Glenmorangie 10yo “Traditional 100 Proof” (57.2%, OB, 1 Litre, 2005)

Next up an oldie from 2005. A cask strength Glenmorangie. We don’t see many of them these days, especially one that isn’t touched by any special cask. The back label mentions that this unchillfiltered Whisky came straight from the cask made from mountain oak. So what kind of wood is this? My guess is American Oak from the Ozark Mountains, Arkansas USA. Hinting that this is a 10yo Glenmorangie fully matured in Bourbon casks and bottled at cask strength. Nothing more and nothing less. My most avid readers will know that I am not a very big fan of Glenmorangie but got quite a surprise when I reviewed a recent 18yo

Glenmorangie Traditional 100 ProofColor: Light gold.

Nose: Aromatic and spicy yet closed, or maybe there isn’t a lot going on? Vanilla and typical bourbon cask notes. Slightly soapy and fresh and obviously high in alcohol. Vegetal and woody. It almost smells like it looks. It does smell a bit of sackcloth and oak. Dusty and powdery. Not very complex.

Taste: Sweet. Vanilla and pudding. Sweet alcohol. Mocha and vanilla pudding. Hints of Cappuccino and vanilla ice-cream. A woody bite, almost cigarette like, but also a short-lived fruity sweetness. Sugared raspberries and half-ripe forest strawberries. Thick toffee to hold it all together. Nice coffee-ish finish. Well balanced. This reminds me a bit of a young Bladnoch. That one has more butter, is softer and is a bit more vegetal, but that may very well be the only difference.

At first, a simple Whisky, but it grows on you. Give it time to breathe and it develops nicely. Nevertheless, this is actually an example of why I didn’t like Glenmorangie back in the day. (Let’s say, 10 years ago). It looks great, promises a lot, but this particular Whisky is simple and un-rewarding on the nose. It may very well be the reason I stopped buying Glenmorangie for a whole decade. The taste is a lot better though. I only picked up the fruity bits, when tasting this in the morning before breakfast. Last night after a very tiresome day, I didn’t pick up on the raspberry and strawberry at all.

The recent and “extremely rare” 18yo I tasted a while back, somewhat restored my faith in Glenmorangie and made me buy that very 18yo. Today, and tomorrow can be different, you can get three of those 18yo’s for the price of this cask strength Glenmorangie. A no brainer if you ask me.

Points: 83

Benromach 10yo “100 Proof” (57%, OB, 2014)

Benromach logoNot long after the revamped 10yo, Benromach released this 10yo 100 proof. As I mentioned before, with the new cleaned up look, the range as well was sort of “cleaned up”. There won’t be another Origins. Origins batch five (Golden Promise Barley) will be the last one. Also the Traditional has been replaced by the new 5yo. The first fill Bourbon Cask Strength bottlings are thus replaced by this 100 Proof, that by the look of it, isn’t only from first fill Bourbon casks anymore. What did survive the clean up are the Organic, the Peat Smoke and last but not least, the Wood Finishes. All are now vintages, including the year of distillation (and bottling). The two new wood finishes that were released in 2014 are the 2005 Hermitage and the 2006 Château Cissac. I really liked the Cask Strength version mentioned above, so let’s see if this new 100 Proof is an improvement…

Benromach 10yo 100 ProofColor: Copper gold

Nose: Sherried, vanilla, smoked almonds and plain wood smoke. Quite closed at first. Clay and toffee. New built house. Cement. Vanilla pudding. Interesting stuff. Wood, paper and burning off dry autumn leaves. Similar to the “normal” 10yo, with some notes enhanced. Especially the smoke and clay. Although the smoke is not very hefty like in some Islay Whiskies, it is absolutely delicious in this one. Pencil shavings. Modern, clean, open, light and spacious (architecturally speaking). So not simple and no lack of complexity. By the way the Whisky doesn’t smell like it is a 100 proof.

Taste: Smoke and malt. Smoky bitterness you also taste in smoked foods. Clay and late short sweetness. The Whisky isn’t sweet throughout. Wood, but not oak, more like plywood and an old cigar box in which you just started to saw. Italian laurel licorice. The more air this gets the more this Whisky seems to be built around wood notes and smoke. It could do with some more sweet and fruity Sherry notes. (Not the funkiness, Sherry sometimes gives).

This is good quality Whisky, well made and well designed. Everything has its place and everything is easily discernible and fits together like a nice interior. But, and there is a but, it is a new house, although a very beautiful house with a nice and new interiors, it lacks the feel of its occupants, nothing is used yet, nothing has seen some life. It’s to soon to develop a heart, to have its own character. It will get there, the people behind Benromach will see to that, I’m sure about that. So summa sumarum, a nice cask strength version, but the regular 43% ABV version is just as nice.

Points: 85

Springbank 10yo ‘100 Proof’ (57%, OB, Circa 2004)

Springbank, the strongest survivor of Campbeltown, and one of the few family owned distilleries. Once a great center for whisky, and once a region of its own, it still is, but barely. The people behind Springbank do their utmost best to let Campbeltown survive as a region. Glen Scotia is intermittently operated by the crew of Springbank, and of course Springbank themselves are responsible for Longrow, Hazelburn and Kilkerran (Glengyle Distillery). All names from a distant Campbeltown past. Founded in 1828 by the Reid family, who were married into the Mitchells. In 1837 the Mitchell’s bought the distillery. In 1897 J. & A. Mitchell Company Ltd. is founded, the company that is still on the label today. Since 1969 J. & A. Mitchell is also owner of Cadenhead’s. Between 1979 and 1987, Springbank was closed. And since 1989, production is again as it should be. Almost nobody malts themselves these days, but Springbank take the remarkable step to reopen the maltings in 1992. Springbank is a cult malt has a great following, and is by far the most popular malt on Wall Street.

Color: Gold.

Nose: Strong, buttery, oily. Sparkling lemon curd. Clean and a bit closed at first. Grassy and smells of wet plants and earth. Cow dung in wet grass, and some “young” peat. Coastal fresh, malty and spicy, but not from wood. It has hints of popcorn and milk chocolate. Very rural, gritty and bold.

Taste: Sweet like toffee. Creamy and spicy, this time definitively from wood, and seems a bit winey, although no wine casks, even sherry, were used. It is supposed to be all Bourbon. Mocha, chocolate and peanuts. Yes it’s “Snickers” in a bottle. Slightly unbalanced by the soury woody, and peaty, finish. The finish also leaves a minty sensation on the tongue. Sweet mint as in “After Eight”.

Long live Springbank, very nice and drinkable, with a fine full body. This version is quite peaty and oily, when you think of it. Now I’m curious how a more recent bottle would taste like…

Points: 86

Glengoyne 12yo ‘100 Proof’ (57.2%, OB, American Oak, Circa 2007)

There’s also ‘Cask Strength’ on the label, but wouldn’t that be really convenient that it’s precisely 100 Proof. What luck! And American Oak, what is it, a barrel, a hogshead, an American white oak butt or puncheon even? Just a little bit too much nonsense on the label.

Glengoyne then. Glengoyne got my interest because they were one of the first to specifically state, ‘unpeated malt’ on their labels. Also, I like the looks of the bottle ánd for still using Golden Promise amongst other barley’s of course. Golden Promise is somewhat of the holy grail of grains, because it is supposed to be very flavoursome. But the yield is not so good, compared to the favorites of today (which make all whiskies taste the same, to come out bluntly). So lets see if this one, and remember this is a fairly priced bottle, makes a golden promise.

Color: Very full gold, almost orange.

Nose: Malty and chocolaty, absolutely high-proof. Also quite a musty smell, heavy on yeast. Meaty even. The American Oak statement leads me to believe this is from Bourbon Casks, but the musty smell is very resemblant of Sherry and or First Fill Bourbon. Raisins. Very un-clean for a Glengoyne (which almost sounds like a complement doesn’t it?). Spicy and quite a good balance. This could well be a bang-for-your-buck type of malt.

Taste: Toasted wood, but still a lot of yeast. Can’t shake the Sherry here. High proof, so it makes an impression. Although this has bold flavours, the quality of the spirit shines through. Very Ahorn syrupy sweet, and corn sweetness, that’s totally different from the Ahorn. It almost tastes like a wheater! This could be a Weller, with some sherry musty and creamy yeastyness. It’s a picture with thick broad strokes. It is thick.

I know that Glengoyne is the perfect spirit to mature in refill casks. This is the way they make their casks “refill” for the next batch. But isn’t this first fill Glengoyne great? Simple, and with a style of its own. Very un-typical for Glengoyne, but still very nice. Maybe a bit too sweet? This I would drink playing cards. Lovely.

Points: 86

The Macallan 10yo (57%, OB, Sherry Wood, 100 Proof)

And here is a very old Macallan, a Macallan from the days we all thought, this is Macallan and it’s never gonna change. They sort of promised us that on the back label: For reasons not even science can wholly explain, whisky has always matured best in oak casks that have contained sherry. Due to increasing expense and scarcity, other distillers no longer insist on sherry casks, The Macallan directors do. After this they went on to produce the Fine Oak Series, a ‘blend’ of sherry and bourbon casks. A cunning move, why? Was it to scarce? Was it too expensive? Did they think they should use their big name to uncharter a new market? Because the sales proves it, Fine Oak does well and ís hip. It just isn’t Macallan anymore…

So for my generation, The Macallan was something like the bottle you see here. Nice brown/orange whisky made from Oloroso Sherry (and who knows some PX).

Color: copper brown. (it’s not dark brown, and it doesn’t have a red tinge to it, so it’s not mahogany, as I often read).

Nose: Yeast, nuts and caramel, typical Oloroso Sherry nose. Fresh like seaspray. Strong, full and creamy (this is what we want in a cigar). Chocolate and some wood and spices. This has oomph and a lot of depth. Nicer and less harsh than the A’bunadh. It’s like comparing an Aston Martin to a Hummer. (Both have their merits though. Would you drive your Aston in a war zone?) Did I just call drinking whisky a war zone? wow!

Taste: Thick and sticky. Tar and smoke. A hint of pepper and mocha. Dust. Strong Oloroso Sherry. Oak and liquorice. Hot (it’s 57%). Even an exotic note like curry. Oak and the hint of curry are predominant in the finish. Still it’s not and old whisky. It’s only 10 years old, but so different from the Hummer mentioned before. Why are there so much sherried Glendronachs around, and why aren’t there a lot more of these types of Macallan around?

Well this is old skool whisky. This may not be very complex,  but just try to ‘get’ the steam locomotive in these kinds of whiskies. The tar, the coal and the steam. I’m very sorry these Macallans aren’t around anymore. They were very classy, and if you can find them now, they are very expensive. If you have a chance, try this, it’s a piece of history.

Points: 89 (for now)