Glencadam 30yo 1975/2006 (54.4%, Dewar Rattray, Cask Collection, Bourbon Cask #7588, 216 bottles)

Why not make it a double bill, and review our third Glencadam. Both Glencadam’s I reviewed earlier managed to score a nice 85 Points, so let’s see if this one does better. This particular on is 30 years old, and by itself it’s older than both previous examples put together. This is another one from the attic, since it was released back in 2006. The difference couldn’t be greater when comparing it to the Glencadam I just reviewed. It is twice the age and this one comes from a Bourbon cask, surely it will do better?

Glencadam 30yo DRColor: Full gold, and only slightly lighter than the 15yo.

Nose: Half sweet and nice biscuity barley. Slightly spicy and reminds me of old Dutch Jenever. Definitely some Bourbon influences. Some waxy elements, but not much. In fact the Whisky smells quite young and vibrant and not at all would you expect it to be 30 years old. Fresh, hints of citrus and only mere hints of vanilla. Dusty wood completes the nose. That’s it, not much more is happening. After a while more fruit comes to the fore. Sweetish yellow fruits. Some unripe banana skin. Adding to the structure of banana comes powdered coffee-creamer, in the smell a creamy variant of vanilla. Dusty and slightly dried out ice-cream after you spilled it and didn’t clean it right away. Given some time the freshness takes a back seat and the whole is nice but also rather dull. Not a very active cask I’m afraid. Having said that, it does smell like something from the past.

Taste: Wood, paper and cardboard and after that a short, sharp attack, quickly followed by a short sweet note. After the sweetness comes some woody bitterness. Distant dull vanilla. Waxy again. Cold candle wax. So the body is present and almost chewy, yet surrounded by dry paper and woody notes. A nice old Bourbon matured Whisky, but not a stellar one like 1972 Caperdonich or 1976 Tomatin, to name but a few. Here also some fruit emerges, but again a bit dull. Dried bits of pineapple and some old broken almond bits, you sometimes find in the couch. Luckily the sweetish and fruity note dominate the body, not leaving much room for the woody bitterness. The finish has medium length, but there isn’t much happening afterwards. What stays around for the longest, apart from general (cardboardy) creaminess, is a sour note you get from (new) oak.

Not bad, quite nice, but also not spectacular as well. No real off notes and nothing (bad) overpowering the whole. Still a nice one to pick up when all of its distant relatives are sold out. Definitely a lot better than most of the modern Whiskies though. I’ll have fond memories of this nevertheless.

Points: 85

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Glenrothes 25yo 1975/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 600 bottles)

Hello everybody! How is this new year treating you? I’m totally fine, thank you. Let’s start this new year off on Master Quill with another oldie, bottled by Douglas Laing. The last Whisky I reviewed in 2013, was a very young and recently bottled Tamdhu by fellow indie bottler The Ultimate (Van Wees). This time however we will take a look at a 25 year old Glenrothes from 1975. If only this would have been a 25yo Ardbeg from 1975, bottled by the same outfit… Maybe by saying that, I’m doing Glenrothes wrong, so lets not waste any more time and have some Glenrothes please!

Glenrothes 25yo 1975/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 600 bottles)Color: White Wine.

Nose: Fresh and funky at the same time. Minerality and flor from Fino Sherry. Probably from a second fill cask. Smells sweetish and very lively, maybe even young, from a less than active cask. Nutty, roasted and fresh almonds, which for me is also quite typical for dry Fino Sherries. Nice distant maltiness. Nose develops nicely too.

Taste: Great, or maybe even fantastic fruit candy sweetness, very unique. When that dissipates a nice soury and woody touch matched with some nice creaminess. Vanilla Ice-cream. Slightly bitter black tea, and a bit salty on the lips. The wood gives off a little bite, which I like. All in all, it’s quite mild and tasted blind I would have never guessed it has 50% ABV. Nicely balanced, and very Fino.

The bitterness that is there has two functions. It gives some oomph to the fresh, fruity and lively profile (which is good), but also dominates the finish a bit (which is not so good). Nevertheless, the whole is very a-typical for a Glenrothes, and I can easily understand why this didn’t fit the profile for an official release, or why it wasn’t used for a blend. On the other hand, this is exactly why, especially the earlier bottlings of Douglas Laing are so popular. It is a chance of a lifetime, to taste some Whiskies from distilleries who do not resemble the products of their makers. Somewhat similar to the Douglas Laing Taliskers, or Tacticals if you prefer. Most of those are not very obvious Taliskers too. This is a very nice Glenrothes and for me better than a lot of the official Glenrothes, even though in the end I’m not the biggest fan of Fino Sherry Casks being used for Whisky, I prefer Oloroso, but that’s a matter of taste obviously, having said that, this Glenrothes managed to get:

Points: 88

Caol Ila 24yo 1975/2000 (54.3%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, Millenium, Cask #2981, 259 bottles)

Even though it’s supposed to be summer, looking outside you could have convinced me of something different. I see people outside wearing coats and jackets. Yesterday I reviewed an Islay malt, Bruichladdich to be precise, and it didn’t taste too bad on these cold summer nights. So why not try another one. This time one by Italian independent bottler Wilson & Morgan, or Fabio for his friends. Earlier I reviewed a young Mortlach that Fabio bottled, that turned out to be pretty damn good! Let’s see if this Caol Ila is something down similar lines.

Color: Gold

Nose: Nice subdued elegant peat combined with fresh succulent grass. A really held back Islay. Apples and nice malty flavours. Nice old fat clay and bonfire smoke. Salty, absolutely very wow this is! Some powdery dryness and wet wood. Wet earth with a hint of some undefined sour fruit and dried meat. There is definitively some rain in this. What? Rain. I love Islay whiskies that smell like this.

Taste: Thinner than I had expected. Sweet with apple flavoured coffee. Grassy peat again. Cardboard and wet hay. The sweetness fits the fatty peat and is cloying. It’s a strange kind of sweetness. Again, the nose exactly fits the taste here. Salty lips. The finish doesn’t seem to have a lot of staying power.

Although its heritage is pretty obvious, for me it’s not a typical Caol Ila. Maybe I’m more used to Caol Ila’s from 1979 through 1984, so this could be typical for a Caol Ila from just after the rebuild. We’ll see. Still a very interesting dram. I know, usually that doesn’t sound good, interesting, but here it is used in a positive way, so this scores…

Points: 89

Glenlivet 1975/2006 (54%, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Cask #10846)

Well here is an example of the mother of all Single Malts. No it’s not the oldest distillery in Scotland, nor is it the first in anything. The oldest being Ferintosh at Ryefield (from 1689). The oldest still working distillery is Glenturret (1775). But once there was a time a lot of others added the “Glenlivet” to their own name to benefit from the success, and the known quality of Glenlivet, and who doesn’t know Glenlivet? Started in 1817 and ‘founded’ in 1824 when George Smith was one of the first to obtain a licence for his distilling. All of his illicit distilling neighbours, wanted him dead for it. Traitor! In 1845 George leased Minmore farm, which he bought in 1858. Minmore was renamed Glenlivet a year later and is the site of the current distillery. Funnily enough, Cadenheads also state the name “Minmore” on their Glenlivet offerings. George died in 1871. Long live George and to his health we raise the glass with this Berry Brothers & Rudd Glenlivet. Slainthe George.

Color: Orange Brown.

Nose: Fresh and spicy. Lots to smell here. Sour oak and honey, very “Bourboney”. Later on more elegant, refined, not very bold, even though there is a lot coming out of the glass. Distant smoke with powdery dryness. Apples and cloves. And something meaty, steak, gravy.

Taste: Initially, thick and spicy, minty and sweet. Later some tar, acetone with cookies (dough and baked chocolate chip cookies together). Medium wood, with its bitterness in place. Fine and elegant. Applesauce, almonds and cherried rubber tyres. Finishes dry.

A grand old whisky with a lot of quality to it and with a woody punch. This is unique for me since it is bold and chewy at first but quickly transforms into something more fine, refined and elegant. Just a wee bit too bitter for me, hence no score into the 90’s. probably was aged for too long.

Points: 89

Ladyburn ‘Rare Ayrshire’ 34yo 1975/2009 (45.2%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, Bourbon Barrel #558, 166 bottles)

Yes! Another example from the distillery that took its water from the Penwapple Reservoir, yes say it again, the Penwapple Reservoir. This time one of the many sister casks from the last year of operation, bottled by Signatory. Yesterdays cask was nice, but I couldn’t say it was worth your money (when you plan to drink it, rather than just mere collecting it), so will this be any better? This will be nice to compare to yesterdays one. Are they all the same? What does happen, when the same spirit is put into ‘supposedly the same casks’? In effect we can see a little bit here, what maturation in wood can do.

Color: Gold (slightly lighter than barrel #562)

Nose: Spicy wood. Clean and citrussy. Fresh sea air. Mocha and Cappuccino. Fresh cut grass. It’s different from cask #562, with a more typical Lowlander style. Fruitier, lemons and apples. Slightly woody with grass and hay. Lovely.

Taste: Sweetish, more estery sweet. This seems a bit  young too. Not very complex but a good body with apples. It has a different kind of sweetness, thicker and more tiresome if you have a lot of it. Nuttier too. Yes more hazelnuts. The finish has more woody influence and is a bit more bitter, but nothing to be afraid of. This has more balance and body. The other cask seems thinner.

No two casks are alike. whats the influence of cask, wood etc. Of the two, this is the better one. Nice full body and a great Lowlander. I enjoyed this one more. Good finish and nice aftertaste too. Because of the different sweetness this has, (corn-sugar), this seems to me less drinkable than cask #562. Still, who would try to drink the whole bottle at once, of this museum piece, so drinkability is not an issue here. Nice Ladyburn. Recommended.

Points: 84

Ladyburn ‘Rare Ayrshire’ 34yo 1975/2009 (46.9%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, Bourbon Barrel #562, 172 bottles)

Ladyburn wasn’t long around. Opened in 1966 and already closed in 1975. It was built by W. Grant & Sons within their Girvan grain distillery complex. Not completely uncommon in those days, since there were more malt distilleries on a grain distillery site. Glen Flagler was added to the Moffat site and Ben Wyvis was added to Invergordon. All three didn’t last long and are pretty scarce these days. These Rare Ayrshire’s are still around, but there will be a time soon, they will not, and prices will soar. So is this worth your money? Lets see…

Well officially there is no Ladyburn on the label, still it isn’t hard to guess what this must be. Out of the blue Signatory started to bottle a lot of casks from Ladyburn. Which is always nice since the place shut down in 1975 and whiskies from Ladyburn are getting more and more rare.

Color: Gold

Nose: Clean, like you would expect from a younger bourbon cask. Grassy, cold butter. Spicy yet light. Caramel, vanilla and clay. Powdery. Mild wood, which smells a bit odd here, small hint of rot maybe? It smells old now, but also not quite right. Grainy and with that, hinting at sourness. Finally perfumy and creamy.

Taste: Butter. Very grassy, lemonade-like. Mild wood, like liquid old sawdust. It’s not without body this. Caramel and powdery cream. Sweet and ever so slightly bitter. Nutty, hazelnuts. Not very balanced and rather anonymous. If you close your eyes you could imagine this being from a bourbon barrel. It slightly resembles Woodford Reserve.

I have to say that after some breathing it tastes better compared to when it was freshly opened. Beware, this Lowlander is easily drinkable and that’s not good for what is essentially a museum piece Whisky.

Points: 81

Glen Grant 34yo 1975/2009 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, Refill Hogshead, DL REF 5597, 278 bottles)

I did some rummaging in my boxes with samples and found another Glen Grant. Well I actually found several of them, but I just chose this one. You know Glen Grant, the place that was the first distillery that was illuminated without burning fuel by themselves. This time we have a Glen Grant bottled in the Old Malt Cask series by Douglas Laing. Again in the new tall bottle, just like the Glenfarclas and the Port Ellen reviewed earlier. We know that there are some stellar Glen Grants issued by Gordon & MacPhail. Yesterday we had a Berry Brothers & Rudd version from 1972 that didn’t impress me very much, lets see if Douglas Laing bottled a better Glen Grant. This time from 1975.

Color: (Light) gold.

Nose: This is sweet and fruity, apples and warm apple sauce, a profile that suits 70’s Glen Grants and Caperdonich’s. The next whiff was less balanced and shows some mustiness. Almost herbal, as in herbs that were in water too long. It still smells sweet and musty with some hints of cigarette smoke. Seems strange but isn’t bad. Another very strange smell that reminds me of the acid and estery smell of crushed beetles (not Beatles, have you never stepped on a beetle, when you were a kid?). There was definitively something wrong when distilling this, drunken maltman maybe? After some time some spicy wood comes through the sweet and sour sauce and even later hot butter. All in all it’s not thát horrible as it may read. But on the nose definitively not one of their best casks.

Taste: Sweet and sour again and little wood and ash. Very strange sensation in the back of my mouth when swallowing. Minty apple gravy? (if that makes sense?). It an experience this malt is (Yoda intended). It starts thin and volatile when this enters my mouth, and quickly becomes ‘thicker’, with an attack like pepper from Talisker, and turns into pineapple! The finish picks the wood up again, combines it with spice (pepper), almonds and a kind of sour bitterness from the wood itself.

This is one to remember, and is right behind the Signatory Teaninich that seemed to be carbonated.

A Glen Grant that is obviously flawed and seems much younger than it actually is, but the strange bits were indeed an experience, I wouldn’t want to miss. Luckily though, I bought only a 3 cl sample of this, because a whole bottle wouldn’t be funny…

Points: 85