The July outturn is out today, just ahead of the release of Kilkerran 12 (August 12th)! The Authentic Collection (normal bottles with green, white, red labels depending on the cask) is an outturn of single casks, released for the UK. The Small Batch series (square bottles, black or gold labels) is 1-3 casks of whisky blended, which are released worldwide.
As before, it’s not all here – there’s a Cooley too which should be good, an old Aultmore (ditto), and a 27 year old Cameronbridge.
I apologise if it seems I’ve picked the expensive ones as favourites. To be honest I tasted them all without being told the prices (of course I know what costs more in general) and as I’ve said before, I just say it how I find it!
Royal Lochnagar, 17 years old, 56.8% A-
Nose - Gentle, fresh and appley. Hard candy shells feel young at first, but tobacco and cask musk add complexity. Candy cigarettes and a slightly herbal meatiness come with time. Fresher again with water, almost hand-soap.
Body - Sharp, sweet, quite spicy but an undercurrent of toffee rounds it out. Mukhwas with water.
Finish - Long and hot, rice paper and spiced pear.
A lovely, fresh, classy nose and it's a spicy, spikey whisky with deeply sweet undercurrents, lacking midrange overall.
Mannochomore, 19 years old, 54.7% A+
Nose - Seriously rich and cakey compared to the Lochnagar. Apple pie, with vanilla ice cream, fantastic minerality (wet rock, liquorice) balancing it out, but the overall feel is young again. Once your mouth is filled with vanilla cream (rather than Royal Lochnagar, i.e. after tasting) it starts to make more sense - that sense of richness works with the vibrant nose.
Body - Sweeter, lots of chocolate, faintly medicinal, hints of complex maturity, sour plums. Better with water, the short pastry is back, with anise biscuits and a flash of spice.
Finish - Pure vanilla whipped cream in the finish, rich and clarty, completely mouth filling.
A complex, slightly challenging and confusing, but ultimately rewarding whisky. Everything is right on paper but it somehow needed translating.
Tobermory, 21 years old, 53.8% A⊕
Nose - Complex and elegant. Restrained chocolate (nutty and austere like Mexican chocolate, but without the spice), trimmed hedges (wet cut wood, leaves and rain) and fresh cut red cherries. Fresh cut red cherries don't really smell of "cherries", they smell of sugary fresh juice, ozone and very faint cherry stone and skin, and that's what I mean. More mineral with water, more wood and ozone. There's big toffee cask in here too but it's restrained and balanced. This is a refreshing nose and speaks of quality. Fingers, eyes and toes crossed…
Body - Big, meaty toffee wood, much bigger than the nose suggested. Coffee and Mexican chocolate again, toast and butter. Roasted plums and marzipan with water, seriously rich with toasted woods.
Finish - Long, with toffee and rosemary, grapefruit bitterness.
A bit of a rollercoaster this one, and hard work at times, but very satisfying.
Glen Spey, 21 years old, 54.2% A+
Body - Big and bouncy. Slightly rum-like with Lucozade, cider and sweet vanilla wood. Again it feels very young but very confident and the maturity is waiting in the wings with toasted wood and a hint of sulphur.
Finish - Medium and very tannic, fresh bourbon cask, very drinkable.
This drinks like a 9 year old you can't believe is so young, if you see what I mean. The youth in the finish is (like the Lochnagar) belied by supporting notes of maturity. This is the kind of whisky I'd come back to time and again, and indeed I finished my sample before I could get water to it. Recommended.
Glen Garioch, 26 years old, 44.4% A⊕+
Nose - It's a big, sweet, cask heavy-hitter. Big marmalade notes but with deep, ancient cask wax. Orange ice-cream, whistle pops and a faint plastic book coverings nose over something approaching coastal (fresh oyster shells perhaps?)
Body - Holy moly, old beyond its years. Very juicy, lots of fruit, lots of old wood, very masculine. Scented candles (rose?)
Finish - Long and tannic, grapefruit all the way down - juice then zest then chewed oak. Cigarettes at the end, touching on cigars.
I would have guessed this as a 40 year old something - bourbon cask Glenfarclas probably. Cigars, marmalade, polished old wood and scented candles. It's perfect for Christmas.
Glentauchers, 26 years old, 48.2% A⊕+
1989-July 2016, bourbon barrel, 108 bottles.
Body - Beautiful old whisky again, 40 year old stuff. Deeper and less frivolous than the Glen Garioch, richer but more toppy, loads of chocolate toffee and just a hint of the vegetal on exhale. Even fruitier with water.
Finish - Long and ripe, rich chocolate all the way with red berries and privet hedge.
Another big one, really beautiful to drink. The Glen Garioch is noticeably more coastal and "refill" in comparison, but classier for it. This Glentauchers is massive though, and beautifully mature. They're both old and important in their own way so I can't call it between them, but if you're after slightly more restrained and balanced, it's the Glen Garioch. If you want a big old blockbuster, the Glentauchers. Both are highly recommended.
That's a lot to live up to.
Bruichladdich, 27 years old, 50.2% A⊕
Nose - Gentle refill laddie; chocolate and cranberries, candles and ripe pears. Herbal (cut flowers and earth) and coastal, in that understated way Bruichladdich is when it's "vanilla". I like it. I'm trying to subtract the previous two whiskies though. Bigger with water.
Body - Melon and banana foam sweets, beautifully gentle with understated fruits and a serious sweetness. Much more comprehensible with water, the sweetness blends better with fruit and fizz.
Finish - Intensely sweet and tending towards fizzing, tending towards old Islay. Petrichor with water. Very long and refreshing.
This is what proper (mature, refill bourbon) whisky tastes like. Recommended.
OK that really was a lot to live up to. Good luck Glenturret!
Glenturret, 28 years old, 44% B+
Body - Most unexpected. It's like weak hot chocolate. It's like expensive old whisky wicked onto blotting paper and chewed. There's fruit fighting to get out (foxes glacier friut sweets) but it's hiding behind this weird cardboard tone.
Finish - That cardboardy note continues into the finish, with cheap coffee and caraway.
Unsatisfying - but it's a tough crowd at the moment.
Caol Ila, 36 years old, 53.3% A⊕+'
Nose - Hello old Caol Ila…. Dusty refreshers, whistle pops, coffee, ripe peaches, grilled pineapple with agave nectar and emulsion paint. The wood is ancient and sun bleached, it's very far from what most people would recognise as whisky.
Body - Dreamy. Painted in salted chocolate and coffee this time, with hot jacuzzi cover and summer in the woods. Powder paints and refreshers, dusty tannins. Slightly medicinal with water, with iced ring biscuits and battenburg cake.
Finish - Dusty, old, slightly hot with cracked paint on windowsills and window putty. Very, very tannic and drying, as old Caol Ila usually is. Long and balanced, and challenging but dreamy.
A classic, what everyone wants from an old Caol Ila. Is it noticeably older than the previous 30, 31, 32s? Not really, but it's a different cask, and what I wanted it to be, and most importantly, fantastic to drink. Cheers!