Glencadam 30yo 1975/2006 (54.4%, Dewar Rattray, Cask Collection, Bourbon Cask #7588, 216 bottles)

Why not make it a double bill, and review our third Glencadam. Both Glencadam’s I reviewed earlier managed to score a nice 85 Points, so let’s see if this one does better. This particular on is 30 years old, and by itself it’s older than both previous examples put together. This is another one from the attic, since it was released back in 2006. The difference couldn’t be greater when comparing it to the Glencadam I just reviewed. It is twice the age and this one comes from a Bourbon cask, surely it will do better?

Glencadam 30yo DRColor: Full gold, and only slightly lighter than the 15yo.

Nose: Half sweet and nice biscuity barley. Slightly spicy and reminds me of old Dutch Jenever. Definitely some Bourbon influences. Some waxy elements, but not much. In fact the Whisky smells quite young and vibrant and not at all would you expect it to be 30 years old. Fresh, hints of citrus and only mere hints of vanilla. Dusty wood completes the nose. That’s it, not much more is happening. After a while more fruit comes to the fore. Sweetish yellow fruits. Some unripe banana skin. Adding to the structure of banana comes powdered coffee-creamer, in the smell a creamy variant of vanilla. Dusty and slightly dried out ice-cream after you spilled it and didn’t clean it right away. Given some time the freshness takes a back seat and the whole is nice but also rather dull. Not a very active cask I’m afraid. Having said that, it does smell like something from the past.

Taste: Wood, paper and cardboard and after that a short, sharp attack, quickly followed by a short sweet note. After the sweetness comes some woody bitterness. Distant dull vanilla. Waxy again. Cold candle wax. So the body is present and almost chewy, yet surrounded by dry paper and woody notes. A nice old Bourbon matured Whisky, but not a stellar one like 1972 Caperdonich or 1976 Tomatin, to name but a few. Here also some fruit emerges, but again a bit dull. Dried bits of pineapple and some old broken almond bits, you sometimes find in the couch. Luckily the sweetish and fruity note dominate the body, not leaving much room for the woody bitterness. The finish has medium length, but there isn’t much happening afterwards. What stays around for the longest, apart from general (cardboardy) creaminess, is a sour note you get from (new) oak.

Not bad, quite nice, but also not spectacular as well. No real off notes and nothing (bad) overpowering the whole. Still a nice one to pick up when all of its distant relatives are sold out. Definitely a lot better than most of the modern Whiskies though. I’ll have fond memories of this nevertheless.

Points: 85

Cognac Week – Day 4: Château Montifaud XO (40%, OB, 1981/2011)

Cognac Week LogoJust like I promised yesterday, Today we’ll return to Château Montifaud, and this time we will have a look at their XO expression. (Extra Old). By law an XO should be at least 6yo, but again we see that Montifaud age their Cognacs longer than necessary. This XO is 30yo! In 2016 however law will be changed, and an XO should be 10yo, but I don’t think Montifaud will age their 30yo XO Cognac even longer, now the law will change. Just like the VS, this is made with grapes from the Petite Champagne region. It maybe a “lesser” region than the Grande Champagne Region, but Montifaud will know what to do with these “inferior” grapes, if the VS is anything to go by.

Chateau Montifaud XOColor: Orange copper gold (ever so slightly lighter than the VS.)

Nose: Winey and with some added acidity, which smells as “age”. Deeper and more brooding. Old bottle effect and powdery. It’s different from the VS which already had a beautiful nose. This XO is really a fantastic Spirit to smell. It’s so nice, that I completely forgot to take notes when I was nosing this!

Taste: Winey and sweet. It’s even more winey than the VS and lacks the licorice, its younger brother has. Honey and green apple skins. Fragile old age. This one has more depth, (but not as much as I’ve come to expect from a 30yo Cognac). It does have much more staying power compared to the VS The finish has a well hidden burnt wood note that’s hardly there. When that dissipates it shows a slightly translucent acidic note that also quickly dissipates. The sweetness is less of a honey quality and more of plain sugar, and it’s always present. If the sweetness would be more refined, it would have been an even better Cognac.

Coming from a Whisk(e)y background, I find these Cognacs to be very…lovely and light. Even these old blended stuff of 25yo like the Jean Fillioux, and this 30yo Montifaud come across as a bit too simple in the taste, and I do believe the lowest possible ABV. for a Cognac is hurting the wealth of aroma’s these kinds of Cognac should have. So age isn’t everything when you start adding a lot of water. In fact I don’t want to write about this again. With this one I want to sit back and enjoy.

Points: 86

Campbeltown Loch 30yo (40%, Springbank Distillery, 09/507)

I get this all the time. “You always write about Single Malt Whisky, as if there is no other Whisky”. Yes, those people might have a point, but I do prefer Single Malt over today’s Blends, but forgetting about blends altogether, would be a mistake. Just have a go with a blend from the olden days to convince yourself. Mind you, most of them still are very inexpensive at auctions, so it doesn’t cost a lot to be adventurous.

Here we have a Blend that was brought to you by the good people of Springbank. Hence the use of the standard Springbank bottle. For now, let’s give this 30yo blend a go, and more about the ingredients of this Blend later…

Campbeltown Loch 30yoColor: Gold.

Nose: Grainy, dull at first, with some paper notes. Cola freshness. The whole is very malty and light, so there probably is a lot of Grain in this Blend. Not a lot of old Whisky aroma is oozing out of my glass. Hints of old Sherried Malt, yeast and cardboard. Next some old wood emerges with dusty and, slightly smoky, notes of very dried out apricots. So slightly fruity and waxy, typical for old Bourbon casked Malt. Oak spice and some woody mint, but not as much as you would expect after 30 years.

Taste: Grainy, Malty and sweet. Very light. Light mocha and milk chocolate notes. Nice cookie dough and waxy depth and although quite thin, it has a bit of chewiness to it. Still, the body remains very light and fragile, grainy and lightly fruity. Towards the end a vegetal and a soury note from the oak leads into the weakish and quite short finish. It comes across as watered down, and hardly seems 40% ABV at all. You know what my next remark would be…

Before we continue, here is what Springbank had to say about this Blend: “Around 45% of the Campbeltown Loch 30yo is made up of the old 25yo, which was allowed to mature on. That 25yo blend was almost 100% malt and contained some 1964 Springbank along with other single malts including 1977 Ardmore, 1977 North Port, 1978 Tomatin, 1977 Imperial, 1976 Glengarioch, 1976 Ardbeg and 1976 Glen Grant. 30yo grain from Girvan was added to that, to complete the new 30yo Campbeltown Loch.“ Well I couldn’t have said that any better myself.

The old 25yo they mention was made from almost 100% Malt Whisky, so it almost was a Blended Malt, or Vatted Malt we used to call it back then. This 30yo however, contains only 40% Malt Whisky, so a lot of that Girvan was added to the old 25yo.

Yes it’s nice, but also very light. This Blend has a lot of fans and why not, just read the list of its contents again. Check out the age again. Personally, I don’t really get a lot of the old malts in this blend and I don’t think the Girvan was matured in very active casks, that mask the old Malts even more. Nevertheless, nice stuff and I won’t have a problem finishing this, but I can’t help but feel this could have been even better by adding less Girvan and bottling fewer bottles, since there weren’t any more old Malts available. I do hope I get to try the old 25yo Blend someday…

Points: 85

Karuizawa 30yo 1983/2013 (55.8%, OB, Geisha Label, for The Whisky Exchange, Bourbon Cask #8606, 350 bottles)

Every time someone in the world dares to open a bottle like this, an earthquake occurs amongst collectors. Up ’till now lots of old bottles of Scottish Whiskies, particularly from closed or classic Speyside or Islay distilleries, fetched the highest prices. Today it may very well be Karuizawa, a Japanese Whisky, which is delicious and becoming extremely rare. These bottles are bottled, and hardly anyone opens them anymore. Well not Master Quill! I’m very happy to open my less than-half sample of this Karuizawa and share my thoughts with the world!

Karuizawa 30yo 1983/2013 (55.8%, OB, Geisha Label, for The Whisky Exchange, Bourbon Cask #8606, 350 bottles)Color: Vibrant full gold.

Nose: Wow, this emits heaps of aroma. Nice rubbery notes and extremely waxy. Fresh and vibrant and highly aromatic. It oozes a typical Japanese nutty kind of smell and cask toast. Fragrant green tea combined with the more obvious creamy vanilla note we know from casks made of American oak that once held Bourbon (or Tennessee Whiskey). There is some kind of sweet sensation underneath that reminds me a bit of hot sugar-water. The wood emits fresh oak and fresh tree sap, with whiffs of powdered coffee creamer. Quite floral and fruity. The fruity part are hints of fresh (thus not over-ripe) plums. The floral part is more about fruit trees in bloom rather than any kind of flowers. Elegant stuff.

Taste: Quite hot with ashes and an old oaky bitterness. Pencil shavings and some sort of hidden fruitiness. Lovely dusty nuttiness comes to the forefront too, making this a woody Whisky. Dark bitter chocolate and (ear) wax. If you can get past all the furniture and dark chocolate, there is some candied fruit behind all that.

Never owning a bottle myself I had some kind of luck having tried this one several times. Once from a freshly opened bottle, but also the last few drops from a bottle that had some time to let the Whisky breathe. I have to say that this particular Karuizawa is stellar when freshly opened, but with that the oxidation starts. Usually oxidation is not a bad this in Whisky, but sometimes oxidation changes or even ruins the Whisky. Here we have an example where oxidation really can change the Whisky. When this Karuizawa oxidizes the focus shifts more towards the (especially in the taste), whereas the freshly opened bottle is way more fruity. I don’t have a freshly opened bottle at hand, so this review is written tasting the last drops of the bottle, but I do remember the Whisky well when it was freshly opened. The score is for the freshly opened bottle. The last drops would score around 87 points so beware!

Points: 95

The Balvenie 30yo “Thirty” (47.3%, OB, Circa 2011)

After the young and very affordable Benromach, we are now going to look at a Balvenie that isn’t young nor affordable. For this expression, the story is that David Steward hand-picks some exceptional casks that are more than 30 years old. Casks that once held Bourbon as well as ex-Sherry casks. How unusual. These casks are then blended together and after a while bottled. Quite a surprising technique. A shame though, that only 30 years and older casks could be used for this expression, because the public demands Whiskies with an age statement… Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Quite unfair of me actually, since The Balvenie bottle a whole lot of Whiskies with an age statement…

The Balvenie 30yo ThirtyColor: Light orange gold.

Nose: Funky, but in a good way. Sherried with Haagse Hopjes (Dutch coffee flavoured candy). Bad breath and old elegant wood often go together. Creamy. A distinguished gentleman, and after the Benromach “Organic” you know this will hurt your bank-account. Freshly sawn wood and hints of saw dust. Vanilla and some caramel. Powdered candy. Sometimes whiffs of Marmite and lavas float by. Actually, this doesn’t smell as old Whisky as I’ve expected. It smells like an old yet modern Whisky. Well balanced, but quite a lot of wood in the nose.

Taste: Sweet powdered candy, but also fruity. Sherry with cherries and other red fruits like raspberries. Thick toffee and slightly acidic. Acidity from fruits but also acidity you get from (freshly sawn old) oak. Not as complex in the taste as I expected. Coffee, cask toast and quite warming. Some bitterness towards the finish though.

A good, but not super-premium-great Balvenie. For this kind of money you can do better I guess. Just have a look at some of the TUN-versions that are around. Nevertheless, a more than decent Balvenie, period.

Points: 87

Jura 30yo 1984/2014 (44%, OB, American White Oak, Amoroso & Apostoles Casks, 1984 bottles)

Well, this should prove to be an interesting review. First of all, not a lot of Jura’s are around with this kind of age behind its belt. Second, I do know what Amoroso is (Sweetened Oloroso Sherry, most definitely not the highest quality Sherry around), but Apostoles? George OrwellThird, unbelievable what this Malt costs. It has been reduced to 44% (I think) and for sure is colored, why? Is this typical caramel colour so much better than the colour of the original Whisky? Fourth, This malt has been “created to celebrate the famous George Orwell” what’s next, a 2011 Isle of Jura bottled at 50% ABV to celebrate E.L. James? She probably put up a tent of her own on the Island too some point in time. Fifth, in 2003 Jura already released a 1984 commemorative bottling for George Orwell. This time with a Palo Cortado Oloroso finish (I understand that one wasn’t so great). Sometimes I just don’t love marketing. Let’s concentrate on the Whisky then.

But first a word about Apostoles. Apostoles is a Palo Cortado Sherry, a 30yo from González Byass. From Wikipedia: “Palo Cortado is a rare variety of Sherry that is initially aged under flor to become a Fino or Amontillado, but inexplicably loses its veil of flor and begins aging oxidatively as an Oloroso. The result is a wine with some of the richness of Oloroso and some of the crispness of Amontillado”.

I told you it would be interesting.

Isle of Jura 30yo 1984/2014 (44%, OB, American White Oak, Amoroso & Apostoles Casks)Color: Copper gold.

Nose: Extremely pleasant nose. Thick Sherry, but not your normal run-of-the-mill Sherry, but special Sherry coming from the black coal age. Thick but also fruity. Cherry syrup. Antiques, with a small hint of smoke and toast. Unusual but well crafted. The nose shows great balance. I don’t know how they crafted this, but is really smells awesome. To me it smells like something from the fifties or sixties. It has oldness, a backbone and nice fruits. So job well done.

Taste: Fruity again, but somehow not the same fruitiness as the nose promised. The coal returns but in a more creamy way. Vanilla pudding and orange skins. Again well-balanced. Great stuff, but. It’s a bit weak, it has been reduced too much. Why? Money? It’s already colored, and now it’s also reduced too much to fetch more? Ok forget about that for a minute. This is a wonderful malt, that probably was stellar before reduction. Now it’s still great, however it starts to go off a bit, halfway through the body. Although it breaks down in the middle of the body, the yielded parts are still nice and balanced. John Lennon and Paul McCartney did make good solo albums by themselves, but… The only flaw is the weakness of the finish and the shortness of it. I would have liked the creamy fruitiness to stay on a little while longer.

Reading through the intro, I may not be too happy with Jura’s marketing department, ok the packaging looks pretty nifty though. I am impressed with the people involved in crafting this Whisky, and that’s where it’s all about. I’m just a bit sad this great Whisky got reduced too much, albeit 2% higher than the former Orwellian bottle. If only it were somewhere in between 46 and 50% ABV. Maybe next time in 2024, when the Palo Cortado’s turn 40 we get a version bottled at 46% ABV. Watch the wood people.

Points: 90

Many thanks go out to Dave G. for providing the Whisky.

Benromach 30yo (43%, OB, First Fill & Refill Sherry Casks)

For those of you who haven’t noticed it, Benromach is HOT these days! Since the day word got out Gordon & MacPhail are taking over the distillery, people started to take an interest, but nothing more. But all of a sudden Benromach seems to have arrived. The core range got a bit changed and the look modernized. Big winner from this all: The Benromach 10yo and when it was released later in 2014 The Benromach 10yo “100 Proof”, both reviewed by me lately. Gordon & MacPhail are some kind of synonym for quality, so even though the 30yo, we are about to review, was distilled under different management, The Whisky was cleared for release.

Benromach 30Color: Light gold with a pinkish hue. Sherry all right.

Nose: Extremely malty and waxy. Stuff you smell from older Whiskies. Wood excellently blended in, never to overpower. Great balance already. Vegetal oil and old polished furniture. Polished a long time ago for the last time. Next dry and powdery. Aren’t there any sherry note then? Yes there are. Although this could be from different kinds of Sherry casks, I’m especially picking up notes from Fino Sherry, hence the light colour? Although Fino’s are quite dry or even bone dry, This Whisky’s aroma promises some sweetness. Distant remnant of smoke and coal. The whole has some “oldness” to it.

Taste: Sugary sweet, (marzipan, vanilla), with fruity Sherry. Dry old raisins. Slight bitterness from the (toasted) wood, but more in a refill cask style. Hints of burnt caramel. Elegant again. The fruits, apricots, dried pineapple, try to add some acidity to the sweetness but they don’t manage to. It’s only a breath of fruity acidity, not enough apricots to do that. My tongue proves to me that the finish is drying and probably quite woody, but the sweetness coats it all and hides this very well. Two layers, interesting. The finish is exactly like the body, a seamless transition.

Today this Whisky is quite expensive. I love it but it somehow lacks some complexity to warrant its price. Although there in nothing wrong in this case with 43% ABV, I would have like this slightly higher in alcohol, it would make the woody part stand out a bit better, and I hope it would balance out the sweetness a bit. As I said before, good balance and none of the markers I mentioned are overpowering.

Points: 87

Thanks Stan for the Sample!