New Whiskies

Batch 52

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Scotch whisky tasting notes Batch 52

A ‘monster’ Mortlach and a duo of bottlings from Wemyss Malts were put to the taste test by Dave Broom this week. A blended grain from Cadenhead, a 23-year-old Glen Grant and a Càrn Mòr single malt from Miltonduff also feature in the latest line-up of new whisky tasting notes. 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Bunnahabhain 1990, Fields of Barley (Wemyss Malts)

    Score 7.2/10
    Scoring explained >
    Bunnahabhain 1990, Fields of Barley (Wemyss Malts)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    A very fresh, indeed crisp opening, all freshly-starched linen with a hint of lemon, and a slight chalky element, then Bramley apple peel. High levels of purity and acidity from the off, which drifts into acetone and then scented grasses.

    Palate

    Very precise and acidic start, then it suddenly softens with a whoosh of canned whipped cream, which adds softness that then melts as the apples return. Water does give some softening qualities, bringing out marshmallow-filled whoopie pies, lemon and more of the swishing sweet grasses.

    Finish

    Sharp and clean.

    Conclusion

    As spring-like a Bunna’ as I’ve had. A lot of fun.

    Right place, right time

    No, I’m not hoping to link to bloody Sting (or Eva Cassidy), but to the marvellous Daniel Patrick Quinn’s ‘Put on The Grass Skirt’. Please buy his music (as Serge would say).

    Cadenhead Creations, Light Creamy Vanilla, Batch 2

    Score 7.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Cadenhead Creations, Light Creamy Vanilla, Batch 2
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51.6%
    Production type
    Blended grain whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A relatively hot nose and therefore a little tough to get into, initially that is. It needs time to open, then you get some snuffed candle (especially when water is added), a hot waterproof jacket on a summer’s day and a slightly meaty note. As it opens, there are white chocolate Maltesers.

    Palate

    Thick and palate-hugging, with just enough drying oak on the sides. It does need water though, which smooths things out considerably, allowing fudge and condensed milk (and sealing wax) to come through.

    Finish

    Gentle and soft.

    Conclusion

    I wouldn’t exactly call it light – though maybe it is in Mark Watt’s world. There’s this slightly darker, aged stock character in the background adding weight and a degree of complexity. A sound everyday treat, if that makes sense.

    Right place, right time

    Taking a break after hiking through bracken.

    Glen Grant 23 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Score 5.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glen Grant 23 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    53.1%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Aromatic and fresh, with cucumber (skin especially) and courgette flowers, sweet Russet apple, dill and carrot tops, plus a hint of crystallised angelica stems, all bound together with green garden twine. 

    Palate

    Now this is weird, because on the palate things switch somewhat dramatically to lavender at the same level as some of the ‘interesting’ Bowmores of yore. Water reduces this (thankfully) to the levels of walking briskly through the perfume department of a big store.

    Finish

    Scented. Short. 

    Conclusion

    The nose I like… a lot. The palate... less so.

    Right place, right time

    An organic veg box inside a tacky Highland gift shop reeking of pot-pourri.

    Glenrothes 1988, Spiced Rum Baba (Wemyss Malts)

    Score 6/10
    Scoring explained >
    Glenrothes 1988, Spiced Rum Baba (Wemyss Malts)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    A rich and resinous opening that moves things straight into gingerbread and chocolate, soon followed by dried plum (not prune), while a drying hint of cereal adds interest and a touch of tobacco jar gives depth. A pretty classic ’rothes nose in fact, all fruit cake mix, allspice and marron glacé.

    Palate

    The palate starts with cold Assam tea – lightly tannic, with those malty elements slightly dominating. It’s certainly well structured, with the flavours shifting into hard treacle toffee and slight bitterness on the end. Needs more expansiveness in the centre of the tongue. Water kills off any softness and emphasises the bitter element.

    Finish

    Chocolate-covered coffee beans.

    Conclusion

    The nose great, but the overly firm structure knocks its overall balance.

    Right place, right time

    Afternoon tea at Father Ted’s. Mrs Doyle has stewed the tea. 

    Miltonduff 1994 (Morrison & Mackay, Càrn Mòr)

    Score 7.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Miltonduff 1994 (Morrison & Mackay, Càrn Mòr)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    A perfumed start. Mixing poached soft fruits, light cherry, Opal Fruits (sorry, Starburst), baked cream, but always with a fine herbal touch that drifts towards silage. Good complexity. Water pulls out hot gorse, cut with ripening corn.

    Palate

    Medium weight with that burnt cream element. Chewy and mouthwatering (there’re those Starburst again). Water brings out rich red fruits and also some light structure before things soften into custard. You lose a little of the elegance with water and things become slightly too dry.

    Finish

    When neat, subtle and soft. Firmer with water.

    Conclusion

    Balanced (especially neat) and subtly complex. 

    Right place, right time

    A wheat field in midsummer.

    Mortlach 1998, 18 Years Old (Signatory for The Whisky Exchange)

    Score 8.4/10
    Scoring explained >
    Mortlach 1998, 18 Years Old (Signatory for The Whisky Exchange)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55.8%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Opens with classic country house aromas – the staff have been busy polishing the floors with beeswax. But it then veers off into a more excitingly dirty (in a good way) direction – garages, leather jackets and hot motorbike engines. Slightly fusel-like and akin to a Scottish equivalent of Caroni rum. In time, paprika-rubbed mutton leg. Phenolic (but not smoky).

    Palate

    Highly concentrated, muscular and rich, with supple tannins. Then comes the Mortlach gravy browning effect that hints at burnt roasting tins, but it has retained enough sweetness to balance. Big, chewy and almost fibrous, but juicy at the same time.

    Finish

    Long and dark.

    Conclusion

    A monster of a Mortlach. 

    Right place, right time

    The perfect dram for a meat fest at Black Axe Mangal... with Iggy on the soundsystem. 

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