distinct 'Springer' as its Campbeltown backbone is still noticeable, but only just...

A lovely dram, but on the edge and bottled in the nick of time, I think!

90/100!

Monday, 27 May 2013

GLEN MORAY 2001 35.86 'SUMPTUOUS BREAKFAST DRAM' - THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY

Our wee group that travelled to the Spirit of Speyside Festival had talked about us visiting Glen Moray for the Manager's Tour on Saturday, but we couldn't quite squeeze it it, so we decided to give it a pass this time - though the tour is supposed to be very good :-/ Anyway, we had to fit in an event closer to our previous one at Glenfarclas... But its a tour on my 'to-do'-list for a future festival...

Meanwhile, I'll review another Glen Moray I came across from the SMWS

Glen Moray 2001 (17.05.2001) 11yo 'Sumptuous Breakfast dram' 59,3%, 1st fill sherry butt, 629 bottles, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Colour is amber

Nose:
Spirity, hot, baked note, cinnamon buns, nutty and resinous, with a few drops of water some coffee and chocolate notes appear along with some mint

Taste:
Bitter nuttiness on arrival, then spices and a streak of sulphur/rubbery note. Still hot and spirity on the palate, sadly... Curry and oranges and burnt baking too.

Nice notes, really but it does not add quite make up for the hot spirit and sulphur/rubber notes
Still, could have been worse...

80/100!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

THE MALT DESK TURNS 1 YEAR + GLENFARCLAS 1973 FAMILY CASK - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Time flies... 1 years ago today, Saturday 25th May 2012 saw me starting The Malt Desk - why, you might ask, when there are so many other whisky blogs out there? and the answer is... I needed to... both on a personal level (which I won't bore you with) and because I had now been involved with whisky for so long that I just felt I needed something more substantial to put my thoughts and reviews etc. - oh, and I was also encouraged by a few people in the local whisky club to start something up... so with that, I already had the first readers... but still this is mainly for my own enjoyment.


Now, 1 year later I find myself still going at it, though some days the posts are shorter than others - but the reasons for that are many, so don't despair - that's just how it is... :-)

I also find myself get recognized at whisky event and people coming up to say hi, which is more than I expected but it's very nice - it's always good to meet other whisky fans in person.

What's next? well, honestly I don't at the moment - I'll go on as usual for the time being, but are thinking about turning down on the frequenzy of posts just a bit...

I'm very happy with the feedback I've gotten so far and with that go with the old saying 'why fix it when it's not broken' - atleast for now... Though I'm hoping maybe in the future to get another angle on things than to what I'm doing now.

Thanks for reading!
Claus, TMD

I'll celebrate this first anniversay with a review of a stonker of a malt tasted at the Spirit of Speyside Festival earlier this May. Saturday May 4th we ventured to Glenfarclas for their 'Anniversaries tasting' which featured a cask sample from 2003 and then Family cask expressions from 1993, 1983, 1973, 1963 and finally 1953.

Generous pours were given after the regular tasting and I managed to secure a sample of the 1973 for later tasting and reviewing as it stood out from the others on the day.

The lineup of Family Cask expressions for tasting @ Glenfarclas - May 4th 2013 © The Malt Desk

Glenfarclas 1973 38yo (19.03.1973/13.10.2011) Family Cask#2598 Rel. VIII, 56,5%, Distillery bottling

Colour is dark mahogany

Nose:
Glenfarclas nose as I've found in some of the old Speyside's Finest OMC bottlings as well, thick malt, spicy sherry coating, oranges, hint of apricot, baked apple peaks through the sherry, milk chocolate and prune juice, burnt sugar creme brulee style

Taste:
Relatively fresh on arrival, despite its age, clean cut old sherry style, a bit drying... Sugar coated apples and pickled in old sherry from your Granny's cupboard, Atamon even... syrupy and honey in there too....

Swims very well despite it being both old and heavily sherry, but this wonderful whisky should not take more that 3-5 drops (litteraly!) of water!

A stellar old Glenfarclas!

92/100!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

MACALLAN 1988 24.124 'CLOSE TO THE EDGE OF EXTREME' - THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY

Had a small wander around the grounds at Macallan during the Spirit of Speyside Festival.
This was Sunday 5th May... but the Distillery Visitor's Centre was closed?? Why is a place like The Macallan not open during a whisky festival, I had to ask myself?? It sure seemed odd to me?!?!

Anyway, looking down on the Spey from the grounds next to Easter Elchies house is really something on a day sunny day and you can't help agreeing with the location of the iconic house featured on the Macallan label. A beautiful spot, indeed...

Easter Elchies House and garden @ Macallan - May 5th 2013 © The Malt Desk
This time I'll be tasting something that immediately lead my thoughts back to the 10yo cask strength version from a few years back, though this expression is twice as old... and what The Macallan should really be like, IMO...

Please also visit the blog again in the second half of June - I'll have more on The Macallan then...

Now, on to the review...

Macallan 1988 24.124 (22.12.1988) 23yo 'Close to the edge of extreme' 50,8%, refill ex-sherry butt, 403 bottles, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Colour is mahogany

Nose:
Varnish, clean but also slightly floral sherry than initially smells more fino than oloroso, very herbal too, strong tea, strawberry, Tia Maria liqueur and a slight dairy note

Taste:
Very creamy arrival, heavy on the sherry - oloroso this time, nuts, molasses, malt, black olives, tobacco, drying and a hint of yeast and burnt caramel on the finish.

A delicious Macallan, this one...just short of making 91p, so...

90/100!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

BUNNAHABHAIN 16YO - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

It's been almost 5 months since I reviewed a Bunnahabhain and I've always wanted to have a taste of the one, I'll be reviewing below...

But first, I just have to praise the location of the distillery - its possibly one if the prettiest of distillery locations on Islay, if not the prettiest, IMHO...

On a good day the view to the Paps of Jura are spectacular and the whole place just radiates tranquillity. But then you say 'Caol Ila has a great view of the Paps of Jura as well...' yes, they do but again you don't get the same peace and quiet at Caol Ila as you do at Bunnahabhain.

The distillery itself is no beauty. I had a friend (can't remember who, at this moment - sorry!) describe the buildings as looking like an old prison camp and also slapped the label of 'Shawshank Distillery'  - the only thing looking nice is the front row of buildings nearest to the water... but go there on a nice day and sit on the pier and just relax and enjoy the view - its breathtaking!

Before the review I thought I'd push in a little announcement about the Burn Stewart Distillers group which Bunnahabhain is a part of, along with Tobermory (Isle of Mull) and Deanston Distillery. A short while ago it was announced that South African Drinks Company 'Distell' has bought Burn Stewart as a move into the whisky market. These will then be the 4-6th (to my knowledge, at least) distilleries to my knowledge that gets a part or full South African ownership... The others being Benriach, Glendronach and Glenglassaugh - now a part of The Benriach Distillery Company, which is partly South African and Scottish owned.

Bunnahabhain from the pier - May 6th 2011 © The Malt Desk

Bunnahabhain 16yo (bottled 2008) 53,2%, Manzanilla sherry wood finish, 3792 bottles, Distillery Bottling

Colour is amber

Nose:
Dry sweet wine, very fitting with being from a Manzanilla cask, yeasty too, toffee, fresh ciabatta bread, dried green grapes, nutty, more than a hint of sulphur but this is adding some edge to it rather than being offensive. Also the damp warehouse feel in the background here...

Taste:
Heavy on the oranges and nuts along with a good malt backbone, overripe banana, burnt sugar, nutmeg and dried fruits. Water takes some of the very vinous edge off and balances things out and makes this a very nice dessert dram!

Thanks to Kalle for the sample!

86/100!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

CLYNELISH 1991 13YO - SIGNATORY

I'll follow up the Brora review from a couple of days ago with a review from across the road, literally! from the new Clynelish distillery. I'll keep the whole thing short and sweet today...

Clynelish 1991 13yo (23.11.1991/11.05.2005) 46%, Hogshead#12723, 373 bottles, Signatory Un-Chillfiltered Collection

Colour is pale white wine

Nose:
Pear, hint of tequila, ash, bit of yeast, some raw fruity spirit, slight honey too, grassy and a hint of metal shavings, white chocolate and diesel. Sometimes this reminds me very much of an Irish Whiskey on the nose

Taste:
Gentle arrival on white fruits, peppery, salty citrus and a bit of wet newspaper/cardboard. Again grassy, old cellar feel and again a slightly metallic note, mainly dominant on the finish.

Decent drinking whisky, this one... especially with 5 drops of water that takes out the metallic notes in it... Again thanks to Kalle for the sample

83/100!

Friday, 17 May 2013

BRORA 1981 23YO - SIGNATORY

I just loved to wander around the grounds of the old Brora Distillery. I know it has a lot to do with its status as one of the cult malts, but using my imagination I could almost see the place running as I was having a stroll around the place. Last time I stopped by was in 2009 and I would sure love to go back and see what state the place is in now...

Looking at the picture below you could tell back then Diageo's not doing anything to the place. Sad, really but hey! I'm a whisky romantic! the black doors, btw, just visible to the right in the picture leads into the old stillhouse - where the 2 stills were still present in 2009. I've had other report saying they're still there today...

Anyway, enough romanticism - I'll get on with my Brora review!

Brora Distillery yard, August 4th 2009 © The Malt Desk
Brora 1981 23yo (08.12.1981/08.06.2005) 46%, refill butt#05/372, 314 bottles, Signatory Un-chillfiltered Collection

Colour is straw

Nose:
Flinty, minerals, fruits, oily, mold and yeasty - fresh dough and half baked bread?. Also very floral along of fresh laundry smell

Taste:
Light arrival, then a lovely fruit burst along with barley sugars. The palate then drops after that only to return with a very flora attack, jasmine maybe? a bit soapy even? Also a hint of pistachio nuts in there... Finishes on fruit, honey and a wood/tobacco note.

This dram actually took me some time to get acquainted with. But once I did I enjoyed it, even though its not the best Brora I've had... and finally Thanks to Kalle for the sample!

85/100!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

GLENDRONACH 1992 16YO - DK EXCLUSIVE - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Back in 2005, Glendronach distillery stopped coal firing its stills directly and replaced it with steam firing instead. This change has -at atleast one other distillery- proven itself to change the character of the spirit so much that when a certain iconic Speyside distillery at the foot of Benrinnes did it and afterwards tasted and had their spirit analysed, they quickly reverted back to direct firing as the spirit produced with steam was not the same style as they used to produce...

One can only hope that this doesn't affect Glendronach in the same way - but then again... why shouldn't it? With direct firing you often get an uneven heat distribution, you may also get one still running hotter than the other and maybe having a caramelising taking place inside the still - there's just so many more factors to take into account when old fashion production methods are used... One can only wonder if this has something to do with us praising older bottlings for their often more saturated tastes - that and excellent quality casks from yesteryear too...

My guess is that we'll just have to wait a few more years to see the result at Glendronach and meanwhile, I'll keep my fingers crossed that the change from coal to steam firing has affected the distillery style too much...

The old fireboxes at Glendronach © The Malt Desk August 25th 2012
I'm gonna end this row of Glendronach reviews with another country exclusive bottling - this time a bottling done for Denmark back in 2009

Glendronach 1992 16yo (27.11.1992/xx.07.2009) 57,3%, Oloroso sherry cask#1135, 648 bottles, Distillery bottling, Denmark Exclusive

Colour is Mahogany

Nose:
Spices, sour cream & onion crisps, curry, herbal tea, damp earthen floors.

Taste:
Herbal again, more spices, raisins, dried fruit, roasted and sugared nuts, honey, good malt influence too and mulled wine

88/100!

Monday, 13 May 2013

GLENDRONACH 1993 - 19YO UK EXCLUSIVE - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

In August 2012, Glendronach started to replace their washbacks. The first 2 on the right had just been replaced when I visited on August 25th - they were just only being filled with water to test for leakages and to expand the wood into shape.

Honestly, I think many people forget the work that goes into making washbacks and the craftsmanship and work done by the coopers... without these guys you wouldn't have traditional wooden washbacks, let alone casks for maturation.

Glendronach takes great pride sherry cask maturation but that doesn't mean they don't mature whisky in i.e. ex-bourbon casks, which I also mentioned in the previous review. Actually Glendronach matures pretty well too in ex-bourbon casks! so well, that I'd take a bottle of the stuff we tried at the distillery any time! Also, what they do at Glendronach is mature some of their whisky in bourbon casks for 8 years and then transfer it to sherry casks for the remainder of its maturation - usually 8 or more years again... The results I've tried in the warehouse on last years Spirit of Speyside Festival tour were very, very nice :-)

That said, I'll review another sherry cask bottling for you, one that has been very well received among my whisky friends...

Glendronach Tun Room © The Malt Desk May 3rd 2013

Glendronach 1993 19yo (15.01.1993/xx.10.2012), 57,1%, Pedro Ximenez Cask#26, 614 bottles, Distillery Bottling, UK Exclusive


Colour is Mahogany

Nose:
Flowery, vanillas, spicy, creamy cocoa, shoe polish, leather

Taste:
Honey, spices again as in nutmeg and cinnamon, lovely balance on oak vs, malt and sherry. Finishes on a bitter drying sherry - not too much - herbs and orange peel.

This is truly a great dram packing a little more punch than the PX cask#3183

91/100!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

GLENDRONACH 1992 19YO - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Hello Folks, I'm back... :-)

Having spent the past week in Scotland -mainly at the Spirit of Speyside Festival- its now time to resume the writing here after having soaked up the atmosphere and clean Highland air.

Friday, May 3rd saw our merry group of 6 whisky raiding vikings first off to the Whiskies of Scotland shop in Huntly and after a short stop there off to Glendronach Distillery.

Once at the distillery we were -as always- greeted warmly by Karen Mcwilliam and Sandra (sorry, don't know your last name, Sandra). First, we had a wander around the distillery as usual when we get there... this time, though I spent most of my time taking pictures and watching the expressions on my friends faces as it was their first distillery and warehouse visit - smiles were big, I tell you... big smiles! :-)

After having a 10yo 1st fill bourbon cask at 53% in the warehouse, Karen popped the bung on another cask, a fabulous 20yo sherry cask though I've forgotten the abv on that one...

Back inside the visitor's centre, Karen had lined up a delicious range of Glendronachs for us...
  • 10yo 1st fill bourbon cask sample at 53% - same as in the warehouse, but now at room temperature - just delicious, (I want one, Karen!)
  • 15yo Tawny Port 46%
  • 18yo Allardice 46%
  • Cask Strength batch 1 54,8%
  • 18yo cask#1607 Distillery Exclusive 56,1%
  • 1972/2012 40yo
  • Manager's Cask (BYO) cask#1616 59,2%
  • Peated 3yo
Already looking forward to my next visit :-)

I'm gonna finish this post where I left off before leaving for Scotland, which was -very appropriately- in the middle of a streak of Glendronachs...

Kool hand Karen @ Glendronach © The Malt Desk May 3rd 2013

Glendronach 1992 19yo (27.11.1992/xx.10.2012), 57,8%, Oloroso cask#1123, batch 7, 524 bottles, Distillery bottling

Colour is dark mahogany

Nose:
You can tell this will dry your mouth - even the nose is drying!
Triple espresso and dark chocolate 85% cocoa (powder), some vague sulphur notes that goes away after a short while, leather, getting almost balsamic and maybe black tea as well.

Taste:
Ultra dry, alright... Crushed coffee and cocoa beans, plums, game, a burnt note and hint of sweet licorice, incredibly vinous and completely sherry broken!

I just love this style from time to time and Glendronach can really ace this category and they sure have with this bottling...

91/100!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

MINI UPDATE - SPIRIT OF SPEYSIDE

Sorry for not updating the blog for a while - I'm enjoying myself at the Spirit of Speyside Festival at the moment - more on that later :-)