New Whiskies

Batch 24

by
Batch 24 includes Smoky Goat, Balblair 2005, Carsebridge 50 Year Old, Boxing Hares, Longmorn The Distiller's Choice, Littlemill 26 Year Old.

If ever there were an award for the batch of new Scotch whisky releases that demonstrated the largest breadth of choice, this one would win. From a hops-infused spirit drink to a new, edgy smoky blend, an NAS single malt in the middle and onto two high scoring independent bottlings from silent distilleries, you can't say Batch 24 is boring.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Balblair 2005

    Score 8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Balblair 2005
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Very pale straw. Immediate light floral and pineapple notes, with a light touch of gummy bears behind then hydrangea. It’s almost like a Riesling Spätlese with a sense of some depth. In time and with water there’s apple syrup, lovely. 

    Palate

    Vibrant start. Gentle and sweet but with a clean acidity that, while initially balancing the fruit becomes slightly steely on the palate. Again it’s got parallels with wine – a tense white that will continue to develop. Becomes more apple-like with water with hints of cream and even a little citric-infused spiciness. Develops well.

    Finish

    Soft with some citric elements and a breath of smoke. 

    Conclusion

    A gentle lunchtime dram. It is a perfect example of what Balblair is at this age in this type of cask. Job done. Recommended. 

    Right place, right time

    Time to celebrate the new season with the first al fresco lunch of spring.

    Boxing Hares

    Score 4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Boxing Hares
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    35%
    Production type
    Whisky liqueur
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Sweet & Sickly
    Nose

    Spicy opening, with hints of caraway, then some crystallised fruit before there’s cinnamon and honey. Water adds some lift. It’s not unpleasant, but I’m at a loss to know quite what it is, or how it adds to the human experience.

    Palate

    Sweet. I mean very sweet. Oddfellows liqueur sweet which suggests there’s some spiciness, but it’s sweet in the same way as a low-grade spiced rum. Cloying. 

    Finish

    Sugar solution. 

    Conclusion

    ‘Ah, but Dave, you’re not the demographic,’ I was told. Well, I’m not the demographic for Taylor Swift or Peppa Pig, but I can appreciate why both are great. This isn’t. It doesn’t even have the cojones to show it’s whisky-based. 

    Right place, right time

    I’m not sure there can be, but here’s some Taylor Swift to show how it’s done.

    Carsebridge 50 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 9.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    Carsebridge 50 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40.1%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    The colour is amber, suggesting a relaxed half-century in cask and, Lordy, it’s been time well spent. Fleshy fruits with a slight phenolic edge from the cask. Sweet and corn-fed fat, but with purity of fruit. A mix of the fresh tropical fruits and a sweetie counter. Subtle dry vanilla, mango smoothie, strawberry chews, green fruit pastilles. Develops beautifully. Still fully expressive after an hour, where the oils on the palate come through. 

    Palate

    Mouth coating and sweet. Those green fruits now have turned into lime jelly. All you expect from the nose but with a thickness to the texture. Lightly estery, with the fruits becoming increasingly jellified [is that a word? Ed]. Ripe, naturally sweet, long.

    Finish

    Long and fruity and still energetic. 

    Conclusion

    A rarity. Carsebridge distillery closed in 1983 and is rarely seen as a bottling. This is a superb example of an aged grain. 

    Right place, right time

    Carmen Miranda’s visit to Clackmannan. (Now there’s a song I wish Michael Marra had written) In lieu of that, try this.

    Littlemill 26 Years Old (Pearls of Scotland)

    Score 8.3/10
    Scoring explained >
    Littlemill 26 Years Old (Pearls of Scotland)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    58.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Dark colour, and big Sherry-oaked wood to start with. High in cocoa solid chocolate, roasting coffee beans, red fruits and then that oily Littlemill note behind. In time, you get cordite and then the tempting aroma of a slow-roasted leg of lamb. Don’t overwater though.

    Palate

    Though it starts dry, it’s not tannic. Indeed, the fruits come through, all mulberry jam, and prune. While there’s some grip at the back, this is balanced by real sweetness. Water softens it further bringing out walnut and elements that hint at Frangelico. Has length and softness.

    Finish

    Slightly phenolic and some heat which never quite recedes.

    Conclusion

    A new bottler to me and a welcome introduction. It’s soft and round and maybe needs a little more punch from the distillery, but that’s nitpicking. One for those who like ‘em big.

    Right place, right time

    Wrapped up a fur coat. The Who put it the best.

     

    Longmorn, The Distiller’s Choice

    Score 6.3/10
    Scoring explained >
    Longmorn, The Distiller’s Choice
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Fruity - Juicy Fruit chewing gum, Conference pear, then some marzipan, cherry blossom and the whiff of yellow dusters in a drawer (you all have duster drawers, don’t you?). When diluted, you’ll discover some toffee, but it does fade quickly in the glass. 

    Palate

    Very light and well balanced, but it seems hidden behind a veil. There’s potential here, but everything is muted – might it be the low strength? There’re fruits, some spice and while you get more purpose with water, again it just fades away.

    Finish

    Fresh and short when neat (longer with water) with some Bakewell tart.

    Conclusion

    Hot on the heels of NAS The Glenlivet and Scapa comes this from the Chivas Bros’ distillery that is arguably most revered by malt nuts. That means it’s going to be a big ask and while there’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just not as great as Longmorn can – and should – be.

    Right place, right time

    A Kansas orchard before Dorothy gets whisked off. 

    Smoky Goat

    Score 6.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Smoky Goat
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Blended Scotch whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Discreetly peaty, with the sort of smoke you get when you light green kindling. Light fruits, kiwi especially, then a fresh breeziness. Not hugely complex, but sound and balanced. Little youth and fresh woodiness with water.  

    Palate

    Light to medium bodied. Clean and fresh once more, then green grass and even a hint of oil. The smoke is in the background. There’s a touch of UHU glue [happy memories of childhood]. Water shows it to be maybe a little too light.

    Finish

    Gentle smoke begins to fill the mouth.

    Conclusion

    While apparently this is named after Islay’s wild goats it thankfully doesn’t smell like those odoriferous beasts. It’s in the vein of Big Peat, Smokehead etc. and comes at a good price. In other words, a sound, straightforward, polite, well-made dram. Best drunk Highball-style. 

    Right place, right time

    First Scout camp. A boy’s hands, clutching a lit match, tremble over the fire.

Scroll To Top