Tomatin 34yo 1976/2011 (46%, Mo Òr, Sherry Butt #4, 954 bottles, 500 ml)

I had a craving for a nice fruit bomb, so I pulled this Tomatin by indie bottlers Mo Òr out of its hidingplace. As many of you might know. 1976 is a pretty famous year for Tomatin. Lots of (Independent) bottlings from this year are considered amongst the best around. Bottles from this year by The Whisky Agency or by Duncan Taylor fetch amazing prices when sold at auctions. Just not a lot of Tomatin 1976 around at shops anymore…

Color: Copper Gold.

Nose: Yeah! is the first word that comes to mind, nosing this. Waxy and fruity, but also a nice kind of old dustiness. Chocolate, mocha and old laid back Sherry, more of the Fino kind if you ask me. Very structured and refined. Probably a refill cask. A little bit creamy. Distinguished, but not the famous 70’s (exotic) fruits in this, like we know from the 30yo. Very elegant wood, combined with an acidic kind of smell. Mocha again and a little hint of vanilla.

Taste: Nice peppery and woody attack at first and then yes, a mouth coating layer of tropical fruit cocktail, that pushes everything aside for a while. The pepper stays, but the wood vanishes for a moment, but returns. Great effect! Papaya, pineapple and passionfruit. Maybe some mango (maybe not). What a nice cloying finish of fruits, wood, paper and chocolate. The pepper is gone by now, but an added note of Gewürztraminer finishes the whole off. Nice.

This is again a perfect example of how great Tomatin’s from 1976 are. It may not be the most over-complex distillate around, but the way the fruits shines through is truly amazing. This is sooo nice. I love this!

Points: 91

Thanks go out to Henk for the Sample.

Ladyburn ‘Rare Ayrshire’ 34yo 1975/2009 (45.2%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, Bourbon Barrel #558, 166 bottles)

Yes! Another example from the distillery that took its water from the Penwapple Reservoir, yes say it again, the Penwapple Reservoir. This time one of the many sister casks from the last year of operation, bottled by Signatory. Yesterdays cask was nice, but I couldn’t say it was worth your money (when you plan to drink it, rather than just mere collecting it), so will this be any better? This will be nice to compare to yesterdays one. Are they all the same? What does happen, when the same spirit is put into ‘supposedly the same casks’? In effect we can see a little bit here, what maturation in wood can do.

Color: Gold (slightly lighter than barrel #562)

Nose: Spicy wood. Clean and citrussy. Fresh sea air. Mocha and Cappuccino. Fresh cut grass. It’s different from cask #562, with a more typical Lowlander style. Fruitier, lemons and apples. Slightly woody with grass and hay. Lovely.

Taste: Sweetish, more estery sweet. This seems a bit  young too. Not very complex but a good body with apples. It has a different kind of sweetness, thicker and more tiresome if you have a lot of it. Nuttier too. Yes more hazelnuts. The finish has more woody influence and is a bit more bitter, but nothing to be afraid of. This has more balance and body. The other cask seems thinner.

No two casks are alike. whats the influence of cask, wood etc. Of the two, this is the better one. Nice full body and a great Lowlander. I enjoyed this one more. Good finish and nice aftertaste too. Because of the different sweetness this has, (corn-sugar), this seems to me less drinkable than cask #562. Still, who would try to drink the whole bottle at once, of this museum piece, so drinkability is not an issue here. Nice Ladyburn. Recommended.

Points: 84

Ladyburn ‘Rare Ayrshire’ 34yo 1975/2009 (46.9%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, Bourbon Barrel #562, 172 bottles)

Ladyburn wasn’t long around. Opened in 1966 and already closed in 1975. It was built by W. Grant & Sons within their Girvan grain distillery complex. Not completely uncommon in those days, since there were more malt distilleries on a grain distillery site. Glen Flagler was added to the Moffat site and Ben Wyvis was added to Invergordon. All three didn’t last long and are pretty scarce these days. These Rare Ayrshire’s are still around, but there will be a time soon, they will not, and prices will soar. So is this worth your money? Lets see…

Well officially there is no Ladyburn on the label, still it isn’t hard to guess what this must be. Out of the blue Signatory started to bottle a lot of casks from Ladyburn. Which is always nice since the place shut down in 1975 and whiskies from Ladyburn are getting more and more rare.

Color: Gold

Nose: Clean, like you would expect from a younger bourbon cask. Grassy, cold butter. Spicy yet light. Caramel, vanilla and clay. Powdery. Mild wood, which smells a bit odd here, small hint of rot maybe? It smells old now, but also not quite right. Grainy and with that, hinting at sourness. Finally perfumy and creamy.

Taste: Butter. Very grassy, lemonade-like. Mild wood, like liquid old sawdust. It’s not without body this. Caramel and powdery cream. Sweet and ever so slightly bitter. Nutty, hazelnuts. Not very balanced and rather anonymous. If you close your eyes you could imagine this being from a bourbon barrel. It slightly resembles Woodford Reserve.

I have to say that after some breathing it tastes better compared to when it was freshly opened. Beware, this Lowlander is easily drinkable and that’s not good for what is essentially a museum piece Whisky.

Points: 81

Glen Grant 34yo 1975/2009 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, Refill Hogshead, DL REF 5597, 278 bottles)

I did some rummaging in my boxes with samples and found another Glen Grant. Well I actually found several of them, but I just chose this one. You know Glen Grant, the place that was the first distillery that was illuminated without burning fuel by themselves. This time we have a Glen Grant bottled in the Old Malt Cask series by Douglas Laing. Again in the new tall bottle, just like the Glenfarclas and the Port Ellen reviewed earlier. We know that there are some stellar Glen Grants issued by Gordon & MacPhail. Yesterday we had a Berry Brothers & Rudd version from 1972 that didn’t impress me very much, lets see if Douglas Laing bottled a better Glen Grant. This time from 1975.

Color: (Light) gold.

Nose: This is sweet and fruity, apples and warm apple sauce, a profile that suits 70’s Glen Grants and Caperdonich’s. The next whiff was less balanced and shows some mustiness. Almost herbal, as in herbs that were in water too long. It still smells sweet and musty with some hints of cigarette smoke. Seems strange but isn’t bad. Another very strange smell that reminds me of the acid and estery smell of crushed beetles (not Beatles, have you never stepped on a beetle, when you were a kid?). There was definitively something wrong when distilling this, drunken maltman maybe? After some time some spicy wood comes through the sweet and sour sauce and even later hot butter. All in all it’s not thát horrible as it may read. But on the nose definitively not one of their best casks.

Taste: Sweet and sour again and little wood and ash. Very strange sensation in the back of my mouth when swallowing. Minty apple gravy? (if that makes sense?). It an experience this malt is (Yoda intended). It starts thin and volatile when this enters my mouth, and quickly becomes ‘thicker’, with an attack like pepper from Talisker, and turns into pineapple! The finish picks the wood up again, combines it with spice (pepper), almonds and a kind of sour bitterness from the wood itself.

This is one to remember, and is right behind the Signatory Teaninich that seemed to be carbonated.

A Glen Grant that is obviously flawed and seems much younger than it actually is, but the strange bits were indeed an experience, I wouldn’t want to miss. Luckily though, I bought only a 3 cl sample of this, because a whole bottle wouldn’t be funny…

Points: 85