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

September 8, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
There’s plenty of these ‘Speyside Region’ things about these days. And I for one will not be complaining as most of them are pretty good I think. However, in true Whiskyfun style, we’ll begin with a highlander as an aperitif. Mind you, do these regions really mean anything anymore?


Highland Single Malt 25 yo (43%, Mr Malt, 2018) Highland Single Malt 25 yo (43%, Mr Malt, 2018)
I can’t seem to find out very much about this new bottler at all. Nothing in fact. Colour: orangey amber. Nose: hmmm, some sawdust and pencil shavings at first. A glimmer of honey and dry maltiness and beyond that... not very much at all I’m afraid. Maybe some dry toast. Feels a bit hollow if you ask me. Mouth: pink pepper, cardboard, green wood, a touch of stale mead. Not great to be honest. Tough stuff. Finish: short, porridgey and with some sense of weak milky tea. Comments: What on earth was that? At times it was like one of these cheap flat rums only with less ridiculous sugar. Not much to enjoy or recommend here.
SGP: 320 - 69 points.


Not a great start but I have confidence... let’s go backwards by vintage...  


Speyside Region 38 yo 1979/2018 (43.4%, The Whisky Agency 10th Anniversary, barrel) Speyside Region 38 yo 1979/2018 (43.4%, The Whisky Agency 10th Anniversary, barrel)
Somewhat higher hopes here... Colour: gold. Nose: Ahh! Superb freshness, vivid fruits - both green and exotic - and many notes of polishes, cedar and soft waxes. Little peppery notes, unlit cigars, lamp oil and aged herbal liqueurs. Even a slosh of very old Drambuie perhaps. Mouth: maybe a tad weak in weight and texture but the fruitiness is big and lively. Lots of mango, pineapple, guava and perfectly ripe melon. Citrus peels and sunflower oil as well. In the background a little oily, residual maltiness and natural sweetness linger. Finish: Medium in length but still nervously fruity, lightly spicy and with a fading waxiness. Comments: This kind of bottling, while not 90+ stellar, is still supremely drinkable and entirely about the pleasure that older single malts can bring. Not overly woody, still full of fresh fruits and total danger juice. It only lacks a little oomph but it’s a bit of a redundant and purely technical criticism.
SGP: 641 - 88 points.


Elgin Single Malt 40 yo 1977/2017 (49.3%, Mr Malt ‘Portrait No 02’, cask #3142, 288 bottles) Elgin Single Malt 40 yo 1977/2017 (49.3%, Mr Malt ‘Portrait No 02’, cask #3142, 288 bottles)
Hopefully this should be an improvement on the 25 yo ‘thing’ we had for an aperitif... Colour: deep amber. Nose: a wonderfully deep and extremely leathery and meaty sherry. Bovril, marmite, prune juice, plum sauce and aged plum wines. Lots of toasted walnuts and walnut oils, old ink wells, black tea, golden sultanas, raisins, black olive bread and some rather ancient balsamico. Plenty rancio and deep, basslike oloroso as well. Lots happening, a really excellent nose. Mouth: bang! Big, deeply earthy, pitch perfect sherry. An old school sherry cask the likes of which are thoroughly disappeared from today’s fillings. Ginger cake, biltong, black pepper, coal dust, maraschino cherries, fig jam, chopped dates and more figs and lashings of prune juice and more of these spiced baked plum notes. Increasingly big, spicy, fatty sherry with lots of wee red, dark, concentrated fruit notes. Finish: Long and getting dryer with some quivering tannins and abundant dark stewed fruits, even a wee kumquat (you’ll be pleased to hear Serge) and eventually many bunches of dried herbs in the aftertaste. Comments: I wouldn’t say it’s a big surprise but I find this totally excellent! As for the identity of the ‘malt’ in question... I’m leaning towards Glenfarclas but who cares. It’s terrific old school sherried stuff! Great selection by the enigmatic ‘Mr Malt’.
SGP: 751 - 91 points.


Speyside Region 40 yo 1977/2018 (43%, The Whisky Agency 10th Anniversary, butt) Speyside Region 40 yo 1977/2018 (43%, The Whisky Agency 10th Anniversary, butt)
Colour: amber. Nose: a different, less ‘up front’ style of sherry. More leafy, soft tobacco notes, demerara, walnut oils, milk chocolate and fragrant wood spices. Hints of jasmine, bay leaf, mint tea and lemon peel. It’s certainly soft as you might imagine but the aromatic profile is fragrant, balanced and very beautiful. Mouth: a big, evolving spiciness with green and soft tropical fruits underneath. Notes of guava, melon and pineapple cubes. Tea tree oil, eucalyptus resins, putty, menthol, lychee and lemon oil. Another of these hyper-quaffable old malts where the wood is present but mercifully balanced with the fruits and waxes of the old distillate. Pretty terrific really. Hints of sandalwood, cinnamon bark, strawberry powder and darjeeling tea. Finish: Good length. All on light waxes, leafy earthiness, dried herbs, lemon oils, pine cones and wee chocolatey touches. Comments: quite simply, an excellent old sherried Speyside malt whisky. Danger juice, as they say in Turckheim - probably.
SGP: 641 - 90 points.


Vega 41 yo 1976/2018 (46.1%, North Star Spirits, Blended Malt, 400 bottles) Vega 41 yo 1976/2018 (46.1%, North Star Spirits, Blended Malt, 400 bottles)
I just read the label notes for this one more carefully and it is in fact a blend of malts from Speyside and Islay, matured in Spanish and American oak. Oh well, so much for any remnant shreds of logic to this session. But we’ve committed now so may well follow through... Colour: amber. Nose: there is indeed an unequivocal Bunnahabhain-esque fruitiness about this one. Big initial notes of ripe bananas, guava, melon, papaya and some baked apples in custard. There’s also something akin to a mix of aged sweet wines, like Marsala, Sauternes and some old vendange tardive Muscat all sloshed together. Further develops with notes of warm banana bread studded with chopped walnuts and sultanas stewed in old cognac. Pretty awesome juice to be honest, very old whisky that held onto an abundance of freshness and vibrancy all the way from nose to finish. Mouth: wonderfully syrupy in texture. Glistening stewed fruits, more baked apples, mint jelly, lemon peel, dried tarragon and some indeterminate aged herbal liqueurs. Finish: Long, lemony, herbal, jasmine, various aromatic teas and a touch of liquorice and nibbling wood spice. Comments: I find this just totally great and hugely pleasurable old malt whisky that manages to show aspects of old unpeated Islay characteristics next to more typical Speysideyness in perfect and wonderfully entertaining balance. Great work/selection by Mr Croucher and co at North Star spirits, they are doing some terrific stuff there I think. And, not that we score prices, but the price of this was extremely fair if you ask me. Although, checking now it appears to be sold out. Naturally.
SGP: 751 - 92 points.


Speyside Region 44 yo 1973/2017 (48.6%, The Whisky Agency 10th Anniversary, butt) Speyside Region 44 yo 1973/2017 (48.6%, The Whisky Agency 10th Anniversary, butt)
Colour: light gold. Nose: ahh, the wonders of ‘plain wood’. One of these totally beautiful very old refill wood profiles that’s just bursting with pollens, nectars, honeys, yellow flowers, subtle waxes, sandalwood, verbena, wormwood, soft earthy tones and beyond all that hints of camphor, yellow chartreuse and vapour rubs. Pure pleasure and totally stunning aroma. We’re not far from a 1950s Glenfarclas or a 1972 Caperdonich. Mouth: A superb combination of yellow flowers, herbal extracts, wormwood, olive oil, lemongrass, soot, menthol resins, chamomile, ointments, a whole beehive of honeys and waxy honeycomb. Pine liqueurs, mint juleps, tropical fruit syrups, tea tree oils, tarragon, lemon peels, green banana... just totally wonderful! Finish: Long, all on various green, mint and herbal teas, star fruits, lemon balm and caraway. More allusions to ancient herbal liqueurs and eucalyptus extracts. Comments: This kind of profile is really just to die for. A cask that nurtures but never dominates. After 40+ years this combination great distillate and subtle wood is, for me, the epitome of old malt whisky at its best.
SGP: 761 - 93 points.


Seeing as we’ve already abandoned and real thematic consistency in this tasting let’s have a somewhat nonsensical bonus...  


Speyside 20 yo 1996/2017 (53.6%, Filmnik ‘Trainspotting’. Hogshead)

Speyside 20 yo 1996/2017 (53.6%, Filmnik ‘Trainspotting’. Hogshead)
I appreciate this is technically from ‘Speyside Distillery’ rather than just Speyside. But I’m not sure when I’m going to get another sparring partner from Speyside distillery itself so let’s just include it here as an addendum if you don’t mind. Another bottling from the cinematically minded series Filmnik. This time featuring the great Trainspotting on the label - appropriate that I am writing these tasting notes in Leith I think. Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh and buttery, lots of chopped herbs such as chives and parsley, cream crackers, coal dust, some vanilla foam and peppery watercress. Good. With water: baking soda, cornflour, icing sugar, milk bottle sweeties, dolly mixtures and a gentle grassiness. Mouth: pretty straightforward, modern but very good, clean and lightly fruity malt whisky. Some malty sweetness, some vanilla, a touch of herbal tea, some lemony notes, fudge, olive oil. All very nice actually. Creamy, well-textured and actually rather nicer than the nose suggested I must say. With water: buttery toast, green, leafy, banana chips, soda bread, very light hessian notes and good slug of lemon barley water. Finish: Good length, surprisingly rich, bready and slightly yeasty and lemony with a biscuity sweetness. Really good actually. Comments: Probably the best whisky from Speyside distillery I ever tasted. Very good selection Filmnik. Although, I suspect you might need something with a bit more raw power to drink while watching Trainspotting.
SGP: 541 - 87 points.



So, we had a tasting called ‘Speyside Anonymous’ where we managed to open with a highland single malt (purportedly anyway), try a Speyside/Islay vatted malt and close with the very opposite of an anonymous whisky. But, we had quite a few really excellent drams and a lot of fun so... who cares. Whiskyfun lives!  







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