Andy’s Pick ‘n’ Mix

Thanks to Andy for these samples. I drained these ages ago but I’ve finally typed up my tasting notes…!

Producer: Hamish Robertson & Co
ABV: 43%
Age: 5 years old
More Info: Master of Malt

These are always fun – a blended whisky from the 1960s. You can find bottles like this on a lot of auction sites and they tend to sell for a lot less than you might imagine, taking a backseat to all the high flying single malts.

Nose: Malty caramel, candle wax,  menthol, and pears. A gentle floral edge develops after a while.

Palate: Syrupy! Very rich and rounded malty flavour with more menthol and a little pepper mint.

Finish: Quite short with black pepper.

This, as with many blends, is all about the core malt flavour. It’s soft and sweet, like nectar with no hard edges or dominating notes. Very drinkable and smooth, much moreso than modern low-end blends where the malt content has dropped dramatically since the 1960s.

 

Royal Culross 8 year old Blended Malt 1972

Distillery: Glen Scotia
ABV: 43%
Distilled: 1972
Age: 8 years old
More Info: WhiskyBase

Don’t know a great deal about what’s in this, besides it being put together by the Glen Scotia distillery in Campbeltown in the seventies…

Nose: Orchard smells of ripe apples and pears, with desserty notes of custard. There’s a dessert-wine character to the aroma too – sweet juicy grapes.

Palate: Very appley. Tart and crisp cider, with cinnamon spice and ripe barley grain. Reminiscent of Irish whiskey, with a gristy, unmalted barley note.

Finish: Toasted nuts and warm oak with a lingering apple edge and a touch of pepper spice.

I wonder if there’s any Macallan in this… Very nice malt, and quite three dimensional for a blend.

 

Longmorn 20 Year Old Single Cask

Distillery: Longmorn
Bottler: Whisky Broker
Bottled: 2012, Distilled: 1992
ABV: 55%
Age: 20 years old
Cask: Sherry Hogshead
More Info: WhiskyBase

Good old Whiskybroker. You can get some very nice whiskies (by the cask, as well as by the bottle) at very reasonable prices indeed. This one’s a sherried Longmorn.

Nose: Orange candy, pine resin, pencils, barley mash, freshly ground hazelnuts and a pinch of ginger.

Palate: Crystalised white grape sugar, malty bread, and toasted oak with rising nutmeg and anise spices. Becomes drying and fruitier with water – a plummy note comes through.

Finish: Tingly and peppery.

Great nose on this, and the palate gets better with water. At 55% ABV it’s a little too fierce but maybe watered down to 45%-50% and it’s perfect.

 

Springbank 19 year old (Master of Malt)

Distillery: Springbank
Bottler: Master of Malt
Bottled: 2012, Distilled: 1993
ABV: 55.2%
Age: 19 years old
More Info: WhiskyBase

I love an indy bottling of Springbank! MoM’s single cask bottlings usually sell out quickly and have a good reputation for quality cask choice.

Nose: Sticking plasters, cough syrup, and leather with smoked caramel and pebble beach.

Palate: Oily, sweet, and salty with rich malt and cinder toffee. Cinnamon in custard, with a slow-rising, lip-tingling chilli oil burn.

Finish: Oak and smoke, with hazelnuts.

Balls to salted caramel latté – if you want an oily, malty, coastal zing then this is the whisky for you. My word, do they know how to do whisky at Springbank. Another cask well chosen, chaps!

 

Caol Ila G&M 2001 Cask Strength

Distillery: Caol Ila
Bottled: 2013, Distilled: 2001
Bottler: Gordon & Macphail
ABV: 59.2%
Age: 12 years old
Cask: Refill sherry butts
More Info: WhiskyBase

Gordon & Macphail have a ridiculously large catalog of whiskies. One of Scotland’s oldest independent bottlers, they’re still owned and managed by the Urquhart Family. Well worth a look at their offerings, and the prices are usually very reasonable.

Nose: Beach bonfire, salty clifftops, sawdust, motor oil, buttery kippers.

Palate: Coal dust, cough drops, with custard creams and sweet milky fudge.

Finish: Salty black liquorice.

Yummy – great coastal peat notes here. No citrus, which is unusual for Caol Ila. Tasting blind I think I’d have pegged this as an Ardbeg – that coal dust flavour’s really full-on, like you’ve actually licked a coal scuttle.

 

All done! Thanks again, Andy – some cracking drams there.

Linkwood 30 (Rare Malts)

Distillery: Linkwood
Bottled: 2005, Distilled: 1974
Age: 30 years old
Bottles: 6,000
ABV: 54.9%
More Info: WhiskyBase

Here’s one of those whiskies that makes you sit back, take in a breath, and sigh…

Some kind soul put a bottle out on the dram table at Dramboree 2014. Of the 200 bottles out on the table, I think I’m right in saying this one was the first to disappear*.

At an event like Dramboree, you can’t realistically take tasting notes. It’s more fun just to enjoy and chat to the other attendees about the whisky. So I’ve really looked forward to cracking open this sample and spending some quality time with it…

Nose: Lovely refined barley with sweet hay and a suggestion of tobacco. Underneath, there’s a host of fruity sweet shop aromas – stewed cooking apples, pear drops and candy with a cloud of sherbet in the air that tingles the nostrils.

Palate: Syrupy and sweet. Leads with barley candy and thick malty notes, like the core of a hearty stout ale. Gooseberry and pears, with a wonderful zesty sherbet edge. Cinnamon spices and milk chocolate.

Finish: Sweet oak and barley grass.

This is an elegant and graceful whisky that builds its character around simple but exquisitely well-balanced flavours of barley and oak.

Takes me right back to Loch Lomond.

Dramboree
Sublime…

You can get a 60ml sample of Linkwood 30 from WhiskySample.nl for €26.50.

* I have to say, they didn’t all get emptied! By the end of the three-day event most of the bottles people brought were at least half full. Only the really interesting ones disappeared.

The Macallan 24 (Single Cask)

Distillery: Macallan
Bottled: 2013, Distilled: 1989
ABV: 49.3%
Cask: Bourbon (refill Hogshead)
Bottler: Whisky Broker

Here’s a little bit of fun! A single cask bottling of Macallan at cask strength from WhiskyBroker.co.uk.

I have to confess that I don’t often drink Macallan. The good stuff’s expensive, and the affordable stuff is… a bit predictable and inoffensive for my taste. So it’s a treat to try a single cask at cask strength, with no smoothing the rough edges or cosmetic tweaking.

Nose: Apple flavoured NutriGrain bar. Rich tea biscuits. Sour apple sweets. Wheat flour.

Palate: More sour fruit flavours, like Granny Smith apples. Sweet malted barley. Quite hot (even at 49%). Mulled cider.

Finish: Charcoal and black pepper, becoming bitter at the end.

It’s like a fruity sour mash whiskey. But…. add some water (about 20%) and it transforms completely. The fruitiness is still there but the sour and bitter notes have softened, revealing the underlying malty, cereal notes. Still appley, but much smoother and cleaner.

Maybe it’s just this cask that’s a bit off, or perhaps Macallan really shines at lower ABV than other whiskies – either way, this one’s definitely better at 40% than 49%.

Interesting stuff from the Edrington chaps. People really go mad for sherried Macallan so it’s nice to have a Bourbon cask for a change. Those hallmark apple and pear flavours really shine through, particularly on the nose.