New Whiskies

Batch 73

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Batch 73 New whisky tasting notes

If you’re looking for a soft, fruity whisky, then Glendronach 14 Years Old finished in Marsala wine casks should be perfect for your palate. But if smoky Scotch whiskies are more up your street, then you should be quite taken by the next two bottlings. First up is the latest Laphroaig from Cadenhead: a 1998-distilled 18-year-old that’s both elegant and ‘filthy’ at the same time. Then comes another Laphroaig that will not only satisfy peat lovers, but Sherry fans as well, with its Sherry cask-driven flavours of chestnuts and raisins. The following expression comes highly recommended by Dave Broom: Macallan Edition No 2, bottled in collaboration with restaurant El Celler de Can Roca. And rounding off the new releases this week are two Springbanks: a 14-year-old, fruity bottling from Cadenhead and a ‘seashore-like’ 21-year-old. 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Glendronach 14 Years Old Marsala Finish

    Glendronach 14 Years Old Marsala Finish
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Ridiculously fruity and sweet to start: it’s all cherry pie and quince, but without losing the punch typical of the distillery. Becomes slightly oaky – cinnamon toast – with a light nose burn, but then there’s a burst of Jaffa Cakes and a return to the sweet fruits.

    Palate

    Very soft, and while the spiciness shoulders forward, the fruits are sufficiently super-ripe (almost going over) to soothe the mid-palate. There’s a light bite as the Marsala elements add a layer of apple and walnut. Water brings a return to the fresh oak.

    Finish

    Oxidised fruitiness.

    Conclusion

    Sweet and fruity; it’s the mix of Marsala’s nuts and butter which is the key here. Lovely.

    Right place, right time

    Mixing a cake in your granny’s kitchen.

    Laphroaig 1998 18 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Laphroaig 1998 18 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55.9%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Intense and initially dry: peat shed, lichen on silver birch, and then some aromatics like bog myrtle and sesame oil before Laphroaig tarriness starts to build like a tsunami, mixing smoked chilli with salt flakes and fresh sea urchin. Water brings out lavender, then spice and the smoke once again. 

    Palate

    Immediate peatiness, accompanied by moss and kelp. The smoked elements become all-pervading: the boiler room of a fishing boat, hot roads and, especially with water, a savoury element akin to dried beef.

    Finish

    Medicinal and bold. 

    Conclusion

    It has that ability, peculiar to Laphroaig, to balance elegance with an untrammelled filthiness.

    Right place, right time

    Queen of the Hebrides, meet the King of Creosote.

    Laphroaig 1996 20 Years Old Masterpieces

    Laphroaig 1996 20 Years Old Masterpieces
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50.6%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Cask-driven; to be precise, Sherry cask-driven. This is all chestnut and moistened raisin, to the extent that there’s almost a Guyana rum thickness going on. Add in cacao and a light oiliness, and the smoke barely gets a look-in. Instead it is well integrated into the whole. Water accentuates the savoury nature – here it’s less meaty and more soy sauce.

    Palate

    Into nuttiness immediately, then black grape, chocolate and, (finally!) scented, coal tar-like smoke. There’s good grip and huge Sherry impact. Water tightens the chestnut-like bands, ups the black fruits and tames the smoke.

    Finish

    Ripe, rich and thick. 

    Conclusion

    A good demonstration of how much wood Laphroaig can take without losing character and, while for Sherry lovers only, it’s worth seeking out. 

    Right place, right time

    With a single motion, the silent butler drew back the heavy velvet drapes. The room beyond was scented with smoke.

    Macallan Edition No 2

    Macallan Edition No 2
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Full-blooded Macallan from the off, with the distillery’s signature earthy, almost singed element backed by liquorice, mulberry jam and some dried peach in the background. There’s a bittersweet lift, however, with stem ginger and orange marmalade. Water turns up the bass notes; all dark fruit.

    Palate

    It is those heavier fruit elements which open on the tongue, alongside some cask sweetness, which then expands into chocolate, clove and then light tannin with more overtly Sherried elements coming through. Sweetness has been retained, however, along with a dry, gingery heat. Water allows acidity to sparkle and brings out citrus and baked apples.

    Finish

    Coffee and citrus peel.

    Conclusion

    Densely aromatic, this is a collaboration between Macallan’s Bob Dalgarno and the Roca brothers of famed Catalan restaurant El Celler de Can Roca. Like Edition No 1, this is a mix of different coopers and cask types. Clearly a series to collect – and enjoy. Who needs an age statement? Complex. Recommended.

    Right place, right time

    Accidentally locked in the preserves cupboard, he settled in for the long haul. 

    Springbank 14 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Springbank 14 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    47.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Campbeltown
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Is this Springbank masquerading as vin jaune? It’s certainly very fruity (think fresh pear juice), with a yeasty sort of sweetness, and a headily sweet perfume. It then switches from this exoticism into ham and lentil soup before a farmyard element begins to develop. Mealy with water, then fennel and mustard seed.

    Palate

    Very gentle, with some lavender-like perfume on the back palate. Soft and unctuous, there’s pink grapefruit and the soft orchard fruits seen on the nose. Water increases this subtlety, alongside a hint of dried sage.

    Finish

    Lightly smoked.

    Conclusion

    A graceful and remarkably vinous Springbank.

    Right place, right time

    An Alpine idyll.

    Springbank 21 Years Old (Whisky Show 2016)

    Springbank 21 Years Old (Whisky Show 2016)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54.1%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Campbeltown
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A drier and also slightly smokier variant than the Cadenhead bottling, this is also considerably more briny, with hints of coffee grounds. Water brings out touches of bike shop and those sea breezes.

    Palate

    Big and dry, with Springbank’s darker elements massing in the centre along with coal smoke. The thick fruits seen on the Cadenhead are here as well, with more oiliness. Appetising and mouth-watering. Though it remains rounded with water, there’s added bamboo-like sappiness, then cattle cake and more of the smoke clinging to the soft fruits.

    Finish

    Seashore-like.

    Conclusion

    While slightly tough to get into on the nose, this shows great balance and structure.

    Right place, right time

    A crisp, cool morning at Machrihanish.

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