Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Whisky Agency Glenrothes, 20 years old

As Sjoerd said, there’s been some fantastic 1997 sherried Glenrothes recently.  There was the Whisky Broker sherry bomb, and the Cadenhead’s one, both of which I loved because they retained the distillery character while being interesting, funky and total bombs.  Then this one comes with Whisky Agency and Whisky Exchange on the label.  A lot less funk but absolutely delicious, this drinks like a big 18 Macallan – pure sherry Speyside.  Fantastic stuff.

This sold out quickly (brand and colour) but I believe it may come back soon.

The Whisky Agency Glenrothes, 20 years old, 51.3% A⊕+

A joint bottling with The Whisky Exchange, 1997-2017, ex-sherry butt

IMG_3065Nose - This is what sherry bombs are supposed to smell like (forget A'Bunadh). Incredibly ripe, loads of depth and no missteps. There's chocolate covered raisins and not quite rotten fruit, roast beef (the scrunchy bits that have caught on the pan), lipstick (the smell of how it tastes) and behind this, the completely not-lost Speyside spirit. There's crayons, small amounts of petrol… and it's so wonderful to smell a proper bomb that can back it up with wood, fruit and balance.  Power and control.

Body - Rich, slightly sharp, green apples and a little acetone. Sweet, sharp wood oils, reduced balsamic vinegar. French polish. Sweeter and creamier with water, a touch of gunpowder.

Finish - Long and woodsy, more apple - baked with raisins. Slightly spicy at the end. Tastier, more delicious with water, the wood oils echo round the mouth.

This is proper. An outstanding cask that I'm sure I'm sure Edrington would liked to have bottled themselves (it would certainly fit in the vintage range).

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Cadenhead’s Autumn 2017 Authentic Collection

The year is drawing on, I know a lot of wallets will be looking forward to the end of the 175th anniversary year at Cadenhead’s but I’ve just realised how much we’ll miss it when it’s ended!

Quite a lot of this still in stock. 

Tomintoul 2006, 11 years old, 57.2% A+

tomintoulNose - Sweet, great wood, classy. Chalk and cherry whistlepops, with deodorant and a posh hotel (new carpet, flowers). The sweetness is evocative; ice cream and sweetshop, lots of vanilla and an insistent creaminess like rhubarb and custard boiled sweets. A really beautiful nose. Practically Christmassy with water, holly leaves and royal icing.

Body - More sweetshop, quite hard wood behind all that cream with lots of numbing and mineral notes up the sinuses. Chipped marble and caramel, with a little charred chilli. Slightly more ordinary with water.

Finish - Medium, lots of sweet oils - orange oil, foxes glacier fruits. Cut branches with water.

This is a cracking whisky, lots of interest and drinkability - sweet and fruity on the nose, not too austere but classy in the delivery and a good long term drinker. Highly recommended, particularly for the nose which wouldn't be out of place on a much more expensive whisky.

Ord 1996, 21 years old, 55.7% A⊕

ordNose - Ripe and dusty, weirdly this reminds me heavily of those weird soda stream concentrates from the 80s. Generally fruity (somewhere between strawberry and orange), deeply sweet and slightly acrylic on exhale. Waxy woods. Really mature.

Body – Sweet, almost peated in its depth with charred wood, clotted cream and something almost rotten (moss, meat, blue cheese). Cigar tobacco on the tongue.

Finish - Medium with dried fruit and more cheese. Lots of cigar at the end.

Just phenomenal this, such maturity at 21. A warning though that I took these notes from probably the smallest sample I've ever tasted, probably 2-3ml, so no chance to try it with water. But I am heavily tempted to buy one even on that basis.

Auchentoshan 1992, 25 years old, 44.8% A+

auchentoshanNose - Sweet, floral, delicately perfumed, very light on the funk and oils, still very white. Marshmallows, slightly medicinal (somewhere between Sudocrem and Germolene) and foam Haribos. There's something like new carpet in here too.

Body - Extremely delicate again, gentle sweetness, more marshmallow and candy cigarettes.

Finish - Long with a savoury edge, like a sweet brie on oatcake. The woods slowly fade in at the end.

An extraordinarily subtle and delicate whisky, that should undoubtedly be drunk in large quantities in a dark room. One for periods of deep contemplation!

Aberfeldy 1996, 21 years old, 54.6% A-

aberfeldyNose - New paint, old curtains and wax, echoes of peat. There's a fetid quality that reminds me of the dunnage at Campbeltown, but there's also fresh red apple and a flinty quality. And behind all that, a beer festival in a windy warehouse (malt, hops, cold air and distant hot dogs). Fruitier with water, more sweetshop.

Body - Fruity at first, then a big belt of tannins and astringent wood, tobacco and some rotten apple. Jelly sweets then matchsticks. More paint with water.

Finish - Long and fizzing, slightly dirty. Great tannins at the end though.

Striking fruit, but slightly troubled in the delivery.

Glenburgie 1993, 24 years old, 53% A⊕+

Refill claret since 2008 – a 9 year finish!

glenburgieNose - Fence, plaster of paris and Special K. Restrained sweetness but a really savoury maltiness; cherry pie with caramelised brown sugar. There's a real maturity to the nose here though; balanced, elegant. Even better with water, perhaps a little coffee, toffee and a touch more fruit.

Body - Malty again, very cereal led, feels like a 70s 10 year old Bruichladdich or something, waxy and chalky and full of angular malt. Restrained sweetness and lots of salt. Chalkier and dustier with water.

Finish - Long and full of oils, the fruit is held under by the oils. Important, salty casks. Quite a lot of bitterness but it's in keeping with this robust but honest old Scotch. Longer and dustier with water.

An absolutely fantastic whisky, so much poise - perfect balance.  The star of the show.

Glenturrent 1987, 29 years old, 42.1% A-

glenturretNose - Wax and slightly sour fruit at first, sweetening with time. Hot tub (sauna wood and a little swimming pool chlorine), and an unforgiving orchard fruit, I'm going with quince. There's a real sweetness under here though.

Body - Oddly savoury, curry leaves and turmeric, asophetida and wet wood. Where's the sweetness gone? Coffee grounds and then an amazing underlying cask. This comes out more with water (more Hershey's chocolate than curry), it's still quite challenging though.

Finish - Black pepper and cigarette paper glue, my mouth is properly numbed by this. Wetter and thinner with water.

Hide and seek with an excellent cask and fruit, some challenging but complex flavours in the development. Really interesting (particularly so on the nose) but a little weird for my palate.

Ben Nevis 1998, 18 years old, 50.2% A⊕

Belize dark rum cask since September 2015 (2 years)

bennevisNose - Just on the point between sweetshop, wood, fruit and wax, a finish of this precision on the nose gives me very high hopes for the delivery. The sweetshop is warm, wet Haribo (found down the seats in the back of my car), the fruit green apple on a hot summer day. It is a truly lovely thing.

Body - Dusty and alien like an old Islay or an 18-21 year old Springbank or Longrow. Chalky and oily, perfect balance but really quite charred. Was this previously in a Springbank ex-rum cask? It's picked up a lot of Campbeltown either way. Even better with water - Marlboros and white foam sweets.

Finish - Long and oily, liquorice root and allsorts at the end. Very numbing, significantly peated. Quite bitter at the end though.

Either the rum is playing tricks with me or something else has had a trip through this cask at some point. This didn't have the weird funk I was hoping for but that peated finish is very well judged.

Glen Scotia 1992, 25 years old, 44% A⊖

glenscotiaNose - Waxy. New wellies, cut red cherry and a waxed jacket. Slightly musky with lipsalve and a touch of cardboard. Slightly medicinal. Unpeated.

Body - Dry and a touch overwooded - chewed liquorice root with hazelnuts and chalky bonbons.

Finish - Long and very drying, with wet wood, buttercream icing and twisted orange zest. Leatherette at the end and a lingering sweet woodiness.

Not as majestic as I was expecting unfortunately, I think this was picked a little too late.

Bonus dram from the excellent creations range…

Creations 1992, Light, creamy vanilla, Batch 2, 23 years old, 51.6% A+

creationsNose - As the name says, with wooden splints, strawberry jelly and new swimming hats (it's not specific to the hat, it's that kind of silicone covering though). I'd say it's fruitier than the name suggests though with good warm cask notes. There's something very right about this nose.

Body - Definitely creamy, again the wood is the standout note here with vanilla behind it. A touch of orange too.

Finish - Slightly hot with flat pack furniture and chewed orange peel. Lots of tannins at the end.

That late citrus feel to it is the making of this whisky. It's really crushable - a very well put together blend.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Douglas Laing Summer 2017

Douglas Laing are still knocking good stuff out, I see the Old Particular outturns come and go but I can’t do much about them with so many other whiskies I have to buy that I am able to taste before doing so… but I know there’s some gems in there.  These remarkable regional malts are quite a good option for NAS drinkers, expressions of a style.  I’ve liked some more than others but they are generally a good bet, and some have been phenomenal.

Apologies to Douglas Laing who sent me some of these ages ago to taste, which I duly did and then forgot to publish the notes!  They’re all still in stock anyway.

Timorous Beastie 18 years old, 46.8% A-


timorous-beastie-18-year-old-whiskyNose - Quite robust in its highland way, with green apple, crayons and radiator dust. I love that combination of orchard fruit, waxy spirit, ozone and varnished woods. There's a touch of petrol here to add some grown up complexity.

Body - But the delivery is a little disappointing at first - slightly bitter, a little hollow, although that does develop into a more peppery toffee with some of the fruit returning later on. I think this is perhaps just a little austere even for me.

Finish - Medium to short with chalk and oils at the end. Slightly fizzing with big tannins at the back of the throat.

Loved the nose on this but the delivery didn't quite do it. A little austere, perhaps a little awkward too.

Rock Oyster 18 years old, 46.8% A+'

Islands.  There’s a new Rock Oyster sherry edition out now too.

rock-oyster-18-year-old-whiskyNose - Quite vegetal, slightly dirty, very evocative of rock pools funnily enough, slightly funky and green with algae and ozone. It has a kind of waxy lowlandy feel to it too. And unrelated, cracked black pepper crisps.

Body - Really gentle and creamy this, with that peppery almost peat from the Jura providing the bass notes.

Finish - Long, and peppery again, and now apple chews provide the bass notes with dried flowers and a touch of new bandage.

This one is full where the beastie is hollow, although both have a lovely restraint. I'm a fan of this one.

Rock Oyster Cask Strength, 57.4% A⊖

rock-oyster-cask-strength-whiskyNose - Sweet and chalky, very coastal though, almost Islay. Quite swarthy - leather and sweat, wet rocks, salt water. Slightly richer and subtly floral with water.

Body - Sweet but very malty, fizzing lemon - quite hot, lots of youth here. Cracked black pepper, lemony Sichuan peppercorns later on, although a really lovely sweetness and some good casks. Much better with water, there's peach and orange, big bitter tannins though.

Finish - Numbing and oily. Quite biscuity. Red chilli with water.

The higher strength exposes the youth here a little, these are better presented at drinking strength I think? Anyway it's still good juice, bit spicy for me perhaps.

Scallywag 13 years old, 46% A+


scallywag-13-year-old-whiskyNose - Ripe, red and berried. This is the kind of nose that made old Glendronach so well loved - lots of sherry but lots of quality. Lip salve, Vimto and black jacks complete the luxury. Fingers crossed…

Body - … not quite. Good body here with quite a sour sherry development, redcurrant jelly and good tannins. But there is a lack of depth and luxury that takes it down a couple of notches, and a simplicity in the sherry that gives the age away a little.

Finish - fizzing and slightly bitter with chewed orange pith and Sechuan peppercorns and leatherette.

This is a good drinker but not quite would I'd hoped it would be given the nose.

Provenance Feis Ile 2017, Caol Ila 6 years old, 50.6% A-

caol-ila-6-year-old-2010-feis-ile-2017-provenance-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - It could only be CI or young Bunna. Sweet, slightly dank, cereal and crushed shells but meaty… actually a big hit of slightly fetid bandage puts it elsewhere in Islay. Digestive biscuits dipped in milky, instant coffee. Ketchup. I give up. Simpler and more approachable with water - green apple and leather.

Body - Rich and remarkable, very sweet, very definitely Tunnock's Milk Chocolate Caramel Wafers. Slightly burnt with water, but there's flashes of cherry.

Finish - Long with that chocolate toffee and a slightly peppery edge - and some dried, old Marlboro light tobacco.

Lots to taste here, lots to write about but the delivery is so robust it's quite tiring to drink. Good “tasting” whisky (would be a great end to a tasting) but you'd struggle with a bottle.

Douglas Laing, Consortium of cards #1, Laphroaig 18 years old, 50% A⊕

laphroaig-18-year-old-1998-old-particular-consortium-of-cards-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - Sweet and mature Scotch at first, then mineral and funky later, lightly medicinal. This has that intensely sweet backing to brighter, more mineral peat and wood that makes mature Islay what it is. Slightly rotten apples and cigars. Definitely more medicinal with water.

Body - Intense in many ways and very good - hard to keep up with it. Ripe and very fruity at first, a little Germolene, cigarette tobacco, orange sorbet.

Finish - Long with lots of fruit juice - neat orange barley squash, orange zest and honey. A little aniseed at the end.

This is particularly good - the initial delivery is just fantastic, really rich, ripe and complete.