Clynelish 14yo 1989/2003 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 6 Month Rum Finish, DL REF 3850, 312 bottles)

I’ve been reviewing more Rums lately, which is fun to do. back to Whisky for now, but I won’t have to let go of Rum altogether. To continue the Rum theme, my previous review was of a Teeling Blended Whiskey, finished in Rum casks. The Rum completely took over the Whiskey. Here is another Whisky, Scottish this time, that was finished in a Rum cask. Alas we don’t know where the Rum cask came from, nor do we know what kind of Rum it once held.

The title is correct, the picture is wrong. I found an old sample of this Clynelish on my attic, but it seems Whiskies were drunk in 2003 and not collected. I couldn’t even find one in an auction. No picture to be found of this particular 14yo rum finished Clynelish. All I could find was this picture of its 13yo sister bottling, also finished for 6 months in a Rum cask. For a brief time Fred Laing reserved the red lettering on OMC bottles for younger Whiskies in a time when  Douglas Laing was bottling almost only stellar and old bottlings. For one reason or another the red lettering, and the red tube, was soon abandoned. The bottle in the picture was bottled in February 2003, and the 14yo, I’ll be reviewing soon, later in that same year. It is therefore entirely possible the 14yo doesn’t even have red lettering.

Clynelish 14yo 1989/2003 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 6 Month Rum Finish, DL REF 3850, 312 bottles)Color: Light citrussy gold.

Nose: Wood and yes, it has some light golden Rum on the nose. This time the Rum didn’t overshadow the Whisky. You still can recognize a Single Malt Whisky in this. Flowery and soapy and hints of rhubarb. Soft young wood, leafy and fruity. Papaya, maracuja and a tiny hint of banana. In a blind tasting I would have said this was a Tomatin. Typical Bourbon cask notes and with tropical fruits, what else could it have been? Nice nose. Floral and fruity, but also damp earth and raisins. Hot butter. Sometimes whiffs of a Pinot Gris fly by. I like this. Well balanced and even though a lot can be picked up, the balance is so great and the aroma’s are so well-integrated it doesn’t even seem complex. The aroma’s show themselves in layers, but when an aroma is replaced by the next, it isn’t gone for good, everything comes back as a boomerang. Given some time a more burned note appears that wasn’t there before. I have always liked Rum finishes, maybe that’s where the interest in Rum comes from.

Taste: Recognizable as a Clynelish, with added yellow, tropical and red fruits. Quite hot, it bites back a bit. Sweet and more yellow fruits. Pineapple and white grapes, hints of unripe peach and unripe banana. After the initial sweetness, notes of paper and wood. Cheap wood, plywood maybe. This is less balanced than the nose is and the finish leaves a slightly bitter taste in your mouth. Burned wood and grape seeds. Nice stuff, just don’t expect a sweet Rum in this one.

Back in those times, it seems that Rum finishes were more common than today. Wine finishes were hardly available, and those that were around were not particularly good. Look around today, lots of finishes in casks that previously contained a Wine in all its guises. Rum finishes are still not done very often, apart from some Benriachs I guess. Speaking of which…

Points: 86

Advertisements

Cragganmore 18yo 1993/2011 (55.3%, Duncan Taylor, Sherry Cask #1385, 494 bottles)

Cragganmore is next. This one was cracked open on the last day of 2012. First of all some funny business about this one. When we opened it late at night (with artificial light) it seemed red, just like a lemonade. Second it smelled like a lemonade too, very sour. It started out as a Bourbon smell. The taste was even worse, ultimate sourness. Erik, it’s owner was already on his way to pour this one into the sink. I didn’t like it either that evening. Luckily I was able to save it and take it home with me. Today I have the chance to give this another go. First of all, I can look at this by daylight and I can’t see the red lemonade anymore. It has this orange brown color most Bourbons have.

Color: Orange Brown.

Nose: Lots of wood and some acetone. Perfumy varnished wood and spicy. Seems dry. Dark chocolate and toffee. The whole should smell like a Sherry bomb, but actually this smells like a Rye Whiskey. As much as I didn’t like this last year, it’s great now. What have I done then to ruin my palate that much? After some airing, the sherry notes trickle through, as do the vanilla and fresh, somewhat soapy notes. It’s pretty good! Wow, what an experience.

Taste: Thick, sweet Sherry and wood. Dark oaky chocolate. Its great. It’s the wood without the bitterness and it’s not overly dry. Just right. Utter balance. What nice stuff. Old fatty smoke, coal fire. Near the end, and  into the slightly bitter and woody finish, some small hints of red and black fruits, accompany the coal and maybe a hint of a well-known brown soft-drink to make this a special dram.

Well, that’s why on the last day of the year I do not bring my little black note-book with me. Strange things can happen, and now I have the proof to show it. This Cragganmore is excellent Whisky, or Whiskey, or Rhum or Bourbon…no doubt about it? Thumbs up!

Points: 90

Thanx Erik for the sample!

Caperdonich 35yo 1972/2008 (50.3%, Duncan Taylor for The Nectar Belgium, Cask #7424, 136 bottles)

Duncan Taylor, once Glaswegian brokers in whisky casks. Now of Huntly in the North East of Scotland. These guys have some massive amounts of great casks lying around. I know a lot of bottlings they did that are legendary. For instance: Tomatin 1976, Bowmore 1966 and Bowmore 1968, to name but a few, but there are a lot more. But it’s not only the vast amount of casks, it’s also the quality, and consistency of their whiskies, and grains. Duncan Taylor are definitively among my favourite independent bottlers.

Color: Orange Gold

Nose: Wow, double wow. This is fabulous! Old Bottle and überfruity. Apricots, peaches and sugar-coated oranges. Very organic and even a bit nasty, but all in a very good way. I guess we already have one of those legends on our hand. It has some earwax and wood, but not as much as you would have thought for something that’s 35 years old.

Taste: Sorry, but its wow again! It has a spicy punch after all those years. It’s palate matches the nose. The same fruits for me, and almost no wood and it hasn’t been an inactive cask either, just look at the color. It also reminds me of a very well aged perfect Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer. This would have been almost perfect, (because does perfection exist on our planet?), when the finish would remain somewhat sweeter and retain the fruityness and if it could have kept its balance some more. In the finish, the wood plays a greater, drier and a bit sour and thus unbalancing role. But it maybe nitpicking, because this Caperdonich receives a well earned…

Points: 93