Old & Rare

Rare Batch 18

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Rare whisky tasting notes Batch 18

Dave Broom is ready once again to share three new offerings plucked from the depths of the rare whisky vaults.

First, a 16-year-old Convalmore distilled just a few years before the Dufftown distillery closed for good. The 1981 single cask vintage was launched as part of independent bottler range Cooper’s Choice in 1998.

Then, a 10-year-old cask strength Laphroaig, bottled in the 1990s and presented in the old-style ‘green stripe’ presentation tube.

And ending with another Laphroaig, which has this time been aged for three decades. It was first released around the turn of the millennium, and is now becoming increasingly rare. 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Convalmore 1981 16 Years Old Cooper’s Choice

    Convalmore 1981 16 Years Old Cooper’s Choice
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    An intriguing musk-like element to begin with, underneath which is the distiller’s familiar waxed fruits, along with coal smoke and some dry grass. As it develops, you get yellow plums – skin, flesh and stone. This tart/sweet interplay continues with water, along with a new, crisp element. Aromatic, yet restrained.

    Palate

    Gentle, very sweet and unctuous, with a solid mid-palate of clove-studded poached pear and a waxy feel. Becomes increasingly chewy with an added vanilla/buttery element with water.

    Finish

    Light Szechuan/sancho pepper.

    Conclusion

    The Clynelish of Speyside. Not a blockbuster, but a gentle, complex whisky. What a loss. 

    Right place, right time

    As Van Morrison would say, a Slim, Slow Slider.

    Laphroaig 10 Years Old Cask Strength ‘Green Stripe’

    Laphroaig 10 Years Old Cask Strength ‘Green Stripe’
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    57.3%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Immense, but also hugely fragrant, with herbal top notes: Yellow Chartreuse, angelica, Suze-like gentian, savoury and anise before the kelp kicks in, alongside heavier oils and phenols. This brightness contrasts with the tarry background. In time, there’s a sweet, biscuity element. Water takes things into the more medicinal area.

    Palate

    Huge smoke from the instant it hits the lips. Coal tar builds. There’s the nutty sweetness seen on the nose. It’s this sweet element that is accentuated with water, adding texture and balance.

    Finish

    Oily and lengthy, with some bay leaf. 

    Conclusion

    This is what Laphroaig 10 is all about. Complex and so well-balanced, with real maturity that belies its age.

    Right place, right time

    Skidding tyres on a newly Tarmacked road beside a freshly-mown meadow.

    Laphroaig 30 Years Old

    Laphroaig 30 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    A highly complex mix of the sweet, the savoury and the phenolic. Sweet dried fruits, some Olde English marmalade and elegant fruits alongside still punchy smoke: quince/membrillo and an almost meaty undertow. Time helps to emphasise the gravitas of age and peaty rancio, along with iodine, spent kiln, brown crab meat and paprika. Water brings out sweet hazelnut butter.

    Palate

    The lower strength reduces the impact a shade and it seems just a little tired. Take it gently and you get drier notes of old (empty) wooden fish boxes and Brazil nut. Most of this is retronasal – tar, fruit, caulking, seashore.

    Finish

    Smoke, gentian and calamus.

    Conclusion

    An amazing nose makes up for a slightly fatigued palate.

    Right place, right time

    Kippers for breakfast.

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