New Whiskies

Batch 61

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Batch 61 new whisky tasting notes

They say the animals came in two by two but, hurrah, Scotch whiskies do as well with a double dose from Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila and Glenfiddich. Though this week’s tastings get off to a rocky start with a nine-year-old Bunnahabhain from Douglas Laing, the 1990 vintage Wemyss bottling brings the scores back up. Moving down the line, there’s a 19-year-old Caol Ila from Douglas Laing with buckets of character and an absolute ‘belter’ of a dram (aged for 36 years) bottled by the folk at Cadenhead. Now, we’re sure many of you have been eager to hear Broom’s thoughts on the recently released Glenfiddich experimental whiskies – well here they are, Glenfiddich IPA Experiment and Glenfiddich Project XX.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Bunnahabhain 9 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 5/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bunnahabhain 9 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Fairly hot and feisty nose. There’s a little hint of creaminess and some pea shoots, but it’s all slightly aggressive when neat. Water brings out putty, wax crayon. A peely-wally adolescent with a glint in his eye. 

    Palate

    Softer than the nose suggests to begin with, then the heat of its internal rage steadily builds indicating the wood hasn’t calmed anything down. It’s all strangely vertical, with all the flavours piling on top of each other at the front of the mouth. A touch of sugared almond at the back, lemon butter icing but, strangely, it also seems fragile.

    Finish

    Edinburgh rock. Very short.

    Conclusion

    Not mature and hinting at what might happen in a few years. 

    Right place, right time

    Hey Mister, want me to watch your car? 

    Bunnahabhain 1990, East Neuk Dunes (Wemyss Malts)

    Score 7.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bunnahabhain 1990, East Neuk Dunes (Wemyss Malts)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Upfront old-fashioned ginger beer, with light lime zest in the background. Then comes white chocolate and a lightly oxidised element that brings to mind manzanilla. Water brings out verjus and sawn ash.

    Palate

    Some dry grass elements balancing the central cereal sweetness, then comes a digestive biscuit dunked in sweetened tea and loads of herbs – tarragon and carrot tops.

    Finish

    The cottage garden notes continue: courgette flower and artichoke. I’d leave it neat.

    Conclusion

    A Kingsbarns distillery exclusive. A fine aperitif with masses going on. Recommended – if you’re in Fife.

    Right place, right time

    An early morning raid on the Islay House community garden.

    Caol Ila 19 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 8.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Caol Ila 19 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Light in hue, but there’s plenty of fresh picked mint that brings to mind a Greek salad: herbs, salty feta and olive brine. Fresh with similar mineral elements; then grilled apple, while in the background the smoke begins to build. Sweetly integrated. That menthol/mintiness mixes well with the lightly medicinal elements steadily growing into Ralgex, then a dusty sagebrush element.

    Palate

    Immediate clinging oiliness. Lightly chewy, the mint gentle, the smoke stretched out softly. Water adds an extra texture and a degree of calm, though at the expense of the eagerness you get when it’s neat.

    Finish

    Light seaweed.

    Conclusion

    I like this a lot. Oxygen, light oak influence, and masses of distillery character. 

    Right place, right time

    The slow steady build, the desert touches, the picking up in pace. It’s Lau’s Horizontigo.

    Caol Ila 36 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Score 9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Caol Ila 36 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.3%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Cask driven and while slightly hot when neat, you need to give it time and some agitation to bring out its elegance. Smoked (salted) bacon now takes charge along with fruit, a little grassiness and then lobster shells in sea water.

    Palate

    Layered, balanced and complex, with a little sandalwood, a nutty oxidised note, then full-on seashore brininess combined with light meatiness. Water mellows things even further, adding real depth and resonance. 

    Finish

    Long, lightly smoked and gently oxidised. Manzanilla pasada this time.

    Conclusion

    A belter of a Caol Ila. Highly recommended.

    Right place, right time

    Dinner at sea, heading to Colonsay in the late summer sun.

    Glenfiddich IPA Experiment

    Score 8.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glenfiddich IPA Experiment
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Distinct whiff of hops – slightly herbal and citric with a brightness that works well with the crisp cooking apple. In time, there’s more of a resinous note. Water brings out apple sponge with custard, or is it spotted dick? Intriguing, balanced and refreshingly different.

    Palate

    Fatter, with an almost oily start. A richly textured ’Fiddich, which never loses its freshness. The hop element comes through, with more of that custard element and a slow creep of hop. Bold, balanced and identifiably Glenfiddich.

    Finish

    Lightly bittered, but balanced.

    Conclusion

    A good and valid experiment. I’d rather drink this (with a rock) than many new style IPAs.

    Right place, right time

    I bet this was playing in Mr Kinsman’s head when he was putting this together.

    Glenfiddich Project XX

    Score 7.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glenfiddich Project XX
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    47%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Has weight, but is slightly veiled initially. After a fair time, it deepens into plump berry fruits, a touch of blueberry, Muscat grape, with the heavy perfume of bluebell woods, then plum and apple clafoutis and sultana. Retains this headiness with water, but never quite seems to fully reveal itself.

    Palate

    Big and soft, the alcohol giving a fuzzed buzziness to things. There are a lot of aromas and textures busily jostling for position: sweet, rich, jammy, bitter and slightly astringent. Water brings out more oak and light grip, but for all my enjoyment of it I can’t help but think it’s confused.

    Finish

    Long and fruity. Light bite from wood. 

    Conclusion

    It can’t be easy making whisky by committee. A very sound early evening dram, but choose a time when you can cope with a lot of competing – and loud – voices.

    Right place, right time

    A fight in a fruit market.

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