Google A tiny bag of young coastal malts

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

November 19, 2014


A tiny bag of young coastal malts

Just for fun – and for a change.

Old Pulteney ‘Clipper around the world’ (46%, OB, 2014)

Old Pulteney ‘Clipper around the world’ (46%, OB, 2014) Two stars and a half More and more whiskies are starting to look like postal stamps and come in a variety of colours – and themes. With Pulteney that’s usually ships and boats. And this one is one of those NAS bottlings that bear twice the price of their older AS siblings. As Pete & Jack have said, NAS isn’t about age, it’s about price. Colour: straw. Nose: very young, fresh and rough. Saccharine and apple juice, a touch of sea water and then more vanilla and not-too-ripe greengages and other plums. Pleasant but very simple. Mouth: a modern zesty and vanilled dram, with that ‘salty touch’ and then plenty of apples, both ripe and unripe. Or cider apples. I’ve had some young Bruichladdich that was pretty similar. Waves or Rocks – or something. Finish: medium, and pretty salty indeed. A little bitter oak in the aftertaste. Comments: certainly fine. For sailors? SGP:341 - 78 points.

Bruichladdich 2003/2014 (61.8%, Svenska Eldvatten, bourbon hogshead, cask #259, 143 bottles)

Bruichladdich 2003/2014 (61.8%, Svenska Eldvatten, bourbon hogshead, cask #259, 143 bottles) Four starsMore private/independent casks of Bruichladdich by the former new owners (!) seem to be coming out these days, not just the Port Charlottes. Interesting… Colour: white wine. Nose: how unusual. Not the anticipated melony blast at all, no vanilla-ed roundness either, we’re rather experiencing a huge grassy assault on our nostrils, and certainly some spirity notes. Water is more than needed. With water: walking in the fields behind the distillery. That may include sheep dung – all natural! Mouth (neat): an absolutely hugely immensely (that’ll do, S.) citric arrival. Lemon balm everywhere plus plain grass, lemon zests and, well, alcohol (these almondy/stony notes that sometimes come with high strengths). Kirsch at still strength. Wham! With water: we tamed it. It’s a slightly more herbal version of the lovely ‘all blue’ 10 yo from three years ago. Add leaves and buds. Finish: medium length. It’s only at this point that more coastal notes do emerge, especially sea salt. Well, any salt. Comments: this baby’s to be handled with care – and water - but then it’s rather rewarding – and a little contemplative, as Mark Reynier would have said. SGP:461 - 86 points.

Too hell with our coastal tour, why not stay at Bruichladdich instead.

Bruichladdich 2002/2013 (55.2%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #MoS 13026, 235 bottles)

Bruichladdich 2002/2013 (55.2%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #MoS 13026, 235 bottles) Four stars and a half Let’s see what the wizards aus Paderborn Germany have come up with again… Colour: straw. Nose: pure creamy vanilla on fresh bananas and melons. Total modern Bruichladdichness, this is that official 10yo, only at CS. All-vitamins fruit juice, a drop of barley water, one or two crushed leaves. Say peach leaves (which make for great herbal teas, ever tried that?) With water: hessian and menthol plus that same walk again (behind the distillery – you have to climb quite a bit.) Mouth (neat): all in keeping with the nose, although this would be more citrusy, and certainly a little fatter. Kumquats and passion fruits plus those bananas and melons. Firm and very good. With water: great spirit, gets bolder with water, and yet light and wonderfully fruity. Love the tropicality. Finish: medium long, clean, citrusy. Lime blossom tea in the aftertaste. Comments: bordering perfection. Great work by the distillers. SGP:551 - 89 points.

Moving on. Well, not quite…

Bruichladdich 2002/2013 (58.2%, Malts of Scotland, Warehouse Diamonds, Château d’Yquem hogshead, cask #MoS 13062, 185 bottles)

Bruichladdich 2002/2013 (58.2%, Malts of Scotland, Warehouse Diamonds, Château d’Yquem hogshead, cask #MoS 13062, 185 bottles) Two stars I have to confess that I find the idea of an Yquem hogshead quite scary. Pff, scared? Not one bit! Colour: deep gold. Nose: go to the nearest candy shop, take the largest bag they have, fill with 50% vanilla fudge, 50% toffee and 50% (hold on…) dried apricot halves. Then plunge your head into that bag and breathe deeply. With water: traces of sulphur, but really nothing ‘too much’, no long-cooked cabbage and leek broth. Some mentholated, gingery spices. Was that recoopered French oak? Mouth (neat): more Bruichladdichness but this is very ‘nervous’, both tart and rounded/fudgy, which might be a tad dissonant. Add quite some leather, strong honeydew (pine) and tobacco. And quite a lot of spicy oak. With water: rather more like it, but I still find it slightly dissonant. Finish: long, all oaky spices out now. Curry, ginger, cloves, caraway, even a little salt. Comments: a meta-Bruichladdich. I’m not too fond of this style, but that’s me. Some will/have loved it, I’m sure. I won’t swap one bottle of the previous one for twelve magnums of this baby! SGP:561 - 74 points.

You say older Bruichladdichs? Such as these?...

Bruichladdich 16 yo (43%, Duthie for Giorgio D’Ambrosio, +/-1985)

Bruichladdich 16 yo (43%, Duthie for Giorgio D’Ambrosio, +/-1985) Five stars Probably mid to late 1960s distillation. There also was a 18 yo ‘map label’ for Giorgio that was excellent, even if a little light at 40% vol. (WF 88). Colour: gold. Nose: typical fatter and bolder spirit, with rather more wax and oils than today. Almost a Clynelish, except that it’s still lighter spirit, and rather more on melons and peaches than on citrus. It’s also got these typical coastal notes, so I’d say it’s like eating some honeydew melon while drinking a wee glass of good retsina, sitting on a pier. On the Loch Indaal, I should add. I know I use the word ‘lovely’ way too often, but this is lovely indeed. Mouth: are you kidding me? Wasn’t this bottled at 50% vol.? Superb arrival, fantastic mouthfeel. It really reminds me of one of my favourite desserts, les oranges au miel et à l’huile d’olive. Segment oranges, peel everything, make a sauce out of honey, orange juice and some fruity oilve oil, pour on the sliced oranges, enjoy. And I do find a little peat, some verbena, chartreuse and all these fine sappy/herbal things that I enjoy so much. Superb. Finish: incredibly long, quite lemony. A touch of pinot gris in the aftertaste, and maybe a little too much bitterness. Loses one point. Comments: impressively stylish, big, and yet very elegant. A great whisky, really, also because most Bruichladdichs from that era were much more sherried as far as I can tell. SGP:652 - 90 points.

Let’s bring this little session to an end with a very old and very special official of the same age:

Bruichladdich 1965/1981 'Centenary' (43%, OB, decanter)

Bruichladdich 1965/1981 'Centenary' (43%, OB, decanter) Two stars and a half Imagine this baby was distilled fifty years ago, when Harold Wilson was the PM and the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were… Come on S., cut the crap, this is not! Colour: gold. Nose: similar and different at the same time. These decanters usually bear low levels, so the whisky’s more in contact with oxygen and may bottle-age quicker. Indeed, there’s more iron in this, tealeaves, plenty of mushrooms – and I mean plenty – and wheelbarrows of humus. Having said that, the backbone remains pretty firm and straight, with some honeyed melons and a good slice of orange cake. Then more and more menthol. The palate will be hit or miss with this kind of nose… Mouth: very fine, phew! Lighter than the Duthie, though, and really very cognacqy. Frankly, this could be an old cognac, with even some rancio on top of notes of tobacco and slightly stale black tea. Sadly, it loses a lot of steam after five seconds, becoming rather flat and too tea-ish. Finish: short. Almost none, in fact. Comments: always interesting to try these old glories, but this is another example of an old decanter bearing a very wide neck that just wouldn’t keep long. Still today we’re seeing such decanters being launched into the market – sometimes at extortionate prices – and sometimes even in cases that are designed to be kept lying instead of standing. Tell me about secure investments, boo! SGP:341 - 79 points.

(Thanks a bunch again, Tom!)







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