New Whiskies

Batch 25

by
Batch 25

There’s a distinct sweet theme developing among this week’s new whiskies – two Cadenhead bottlings, two Glendronach expressions, a celebratory but perhaps controversial Tomintoul plus Glenmorangie Milsean.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Islay 7 Years Old Single Malt (William Cadenhead)

    Score 7.3/10
    Scoring explained >
    Islay 7 Years Old Single Malt (William Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    59.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    This is not, as the strength indicates, a shy and retiring dram. It’s swaggering a blast of seaweed, a whiff of ozone, and the smell of a beach smokehouse; then comes chilled oysters and, with water, mezcal in its dusty, green, vegetal guise. 

    Palate

    All of that bravado has been retained, but it hits an excellent balance between sweetness and smoke. There’s some lemony acidity as well as a dry chalkiness. With water, some parma violets peek shyly out.

    Finish

    Medium length and smokily fresh.

    Conclusion

    It’s young and bold and while a little minimalist it does its job well. Have it with soda, or as a Paloma. 

    Right place, right time

    Dreaming of Mexican deserts as the waves break on Islay’s shores. 

    Speyside 40 Years Old Single Malt (William Cadenhead)

    Score 7/10
    Scoring explained >
    Speyside 40 Years Old Single Malt (William Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Light in colour given the age. Beautiful oxidative fruits with some beeswax and whipped cream, then the sweet/tart/perfumed character of whitecurrant. Elegant and calm and just what you want from the nose of a venerable malt. In time, rain-soaked jasmine. With water there’s some pencil shavings and more obvious age.

    Palate

    There’s a new citric edge – all tangerine marmalade – but also a light soapiness. Everything is off-dry, gently savoury and a little bit oblique, which I like, but there’s also a fragility. 

    Finish

    Short and gentle; again that soapiness. 

    Conclusion

    The delicacy on the tongue is brought on by the combination of age and low strength. Buy a dram just to smell it.

    Right place, right time

    Watching a sepia-tinted silent movie of a young Marlene Dietrich. 

    Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 5

    Score 9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 5
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55.3%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Lustrous amber. This is immediate, huge, bombastic, but it’s not as you might expect, a Sherry bomb. Instead, it’s perfumed, with strawberries and masses of freshly applied furniture polish. Then comes clove sweets and the earthy undertow typical of the distillery. In time, you get liquorice and hot chocolate and with some water (and it can take it) is a roasted, malty element. Complex stuff. 

    Palate

    A tiny hint of struck match ignites massive fruit cake, dark dried mulberry, roasting coffee and a flavour akin to a fine porter (beer I hasten to add). The tannins are supple.

    Finish

    Long ripe and never hot.

    Conclusion

    Rich, supple, mouthfilling, and bold. Excellent and essential.

    Right place, right time

    Drinking a black beer on the terrace of a country house hotel.

    Glendronach Peated

    Score 6.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glendronach Peated
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    This opens with an unusual note of freshly cut neeps (appropriate enough for Burns Night) but then settles down into Dronach’s classic grumble. The smoke is there, but in the guise of a garden chimney rather than a blazing bonfire.

    Palate

    Pleasant and fairly sweet – a theme of this week’s drams – with apple, and a hint of caramel (natural) while the smoke casually loiters around. Things remain understated with water though there is an extra lift of allspice.

    Finish

    Hot cross buns and smoke.  

    Conclusion

    Calm, controlled, balanced. 

    Right place, right time

    Pruning the apple tree while the neighbour starts to burn the winter litter. 

    Glenmorangie Milsean

    Score 8.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glenmorangie Milsean
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Sweet and complex mix of dried orange peel, cherry juice, raspberry ice cream, and sakura and green tea Kit-Kats (try them!) There’s an immediate sense of mass, with concentrated fruits and the thickness of rosehip syrup. Water brings out more oak, a tiny drop of Maraschino liqueur and even a little wax.

    Palate

    That sweetness carries through as does the liquorous elements resulting in the tongue cleaving through the syrupy, caramelised berry fruits. Water makes things slightly darker and brings out more oak which adds a dry balance, though on balance I prefer it neat.

    Finish

    Thick and thrapple soothing.

    Conclusion

    The seventh member of Morangie’s Private Edition collection, this has been given secondary maturation in charred ex-Portuguese red wine casks. Milsean, according to my Gaelic dictionary, means ’pudding’. That seems appropriate. I like this a lot, but would only take one glass. For medicinal purposes. Nightly. 

    Right place, right time

    Lost in Willy Wonka’s (Billy Wonka’s?) factory.

    Tomintoul Five Decades

    Score 7.2/10
    Scoring explained >
    Tomintoul Five Decades
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Surprisingly, given the strength, there’s no great nose burn. In fact if anything this is rather shy with a wispy, dry, biscuity quality/black tea leaves rusting in a tea caddy, but also fresh banana skin and a light floral edge. Water makes it more bready, and sugary. Develops well.

    Palate

    More expressive on the tongue with an intriguing mix of light sweet flavours, and a very subtle hint of tropical fruit. There’s more substance, but it’s still discreet and textured. Floral, slightly oily. Water shows it to be sweeter, but still a little fragile.

    Finish

    Soft and gently drying.

    Conclusion

    Are you allowed to say ‘Five Decades’? And if you are then why can’t you say what the years of those decades are? Answers on a postcard please. An intriguing, if hard to nail, malt. Well worth the look.

    Right place, right time

    Walking along Brighton Pier dipping your wet finger into a bag of hot sugared doughnuts.

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