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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

July 27, 2013


Funnily gimmicky
Glenisla vs. Craigduff

It’s really great that Signatory still had some casks of these rarities. Both ‘peaty’ malts were produced in the 1970s at Glen Keith, for a very short period of time (some sources say Strathisla, actually the jury’s still out as it seems that a few big shots keep arguing). Chivas and Seagram had tried several ways of making ‘Islay’ on the mainland, that’s why we also find old peated Benriachs, for example.

Glenisla 34 yo 1977/2011 (44.3%, Signatory Vintage, cask #19605, 274 bottles)

Glenisla 34 yo 1977/2011 (44.3%, Signatory Vintage, cask #19605, 274 bottles) Two stars Glenisla was made using peaty water from the Outer Hebrides, that’s been concentrated via distillation. Iain Henderson, who was yet to become Laphroaig’s manager (obviously), had conducted the experiments for Chivas. I’ve only tried Glenisla once so far, and found it a little unlikely (WF 75). Oh and the one we’re having today was distilled on 7/7/77 and bottled on 11/11/11. How smart is that? Colour: white wine. Nose: oh what a strange nose! Heavy liquorice and coffee at first nosing, with plenty of sour wood as well, dust… It does smell a bit like some kind of coffee-flavoured fudge, in fact. It’s also a little yoghurty around the edges, before a very odd kind of smokiness arises, hard to describe. I think I won’t even try… Some fermenting hay too. Mouth: very strange indeed. A bizarre grassiness, quite sour, notes of cheese, some kind of stale beer, some lemon juice… And then more pepper. Also this strange feeling of stale peaty water, but that may well be my mind’s work. I don’t seem to remember I’ve tried too much peaty water anyway, even during the wildest Islay days. Finish: medium length, a little better. Tinned pineapples? It’s more citrusy too, and that’s pleasant. Comments: this one is very hard to score. It’s probably more of historical interest than organoleptically appealing, even though it’s got some pleasant sides. A great bottling, but maybe not for the best reasons. SGP:442 - 72 points.

Craigduff 40 yo 1973/2013 (49.6%, Signatory Vintage, cask #2516, 616 bottles)

Craigduff 40 yo 1973/2013 (49.6%, Signatory Vintage, cask #2516, 616 bottles) Four stars This baby was bottled by Signatory exactly 40 years after it was distilled, on April 4th, 1973. So 4/4/73 to 4/4/13. It seems that it’s also been made at Glen Keith, so earlier than the Glenisla. Not too sure… The Whisky Exchange have got a nice explanation by Andrew Symington (owner of Signatory) but what’s still a little unclear is what are the technical differences between Glenisla and Craigduff. Colour: gold. Nose: not that different from the Glenisla for a wee while, but it gets then much fruitier and, let’s say it, pleasant. We have mainly oranges and orange squash, funny hints of tamarind, a bubblegumy side that we often find in ex-Lomond stills malt whisky (Mosstowie and such)… Also touches of overripe bananas and maybe even a little sugar cane. A very good surprise so far. After ten minutes: more vanilla. Mouth: once again, this is much, much better. It’s got something of old Ladyburns or Inverlevens if I remember well, with a rather massive combination of oaky vanilla with oranges and lemons. I do not get any peat, I have to say, but it’s a fine spirit, no doubt. Not just ‘for the record’. Nice maple syrup too. Finish: long and much more citrusy. A very zesty finish, very lemony. Cool! Comments: this Craigduff defeats the Glenisla hands down. I also think it’s funny that while trying to come up with a peaty Islay-style whisky, they ended up making some Lowlander ;-). Although there’s more peatiness in the aftertaste. Worth trying, really. SGP:651 - 86 points.







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