New Whiskies

Batch 78

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New whisky tasting notes Batch 78

In this quietest of months – in terms of new releases, at least – Dave Broom turns his attention to a quartet of grains from Douglas Laing and a duo of single malts from Cadenhead, one of which makes his brain explode. 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Cambus 24 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Cambus 24 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51.5%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Rounded, plump and slightly buttery – butterscotch even – with caramel syrup and a background of dark chocolate cut with orange peel. Heavy rum, but with a garnish of nasturtium and wine gums.

    Palate

    All you’d expect from that nose, but there’s also a surprising twist of currant leaf and spice. Balanced and, while soft, there’s enough wayward spiciness to shift it away from being just bland, fat and sweet. It’s better neat for that very reason, as water makes it just a bit one-dimensional.

    Finish

    Gentle and syrup-like.

    Conclusion

    A really solid Cambus. Well worth seeking out.

    Right place, right time

    Relaxing.

    Cameronbridge 24 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Cameronbridge 24 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51.5%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A fairly bold opening – it’s clear this comes from cereal, put it that way – with an almost savoury back note. Dry as well, with light coriander and even a tiny touch of varnish that suggests some cask-driven maturity.

    Palate

    More lively than the nose. The assertiveness of the nose remains, but now softened into white chocolate. That said, it still has a tight focus and higher acidity than the rest of the quartet, and it’s this last quality which gives it a degree of complexity. Water unlocks that mid-palate.

    Finish

    Zesty, with some bite.

    Conclusion

    A slightly funny one which, while very enjoyable, hasn’t quite decided what it wants to be.

    Right place, right time

    Sucking on chocolate limes.

    Loch Lomond 19 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Loch Lomond 19 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51.5%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Very soft and vanilla-centred. Hot too, but there’s some limoncello and an edginess thanks to the higher strength and lighter character. Estery, lean and, with water, steamed syrup pudding.

    Palate

    Lime peel. Very bright and slightly floral, but with that thick mid-palate which makes grain so important to blends. Controlled and charming, citric and floral with pick ‘n’ mix elements. When diluted, becomes more airy and aromatically delicate.

    Finish

    Icing sugar, gooseberry and then vanilla again.

    Conclusion

    It’s good and has character, but you can’t help but feel that it would add more to a blend than being kept on its own. As a result, it’s slightly lonely. 

    Right place, right time

    He sits on his own, melting ice cream dribbling over his knuckles, mingling with his falling tears.

    Mortlach 27 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Mortlach 27 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.6%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    There’s a tiny, dusty, slightly musty, old cinema note to start with, but it disappears behind typically savoury aromas, which in this manifestation are biltong-like, spiced up with a little fennel seed brightness and some cherry jam. With water, there’s a dramatic shift to curried lamb but, as it sits and opens, so ripe peaches emerge – albeit with that intriguing depth beneath. 

    Palate

    Big, robust and well-structured. When neat, it’s pretty much a front-palate dram, but with some anise and liquorice that pair well with those rounded, roasted notes. It does need water – in fact, it can cope with a fair dose. The sweet/savoury interplay, which is slightly uneasy on the nose, now achieves coherence with that explosion of spiced meats, then those soft fruits. Layered and forceful. 

    Finish

    Long, lingering.

    Conclusion

    Extravagant and swaggering, which is exactly what you want from Mortlach. 

    Right place, right time

    Errol Flynn eating a curry.

    Ord 20 Years Old (Lafitte Cask, Cadenhead)

    Ord 20 Years Old (Lafitte Cask, Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54.3%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    The colour of an angry sunset; there’s ripe berries (cassis, tayberry) and a smoky edge, then hints of cherry stone. It’s huge and almost liqueur-like with touches of rosehip syrup and blood orange – in fact it’s like a cask-aged Blood & Sand.

    Palate

    Thick and slightly flabby initially. Let’s be polite and say it’s well-covered. The wine elements, all red and black fruits, are dominant and at first there’s little of Ord, bar a nudge of fresh ginger. Just after the marzipan edge bites in, the whisky finally comes through. Cordial-like. Could I drink a whole dram?

    Finish

    Even more vinous and jammy.

    Conclusion

    It’s been in that wine cask since 2009 and inevitably is wine-dominated. In fact, it should encompass everything that’s wrong with wine-finished whiskies, but it’s also compelling. A barking mad, headfuck of a whisky. 

    Right place, right time

    Baroque and slightly camp. Luxuriate in some early Scott Walker. Turn it up.

    Port Dundas 27 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Port Dundas 27 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    57.3%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Generous, with a light burnt edge that brings to mind home-made toffee – and caramelised bananas. Some red fruits (jam skimmings), then Americano coffee with hot milk, and fondant cream. After a while it becomes increasingly Bajan rum-like with soft fruits. Water brings out greener notes and fresh rum.

    Palate

    Big, rounded and creamy with some milk chocolate. All the aromas are reflected here, but are now evenly layered and cling to the tongue. Juicy and quite deep, with a fine structure.

    Finish

    Long and fruited.

    Conclusion

    Complex and showy or, as we’d say in Glasgow: ‘Gallus.’

    Right place, right time

    Jeely pieces being flung out of tenements. Vambo Rules.

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