Tonight a quick look at two early releases from the Archives series of bottlings by Menno and CJ of Whiskybase. Their selections are always solid at a minimum and always fairly priced. The samples I am checking out tonight are of bottles from two Speyside distilleries that are not known for sending anyone’s pulse racing. The worst that can be said about Dailuaine is that it is one of Diageo’s workhorses–it rarely garners plaudits or brick-bats (I quite like the lone official release I’ve tried from Diageo’s Flora & Fauna range). Strathmill, on the other hand, is actively despised by many; but then so is Old Rhosdhu and I quite liked the one I tried a few nights ago. Let’s see if the signs from these samples are promising.
1. Strathmill 37, 1974 (44.5%, Archives Inaugural Release, Bourbon Hogshead #1231; a purchased sample)
Nose: Quite floral and fruity. Remarkably fresh aromas for such an older citizen: cherries, raspberries, even a hint of rose petals. Some vanilla cream too after a while and hints of toasted oak and a touch of rye. Water doesn’t harm the nose but I think I preferred it neat.
Palate: The very first impression is a little watery but then the fruit begins to intensify. Tart berries turning sweeter and then muskier; some sort of pastry around them too perhaps. The rye note from the nose shows up at the end and continues into the finish. As on the nose with water.
Finish: Rye and then the wood finally shows up, but spicy rather than tannic (I only note this because this is 37 years old).
Comments: This is quite nice but I’m not sure that I would want a full bottle (though I am considering it). But that’s only because when I want a bright, fruity malt I usually want something more citrussy or stone-fruity. This was my first experience with Strathmill, and while it may or may not be representative it is a good advertisement at the least for the cask selection at Whiskybase.
2. Dailuaine 28, 1983 (47.3%, Archives First Release, Hogshead #865; a purchased sample*)
Nose: This is very different, despite also being from a bourbon cask (presumably this was a bourbon hogshead too). Rubber bands are the dominant note I get. A strong malty note too (digestive biscuits) and then some salt as well. With more time, a richer sweetness begins to emerge (dark honey). The rubber bands are a distant memory. Much brighter aromas now and some nice citrus and apricot.
Palate: Sweet–brown sugar. Some wood spice, turning salty. Not so very fruity at first. But with time the fruitiness emerges–citrussy at first and then just a bit tropical.
Finish: Long but not terribly interesting. Mostly the wood spice and some pepperiness.
Comments: Started out seeming like a sherry cask on the nose but the ex-bourbon elements emerged soon enough. I quite liked it but thought the nose was the best part. Very attractively priced for a 28yo whisky but from this small sample it does not appear to be an older whisky for a special occasion.
*I am pretty sure that this was a purchased sample, but am not entirely certain. Whiskybase now sell samples but used to include a few for free with every order you placed (and maybe still do); somehow I seem to have failed to note when/how I got this one.