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

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Tamdhu 23yo 1987/2010 (46%, Mo Òr, Oloroso Sherry Butt #3649, 656 bottles, 500ml)

Earlier I reviewed two young Tamdhu’s, a 2004 and a 2005 bottled by dutch indie bottlers The Ultimate (Van Wees) and both turned out to be pretty good. This time we’ll have a look at a much older 1987 bottling by another dutch outfit, this time Mo Òr (The Whisky Talker). Tamdhu’s are usually pretty good when matured in Oloroso, so I’m guessing this also wil not be too wonky.

Tamdhu 23yo 19872010 (46%, Mo Òr, Oloroso Sherry Butt #3649, 656 bottles, 500ml)Color: Orange gold.

Nose: Lovely creamy Sherry. Nice alcoholic nuttiness. Clay and cask toast. Not too cloying and can be even called fresh, like in a breath of fresh air (carrying a little bit of dust). Licorice mixed with a hint of burnt leaves. Very aromatic, just move it around in your glass and lots of aroma leaps out of the glass. Creamy vanilla and some good oak. Nice balance and highly aromatic. Medium complexity but very appetizing.

Taste: Creamy with licorice and cask toast. Warming, and half-sweet. Clotted cream. However, already from the start this has a “thin” quality to it, which is remarkable since the nose was so aromatic and full. In stead of the creamy and honeyed sweetness, it starts with a sharpish burnt note. Charcoal and in the background a tiny hint of sulphur. The vanilla cream comes later. Smoky toffee. Warming with good creamy sherry and although the start was thin, the finish does linger on a bit.

I’m guessing this was better at cask strength. Very appetizing. good stuff and the kind of Whisky you’ll want to have first when this is in your collection, so easily drinkable. A bottle that will be empty soon, also because it’s only 500ml. Yup, not wonky at all.

Points: 88

Scapa 23yo 1979/2002 (54.7%, Ian MacLeod, Chieftain’s, Sherry Butt #6632, 567 bottles)

I broke the corkSo it’s time to celebrate the first anniversary of Master Quill and I’ve picked this bottle of 1979 Scapa, bottled in 2002. Well, things got off really good! Like I said, I would rip open this bottle and so I did accidentally. I broke off the cork! Bugger!

Like with the Dun Bheagan range these Chieftain’s bottles are by Ian MacLeod. A few years ago I tasted its sister cask (#6633) blind and liked that one a lot, since I scored it 92 Points. Reason enough to look for this one for quite some time and snap it up at an auction.

Scapa is the lesser known distillery from The Island of Orkney. The better known obviously being Highland Park. Well actually, Scapa is one of the lesser known distilleries from Scotland! Scapa was founded in 1885. The distillery was closed a few times. The first time between 1934 and 1936 and the second time between 1994 and 1997. From 1997 on Scapa distilled Whisky again for a few months per year using staff from the nearby Highland park distillery. In 2004 the distillery is refurbished, and one year later Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard) buys the distillery. Scapa is now known for their 16yo that replaced the 14yo, that replaced the 12yo, that replaced the 10yo. Are you still following me?

Scapa 23yo 1979/2002 (54.7%, Ian MacLeod, Chieftain's, Sherry Butt #6632, 567 bottles)Color: Copper

Nose: Very musty Sherry, but already some black fruits are shining through. The initial musty smell wears off (a bit), and shows some spice and some coastalness (is there such a word?). Gets deeper and deeper, with a very balanced fruitiness. I guess this is one that needs to breathe for a while, but already is shows it’s potential. It does have some balls! What I like about this one that is has multiple facets, it changes on you if you give it time.

Taste: Yeah, this will be no punishment to drink all! Nice going. perfect combination of sweetness and fruits and in the mouth there is no hint of the sewer-like smell that was there in the beginning, (I may be exaggerating a bit). It has some wood, but the whole is so bold, it needs this spice and wood to pull it together. There is also some bitterness from the wood, but again this one needs it. At this point in time (freshly opened and needing to breathe) it’s not completely balanced, but it will get there in the end. Complex, well, not exactly. It shows some sourness from the oak, but after half an hour it is pulling together, and it has a great and long finish. This again is a stunner!

Well I can say this, because I love this whisky (and it’s sister cask). It sweet and fruity, has a nice finish and this is well counteracted by several effects from the wood. Like Frank Drebin said; “I love it” (He actually said it several times…)

Points: 91

Balmenach 23yo 1988/2011 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Hogshead #1150, 440 bottles, 500 ml)

Why not try another Balmenach. Earlier I tried a Bladnoch Forum Balmenach from 1983, this time one by Dutch indie bottlers Mo Òr. A lot of those 1988 Balmenachs are bottled by Gordon & MacPhail and by the SMWS (Scotch Malt Whisky Society). There ís a sister cask around of this Mo Òr bottling. David Stirk (Creative Whisky Company) bottled Refill Bourbon Hogshead #1148 this year.

Color: White wine.

Nose: Wow! Spicy, lively, younger than expected. The cask impaired not a lot of characteristics on the whisky, so this is probably a refill Hogshead as well. Dusty and powdery, very dry, but not woody yet. In the back there is some perfume. Dry leaves and cloves. Toffee with mocha and a hint of lemon soap and late wood. Well maybe the cask was inactive, the whisky shure isn’t. Good balanced nose.

Taste: Sweet from the start, toffee, mocha and a hint of wood. Powdered sugar. Dangerously easy drinkable. Some red cherry candy. But the softness in this is fabulous. Dries out a little that adds to the character. Slightly imbalanced finish due to a shift into the sourness of wood, that doesn’t fit the rest of the palate. Finish isn’t too long.

Very nice whisky. I have to say that this may be another great find after those Ardmore’s. I see that a lot of Balmenachs from 1988, 1989 and 1990 are pretty good! Worth looking into some more. Recommended.

Points: 86

Brora 23yo 1981/2004 (48.6%, Ian MacLeod, Dun Bheagan, Sherry Butt #1513, 336 bottles)

Hello November! Looking outside, this month seems to bring us damn close to winter. Here we have a bottle of Brora 1981 bottled by indie bottlers Ian Macleod in their Dun Bheagan range. Ian MacLeod have a few other brands you might know. The Chieftains Range or “As we get it” for instance. The company is also the owner of the Glengoyne distillery, which is one of my favourites. Go!

Color: Orangey Gold

Nose: Green. Sweet, a type of lemonade sweetness. Musty and wet tea leaves. Slightly sherried and a hint of plain oak. Green apples. Vanilla ice cream. Perfumy. Some more wet cold black tea leaves and dried grass.

Taste: Thick and sweet. There are the tea leaves again. Syrupy. Sherry. Nicely round and precisely the right amount of wood to give it some body. Nice warming and the sweetness remains for the finish. Chewy plywood. Not overly complex and dangerously easily drinkable.

Brora is my number one Single Malt Whisky. It’s fabulous stuff and when it’s bad, like this one, it’s still a whole lot better than many others. Once there was a time there weren’t a lot of 1981 casks around, but today the market is swarmed by these, and some are better than others. The casks from this range 15xx are all pretty different. Butts, Puncheons and even some Hogsheads. So there should be some difference. I’ve tasted about four of those, one of them a cask sample of an unbottled cask, and all are comparable in quality. Nice, easy drinking whiskies. Not very complex though.

Points: 87

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