Glenugie 1966 (40%. Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Old Map Label, 75cl, 4699)

Up next a blast from our collective Whisky past. This is only the second Glenugie on these pages, and rightfully so. It’s closed and it’s today, bottlings like this moved into the realm of collectors (who don’t drink it) and anoraks (who do). So what do we have here? A few years ago an anorak posted an article about what clues can be found on a G&M bottling to date it. We see that this bottle doesn’t have a neck label to date it, so it’s not from the 1991 batch, but earlier. We do know it is an 75cl bottle and on the bottom the glass code 4699 can be found. This particular glass container was used in between 1982 and 1991, which isn’t really helping, but narrows it down a bit. I’ve seen this bottle with different cardboard boxes though, so that isn’t helpful either. The box in the picture isn’t necessarily the box the bottle was sold in. Second we do not know if only one bach was released, looking like this. There may be different batches with different boxes who look exactly the same filled in exactly the same coded bottles. I’m guessing the one I’m about to taste is more form the second half of the eighties than the first half, but that’s only speculation. Let’s try it then shall we?

Glenugie 1966Color: Slightly orange gold.

Nose: Very dusty and old smelling. Funky dry Sherry. Deep grassy, slightly waxy and old soft oak(y). Time capsule. Some faint red berry fruit in the background. Add to that a more creamy, vanilla note and some burnt wood. It’s a mere hint that burnt note though. Adds to the character fo the Whisky. If you let it breathe for a while, more and more of this red fruit comes to the fore, cloaked in the wood and creamy notes. Diluted warm caramel and slightly dusty as well. This is an old gem, and needs to be treated as such. It’s fragile at 40% ABV. Don’t be hasty too. With even some more air, hints of licorice and a floral note emerges. Floral but not soapy. Elegant and distinguished florality. Vegetal (with some wood), floral and fruity, that sums it up.

Taste: The wax, diluted caramel and the wood are up front here. Diluted sweetness. It’s slightly sweet at first, but that is quickly gone. It’s so obvious that I do feel that some caramel colouring has been done. Yep, toffee, hard candy coffee bon-bon. More wood, slightly sappy and bitter. It has some creamy nuttiness to it. Does warm hazel-nut milk make any sense? Disappears rather quickly, hence it has a short finish. The finish is made up of toffee and it’s actually almost the only thing that is noticeable in the aftertaste (as well as a hint of paper…).

Wonderful old malt, that has been diluted too much and might have seen some caramel colouring. You know it’s there, but it lost its battle trying to show it to us, since it has been hindered by too much water. Bummer. I have to report this to the Whisky police and hopefully the culprits will be brought to the Whisky-tribunal. Smells great though, that’s where the potential is still noticeable, or should I say that’s where you can still get a glimpse of what could (should) have been…

Points: 83

Glenlochy 1977/1994 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail , Connoisseurs Choice, Old Map Label, ID/AHD)

And here is the first Glenlochy on these pages, and only the second Glenlochy I ever tasted. (Amateur!). Glenlochy was founded in 1898 (some say 1897), during the Whisky-boom, but only started distilling in 1901. Glenlochy was closed in 1983 when a lake of Whisky was forming. Many others like Brora, Banff and Saint Magdalene, to name but a few, were closed during that year. In 1992 most of the Distillery was demolished. Now only Ben Nevis survives in the region (Fort William).

Glenlochy 1977/1994 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail , Connoisseurs Choice, Old Map Label, ID/AHD)Color: Gold.

Nose: Fresh, citrus and wax. Hints of smoked kippers and old stale water. Old damp storage room from the 19th century. Clay, some smoke and alas quickly fading at first, but getting better after some breathing. Some menthol (light) and heavy esters. A little bit of latex paint and the most minute traces of bitterness. From the wood obviously, but also connected to the waxy part.

Taste: Old wood, and some clay. Very fruity and also due to its low ABV, very drinkable. Vanilla and toffee. Wet leaves. Actually this takes me by surprise. After some extensive breathing inside the glass, it gets better and better. Probably a nice candidate to try in a big balloon glass. I quite like it, more than anticipated.

I would have loved it, to be able to taste this undiluted, because it oozes potential quality. The quality is here too, but a bit watered down. Very interesting dram this is, but it also shows why I didn’t buy a lot of Connoisseurs Choice bottlings in the past. I know, I know, there are a lot of stunners in this range, but I feel a lot were done some harm when diluted to 40% ABV. By the way, again this is a Whisky that needs a lot of air to open up. needs a bit of work, to show all of its beauty.

Points: 86

Glencraig 1970/1996 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Map label, IF/CCC)

Ahhh, yes, Gordon & MacPhail never cease to amaze me! Next up is this Glencraig 1970/1996 (40%, G&M, Connoisseurs Choice, Map Label, IF/CCC), but now it turns out that the exact same bottle with the exact same code (IF/CCC) was also released with the Old Map label too. Why? Can we conclude from this that 1996 was the year the labels got changed?

Glencraig is the little sister of Glenburgie. Glencraig was the name of the whisky that was distilled from 1956 untill 1981 in a pair of Lomond Stills at the Glenburgie distillery. Another example of a true Lomond pair of stills existed at Miltonduff, where the subsequent whisky was named Mosstowie. Mosstowie was made between 1964 and 1981. A tad different was the case at Inverleven, where only the spirit still was of the Lomond type.

Color: Full Gold

Nose: Grainy. Apples. Every component from apple. Compote and waxy apple skin. Smells a bit thin. Did they reduce this too much? Very elegant wood shines through. Dusty vanilla, almost like smelling airborne powdered vanilla. Slight hints of orange juice. Creamy and some hard candy.

Taste: Wood is the main marker, but not bad. Sweet and fruity with liquorice. Actually the spiciness from the wood carries it. The grainy element is here too. This could have been a very old blend. Hints of french cheese, a Camembert. Funky, I love this cheesy element in this Whisky! Slightly warming. Given some time to breathe the whole gets more sweet. Still the wood stays with its licquorice element. Finish isn’t even bad. It stays longer than expected.

Yes, reduced too much. It is in places weak and watery, and it seems to me, that some areas of the taste got subdued a bit, wich affected the balance. Just let it breathe for a while in your glass and you will be rewarded. This is actually better than we think. Give it some time.

Points: 86

Dallas Dhu 1971/1994 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, Old Map label, ID/H)

Again a distillery that was founded in the Pattison crash year of 1898. Building was finished one year later and the first spirit that came off the still was on the 3rd of june 1899. It’s history is like many other distilleries. Closures during both world wars, and of course a big fire on the 9th of April 1939. The last day spirit came off the stills was the 16th of March 1983. 1983, a dark year when a lot of distilleries were closed. In 1986 the distillery was sold to Historic Scotland who run the place as a museum now.

Color: Full Gold

Nose: Fruity and sweet. Lightly woody. Fresh and a bit rural. Distant farmyness. Wet grasslands. Wet trees. That sort of thing. Hard powdered candy with some liquorice. Woody vanilla ice cream. Smoked bacon with cardboard and almonds.

Taste: Sweet and sherried. Cardboard in here too. There also seems to be some smoke in here. Watery vanilla ice cream. Some sourness of the wood is in the finish and later on some bitterness too. Nothing to worry about.

It’s very easy drinkable. But for me this is an example of those G&M’s from the past where the whisky didn’t stand the reduction to 40%. Also I find that the caramel coloring changed the original whisky considerably. Fortunately G&M know their market and don’t reduce their whiskies that much. Don’t know about the coloring though…

In the past I hated these Map labeled Connoisseurs whiskies and in fact I believe I don’t own even one. For me they got reduced too much and some are that much colored, that the caramel coloring changes the character of the whisky. The industry made you believe that it doesn’t alter the whisky, but having done some tests, it certainly does. It brings some sort of roundness and balance you get from most blends and it makes all of those Connoisseurs Choice Whiskies a bit similar in taste and definitively similar in color. Still the old Dallas Dhu that’s in here shines through.

Points: 86

Again Muchos Grazias to Nico for this sample.