Millburn 1969 (Rare Malts)

Distillery: Millburn
Bottled: 2005, Distilled: 1969
Age: 35 years old
Series: Diageo Rare Malts
ABV: 51.2%
More Info: WhiskyBase

Millburn, you say? Never heard of it. Yeah, I hadn’t either.

There’s some extremely well-known whiskies from closed distilleries. Everyone knows Port Ellen, Rosebank, Brora etc. So why isn’t Millburn regularly counted alongside them?

I suspect the reason  is simply because there’s very little of it around left to sell. No annual Special Release bottlings for this old distillery to generate the hype. In many ways, for me, that makes it even more intriguing.

So what do we know about Millburn?

The Distillery

It started life in 1807 as “The Inverness Distillery” and had various owners through the years. For a while it was used purely as a mill, before being turned back into a distillery again in 1876. It kept running on and off through the 20th century until it became another casualty of the eighties slump in whisky demand.

The distillery was closed in 1985 and eventually dismantled in 1988. It’s not clear how much stock Diageo still have, if any, but nothing has appeared since this 2005 Rare Malts release.

A sad story, for sure. I dare say the best way to honour a closed distillery is to taste what it had to offer. You don’t often get chance to taste 35-year-old whisky, much less any whisky from the sixties. If you think about it, it’s probably the closest you can get to time travelling…

Tasting Notes

Nose: Fruity, perfumed and elegant. Ripe (maybe even mouldy, but in a good way) fruit. Nectarines and peaches with wet rose petals, rolling tobacco, wax jacket, and sweet resin. Lots of bakery notes, too – wedding cake, lemon tart, treacle toffee, and home-made strawberry jam. A little dusty, ashy, cigarette smoke too.

Palate: Fizzy peaches with orange, limes, and grapefruit marmalade. It’s very clean and refreshing. Spices come through the fruit – cloves, black pepper, aniseed, liquorice root. Some mellow toasted oak around the edges.

Finish: Herbal peppermint tea with a slight chalky mineral quality. More lingering oakiness with just a touch of black pepper.

Scene: You’re in a wedding marquee after the ceremony. It’s raining, but everybody’s in good spirits. You’ve finished the main course and dessert’s being served. There’s fresh fruit and flowers on the table. Contented, you’re tucking into a slice of wedding cake and enjoying another glass of bubbly while a friend hand-rolls a cigarette beside you.

Verdict

Wow, it’s bursting with fruit on the nose and the palate! The 35 years in the cask hasn’t dulled the distillate, or made it overpoweringly woody. That fizzing edge to it makes the fruit very zesty and pleasant on the tongue.

This is absolutely lovely – the longer I nose it, the more character comes through. If I had a bottle of this, I’d share it with friends and family on a very special occasion.

Seize the chance to try this.

You can pick up bottles of this Millburn on auction sites and on the WhiskyBase marketplace. You can try a sample from WhiskySample.nl €39.50.

Bunnahabhain 17 (Old Particular)

Distillery: Bunnahabhain
Bottled: 2014, Distilled: 1997
Age: 17 years old
Cask #: DL10584
Bottler: Douglas Laing
ABV: 48.4%
Cask: Refill Hogshead
More Info: WhiskyBase

Here’s the third in a set of three Old Particular whiskies from one of the great indy distillers, Douglas Laing. Each bottling of the series is from a single cask so number of bottles available are quite limited.

I find Bunnahabhain single casks to be a bit hit and miss. There’s usually some interesting perfumed aromas but they don’t always work for me so I’m hopeful this one’s a hit. Either way, it’ll be interesting!

Nose: Fairy washing up liquid? Quite musky (like a cologne), with a little bit of armpit smell, lemon peel, waxed leather, and coltsfoot rock.

Palate: Sweet, soapy sea-water. Halls Soother throat sweets. Bitter grapefruit and stewed black tea with a dash of muddy peat.

Finish: Salty Marmite and cold ashes.

Really unusual this one. Soapy and perfumed with a little sweet and salt thrown in for flavour. Definitely more a thinker, than a drinker.

Imagine yourself in an airport. You’ve got a cold so you had tea, throat sweets and a citrus-rich breakfast with Marmite on toast. You sneak off to the toilets for a cheeky fag and then wash your hands before checking out the perfume section of duty free.

Wow, you don’t often get whisky like this. I don’t know if I like it, but I like the journey it’s sent my tastebuds on and a good reminder of the adventure of drinking single cask expressions.

Bravo, Douglas Laing.

You can get samples (and bottles) of the Old Particular range from www.MasterOfMalt.com.

Arran 1st Official White Stag Bottling

Distillery: Arran
Bottled: June 2015
Age: 18 years old (at least, it will be in June)
ABV: 55.3%
Cask: Sherry Hogshead
More Info: Twitter

Here’s the final dram in the lineup for the Third Arran Tweet Tasting April 2015 – the eagerly awaited White Stag bottling.

The White Stag club is the distillery’s members’ club. Anyone can sign up for free, and be entitled to exclusive offers. This club bottling has been a long time coming and it’s a privilege to be tasting it before it’s officially released in June…

Nose: Ooh. I smell Oriental cooking here. Soy sauce, lemongrass, and fragrant five-spice notes coming through. Cherries in chocolate sauce with melted butter on top. A good stout. Blackcurrant and mint leaves. Freshly shelled peas.

Palate: Luscious and musky. Baked apple, barbecued bananas, cigar tobacco. Chocolate coconut brownies and sweet cider.

Finish: Drying and chalky with more sweet cigar tobacco.

This is divine. A great balance between savoury and sweet. That sherry hogshead approach is working wonders again. I bet this sells out in minutes when it’s released!

So there ends another brilliant tasting from Arran and Steve Rush. What a treat – thanks guys!

The tweet tastings organised by Steve Rush are a lot of fun. Get involved over at www.thewhiskywire.com

Arran Single Bourbon Cask 99/103

Distillery: Arran
Bottled: 2013, Distilled: 1999
Age: 13 years old
ABV: 55.3%
Cask: 1st-Fill Bourbon
More Info: Twitter

Here’s the third whisky in the lineup for the Third Arran Tweet Tasting April 2015 – a premium single cask bottling from a first-fill Bourbon cask.

Nose: Wow. You can really get lost in this nose… Mmmmmmm…. Soft and waxy woodshavings with greengages and lychee. Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles. Sweet pickled cabbage. Tons and tons of Bourbon spice: nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. Salty rock dust. Vanilla custard.

Palate: Oh my god – it’s like someone poured a can of Lilt into the cask! Fizzy tropical fruit notes, sour and sweet with zesty lemon sherbet. Cola cubes, and tart cranberry juice.

Finish: Loads more of that Bourbon barrel spice. Long and tingly.

This dram just keeps on giving. A big, happy, bear-hug of a whisky. I adore bold 1st-fill Bourbon expressions and this is one of the best I’ve tasted. My favourite of the night. So sad it’s already sold out!

There’s currently a similar 15 year old expression available for £71.99 online. I haven’t tried it, but if it’s anything like this one then you’re in for a treat!

Finally, we have the highlight of the evening – a preview taste of the 1st official White Stag bottling due for release in June…

The tweet tastings organised by Steve Rush are a lot of fun. Get involved over at www.thewhiskywire.com

Arran 18 Year Old

Distillery: Arran
Bottled: 2015, Distilled: 1997
Age: 18 years old
ABV: 46%
Cask: Oloroso Sherry Hogsheads
More Info: WhiskyBase

Here’s the second whisky in the lineup for the Third Arran Tweet Tasting April 2015 – the hotly anticipated Arran 18 Year Old.

Nose: A little leathery, with sweet apple blossom, fresh peaches, juicy pears, white wine, and a sherbety (almost) smoky edge. Vanilla fudge and Highland chewy toffee. A pear strudel emerges. Bananas and salted cashews. Wow.

Palate: Toffee and cinnamon. Runny honey. Barley sugar sweets. A lovely, almost peaty tingle runs through the middle. Mellow fruit notes of tangerines, pineapples and ripe plums.

Finish: Slightly drying with tea leaves, egg custard, dried mangoes and apricots.

Those Oloroso hogsheads, being smaller than those big butts (tee hee!) get more wood contact so they’re imparted some great flavour here.

This is a refined and sexy whisky. Balanced, fruity, and very more-ish. Well worth the £72.99 asking price on the distillery website.

Next is an exclusive premium single Bourbon cask bottling

The tweet tastings organised by Steve Rush are a lot of fun. Get involved over at www.thewhiskywire.com

Arran Sauternes Cask Finish

Distillery: Arran
Bottled: 2014
ABV: 50.0%
Cask: Ex-Bourbon, finished in Sauternes wine
More Info: WhiskyBase

Here’s the first whisky in the lineup for the Third Arran Tweet Tasting April 2015 – the Sauternes finish.

Nose: Glacé cherries, salty caramel wafers and cream. Sweet meadowy notes – grass, flowers and pollen. Bit of a meaty, sulphurous note in there too. Spicy gingerbread. Wet raspberries and melon rind. A bit musty too. Anti perspirant, but in a good way.

Palate: Cold black coffee and chocolate. Orange hard boiled sweets. Lovely luscious oily mouthfeel on this. Golden delicious apples, grapes, and sultanas.

Finish: Dry tobacco, leaf litter and slightly ashy.

I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a Summer whisky but this is definitely it! Sweet, floral, luscious and mouthwatering. A perfect dram to enjoy in the recent bout of sunshine we’ve had in the UK.

Next is the hotly anticipated Arran 18 Year Old

The tweet tastings organised by Steve Rush are a lot of fun. Get involved over at www.thewhiskywire.com

Bowmore 16 (Old Particular)

Distillery: Bowmore
Bottled: 2014, Distilled: 1998
Age: 16 years old
Cask #: DL10448
Bottler: Douglas Laing
ABV: 48.4%
Cask: Refill Hogshead
More Info: WhiskyBase

Here’s the second in a set of three Old Particular whiskies from one of the great indy distillers, Douglas Laing. Each bottling of the series is from a single cask so number of bottles available are quite limited.

16 years old is a good age for Bowmore. Oh heck, any age is a good age for Bowmore! But I’ve generally had good experiences with teenagers from the distillery so I have high expectations here…

Nose: Shoe leather, clean and crisp. Crystalline pear sugar. Ripe juicy plums, tangerine syrup and sliced guava. An edge of chalky, salty minerality.

Palate: Fruity smoke and spice with Signature Bowmore parma violets. Pineapples and pears. Salty chilli chocolate. Seville Marmalade.

Finish: Chalky and perfumed with a tingly smoke tang.

Cracking fruity notes in this one with that gentle salty peat smoke and sweet-shop edge so typical to Islay’s oldest working distillery. At £91 I’d say this a solid cask strength expression. I don’t know if it’s old enough to be branded “Old Particular”, but it’s definitely got maturity and character.

Next time, I’ll be trying the Bunnahabhain 17…

You can get samples (and bottles) of the Old Particular range from www.MasterOfMalt.com.