Paul John (58%, Single Cask #1051, for The Nectar Belgium, 2015)

Last year I wrote a review of the Malts of Scotland Paul John #15066, another unpeated example of a Paul John single cask Whisky. When I emptied that bottle, it got replaced by this official bottling from single cask #1051 picked by Mario G., and bottled for The Nectar in Belgium. I normally write my reviews of a half full/half empty bottle. You know the drill about optimists and pessimists. Most of the time, Whiskies need some time or air to reach their best, so it is actually a big no-no to review a freshly opened bottle. However, this time around, I’m writing this review from a nearly empty bottle, but I have been following the development of this bottle very sharply, and I do remember all the stages this Whisky went through over time. All this, because in this particular case, this actually was at its best right after the bottle was freshly opened. I was really happy with it, let’s say the first half of the bottle, and when I brought it with me for a tasting of my whisky club, the comments were not all that positive. Yes, it may have suffered a bit by the preceding Whiskies in the line-up, but when tasting it back a few days later, I also thought it wasn’t as good as it was earlier. I left a few drams in the bottle and let it sit for a while before reviewing it now. I will make an honest review, based on all its stages and not only about the last bit I have left at this point. I haven’t tasted it yet, this last bit, so let’s see what time did to it this time.

Color: Gold.

Nose: Buttery, woody and waxy. Quite nutty as well. The wood is fresh and lively at first with a nice spicy feel to it. Sweet smelling, fruity, with big notes of pencil shavings. Pencil shavings is what this Whisky always had over time, big time. Barley notes with cold dish water and dry grass. Do I detect the tiniest hint of clear glue? It still is quite simple in its approach, but what you get, smells good, yet also for some, maybe a bit dull. Dusty, now turning a bit meaty (gravy actually) and glue like, before the pencil shavings come back. Still overall a good nose, with the fruity bit taking a back seat. It’s still there but not really overpowering. Simple yet appetizing. It’s simpleness is also evident in the lack of development, over the course of time in my glass there isn’t really anything changing. This is one for first impressions and not one that must grow on you. Even though these are the last drops of the bottle, it smells nice and seems to have kept its quality. It’s good, but not a stellar smelling expression, with the main focus on cold dishwater (and barley) and especially the pencil shavings.

Taste: Sweet and very nutty on entry, with a nice (red pepper?) sting to it. After the first sweet wave comes a more fresh and acidic wave. Here is the cold dishwater again. All this is quickly surpassed by medium bitter and spicy oak and pencil shavings. Slightly minty as well, since it has a slight cooling effect on the middle of my tongue. I don’t remember from earlier tastings, the amount of bitterness it is showing now. The bitterness is somewhere in-between oak and the oils from the skin of oranges, without really being all that orange-y. You know what I mean. Luckily the bitterness is smack in the middle of the body and less pronounced in the finish. Warming going down with a more toffee-like and friendly finish, yet still a lot of wood of the pencil shavings kind. Finish and aftertaste have less staying power than expected, although quite warming. It just fades away.

When freshly opened this really was a very promising unpeated Paul John. Time and air however, didn’t do this Malt a lot of good. The freshly opened bottle showed a pleasant nose and rounded out taste, balanced and tasty. Over time the Malt got ripped apart a bit, thus showing less balance. This never has been a very complex Malt to boot. Based on the freshly opened bottle, I understand and support Mario for selecting it. I just learned over time, this wasn’t Paul John’s best offering. I understand the comments it got from the guys from the club, because in a way this is a delicate expression, even though it has a big body. This won’t do well in a flight, sandwiched between other Malts, also because it is different from most others. It doesn’t know too well how to mingle. When having only this one and focussing on it and analysing it, it is clear to me, that this is more than a decent Malt, even though I feel it was better when the bottle was freshly opened. It did suffer in the balance department over time and with air.

Points: 84

Kilchoman 4yo 2007/2012 (60.9%, OB, Bourbon Cask #390/2007, for The Nectar Belgium)

The Kilchoman I’m about to review was just bottled when I wrote the last Kilchoman review on these pages. When I bought the bottle I’m about to review, it was already an oldie in Kilchoman-time. Both this bottling and my two previous Kilchoman reviews came from 2012, the year I reviewed the 2010 Spring and 2010 Summer editions. All this already 8 years ago! Well, a lot has happened at Kilchoman since then, mostly good (f.i. they make terrific Whisky), but unfortunately also some bad (a kiln fire and an exploding boiler to name but a few).

Kilchoman is a farm distillery on the isle of Islay (Scotland). You know, the place where legends are like Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin and a few others that are also well known in the world of Whisky. In comes this “new” distillery (Founded in 2005). Today we have a bottle that is a mere 4 years old (and some months), all the other distilleries on Islay have mostly properly aged Whiskies on the market, so can this offering be anything good at so young an age, from a fairly new distillery? I already know the answer to this, but please read on to find out for yourself.

Color: White Wine, with microscopic small cask sediment particles. Macro flavour molecules, probably a good sign!

Nose: Thick fat peat, and lots and lots of smoke. Licorice. Black and white powder. Salmiak and crushed beetles. Smoked (white) flowers and more peat. More smoke, sweet smoke and an underlying citrussy note. Fresh air, combined with a zesty citrussy aroma. Not the oily bits from the skin, but the fruit within. The fresh air then gets accompanied by whiffs of the smell of a fireplace in winter. Don’t you just like to be outside on a cold winter evening, or night, where people are burning logs in their fireplace at home? Don’t you feel the warmth of family now? Next, (fresh) oak and some dried fish, but foremost sweet licorice. This just screams peat and smoke. However, the smoke may have started out sharply, but it is not sharp now, it’s quite soft and very well integrated into the peat notes. Its almost as if the whisky itself is smoked. Very big, yet not brutal. Hints of vanilla from American oak underneath and cold sweet black tea. Very well made Whisky by these ‘novices’. It already smells the part. It may very well be only 4 years of age, but the profile of the smell remind me of Whiskies from another time. Underneath all this, there is also this sweet fruity aroma. A highly aromatic Malt altogether. Wow!

Taste: Thin toffee with lots of fresh oak, green youthful oak and quite sweet on entry. Hints of wax and cardboard. Dare I say a snuff of Talisker pepper, yes? Peat and crushed beetles are present here as well. What amazing balance in this expression. Eventually the sweetness oozes away a bit, leaving room for the body to be taken over by peat, smoke and quite some (slightly bitter) wood for a 4yo. On top, a fruity acidity, which combines just nicely with the wood and the waxy notes this Malt has. The aforementioned beetle has some staying power in to the less big of a finish than expected. The aftertaste is warming and spicy.

Well, this 4yo from the new kid on the block can really blow many offerings from the big guys right out of the water. For me, this is better than f.i. the Laphroaig Lore, which, compared to this seems a bit boring, for me anyway. You might prefer the more elegant side of the Lore, so please don’t send me any hate-mail over this. Just to be sure, the ‘Lore’ isn’t a bad Whisky at all…

Points: 87

Glengoyne Week – Day 7: Glengoyne 37yo 1972/2010 (52%, The Nectar of the Daily Dram, The Nectar and Bresser & Timmer)

Oh no, we’re already at the end of the Glengoyne week, quelle misère! This is always the moment with a little bit of melancholy. That moment when you’ve been with a good friend for a week and you know he or she has to leave. Waving goodbye at the train station or the airport. Going home alone with a little tear in the corner of your eye.

We are going to see our friend from Scotland off with the only independent bottling of Glengoyne in this Glengoyne week, and the only distillate from the seventies, the rest being eighties and one fairly new Glengoyne on day one. Here we have also the only Glengoyne that was bottled by The Nectar from Belgium together with Bresser & Timmer from The Netherlands.

Glengoyne 37yo 1972/2010 (52%, The Nectar of the Daily Dram, The Nectar and Bresser & Timmer)Color: Sparkling gold.

Nose: Waxy and fruity, like an old Duncan Taylor Caperdonich from the same year. Honeysuckle, and lots of it. This is so good, it can be worn as a perfume, amongst Whisky drinkers that is. Floral. Given some time the Whisky noses more elegant. After the initial weight of the wax and yellow fruit (that dissipates), it becomes more fresh, like walking on the beach in fall. Clean, maybe. The wood kicks in too, I mean the wood is noticeable, also a slight toast to it. Spicy. This one has utter balance. Caperdonichs and Glengoynes from 1972, I you haven’t tried them already, do it! In a short while they’ll get extinct or priceless, and you’ll be the poorer for it, not having had the experience…

Taste: Sweet, fruity and full, I already don’t want to write more notes now, I want to enjoy my dram! Somebody has to do the job, so I’ll sacrifice myself yet again. Bugger! The syrupy sweetness goes smoothly into the spiciness of the wood. Lemon sherbet and more yellow fruits, some peaches, dried apricots? Cardboard and vanilla ice-cream. Just a slight imbalance in the finish, but who cares, putting this in your mouth again makes up for that, you’ll only finish the bottle a little sooner than you meant to do. The finish in fact is not that heavy too, a tiny flaw.

It is a great dram. I was only surprised that the waxiness together with the fruitiness are here in the beginning, just not here to stay in the nose. tastewise it does stay. Well picked by Mario Groteklaes.

So that’s it, we are done for the moment with Glengoyne, and we are done with the fourth ‘week’ on Master Quill. In the end this independently bottle of Glengoyne got the highest score, with an almost equally briljant and newer ‘summer’ edition in the runner-up position. Actually the odds were a bit uneven since this Glengoyne is from the seventies and therefore well older than the rest of the contenders, but who said it was a contest? Through the rest of the offerings reviewed in this Glengoyne week, it can be clearly seen that Glengoyne makes a high quality whisky with multiple facets to it. Keep up the good work!

Points: 92

Thanks go out to Nico for providing the sample!

Bunnahabhain 9yo 2001/2010 (46%, Daily Dram, for Bresser & Timmer and The Nectar Belgium)

Bunnahabhain was founded in 1881 and the first spirit trickled from the stills two years later. The distillery was closed two times. The first time in 1930 (for seven years) and the second time in 1982 (for two years). In 2003 the distillery was bought by Burn Steward Distilleries, and they really started to market Bunnahabhain. First of all a series of new bottlings saw the light of day, and in 2010 they started to upgrade the core range with the 12yo and the 18yo. The ABV was raised to 46.3% ánd the new versions are unchillfiltered and no coloring is added. Way to go!

Bunnahabhain is known for being the least peated of the island, still like a lot of others, raising to the occasion by answering the call of the public for more ppm’s. Burn Steward therefore started to bottle a “Moine” expression, with more peat, mimicking pre sixties Bunnahabhain.

Color: Warm Orange, slightly hazy.

Nose: Rubber like bicycle tyres, but also a floral note. Very strange. Almost a strangely burnt Cognac? It smells like a grape distillate. Burnt sugar and toffee. Skins of hazelnuts. First whiffs were ehhhh, lets say, very atypical. I can only hope this will not be one of those harsh tasting rubbery fresh Sherry bombs. Luckily it does get a lot better when aired for a while. I would say, leave the cork off for a short while, a week or two maybe 🙂

Taste: Ash and toasted wood. Burnt sugar again, with its bitterness. This must be a somewhat mistreated or bad cask. And/or very poor Sherry. Sweet grains and caramel. Burnt sugar and rubber. Hint of soap. Thick and chewy. Simple and rather unbalanced. Dark chocolate with burnt bitterness. Quite woody in fact, something you could miss by the overwhelming Sherry influence. Was the cask really empty, when the Bunnahabhain spirit entered the cask?

Little if any distillery character. This could have been any spirit, from any distillery. No merits at all for Bunnahabhain, because this is a Sherry influenced grape thing. This is all fresh Sherry cask. And for me not even one of the nicest casks around. Is this nice? I don’t know. There shall be fans of this, but I’m not one of them. If you like Loch Dhu, then please give this a try.

Points: 76

Thanks go out to Nico for handing me this sample.

Caol Ila 21yo 1984/2006 (58.5%, Dewar Rattray, for The Nectar, Belgium, Refill Bourbon, Cask #6266, 251 bottles)

Caol Ila was founded in 1846 and rebuilt in 1879 and 1972, and in 1974 six new stills were installed. As of 1999 also unpeated whisky is made, which is nice, but also makes you wonder about single casks sold to independents since that date. Mainly used for the Johnnie Walker blends, but more and more used as a single malt due to the popularity of Islay malts. If I’m not mistaken the first official bottlings were the Flora & Fauna 15yo and a few Rare Malt editions. In 2002 the 12yo, 18yo and a cask strength were released and a few years later a Moscatel finish Distillers Edition and Moch were released. During that time also three versions of a 25yo were released, I know were pretty good.

This whisky was distilled on December 12th 1984 and bottled 21 years later on September 6th, 2006, and was bottled for Belgian outfit, The Nectar.

Color: Light Gold.

Nose: Fat Peat with ash. Very leafy, as in fresh, non-musty wet leaves and crushed dried leaves. Sweet and balanced. Green apple skin. Sweaty, tarry and with distant flowery perfume. Hints of wood. Crushed beetles, (not Beatles). Sea with some smoke and late (dare I say unexpected) fruitiness.

Taste: Sweet and chewy, with elegant peat. Nutty, almonds and some walnut. Some white pepper and plants. Also the sweat returns which fits the profile. Nice balance. It has some unexpected fresh sourness in the warming finish. No wood to speak of, but it has the wood spice. Finally, some salt on the lips, during the yellow fruity finish (apricots and peaches obviously). Astonishing.

I quite like this. Due to its perfect sweetness this is dangerously drinkable. Not as complex as I might have hoped, but hey, it’s not a super old Islay, and we don’t drink those for their finesse do we? Caol Ila in al its guises is a very nice alternative to all the other (increasingly expensive) brothers from Islay.

Points: 90

Caperdonich 35yo 1972/2008 (50.3%, Duncan Taylor for The Nectar Belgium, Cask #7424, 136 bottles)

Duncan Taylor, once Glaswegian brokers in whisky casks. Now of Huntly in the North East of Scotland. These guys have some massive amounts of great casks lying around. I know a lot of bottlings they did that are legendary. For instance: Tomatin 1976, Bowmore 1966 and Bowmore 1968, to name but a few, but there are a lot more. But it’s not only the vast amount of casks, it’s also the quality, and consistency of their whiskies, and grains. Duncan Taylor are definitively among my favourite independent bottlers.

Color: Orange Gold

Nose: Wow, double wow. This is fabulous! Old Bottle and überfruity. Apricots, peaches and sugar-coated oranges. Very organic and even a bit nasty, but all in a very good way. I guess we already have one of those legends on our hand. It has some earwax and wood, but not as much as you would have thought for something that’s 35 years old.

Taste: Sorry, but its wow again! It has a spicy punch after all those years. It’s palate matches the nose. The same fruits for me, and almost no wood and it hasn’t been an inactive cask either, just look at the color. It also reminds me of a very well aged perfect Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer. This would have been almost perfect, (because does perfection exist on our planet?), when the finish would remain somewhat sweeter and retain the fruityness and if it could have kept its balance some more. In the finish, the wood plays a greater, drier and a bit sour and thus unbalancing role. But it maybe nitpicking, because this Caperdonich receives a well earned…

Points: 93