Dailuaine 14yo 1997/2012 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, Hogshead #6012, 372 bottles)

After the excellent Dailuaine by Gordon & MacPhail why not try another one. This time one by dutch Indie bottlers The Ultimate. Gordon & MacPhail are known for controlling the whole process from acquiring the cask, storing the filled cask, right untill bottling of the Whisky. With this they hope to achieve the highest quality possible. The Ultimate have a slightly different approach, a very Dutch one.

Dailuaine 14yo 1997/2012 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, Hogshead #6012, 372 bottles)

First of all the final product cannot cost too much, having said that, they really try to get the highest quality they can get. No money is spent on designing a fancy label, nor on a fancy glass bottle.  A long time ago a picture of Bushmills distillery was found and placed on the label and never again was money spent on design. (By the way, Bushmills was never bottled in this series). If you want your bottle in a (simple, white) box, you’ll have to pay extra. The only money spent is on buying good Whisky. The Van Wees company has many contacts in Scotland dating back to the sixties. Most, if not all, of the recent casks are bought from Andrew Symington (Signatory Vintage). Just have a look at the casks from 1997. The Ultimate bottled #6012 and #6017, Signatory bottled #6015, #6016, #6018 and #6020. The Ultimate bottled #4229 and #4234. Signatory bottled #4228, #4230, #4231, #4232 and #4233.

Color: Light Gold

Nose: Fruity and buttery. Quite a strong aroma. Nice spicy and grassy wood. Just like it’s brother from Gordon & MacPhail, a nice sweet vanilla note. Eggnog. Lots of influence from the wood, without overpowering the distillate. Nice sappy oak and also a little bit of cardboard. With some air a more dry and powdery turn. A lot less apple, but still there. Somehow the alcohol is more upfront.

Taste: Sweeter than I imagined. Again a pretty nice aroma. Vanilla with candied apples and even some raspberry. Excellent stuff. A paper note, but also hints of burnt sugar mixes in with the toasted oak. Very nice and drinkable, with a sweet and warming, and dare I say, hoppy finish. The Whisky is pretty straightforward and nicely un-complex.

Dailuaine is a pretty nice distillate, will have to keep this one in mind and investigate further.

Points: 85

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Dailuaine 14yo 1995/2010 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Refill Sherry Hogsheads, AJ/AAFI)

Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection UltraUnlike Benrinnes, Dailuaine has been featured a few times already on Master Quill, the last one just a month ago, so it doesn’t need a big introduction, nor does Gordon & MacPhail, the big Scottish independent bottler with an even bigger reputation doing things yet even bigger. We all know Gordon & MacPhail have a lot of series like the Distillery Labels, Connoisseurs Choice, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve and Private Collection, to name but a view. Now there is even a bigger choice with four new, very old, Whiskies in the Private Collection Ultra.

Hey, what’s in a name! I was fortunate enough to have been able to try, three of the four, recently: The 61yo Linkwood (88 Points), the 62yo Glenlivet (89 Points), the 57yo Strathisla (88 Points) and finally there is also a 63yo Mortlach. Well these four are obviously very expensive and extremely rare. For us “normal” people who can’t afford those Ultra’s, here we’ll be reviewing a hopefully very good Dailuaine, one of my favorite amongst the rather unknown distilleries…

Dailuaine 14yo 1995/2010 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Refill Sherry Hogsheads, AJ/AAFI)Color: Gold

Nose: Floral and spicy. Dusty and spicy wood. Try to imagine the cask from the outside. Hints of mint. Icing Sugar and even some dried tall grass. Malt and honey. Quite some vanilla. After the Benrinnes I reviewed last here we have another refill Sherry cask that impairs a lot of vanilla to the Whisky. Sometimes it smells a bit like a rum with oranges. More fruit with apple skins. Apple pie, yes also cookie dough and with that the spice wood note. Acidic cinnamon. Very good!

Taste: Sweet. Apples, Apple skin, warm apple sauce. Spicy wood. Extremely nice. Well balanced stuff this is. Nutty wood. Nice hint of sweetness that complements the full aroma. I really like this one. I thought the Benrinnes was good, but this is even a little bit better. Spicy wood. Hints of nutmeg and plain oak. Sugared apple. Caramel. Sweet woody caramel and a tiny hint of bitter wood (sap). Not a very long finish, but very tasty. The finish resembles the body. Well made and very tasty stuff.

There you have it. A young and reduced Dailuaine, which when looking at scores is almost as good as the new Ultra’s. This is a new kid on the block, a teenager, and doesn’t have the experience and sophistication of the old Ultra’s. Although the price difference is staggering, there is something to say for both. (If you have the cash).

Points: 86

Bowmore Week – Day 5: Bowmore 14yo 1992/2006 (54.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 294 bottles)

Bowmore WeekAfter the new Small Batch Bowmore by Cadenhead’s, here is another 14yo, older, Cadenhead’s bottling but this time from the Authentic Collection. This is an older version distilled in 1992 and bottled in 2006. This is a single cask Whisky, bottled at cask strength as opposed to the newer Small Batch reviewed earlier that was from multiple (two) Bourbon Hogsheads.

Bowmore 14yo 1992-2006 (54.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 294 bottles)Color: Light gold.

Nose: Überclean Bowmore. Malty, buttery and spicy. Lots of green leaves, vegetal freshness and licorice (with ashes). Very interesting nose. Again a Bowmore that has a perfumy note. It’s typical even though this isn’t a FWP-whisky, but it ís from the times a lot of Bowmores suffered from this phenomenon. Still this is a fine, rather clean and citrussy nose. Not a lot of smoke and peat come to think of it.

Taste: Sweet, some notes from white wine (very nice), quite spicy, but mostly sweet, or half-sweet as they say. Wood influence a small hints of soap. It almost tastes like a Fino Sherry cask matured whisky. Nice balance between the sweetness and the (white wine) acidity (lemon). Nice and it has good drinkability. I don’t want to scare you away, but even the texture is a bit soapy. Still not a FWP- Whisky though. A little bit hot, but not peppery as other Bowmores.

As said before, this is not a FWP-Whisky but it is from the feared era, and it does have some soapy and perfumy traits. It was on the wrong path but finally didn’t go astray. Hardly peaty nor smoky. There is some peat here, but that is a bit flowery and elegant. A Bowmore on the precipice I would say.

Cleaning my glass, it started foaming a bit 🙂

Points: 86

Thanks go out to Andre Z. who loaned me the bottle.

Bowmore Week – Day 2: Bowmore 14yo 1998/2013 (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, Bourbon Hogsheads, 792 bottles)

Here we are, into day two of Master Quill’s Bowmore Week. This review will be about a Bowmore from Cadenhead’s new Small batch series. Just like with the Original Series (46% ABV) and the Authentic Series (cask strength), the small batches come in at 46% or cask strength. The 46% versions in this new Small Batch Series come in this round dumpy bottle as depicted below, whereas the Cask strength versions come in more square dumpy bottles. Like Glenfarclas used a long time ago. The only difference between the Original and the Authentic Collection and the Small Batch bottling is that the latter is in almost all the cases a bottling of two casks where the former were single cask bottlings. This may be a golden opportunity for Cadenheads to mix two casks that can complement each other, where single cask bottlings will always show the flaws of that one cask. A year prior (2012), Cadenheads have already bottled two Bourbon Hogshead Bowmore’s in the Authentic Collection, which could be nice for comparison.

Cadenhead Bowmore 14yoColor: White Wine

Nose: Butter, cookie dough and flowery peat. A very feminine profile. It’s flowery and perfumy without it being FWP or soapy. Citrussy and very light on peat. Hints of (tarry) wood and salt. Fat light peat and licorice. Quite “simple” on the nose compared to yesterday’s standard 12yo. This one has to breathe a bit and needs a bit of warmth to fully release its aroma’s. The longer it stands the more smoky it gets, kippers. Coastal.

Taste: Very well integrated Bowmore. A sweet and very full body, yet not heavy and quite un-complex. Good sweetness. Hints of mocha and cappuccino. A nice peppery bite and citrus with custard. Lemon sherbet. Nice hints of wood. Extremely drinkable, but also quite simple. The pepper is an added bonus. The finish is not too long though, and the pepper stays with you longer than the finish does.

Where the nose needed a little time to show itself, the taste is immediately up front without a lot of evolution. But when its good from the start who needs evolution? Very nice and simple profile, but as I said before, not very complex, but immediately likeable and extremely drinkable. I do like it.

Points: 85

Tormore 14yo 1998/2013 (50%, Gordon & MacPhail, Exclusive for the Whisky Mercenary, First Fill Bourbon Barrel #1586, 277 bottles)

Easily the longest title for any of my blog posts. Finally summer is over, and the urge to drink some Whisky is back with a vengeance. Not that I’m happy about summer being over, especially when the last five years we hardly had a summer over here…

Next up to warm us up is a Gordon & MacPhail bottling of a 1998 Tormore, they bottled for The Whisky Mercenary a.k.a. Jürgen Vromans. Jürgen tries to pick some great casks for his own hobby-brand of Whiskies. Up ’till now Scottish and Irish products have been bottled under his own label. This time he picked a cask from Gordon & MacPhail. Gordon & MacPhail take their own casks to various distilleries and after they are filled, take them to their own warehouses for ageing. Gordon & MacPhail never sell a cask without it being bottled in one of their series.

Color: Light Gold

Nose: Floral, fresh and sweet, easily recognizable for a Tormore from a Bourbon Cask. They’re always a bit metallic, but in a way I like it. Just have a look here. It’s great to see, ehhh, smell the consistency, or distillery character. There are a lot of similarities between the Cadenhead 1984 and this 1998 Tormore. Nice balance between the sweetness of the nose and the wood spice from the cask. Quite perfumy, with a touch of smoke from the toasted cask, and floral (which is not soapy). Under this all some ginger and sugared yellow fruits, like dried apricots, which add to the complexity of the sweetness. This is how Tormore’s are and this is another fine example.

Taste: Less sweet than the nose let on to believe. Nice darkness with ginger, vanilla, paper and wood. The spiciness in combination with the brooding half-sweetness doesn’t let the finish become sour (from the oak). There is a fruitiness to it, and it seems to me to be from the black fruit department, blackberries? A little bit of mocha, toffee and/or unburnt caramel to round the Whisky off. Long nutty finish with a hint of mint. Pretty well-balanced stuff. I like it and I most definitely want it.

Nice Tormore by Gordon & MacPhail and for sure a great pick by Jürgen. A connoisseurs Whisky, otherwise Gordon & MacPhail wouldn’t have Jürgen take this away.  If you like the profile, this is a very nice Tormore, ánd I have to stress that I am a fan of whiskies @ 50% ABV. Excellent! I really love the Cadenhead but this is equally as good.

Points: 86

Bruichladdich 14yo 1991/2005 “Yellow Submarine” (46%, OB, WMD II)

WMD stands for Whisky of Mass Distinction. A name one would find on a Frankie Goes To Hollywood 12″ in the eighties. Two years earlier the first WMD was released (a 19yo from 1984) and had a rocket on the label. This second “weapon” is a Yellow Submarine. Most of us would have thought of the Beatles, but this time it about another submarine. One owned by the Royal Navy of Great Britain.

Islay Fisherman Baker was at sea to check his lobster baskets, when he saw a yellow object floating just under the surface of the water. Which first seemed a buoy seemed to be a 2 metres long radio-controlled mine detector from the Royal Navy. When Fisherman Baker called the coastguard informing them that he spotted a submarine with markings from the Royal Navy, they told him to he was drunk, not very uncommon on such an Island. Still fisherman Baker wouldn’t budge and the coast guard called the Royal Navy, but they denied it’s existence!

Just days later the Royal Navy admitted they had lost HMS Penzance (The Yellow Submarine) in a drill. But just after 6 months they decided to pick the thing up> They sailed out at night, to arrive very early in the morning, not to draw a lot of attention to the operation. But the people of Islay are no fools, so half the Island was present at the beach. 12.000 bottles of Yellow Submarine were made and the Royal Navy got six to commemorate the incident. Later the French manufacturer of the Sub ordered another 1000 bottles of this edition for marketing purposes…

Color: Light Gold.

Nose: Woody and smoky. Quite estery and fruity as well. Clay and wet earth. Chewy (in the nose?). In a way candied and wine-treated (it is ACE’d in Rioja Casks, well that’s very Obvious in the nose). The wine finish takes the nose hostage, never to let go, whatever ransom you’re prepared to pay. Is that a bad thing, no not really it is likeable in the nose. I just hope is does the palate some justice. Creamy milk pudding. Powdery perfumed wood. Fresh.

Taste: a bit harsh and winey from the start, but it seems balanced. Wood and milk chocolate pudding. Creamy. Also a little bit from the wood and a wave of sugary sweetness. The palate is very nice, but also very simple. Probably a good idea to reduce this to 46% ABV, because now we have a very drinkable whisky. Nothing overly special though, with also an unspectacular finish, but it definitely is all right!

Well this most definitely is a Rioja finish. The Rioja is all over the place. It draws all attention to itself. Although wine finishes almost every time ring my alarm bells, this is not bad. Alas the maker doesn’t state what kind of Rioja it was red, white or rosé, although rosé would be pretty uncommon, most probable would be red. Most used grape variety in Rioja is the Temperanillo grape, remember the Temperanillo casks used by Tomatin?

Points: 85

Tormore 14yo 1996/2011 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Hogshead #6868, 500 bottles, 500 ml)

Tormore. One of those distilleries, you don’t hear about too much. Tormore was founded in 1958 by Long John International, and distilling started in 1960. It was the first distillery that was built after the Pattison crash of 1898, and thus the first to be built in the 20th century. Today Pernod Ricard is the owner of Tormore and is already the fourth owner in its short history. Tormore was originally built with 4 stills and in 1972 that amount was doubled. In 1984 the heating system for the stills was converted, so that it could be heated with… woodchips to heat the stills. Officially only a 10yo was released, later replaced by the current 12yo. For a short while also a 5yo and a 15yo existed. So mostly independent bottlers issue Tormore Single Malt today. Still, over the years not a lot was issued this way, nor does it usually score very high. I guess it’s time to have a look into Tormore. First a Tormore bottled by Dutch bottlers Mo Òr, who’s Macduff and Miltonduff started this blog to boot.

Color: White wine

Nose: Nutty and soapy. Smells very floral. Fresh and exuberant. Sour spring fruits. Creamy and a bit sweaty as well. Toffee. I can imagine why they bought this cask. It seems to me this is a happy and positive Whisky. Absolutely a young Whisky. Very likable. Maybe they should sell this in a spray as an eau de toilette.

Taste: Creamy and nutty. Very simple and seems younger than it actually is. Again very likeable and sweet. Vanilla ice cream and some caramel, and mint. No extremes in this. Hardly any wood. There is some wood noticeable in the finish. Hints of Belgian beer in the finish. Hops. Given some time in the glass, some spiciness does come through. Short finish though.

There seems to be a nice and unpretending balance to this. For me it’s very feminine. It’s easy and has a lot of fruits and flowers going on. Not a typical Tormore though, it doesn’t resemble the other Tormore’s I know, which were more industrial, or even metallic. This is nothing like that, this is organic summer garden. Biological Whisky maybe? Give it some time to breathe, it will enhance the character a little, by shedding its initial sourness.

Points: 83

Thanks go out to Henk for handing me this sample.