New Whiskies

Batch 11

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Batch 11 group photo

Independents’ day this week, with three whiskies from Cadenhead and three from Duncan Taylor. Aultmore, Benriach, Glen Grant, Glentauchers, Imperial and Linkwood all feature.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Aultmore The Octave 2008 (Duncan Taylor)

    Score 6/10
    Scoring explained >
    Aultmore The Octave 2008 (Duncan Taylor)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose
    Typical Aultmore green grass intensity with a backing of crystallised aromatic fruits and, in time, a restrained, oxidative Sherry influence and a whiff of sandy bodega floors (similar to the Glen Grant, below). The first thoughts are how impressive it is for a young whisky, brimful of vitality. Water reverses this, showing the cask to be in charge.
    Palate
    Soft and gentle when neat, so I’d stick with drinking it like that. It’s only when water is added that you see the joins where the cask is struggling slightly to contain the exuberant youthfulness.
    Finish
    Gentle and soft.
    Conclusion
    A fun dram.
    Right place, right time
    Watching a small child dressing up in her mother’s fur coat.

    Benriach 19 Year Old Small Batch (Cadenhead)

    Score 6.7/10
    Scoring explained >
    Benriach 19 Year Old Small Batch (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46.5%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    Shows good distillery character and it is this (rather than cask) which is the driver. A fat, fruity note adds an extra dimension to the hot apple pie dusted with brown sugar which initially emerges, soon followed by orange peel, then a hot mash tun note. With water there’s green almond and a lightly vinous note.
    Palate
    Clean and lightly honeyed, with some hazelnut and mint. A succulent mid-palate becomes increasingly spicy. Flattens with water – so leave it on the side.
    Finish
    Dries quite quickly.
    Conclusion
    Clearly Benriach, but dialled up a notch.
    Right place, right time
    Hot pies cooling on the windowsill. A blackbird sings.

    Glen Grant The Octave 1995 (Duncan Taylor)

    Score 7.5/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glen Grant The Octave 1995 (Duncan Taylor)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    47.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    It opens with autumnal hedgerow fruits and moist undergrowth, then a distinct whiff of fenugreek leaves and turmeric and an intriguing wet sand/marram grass thing, similar to the Aultmore above. The octave cask then begins to move forward (this is amplified with water) with nutty oak and milk chocolate.
    Palate
    The alcohol is low(-ish), which might explain the slightly flat start, but it certainly perks up in the mid-palate, where some sweet creaminess from the cask adds weight to those fruits. Water softens it too much. Well-balanced and slightly resinous.
    Finish
    Becomes super-chocolatey.
    Conclusion
    The octave programme is all about how much of an impact the small Sherry cask has on the spirit. This works and gives an easy-drinking dram.
    Right place, right time
    Reading Keats while walking home with a takeaway curry.

    Glentauchers 25 Year Old Small Batch (Cadenhead)

    Score 7.6/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glentauchers 25 Year Old Small Batch (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    Clean, with positive distillery character: dry grass, honeydew melon, green grapes. Mature, but fresh, which is a lovely combination.
    Palate
    Very clean and fresh, with the reassuring plumpness of bread-and-butter pudding in the middle. This combination spreads well towards the finish. Ripe, if slightly short.
    Finish
    Pink marshmallows, with a mustard seed-like tingle.
    Conclusion
    The feel, combined with the lively distillate, adds sufficient weight. Well worth a look.
    Right place, right time
    Chilling on an August Bank Holiday in the sunshine.

    Imperial 20 Year Old (Duncan Taylor)

    Score 8.2/10
    Scoring explained >
    Imperial 20 Year Old (Duncan Taylor)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose
    Luscious old Imperial, all heavy yet gentle fruits: sweet Moscatel, mulberry jam, blackberry. Then there’s a lift of scented pot-pourri. Elegance.
    Palate
    A tiny, dusty cask note to start, but after that the sweetness immediately comes through, adding in spice, then toffee. Only a drop of water is needed to bring out mint. Quite lovely.
    Finish
    Soft and gentle fade.
    Conclusion
    Another great Imperial from Duncan Taylor. Classic, mature, balanced.
    Right place, right time
    Listening to Giant Sand’s ‘Shiver’.

    Linkwood 26 Year Old Small Batch (Cadenhead)

    Score 9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Linkwood 26 Year Old Small Batch (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51.1%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose
    The rich, oxidised notes which come at the start are somewhat reminiscent of a Rutherglen Muscat, but the fresh apple of the distillery is always present. Initially, it weaves gently between these two poles, showing real elegance, briary fruits, bodega notes before a dominant note of ancient Calvados acts as a fixed point to the surrounding complexity. In time (and with water), there’s varnish and a little exotic fruit.
    Palate
    Soft and gentle, with a lovely mid-palate texture. It’s an apple orchard, but with added, succulent layers. A profoundly mature whisky, but still with sufficient energy.
    Finish
    Long and lingering.
    Conclusion
    Everything you expect (nay, demand) from Linkwood.
    Right place, right time
    Listening to Christy Moore’s version of Yeats’ ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’.
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