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

February 17, 2018




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild



Drams for Old & Rare:
A Wee Miscellaneous Assortment

As you may or may not know, the Whisky Show Old & Rare is taking place in Glasgow next weekend, an event which I happen to co-organise and am very much looking forward to (I’ll be there too - editor’s note). With this in mind I thought a wee warm up / whistle whetting / mini-celebration session might be in order. So, let's try a few select rarities that will be available at the show next week as a wee preview…


Apologies in advance for any maltoporn which may or may not occur...



Macallan 25 yo 1967/1993 (43%, OB, Anniversary Malt) Macallan 25 yo 1967/1993 (43%, OB, Anniversary Malt)
These old official Macallans are sailing into the stratosphere in terms of price at auction these days; to the point that I scarcely consider them on my radar anymore. Which is a pity as many of them were excellent whiskies. Always a pleasure to revisit them. Colour: Amber. Nose: A rather pure aroma of old sherry. VORS Oloroso poured fresh in the Bodega (ahhh Jerez!), some well-aged Cognac, a little prune juice, wet earth, dried wild mushrooms and some chopped sultanas. A bit of orange zest, linseed oil, furniture polish and some spiced mead. The kind of oomphy, super clean and wonderfully rich sherry that is pretty non-existent these days. Mouth: Pure decadence. It's the epitome of this deeply opulent house style that Macallan built their name upon (who mentioned subsequent demolition…?). Leathery, lots of citrus fruit peel, earth, umami paste, black olives, some dried herbs such as rosemary and mint, then darjeeling tea and a touch of cough medicine. Finish: Good but perhaps a tad short of soft. Still lingering dark fruits and an increasingly bitter and rather wonderful chocolate note. Comments: At times the strength feels just right; at others it smacks slightly of weakness - particularly in the finish. However, it's a beautiful and extremely fine old Macallan. The kind of sherry profile that people go a bit doolally for these days.
SGP: 652 - 89 points.


Ben Wyvis 31 yo 1968/2000 (51%, Signatory Vintage, cask #685, hogshead, 191 bottles) Ben Wyvis 31 yo 1968/2000 (51%, Signatory Vintage, cask #685, hogshead, 191 bottles)
I've never tried Ben Wyvis single malt before… Colour: Gold. Nose: Leafy and green, full of green apple peelings, porridge oats, lemon oils, a little toasted sourdough bread, freshly malted barley, dry earth and after a little time some lightly sooty aspects. Really rather lovely! Takes on a gravely, mineralic edge after a while as well. A touch of mustard seed and mixed moroccan spice. With water: some spearmint, green tea and a handful of trail mix. Also a touch of chamois leather. Mouth: Rather spicy, all on white pepper and camphor initially, although this quickly gives way to a rather beautiful waxiness with lamp oil and hessian abound. Grassy olive oil, sandalwood, a well-buttered slice of malt loaf and some toasted sunflower seeds. With water: more citrus and grassy notes along with a lightly chalky mineral quality and a few white flowers. Some pollen and beeswax as well. Finish: Good length, slightly drying but with some elegant honeysuckle and light spice notes towards the end. Comments: I had no idea what to expect really. There's always a concern with these stupid decanters that leave an inexplicably massive amount of air and headroom at the top of the bottle that the whisky will be out of condition. However, I'm pleased to report that isn't the case here. A lovely and rather humbling wee dram. Perhaps akin to a lighter Glen Ord of similar vintage.
SGP: 452 - 90 points.


Highland Park 1966/1979 (75 proof, Berry Brothers) Highland Park 1966/1979 (75 proof, Berry Brothers)
Colour: Gold. Nose: This really reminds me of the older green dumpy official Highland Parks from the late 1950s and early 60s vintages. It has this same kind of elegant herbal peat crossed with earthy and coastal aspects. Sheep wool, camphor, wet beach pebbles, heather honey, a distant farmyard and many sooty and oily complexities. Totally harmonious and beautiful. These lower abv old school Highland Parks had this sense of immense power gently flexing in the glass and you get that here in spades. More herbs and lemon rind with time. Mouth: Majestic! Ridden with soft peats, coal dust, soot, waxes, mineral oil, dried herbs and earth. Also some assorted citrus peels, old ointment and a little sandalwood. Probably best to stop here. Finish: Long, harmonious and totally beautiful. Full of minerals, waxes, dry peat, soot and camphor. Also little glimmers of wildflowers and white fruits peeping through towards the end. Comments: Yet another spectacular old, evocative Highland Park. Nuff said!
SGP: 464 - 93 points.


Glenlivet ‘Pure Malt Over 10 Years Old’ (75 proof, Sworder & Co Ltd, -/+ 1960) Glenlivet ‘Pure Malt Over 10 Years Old’ (75 proof, Sworder & Co Ltd, -/+ 1960)
A rather lovely looking old indy bottling of Glenlivet from some time around the late 50s / early 60s. Colour: Amber. Nose: A beautifully leafy and earthy old style sherry. Lots of chocolate, crushed nuts, walnut oil, cereals, sultanas and dates. A little graphite, some soot and notes of darjeeling tea with lemon peel in. With time these rather mushroomy tertiary aspects arise along with more dried dark fruits and berries. Mouth: Good! It’s surprisingly punchy, emphatic and powerful on the palate. Beautifully nervous sherry wrapped around lots of earth, walnut wine, dark chocolate, a little natural tar resin, aged cognac and a few fresh green fruits such as cider apple and ripe damsons. Goes on with a few dried cranberries, some wood ash and a few sprigs of dried thyme. Finish: Long, elegantly earthy and full of balsamic, rancio and mint tea. Comments: A beautiful and eminently quaffable old style malt that showcases stellar, full-bodied old school Speyside distillate in tandem with perfect sherry. Although, I would hazard that there are probably stocks somewhat older than 10 sloshing about in the depths of this one...
SGP: 562 - 92 points.


Can’t do that one and not do this one with it...



Glenlivet ‘Pure Malt Over 10 Years Old’ (75 proof, Sworder & Co Ltd, -/+ 1970)

Glenlivet ‘Pure Malt Over 10 Years Old’ (75 proof, Sworder & Co Ltd, -/+ 1970)
From around a decade later and looking not a little sherry influenced... Colour: Bronze. Nose: Rather different. This one is really on pure prune juice, fig jam, crushed brazil nuts and sultanas. Although it is still wonderfully leafy and earthy with notes of green banana skin, blood orange and milk chocolate. With time it converges more with the older one with these light mushroomy notes. Mouth: Again rather punchy and spicy this time. Towards a good XO cognac with some notes of boot polish, toasted cereals and fresh brown bread. Some ground sunflower seeds, olive oil, bay leaf and more notes of raisins, banana bread, sultanas and some very good rhum agricole. Increasing earthiness with time and even a little waxy punch. Finish: Long, earthy, leafy, full of dark fruits and soft spices. A slab of Dundee cake perhaps. Comments: Another pretty thrilling old sherried dram that also probably contains quite a bit of stock older than 10. A pristine example of old school sherry maturation. Not quite a brilliant as the 1960s one but, as Serge says, ‘we’re still flying high...’
SGP: 551 - 91 points.



While we’re on Glenlivet it seems a shame not to make it a hat trick...



Glenlivet Solera. (48.3%, Thompson Bros, drawn from solera 6/4/94, 20 bottles)

Glenlivet Solera (48.3%, Thompson Bros, drawn from solera 6/4/94, 20 bottles)
This extremely limited bottling came about as the result of some very old stocks from a private cellar that my erstwhile pal / nemesis Phil 'Fill' Thompson from Dornoch purchased at auction a few years back. The liquid is multi vintage mix of older Glenlivets that the original owners had stored in a stoneware flagon and 'topped up' over the years, until it was eventually put into glass in 1994.



Colour: Deep gold. Nose: In the words of Serge Valentin: 'Sweet Vishnu!'. This is a gloriously dense concoction of old style, earthy peat, ancient yellow Chartreuse, smoked treacle, earthen floors, dried herbs - specifically tarragon, sage and bay leaf - lapsang souchong, antique polished hardwoods and the most elegant and subtle of waxes. With time you also have many tertiary notes such as wet earth, rancio, aged Sauternes, some coconut butter, steel wool and camphor. Quite spectacular, a nose that really reminds of these wartime era distillates that G&M bottled a number of in the 1980s; only this one shows considerably more punch thanks to the strength. Mouth: Massive, fat, oily peat. Herbal, earthy, waxy, deeply heathery as well and filled with pine resins, natural tar, embrocations, gorse and black pepper. Stunning! Continues with camphor, coal hearths, metal polish, olive oil, creosote and even a touch of brine. Quite majestic. Finish: Superbly long and resinous but also oily and filled with lingering savoury complexity, notes of black olives in oil, various dried herbs, bottle aged Drambuie, green tea and lemon oil. Lingers in a way which is perfectly drying and mouthwatering. Comments: Totally stellar whisky. The sort of dram that makes you wonder what many of these wartime vintage G&M bottlings would have been like at cask strength, or even 46%. That aside, this is a wonderful younger example of an older, peatier and far more fulsome style of Glenlivet. Not to mention a totally extinct style of whisky that sadly isn't made at any distillery on the planet these days. I wonder just how often it was 'topped up' as a solera, the character to me feels like 'balls to the wall' peaty wartime (or immediately post-war) whisky. On the nose I had it at 93 but the palate took it to…
SGP: 475 - 94 points.



Glengoyne 40 yo (56.8%, Director’s Special, Elixir Distillers, +/-2017)

Glengoyne 40 yo (56.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Director’s Special, Elixir Distillers, +/-2017)
A bottling by/for The Whisky Exchange. Colour: Deep amber. Nose: Intense Oloroso, precious hardwoods, five spice, firecrackers, earthen floors, all manner of figs, dates, prunes and other dark fruits in compote form. Then there is also old leather, aged library books and quite a lot of rancio and mushroom powder. Impressively dense, spicy and sumptuously sherried. Not unlike some older Karuizawas in some aspects. With water: some baked apple tart with a drizzle of aged Moscatel. With time it gets more bready and earthy in a pleasingly savoury way. Some bitter chocolate and toasted hazelnuts. Mouth: Rather immense delivery, all on dried dark and tropical fruits. Some orange cocktail bitters, aged demerara rum, wet earth, tobacco leaf, muscovado sugar and ground black pepper. More simmering Chinese spices and rancio qualities. With water: softens up with some wonderful notes of lemon peel, wet leaves, moss and various dried herbs such as sage and thyme. Still rather massive and thrillingly spicy in a way that never spills over into overly extractive tannin. Finish: Long and elegantly drying with masses of spice, dark chocolate, raisins, aged cognac and earth. A lingering hint of rancio and very old balsamic. Comments: A majestic old Glengoyne and a perfect example of that great rarity: an old whisky that manages to thrill equally across nose and palate.
SGP: 662 - 92 points.



Bowmore 20 yo 1965/1985 (48.5%, Intertrade)

Bowmore 20 yo 1965/1985 (48.5%, Intertrade)
Colour: Amber. Nose: Flinty at first with a kind of vegetal earthiness. Not an uber-tropical example of 60s Bowmore. Instead we have some coastal funk like grilled whelks, a few smouldering peat embers, sautéed mushrooms, camphor and notes of soot, squid ink and beach bonfires. With a little breathing a smoky minerality emerges, alongside dried herbs, sandalwood and some more medicinal touches such as mercurochrome and dettol. There’s also a increasingly meaty aspect like fennel sausage or salami. Really quite complex. Not the easiest or most straightforward of old Bowmores but extremely satisfying to nose away at for ages. The fruitiness is more on nervous citrus notes and a few green apples and tart gooseberry. Mouth: Pow! Much more evidently peaty on the palate. Big notes of tarry fishnets, oily kippers, soot, hessian, camphor, pitch and some smoked mussels in brine. Goes on with black olives, rosemary, lapsang souchong and a little smoked mead (although I’m sure that isn’t a thing - even if it should be!). Fantastically oily, briny, smouldering and punchy with a resilient salt and pepper edge to it. Finish: Long, earthy, herbal and peaty with preserved lemons, sardines in olive oil and many rugged coastal complexities. Comments: An old mariner/warrior/sailor/fishwife (delete/include depending on your hyperbole preferences) battling away into the storm. Or whatever you’re supposed to say about these amazing old Islay whiskies these days. Anyway, it’s another remarkable old Bowmore - goes to show they didn’t just make Umbongo there in the 1960s.
SGP: 566 - 93 points.



Glenugie 30 yo 1966/1996 (62.4%, The Bottlers, cask #856)

Glenugie 30 yo 1966/1996 (62.4%, The Bottlers, cask #856)
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you in just how high esteem whisky lovers tend to hold The Bottlers. They’ve unearthed many totally stunning whiskies over the years. Although sadly they’re pretty quiet these days. Colour: Light amber. Nose: Where do you start? It’s a difficult aroma to describe, there is almost an abundance of overripe fruits - not unlike a smoothie of assorted green, garden, white and tropical fruits that all needed using up. Beneath that there’s barley sugar, fresh malt, a hay loft. Then aged Sauternes, caramelised muscovado sugar, wild mint, many kinds of fruit jam, wild strawberries, some jasmine tea... the complexity, even at full strength is just totally flabbergasting. With time there is an earthiness, old spice boxes, unlit cigars and something like currants and cognac stewed raisins. Just astounding really. With water: more chiselled and mineral now; notes of sourdough, lemon jelly and coconut water. Beautiful! Mouth: Massive delivery. Hugely syrupy, lusciously fruity and superbly spicy and punchy. A whole tub of quince jelly, damsons, rhubarb crumble, jasmine tea, mirabelle eau de vie, mustard seed, white pepper, cloves. The list goes on. This is getting silly, let’s add water... with water: I think it’s probably long past time to call in the anti-maltoporn brigade! Finish: Endless, meta-complex and utterly thrilling! Comments: It shouldn’t really be a surprise, Glenugie is probably one of Scotland’s greatest ever distillates. Although what is fascinating is that this is quite obviously different from the 1965 and 1967 Glenugies that you can find. Who said vintages didn’t matter in whisky? It’s a style of whisky which is hard to pin down and quantify as it doesn’t really conform to any other distillates/distillery/regional styles. It’s just: Glenugie. Another mini-masterpiece by The Bottlers.
SGP: 762 - 94 points.



(Big thanks to Phil, Jonny and Eddie.)  







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