Glenburgie 26yo 1983/2010 (53.7%, Bladnoch Forum, Hogshead #9801, 204 bottles)

Kilnflat was founded, by William Paul in 1810. The distillery was closed between 1870 and 1878. When it was opened again, by Charles Hay, he also renamed the place to Glenburgie, a name are more familiar with. In 1884 Alexander Fraser & Co. takes over only to go bankrupt in 1925. Again the distillery changes hands, and this time to those of James & George Stodart Ltd. In 1927 the distillery was mothballed and stays that way untill 1936, when Hiram Walker buys the distillery. In the mean time in 1930, Hiram Walker also gained a majority of James & George Stodart Ltd.

In 1958 the distillery also gets Lomond Stills to produce another SIngle Malt you might have heard of: Glencraig. This will go on for several years but finally in 1981 the Lomond Stills are removed again and replaced by conventional stills, making Glencraig a “closed distillery” and somewhat of a collector’s item. In 1987 Hiram Walker is bought by Allied Lyons. In 2005 Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard) buys Allied Domecq becoming the current owner of Glenburgie.

In 2003 the distillery was demolished entirely and replaced (a bit further down the premises) by a new and highly modern distillery. Only the old customs house remains and the four stills, the boiler and the mill were brought in from the old distillery. By 2006 another pair of stills were added.

Unbelievable, this is only my first review of a Glenburgie. Amazing. That’s why I stared with this brief history “lesson”. Not so long ago I was asked about great, lesser known, Malts (from Scotland) a.k.a. personal favourites off the beaten track. Glenburgie managed to get into that top 10, that’s why I’m so amazed this is just the first review of Glenburgie, should have been much sooner. Glenburgie is a distillate that works extremely well in Sherry casks.

Glenburgie might be lesser known as a Single Malt, but that’s because a lot of it goes into the Ballantine’s Blend. In 2017, Chivas Brothers released three Single Malts under the Ballantine’s name. Huh? Yes Glenburgie 15yo (the heart), Miltonduff 15yo (the foundation) and Glentauchers 15yo (the finish), were released as such, to tell the story how they make up the Ballantine’s Blended Whisky.

Color: Almost copper gold.

Nose: Very big aroma, this leaps, or rather, attacks you, with a soothing friendly voice, from the glass. Nutty and fruity. Meaty and dusty. Some soft old oak right after that. Dusty old oak. Quite big and holding a promise of sweetness, sweet (and meaty) apples rather than the usual Sherry notes. The oak has an aroma reminiscent of tobacco and leather and hints of old Calvados. Very fragrant Glenburgie. Nice and spicy. In fact, this holds it all. Quite balanced, and very big, it’s so big it hides the complexity a bit. Try not to forget, this is a 26yo Malt. It doesn’t show a lot of evolution over time as well, it stays more or less the same when nosing it. But with a Malt so big and nice, who needs complexity and evolution?

Taste: Yes sweet on entry, but with a lot more. Cannabis and toffee. Crushed beetle again and lots of nuts. Yes, let’s throw in some caramel as well. The start is sweet and sticky. Quite hot and the 53.7% ABV printed on the label, seems a bit low. Very fruity but grassy as well, thick fat grass notes, different from fresh-cut grass or dry grass and hay, but as mentioned above, also the grass you smoke. It’s fatty grass and cannabis. Do I detect a nice tarry edge right behind the spicy oak? Hot black tea. Dries out towards the finish. What a wonderful complexity and blend of aroma’s. This bottle is now 1/3 down, and that’s a good thing, because right after opening, this was much tighter and closed. Amazing how the nose lacked complexity and evolution, and when tasting it now, it is all but complex and shows a lot of evolution as well. One has to stop oneself writing notes, since, this keeps emitting more aroma’s from my glass…

Wonderful Glenburgie, extremely drinkable, even at cask strength.

Points: 89


Edradour 23yo 1983/2006 (52.1%, OB, Port Cask Finish, Cask #06/0554, 743 bottles)

Since Edradour is owned by Andrew Symington, this might as well have been a Signatory Vintage bottling. Lots and lots of Edradour have also been bottled as Signatory Vintage bottlings. 1983 is the oldest vintage of Edradour ever bottled by one of the owners, apart from two 1973 bottlings of which one was bottled by Andrew himself in 2003 (as an official Edradour). By the way, all the 1983 bottlings are Port Cask Finishes. Onder the flag of Signatory Vintage, Andrew bottled one 1968 Edradour and a small batch of 1976 bottlings, so the 1983 might not be the oldest Vintage after all.

Edradour 23yo 19832006 (52.1%, OB, Port Cask Finish, Cask #060554, 743 bottles)Color: Full Gold.

Nose: Dusty, flour and dry. Seems Sherried. Vanilla and cream. Powdered coffee creamer. Spicy oak. Spicy and fruity, but still with some hints of integrated wood. Cold butter, right out of the fridge and the fatty smell you get from a cold BBQ one month after its last use. So old fat and hints of burned stuff. Next are the first whiffs of baking white bread. Mixed with the odour of printed newspaper. Leafy and fresh. Small hints of (dark) chocolate with cherry liqueur, but not entirely black. This even has tiny hint of tar, giving the whole some depth. Not bad at all.

Taste: Much more fruity than the nose was. Creamy vanilla pudding with a red fruit acidic aftertaste. After that some bitter tree sap and bitter oak. The oak isn’t overpowering, but it’s there in broad strokes, making up the body of the Whisky. Quite complex wood, so it doesn’t come across as a young Whisky, which it in fact isn’t. Some hidden, fruity sweetness and again the paper of newspapers. Nice and well-integrated oaky bitters in the finish. It’s signature is carved in wood.

To sum things up. This is a wood driven old vintage Edradour finished in a Port pipe. The finish is done sparsely, since it isn’t an overpowering typical Port Finished Whisky. Nice, but not something I would go out of may way for to get it. Let’s call it an experience.

Points: 83

Karuizawa 30yo 1983/2013 (55.8%, OB, Geisha Label, for The Whisky Exchange, Bourbon Cask #8606, 350 bottles)

Every time someone in the world dares to open a bottle like this, an earthquake occurs amongst collectors. Up ’till now lots of old bottles of Scottish Whiskies, particularly from closed or classic Speyside or Islay distilleries, fetched the highest prices. Today it may very well be Karuizawa, a Japanese Whisky, which is delicious and becoming extremely rare. These bottles are bottled, and hardly anyone opens them anymore. Well not Master Quill! I’m very happy to open my less than-half sample of this Karuizawa and share my thoughts with the world!

Karuizawa 30yo 1983/2013 (55.8%, OB, Geisha Label, for The Whisky Exchange, Bourbon Cask #8606, 350 bottles)Color: Vibrant full gold.

Nose: Wow, this emits heaps of aroma. Nice rubbery notes and extremely waxy. Fresh and vibrant and highly aromatic. It oozes a typical Japanese nutty kind of smell and cask toast. Fragrant green tea combined with the more obvious creamy vanilla note we know from casks made of American oak that once held Bourbon (or Tennessee Whiskey). There is some kind of sweet sensation underneath that reminds me a bit of hot sugar-water. The wood emits fresh oak and fresh tree sap, with whiffs of powdered coffee creamer. Quite floral and fruity. The fruity part are hints of fresh (thus not over-ripe) plums. The floral part is more about fruit trees in bloom rather than any kind of flowers. Elegant stuff.

Taste: Quite hot with ashes and an old oaky bitterness. Pencil shavings and some sort of hidden fruitiness. Lovely dusty nuttiness comes to the forefront too, making this a woody Whisky. Dark bitter chocolate and (ear) wax. If you can get past all the furniture and dark chocolate, there is some candied fruit behind all that.

Never owning a bottle myself I had some kind of luck having tried this one several times. Once from a freshly opened bottle, but also the last few drops from a bottle that had some time to let the Whisky breathe. I have to say that this particular Karuizawa is stellar when freshly opened, but with that the oxidation starts. Usually oxidation is not a bad this in Whisky, but sometimes oxidation changes or even ruins the Whisky. Here we have an example where oxidation really can change the Whisky. When this Karuizawa oxidizes the focus shifts more towards the (especially in the taste), whereas the freshly opened bottle is way more fruity. I don’t have a freshly opened bottle at hand, so this review is written tasting the last drops of the bottle, but I do remember the Whisky well when it was freshly opened. The score is for the freshly opened bottle. The last drops would score around 87 points so beware!

Points: 95

The Glenlivet 1983/2003 (46%, OB, Cellar Collection, French Oak Finish, 2L7F901)

The Glenlivet “Founder’s Reserve” I just reviewed, was actually quite simple and a bit disappointing. It is a very, very young Whisky, which in my opinion doesn’t show how good a Glenlivet can be. I rummaged a bit through my personal archive and unearthed another Glenlivet to review. So lets forget about the new one for a moment and let’s see how an old Glenlivet will do. Here we have a Glenlivet that has some 20 years behind its belt. 17 years in Bourbon and Sherry casks and a further 3 years in lightly toasted French Limousin oak casks. Not all casks were used for this bottling (quality control), so only 8.000 bottles were produced. A true limited edition! This review will probably show that this was 20 years well spent, time nobody seems to have these days since demand skyrocketed. We are told not to judge a bottle by its NAS, but in the old days the same people told us we hád to judge the Whisky by its AS (Age Statement) or Vintage. So without further ado, I give you a Glenlivet from their Cellar Collection, a 1983 French Oak Finish bottled in 2003, when age was still a benchmark.

The Glenlivet 1983/2003 (46%, OB, Cellar Collection, French Oak Finish, 2L7F901)Color: Amber gold.

Nose: Surprisingly fresh but also Sherried and certainly dusty. Elegant with silky wood notes, and some added depth of toasted wood and (partly burnt) caramel and slightly too sweet toffee. Lots of aroma. Flour. Funny enough, and I’m most probably not objective here, there is a silky wood note that seems to lie on top of the nose, not as much integrated as the deeper woody notes. Very nice to nose a Whisky that has several kinds of different wood aroma’s. With the toast comes candied fruits, adding to the depth of the Whisky. Vanilla and Ice-cream notes from American oak, so most definitely a mixture of Bourbon and Sherry casks.

Taste: Creamy Sherry and yes, lots of vanilla. Distant sweet Moscatel Wine. Very smooth. Even though this has seen two or three kinds of wood it is not overpowered by it. Sometimes the wood is hardy noticeable. In the back of your mouth some nice and sweet aroma’s form, but only if the Whisky is tasted with big gulps. Dusty on the palate as well, and alas, alas, a rather short finish.

I’m not sure what the French oak finish brings to the blend of Bourbon and Sherry casked Whisky. Sometimes you do get an un-integrated silky wooden note that lies on top. So maybe it is obvious what the finish did for this Whisky. I’m amazed this turns out to be 46% ABV. It seems more like 40 or 43% ABV. Maybe this should have been bottled with a higher ABV? Good stuff nevertheless. On paper one of the more complex Glenlivet’s from the Cellar Collection, but my mouth tells me otherwise. The aroma’s of this bottling are silky and deep and for some may lack a bit of fruity zest. Highly drinkable though and something you can enjoy properly.

For reasons only science can wholly explain, I followed the Glenlivet up with the Blackadder Lochside I reviewed earlier, and although the Glenlivet is also good, the Lochside blows it right out of the water, so when spending money at auctions I would know what to do!

Points: 86

Glenglassaugh 26yo 1983/2009 (50.4%, Mo Òr, Oloroso Sherry Butt #171, 885 bottles, 500ml)

Glenglassaugh LogoIt’s been a while since a bottling of Dutch indie bottlers Mo Òr graced these pages, but it certainly is the first Glenglassaugh. Last MoÒr was an old Aultmore that turned out to be very good. This time we’ll have a look at an example of Glenglassaugh, an ex-closed distillery. The demand for Whisky is so great these days, that the industry resurrected every distillery that still could be reopened. Even when cold economics suggested more money could be made, distilleries only got demolished to make way for an even bigger more modern (read: efficient) distillery (Imperial). Only recently Diageo announced they are going to hugely expand Mortlach, and it ptobably won’t be the last one.

A new bottling by the reopened Glenglassaugh: The Glenglassaugh RevivalSo any distillery that reasonably could be reopened is reopened, the rest is demolished, stripped bare, or otherwise made unusuable. I wouldn’t be surprised anymore if Diageo decides to cash in on the name, and reopen Brora! Besides this, more and more new distilleries are popping out of the ground like mushrooms on a forest floor…

Back to Glenglassaugh. Glenglassaugh itself was founded in 1875 but was closed already in 1908, and fell silent for a whopping 23 years! It reopened in 1931 just to be closed again 5 years later, in 1936. This time the distillery wasn’t working for 24 years. Reopened in 1960, the distillery was fitted with new stills, but still it didn’t manage to stay open permanently, because it was closed again in 1986. It was reopened (again) in 2008, after an extensive 22 years of silence. Since then the distillery has already changed hands. What a rocky past!

Glenglassaugh 26yo 1983/2009 (50.4%, Mo Òr, Oloroso Sherry Butt #171, 885 bottles, 500ml)Color: Copper Brown.

Nose: Hmmmm, very nice and classic Oloroso! The smell seems chewy! Nice woody spices emerge, but in this case, the whole smell is fantastic. With some air, the Sherry becomes even more funky which only adds to its likeability and complexity. The smell is dry and dusty, but not meaty. The wood plays an important role, it’s an integral part of it, without overpowering it. After some time, more heavy elements are coming out, hints of dates, coal and tar and toasted cask (and some violet soap, but it suits the Whisky).

Taste: Toffee and caramel, initially sweeter than expected, but quickly turning dry. What a bomb of aroma! Just put a few drops in your mouth and you know exactly how this tastes. It seems condensed! Laurel and hints of licorice on the back of my tongue. Dark fruits are in the mix too, blackberries mostly and blueberries are present in the finish. The finish itself is fantastic. It’s great that this Whisky retained a little bit of sweetness, which matches the dryness and the spiciness of the wood. I guess this was bottled at its peak. Well done!

Guys, thank you for not reducing it. I already thought your reduced Tomatin and the Caperdonich were fantastic, both at 91 points, but this cask strength Glenglassaugh blows them hands down! Excellent!

Points: 93

Balmenach 26yo 1983/2010 (52.8%, Bladnoch Forum, Hogshead #2410, 201 bottles)

After an Inchgower I reviewed earlier, here’s another example from the likes of Raymond Armstrong. If he isn’t distilling his Bladnoch, he’s on the look-out for casks of sometimes unusual distilleries. Worth a look, since he isn’t charging a lot of money for these forum bottlings. By the way, his son, Martin, has even more cask strength single cask whiskies on offer.

Balmenach was licensed in 1824, but existed much longer as an illicit farm distillery called Balminoch. Not earlier than 1992 the first official bottling is released, a 12yo Flora and Fauna. Not long after this United Distillers (now: Diageo) sold Balmenach to Inver House Distillers, with wich came an end to the Flora and Fauna bottling.

The new owners released between 2000 and 2002 only three rare bottles. A 27yo from 1973, a 28yo from 1972 and a 25yo from 1977 celebrating the queens jubilee (still shaped bottle). No more official bottlings have emerged yet. Today Balmenach is owned by Thai Beverages.

Color: Gold

Nose: Sweet and malty. Citrus, oranges with creamy wood and custard. Very powdery and paper like. Clean, what you smell is what you get. Creamy wood is the main part, but nothing overpowering. Candied apricots. Hints of cigarette smoke.

Taste: Spicy wood, sweet and sour. The sweet and sour is fruity. Again candied apricots and bitter lemon peel. Lemon with vanilla. Quite sweet and a lot of wood and bitterness in this one. Warming beer with its hoppy finish.

Actually a quite nice whisky. Fruity, overall likeable, with just one ‘flaw’. It’s quite woody and bitter. Although not overpowering.

Points: 84

Thanx to Erik L. for bringing the bottle!

Teaninich 1983/2003 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice)

Teaninich isn’t amongst those superstars of Single Malt Whiskies around, but it has a fanatical following with certain enthusiasts. Well I’m one of them. Almost every time I taste a Teaninich, blind or not, this always tickles my fancy. I connect with it. It suits my palate. Dare we say: “For reasons not even science can wholly explain…”

Teaninich was founded in 1817. In 1970, yes a small jump in time, a whole new six still ‘distillery’ was built alongside the current one, consisting of four stills. The new one was called the A-side (The old stuff was therefore called the B-Side). They worked together as one distillery. In 1984 the old distillery was mothballed, and 15 years later, demolished.

Not a lot of officials around. A 10yo Flora & Fauna bottling, three and a half Rare Malts editions, one 17yo Manager’s Dram, and one 1996 Manager’s Choice. That’s it. Luckily there are a lot more independents, which brings us to our whisky of the day: A Gordon & MacPhail Teaninich from 1983, which can be from The A or B-side.

Color: Copper Gold.

Nose: Fresh, citrussy, and toffee. Vegetal, woody spiciness. Perfumy and hints of smoke and licorice. Great balance. The nose has body. I’m bonding with my Teaninich again.

Taste: Sweet, fruity, cherries and apricots. Nice body, luckily not reduced to death. Fantastic, that in 2003 it’s already 46% ABV and not less. It has wood, but without the sourness. Lots of esters. Great!

A long time ago I gave this 88 points. Not being a fan of ‘modern’ Connoisseurs Choice bottlings, since they could be all the same, and having the same color, and so on, but this one is great and deserves at least 88 points.

Points: 88

P.S. the picture is for the 2004 version. I tasted the 2003 version, but both look the same.

Port Ellen 23yo 1983/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, Refill Butt, DL REF 2790, 716 bottles)

Instead of expanding into unchartered territory, let’s do something oppositional and do yet another Port Ellen, and another bottle by Douglas Laing. This time from the old series in the normal scotch whisky bottle and not from the new tall bottle. People tend to think this older look contains better whisky. Let’s see if that’s true. By the way ,I read somewhere that in the few months Port Ellen operated during 1983, there weren’t a lot of good casks around, and they filled almost anything they could get their hands on. This Port Ellen looks quite light in color. Is this from a tired butt or a normal refill Fino butt?

Color: Light gold, almost white wine.

Nose: This leaps out of the glass and can be smelled from a mile away. That’s good! Fruity, musty, animalesk and malty. Salty sea spray, fresh air. Apples with elegant peat and cardboard. Nice distant spice and no wood (tired cask?). Milk chocolate. Yes, this has the kind of orange air tube rubber I like so much in Port Ellen. Actually quite good, I like this nose very much. Does this show how the Port Ellen-spirit actually was? (because of the tired cask)

Taste: Peat and rhubarb. Sweet, big, leafy and chewy. Black tea with clean refined sugar. No rubber here and it’s no monster either. The peat is very mild here and the finish is quite simple. Still it seems to be very balanced, just not very complex. It has the dryness and a bit of the spiciness of the oak, but not the bitterness, and that’s a big plus (not a Chevrolet). It has citrus with cardboard in the finish. If tasted blind, I would have thought it to be some odd ten years younger.

It’s an end of an era, even if it was a tired cask, this is still very typical and good. Really a shame this got closed. In a way it resembles Talisker in it always being decent. This may be no high flyer, but is has a lot of fine moments to give. No I’m not sentimental, this is good in itself. A very nice Islay Whisky. As I’m sipping the last few drops: “Here’s looking at you kid…”

Points: 88

The Balvenie 15yo 1983/1999 ‘Single Barrel’ (50.4%, OB, Bourbon Barrel #1300, 311 bottles)

Time for some more whisky then…

Let’s have a look at this old Balvenie. I have to say I don’t usually like Balvenie that much. I think that for me it lacks character and body. It’s usually a light whisky that is bottled at a relatively low ABV compared to other whiskies. This older 15yo is bottled at 50.4%, but more recent versions are bottled at a mere 47.8%. That having said. This 15yo and the original 21yo Portwood can be respectable whiskies, depending on the version you find. Still, I encounter the 15yo a lot, so I have the opportunity to try them on a regular basis and to me they don’t seem to get better, so if you want one, my tip to you would be: try to find an older one.

The Balvenie 15yo "Single Barrel" but not #1300Color: Light Gold

Nose: Vegetal, comes across as a very light and clean whisky. It’s powdery and the malt shines through. Dry wood. The cask didn’t give the whisky a lot of color, but is evident on the nose. After a while I get some lemony notes or maybe some lemon grass in combination with hot coco. Again I would use words like clean or fresh for this one.

Taste: Sweet and estery. Again the wood is there. It’s there from the start and I guess it will play a role for some time to come. Even the taste is clean, so if you like clean whiskies, this one is for you. Wow this one is very fruity now and does have some body. Prickly wood (not overpowering though), yellow fruits like dried apricots and peaches. Some bitter wood in the finish.

I would say this is a nice place to start drinking good malts. It’s decent and very easy to “analyze”. It’s clean and elegant and has some nice woody notes to show you what a cask can do. If you’re a connoisseur, well maybe this one’s a tad to easy. A friend of mine would say: “drinks well playing cards” Again, try to find an older one (50.4%). By the way, this is not cask strength. It is reduced to 50.4% to get more bottles out of a cask, or maybe the Balvenie drinkers like their 15yo a little lower than 57%. I’m not judging.

Points: 86