There’s been a lot of conversation on the blog recently about older whiskies that was spurred by a question about an older Pulteney 1977 released by Scott’s Selection in 2005. One of the reasons, I think, that so many of those Scott’s Selection releases from the mid-late 2000s stuck around for so long—and some are still around—is because there was and is so little information on them available. Very few people have reviewed them—and many of us whisky geeks whose wallets have bottoms are quite risk-averse. This is why it took me a long time to get around to finally pulling the trigger on some of those bottles, even if only as part of splits with friends. This Caol Ila, however, I purchased without a second thought when a store in the Twin Cities put it on sale at 15% off last year, bringing the price below $200 (I’d never seen it at the original price and so was able to rationalize the cost against prices for current Caol Ilas of similar age). They had another bottle but the cork was defective and it had leaked at least 50 ml—after tasting this bottle I told the manager I’d take the chance and take it off his hands if he discounted it quite a bit more but he was not willing to do so. I guess that’s a spoiler alert: yes, I quite like this one and have been drinking it down at a steady clip since opening it right after purchase. Here now, before I finish the bottle, are my notes. Continue reading
I’ve not reviewed much Glenrothes on the blog, even though I keep saying I should review more. This is mostly because my interest in Glenrothes peaked and then faded before I started the blog. There isn’t much independently bottled Glenrothes around, and official Glenrothes, despite their unique bottles and their idiosyncratic approach to vintages and age statements, began to taste a little too generic to me: they were rarely poor but they never got me too excited. I quite liked the 1985-2005 and a 1991-2006 (neither of which I have reviewed) but nothing since has really made me want to seek out more—and the few tastes I’ve had of their more recent non-vintage/NAS offerings have been less encouraging still. (Though I do have one much older official release that I found in a now-closed supermarket in Los Angeles’ Koreatown a couple of years ago at more or less the original price. I’m saving that one for a special occasion.) Continue reading
This is the second of three Scott’s Selection releases from 2004 that I split with friends when Binny’s put them on a clearance sale a couple of months ago. I’ve already reviewed the Auchentoshan 1983-2004. The oldest of the three, the Glenlivet 1977-2004 is yet to come—though I’m constantly being warned against it.
I *think* that I might actually have tried this Bunnahabhain before. I have a vague memory of it being the malt, a small pour of which led off one of the tastings my friend Rich put together a couple of years ago. If so, I have an even vaguer memory of liking it then. As with all Scott’s Selection releases, there’s very little information out there on this one—no detail on cask type and very few reviews (though it does have a very good rating on Whiskybase). Anyway, let’s see what it’s like. Continue reading
This Auchentoshan is one of several Scott’s Selection releases from the mid-2000s. While the Longmorns and Glen Grants and the Port Ellens released around the same time have long disappeared—and are now commanding massive premiums on the secondary market—and the Linlithgows, Glen Mhors and Highland Parks have also now mostly been purchased, this and some others continue to languish on shelves around the country. Even as I type, at least three whisky geeks in different parts of the country are looking at bottles of Scott’s Selection Auchentoshan, Bunnahabhain. Glenlivet, Benromach, Craigellachie and Mannochmore in specialist stores and are wondering whether to give in to the temptation to buy them. In a couple of minutes they will decide against the purchase because there’s no information out there on the quality of these bottles. That was me for many years. But then Binny’s recently put a number of these stragglers on major sale and four of us split a bottle each of this Auchentoshan, a Bunnahabhain 1988-2004 and a Glenlivet 1977-2004—Michael K. and Jordan D. will probably review their portions at some point soon (the deplorable, blog-less Florin was the fourth). As I’ve reviewed very few Auchentoshans of any kind I decided to start with this one—I’ll review the other two later this month (or maybe next) as well. Continue reading
I watched this Benromach 1978 from Scott’s Selection rise in price slowly over nine years at a well-known Twin Cities metro area store. And then this year I finally purchased it. I got it with the idea of doing a bottle split with some fellow whisky geeks but couldn’t find very many people who were interested. I guess people are only interested in 1970s distillate if it’s from a small subset of name distilleries and/or aged well over 20 years. This is either 18 or 19 years old (always hard to know with Scott’s Selection) and Benromach is not a name that sets very many people’s pulses racing. It is one of the Speysiders that uses perceptibly peated malt (Ardmore and the defunct Dallas Dhu are/were two of the others) but it doesn’t really have much of a cult. Maybe things would have been different if it had stayed closed when operations ceased in 1983 (when so many now sought after distilleries closed) but in 1992 Gordon & MacPhail acquired the distillery, and re-opened it at the end of the decade. G&M’s own distillate is now finally online—and I hope to review some of their releases soon (though some of the prices in the US are a little hard to understand). In the meantime please enjoy this blast from an unsexy past. Continue reading
I certainly hope that you don’t remember that a bit over a year ago I split a bunch of Scott’s Selection bottles on sale at a Minneapolis store with some friends and that Michael Kravitz (who was among that number) and I simul-reviewed some of them. This bottle was purchased from that very same store a year later and also split with friends; and while Michael K is again one of those who got part of this bottle we are not simul-reviewing it this year. This is because he now has a small child of his own which raises the number of distracted parties in the planning of any such possible undertaking from one to two.
This is yet another of the Scott’s bottlings released in the mid-2000s that is still around in the US (stores from coast to coast have a number of these second and third-tier distillery bottles, often close to original prices). I’ve passed on it in the past because I never could find any information on it. Now I hope to be the source of such information for you if you too have occasionally paused in front of a bottle in a store, stared at if for a while and then moved on to a safer purchase.
On a melancholy note: Scott’s Selection is now defunct and the fate of Bladnoch continues to be up in the air. I’ll drink to both tonight.
At the risk of being accused of lapsing into decadence, here is another ancient Longmorn from Scott’s Selection. This one is the 1968-2004 release which, like the 1968-2003, is at a very high abv compared to the two 1967’s released around the same time (both of those were in the low 50%s; see here for the 1967-2004). This is the only one I have not previously tried of the five Scott’s Longmorn-Glenlivet bottlings released in the mid-2000s and so I am really looking forward to it. It’s also the only one I never actually saw in the wild myself so I can’t kick myself for not picking up a bottle.
I have another sample of a different ancient Longmorn from this period on my shelf (that one’s from Gordon & Macphail) and once I’m done with that one I’m probably done with getting to taste ancient Longmorns. Prices are now through the roof. An end of an era? Hopefully, Longmorns from later decades will be as good with as long aging but they will not, I am pretty sure, be as (relatively) affordable as these whiskies once were. Oh well.
Here is another of the excellent old Longmorns released by Scott’s Selection in the early-mid 2000s. I’ve previously reviewed the great 1968-2003 and now here is one distilled a year earlier and bottled a year later. Until a couple of years ago these bottles could be found relatively easily at reasonable prices, but now they seem to be mostly gone, and what’s left seems to have largely had its price hiked. So it goes.
I opened this bottle for the gathering for my friend Rich’s birthday in September, the one that yielded the samples of the Clynelish Manager’s Dram and the Talisker 30s (plus some others yet to be reviewed). And it was as good as I remember it being from the one previous occasion that I’d got to taste it.
But enough futile talk: I’d like to taste it again. Continue reading
This Scott’s Selection Linlithgow was also split with European hand model and retired tightrope walker, Florin. Unlike the 1982-2003, bought at the same time, this one does not say St. Magdalene on the label and is also not a total cipher. It has a Malt Maniacs score and Serge seems to have reviewed it and not liked it very much. Or at least he reviewed a Linlithgow 1975-1999 from Scott’s of the same abv. Odds seem poor that there were two separate releases from the same year with the same abv but I’ve also not seen references to other Scott’s bottles split for the European and American markets (Serge refers to an EU airport purchase). He didn’t like his very much (79 points), but the usually far more parsimonious Johannes gave that bottle 83 points on the Malt Maniacs’ Monitor; and 83 points from Johannes is usually like high 80s from anyone else.
Linlithgow is the other name under which the malt from the (now defunct) St. Magdalene distillery in the Lowlands was bottled. I believe Linlithgow is the name of the village in which the distillery was located. As to whether there was some key to when one name or the other was used, I don’t know. At any rate, this bottle from Scott’s Selection says Linlithgow and St. Magdaelene (in parentheses) as you can see alongside. There is no information out there on this bottle (that I could find at any rate). After staring at it for a couple of years I decided to take a flyer on it and as luck would have it, a friend was willing to split it. As you will see, I did not rue this decision.
Linlithgow/St. Magdalene, 1982-2003 (55.4%; Scott’s Selection; from a bottle split with a friend)
Nose: Rich, polished wood and a dark, honeyed sweetness; some acidity too. With a little more time there’s some lime and also a greater maltiness and some pepper too. The lime expands with time and gets a little muskier and then a little zestier (there’s more of a bitter quality, that is). With a lot more time the lime gets brighter again and some light smoke emerges as well. A few drops of water bring out some tart apple and quite a bit of brine. Continue reading
This ancient Glen Grant from Scott’s Selection is for me one of those stories that every whisky geek whose reach exceeds his or her bank balance’s grasp knows well. I saw it for years on shelves, listed at prices that were then past my comfort level (well past for whiskies on which little information was available), and passed. Now those prices are not entirely out of the question for me but I no longer see it on shelves. So when a friend offered me a sample I was partly hoping to have my initial qualms vindicated. But, as you’ll see, that did not turn out to be the case. Bloody hell.
Glen Grant 1967-2003 (55.1%; Scott’s Selection “Sherry Cask”; from a sample received in a swap)
It’s a little unusual for Scott’s Selection to specify cask type on the label but apparently it says “Sherry Cask” or “Sherry Wood” on this one. Continue reading
Balmenach, in the Speyside, is another not very well known distillery. It is part of the Inver House group along with more famous stablemates Old Pulteney and Balblair. It doesn’t get official releases as a single malt and so once again we must look to the indies, and once again to Scott’s Selection. I read a rumour recently, by the way, that Scott’s Selection is closing down as a label. Too bad if it’s true, though it does explain why nothing new seems to have come from them to the US in some years.
Balmenach 1979-1998 (59.6%; Scott’s Selection; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: A little spirity at first but then gets malty with a little bit of honey thrown in. Some grassiness too and a minerally, almost plasticky note–that last turns into something a bit medicinal (not phenolic but uncoated tablet). With more time it gets sweeter (honey) and there’s a hint of lime and pepper as well (something prickly at any rate). Water emphasizes the sweetness. Continue reading
This is the last of the four Scott’s Selection bottles I purchased and split with four friends. None of the others have disappointed, though only the Highland Park has made me wish I’d bought an entire bottle. What will this Littlemill’s story be? The only other 1984 I’ve had from this distillery (and the only other Littlemill I’ve reviewed) was a rather odd one from Hart Bros. (and that was a 20 yo too). Let’s hope for the best.
Littlemill 1984-2004 (62.1%; Scott’s Selection; from a bottle split with friends)
Nose: Over-ripe, almost rotting melon (cantaloupe) with some honey and lime peel and white pepper. Some acetone and something a little sweaty too. Quite reminiscent of the Hart Bros. 1984 but without that one’s whiffs of gasoline. With time there’s a darker sweet note too–toffee maybe. The fruit is rather intense though and there might be some over-ripe banana in there too. With time the over-ripe melon note calms down a little and there’s some vanilla too now. With a few drops of water the fruit is in better balance with the vanilla and the lime peel (kaffir lime) is doing more talking now. Continue reading
This Scott’s Selection Highland Park is not from one of the four Scott’s bottles I recently split with a number of friends. This is from a sample swap from a while ago. I’m not sure why I’ve been sitting on this for so long but now’s as good a time as any to get into it.
Highland Park 1975-2001 (50%; Scott’s Selection; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Acetone at first and then get a little bourbonny with notes of rye and pine. Some slightly darker sweet notes behind all that and it gets a little malty too. With time there’s a little honey and a tiny bit of smoke. And then some fruit begins to emerge: apricot jam, maybe a little hint of over-ripe peach and, so help me, Jeebus, some caramelized plantain/banana too. Also, some toasted wood. With a drop of water the fruit gets a little thicker but the wood also seems to perk up. Does this bode ill for the palate? Continue reading