There’s not a whole lot of indie Springbank around and most of it tends to be expensive. And so when this release from Whiskybroker popped up a couple of years ago I jumped on it: Whiskybroker are known for their very fair, bordering on low prices. I opened it earlier this year at one of my local group’s tastings. This was somewhat different from our usual tastings as we drank two Springbanks of the same age but from different cask types, followed by two Laphroaigs of the same age but from different cask types. I’ve already reviewed the two Laphroaigs (here and here) and now I’m finally getting around to the Springbanks (Ol’ Jas, rejoice!). I was surprised at the tasting by the peaty character of this cask. I’m guessing this was distillate earmarked for release as Longrow—I think I’ve read in a couple of places that Springbank don’t allow indie releases under the Longrow and Hazelburn names (please correct or confirm if you know more). Anyway, let’s get to it.
This is only my second Tormore ever. The first was also from 1984 and one year older (and coincidentally I reviewed it almost exactly a year ago). An uninteresting story: I purchased that sample (of an Archives bottling) expressly so that I could compare notes with this bottle but then failed to do so as I forgot that I owned this bottle. Getting old is so much fun! Anyway, this one is also an independent and is from Whiskybroker, the operation owned by Martin Armstrong, the son of Raymond Armstrong, ex of Bladnoch. Whiskybroker’s selections have always been renowned for their highly reasonable prices (especially for older malts) but not always so renowned for knocking anyone’s socks off. I’ve enjoyed most of what I’ve tried of their bottles—especially when adjusted for price.
I opened this for one of our local group’s tastings late in 2014 and it divided opinion. Some really liked it, some thought it was uninteresting. I was somewhere in between myself and am interested to see if things have changed now that the bottle is below the halfway point and has been open for a couple of months.
This Glen Grant 17 is from Whiskybroker the low-priced indie outfit of Martin Armstrong, the son of Raymond Armstrong, who was till recently one of the principals behind the revived Bladnoch distillery. Bladnoch’s fate continues to be unclear but Whiskybroker seems to be going strong. More power to them and their reasonable prices—though I have to say I have not been very highly impressed by many of their bottles that I’ve tried (I did like this Bowmore more than the others). Let’s see if this Glen Grant bucks the “trend”.
Glen Grant 17, 1993 (55%; Whiskybroker; from a purchased sample)
Nose: Quite spirity at first but as it settles there is a mouth-watering fruitiness (apples, a touch of pear) along with a lot of malt and sweet vanilla; just a little bit of grassiness too. After a minute or two more acidic notes emerge (lime peel, kiwi) and then get quite intense before merging with the buttery, vanilla sweet note. Really quite lovely. A drop of water emphasizes the lime at first but there’s a slight turn to a muskier, almost tropical sweet-sour note. Continue reading
Another Clynelish. This is from a refill sherry hogshead. That’s a little unusual, as sherry casks are usually butts or puncheons which are much larger than hogsheads. So this would have been a cask remade from a broken down butt or puncheon. You might think that would lead to far more intense sherry flavours (as the spirit has greater wood contact in smaller casks) but this is a refill cask, which might mean its been used anywhere between 2-4 times before. It’s also possible–though I stress that this is pure speculation–that butts/puncheons might be broken down to hogsheads when they get relatively exhausted in order to get one more filling’s worth of flavour extraction out of them. At any rate, as you will see, this is not particularly sherried.
“Quick Hits” will cover tasting notes of whiskies I have small’ish samples of that are not sufficient for me to draw detailed notes from. They should be taken with a larger pinch of salt than my other notes are. They do not include ratings.
First up, two Inchgowers from the 1980s. I know very little about Inchgower and indeed these are the first whiskies I’ve had from this distillery. I gather the profile is generally sherried; these however are both from bourbon hogsheads. Will they make me want to try more?
(This Bowmore 14 review kicks off a mini-run of reviews of Bowmores in their early teens; coming up soon, two 13 yos: the official Malt Men’s Selection and one bottled by the Whisky Exchange.)
It’s hard to throw a stone these days without hitting an indie Bowmore from the mid-late 1990s. It seems as though whisky geeks may finally be getting over the knee-jerk Bowmore bashing. Of all the outfits who’ve put out bottles of Bowmore, however, none presents values as extreme as those of Whiskybroker, from whence cometh this 14 yo. Whiskybroker is a concern run by Martin Armstrong, son of one of the owners of the Bladnoch distillery, Raymond Armstrong. What Armstrong fils’ source for casks is, I don’t know, but he seems to be able to consistently bring high-quality casks to market for highly affordable prices; prices so low in fact that they call into question the prices charged by other companies (not to mention the distillery bottlings).