Rare bottlings

Rare Batch 11

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Rare Batch 11 tasting notes

Dave Broom has rummaged through the vaults and plucked another trio of rare offerings to share with you this week – an old bottling of Aberlour (still with the Glenlivet suffix); a rare blend in the shape of John Begg Gold Cap from the late ’70s/early ’80s; and an even rarer single malt in the guise of Ladyburn.

The Aberlour is an official bottling from the ’80s with the old castle and tree label, which Broom has always felt was the most sinister ever devised for a Scotch brand. ‘I always imagine a corpse has just been cut down from the branches,’ he says.

There is little information on Gold Cap, sadly, though the Ladyburn was a 3,000-bottle run packaged in 2000 (which makes the ‘single cask’ on the label slightly confusing) and dates from two years before that distillery’s closure. 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Aberlour-Glenlivet 12 Years Old

    Score 6.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Aberlour-Glenlivet 12 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Pleasing and slightly sweet to start with lots of fresh fruit, but also a touch of oxidised character. Some hazelnut cream, light coffee and a whiff of Sherry in the background, which drifts steadily towards cheese rind. This funky edge begins to increase as it opens, but the fruits are permitted some space when a drop of water is added. 

    Palate

    Fairly delicate, even faded, with more nuttiness than seen on the nose; light walnut/peanut then creamy toffee gives some initial sweetness. A little hollow in the middle. Falls apart with water.

    Finish

    Like Adam Lallana did for England, this is saved at the end – all Demerara sugar on apples and masses of blackcurrant.

    Conclusion

    There’s plenty of evidence of original balance, but even with the excellent finish this is a little like the castle on the label: once elegant, now a shell. 

    Right place, right time

    A cheeseboard in a deserted castle.

    John Begg Gold Cap, 70˚ Proof

    Score 7.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    John Begg Gold Cap, 70˚ Proof
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Blended Scotch whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A rather delicious opening: soft, honeyed with plenty of apricot, orange pulp, speckled banana and some vanilla. Medium weight. In time, some smoke begins to develop and steadily grows – moor burn, campfire embers. This continues to increase, pushing the sweet fruits into the background as a result and making the whole package a little one-dimensional. Water also brings the smoke out, along with a light earthy note. 

    Palate

    Clean, quite light and a lot creamier than the nose. Weirdly, there is now precious little smoke. It is fairly front-loaded and, like many older bottles, does become a little flat and flabby. Water adds a little length, but things remain delicate. 

    Finish

    A touch of peach, hint of tight wood but softens almost immediately.

    Conclusion

    A clean, light and soft blend that might be breaking up slightly in the bottle. But, hey, I’d happily take a peg. 

    Right place, right time

    Sitting round the campfire at summer scout camp. Tinned apricot for tea. 

    Ladyburn 1973 (27 Years Old)

    Score 8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Ladyburn 1973 (27 Years Old)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50.4%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    This has plenty of Ladyburn’s somewhat idiosyncratic – and immediately identifiable – castor oil aroma from the off. There’s sweet cereal in the background and, despite fairly punchy nose burn, you pick up spiced chocolate, dried cherry and privet, all tempered by a slightly steely/acidic edge – again, typical of the distillery. Water calms things down a little.

    Palate

    A complete change from the nose, this is immediate, open and fragrant with pineapple, dried peach, membrillo, honey, some linseed, and then the acidity noticed on the nose kicks in. The burn is lower. As with the nose, water offers some control of the more pushy elements. 

    Finish

    Light and clean.

    Conclusion

    It’s Ladyburn! Armed with that information, you should know what to expect. I like its slightly off-the-wall qualities. 

    Right place, right time

    Cutting the hedge with electric trimmers. 

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