Braeval 11yo 2001/2012 (46%, Douglas McGibbon, Provenance, Spring/Winter, Sherry Cask, DMG 9312)

You don’t have to polish your glasses. So soon after the other Braeval and Braes of Glenlivet Whiskies I reviewed, yet another Braeval graces these pages. Yes, another independent bottling of Braeval. This should come as no surprise since the owners Pernod Ricard (Chivas Brothers) don’t do a lot with this brand either. More or less the same situation as Strathisla, which is owned by the same company. It seems to me all their energy flows into The Glenlivet and Aberlour and not a lot of faith exists in marketing Single Malts from these lesser known distilleries. Bacardi (John Dewar & Sons) which owns Aberfeldy, Craigellachie, Aultmore, Macduff, and Royal Brackla, have recently decided to market the Whiskies of all their distilleries with an age statement. Lets hope Pernod Ricard will follow suit.

Braeval 11yo 2001/2012 (46%, Douglas McGibbon, Provenance, Sherry Cask, DMG 9312)Color: White wine. Not too pale.

Nose: Sweet, Bourbony and malty. Sweetish and pretty clean. Vanilla and pleasant oak. Spicy and leafy. Whiffs of latex paint and even slightly perfumy. Sometimes even vanilla ice-cream and Cappuccino. Becoming grassy over time, combined with a breath of fresh air. Not very outspoken though. 46% ABV is a decent strength, and since all aroma’s aren’t that outspoken I guess this didn’t benefit from reduction. Still a very agreeable nose.

Taste: Spicy and slightly (new) woody. Sweetish and lots of vanilla. American oak Sherry cask? Good balance. Good strength, but I’m sure this would be better undiluted, maybe that way it was too hot or just to plain strong for some. After some time the new wood and leafy note stays and combines with a little bit of barley with vanilla, mocha and vanilla ice-cream. Fresh forest after a rain shower, including the wet forest floor and mushrooms. Nice, innocent and anonymous.

Unlike both other examples of this distillery I reviewed before, this one has been reduced to 46% ABV. This example is also from this very decade and a bit younger than both others, so what does that do for this distillery? Well hard to tell actually since this isn’t a very complex malt. As all other Braevals, this is pretty good, yet this example is a bit anonymous. Reduction places it into the path of maybe less experienced drinkers, who still are a bit cautious with cask strength Whisky.

Points: 82

Glengoyne Week – Day 5: Glengoyne 19yo 1984/2004 ‘Winter’ (58.2%, OB, Cask #1464, 576 bottles)

So, after three ‘Mashman’s choices’ from 2006, we now move into even (c)older bottlings. Next up is this Glengoyne “Winter” that was distilled in the winter of 1984, and bottled in 2004. This bottle is a limited edition of 576 bottles so most probably a Sherry Butt (or Puncheon). 1984 is also a year not a lot of official Glengoynes come from, I actually know of only one other, Sherry Cask #790, that was bottled already in 1998.

The label reads the following fabulous text: “Distilled in winter 1984, this limited edition has captured the essence of the season. A bouquet of snowdrops and pears. A frosty and clean palate that exudes honey and mellow spices reminiscent of a hot toddy”. A hot toddy is a hot drink made with rum, star anise or cloves, lemon and cinnamon. Well I can’t wait to try a Whisky that has all these ingredients in it!

Color: Light gold.

Nose: Very “Fino” Sherry. Clean. Little hint of smoke and hot butter. Salty bacon. The meaty component moves in and out of the picture. It’s also fresh, with a little bit of menthol. Give it some time and warm it up in your hand, some neat organics develop. A little bit of wood, but less than expected with a 19yo malt. Cold butter too, perfumy and elegant.

Taste: Sweet. Clay and a little bit hot (It’s almost 60% ABV.) Here some toasted wood and again that distinct saltiness. Bitter orange marmalade. There is a lot of sweetness to this, to counterpart the wood and it’s influences. Near the end quite a lot of spicy wood, with matching bitter and slightly soapy finish, with lots of malt. Still this Whisky has a lot of complexity to it and shows many faces. A quality work of art.

My first guess would have been Fino Sherry, but going further I would say Manzanilla Sherry. Manzanilla’s are also made in the Fino way, but have a salty touch, and due to the smoke and hints of saltiness in this Whisky, I would say Manzanilla. For me Fino or Manzanilla casks are pretty good casks for Whisky, but they never are easy. This one too, it’s not a you-like-it-immediately malt, but you have to work on it a bit, as opposed to, lets say, Oloroso cask. Work it, warm it, let it move a lot inside the glass and a wonderful complexity emerges. For me a sort of connoisseurs malt. I will score this the same as the last two choices I reviewed earlier, but no need to inform you again that this Sherry cask is way different from the two darker ones, but equally as good. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The fabulous list of ingredients: Rum? Nope. Star Anise? Nope. Lemon? Well, no. Cinnamon? Not really. Cloves? Again no. Snowdrops? I haven’t tried snowdrops yet, have you? Pears? Nope. Honey, nope it’s more sugary sweet. As I said, a wonderful piece of literature, by someone who obviously had a cold, or maybe I have a cold right now? I wish it was summer already.

Points: 87