Well, friends, the pandemic is here. By “here” I mean Minnesota but really it is probably now wherever your “here” is. The time for denial and bravado, governmental and personal, is done. Now we have to all do our bit to restrict the pathways of infection and—also to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe: no one is immune.
Speaking of loved ones, the bottle I have a review of today was one of those I opened to mark my 50th birthday last month, all commemorating significant years in my life. I’ve already posted a review of the Glendronach distilled the year I left India for the US and the of the Springbank bottled the year our older son was born. This Highland Park was bottled the year our younger son was born. It is one of the oldest Highland Parks I’ve had and almost certainly the oldest bourbon cask Highland Park I’ve had. It was bottled by the Whisky Agency, in their very attractive “Bugs” label series. Continue reading
Yesterday’s Old Pulteney 14 I described as being in the Clynelish-Glen Ord part of the spectrum. I guess I may as well round out bourbon cask, northern highlands week with an actual Glen Ord. On our trip to Scotland in June 2018 I’d considered stopping at Glen Ord as well but no one who’d been there seemed to think there was much there of interest to anyone but the completist distillery visitor. And that is not what I am. I am someone who leaps at the chance to drink Glen Ord though. It’s not a sexy distillery but I’ve had a lot of fine bourbon cask Glen Ord in my time. Let’s see if this is another of those.
Glen Ord 14, 1997 (50.4%; The Whisky Agency; bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: Tart fruit (lime peel, green apples, gooseberries), just a touch of prickly oak and something mineral. As it sits a nice malty note develops. With a couple of drops of water the fruit expands and it’s a little sweeter now. Continue reading
For my last whisky review of the year I have what I think may have been the oldest whisky I drank this year; in terms of maturation, that is (in terms of distillation year that was last week’s Glen Moray 42). This was bottled by the Whisky Agency for the Whisky Exchange last year (or was it a joint bottling?) and is from an undisclosed Speyside distillery. Well, it is technically undisclosed but everyone seems very sure it was a Glenfarclas. Glenfarclas, of course, do not allow their name to be placed on labels of independently bottled casks, but it’s also more usual to see names like Burnside or Speyside’s Finest or references to a family owned distillery on independent releases of the distillery’s whisky. At any rate, there were quite a few of these “Speyside Region” 1973s released in 2016 and 2017, and most of those were from the Whisky Agency—they seem to have come into a parcel of these casks. Anyway, I first tasted this at a gathering in St. Paul in early November that featured a number of excellent older whiskies. This one had one of the best noses of everything on the table that night. Thankfully, the owner of the bottle was happy to share a sample and so I got to take a second crack at it and write up some formal notes. Continue reading
I noted in Monday’s review that Tullibardine is in the general vicinity of Glenturret; here now is a review of a Glenturret. This is my first Glenturret review and it may well be the first Glenturret I’ve ever tried, I purchased it in 2014 when 33 year old whiskies from unsung distilleries could still be had for very reasonable prices, and pretty much for that reason. I knew/know nothing about Glenturret’s general profile, but a long time in a refill hogshead is usually good news for whisky from any distillery. It was bottled by the Whisky Agency and sports one of the whimsical labels they were doing at the time. Well, I guess they might still be doing whimsical labels—I just can’t afford to buy Whisky Agency releases anymore. I opened this for my local group’s premium tasting earlier this year and it was very popular. I’ve been enjoying drinking the bottle down ever since and look forward to finishing it when I’m back in Minnesota next week*. Continue reading
I’ve been going on for some years now about how Ben Nevis’s historically iffy reputation has been poised to turn around and it seems like that time is finally here. Official releases of Ben Nevis fetch top dollar and indie iterations are also seeing rises in price. This is largely because Ben Nevis is one of the most reliable sources of exuberant tropical fruit in single malt whisky—and in their case it’s often mixed with malt and cocoa and a certain wild edge; altogether it makes for a very idiosyncratic combination. I keep an eye out for indie Ben Nevis, especially from bourbon casks and in the late teens age-wise (see, for example, this other 17 yo Ben Nevis from Cadenhead that I absolutely loved). Accordingly, I purchased this one in the UK that was bottled by the German outfit, The Whisky Agency, for an Australian importer named Casa de Vinos. I’m not sure if the entire run was bottled for the Australian market or if some of this cask was released in the EU as well. Anyway, I opened this last month for one of my local group’s tastings, expecting it to be a highlight. To my dismay, it was rather flat. I set it aside to see if some air in the bottle would do it any good, and here now are my notes a few weeks after it was opened. Continue reading
“The Perfect Dram” is a series from the highly-regarded bottler, The Whisky Agency, and most geeks would be willing to describe any Tomatin from 1976 as perfect drams. 1976 is considered to be a special “vintage” for Tomatin. This gives me yet another opportunity to register my skepticism about magical years at distilleries (I didn’t get where I am by being shy about accepting the opportunities to repeat myself that I give myself). Here’s what I said on the occasion of my previous review of a Tomatin from 1976:
[T]hose who make the case for Tomatins from 1976 don’t seem to notice that a disproportionate number of casks are simply available from this year as compared to others in that era–close to 60 bottles from 1976 are listed on Whiskybase, but only 23 from 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977 and 1978 combined (and almost half of those are from 1977).
Let us take a break from Ledaig and on this day, the 4th of July, review an Ardmore. Ardmore, as you know, is what the Founding Fathers drank as they signed the Declaration of Independence. It’s a fact.
This Ardmore, from a bourbon barrel, was bottled by the Whisky Agency for the Auld Alliance, a famous whisky bar in Singapore. The last time I was in Singapore I was not yet sufficiently crazy about whisky to be seeking out whisky bars, but if I make it back I certainly will try to go. This is as close as I get for now.
(Please appreciate the lettuce from my garden that forms the backdrop for the highly essential photograph of the sample bottle.) Continue reading
After yesterday’s 20 yo from the Nectar here is a 24 yo Littlemill from another respected European bottler, the Whisky Agency–this one released once the Littlemill renaissance was well underway. Will this bust my streak of soap in Littlemill and finally take me into the 90s for this distillery? Let’s jump right into it and see.
Littlemill 24, 1989 (50.4%; The Whisky Agency; refill hogshead; from a purchased sample)
Nose: Lime peel and ginger and juniper. The lime transitions quickly to darker/sweeter citrus: orange peel now. Gets sweeter as well as more fruit begin to emerge: some peach, some grapefruit. Some malt too and a hint of white chocolate. With time, quite a bit of vanilla and it’s quite reminiscent of fresh pastry with a tart-sweet lemon filling. The citrus gets brighter with water. Continue reading
I wish flowers actually smelled like this whisky.
There’s a lot of Laphroaig about in the world and this is a good thing. Generally more forthright and robust than most Caol Ilas, more various than Lagavulin (just the 12 yo cs, the iconic 16 yo and not an indie in sight), and always more not-eye-roll-inducing than Ardbeg, Laphroaig is my pick of the iconic Islay distilleries that are on a similar peaty continuum (Bowmore is a different kind of animal and Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte and Octomore lines are not quite iconic yet–ditto for the very promising Kilchoman).
Of their official bottlings, the 25 yo is priced astronomically (and, from my very limited experience, doesn’t quite live up to the price tag), but everything below it is priced reasonably–though if you live in California you may beg to demur re the 18 yo (let me soothe you by noting that for almost two years it was available for $43 from a notorious store in Minneapolis, and is now up to $80 in the region). And there’s a lot of it available from independents–mostly 21 years and below (I don’t recall seeing any much older indie Laphroaigs in the last couple of years). So, if you like a good thing, and like having a lot of iterations of that good thing available to you, then Laphroaig is the good thing for you. It certainly is for me.