Caol Ila 10yo 2005/2017 (54.0%, Gordon & MacPhail, Reserve, 1st Fill Bourbon Barrel #301553, for Vinotek Massen Luxembourg, 210 bottles, 170927)

Funny how things can go. When I posted the review of Caol Ila #301535 a month ago, I didn’t even have this #301553. I have posted two Tamdhu’s, and I already was well underway with the next tandem of Malts, why not write some reviews in pairs, adding the possibility of comparison one to the other? Nope no spoiler alert needed, you’ll just have to wait and see what comes next. I can only reveal that the next tandem will make for a very interesting comparison. Next, the sound of the doorbell ringing…twice…because the postman always rings twice*, and she brings me my latest auction winnings. One of which is the sister cask of #301535: #301553. So with some further ado, I present you the Caol Ila that went to Luxembourg. Thus, here’s the final ado: Just like the other one, we know the exact distillation date: 21-02-2005 (back label), which is the same day as this one, so the distillate is exactly the same, but, (spoiler alert), the outcome isn’t ! We also know the exact bottling date: 07-08-2017 (printed on the glass), so this Malt is almost 12.5 years old, and aged for almost 25% longer than the previous one. Onwards with the review now Quill, stop your ado-ing!

Color: Light gold.

Nose: Soft peat. Very perfumy, distant hint of coffee and plastics (only when freshly poured, the plastics will be gone soon). Big. Wood, mocha and milk chocolate. Warm. Underneath quite fruity and on top a breath of fresh cold air (after the rain). Moderate fatty peat, crushed beetles and some really nice smoky characteristics, almost not Caol Ila-like and to me this smells like an exceptional cask. Everything is in its right place, and it hits all the right spots. It is really wonderful already, complex and already shows some nice development in my glass. Initially quite sharp. Wood, but not your usual oak, but more like wood lying in a forest. Mild yellow fruits with a promise of fruity sweetness. Apples, mint and meat. In this version of Caol Ila there is this soft layer of smoke that always hangs over it, like smoke or clouds in the sky. Well balanced Malt. Smells more adult than the aforementioned sister cask, and that one already had a stunning nose. Since this is exactly the same distillate, did the 2.5 years more make such a difference or is there more to it? As Gordon & MacPhail already tried to tell us earlier, does the wood make the Whisky? I’m smelling this for a while now, without tasting it, and this really develops in my glass big time! If this is as good to taste as the nose is right now, than we’re in for a real treat. I’m giving this one much time, since this is a freshly opened bottle. What a wonderful, well aged nose this is. One might expected this to be from a similar barrel as its sister cask, but it doesn’t have to be. If so, these must have been some well selected staves then. A cooper with a keen eye, knowing what to pick? This one really smells a lot better, it really is remarkable. More details, better defined and better development. Where #301535 dulled down when smelling for a while, and remember, it was a good one to boot, this #301553 just never stops performing. Amazing!

Taste: Wow, initially very soft on entry (the other one was softer and definitely soapier, here most, not all, of the soapy bit is replaced by a sweet fruity bit). Peppery and spicy smoke and strong going down, and then turning soft again, and again sweet. Sweet cardboard and paper notes. White pepper and yellow fruits. Sweetish and cold ashes from the fireplace come first. Nutty and fruity, but as I said, lots of ashes. I have to give it some more time, but it seems to me to be different from its sister cask, it is also a bit different than I expected considering the nose. Surely this must be from another line of Barrels? The middle part is fruity and accessible, but towards the finish more ashes, paper and a wood-bitter note. Although the finish is of medium length. It is warming, somewhat soapy (at times) and leaves for a nice, nutty and woody aftertaste. Much better balanced than its sister cask if you ask me. Benefits from the warmth of your hand when breathing, but never really lives up to the amazing level of the nose, but it is still better than its aforementioned sister cask. Especially if you warm this one up in your hands.

When this was sold in Luxembourg it was quite cheap especially considering the quality this Malt possesses. I paid a bit more than the initial price at auction, but still feel I got a good deal. Later I found out that the quality of this particular example is well known in circles of anoraks and aficionado’s and bids can be even (much) higher than my final bid. First of all, this Luxembourg edition surpasses the already good nose of the Belgium edition. It is quite amazing in fact, look how the nose changes and even unlocks another dimension after a few sips. In the taste Luxembourg seems a bit sharper and more complex, less soapy with even more ripe fruits. After #301535, I was not sure about getting a similar bottling, 84 points is good, but not that good. I read somewhere, this one was better and in the end I couldn’t help myself. If given the chance, I bid on two, and that way often securing just one or none even, because one or more of you often overbids me in the last minute, but this time no one did and I got both. In hindsight: Yey!

Amazing how medicinal the empty glass smells the next day. Extreme. The empty glass of the other one smells different. Both seem to have some pine resin, which wasn’t there before. The empty Luxembourg one smells more like a sauna now. How’s that for complexity.

Points: 88 (the nose, if scored by itself, would score well into the 90’s)

* Final ado: I was lying earlier, from where I’m sitting, I can’t even hear the doorbell, the sound is too soft.

Caol Ila 10yo 2005/2015 (55.9%, Gordon & MacPhail, Reserve, 1st Fill Bourbon Barrel #301535,for Whisky Warehouse Belgium, 233 bottles, AE/JACE)

Another bottling for Belgium, what’s up, Belgium! Not all that long ago, not a lot of Caol Ila was available, and look at it now. With every turn of your head, if you are in the right place that is, there is a bottle of Caol Ila of some sorts available. Lots of OB’s to choose from, an even more IB’s. So when Caol Ila is this easy to get, with so much variation, and often fairly priced, and with nice quality, I made a deal with myself to always have a Caol Ila open on my lectern. When the “Milano” bottling was finished, I quickly replaced it with this “Belgium” one and opened it immediately. Both examples were bottled by Gordon & Macphail, but where the “Milano” was reduced, to keep the price down I guess, this “Belgium” is not. (Cask Strength hurray!) The last time I checked, Belgium is also a slightly bigger place than Milano…

Color: White wine, a bit pale though, for a first fill after 10 years.

Nose: More fruity than peaty. Lovely and elegant nose. Very fruity (initially more acidic than sweet), and fresh. Excellent. Mixed in with the fruit is a nice woody and light smoky note, but where is the peat? In a way, this is soapy and floral. Nothing bad though, there won’t be any foam to come out of your nose. Ripe yellow fruits and some smoke. Hints of vanilla from the American oak. Also a slightly spicy and this light woody note. Wonderful stuff. The smell carries a promise of a sweetish Malt. I did already mention ripe fruit, didn’t I, but there is also this note of overripe fruit, the kind that attracts insects, just before it turns bad and rots. Again, in this case, this is not a bad thing. More soft powdery vanilla from the oak. It exerts itself some more. Hidden away in the fruit and smoke, there is this floral type of peat. I recognize it now. In comes this meaty note as well. Nice development in the glass. Whiskies like this fly a bit under the radar, but are actually a lot of fun. Just a Bourbon barrel or hoggie, ten years of time, and there is a lot of beauty to behold in the details of such a Malt. It doesn’t always have to be a big Sherried Malt. Good stuff, this Caol Ila.

Taste: Sweet on entry, and here it starts out with peat. Go figure. It’s big, sweet, fruity and peaty. Warming and spicy going down. Spicy wood and dust. Cardboard and dry vanilla powder. Much peatier and smokier than the nose was. The nose and taste might differ, but work together well. Lets call it well balanced. Less balanced though is the rest of the body and the finish. The entry and the first half of the body are great, big bold, very aromatic. Second half is a bit less interesting. The balance starts suffering, and the initially well integrated aromas come undone. Turns a bit ashy, which also highlights the cardboard aroma mentioned earlier. When the finish starts, I feel this is the right time to take another sip. Something a bit off there. The wood starts to show some acidity (and more bitterness), that doesn’t fit the peaty fruit that is so wonderful in the start. It feels like the roof of my mouth contracts. So, first half of the Malt, excellent, second half, the “players” seem to lose their synergy a bit. Bugger.

The label states the distilling date to be 21/02/2005 yet only mentions a bottling month: February 2015. However, the glass bottle itself carries the bottling code AE/JACE, and, how convenient, a date: 23/02/2015, so yes, 10 years old (barely). Way less peaty then the previously reviewed Belgian offering though.

Points: 84

Ledaig 15yo 1997/2013 (59.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Reserve, for Van Wees, Refill Sherry Hogshead #464, 262 bottles, AC/JICD)

Well, this should be interesting! Fall 2015 saw me doing a review of a sistercask (#465) of this Whisky. The cask next door, so to speak. It was filled the same day with exactly the same distillate, in just another refill Sherry hogshead, but with, probably, a different result, since no two casks are really alike. Both were distilled on 23/10/1997, #464 was bottled 01/08/2013, and #465 was bottled on 30/10/2013. Bottled only three months later but making one a 15yo old and the other a 16yo. #465 is also the darker of the two, but the difference looks bigger than the aforementioned 3 months. Maybe the two casks contained different Sherries. Maybe one cask was more active, or had a deeper char. All can be true.

#465 was bottled for The Whisky Exchange (of London), and #464 was bottled for Van Wees (of Amersfoort). Both casks were refill Sherry hogsheads. I’m opening this #464 now, since #465 is almost empty and it’s time to “kill” it. Don’t believe for a second, since it lasted me this long, it wasn’t any good. It is actually so good, I didn’t want it to be empty soon, second it isn’t really a daily drinker type Whisky to boot. It’s a big, big Whisky. So today I still have a chance to compare the two. Just bear in kind, one has had plenty of time to breathe and the other is almost freshly opened.

Color: Full gold, with some orange.

Nose: Funky, dusty and meaty. Big and sweet-smelling. Fatty, dirty, meaty peat. Almost like an animal was turned into peat along with the plants. Nothing bad here, just very animalesk. Crushed beetle and gasses bubbling up from a pond. Expect no clean earthy peat, or just bursts of sharp smoke. Yes, smoke is here, as well as peat. Smoke from wet wood. Marshland wood. Earthy. Wet and dirty peat. Earthy sweet peat. The smoke is soft. Spicy, vegetal and highly aromatic. Hints of liquorice and dust, mixed in with toasted oak. Vanilla, mocha and more drier wood and sharper smoke. Hints of Rhum Agricole if you ask me. Hints of peppermint immersed in mud. Very organic mud. Do I detect some sulphurous compounds in the back? Wonderful balance though.

Taste: Starts sharp and quickly turns to sweet, with a peppery attack, quickly followed by peat and sharp smoke. Its like the initial sweetness coats the mouth and when that recedes, the sharper element comes to the front of the stage. Maybe fruity even, I’m sure of it actually, but that part is overwhelmed by the rest of the big aroma’s this Whisky has. Licorice power, sweet licorice wood. Ashes, even cigarette ashes. Extremely warming, I can feel it going all the way down. Never get that a lot, not even from cask #465. Sweet, lots and lots of almonds and even hints of anise, barely noticeable: acetone based nail polish remover, and the crushed beetle is here too. This may seem strange and quite off, but let me assure you, this is all positive for the whole of this Whisky. Give it some time and more fruity notes start to develop. Red and yellow fruits. Sweetish, but also slightly acidic. Nutty and waxy. Hints of burnt plastic. Lots of smoke in the taste, along with some cow dung in the finish. Very rural and farmy. Salty lips. What a wonderful Whisky again, utterly complex. There is so much happening. It’s only slightly less balanced than the nose, and cask #465 for that matter. This imperfection is best noticeable in the aftertaste.

In a direct comparison, it is obvious to me that #465 is the more civilized of the two. The same notes appear, but turned down quite a bit. It’s not as “loud” as #464. It’s fruitier, with apple notes and some more red fruits emerge as well. More elegant and less broad, less sweet. Slightly sharper and more acidic. Better balance in the taste and definitely more elegant and less dirty. So not identical twins. #464 is bigger, bolder and has a longer finish. The sulphurous bits of #464 are easier to detect in a direct comparison, since #465 seems to have much less of it, or lacks it altogether.

I love both these Ledaigs, and if you have a preference, it’s because one of the two better suits your profile )of the moment). More elegant or more rough, cases can be made for both. Personally today, I might prefer #465 (it shows coal and black fruit, which I love), however tomorrow I might prefer #464 (big and bold). It just depends. #465 will score higher because it does show a bit more quality and balance, with more of the aroma’s I like, but, who knows, maybe some more breathing will bring out even more in #464. I’m in for a treat the next months/years…

Points: 89

Calvados Week – Day 4: Lemorton Vieux Calvados Réserve (40%, AOC Domfrontais, 2012)

Logo Calvados WeekYet another Calvados in this Calvados Week, but this time it is something different. Lemorton comes from the Domfront region. For this AOC, at least 30% pears must be used in the distillate, but often this number is much higher. Single Distillation is done in a column still.

The Lemorton domain is located in Mantilly near the town Domfront, name giver of the AOC. Mantilly has a terroir of clay and limestone, perfect for pear trees. Lemorton Calvados is not made from pears only though. It’s made from 70 % pears and 30 % apples. The Cider is first aged for 11 months in oak barrels and undergoes a single distillation in a small alambic armagnacais. Distillation takes place, once a year, and the distillate is then put into old neutral casks to let the fruity distillate speak for itself.

Lemorton Vieux Calvados RéserveColor: Red brown.

Nose: Thick apple butter and heavy pear syrup. Nice concentrated fruits with lots of depth. Dusty and very aromatic. It’s almost pear and apple Marmite. Borders on good Pinot Gris and even Gewürztraminer. Fruity acidity. Lovely stuff. Compared to a “normal” Calvados made only from apples, this Calvados which is more pear than apple, shows, how nice and complex the aroma’s of pear can be in a distillate. Honey and a tiny hint of toasted bread with hot butter on top. Small lick of lemon curd. Wonderful nose. After this, it still goes on. There is also a meaty component. Smoked very dry meat, but also some elements of cold gravy. The honey part grows if you let it breathe for a while.

Taste: Sweet and right from the start, you know this isn’t as complex as the nose. The nose itself was rather perfect to be honest. The taste isn’t as thick and aromatic and especially not as syrupy as expected. It’s thinner, more acidic and somewhat watery, but still with some woody bitterness and quite dry. Lacks some sweetness. As said above, this does have some White Wine acidity to it. Not bad, but the nose was better. Dissipates towards the finish, getting more acidic, stays dry and gains some bitterness. The finish is the least interesting part of this Calvados.

Compared to the products of Château du Breuil, Lemorton is quite expensive, especially considering the Lemorton Réserve is their entry-level Calvados. Smells like a very expensive distillate though, which oozes quality. The taste, not so much, alas. Although I loved pears before I liked apples, this Réserve is not my favourite Calvados I’ve tasted so far. Pears in Calvados have proven their worth to me, but maybe 70% is just a bit too much. Let’s look for an apple and pear Calvados, but this time a bit less rich in the pear department…

Points: 77

Caol Ila 13yo 1990/2003 (55.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Reserve, Cask #1114, 283 bottles, JC/GF)

I got up this morning seeing that it is a nice and sunny day, just with a chill in the air. Ice on the windscreen, and couldn’t be bothered de-icing the car, so I did the school run on foot. Luckily no wind so it wasn’t so bad. Walking towards the winder I did pick up the inspiration to review some Islay Whisky. Yeah! Rummaging a bit in the sample bank I dug up two Islay babies, that will together well, or make for interesting comparison. Once not so readily available, today impossible to miss. Caol Ila is the name and peat is the game. I love Caol Ila because it ages really well. So lets educate myself and have a look at a younger example of Caol Ila. This 1990 Caol Ila was bottled by Gordon & MacPhail in 2003. The outturn was 283 bottles at cask strength, and considering the color and wood management policies at G&M, I would be surprised if this wasn’t matured in a remade Bourbon Hogshead although a Fino or Manzanilla Sherry hogshead is also possible. Two of its sister casks were also bottled in 2003: #1115 (JC/AEG) and # 1116 (JC/CEB). More sister casks exist. In 2011/2012 at least three more were bottled: #1120 (for La Maison Du Whisky, France), #1121 and #1122 (both for Van Wees, The Netherlands).

Caol Ila 13yo 1990/2003 (55.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Reserve, Cask #1114, 283 bottles)Color: White wine.

Nose: Dry and smoky peat, with an underlying sweetness. So it’s not the fatty peat you sometimes get. This is drier and a wee bit more spicy. Cow organics in cold weather. With hints of hay and quite some buttery and lemony notes as well as hints of shiny aromatic apple skin (not acidic). Some flowery elements were present in the peat, lavender as well as there is some crushed beetle (sounds strange doesn’t it?). Vanilla and more creamy, fresh buttery notes. The wood smells a bit meaty and well aged, so not young and sappy. Hints of cured meat. Smells a bit toned down and maybe older than it actually is. Very well-balanced. More about fresh and fruity notes than heavy peat. Accessible. Garden bonfire burning off old branches combined with powdered vanilla and powdered coffee creamer. It’s not really a big Whisky, but a well constructed one. Wonderful nose, especially by the wonderful vanilla and floral nose. I would say Fino Sherry hogshead. made from American oak.

Taste: More peat and quite sweet, which works quite well this time. There is enough going around to balance the sugary sweetness out. Burned leaves and a lot of vanilla and clotted cream, custard, pudding. These notes are quite big and it takes a while for those to pass, to let a more paper and (spicy) wood note through. Distinct hints of soap. It breaks down a bit in the finish, with a creamy note that goes down my throat, but in the same time a more acidic wood note stays behind in the roof of my mouth, the soap also has some staying power under my tongue. These flaws are easily forgivable, looking at the whole. Good Caol Ila.

This went under the radar a bit when it came out, as well as its sister casks, but what a treat this is. Definitely American oak and probably Sherry that aged under flor instead of Bourbon. All aroma’s work together well. I wish I had more of this, but at least I had the experience of a whole bottle of this. Worth seeking out at auctions, but a lot of it was probably drunk back then.

Points: 87

The Glenlivet 15yo “French Oak Reserve” (40%, OB, 09.11.2009)

After the oldie from 1975 and the two recent “special” releases, Alpha and Guardians Chapter, here we look into a more “normal” release by The Glenlivet. This is a 15yo standard release Glenlivet, where the tipple came in contact with some French oak. French oak is known for impairing a slightly more tannic flavour to Whisky, whereas American oak usually gives off a more Vanilla or Toffee note. I expect a very easy drinkable Whisky with maybe a little “bite”.

Glenlivet 15yo "French Oak Reserve" (40%, OB)Color: (Light) gold, slightly pink?

Nose: Altogether light and slightly malty. Nice hints of wood. A little bit of toffee, vanilla and sweet apple. Very middle of the road, but also decent and pleasant. It smells like a good daily drinker. A little bit of dust on wood and nuttiness. Picture dust floating in the air in the sunlight in a room with unpolished wooden furniture. Also a touch of oil from tangerine-skins. Nothing out of the ordinary for a decent Single Malt Whisky, yet nice nevertheless.

Taste: Sweet, creamy with toffee and vanilla. A little tannic bite from the wood. Otherwise again very pleasant and very middle of the road. Slighty malty and nutty. Daily drinker written on its forehead. Slightly bitter on the finish, like licking walnut skin for a moment. Obviously from this particular type of oak, French you know.

A very reasonably priced 15yo, which offers a middle-of-the-road experience, with a little bite from the French oak. Pleasant but hardly entertaining, good but nothing special. Especially since it has aged for 15 years, in a time where all Whiskies are released without an age statement. It probably sells a lot, and why not. There is nothing wrong with it and it isn’t a bad Whisky either. Bang-for-your buck material, or a starters Whisky at 40% ABV  if you are interested in the effect tannins can have from French oak. Good but a bit boring (for me).

Points: 82

Kopke Christmas (Reserve Ruby)

Kopke logoJust in time for Christmas, or should I say, just in time for last-minute Christmas shopping, another Kopke Port. The Tawny Kopke I reviewed last, turned out to be quite good, and doesn’t break the bank, so why not try another Kopke, but this time a Ruby. They call this a ‘Reserve’ to distinguish it from more generic rubies, and considering this is for a special, festive occasion, this (young) Ruby should be quite good also, and again this is a pretty inexpensive Kopke. Should you buy this for Christmas?

Kopke Christmas Port (Reserve Ruby)Color: Ruby red, with lost of purple near the edges of the glass.

Nose: Raisins and fresh, typical Ruby if you ask me. Very fresh (fresh air) young and lively, but also promising a lot of sweets. Thick, fat and buttery with heaps of raisins, something you would expect from a PX Sherry (the raisins). The whole does not smell like a PX at all. After all this, it smells more like a “red wine”. Cheesecake, a little bit of wood and some acidity and mustiness later on, so the smell does develop a lot in the glass.

Taste: More of the same, young and fresh, sweet and sour. Distant hint of bitter wood (walnuts), but the note is not dominant. It does fit the nose, but the taste is not very complex, and does seem a bit unbalanced. In this case the sweet and the sour don’t like each other very much. And the bitterness (not only walnuts, but also earwax), well, also not completely in harmony. The fruits in this Port are more of the half-sweet black and red summer fruits, and do I detect some tannins drying my tongue? Yes. This finish is half-long, but also a bit anonymous. This Port almost seems stopped dead in its shoes in its transition from a Red Wine to a Port. It’s still too much a Red Wine.

After my comments especially those for the taste, one might think It’s not a very good Port, but that wouldn’t be true. It’s a nice Ruby Port, not extremely special, but very drinkable. I suspect this to be very young. It’s alright, but if you like your ports a bit more special, a bit more festive, and a bit more “Tawny” I would recommend the Kopke 10yo matured in wood I reviewed last some more. For me Warre’s Warrior is also slightly better and especially a more balanced, somewhat sweeter, example. ABV for this Christmas Kopke is 19,5%.

Points: 82

Warre’s Warrior (Reserve)

And finally a Port emerges on these pages and since it took so long, it might come as a surprise that I really like Port. I normally do not like sweet drinks, but reading back on these pages it should become clear to you, that I do like (overly) sweet Sherries like the PX’s, but also Port. Due to some issues with shelve space I do not have a lot of Sherries and Port’s open, nor should I, since both Sherry and Port shouldn’t be kept open for too long, it’s not Whisky you know.

As with lot’s of Port “houses” it has a long, very long history. Even this Warrior has a long history. Warre themselves claim that: “[Warrior] is the oldest brand of Port in the world, having been shipped continuously since the 1750’s”. The company that became Warre’s was established in 1670, but the first Warre came to the firm in 1729.

Let’s start of with Warre’s Warrior. I’d like to start with Warre since a long time ago, Warre’s Otima 10 (or 20) was my first bottle of Port ever. Warre’s Warrior comes from Quinta da Cavadinha and Quinta do Retiro Antigo from the Pinhão and Rio Torto valleys, also the home of Warre’s Vintage Port.

Color: Deep red and thick.

Nose: Very sweet and raisiny. It definitely smells like a Port to be had as a dessert, or with a dessert. For me it smells like a warm summer, mellow and toned down. I can imagine drinking this in summer, slightly chilled. It smells nice, but lacks complexity, it isn’t very pretentious, but easily drinkable.

Taste: Ahhh, very fruity and aromatic, much more of a flavor explosion than the nose suggested. Various red fruits. Sweet raspberry mostly. The nose suggested an extremely sweet Port, heavy sweetness and raisins, but on the contrary. Even though it shows long legs and smells of raisins, it doesn’t taste like that. This Warrior is fruity! Half-sweet and has a very nice balance with its (sometimes sharp, but refreshing) acidity. A little bit of oil from orange skins. Tannins play a role too, they’re drying the tongue. Last but not least, the finish, it’s short. Slightly woody too. If the finish was longer and a little bit sweeter, this would really be perfect, but as it is, it still is a steal.

Thick Ruby Port that sticks to the glass. Even though it has a lot of balance, the nose and the taste seem to be two different wines in one (ain’t that a contradiction!). It’s a surprise, but treat it as a present, since we’re getting two types of Port for the price of one, and it’s dirt cheap to boot. Due to a lot of regulation and control from the Port Institute, only Ports with a decent quality are released. This Warrior is definitely worth looking into for an inexpensive daily drinker. ABV is 20%.

Points: 83

Lochside 18yo 1991/2009 (56.7%, Gordon & MacPhail, Reserve, Refill Bourbon Barrel #15220, 106 bottles)

Yet again we have one of the many 1991 Lochsides, and one of the many that were issued as a Gordon & MacPhail Reserve. This one was picked by Dutch retailer Van Wees. Gordon & MacPhail code for this one is JI/ACAC. The spirit was distilled on September 18th, 1991 and eventually bottled on October 15th, 2009. Picked by Van Wees in July 2009. Those of you that meticulously read this blog probably had a Deja Vu experience. We know this bottle, we know this lay-out. Well yes and no. February 4th 2013, I published a review of quite a similar Lochside, opened by Master Quill’s Apprentice (like this one). That was Cask #15217, here we have sister cask #15220, distilled and filled on the same day. This one was bottled some five months earlier, so here we have a chance to compare the two, to see what the effects are of another, but similar cask, and almost half a year of maturation…

Color: Gold (ever so slightly fuller in color)

Nose: Clean and fruity. Distant wood. Clay and organic. Dusty with smoked ham. All in good balance, but nothing pops out. A very quiet Lochside. The esters I remember from the “other” Barrel, are here too. Vanilla from the wood. The yeast is way down in this one, and there is no peat, rubber or petrol. It’s easier on the nose (more balanced), more rounded out, but also less complex. When nosing this a long time, slightly more (sour) oak comes along, but still not a lot, and it gets fresher, but in a mint and menthol kind of way. Also cherry liquor bonbons. The chocolate from them are in this Whisky too.

Taste: Sweet and farmy, with a great sweetish attack. Definitely less woody, at first, than the other Barrel. A nice peppery bite, next to the sweetness and the fruity, farmy notes. Again a nice big body, aided by the ABV. Honey and a great balance. Here too a chocolate liqueur bon-bon. Big body with a matching long and balanced finish. The wood is a lot more contained within this Lochside. Less vanilla though, so the wood reacted differently, it gave slightly more color, but less wood and vanilla. If you let it breathe for some time, the wood does play a larger role, and overall this is less “deep”.

You can’t go wrong with these kinds of Lochsides. There are a lot of 1991 bottles around, but they all are slightly different. sure the family resemblance is there, but I’ve tasted more of the 1991 G&M Reserve, and they all are variations of a theme. I feel it’s safe to say that some four or five months of extra maturation has a smaller effect on the maturation of a whisky, than te particular staves that were used making the barrel. Maybe I’m wrong. I just can’t imagine that the differences between cask #15217 and #15220, come from the small difference in maturation time. Here the “younger” one is more balanced but also less complex. For me I prefer the nose of barrel #15220 over #15217. Considering the taste, this one is easier, and less complex, but it has a better balance. All in all it’s definitely the same family, but the easiness, better balance and containment of the wood, the added farmyness and the difference in fruityness, makes me score this even two points higher. I just like this one better!

Points: 88

Thanks go out to Erik for providing yet another Lochside sample.

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