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

October 3, 2020





Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
A mixed bag of pairs
Things are extremely busy and more than a little hectic here at Whiskyfun’s Edinburgh HQ. So just a few pairs this week, let’s see what we have sitting to hand. Why not this as a solo aperitif…


John Jameson 10 yo (no ABV, OB,  )

John Jameson 10 yo (no ABV, OB, circa 1920s)
Colour: gold. Nose: super old school! Full of metal polish and funny old liqueurs and ointments. Like nosing an episode of Peaky Blinders! Becomes rapidly extremely herbal, on herbal toothpaste, bouillon, cough medicines, mothballs and eucalyptus resin. Fir wood, hardwood resins, linseed oil and pot pourri. An ancient and long lost style. Mouth: ah, a shame, it’s kind of fallen apart. Even more so than the nose would suggest. There is some glimmers of herbal resins and even touches of medical smoke. But this is pretty much oxidised sadly. Finish: brief and very thin, a little sour wood residue. Comments: The nose was still showing and impressive amount of character and, had this bottle travelled a little better over the decades, I’d say it would be a fascinating and pretty good dram. As things stand, this is a pretty instructive lesson in the order in which a whisky dies.
No score.



I’m often rather brutal about Macallan, but I think it’s good to remind ourselves that their reputation was built upon some pretty serious whisky from time to time. It’s been a while since I tried any classic era Macallan, so let’s have some in the form of a couple of old minis. Just about the only affordable ‘format’ old Macallan is to be found in these days.



Macallan 10 yo (40%, OB, mini, early 1990s)

Macallan 10 yo (40%, OB, mini, early 1990s)
Colour: amber. Nose: well, exactly. Just a superb and elegant old school, leafy and raisiny sherry. Almonds, sultanas, wee glimmers of chocolate, soft earth, mint tea and hints of leather. Simple, easy but extremely refined. Mouth: excellent weight for 40%. Robustly earthy and more focussed of damp tobacco, leather, stewed dark fruits and bitter chocolate than the lighter nose suggested. Rather a punchy and more assertive sherry profile here. Some notes of espresso, rancio and bitter herbs. Finish: good length, wonderfully leathery, drying, plenty tobacco, bitter chocolate, perfectly bitter herbal notes, treacle, dried mint and miso. Comments: Little wonder people got themselves in a lather about these bottlings. Just superb, effortlessly quaffable sherried malt whisky. One that managed to feel both bigger than its ABV and older that 10 years.
SGP: 561 - 88 points.



Macallan 10 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, mid-1970s)

Macallan 10 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, mid-1970s)
In my experience these 100 proof batches from G&M during this era when they still held the Macallan license could be quite variable. Colour: deep gold. Nose: what I just love here is that the natural distillate is really exposed without any obvious cloak of sherry. Instead you have this wonderfully plush, full and pulpy fruitiness. Ripe yellow and green fruits, mirabelle jam, damsons, pollens, beeswax and flower honeys. Also wee touches of mint, dried apple rings, golden sultanas and melon. With water: a king of oily and fatty cereal profile emerges - cereal eau de vie - with touches of caraway, linseed oil, vase water and lanolin. Mouth: superb and powerful arrival, all on aged mead, dried flowers, waxes, putty, high class olive oil, mineral oils, waxed canvass, lime cordial and many wee herbal and medical touches. Just wonderfully full and ‘fat’ distillate that feels fantastically textural and mouth-coating. With water: again this impression of ‘fatness’ and breadth of flavour. Full of subtle floral, waxy and honeyed notes. Still lightly medical, mentholated and showing more crystallised fruits now. Finish: long, superbly thick, honeyed, resinous, mentholated, jammy yellow fruits, pollens and herbs. Comments: Another, I would argue pretty lost, style of Macallan entirely. The natural aspects of the distillate here - primarily fruits, texture and power - are just spellbinding.
SGP: 662 - 93 points.



Some peat I think…



Ardmore 9 yo 2009/2019 (58.5%, The Whisky Exchange ‘Single Casks’, cask #707912, ex-Laphroaig barrel, 242 bottles)

Ardmore 9 yo 2009/2019 (58.5%, The Whisky Exchange ‘Single Casks’, cask #707912, ex-Laphroaig barrel, 242 bottles)
Seeing as Laphroaig and Ardmore are in the same stable and Laphroaig makes a big deal out of maturation in 1st fill barrels, it isn’t too surprising that its refills make their way to Ardmore. Nor that we are now seeing a fair few of the results finding their way to the indys. I think they are generally very good, but I also think that given the raw potency of Laphroaig, you could make an argument for this being a blended malt. Colour: white wine. Nose: sharply citric and slightly yeasty, like sourdough starter drizzled with lemon juice. Then some extremely fresh notes of wet fabrics, seawater and crushed seashells. Some gutsy medicines too. With water: pure, crisp, salty and with glimmers of cereals and carbolic wash acidity. Mouth: could be a light Laphroaig really. All sharp lemon juice, kiln smoke, tar and TCP, only later does there come some more classical Ardmore farmyard smokiness. Some tar, engine oil and dried seaweed. With water: a little softer and more complex with water. Fragrant smoke, beach sand, pebbles, ink and some scattered dry herbs. Still very drying, powerful and medical though. Finish: long, deeply smoky, ashy, mineral and very salty and medical. Comments: Given this blind and told it was Laphroaig I suspect I wouldn’t blink. An ideal whisky with which to kindle some impossible arguments. I find it very good, but still a little young and rough around the edges. These batches in a few years should start to be pretty great I think.
SGP: 366 - 84 points.



Ardmore 9 yo 2009/2018 (58.5%, The Single Cask, cask #1312, 217 bottles)

Ardmore 9 yo 2009/2018 (58.5%, The Single Cask, cask #1312, 217 bottles)
I would assume this is from another ex-Laphroaig barrel, but let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: perhaps not, this is much more focussed on that classical Ardmore farminess. Hay bails, cow sheds, horse sweat, pepped cured meats, hot mustard and notes of soot and herbal teas. A more gentle, industrial smokiness writhing underneath. With water: a little crisper and leaner in its smokiness, like frying bacon lardons, sootier, fatter and showing touches of tar. Mouth: smoked olive oil, boiled ham, seaweed flakes in hot ramen broth, smoked paprika, black olive bread and engine oil. Big, gutsy and rather powerful but definitely far more ‘Ardmore’. With water: very good, much more herbaceous, umami, saline, meaty and full of tar, embrocations, olive oil and spicy rye breads. Finish: long, brimming with leafy smokiness, natural tar, ointments, mercurochrome and black olive tapenade. Comments: I would love to know if this was also an ex-Laphroaig barrel. What’s for sure is that the distillery character is fully out and proud here, which is great. By comparison I really am left with the impression that these ex-Laph Ardmores are rather muddled and conflict-ridden whiskies in many ways - the Ardmore itself  seems rather lost in the crossfire. Anyway, this one was excellent.
SGP: 464 - 86 points.



Ledaig 26 yo 1993/2019 (45%, The Single Cask, cask #245, 94 bottles)

Ledaig 26 yo 1993/2019 (45%, The Single Cask, cask #245, 94 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: feels like one of these funny vintages where Ledaig and Tobermory become kind of indistinguishable from each other. Some gentle barley sweetness and malt extract with lactic sweetness like condensed milk, vapour rubs, lightly waxed parchments, menthol tobacco, lemon peel, gentle herbal infusions and umami broths. Mouth: hang on! An immediate and rather striking departure - a handbrake turn almost - towards overripe orange peel, cheng pi dried orange peel tea, kumquats, preserved lemons, pink grapefruit and some rather bitter notes of blood orange. Weird citrus all the way! More barley extract, white mushroom and herbal teas. There’s also the funny chemical touches which occasionally veer into bubblegum territory. In time it realigns a little more with the nose and there’s some nicely salty / savoury bread notes emerging. Finish: medium and very savoury, herbal, oily cereals, minerals, putty, white pepper, lime pith and various breads. Comments: Strange, funny, talkative and at times downright unusual whisky. But it’s never less than charmingly esoteric and eccentric, and certainly far from boring. Another one of these drams to pour blind for whisky friends.
SGP: 652 - 87 points.



Ledaig 24 yo 1995/2020 (46.4%, Whisky Nerds, cask #128, hogshead, 102 bottles)

Ledaig 24 yo 1995/2020 (46.4%, Whisky Nerds, cask #128, hogshead, 102 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: brighter, more immediately on cereals, breads and honeys and probably a bit more classical. A clear coastal note, white flowers, soft waxes, herbal teas with lemon peel and touches of wintergreen and bergamot. Elegantly fragrant in fact. Mouth: wonderfully juicy on arrival, white jellybeans and other pineapple sweeties. Fruit salad juices, miso, green fruits, banana and a wee hint of custard adding a sense of creaminess. Goes on with herbal teas, dried tarragon and white pepper. Finish: good length, savoury, lightly salty, dried flowers, herbal teas, pithy citrus peels and a tiny medical kiss in the aftertaste. Comments: Very impressive. Probably my favourite thus far out of all these 90s Ledaigs that have popped up recently.
SGP: 651 - 89 points.



A couple of 1989 Laphroaig and we’ll be done.



Laphroaig 17 yo 1989/2007 (50.3%, OB Feis Ile, 4000 bottles)

Laphroaig 17 yo 1989/2007 (50.3%, OB Feis Ile, 4000 bottles)
I have fond memories of quaffing this one with rather merry abandon during Feis 2007, but I never recorded proper notes for it. Time to make amends… Colour: gold. Nose: tar, seashore, coastal freshness, lemon rind, TCP and some very fragrant touches of grapefruit, Earl Grey tea and brine mixed with olive oil. With water: gets immediately younger and more vigorously coastal. Fresh Atlantic air, beach foam, sand and boiled langoustine. Mouth: here you feel the sweetness of the bourbon barrels rather more intensely with these notes of smoky, creamy vanilla, there’s also more natural tarriness, pine sap, seawater, soy sauce and camphor. Perfectly elegant and balanced with these wispy curls of pure peat smoke. With water: perfect! The wood sweetness steps back and we’re again getting this beautiful balance of fragrant, smoked teas, peat embers and pithy citrus peels. Finish: long, wood embers, iodine, smoked olive oil, cough medicine, salted liquorice and seaweed. Comments: At times there’s a tension between the sweetness of the cask and the ‘Laphroaigness’ of the distillate, however with a few drops of water the end result is harmony and beautiful distillery character.
SGP: 566 - 91 points.



Laphroaig 30 yo 1989/2019 (46.8%, The Whiskyfind, Mizunara oak finish, 1410 bottles)

Laphroaig 30 yo 1989/2019 (46.8%, The Whiskyfind, Mizunara oak finish, 1410 bottles)
I will admit to thinking that Mizunara is slightly overhyped as a ‘thing’. However, it may just be that I’m smelly Scottish philistine. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s taken on this wonderfully fragrant profile that mature Laphroaig from this era seems to possess. Sandalwood, dried herbs, lapsing souchong, crab sticks, mint tea, leather, miso, fir wood, dried seaweed, mineral oil and canvas. There’s a wonderful sense of umami, gentle coastal notes and various citrus peels. Mouth: richly tarry and with a lovely seam of soft, herbal peat smoke. Brine, olive oil, miso, soy sauce, more piney notes, preserved lemons and cough syrups. Finish: not the longest but superbly resinous, tarry, peppery, herbal and nicely saline. Comments: Rather simple and elegant in its construction, but everything is in its place and there’s no sense that whatever has gone on with the Mizunara has been anything other than very sensitively handled.
SGP: 655 - 90 points.



Thanks to Phil H and to Phil T.










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