As you may recall, in 2013 the Dutch bottler van Wees released a large parcel of Longmorn 17, 1996s, all matured to a dark mahogany hue in sherry casks. As I noted, just under two years ago, when I reviewed another of these casks, these went for just about $65 at the far less attractive exchange rate of the time. I shudder to think of how much would be charged for similar bottles now. In that previous review—of cask 72324, purchased by my friends Clara and Rob at the same time I purchased this bottle—I also noted that if I liked it I would open this a month later. Well, I did like it and here I am, only a little behind schedule, with the review of my bottle. I actually opened this bottle at the end of May. When first opened I found it to be somewhat imbalanced. Though 57.5% is not crazy high as stupid abv goes, the combination of the alcohol and the oak seemed to me to overpower everything else in the whisky. After a few pours I set the bottle aside for a few weeks and when I came back to it the whisky had mellowed a fair bit. This review is taken from one of the later pours (the bottle is now past the halfway mark) and, as you will see, time in the glass and water are still very good to it. Anyway, here are some more detailed notes. Continue reading
In 2013’ish van Wees bottled a number of sherry casks of Longmorn 1996. We didn’t know it then but that was right at the end of the era of reasonable prices for teenaged whiskies. Even with the higher Euro/USD exchange rate of the time these casks went for about $65. That’s for 17 year old sherry cask whisky. Can you imagine such a thing now? Anyway, these casks were very popular—all have very high scores on Whiskybase—but because the whisky world had not gone crazy yet they didn’t all sell out immediately. I purchased a bottle from cask 72315 and my friends Rob and Clara purchased a bottle from cask 72324. They opened theirs right away. I got a sample from their bottle and promptly forgot all about it and my own bottle. Here now more than five years after we purchased our bottles, and in a far less innocent time, is my review of the sample from their bottle. If I like it a lot, as I am expecting to do, I will open my own bottle next month. Continue reading
I’ve never been clear on what the peating level is of the malt from which modern Clynelish is made. Scotchwhisky.com says their malt is unpeated but I consistently find at least mild levels of peat in almost all Clynelish I’ve had, including the OB 14 yo. And in some indie releases I find more smoke than that—never phenolic, usually leafy or dry wood smoke. This Van Wees release of two bourbon hogsheads vatted together is in the latter category. I found smoke in it when I opened the bottle and it seems to be more palpable in every pour. So, what’s the story? Is it that in the early ’90s Clynelish was using more heavily peated malt than they have been of late? Or is it that they do some peated runs? Or is the smoke showing up from random casks that may previously have held peated whisky from one of Diageo’s other distilleries? I don’t know but if you have any insight into this please write in below. Continue reading
Let’s keep the peated-sherried thing going. Here is a review of a high-octane Laphroaig bottled by van Wees in the Netherlands in late 2011. As I mentioned in my review of yesterday’s Ledaig, the word on the street is that Signatory is the source of much of van Wees’ releases—and indeed the numbering convention of this cask seems to map onto that of Signatory’s Ledaig casks. That’s neither here nor there, I suppose. This came out at a time in 2011/2012 when there seemed to be a lot of 13 year old Laphroaig about. I’ve reviewed a few of them—see the bourbon cask releases from Archives and Malts of Scotland; and also sherry cask releases from Kintra Whisky and yes, another van Wees. I really liked that other van Wees cask (700394 to this one’s 700348). I only have vague memories of this bottle, which I finished before starting the blog, and I think in my head I had run it together with the Kintra Whisky bottle, which I’d found a bit too rough. And so I’m curious to renew this one’s acquaintance (I’d saved a 6 oz sample from the top of the bottle, as had been my wont in those days). God knows there’s not as much indie Laphroaig available now and the price of sherried Laphroaig has risen sharply. Continue reading
As you may know, Bowmore’s 1980s distillate has a very bad reputation, with a lot of the whisky produced from it demonstrating overly perfumed and soapy qualities. I’m one of those who thinks—based on my limited, random sampling—that the problem was mostly worked out by 1989 or so. However, it must be admitted that the soapy/glycerine thing pops up from time to time in the following decades as well. This 10 yo is an example of that. It wasn’t so pronounced when I first opened the bottle last year—it did very well at one of my local group’s blind tastings—but as it stayed open it magnified a little too much on the palate. I don’t mean to set off another round of Bowmore hysteria but I’m curious as to whether anyone else has encountered this elsewhere in early 2000s distillate. It may well be, of course, a case of an off barrel being bottled by an indie—I haven’t had any recent official releases that would have been distilled in this era. Continue reading
This is the first Glenlossie I have reviewed on the blog and it may well be the first Glenlossie I’ve ever had. I know very little about the distillery except that it is in the Speyside, is owned by Diageo and produces malt for their blends. As per Whiskybase there have been no official releases other than one each in the Flora & Fauna, Manager’s Dram and Manager’s Choice series and the most recent of those was released in 2009. What this means, of course, is that next year Diageo will put a 37 yo Glenlossie in their annual special release and ask £2000 for it.
There does seem to have been a slight uptick in independent releases in recent years but I’m not sure that I’ve heard or read anyone waxing rhapsodic about Glenlossie. As you will see below, I won’t be waxing rhapsodic about this bottle either but it was a pleasant, easy drinker. Continue reading
Here is another young Ledaig. This one is a year older and from a year earlier than yesterday’s bourbon cask from Maltbarn. I purchased this on spec after tasting the wonderful Signatory 9 yo from the same year and discovering that that one was sold out. This is from the same run of casks—900176 to the Signatory’s 900172—and my understanding is that Signatory is the source of van Wees’ casks as well. Odds were good, therefore, that it would be good as well; and if it’s even 80% as good I’ll be happy (it was cheaper than the Signatory was when it was available). Like the Signatory cask, this one has a very high abv (61.9%). I was reluctant at first to review the first pour—in my experience high abv whiskies can be quite “tight” when first opened, and particularly when from sherry casks)—but I did also want to follow the bottle over its full life and so decided to get some notes down: I compensated by airing it out for a long time. Continue reading
Let’s make it three sherried whiskies in a row this week.
My friends Clara and Rob sometimes join in on my European whisky purchases. Sometimes they want specific things (usually the Glenfarclas 15), sometimes they ask me to recommend things they might like and which seem like good values. As I know they like sherried whiskies, and as I really liked the last Blair Athol of similar age from van Wees that I reviewed (this 25 yo, also from 1988), I recommended they take a chance on this one. Van Wees’ selections are always good value. I was happy to hear that they are really enjoying it, and also happy that they shared a couple of ounces with me.
Despite the colour (at a diluted 46%) this one is from a refill sherry cask—European oak maybe? This was bottled late last year.
Van Wees seem to have released a number of sherried Laphroaigs from 1998, all drawn from casks with fairly proximate numbers. I’ve previously finished a bottle from cask 700348, but that was before the blog. My spreadsheet shows that I went through it at a very rapid rate. I recorded 85 points but didn’t keep notes on it, unfortunately (one of the reasons why I originally started this blog was to make sure I had an easily searchable database of my own notes); but I do remember it being a fairly raw beast (like this one it had a very high abv). Sherried Laphroaigs, especially at cask strength, are no longer easy to find and their prices have gone up. It’s hard to imagine very many more showing up from budget bottlers like van Wees.
Anyway, let’s get to it. Continue reading
This Blair Athol 25 is the last of three whiskies being simul-reviewed this month with Michael Kravitz of Diving for Pearls. We agreed on our notes and score for the Bruichladdich Organic, and diverged a fair bit on the Caol Ila 12, 1999 from G&M. How will we fare here? (The link to Michael’s review will be posted here later in the morning. And here it is.)
Blair Athol is a relatively obscure distillery and Van Wees is known for their budget-friendly bottlings. This might seem like a bad combination on paper, but I’ve actually had pretty good luck with the Van Wees bottles I’ve tried. And, indeed, the lower recognition/reputation of the names of distilleries such as Blair Athol probably allows better iterations of their malts to be bottled for relatively less money by the non-boutique indies. At any rate, more casks of 1988 Blair Athol seem to be coming on the market—Signatory also has a sibling cask in their CS series. Continue reading
Dallas Dhu was a Speyside distillery that closed in 1983 along with other, more fervently mourned distilleries (such as Port Ellen and Brora). I’ve made a few sceptical remarks here and there about the effect that romance/nostalgia may have on the reputations of closed distilleries. But it must be admitted that if romance and nostalgia were a major factor then more people would be trumpeting closed distilleries like Dallas Dhu and North Port/Brechin as well, but no one really is. I wonder if somewhere out there in the world there are lonely collectors of Dallas Dhu, Brechin, Glenesk et al., who are sitting resentfully among their bottles, pondering the recent rise from relative obscurity of such distilleries as Glenlochy and Glen Mhor, or the rehabilitation in process of the reputation of Littlemill, and wondering if their turn will ever come on the stage. If so, I recommend patience: in a world where the Balcones Brimstone can get good reviews anything is possible. Continue reading
Another Tamdhu. I mentioned in my recent review of the Lombard bottling that I had encountered the nutty/beany note I got on the finish of that whisky in another young Tamdhu, and remembered later that I had saved a large reference sample of said young Tamdhu before finishing that bottle a few months ago. So here is a quick take on that for purposes of comparison (I first tried a very small pour of the Lombard Tamdhu to see if my impressions of that one were consistent, and they were).
This is, in fact, a much younger whisky, and was bottled from a sherry butt by the Dutch budget bottler, Van Wees (the Lombard bottling was from a bourbon cask). They don’t have the strongest reputation but I have not had any bad experiences with their bottlings, and, indeed, have had a number that presented great value for money.