Highland Park Week – Day 7: Highland Park 27yo 1972/1999 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 324 bottles)

Wow, it’s already the seventh and last day of Master Quill’s Highland Park Week. How time flies when you’re having fun, but I say that after every Master Quill Week. Somehow it is always nice to concentrate on one subject and try several examples in quick succession. This week may have been a bit heavy on the Independent side, since only two offerings released by the distillery themselves were reviewed. Beforehand I would have thought the 18yo OB would be a worthy opponent to the five Independent offerings, but it turned out otherwise. We know the 18yo can be (very) good, but we also know that it does suffer from batch variation. So quite a surprise there. Another surprise was the sheer quality of the 9yo Signatory bottling. A Whisky not even in its teens! If only all of todays NAS offerings would be this good… Yesterday we had a very nice Highland Park bottled by Douglas Laing, which churned out quality Whisky one after the other. So it wasn’t a hard decision to end this Week with a 1972 bottling by Douglas Laing again, especially since it was bottled in 1999, early on in the Old Malt Cask series (OMC). Early OMC bottlings were always right up there, so lets see if this is any different, and therefore a worthy example to finish off this week.

Color: Gold.

Nose: I had only one sniff and I’m already in love. Nectar of the gods. Super fruity, old Malt. Too much fruit to name. Pineapple, passion fruit, apricots and white peach (somewhat later in the mix), but there is a lot more. More apricots, dried and sugared, Hints of regular peach and banana. Super fruity and super funky. Nutty and sweaty. Utterly wonderful. Yes this is an old Single Malt from, and I’m guessing here, a remade American oak hogshead. Vanilla combined with clay, soft spices and very soft oak. Vegetal and slightly dusty. Hints of cereal and latte macchiato as well. The yellow fruits are thick and syrupy, but just like a great, sweetish, White Wine, the acidic part is equally important. This thick, syrupy Highland Park has such an acidic top note, that livens the whole up. This is stuff from the hall of fame, something like 1972 Caperdonich. Stellar. Sugared yellow fruits picked up by hints of zesty citrus fruit. Well-integrated acidity. With some breathing, a more restrained note emerges. Fresh air. The big fruit dissipates a bit, leaving more room for some sour oak. Underneath, a slightly meaty, cold gravy aroma. Amazing how little wood is showing throughout. Butter with hints of salt and black pepper and after a while some nice oak finally emerges to make up the finish. Creamy and half-sweet yoghurt with white peach. Calvados and graphite powder. This change in character is kind of special. This Highland Park starts out as a 1972 Caperdonich, however the Caperdonichs don’t show such a change, so both finish quite differently.

Taste: Wonderful, elegant, half-sweet at first and a bit brittle. Lots of fruit again, red fruit pastilles and a large nutty part combined with slightly bitter dark chocolate and toffee. This is a bit of a Malt with granny’s osteoporosis, but we all love our granny don’t we, warts and all. It still has enough power at 50% ABV, but the aroma’s don’t seem to be as big as in the nose. Laid back fruit and even some Belgian Beer (again). It’s definitely simpler and not as thick as I imagined it to be. Some sweetness from sugared fruits, which fade-out… The body is thin, but not weak. It disintegrates a bit. Still a pretty long finish though, leaving a note of warm milk (from the latte macchiato?)

Don’t buy the, sometimes, mediocre over-priced, over-hyped bottlings of today, unless there are no old bottles to be bought, when bottles don’t show up anymore at auction. All collected or hopefully drunk by people who appreciate them. Spend your hard-earned cash on something like this, before it’s really too late. Everybody needs to taste how it used to be, and how it could be done…

Points: 91

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Bunnahabhain 40yo 1972/2012 (44.6%, The House of MacDuff, The Golden Cask, CM 184, 346 bottles)

Recently I reviewed an anonymous Bunnahabhain by David Stirk. That expression was heavy on Sherry. Here we have another Bunnahabhain, much older, and much lighter. As with all Golden Casks, this is again a cask that was picked by John McDougall. John has a big, big history in Whisky, so in the time when it is pretty hard for independent bottlers to find an exceptional cask, John still might be able to find one. Let’s see how this oldie he picked is holding up.

Color: Light Gold.

Nose: Waxy and old smelling (old bottle effect). Fatty wood, with hints of licorice and maybe even some lavas. The profile is also fruitier with pineapple, and dried apricots. It doesn’t have any apparent peat. I do detect, however, some smoke, some chalk and butter. Hints of latex wall paint and custard. Quite a list of funny aroma’s for this Bunnahabhain if you ask me. The most striking aroma of them all is the very special waxy oldness it oozes.

Taste: Interesting, at first a combination of white wine, wood and slightly bitter beer. Licorice again with toffee, but the whole is quite dry and light. The initial attack is there, but the body is already light and the finish is not very long. The more this Whisky gets a chance to breathe, for instance in the glass, the more bitter it gets. It’s still easy within limits, so not to worry. Lacks a bit of power though if you ask me. This cask strength Whisky was bottled at 44.6%, so the angels particularly liked it!

At first, it even shows some similarities to 1972 Caperdonichs, with this exceptionally waxyness, but soon it gets much simpler or should I say lighter. Especially the body of those 1972 Caperdonichs are quite full, whereas this Bunnahabhain has a more lighter style to it. A bit brittle or fragile, but this Bunnahabhain does have the old wax and wood, that Whisky these day just don’t have and with modern techniques, will never be made like this again. So treat this Bunna gently and see it as a time capsule of some sorts.

Points: 86

Tobermory 32yo 1972/2005 (50.1%, OB, Green Label, Oloroso Sherry Finish, 912 bottles)

This is the first Tobermory on these pages and the Whisky itself comes from the Island of Mull. This distillery was founded already in 1798 and was originally called Tobermory. Tobermory closed in 1930 and was turned into a power station. It stayed closed as a distillery, untill it reopened in 1972, but this time as Ledaig. Ledaig’s history, from its reopening was a rocky one, with a lot of buying and selling of the distillery with production stops to match. The current owner is Burn Stewart (which itself is/was owned by an insurance company (since 2002), that again was rescued by the government of Trinidad & Tobago in 2010. You don’t want to know…)

Back to Tobermory (or Ledaig). Ledaig was sold to Burn Stewart in 1993, and they decided to give back its original name: Tobermory. In 2005 Tobermory issued three 32yo from 1972. These were Oloroso Sherry finished Whiskies. One with a black label, one with a red label and this green label reviewed here. Purists mention an additional brown labeled version for sale at the distillery. Also 32yo and 1972, but “put on bottle” in 2010, so it must have been kept in stainless steel tanks of on glass from 2005 to 2010 to stop further ageing. Not a lot is known about this bottle…

Color: Brown

Nose: Tarry with lots of red and black fruits. Peat, asphalt and lemonade. Honey. Very appetizing. Coal smoke and steam. This is a true vintage steam locomotive. A little bit of plum with a lot of burned sugar. Toasted wood, burned wood (when turned cold again) and burned paper. Cookie dough. Later it gets dryer and more dusty. Incense. There are a lot of associations with burned stuff, but still, all that doesn’t overpower the whisky. The fruityness makes for great balance. This is truly one of these malts that oozes the days of yesteryear and really they don’t make them like this anymore…

Taste: Strong and again steam locomotive. The taste matches the nose perfectly. Thick sherry with some licorice. It’s fruity, red fruit and the fruit part is fresh and lively. Over this fruit steam and coal again. Hard (red) candied fruit. Quite nice is that the finish is only a little bit bitter. Warming. Wood and tar. The only beef I have with this Green label as opposed to the other two is that the taste is not that balanced and coherent. It doesn’t gel completely and with time it sometimes seems thinner than the other two.

Of the three, this is the least interesting one. In my humble opinion, the Red label Tobermory 32yo is the best, but the black follows in its footsteps quite well. Between the two it’s a matter of taste. Still, if the other ones aren’t available, do get this one in stead, because you’re up for a nice journey, and this one is pretty good by itself! All three of these whiskies may not be perfect, but they are classics in their own right and they do deserve a place in the Whisky hall of Fame!

Points: 88

Clynelish 32yo 1972/2005 (49.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Hogshead #15619, 226 bottles)

Looking back, I see that two of the last four posts are old Clynelishes. One from 1974 and one from 1973. What could beat that? Well maybe another old Clynelish? Why? Because we can! And this time we’ll do a 1972! Exactly 1972, the year in which the adjacent (old) Clynelish distillery (a.k.a. Brora) reached the stellar quality we all (should) know by now. If you don’t know Brora 1972 by now, prepare to dish out some serious cash to do so, but then again, you might be a Sheik? Clynelish 32yo 1972/2005 (49.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Hogshead #15619, 226 bottles)But that’s Brora, here we have a 1972 Clynelish, so it’s distillate from the then newly built distillery next to Brora…

Color: Light Gold

Nose: Old once (painted) wood. The whole nose has a nice oldness to it. A smell you don’t encounter in more modern malts. Lots of woody caramels. The whole nose has some similarities to the 1973 I reviewed some days ago. This one is more leafy though, and less waxy. It’s not only sweets and woods. Pencil shavings and fresh air. Quite clean. Apple skins, nuts and some flowers. Freesia maybe?

Taste: Wood and a thin kind of waxiness. half sweet and a spicy bite of wood (do I detect a hint of smoke?). The wood doesn’t dominate. Also some hints from the animal kingdom. Something along the lines of a sweating horse. Again the added leafiness. Dry leaves and cold and wet black tea leaves. The body is medium to full, but with a lot of character. Orange skins. The finish is longer than I thought, but also thinner due to the lack of the big sweetness and waxiness a lot of Clynelishes have. Having said that I do like this one. It oozes Whisky from times long gone…

Brora’s from 1972 are special amongst others by the use of peat. This Clynelish lacks that peat. The cask itself didn’t do a lot for the whisky, apart from giving some woody traits to the Whisky. Wood, vanillin, that sort of things. This does allow us to have a glimpse at the distillate of Clynelish.

Points: 90

Glengoyne Week – Day 7: Glengoyne 37yo 1972/2010 (52%, The Nectar of the Daily Dram, The Nectar and Bresser & Timmer)

Oh no, we’re already at the end of the Glengoyne week, quelle misère! This is always the moment with a little bit of melancholy. That moment when you’ve been with a good friend for a week and you know he or she has to leave. Waving goodbye at the train station or the airport. Going home alone with a little tear in the corner of your eye.

We are going to see our friend from Scotland off with the only independent bottling of Glengoyne in this Glengoyne week, and the only distillate from the seventies, the rest being eighties and one fairly new Glengoyne on day one. Here we have also the only Glengoyne that was bottled by The Nectar from Belgium together with Bresser & Timmer from The Netherlands.

Glengoyne 37yo 1972/2010 (52%, The Nectar of the Daily Dram, The Nectar and Bresser & Timmer)Color: Sparkling gold.

Nose: Waxy and fruity, like an old Duncan Taylor Caperdonich from the same year. Honeysuckle, and lots of it. This is so good, it can be worn as a perfume, amongst Whisky drinkers that is. Floral. Given some time the Whisky noses more elegant. After the initial weight of the wax and yellow fruit (that dissipates), it becomes more fresh, like walking on the beach in fall. Clean, maybe. The wood kicks in too, I mean the wood is noticeable, also a slight toast to it. Spicy. This one has utter balance. Caperdonichs and Glengoynes from 1972, I you haven’t tried them already, do it! In a short while they’ll get extinct or priceless, and you’ll be the poorer for it, not having had the experience…

Taste: Sweet, fruity and full, I already don’t want to write more notes now, I want to enjoy my dram! Somebody has to do the job, so I’ll sacrifice myself yet again. Bugger! The syrupy sweetness goes smoothly into the spiciness of the wood. Lemon sherbet and more yellow fruits, some peaches, dried apricots? Cardboard and vanilla ice-cream. Just a slight imbalance in the finish, but who cares, putting this in your mouth again makes up for that, you’ll only finish the bottle a little sooner than you meant to do. The finish in fact is not that heavy too, a tiny flaw.

It is a great dram. I was only surprised that the waxiness together with the fruitiness are here in the beginning, just not here to stay in the nose. tastewise it does stay. Well picked by Mario Groteklaes.

So that’s it, we are done for the moment with Glengoyne, and we are done with the fourth ‘week’ on Master Quill. In the end this independently bottle of Glengoyne got the highest score, with an almost equally briljant and newer ‘summer’ edition in the runner-up position. Actually the odds were a bit uneven since this Glengoyne is from the seventies and therefore well older than the rest of the contenders, but who said it was a contest? Through the rest of the offerings reviewed in this Glengoyne week, it can be clearly seen that Glengoyne makes a high quality whisky with multiple facets to it. Keep up the good work!

Points: 92

Thanks go out to Nico for providing the sample!

Caperdonich 38yo 1972/2011 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Hogshead #7437, 162 bottles, 500 ml)

Amongst others, the most ‘famous’ bottlings of Caperdonichs from 1972 are the Duncan Taylor ones from the 74xx series, and they had a lot. Earlier I reviewed Cask #7424. Lately these casks were sold out and prices are soaring now. Now we have this. Mo Òr also have a Caperdonich from 1972 and it is a bourbon hogshead. But wait, it is Hogshead #7437! Could it be they have obtained one of Duncan Taylors fabulous Hogsheads of Caperdonich 1972. Let’s have a look. Well it turns out Duncan Taylor also have a Cask #7437 yielding 161 bottles. Being a hoggie, this can’t be a cask share since precisely 300 bottles at cask strength can’t come out of one hoggie. (I’ll spare you the math). Well are there two casks with the same number, or did the guys from Mo Òr buy up all the bottles and reduced them to 46%? I’ll have to ask.

Color: Gold

Nose: Yeah this definitively is a 1972 Caperdonich from the good casks. Nice waxy, old bottle smell. Very elegant granny in her old room. Being used to these casks at cask strength, this sample does seem less up front. Still I like this very much, the reduction didn’t spoil the whisky at all. It shows a dimension, that was hidden behind the fruits and wax in the cask strength versions. It makes it smell like an old spices warehouse. Still the fruit and the wax, such a typical combination for these Caperdonichs are só good. After some air lightly spiced wood and vanilla enter the mix. This is an example of perfect balance.

Taste: Here there is some spicy wood, it has a touch of cannabis (given off by the oak), that makes this very nice! Light waxiness and so very fruity. Half sweet. Think yellow fruits, peaches, partly in syrup. Wow! I was afraid reduction would make the palate thin, but it didn’t. Hint of coffee. Again perfect balance. Reduction probably did shorten the finish a little. But that doesn’t spoil the fun. One element of caution. Don’t let it sit too long in your glass. Air brings out a little bitterness and other woody parts that don’t do this Caperdonich right.

Unbelievable that after all these years there is no strong wood that ruins the picture, bitters the finish, and overpowering it all. They don’t make them like this anymore. Do yourself a favour and try one of these before it’s too late and they are gone forever. Fabulous stuff! Of all casks #74xx, cask #7424 is considered the best, and that one I scored 93 points. This Mo Òr isn’t scoring much less. I would have loved, for educational purposes, to taste a cask sample of this. Well done Mo Òr!

Points: 91

Thanks go out to Henk for handing me this sample.

Glenmorangie 30yo 1972/2004 (44.3%, OB, Oloroso Cask Finish, 4548 bottles)

Founded in 1843 by William Mathesen, but whisky was distilled on site as early as 1703 (or 1738). Glenmorangie is now known for their stills with very tall necks that ensure a very light and clean spirit that had to reach incredible heights. Glenmorangie are also known for their Dr. Bill Lumsden, a man who doesn’t fear innovation and experimentation with his grains and woods.

This particular bottling consists of whisky that aged from 1972 to 1989 in Bourbon Barrels and was finished from 1989 to 2004 in Oloroso Casks. We only don’t know what casks they were. Butts or Puncheons, American of European oak.

Color: Orange Gold.

Nose: Waxy and cherry liqueur and black fruits. Nice old whisky smell, old wood. The combination of casks worked quite well for the nose. Perfumy. Butter on toast. Bakery shop. Hints of mint. Fades into something plant like, sweet rhubarb with raisins. Great nose.

Taste: Wood and spice, with clay and chocolate. The taste of clean white sugar. Sourness from the oak. Tastes thin. cappuccino, mocha with cream. Toast from the cask in the finish, and again some light esters and sourness. Pastry, hint of tar and dry altogether. Red lemonade and almonds.

The whole is pretty balanced. It’s easy noticeable that this is from light spirit. The nose is great, and the taste is very nice. The only two things that let this down is its lightness. And a Glenmorangie should be light, that’s one of their pillars. Personally I like a bit of body to it, like yesterdays Glenkinchie which also has a higher proof. The second thing that lets this whisky down is it’s slightly unbalanced finish. It breaks down a bit.

Points: 86

P.S. This comes in a very nice wooden box.