Glenlochy 1977/1994 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail , Connoisseurs Choice, Old Map Label, ID/AHD)

And here is the first Glenlochy on these pages, and only the second Glenlochy I ever tasted. (Amateur!). Glenlochy was founded in 1898 (some say 1897), during the Whisky-boom, but only started distilling in 1901. Glenlochy was closed in 1983 when a lake of Whisky was forming. Many others like Brora, Banff and Saint Magdalene, to name but a few, were closed during that year. In 1992 most of the Distillery was demolished. Now only Ben Nevis survives in the region (Fort William).

Glenlochy 1977/1994 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail , Connoisseurs Choice, Old Map Label, ID/AHD)Color: Gold.

Nose: Fresh, citrus and wax. Hints of smoked kippers and old stale water. Old damp storage room from the 19th century. Clay, some smoke and alas quickly fading at first, but getting better after some breathing. Some menthol (light) and heavy esters. A little bit of latex paint and the most minute traces of bitterness. From the wood obviously, but also connected to the waxy part.

Taste: Old wood, and some clay. Very fruity and also due to its low ABV, very drinkable. Vanilla and toffee. Wet leaves. Actually this takes me by surprise. After some extensive breathing inside the glass, it gets better and better. Probably a nice candidate to try in a big balloon glass. I quite like it, more than anticipated.

I would have loved it, to be able to taste this undiluted, because it oozes potential quality. The quality is here too, but a bit watered down. Very interesting dram this is, but it also shows why I didn’t buy a lot of Connoisseurs Choice bottlings in the past. I know, I know, there are a lot of stunners in this range, but I feel a lot were done some harm when diluted to 40% ABV. By the way, again this is a Whisky that needs a lot of air to open up. needs a bit of work, to show all of its beauty.

Points: 86


Glen Scotia 17yo 1977/1994 (57.5%, Cadenhead)

I completely forgot about this one, otherwise I would have reviewed it sooner. This one was sitting comfortably in the back of my lectern and was overlooked for some time. Not the first time though, a Glen Scotia graces these pages with its presence and certainly not the first time a Cadenheads bottling with the green glass and the small label does. Previously I tried a much newer Mo Òr bottling distilled in 1994, so maybe a chance to see how Glen Scotia fared through its difficult history…

Color: (Dull) gold.

Nose: Spicy, nutty and clean. Quite sharp. Slightest hint of cat urine. Powdery and pretty bold altogether. Soft wood with a small hint of toasted wood. This is probably from a Bourbon Cask (Barrel or Hogshead). Actually it’s very clean and youthful, and it picked up quite some color along the way. It’s maybe half-creamy and has some hints of oranges, candied oranges that is. Later on some notes of cardboard and a yeasty cold room. Full bodied typical high strength Cadenheads bottling.

Taste: Wow, nice! Quite an attack from the alcohol. Very full-bodied with initial notes of wood and fern. Coffee, nuts and a slight woody bitterness. Again a typical clean Cadenheads Bourbon Cask bottling. Long spicy finish with black tea and almonds.

For me, and I’ve said it already. A typical Cadenheads bottling. Cadenheads in more recent times, seem to bottle a lot of ex-Bourbon Casks in their teens, and although there are obviously some differences, there are some similarities as well. High strength and clean. Great stuff for me, because I like cask strength, but it would have been nice to see these type of Whisky age a little longer, and with that, see the ABV drop a little. This certainly had a lot of potential, and would have been great in its (late) twenties and around 50 to 52% ABV.

Points: 86

Caol Ila 16yo 1977/1993 (58.6%, Cadenhead)

Almost a month ago I reviewed one of those beautiful tall green glass Cadenheads bottles. A Dufftown to be precise. But there were more of those on these pages. I remember a Tormore and a Pulteney. In the dungeons I found another one of those! So today it is time to do another one from the same series. I guess I have a soft spot for them. This time a Caol Ila from 1977 that they already decided to bottle in 1993.

Color: Gold

Nose: Ahhhh, nice creamy peat. Very vegetal and coastal and slightly fishy. Salty fish. It is sea spray in heavy winds. Very clean and warming. Not very animalesk as they (and I) tend to say. It does have a lot of peat but still I wouldn’t say that it is in your face peat. Tar, not so much, but I do get some rubber. Some cold dry smoked tea leaves (Lapsang Souchong). Lots of smoke actually and extremely nice salty driftwood that finishes off in toned down Coleman’s mustard powder. Classic Islay.

Taste: Very smoky attack and half sweet (perfect sweetness). Meaty, roasted pork maybe. It comes across as powdery and slightly soapy. Fruity, hints of peach and banana. Here the sweetness seems to me to be a little wild, animalesk. The taste is very typical for a Caol Ila. This was recognizable blind. This has a nice full body with a perfect sweetness (slightly acidic) that matches the toned down peat a lot, combined with the smoke…a winner. Macaroons (made with almonds) and a slightly bitter finish (from the wood) and overall a tad too simple for a score into the 90’s.

Well if you like your Islay Whisky smoky, that this is for you. It may look like something different but actually this is very smoky, very very smoky. The smoke is able to push the peat to the background. Last piece of advice, give it some time to breathe…

Points: 88

Glenugie 30yo 1977/2007 (46.3%, Signatory Vintage, Hogshead #5507, 243 bottles)

Yes, it’s a Glenugie. long time overlooked and very popular the last few years. It’s a closed distillery (1983) and quite popular with whisky aficionado’s. Just as is the case with Banff today, connoisseurs discovered a closed distillery that has a special quality to it. I have to admit that all of the Glenugies I tasted scored at least 85 points and most well higher than that. Only one is lower than that. I scored the sister cask #5506, also by Signatory Vintage, only 81 points. So let’s have a look if all those 55xx casks are the same and if this one’s any better.

Color: White wine.

Nose: Estery and fresh. Green apple skin. Grainy and a slight hint of vanilla. You could have fooled me with the age of this one. Seems much younger and cleaner, than I would have expected, knowing what this is. There is also a hint of cask toast and wood. Sweet and fruity, peaches on syrup. Creamy toffee with a hint of coconut. I like the nose, it’s like candy. Great balance.

Taste: Sweet like sugar, icing. Vanilla, no wood whatsoever, not at first anyway. It has some spice from the wood. Apples, without the bitterness from the skin. Finish isn’t too long, and just a tad sour. The wood does show its face, late in the finish. Good drinking strength with enough oomph. Again, it seems much younger. The balance in the taste is also somewhat weaker than the very nice fruity nose.

It’s nice and likeable. Nice piece of history. Just not a lot happened in all those years. For me it’s better than it’s sister cask, but still no high flier. You’ll really have to be a buff to recognize the markers of an old Glenugie. But isn’t beauty in the details?

Points: 84

Thanks go out to Nico again for handing me this sample.

Royal Lochnagar 28yo 1977/2005 (58.5%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, Hogshead #310, 260 bottles)

New Lochnagar was founded in 1845. New Lochnagar? Yes. First Lochnagar was built in 1823, and burnt down by “the competition” just three years later. The distillery was rebuilt, only to burn down again in 1841. So the distillery was rebuilt again in 1845 as New Lochnagar. Lochnagar became Royal in 1848 (it lies very close to Balmoral Castle). No more fires burning down the house, but still a lot of construction going on. In 1906 the distillery was rebuilt yet again and in 1963 completely renewed.

Here we will try an independent Lochnagar, again a Blackadder Raw Cask with cask sediment in the bottle. This time no powdered char, but only small chunks of charred wood.

Color: Full Gold

Nose: Fresh, sea spray wich changes quickly into a damp wine cellar. Very spicy wood and vanilla. Resembles the sweet smell of a bourbon, high on rye. Mocha with a hint of ground coffee. Varnish and fresh mint leaves (not bruised). This smells like it will be very sweet. Very nice nose.

Taste: Strong and sweet, but luckily not as sweet the nose predicted. Butter caramels and the varnish is here again. The whole is very full bodied. Wood with Aspirin (wow, that’s a first). Nutty and ashy. The finish is drier than in the beginning, but still sweet enough to mask a lot of the wood. It doesn’t taste like it, but underneath it’s pretty woody. The dry finish ends in a little bitterness that reveals this woodyness.

In the end a quite nice Lochnagar. The finish is dryer and has some bitterness that seems a bit off compared with the sweetness from the beginning. Maybe not a 90+ scoring malt, but definitively a very interesting Lochnagar if you want a complete collection. Still, with these flaws in the finish I have a little soft spot for this Lochnagar, since the nose and the initial taste are really great.

Points: 88

p.s. This one is at the time of writing still available in Russia for 534 Euro’s

Convalmore 28yo 1977/2005 (57.9%, OB, 3900 bottles)

Convalmore is one of those distilleries that is no more. Thinking of closed distilleries I alway think about Monty Pythons dead parrot sketch:  It’s not pinin’! It’s passed on! This distillery is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet ‘its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Its chemical processes are now ‘istory! It’s off the twig! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-DISTILLERY! Or something down those lines.

Convalmore was founded in 1893. A large part of the distillery was destroyed in a fire in 1909. It was rebuilt with an added continuous still to make whisky at a lower cost. This didn’t work so the stills were discontinued in 1916. In 1962 the stills were heated indirectly with steam. Convalmore was mothballed in 1985 and the buildings were sold to William Grant & Sons in 1990, who use them for storing their own malts.

Color: Full Gold

Nose: Sweet caramels, more brown sugar and leafy. Promises a full body, gravy. Fresh. Tea with spicy wood, calcium (a sort of powdery dryness) and sea-spray. Definitively meaty at first. Unbelievable, but this has hints of raspberry. Sawdust, Mocha with milk chocolate and orange juice. Vanilla and a touch of banana. Based on the nose alone, a very classy distillate. Great balance. Maybe not the most complex of malts at first, but give this nose some time and you’ll be rewarded. I like this a lot.

Taste: Spicy and sugary, fruity sweet with a turning point into wood and beer. Also some Worcester sauce and almonds. The transition from the toffee sweetness that turns quickly into the dry wood is quite interesting. Again some orange-juice. The beer returns, with the wood, in the finish. Well its safe to say that this one is all about the wood. you don’t hear me say that it’s too much of overpowering. No. it is a woody whisky, but it is one of those that really should be woody. Wood is its strength. The rest of the body is firm enough to counterpart the wood. Again very interesting, but no easy dram. I hate the word, but this may be for connoisseurs only.

I don’t hear this a lot, but I ám very intrigued by the special releases of Diageo (and the rare Malts of course). I’d really want to meet the people who make these releases. To know what they have in mind, what they use from their warehouses, and why. Intrigued. And give it some time to breathe. By the way, it worked well with water too.

Points: 87