Balblair 21, 1990 (C&S)

Here is a highly untimely review. This Balblair 21 was released in 2011, right around the time when I had begun to buy single malt whisky in a deranged manner. As per my spreadsheet it cost me $80 at the time (and back then the Euro was a lot stronger against the dollar). Sherry cask whisky was widely available then. Maybe it’s nostalgia talking but I also want to say that high quality sherry cask whisky was still widely available then. That is to say, it was possible to get sherried whiskies that didn’t seem to all have been matured in active oak casks that had a few bottle of cooking sherry pressure injected into them for a week or two. Whisky geeks are still enamoured of sherry cask whisky and especially of dark sherried whiskies but they mostly seem like dubious propositions these days, either flabby or raw. I can tell you that the sherry character in this Balblair is more old-school. I’ve been drinking the bottle down with pleasure since I opened it for one of my local group’s tastings a couple of months ago. Here now are my notes. Continue reading


Clynelish 17, 1997 (C&S)

1997 is supposed to be the magic year for Clynelish. My last 1997 Clynelish lacked magic. It’s not the fault of that whisky: the whole magic vintage thing is a lot of bullshit. I will not bore you by going over all that again—if you’re interested you can read my views here and here. Let’s just get directly to this 17 yo from a bourbon hogshead, bottled a couple of years ago by C&S, a bottler based in Germany.

Clynelish 17, 1997 (47%;  C&S Dram Collection; bourbon hogshead #5730; from a purchased sample)

Nose: Citrus (lemon peel, orange), a faint grassiness, some brine and okay, I could be talked into a little wax. With more time there’s a biscuity/malty thing going on as well. Less grassy, more biscuity with water.  Continue reading

Tomatin 21, 1991 (C&S)

Tomatin 21, 1991, C&S
I purchased these samples almost a year ago and have been meaning to get to a review pretty much every month since. Here it is now. I know very little about the bottlers, C&S. I believe they’re another German outfit, but unlike their more bespoke fellow citizens, The Whisky Agency or Malts of Scotland, they offer pretty fair value. And my small sample size would indicate that this is not because they’re bottling any damn thing. I enjoyed very much the Glenglassugh 40, 1972 that they put out a couple of years ago, and if the only other of their bottles that I’ve reviewed (a Tullibardine) was nothing great, it was also not bad. And I’d say the same of Tomatin: my experience of their whisky has also risen on occasion to some exceptional peaks but has not fallen into the valley of regret.

Let’s hope this whisky—from a sherry cask—keeps my streaks with both the distillery and the bottler alive. Continue reading

Tullibardine 23, 1989 (C&S)

Tullibardine 23, 1989, C&S
This is becoming a bit of a litany these days but here is another distillery, Tullibardine, that I know very little about and have very little experience of. In fact, it is entirely possible that this is my first Tullibardine–though I do have a vague memory of having tried one or two some years ago (that, however, was before our children were born and permanent concussion set in; indeed, I also have a vague memory that there was a time when we went out regularly to the movies etc.). The length of the preceding digression suggests that it is best if we get right to it.

Tullibardine 23, 1989 (54.4%; C&S; hogshead #1957; from a purchased sample)

Nose: Musky citrus along with some malt and a mild grassiness. A bit of pepper too. The citrus gets brighter (and also nicely bitter) with time and air–think lime and lime zest. There’s just a bit of creamy sweetness below that too and then something biscuity. Gets a little dusty with water. Continue reading

Glenglassaugh 40, 1972 (C&S Dram Collection)

This is my first ever Glenglassaugh and I’d be lying if I told you I know much about this distillery. Away to Malt Madness we go! Okay, so now I know that the distillery was mothballed in 1986 by the Edrington Group and then reopened in 2008 by new owners who purchased a lot of new equipment, which means the new spirit is unlikely to be like the old spirit. These new owners have released a few older expressions (from malt made by the previous regime) that have generally been well-received. I wish I could say the same about their own very young release, the Glenglassaugh Revival. While there are some who seem to like it, it made a number of “Worst of the Year” lists when it was released. But that was a 3 yo–who knows what the mature malt will taste like. At any rate, as the whisky I am reviewing today is also from the previous owners, and a different era, it is not going to be any sort of predictor of the quality of the malt currently maturing at Glenglassaugh either.

Let’s get to it. Continue reading