Inchgower 1998/2013 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Refill Sherry Butt, AC/JIID)

Inchgower is not often encountered and therefore this whisky is often one of the great unknowns. Very understandable, when you consider the fact, this Malt is made for three well known blends: White Horse, Bell’s, and last but not least, Johnny Walker. Considering the cases sold of these, it’s almost a miracle they bottle Inchgower officially or even sell casks to independent bottlers.

Up ’till now, only two Inchgowers have graced these pages before, a Bladnoch Forum bottling and a Dewar Rattray bottling. Luckily for us, both have scored well above average. When reviewing the bottling at hand, there is only something like 30% left in the bottle, so it had some air to work with. At 46% ABV this is usually one of the first Whiskies I grab when taking a dram, and it is quickly surpassed by almost all of the follow-up drams. After all these drams from this Inchgower, I still don’t have a mental picture in my head how this particular Malt actually is, almost as if it just doesn’t leave an impression, unremarkable, forgettable. No, I don’t have a drinking problem, because I can fondly remember many, many different drams I had over the past 20 years or so. But let’s get back to this Malt we’re reviewing here, whatever it is…

Feeling an independent bottler as big as G&M probably don’t have just the one cask, I went out surfing to find another G&M Inchgower from 1998, and yes, there is. G&M have bottled another Single Cask, #11275 to be precise. It was distilled on 15.12.1998 and bottled in October 2011. That was a refill Sherry Hogshead @50% ABV. If our Connoisseurs Choice bottling is from the same distillate, our Malt is a 14yo.

Color: Dark Gold, hint of copper

Nose: Light, Sherried, very fruity and also a bit musty. Musty yes, farmy even. Still, there is this breath of fresh air to it as well. Fanta Orange and sinaspril, bordering on sulphur. Fresh and bubbly, appealing and likeable. Toasted almonds, but foremost, lots of citrus fruits. Zesty, apples. Warm apple compote. Very friendly and appetizing. Well balanced. Maybe slightly meaty, although it does retain its fruity freshness. Slight hint of oak and paper, but not a lot. Slightly smoky, whiff of cigarette? Licorice, and toasted oak. Also some black coal, mixed in with ahorn syrup on a bit of cardboard. Warm cooked vegetables. The breath of fresh air from the start returns a bit like menthol. Although there seems to be enough happening here, because it is an impressive list of smells, the whole does seem a bit simple, and light, too light. Strange, because it is really a wonderful nose, thin, simple and sharp. Lacks a bit of sweetness, roundness. Could have been more supple. All three words hated by connoisseurs, because, what do they mean? Still, a good nose though.

Taste: Half sweet tea, but not enough sweetness for this Sherried, fruity profile. Fruity acidity. Unripe pineapple. Caramel, toffee and toasted oak, yet not big nor sweet. Lacking depth. lacking development. Thin. It just shows you right from the start what it is, goes down well, and just waits, sits there like a puppy, waiting for you to take another sip (throw the bone). Its nice, but too narrow and too simple and it really, really lacks development. Very drinkable yet also quite simple and thin. It is a narrow path ahead, not a wide motorway of aroma’s. Pancakes with ahorn syrup. After tasting, the nose opens up a bit more, and there is nothing wrong really. Lets say this has a short finish, it isn’t even a medium fish. Slightly hot, but it might be me, this evening. Forget about the aftertaste, it was all washed down, nothing left for the aftertaste. This is why it is, and stays, anonymous and this is why next week, I will have forgotten, yet again, how this tastes. Nothing wrong, no off notes, no too young Whisky, just narrow, short and simple. Forgettable. Some moments later, this review still open on my laptop… dare I say that after all that, when casually sipping on, watching a re-run of Frasier, some sweetness does finally emerge and the finish becomes a wee bit longer? A tiiiiiny bit of oaken bitterness moves into the…..aftertaste? yes, an aftertaste, finally! So, maybe all is not lost after all.

Maybe the anonymity of this bottle was also brought upon by the Crabbie I reviewed earlier. I always started with that one, and since that one was essentially not OK, it may have ruined this one in the process, since I always grabbed this Inchgower next. The Crabbie is gone now, so maybe the bit that is left in this bottle gets the respect it deserves. Even though the nose it quite rich, it also predicts some sort of narrow Malt. Tasting it proves it. It is a narrow malt. It has the sharper notes, from toasted oak to Sherry oak and acidity, but it really lacks something bigger, no sweets no vanilla notes we know from American oak. Essentially, this Whisky lacks some more wood influence, so despite the color, the cask didn’t bring what it was supposed to. Not bad, but nothing you really need in your life as well. This one let me down a bit, but didn’t damage my faith in Inchgower. Bring on the next one please!

Points: 82

Bellevue 15yo 1998/2014 (52.6%, Isla del Ron, IdR 011, 169 bottles, Guadeloupe)

The market for good Rum is on the rise, especially in markets where Single Malt Whisky is king. In the last couple of years the run on good Whisky was bigger than life, depleting the stocks considerably. Today we face not a shortage as such, but a shortage in older matured Whiskies. In part because there isn’t any, in part because it is simply not bottled because one can fetch a better price later on down the road. Hence we see an ever-growing number of Whiskies without an age statement and with a funky little name. Nothing bad here, but putting two and two together, the Whiskies must be younger and younger to be able to keep the new bottlings coming for a hungry (read: thirsty) public.

Whisky people in general are not happy with the youth of their Whiskies, nor are they happy with the development of prices of their beloved aged Whiskies. Just look at Highland Park 18yo, Talisker 18yo and Laphroaig 18yo, producers simply don’t have the time anymore to wait that long and subsequently sell it for a not so super-premium price. It’s not all romance you know, it still is a business. Happy times for Whisky producers in warm climate countries such as Taiwan and India, where very good Whisky is made today in much less time than in Scotland and the other traditional Whisky countries.

In comes Rum. Whisky people are open to trying other distillates that are nice and/or aged, and/or affordable. One of those alternatives for Whisky is Rum. Guadeloupe Sainte Anne Grande-TerreThe old Rum community is enriched with Whisky people fishing in the pond of Rum and getting to know the product and a different kind of romanticism. Where Scotland is beautiful, but also cold and wet, Rum predominantly comes for the Caribbean and especially the image of paradise islands comes to mind. Older Rums are becoming scarce very quickly and just like Whisky, will become almost extinct, Prices are on the rise as well. Where have we seen this before?

Lots of independent bottlers of fine Single Malt Whisky are turning to Rum. Some did that many, many years ago, Like Cadenhead and Berry Brothers & Rudd, and some more recently like Wilson & Morgan (Rum Nation), Kintra and David Stirks outfit Exclusive Malts, but there are many more. Today we’ll have a look at another one. Isla del Ron is the Rum brand of Thomas Ewers’ outfit, Malts of Scotland.

Thomas EwersThomas bottled a Rum from Guadeloupe from a distillery nobody has heard of, South Pacific (as stated on the label), not to be confused with the South Pacific distillery of Fiji, which is entirely different place altogether. Thomas explained to me he was offered a cask of South Pacific, which turned out to be Bellevue instead, so in this case the label is wrong. Casks like this are sold to bottlers through brokers, so it’s not a surprise there are a lot more Bellevue casks from 1998 bottled by different parties. And with brokers there lies a problem. Brokers only want to sell on casks, not really caring informing the buying party what really is in the cask if they have the information at all.

Thomas believes this to be from the Bellevue distillery on Marie Galante Island, but looking at information of many other “Bellevue’s” from 1998, it can also be Damoiseau’s Bellevue Distillery (Le Moule, Grande-Terre), which would be even more probable, since it is a larger producer. So we’re not sure about the exact distillery, nor can we be about the ingredients. It can be either distilled from molasses or from sugar cane juice. It can even be a blend of both, since some distilleries produce both. Sugar cane when it is harvested, and molasses the rest of the year. Questions, questions.

Isla del Ron GuadeloupeColor: Orange brown.

Nose: Big aroma, lots of different spices. It’s like a spice mix from Indian Whisky. Vanilla, chewy. Dry, spicy and fatty but not sweet. Hint of sweet peppermint. Butter and coffee with milk. Mocha and hot butter as well. Cinnamon, cocoa powder, leather and hints of soft wood. Damp earth and after that rather dusty. Hints of licorice mixed with a nice dry and clean woody note and slightly burned sugar, molten plastic (don’t worry) and creamy banana. Very well-balanced and a nose of great complexity. Especially when the heavier elements are snorted out of the glass, the fun starts. Wow!

Taste: Starts out with a short, sweet and aromatic burst, but quickly becomes dry and very aromatic, with again the Indian spice-mix so predominant in the nose. Nutmeg and lavas, but there is a whole lot more. When it goes down the hatch it becomes even drier. The lighter elements start to evaporate in my mouth and engulfs it with lots of beautiful aroma’s. Milk chocolate, dry leather and a slight bitter edge of wood. Hints of licorice, tar and charred oak. Hot chocolate. After getting used to the spicy dryness, it becomes creamy hot chocolate style. Lovely development as well, especially since the aftertaste is stronger than the finish. Wow, what an amazing Rum!

I like the bottle used for Isla del Ron, it’s the same bottle used for Pusser’s 15yo, HSE from Martinique and last but not least, for Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte. I only have a beef with the label, its dark, dull and depressing. Rum comes from places where life is colorful. I hope Thomas will continue to bottle a lot more Rum’s, but I hope he’ll spice up the looks a bit!

In the end, after I tasted this in the shop, I needed a whole 10 seconds to snatch one up. This stuff makes me happy!

Points: 88

Thanks go out to Rik for the sample.

Caroni 1998/2008 (40%, Bristol Classic Rum, Trinidad & Tobago)

The Caroni distillery was founded in 1923 and after 80 years of operation, sadly was closed in 2003. In 2001 the Trinidad government sold its 49% share in Rum Distillers Limited to Angostura for $35 million who were forced to close the distillery two years later, because that same Trinidad Government closed their sugar refinery on the island. In the first half of the 20th century Trinidad had some 50 odd distilleries, but today only one survives, Angostura. The demise of the Trinidadian sugar cane industry means that molasses today are mainly imported from Guyana. Because of its heavy style, Caroni was a favourite with the British Navy and yours truly.

Bristol Spirits Caroni 1998-2008Color: Gold.

Nose: Dry, funky and slightly industrial. Like a crossing between Rhum Agricole and Jamaican Rum, with added motor oil and petrol. High ester heavy style Rum. Different kinds of wood and waxy. Lots and lots of aroma. Hints of oranges and mushrooms. Hot butter. Orange skins at first, but with good nosing a deeper (and sweeter) kind of sugared oranges appear. I’m a big fan of Rums like these. Later on, some oak and earwax. Burnt wood and smoke. Bonfire and a fishy note. Grilled fish (hanging over the bonfire). When my mind wanders off, I will associate the hint of smoke and burnt wood with Islay Whisky. Nice side effect. When all the extremities wear off on the nose, the whole becomes slightly sweeter and friendlier. More salty and smoky vanilla. What a nose!

Taste: Dry oranges with some hidden sweetness underneath. Still a bit industrial, not saying that is bad, on the contrary. Nice hints of oranges again, all of it, the skins, the freshly pressed juice and the candied oranges. All quite dry and smoky, never truly sweet. The wood is trying to get some bitterness across, but that hardy is the case. The Rum itself is highly aromatic, the bitterness is pushed back, there is simply not a lot of room for it. Bitter orange skin and again a burnt note. I can’t help but feel that the orange oil you get with the juice from the skins also gives off a slight acidic note that doesn’t completely integrate with the rest of the taste. Something that also happens in the Abuelo 12yo. Only here it’s not that bad.

This is great stuff from a sadly closed distillery. Not your run of the mill easy-going overly sweet Rum, but something more daring and industrial. Maybe this Rum isn’t for everyone, but if you like the profile this was one of the best.

The 1998 Caroni reviewed here was bottled in 2008. In 2013 exactly the same rum was released, just 5 years older. That one would be nice to review sometimes. The picture on the left is from the 2013 release, but looks exactly the same as the 2008 release.

Points: 86

Laphroaig Week – Day 4: Laphroaig 13yo 1998/2011 (53.4%, Kintra, Refill Sherry Butt #700047, 96 bottles)

Laphroaig SignDay four, a.k.a. the middle, or the pivotal point in a week. We’re halfway through. We started out with three distillery bottlings of Laphroaig. An older 15yo, it’s replacement the 18yo, although not in its latest guise, and yesterday we had a look at a travel retail only bottling from last year: An Cuan Mòr. Up untill now Laphroaig hasn’t failed me yet. Today we’ll venture into more unknown territory. The territory of the independent bottler. Today we’ll have a look at a Laphroaig, Erik Molenaar got into his hands a while back. The market is rapidly changing. In 2011 Erik could get (part of a Sherry Butt) for a reasonable price. Today he probably would still be able to source such a Whisky, but unfortunately only at an unreasonable price. So even when this is from 2011, it can still be considered…well you catch my drift. So without further ado…

Laphroaig 13yo 1998/2011 (53.4%, Kintra, Refill Sherry Butt #700047, 96 bottles)Color: Gold.

Nose: Funky Sherry. Has someone just farted over here? My word, lots of the S-element is filling the room. Sulphur that is, and it comes from my glass into which I have not farted, nor has anyone else. Fruity and half sweet underneath “the fart”. Enough with the fart already, will ya? Ok, lets move the Sulphur into the realm of fireworks then. Toasted wood, but also toasted bread. Meaty big aroma.

Taste: Sweet and Sherried. Fruity with loads of ashes. Short shock of fruity acidity. Creamy but with a wave of a bitter sulphury edge. The bitterness also could come from the oak. Nevertheless, the bitterness is also kept in check, so it doesn’t hurt the overall taste. The ashes transform into a sweeter form with and acidic edge, and both do not overpower the palate. The sweetness and acidity show themselves and go under again, like the Loch Ness monster. Warming and full body. Cozy. Nice mix of peat and funky Sherry. Sure, it may be flawed but the whole still (fire)works for me. Hints of black fruits and some smoke late in the finish.

Lots of my Whisky-loving friends don’t like sulphury notes too much. Some seem to be even overly sensitive to the stuff, if not allergic. They can go on and on about it and I sure do understand why. We know from the olden days how Sherried malts should taste like. Some of you know the golden days of The Macallan, old heavily Sherried Longmorns from the sixties and seventies, Glen Grants and Strathisla from the sixties. Fruity, full of aroma’s, with steam and coal, the lot! Today that quality can’t be reached anymore, and I don’t have the room here to discuss why. More modern Sherried malts are prone to have sulphury notes, and it’s up to you, if you can stand that or not. If you can (like I do), this is a big and nice, yet sulphury, Laphroaig.

Points:87

Glen Moray 15yo 1998/2013 (46%, Cadenhead, Bourbon Hogsheads, 684 bottles)

This is the third Glen Moray on these pages. Although I use a 100 points scare for scoring drinks, and in my opinion Whisky is one of the best drinks around. Whisky usually scores in the upper ranges of that scale. So any good Whisky scores at least 80 points. Both Glen Moray’s I reviewed before, one 13yo Dun Bheagan, and one official 8yo, didn’t make it across the 80 points-line and are therefore considered bu connoisseurs to be “mediocre” at best. However, if you read my reviews carefully, they still have enough going for them, and are still pretty good drinks, or pretty good Whiskies for that matter. It’s just that a lot of Whiskies score higher than these Glen Moray’s. But here is another Glen Moray, one by Cadenhead, so lets see if this will score in the 80’s or even higher?

Glen Moray 15yo 1998/2013 (46%, Cadenhead, Bourbon Hogsheads, 684 bottles)Color: White wine.

Nose: Quite closed, or isn’t there much happening. Alcohol, hints of sweet yellow fruits. Even though it isn’t a white wine finish were Glen Moray are almost famous for, it does remind me of a white wine finished Glen Moray. Hints of margarine and vanilla. Soft touch of oak. Very restrained, it just smells like fresh air.

Taste: Yes typical thin Glen Moray again. A crumb of old dark chocolate. A little bit of oak, and an acidity resembling a wine finish. Usually Glen Moray tends to get overly sweet after a wine finish, and I can’t say that’s the case here. Lots of maltiness and a little bit of paper and bitter oak in the finish. Good, it gives it character. Anything better than that strange acidity.

Extremely light color, again casks (probably two) that weren’t very active any more. I am not completely sure this isn’t a white wine finish. A very clean expression, and that’s me being positive, because not a lot seems to be happening here… (Mind you, this is still a damn good drink!)

Points: 76

Reisetbauer 7yo 1998 (56%, OB, Chardonnay & Trockenbeerenauslese Casks, 350 ml, LWH 098)

Hans ReisetbauerAnd now for something completely different! An Austrian vintage Whisky made by Hans Reisetbauer. This Whisky was distilled in 1998 and matured for 7 years in Chardonnay casks but also in casks that once held Trockenbeerenauselese, a (very) sweet and syrupy white wine. Casks come only from Austrian wine makers Alois Kracher and Heinz Velich. When looking for information, Hans seems to win a lot of prestigious prizes for his Eaux-de-vie or brandy’s made with fruits, and is regularly awarded as the best distiller in Austria. Hans decided to have a go at making Whisky. Hans planted four hectares of his own summer barley which was harvested for the first time in July 1995. Hans uses a double distillation regime.

Reisetbauer 1998Color: Gold

Nose: Creamy and lightly fruity. Apples and not winey at first. Fruity sweet with caramel. Very mild and definitely decent smelling (I may have expected something less good?). Powdery and dry, nice wood. Hint of vanilla. I’m not sure about the Chardonnay yet, but after some breathing I do smell the Trockenbeerenauselese. Having said that, it does remind me a bit of a Glen Moray in…yes, Chardonnay.

Taste: Sweetish and very vegetal. Fresh wood and a spicy (and winey) oak attack. Paint and plastic. Here most definitely the wine casks make their mark and mask that this is actually Single Malt Whisky. Maybe using the more traditional kind of cask would have been a better idea and use the Chardonnay and TBA casks for a finish. Quite hot and the heat has staying power. The aroma’s fade out leaving a hint of tannins, plastic and acidity. Still not a bad finish though.

I have heard people claiming this was terrible, but I don’t agree. Yes it is maybe too heavy on the wine casks used, but I can look past that and there definitely is some quality and potential here. Would love to see how Hans improves himself making Whisky.

The picture on the left is of the 700 ml bottle, simply because I couldn’t find a picture of a 350 ml bottle like mine, and I don’t think an empty bottle would make a good picture here. As can be seen on the bottle label, there were 1500 bottles made. On some bottles however instead of the 1500 bottles statement there is a code LWH 098 or LWH 007. Some bottles, bottled at 43% ABV, have a different label where the vintage (1998) is replaced by 7 years, but carry the same code LWH 098 as some 1998 vintages. Do you still follow?

Points: 75

Bowmore Week – Day 2: Bowmore 14yo 1998/2013 (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, Bourbon Hogsheads, 792 bottles)

Here we are, into day two of Master Quill’s Bowmore Week. This review will be about a Bowmore from Cadenhead’s new Small batch series. Just like with the Original Series (46% ABV) and the Authentic Series (cask strength), the small batches come in at 46% or cask strength. The 46% versions in this new Small Batch Series come in this round dumpy bottle as depicted below, whereas the Cask strength versions come in more square dumpy bottles. Like Glenfarclas used a long time ago. The only difference between the Original and the Authentic Collection and the Small Batch bottling is that the latter is in almost all the cases a bottling of two casks where the former were single cask bottlings. This may be a golden opportunity for Cadenheads to mix two casks that can complement each other, where single cask bottlings will always show the flaws of that one cask. A year prior (2012), Cadenheads have already bottled two Bourbon Hogshead Bowmore’s in the Authentic Collection, which could be nice for comparison.

Cadenhead Bowmore 14yoColor: White Wine

Nose: Butter, cookie dough and flowery peat. A very feminine profile. It’s flowery and perfumy without it being FWP or soapy. Citrussy and very light on peat. Hints of (tarry) wood and salt. Fat light peat and licorice. Quite “simple” on the nose compared to yesterday’s standard 12yo. This one has to breathe a bit and needs a bit of warmth to fully release its aroma’s. The longer it stands the more smoky it gets, kippers. Coastal.

Taste: Very well integrated Bowmore. A sweet and very full body, yet not heavy and quite un-complex. Good sweetness. Hints of mocha and cappuccino. A nice peppery bite and citrus with custard. Lemon sherbet. Nice hints of wood. Extremely drinkable, but also quite simple. The pepper is an added bonus. The finish is not too long though, and the pepper stays with you longer than the finish does.

Where the nose needed a little time to show itself, the taste is immediately up front without a lot of evolution. But when its good from the start who needs evolution? Very nice and simple profile, but as I said before, not very complex, but immediately likeable and extremely drinkable. I do like it.

Points: 85

Tormore 14yo 1998/2013 (50%, Gordon & MacPhail, Exclusive for the Whisky Mercenary, First Fill Bourbon Barrel #1586, 277 bottles)

Easily the longest title for any of my blog posts. Finally summer is over, and the urge to drink some Whisky is back with a vengeance. Not that I’m happy about summer being over, especially when the last five years we hardly had a summer over here…

Next up to warm us up is a Gordon & MacPhail bottling of a 1998 Tormore, they bottled for The Whisky Mercenary a.k.a. Jürgen Vromans. Jürgen tries to pick some great casks for his own hobby-brand of Whiskies. Up ’till now Scottish and Irish products have been bottled under his own label. This time he picked a cask from Gordon & MacPhail. Gordon & MacPhail take their own casks to various distilleries and after they are filled, take them to their own warehouses for ageing. Gordon & MacPhail never sell a cask without it being bottled in one of their series.

Color: Light Gold

Nose: Floral, fresh and sweet, easily recognizable for a Tormore from a Bourbon Cask. They’re always a bit metallic, but in a way I like it. Just have a look here. It’s great to see, ehhh, smell the consistency, or distillery character. There are a lot of similarities between the Cadenhead 1984 and this 1998 Tormore. Nice balance between the sweetness of the nose and the wood spice from the cask. Quite perfumy, with a touch of smoke from the toasted cask, and floral (which is not soapy). Under this all some ginger and sugared yellow fruits, like dried apricots, which add to the complexity of the sweetness. This is how Tormore’s are and this is another fine example.

Taste: Less sweet than the nose let on to believe. Nice darkness with ginger, vanilla, paper and wood. The spiciness in combination with the brooding half-sweetness doesn’t let the finish become sour (from the oak). There is a fruitiness to it, and it seems to me to be from the black fruit department, blackberries? A little bit of mocha, toffee and/or unburnt caramel to round the Whisky off. Long nutty finish with a hint of mint. Pretty well-balanced stuff. I like it and I most definitely want it.

Nice Tormore by Gordon & MacPhail and for sure a great pick by Jürgen. A connoisseurs Whisky, otherwise Gordon & MacPhail wouldn’t have Jürgen take this away.  If you like the profile, this is a very nice Tormore, ánd I have to stress that I am a fan of whiskies @ 50% ABV. Excellent! I really love the Cadenhead but this is equally as good.

Points: 86

St. Magdalene 19yo 1979/1998 (63.8%, OB, Rare Malts Selection)

As mentioned before St. Magdalene is my favorite Lowland distillery. Compared to the others it seems St. Magdalene always was willing to show some muscle ánd being faithful to the Lowland style. I like lowlanders with a big body. A few days ago I reviewed a Douglas Laing Platinum Linlithgow from 1970, but for ages now this 19yo Rare Malts edition has been my favorite. I know this is only one style of St. Magdalene because there are also some really great St. Magdalenes from the 60’s bottled by Gordon & MacPhail. Those bottles look completely different (dark) and are bottled at 40% ABV, and still can be fabulous. As some of you might know I’m a member of “Het Genietschap” and luckily there’s also a whisky madman there (come to think of it, they all are whisky madmen and women over there), who has the tendency bringing those 60’s St. Magdalenes quite often. André thanks! I hope he lets me take a little sample home someday, so I can review it here…

Color: Gold

Nose: Sweet and full with hints of smoke and very nice wood. Caramel with a some cream and vanilla. Flowery quality, not so much grassy. Yellow fruit. Powder, slightly toasty and spicy again. Bonfire on a damp evening, after a drizzle. And after a while, a second wind. The is another explosion of aroma’s. This time more like sweet lemongrass vanilla yoghurt. The wood turns from spicy to sour. It’s a different ballgame now. More green components now. Plants after watering. Dry summer wind, laden with pollen. Vanilla Ice cream, clay. More smoke…It just goes on and on. One of the best lowlanders I know.

Taste: Sweet and here it is grassy, well more like hay. Big fruity body. Yeah this is my baby! it has some oak, but that’s far away and complements, transports the big bold body. Yellow fruit, hints of peach and a bit more than just a hint of pineapple. Like with the nose, this grows to. The body becomes even more big, with hints of rubber even, can you imagine that, in a Lowlander? The wood taste that emerges is just fabulous. Perfect sweetness that is kept on a leash by a new acidity. Fruity acidity, lime maybe? Not only the acidity, more and more a nice component from the wood makes this a three unity. Also, and this comes very late into the fold: a nutty component. Almonds and chestnuts. This whisky will never end…

I’ve had this lots of times and the fact everything happens in beautiful layers is what makes this whisky unique. Give it lots of time to let it all happen. Use a big copita they use for brandy or cognac. Forget about the strength and forget about water for the first hour you have this in the glass. Give it time, waltz it around in your glass, play with it, sniff it in tiers. Give it a chance and you’ll be rewarded. What a whisky, what an unusual great balance. WOW!

You know about those deserted islands questions? Well, I bring this and a Brora 1972 (and a glass), and worry about the rest later.

Points: 96

Pulteney 8yo 1990/1998 (63.1%, Cadenhead, 222 bottles, 750 ml)

My good friend Christoph asked me to have a look at a clean bourbon cask whisky and look for mint. As it happens, I have just such a thing on my lectern, so let’s have an adventurous search for mint in this whisky. This whisky was opened on November, 27 2010 at a tasting session with my Whisky club “Het Genietschap” where the theme was “Whiskies younger than 10yo”. This was one of my entries (together with the Kilkerran). I remember I found it very closed when freshly opened. Just have a look at the picture from june 5, 2012. How full it still is.

Color: White wine, light gold.

Nose: Very clean bourbon nose, clean ethanol, some chocolaty wood and musty. Fresh sea air and powdery. Very typical for high cask strength young Cadenhead bourbon barrel whiskies. I’ve smelled everything there is now, no evolution, so we can move on to the taste. Beware it’s 63.1% ABV.

Taste: Strong and spicy, but not woody (just a bit). There’s also some smoke ánd a freshness resembling menthol a bit, but not mint. Everything is in the details. It’s great to taste something that’s spicy, not from the wood. It’s obviously sweet at this high strength, maybe a tad too sweet for my tastes. High alcohol with a lot of sugar can be a bit nauseating. This one’s on the precipice, but didn’t fall in.

As I said this is very typical for those high strength Cadenhead bottlings. They are very clean and reveal quite some information about how the cleanly distilled spirit from a distillery is. This is as honest as it can get, so it’s quite interesting to taste a few head to head. I guess this is a connoisseurs whisky. Not made for your gulping pleasure at a card game. And it can only be ‘enjoyed’ with caution. If you don’t give it enough attention, it will give you very little. The fun is maybe more in analyzing and discovery. The fun is also for those people (like me) who occasionally like their whiskies strong and utterly clean.

I once had a similar bottle of Tormore that was even stronger and older (13yo, 63.9%, 85 Points). There were many things wrong with it, like a very metallic taste, but still I had a lot of fun with it, when ‘enjoyed’ at the right moment. I found myself another bottle before it completely vanished of the face of the earth.

Sorry C. No mint, I’ll have to look further, or you have to taste this for yourself this summer 😉

Points: 84