New Whiskies

Batch 64

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New whisky tasting notes Batch 63

Dave Broom has sourced some real show-stoppers this week, kick-starting with a three-year-old Compass Box bottling (how much can we tell you about it? well, how much do you want to know?). Next in line are two older Glenfarclas whiskies: the first is sure to seduce any Sherry lovers out there, while the second scores only marginally better with its ‘layered and elegant’ ways. Let’s move to Loch Lomond, with a wonderfully weird 12-year-old and a nutty, spicy 18-year-old. Then it’s back to Compass Box and its ‘big, multilayered, generous’ Spice Tree Extravaganza to take us out with a bang.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Three Year Old Deluxe (Compass Box)

    Score 8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Three Year Old Deluxe (Compass Box)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    49.2%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A little hot to start, with a distinct briny and slightly smoky beginning (smoked salt?) and lemon balm-scented candles. Medium weight but fresh, with Amalfi lemon oil. Then, when you add water, it suddenly gets heavy and serious, with weight, muscle, more smoke and distinct waxiness. Think Brora in lighter guise and you’re not far off. 

    Palate

    More of the Brora-esque elements here: minerality, medlar jelly, sweet potato and miso, all deepening in layers, then comes lipstick (don’t ask). With water there’s more smoke. The low oak maximises expressiveness.

    Finish

    Snuffed candle.

    Conclusion

    This vatted (sorry, blended) malt contains 0.4% three-year-old Clynelish (hence the age statement) and considerably older distillate from that distillery, and one on Skye. Good to see Compass Box abiding by regulations. They’ve clearly learned their lesson (though if you want further details, read here).

    Right place, right time

    Candles in the wheelhouse of a schooner.

    Glenfarclas 1986 Refill Sherry Butts

    Score 8.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glenfarclas 1986 Refill Sherry Butts
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    53.8%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Slow, seductive and concentrated. An unfolding of dark black berry fruits, nutty oxidation, roast venison, roasted vine tomato, shoe polish and a slightly burnt edge. Roasting tin cut with treacle toffee. With water, the smell of a just-fired gun. Layered, with a meaty undertow.

    Palate

    Powerful tannic structure – which is amazing for a refill – as is the heat still on the sides of the mouth. There is, however, sufficient weight to cope. Shows treacle, liquorice and coffee. A darker and more compressed effect compared to the nose. With water, the sweetness is liberated. Robust and magnificently balanced.

    Finish

    Long and savoury. Gamey, with berry fruits.

    Conclusion

    A Sherry lover’s dream. 

    Right place, right time

    He pulls the trigger, instantly thinking of the evening’s roast.

    Glenfarclas 40 Years Old, 1976

    Score 9.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glenfarclas 40 Years Old, 1976
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Mature (I know, but you’d be surprised how some old whiskies don’t have maturity), with some glimmerings of tropical fruits. Complex and weighty: mango chutney, raspberry jam, sweet leather and blackcurrant. Even at relatively low strength it has character and presence. When gently watered, there's a little dunnage/sacking.

    Palate

    Soft start and a gentle mid-palate. Moves now to Darjeeling tea, then continues to firm up with cacao, and then a light coal smoke element drifts in from the lum. Allow it to breathe further and the tropical fruits emerge, alongside heather. Robustly layered and elegant.

    Finish

    Powerful and defiant. 

    Conclusion

    Contains all the complex contradictions which typify the distillery.

    Right place, right time

    Golden lanterns glimmer in a darkening northern forest.

    Loch Lomond 12 Years Old

    Score 6.5/10
    Scoring explained >
    Loch Lomond 12 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A somewhat peculiar nose: hoof glue, pine resin and flax oil. The fruits are there (tinned mandarin segments), but somewhat obscured, then comes Mr Sheen sprayed on a yellow duster. More Bourbon-esque with water.

    Palate

    A reversal of the nose, becoming much more like softly squished berry fruits (a theme this week) and light tannins, with thick caramel in the middle and only a touch of that oily note in the background. With water the fruits are more red cherry-accented, alongside Bakewell Tart. This has good length and a touch of almond towards the finish. 

    Finish

    Long, with some nutmeg.

    Conclusion

    The nose is decidedly odd, but the palate is delightful. 

    Right place, right time

    To earn some extra cash, he took a job felling Christmas trees. 

    Loch Lomond 18 Years Old

    Score 7.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    Loch Lomond 18 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Big, nutty, juicy malt loaf aromas, but also with a similar resinous character to the 12. Now there is black (rather than red) cherry, then Brazil nut, strawberry and, with water, spruce buds and much more oiliness. 

    Palate

    Like the 12-year-old this shows good weight, kicking off with a burst of fruit. Here, though, there are more malty/nutty elements, while the fruits are more orchard than berry. A little dark chocolate, then dried leaves – suitably autumnal. With water you get a touch more tannin. 

    Finish

    Walnut bread.

    Conclusion

    The feel is good, the wood is balanced. Enjoyable.

    Right place, right time

    After the Christmas period, he returned to his job as a French polisher’s assistant. 

    Spice Tree Extravaganza (Compass Box)

    Score 9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Spice Tree Extravaganza (Compass Box)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Big and rich (which is a bit of a departure for Compass Box), with some green fig, dried fruit, caramelised fruit sugars, star anise, barberry, stewing rhubarb and sugarcane juice, all given heft from wood. In time, you pick up freshly-polished table, a meaty element, roasted nut and some dandelion & burdock cordial. Considerably spicier with water, which brings out orange zest and chocolate.

    Palate

    Spiciness on the tongue. Balanced rich fruits, black cherry, some dark chocolate, raspberry, pink marshmallow, then black cardamom and clove – but for all of that it remains gentle. Water might reduce its immediacy, but it ushers in more spice and extends the length… massively.

    Finish

    Spicy, citric and very long.

    Conclusion

    Balanced, intriguing and complex. Highly recommended. A mix of the Spice Tree base with added first-fill European oak from Glen Ord and Benrinnes, plus different toasts of French oak. How much of each? You’ll have to ask Compass Box

    Right place, right time

    Big, multi-layered, generous. Soul food for the weary whisky palate. Cue Kamasi Washington.

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