New Whiskies

Batch 39

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New whiskies: Batch 39

This week’s haul of new whiskies features a trio of grains, including a very rare Garnheath, a feisty Invergordon and a well-structured Strathclyde; a catch-up with a brace of Laddies and a shape-shifting Tullibardine.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Bruichladdich Micro Provenance 2007, Cask 14

    Score 7.0/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bruichladdich Micro Provenance 2007, Cask 14
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    63.6%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Availability
    Distillery and website only
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Big banana notes, oak and the heavy aroma of a barley field in summer, then comes light chocolate, bluebells and daffodils. Some nose burn. I added a lot of water. When diluted, you get more char, a cashew-like element and a slight diminution of the perfume.

    Palate

    This is big. In fact, it’s almost too big, rushing at you like an over-excited golden retriever puppy. There’s glimpses of Cadbury’s Flake and Maltesers, then cream and more wood. The palate, when it is reduced (as it has to be), still has power, but now the oak influence shows.

    Finish

    Woody, but sweet.

    Conclusion

    Made from Islay (Rockside Farm) barley and aged in fresh oak. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s just not quite balanced.

    Right place, right time

    A puppy chasing butterflies in a field of grain.

    Bruichladdich Micro Provenance 2006, Cask 60

    Score 7.3/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bruichladdich Micro Provenance 2006, Cask 60
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    64%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Availability
    Distillery and website only
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Initially, this seems like a very straightforward Laddie, all sweetness and floral notes, but it’s more intense and honeyed, with touches of a dusty chalky road, then comes hibiscus, tarragon and parsley, all mingling with that sweet undertow. Water is needed, but reduces this impact.

    Palate

    The aromatics remain, but now we are looking over the North Channel to Antrim. This could be a Bushmills in its juicy fruits and grassiness. All perfumed and delicate, but the alcohol is intrusive. As I’m no masochist, that water has to go in but, when it does, all that immediacy is lost and you see the separate elements, suggesting that this isn’t yet fully knitted.

    Finish

    Hot without water, slightly woody with.

    Conclusion

    This is the Laddie’s quadruple-distilled spirit in ex-Bourbon, which in itself is fascinating, but ultimately this has from its mother’s womb been untimely ripped.

    Right place, right time

    Aine O’Cathain’s perfume drifts on the wind back to her father’s castle.

    Garnheath 42 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 9.0/10
    Scoring explained >
    Garnheath 42 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50.9%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    There’s rich oak here, and it’s resinous as well, shifting into Danish oil, graphite, then apple and cherry. It becomes increasingly Bourbon-like – all chocolate, cherry and clove before the spice recedes and a corn-like fatness returns.

    Palate

    Lemon accents alongside some cream, a little heat and oak. You could slip this into a Bourbon tasting and people would think it was something like an Evan Williams single barrel. There’s strawberry accents, allspice, oak and a generous palate. The Bourbonisation of Scotch happened a hell of lot earlier than you think!

    Finish

    Long and rich.

    Conclusion

    Coming from a long defunct distillery (it closed in 1986), this is a real rarity. There is a lot of oak, but it has balance and is a one of a kind. A must-try.

    Right place, right time

    Hank Williams plays a one-off gig in Airdrie.

    Invergordon 25 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Score 6.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    Invergordon 25 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    57.7%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    A feisty little number, intense and hot, but with a soft, slightly butterscotch-like note underneath. Once the alcohol burns off, there is a more generous, fat quality, but that slightly nagging hard edge is always lurking. With water it softens, but also becomes a little foosty, with soggy almonds.

    Palate

    Hot, HOT. Thrapple-burning hot. When you add water, however, although the alcohol burn recedes and some of the gentler aspects of the whisky are revealed, that sour edginess seen on the nose is amplified.

    Finish

    Green and hard.

    Conclusion

    A hard-to-tame cask.

    Right place, right time

    Strapped into a racing car, the silent driver hands you a sour plum and heads straight for the cliff edge.

    Strathclyde 10 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 6.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Strathclyde 10 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50.9%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    There’s some herbal and floral elements here, almost like a fine-boned rhum agricole, but with the tightness of Strathclyde always present. In time, you get a waft of warm curry spices. Water brings more of this spice and the oak, but the balance is retained.

    Palate

    Light, crisp oak to start with. This is a really well-structured grain, though that steely edge is never far away. Some almost nutty elements develop in the centre which, with water added, starts to soften before the spices, pepper especially, ease their way out.

    Finish

    Crisp again and spiced.

    Conclusion

    There’s some interesting oxidative elements developing here. A more than decent grain.

    Right place, right time

    Bringing home a takeaway curry in a brown paper bag.

    Tullibardine 26 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Score 7.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Tullibardine 26 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    53.4%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    This is a classic Tullibardine to start with, all sweet mash backed with some nose burn, lemon and night-scented stocks and, in the nicest possible way, slippery oak. Has personality, but does seem light. A little more cask influence with time that shifts aromas towards cappuccino. Water changes it dramatically, bringing out this huge, fresh leather aroma. It’s a different dram.

    Palate

    A lively burst onto the tongue, then creamily sweet cereal, a real zap of nutmeg. It’s so upfront that things seem to droop in the centre and, by the back palate, there’s a puddle of wet mash. The same dramatic change takes place here when it’s diluted: now there’s sugared almonds, cake icing, that leathery note and a lighter buzz. Still, however, the spirit is slightly too light.

    Finish

    Over-ripened corn hanging the head at Ceres’ plenteous load.

    Conclusion

    Two drams for the price of one, and all you need is some water.

    Right place, right time

    Tullibardine meets King Tubby in uptown Blackford. All is sweetness and light, then gets heavy.

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