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

December 1, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Back to the duos
Let’s have a few more humble head to head pairings today. Sticking mostly around Speyside if you please...


Aberlour 12 yo 1987/2000 (62.4%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 222 bottles) Aberlour 12 yo 1987/2000 (62.4%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 222 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: hot and chalky. Typical Cadenhead AC and as expected. A few gooseberries and cider apples. Let’s just go straight to water... With water: cooking oils, white asparagus, dried earth, dry cereals, aspirin. Good clean distillate but typically tough and brittle. Mouth: even at full strength there’s some nice notes of straw, yellow flowers, horseradish and hessian. Although, globally it’s still pretty hot and peppery. Again, let’s not be shy with the water... With water: honey and lemon, ginger ale, caraway, heather ale, a little star anise. It’s at its best on the palate with water I’d say. Although, it still remains a dram you’d probably struggle to have more than one of. Finish: Good length but a tad acrid, flinty and tough. Wee glimmers of white fruits. Comments: Nice enough, but a challenging whisky. No easy thrills here. A very ‘of its time’ bottling.
SGP: 351 - 78 points.


Aberlour 20 yo 1997/2018 (59.1%, OB ‘Distillery Reserve Collection’, cask #9057, sherry butt, 1056 bottles) Aberlour 20 yo 1997/2018 (59.1%, OB ‘Distillery Reserve Collection’, cask #9057, sherry butt, 1056 bottles)
From one of these distillery exclusive 50cl bottlings that Pernod do. Colour: light amber. Nose: Another world away from the Cadenhead. This is an abundance of lemony treacle, nougat, ripe plums, pears baked in Calvados, lime cordial, hessian, juicy fruits, hints of French mustard and wild strawberries. Really excellent and slightly unusual in good way. With water: more nougat notes, ginger, baking soda, crushed tea biscuits, dried leaves, rolling tobacco and a wee hint of sage. Mouth: white port, custard, soot, cloves, damp earth and linseed oil. Starts extremely well but gets perhaps a tad too extractive and almondy for my liking. Feels like it has been in one of these very modern ‘seasoned’ sherry casks. With water: water seems to enhance this bitter side. Becomes really quite extractive   and tough now. Green wood, pencil shavings and sawdust. Finish: rather long but also a bit hot and again extractive and bitter. Comments: To think that when I first nosed it I was thinking potentially 90 material. Just goes to show what can happen. Really feels like the distillate suffered from some hyper active oak treatment. Over the top and imbalanced I’d say. Although not without its merits - the neat nose was very lovely.
SGP: 541 - 79 points.


Poor Aberlour, usually a winner in my book. Sadly not today. Let’s see if Glen Elgin will come to the rescue...  


Glen Elgin 22 yo 1995/2018 (50.8%, Acorn ‘Natural Malt Selection’, cask #3218, Hogshead) Glen Elgin 22 yo 1995/2018 (50.8%, Acorn ‘Natural Malt Selection’, cask #3218, Hogshead)
Colour: light gold. Nose: simple, easy, rather lush fruitiness that touches on ripe green apples, pears, gooseberry, melon and star fruit. Soft grasses, cereals, green tea, white mushrooms and eldeflower cordial. Humble and very beautiful mid-aged Glen Elgin - I defy anyone not to enjoy this style. With water: gets a little drier and leafier. More towards soda bread, soft tobacco notes, citrus peels and freshly malted barley. Mouth: the same, fruits, honeys, trail mix, sultana, dried apple rings, green banana, custard made with marsala wine, lemon jelly, gin and tonic sorbet. Sweet, fruity, malty, light and lovey. With water: muesli, trail mix, crystallised garden fruits, golden syrup, shortbread and apple tart tatin. Finish: good length, rather lemony, lemon barley water, gooseberry compote, custard creams and vanilla tablet. Comments: It doesn’t have a huge amount to say, but it says it with such easy charm and elegance that it’s hard to find fault. Simple and extremely enjoyable malt whisky.
SGP: 631 - 87 points.


Glen Elgin 22 yo 1978/2000 (53.3%, Signatory Vintage, cask #4539, 298 bottles) Glen Elgin 22 yo 1978/2000 (53.3%, Signatory Vintage, cask #4539, 298 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: it’s surprising how close we are here to the Acorn. This same lush and simple green fruity profile. Only here it’s a little deeper, a little fatter, a little sweeter with this bigger, more lavish honeyed character and tad more waxy. More subtle as well with wee notes of lemon pie, sweetened cereals, camphor, olive oil and some kind of lightly sooty butterscotch. Excellent! With water: drier, more herbal, more waxy, notes of petrichor, mint and tobacco leaf and a little cod liver oil. Mouth: Ooft! Superb fatness with a remarkable medicinal edge. Really there are some beautiful notes of embrocations, ointments, herbal peat, lemon jelly, eucalyptus toothpaste, mint julep, demerara rum and cloves. Then lots of crystalised, resinous and glazed fruits underneath. Sultanas, apples, plums and fig. There’s a sense of good old bottle effect about this one as well, these drier and slightly oily edges that move towards metal polish and dry wax begin to emerge. Hessian sack cloth and dunnage. Just superb! With water: syrupy, gloopy, waxy perfection. Heather honey, hessian, lemon oils, tiger balm. Beautiful! Finish: long, full of soft waxes, metal polish, lime zest, crystalised fruits, pollen and blossoms. Comments: Just brilliant old Glen Elgin, a tad closed at first but it blossomed superbly and those notes of medicine on the palate were just wonderful. A total gem! It was also interesting to note a few aspects which verged on good old bottle effect, not unlike some old Cadenhead dumpies. The 2000? Really? I feel old, let’s hope it’s my imagination.
SGP: 662 - 91 points.


Glenrothes 17 yo 2001/2018 (53.0%, Cadenhead Small Batch, two hogsheads, 528 bottles) Glenrothes 17 yo 2001/2018 (53.0%, Cadenhead Small Batch, two hogsheads, 528 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: Porridge, parsley, muesli and aspirin, which is of course the title of the new Simon & Garfunkel album... I’m sorry. But really this is all cereals, chalk, dry citrus, oats, fresh chopped herbs and wee sooty touches. Really lovely distillate, extremely clean and very approachable. With water: lightly menthol now with white flowers, chestnuts, pistachio and toasted macadamias - rather nutty in general actually. Some shredded coconut into the bargain. Mouth: Along the same lines as the nose only with more greenery and honey. Notes like apples of the cider and toffee varieties. Some teenage Calvados, marmite, sourdough, lemon cheesecake, honeyed oatmeal, flapjack and dried apricots. Very bready, cerealy and soft with these light green fruit notes. Very nice. With water: leafiness, light icing sugar sweetness, herbal resins, lychee jam, nettles, pea soup and caraway. All very lovely. Finish: long, earthy and becoming waxier with these slightly dry cereal notes, distant heather honey and more dried white flowers. Comments: A rather compelling and very good Glenrothes. Worth seeking out.
SGP: 551 - 86 points.


Glenrothes 20 yo 1997/2018 (48.2%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt) Glenrothes 20 yo 1997/2018 (48.2%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt)
I’ve always enjoyed the ducks on Whisky-Fassle’s bottlings. Colour: deep amber. Nose: wet earth, wild mushrooms, petrichor, coal dust, leaf mulch and bitter chocolate. Some rather luscious old school sherry at work here. Also rather a lot of wild strawberries, strawberry wine, strawberry jam. Strawberries basically. Maybe a freeze dried raspberry or three as well. Some old cognac, liquorice root, fennel, turmeric and beef stock. In fact it becomes increasingly meaty over time with notes of cured hams, game meats and mutton. Pretty excellent, compelling sherried Glenrothes. Mouth: big and jammy, lots of stewed sultanas, raisins, plum sauce, star anise, cranberry gravy and prune juice. A few red and dark fruits vying for attention. Plum wine, strawberry liqueur, old mead and plenty more liquorice, getting saltier this time. Finish: long, earthy and full of aniseed, fennel, liquorice, mint, raspberry jam and clove throat sweets. Comments: If you’re looking for a wintry sherry bomb that doesn’t strip your gums out, you could do a lot worse than this wee beauty. The strength is just perfect.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.


Glendronach 13 yo 2004/2017 (55.4%, OB, cask #3342, port pipe, 643 bottles) Glendronach 13 yo 2004/2017 (55.4%, OB, cask #3342, port pipe, 643 bottles)
No word on whether this is a full term maturation or a re-rack. But the colour is...frightening. Colour: deep rose wine. Nose: raisiny plum sauce, fruit loops, strawberry jam, candy floss, mirabelle, damson chutney and a big swig of children’s cough medicine. Not really my style to be honest. With water: a tad more savoury, some sugared pastries, clove drops, red fruit teas and a hint of Listerine mouthwash. Mouth: sweet and sharp. Like red tart red berries, unripe cider apples and fruits of the forest yoghurt. Some cherry throat sweets, limeade, Ribena, milk chocolate and juicy fruit chewing gum. The port feels rather OTT and little imbalanced. With water: jasmine, orchard fruits, chocolate, winter mulling spices, blood orange and fruit loaf. Nicer with water but still a bit too chalk and cheese for me. Finish: Medium and a bit prickly. Spiced dark fruits, ovaltine, chocolate spread, peanuts and more sugary drinks like Tizer and red cola. Comments: Never been a fan of port or red wine and whisky. This one hasn’t really altered that perspective. It’s just not balanced in my view.
SGP: 631 - 76 points.


Glendronach 26 yo 1992/2018 (56.7%, OB for Whisky Online, cask #220, sherry butt) Glendronach 26 yo 1992/2018 (56.7%, OB for Whisky Online, cask #220, sherry butt)
Interestingly enough Glendronach are now labelling these releases as ‘cask bottlings’, rather than single casks. A reference to the fact that a fair bit of re-racking no doubt goes on. Although, as I understand it, that isn’t the case with this one. Colour: deep amber. Nose: indeed this does smell like a classical and rather delicious old school sherry cask with these immediate notes of hessian dipped in dark chocolate.


An extremely charming mix of black cherries, damp wine cellars, sultanas, figs and various other dark fruit notes. Some Dundee cake topped with walnuts and a fair waft of rancio. In time it moves towards cigars, pipe tobacco and good espresso. Simply another very good mid-aged Glendronach. With water: more leathery, more hessian notes, more ‘unified’ so to speak and still bristling with plenty classical earthy and fruity old sherry notes. Mouth: peppery and slightly hot at first. Lots of sharp red fruits, some fruity red chilli and paprika notes alongside tree bark, burnt raisins, bitter chocolate, freshly toasted brown bread and a kind of composty earthiness. The sherry is rather big, boisterous and slightly salty - a kind of marmite note which I rather like. Continues with nutmeg, black tea with lemon slices and some miso broth with truffle. With water: more spicy, peppery and sharp tingly notes. A rather powerful and potent spiciness - almost becomes bigger with water. Still plenty of dark chocolate and dunnage earthiness along with mulled wine, treacle sponge cake, lime sweets and smoked tea. Finish: rather long, leathery, spicy and hefty. Still with this slightly chilli-edged sharpness that rides through to the aftertaste. Comments: I really like it, only these slightly sharper edges prevent me from going higher. Although, I suspect that people who adore these old Glendronach sherry beasts will lap this up like a carefully positioned grizzly bear over a salmon ladder...
SGP: 561 - 87 points.



Whiskyfun fav of the month

November 2018

Serge's favourite recent bottling:
Unicorn 30 yo 1988/2018 (43%, CWS China, Myths and Legends, First Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt, cask #22, 630 bottles) - WF 92

Serge's favourite older bottling:
Scapa 1958/1985 (46%, Samaroli, 180 bottles)  - WF 94

Serge's favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Ballechin 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2014) - WF 89

Serge's favourite malternative:
Enmore 30 yo 1988/2018 (47.9%, Silver Seal, Demerara, 150cl)   - WF 92






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