Glen Keith 38yo 1967/2006 (53%, Gordon & MacPhail, Reserve, for La Maison Du Whisky, Refill Sherry Butt #3876, 215 bottles)

And then there is Glen Keith. Glen Keith lies a stone’s throw away from Strathisla. The spirit from Strathisla was pumped to Glen Keith for filling into casks, but also the boiler at Glen Keith warms water for Glen Keith’s production. Glen Keith’s production started in 1958 with three stills (triple distillation). In 1970 the first two stills in Scotland that are heated by gas were installed. Soon after that, the distillery stopped the triple distillation. In 1983 a sixth still is installed. The distillery is mothballed since 1999, but plans are to restart the distillery next month (April 2013).

Chivas Brothers (owned by Pernod Ricard) already opened two of their mothballed distilleries. Allt a-Bhainne in May 2005 and Braeval (a.k.a. Braes of Glenlivet) in July 2008. If memory serves me well, Chivas Brothers also have Imperial. Alas, Imperial was considered not economically viable for reopening. (It was “old” and had the ‘wrong’ capacity, to small for a company like Chivas), so Chivas presented plans in 2012 for a new distillery to be built at the site of the old Imperial distillery. So the demolition of Imperial started around december 2012 and is now also gone for good.

Color: Copper, cloudy.

Nose: Musty Sherry with a lot of wood. Dried oranges, and sugared orange skin. Crushed dead insects, well they really don’t make them like this anymore! Cloves which fits the orange skin perfectly. Mocha with orange cordial. A forest in the rain. Oak planks. A Whisky with character.

Taste: Old bottle effect. Very spicy oak but not over oaked. It’s heavy on the wood but that not a bad thing here. A lot of wood and paper. Along comes wood spice and some bitterness. It is so clearly a Whisky from another time, that this one needs it. Luckily the rest of the body is quite ‘heavy’ too, but not in your face. It’s a rather quiet malt. Hot butter, sugared oranges and some coal. It actually is pretty sweet, but the sweetness is hidden well behind the wood and oranges. A bottled antiques shop with a long warming finish.

This is now my favorite Christmas malt. Just smell that dried Orange in combination with the cloves. It’s not a perfect old bottle though, but it’s so clearly a time capsule. It’s impossible to not love this. I was always a big fan of Strathisla of the sixties and seventies and this Glen Keith is therefore really no surprise at all. Merry Christmas everybody!

Points: 92

Caperdonich 38yo 1972/2011 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Hogshead #7437, 162 bottles, 500 ml)

Amongst others, the most ‘famous’ bottlings of Caperdonichs from 1972 are the Duncan Taylor ones from the 74xx series, and they had a lot. Earlier I reviewed Cask #7424. Lately these casks were sold out and prices are soaring now. Now we have this. Mo Òr also have a Caperdonich from 1972 and it is a bourbon hogshead. But wait, it is Hogshead #7437! Could it be they have obtained one of Duncan Taylors fabulous Hogsheads of Caperdonich 1972. Let’s have a look. Well it turns out Duncan Taylor also have a Cask #7437 yielding 161 bottles. Being a hoggie, this can’t be a cask share since precisely 300 bottles at cask strength can’t come out of one hoggie. (I’ll spare you the math). Well are there two casks with the same number, or did the guys from Mo Òr buy up all the bottles and reduced them to 46%? I’ll have to ask.

Color: Gold

Nose: Yeah this definitively is a 1972 Caperdonich from the good casks. Nice waxy, old bottle smell. Very elegant granny in her old room. Being used to these casks at cask strength, this sample does seem less up front. Still I like this very much, the reduction didn’t spoil the whisky at all. It shows a dimension, that was hidden behind the fruits and wax in the cask strength versions. It makes it smell like an old spices warehouse. Still the fruit and the wax, such a typical combination for these Caperdonichs are só good. After some air lightly spiced wood and vanilla enter the mix. This is an example of perfect balance.

Taste: Here there is some spicy wood, it has a touch of cannabis (given off by the oak), that makes this very nice! Light waxiness and so very fruity. Half sweet. Think yellow fruits, peaches, partly in syrup. Wow! I was afraid reduction would make the palate thin, but it didn’t. Hint of coffee. Again perfect balance. Reduction probably did shorten the finish a little. But that doesn’t spoil the fun. One element of caution. Don’t let it sit too long in your glass. Air brings out a little bitterness and other woody parts that don’t do this Caperdonich right.

Unbelievable that after all these years there is no strong wood that ruins the picture, bitters the finish, and overpowering it all. They don’t make them like this anymore. Do yourself a favour and try one of these before it’s too late and they are gone forever. Fabulous stuff! Of all casks #74xx, cask #7424 is considered the best, and that one I scored 93 points. This Mo Òr isn’t scoring much less. I would have loved, for educational purposes, to taste a cask sample of this. Well done Mo Òr!

Points: 91

Thanks go out to Henk for handing me this sample.

Macduff 38yo 1967/2005 (50.8%, Jack Wiebers Whisky World, Old Train Line Collection, Sherry Cask #619, 204 bottles)

The Old Train Line series is probably the series with the most beautiful labels I know. The series is bottled by German bottler Jack Wieber based in Berlin.

Macduff itself is not thát old, just founded in 1962, with production starting just one year later. Macduff started out with only two stills. Sometimes a still was added, and today, Macduff has five. Since Martini was once an owner of Macduff, the malt is popular in Italy and the rest of southern Europe.

Color: Brown

Nose: Meaty and minty. Gravy with tar and old wood. Very perfumy too. It’s a meaty tea, that shifts a bit into coffee territory. Hard pressed powder candies. Very distinct, not to say unique. Also the wood plays a very unique role here. Mens cologne.

Taste: Minty wood. laurel licorice combined with the powder from the candies. Not sweet, but there is a lot of sourness from the oak. Mocha coffee with honeylike wood spice and black coal. Wow, this has a very heavy beerlike finish. After giving it some time, some black fruits emerge in the finish. Dry.

Try to imagine a Macduff with a lot of color from a sherry cask. Now try to imagine how it would smell and taste like. Do you have it? Well, this is nothing like that! This will surprise you. That’s nice. Still the balance isn’t quite there. And the finish is strange, soap, spice and a lot of beer, and rather short too. It’s definitively not a big sherry monster, but it does come across as a very old whisky. Dying to know what kind of Sherry this cask held before.

It does need a lot of time to open up, tastewise, for the nose the oxidations does nothing. Give it time and you’ll be rewarded.

Points: 88