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

December 29, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Assorted Holiday Pairs
I know, tenuous in the extreme. However, there is always simple pleasure to be found in these kinds of mini head to head sessions. Let’s try to pick good ones today if you don’t mind. I don’t tend to feel very masochistic during the holidays...


Ben Nevis 21 yo 1997/2018 (49.7%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 192 bottles) Ben Nevis 21 yo 1997/2018 (49.7%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 192 bottles)
There’s a lot of Ben Nevis around these days it seems. You’ll not hear any complaints from me... Colour: yellow wine. Nose: it’s a rather grassy and slightly austere one. Lots of chalk, soft minerals, wool, freshly laundered linen, canvas and various breads. Particularly sourdough with these soft yeasty touches. With a little breathing it becomes fruitier - towards citrus oils and peels. Some notes of clay and earth as well. Excellent. Mouth: fruitier than the nose would suggest, lots of citrus and white stone fruits. Also rather textured and waxy as well. More breads, more minerals, lightly sooty, various toasty notes such as seeds and cereals. Some light notes of bath salts and fragrant soaps - although that’s not to say that it’s ‘soapy’. Finish: long, waxy, citrusy, oily, grassy, mineral and very full and bready. Comments: I just love these late 1990s Ben Nevis, some of the most characterful contemporary Scottish whiskies around if you ask me. They don’t rely on peat or excessive wood, it’s really just an abundance of distillery character in full bloom.
SGP: 561 - 89 points.


Ben Nevis 22 yo 1996/2018 (53.8%, Berry Brothers for Royal Mile Whiskies, cask #1196, refill butt) Ben Nevis 22 yo 1996/2018 (53.8%, Berry Brothers for Royal Mile Whiskies, cask #1196, refill butt)
Colour: white wine. Nose: not totally dissimilar to the 97, there’s still this slight sense of austerity with these flinty, chiseled, lemony, slightly yeasty and autolytic qualities. A very good blanc du blanc champagne. As it opens up it goes more towards chalk, limestone, olive oil and lime zest. There’s also bailed hay, light cereal tones and assorted dried herbs. With water: chiseled, pin-sharp, mineral, oily and with a few nervous and resinous fruity notes. Really excellent and very old school in character. Mouth: Great arrival, all on juicy fruits, lemon sherbet and a big burst of bubblegum up front. Lemon cheesecake, sourdough starter, sandalwood, dried thyme, herbal extracts, citrus infused olive oil, light mustardy notes and camphor. Gets more tropical as it goes on but it’s more towards dried fruits such as papaya, banana and pineapple. With water: remains dry but also pretty fruity, an old buttery riesling, some cornflakes dusted with icing sugar and hints of chamomile and grapefruit. Finish: long, mustardy, peppery, oily, lots of resinous fruits, citrus peels, some cough medicine and hints of fruit salad sweets. Comments: The kind of whisky that is on one level extremely pleasurable, but at the same time you could take a pipette and a spare hour and really dissect all that’s going on inside. Another terrific Ben Nevis, the complexity propelled this one a couple of notches higher than the 97.
SGP: 661 - 91 points.


Glenallachie 9 yo (59.3%, Jack Wiebers ‘World Of Orchids’, cask #3004, bourbon, 264 bottles) Glenallachie 9 yo (59.3%, Jack Wiebers ‘World Of Orchids’, cask #3004, bourbon, 264 bottles)
I like the name Jack Wiebers ‘World Of Orchids’, sounds like a very niche German garden centre that you might stumble across while on holiday. Colour: light amber. Nose: a curious immediate fusion of steel wool and apricots. Rather active wood on display as well with these notes of coconut water, pencil shavings and vanilla cream soda. Continues with notes of putty, raspberry syrup, strawberry curd and hints of butter biscuits and lanolin. Interesting stuff, a tad extreme in some aspects. With water: perhaps the label is playing tricks on me, but I do get this rather pleasant floral aspect once water is added, a kind of geranium and carnation note. Also a little red liquorice and pine cone. Mouth: new leather, oak sap, graphite, carbon paper and foam banana. A bit tough, but the texture is good and syrupy. With water: mushroomy, earthy, mossy, banana liqueur, tarragon, cough mixtures and various fruit cordials. Some cocktail bitters to boot! Finish: medium and rather spicy, some more leathery aspects, black pepper, cough syrups and some sticky sweetness. Comments: There’s some pretty entertaining aspects to this one, and it certainly is rather nice with water. But I feel the wood is a tad too much overall.
SGP: 641 - 79 points.


Glenallachie 43 yo (50.4%, Elixir Distillers ‘Director’s Special’, sherry butt, 313 bottles) Glenallachie 43 yo (50.4%, Elixir Distillers ‘Director’s Special’, sherry butt, 313 bottles)
Colour: rosewood. Nose: a perfect storm of cough medicine, prune juice, very old Armagnac and various stewed fruits such as dates, figs and sultanas. There’s also an acidity-laced sweetness of old balsamic, something chocolatey like a pocket-warmed Toffee Crisp bar and plenty of lovely rancio. Many lovely notes of old wine cellars, bodegas, salty old Oloroso, cinnamon sugar and toasted fennel seeds. With water: earthier, sootier, more herbal and more of these cough medicine aspects. Hints of marmite, leaf mulch, walnut oil, hessian and some pretty old, gamey pinot noir. Mouth: the sherry is pretty hefty, all towards mushrooms, earth, cola syrup, cherries soaked in cognac, strawberry wine, very old Madeira, expensive cured meats and very bitter dark chocolate. There are some pretty big peppery tannins but they’re just about held in check by these big dark, syrupy fruit notes and the light salinity of the sherry. With water: bigger fruits which is excellent news. Lots of jams, precious teas, jasmine, coal dust, five spice, walnut wine, natural tar extract, hardwood resins, prune eau de vie and some mineral oils. Finish: long, leathery, herbal, full of bitter chocolate, more very old oloroso, crushed walnuts, dried mixed herbs, lemon peel and some warming espresso notes. Comments: Touch and go at times in terms of tannin and wood influence, but a drop of water really elevates all the best aspects and dials up the complexity. A terrific old, uber-sherried Glenallachie, bottled just in time I’d say.
SGP: 661 - 91 points.


Tamnavulin 25 yo 1974/2000 ‘New Century’ (45%, OB, casks #5989-5993) Tamnavulin 25 yo 1974/2000 ‘New Century’ (45%, OB, casks #5989-5993)
I’ve never really been that convinced by Tamnavulin as a whisky, but we have a pair of 25 year olds to hand so why not... Colour: gold. Nose: well, this is all rather lovely. Lots of baked apples, ripe pears, garden fruits glazed in golden syrup, various fruit crumbles, a wee sprig of mint. Perhaps some other nice fruitiness such as melon and banana as well. Very pleasant, fruity and easy going. Mouth: again, this is rather syrupy, fruity and well-textured. Some coconut, flaked almonds, buttery pastry, orange oils, fruit cordials, yellow wild flowers, heather honey and a few soft cereal notes scattered throughout. It isn’t overly complex by any measure and I’m sure it won’t win any awards, but it’s simple, pleasurable and undeniably attractive malt whisky. Finish: good length, fragrant with herbs, flowers, honey, wood resins and citrus peels. Comments: tasty old malt whisky that you could quite easily dispatch into a tumbler and slowly fall asleep with in front of the television at this time of year.
SGP: 541 - 85 points.


Tamnavulin 25 yo 1992/2018 (50.6%, Elixir Distillers ‘Single Malts of Scotland’, cask #5377, hogshead, 247 bottles) Tamnavulin 25 yo 1992/2018 (50.6%, Elixir Distillers ‘Single Malts of Scotland’, cask #5377, hogshead, 247 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: rather different. This one is all on quince, rose petals, fabric, lime jelly, millionaire shortbread - even a tiny slice of kumquat. There’s a biscuity richness and a sense of fatness that I don’t usually find in Tamnavulin. Although, these golden syrup and light garden fruit aspects are also to be found in this one, and there’s a similar sense of ‘easiness’ and simplicity. With water: roses, lychee, vase water, desiccated coconut, hay and muesli. Rather typically Tamnavulin now I’d say. Mouth: a little punchier and spicier with perhaps a slightly louder wood presence. Pleasing things like nutmeg, cinnamon, brown bread, cloves and heather ale. With water: lime zest, strawberry yoghurt, fruit chews, lemon and poppy seed cake, freshly malted barley and toasted cereals. Finish: medium in length and full of nectars, natural sweetness, ginger, a hint of juniper and some lightly green and leafy notes. Comments: Globally I’d say it’s remarkably close to the 1974 only a tad punchier and spicier in places. But this same overall profile of light sweetness, garden fruits and easy softness remains. Another one for the tumbler.
SGP: 551 - 86 points.


Cask Orkney 18 yo (46%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon, 2018) Cask Orkney 18 yo (46%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon, 2018)
Highland Park, like Ben Nevis, is another name which has become ubiquitous at the indys these past couple of years. Once again, no complaints here! Although, it appears that Serge already tried this one, oh well... Colour: white wine. Nose: this rather typical mix of salted honey, heather ale, ozone, mead, oily brine, freshly chopped herbs and soots. Very fresh, delicately medicinal, rather coastal, lemony and with some slightly fermentary notes such as sourdough starter and more beery qualities. Mouth: light, herbal peat, aged mead, lanolin, carbolic aspects, herbal toothpaste, salted bread and freshly malted barley along with various other cereal qualities. Coastal, freshly herbal, notes of bitter throat sweets and dried mint. Some eucalyptus sweets and salty marzipan. Finish: long and full of grapefruit pith, bitter lemon, tonic water, baking soda, clay, lime and a big coastal freshness. Comments: terrific distillate. How many such casks are now sloshing about the market in various form? Looks like we’ll have plenty ‘Orkney malt’ to quaff for the medium term future.
SGP: 462 - 88 points.


Highland Park 22 yo 1961/1983 (46%, Duthie’s for Broadwell Vintner’s Ltd) Highland Park 22 yo 1961/1983 (46%, Duthie’s for Broadwell Vintner’s Ltd)
Why not counter that excellent 18yo with a much older and rarer one. This one comes from Duthies (Cadenhead) who had a 1961 22 year old in the famous Dumpy series around the same time. Once again, Serge already wrote some notes for these. I generally try not to ‘double up’ on Whiskyfun too much, but for old rarities such as this I think it’s not too much of a problem. Colour: gold. Nose: a myriad of various wood polishes, waxes, tinned peaches, camphor, cough medicines, natural tar extract, lanolin and many crystalised fruits. A stupendous concoction of waxes, tinctures, embrocations, old dessert wines and earthen floored cellars. Plenty of notes of waxed canvas, putty, hessian and lamp oil. Just brilliant. Mouth: cough syrups, herbal extracts, many ointments, peppery waxes, carbon paper, old inkwells, orange oils, tarragon, old chartreuse, fir liqueur, olive oil and mead. Pretty emblematic old school Highland Park, totally thrilling old malt whisky with a big mouth feel for 46%. Many more fruit extracts, syrups and peels. In time there’s rather a lot of peat as well, warm, herbal, earthy peat along with some metal polish and beeswax. Finish: long, earthy, herbal, slightly salty, notes of orange bitters, peat, fruit resins and lemon jelly. Comments: lovely old school Highland Park, yet another stunner from this distillery. I found the mouthfeel and flavour particularly excellent.
SGP: 562 - 92 points.


Bowmore 22 yo 1996/2018 (50.4%, Elixir Distillers ‘Single Malts Of Scotland’, cask #1371, hogshead, 210 bottles) Bowmore 22 yo 1996/2018 (50.4%, Elixir Distillers ‘Single Malts Of Scotland’, cask #1371, hogshead, 210 bottles)
You may notice that many of the bottlings by Elixir Distillers seem to hover around the 50.2/4% mark. It’s an ill-kept secret that the ED’s chief cask botherer, a certain Mr. Chilton, is a fan of bottling at slightly reduced strengths. Primarily so there are enough of the various whiskies for him to send them out as Christmas presents to all the bloggers he loves so dearly. Colour: pale gold. Nose: It’s one of these rather coastal and chiseled Bowmores. Lots of crushed seashells, Atlantic bluster, shellfish, dried kelp, miso broth and seagreens. But there’s also some more ‘inland’ aspects such as sheep wool and earth, then lemon zest and juice, olive oil diluted with brine and rock pools. A rather gruff and gravelly minerality arises slowly over time. With water: warmer and sootier, more notes of wood embers, fish nets, salted vegetable crisps, crushed aspirin and oyster sauce. Mouth: lots of ash, antiseptic, wafting peat smoke, capers in brine, smoked teas, lemon juice and mouthwash. Again this is rather chiseled and sharp - which I love. With water: minerals, flints, lime juice, sandalwood ash, bath salts, dried herbs such as tarragon and sage, lemon balm and a slight petrol note. Finish: long, salty, limey, mineral, full of old rope, hessian, tar liqueur, ash and beach sand. Comments: An extremely coastal Bowmore that’s very concentrated on its drier and leaner qualities. Thrilling distillate, perhaps not the most stellar example, but still benchmark stuff.
SGP: 365 - 88 points.


Bowmore 1976/1995 (52.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #3.17)

Bowmore 1976/1995 (52.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #3.17)
I’ve tried a few of these 76 Bowmores in my time, some are great and some a little more ‘unlikely’. It’s very much a transitional year between the tropics and the perfumery. Colour: gold. Nose: thankfully this one seems to lean backwards rather than forwards, in the sense that it’s a rather farmy one, but sprinkled with a few tropical fruit notes. There’s damp earth, then guava, mango, papaya and banana. Then cider apples, custard and hints of smoked shellfish, paprika, buttermint and lapsang souchong. A pretty unusual nose, but very good and highly intriguing. No soap or perfume that I can detect. With water: nettles, grass, sauvignon blanc, lillies, mustard powder, pollen, fennel. Much fun to be had here. Mouth: indeed this is rather fruity. It’s a soft and gentle mix of tropical and green fruit syrups, an exotic cocktail if you will. On top of which there’s fragrant peat smoke, camphor, a touch of brake fluid, salted butter, mango puree, green peppercorns in brine and some salty meat stock. With water: many various oils (cod liver, olive, rapeseed), chalk, brine, lemon balm, bitter herbal extracts, anchovy paste, umami and even something like Tizer. Finish: long, sooty, peaty, ashy, sharp, peppery and smoky. Comments: One of the good ones. If you’re bored of your relatives this holiday you could easily retreat somewhere quiet with a large dram of this and try to list all the whacky flavours you find. Although, I have to say, I also find it technically pretty excellent as well. It’s a rather specific style of Bowmore that only seems to exist in 1976. Who said vintages in whisky were pointless? 
SGP: 664 - 90 points.



Thanks to KC, Dirk & Harrison.  







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