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

Glen Grant 49yo 1956/2005 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail for La Maison du Whisky, Refill Sherry Butt, 459 bottles)

I just had to write another one about Glen Grant. Do I really have to revert to Gordon & MacPhail to find me a good Glen Grant? There are a lot of great Glen Grants around, but are they bottles of the past maybe? Here I have another Glen Grant that as it turns out ís from Gordon & MacPhail. Will it be good or do Gordon & MacPhail also have some mediocre casks? This one is bottled for La Maison du Whisky who usually pick good casks, so no need to worry, this probably will turn out all right. Besides, this is no 70’s Glen Grant, but a 1956. The year Alfred Hitchcock became American and made “The man who knew too much”.

Color: Copper Brown

Nose: Wow, this I like. This is the old sherry, with tar, licorice, clay and coal nose that I like so much! It’s farmy (which is not elegant) and has elegant wood. Spicy and winey-sweet. Dark fruits lemonade all over this. Raisins in the finish after leaving it to breathe a little. It’s a nose like this that make me live up to my blues-name: Fat Killer Jenkins, because I wouldn’t mind having a few cases of whisky that smell like this.

Taste: Very balanced because it’s the nose in diluted form. Sherry, tar and asphalt, Black fruits with a lot of wood and a hint of cardboard. Luckily the main character is so powerful, that it is capable of masking a lot of the wood. You just know it’s there on your tongue and you’ll notice it in the finish. But then again, it’s so old, that it should be there and it fits the profile. It has a lot of wood but it doesn’t make the finish overly bitter nor harsh. Not overly complex though, like a nice old cognac.

The not so sound statistical and scientific conclusion might be that you’ll have to get yourself a Gordon & MacPhail bottling of Glen Grant if you want a good one. Well as I said there are a lot of other good Glen Grants around. We’ll have to keep searchin’ to find us one, but for the time being we’ll have this Gordon & MacPhail 1956, and that’s no punishment! The nose is to die for, that alone is worth almost a 100 points. But the whole I will score…

Points: 91

There is also a second one for LMdW. Also a 1956/2005, only this one is from a First Fill Sherry Hogshead that yielded 105 bottles.

Many thanks also go to Christian Lauper of World of Whisky who sent me the picture of the back-label. As far as I know, this shop is the only one in Europe who still has this bottle on stock (CHF 509.00).

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

Glen Grant 1972/2006 (46%, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Cask #1982)

Glen Grant came to life in 1840, and is being famous for being the first distillery with electric lights! (in 1861 already). But after that it’s very quiet. Apart from distilling not much happening here. In 1961 a descendant of the original founder made a deal with Armando Giovinetti which made Glen Grant the most sold Single Malt in Italy and as far as I know that maybe even true today. Half of what Glen Grant makes went to Italy. Since 2006 Campari is the owner of Glen Grant, so its even became Italian! The Italians love their whiskies young and the Glen Grant 5yo seems to be very popular over there, together with a version without an age statement.

Color: Copper gold.

Nose: At first fresh and sea like, but that quickly transforms into wax, wood and spice. A dab of dried yellow fruits, but not much. Definitively a 70’s nose, a bit like Caperdonichs from 1972. Probably no coincidence that Caperdonich was founded as Glen Grant 2. Altogether dryer and more cold tea like. Yep, more spicy and some light mocha and raisins. Also a slightly floral and perfumy side to it (and some tar). So after some time in the glass, it distances itself from the typical Caperdonich nose.

Taste: Initially full-bodied, spicy yet not overly woody. Some wax and ash, but that’s also gone very soon. Also some distant tar and a little bit of coal. Yeah that’s the stuff you get from an old malt. Some sourness from the oak. You wouldn’t have said that it was reduced. In the middle and in the finish though, it ís a bit thin, and reducing probably wasn’t a good idea. The wood comes very late and is the main part of the finish.

It’s a decent Glen Grant, but nothing stellar. When I come to think of it I don’t even think its very balanced. I see this going for up to 250 Euro’s at Whiskyauction, and I can think of hundreds of other bottles for that kind of cash, that would outperform this Glen Grant. A nice piece of history from the seventies, but nothing more.

Points: 86