Thursday, 26 April 2018

TWE Pulteney

Old Pulteney 2004, sherry cask #128, selected by the whisky exchange, 62.1% A⊕

IMG_4892Nose - Earthy, chocolatey at first, practically soil. Then there's twin streams of sugar and a sharp sourness, plus a slightly medicinal herbiness, like cut rosemary and dried oregano. The chocolate is Mr. Kipling chocolate cupcakes, with a glass or red wine. An obviously HQ cask.

Water brings a serious depth of vanilla, cask wax and black fruit, it pivots from hard and interesting (but challenging) into balanced and luxurious.

Body - Nutty wine cask again, that phenomenal sweetness is trying to get out but it's hidden behind clove and chilli chocolate – and numbing oils and peat catching at the back of the throat. Ripe plum, almost date with water, much more balanced than the unreduced palate and much richer - varnish and sugar.  The more you sip, the more the cloves come.

Finish - Long, bitter, numbing, but balanced. Full of wine cask with water, liquorice and clove. Charred chilli at the end, maybe menthol cigarettes.

Seriously delicious this, especially with water. The sherry cask is bright and challenging, not a whisky cocktail, and the overall feel is of a really important, complicated whisky. That clove is, as always, fascinating - a product of wine and peat.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Cadenhead's Small Batch May 2018

Tomintoul 2006, 11 years old, 55.4% A


fullsizeoutput_334Nose - Fresh, vibrant, mineral - cold lemon peel and hand soap. A little bit of crushed boiled sweet (sweet wax), quite floral. This would work (nose wise anyway) over a big chunk of ice.

Body - Lemon ice lollies then, a little lemon cream and royal icing. Very clean.

Finish - Long and zesty (funnily enough), sharp spirit and a gentle cask.

A lovely Spring-into-Summer sipper. That young wood and citrus freshness works very well.

Knockdhu 2006, 11 years old, 54.7% A⊕


KNOCKDHU 11 54.7 VOL 792 bottles  Nose - Ripe, almost overripe, slightly sour but not quite funky. But very fruity and creamy - Alfonso mango in a dark, hot shop. A sample of hand cream in a new magazine.

Body - Rich, ripe and delicious, fizzers over hot chocolate and Amarula.

Finish - Medium with a really considered, fruity dismount. Nicely done.

I accidentally didn't take enough of this but I think it's pretty special.

Macduff 2006, 11 years old, 46% A+


fullsizeoutput_32bNose - Floral, with a gentle sweetness, waxy and elegant at first. Then seriously meaty - roast pork crackling, nearly caught. Then rhubarb fool! Quite special again.

Body - Soft and sweet, extremely gentle and considered. Baked apples, perhaps a little cinnamon.

Finish- Then there's a peppery structure in here that stops it being one dimensional. Medium to short, with a serious slug of sugar and dried flowers at the end.

I was wondering how a single cask got the 46% treatment and the 3 casks in the Knockdhu got the cask strength but it's because this is a great single cask which benefitted from being let down to 46%. Makes sense. The sweetness on the delivery pulls it down a notch.

North British 1985, 32 years old, 55.2% A-


fullsizeoutput_335Nose - Sawdust, oak, roast pork and soy sauce, deodorant, acrylic varnish. It's quite confused.

Body - Soft grain, orange cream, very sweet with a tiny bit of lavender.

Finish - Dries up (and freshens up) significantly at the end with orange pith and a little clove.

Not sure about this one, it's a decent drinker but it seems to lack an identity - what's it supposed to be, an old grain or a sherry bomb? It's neither; cocktail whisky.

Tomatin 2008, 10 years old, 54.4% A+'


fullsizeoutput_32eNose - You can tell this is young Tomatin a mile off. Dusty cask, apple wood, competent, balanced spirit, a freshly opened packet of Marlboro lights. A little musk, a little leather, a little fruit, a little ozone.

Body - Delicious, rich and balanced, there's something catching at the back of the throat, a lick of peat.

Finish - Medium to long, well balanced to the end with wax, whistle pops and faintly, liquorice imps at the end.

Perfect young Tomatin, very well recommended as a proper drinker. I've a bottle of young small batch Glenrothes at home that I think I gave the same score to, that I return to time and again. This would be the same.

Ord 2006, 12 years old, 46% A+


fullsizeoutput_32cNose - Herbal, forest floor - something like an A-level chemistry lab in here, but brought together by this almost wine-like, oaked sweetness. It's like when you order a dessert in a super posh restaurant and it comes with twigs and dry ice and cubes of some sweet stuff - it's not quite sweet or savoury but it is remarkable.

Body - Gentle and classy, again there's that green wood feel to it, and an underlying jelly-sweet faint fruity sweetness. It's a really balanced initial delivery, really elegant but it passes into that woodiness which isn't unwelcome but it is quite unexpected.

Finish - A little short, light woods and green jelly sweets. Actually I think I did have an absinth jelly cube or two in a dessert in a restaurant once…

Delicious and quite remarkable, this would be an excellent choice for an in-depth tasting.

Glen Spey 2001, 16 years old, 54% A+


fullsizeoutput_331Nose - clean and hard, smells like the clean side of a gym (generic gym soaps, deodorant and hot sauna). Quite closed though, creams rather than fruits. That hot wood thing is compelling.

Body - Big and rich compared to the nose, a little red chilli and burnt sugar, a lot more fruit (roasted pineapple slices).

Finish - Medium to long with charred apple crumble and a little ash.

A quite classy and old school nose and good richness and interest in the delivery but isn't that well integrated.

Glenrothes 1996, 21 years old, 50.9% A⊕+


fullsizeoutput_330[1]Nose - Complex but gentle, there's wood varnish, sweet but sour cider, washing up liquid (or maybe it's magic - plastic - bubbles). And of course the old, hot radiator, apple and wood feel of well matured Glenrothes. Hops and peppermint tea on exhale. Extremely confident.

Body - Rich, tropical fruit, balanced but with that slightly cheesy thing from very old whisky (way older than 21).

Finish - Very long, caraway and cut wood floorboards against that deep, fruity sweetness. Mango skin and a perhaps imagined fish sauce and coconut ending.

A rich, complex, old school and extremely drinkable whisky. It's not quite as mind-bendingly recommendable, quite, as that Benrinnes 20 from two months ago, but it's still brilliant.  A two bottle job.

Ben Nevis 1996, 21 years old, 52.9% A⊕'


fullsizeoutput_336Nose - Solvent clean, mineral - but also passion fruit and lemon sorbet. Pritt stick and lemon barley squash. There's a sense of rightness in the nose, a fresh confidence, a little bit different but it all still stacks up… so far.

Body - Confident again, fresh but then really deep and rich, really old school fruit and toffee. Wood glue and a licked envelope.

Finish - Long with coffee, chocolate spread on toast and that slightly murky funk I always long for in Ben Nevis.

I find Ben Nevis to be extremely unreliable - and I either love them or hate them. I love this but I do think it might be a little bit personal so tread carefully. That's not to say this isn't a firm recommendation.

Linkwood 1995, 22 years old, 48.8% A⊕


fullsizeoutput_333Nose - Green apple - some baked bramleys, some fridge cold dessert apples. Underneath, a dusty fruit, a herbal warmth (crushed bay and rosemary in the hand), rain on hot tarmac. It is exactly what you were expecting.

Body - Hard, slightly peppery but deliciously deep with toffee, vanilla ice cream and hot tart tatin.

Finish - Long with musky toffee, blue cheese and cracked black pepper.

Great structure and balance here, lovely fruit and classically presented but no surprises.

Cadenhead's Creations, Light Fruity Sherry 1973, 44 years old, 43.4% A⊕-


fullsizeoutput_32dNose - Some whisky is light but intense, very odd when that happens. That old wood is perfect on the nose, it's practically black, so much so it moves up into solvent abuse. Majestic orchard fruit, hard caramel on salted peanuts, a really balancing pastry and marker pen, hot wood glue and even hot electrical insulation… we are moving into old bourbon territory...

Body - Old cognac actually, with cigar stubs in a damp ashtray, baked apples and raisins.

Finish - Quite short. Sweet liquorice torpedoes and dusty caraway. The finish could be from any bourbon.

I'm using my most confusing score for the second time. There's a huge amount of majesty in this, and then at the end it's a little overdone. But you could smell this forever (and then sip something cheaper) - that would be very cost effective.

Glentauchers 1990, 27 years old, 54.4% A⊕


Glentauchers 27 54.4V 168 btls sc Nose - A confident nose, it's rich but quite spirity, I think a long maturation on very refill cask which makes for a gentle, white, slightly agave, but extremely well rounded and considered experience. Lemon slices in tequila and tonic? But that underplays the quality of the spirit.

Body - Heavenly; it's a perfect delivery with coffee, nuts, coconut ice and nougat. Buanana fritters in coconut milk.

Finish - Long but light, the nuts and nougat to the end. Good tannins.

Light but confident in the nose, utterly delicious in the delivery, right to end. Yum. (no surprise for Glentauchers)

Bunnahabhain 1989, 28 years old, 43.8% A⊕+

2xHHD. Yeah I've just got these two hogsheads of 1989 Bunnahabhain over there, shall we mix them?

Actually I’d guess one of them was understrength. But goes to show…

fullsizeoutput_32fNose - Deep, clarty, slightly caught and ashen. Some E45 cream (so, chalky), almond croissant, more sauna wood, wet cut casks in the rain. Petrol and French strawberry tarts with time. Gentle though, not even drinking strength.

Body - Argh… heaven again, the structure here makes up for the abv, and the orange juice and zest livens up and balances the depth of oak and spirit.

Finish - Very long and full of orange skin, even marmalade. Cut flower stalks and preserved lemons at the end.

Extremely good, there are flashes of "this is too weak" but the quality makes up for it every time. Grab this while you can.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Cadenhead’s April 2018 Authentic Collection

Glen Spey 2001, 16 years old, 54.7% B+

288 bottles

Glen Spey 16 288 bottles 54.7 -750x1000Nose - Fresh, mineral, with a kind of foam sweet sugariness to it.  Perhaps a little chalky. Men's shower gel and a freshly opened packet of crayons. Cleaner but fruitier with water, fresh but fridge cold raspberries.

Body - That mineral sweetness continues, very white and chalky with whistle pops and some white pepper. Oilier with water but a lot more ordinary.

Finish - Medium and very sweet, quite drying though and hot. Very hard wood at the end.

Clean, competent, some character but nothing to distract you from your drinking. The nose is very reassuring though.

Benrinnes 2004, 13 years old, 52.2% A-

282 bottles

BENRINNES 13 282 BOTTLES 52.2 -750x1000Nose - Riper, more rotten than expected, with waxy old vanilla, sponge cake and warm buttercream. There's something in between fecundity, flower and wood here - strikes an interesting balance although I'm unconvinced I'd feel the same way after living with it for half a bottle.

Body - Even more “challenging but good”, this is hot like an ammonia heavy Roquefort might be, and as rich and compelling as that can be too. Oil, gunpowder, red fruit, quite rum like.

Finish - Long and richly spiced, almost meaty. Black peppercorns, more vanilla sponge and that fizzing blue cheese thing at the end.

Extremely tasty this one, if a little challenging- chaotic but balanced, it does work. It'd be a good "character" whisky in a small collection of open bottles but it might get passed over quite a lot if you've got a lot open.

Longmorn 1994, 23 years old, 52.6% A

222 bottles, rum cask since October 2014

LONGMORN 23 RUM CASK 222 BOTTLES -750x1000Nose - Having just come from a rich, rum laden cask this is actually a lot more refined. Perfumed, with liquorice torpedoes, barley sugar, men's deodorant and hand soap. After sipping, the malt makes itself known over the rum in the nose. More soap and pepper with water.

Body - Clean, bright and green, it tastes decidedly rummy but with that bright, clean, boiled-sweet sweetness to it from the spirit. It is dangerously moreish too - the fire and sweetshop together. Less compelling with water.

Finish - Medium, leaning more heavily on the sweetshop and rum again, with lemon pith and cough candy at the end.

Weird and delicious in a different way to the Benrinnes, extremely drinkable (I could drink this all evening) but what a thing to do to an mature Longmorn! I would like another dram though please.

Bruichladdich 1993, 24 years old, 46.9% B⊖

204 bottles

Bruichladdich 24 204 bottles 46.9 -750x1000Nose - Candy cigarettes and candle wax, some kind of red berry (not a very sweet one), distant frying fish and more foam sweets - maybe those foam bananas (note they do not really taste or smell of banana). There's an old school feel to the nose here, but it is very, very faint, the cask was a very tired one.

Body - Ultra calm, almost not there - some Pritt Stick, some burnt toast, a café latte, good drying woods but it's a very faint whisky.

Finish - Short, a little crotchy. No.. that passes, it might have been the rums before. Perhaps, minty?

A very tired cask and low ABV, this drinks like a whisky that's had too much oxygen (although probably, prior to that was decent). Quite like the nose I suppose.

Dalmore 2001, 16 years old, 48.9% C⊕

180 bottles, sherry hogshead since June 2015

DALMORE 16 180 BOTTLES 48.9 -750x1000Nose - Restrained but ripe, instant hot chocolate powder but with an underlying polished character and slightly tropical with varnished woods. This has the confidence of a young but official bottling (by which I suppose I mean it has the completeness and balance of a blend of casks). Even better with water, the fruit is fresher, the wood feels more important with a touch of cigar.

Body - Absolutely unexpected, this is unmistakably virgin oak, I feel like I'm back at SMWS! Hard, tannic, palate wreckingly dry with sawdust and misguided craft bourbon out of tiny barrels. Rescued slightly with water, it's just a bit more boring (which takes the edge off).

Finish - Long and awful.

I've never had such a big gap between nose and delivery before. I've no idea what casking this has been subject to before the sherry hogshead (or was that virgin oak and rinsed?), but it doesn't work.

Strathisla 1997, 20 years old, 53.6% A+

228 bottles

STRATHISLA 20 53.6 VOL 228 BOTTLES -750x1000Nose - Deeper, waxier fruits, with wood stain and acrylic varnish. Crushed, cherry boiled sweets. Great balance between red fruit, acrylic, wax and wood.

Body – Deep and a little hot, with cigarette tobacco, hot radiator and dandelion stalks.

Finish - Green peppercorns and quite bitter, a little short. That hot pepperiness at the end, quite a lot of wood.

A beautiful old school nose and initial delivery that doesn't quite make it to the end. Delicious though.

Speyside 1991, 26 years old, 48.9% A+

324 bottles

SPEYSIDE 26 48.9 VOL 324 BOTTLES -750x1000Nose - Bright, slightly sourer but even more old school than the Strathisla. Cream with fresher fruit, cut plums - deeply but classily sweet balanced against a cold, white waxiness (it's almost laundry powder) - extremely compelling.

Body - Soft and creamy with a fizzing pepperiness. Some plywood. Toasted sesame seeds.

Finish - Long with black pepper and a touch of popping candy. Some more plywood.

A gentle yet rich whisky, with overtones of wine cask and hidden structure. Moreish if a little harsh at the end.

Cameronbridge 1989, 28 years old, 59% A⊕

228 bottles

CAMERONBRIDGE 28 228 BOTTLES 50.0 VOL -750x1000Nose - Medium dry with leather jacket and men's perfume. Light grain tones with cut celery and cold cut peach. Fresh and appley - more laundry powder, maybe it's just his deodorant. Even more masculine with water, some gun oil.

Body - Extremely and obviously delicious, apples burst out in the initial delivery, lots of grain but oddly some rum too. Vanilla cream late in the delivery, lots of oils.

Finish - Very long and cleanly fruited, appletize at the end. A little tobacco with water.

This is one of those grains that sneaks up on you - a fantastic whisky that you'd enjoy over the whole bottle. Recommended.

Caledonian 1987, 30 years old, 48.5% B

216 bottles

Caledonian 30 48.5V 216 bot -750x1000Nose - Vanilla cream, maybe nougat with white acrylic paint and Italian meringue. Very gentle, but there's a really buttery, almost butterscotchy note underneath that's very classy against the pure white. Even better with water.

Body - Utterly clean, too clean, bordering on a white rum. That butteriness is there, but the meringue is almost minty, and there's some sponge cake.

Finish - Very long and extremely drying, not tannins though. Some apple sweets, salty at the end.

What a difference a cask makes. This is a non-event, the Cameronbridge is leagues ahead.

Glen Grant 1997, 20 years old, 51.9% A+

264 bottles

GLEN GRANT 51.9 VOL 264 BOTTLES -750x1000Nose - Super musky. Rich vanilla, buttercream (maybe carrot cake), Pritt Stick and a slightly sour but mineral feel. Water brings more of a wood glue but there's orchard fruit in with the buttercream and a little lemon juice.

Body - Light but citric and biting (a welcome relief from the white grain), extremely drying even in the late delivery, but really mouthfilling and wholesome at the same time. Water makes it gentler, with cloudy lemonade and wet wood.

Finish - Medium to long, coffee and cream. Lip smacking stuff.

A ripe, complex drinking whisky. Perhaps on the clumsy side but I could settle into a bottle of it for an evening.

Pulteney 2006, 12 years old, 56% A+'

282 bottles

PULTENEY 12 56 VOL 282 BOTTLES -750x1000Nose - Wet glass, petrichor, orange pith and more bloody buttercream. There's an element of the highly laundered here too, perhaps fabreeze - an old lady's living room. I prefer the other side of it; sitting by an open window, early evening, heavy Summer rain.

Body - Just perfectly graduated, balanced. Malt sweetness, liquorice imps, burnt toffee, instant coffee. The peat is more obvious with water.

Finish - Long, coastal, ending with chilled chardonnay and liquorice root. Very compelling.

Highly recommended.

Highland Park 1989, 28 years old, 48.8% A⊕'

[sold out]

highland parkNose - Sweet and minty, but also jaffa cakes with old acrylic paint and that beautiful old dustiness you get from three decades of mellowing peat. Fresh, cold Summer soil, cheap chocolate and pacers. Very special.

Body - Perfect. The dusty peat is perfect. White and waxed, extremely oily with sun baked clay and chapulinas.

Finish - Extremely long, elegantly fizzing and ghostly, but balanced right to the end with spearmint and stir fried, dried tangerine peel (we used to dry the peel on the radiator and use it with Sichuan peppercorns and beef).

Fascinating and compelling, this is an important whisky and shows why 99% of the bottles I've bought are indies.