New Whiskies

Batch 59

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Batch 58 New Whiskies

Dave Broom has gathered the grains for the latest new whisky tasting notes instalment, jumping in nose-first with a 33-year-old Caledonian akin to an alcoholic perfume. Next in line is David Beckham’s Haig Club Clubman, but be careful not to add too much water while tasting, or you’ll have a whole different ball game on your hands... Scroll down further and you’ll find a 42-year-old Invergordon from That Boutique-y Whisky Company, a ‘rock-solid’ 19-year-old Loch Lomond and a Tia Maria-like North British 21-year-old. Rounding off the collection is a 27-year-old Port Dundas bottling that comes highly recommended for sipping with your gran.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Caledonian 33 Years Old (Master of Malt)

    Score 8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Caledonian 33 Years Old (Master of Malt)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.4%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Surprisingly fresh (and a little hot, to be accurate) and scented for such an old grain (and, come to think of it, Caledonian), with candy floss, grapefruit, bergamot, lavender and a hint of vetiver – like an alcoholic Dior Eau Sauvage*. In time, a little honey. Lightens and becomes slightly starchier with water.

    * Do not try to drink the perfume.

    Palate

    A gentle, slow start, with a touch more toffee-like sweetness, balanced by the citrus and herbal elements. The mid-palate is pretty thick and mature, which helps to anchor these more flighty elements. 

    Finish

    Oddfellows (the sweets, not the quasi-Masonic brotherhood).

    Conclusion

    Slightly different from some of the sweeter Callys which have come out recently, but very good. 

    Right place, right time

    Dressed to impress on a first date at the end of the pier. 

    Haig Club Clubman

    Score 6/10
    Scoring explained >
    Haig Club Clubman
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    A light and initially quite steely nose that brings to mind hot metal in metalwork class, but that’s soon replaced by Crunchie bar sweetness, albeit with a green tang around the fringes. Light, almost medicinal in the sterile sense, then some white mushroom. With water, there’s some vanilla, but things also tighten. 

    Palate

    Light again, and quite simple to start. Custard over steamed pudding shows that the cask element is adding some creamier depth, while there is sufficient sweetness from the spirit to plump up the mid-palate, but that’s all relative. This remains fairly fragile and low in complexity. Water does spread the flavours well.

    Finish

    Some vanilla. Short. 

    Conclusion

    A useful grain; mixable, shootable but don’t over-dilute – which is worrying as it’s meant to go with cola. I’m also slightly confused, as the Haig Clubman is a cocktail made with Haig Club, apple juice and ginger bitters. Will I now have to ask for a Haig Club Clubman Clubman (or Clubman squared?). Will a small bottle be a mini Clubman? Answers on a postcard. 

    Right place, right time

    Overhearing a conversation about blue steel in a pub in Leven. There is considerable confusion.

    Invergordon 42 Years Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

    Score 6.7/10
    Scoring explained >
    Invergordon 42 Years Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    47.7%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A typically cask-driven Invergordon, with rummy elements: banana, powdered ginger and dried guava, sitting alongside a brittle distillate. In time you get melting Maltesers. It softens with water, with the fruits becoming juicier, but there’s always this rigidity in the background.

    Palate

    Light, slightly oily and resinous. The quality of the cask adds a certain generosity, but the spirit isn’t playing ball. Water adds a different texture – akin to the bounciness of Wine Gums.

    Finish

    Liquorice and flat cola.

    Conclusion

    It’s all front and middle, and for all the ministrations of the cask there’s an industrial edge to this. Saved by the wood. 

    Right place, right time

    Eating a packet of sweets in an old taxi in Barbados. 

    Loch Lomond 19 Years Old (Darkness! Whiskies)

    Score 7.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    Loch Lomond 19 Years Old (Darkness! Whiskies)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55.6%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Not as sweet as the North British (see below), with more red fruit notes, dried berries, sealing wax, cherry/almond and a controlled Sherried element, which adds walnut, oxidised fruits, black butter and an aroma akin to aged Gouda. 

    Palate

    Lightly aromatic, with oak and then some heat. Nuts as well, while always retaining the savoury element which saves things from getting too flabby. Eases into cherry brandy and marzipan.

    Finish

    Sweet Sherry.

    Conclusion

    Good to see Loch Lomond, and a rock-solid grain with the Sherried element balanced (just).

    Right place, right time

    Black Forest gâteau on the bonnie, bonnie banks… 

    North British 21 Years Old (Darkness! Whiskies)

    Score 5.6/10
    Scoring explained >
    North British 21 Years Old (Darkness! Whiskies)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46.8%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Why finish a grain? Well, if it enhances some aspects of the distillery character, why not? What you don’t want to do is obliterate them. Ah… this is cask dominant: a massive coffee character, roasting beans, a slight fungal element, maybe treacle and certainly sweet. There’s no indication that this is a whisky never mind a grain. I’d say it’s more Tia Maria than North British.

    Palate

    Thick, and manages to be both sweet and slightly bitter at the same time with touches of mouldy (cheap) chocolate, then cream Sherry. 

    Finish

    Sweet.

    Conclusion

    In all honesty, it’s a bit of a mess. There’s cask, there’s tannin, there’s Sherry, there’s sweetness and there’s a liquid.

    Right place, right time

    An espresso machine in an old cinema. On screen: The Blob.

    Port Dundas 27 Years Old (Hunter Laing)

    Score 8.3/10
    Scoring explained >
    Port Dundas 27 Years Old (Hunter Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    56.1%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Rounded and soft, with a fulsome mix of thick toffee, fig rolls, bourbon creams, pomegranate molasses and hefty nutmeg. In other words, plenty of Port Dundas’ weight. In time, you pick up some light cereal, but there’s always this substance. With water, there’s cream and fruit compôte, with some spice. Has some complexity.

    Palate

    A quite fine-boned entry, but then it has excellent layering: honey nut cornflakes, lightly creamy, spicy, then crystallised angelica stem and Seville orange peel. Water brings out more of a fragrant element. Really, very good.

    Finish

    Amalfi lemons.

    Conclusion

    Generous, balanced and complex. Recommended.

    Right place, right time

    Afternoon tea at your granny’s.

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