Balmenach 23yo 1988/2011 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Hogshead #1150, 440 bottles, 500 ml)

Why not try another Balmenach. Earlier I tried a Bladnoch Forum Balmenach from 1983, this time one by Dutch indie bottlers Mo Òr. A lot of those 1988 Balmenachs are bottled by Gordon & MacPhail and by the SMWS (Scotch Malt Whisky Society). There ís a sister cask around of this Mo Òr bottling. David Stirk (Creative Whisky Company) bottled Refill Bourbon Hogshead #1148 this year.

Color: White wine.

Nose: Wow! Spicy, lively, younger than expected. The cask impaired not a lot of characteristics on the whisky, so this is probably a refill Hogshead as well. Dusty and powdery, very dry, but not woody yet. In the back there is some perfume. Dry leaves and cloves. Toffee with mocha and a hint of lemon soap and late wood. Well maybe the cask was inactive, the whisky shure isn’t. Good balanced nose.

Taste: Sweet from the start, toffee, mocha and a hint of wood. Powdered sugar. Dangerously easy drinkable. Some red cherry candy. But the softness in this is fabulous. Dries out a little that adds to the character. Slightly imbalanced finish due to a shift into the sourness of wood, that doesn’t fit the rest of the palate. Finish isn’t too long.

Very nice whisky. I have to say that this may be another great find after those Ardmore’s. I see that a lot of Balmenachs from 1988, 1989 and 1990 are pretty good! Worth looking into some more. Recommended.

Points: 86

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.

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.

Tormore 14yo 1996/2011 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Hogshead #6868, 500 bottles, 500 ml)

Tormore. One of those distilleries, you don’t hear about too much. Tormore was founded in 1958 by Long John International, and distilling started in 1960. It was the first distillery that was built after the Pattison crash of 1898, and thus the first to be built in the 20th century. Today Pernod Ricard is the owner of Tormore and is already the fourth owner in its short history. Tormore was originally built with 4 stills and in 1972 that amount was doubled. In 1984 the heating system for the stills was converted, so that it could be heated with… woodchips to heat the stills. Officially only a 10yo was released, later replaced by the current 12yo. For a short while also a 5yo and a 15yo existed. So mostly independent bottlers issue Tormore Single Malt today. Still, over the years not a lot was issued this way, nor does it usually score very high. I guess it’s time to have a look into Tormore. First a Tormore bottled by Dutch bottlers Mo Òr, who’s Macduff and Miltonduff started this blog to boot.

Color: White wine

Nose: Nutty and soapy. Smells very floral. Fresh and exuberant. Sour spring fruits. Creamy and a bit sweaty as well. Toffee. I can imagine why they bought this cask. It seems to me this is a happy and positive Whisky. Absolutely a young Whisky. Very likable. Maybe they should sell this in a spray as an eau de toilette.

Taste: Creamy and nutty. Very simple and seems younger than it actually is. Again very likeable and sweet. Vanilla ice cream and some caramel, and mint. No extremes in this. Hardly any wood. There is some wood noticeable in the finish. Hints of Belgian beer in the finish. Hops. Given some time in the glass, some spiciness does come through. Short finish though.

There seems to be a nice and unpretending balance to this. For me it’s very feminine. It’s easy and has a lot of fruits and flowers going on. Not a typical Tormore though, it doesn’t resemble the other Tormore’s I know, which were more industrial, or even metallic. This is nothing like that, this is organic summer garden. Biological Whisky maybe? Give it some time to breathe, it will enhance the character a little, by shedding its initial sourness.

Points: 83

Thanks go out to Henk for handing me this sample.

Macduff 37yo 1973/2010 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Hogshead #20, 281 bottles, 500 ml)

Another bottle from the Mo Òr collection. This time a Macduff from a Bourbon Hoggie…

Color: Gold

Nose: Very elegant wood, and nutty, perfumy, nougat. Old saddle leather, distant dark chocolate and fresh mint (unbruised leaves). Old furniture, hints of wax-polish, waxed shiny chocolate.

Palate: Spicy (wood) and half sweet, the elegance stays. Great balance in this one. Minty and sweet. Absolutely not too woody, yet the wood plays a nice role in the balance of the whisky. This is an old cask, so the minty sensation is there, a bit of old bottle effect I guess. The great palate breaks down a little in the finish, like it’s trying to say that it`s time for bed. Now the oak plays a greater role in the finish, and turns slightly soapy, but never enough to let the experience down. I Like!

Sells for 175 Euro’s (500ml bottle)

Points: 88

Miltonduff 30yo 1980/2010 (46%, Mo Òr, Bourbon Hogshead #12431, 321 bottles, 500 ml)

So now the blog thing has even started for me, let’s do that starting with a bottle of Miltonduff, bottled by fellow Dutchman Michel Kappen of the Whisky Talker (among others). This is a new range of single cask whiskies aimed at high-end hotels, restaurants and golf resorts. The bottles (500 ml) ánd little tubes (25 ml) come in nicely painted matt black boxes. The bottles look like Tequila bottles to me, still all’s looking very nice…

Miltonduff 30yo 1980/2010 (46%, Mo Or, Bourbon Hogshead #12431, 321 bottles, 500ml)Color: Light Gold

Nose: Hazelnuts, milk chocolate, becomes fresher later on. Very mellow, laid back, dusty. Hints of lily, but not very floral overall. Not the clean nose you`ve come to expect of Miltonduff from bourbon hogsheads, or barrels for that matter. It`s more creamy, nuttier and warmer. No wood in the nose even after 30 years.

Taste: Some wood, walnut skin without the bitterness, dry. Easily drinkable. Creamy, sweeter later on, again nutty and warming. The nose fits the palate. Grassy and definitely more vegetal than floral. A winter aperitif. The whisky seems younger than it`s 30 years, so the cask wasn`t too active. Let`s have this @ the fireplace, but drinker beware, it drinks dangerously easy, your half liter will be gone quickly. Nice finish, toffee, slight bitterness from the wood.

Sells for 145 Euro’s (500 ml bottle)

Points: 84