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

May 30, 2020





Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
More mixed duos
Always an enjoyable and fun way to try whiskies in my view. Let’s kick off with an old vs new head to head…


Longmorn-Glenlivet 10 yo ‘Straight Malt’ (???%, OB ‘Hill Thompson & Co Ltd’, -/+1970)

Longmorn-Glenlivet 10 yo ‘Straight Malt’ (OB, Hill Thompson & Co Ltd, -/+1970)
The ABV isn’t stated here, but usually when the strength is blocked out in black ink like on this example, it means it was a smaller batch deviation from the standard 70 proof (40%). So, most likely 43% for export I would guess. But let’s try it… Colour: white wine. Nose: beautiful! Pure barley eau de vie. A harmonious blend of citrons, waxed lemon peels, mineral salts, putty, dried herbs, ink, old, dried out herbal liqueurs and things like oily bike chains, hessian cloth and medical vapour rubs. Rather raw and powerful in some ways, but luminously aromatic and elegant. Pure old style distillate. Mouth: definitely 43%! Wonderfully sharp, powerful and direct. Peppery waxiness, pink grapefruit juice, chopped tarragon drizzled with petrol and olive oil cut with briny pickling juices. Remains hyper clear, bright and fresh; no OBE to be found. Something like salty limoncello with freshly malted barley, sourdough starter and pure lemon juice. Brilliantly sharp, it’s almost like a slap in the face. Finish: long, citric and full of salinity, a lean and nervous flintiness and wee notes of soot, chopped herbs, balsamic onions and mineral oil. Comments: Almost industrial or mechanical in some ways, but then these were effectively big, dirty Victorian factories churning out these sublime distillates during the 1950s and 1960s. I’ve tired quite a number of these old Hill Thompson bottlings - there are many variants - and they never disappoint. Absolutely what Serge calls ‘old highland style’ malt whisky. And thrillingly lively and sharp.
SGP: 453 - 91 points.



Longmorn 10 yo (48.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co ‘Batch 3’, 1793 bottles)

Longmorn 10 yo (48.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co ‘Batch 3’, 1793 bottles)
This may be a death seat after the old OB… Colour: white wine. Nose: so different. Sweet barley, a light, almost playful cereal profile and all these very fresh grassy and buttery notes. Some lemon bonbons and hints of vinaigrette. I find it very pure, easy and classically modern. A far cry from the tsunami of character in the old OB, but this is still very easy and pleasurable. Mouth: creamy texture on arrival with some vanilla sponge, pineapple jelly and white pepper. Feels lighter in the mouth than the OB, even at 48.3%! Some pastry, dried herbs and orange Fanta. Rather sweet and still pretty cereal. Finish: medium, with some spicy warmth, more sweet vanilla custard and wee hints of raspberry and white chocolate. Comments: It’s perfectly fine, clean and quaffable. But it certainly struggles a bit after the 10 yo. Another fun comparison for anyone who still thinks Scotch whisky did not utterly change in character since the early 1970s.
SGP: 631 - 83 points.



Glenmorangie 27 yo 1991/2019 (55.9%, OB, Rare Cask for 10th Anniversary Loza Dzentelmenow, Poland, oloroso cask finish, 230 bottles)

Glenmorangie 27 yo 1991/2019 (55.9%, OB, Rare Cask for 10th Anniversary Loza Dzentelmenow, Poland, oloroso cask finish, 230 bottles)
We rarely get to try Glenmorangie at this kind of age, which is a great shame as, in my wee opinion, it’s a distillate which really sings with a few years behind it. What’s also cool is that this is really more of a double maturation than a finish, having been 15 years in bourbon then 12 years in oloroso. Colour: deep gold. Nose: sweet orange wines, aged sauternes and glazed pastries, brioche and a few darker breads such as rye. There’s also this wonderfully herbal, eucalyptus aroma, mint julep, acacia honey and rosewater. Aromatically complex and wonderfully captivating. I love that it feels like it’s own thing, you wouldn’t necessarily peg this is just another good old Speysider if you had it blind. Further wee hints of juniper, hardwood resins and aged citrus peels - like the chen pi they have in China. With water: gets more tertiary, deeper and drier. Notes of heather ales, more spicy rye bread, dark grains, bitter chocolate, cigar boxes, fruity muesli and treacle pudding. Mouth: you feel the wood with all these warming spices but it is well matched by this wonderfully layered and textural sweetness. Big, gloopy spoonfuls of fruit jellies, tinned fruit syrups, sweetened herbal cough syrups, chamomile tea and fig jam. You also have some strawberry flavoured pipe tobacco, quince, mint tea, moist earthiness and some boozy dark fruit cake. Feels like they captured this one really at peak maturity. Balance, texture, complexity and flavour: everything is in its place. With water: more exotically spicy now with five spice, cloves, more eucalyptus, lemongrass, bay leaf, aniseed and herbal cough medicines. Finish: long, nicely bitter, herbal, mentholated, tobacco, chocolate, many wee spices and more of these mixed dark and crystallised fruits. Comments: Glenmorangie, where have you been all my life Goddammit! Dear Professor Jill Bumsd… sorry, I mean Dear Dr Bill Lumsden, please can we have more stuff like this for us civilians. Hugs, Angus. Seriously, this is very worth trying if it every crosses your path. I love that it still feels very ‘Glenmorangie’, and I really think this is the smartest kind of juggling with different casks - the kind where patience is the key.
SGP: 662 - 91 points.



Secret Highland 34 yo 1985/2019 (47%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead)

Secret Highland 34 yo 1985/2019 (47%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead)
There are whispers abound that this parcel of stock is from a certain northern highland distillery that may or may not employ somewhere between 15 and 17 male workers from a nearby town. The trouble is, who really has experience with mid-80s, 34+ yo examples of this distillery to say what it should taste like? There’s a few of these casks floating about at the moment, no doubt more will soon begin to emerge in bottled form. Colour: deep gold. Nose: It can of course be the mind playing tricks, but this doesn’t feel like just another Speysider / modern highlander. It has something rather charismatic and gently old school about it. A rather dry, leathery and slightly dusty beeswax and furniture polish note, gentle waxes, soots, roots and herbs. Ink, fennel seed, caraway, hessian, olive oil, boot polish, dried mint - very tertiary, earthy, elegantly drying and complex. Mouth: wonderfully rich and biscuity in the mouth. Layered, cakey sweetness with cafe latte, milk bottle sweets, cough medicines, old green Chartreuse and mineral oils. There’s a nice stodginess to the texture as well, the flavours and light and playful, but you get the sense you could stand a spoon upright in a large glass of it. Finish: good length, lemon cough drops, hessian, candied peel, wintergreen, eucalyptus, sweetened medicines and some soft, savoury spiciness. Comments: Your guess is as good as mine. But I would hazard that this very well could be from ‘that’ distillery. It’s singular but rather unlike anything else from that era that I can think of. I would also add that it’s a very good and charismatic wee drop.
SGP: 561 - 90 points.



Ardmore 9yo 2009/2019 (53.4%, Archives ‘The Fishes of Samoa’, cask #706473, refill barrel, 234 bottles)

Ardmore 9yo 2009/2019 (53.4%, Archives ‘The Fishes of Samoa’, cask #706473, refill barrel, 234 bottles)
Seriously, Whiskybase dudes, when are we getting ‘The Sheep of Perthshire’, or ‘The Herons of Strachur’, or how about ‘The Fish & Chip vans of Drumnadrochit’? Those ideas you can have for free, but others will cost you! Colour: pale straw. Nose: really quite sharp, peaty, medicinal and powerful. But then, what can you expect from an Ardmore matured in an ex-Laphroaig barrel (as most of this 09 parcel is)? It just has this extra layer of very specific Ardmore farminess. Although it’s a style that could also lead your mind down the A83 to Glen Scotia. Petrol, sheep wool, chalk, aspirin dissolved in fizzy water, muddy brine and perhaps even some kind of lightly burn dung (what do you mean you’ve never tried it?!) With water: water really works a trick here. Much more settled and gentle now. A more harmonious balance between seashore, hospital and farmyard. Lightly chalky, lemony, medical, peaty and lots of ink, crushed seashells and bandages. Mouth: peppery, rubbery smoke, engine oil, charcoal and some rather industrial antiseptic, brine and camphor. More sheep wool, but also bits of sheep along with it now. Smoky mutton ramen with iodine and old school cough medicines. With water: once again water works a treat. It just lifts everything nicely and cleans it up a notch. Still a bit more farmy, gamey and muddy on the palate but also thickly textured and with a punchy salinity keeping everything fresh. Finish: long with a rather deep smokiness, tarry, kippery, some olive oil, brine and a very slight vegetal note. Comments: I would say water is obligatory here. But there’s a lot of fun and pleasure to be had if you have a little patience. Although, I feel these parcels of Ardmore could arguably be labelled as ‘blended malt’ given the wallop of Laphroaig that seems to inhabit them.
SGP: 375 - 86 points.



Ardmore 10 yo 2010/2020 (55.6%, Thompson Brothers, refill barrel, 253 bottles)

Ardmore 10 yo 2010/2020 (55.6%, Thompson Brothers, refill barrel, 253 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: a much breezier and more naturally ‘Ardmore’ style, which leads me to suspect this is not an ex-Laphroaig cask. A much softer, more mineral peatiness with these gentle wafts of crisp smoke, crushed seashells, diluted petrol, freshly laundered fabrics and warm milled grist. Also quite a bit of ink, cough medicine and a few dried herbs. With water: dusty, a bit more coal smoke and chimney grime, some dusty malt bins and damp cereals. Mouth: immediately close to the raw ingredients with lots of fresh, lightly smoked malt, buttery toast, yeasty sourdough starter, lemon juice and crushed aspirin. Slightly sharp, citric acidity, white pepper and some hints of waxed canvass. With water: sooty, lightly vegetal, earthy, medicinal and with a little more pure, peaty oomph. Finish: long with a peculiar leathery smoke, antiseptic, medicines, chalk, seawater, ink and lemon oil. Comments: There’s no doubt that this is impeccable, charismatic distillate. I just think it’s a tad young is all really. These casks in another five years should really start to sing.
SGP: 363 - 85 points.



I know I said ‘duos’, but this seems like an obvious point to do this next one...



Ardmore 21 yo 1998/2020 (50.9%, Thompson Brothers / The Whisky Agency, 162 bottles)

Ardmore 21 yo 1998/2020 (50.9%, Thompson Brothers / The Whisky Agency, 162 bottles)
Love the label for this one. Colour: straw. Nose: quite a striking first aroma of fabric softener, dried herbs, lemon rind and citronella wax. Also some very gentle notes of freshly baked breads, pollen, chamomile tea, wildflowers and some slightly coastal-accented greenery such as myrtle and gorse bush. In time it becomes more clearly coastal with a rather crisp saltiness, plain dry cereals and heather flowers. Calm, subtle and very charming; you can use at least one of those words to describe Dornoch Castle I would say. With water: drier, chalkier, leaner, more towards fabrics, linens, crushed green leaves, trampled greenery, moss and earthy potting sheds. Mouth: wonderfully herbal upon arrival, lots of crushed nettles, dried mint, thyme, gorse and also things like gooseberry acidity - it’s almost a sauvignon blanc - more lemon peel, chalk and hibiscus. These herbal qualities become rather medical as well with cough sweet notes. Wee mineral touches, hessian, paraffin, sheep wool, vitamin tablets in soda water, aspirin, ink and an almost effervescent, ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ sweetness. With water: a more concentrated herbal quality. Mineral salts, lemon jelly, aspirin again - there’s a really thready, deft medical quality running through this one. Some soft notes of sandalwood and dried thyme. Finish: long and again very gentle and cohesive. In that it’s hard to pull it apart into separate components. It feels very together as a whisky. Lots of herbs, medicines, roots, soot, chalk, minerals and an almost threadbare peat all folded in on each other. Comments: What I love here is the overall sense of softness, charm and effortless complexity that really makes you work to seek out its core characteristics. Although, it never feels like work, this is an extremely pleasurable whisky that demands some quiet attention.
SGP: 463 - 90 points. 



Let’s finish with something along a similar peat level, theoretically in any case. You never know with this old series of bottlings…



Glen Garioch 8 yo (43%, OB, Gasperoni Alberto import Italy, 1970s)

Glen Garioch 8 yo (43%, OB, Gasperoni Alberto import Italy, 1970s)
Colour: gold. Nose: can you smoke vegetables? This really is like a big mash up of scorched bonfire earth, distant peat embers, the gloopiest, most syrupy of old school, herbal cough medicines and parsnips roasted in honey. Really another world entirely. There’s also plasters, ointments, old herbal liqueurs, muddy sheep wool and a wee gallon of camphor. Malt whisky for Aberdeenshire farmers that somehow found itself in Italy. Mouth: extremely fat, syrupy and herbal. Sooty, muddy peat, black olives mashed in their own pickling juices, herbal toothpaste, mysterious old ointments, tractor engine grease and various medical embrocations. Wild, bonkers and, quite frankly, brilliant! Finish: long, drying, getting increasingly peaty, peppery, greasy, fatty, smoked bacon lardons, herbal jelly, smoked jasmine tea, putty, anthracite, tar and gentian. Comments: Sheer, utter, brilliant madness. Now, having said that, there does feel like some kind of OBE witchcraft has occurred while in bottle, but I would place this firmly in the category of ‘great OBE’. Which is to say the basic flavours of peat and barely have broken down and meandered off in various tertiary and tangential ways creating a fascinating look at the undercarriage of this distillate. It’s well known that some of these old official Glen Garioch dumpy bottlings can be utter soap bombs, but when you get a good one like this… what a joyous treat!
SGP: 465 - 91 points.



Glen Garioch 18 yo 1974/1992 (54.9%, Cadenhead 150th Anniversary)

Glen Garioch 18 yo 1974/1992 (54.9%, Cadenhead 150th Anniversary)
Glen Garioch was peated up until 1975, so theoretically this should be within that peaty timeline. However, I don’t think I ever tried any other 1974s, so let’s find out… Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed, this is raw, greasy, grassy, almost rubbery, peat smoke! There’s almost a nod towards Port Ellen with this kind of grubby, fatty, bloated peatiness. Smouldering anthracite embers, natural tar, kippers drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil, muddy sheep wool, caraway eau de vie, camphor, cod live oil and pure seawater. Brilliant and extremely brutal and powerful. With water: pure and extremely sharp. All on lemon juice, smoked malt, plain peat smoke, seawater, petrol and some fusion of muddy brine and bike chain grease. Mouth: monolithic peatiness. Sharp, pure, petrolic, mineral, saline and almost drenched in malt vinegar. Really close in style to some of the various 1975s by Samaroli I would say. Creosote, kerosene, pure tar, roof pitch, fisherman’s wellies and bitter herbal extracts. With water: wow! Really evolves with water to become wider, fatter and deeper. Terrifically thick and greasy in the mouth. Slathered in grungy peat, dirty martini juices, green olives in brine, tar, iodine, herbal toothpaste and carbolic wash. Finish: long, deeply tarry, saline, medical, peaty and superbly farmy. Comments: Not really a surprise, but seeing as this is pretty much the only 1974 Glen Garioch out there, it’s extremely satisfying to tick it off the list and also rather comforting to know that it sings in the same key as its 1975 siblings. It’s certainly closer to them than to the 1973s I could try.
SGP: 477 - 93 points.



Thanks to Harrison and Serge










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