Google The Islay Odyssey 2015 Day Two

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

February 3, 2015



The Islay Odyssey 2015
Bringing rare whiskies back to their birthplace to open them.

Day Two

Yesterday we first went to Bunnahabhain where Manager Andrew Brown welcomed us with much gusto… and lovely old whiskies to taste. Of course we had also brought our own…

Bunnahabhain 20 yo ‘Centenary’ (43%, OB, decanter, 1983)

Anders’ Bunnahabhain 20 yo ‘Centenary’ (43%, OB, decanter, 1983) Five stars A stunning decanter that may contain peated pre-1963 peated Bunnahabhain. Remember the distillery’s output used to be peated before 1962/1963. Colour: deep gold. Nose: starts smoky indeed, with whiffs of coal, pine needles, then some herbal teas such as chamomile, old chartreuse, old leather, cigars… It’s all dry, smoky, and really beautiful.

Mouth: very dry, rather with notes of old fino sherry, walnuts, then touches of mustard that sit somewhere between an old Glenglassaugh and a Banff, then more smoky sooty grains. There’s even a little salt. The body’s perfect at 43% vol. and after all these years in a wide-neck decanter. Deliciously old style. Finish: long, herbal, mostly on eucalyptus and coal smoked tar. Comments: a very dry and beautifully austere late peaty era Bunnahabhain. Very interesting because the distillery’s set-up had been changed quite a bit when they switched from peated to unpeated. SGP:274 - 92 points.

Bunnahabhain 40 yo 1963/2003 (42.9%, OB, 743 bottles)

Revisiting Bunnahabhain 40 yo 1963/2003 (42.9%, OB, 743 bottles) Four stars and a halfCourtesy Andrew Brown, Bunnahabhain’s excellently friendly and courteous Distillery Manager. Colour: deep gold. Nose: fruitier and sweeter than the Centenary, with more cherries, then quite some tobacco, walnuts, marmalade… Less smoky for sure, and certainly woodier. Mouth: again, it’s rather sweeter, with oranges, wood spices, and no smoke that I can get. Finish: rather long, more extractive, with an oak that feels a bit, strong black tea and such… Comments: no peat, more oak, and proof that not all 1963s were peaty. A great dram nonetheless, just a wee bit oaky for my taste. SGP:451 - 88 points.

Bunnahabhain 17 yo 1965 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, +/-1982)

Jonny’s Bunnahabhain 17 yo 1965 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, +/-1982) Five starsColour: pale mahogany. Nose: wonderful, on chocolate, with some old rancio, old balsamic vinegar, then a little mint, shoe polish and walnut oil. So a fatter Bunnahabhain, but that’s the sherry. Mouth: really big for both this series and the distillery. Marmalade, a touch of aniseed, mint, liquorice, then more bitter chocolate and even more walnuts. Finish: a tad shorter now, with more bitter chocolate. Loses it a bit – just a bit, but that’s the low ABV.

Comments: excellent, compact, with a lovely chocolate. Our Swiss wing should love it, but he couldn’t make it to Islay yet. SGP:462 – 90 points.

Bunnahabhain 40 yo (41.7% OB, Limited Edition, 750 bottles, 2012)

Andrew's Bunnahabhain 40 yo (41.7% OB, Limited Edition, 750 bottles, 2012) Five stars No vintage on this one, it ay have been a multivintage version. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a very fruity one, full of ripe bananas, plantains, with also guavas and papayas. Then a little menthol and caraway. It’s a very clean one, pristine, rather light and elegant. The oak remained rather shy, hurray. Mouth: juicy fruits, chewy fruit salad sweets, then a little more greenness from the oak. Green tea. Remains fresh and easy. Finish: an acceptable length. Always on fruit salad and green tea. Comments: one of the fresher old ones, very drinkable. SGP:651 - 90 points.

After our visit to the shores of the Sound of Islay, we went back home in Bowmore and did more freewheeling Islay tasting…

Bruichladdich 1970/2002 (44.2%, OB)

Bruichladdich 1970/2002 (44.2%, OB) Five starsAnother old friend. I’ve had a few but just noticed that I had never taken any proper tasting notes. How’s that possible? Colour: pale gold. Nose: as I remembered it, that is go say relatively light, very fruity, and yet not quite ooh-ah watch my mangos. The trademark melons, guavas, then ‘simple’ apples and ripe gooseberries. All elegance. Mouth: a kind of supremely elegant green fruitiness. Melon skin, peaches, yellow plums and a touch of honeydew. Some very racy blue-green tea as well. Very delicate. Finish: medium long, on more or less the same notes. Lovers of heavy beasts might not enjoy this style to the max, but I find this subtlety pretty amazing. Comments: I think this baby remains one of my favourite ‘contemporary’ bottling of Bruichladdich (not talking about the peaters), but it may have lost a bit of immediateness after a good ten years in bottle. It got a little drier, I think. SGP:551 – 91 points.

Bruichladdich 1970/2001 (45.5%, OB, valinch ‘I was there’, bourbon, cask #5081, 250 bottles)

Tomas’ Bruichladdich 1970/2001 (45.5%, OB, valinch ‘I was there’, bourbon, cask #5081, 250 bottles) Five stars This little baby celebrated the first distillation after the reopening of Bruichladdich, and was bottled on May 29, 2001. Colour: pale gold. Nose: the style is obviously similar to that of the ‘large batch’ 1970, but it’s got a little more power, and probably more citrus fruits, including pink grapefruits. A little kiwi, perhaps, lemons for sure, perhaps some slightly unripe kumquats (very popular in Holland)… Rather zestier, globally.

Mouth: once again, we’re close to the ‘big’ 1970, but this one’s a little better chiselled, with (even) more defined fruits. Melons and sweet grapefruits, a drop of rosehip tea. Maybe a slice of banana. Finish: medium. More tart fruits and hardly any straight oak. Comments: crikey, it overtook the ‘regular’ 1970. SGP:651 - 92 points.

Caol Ila 15 yo 1972 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, +/-1987)

Jeroen’s Caol Ila 15 yo 1972 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, +/-1987) Five stars I’m glad I’ve got his one in my glass again because another bottle had been absolutely splendid, but a little flat and short (WF 85). This one has more oomph indeed, with something that, quite bizarrely, reminds me of the older version of Laphroaig 30. Superb tarry and sooty passion fruits on the palate – and it would never lose steam. Phew, glad I could do justice to this lovely pre-rebuilding Caol Ila. SGP:544 – 90 points.

Caol Ila 1974/1995 (43%, Velier, hogsheads, casks #12497-12500)

Caol Ila 1974/1995 (43%, Velier, hogsheads, casks #12497-12500) Four stars A bottling by Signatory Vintage for Velier in Italy. Probably f om the first months of distillation after the distillery’s massive expansion. Colour: white wine. Nose: a rather mineral, flinty, lightly peaty Caol Ila, with a little antiseptic. Green apples as well, lime, sauvignon blanc… Mouth: excellent. Great body at 43%, some sweet lemons, a touch of dill, a little chalk… Tends to lose steam a bit, though, but it remains very clean. A slightly sweeter sauvignon blanc. Finish: rather short, quite surprisingly, but clean, mineral, lemony. Comments: a notch simple, but otherwise just excellent. Very drinkable. SGP:456 - 87 points.

Laphroaig 1968/1984 (40%, Gordon MacPhail, Celtic label)

Laphroaig 1968/1984 (40%, Gordon MacPhail, Celtic label) Three stars We should expect some tropical fruits, I guess. Colour: pale gold. Nose: well, not quite, it’s rather restrained, grainy, coming with whiffs of damp cardboard, a little mud… What’s funny is that everything’s falling into place after a moment, while some pretty oranges and citrons are coming out. Not quite sure yet, but things seem to be improving. Mouth: sweet, soft, with unexpected touches of coffee and liquorice/smoke. The whole’s very light, and pretty dry/drying at this point. Finish: short, with some putty and smoked barley. Very sooty and drying aftertaste. Comments: nothing to complain about but this is a very, very light version of Laphroaig on the palate. Unless this is not Laphroaig 1968. That’s not totally impossible. Ermnlmrn…SGP:255 – 80 points.

Laphroaig 22 yo 1976/1998 (50.4%, Kingsbury, Japan, sherry, cask #4437)

Marcel’s Laphroaig 22 yo 1976/1998 (50.4%, Kingsbury, Japan, sherry, cask #4437) Five stars Like this on the back label: this is ‘not blended with lesser grain whiskies’. Not kidding ;-). Kingsbury used to be related to Eaglesome Ltd., so W.M. Cadenhead. Colour: pale gold. Nose: full-blown grapefruit and passion fruits. In truth, there isn’t much else, but that was more than sufficient. Maybe a drop of eucalyptus medicine or something. The smoke’s rather discreet. Perfect. With water: even more perfect. Mouth: massive, extremely powerful (tastes like much more than 50%), and quite brutal. Grassy peelings, grapefruits, green lemons, an almondy grassiness, some fresh bitter walnuts, a spoonful of manzanilla, some mustard… Seizes your tongue. With water: do they have an Anti-Maltoporn Brigade on this island? Finish: loses it a bit, just a bit. Maybe a touch of old cardboard? Comments: can you be pristine and massive at the same time? Not too sure. Not a peat monster at all, tough, but that’s probably better in this context. SGP:654 - 93 points.







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