Google A few Scottish blends, part zwei

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

May 11, 2018


A few Scottish blends, part zwei

We’re back with more young blends, and no, that’s not obligatorily pure masochism. 

White Horse (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017)

White Horse (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017) Two stars
It’s probably not one of the stellar White Horses of days gone by, and not sure Lagavulin’s still glittering in the back, let’s see… Colour: pale gold. Nose: indeed, not one of the old ones, rather a pearish, very faintly smoky (but very, very faintly) blend, with a little cardboard and toasted pastries. Very light altogether, nothing to do with, you know, those old ones that were so great. Mouth: a little more kick and knack, but there’s a little too much burnt caramel for me, which makes it a tad bitter. Notes of paper, oranges, cardboard… But hold on, it does tend to become rather fiercer and more oomphy after a good two minutes, with even something remotely salty. A little tobacco. Finish: medium, a little too bitter, like many entry-range blends. Comments: not quite as much to my liking than Johnnie Red (never thought I’d write that one day), but it remains one of the gooder ones.
SGP:352 - 74 points.

Mitchell’s (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017)

Mitchell’s (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
One of Springbank’s brands, this may get more interesting, as I’ve heard there is some of theirs inside (Springbank or Glengyle)… Colour: almost white. Good, no caramel added. Nose: malt! Do you hear me? Malt! And with a coastal side, some sea breeze, then rather fresh almonds, grapefruits, muesli, blond tobacco, a little chalk, mint leaves, white tequila… It’s not unlike a shier Springbank, if you will… Mouth: tastes like at least 50% malt, and I would wager even more. Same profile, some chalky/coastal elements, good muesli, chalk, lemons, a smokiness, some tobacco, some grass… Finish: a little short but we’re fine. A little more earthy smoke and a few bitter fruits. Green ones. Comments: not quite stardom yet but it sure is one of the better ones. Would have been even better at 43% vol., but I know, taxes…
SGP:352 - 79 points.

Dew of Ben Nevis ‘Blue Label’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017)

Dew of Ben Nevis ‘Blue Label’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017) Two stars
There are various label colours, never quite tried to understand what they mean. But there ought to be Ben Nevis inside… Colour: white wine. Nose: back to fresh pastries, croissants, bread dough, scones, then rather gooseberries and fatter fruits, maybe peaches. It’s really fun to see that while the Mitchell’s was Springbanky (in general, could have been Glengyle indeed), this one’s clearly Ben Nevis. Definitely distillery blends. Mouth: hey hey, this isn’t half good! Rather rough, perhaps, but nicely porridge and doughy, with yeast and white fruits. Sadly it tends to become a little too cardboardy after a short while. Finish: short, a little too bitter, with notes of pot ale. Comments: looks like the label was done by a trainee around the year 1985. Otherwise it’s a rather fine blend.
SGP:451 - 75 points.

Dew of Ben Nevis ‘Supreme Selection’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017)

Dew of Ben Nevis ‘Supreme Selection’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017)
Looks like even the names had been chosen by that very same (Japanese?) trainee… Colour: pale gold. Nose: a little more fatness, more American oak, butter, and gravel. Not sure I like this one better, it’s rather lost the blue one’s fruitiness. Mouth: difficult. Cardboard, burnt herbs and papers, English white toasts, sunflower oil, vanillin… Finish: short and dry. Better drink a glass of water straight away. Comments: so very un-Ben Nevis! Did that trainee compose the vattings too? Ben Nevis’ malts have gotten so fantastic these days, couldn’t they upgrade their blends too? I know, patience is the mother of whisky…
SGP:361 - 50 points.

Well, we know what these blends do need, don’t we. It’s what we’re not having in tasting conditions… A lot of ice! But let’s move on…

Isle of Skye 8 yo (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017)

Isle of Skye 8 yo (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
Ian MacLeod’s famous brand. No, nowhere does it say that there is some Talisker inside, but at least it’s got an age statement… Colour: deeper gold. Nose: well, it’s got an ‘Islands’ side indeed, it’s rather fresh, there’s good malt content, it’s got more body, and I do enjoy these whiffs of seaweed and overripe apples. Perhaps a few figs that suggest sherry’s been in use here. Mouth: fine! Rather smoky (there might be a peater inside), a little toasty as well, with Seville oranges, raisin cookies, and then a leathery side. We’re rather on the malty side here, which is rather cool. Finish: medium, with a little more pepper, although the aftertaste’s rather cardboardy. Almost all young blends are cardboardy at this stage, aren’t they. Comments: one should cut the finishes in these blends!
SGP:452 - 77 points.

Blends, we have to talk!...

Royal Glendee ‘100°proof’ (+/-57%, OB, blend, +/-1960)

Royal Glendee ‘100°proof’ (+/-57%, OB, blend, +/-1960) Five stars
Royal Glendee or Royal Glen Dee was the very first brand of blended Scotch by Chivas Bros and was launched in the mid-19th Century, way before they did Chivas Regal (1909). But this one’s more recent, although I’m not sure the brand’s still active, is it? Colour: gold. Nose: ho-ho, a whole different world. A wonderful coastal maltiness, some seashells, some soot, beeswax, figs, heather honey, quinces… In truth I would have said this was an old young Highland Park, serious. With water: ooh, sweet mushrooms! And more figs, some honeydew, smoked ham, a feeling of high-strength mead … No, not distilled, I did try to distil some honey after having made some mead, that kills all aromas, and now I’m sitting with 50l raw ethanol. But digressing again… Mouth (neat): aww, this has power and punch! More figs, salted fruits, clams, tobacco, candied lemons, raisins, more figs, smoke… Pretty brilliant. With water: would love to know which malts are in there. Very very good, firm, complex, and totally ‘un-blend’ by today’s standards. Finish: long, on some kind of salty fruitcake. A spoonful of miso soup in the aftertaste. Comments: those were the days, as they say at the film club.
SGP:553 - 90 points.

Oh to hell…

White Horse (40%, OB, blend, +/-1961)

White Horse (70°proof, OB, blend, +/-1961) Five stars
Indeed, rotation 1961. Colour: gold. Nose: sweet Jesus, Mary and Joseph, this is splendid. We’re geared towards beehive-y aromas rather then straight peat smoke, and nowhere else will you find this splendid botrytissy profile, except in old Yquem or in a few old Alsatian grains nobles. Okay, or in Austria…  Grilled mushrooms, quinces, apricot pie, pipe tobacco, Spanish ham… It is magnificent. Mouth: impeccable, a tad leathery, salty, very Islay-y, with some wonderful tobacco and always this subtle saltiness, then rather beef soup, Thai bouillon… and stuff. A wee hint of chilli (Sriracha mayo)… Finish: long – at 40% - and extremely complex. Smoke, lemons, oysters, figs… As I sometimes say, more a movie than a still photography. Comments: no wonder everyone’s looking for these old White Horses, although they’re not all equals. This rotation 1961 was the top of the heap.
SGP:453 - 91 points.

Don’t we have room for a last one?...

Johnnie Walker 'Black Label' (43%, OB, blend, +/-1965)

Johnnie Walker 'Black Label' (43%, OB, blend, +/-1965) Five stars
They were saying it was ‘Extra Special’ and we believe them. The Beatles and the Stones were drinking this! Now JW Black remained a fine drop throughout the years, but of course, how could you fight some 1950s (and possibly 1940s) distillates with very high malt proportions? Colour: gold. Nose: have I ever found this much toasted bread in a whisky? It’s an amazing ‘transmutation’ of peat smoke, with a wonderful ashy side, roasted chestnuts, charcoal, walnuts, lit Partagas… Magnificent, really, and a style that’s nowhere to be seen today. But remember, fifty-five years in glass… Mouth: speechless. Please call the anti-blendoporn brigade! Parma ham, porcinis, foccacia, roasted chestnuts again, raisins, praline, cereal bars, ashes, tobacco… Wow, really, wow! I cannot not think of that old gentleman with a moustache that used to be JW’s master blender (I think they were simply saying blender) in the old Johnnie Walker ads. He was very good at his art! Finish: surprisingly long, with some salt, clams, oysters, chocolate, ashes… It’s just endless. Comments: I liked the style of the White Horse just a little better, but frankly, this is in the very same league.
SGP:362 - 91 points.

No wonder some use to claim that Scotch whisky as a whole is smoky. Coz it was. See you!

(Thank you Menno and Ron – I know, I’ve taken my time…)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all blends we've tasted so far






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