Glenallachie 37yo 1973/2010 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Hogshead #6746, 266 bottles, 500 ml)

After all those fairly recent distillates, I guess its time to look at something older. This time we’ll have a look at a 37 year old expression of Glenallachie bottled by the Dutch Whisky Investors: The Whisky Talker. The Mo Òr line of Single Malt Whiskies was thought of as an investment, or as a luxury gift for business people. Sometimes you can even encounter a bottle like this in a super-duper hotel bar. Yes, Whisky is the new Swiss Watch or a premium golf-set. Glenallachie though, is one of the workhorses of Pernod Ricard, a laborer, meant for the Clan Campbell blend, not really a luxury brand isn’t it? But if you are worrying about the size of your next yacht, who cares? Ignorance is bliss. Let’s see if this old Glenallachie is any good.

Glenallachie 37yo 1973/2010 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Hogshead #6746, 266 bottles, 500 ml)Color: Almost gold.

Nose: Soft and fruity. Next, some old bottle effect and great Speyside seventies fruity wax. Anoraks know this from Caperdonichs from 1972 and Tomatin’s from 1976, to name but a few. Vanilla plays a nice part in keeping the whole together. Definitely a (second) refill Hogshead. The cask wasn’t very active, but over almost 40 years, the wood did play it’s part in ageing this Whisky. Just let this breathe and it gets even better and better. Hints of old soft (sugared) mint in the background. Almond cookies with a bit of dust on them. Old wooden floor and a very distant smoky touch. The mint holds its ground and keeps accompanying the rest of the aroma’s from the nose. Great old malt, but it has its limitations. Lacks a bit of development compared to some of the (non-Sherried) greats from that era, but the whole is still fantastic and a treat to nose. Don’t get me wrong. Maybe this one shouldn’t have been reduced, although at 46% it’s still no dud.

Taste: Quite light and fruity. Sure, Speyside peach from old American wood. Hints of paper. Slightly sweet black tea with raspberry flavour. Especially here tasting it, the reduction shows itself. Making the whole a bit thin and shortening the finish. Also the cask seems to have been a bit tired. Hints of wood and sawdust and a hint of white wine. Sweaty high quality Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire. The wood shows a more soft mocha note now. Sawdust and pencil shavings. The mint from the nose stays behind in the back of my throat.

Whisky from a great time, but not the best expression from that time though. Probably a bit too tired a cask, and certainly should have not been reduced. It may have been already a bit frail and reducing it may have dulled it down. However, it still is an example of aged Speyside Whisky from the era, with this wonderful fruitiness and lighter style. I don’t know why, but this screams for some Roxy music from 1973. “The Bogus Man” sounds just right.

Points: 87

Followed this up with the 1976 Benromach. Both are 46% ABV, and both score 87 points, but the The Glenallachie is lighter, and smells more like a Whisky from another time. I would prefer the Glenallachie, especially for its nose.

Cragganmore 29yo 1973/2003 “Special Edition” (52.5%, OB, 6000 bottles)

Cragganmore, and an old Cragganmore it is. Last year Diageo released a 25yo Special Release from 1988. That one costs a pretty penny, and is almost sold out by now. Nevertheless these days people throw themselves at anything that looks or feels like a super-duper premium bottling. However, the short row of special editions of Cragganmore was started back in 2003, by this 29yo from 1973. Yes a distillate from the seventies, and distillates from the seventies are usually even harder to come by. Nevertheless, this 1973 Cragganmore is still not very hard to get ánd even at a lower price than the aforementioned 1988 special release. What is happening here? Is the 1988 way better or has everybody simply forgotten about the 1973?

Cragganmore 29yo 1973/2003 Special Edition (52.5%, OB, 6000 bottles)Color: Gold.

Nose: Waxy and floral but rather closed. Quite light, delicate and vibrant. Old smoke and toast. Distant yellow fruits with a hint of tar. Nice combination. Steam age Whisky. Hints of barley and (floral) soap, but also hints of wood (old furniture) and even a tiny hint of pencil shavings. Hints of soft white pepper and some discernible sweetness. Dusty, fruity and slightly waxy, but I have to say it again, very closed.

Taste: Tropical fruits and quite sweet, like other bottlings from the seventies. Just remember Caperdonich and Tomatin. Cannabis and dish-water. Old papers and slightly cardboardy, which in this case isn’t a bad thing. Nice combination of cream and tired oak. It definitely tastes better than it smells. Don’t get me wrong, it smells good (albeit closed), but it tastes better. The finish is announced by some oaky bitterness, which fits the fruity waxiness perfectly. And old gent of a dram. Old and brittle but lots of stories to tell. You never know with old stuff like this, but to me, this seems to be exclusively from old Bourbon casks.

I am not Mr. Water. I hardly use water when tasting Malt prefer movement. Just let it move around in my glass, airing, oxidizing of you prefer, maybe warming it up in my hand a bit. That does the trick for me. However, if I encounter a closed Malt, then, and only then, water can be a nice experiment. I’m such an anorak, that I don’t even use a pipette, but I use a syringe. (Smaller droplets giving me more control). I know it’s sad, but I do have a life, so don’t worry about me. Well after some droplets and some more droplets, water didn’t open up the nose a lot. I did get more floral and toasty. It did do wonders for the taste. It got better, with more cannabis, more pencil shavings and more yellow sugared fruits. The toasty bit crept in here too. Lovely stuff, a bit brittle (apart from the body), so be carefull. So in this case, do try some water. Yes it needs some work, but it’s also quite an experience.

I haven’t tried all of the other special releases of Cragganmore but I can’t imagine them to be better than this one. Sure, age doesn’t matter (or so they say) and distillates of the seventies don’t have to be better than more recent distillates. However, this 1973 does come across as a very old Whisky, meaning it does smell and taste like something that can’t be made like this anymore. To “prove” or “un-prove” my point here is a review of a more modern Cragganmore, that did manage to fetch a higher score…

Points: 87

Clynelish 33yo 1973/2006 (54.3%, Signatory Vintage, The Prestonfield, Cask #8912, 405 bottles)

At last a new review at Master Quill! Some kind of throat infection and a Polish vacation stood in the way of writing some new reviews. But now all’s well and time to do some tasting again! I’m also happy to inform you that at last today was a day that made me forget about the half-year winter we had. First time it was really nice to sit outside in the sun, with even a nice cup of coffee and a little cigar, a Vegueros Seoane I reviewed more than a year ago.

Let’s get out some Clynelish. This Clynelish was officially bottled by The Prestonfield Whisky Company Ltd. which is just another moniker for the Signatory Vintage Company. There is also a second bottling of a 1973 Clynelish, of sister cask #8913. Under the Signatory label, Casks #8914 and #8915 were bottled in 2006 and 2007. These last two bottlings mention a Refill Butt, so this one here is probably from a Refill Butt as well. All four Butts were bottled as 33 year olds.

Clynelish 33yo 1973/2006 (54.3%, Signatory, Prestonfield, Cask #8912, 405 bottles)This Clynelish was distilled July 23rd 1973, a year Brora was still open but not very active, if active at all. As we all know, 1972 was Brora’s finest year, or so it seems. Time to find out what they did one year later at Clynelish…

Color: White wine

Nose: Farmy, with butter and old wood spice. Sweet and sweaty. Dusty and above all lots of beeswax. Typical Clynelish and a typical old Whisky. Also a fresh sea-air note. It has some hints that make me think this was a Fino Butt, but it could have been a Bourbon cask as well. Nothing is particularly Sherry in this one. It’s mainly oak (which here is a very lovely smell), and wax. It does tend to smell sweet, but not very fruity. Not fruity at all.

Taste: Sweet and again the spicy waxy wood. Great and elegant! Who said old whiskies are overly woody, and who said wood is a bad thing. Not in this one! This taste is a great example of how wood can taste when it’s carried by some sweetness and waxiness. It’s fat! Mocha, milk chocolate, toffee and again very Fino-ish. Later on a toasted not emerges accompanied by some sea weed and wait for it…It’s medicinal! The elegant wood lingers on and stays in the finish for quite some time.

A whisky of great balance, what you smell is what you taste (WYSIWYT). When I think of it, no, it’s still not very complex (but it is pretty sweet). Just like a Prestonfield Ben Nevis 1975. Also fabulous tasting whisky. That one is almost a Scottish Bourbon, yet also not very complex.

Points: 91

Macduff 37yo 1973/2010 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Hogshead #20, 281 bottles, 500 ml)

Another bottle from the Mo Òr collection. This time a Macduff from a Bourbon Hoggie…

Color: Gold

Nose: Very elegant wood, and nutty, perfumy, nougat. Old saddle leather, distant dark chocolate and fresh mint (unbruised leaves). Old furniture, hints of wax-polish, waxed shiny chocolate.

Palate: Spicy (wood) and half sweet, the elegance stays. Great balance in this one. Minty and sweet. Absolutely not too woody, yet the wood plays a nice role in the balance of the whisky. This is an old cask, so the minty sensation is there, a bit of old bottle effect I guess. The great palate breaks down a little in the finish, like it’s trying to say that it`s time for bed. Now the oak plays a greater role in the finish, and turns slightly soapy, but never enough to let the experience down. I Like!

Sells for 175 Euro’s (500ml bottle)

Points: 88