Benriach 36yo 1976/2013 (40.1%, OB, for Whiskysite.nl, Refill Hogshead #3012, 118 bottles)

After reviewing the Arran, a more recent Whiskysite bottling, I remembered I have already reviewed some other Whiskysite bottlings, like this Bushmills and this Port Ellen, but there are still more out there, even a Karuizawa! However, I have yet another one up my sleeve to review, and since I found out in the previous review I’m getting old, there is no better time than now for yet another Whiskysite bottling. Not just any other bottling I might add. Nope this time a 1976 Benriach. This was bottled for the boys from Leiden way back in 2013, and even then, sold out quite fast. Why? Because Benriach from 1976 have some sort of reputation, just like Tomatin’s from the same year. When we talked to Douglas Campbell (Master Distiller at Tomatin), he told us there was nothing special going on at the time, just a lot of distilling being done, as in the years before and after 1976. Any cask they could get a hold of was filled and later, when money was needed, a lot of that particular vintage was sold off, which might explain why a lot of 1976 Tomatin’s exist. However we also heard some compelling stories about fruity yeast strains and an exceptional summer making for super fruity barley.

Color: Orange gold.

Nose: Ahhh funky, old Whisky funkiness. Heaps of fruit with and edge of vanilla, more than an edge actually, giving it a creamy texture you can smell. You’ll never get this out of a NAS or otherwise young distillate. Sugared pineapple, dried and sugared papaya, lychee combined with refined creamy vanilla. Definitely a Hoggie remade with (mostly) American oak staves. Back then they didn’t care about 100% correctness, so when remaking the Hogshead, and if it would fit, the occasional European oak stave would find its way into a cask like this very easily. The wood note in this is very soft, not spicy. More about nuttiness than the wood-notes themselves. Uber-fruity with nice vegetal notes. Some less obvious notes emerge as well, hints of cardboard, lavas, coffee with lots of milk, mocha and latex-paint come to mind, but mind you, they only add to the complexity and do no harm to the whole. So don’t be alarmed. By the way, for all it’s fruitiness, this is not the most fruity smelling 1976 single cask Benriach, by far.

Taste: Oh my God this is good! Starts out with short bursts of the sugared and/or the dried yellow fruits I mentioned in the nose. When the body moves, rather quickly, through the cavity of your mouth it starts to develop black fruits in large amounts. Wonderful. This is what you look for in a 1960’s or 70’s Malt. The holy grail, at least for me it is! Also quite unexpected, since the blackcurrant and super-ripe blackberries are nowhere to be found in the nose. What a wonderful surprise.

I mentioned that the body moves rather quickly, What I mean is that it seems to have a start and a finish, but the body itself is very short-lived. It’s a bit thin and fragile, which can be attributed to the low ABV, but not only. The fragility of this malt has something to do with this specific single cask offering, since it is not always like this with older Malts or even sister casks. Luckily the black fruit thing is what makes up the finish, which is of medium length at best and should have lasted forever. Excellent! In the end a wonderful Malt, with alas a weak side. It should have had a little more oomph and staying power. It could have done with a bigger body, but in the end it is a remarkable, yet thin, Whisky. The aroma’s are wonderful and that also is worth the price of admission, although there are obviously better examples to be found. Don’t take too long since otherwise most of these Whiskies will end up in collections only, and therefore will cost more by the day.

Sure Whiskies like this will cost you a pretty penny (at auction), but its history in a bottle. More recent Whiskies will never smell and taste like this, it simply cannot be achieved, and if something like this would be marketed today in today’s market, it will be over 40yo old, and it will cost you 40 cars at least, and I don’t mean Dinky Toys! You have to taste something like this to be whole I guess.

Points: 92

Glengoyne 36yo 1969/2006 (45.9%, OB, Single Cask, Refill Hogshead #3691, 174 bottles)

300!Time to take a moment and celebrate. Not just to celebrate that the first winter month of 2014 is already over and we are one month closer to summer, (at least over here we are), but also since this is the 300th post on Master Quill, I’ll take a look at this Glengoyne from “my” year: 1969. Enjoy!

Last April Master Quill hosted the Glengoyne Week and here is already the next oldie from Glengoyne. Old as in a 36yo Whisky, old as in a 1969 distillate and old since, Glengoyne is an old distillery. Founded in 1833! Nineteenth century distillery folks! When it started it was named Burnfoot, now you know why there is a Glengoyne Burnfoot in the shops. Burnfoot started out with one pair of stills. As we all know Burnfoot it isn’t today so a change of name should have been made. In 1876 the name of the distillery was changed to…Glenguin, well almost there. In 1905 the spelling was changed to Glengoyne. In 1965 a third still was added to the distillery. In 2003 Ian MacLeod Distillers (You know of the Chieftain’s and the Dun Bheagan’s) bought the distillery from the previous owner Edrington (Macallan and Highland Park amongst others), and are doing well with the distillery. So happy with this purchase, in 2011 they also bought Tamdhu from the Edrington group. One year later (2012) they revamped their standard range. Just have a look here for a review of the newest 12yo.

Color: Orange gold (slightly cloudy).

Nose: Oh yes! Yes! Nice waxyness that can only be found in old bottles. fresh cookie dough. Visions of Caperdonich. Fruit bomb, but also apple-cake soaked with alcoholic cherry fruit syrup. Smells very sweet (marzipan) and fruity, faded orange skin. Old mahogany furniture (without the wax and without the wood, it just the oldness). The soaked cake I mentioned above has some raisins in light rum. Also a honeyed note that resembles the honey from some Bourbons or Rye Whiskies (so only the honey). Great dusty and perfumy stuff, and sometimes murky whiffs pass by.

Taste: Sweet and syrupy and again very fruity. Yellow (apricots) and red (sweet cherries) fruit. Vanilla Ice-cream with raisins. The body is not very strong, nor does it have the longest of finishes. It also has an exotic side that reminds me a bit of a sweet yet very high-class Gewürztraminer.

Very nice stuff I can thoroughly enjoy, just a bit weaker second half. But who cares. Close your eyes and listen to some good music in the dark with this in your glass, life doesn’t get much better than that!

Points: 90

Aultmore 36yo 1974/2010 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Hogshead #3740, 264 bottles, 500ml)

Here we have an Aultmore from 1974. The one official bottling in the Rare Malts range was also from 1974. Three years ago Douglas Laing bottled a 1974, and even more recently, two bottlings from The Whisky Agency saw the light of day. There is one more by Adelphi, but more about that one later.

Aultmore was founded in 1896 by Alexander Edward who also founded the Craigellachie distillery with Peter Machie in 1891. In 1896, Mr. Edward also owned the Benrinnes distillery. Mr. Edward sold Aultmore to John Dewar’s and Sons in 1923. John Dewar’s and Sons naturally became part of what is today Diageo, but Diageo sold the whole of John Dewar’s and Sons to Bacardi in 1998. Aultmore was built with two stills and two more stills were added in 1971, so this 1974 Aultmore was already made with four stills.

Color: Full gold

Nose: Estery and full. Seems sweet and has a perfect woody touch. Powdery with vanilla, but also some vegetal sourness creeps in, but only in whiffs, it’s not always there. Malty freshness, and the slightest hint of cow-dung, great! This kind of organics in Whisky is the best, look at all those fantastic Brora’s. I really like the complete profile this nose shows me. A great, but toned down or laid back Whisky. It doesn’t shout from rooftops it’s great, but whispers. People who know, will hear it’s call.

Taste: Woody cannabis, and in this case that’s very nice. Sugary sweet, but the “wood” is the taste giver of this malt. Mind you this is not a woody malt. It’s like somehow there is some fruit in here but it isn’t allowed to get out. Medium, slightly disappointing finish, and probably the reduction could have been skipped, since the Whisky shows some laziness. Could have been fuller, if so I’m shure it would have scored in the 90’s. Nevertheless a great Whisky!

One of my favorite Aultmore’s is also from 1974, a bottling by Adelphi, Cask #3739, yes a sister cask! That one yielded only 101 bottles @ 49.6% ABV. Cask #3740 yielded 264 bottles reduced to 46%, so I’m guessing this was a lot higher in ABV (I can’t imagine Adelphi doing a cask share, but you never know). If memory serves me well, this sister cask also has a lot of yellow fruits, cask #3740 lacks. I have a bottle of Adelphi’s 1974 Aultmore, so in the future, that one will be reviewed on these pages too…

Points: 88

Thanks go out to Dirk for handing me this sample some time ago…

Ladyburn ‘Rare Ayrshire’ 36yo 1974/2010 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Barrel #2608, 261 bottles, 500 ml)

As said before this distillery was briefly opened between 1966 and 1975. As far as vintages go not a lot were released. Officially a lot of 1973’s were released. This vintage was also released by Blackadder and Duncan Taylor. Signatory Vintage released a lot of 1975’s (and one 1974). Two of these 1975’s I have reviewed on these pages earlier. Last but not least in this case, Cadenheads had some releases from the opening year 1966, but that was a long time ago in 1979 and 1980. Besides these few ‘players” not a lot of Ladyburns are to be found. Now here pops up a 1974. As far as I know, there are three 1974’s released. Cask 2607 by Signatory @ 53.9% ABV (in 2011). Cask 2604 by Dutch bottler Van Wees @ 52.1% ABV, (also in 2011), and from 2010, Cask 2608 by fellow Dutch bottler Mo Òr @ 46% ABV. It’s not hard to guess how much (or how little) this got reduced. Rumour has it, these 1974 are pretty good.

Color: Light Gold

Nose: Very aromatic. Sweet and clean. Pops out of the glass. Fruity and lively. Great combination of farmyness and fruity sweetness. On the nose it’s already a lot better than the 1975 Ladyburns I tried before. Nice wood too. Great greenish notes with gravy. If the taste will be anything like the nose, we’ll have a winner on our hands. When this get’s time to breathe the lively fruits make room for something more dark and broody. Meaty and some perfume. Very interesting.

Taste: Fresh, fruity (pineapple) and in nothing you would say this is such an old malt. Not as complex as the nose is. The initial fruits are very quickly replaced by caramelized wood. Finish is good and slightly woody. But considering it’s age you would definitively expect more wood in this.

Very likeable Ladyburn. The nose is very much better than the 1975 Signatories I tried before. Taste wise, maybe not so complex, but less woody than the Signatories. Very nice Ladyburn, one of the best that’s still around, ánd reasonably priced as well!

Points: 86

Thanks again to Henk for this sample.

Springbank 36yo 1970/2006 (53.1%, Signatory Vintage, First Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt #1629, 461 bottles)

After reviewing one of the most popular official releases by Springbank, the 10yo at Cask Strength, this time a Single cask bottled by Signatory Vintage in their heavy glass decanter series that are hard to handle (the Cask Strength Collection). The fourth already on these pages. Hard to handle maybe, but so pretty. This time it isn’t in one of those clumsy tins, but in a beautiful, probably fake mahogany box. Even if the whisky is mediocre, the packaging is stunning. Let’s hope the contents measures up, because that’s what you’re paying for.

Color: Radiant Orange Brown, with powdery sediment.

Nose: Wow. Buttery. Very old wood with lots of spices. Nutmeg and ginger. Dusty toffee. Sherry as in raisins. Deep sugary raisins, not fruity. After some breathing it gets some lovely spicyness to it. Toasted wood and warming. Really great nose, with a developement to it. So packaging great, nose great, high hopes for the taste now.

Taste: Woody and dry. But there is some chewy sweetness to it. Roundness is maybe a good word. Also some bitterness from the wood. Coffee (Espresso), Warming chocolate. It really is a hot brandy spiked cupa coco. Also some cough bonbons. Not especially as complex as the nose is. What you see is what you get. Later some mint and furniture wax. Nice throat coating finish.

This definitively got way better when the bottle got time to breathe. Both the nose and taste got better. It shifts its focus from the wood and nice bitterness to something more rounded out and lets you see more of what’s underneath. Not the best old Springbank around but still a very nice one if you give it time and an open mind. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Points: 91