New Whiskies

Batch 65

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Batch 65 new whisky tasting notes

Dave Broom dives nose-first into a big, liqueur-like Pedro Ximénez-finished BenRiach that’s rich, round and comes with the added bonus of musical accompaniment – free of charge. Once you’ve had your fill, it’s on to the strangely fungal Tawny Port BenRiach, before sampling a sappy, wood-led (in a good way) 14-year-old Glendronach. The 40-year-old Timorous Beastie that follows lives up to the latter part of its name, delivering the perfect mix of sweet and savoury elements. And bringing up the rear are two Tullibardines: one that’s almost dessert-like, while the other demonstrates how ‘gorgeous’ rancio whiskies can be.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • BenRiach 17 Years Old Pedro Ximénez Finish

    Score 7/10
    Scoring explained >
    BenRiach 17 Years Old Pedro Ximénez Finish
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Bang-on PX character from the off. Big, raisined, thick date and fig paste, lightly oxidised, with a slightly minty, carrot cake element that takes things in a savoury direction, heading towards brandy de Jerez territory. Things continue to deepen with time: liqueur chocolate, dark vanilla and crystallised ginger. Cask-driven, but hugely appetising. 

    Palate

    Continues where the nose left off: thick, sweet and rounded, again with those fig-like elements, but also an added hint of currant, chocolate brownie, cut with candied orange peel. I slightly preferred it neat.

    Finish

    Thick, sweet and long. 

    Conclusion

    Ripe, rich, generous and sweet. Liqueur whisky.

    Right place, right time

    Did someone say crystallised ginger? Been dying to play this from The Incredible String band for ages. It comes at 04.21.

    BenRiach 21 Years Old Tawny Port Finish

    Score 5.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    BenRiach 21 Years Old Tawny Port Finish
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A strange fungal opening, like an old earthen-floored wine cellar, with a little touch of copper coins. Behind this is some grilled nut and a whiff of cheese. The Port is there, but it is a slightly uneasy match, to be honest, as BenRiach’s fruits are hidden by the cask. More funky with water.

    Palate

    Better knitted than the nose. While the nutty, oxidised elements continue, now the soft fruits and light cereal begin to shuffle forward. It seems a little tired. Water makes it tannic.

    Finish

    Slightly bitter.

    Conclusion

    I struggled, to be honest. 

    Right place, right time

    Although locked in the cellar, at least he had his great-great-grandfather’s pipe of Port to sustain him. 

    Glendronach 14 Years Old Virgin Oak Wood Finish

    Score 7/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glendronach 14 Years Old Virgin Oak Wood Finish
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Concentrated and rich, with barley sugar and crème brûlée, grilled pineapple and an almost waxy element. Continues to develop in a hugely generous manner with a little hint of dried pine needle, but it never loses its sweetness, which slowly morphs into chestnut honey and then shea butter. More sappy with water.

    Palate

    As you might expect, things are wood-led here with flavours akin to an old-school, barrel-fermented Californian Chardonnay – albeit one with substantial tannins. The spirit – as rich and generous as you’d expect from Glendronach – pulls itself free at the end, adding spice, flamed peels and bergamot. With water, it shows rounded, controlled power which is just balancing things. Water accentuates the oak, so leave alone.

    Finish

    Light char.

    Conclusion

    Thankfully, Glendronach has the muscle to cope with this amount of wood. 

    Right place, right time

    Heading into the Napa in the ’70s. 

    Timorous Beastie 40 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 8.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Timorous Beastie 40 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54.7%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    An amazing strength for its age – and still has nose-blurring heat. Highly mature aromas of dubbined leather open up proceedings, but then recede into the background, as complex Indian Ocean scents move into the spotlight. Complex, with perfumed elements, sandalwood, hot mustard seeds, frangipan flowers and then comes a whiff of Zippo lighter. Has a lightly-smoked edge with water, alongside tarragon and vetiver. Becomes increasingly like an estery pot still rum. 

    Palate

    The thickness is expected. Opens to rape seed oil, then Seville orange and lightly-toasted oak. Has that perfect mix of the sweet and savoury that you should demand from extra-aged whiskies. Firms a little with water. Controlled, complex and recommended.

    Finish

    Long and fruity.

    Conclusion

    Hardly timorous, sleekit… or wee.

    Right place, right time

    Easy Rider, set in Mauritius.

    Tullibardine 2004 The Murray

    Score 7.2/10
    Scoring explained >
    Tullibardine 2004 The Murray
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    56.1%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    It is cask strength, so there’s no surprise that it has a hot hit, but behind this is sweet tarte tatin (with custard), then Milky Way (or, if you’re posh, chocolate mousse) and lemon. The alcohol burns off relatively quickly, leaving a gentle, appealing and softly-fruited centre. Bright and lively. Becomes increasingly creamy with water.

    Palate

    Tongue-clinging, with some perfumed notes and hot gorse. The alcohol adds spice, then citrus. Energetic and zesty, but in need of water… a lot of water for me. The texture isn’t damaged and the fruits can flow more easily.

    Finish

    Custard (with skin on the top).

    Conclusion

    While not massively complex, remains rewarding.

    Right place, right time

    School puddings were always a highlight.

    Tullibardine 1970

    Score 8.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Tullibardine 1970
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40.3%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A mature nose, highly fragrant with dried rose petals, old beeswax and incense. Needs a little work and agitation to get it going and show its very complex nature, which mixes dried peach and apricot with coumarin and vetiver, then more tropical fruits. I dared to add a splash of water and got more of the fruits, now with a dribble of cream. A gorgeous old rancio whisky.

    Palate

    Medium weight. Quite syrupy, with juicy fruits coming across before it tightens slightly and pulses out red fruit acidity, then smooths once more. It might just lack a little strength (it’s right on the limit, abv-wise), but accept its relaxed, gentle, complex nature.

    Finish

    Orange zest and a little burst of heat.

    Conclusion

    One of those which you could smell all day, marvelling at how whisky can slowly reduce itself to this essence.

    Right place, right time

    A refined old lady speaks of her childhood in Burma. 

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