New Whiskies

Batch 99

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New whisky tasting notes Batch 99

Perhaps it’s just what happens when you taste whiskies while hungry, but there’s a bit of a meaty theme to this week’s tasting notes.

Dave Broom starts with a waxy, meaty, but sweet, 30-year-old Cragganmore from Hunter Laing, before sampling a ‘different but rewarding’ 28-year-old Glenfarclas.

New bottler Abbey Whisky features next, with a 21-year-old Glen Garioch that brings back that meaty element with beef dripping, alongside more fruity flavours.  

A new Lossit whisky from the Lost Distillery Co is gently smoky, light and best left neat, while Whyte & Mackay’s blended malt Shackleton, created in honour of polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, delivers more power on the palate than you might expect.  

Completing this week’s whisky tasting notes is a 15-year-old Speyside from That Boutique-y Whisky Co, with earthy, malty flavours, plus more of that meatiness. 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Cragganmore 30 Years Old (Hunter Laing)

    Cragganmore 30 Years Old (Hunter Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    59.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A classic Cragganmore mix of ripe autumn fruits and fresh pineapple to begin with. In fact, it becomes increasingly estery as it begins to open. Medium-weight rather than heavy, but with good maturity that touches on wild flower (buddleia) and this slightly decayed fruitiness that slides towards honeyed peach. With water, it becomes increasingly waxy with a light meatiness.

    Palate

    Soft, syrupy and unctuous with that waxiness helping with the texture. The orchard fruits are now slightly richer, while there is just the right amount of tightening oak to give structure. On the back-palate you pick up tobacco. Water shows it to be slightly more precarious than the high strength suggests, so ca’ canny.

    Finish

    Deepens into berry fruit and cigar smoke.

    Conclusion

    Ripe and soft, with length and complexity. Recommended.

    Right place, right time

    Turning a rusty key and entering a lost walled garden. 

    Glenfarclas 28 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Glenfarclas 28 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    53%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    This is sweeter than you normally expect from ’Farclas, with hints of cut hay, iris, hyacinth and heather blossom, mixed with just enough weight (roast tomato and blackberry) to add another dimension. Dries slightly with water, although a lemon posset note is added.

    Palate

    If the nose suggests sweetness, the palate starts in a more flinty fashion, though this is steadily replaced by a retronasal minty chocolate element, while all the time that ’Farclas mulberry-like power begins to build, along with elements of dunnage warehouse. There’s a nodule of apricot-like sweetness to act as a counterbalance. Water releases a brief whiff of glue before the long, rich palate takes over. 

    Finish

    Rooibos tea. Doesn’t want to leave.

    Conclusion

    A slow-burning Glenfarclas. Different and rewarding.

    Right place, right time

    Eating Fry’s Chocolate Creme at harvest time. 

    Glen Garioch 21 Years Old (The Rare Casks, Abbey Whisky)

    Glen Garioch 21 Years Old (The Rare Casks, Abbey Whisky)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Has that intriguing distillery character from the outset, where beef dripping is anchored by an earth undertone, while red fruits rise above. It’s noticeably high in strength and water is needed, which brings out more nuttiness.

    Palate

    Fairly sweet to start, with this pleasant, but odd, mix of tallow and raspberry jam. The mid-palate is rounded and lightly acidic as it moves towards the finish. It is hot though, which blurs some of the undoubted complexity. Water helps to soften things down and brings out a light oiliness, but it’s hard to get rid of the hot alcohol.

    Finish

    When diluted, some meatiness. 

    Conclusion

    A new bottler to me and one worth following. This is a characterful Glen Garioch and, while it’s just a little hot, it’s well worth checking out. 

    Right place, right time

    A mealy pudding roll for breakfast.

    Lossit Small Batch (Lost Distillery Co)

    Lossit Small Batch (Lost Distillery Co)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Sound, quite sweet and lightly smoked with a bone meal/saline mineral element. There’s the impression of breezes in marram grass. Water makes things softer with some vanilla, a touch of plasticine, but also more peatiness – smoked fish. It doesn’t particularly like water though.

    Palate

    Gently smoky, well-balanced and light. There’s this intriguing blend of Polo mints, ginger and smoke. Best neat, where a soft, saline element comes through, for while more heavy phenols emerge, the palate seem a little fragile.

    Finish

    Slightly short, with peppery smoke.

    Conclusion

    Lovely stuff that’s well-balanced and smoky. Is it like Lossit’s whisky? Of course it isn’t. That distillery closed in 1867 and no-one has ever tasted it. It used different barley, yeast, wort and gravity, distilled over flame and condensed in worm tubs. Think of this rather as a distillation of the gentle woods of Lossit in the middle of the island.

    Right place, right time

    Eating kippers with melting butter, while the kids make Play-Doh animals. 

    Shackleton

    Shackleton
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Light, crisp and clean, with some muesli dotted with Turkish yoghurt, green apple, cucumber and celery. As things relax, you get citrus blossom and banana. It’s slightly edgy when neat, and a splash of water doesn’t go amiss.

    Palate

    Soft and sweet, with some heavier Sherry tones in the background. A lovely silky feel with more power than might be expected. The oak gives a dry edge to the sides, while a ripe, curranty line extends from the mid-palate to the finish. Takes water well – it would work as a Mamie Taylor – which brings out spiciness, and a fresh green element.

    Finish

    Banana and vanilla.

    Conclusion

    Soft, appealing and easy to drink. This is based on an actual whisky and is aligned closely to it (or as close as is possible, given all that has changed in production terms). A homage, rather than replica, and great blending at work.

    Right place, right time

    Reading about the Antarctic while listening to Nic Jones is better than being there

    Speyside 15 Years Old Batch 1 (That Boutique-y Whisky Co)

    Speyside 15 Years Old Batch 1 (That Boutique-y Whisky Co)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    53.4%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    There’s a meaty theme that seems to be appearing this week (that’s the problem with tasting when hungry), and this has that, plus damp earth (just-watered garden), strawberry and Williams pear. A more scented element comes through and then some struck match, which is intensified into over-cooked brassicas when water is added.

    Palate

    Firecrackers and rice crackers to kick things off. There’s a softer mid-palate with a Starburst-like juiciness. Becomes slightly more cereal-like (sweet nuts) and malty with water when things start to dry.

    Finish

    Spicy. 

    Conclusion

    Shows some character, but the sulphur knocks its overall balance.

    Right place, right time

    Though being lost in thought meant Mr Blair’s dinner was spoiled, the aroma gave him the idea for a new novel.

    (Photo: courtesy of That Boutique-y Whisky Co)

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