Brora 22yo 1981/2004 (56.4%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, Sherry Butt #1561, 611 bottles)

600Post number 600, so lets break out something special. Special for me is Brora. Sure Port Ellen, Ardbeg, Lagavulin, they all are Cohiba’s, but Brora is Trinidad. Brora is extra special (to me). 600 is a round number but it’s not 1.000, 10.000 or even a million. It’s 600, so I won’t be reviewing a 1972 Brora, which for me is the pinnacle of them all. The 30yo OB from 2004 contains lots of 1972 Brora, so look at that review how great 1972 Brora can be. Back to this Signatory bottling from 1981. In 1981 Brora was in production, obviously, but were all over the place. Some expressions are full of peat and some are not. I wonder if this one has some peat to it…

Brora 22yo 1981/2004 (56.4%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, Sherry Butt #1561, 611 bottles)Color: Copper gold.

Nose: Fresh and vivid. Definitely Sherry, but in no way funky. Quickly a fresh creamy and toffee note develops and only a mere hint of peat, just inhale vigorously. Needs to breathe a bit. Nice soft woody note, which sometimes take a turn towards old paper turned yellow. A bit dusty as well, (with whiffs of white peach). In no way dry. Quite spicy. I tickles the nose, and again toffee mixed with wax. Chewy would be the word. Mild yellow fruit notes appear, adding some acidity and yet more freshness to the nose. It’s not typically peach, white or other, but some whiffs come across as peach in semi-sweet yoghurt. The wood stays soft and is part of the fruity and creamy mix, instead of giving it a spine. Its nice overall, and does develop al lot, where initially it didn’t seem very complex. Hardly any peat at all and just a splash of smoke.

Taste: Thick, waxy and fruity. Definitely a profile we get from fruity Speysiders from the seventies. Nice soft wood. Toffee, without being very sweet. It has some fruity sweetness, but just the right amount. It has more than 56% ABV, but it’s still friendly. Not hot, nor burning my throat. Very drinkable. To my amazement, a lot disappears towards the finish and the finish itself is medium at best. Only in the aftertaste it starts to come apart a bit, fading out. Just the right moment to take another sip.

This one isn’t about the peat and the smoke, and the ruggedness of highlands, and sea storms after which you need warming. This one is for those moment you need an old Speysider, Bourbon matured, with lots of fruit and wax. Remember this isn’t from a Bourbon cask, but is from a Sherry butt. It has hints of peat and smoke. It’s a bit like the profile Benromach is going for today with the new 10yo and 15yo.

Points: 89

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Cardhu 22yo 1982/2005 (57.8%, OB, 3600 bottles)

Cardhu is a very special distillery in the portfolio of Diageo, since it is their biggest selling malt (Spain and France mainly), but when talking to other enthusiasts the response isn’t all that…well enthousiastic. There is only talk of old bottles of Cardhu. Since 2006 a special cask reserve is issued, which isn’t welcomed with open arms, but since it sells so well, it must be the ultimate entry-level whisky. Personally I don’t like it.

Founded in 1811 by the illicit distiller John Cumming, who became legal in 1824. In 1884 the old distillery is replaced. Purchased by John Walker & Sons in 1893. Then in 2002 a small revolution took place. Cardhu, the whisky was silently changed into a vatted malt. (Several single malts blended together). The bottle and the label stayed the same, just the word ‘single’ changed into ‘pure’. Well this didn’t last long,  in 2004 the ‘pure malt’ was withdrawn. Luckily in 2005 this 22yo was issued.

Color: Gold.

Nose: Hmmmm, smooth. Sweet mocha. Fatty milk chocolate. Very elegant wood. Noses sweet and yes, smooth. It doesn’t seem overly complex, but is does smell very balanced. Everything fits and is instantly likeable. Hint of mens cologne, and an even smaller hint of sweat. Great!

Taste: Sweet and malty, with a sweet/spicy kick, and a peppery, warming, yet still sweet finish, with some butter and cream. A combination to die for. Very good. The wood profile is great, it’s there, but some components aren’t. Not a lot of bitterness, some sourness, but still it’s there with its spiciness. Again not overly complex, but all that’s there is great! Apricots on syrup are presented very late in the finish, excellent vegetal and green finish. Even though the fight between the sweet and sour seems a bit unbalanced, it is very interesting.

Points: 91