New Whiskies

Batch 23

by
Batch 23 New whiskies

A plethora of independent bottlings make up this week’s batch of new whiskies tasted by Dave Broom. Joining four expressions from Gordon & MacPhail’s The Wood Makes the Whisky series are a fruity Aberlour from Douglas Laing, and a ‘50s Glen Grant bottled exclusively for Wealth Solutions.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Ardmore 1996 (Gordon & MacPhail, ‘Wood Makes The Whisky’ series)

    Score 6.2/10
    Scoring explained >
    Ardmore 1996 (Gordon & MacPhail, ‘Wood Makes The Whisky’ series)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Deep amber with more smoke than you often get from this distillery, all charcoal, nuts and a little caramelised fruit edge, and just a touch of damson. With water, you get plenty of gingerbread and butter, and wood oils. Antique shop.  

    Palate

    Big and rich to start, but it’s also dry with a fair amount of grip, especially with water. The wood is certainly here and there is an almost bacon like element to the smoke. It’s bold, but not quite balanced. 

    Finish

    Dry.

    Conclusion

    Though drawn from a refill Sherry hoggie – which could be my favourite kind of cask – it’s as if everything is there, but somehow never quite gets going.

    Right place, right time

    A reluctant barbecue slowly comes to life. 

    Bunnahabhain 8 Years Old (Gordon & MacPhail, ‘Wood Makes The Whisky’)

    Score 7.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bunnahabhain 8 Years Old (Gordon & MacPhail, ‘Wood Makes The Whisky’)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Pale straw. Very clean, sea breeze fresh with some (uncooked) pastry, then a touch of lemon, ginger powder, a tiny hint of earth and a little parma violet in the background.

    Palate

    Brisk smokiness, but unlike many young peaty whiskies there’s no rubberiness – only a little firelighter note suggests some elements are still not fully formed. A salty slap round the chops. The wood has brought it to the start of its mature journey.

    Finish

    Lemon and salt again.

    Conclusion

    A lot of fun. Great for its age – and balanced too. 

    Right place, right time

    A walk on the prom on a windy day.

    Glen Grant 1954 (Gordon & MacPhail, ‘Wood Makes The Whisky’ series)

    Score 8.3/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glen Grant 1954 (Gordon & MacPhail, ‘Wood Makes The Whisky’ series)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    The colour of the kind of highly polished mahogany table you only get in National Trust properties, so approach with reverence and don’t leave your fingerprints on the surface. Big, old Sherry cask style with a little smoke, some dusty woodland, walnut, then Danish liquorice. I was wary about adding water but it helps, adding more sweetness. Then, leave it alone for one hour, two hours, and it sweetens into toffee and ripe dark fruits, cedar, becoming increasingly complex.

    Palate

    As you can tell from the colour there’s massive cask influence. It’s slightly savoury, but the spirit seems light with the cask vey much in charge. Touches of allspice, clove and Punch cigars, but a drop of water helps, adding an almost mineral edge. Again, after time it relaxes its tannic grip and begins to glow in the mouth, though there’s still some astringency.

    Finish

    Initially pretty dry, but after two hours there’s a dried mint note.

    Conclusion

    If ever there was a whisky which shows that patience is a virtue, then this is it.

    Right place, right time

    Before it blossoms, it’s like a boy king in his father’s armour. Afterwards, it’s a bear eating fruits in a forest.

    Speyburn 1989 (Gordon & MacPhail, ‘Wood Makes The Whisky’ series)

    Score 6.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Speyburn 1989 (Gordon & MacPhail, ‘Wood Makes The Whisky’ series)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Well, it’s Speyburn, so what do you expect? Pale in colour with a gentle sweet nose, all warm apple sponge and chamomile tea, then a little touch of drying meadow hay, and a hint of gorse flower. With water there’s a pat of cold (unsalted) butter.

    Palate

    That’s the thing about Speyburn, it pulls you into thinking it’s all light and delicate, then it hits you with this slightly oily and rounded palate. There’s more substance than you expect, and a little heat. Think of pears poached in tisane and you’d not be far off. Water is needed, but diminishes it.

    Finish

    Lightly peppery.

    Conclusion

    A perfectly pleasant everyday dram. It’s Speyburn!

    Right place, right time

    Soporific bunnies stretch in the sun. Mr McGregor lurks. 

    Aberlour 25 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 8.6/10
    Scoring explained >
    Aberlour 25 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Full amber. A lovely mellow toffee apple/maple syrup nose with touches of hazelnut and black butter. All very sweet, with some fried banana, and marmalade. Water removes this heady concentration so despite the release of marzipan and fennel pollen anise leave it on the side.

    Palate

    Solid, with light grip but sufficient weight (when neat) to cope. There’s a light leathery note suggestive of long maturation and the classic Aberlour blackcurrant begins to ooze from the mid-palate onwards. Water reduces this impact.

    Finish

    Autumn leaves, then dried raspberry.

    Conclusion

    Keep neat and you have a great dram. 

    Right place, right time

    Sunset in autumn woods. 

    Glen Grant 1950, 65 Years Old (Gordon & MacPhail)

    Score 9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glen Grant 1950, 65 Years Old (Gordon & MacPhail)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    59.3%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Deep amber (but not as dark as the G&M). Still amazingly fragrant with a light phenolic note like a snuffed tallow candle, then vellum, vetiver, sandalwood, fur coats, and a light mintiness. It’s rich but delicate, resinous but freshly fruited; there’re hints of very old Cognac and sweet leather. Intense and remarkable.

    Palate

    If this were as magnificent as the nose your head would explode. Instead, when neat it’s a little hot and grippy and while it’s dangerous to add water to such ancient drams this time it’s needed – and it works. The cask is still gripping, but now – and again after a long LONG time in the glass – you get a hint of tropical fruit, gentle smoored fire and the tart bite of plum skin.

    Finish

    Long and acidic. 

    Conclusion

    You wait ages for a Glen Grant from the 1950s then two come along in the same week. This comes from G&M stock and was bottled by Wealth Solutions in Poland as part of their ongoing series of rare single cask bottlings ­– and I mean rare. Price, if you dare, on application.

    Right place, right time

    A doomed, passionate affair that ends with the tang of guilt.

Scroll To Top