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

April 19, 2013


Whiskyfun

Quite a few Brackla today.
Yes it was about time.

I’ve long wanted to do a nice and long Brackla verticale and a new bottling by Cadenhead gives me the best excuse. We’ll kick this off with a very young one at low strength as the apéritif…

Royal Brackla 9 yo 1991/2000 (43%, Signatory, refill sherry, cask #6362, 928 bottles)

Royal Brackla 9 yo 1991/2000 (43%, Signatory, refill sherry, cask #6362, 928 bottles) one star and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: apple juice, litres of apple juice, then a little gravel and cardboard as well as quite a lot of paraffin. A little mustard and soap too. Very humble so far, I’d say. No sherry that I can get. Mouth: light and cardboardy at first sips, not very nice, but it does improve after a quarter of a second (okay, five seconds) with more lemon and even a little brine. A coastal side, really. I like this palate much better than the nose but the whole remains a little spirity and raw. Finish: quite long, a little briny. Comments: all independent bottlers used to issue such ‘simple’ casks ten or fifteen years ago, I’m not sure they were worth it. Having said that, I believe most don’t do that anymore – Signatory certainly don’t - so, we’re progressing, in a way… Yeah yeah, the good old days… SGP:341 - 67 points.

Let’s do the rest slowly, because strengths will vary a lot…

Royal Brackla 20 yo 1992/2013 (52.4%, Cadenhead, sherry, 180 bottles)

Royal Brackla 20 yo 1992/2013 (52.4%, Cadenhead, sherry, 180 bottles) Three stars and a half You guessed it, this is the new one. Colour: full gold. Nose: what’s striking is the soapiness that was already in the young 1991, but here it’s a kind of asset, a kind of waxy soapiness – or the other way ‘round - that even becomes almondy. Dove’s best? (with the girls in the bathtubs and all that?…) Also apple pie, candy sugar and a little milk chocolate. Very nice fino-ish sherry. Walnuts. With water:  more classic, rounder, softer, on more dried fruits, figs, raisins… Also nice farmy touches, hay, farmyard in summer… Mouth (neat): very strong, with heavy dry sherry and quite some gingery oak. Some chocolate again, walnut liqueur, maybe chicory (with little water)… With water this time: it’s the grassy side that got bigger. Leafy and leathery, pleasantly so. Finish: long, on the same kinds of notes. Leafy, slightly bitter aftertaste. Comments: a kind of heavily concentrated fino or manzanilla. Unusual and interesting. SGP:361 - 83 points.

Let’s go back in time now… Slowly…

Royal Brackla 14 yo 1978/1993 (43%, Signatory, casks #11079-11081, 1200 bottles)

Royal Brackla 14 yo 1978/1993 (43%, Signatory, casks #11079-11081, 1200 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: white. I mean, almost white. Nose: very nice! No signs of oak or anything oaky, rather a full grassy spirit that smells like ‘a walk in the forest’ with pine needles, moss, fern and all that. There are also traces of coal smoke and just a little porridge and lemon. Very curious about the palate… Mouth: it is a little bizarre, some parts being similar to what we already found in the 1991 by Signatory, that is to say that there’s quite some cardboard and paraffin. Some grass too and then more and more salt, ala Bowmore. Where does all this salt come from? A light palate but it isn’t weak and it even tends to improve, with a cardboardy side that goes away while the whisky becomes very briny. Finish: unexpectedly long and salty. Comments: it is a little weird but I quite like it. Nice fun very dry whisky to pour blind to your friends. SGP:251 - 78 points.

While we’re having lighter ones…

Royal Brackla 14 yo 1969 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, old brown label, +/- 1983)

Royal Brackla 14 yo 1969 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, old brown label, +/- 1983) Four stars AKA banner label. Colour: gold. Nose: most interestingly, this one shares the menthol and, above all the whiffs of moss, pine needles and fern that we had in the 1978. It’s absolutely not tired and there are also nice touches of vanilla (not caramel, eh) that make it rounder. Quite some peat smoke too, another surprise. Lovely lovely nose with little Old Bottle Effect for once. Marzipan. Mouth: hurray, it’s kept all its oomph. And, sadly, its feint soapy side as well, akin to what we already found above but it’s all very discreet so no big deal. Nice honeydew, grapefruits... Also something a little metallic and, again, salty starting to appear. Tends to lose steam, sadly. Finish: shortish, a little dry, papery and metallic. Comments: it all started fantastically, went on very nicely and ended a little… shaky and weakish. Isn’t that the fate of many old bottles at low strength? The half was absolutely stellar so my score will remain high. SGP:351 - 85 points.

Look, all those lightish Bracklas were nice and interesting but why not use heavier artillery from now on? And when I say heavier… Cough cough… Hope these will swim well!

Royal Brackla 15 yo 1972/1988 (64.5%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade, 558 bottles)

Royal Brackla 15 yo 1972/1988 (64.5%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade, 558 bottles) Three stars and a half What a charming ‘naïve’ label… This one and the next one were probably filled at a much higher strength than today’s very common 63 or 63.5% vol. Colour: white wine. Nose: extreme grassy and mineral notes and not much else, which is not abnormal. Like nosing a mixture of gravel, cut grass, lemon juice and methanol or wood alcohol. Water will be welcome… Oh, also a little white vinegar. With water: a little horse sweat and then a much cleaner and more lemony profile, all on almonds and walnuts (the usual two compadres with this style). Maybe touches of pineapples. Anyway, it really became nice and gentle despite its nakedness. Mouth (neat): a feeling of icing sugar, probably from the high alcohol. Some lemon and, perhaps, almond oil. Hard to say, I need my throat… With water: very good now, but you have to like Williams pears. All the youth came out. Finish: rather long, with more pears and even more pears. Maybe a little soap again in the aftertaste? Comments: it’s actually more a game than whisky, all you’ll need is some water, a pipette and a little time. SGP:451 - 84 points.

Royal Brackla 12 yo (65%, James MacArthur, The London Scottish Malt Whisky Society, cask #4782, +/-1985)

Royal Brackla 12 yo (65%, James MacArthur, The London Scottish Malt Whisky Society, cask #4782, +/-1985) Four stars The Port Ellens in this series were some of the best whiskies ever bottled by Man, so we have deep expectations now... Colour: straw. Nose: not much, or rather almost nothing, only, maybe, a little butter and litres of white-spirit. Or, dare I say, vodka? I remember a ‘Balkan Vodka’ at 88% vol. (they had added ‘handle with great care’ onto the label, a smart move.) With water: much harder to tame than the 1972. Still raw and grassy, rather eau-de-vie-ish. With more water (we’re around 35% now):  some earth and roots coming through, me likes. Our beloved gentian spirit? Mouth (neat): same feeling as with the 1972. Fructose and lemon. Hem… With water: ah yes, it became quite brilliant, with a perfect earthiness and a lot of herbs, chives, sage, dill… and more. Very clean and pure, very fresh. Finish: long, earthy, with more liquorice wood after that. Maybe these pears again in the aftertaste. Comments: no soapiness at all in this one. It’s no easy whisky and I wouldn’t say it’s worth a huge score but it’s greatly old-school. What a series! SGP:352 - 87 points.

(With thanks to Gilles, Olivier, Konstantin and Arno)

 

 

 
   

 

 

 

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