Highland Park 1975-2001 (Scott’s Selection)

Scott's Selection, Highland Park 1975This 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

Pulteney 1977-2005 (Scott’s Selection)

Pulteney, 1977This is the third in my recent consortial purchase of Scott’s Selection bottles, and at 27-28 years old is, by far, the oldest Pulteney I’ve ever had. I’m excited. These notes will also be published simultaneously with Michael Kravitz’s at Diving for Pearls. I’m curious to see how much variance or intersection there will be in our notes. [And here is the link to Michael’s review.]

Pulteney 1977-2005 (56.9%; Scott’s Selection; from a bottle split with friends)

Nose: Pine and rye and some other sweet herbal, rooty notes. Some wood below that and also the brine I associate with the distillery. The wood gets stronger with time, but not offensively so. A few minutes later though the wood recedes and the herbal/rooty notes are gone; in their place is a very rich fruitiness: plums, hints of lime, brandied raisins. Wholly unexpected but very nice. The wood comes back but it’s toasted now and smeared with honey; some vanilla accompanies it. With a few drops of water the toasted wood and vanilla expand, and there might be some butterscotch too now; after a minute the lime and honey get much more pronounced as well. Continue reading

Highland Park 1986-2007 (Scott’s Selection)

Highland Park, 1986This is the second bottle in my recent consortial purchase of bottles from Scott’s Selection. Let’s get right to it.

[Note: This review was published simultaneously with that of Michael Kravitz at Diving for Pearls. This was one of two bottles he split with me and two of my friends here in Minnesota. A synchronized review of the other bottle will similarly appear on Thursday.]

Highland Park 1986-2007 (54.1%; Scott’s Selection; from a bottle split with friends)

Nose: A touch of caramel to start but then expanding pine resin, a leathery, briny note and a touch of gunpowder. Gets more vegetal/mossy with time and the leathery quality expands as well (a new briefcase). Got called away and left it alone (and covered) for 40 minutes. Now there’s sweet, mossy peat. With a drop of water the gunpowder turns to rock salt. Continue reading

Glen Mhor 1978-2004 (Scott’s Selection)

Glen Mhor, 1978Glen Mhor is a closed distillery from the Highlands that is not very well known outside of the geekiest of whisky geek circles. I am quite far from those circles and have little knowledge of this distillery. Indeed, it’s only recently that I learned that the Mhor part of the name is pronounced “Vhar”. Accordingly, I will send you off to Malt Madness to read about it. I can also say nothing about my previous experience with Glen Mhor’s whisky as this is my very first encounter with it (there is very little of it on the market, especially in the US). And so I have no preconceived notions about this whisky in general; and as there are no reviews of this particular bottle out there that I can find I have no idea what to expect from it either.

This situation–that of no reviews being available–is shared by a number of Scott’s Selection’s early-mid 2000s releases, many of which are still available in the US. I have long been tempted by many of them as the prices are usually reasonable enough (and I’ve had other good experiences with Scott’s Selection) but have always been too nervous to take the plunge. Recently, however, some friends and I split a number of these bottles–thus limiting our exposure to risk–and so at least one review of some of them will be available soon. Continue reading

Port Ellen 1982-2003 (Scott’s Selection)

Port Ellen 1982
There is nothing new left to be said
about Port Ellen, the Islay distillery which closed in 1983 but remains perhaps the most iconic of all the Scottish distilleries (among whisky geeks, that is; the vast majority of the Scotch drinking world has never heard of it); not even that its reputation may be somewhat overblown. This last part is hard for me to confirm as I’ve had relatively few Port Ellens (less than 20 and the vast majority of those via small’ish samples from very generous friends). The best ones have been outstanding, but then the best whiskies from most great distilleries are outstanding.

It may be more impressive that I’ve never had a bad one, but it is also true that due to the vagaries of the business all Port Ellen available now is >20 years old (and these days >30 years old). In its days of operation it was a high output distillery, most of whose product went into blends, and it wasn’t until the late 1980s (well after it closed) that it began to be available as single malt. Who knows, perhaps if all that was available of Glenfiddich was a small selection of its output between 20 and 35 years of age, more whisky geeks would rhapsodize about Glenfiddich too.
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Highland Park 1981-2011 (Scott’s Selection)

Highland Park
This Highland Park bottled by Scott’s Selection was Jim Murray’s pick for best something or the other a year or two ago. Luckily, I had bought the bottle before his “awards” were announced and it was very, very reasonably priced. Jim Murray doesn’t bother me quite as much as he does a lot of other whisky geeks, but I don’t generally put a lot of stock by his awards. This is partly because to sell his Whisky Bible each year he can’t keep giving awards to the same whiskies (just as the James Beard restaurant awards in the US seem to rotate through the cast of likely chefs/restaurants in any major city) and thus there needs to be some degree of novelty/surprise/shock in his awards/scores to keep them fresh. That said, while I have no way of knowing if this Highland Park was indeed the best whatever he said it was, it is really very good.
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Longmorn-Glenlivet 1968-2003 (Scott’s Selection)

Even though it says Longmorn-Glenlivet on the label, this is just a Longmorn. The name harkens back to a time when lots of distilleries in the Speyside would glom on to the Glenlivet distillery’s reputation and append its name to their bottles. The practice is no longer allowed, so you might think of this as a throwback label. Scott’s Selection is an independent bottler that used to be more ubiquitous in the US a decade or so ago–I’ve not seen very many recent bottlings from them in American stores. Their reputation is up and down, but the five Longmorn-Glenlivets they released in the US in the early-mid 2000s are all excellent–at least the four I have sampled are, and the odds are on the side of the fifth. Much like old Caperdonichs from this general era, these old Longmorns can be intensely fruity, in particular, intensely tropically fruity and the one I am trying tonight is no exception.
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