New Whiskies

Batch 68

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New whisky tasting notes Batch 68

Think of the first whisky this week as more of a superlative independent film, rather than a Hollywood blockbuster – fantastic quality and action-packed, but without the over-the-top special effects. Then, following the award-worthy performance of Glen Grant 30-year-old, is the new – and improved, it has to be said – Longmorn 16-year-old. The camera then zooms in to focus on not one, but two more Longmorn expressions – the new 23-year-old OB release and a 26-year-old bottling by Cadenhead. The scene cuts to Macallan 12 Years Old Double Cask and a high-speed chase led by Bertie Bassett, before the ending goes up in smoke (not literally, of course) with a 10-year-old Hepburn’s Choice from an unnamed Highland distillery. Roll the credits...

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Glen Grant 30 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glen Grant 30 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    59.1%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    A beautifully elegant Glen Grant which shows great maturity. This is all about that slow oxidation and transformation of the fresh fruits of youth to this melding of anise, melon and Parma ham, light nuttiness, honey and exotic scents. Perfectly handled, subtle oak adds to that base and time-altered distillery character.

    Palate

    Massive concentration. Have it blind and you’d think it was a Grande Champagne Cognac with its aroma heavy with gentle fruits, hints of flower blossom, subtle spicing and, yes, an element of rancio creeping in. It’s only the sweet hazelnut that brings you back to a cereal-based aged spirit.

    Finish

    Nut shell and, if it’s slightly bitter, that’s a minor cavil as it does balance the gentle elegance. 

    Conclusion

    Superb dram. Subtle, rather than a blockbuster. 

    Right place, right time

    A top-end Italian warehouseman’s emporium.

    Longmorn 16 Years Old

    Score 8.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    Longmorn 16 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Longmorn’s juicy berry fruits from the start, along with a mass of melted butter, some marzipan, blueberry, ripe apricot and a hint of purple basil. Then comes black grape jelly on freshly baked bread. Slowly some sultana emerges, along with bread and butter pudding, and this Sherried element grows in time. Things take a more fragrant turn when water is added, with heathery elements and increasing spice. 

    Palate

    Sweet, oaky, concentrated and also slightly hot. There’s now more dried fruit to balance the pulpy orchard fruits also seen on the nose. Long, and you begin to wonder if there’s sufficient structure to balance this fruit bomb. Water shows that there is, as the spiciness is accentuated before butterscotch and Sherry grip on the back palate.

    Finish

    Oak, then cereal.

    Conclusion

    Oak-driven and substantial. A big step up from the previous iteration in terms of quality – but also in price, for some inexplicable reason. 

    Right place, right time

    A lazy breakfast in Paris.

    Longmorn 23 Years Old

    Score 8.3/10
    Scoring explained >
    Longmorn 23 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    A relatively quiet opening. Deeper than the 16-year-old, with more stewed and dried fruits and a greater impact from rich and concentrated mature elements – and Sherry cask, it would seem. There’s figs dipped in honey and macadamia, but the shyness is retained. The depths continue to build alongside rich oak tones, beeswax and dried peach. Dries over time. 

    Palate

    If the 16 is all about the impact of the nose, then this is the opposite. Only on the tongue do you notice the layering of strawberry, blackcurrant, dried fruit and then sun-scented oak. Thick and sweet in the middle of the tongue, then it slides away for a second or two before extending out on the finish. Water makes it slightly more savoury and shows some grip.

    Finish

    Ripe, cedar-accented, with a sense of bulk. 

    Conclusion

    A big, robust example – but also decidedly sweet.

    Right place, right time

    A lazy breakfast in Beirut.

    Longmorn 26 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Score 8.2/10
    Scoring explained >
    Longmorn 26 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55.3%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Slightly hotter than the two others, which you’d expect as there are more fresh fruits here, alongside an orange zest element. Marzipan again, then custard slice (with icing) and heavily spiced honey. It needs water, when that buttery element (this is ex-Bourbon) comes through, along with sweet apple and quince. You never lose the heat, which is not necessarily a bad thing as it adds a bite.

    Palate

    Upfront and intense, with that fresh orchard fruit element replicated. But here there’s also some dried sage and a tiny drift of lavender alongside mandarin and lemon before this very subtle, powdery quality emerges, together with the distillery’s juicy depths. The background of dried flowers develops with water. 

    Finish

    Light oak, long. 

    Conclusion

    A great alternative to these new OBs. 

    Right place, right time

    A lazy breakfast in Elgin.

    Macallan 12 Years Old Double Cask

    Score 7.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Macallan 12 Years Old Double Cask
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Boisterous Sherried oak from the off, with just a touch of rubber initially. Then comes tangerine marmalade, light cooked plum, mulberry and a hint of dried fruit and walnuts. Aromatic, but also retaining Macallan’s depth and grunt. Better with water, which brings out more classically framed dried fruit and baked vanilla.

    Palate

    Ripe and rich palate with spice towards the middle, where you get vanilla and the black fruits. Good length. Water makes it lose a little impact, but it does bring out liquorice allsorts and sultana – so make your choice.

    Finish

    A burst of ‘vanilla’ and citrus.

    Conclusion

    A hugely approachable and well-balanced dram. Recommended.

    Right place, right time

    Bertie Bassett steals a rally car and goes rogue. 

    Nice ‘n’ Peaty 10 Years Old (Hunter Laing)

    Score 7/10
    Scoring explained >
    Nice ‘n’ Peaty 10 Years Old (Hunter Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Decidedly onion skin colour. Spent fire, dry grass and a hint of inner tube. Then freeze-dried rasps, boiled sweets and strawberry chews, but always with light, drying smoke. When diluted, things become grassier and, as you add the water steadily, out comes more smoke, which ends up quite turfy as the fruits start to be edged backwards. 

    Palate

    Light and quite clean, with good sweetness from the start. The palate, when neat, is a little light, coming across as dilute fruit cordial – albeit scented with smoke. Water brings things together and fills out the centre before there’s nuts, zestiness, then smoke.

    Finish

    Glowing, ember-like heat.

    Conclusion

    Nice indeed – and peaty. Just for the record, I tasted this alongside other young peaty drams, rather than as part of this set. 

    Right place, right time

    Drinking rosé wine beside a bonfire. 

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