New Whiskies

Batch 13

by
Tastings Batch 13

Four indie alternatives to this year’s Special Releases here – Caledonian, Dailuaine and a pair of Caol Ilas – alongside a seasonal Glenmorangie offering and a blended malt from Compass Box that also includes three Special Release malts – Caol Ila, Clynelish and Dailuaine – in the mix.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Caledonian 40 Years Old/1974 (Duncan Taylor)

    Score 8.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    Caledonian 40 Years Old/1974 (Duncan Taylor)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.8%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    Fat, creamy and buttery to start, there is also a highly wooded, amber-like, Bourbon-esque element from the beginning. Then the fat distillate (think of a mega banana split) comes through. Heady in time, with some frying butter. This is vast. With water, light char and robust grain.
    Palate
    Highly concentrated, with a previously hidden fennel seed aroma and, though it’s hot, the grain adds a slippery quality, while the American oak remains quite prominent. With water there’s some chocolate, more sweet spice and anise. It also calms down the Bourbon notes.
    Finish
    Tight, but still big.
    Conclusion
    All hail The Cally!
    Right place, right time
    Waiting in the rain for a bus. Then two come along at the same time.

    Dailuaine 19 Years Old Small Batch (Cadenhead)

    Score 6.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Dailuaine 19 Years Old Small Batch (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    57.5%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose
    A hint of meatiness and a cereal note that comes disguised as a cross between gravy browning and cattle feed. There’s some sweetness providing balance. Water makes it a little more plain.
    Palate
    A big and slightly sulphury start, but that’s no bad thing. It then shows sweetness in the centre alongside some hazelnut before we head back to the roasting tin. All the elements are fine on their own, but need to be better linked. Becomes more farmyardy with water. Still has clear distillery character.
    Finish
    Light and spiced.
    Conclusion
    A rock-solid Dailuaine which, while not in the same league as the Special Release, is worth a gander.
    Right place, right time
    Sunday roast dinner, the scent of Bisto leaking out of the kitchen.

    Glenmorangie A Midwinter Night's Dram

    Score 8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glenmorangie A Midwinter Night's Dram
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    Big, sweet, in fact almost liqueur-like to start with. There’s masses of stewing orange, light clove, dark mint chocolate and even a little whiff of Black Forest gâteau. In time the sweeter, fruitier, Sherried elements become all-enveloping.
    Palate
    There’s a suggestion of Tokaji wine in here and everything begins to become slightly more scented, with a little allspice and more identifiably ‘Morangie soft fruits – apricot, especially, and a tightening of oak.
    Finish
    Sweet, then spicy.
    Conclusion
    Maybe not the most complex Glenmo’, but it’s big, it’s fat, it’s fun. Exclusive to Sainsbury’s and, at £40, this is a steal. The score (how I hate numbers!) reflects this.
    Right place, right time
    ‘A Winter’s Tale’, surely, he says – exiting pursued by a bear.

    Flaming Heart (Compass Box)

    Score 7.3/10
    Scoring explained >
    Flaming Heart (Compass Box)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48.9%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    Massive, with plenty of smoky bacon to kick off with, then comes a little maltiness before things settle down to cardamom, (Scots) pine sap, cedar and, with water, cold Darjeeling tea.
    Palate
    Very soft, sweet and rounded with less overt smoke than the nose indicates. A deep and spicy mid-palate gives chocolate orange flavours. A fair impact from rich, sweet/spicy wood, which needs a rich spirit base to balance. Drier, and smokier, with water.
    Finish
    Long and spiced.
    Conclusion
    A limited run reintroduced to celebrate Compass Box’s 15th anniversary. Savour it slowly.
    Right place, right time
    Late night, red shaded light, joss sticks, psychedelic music on the record player.

    Caol Ila 14 Years Old Small Batch (Cadenhead)

    Score 7.2/10
    Scoring explained >
    Caol Ila 14 Years Old Small Batch (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54.4%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose
    Fresh and quite light, with light marine notes, lots of pear, light lemon with a saline/mineral quality, hedge clippings – the sweet/dusty smell of privet – then, with water, more ointment.
    Palate
    Clean. Again, mineral which pushes back against some pretty sweet development in the mid-palate before the smoke begins to build. Water brings out more of a dentist’s surgery note.
    Finish
    Gentle and lightly lemony.
    Conclusion
    Good, clean feel and, while it might not be immensely complex, it’s balanced and hugely drinkable – so do.
    Right place, right time
    On the set of ‘Carry on Drilling’. ‘Can I give you a filling, miss?’

    Caol Ila 31 Years Old Small Batch (Cadenhead)

    Score 7.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Caol Ila 31 Years Old Small Batch (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose
    More oxidative than the 2000 and also more oily. The sense of a generous base spirit given long maturation in a relaxed cask. Touches of Plasticine, soggy sheep, a green herbal element, then a hint of the sea.
    Palate
    Very soft, with quite a long, slow mouthfeel. The smoke is well-integrated. Water, strangely, doesn’t help enormously.
    Finish
    Clean and lightly smoky.
    Conclusion
    An excellent, mature, oily Caol Ila, the Ms Consistent of Islay.
    Right place, right time
    A shoreline walk, munching on samphire.
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