Glendullan 14yo 1993/2007 (46%, Murray McDavid, for Malts and More, Bourbon/Rioja Tempranillo, Cask #05/0052, 493 bottles)

After the Murray McDavid Rhosdhu, here is the second of three bottlings by Murray McDavid. This time we’ll have a look at Glendullan. The Edradours I reviewed last had their first appearance on Master Quill, and now we can cross off Glendullan as well. Here we have a fine example, where Murray McDavid were taking the independent bottler. Specializing in Wine cask finishes. In the early 2000’s Wine finishes were snuffed at, since most of them were overdone and the Original Whisky was probably dull (pun intended). It was just the industry trying Wine finishing out and learning on the go. They still have to wait many years to find out where their experiment were taking then. This particular Glendullan started its life as a regular Whisky aged in Bourbon casks (most likely a Hogshead).  After a while the contents were transferred into a wine cask. Tempranillo te be precise. Tempranillo is a red grape most common to Spanish Wines like Rioja.

Glendullan itself is a distillery owned by Diageo. A bottle of Glendullan is not the most common find of all distilleries, especially considering Glendullan is one of the largest distilleries Diageo owns.

GlendullanColor: Dark gold, slightly orange.

Nose: Spicy wood and a slightly acidic winey note. Very spicy oak, slightly burnt. Nutmeg, and herbal as well. Some faint odd acidic citrussy dishwater aromas. Applesauce, de Querville Calvados! Quite dusty and old smelling, like an old Whisky aged in a Bourbon cask. Behind that a more restrained fruity note, but again acidic fruit combined with hard candy versions of that fruit with added cherry and raspberry candy flavours. Almond pastry, cinnamon and nougat. It’s not quite a replacement for a Sherry aged Whisky, but not bad nevertheless. The Wine turned out very soft on the nose. I do get some grape skin, but from white grapes, not red. In the end, all aroma’s are built upon a wealth of wood, but no, it’s not woody. Needs a lot of air (time) to develop, but in the end it will not disappoint.

Taste: Fruity lemonade and warming. Citrussy again and to a lesser extent so are the apples. Present, but not so much in the Calvados way. Also grenadine and quite a lot of licorice. Old rotting wood. The kind that has been submerged for a long time in a forest. Quite thick. Some raisins. Lots of influence of the wine cask. Maybe a bit too much? The Bourbon casked Whisky isn’t really recognizable anymore. Is that bad? Nope not really. This is still a nice tasting Whisky. Less complex than the nose, but overall quite pleasing. It doesn’t show its best bits right from the start. Pour it and leave it for a while.

Quite stunning what Murray McDavid have achieved with Tempranillo. No wonder Tomatin has gone that way lately too. Complex stuff, with a stunning nose, with quite some development.

Points: 85


Bodegas Ramón Bilbao Rioja DOCa Edición Limitada 2009

Today, Bodegas Ramón Bilbao is a modern winery with a long history dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century. The property is located in Haro, Rioja Alta, in the heart of the DOC Rioja region, and therefore Ramón Bilbao is considered to be one of the best. The soil is calcareous and loamy. The vineyards are located there, where the warm wind from the dry Sierra de Cantabria collides with the cooler Mediterranean breeze. This makes for modern, fresh and fruity entry-level wines and a classic ripe, vanilla and wood-scented Gran Reservas, and lots in between. Obviously, these Rioja’s are made with the Temperanillo grape variety.

Color: Deep ruby red

Nose: Bourbon vanilla, creamy, chewy, brooding and nice spiciness from the barrel ageing. It has that much vanilla I would say, American oak barrels or maybe the feisty Temperanillo grape variety overpowers the tannins of the French oak that could have been used in stead. Probably both are used at the same time. Dry leather and some dust. Red fruits, cherries, strawberry and raspberry. Lovely stuff.

Taste: Dark wine, dark spices, but with an added spiciness and a killer vanilla finish. Dry blackberry. Perfect woody spiciness comes through, late in the finish with no off notes whatsoever. The only beef one could have with this wine is that the finish is too short. It doesn’t have a short finish, but the wine is so good and the aftertaste is so pleasant as well, it should have gone on forever. Very mild in the tannin-department, which again makes me think that most of the barrels used for ageing is made from American oak.

Highly versatile wine. Is probably good with a lot of foods, but most certainly drinks very well on its own. For me a great Rioja! 14% ABV. Advised not to keep lying around for a long time, but another year or two can’t hurt this. Recommended.

Points: 87

Bruichladdich 14yo 1991/2005 “Yellow Submarine” (46%, OB, WMD II)

WMD stands for Whisky of Mass Distinction. A name one would find on a Frankie Goes To Hollywood 12″ in the eighties. Two years earlier the first WMD was released (a 19yo from 1984) and had a rocket on the label. This second “weapon” is a Yellow Submarine. Most of us would have thought of the Beatles, but this time it about another submarine. One owned by the Royal Navy of Great Britain.

Islay Fisherman Baker was at sea to check his lobster baskets, when he saw a yellow object floating just under the surface of the water. Which first seemed a buoy seemed to be a 2 metres long radio-controlled mine detector from the Royal Navy. When Fisherman Baker called the coastguard informing them that he spotted a submarine with markings from the Royal Navy, they told him to he was drunk, not very uncommon on such an Island. Still fisherman Baker wouldn’t budge and the coast guard called the Royal Navy, but they denied it’s existence!

Just days later the Royal Navy admitted they had lost HMS Penzance (The Yellow Submarine) in a drill. But just after 6 months they decided to pick the thing up> They sailed out at night, to arrive very early in the morning, not to draw a lot of attention to the operation. But the people of Islay are no fools, so half the Island was present at the beach. 12.000 bottles of Yellow Submarine were made and the Royal Navy got six to commemorate the incident. Later the French manufacturer of the Sub ordered another 1000 bottles of this edition for marketing purposes…

Color: Light Gold.

Nose: Woody and smoky. Quite estery and fruity as well. Clay and wet earth. Chewy (in the nose?). In a way candied and wine-treated (it is ACE’d in Rioja Casks, well that’s very Obvious in the nose). The wine finish takes the nose hostage, never to let go, whatever ransom you’re prepared to pay. Is that a bad thing, no not really it is likeable in the nose. I just hope is does the palate some justice. Creamy milk pudding. Powdery perfumed wood. Fresh.

Taste: a bit harsh and winey from the start, but it seems balanced. Wood and milk chocolate pudding. Creamy. Also a little bit from the wood and a wave of sugary sweetness. The palate is very nice, but also very simple. Probably a good idea to reduce this to 46% ABV, because now we have a very drinkable whisky. Nothing overly special though, with also an unspectacular finish, but it definitely is all right!

Well this most definitely is a Rioja finish. The Rioja is all over the place. It draws all attention to itself. Although wine finishes almost every time ring my alarm bells, this is not bad. Alas the maker doesn’t state what kind of Rioja it was red, white or rosé, although rosé would be pretty uncommon, most probable would be red. Most used grape variety in Rioja is the Temperanillo grape, remember the Temperanillo casks used by Tomatin?

Points: 85