El Dorado 25yo 1980 (40%, Guyana)

Here is El Dorado Number four. After the more affordable and pretty sweet 12yo, the proper 15yo and the poor mans mid range premium 21yo, here is the true official Premium version. Just look at the decanter and the big knob on top. This is a 25yo distilled in 1980, so released somewhere around 2005. The previous, and first 25yo, was the millennium edition, released in 1999. El Dorado is the go-to-Rum when looking at Demerara Rums. However, the owners do get some slack for adding sugar. Many very good or even stellar Demerara Rums are released by independent bottlers offering expressions without added sugar, or less added sugar. Velier, Bristol and Rum Nation come to mind, but there are a lot more. Lately DDL themselves are now in the business releasing Demerara Rums as if they were an independent bottler with the release in 2015 of an 1993 Enmore, 1999 Port Mourant and a 2002 Versailles (with some added sugar). In 2017 another Port Mourant (1997) and Enmore (1996) were released. For me, Demerara is one of my favourite styles of Rum, together with the funk of Jamaica and St. Lucia and lets not forget about Rhum Agriciole, fantastic stuff in its own right. There are many wonderful Rums to be found. (Just opened my first bottle from Reunion, actually). Nice, and again different from the rest.

Color: Copper brown.

Nose: Sweet hints, with nice woody notes. Woody acidity and spicy. Slightly tarry, wood polish and plain old dust. Notes of clear glue as well. Compared to the 21yo, this does smell more distinguished, like entering an old mansion. Priceless antiques, beeswax furniture polish and so on. Definitely, some industrial notes with petrol, unlit tobacco and licorice (Enmore), but also (again) the whiff of fresh air, burnt caramel and brown sugar. How is that even possible with all these heavy aroma’s? It tells me the nose isn’t very clogged up, and roomy. It lets its treasures out in layers. Honey, cough syrup and more beautiful wood (and more licorice as well). Very, very nice. Amazing how well aged Demerara’s can smell. In fact this does smell a bit like an old Agricole (but less so than the 21yo). Next, another layer opens up, caramel, burnt caramel and vanilla, but not in a (sweet) way, gluing the aroma’s together, similar to the 21yo. This is the better smelling of the two. It’s there but not as much. Slightly more influence from the wood.

Taste: Good lord almighty! (no offence intended). Fruit syrup, definitely raspberry. Very dissonant and unbalanced. It sits on top of, and maskes, the rather brittle Rum, overpowering it massively. This seems like Jekyll and Hyde appearing at the same time, quite a feat. Underneath an overly dry Demerara. (I have a bone-dry 1964 Port Mourant locked away, so I know). This has that underneath, but quite another and strange fresh and fruity layer on top. Doctored! Messed with!! Ruined!!! Fruit syrup. Raspberry syrup for sure. Liquid sugar. Candied oranges. Where did that fruit fly come from? The second time around, trying this on another day, it didn’t take the fruit flies long to find me and my Rum. Amazing. This came from the bottle depicted to the left? Yes it did. Guyana Rum. No way they did this! Yes the reports are true, the consumer has been saved from old, heavy, over-the top, over aged, dry and potentially aggressive Rum by sugar of the added kind. This fruity sweetness should be very interesting for mixologists I guess, as Don Papapapapapapa can be called interesting as well and which will vanillin you long time. Both shouldn’t be sold as Rums, but rather as liqueurs, as which compared to “other” liqueurs, they aren’t bad at all. As Rums: stop! ban! forbid! just don’t! Short finish but and an aftertaste very similar to that of PX-Sherry. Get PX in stead, much cheaper than this El Dorado. Some amazing decisions were made in Guyana a long time ago…

Burnt sugar and burnt wood in the aftertaste. Very fruity. PX. Actually a very strange aftertaste: the insides of my cheeks are full of cloying sugar that won’t let go by itself, and the aftertaste is more sugary as well. Not nice. Only the wood seems to maintain itself well into the finish. Sugary aftertaste, which is also quite short. Although there is a lot of the greatness still around, I can imagine it was originally bone-dry, but to shoot it in the back like this, is a bit cruel don’t you think? I will savour the nice bits this displays, but the whole is quite well ruined (as a Rum). Not really a sipping Rum for the discerning consumer, but if you make a lot of money and are not a discerning Rum-drinker, this has nice packaging, nice bottle, oozing “success” and “because you can” and is rather excellent in cola! Go for it! Us poor people will buy the occasional cherry-coke and a bottle of PX instead. ’nuff said.

Points: 74 (hard to tell really, since it doesn’t seem to be a Rum)

P.S. Just to wash away the sugary aftertaste, I picked the El Dorado 21yo. That one now seems bone dry in comparison… (it isn’t, in case you’re wondering).

P.S.II. The second time around in stead of following it up with the 21yo I mixed the two together. 60% of the 25yo with 40% of the 21yo. The 21yo still managed to take over the end result, but, and you might have guessed it, this new concoction was way better than the 25yo by itself. Quite dry in the nose, but sweet on the palate, with less of the raspberry syrup. Not bad with a way longer and dryer finish. I actually like this mix very much, seems very balanced and somewhat “bigger” than the 21yo by itself.

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Inchgower 25yo (1980/2006 (53.2%, Dewar Rattray, Sherry Cask #14161, 486 bottles)

After the “old” Teaninich, let’s have a look at something else from the attic that was also bottled a long time ago. Just like Teaninich, Inchgower is another lesser known Distillery owned by Diageo. And for me one of the better ones as well. I’ve come across quite a few really good Inchgowers. Long time no Inchgower though on these pages. It’s almost six years since I reviewed another Inchgower. One from 1982 bottled by Raymond Armstrong, remember Bladnoch? The 1982 was quite hefty and although very good, it was another Whisky, like the Teaninich F&F I reviewed just now, that needs a lot of attention, wearing you out if it didn’t get the attention it wanted. If carelessly sipped, it will kill you, so even though it is a very good Whisky with a quite a high score, I was glad when the bottle was finally finished. Strange ‘eh? Here we have another Inchgower from the beginning of the eighties, so I’m already bracing myself, especially since this is a Sherried one as well…

Color: Dark copper brown.

Nose: Boiled eggs (not rotten). Very buttery and milky. Luckily, these off notes dissipate quite quickly. I have to say right off the bat that this Whisky got a lot of time to breathe. When it was freshly opened this had a lot of Sulphur. When the milky, baby vomit notes dissipate, it shows more woody notes. A minute amount of sulphur and some bitter black tea. Underneath (sniff hard), brown sugar and even some honey. Sulphur still detectable and now it rears its head (is it ugly?) like swamp-gas. Although a lot seems wrong with this, I seem not to dislike it. I never belonged to the I’m-allergic-to-sulphur-police, so I’m able to deal with it. In the depth, where the brown sugar is, are also the more soft woody notes. Some whiffs smell like Rum actually. Sulphur seems to be dying down, but when you move the Whisky around in your glass vigorously, you’ll be able to get some more. Spicy, yet not woody. Vanilla powder and altogether funky. Give it time to breathe. In the end the Sulphur is kept in check and all the remaining wonderful aroma’s get their room to shine. What a wonderful nose this is. The sulphur didn’t bother me that much, but the milky part did, this must breathe before sipping.

Taste: Big, woody and slightly soapy. After swallowing, the first sip, the soap, again, this time around, no too bad, is followed by a wave of liquid bitterness (and fruity acidity). I know, a strange sentence indeed. Fruity underneath and mouthcoating. Sweeter than expected, very, red, fruity. Cold black tea. And the bitterness seems ok. Very funky floral notes which mix well with the red over-ripe fruits. Berries, raspberry, little ripe forest strawberries. Mouth coating, very, mouthcoating indeed, leaving behind some bitterness, but more important, some priceless black fruits as well. For me the black fruits are the holy grail of Whisky. Nice finish, but who cares, if the long aftertaste shows you all those black fruits, dark chocolate and some wood. Sure it isn’t able to shed all of the soapyness, but with fruits like these, I’m happy to forgive it it’s soapyness and the many other flaws it shows. Special stuff.

Some Whiskies like this, over-the-top, can be bad. This one has a lot wrong with it but it’s not bad, There is a lot of fun to be had, if you like the extreme ones, if you are able to deal with a Whisky like this. If you are a novice, steer clear, please. If you are an anorak, a whisky-geek with tendencies towards SM, please pick it up at an auction, because as I said, it is not a bad Whisky. Too much of a lot, but therein lies the fun. A guilty pleasure. Aficionados like it, that’s why this doesn’t pop up a lot at auctions. I’m sure that when I’m going to clean my glass, it will foam like crazy! (It did). For me a no-brainer if it shows up somewhere. Don’t bid against me please!

Points: 91

(Freshly opened, without breathing, the score would be 84, so you’d better let it breathe, long time!)

Caperdonich 26yo 1980/2007 (56.2%, Dewar Rattray, Bourbon Cask #7349, 164 bottles)

Earlier this month my Whisky club reconvened again and this time we picked Glen Grant and Glen Grant 2 as the subject of choice. Glen Grant 2 is better known as Caperdonich. This 1980 was my entry into the line-up and got a lot of thumbs up. Not the winner in the end, because what Whisky could compete with the great Glen Grant, Gordon & MacPhail bottled to celebrate the wedding of Charles and Diana (the clear winner in my opinion). Also present was a highly praised Duncan Taylor Caperdonich from 1972 and two Murray McDavid Missions from 1968 and 1969…

Caperdonich 26yo 1980/2007 (56.2%, Dewar Rattray, Bourbon Cask #7349, 164 bottles)Color: Dark gold.

Nose: Vanilla, but a very strict kind of vanilla. Lots of influence from the wood. Spicy vanilla. Buttery and creamy. Demerara sugar. This also has a nice luxurious paper like quality to it. Old warehouse full of ageing Malts. A wonderful old Malt this turns out to be. The (dried) spiciness is quite complex. Light honey and nutmeg. Have you ever treated yourself at home to a quality vanilla ice-cream and didn’t do the dishes right away? Remember the smell of the dried out ice-cream at the bottom of the bowl? It’s in this very Whisky. Nice! Dried leaves partly from forest plants and partly from dried herbs and to a lesser extent: pencil shavings.

Taste: Vanilla again, but also a hoppy character. You also try the occasional beer don’t you? Toffee and caramel. Just the right amount of sweets, combined with a very zesty, although, tiny hint of fruity acidity. Red fruits, little forest strawberries, half-dried raspberries and other red berries. Where in most cases the acidity isn’t all that well-integrated, here it works like a charm. The fruitiness continues well into the long finish where the hoppy (cannabis?) bit returns. Is there even a tiny, tiny hint of coconut? All of this is given a good and astringent backbone of oak, that is aiding the Whisky along and giving it character. It’s not overpowering, just, but definitely in there. The high strength is noticeable but the Whisky is never hot.

What a great Malt this is. Fantastic development over the time you’re trying it and what wonderful flavours this gives off. This may take water very well, but I have never been feeling the need to do that yet. Thankfully I still have quite some left in this bottle to play around with and mostly, to enjoy myself with it. A great buy. Sad this distillery is no longer producing Whisky. But you never know how modern Caperdonich would have turned out in the first place. Luckily the old Caperdonichs are often stellar, especially from Bourbon casks.

Points: 88

Macduff 32yo 1980/2012 (50.0%, The House of MacDuff, The Golden Cask, Cask CM 180, 155 bottles)

Macduff 32yo 1980/2012 (50.0%, The House of MacDuff, The Golden Cask, Cask CM 180, 155 bottles)Third Macduff on these pages and just like the other two, this is again an oldie. The oldest one was from the sixties, 1967 to be precise, just their fifth year of distillation. The second one came from the seventies, 1972, now we have one from the eighties (1980). So will the next one be from the nineties? At the rate (and prices) old Whisky is selling these days it probably will…

Color: Gold

Nose: Waxy and very fruity. Powdered yet not dusty. Slight hint of pepper with lots of vanilla in the mix. Some yellow fruits, white grapes, apricots and peach. Next some mocha, toffee and caramel are in there, giving balance. Later on, in the nose emerges a slight whiff of wood with dry roadside plants. Overall fruity and sweet-smelling. Good balance and very appetizing.

Taste: Strong and fatty. Cardboard and the taste is also pretty fruity. Vanilla with some sugary sweetness. Licorice and slightly bitter, the wood plays its part. Pretty hefty stuff. Not as complex as I would have hoped, but still pretty decent stuff altogether. The Whisky has a good start and a very nice body, the finish has a lot of staying power (toffee) and is quite warm.

This is a pretty good Whisky. It has a pair of balls and some nice sweet yellow fruits throughout. The finish is also decent, but for such and old Whisky I would have expected some more complexity.

Points: 87

Thanks Erik for the sample!

Macallan 1980/2012 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speymalt)

Next up an already rather “old” Macallan. Macallan is a brand with a huge reputation as a Sherried Speysider, and therefore a huge following. The quality is unmistakable there, just have a look what older bottles fetch these day at auctions. Since the “new” Fine Oak series, Macallan have again a huge reputation, but this time more as a marketing giant, but again with a huge following. Alas from a connoisseurs point of view it not thát much of a Sherried Speysider anymore, not as they used to.

This is an independently bottled Macallan, and it doesn’t look like a heavily Serried Speysider. If I’m not mistaken Gordon & MacPhail can bottle Macallans in the Speymalt series, with a vintage, when the distillery themselves do not have a vintage of that same year themselves.

Macallan 1980/2012 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speymalt)Color: Orange gold

Nose: Hmmmm, fabulously old and waxy smelling Speysider we have here. Lovely! Old soaked wood and very deep half-sweetness. The initial blast of fruitiness, and waxiness leave the building. What comes next is dry and dusty. The wood turns into old cardboard, but it works. It’s not an in your face Sherried Speysider, but definitely a very nice and elegant Macallan. Quality stuff. Toast and burn paper in the finish of the nose. Hints of a bonfire and vanilla (pudding). The nose is top-class.

Taste: Sweet with an edge. Estery and some acidity, that makes for great balance. Creamy and soft-toffee. Hints of black tea and a tiny hint of anise. Hardly any wood, which is a bit odd after give or take 32 years in the cask. The wood does show itself in the tiny bitter (and soapy) bite that graces the finish.

Absolutely a fine nose, alas the taste doesn’t match up. It somehow lacks some complexity. Having said that it is a damn fine Whisky, that for the price is easy drinkable. Gone before you know it. Therefore easily a favorite when on my shelves. For me a tad too much reduction here, I would have liked this at 46% ABV. Old Fino?

Points: 89

Thanks to Stan for the sample!

Talisker 19yo 1980/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask, “Tactical”, 348 bottles)

A week ago “Het Genietschap” had its first ever tasting at my house. I’ve been a member for quite some time, but it took a while to get my ‘location’ added to the agenda. Well finally it was my turn. The organizer gets to choose a ‘theme’, and mine was “Talisker”. When I sent out the E-mail I got a lot of Talisker 10’s as entries, and even some replies implying that there wasn’t a Talisker in the house. Well that got me worried for a moment. My guest of the evening, Erik, asked if he could bring his Port Ellen 29yo 1982/2012 (55.5%, Old Bothwell, Cask #2041), and so the Port Ellen aftertasting was born. My entries for the event were the Talisker 10yo (45.8%, OB, Circa 2002, Map Label), Talisker 1988/2001 “Distillers Edition” (45.8%, OB, TD-S: 5CO), Talisker 25yo (56.9%, OB, Refill Casks, 2006, 4.860 bottles), and the ‘Tactical’ I’ll be reviewing now. For the aftertasting I entered my Port Ellen 25yo 1982/2008 (50%, DL OMC, Refill Butt DL REF 4112, 589 bottles).

Best bottle in the tasting was a young Port Ellen 15yo bottled by Cadenheads in 1996, Stunning! It was just a tiny bit better, or better: different, than the also stunning Talisker 20yo 1981/2002 (62%, OB, Sherry, 9000 bottles). Also the pre Classic Malts Talisker 10yo was fabulous. Even today’s 10yo is pretty good, but can’t be compared to the taste of the old bottle. This ‘Tactical’ wasn’t bad either…

Color: White wine.

Nose: Creamy and clean. Seems sweet. Some wood spice. Mocha. Later more dusty and dry. A dry stack of logs. More meaty than peaty, I would say. Young. Not a typical Talisker. When aired a bit, some great notes come forward. Bonfire, outdoor life in general, accompanied by a tad of lemon. Nice. Let this breathe (for the nose).

Taste: Spicy and sweet, toffee with some liquorice and banana’s. The start is great. Lots of liquorice and a bit like a good Belgian beer. Nice peppery bite in the middle, so it’s a real Talisker. Towards the finish, when the pepper dissipates, some sour wood takes over and makes the finish thin and the balance a bit off. Actually a short finish. With wood, ash and paper. Funny how the initial taste is so different from the finish.

It’s a Talisker all right. The pepper attack is there. Still the whole isn’t typical Talisker. It smells clean, it tastes round and big bodied, but it has a ‘small’ finish, which is unlike Talisker.

Points: 87

Dailuaine 17yo 1980/1997 (43%, Hart Brothers, Sherry)

Dailuaine is a distillery that also is around for a long time. Founded in 1852 and rebuilt into a big distillery, for the time, in 1884. Just five years later Dailuaine became a landmark since it got Scotland’s first Pagoda roof, from Charles Doig. Also noteworthy is the fact that Dailuaine and Talisker distilleries merged in 1898. Again the year of the Pattison Crash. Mind you, Dailuaine and Talisker aren’t exactly across the street from one another.

Again we have here a distillery with a fire. But this fire forced the distillery to close for three years! This happened between 1917 and 1920. After that, like with many others, the years of expansion. Today Dailuaine is in the portfolio of Diageo and mainly used for the Johnnie walker blends.

Color: Light Gold.

Nose: Musty, vaguely sherried and sweet. Rather thin. Floral and perfumy, which do not necessarily go together. The nose is quite elegant. Vanilla. Nice clean sour oak. Barley and apple compote. Given some time, the floral part is overshadowed by the sour oak. Otherwise quite nice and good balance.

Taste: Well I got cannabis in there again! Typical sweet and sourness from applesauce. Honey. Very clean otherwise. The woodyness doesn’t need a lot of time to rear its head, pencil shavings. This isn’t bad. Without it, its character would be even less interesting. Still this has a lot of body. The sourness of the oak, dominates this finish. Reduction is ok on the palate, but makes the finish a bit weak and short.

A bit anonymous this one. Taking this blind it could have been anything.

Points: 85

Thanks go out to Serge for handing me this sample a long time ago.