Royal Lochnagar 28yo 1977/2005 (58.5%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, Hogshead #310, 260 bottles)

New Lochnagar was founded in 1845. New Lochnagar? Yes. First Lochnagar was built in 1823, and burnt down by “the competition” just three years later. The distillery was rebuilt, only to burn down again in 1841. So the distillery was rebuilt again in 1845 as New Lochnagar. Lochnagar became Royal in 1848 (it lies very close to Balmoral Castle). No more fires burning down the house, but still a lot of construction going on. In 1906 the distillery was rebuilt yet again and in 1963 completely renewed.

Here we will try an independent Lochnagar, again a Blackadder Raw Cask with cask sediment in the bottle. This time no powdered char, but only small chunks of charred wood.

Color: Full Gold

Nose: Fresh, sea spray wich changes quickly into a damp wine cellar. Very spicy wood and vanilla. Resembles the sweet smell of a bourbon, high on rye. Mocha with a hint of ground coffee. Varnish and fresh mint leaves (not bruised). This smells like it will be very sweet. Very nice nose.

Taste: Strong and sweet, but luckily not as sweet the nose predicted. Butter caramels and the varnish is here again. The whole is very full bodied. Wood with Aspirin (wow, that’s a first). Nutty and ashy. The finish is drier than in the beginning, but still sweet enough to mask a lot of the wood. It doesn’t taste like it, but underneath it’s pretty woody. The dry finish ends in a little bitterness that reveals this woodyness.

In the end a quite nice Lochnagar. The finish is dryer and has some bitterness that seems a bit off compared with the sweetness from the beginning. Maybe not a 90+ scoring malt, but definitively a very interesting Lochnagar if you want a complete collection. Still, with these flaws in the finish I have a little soft spot for this Lochnagar, since the nose and the initial taste are really great.

Points: 88

p.s. This one is at the time of writing still available in Russia for 534 Euro’s

Convalmore 28yo 1977/2005 (57.9%, OB, 3900 bottles)

Convalmore is one of those distilleries that is no more. Thinking of closed distilleries I alway think about Monty Pythons dead parrot sketch:  It’s not pinin’! It’s passed on! This distillery is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet ‘its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Its chemical processes are now ‘istory! It’s off the twig! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-DISTILLERY! Or something down those lines.

Convalmore was founded in 1893. A large part of the distillery was destroyed in a fire in 1909. It was rebuilt with an added continuous still to make whisky at a lower cost. This didn’t work so the stills were discontinued in 1916. In 1962 the stills were heated indirectly with steam. Convalmore was mothballed in 1985 and the buildings were sold to William Grant & Sons in 1990, who use them for storing their own malts.

Color: Full Gold

Nose: Sweet caramels, more brown sugar and leafy. Promises a full body, gravy. Fresh. Tea with spicy wood, calcium (a sort of powdery dryness) and sea-spray. Definitively meaty at first. Unbelievable, but this has hints of raspberry. Sawdust, Mocha with milk chocolate and orange juice. Vanilla and a touch of banana. Based on the nose alone, a very classy distillate. Great balance. Maybe not the most complex of malts at first, but give this nose some time and you’ll be rewarded. I like this a lot.

Taste: Spicy and sugary, fruity sweet with a turning point into wood and beer. Also some Worcester sauce and almonds. The transition from the toffee sweetness that turns quickly into the dry wood is quite interesting. Again some orange-juice. The beer returns, with the wood, in the finish. Well its safe to say that this one is all about the wood. you don’t hear me say that it’s too much of overpowering. No. it is a woody whisky, but it is one of those that really should be woody. Wood is its strength. The rest of the body is firm enough to counterpart the wood. Again very interesting, but no easy dram. I hate the word, but this may be for connoisseurs only.

I don’t hear this a lot, but I ám very intrigued by the special releases of Diageo (and the rare Malts of course). I’d really want to meet the people who make these releases. To know what they have in mind, what they use from their warehouses, and why. Intrigued. And give it some time to breathe. By the way, it worked well with water too.

Points: 87

Port Ellen 28yo 1982/2010 (57.5%, Whiskysite.nl, Refill Sherry Puncheon #2039, 100 bottles)

This Port Ellen is from Dutch retailers Whiskysite.nl (100 bottles). It is a cask-share with Belgian retailers QV.ID (72 bottles). Original bottlers Old Bothwell bottled the rest for Germany (Amount of bottles unknown). So there are three different labels for this bottle. Since a Puncheon ranges between 470 and 600 litres, and the angels are not thát greedy, there should be a lot bottled for Germany. Mind you, a Puncheon is never filled to the brim. The bottles gained a reputation quickly and were sold out in a blink of an eye.

Color: Light Gold.

Nose: A day at the beach in the springtime and springtide. A nice musty and fresh Fino Sherry nose. Very distant licorice. No Port Ellen rubber, and not very briny or overly peaty. It’s quite sweet and elegant. The Sherry play a large role in defining this nose. It’s unbelievable how fresh this is. If you give it some time, the tar, smoke and sea saltyness arrive in a very laid back style. Like so many of these, it has a citric component. Since this is no beast at all, you’ll have to give it your full attention. Don’t smoke or eat. Just you with this Port Ellen. It has balance and complexity, but seems so fragile.

Taste: Yeah, creamy, full-bodied Port Ellen. Black and white powder, licorice, vanilla, spicy hay, wow! This has to be cask strength, otherwise it would have been ruined. It hasn’t got a lot of wood (you’ll feel it later on the tongue), but you can detect the toast. Utter balance and very full bodied.

Again no misses with Port Ellen. Very light and delicate, even atypical nose for a Port Ellen, but when you put it in your mouth, the rollercoaster gets going! Beautiful Port Ellen. Ellen’s a nice lass.

Points: 92

Thanks Jack, for the sample!

Inchgower 28yo 1982/2010 (50.7%, Bladnoch Forum, Hogshead #6966, 222 bottles)

And here is another Whisky that stands atop of my lectern. This time an Inchgower bottled by Raymond Armstrong, the owner of Bladnoch Distillery. Bladnoch was founded in 1817, and Raymond bought it in 1995 and opened it again in 2000. Well this “Raymondo” has a website, and if that’s not all, he even has a forum. Well if you think that’s it now, wait, it gets better! Raymond buys casks of other distilleries’ whisky, bottles them, and sells them to members of the Bladnoch Distillery Forum. And it has to be said, he does that at very, very reasonable prices.

Now we move on to Inchgower, since it’s Inchgower that’s inside of the bottle. If you want to see how Raymonds operation looks like, and how this particular Inchgower was bottled, here is a link to a film made by our one and only Ralfy, certified Malt Maniac. (Just for the fun of it, I have bottle number 14)

Color: Copper Gold.

Nose: Caramel, estery and oaky. Distant liquorice, tar, olive oil and maybe even petroleum. All of this combined with some warm apple sauce and gravy. The nose hints of coming sweetness. It is a great nose, but when you sniff this for some time before tasting it there is something that’s not quite right, sort of unbalanced. You know it smells great, but…

Taste: Tar again, coal, sour oak. Almost as if it were made with steam and luckily it is not the sweet monster I expected. I hate it when a whisky is sugary sweet or simply too sweet. Instant headache. But don’t worry this is nothing like that. The top of the taste is very good. You’ll like it. The middle is oak, in a nice and elegant way. The finish is more the sour part of oak and sort of unbalanced, breaks down and is not very long. The wood is never overpowering or too strong. It’s a very nice example of Inchgower.

The bottle is almost full, but was opened last november (how time flies). I’ve tried small drams since then, and it got absolutely more balanced since the day of opening. Initial score was 85, but it will go higher now.

Points: 88

In fact it tastes more like an 89, but I had to take a point off for the slightly unbalanced finish.