New Whiskies

Batch 56

by
Batch 56 Scotch whisky tasting notes

Dave Broom has pulled out a 2006 Bunnahabhain from Gordon & MacPhail this week, to sample along with a ‘surprisingly’ sweet 25-year-old Jura and an aromatic 21-year-old Highland Park. A smoky 1999 Ledaig also landed on the table, but topping the scoreboard – although very different in pricing terms – were a 52-year-old Carsebridge bottling and a 44-year-old Tomatin. 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Bunnahabhain 2006 (Gordon & MacPhail)

    Score 7/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bunnahabhain 2006 (Gordon & MacPhail)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Malty & dry
    Nose

    A fairly cereal-accented start: hazelnuts, drying straw, which then briefly slides into cherry, then lardy cake, before becoming flinty again. Water brings out more of the nuttiness. You end up wishing it would make its mind up. 

    Palate

    A thick feel, which builds into a fairly rich mid-palate. Those nuts remain, but now there’s more red fruit and a bit of char in the background. Water adds to this generally gentle and soft air.

    Finish

    Soft and, once again, drying. 

    Conclusion

    Playing catch-up with G&M. This one came out in 2015. There’s no great complexity, but it’s a reliable pick if you see it on the back bar. 

    Right place, right time

    Gazing into the flames, seeking your destiny. The nuts spring apart (or was it just my family who told fortunes by throwing nuts on the coals?).

    Carsebridge 52 Years Old, Batch 1 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

    Score 9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Carsebridge 52 Years Old, Batch 1 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40.5%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Now then. What is this – some ancient (really ancient) Canadian whisky, or an oaked but balanced Bajan rum? No, it’s grain. There’s oak aplenty here without it being woody (which is some achievement), suggesting a grain with muscle. There’s toffee and dark chocolate – hell, it’s millionaire’s shortbread. But also blackberry and summer pudding, then maple syrup, toffee apple, then butterscotch and cooked corn. Sweet, sweet, sweet.

    Palate

    You guessed… but while the sweetness isn’t that surprising, the manner in which the fresh, wild red and black fruits flood the mouth with juice sure is. Sticky with fruit sugar, Spangles. Who says that grain doesn’t mature?

    Finish

    Long and creamy, with increasing oak notes. 

    Conclusion

    It’s slightly OTT, but what is fascinating is how complex, old, oak-aged spirits begin to acquire shared personalities. Oh, and it’s a steal at £252.

    Right place, right time

    As the late summer sun begins to set, you sit under the hedgerow gorged on berries.

    Highland Park 21 Years Old (Douglas Laing, XOP)

    Score 6.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Highland Park 21 Years Old (Douglas Laing, XOP)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.6%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islands
    Nose

    A fat and slightly indistinct nose, with the alcohol initially obscuring other aromas. But it does, slowly, begin to develop – albeit with a slight touch of the swimming pool. Give it more time and you get delicate citrus and melon elements, but sadly also a cream cheese/butyric element. 

    Palate

    Much more like it, with medium levels of aromatic smoke on the very first sip. This mixes with dried peels, pot-pourri, baked apple and some pepperiness. Water brings out a mix of char and violet root.

    Finish

    Very light smoke.

    Conclusion

    Lovely palate whisky, but the nose knocks it back.

    Right place, right time

    A joss stick in a student kitchen. The fridge door swings open.

    Jura 25 Years Old (Douglas Laing, XOP)

    Score 8.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    Jura 25 Years Old (Douglas Laing, XOP)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islands
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Light gold and a surprisingly (for Jura) sweet start, with a mix of ginger beer and dandelion and burdock. Then comes some wholemeal flour, before lilies and sweetness come back to the fore. Very good, and quite silky. A gentle aroma of cold cream develops with water.

    Palate

    The sweet aspect continues, but now it’s quince, with the crisp distillery character giving structure. Then some muguet notes emerge, alongside crème pâtissière. Rather lovely and a little delicate, but any fears that it might collapse with water are unfounded.

    Finish

    Gentle touches of oak.

    Conclusion

    Whereas Jura’s firm edge often ends up being the dominant element (and reducing complexity), here the heavy floral sweetness has forged to the front. 

    Right place, right time

    Five Go Mad in the Hebrides with lashings of ginger beer.

    Ledaig 1999 (Wood Makes the Whisky, Gordon & MacPhail)

    Score 7.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Ledaig 1999 (Wood Makes the Whisky, Gordon & MacPhail)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islands
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Ahh… Ledaig. That aroma of hot tyres on Tarmac next to a field of turnips. The peat here is relatively low, but resolutely phenolic. Don’t just dismiss it; give it time, as there are spring blossoms hiding which slowly open to balance the slightly greasy oiliness. Then comes a little briny element as the motorbike screeches off into the distance. Worth the wait.

    Palate

    A considerably better palate than nose, with the oiliness which had been slightly problematic now a distinct asset, adding a clinging texture. Now we are into tinned pears, preserved lemon and a touch of brininess. It ends up in total being a more than decent dram.

    Finish

    Light and slightly smoky.

    Conclusion

    Another from last year’s releases from G&M, but now part of the Wood Makes the Whisky marketing initiative.

    Right place, right time

    A Hell’s Angel on a mobility scooter. 

    Tomatin 1971 44 Years Old (Warehouse 6 Collection)

    Score 9.3/10
    Scoring explained >
    Tomatin 1971 44 Years Old (Warehouse 6 Collection)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    45.8%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Forget the Trump-esque colour and concentrate instead on the aroma, which immediately says: elegance and maturity. And, as it opens, it never does anything to alter that impression. There’s a hint of cypress and cedar, then dried tropical fruit and apricot, while a light touch of burnt wood and a hint of cereal adds complexity, before raspberry and tayberry provide an extra, and lightly acidic, lift. Water amplifies the whisky rancio aspects by adding dollops of beeswax.

    Palate

    Lightly grippy with scented wood; a mass of fresh peach and passion fruit before it dries slightly, as powdery tannins provide a needed framework. There are still some slightly green, leafy elements which help with freshness. Stunningly good.

    Finish

    Rich, layered, with coffee and tropical fruits.

    Conclusion

    There are 252 bottles of this (add a zero for the estimated price… and then compare with that of the Carsebridge). That quibble aside, beg or borrow a taste – we’d never recommend stealing.

    Right place, right time

    Carmen Miranda makes a surprise appearance at Downton Abbey. 

Scroll To Top