Glencadam 15yo 1989/2005 (58%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, Sherry Butt #6014, 578 bottles)

Another one I found in the attic. Although this hasn’t been bottled ages ago, this time around I have a Signatory Glencadam bottled back in 2005. That’s already 11 years ago. Time flies. This is just the second Glencadam on these pages and it seems not to be a Malt with a big reputation. Having said that, the “new” 10yo I reviewed last time around, was something of a nice surprise for me. Quite impressive for an officially bottled 10yo. However, I have seen it before that the first release of something is better than most subsequent releases. Just sayin’…

Glencadam 15yo SigVColor: Copper gold.

Nose: Creamy and strictly Sherry. Smells like a Red Wine cask actually. Whiffs of stale Beer. Wow, where is this going? Hints of caramel and licorice. Creamy and perfumy. Definitely more floral than most Whiskies I recently tried. Floral pudding. Sure some dried apricots underneath, but not enough to call this fruity as well, although the fruit aroma becomes stronger with prolonged breathing, so it may be more fruity then I initially thought. Hardly any wood. Fruity and floral it is and dry warm wind blowing over the top. After even some more time the floral part seems to have disappeared. Interesting effect. It’s all about what evaporates the first. It becomes nicer over time, and better balanced as well.

Taste: On entry again the feeling this comes from a Wine cask. Apart from the slightly harsh winey note, a lot of paper and cardboard notes. A Beer-like carbonation taste (not saying there are bubbles in this one, an effect I know from a certain Teaninich, also bottled by Signatory (not reviewed yet, but I do have a bottle of that somewhere). Lots of pronounced Italian laurel licorice. Cumin and slightly minty. Hidden sweetness and a nice bitter (hoppy?), and slightly soapy, edge well into the finish. Well this one seems to have it all doesn’t it?

If you work on this a bit it is quite nice and wonderfully complex. For some it may be an acquired taste. You need to let this breathe for quite some time though, although seeing it change with time is quite nice as well. Interesting Malt. Recommended for aficionado’s. I liked the feel of the 10yo I reviewed earlier, and this one doesn’t disappoint as well. However, I’m not that positive about some of the other regular releases by the owners themselves, so be careful with buying those without trying.

Points: 85

 

Caol Ila 11yo 1994/2005 (58.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, First Fill Sherry Butts #12423 & #12424)

I actually picked the 1990 Caol Ila and this 1994 Caol Ila, to compare Bourbon cask matured and Sherry cask matured young Caol Ila’s. However I don’t think the 1990 was aged in a Bourbon cask, but rather in a Fino or similar type of Sherry cask. However, American oak is probably the wood of choice for the 1990, and maybe the comparison with the two types of Sherry is maybe even a more interesting one. I’m a bit on thin ice here, since nowhere it is said in what kind of cask the 1990 has matured, nor is there any mention for both of what type of Sherry previously inhabited the casks.

Caol Ila 11yo 1994/2005 (58.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, First Fill Sherry Butts #12423 & #12424)Color: Slightly orangey gold.

Nose: Fatty and funky Sherry. Raisins and wax. Stale rainwater and some muddy peat. Peaty clay, not very fatty or round, as some might say. The raisins do remind me a bit of a Highland Park bottled by Gordon & MacPhail as well. Although that one is much, much darker, it is the same raisiny aroma. Probably the same kind of Sherry. Wood spice and salty smoke. Nice creamy wood, smoky licorice. Perfumy sandalwood and a buttery acidity. Creamy and slightly meaty. Burning candles. Enough happening in this one. Vanilla comes late, it is just overpowered by so many other elements in the nose. A nose from an old house at christmas.

Taste: Initial sweetness with some toffee. Lots of wood, slightly dry, but it is soothing and not harsh nor sour. Some sweet licorice again, with some dusty spice and Cappuccino. After the dusty part comes a woody and slightly acidic wine-note. A fruity acidity that doesn’t fit this Whisky. It makes all the tastes up ’till now, fight each other, instead of becoming a band of brothers. It is obvious that this Sherry didn’t integrate that well. Dries the lips. Finish has only a medium length and quite bit of an unbalanced aftertaste, an apply acidity, which is not entirely tasty if you ask me. The aftertaste ruins it a bit for me. I definitely prefer the previous Caol Ila.

It almost seems as if you can’t go wrong with Caol Ila. Let’s say this is from a Oloroso Sherry or even a PX, both are considered somewhat “normal” Sherries, by wine-people, and considered of a lesser quality then a Sherry that has matured under flor, a “hat” of fungus that grows on the surface of the Sherry. The hat prevents contact with air. The G&M Caol Ila I reviewed the day before yesterday, I believe came form such a Sherry. For me that is the superior one of the two. I do usually prefer Oloroso ageing, especially when it is a Whisky that was aged a while back. Good Oloroso Sherry matured in European oak, instead of the American oak preferred by the Sherry industry these days. Vanilla, people, Sherry drinkers prefer a more creamy Sherry these days. European oak also seems to need longer ageing, to deal with the tannins, and that is time we don’t seem to have…

Points: 80

Grappa Week – Day 5: Marolo Moscato (42%, 70 cl, 2005)

Grappa Week LogoAfter the Villa Isa Moscato which showed us what a Moscato Grappa is, I still feel it can be done better. The Villa Isa is a very accessible Grappa made from Moscato grapes. It’s friendly, fruity and easily drinkable. Today’s Marolo is a Grappa company with quite a reputation, so lets see if this Marolo can beat the Villa Isa (as if it were a competition).

Marolo is all about Paolo Marolo and his successor, and son, Lorenzo. Paulo started in 1977 because he wanted to turn the rustic product into art! Anybody still wondering if Paolo is Italian?

Grappa Moscato MaroloColor: Colorless.

Nose: Hay and dry grass. But not so heavy and over the top. Soft. Small hints of fresh-cut grass or the smell you get when pruning a tree. More sappy and “wet”. From the start some more nice fruit, in part citrussy. Lemon (not lime). This is a more toned down version and cleaner, since this wasn’t aged in oak. Slow and laid back. No hurry, we’ll get there. Besides some spiciness, there is a vegetal and powdery note as well, which seems a very watered down mixture of lavas, licorice and toffee. When I nose it with some more vigour, the Moscato grape variety pops out in a dry and dusty way.

Taste: Fruity and sugary. Sugar water. Not thick, syrupy, fruity and heavy on the Moscato as I expected. In fact this matches the nose better. It is again laid back in style, soft and toned down. Very young, clean and clear, just like the look of the Grappa. In the background there is a more heavy note, something like diluted burnt caramel. Mixing with the heavy note, is a short stint of fruity acidity quickly overtaken by spice (white pepper, thyme and maybe some others). Lovely fruity finish and the more time passes after swallowing the better the finish gets, (it gets more spicier). Of course, when you wait too long, its gone. Making it the right moment for another sip.

A very quiet and elegant Moscato. It has its sweetness and in part it even is sugary. But this time, it’s all right. Easily drinkable and it seems to be the right distillate for some good introspection. I like the Marolo better than the Villa Isa, but they are also quite different from each other. One a bit loud and fruity, the other more introvert. One with ageing in wood the other young and clean. Even though the Marolo is also quite accessible, it still is a Grappa you have to get to know, to get the most out of it.

Points: 83

Glenmorangie 10yo “Traditional 100 Proof” (57.2%, OB, 1 Litre, 2005)

Next up an oldie from 2005. A cask strength Glenmorangie. We don’t see many of them these days, especially one that isn’t touched by any special cask. The back label mentions that this unchillfiltered Whisky came straight from the cask made from mountain oak. So what kind of wood is this? My guess is American Oak from the Ozark Mountains, Arkansas USA. Hinting that this is a 10yo Glenmorangie fully matured in Bourbon casks and bottled at cask strength. Nothing more and nothing less. My most avid readers will know that I am not a very big fan of Glenmorangie but got quite a surprise when I reviewed a recent 18yo

Glenmorangie Traditional 100 ProofColor: Light gold.

Nose: Aromatic and spicy yet closed, or maybe there isn’t a lot going on? Vanilla and typical bourbon cask notes. Slightly soapy and fresh and obviously high in alcohol. Vegetal and woody. It almost smells like it looks. It does smell a bit of sackcloth and oak. Dusty and powdery. Not very complex.

Taste: Sweet. Vanilla and pudding. Sweet alcohol. Mocha and vanilla pudding. Hints of Cappuccino and vanilla ice-cream. A woody bite, almost cigarette like, but also a short-lived fruity sweetness. Sugared raspberries and half-ripe forest strawberries. Thick toffee to hold it all together. Nice coffee-ish finish. Well balanced. This reminds me a bit of a young Bladnoch. That one has more butter, is softer and is a bit more vegetal, but that may very well be the only difference.

At first, a simple Whisky, but it grows on you. Give it time to breathe and it develops nicely. Nevertheless, this is actually an example of why I didn’t like Glenmorangie back in the day. (Let’s say, 10 years ago). It looks great, promises a lot, but this particular Whisky is simple and un-rewarding on the nose. It may very well be the reason I stopped buying Glenmorangie for a whole decade. The taste is a lot better though. I only picked up the fruity bits, when tasting this in the morning before breakfast. Last night after a very tiresome day, I didn’t pick up on the raspberry and strawberry at all.

The recent and “extremely rare” 18yo I tasted a while back, somewhat restored my faith in Glenmorangie and made me buy that very 18yo. Today, and tomorrow can be different, you can get three of those 18yo’s for the price of this cask strength Glenmorangie. A no brainer if you ask me.

Points: 83

Glentauchers 8yo 2005/2013 (46%, Dewar Rattray, For the Specialist’s Choice The Netherlands, Sherry Puncheon #900389, 403 bottles)

We are now in the middle of the rise of NAS Whiskies and very soon most Whiskies in our regular shops will have a names instead of a number or a vintage even. Whiskies that do have an age statement will be confined to airports and other travel retail outlets. But that’s only one of a few possible futures. What will happen to the Independent bottlers? Will they have a way to survive. Today many of them are capable of releasing pretty good Whiskies, although mediocrity is creeping into their products as well. How long will casks of Whisky be available to them? Are we going to see only affordable yet young Whisky from them as we already see with NAS Whiskies from the distilleries themselves. After the Ledaig I reviewed last, here we have another young Whisky coming from a Sherry cask. Glentauchers this time. Earlier I reviewed an older Glentauchers. also from a Sherry cask that was pretty good to say the least…

Glentauchers 8yo 2005/2013 (46%, Dewar Rattray, For the Specialist's Choice The Netherlands, Sherry Puncheon #900389, 403 bottles)Color: Full gold.

Nose: Sherried, creamy and fresh. Herbal and woody. Nice creamy oak, yes creamy oak. Fruity candy. Very likeable. Powdered. Quite a lot of vanilla. It really smells like a Sherry cask made with American oak.

Taste: Creamy and funky Sherry. Real acidic fruitiness right from the start. The creaminess and fruitiness don’t necessarily mix together well, especially when a paper-like note appears. In time that strange mixture passes and reveals more sweetness with the vanilla coming back here too. Paper and cardboard make up the finish, but not by itself. Notes from wood, mocha, Cappuchino, cigar box and creamy vanilla are also here to stay but mainly the fruity acidity returns with a vengeance. Whisky candy. Do you know those fruity gello’s in dark chocolate. That kind of fruity acidity contrasted by sweet dark chocolate. Accept this and you’ll be ok. Interesting stuff.

Although this has some flaws, it is also highly drinkable. This may not fetch the highest score, but it most certainly is nice to drink. Don’t analyze this to death, just grab it for the fun of it. Make it your daily drinker. I often rant a bit about reducing Whiskies, because sometimes the reduction makes the Whisky thin and watery. This time however I will hold my tongue, since I don’t feel reduction hurt the final product. It is good like this. I’ll stop now and pour myself another dram.

Points: 84

Longrow 14yo 1990/2005 (56.9%, SMWS, 114.5, “Smoked Sausages and Curry”)

So how was your Christmas? Here at Master Quill we are getting ready for the end of the year. Christmas is hardly over and in a few days’ time we’re seeing off 2014 and welcoming 2015. But we’re not there yet. Lets first have a look at a very nice Longrow. Two firsts on these pages. After two and a half years of writing still hardly any ground covered! Here is the first Longrow, or “Distillery #114” and the first review of a bottling that was released by The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS).

Longrow 14yo 1990/2005 '114.5'(56.9%, SMWS, Smoked Sausages and Curry)Color: Full gold.

Nose: Nice fatty, sweet and dirty peat, with malt shining through (if you let it breathe for a while). Oranges and animalesk. Sherry, toffee and lots of clay. Does it smell meaty or is the title forcing me to smell it? Smoked sausages? I don’t know. I smell a lot of clay. Just died down bonfire, before it gets cold. The sweet spiciness might well be curry, hot (temperature) and mild (in spices, ginger foremost). High quality. Coastal with smoke, Sherry and clay. No wood.

Taste: Sweet and smoky, yes bonfire again, hearth. Peppery, earthy peat and licorice, bordering on bitter licorice. Fruity, red and black fruits, with fruity sweetness under the hints of ashes and mint. Also sometimes a fruity acidity wanders through the spirit. Chewy smoked toffee. Highly aromatic, almost thick. Nice thick Sherry and caramel. Sometimes soapy. Nicely peated in the finish. Excellent and warming stuff this!

This bottle was used in the Campbeltown tasting I did with my Whisky club ‘Het Genietschap‘, together with the Kintra Glen Scotia I reviewed earlier. I really liked that one, but this one is even better! This really is a stunner. Excellent Longrow. For this review I’ve tasted this Malt two times. Once in the morning, before breakfast, and one time late in the evening. The difference is stunning. It is remarkable how much more tiny notes, or details if you prefer, one can pick up in the morning. The score is from the morning session.

Points: 91

Tamdhu 8yo 2005/2013 (59.6%, The Ultimate, Sherry Butt #347, 724 bottles)

The people who choose the casks really aren’t crazy. They obviously taste a lot, as they have released already some 500+ different bottlings, and many more probably have been rejected. Looking at the history of The Ultimate, most bottlings up untill 2005 were bottled at 43% ABV, and after that at 46% ABV. Sometimes however, a cask strength Whisky is released. Sometimes as a ‘Rare Reserve’ release, sometimes because a Whisky just doesn’t respond well to water and sometimes, being the Whisky lovers they are, they leave a Whisky be. It’s already good and it would be a shame to reduce it, let’s just bottle it.

In the recent past this was true for a lot of Islay Whiskies, like Bowmore, Laphroaig and some others, but more recently, a couple of bottlings of “other” Whiskies have surfaced at cask strength, which for me fall in the category of being a stunner in their own right, let’s not fiddle with it. One of those are the sherried Longmorn’s (17yo) of which, up untill now, six casks have been released, two of those I already reviewed: cask #72315 (the first) and cask #72319 (the third). It turns out there is another series that flew under my radar for a while: very young sherried Tamdhu’s. There are six of those as well. Five from 2004 (6yo, 7yo and 8yo) and one from 2005 (another 8yo), that was released last. Let’s review the latter one: the 2005, 8yo, from cask #347.

Tamdhu 8yo 20052013 (59.6%, The Ultimate, Sherry Butt #347, 724 bottles)Color: Pale gold.

Nose: Very full, buttery and spicy. lots of wood aroma’s, sawdust, pencil shavings with a little bit of cask toast, and quite alcoholic. What a stunning nose for such a young Whisky. Wild vanilla in peppered pudding. Musty and some deep licorice from the Sherry and toasted wood. Maybe not the most complex nose, but hey, it isn’t even ten years old, but it is very appealing. I can’t stop smelling this. The sweetish, toffee and butter notes leave the glass and the wood remains. The spicy and peppery wood is omnipresent in this bottling, so if this would have been bottled some years later, it probably “wood” have been too much. Now the wood gives a lot of character to the nose, without dominating. Good call.

Taste: Nice full body full on wood and caramel, toffee. Pepper and spice. Butter and salt. It’s in utter balance since the nose and the taste are a complete match. The taste itself is a bit unbalanced (huh?) because the wood gives off some sour oak which makes the body a bit less sweet than expected and this type of Whisky does need some sugars in the mix. Because of the same reasons, the finish isn’t as long as expected, nor does it leave a specific taste in your mouth (but it does leave a little bit of woody bitterness and butter). It should have been more cloying. All the wood that can be smelled and tasted predicted a lot of dryness even though some sweetness is present. Maybe this should have been bottled even sooner? Who would imagine that! Quite hot at nearly 60% ABV.

So it’s lacking some sugars, there is a lot of wood, so isn’t it any good? On the contrary. What remains is a very good young Tamdhu, that isn’t super complex, but does have a lot of character and I most definitely like this very much. I’m lucky to have stumbled on this, and could still buy it. Recommended!

Merry Christmas everybody!

Points: 87