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

April 24, 2017


Whiskyfun

Sadly no Limburg for me this year, but I’m glad our fresh Scottish correspondent could make it. Apparently, he survived…

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Angus’s Limburg Travelogue
Serge, as is usual with this time of year I expect a fair few excellent drams to come my way over the course of the next few days at Limburg.

 

But first: a quick pair of unexpected aperitifs! It appears that the DFDS Seaways ferry between Newcastle and Amsterdam has some rather interesting bottlings of its own - well, interesting by the standards of a UK passenger ferry... Both these bottlings were apparently selected by the good folks at Braunstein Distillery.

 

 

Strathisla 18 yo 1991 (57.8%, Embassy Collection, cask #2729. 185 bottles)

Strathisla 18 yo 1991 (57.8%, Embassy Collection, cask #2729. 185 bottles) Colour: Very pale straw. Nose: Lovely and very straight at first nosing with minimal alcohol prickle. Lots of orchard fruits, grass, a little citrus and some slightly buttery cereal notes. Goes on with ripe pears, plum jam and little touches of tinned pineapple. Classical, good, modern speyside style. With water: nicely aromatic now with a deft waxy touch and a little lick of ground green peppercorns. Mouth: A little more bite on delivery which quickly settles to a nice buttery sheen of malt sweetness, a little vanilla and some mustardy notes such as fresh watercress. More green fruitiness now with notes of greengages and stewed apples. With water: a little more natural sweetness with an again heightened sense of pepperiness. Finish: Medium in length with a pleasing dual note of olive oil and black pepper. Comments: a smart bottling, the kind of whisky you can quaff quite easily with pals in your cabin on a sea voyage. An easy and quaffable modern day Strathisla. SGP: 542 - 83 points. 

 

 

Bowmore 14 yo 1996 (59.7%, Embassy Collection, cask #1332)

Bowmore 14 yo 1996 (59.7%, Embassy Collection, cask #1332) Colour: White wine. Nose: a big, chiselled, sharp and precise kiln blast of smoke at first nosing. Peat smoke and a greasier, more industrial variety as well. Underneath there are some little suggestions of various green and tropical fruits nudging their way out. Sea air, wax, camphor, peat oils and something pleasingly Mezcal-esque all vie for position. With Water: it now becomes quite gravelly with wet pebbles and more overt seashore notes. Some sea greens and old kreel nets knocking about in there somewhere. Mouth: A salty old dog! Wool, hessian, chalky phenols, black pepper, BBQ sauce and smoky bacon. A big, dry, ashy, precise and vaguely mineral palate that dials the salt almost up to eleven. With water: peat, various oils, lemon juice, liquid smoke, some tar - those fruits glimpsed on the nose feel far away, this is a bit of a beast. Finish: good length with plenty lingering smoke and some lemon juice sharpness. Comments: If you’re going to have a ‘seafaring’ bottling then I suppose you could do a lot worse than a big, uncomplicated Bowmore like this one. Good stuff! SGP: 348 - 85 points.

 

 

Kumquats With The Dentist...

 

 

Serge, have you noticed how no one ever really talks about the importance of your teeth when tasting whisky? It’s why I always like to visit the dentist the night before Limburg, just to make sure they are in tip top condition. It’s just a shame about the questionable reputation of elderly Dutch dentists... 

 

 

Glen Grant 13 yo 1980/1993 (55.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Glen Grant 13 yo 1980/1993 (55.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Colour: White wine. Nose: Surprisingly fresh! Lots of green apples, citrons, a little wax, lots of fresh, crisp cereal notes, some malty sweetness and some tangerines. Quite straightforward but very clean and elegant, some high quality distillate in evidence. With water: it’s skipped breaststroke and gone straight to butterfly! This is a good swimmer. Lots of lemon rind, cereals, olive oil and some residual camphor notes. Really lovely nose! Mouth: Grassy, mineral, lots of hay and little touch of medicine like some old cough syrup and more really nice, sharp citrus notes. With water: similarly gifted in swimming pool as the nose was. Some light notes of honey come forth along with more cereals, assorted citrus notes - including some lime zest now - and more hay and mineral qualities. Finish: long, lemony and lovely! Comments: a lovely Glen Grant and a good surprise, ideal whisky for summer evening dramming with good friends. SGP: 474 - 87 points. (Thanks Hans!)

 

 

Caperdonich 35 yo 1972/2008 (48.7%, Duncan Taylor, cask #7431, 181 bottles)

Caperdonich 35 yo 1972/2008 (48.7%, Duncan Taylor, cask #7431, 181 bottles) Colour: Light gold. Nose: The old Caperdonich beehive is alive and well. We should probably keep this short... Freshly brewed green tea, pollen, wild flowers, caraway, camphor and plenty of lovely honey notes. Goes on with a little maltiness and notes of aged mead. Classic and beautiful! Mouth: Beautiful delivery! All on honey, wax, fruit syrups and olive oil. Just pure deliciousness. Even some Kumquats (no, seriously...) Not as potent as some of the other 1972 Caperdonichs but full of elegance and grace. Probably caught at a perfect age. The wood is also wonderfully quiet. Finish: medium-long and full of herbs, dried mint, wormwood and little notes of aged yellow Chartreuse. Comments: Oops, I didn’t add water. Pfft, I really don’t think it needs it. In Scotland we call this ‘Juice!’... SGP: 641 -  91 points. (Thanks Uncle Marcel!)

 

 

Balmenach 25 yo 1977/2002 (58%, OB for Golden Jubilee)

Balmenach 25 yo 1977/2002 (58%, OB for Golden Jubilee) Colour: Gold. Nose: A big hot, syrupy bag of fruit to begin with. Quite jammy fruits with notes of plums, lemon rind, wild strawberries and damsons. Some nice notes of coal hearth and wormwood follow with a delicate herbal streak in the background. The wood becomes a bit louder in time but it never overtakes the fruit. With water: more spice now and more orangey notes of bitters, orange liqueur and some elegant waxiness. Mouth: Very nice! Lots of mint, camphor, pine needles, a lovely leafy, earthy quality, some early grey tea and a resinous, raisiny sweetness. Very concentrated, oily and syrupy at full strength. Great, fat and resinous presence in the mouth at full strength, terrific texture. With water: beautiful! More wax, more spice, a nice luscious fruitiness with notes of quince jelly and hessian. Finish: Long, spicy, waxy and with thick fruitiness. Comments: It’s a shame this whisky was bottled in such a stupid decanter, although I suspect the extra air helped it since 2002, I doubt it will help the other bottles for too much longer. A great old Balmenach all the same. SGP: 635 - 91 points.

 

 

And so, to Limburg itself...

 

 

Springbank 1974/1999 (46.3%, OB for Germany, cask #152, 280 bottles)

Springbank 1974/1999 (46.3%, OB for Germany, cask #152, 280 bottles) Colour: Light gold. Nose: Honey, wax, a crisp beery maltiness and some little coastal phenolic touches. We’re not a million miles away from some of the old 1966 bourbon cask Local Barley bottlings. Becomes a little dryer on darjeeling tea and white pepper but all the while with a nicely luscious green fruit streak throughout. Mouth: quite a soft delivery and the wood is perhaps a touch drying but there’s nice notes of hardwood, furniture wax, some tropical fruits and a little notes of orange liqueur, tea tree oil and touches of medicine. Not hugely complex but the flavour is very enjoyable. Finish: medium length with a nice fruity afterglow. Comments: Not the most stellar Springbank but stoic and classical in style and very drinkable. SGP: 635 - 88 points. (Thanks Hideo)

 

 

Oykel 1923/1934 ‘Best Highland Malt Whiskey’ (86 US proof, Balnagown Estates Company Ltd.)

Oykel 1923/1934 ‘Best Highland Malt Whiskey’ (86 US proof, Balnagown Estates Company Ltd.) This is the kind of old totally obscure bottle I really adore. It seems that the USA still keeps turning up old treasures like this from time to time. I also like the fact they’ve used the American spelling of ‘whiskey’ and that the rear label states ‘harmless colouring’. The Oykel is a river running near Balblair distillery so some people thought this would be Balblair but the distillery was mothballed between 1911 and 1949 so it cannot be Balblair. Colour: Harmless Colouring. Nose: It’s really one of these aromas that can only come from ancient Scottish single malts. A powerful combination of dry, herbal peat, old tool boxes, coal sheds, farmyards, engine oil and more tertiary tarry, phenolic and waxy complexities. A beautiful and deeply elegant nose. A totally extinct character of peat from a style of whisky making that no distillery is practicing these days.

 

 

Mouth: A velvety delivery with a real bass like and resounding peatiness. Full of waxes, herbs, oils and mineral notes. A little metallic but otherwise still fresh and kicking. More tarriness and notes of old rope. It’s very much a farmy ‘highland’ peat character throughout. Finish: Long, resinous and delicately drying with some old pipe tobacco, various dried spices and a touch of tannin like some well stewed black tea. Comments: It really held its potency in bottle after so many years, there are touches of OBE but it’s very minimal, you get the feeling this one improved in its bottle. What a total treat, what I wouldn’t give to know the distillery it came from. SGP: 478 - 92 points. (Thanks Hubert!)  

 

Of course Limburg isn’t only about old bottlings though. Lets try a new Whisky Agency release...

 

 

Ireland 27 yo 1990/2017 (48.1%, The Whisky Agency, bourbon barrel) Colour: Light gold. Nose: These batches are starting to become a kind of category all their own these days now that quite a number of casks have been bottled. This one is atypical with plenty of fresh grassiness overlying some very luscious and fresh green/tropical fruit notes. Gooseberry, gorse, tinned pineapple and some sharper citrus notes as well. With water: goes more in the direction of orange peel and tangerines now with a pleasing coal hearth note as well. Mouth: A slight sharpness on the attack but otherwise we are rolling in all kinds of tropical and green fruits again. Lots of guava, mango, lychee and fresh pears. It’s quite simple but also very beautiful as well. With water: the fruit becomes a little more rounded and less separate along with a slightly dryer edge which emerges alongside some nice mineral notes. Finish: Good length, some nice notes of assorted citrus peel and perhaps some more ‘generic tropical stuff’. Comments: Another boringly great old Irish Whiskey. The kind of whisky you can quaff with friends all afternoon. SGP: 761 - 90 points.

 

 

And back to the old stuff by way of the Sunday night charity tasting, hosted by certain well loved Swiss Baron who shall remain Patrick.

 

 

King George V Coronation Decanter 1911

King George V Coronation Decanter 1911 (Usher) Blue and Green versions head to head. One of two decanters tried head to head. Lets see how the colour of the glaze on a ceramic affects the character during bottle ageing (ok ok, I’ll get my coat...) Colour: both are amber in colour, identically so. Nose: An old forest full of pine, dried mushrooms, camphor and all kinds of waxes and resins. The green one had a lower filling level and correspondingly shows a little more leafy oxidative character whereas the blue is a little more earthy and punchy with some touches of rancio and tobacco.

 

 

Mouth: they are both more similar here, you could almost be sipping very old Cognacs. Lots of warmth, stewed raisin and dark fruit notes with some old furniture polish and dried spices. The green starts to veer away from the blue as expected, but both remain remarkably fresh and punchy for such ancient ceramics. Finish: a little short on both but pleasingly resinous and cognacy. Comments: Amazing to try such old ceramics in such great condition. I wonder if the trick with ceramics is in the quality of the glaze on the outside in helping to prevent excessive evaporation. SGP: 633 - 88 points.  

 

Bowmore 19 yo 1975 ‘Largiemeanoch’ 1975 (52.9%, The Whisky Connoisseur, cask #1886)

Bowmore 19 yo 1975 ‘Largiemeanoch’ 1975 (52.9%, The Whisky Connoisseur, cask #1886) As Patrick says: “Of course we all know the famous 1967 Largiemeanoch...” Know it?! I’m practically sick of the stuff! Makes a good highball though. Lets see what this 1975 variant of that legendary name has in store. Not too many 1975 Bowmores around, we’re usually starting to get into ‘tricky’ territory by this point in Bowmore’s history... Colour: Gold. Nose: quite sharp and coastal at first but there is a nice tropical under belly wobbling away beneath. Quite syrupy on the nose, lots of thick, oily fruitiness and some slightly overripe orchard fruits - like tangerines that have sat a little too long in the fruit bowl (usually when it’s mostly teenagers in a house). Some briny notes and slightly lively mineral notes in there as well.

 

 

With water: the fruit is fresher now, lots of pineapple and guava with a delicately mineral peat quality. Mouth: Hey, this is pretty nice! The fruitiness is really quite intense and curiously close to some of these recent late 1980s/early 1990s Irish single malts in style. Quite a lot of gooseberry and nettle notes mixed in with the more traditionally lush tropical aspects. Greengages, various jams and some farmy peat notes popping up here and there. With water: same kind of clean balance arises between fresh green and tropical fruits and some clean, subtle peatiness. Finish: good length, more slightly farmy notes and a gently tropical swallow - like a glass of umbongo with a slight limp. Comments: This was a really good surprise to be honest. I didn’t have great hopes as many Bowmores from 75/76 can be quite strange, but this one was a real winner. Harks back some of the better 1971/72s. SGP: 646 - 91 points.  

 

Glen Grant 43 yo 1966/2010 (52.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book Of Kells for Japan Import System, cask #2928, 130 bottles)

Glen Grant 43 yo 1966/2010 (52.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book Of Kells for Japan Import System, cask #2928, 130 bottles) Colour: Amber. Nose: It’s funny that our Japanese friends would have selected this one. There is a resemblance to some of the really classic old Yamazakis with this slightly antique hardwood character in the nose. Notes of wormwood, old chartreuse, mixed dried herbs, pine cones and some lovely mentholated notes. Some dark chocolate with chilli flakes, pollen and freshly sanded rosewood. With water: the fruitiness becomes a bit brighter with more citrus rind, orange liqueur and mead. Mouth: This feels immediately more classically Glen Grant with a big beehive of honey and various kinds of wax. The wood doesn’t get in the way too much which is a relief. Notes of dark fruits such as dates and sultanas alongside some nice espresso and camphor qualities. With water: a much bigger dram with water. There’s lots of resinous notes and more volume on the spice and chocolate notes. Finish: the wood is borderline but the finish has good stamina and there’s a nourishing resiny quality about it. Comments: It’s a beautiful old Glen Grant for sure, one where the oak really does walk a little bit of a tightrope and water does some fine tricks. A tad too tannic to go past the 90 mark but delicious nonetheless. SGP: 542 - 89 points.

 

 

And now a wee finale... It should be noted there are identical bottlings of PE at these corresponding strengths by G&M for Italy, including the hallowed 64.7% version for Intertrade - both of which are already on Whiskyfun. However, it would seem rude and unprofessional of me not to ‘double check’...

 

 

Port Ellen 15 yo 1969 (62.2%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseur’s Choice)

Port Ellen 15 yo 1969 (62.2%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseur’s Choice) A rather mythically rare pair of Port Ellens for Germany. Serge, you know that joke about cask strength 60s Port Ellens and busses...? Colour: Straw. Nose: Serge, I know how you don’t have great sea legs so I’m sorry to report that we’re on a Fisherman’s trawler and the seas are getting pretty choppy! A pure blade of peat sheathed in lemon rind, whelks, oysters, smoked mussels in brine, a little iodine and a whole marina of seashore freshness and enough minerals for a Geology festival. Quite astounding purity! With water: quite similar but more integration and an over sense of ‘completeness’. Mouth: The Fisherman has discovered the stowaways and is now very much kicking us in the mouth with his boot! But the pummelling is short lived and soon gives over to coal, soot, some superbly oily and fat phenolics and a myriad of citrus fruit. With water: grassier, fruitier and something more akin to smoked kippers and tar liqueur. Gets increasingly herbal but we’re really beginning to venture into anti-maltoporn brigade territory. Finish: I’ll let you know when.... Comments: I suspect it is the same whisky at the Italian bottlings but who cares. There aren’t too many more pure or potent drams out there than these great old PEs. SGP: 578 - 93 points.

 

 

Port Ellen 15 yo 1969 (64.7%, Gordon & MacPhail. Connoisseur’s Choice) Port Ellen 15 yo 1969 (64.7%, Gordon & MacPhail. Connoisseur’s Choice) Colour: Light gold. Nose: Serge, you’ll be pleased to hear that the trawler has moored outside some particularly aromatic farmland. Just beautifully medicinal, more tinctures of iodine and TCP with citrus and tropical fruits. Graphite, ink, fresh earth, waxes and soot. A total show stopper of a nose - beguiling complexity! With water: I really should remember to get the number for this anti-maltoporn brigade from you some day Serge. Mouth: Even at full strength this is majestically oily with intense and almost syrupy peat notes. Coal, tar, old rope, medicine, fruit - it’s all there. With water: approaching perfection now. The most beautiful integration of farmyard, seashore, peat and fruit characteristics. Emotional and beautiful in equal measure. Finish: Toothbrush defyingly long. Comments: You know how you wait ages for a 1969 G&M CC Port Ellen at cask strength and then two come along at once... SGP: 578 - 95 points.  

 

As ever it was another great event with the best whiskies and the best people. Crazy, crowded, sweaty, fun, intense, enlightening and hilarious. A pleasure to see and meet so many old and new whisky friends alike from so many different countries in one place. Long may it continue.  

 

 

 

 
   

 

 

 

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