Isle Of Jura 13yo 1989/2002 (46%, Murray McDavid, MM 1564)

Here is the third and final bottle in our trilogy of Murray McDavid bottlings. Don’t worry there will be more. After the Rhoshu and the Glendullan, this time we will have a look at a (Isle of) Jura. Both of its fellow Murray McDavid bottlings have proven themselves to be reasonable Whiskies and not so long ago I reviewed a very good Jura as well. So we’ll start this review with high hopes…

Isle Of Jura 13yo 1989/2002 (46%, Murray McDavid, MM 1564)Color: Light gold.

Nose: Sweet malts, but also lightly spicy, frankincense, with lots of vegetal and waxy notes. Highly fruity. Sugared apples, with even some licorice and cinnamon, and some sweet red berries. Reminds me a bit of Calvados. This is a very appetizing nose. Vanilla and dusty, yet not dry. Full of aroma, and warm sugar-water. When smelled to vigorously, a note of paper emerges as well as a tiny hint of old, worn out jasmine soap, a bar you find in the back of granny’s closet, amongst the over sized… well, you know what I’m talking about. Actually this does smell like a Whisky not from these times, but more from the era of black coal. Granny’s era. Sweet and lively. Fruity without a lot of wood. Nice complexity and ditto balance. Lovely.

Taste: Sweet, thin apple water and bitter apple skins. Here the wood does show itself with quite the wood and bitter sap notes. With hints of charred oak. A bitterness we are quite familiar with, reminding me of some nuts. Remember the thin brown skins on walnuts and hazelnuts? If you can get past the bitterness there is a fruity lightness behind it. Malts again and some hay on a summer’s day. Lacks the complexity of the nose though. The finish is another of its weak points. Too short and a bit mono-dimensional. Lacks development from the body, well into the finish. The aftertaste makes you wonder if you haven’t drunk an I.P.A. earlier, for its slight hoppy bitterness left behind in your mouth.

Not a highly drinkable dram, it’s simple, and a wee bit too bitter for a daily drinker. The nose makes you a promise of something special. The nose is actually pretty stunning, and I’m really, really sorry, I can’t say the same for its taste.

Points: 82

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Glendullan 14yo 1993/2007 (46%, Murray McDavid, for Malts and More, Bourbon/Rioja Tempranillo, Cask #05/0052, 493 bottles)

After the Murray McDavid Rhosdhu, here is the second of three bottlings by Murray McDavid. This time we’ll have a look at Glendullan. The Edradours I reviewed last had their first appearance on Master Quill, and now we can cross off Glendullan as well. Here we have a fine example, where Murray McDavid were taking the independent bottler. Specializing in Wine cask finishes. In the early 2000’s Wine finishes were snuffed at, since most of them were overdone and the Original Whisky was probably dull (pun intended). It was just the industry trying Wine finishing out and learning on the go. They still have to wait many years to find out where their experiment were taking then. This particular Glendullan started its life as a regular Whisky aged in Bourbon casks (most likely a Hogshead).  After a while the contents were transferred into a wine cask. Tempranillo te be precise. Tempranillo is a red grape most common to Spanish Wines like Rioja.

Glendullan itself is a distillery owned by Diageo. A bottle of Glendullan is not the most common find of all distilleries, especially considering Glendullan is one of the largest distilleries Diageo owns.

GlendullanColor: Dark gold, slightly orange.

Nose: Spicy wood and a slightly acidic winey note. Very spicy oak, slightly burnt. Nutmeg, and herbal as well. Some faint odd acidic citrussy dishwater aromas. Applesauce, de Querville Calvados! Quite dusty and old smelling, like an old Whisky aged in a Bourbon cask. Behind that a more restrained fruity note, but again acidic fruit combined with hard candy versions of that fruit with added cherry and raspberry candy flavours. Almond pastry, cinnamon and nougat. It’s not quite a replacement for a Sherry aged Whisky, but not bad nevertheless. The Wine turned out very soft on the nose. I do get some grape skin, but from white grapes, not red. In the end, all aroma’s are built upon a wealth of wood, but no, it’s not woody. Needs a lot of air (time) to develop, but in the end it will not disappoint.

Taste: Fruity lemonade and warming. Citrussy again and to a lesser extent so are the apples. Present, but not so much in the Calvados way. Also grenadine and quite a lot of licorice. Old rotting wood. The kind that has been submerged for a long time in a forest. Quite thick. Some raisins. Lots of influence of the wine cask. Maybe a bit too much? The Bourbon casked Whisky isn’t really recognizable anymore. Is that bad? Nope not really. This is still a nice tasting Whisky. Less complex than the nose, but overall quite pleasing. It doesn’t show its best bits right from the start. Pour it and leave it for a while.

Quite stunning what Murray McDavid have achieved with Tempranillo. No wonder Tomatin has gone that way lately too. Complex stuff, with a stunning nose, with quite some development.

Points: 85

Rhosdhu 12yo 1996/2008 (46%, Murray McDavid, Bourbon Cask, 2.000 bottles)

Murray McDavidNext we are going to have a look at three bottlings by Murray McDavid. Murray McDavid was founded in 1996 by Mark Reynier, Simon Coughlin, and Gordon Wright, naming it after Mark’s grandparents, Harriet Murray and Jock McDavid. The motto “Clachan a Choin” translates as “the bollocks of the dog”, so yes, the logo has a dog in it. Besides being an independent bottler, maybe their biggest claim to fame was acquiring Bruichladdich Distillery in the year 2k. In 2000 the distillery was still mothballed, but Mark and his mates quickly turned it into a working distillery. Less than 12 years later in the summer of 2012, Bruichladdich was sold to Rémy Cointreau UK Limited, as well as the independent bottler Murray McDavid. Rémy Cointreau didn’t know what to do with the bottler, so less than a year later they sold it to Aceo Ltd, a supplier of casked whisky and distillery services like cask storage, bottling and labelling.

So the first of three bottlings from Murray McDavid will be a rendition of a Loch Lomond Whisky: Rhosdhu.

Rhosdhu 12yo 1996/2008 (46%, Murray McDavid, Bourbon Cask, 2.000 bottles)Color: Gold.

Nose: Spicy and briny. Funky, with some prickling cigarette smoke. Lots of grain, but also some traits I get from Rhum (of the Agricole kind) and Bourbon itself. Actually more like a Rye Whiskey. A dry and sweet fruitiness mostly. Definite cask toast. Vanilla and tangerine. Lots of saw dust and dare I say it (again), cardboard. It smells like an old (sweet) Single Grain, at the fraction of the cost. Dry powdery and again (citrus) fruity. Give it some air, and boy, does this need some air, and it’s even tarry sometimes.

Taste: Again quite grainy and fruity. A bit raw but therefore it needs the fruity sweetness it has. Vanilla powder and smelling like an old vanilla pod. Noticeable paper and cardboard again, but in no way is this disturbing in this one. Slightly weak in the finish, but otherwise a decent Whisky, helped by quite an active cask. Some acidity enters the fold when it’s time for the finale. The finale has great depth, with a toffee and caramel sweetness. Part of this caramel is even slightly burnt. The sweetness is just right, helped along by the leafy and spicy backbone.

I remember this when freshly opened and it didn’t do too much for me then (79 Points). This time around, with some more oxidation, this turned out nicely. This is a Whisky that needs a lot of air and really benefits from the heat of your hand. Keep it in the palm of your hand, don’t hold it by the stem. Knowing its secret, and if it was available today I would most certainly buy it. If you have it, remember how to treat it. Heat and air will do the trick.

Points: 83

Rosebank 10yo 1992/2002 (46%, Murray McDavid, Bourbon Cask, MM1413)

Long time no Rosebank. It has been a long time since I reviewed a 1990 Rosebank, bottled by indie giants Gordon & MacPhail. That one was pretty good, it scored a healthy 88 points. Time for another go at Rosebank. This time a 1992 from Murray McDavid, remember them? By the way Murray McDavid bottled two different Rosebanks, both registered as MM1413. (The other one is a 1989, called Mission V). This 1992 is something of a farewell dram since Diageo decided, in it infinite wisdom, to mothball the distillery in 1993, never to work again…

Rosebank was founded in 1798, although some sources mention other years like 1840 and 1773. In the end, Rosebank was sadly mothballed in 1993 by Diageo which preferred Glenkinchie for its Classic Malts portfolio. And why not, nothing wrong with Glenkinchie I say. I’ve tried some very good Glenkinchies, and even reviewed a very good one, a 1987 bottled by Signatory. But why did Rosebank have to go? From an anoraks point of view, bad move since Rosebank distilled some pretty good spirit that turned into some pretty good Whisky if you ask me. Eternal shame.

Rosebank 10yo 1992/2002 (46%, Murray McDavid, Bourbon Cask, MM1413)Color: White wine.

Nose: Softly buttery and citrussy. Full aroma and nicely fresh. Nice acidity and sure some barley. Quite clean. If this isn’t your typical Lowland style, than nothing will be. Highly aromatic with soft wood and a nice grassy feel to it. Good spirit and even though the cask seems not that active (due to the lack of color), the spirit is decent and gentile, and the cask did enough to preserve that, and adding some vanilla and cold creamy butter to it. Lurking in the distance is actually some hints of new make spirit. Nice elegant (cedar) wood with milk chocolate and coffee with creamy notes (or coffee pudding).  Nice vegetal notes as well. Easily recognizable as a triple distilled lowlander. The big aroma is Rosebank from a good cask. Just compare this to the 1979 Rare Malts version (which I know is much higher in strength, but that would be missing the point).

Taste: Slightly toasted wood and creamy again. This starts with a bitterish and sappy oak attack (with some cardboard and malted barley), but that dissipates quite quickly to show it’s even more malty and grassy side. Also coffee and milk chocolate return here. A tad drier than expected and the body is more about new make spirit than the nose. Still not much though. And yes on the palate we can find the vegetal side. The bitterness of the wood stays on throughout. The whole is very nice, and don’t forget about the refreshing citrussy note!

Classic lowland and even though a fairly young Rosebank from a Bourbon Cask, this is clean and such a typical example of Lowland and Rosebank especially. Even this simple Rosebank shows what a mistake it must have been (looking at quality) to close this distillery down. Thank you very much. This particular expression reminds me of some Bladnochs, so I hope that distillery will be saved before it’s too late and someone turns it into their summer home of some sorts.

Points: 86

Allt-a-Bhainne 12yo 1996/2008 (46%, Murray McDavid, American Oak & New French Oak, 1500 bottles)

Allt-a-Bhainne is a new distillery, now owned by Pernod Ricard (through Chivas Brothers Ltd.). It was founded in 1975 to be used for the Chivas blends. Pernod Ricard bought Chivas from Seagram in 2001. The distillery was shortly mothballed between October 2002 and May 2005. Just two years before the foundation of Allt-a-Bhainne, Chivas also founded Braes of Glenlivet (Braeval) for the same purpose, and therefore is considered it’s sister distillery.

Color: Full gold, hint of copper.

Nose: Musty. Pencil shavings. Mocha. Very light. Powdery and creamy. Thick wood. Spicy oak and floor polish. Liquorice-water. A bit salty. Dry meat.

Taste: Paper, cardboard. Sweetish malt. Again thick spicy wood. Not very expressive. Non existent finish. Nothing offensive, but also nothing spectacular in this. Sweet wood. Watery.

Built on wood, but not on tannins as you might have thought. Not a lot happening really. Disappointing, but also quite cheap. I don’t know why this got bottled. It would have gone into a blend without a problem. Buy if you like inoffensive wood.

Points: 76