While i was looking through some old Documents i found a file holding my last version of the old SpiritofIslay , one page was a collection of tasting notes from Tasting Sessions in the area and visits to the Vaults . They were nearly enough to make a grown man cry ( and i don’t mean how bad they were….) , some had the prices on ! I’ll post them here for people to read and if they are popular enough i may post other extracts from the site .
First up was a lowland No.49.11 (St.Magdalene) 24y.o. 50.1%, very nice , i’d never had this one before .Very pale with a strong vanilla taste ,it goes down very easily(which seems to be a common factor with all the SMWS lowlands i’ve tasted ,very agreeable!).
Next up was the 76.22(Mortlach) 11y.o. 58.5%, another very enjoyable malt .Golden in colour(odd cos it was supposed to be from a sherry butt),a bit of a cheese cakey smell/taste also a bit smokey.
Third on our list is 2.32(Glenlivet) 27y.o. 54.2%. This was from a first fill sherry butt and boy did it tell , even from about 18″ away !To say it stunk of sherry is an understatement ,it also at first tasted of the stuff, but after a few slurps and a bit of water i got !The hot and peppery bit of Talisker ,but the over bearing sherry spoiled this one for me.
The 4th one was 4.71(Highland Park) 13y.o. 56.7%. Another first fill sherry butt ,this one had the HP colour off to a tee ,but i did not enjoy it as it bit rotten on the back of the throat. Again a bit too sherry on the nose ,a bit anti-septic on the taste .Very disappointing especially after the HP 2000 cask i’ve tried.
And now to the last one and this could take a while .This one took me back to the very first Islay i ever tried in 1984.The kick i got off that very first taste ,how it exploded with the famous Islay-dene taste ,how it had you diving for a glass of something to quell that burning on the inside .It was a 62% 7 y.o. from Islay ,not from the southern hot bed ,from the north it’s number was 53.51,its a Caol Ila!
It said in the tasting notes Germolene,oh no it wasn’t if this had been a blind tasting i would have said Kildalton ,it slapped you in the face then knee’d you in the chest for good measure !It also reminded you the next morning ,”hello,you drank me last night ,wallop!” Needless to say i bought a bottle.
We started off with a lowland 97.2 , a rarity in SMWS circles this one only the second cask ,a 24yo Littlemill / 48.5% / 188 bottle outturn / £50 a bottle.It was decidedly average a little on the dry side in its finish.
Next up was a Speyside 36.21 ,a 13yo Benrinnes /58% / 300 / £39 , not a bad little whisky ,very nice neat chocolately/sweet.
then came the Highland Pinapple(their words!) 26.19 , a 11yo Clynelish / 56% / 211 /£38 ,a great dram fruity with a hint of smoke,nearly bought this one ,2nd in the heat!
The 4th one along was another Speysider , a 30.36 ,a 29yo Glenrothes /54.9% / 562 /£71 . For you sherry nuts this would have been the top dog , to me i just got the burnt toffee/caramel associated with Macallan! A bit heavy as well.
Finally was a 29.24 ,a 10yo Laphroaig /58.8%/260/£41 ,people were turning this one down and asking for a dram of something from earlier ! (??!*$??) The fools , this was a full frontal from the Big L , i’ll print their tasting notes to give you an idea :-
“This particular sample is pale in colour with an initial nose of abandoned rained on barbecues. The taste at full strength is wonderfully warming with a finish that conjures up the outdoors-the peculiar smell-taste one experiences tramping over a bog in a wintery mist with a rich smoke of peat fires heavy in the air At this point romantics may want to shut their eyes and think of Scotland. Returning to reality , dilute your dram cautiously because over-watering will result in it taking the nose of a chemical fire in a plasticine factory-which we know some members adore. Leave for 30 minutes (patience,patience…) and you will be rewarded with a delicate fruity sherbet note just discernable through the coal tar soap with a strong , peaty finish. a bold characterful whisky” Couldn’t have put it better my self!!!!
First up was a 25.27 (Rosebank , 13yo , 59.8% , £37 ) , an average Lowland but a fine Sipping dram .
Next up was a 39.39 (Linkwood , 14yo , 59.5% , £37 ) , not a bad dram but a bit heavy on the burnt Toffee which you could expect from an Ex-sherry cask .
Third was a 58.5 (Strathisla , 32yo , 56.4% , £78 ) , a stunning dram for a 32yo from a sherry butt , not over-whelming in the burnt toffee , a bright mohogany in colour with a dry finish ,good stuff!
fourth on the list was a 19.37 (Glen Garioch , 14yo , 57.4% , £43 ) , not a bad dram , a typical GG nice in small doses but not something for a long nights drammin’ .
Last up (can you guess?) 53.58 (Caol Ila , 19yo , 57.4% , £51 ) , before i start i’ll once again raise the issue of what UDV (or Diageo Global Supplies as they’re known as now ) does to its O.B. why doesn’t their 18yo taste like this?
When i first tasted this i thought they’d made a mistake , this was a 7/8yo the peat/iodene smell smacked you across the nose ,on tasting the iodene rose again , why can’t UDV / DGS do this ?
First up was a Lowlander 25.30 , a 1989 13yo Rosebank (getting very short in stock apparently) at 59.7% .A refill cask thats been re-racked into a sherry-wood. A lovely dram a bit fruity , pale gold in colour one of the best drams of the night .
Next was a 76.32 , a 20yo Mortlach at 57.5% from a re-fill hogshead .A lovely Speysider , fruit (pears)and floral , a very smooth dram or as i noted “very dramable!” .
The middle dram of the night was a bit of a rarity (for me ), a 20yo 57.11 (Glen Mhor)at 62.7%.from a sherry cask it showed in colour and nose , a very rubbery nose and a heavy Mahogany colour .It had bags of sherry , not my cup of tea .
Next up was another unusual one a Jura . A 18yo 31.10 (59%)from a sherry butt ,a very murky amber colour , the usual burnt taste it did improve a little with water but it was the worst of night for me .
Last of the night was the 29.27 , the 11yo Laphroaig at 55.6% .this was a very weak version (compared to previous bottlings , are they going the way of the commercial bottlings?) , still enjoyable , the iodene / germolene was still there .
First up was a 19yo Linkwood (39,45 /54.3% /£48 ) , not bad , a so-so Speysider , it became extremely fruity with the addition of water .
Next one along was a bit of a surprise , an 11yo Japanese whisky called Yamazaki (?) (119.8 /62.5% /£42)it fair took your breath away , it was very sherried , it was pointed out at other tastings it had been compared to The Macallan and i could see that , the one taste i can remember of this one was like a sweet i used to get as a kid , pineapple cubes .One of Mels favourites of the night along with the third one .
Another sherry casked Speysider , a 13yo Mortlach (76.35 /57.8%/ £40 ), initially all i got out of this one was sulpher , lots of it . but if you let it sit a while what appeared was freshly cut Christmas cake (the fruity / cake smell)but as soon as you aggitated it it went back to sulphur , Weird !
Number 4 was a Teaninich ,22 years young (59.22 /58.3% /£53 ), they discibed it as a heavyweight dram , i didn’t see it , it was a nice dram but sweet with a slight hint of peat in the background .
Last but not least was the Islay , An 11yo Laphroaig (29.29 /56.3% /£39 ) just the usual SMWS bottled Laph , really medicinal ,really good !
Back to the tasting first up was a Inverleven (20.22/26yo/55.5%/190 bottles/£62 ), this was the sister cask to the one we had tried a couple of weeks ago at the vaults , It wasn’t anything special , really fruity , a nice dram but not (IMO) worth a bottle.
Second along was an Arran (121.3/8yo/54.9%/380 bottles/£35) , i’ve never been impressed with any of the arrans i’ve tried so far and this one continues the good tradition ! It was from a refill hoggy and was very minty and sweet.
Next we were off to Speyside for an Aultmore (73.10/14yo/57.4%/527 bottles/£38) , From a sherry butt it was a typical sherried Speysider , again not one i would buy but it was worth a try .
This is when the night took one hell of an un-expected turn , when i first saw the list for the night , i asked the girl running the night if this was a mistake , she said no , she nabbed it cos she knew the good people of the north-east would appreciate it !
WE HAD A BRORA !
A lovely 25yo , 57% , Marmalade on burnt toast BRORA ! (213 bottles/£63 ) Oh it was heaven , it really tasted like Marmalade , but with the the Smoke thrown in , my mate (who has never had a Brora was well impressed and nearly bought a bottle , but been a yorkshire man went for the last one instead ).
Last but not least we headed for the Sound of Islay , A Caol Ila (53.72/10yo/61%/311 bottles/£40). Another young gem , lots of smoke ,peat ,germoline and plasticine ! The Peat-reek strikes again , it was so good i bought a bottle (as well as a Brora)!
First up was 27.52 a 13yo Springbank (46.7%,177 bottles,£46), a springbank thats spent nearly a year finishing in a port pipe , described as thick and Jammy this was a tad to sweet for my tooth but Mel absolutely loved it .
Next up was a 49.12 , a 19yo St.Magdalene (64.9%,635 bottles,£46), a nice example of this distillery from a refill Hoggy , nothing really exciting to write home about , wouldn’t go out of my way to buy it but would make a good occasional dram.
3rd up was 1.107 , a 38yo Glenfarclas ,(48.2%,298 bottles,£105), when i saw this on the list i was looking forward to tasting it , we’d tried a 30yo not long ago at another tasting and it was classy , this one was extremely smooth but was very pale , coming from a refill butt,though it did in my eyes develope a bit of a woody taste as it was left to breathe .
Next came a 10.57 , a 6yo Bunnahabhain (58.9%,882 bottles,£36) , from a gourda cask (specially bought in and filled by the society ), i’d tried the previous cask 10.56 which was heavily sherried and surprisingly good , this one was more like a refill (which it wasn’t)and seemed a bit more spirity .
Last along came the newest addition to the SMWS distillery list the 122.2 a 11yo Croftengea (59.2%,118 bottles,£42) , the story behind this one (and it’s sister cask 122.1) is that after the take over by Glenmo the society went a hunting in a Glenmo warehouse and found them somewhere near the back and said “we’ll have those!” .It is very smoky and peaty (52ppm phenols), it’s very Islay (a la young Caol Ila ) but isn’t ! (there’s that little something missing ) .
First up on the tasting was a Speysider 39.45 , a 15yo Linkwood (56.6% / 585 bottles / £40 ), a refill sherry Hoggy , typical of Similar Linkwoods i’ve tried , the nose put me off straight away .It had a burnt smell , plus something else i couldn’t identify but i’ve found in other bottlings . it wasn’t very nice to drink either , needed lots of water to get it down .
2nd up was a Macallan ( 24.75 / 12yo / 58.1% / 679 bottles / £40 ), a very fine example of a Mac , well sherried , went down very well though i think it went a bit over the girls head who served us when i asked if it was a fake or the genuine article…..
For the 3rd one we headed a bit north into the highlands for a 20yo Clynelish ( 26.32 / 57% / 262 bottles / £48 ). Another very good example of this distillery a very complex dram with a good whiff of smoke at the end , my 2nd Favourite of the night .
So onto my favourite of the night from Clynelish we headed westward about as far as you could go . 14.12 , a 15yo Talisker (58.4% / 289 bottles / £58 ) , it’s not often one of these appears (first one in my 5 year membership) and it was a good un’ ! everything you’d expect from the Isle of Skyes only distillery , Maritime saltiness , smoke and spicy ….delicious .
Last up was a very disappointing Bowmore (3.91 / 15yo / 234 bottles / £43 ) . I was expecting something a kin to the Mariner but got very little peat and very little smoke (that i could detect any way ), Bowmore used to be my favourite Islay many a moon ago , why has it gone all Fragrant and Floral (not what i would call FWP though )? if it wasn’t for the bad first one this would have been my least favourite of the night .
So onto the first malt (which was the only one we done blind ) at first i thought it was Auchentoshan ( that heavy M-B lavender/flowery smell was there) then i got a soapy smell (which made me think Edradour), my mate Stuart first thoughts were Glenturret and Keith from the chat was heading down the same road as me , needless to say we were all wrong and it was Tullibardine ! 28.7 , a 14yo at 56.6% (299 bottles , £38 ) , we all agreed on one thing , it wasn’t that good !
Next up was 22.16 , a 17yo Glenkinchie (58.7% , 239 bottles , £48 ), the best thing i can say about this is …..it was a Glenkinchie .
Then came 26.37 , a 14yo Clynelish finished off in a port pipe (48.6% , 197 bottles , £40 ) , when i saw this (i didn’t at first see it was a finished one ) i thought great , a smoky one , Harrys been going on about how good his 14yo Clynelish is , then they poured it …..colour – Port , Nose – Port , Taste – Port , finish – smoky …only kidding PORT ! was there something wrong with this in it’s original cask ? was it Clynelish finished Port ? not very good at all …..
Next up was 1.117 , a 37yo Farclas (50.2% , 169 bottles , £108 ) , a vast improvement on the 3 previous malts but it seemed a weaker cask than the 2 38yo Farclas’s i’d tasted earlier in the year ( and not because the othe two were higher ABV’s either . It was from a refill Hoggy and was a nice dram at fullstrength , didn’t risk it with water .
The fifth one was 2.56 , a 16yo Glenlivet ( 58.5% , 581 bottles , £45 ) , a very good example of this particular distillery . Went down well , as did the bottle we got as the prize , but still didn’t make you jump up and go buy a bottle .
Lastly the Islay , i was looking at my list of previous tastings and it’s the 5th time we’ve had this particular malt , i think they could do with getting something else from Islay . 29.38 , a 12yo Laphroaig (54.2% , 237 bottles , £46) , it was a typical SMWS froyge , peaty , smoky , iodeney …a hell of a lot better than the 10yo CS O.B.
First up were 2 17yo Glenkinchie’s
22.13 April 87 58.2% 202 bottles £46
22.14 April 87 59.6% 263 bottles £46
Not very impressed with these two (never been a big fan of kinchies ) they were ok but there wasn’t anything between them . As usual couldn’t pick up on any of the societies tasting notes (lots of lemon mentioned in the first one ) but i think we were too busy looking at the other 3 ….
Next up were a pair of Taliskers
14.8 15yo 58.6% March 89 306 bottles £58
14.14 15yo 59.9% March 89 278 bottles £58
Both were good Taliskers (sure i’d had the 1st one before ) the second was a great Tali . Bags of Pepper , the second had iodine , saltiness , it was oily , it was a damn good single cask Tali , different from the distillery bottlings but a good representation of the malt.
Last up on it’s own was the star of the night for me , a 21yo Caol Ila .
53.84 21yo 60.2% Jan 83 243 bottles £50
Where do i begin , Germolene , briny , a fiery intensity …..a damn good Caol Ila ! Unfortunately it sold out before i could get one on the night (which is unusual for the CI)but i’ve put an order in for a one to pick up so i’ll be getting one …..eventually !
First one of the night was a Cragganmore( 37.24 , 18yo , 59.1% , June 1986 , 183 bottles , £49 ) . From a Refill Hoggie , a golden syrup colour , the nose was floral and lemon . It was hot and smoky on the palate with a long warming finish , with water it was a very smoky beast . A damn fine dram , shame the bog standard bottling isn’t as good .
No.2 was a Glenlivet ( 2.60 , 16yo , 56.7% , June 1988 , 506 Bottles , £43 ) . From a Refill butt , a light bronze colour , it was toffee and wood on the nose . The taste was hot , candied peel with a long and warming finish .
Next up was Mel’s Favourite of the night , a “museum” piece from Dallas Dhu ( 45.14 , 29yo , 52% , Aug 1975 , 189 bottles , £73 ) . Bright Gold from a Refill Barrel , it was Chocolate Orange on the nose with a sweet orange onthe palate . It had a medium warming finish , a crackin’ dram excellent for it’s age .
The 4th Speysider was an ancient Longmorn ( 7.28 , 36yo , 52.1% , Dec 1968 , 467 bottles , £98 ) . when i first looked at the tasting list provided this was the one i was least looking forward too , from a sherry butt it was a deep Mahogany colour . The nose was oloroso and Christmas cake (especially raisins ) , the taste was dark sherry , dark fruits and the usually “Liquid” Christmas cake . The finish was long and sherried , this one reminded me of the Signatory 1967 Ardbegs but without the smoke , a very good dram ….surprisingly .
Last one of the night was a 20yo Ardmore(66.18 , 20yo , 53.7% , March 1985 , 315 bottles , £58 ) , i was looking forward to this one , i was given it’s sister cask so it was a chance to compare and contrast . a burnished gold in colour it was lemon with a slight smoke on the nose . The taste was smoky , slightly citric with peat eventually coming through . It had a Long Citric , smoky finish . A good dram but not as good as the 66.19 .
First off we had a speysider , an Inchgower (18.22 , 20yo , 51.7%, 276 bottles , £58 ) , a gold colour this one was not very nice , it had a very strong Artifical note which i could not put my finger on . would have been the worst of the night if it wasn’t for no.3 .
Second up was a Northern Highlander , a Teaninich ( 59.31 , 21yo , 56.6% , 252 bottles £57 ) , a bright gold in colour , the nose was of a light smoke and icing sugar sweetness .The taste was smoke and and citric (lime) , the finish was long and beautiful .
And now to number 3 , there was a quick count in the room for this one and i’m glad to say i was in the majority , it was horrible and it’s possibly as far as i can remember the only whisky i’ve never finished at an SMWS tasting . In their notes they classed it as a Highland / Lowland , it was a Glengoyne ( 123.2 , 8yo , 56.7% , 317 bottles , £43 ) . The society had reracked this one for just over 2 years into a sherry butt , big mistake ! The nose wasn’t too bad , Spicy and christmas cake but the taste , burnt rubber and sulpher , was disgusting and the finish horrible . Water improved it a bit but by then it was too late . Reminded me of the awful Jura we had once at a tasting but we finished that one…..
Next we went to Campbeltown , a Glen Scotia (93.17 , 13yo , 63.5% , 299 bottles , £40 ) , a pale gold in colour , the nose was peaty , salty and like walking along a seashore .the taste was warm , peaty and salty , it had a salty / maritime finish , it actually made me think of the societies croftengea bottlings for some reason .
Last up was an Islay , a Bowmore to be more precise (3.102 , 16yo , 56.7% , 303 bottles , £46) . Pale gold in colour , it was slightly smoky and floral on the nose , Lavender with smoke on the nose and long and floral on the finish . I’ve gone right off Bowmores of late , can’t figure why they’re really floral .
At the end of the night Stephen produced a couple of surprises , first up was a bottle of 33.56 (Ardbeg , 1998 , 6yo ) , a bottling that was released only for tastings and foreign markets (but we could order it so ……) . A nice dram . Then we got something else which i don’t think i should mention here but it was very nice .
First up was a Speysider (Spey) 54.24 (Aberlour , 12yo , 56.8% , Dist Sept 1992 , 298 bottles , £40). From a refill Hoggy, a pale gold in colour .
Nose – Aniseed balls and cherry blossom .
Taste – Very floral and Aniseed (very aniseed……)
Finish – A medium finish
Not a typical Speysider , you keep getting the Speyside floral starting to come through but then the aniseed puts a big boot in ! Believe it or not the tasting panel completely missed the aniseed !!!!
Nose –Very Aniseed bally ! Also Dental Topical anaesthetic (yes she’s a dental nurse ….) .
Taste – Aniseed !
Finish – long and guess what ?
Second up was another Speysider , a 30yo Glencraig ( 104.6 , 51.1% , dist June 1974 , 199 bottles £83 ). Done on the Lomond stills at Glenburgie distillery , from a refill barrel it’s a pale straw colour .
Nose – Marzipan , vanilla and pineapple cubes .
Taste – Spicy and a slight smoke (from where who knows )
Finish – Short and sweet .
Smooth as a babies bum ! A strange one in taste and finish , it’s there then it’s not there (confused ….you will be…..) .
Nose – Liquorice Sticks , very pungent first smell but doesn’t follow through with taste .
Having said that very drinkable, easy on the palate and liver .
The 3rd one was another Speysider (Deveron) 73.16 ( Aultmore , 17yo , 57.7% , dist Sept 1987 , 245 bottles £44 ) . Lemony gold in colour from a refill hoggy .
Nose – Bags of honey (too much to be honest ) on top of the typical speyside nose .
Taste – Very dry , icing sugar and a touch rubber ?
Finish – Long and very dry .
Hmmm ….. over-powering honey , not one of my favourite distilleries .
Nose – First taste HONEY , over-powering smell of honey very off putting , feel reluctant to taste it …
Taste – smell of honey is very off putting …….didn’t like it !!
At last a non-speysider ! A highlander (Island) No. 121.9 , an 8yo Arran (56.8% , Dist April 1997 , 210 bottles £35 ) . From a refill hoggie , gold in colour.
Nose – really weak after the previous 3 drams , apples and christmas cakes (spices raisins etc).
Taste – Menthol Cigarettes , peppery .
Finish – barely ! couldn’t figure it out !
In a nut shell , bland !
Nose – Vanilla essence
Taste – toffee (clotted cream devon toffee)
This (and No. 2 and 3 were battling to impress after N0.1’s wow factor .
Last of the night was an Islay , a 12yo Bowmore ( 3.111 , 60.3% , Dist dec 1992 , £38 ) . Another refill hoggie , antique copper in colour .
Nose – dry Peat and lavender .
Taste – grow bag and smoke
Finish – Long , peaty / smoky
Closer to the 15yo than the 12yo O.B. , still not up to what I remember the old Bowmore tastes used to be .
Nose – Surgical spirit .
Taste – Ralgex Deep heat cream !! with water antiseptic taste disappears .
Didn’t like this at all – surgical smell very off putting .Didn’t taste like the 12yo I remember from festival visits to Bowmore distillery ! (obviously prefer distillery bottling
First up was a 16yo Highland Park ( 4.105 , Highland Island, 59.9% , outturn 545 Bottles , £46) , A bright bronze from a sherry butt , I got Struck matches , Edinburgh Rock and slight smoke from the nose , whereas Mel picked out Candied Peel . She found it sweet and oily on the palate , I found it quite peaty , sweet and Menthol Cigarettes . It’s finish was long and smoky to me , Mel got liquorice sticks . Not a bad Highland Park a lot peatier than I can remember previous ones .
Next up was the star of the evening for us , it’s not often you get offered a 40yo malt on a tasting and I bet it’s not often you get one like this . 1.131 (Speyside Spey , 40yo , Glenfarclas , 53.9% , outturn 152 bottles , £138 ) , from a hoggy a polished bronze in colour .we picked up Cola cubes , lots of fruit , super glue and varnish in the nose . The Palate was unbelievable , Hot , peppery , spicy , syrup and citric fruit . the finish was long and peppery . A sublime malt for it’s age , awesome as Mel put it . Someone also wrote I’ll have 2 , buy this for Mel – she really deserves it at the end of my notes ……wonder who ?
The third Dram of the night was another Speysider 41.36 (Spey , 24yo , Dailuaine , 44.8% , outturn 12 bottles ,£62) . 12 bottles ? they don’t know how either…. From a Bourbon hoggy , bronze in colour , the nose was coconut and cherries , cherries in liqueur . the taste to me was dry and leathery , the better half got dry and musty . the finish was medium dry . A very dry whisky to me , not one of the best .
Now it was time to head to Islay for the last 2 drams , first off was a young Ardbeg (33.62 , 7yo , 58% , 865 Outturn , £42 ) , amber from a Gorda cask (600litre Capacity) , it wasn’t the finest example of the distillery .Smoke and burnt rubber on the nose , though not as spirity as some young un’s but still a tad too sherried for my liking , it was very smoky and peaty on the palate . The finish was long and sherried with slight rubber and sulphur . With water and a little while to stand it mellowed out quite a bit .
Last up was a 25yo Caol ila ( 53.98 , 25yo , 60.4% , outturn 271 , £64 ) , Pale gold from a refill hoggy . The nose was very weak at first compared to previous 25yo Caol ilas but it was very medicinal (germolene) , peppery . It’s taste was very similar , loads of germolene and it had a very long finish .
First up was a lowlander 25.37 (Rosebank , 15yo , 59.5% , 242 bottles , £42)and what a cracking dram to start with ! Pale gold in colour , bags of green fruits and lemon on the nose with green fruits and sherbet on the palate . The finish was the most surprising ….long and very peppery . With water the typical Lowland characteristics came flooding through .this was my second favourite dram of the night , Mel thought it was a fantastic sinus cleaner !
Next up we had a 29yo Glenlivet ( 2.65 , 56.1% , 190 bottles , £73 ), a very good example , Bronze in colour with Vanilla and Cola cubes on the nose . On the palate it had creamy toffee and cola cubes with a long and dry finish . We both agreed that it was very Bunnahabhainish and extremely drinkable !
Third Dram of the night was the killer one , a 40yo Glenfarclas (1.129 , 55.1% , 151 bottles , £118) . A pale Amber in colour my notes include Nose – Woah ! , Taste – Hmmmmm , Finish – heavenly ( and some one added…. just like Mel !) , this someone wrote on her note Woo-Hoo! this is a typical 40yo farclas (take my word on this !) , orangie , cola cubes , smooth as hell and the answer is yes to some peoples question ……
After such a stunning dram it had to happen , an absolute stinker ! I thought it was just me but our full table thought it as well , one which was left (only the 4th SMWS Dram i haven’t finished , the others including a Glengoyne and a Jura ) so a 16yo Highland Park has been added to the list (4.106 , 60.5% , 605 bottles , £46) . Amber in colour the nose was overpowered by strong sulphur and burnt matches , the palate was over sherried and the best way to say the finish is Aarghhh! the worst HP ever ….which is a shame ….
Last up we headed over to Islay (what , we’ve only just come back ! [Wink] ) , A surprising good 7yo Bowmore ( 3.115 , 55.7 , 278 bottles , £33 ) , a very dark Mahogany colour , Dark fruits and smoke flood the nose ( tho Mel got School plimsoles – inners – from where i know not….) . On the Palate it’s very smooth , very sherried , smoky and damned good for such a young Pedro Ximenez . The finish is again very sherried and very dry . After some of the stuff i’ve had from Bowmore lately this one is exceptional ….Very exceptional !
Number one was a Glenkinchie (22.17 , 17yo , 58% , 245 bottles , £46) , a nice lowlander , pale bronze in colour , sweet and grassy on the nose it tasted very sweet and minty on the palate . It had a lovely cool and clean finish .
Glen Ord was Number two (Highland North ,77.8 , 17yo , 58.1% , 281 bottles , £47) , a pale gold it had a fascinating nose of Vanilla and Apple stroudal and an amazing peppery taste . It’s finish was long with a nice bite .
The 3rd one was a Dailuaine (41.31 , 18yo , 58.6% , 258 bottles , £46) , a not very interesting Speysider , a bright Gold it’s nose seemed very floral . As for it’s taste it took ages to decypher but came came across very musty in the end . It had a long and sweet finish .
We had a break after the first 3 , during which we were served a wonderful buffet .
For Number four we headed to the most northernly operating distillery in Scotland , Highland Park (4.102 , 17yo , 51.3% , 260 bottles , £40 .Gold in colour , it’s nose was of burning heather and pineapple (the heather burning not the pineapple !) . it had slight smoke on the nose with a long liquorice / smoky finish , not the best HP i’ve had .
Last but not least the Islay was a Laphroaig (29.38 , 12yo , 54.2 , 237 bottles , £44) , what can i say ….. a pretty standard SMWS Laphroaig but still head and shoulders above the O.B. . A bright Gold colour , bags of peat and iodine (seaweed) on the nose , very medicinal and peaty on the palate . A long and peaty Finish .
The Vaults 19-02-2005
1. 1.122 1966/38yo Farclas – not a patch on the 1.110 but still a damn good whisky , couldn’t get the “Black Forest gateau” of the tasting notes but got an overwhelming taste of Cola Cubes (the sweets) .
2. 45.13 1975/29yo Dallas Dhu – this was my first ever dram from this distillery and boy what a dram ! Not what i was expecting (typical Speysider) , a stunner , lots of fresh fruit and creamy , tasted like a young un rather than a 29yo . On another day i might have bought this one .
3. 44.26 1982/22yo Craigellachie – I went for this one as one of my all time Favourite Speysiders is a 1973/22yo Craigellachie RM , it didn’t disappoint , wasn’t up to the RM release but probably a very close second .hint of polish with smoke and very warming again on another day (and budget!) i would have bought this one .
4. 27.55 1989/15yo Springbank – Once again i can’t work out what the fuss over Springbank is (got to be a cult thing !) yeah it’s an ok dram but so are lots of others….. it was better (a whole lot better !) with water , quite smoky , Orangey (Citric) but not worth the money IMO.
5. 53.89 1993/11yo Caol Ila – If it wasn’t for Ardbeg and the totally disappointing O.b.’s Caol Ila would be my all time favourite dram .Where do the SMWS get these casks from and what the hell does Diageo do with theirs ? Another stunning CI , bags of Germolene , hellish long smoky finish , a delight , a perfect Caol Ila !
6. 50.19 1993/11yo Bladnoch – Having tasted most of Raymondo’s offerings i decided to leave this to last on ground of i thought it might be to put it mildly ,not very good ! What i mean is a might be a perfectly good Bladnoch compared to other Bladnoch bottlings but not a patch on the “Sheep” and “Coo” of Mr Armstrongs bottlings and i was right ! For some reason it was very soapy (a la Edradour) and i couldn’t find anything to match the supplied tasting notes .
The Vaults 16-09-2005
First up was taken from the Staff choice list .
23.46 1989 15yo Bruichladdich 48.1%
A bright gold , it’s a typical Laddie on the nose , lots of soft green fruits . To me it had a lemon taste (Cheesecake) and it’s finish was of Green apples . It’s a good example of the laddie shame there was only 94 bottles from the cask . Next up one from the current list
38.15 1976 28yo Caperdonich 51.2%
Pale gold in the glass (mind you the colours could be off as there were only table lamps on in the room !) . The nose was Fig rolls , the taste was a great surprise smoky , slight iodine , spicy and minty ! It had a very long finish , minty with slight smoke .
Onto 58.07 1977 27yo Strathisla 45.8%
This one was Mel’s favourite on the Friday night , a pale gold colour , it was very-very Fruity on the nose with vanilla lurking in there as well . I had great trouble picking up tastes from this one but it was very good with a short , slight sherry finish .
Back to the Staff recommendations ….
61.22 1978 26yo Brora 57.2%
Bright gold in colour ,nostril clearing as Mel put it , this was a superb example of Brora , very medicinal and ” a walk along the seashore” , the finish was very Looooooong and warming . Smokin’ !
So to the last dram of the night , a return to the Cheesey Ardbeg (their words….)
33.54 1994 10yo Ardbeg 59.1%
A pale gold colour ,its the sweet peatiness that first catches the Nose ,theres a slight smoke/iodine background with fudge . Theres also the smell that first hits you when you arrive at this distillery ! Its not as “in yer face ” peaty as usual bottlings from this distillery , a touch more smoother .Its on the finish where you get the peaty sweetness/smoke usually associated with this malt.
The Vaults 17-09-2005
Started the Evening with a 62.12 1980 24yo Glenlochy 60.4%
Never had a Glenlochy before , A bright gold colour it seemed very floral and lemony on the nose , it was another one i had trouble with picking up the tastes , eventually got fudge . It was a very good sipping dram but nothing out of the ordinary .
124.1 1988 16yo Migagikyo 59.4%
A lovely Light amber in colour , the nose was loaded with Almonds , dried fruit and Candied peel .The taste was dry , spicy and christmas cake like, it had a short Warming finish . Another good example from a Japanese distillery .
Had to return to the 44.26 1982 22yo Craigellachie 60.5%
Bright gold in colour , it had the floralness of a speysider with a smoky background . It’s smoky to taste with a medium finish that is very warming . Another real beaut up there with the 73 Rare malt .
Having finished off my list i now asked one of the barman for something he’d recommend , he gave me a 73.14 Aultmore …didn’t get anymore details
A bright gold colour , the nose was of Ice cream cornets and old bananas and the taste was again of bananas with vanilla , not a bad dram , but not as good as the one he next produced………
From the SMWSa list 1.120 ? 1965 39yo Glenfarclas
A lovely mahogany colour but not from a sherry cask ! I love the old Farclases from the SMWS , The nose and taste was of the Cola cube type of sweets , absolutely delicious , a gem . the finish was Hmmmmmm……
And so to the penultimate one of the night
59.20 1981 20yo Teaninich
A gold colour , the nose was of peat , school plimsolls (new!) and that old chestnut ” Bonfire on a beach” . The taste was phenolic , definitely peat , it could have been an Islay in disguise !
So to the last dram , i had to return to an old favourite that is still on the shelf …
53.84 1983 21yo Caol Ila 60.2%
What can i say Bright gold , Germolene , briney , germolene What a long finish . Probably the best Caol ila in the world ? Ever !
First up was a 16yo Highland Park ( 4.105 , Highland Island, 59.9% , outturn 545 Bottles , £46) , A bright bronze from a sherry butt , I got Struck matches , Edinburgh Rock and slight smoke from the nose , whereas Mel picked out Candied Peel . She found it sweet and oily on the palate , I found it quite peaty , sweet and Menthol Cigarettes . It’s finish was long and smoky to me , Mel got liquorice sticks . Not a bad Highland Park a lot peatier than I can remember previous ones . Next up was the star of the evening for us , it’s not often you get offered a 40yo malt on a tasting and I bet it’s not often you get one like this . 1.131 (Speyside Spey , 40yo , Glenfarclas , 53.9% , outturn 152 bottles , £138 ) , from a hoggy a polished bronze in colour .we picked up Cola cubes , lots of fruit , super glue and varnish in the nose . The Palate was unbelievable , Hot , peppery , spicy , syrup and citric fruit . the finish was long and peppery . A sublime malt for it’s age , awesome as Mel put it . Someone also wrote I’ll have 2 , buy this for Mel – she really deserves it at the end of my notes ……wonder who ? The third Dram of the night was another Speysider 41.36 (Spey , 24yo , Dailuaine , 44.8% , outturn 12 bottles ,£62) . 12 bottles ? they don’t know how either…. From a Bourbon hoggy , bronze in colour , the nose was coconut and cherries , cherries in liqueur . the taste to me was dry and leathery , the better half got dry and musty . the finish was medium dry . A very dry whisky to me , not one of the best . Now it was time to head to Islay for the last 2 drams , first off was a young Ardbeg (33.62 , 7yo , 58% , 865 Outturn , £42 ) , amber from a Gorda cask (600litre Capacity) , it wasn’t the finest example of the distillery .Smoke and burnt rubber on the nose , though not as spirity as some young un’s but still a tad too sherried for my liking , it was very smoky and peaty on the palate . The finish was long and sherried with slight rubber and sulphur . With water and a little while to stand it mellowed out quite a bit . Last up was a 25yo Caol ila ( 53.98 , 25yo , 60.4% , outturn 271 , £64 ) , Pale gold from a refill hoggy . The nose was very weak at first compared to previous 25yo Caol ilas but it was very medicinal (germolene) , peppery . It’s taste was very similar , loads of germolene and it had a very long finish . Possibly one of the strongest line ups I’ve seen at a members tasting , The Farclas was the undoubted star of the night , definitely the best Speysider around , still haven’t had a bad one ! This was Stephens last tasting in Newcastle , he’s heading to pastures new and will be sadly missed at the SMWS members tastings .
The Vaults 17-06-2006
First off with lunch was the first grain bottling by the society G1 ( North British , 16yo , 61.3% ) , I can see why this one flew off the shelves , it’s a stunner , Pale straw in colour , it had a beautiful nose of Vanilla , Cereal and summer meadows . On the palate it was very fresh and clean , again very grassy . It’s finish was long and fruity , pity there was none left as I would have bought a bottle , it was beautifully smooth and went down very well . The lunch was a good as ever and we went off to book into our hotel knowing we would return at tea time .
First of the evening session went to the Teaninich on the E.S. list (59.35 , 22yo , 55.7% ) , tarnished gold in colour it had a wonderful combination on the nose . Vanilla , (seaside air) saltiness , smoke and loose leaf tobacco . In the palate it was hot and peppery , smoky and slightly peaty . The finish was long and hot . It was a lovely dram , could almost have been an Islay !
I did want to try the 40yo Farclas at this point but it had been drunk into oblivion , so on the recommendation of the bar staff I tried the 18.24 ( Inchgower , 24yo , 54.7% ) , another highly sherried whisky . A lovely polished amber in colour , it was christmas cake with pipe smoke on the nose . It’s taste was the usual dried fruit , peel etc associated with the xmas cake together with tobacco smoke . The finish spoilt it for me , it was long but with a lot of burnt rubber from the sherry cask , altogether a bit too sherried for me .
Next up I wanted to see if they had another Glencraig after the cracking one we’d had on the tasting earlier in the year and they did ! Another 30yo , 104.4 (49.6%) , another stunner , light straw in colour , bags of green fruits (apples, pears ) , vanilla and slight smoke on the nose . The taste was fairly similar green fruit slight smoke and a touch spiciness , a medium finish but what a fantastic dram .
It was back to the E.S. list for the next dram , a 13yo Bladnoch (50.21 , 59.2% ) , the colour of burnished gold , it had a typical lowland nose mainly of green apples and grass .On the palate it was dry and peppery with a disappointing touch of bitterness and a drop of caramel . The finish was long and fruity , it had a big mouthfeel but did not match up to the recent distillery bottlings .(Edit – found on the back of my notes “tasted better after cheese and oatcakes…..” Hmmmmm!
So it was time to hit the Islays , first stop was Bruichladdich , a 16yo (23.48) , a one from the tastings list which they are currently selling off , Gold in colour with bags of green fruit and vanilla on the nose , with water it went very lemony ( the artifical drizzle cake type) . a typical Laddie on the palate vanilla and creamy fudge , green apples and a touch citric .The finish was very short for a bourbon CS Laddie , a very weak dram compared to other Bruichladdichs , very disappointing , too disappointing to bag a bottle…..
The Penultimate dram was another one from the E.S. list , a 12yo Caol ila (53.99 , 61.2% ) , pale straw and a very medicinal (Germolene) nose . Intensely medicinal on the palate with a load of peat , everything you expect from Caol ila ! A very long and peaty finish with lots of iodine . Very reminiscent of one of my old (Young!) favourites the 53.50 , a little bugger that was half it’s age .
Only one way to end the evening , an Ardbeg , 33.50 (10yo) , another old bottling this was the last dram out of it ! No Disappointments from this one , bright straw in colour , bags of iodine and peat on the nose , a sharp blast of peat and smoke on the palate followed by iodine and a hot and peppery taste . The finish was intense peat , hot and fiery . Lovely ……just where can I get a bottle ?
The Vaults 11-08-2006
The evening session starts off with a 1.133 , a 20yo Glenfarclas , not bad for a young Farclas (young as in what the SMWS bottle !) , then various drams were tried unfortunately I didn’t write them down but the ones I can remember from memory…..
53.100 – 12yo Caol ila , a HUGE peat monster , Imagine chewing your way through one of the peat bogs on the low road and you’ve got it !
26.47 – 22yo Clynelish , not a bad clynelish , I can now see why they used it as a replacement in Johnnie Walkers blends when Caol ila was being rebuilt .
44.31 – 12yo Craigellachie , not a bad speysider but I prefer older ones from this distillery (gotta go something to beat the RM bottling).
87.8 (I think) – 21yo Millburn , it was definitely a 21yo Millburn whether it was that cask was another thing ! My first Millburn from memory , it was very lowlanderish , very easy draming but nothing to write home about . But it was the malt of the moment so reasonably priced !
The Vaults 27-08-2006
So first off was a Royal Brackla (55.16 , 58.4% , Feb 94 – Sept 05 ), Bright Straw in colour , it’s nose was Edinburgh Rock and Toffee apples and it tasted very sweet and Nougaty , a pleasant enough dram but not one to have the wallet flying open to .
Then it was a Glenugie (99.8 , 51.4% , 24yo , May 1980) , a delightful dram , Melon on the nose and Slightly peppery with Fruit Cocktail on the palate . The next dram was actually recommended to me by one of the bar staff when i’d went up for the previous one and what a cracking recommendation it turned out to be , An 18yo Lochnagar (103.13 , 55.9% , Nov 1986 ). Fudge and Green fruits (especially Apples) on the nose , very oily mouthfeel and slightly citric on the palate . A lovely long finish as well .
If i had been given this one in a blind tasting i would have said “thats a nice Farclas ….” .Wrong ! It was a 34yo Glen Elgin (85.17 , 45.7% , June 1971 ) , Bright Copper going on Amber in colour , it’s nose was full of Cola Cubes and it had a very stong pineapple taste on the tongue and it’s finish was long and like Maynards Wine gums .Altogether a fantastic sensation !
Last of the new Drams was a Pittyvaich (90.7 , 59% , 13yo , Mar 1990 ) , this one was so much like a lowlander , Grassy and citric on the nose and palate .
The Vaults 09-09-2006
I decided to carry on with the recent policy of actually going for distilleries I hadn’t tried on the list . I also gave the a Rum bottled by the society a try , Cask 4 ( Trinidad rum , 15yo 50.9% , Dec 1990 ) , finished in an oloroso cask , it had an Amber hue . It had cigars , dark sherry and cocoa on the nose with mostly the same on the palate plus spices . A lovely dram not that far removed from a single malt IMHO .
First malt up was a Tamdhu ( 8.41 , Apr 1992 , 14yo , 57.4% ) , a bright straw colour with Lemon and vanilla on the nose . It was sweet and peppery on the palate , the sweetness seemed to increase with water and it was slightly salty in the finish . A decent enough light Speysider , very sweet but better than many others from the same region.
Next up was a Balmenach ( 48.9 , Mar 1988 , 18yo , 50.1% ) , bright gold in colour , this one was minty , grassy and green fruits (mainly apples ) on the nose . to taste it was sugary , lemon drops and minty toothpaste , it’s finish was long and minty . For a first taste of this particular distillery I wasn’t too impressed with this one .
Next up I moved into Towsers old happy hunting ground , a 16yo Glenturret ( 16.28 , Nov 1988 . 51.9%) , again bright gold in colour , it had Green apples and Lemon sherbet dip on the nose , to taste it was slightly citric and bitter chocolate . A bit of a bitter one to me with no real outstanding features .
4th up was the oldest of the day , a 33yo Strathisla ( 58.11 , Apr 1973 , 51.4% ) , Polished mahogany in colour it has sherry cask written all over it , very light christmas cake on the nose , soft fruits and spices . To taste it was peppered Xmas cake , dry smoke and cola cubes , it didn’t disappoint and was the best of the new drams I tried today .
Next up was a Craigellachie ( 44.32 , Aug 1993 , 12yo , 58.8% ) pale gold in the glass it was fully loaded with Green fruits on the nose (apples , pears , gooseberries ) . To taste it had loads of vanilla , a touch of wood and cream , it’s finish was long and vanilla , home made custard sprung to mind !
Last up was a Mortlach ( 76.46 , apr 1985 , 21yo , 61.1% ) , polished gold in colour this one was strong ! Cherry Liqueur initially on the nose ,it took a drop of water to release dark fruits and a floral nose ,taste wise it took the breath away neat , with water it was spicy and peppery and a touch floral . It’s finish was long , sweet and fruity , not a bad dram ! I wondered , given the strength , if this had been left longer (another 9-19 years) would this have been a killer sherry monster ?
First up was a lowlander 25.37 (Rosebank , 15yo , 59.5% , 242 bottles , £42)and what a cracking dram to start with ! Pale gold in colour , bags of green fruits and lemon on the nose with green fruits and sherbet on the palate . The finish was the most surprising ….long and very peppery . With water the typical Lowland characteristics came flooding through .this was my second favourite dram of the night , Mel thought it was a fantastic sinus cleaner ! Next up we had a 29yo Glenlivet ( 2.65 , 56.1% , 190 bottles , £73 ), a very good example , Bronze in colour with Vanilla and Cola cubes on the nose . On the palate it had creamy toffee and cola cubes with a long and dry finish . We both agreed that it was very Bunnahabhainish and extremely drinkable ! Third Dram of the night was the killer one , a 40yo Glenfarclas (1.129 , 55.1% , 151 bottles , £118) . A pale Amber in colour my notes include Nose – Woah ! , Taste – Hmmmmm , Finish – heavenly ( and some one added…. just like Mel !) , this someone wrote on her note Woo-Hoo! this is a typical 40yo farclas (take my word on this !) , orangie , cola cubes , smooth as hell and the answer is yes to some peoples question …… After such a stunning dram it had to happen , an absolute stinker ! I thought it was just me but our full table thought it as well , one which was left (only the 4th SMWS Dram i haven’t finished , the others including a Glengoyne and a Jura ) so a 16yo Highland Park has been added to the list (4.106 , 60.5% , 605 bottles , £46) . Amber in colour the nose was overpowered by strong sulphur and burnt matches , the palate was over sherried and the best way to say the finish is Aarghhh! the worst HP ever ….which is a shame …. Last up we headed over to Islay (what , we’ve only just come back ! [Wink] ) , A surprising good 7yo Bowmore ( 3.115 , 55.7 , 278 bottles , £33 ) , a very dark Mahogany colour , Dark fruits and smoke flood the nose ( tho Mel got School plimsoles – inners – from where i know not….) . On the Palate it’s very smooth , very sherried , smoky and damned good for such a young Pedro Ximenez . The finish is again very sherried and very dry . After some of the stuff i’ve had from Bowmore lately this one is exceptional ….Very exceptional ! Great tasting shame about the Highland Park but roll on the next tasting , next friday at Durham Castle !
First up was a First up was a Speysider (Spey) 54.24 (Aberlour , 12yo , 56.8% , Dist Sept 1992 , 298 bottles , £41). From a refill Hoggy, a pale gold in colour . Aniseed balls and cherry blossom on the nose and on the palate it was very floral and Aniseed (very aniseedy…..). Not a typical Speysider but the aniseed really over powers , a theory banded about on the night for this aniseed flavour was that a cork bung was used on the cask and this reacted with the cloth and spirit ….. For the second one we moved slightly north to Clynelish (26.46 , Highland , 22yo , 222 bottles , £58 ). This was a stunner , bags of smoke , slight peat infact more Brora than Clynelish . My Favourite of the night . Third up was a Benrinnes (Speyside , 36.30 , 17yo , 61% , 564 bottles , £47) , bags of fruit in this one (apples , rhubarb ) with a slight wisp of smoke , Mel got hot water bottles on the nose from this one .Not a bad dram but have had better ….like this one …… From a week ago but we weren’t complaining , any excuse for a 40yo Glenfarclas (1.129 , 55.1% , 151 bottles , £118) . A pale Amber in colour my notes include Nose – Woah ! , Taste – Hmmmmm , Finish – heavenly ( and some one added…. just like Mel !) , this someone wrote on her note Woo-Hoo! this is a typical 40yo farclas (take my word on this !) , orangie , cola cubes , smooth as hell…..hadn’t changed at all Very Happy . Even got a second dram of this :p . Last of the night was an Islay a 12yo Bowmore ( 3.111 , 60.3% , Dist dec 1992 , £38 ) . A refill hoggie , antique copper in colour . A very good Bowmore , nothing bad about it at all (no horrible flowery smells ).
The Vaults 28-12-2006
We started off in the Vaults at lunchtime with a bowl of Cream of Leek soup followed by Exotic Fish Curry for me and Crombies Sausage with Mash for Mel . I had a 14yo Bladnoch (50.24 , 56.5% , June 1992 ) , a very good example of this distillery (probably the best example i’ve had bottled by the SMWS ) , bright gold in colour , typically grassy with Sherbet and a touch of Edinburgh Rock .Started The evening off with a 32yo Glencraig ( June 1974 , 104.7 , 49.4% ) , slight Bananas on the nose , very soft and pleasing on the palate where there’s a slight Orange essence with vanilla . It developes a sweet Candiness as it opens up , Lovely Dram but not quite up to the wonderful 104.6 . Second up was a 113.12 (Braeval 12yo , 58.9% , Feb 1994) , at first on the nose there was a slight solvent smell but then banana toffee , a really nice nose , On the palate it’s hot and peppery then peppermint with a lovely long finish . Another cracking dram just a shame there wasn’t any bottles left to buy !So onto a Miltonduff (72.18 , 56.7% , 18yo , Feb 1988 ). A lot better than the last Miltonduff i had (an old “official” G&M bottling i think ) but still nothing to set the world on fire . there’s a subtle sweetness on the nose , icing sugar then strong vanilla . On the palate slight pepper , very warning and a slight maritimeness (????) , very warming on the way down . For the next one we departed these shores , if this was in a blind tasting i would have been screaming Laphroaig , it was a Yoichi !( 116.8 , 19yo , July 1986 , 52.9% ) . Very medicinal on the nose , seashore and Dry roasted peanuts !!! Loads of peat smoke on the palate , bags of peat and smoke , the finish is surprisingly mellow given the beach fire that was raging earlier . A touch of water puts out the fire though there was still loads of Smoke ….. A Japanese Islay for sure ! At this point i hit “The Malt of the moment” , a 13.35 (Dalmore 17yo , Oct 1988 , 59.4% ) , this was not one of my Favourites of the night , there wasn’t a great deal going on with it . Tablet and a whiff of smoke on the nose , very sweet on the palate and not too long of a finish . At this point i stopped writing notes and hit a couple of old favs , a 27yo Glenglassaugh 21.21 , lovely and fruity . And 7.36 , the 38yo Longmorn , a great big sherry monster !
Another SMWS tasting , another 5 drams ! Once again we returned to the Vermont Hotel (i say we , i just went along on my own to this one ) . First up was a Speysider , 44.30 , (Craigellachie , 11yo , 58.7% , 220 bottles , £36 ) bright gold in colour this was a very strange one , Grassy , Vanilla , very Lowlanderish . Sugar coated sweets when water was added , my final notes said “A Cross between a Bladnoch and a Bunnahabhain” . A Delightful dram . Second up was a Islander but before i start i’ll point out that when i first tried a 4yo from this distillery it had promise but since then i’ve never had one that’s lived up to that promise and this was one of the worst examples ! 121.17 (Arran , 8yo , 57.8% , 253 bottles , £33 ) from a sherry cask and what seems to have been not a very good one at that ! Burnt Sugar , Burnt Nuts , Sulphur , Burnt matches , i tried drowning it but still it was awful . Another one that was added to the list of not finished drams !! Third up was a Highlander , a one from the owners of the SMWS . 125.9 ( Glenmorangie , 11yo , 56% , 314 Bottles , £43 ) the first Society Glenmo i’ve tried and for anyone who associates Glenmo with Bland/Boring / etc / etc thay aint had one of these ! In big letters i wrote “Supercharged Glenmorangie” , Digestive Biscuits , toffee , very buttery on the palate , a stunning example of Glenmo ! certainly a lot better than the Arran……. I tied to buy one of these but they’d sold out , hopefully Nick can get one for me to pick up at the Vaults……. For the next one it was back to Speyside , 7.34 (Longmorn , 37yo , 56.9% , 347 bottles , £103 ) , A huge sherry monster ! The old Christmas Cake Dried fruits , spices , oloroso dryness , very dry on the palate . A huge long dry finish . I’m not a huge sherry casked whisky fan but this one is excellent but not as good as it’s sister cask the 7.36 . As usual for the last one it’s off to Islay , a wonderful Caol Ila (53.103 , 13yo , 60.7% , 492 bottles , £43 ) . What can you say , the society hasn’t let me down with a Caol Ila …..yet . Carbolic soap , loads of smoke , bags of peat , medicinal . Long lovely finish , perfect end to the evening . So in the end it was 4-1 to the society , shame Arran let the team down…..
The Vaults 08-04-2007
We had 2 sessions at the Vaults on the Sunday , the first included Sunday dinner of a wonderful Leg of Lamb . First Dram was 12 yo Allt-A-Bhainne (108.7 , 61.5% , Feb 1994 ) , which is a dram i’d never had before , bright gold in colour it was very prickly on the nose with a lightly sherried and Christmas spices bouquet , on the palate it was sweet peppers with milk chocolate . On adding water there was an added smell of old leather on the nose , the finish was of spicy chocolate . Overall it was very well balanced for a young sherried dram but it was better with a wee drop of water . Second up was a 95.6 (Auchroisk , 21yo , 54.6% , Mar 85 ) , A lovely polished gold in colour , it was buttery and vanilla on the nose with vanilla and Menthol on the palate . It had a medium finish of vanilla and a minute touch of sulphur . Water seemed to make it extremely woody and released a touch of smoke . Not as pleasing as the 1st one but ok . Next up was a Japanese dram , 116.10 ( Yoichi , 18yo , 52.2% , Apr 1987 ) . This one was a weird dram , very medicinal and spicy on the nose , very peaty on the palate with orange marmalade and Spicy christmas cake on the finish . It was almost as though it wanted to be the best of all things Scotch ! With water it added another dimension , a touch malty and iodonic (?) sushi ! After a lovely lunch and a few drams we went back to the hotel to freshen up before the evening session….. First dram of the evening was the Current Glenfarclas on the list (1.135 , 36yo , 54.7 , Nov 1970) , A very deep amber , this was the most sherried Farclas i’ve had off the society , huge Christmas cake on the nose ( Spices , dried fruits etc) . Slightly burnt Treacle Toffee and spices on the palate with a long , smooth spicy finish . A wee bit too sherried for my liking but still a cracking dram , with a wee drop of water the slight burnt taste vanished . Now in full flow i went for a Clynelish ( 26.50 , 23yo , 57.1% , May 1993 ) , a bright gold colour , on the nose it had bags of fruit , dried heather and slight smoke (from a log fire) . More of a lowland taste on the palate ( Hay , honey etc) but with a citric background . The finish was warming with a touch of minty toothpaste . Not a bad dram , lots going on ….. Next was an Ardmore (66.22 , 21yo , 52.7% , Mar 1985 ), seemed a very pale colour (straw) for it’s age . Menthol Cigarettes on the nose and for a 21yo tasted very much like a young Islay , very Bowmorish but more drinkable and also a bit like a Caol ila . A very long and Menthol finish , adding water released more smoke and later on a liquorice taste . By this time the notes were getting less and less (!!!) The Strathisla on the list (58.12 , 33yo , 51.3% , Apr 1973 ) is the closest other whisky i’ve had to one of the stunning Society Farclases , very fruity on the nose , really smooth on the palate and on the way down , Almost like the strawberry jam on a suet pudding , i can see why they say Jammy Dodgers on the tasting notes . Next up was the very last dram , out of the very last bottle in the Vaults of 23.54 ( Laddie , 17yo , 53.1%) , a cracking bourbon casked Laddie , but then have all of the recent society Laddies . Then i revisited an old frien , a 32yo Glencraig (104.7 , 49.4%) , great stuff , slight Bananas on the nose , very soft and pleasing on the palate where there’s a slight Orange essence with vanilla . It developes a sweet Candiness as it opens up , wish i bought this one when it was on offer…… Finished the evening with a brace of excellent Caol Ilas ( 53.105 , 15yo , 55.1% – 53.107 , 10yo , 60.4% ) , both great examples of SMWS bottlings . Then we staggered off back to the hotel …….
On Thursday We attended another SMWS Newcastle Tasting at the Vermont Hotel , this is a bit of a truncated report as i wasn’t feeling to good and couldn’t really be bothered writing up proper notes ! The Five Malts were:- 77.17 23yo Miltonduff 54.5% 237 Bottles £57 125.10 13yo Glenmorangie 56.1% 297 Bottles £45 13.36 17yo Dalmore 59.3% 558 Bottles £48? 64.10 23yo Mannochmore 60.8% 226 Bottles £61 3.102 16yo Bowmore 56.7% 303 Bottles £46 In between the Glenmo and the Dalmore we had another 3 whiskies from the Easy Drinking Whisky company and a sales pitch from a guy called Andy . These arn’t my type of thing (trying to be polite here) , if i’m going to drink “Vatted” Malts give me Compass box any day , they were too sweet and bland for my taste , very Disappointing for the malts they are supposed to contain ( Cooley / Bunnahabhain , Glenrothes / Tamdhu / Highland Park / Bunnahabhain , Caol Ila / Laphroaig / Bowmore …. think that’s what he said ….amongst others ). Anyway from what i remember of the proper malts …. Miltonduff …. Bubblegum , Lemon , Bitter , tastes young for its age . Glenmo …. Superb , from a “Toasted” cask (a la Artisan bottling) , still had the Glenmo tastes to me tho everyone else said it was like a bourbon , i found it closer to an old Invergordon….bought one ! Dalmore ….lovely dram , hot and Spicy . Mannochmore …..Not very nice …… Bowmore ….. to me Bowmore seems to be getting worse (yes i know personal tastes change….) but it’s a while since i’ve had a decent recently distilled Bowmore ! Anyway on the night 1 superb Malt , 1 good one and 3 not so good , slightly disappointing but after the 4 good malts to 1 Awful one of the last tasting can’t complain about things balancing themselves out !
105.11 (Tormore , 22yo , Sept 1983 , 57% ) , A lovely shade of Amber , The nose was confectioners sugar and candied peel , it was very sweet on the tongue ( Cola Cubes and confectioners Sugar again) . It had a lovely long and warming finish , again of Cola Cubes and confectioners sugar . A lovely dram , very reminisent of Bunnahabhain , i didn’t bother watering it at all as it was so good at Caskstrength . 46.11 (Glenlossie , July 1978 , 27yo , 54.1% ) Polished Bronze in colour with a nose of Fondant Icing and Bakewell Tart , Very malty on the palate (slightly floral with water ) The finish is long , Bitter-sweet(?) and dry . 63.19 (Glentauchers , 17yo , 54.8% ) Pale Gold in colour , Ripe Bananas and Sea-air on the nose which with water changes to Fruit cocktail . Banoffe Pie with Cream on the palate , when watered it’s exotic fruits and creamy . The finish is long with Banana fritters ….chinese style ! Didn’t think this would take ater but it did , a very complex , fruity dram , was my favourite of the night . 82.16 (Glencadam , 7yo , May 1998 , 57.4%) All i can say about this is it’s Amber in the Glass and Liquid Christmas Cake everywhere else ! A very nice young dram unlike…… 78.37 (Ben Nevis , 9yo , Dec 1997 , 56.3%) Which was absolutely awful ! Pale amber in Colour , the nose was of a real sour sherry , which continued onto the palate and finish …..added to the list of really bad SMWS bottlings ! 7.37 (Longmorn , 38yo ,Feb 1968 , 53.6% )After the last one this was a joy ! A Mahogany coloured sherry monster that was extremely well balanced , just as good as it’s sister cask 7.36 . 125.4 (Glenmorangie ?????) By now the evening was progressing and the taste buds were flagging but i had to try this one . I thought it was a port Glenmo but i need to find out whether it is a sherried one , it was very good anyway , good balance and it went down well . It was just by chance they had this one behind the bar 33.62 (Ardbeg , 7yo , May 1998 , 58% ) , from a Gorda cask , not one of my Favs but it’s an Ardie and i hadn’t had any peat until now ! A tad too sherried for me but it went down ok ! Last trip to the bar saw me spotting a G2 (North British Grain , 16yo ?)sitting there , most surprised seeing that i thought this vanished ages ago i ordered one . I’d had it before , it was great then and it was great now ! Lovely and smooth it went down very well.
As my Birthday present , Mel treat me to a day and night at one of our favourite venues . Once again we went up for lunch , Mel had the Homemade Burger i had the Lambs Liver with Haggis Mash , i had a 21yo Longmorn (7.42 , 50.2% , Nov 1985 ) to accompany it . A Pale Gold in Colour , on the nose it was Rum ‘n’ Raisin , Coconut and Apples , on the palate Orange , spicy and Cinnamon , the finish was Long and sweet . This was a stunning dram , it done what it said on the tasting notes . Started the Evening off with possibly the worst dram of the night , a 14yo Cragganmore (37.34 , 60.6% , March 1993 ). Dark Mahogany in colour , the nose was Sherry and that smell of struck matches you get on the sandpaper on a matchbox , the palate was very dry (oloroso) sherry and treacle toffee . the finish was dark fruits and cough mixture . Way too sherried for my liking , don’t mind a one this age being sherried but the colour gave it away straight away and it didn’t allow any of the distilleries characteristics to show through . 2nd of the night was a 21yo Ardmore ( 66.21 , 54.2% , March 1985 ), if i’d tasted this one blind i would have said an old Bowmore ! Bright gold in the glass it had Germolene and Smoke (burning heather) on the nose . on the palate it was perfumed smoke , very Bowmorish and very sweet , the finish was Medium sweet but smoky . Not a bad wee dram , more pleasant than some of the Bowmores i’ve had recently ! The next four were ones i’d never had SMWS Bottlings of and one i’d never had any try of before . The 4th one was a decent enough dram but i wrote “Nothing to write home about ” on my notes , a 9.38 ( Glen Grant , 17yo , 54.9% , April 1988 ) . Basically Bright Gold in Colour , on the nose Red apples , cigars and Plastic . it was thick and creamy on the palate but the finish was a bit Acidic ( Vinegary) and cereal . Then up came 91.17 ( Dufftown , 9yo , Oct 1992 , ??% ) , Gold in the glass , sweet and sugary on the nose with Rum Baba and Syrup on the palate . Long and sweet on the finish this wasn’t a bad dram , more enjoyable than your average speysider ! Now to a one i’ve never had before , a Glenallachie (107.9 , 11yo , 62.2% Dec 1989 ) , Bright Gold with quite a pleasant Nose , sweet ( Turkish Delight ) , Candied peel , Christmas Cake dough and a very long Glace Cherry finish . Not a bad introduction to it . Last up was a 12yo Glen Keith (81.13 , 60.7% , Feb 1994 ) , the palate was starting to fade a bit by now , it was a decent enough dram but i did notice a bit of bitterness about it . I came back with a bottle of the Longmorn plus i picked up a “Society’s Regional Selection Pack” , it comprises of 4 10cl Mighty Miniatures featuring ….. Lowland – 22.27 Glenkinchie 19yo 52% , Highland – 125.12 Glenmorangie 12yo 57.6% , Speyside – 1.101 Glenfarclas 25yo 52.1% , Islay – 53.112 Caol Ila 15yo 54.8% .
23.56 (Bruichladdich , 17yo , 53.7% , April 89 ) , Pale Gold , Typical Laddie on the nose , fresh , green fruits , surprisingly strong on the palate and creamy . Not a great Laddie but Adaquate . 26.51 (Clynelish , 23yo , 55.1% , May 83 ) , Pale gold in Colour , smoky and sea air on the nose . Really smoky on the palate with pepper and peppery on the finish . This is the most Broraish Clynelish i’ve ever had , a good dram . 45.23 (Dallas Dhu , 32yo , 48.7% , Aug 75 ) , Most expensive dram of the night (£8.50) and what a cracker ! Honey coloured with a wonderful nose of Honey, Vanilla and a touch of Orange Essence . The palate was Honey , Continental Chocolate and a wee bit of Cappicino . A lovely dram , on the palate exceptional ! 9.37 (Glen Grant , 17yo , 58.8% , Jan 88) , Pale Gold , A really strange nose , you know when you half snap fresh growth off a tree (A twig/branch ) and it still hangs by some of the fresh bark and there’s a sappy smell ? That’s it !! On the Palate it’s earthy and a tad hot . Nothing Eciting really but a decent enough dram . 114.6 (Longrow , 17yo , 56.1% , Mar 90) , Bronze in Colour , The nose is Cigar smoke and peat , the palate is oily and very medicinal . Very maritimey on the finish with a touch of Orange as well . After a while it goes very peppery and peaty , reminded me of Talisker . 81.13 (Glen Keith , 12yo , 60.7% , Feb 94) , was starting to flag by now , not a bad dram , the strength took my breathe away on first try . 50.29 (Bladnoch , 14yo , 57% , Oct 92) , Last dram of the night , a typical lowlander , but not as good as Raymondos Sheep and Coo bottlings !
Our last Trip of the year was a 2 night stay up in Edinburgh visiting our beloved Vaults for both nights . We arrived in time for lunch , enjoying a glass of 125.9 ( 11yo Glenmorangie , 56% , Jun 95 ) with a wonderful bowl of vegetable soup and Haggis , Neeps and Tatties . Mel had a Homemade Burger with a Glass of white wine , we both had a Cranachan to finish with…… After booking into our hotel and having a meal in the pub next door we headed off back to the Vaults . The evening session consisted of ……. * 14.14 (Talisker , 15yo) Already have a bottle of this but forgot when getting it ! * 14.16 (Talisker , 18yo , Mar 89 , 57.6% ) , A golden colour very medicinal with pepper on the nose , Hot pepper and Germolene on the palate . A long finish with a sweet medicinal aftertaste . * 53.116 (Caol ila , 1996 , 10yo , 55.9%) , Pale Gold with a floral and peat nose , Slight lavender . On the palate there is peat , Plastic (?) artifical taste , the finish is long and medicinal . * 53.120 (Caol ila , 16yo , Aug 91 , 55.9%, From Parcels) , Bright Gold with a peat , smoked meat and Germolene Nose . On the palate it’s a full Blown CI , Peat / Smoke / Burnt wood / Germolene . A wonderful long and Medicinal finish . * 61.18 (Brora , 21yo , Mar 1982 , 59.4%) , A bit of a surprise to see this one behind the bar ! Polished Gold in Colour , Slight Medicinal , honey and cinder Toffee on the Nose . Again Medicinal with Honey on the palate , A gorgeous mouthfeel….Mmmm!!! Long and sweet on the finish . Pretty Damn Good !!!! * 2.64 (Glenlivet , 29yo , Dec 1975 , 56% ) , The colour of this one is Polished Copper , A very sweet nose , Confectioners Sugar/Edinburgh Rock . It had a sweet palate of Apple Suet Pudding . The Finish was Lond and Breathe Taking as in Takes your breathe away ! With water this one totally changed , very orangey . * 77.11 (Glen Ord , 17yo , Aug 87 , 58.7% ) , At this point the serious note taking stopped but it was very pleasant on the nose , slightly sweet and easy drinking for it’s strength . * Heaven Hill (Bourbon No.2 ) , this was Deans recommendation , i was struggling for a last dram and he said try a bourbon so i did ! It was strong (68%+ i think) , had a n ice cube in it and it was wonderful !!! Cheers Dean !
Day 2 and another wonderful lunch in the Vaults (very nice Pheasant Breast) and a few more Drams …….. * 27.66 (Springbank , 11yo , May96 , 57.9% ) , Gold in Colour , Smoke, Nail Varnish remover and slight Seashore on the nose . On the palate it was Stewed apples , very spirity and eventually became fruity (green fruits not red ) .A medium finish with a nail varnish remover overtone . All i can say is Re-assuringly over-rated….. * 50.29 (Bladnoch 14yo , Another one i was revisiting ) , Typical Lowlander , a good example of the Bladnoch , Lots of Fresh Grass , green fruits , meadows , very clean and fresh . * 93.19 (Glen Scotia , 14yo , May 91 , 60.3% ) , This one was a damn sight more interesting than it’s fellow Campbeltowner . On the nose it was Seashore , smoked fish and Cough sweets . The palate was smoke , smoked haddock and lockets with a long and slightly peaty finish . The best example of Glen Scotia i’ve tried . A slight break here with a trip up to see Darren at the Whisky Shop , he gave me a try of 2 DLP’s , 30yo Macallan and a 28yo Caol Ila , Both were decent enough . Then it was back to the Hotel to Freshen up then a return to the Vaults for another evening session …… * A Couple of Bourbons (Cask No.2 again and No.10 ) * A 16yo Providence Trinidad Rum (a very nice rum) * 80.4 (Glen Spey , 20yo , Jan 85 , 52.9%) , Bright Straw in Colour , Very sweet on the nose (Confectioners Sugar/Marzipan) . Again Sweet on the palate , Apple Pie and Cream . The finish is long and sweet . Also had a 15yo Caol Ila but don’t know what it was but it was a very good Caol Ila !
….with Music 23.53 (Bruichladdich)
Distilled- April 1989
Bottled – May 2006
Age – 17yo
Colour – Bright Gold .
Nose – Bags of Lemon Citrus , vanilla , Seashore ozone and a slight creaminess .
Taste – Honey , butterscotch toffee , a lovely freshness , pretty much a perfect Laddie .
Finish – Long and very warming
Over the past few months I’ve tried a few Laddies , the perfect ones seem to be in their Mid to late teens , from either fresh bourbon or a refill hoggy ,this one’s from a refill hoggy , this is pretty damn near perfect !
Distilled –Nov 1985
Bottled – May 2006
Age – 20yo
ABV – 59.5%
Colour – Bright gold
Nose – at first there is an off note I’ve detected in a few refilled sherry Linkwoods (common trate?) , loads of vanilla , cream and very floral .
Taste – peppery at first , then it seems to do a good impression of a lowlander (Grassy , lemon) , a touch of dry sherry as well .
Finish – Long , warming and a touch cinnamon apples .
Linkwood is not a speysider I would normally go for (too many not too nice ones in the past ) and I’m afraid this hasn’t changed my opinions either though to be truthful it is one of the better ones .
Distilled –Feb 1968
Bottled – May 2006
Age – 38yo
ABV – 53.5%
Colour – Mahogany
Nose – Raisins , mixed spices , dried fruit , dry sherry ….yes the proverbial Christmas cake in a bottle !
Taste – All of the above and some more
Finish – Long and dry oloroso , extremely spicy .
It’s Dark , it’s dry , it’s a hellishly well balanced dram , I was expecting nothing else after the 36yo we tried at a tasting in September last year , goes down really well . Maybe Linkwood should have a drive down the road to see what these guys are doing……
Distilled – March 1988
Bottled – May 2006
Age – 18yo
ABV – 60.8%
Colour – Ripe Barley .
Nose – Pungent ! Peat , smoke , iodine , the Laphroaig of old !
Taste – Wow ! Twice wow !! Nae triple wow !!! Bags of Iodine , a very sweet peatness , but oh so smooth .
Finish – Long ! and sweet with that lovely iodine lingering on …and on …and on…..
This late teenager puts the distillery 10yo CS to shame , this has got to be the best Froyge I’ve tried for many a year , this takes me back to my early 20’s and the tasting of the 10yo beast ….oh happy days ! Well 3 beauts and 1 not so good , The Laphroaig was an eye opener , the Longmorn a masterpiece and the Bruichladdich a classic ……shame about the Linkwood……..