New Whiskies

Batch 5

by
Whisky glass

This week's whiskies include a new series of single grains from Douglas Laing, plus two blends: the latest Famous Grouse bottling and an off-the-wall offering from Johnnie Walker.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Cameronbridge 25 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 5.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Cameronbridge 25 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    60.6%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    Prickly and lightly spicy, with an underpinning of vanilla and hot sawdust. In time, that spiciness becomes more peppery, sitting alongside sweet pear and melon rind. Water dries things out, showing wheat chaff. Just a little musty.
    Palate
    There’s some American oak-style spiciness, but this remains distillate- rather than cask-driven. Highly focused and hot – it needs water, which sorts things by fleshing out the mid-palate and revealing some fondant cream. Still really tight on the back palate, where all the elements seem to be forced together.
    Finish
    Steely.
    Conclusion
    The finish is the let-down here.
    Right place, right time
    A boat failing to sail between Scylla and Charybdis.

    Girvan 25 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 7.2/10
    Scoring explained >
    Girvan 25 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51.5%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose
    Big and buttery, with masses of coconut cream and some fresh Moscatel grapes. It shows a light floral aspect as well. The cask has helped here, though it doesn’t dominate. A little rummy touch that brings to mind banana split. When water is added, the flowers are revealed as carnations.
    Palate
    Very effusive and floral with an added note of Dolly Mixtures. Light, fresh and clean, with balancing acidity (rather than sharpness). Water diminishes the effect, but the mid-palate is still fairly perky.
    Finish
    Slightly tight.
    Conclusion
    Good distillery character.
    Right place, right time
    A café on the Firth of Clyde in summer.

    North British 21 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 6.6/10
    Scoring explained >
    North British 21 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50.9%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    A clean, sweet and slightly hot mix of flowers and the weight typical of the distillery. When you add water, there’s a little of the North British sulphur which adds a darker edge to proceedings, and an aroma akin to wet slates.
    Palate
    Good, textured weight. This is bold for a grain with good structure and a light pepperiness on the back palate. With water, things become oilier with a suggestion of green rhubarb.
    Finish
    Tight and sappy.
    Conclusion
    Excellent distillery character. Just a little more cask action would have helped.
    Right place, right time
    Late August. Edinburgh. Rain and pigeons on the roof. Sun breaking over Arthur’s Seat.

    Strathclyde 27 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 6.7/10
    Scoring explained >
    Strathclyde 27 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51.5%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose
    Although light, precise and fresh, this grain is also quite angular, which adds a bracing edge to things. As it opens in the glass there’s subtle, soft orchard fruits and a little charred note. With water, a purr of cream.
    Palate
    More rounded than the nose suggests, with some scented notes which become more toasty in time. By the time it’s reached the mid-palate, it is doffing its bonnet towards Bourbon. Water dulls its edge.
    Finish
    White pepper.
    Conclusion
    Very decent and worth checking out.
    Right place, right time
    Listening to Hank Williams on Glasgow Green.

    The Famous Grouse Mellow Gold

    Score 8/10
    Scoring explained >
    The Famous Grouse Mellow Gold
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Blended Scotch whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose
    Softly Sherried notes come across immediately. Light Seville orange, sultana, Madeira cake. Then comes green bracken and gently dried fruits before some light nuttiness, smooshed raspberries, blackcurrants and Juicy Fruit chewing gum.
    Palate
    Rounded, clean and quite fat in the mouth. An immediate nutmeg-like spiciness is picked up, while the mid-palate has a little bite which is needed to disrupt (and balance) the otherwise gentle flow. Water brings out a little supple tannin, a hint of liquorice sweetness and dark fruits. All very well-balanced.
    Finish
    Rich and deep.
    Conclusion
    A Grouse with more Sherry casks in the mix and a really good new addition to the range. Scored within its competitive set.
    Right place, right time
    After dinner. With ginger ale.

    Johnnie Walker Select Casks, Rye Cask Finish, 10 Years Old

    Score 5.2/10
    Scoring explained >
    Johnnie Walker Select Casks, Rye Cask Finish, 10 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Blended Scotch whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose
    The sour spice of rye comes across on the nose with some baking products and sweet fruits. In time, a little green anise and apple note. Slightly hot when neat, but sweet. All very pleasant and non-threatening and very North American in its make-up. Water shows a little more oak.
    Palate
    As with the nose, the start is spicy, sweet and by the mid-palate all the elements are in balance – fruit syrups, some fat grain and a slightly bitter twang from the rye. All very well put together.
    Finish
    Spices and oak come through.
    Conclusion
    Ok, here’s the deal. This cannot be faulted technically. This is great blending, but if given blind I’d say it was a Canadian rye. It’s certainly not Scotch. More damningly, it’s definitely not Walker. While it would get top marks for quality, that aspect cannot be ignored and it is marked accordingly.
    Right place, right time
    Listening to ersatz Scottish country singer Sidney Devine’s greatest hits (Did he have any? – Ed).
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