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.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

CLYNELISH 1984 26.92 'HARD GLAZED PRETZEL STICKS' - THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY

I was just sorting through my pictures for one to use for this blog post when I suddenly realised I have more than a handful of pictures of the old Clynelish (Now Brora) Distillery, but actually lacking shots of the new Clynelish buildings... But I guess that just goes to prove I'm a whisky romanticist, right ;-) and it also gives me a good reason to return to Scotland too :-D

I've been reviewing alot of bottlings from the SMWS since the they've opened a branch in Denmark last year in September and right now I feel they provide some of the best value/quality bottlings in this high inflation whisky market.

But there's been somewhat of a revival(??) of an older bottler that used to be my favourite a few years back. It's now giving competition both on quality and prices (no, not giving away all my tricks here and telling you who it is)... But after trying a new range from that bottler in the spring during the Spirit of Speyside Festival, I'm confident they're back on the right track and I will be watching them closely.

Now on to the the SMWS review...

The rear of the Clynelish Distillery and shop entrance - 4th August 2009 © The Malt Desk
Clynelish 1984 26.92 28yo (13.12.1984/xx.xx.2013) 'Hard glazed pretzel sticks' 58,2%, 491 bottles, refill ex-sherry butt, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Colour is white wine

Nose:
Straight off, it gives off lots of alcohol, but also sweet fruity/citrussy notes. Quite salty, minerals, Fairy washing up liquid and some sweet wort. It gets a bit more herbal with time and cut grass appears along with a slight vinous note, even if this is a well used sherry butt.

Taste:
Squashed citrus fruits (oranges mostly), oak spices, a syrupy note and a dash of vanilla, honey and candles/waxy/oily notes. Very Clynelish. Also a slightly 'hot' edge to it and it takes to water very well, bringing out its barley origins.

A lemony salty, barley experience this one. A very good, but not the best older Clynelish from the SMWS as of late. I know I said it takes to water very well, but be careful dosing it, as its a fine edge between swimming and drowning with this dram.

88/100! ...and thanks to MBO for the sample

Friday, 26 July 2013

HIGHLAND PARK CASK STRENGTH NAS - DISTILLERY BOTTLING

Can you imagine expecting strong winds, clouded or overcast weather conditions and even some rain but instead getting 23° Celsius and a light breeze in a place like the Orkney Islands just north of Scotland? No? well, nevertheless its what we had when visiting in 2009, making the islands almost Mediterranian to be on.

So, if you ever venture this far north in Scotland, keep your fingers crossed as to have this kind of weather while on these beautiful islands. It really made the place even more wonderful.

My review this time will be of another Highland Park release in a 35cl (½) bottle and released only to the Swedish market. What makes this even more special is that its bottled at cask strength (56%). I'm sure I speak for all whisky friends whe I say that we'd like to see more of this, right?

Let that be a message to the good folks at Edrington... :-)

Looking north to Shapinsay, Gairsay and Rousay from the hill just west of Kirkwall, 6th August 2009 © The Malt Desk 

Highland Park NAS, Cask Strength 56%, 100% European oak sherry casks, Distillery bottling for Sweden, 35cl

Colour is dark amber

Nose:
Dried fruits, oranges at first, hints of struck match/spent fireworks, nutmeg, strong mustard, very spicy with crushed chili notes and a nice peaty edge as well. Also floral hints covered in sweet sherry.

Taste:
Sweet and spicy, dried fruits again, (raisins, figs) and peppers. Sweet dry, nutty and vinous edge of the sherry,  a bit of oranges, heavy burnt toffee, hardwood and very noticeable peat on the finish, lingering for quite a while.

A good HP at cask strength, more of this please!

87/100!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

BRUICHLADDICH 1986 18YO - CADENHEAD AUTHENTIC COLLECTION

Right now, we're having a hot spell over most of Europe with temperatures between 24-30 degree celcius - its certainly hot here in Denmark and in my favourite other country, Scotland...

For some it means less whisky drinking as their olfactory system gets inhibited by the heat...
Does yours too? My own? Hmm, not really this year, which is strange, I must admit... especially in a time where most people would rather sit down with a nice refreshing Gin & Tonic instead, right?

So what's different this year since I don't think it too hot for whisky? Well, in April I moved to a new place which kinda refreshed me a bit and even though its hot outside I now live in a place where I can produce a cool draft all day as its high up and by the water front too - lovely! :-)

The bottling I'll be review today is from Bruichladdich and from their old stock, back in 1986.
It's a whisky from which I've already 1 bottle a couple of 3-4 years ago and remember it as some of the better Bruichladdich I've had... for comparison I also also reviewed a very good 1992 Bruichladdich also from Cadenhead back in January this year... have a look at that one too...

But back to the Gin & Tonic, well sort of...

The picture below is the 'Ugly Betty'-still at Bruichladdich distillery on which they make their 'Botanist' gin from 22 different Island botanicals- The still is an old Lomond still from the now closed Inverleven distillery in Dumbarton.

It's a incredibly smooth gin at 46% abv and mixes very well with a bit of ice and tonic water or you can even leave out the tonic and just pour over a little ice - either way, its a refreshing drink!

But this is not the Gin desk, it's The Malt Desk, so I'll whip up that Bruichladdich review for you...

The 'Ugly Betty'-gin producing still at Bruichladdich, 6th May 2011 © The Malt Desk

Bruichladdich 1986 18yo (xx.xx.1986/xx.05.2005) 55,8%, ex-bourbon hogshead, 270 bottles, Cadenhead Authentic Collection

Colour is full straw

Nose:
Vanilla and peat hand in hand and quite more peat than expected. Slight floral hints and both ginger and nutmeg, peppery spices, musty, wet newspaper and even honey and solventy note.

Taste:
Good sweet malt arrival- very Bruichladdich, followed by spicy oak and clearly some nutmeg and peat in beautiful measures, never subduing the vanillas, soft fruits and oily notes also in there.

Another good cask by Cadenhead, but now long gone, sadly as it was bottled in 2005...

88/100!

Friday, 19 July 2013

ROSEBANK 1989 10YO - BLACKADDER NATURAL STRENGTH

Rosebank distillery was located on the western outskirts of Falkirk, northwest of Edinburgh... please note that I said 'was'... the distillery closed in 1993.

Being a light and sometimes volatile spirit, Rosebank has often been accused of not holding up for prolonged maturation but these days we see independent releases as old as 30 years doing just great... and why was it even seen as that? could it have something to do with Rosebank being distilled in the traditional old lowland style i.e. - 3 x distilled.

Now, Rosebank was actually one of the only distilleries still practicing triple distillation in recent days up until its closure in 1993, although as many as 30 was thought to have used triple distillation in the late 1800's. Today the Lowlands region of Scotland only has Auchentoshan using triple distillation. Rosebank is today, along with closed St. Magdalene/Linlithgow distillery also becoming cult whiskies and prices of these bottlings are going up fast too.

I'm sadly missing pictures from Falkirk of the old Rosebank buildings, but the modern wonders of technology lets Google Street View provide a picture for you.

Now, onto the review...

Rosebank 1989 10yo (xx.04.1989/xx.05.1999) 59%, oak cask#839, Blackadder Natural Strength

Colour is pale white wine

Nose:
At first very closed down, but after a while it becomes very aromatic with herbs, grass, perfumy hints, soft citrus notes, vanilla, white port and bursts of alcohol

Taste:
Without water this is just too rough, but with a splash it gets a creamy arrival, soft apple, malt extract, vanilla and coconut, bitter green grapes, lemon and a little porridge... all the flavours being very, very clean...

A lovely young Rosebank!

86/100!

Monday, 15 July 2013

GLENFARCLAS 1984 1.169 'A SECRETIVE SORCERER'S BLACK MAGIC' - THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY

The weather was cold and wet when we visited Speyside in March 2009... and we even got caught out in a snowstorm at Glenshee and had to turn the car around on the narrow road half way up the hill while sliding sideways down... scary!! Just imagine that a couple of days before, we were on the Isle of Skye only wearing a shirts outside! Ain't Scotland lovely?! :-)

Sorry, got sidetracked there ;-)

First of all, there's not many independent bottlings of Glenfarclas out there, 2nd of all there's probably even less matured in ex-bourbon casks. Now, I've spotted a some at the distillery, but officially Glenfarclas matures all their whisky ex-sherry casks, which is why it makes it extra special to try one from a bourbon cask.

This one is bottled by The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, which recently (2013) has put out at least 3 bottlings this year - and all of them distilled on the same day - the 16th of May 1984! I do have the 2 bottlings in stock also and should really be doing a HTHTH with the others, but... well, you know ... ;-)

So for now I'll just review one of them for you...

Glenfarclas warehouses, 23rd March 2009 © The Malt Desk
Glenfarclas 1984 1.169 28yo (16.05.1984)'A secretive Sorcerer's black magic' 54,7%, 218 bottles, refill ex-bourbon hogshead, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Colour is pale gold

Nose:
Honey, flowery/garden note, some oak, sawdust, flour/fresh baked bread, natural caramel, vanilla, mushrooms and fresh baked shortbread with a sprinkle of white sugar

Taste:
Sweet marzipan, hint of nuts, candied fruits, wood sap, florist shop, bran notes, dried hops, toffee again, fresh wood shavings.
Finishes off on high quality ale and heavy malt and hints of banana. Water brings down the oak and makes the whole experience much more creamy.

Quite a bit of oak in this one, which subtracts a couple of points for me - but still a very good dram!

88/100!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

TORMORE 1984 29YO - ARCHIVES

Tormore is one of those distilleries that lives a pretty anonymous life.

The distillery is owned by Pernod Ricard/Chivas Group (since 2005) and built in 1958, its a 'new' distillery in historical terms. Its location right on the A95 running through the heart of Speyside and its white buildings makes it a very impressive sight. But that's about all you get!

There's no visitor's centre there so the place - although very picturesque with its white buildings and still shaped bushes in the garden - you'll just have to settle for an outside look. Inside they have 4 sets of stills producing roughly 4.000.000 liters of spirit annually, most of it of course going into the Chivas Brothers blends.

It will suit the Chivas Brothers to open this distillery to the public, maybe during the Spirit of Speyside Festival to give us anoraks a look inside this huge almost cathedral-like building.

 Tormore Distillery, 11th October 2008 © The Malt Desk
Tormore 1984 29yo (xx.02.1984/xx.03.2013) 51%, barrel#3669, 90 bottles, Archives 'The Fishes of Samoa'

Colour is pale gold

Nose:
Initially bursts of oak, 'Lux' hand soap, vanilla, confectioners sugar/candy canes and also hint of paint and mint.

Taste:
Cooked apple and orange peel, Walker's ginger shortbread and peppery spices. A firm malt and citrus style sherbet finish along with peppery oak and hints of nutmeg.

A good dram this one and by far the best Tormore I've ever tasted!
Again I see a certain style in fruitiness in these 3 bottlings picked by Menno and CJ.

88/100! ...and still available here

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

SPEYSIDE REGION 1995 17YO - ARCHIVES

Phew, what can this be? As you all probably know, Speyside is the single largest whisky producing region on Scotland making it almost impossible to guess the distillery behind this whisky.

When tasting this I of course had my suspicion about where in Speyside to venture, but since its a single cask it can come across as something not even close to a distillery's normal style.

Where this one originates from, I can only guess... which I will do after the review...

Thomas Telford Bridge across the Spey River (wideangle & HDR), 26th September 2010 © The Malt Desk
Speyside Region 1995 17yo (xx.09.1995/xx.11.2012) 48,2%, Butt#56, 54 bottles, Archives 'The Fishes of Samoa'

Colour is straw

Nose:
Vanilla, then very fruity on apples, tuning more tropical as we go along with peach and mango. I'm thinking alot like those tropical fruit juices you buy in large cartons in the supermarket. Also a faint dairy note, so the whole thing to me is like nosing a mellow smoothie in dram-form

Taste:
This is lovely, Initially fruit of the tropical kind, also melon, honey and a hint of something floral. Very nice integration of the malt and oak here. Finishes on oranges marmalade and slight peppery edge.

Anyway, this is also a very more-ish dram... and I do see some similarities between the fruitiness in this one and the Bunnahabhain I just reviewed.

My guess is... Benriach? Why? Because I had a very similar, although older (1975) expression straight from the cask at Benriach distillery during the Speyside festival in May this year...

But apparently its not - sources tell me (and also a post on whiskybase.com) that this is a Glenfarclas... but a Glenfarclas very far from their usual style, IMO...

This doesn't change the fact that this is very good whisky!

88/100! ...and still available here

Sunday, 7 July 2013

BUNNAHABHAIN 1973 40YO - ARCHIVES

I love old Bunnahabhains... so I poured this sample with much anticipation - someone had whispered in my ear that its good stuff! Heck! - even great!

It's a bottling from the Dutch boys at whiskybase.com in their well named series 'Archives'
I've previously reviewed some of their bottlings - you can read about that here.

Actually they've put out 3 new bottlings this time and along with a redesigned bottle label - this time featuring tropical fish and very aptly named 'The fishes of Samoa' - very pretty indeed! It reminds me a bit of a certain German bottler with very colourful labels and I think that one cannot help be inspired by such.

Are you making these collectible now, guys? ;-)


Picture with permission from Whiskybase shop


But never mind pretty labels, you say... are the whisky any good?

Well, as I started by saying - I love old Bunnas... and of course there a cask duds out there, but they're yet to pick a bad one (so don't you dare, guys!)

Bunnahabhain 1973 40yo (xx.03.1973/xx.04.2013) 50,6%, Butt#3463, 156 bottles, Archives 'The Fishes of Samoa'

Colour is straw

Nose:
Starts on varnish/furniture polish but after a short while it heads in the direction of a winey, tropical fruit punch (mango, pineapple and nectarines) and white rum drinks. Very Caribbean! In time the fruits become heavier and more stale and the nose also takes on a more mineral note.

Taste:
Lovely creamy arrival even at a full 50,6%. Yellow fruits, ginger and that heavy ale'd malt style I love so much in older Bunnas although its tucked away a bit in the marzipan,vanilla and wood spice finish. Do I detect a little bit of of smoke in the aftertaste as well?

This is just one of those malts you want to keep sipping to keep the taste in your mouth!
IMO, this never gets overly oaky or tired, but carries a pleasant full flavoured heavy fruit and malt style very, very well.

91/100!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

TALISKER 10 - DISTILLERY BOTTLING (2013)

Almost 3 weeks ago, I reviewed a 10yo independent bottling of Talisker from bottler Douglas Laing - a bottling I wasn't terribly impressed with, though it was bad whisky. Last weekend I was given a bottle of the present 10yo distillery bottling along with 2 Talisker tumblers (Thank you, U) and with that an opportunity presented itself to do a review (and a note comparison) of this much beloved standard bottling.

I wondered how this would be as I'm used to drinking non-coloured, non chill filtered whisky and finding atleast whiskies at 40% weakish these days, a point I made when reviewing the Highland Park 'Einar' just over a week ago - so I'll make my plea again to distillers out there please bottle at atleast 46% or 43% if you have to be stingy about it!

The Talisker 10 is bottled at a higher than normal abv (45,8%) and should provide a bit more of a kick, but is still coloured with E150 caramel colouring and chill filtered - a step giant Diageo should, but probably won't move away from, sadly...

Anyway, I'm gonna try and approch this with an open mind... and hope it still carries some of the character of the Talisker 10 from my early whisky drinking years....

Talisker Distillery, 14th October 2009 © The Malt Desk
Talisker 10yo, 45,8%, Distillery bottling (2013)

Colour is amber (E150 added)

Nose:
Sweetness, then peat, then sweet again, but as your nose gets used to the alcohol and peat, more subtle notes of old fruits, brakish water/earth notes appear, bonfire smoke and a herbal garden

Taste:
Tip of tongue salty arrival, strong tea but then turning to sweet peat and citrus, toffee, tarry and sea water/ fresh scallops. The peppery finish is there, but very subdued, I think...

Loved the nose, but I feel the palate can't quite keep up but I'm missing the really peppery edge this dram used to have - that said, its still a fine dram and so much better than other standard bottlings out there - in spite of both E150 and chill filtration. On a final note, then I'm sure this dram has changed over the years, but then again so has my palate - so I'm actually wondering what providing the biggest impact on my score - and honestly??

I think the whisky has changed the most... and now my tastebuds are just even more tuned to pick that up...

Retasted same bottle 13th Dec 2013 - now rather bland - so now 78/100!

Friday, 5 July 2013

GLENDRONACH SINGLE CASK BATCH 8 NOW OUT

GLENDRONACH has today, 5 July, released Batch 8 of its renowned single cask bottlings.
 
Selected by Master Blender Billy Walker, this latest batch was filled in May and all eight expressions are available as of today.
 
The eight, ranging from 42 to 10 years old, share GlenDronach's typically luxurious, richly-sherried and fruity characteristics, with waves of delightful eucalyptus, plums, damsons, sweet chocolate, almonds…even toffee-drenched raisins and red chilli!
 
One of the eight is an aspiring youngster – the new kid on the block is a zesty 10 year old from cask 1988. On the nose, white pepper and cinnamon. On the palate, treacle-covered ripe autumn fruits, fresh mint and toasted nuts. An unusual but hugely appealing young Highland malt to savour while relaxing in a sun-lounger this year!
 
The cask details are:
 
1971 cask # 1246 / 42 years old / Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon / 44.6%vol
1990 cask # 2971 / 22 years old / Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon / 50.8%vol
1991 cask # 5409 / 21 years old / Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon / 49.8%vol
1992 cask # 145 / 21 years old / Oloroso Sherry Butt / 58.1%vol
1993 cask # 3 / 20 years old / Oloroso Sherry Butt / 52.9%vol
1994 cask # 101 / 19 years old / Oloroso Sherry Butt / 58.4%vol
1996 cask # 1490 / 17 years old / Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon / 53.1%vol
2002 cask # 1988 / 10 years old / Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon / 55.6%vol
 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

CONVALMORE 1975 - DUN BHEAGAN

Closed in 1985, Convalmore Distillery on the outskirts of Dufftown has never made much of a fuzz about itself looking at the relatively small amount of bottlings out there. Most of them are from independent bottlers too - actually there's only 3 official bottlings out ever! ... and all of them released after the distillery was closed.

Sitting on the grounds, owned by Wm. Grant & Sons (Glenfiddich/Balvenie/Kininvie) the warehouses are used for maturation of these 3 brands. The remains of the distillery itself is stripped of distilling equipment and will probably never produce again.

Convalmore Distillery outside Dufftown, 26th August 2012 © The Malt Desk
I haven't tried that many expressions myself, but the ones I have tried is very pleasent, being on the fruity, spicy side and very easy drinking IMO. Also I'm detecting something dusty/damp in the Convalmore style and I look forward to reviewing this one. The bottle was purchased in the DK/German Ferry Bordershop @ Puttgarten in 2012 and only cost around 500,- Dkr or €66/£55/$87 at the current exchange rate - not a bad price for a bottle from a closed distillery.

When I opened this bottle about 3 weeks ago, I wasn't terribly impressed with it.
Now, its become very enjoyable and pleasant drinking whisky and what I feel is a good representative of Convalmore.

Convalmore 1975 (b. 2004) 28yo 46% hogshead#3757, 264 bottles, Dun Bheagan

Colour is straw

Nose:
Boiled fruits with a strawberry edge, as expected a note of old loft/confined space, oak spices, nutmeg, red berrie youghurt, mixed herbs and a whiff of washing up liquid

Taste:
Stale fruit, dirty/dusty feel mid palate and oak. A few drops of water gets the fruity notes going (dried apricot?) pepper and those strawberries again. Some licorice and hint of metal on the finish along with spices, pine resin and a drying edge.

87/100!



Monday, 1 July 2013

CRAIGELLACHIE 1990 44.57 'SEA SALTED CARAMEL PEBBLES' - THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY

I passed Craigellachie Distillery just 2 weeks ago, thinking it always looks the same when driving by...  but then it's not normally open to the public, so why should they spend a washback full of money to make it look pretty. It doesn't look bad, I might add - it just looks like it always does...

A funny thing is that when passing Aultmore distillery (also owned by Dewar's/Barcardi) I get the feeling I'm looking at Craigellachie, as they're somewhat similar. While I'm at it let me mention that they also own Macduff, Royal Brackla and Aberfeldy Distilleries - the latter being no where near the other industrial looking complexes, but rather more like your traditional old stone walled distillery

I came across a funny thing with 2 Craigellachie bottlings in early May this year when visiting SMWS The Vaults in Edinburgh when returning from the Spirit of Speyside festival... They tasted like... Clynelish... I even had my travelling companion who runs the DK branch of the SMWS and a member of staff at The Vaults confirm my opinion on this. It was a huge surprise for all of us! I've had this experience a couple of times before, but with very similar whiskies/distilleries (Glenfarclas/Glen Grant/Cragganmore) but this was no where near what I'd expect from a Craigellachie - as I said, a lovely surprise :-)

Have you had a similar experience? Use the comment field below - thank you!

Craigellachie stillhouse, May 2nd 2011 © The Malt Desk
So what am I talking about? this one...

Craigellachie 1990 (13.08.1990/xx.02.2013) 22yo 'Sea salted caramel pebbles' 52,9%, refill ex-bourbon hogshead, 305 bottles, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Colour is pale white wine

Nose:
Sweet shy pears and a grassy note, freshly sliced honey melon, white chocolate and a hint of farmyard, grist and cookie dough

Taste:
Fruits, mainly pears again now more evident and up front. Very fresh with a salty spicy edge - very north Highland as in malt from that producing distillery in the village of Brora, even shows a creamy/waxy edge with addition of a few drops of water. Water also brings out a very noticeable smoky and herbal edge and some soft oak...

Far more expressive on the palate then on the nose - I love this! Huge fun!
A highly educational malt... Oh, and the other similar bottling is the 44.56...

88/100!