New Whiskies

Batch 88

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New whisky tasting notes Batch 88

Bringing the swagger to this week’s tasting notes is Ardbeg’s latest Committee release, Ardbeg Kelpie (51.7% abv) with its smoke, meat and heat. Next, an ‘extraordinary’ Carsebridge single grain from Cadenhead matured for 40 years, and then a 21-year-old Glen Grant, that’s full of grassy, floral flavours. Another single cask from independent bottlers Wemyss Malts sourced from Invergordon that’s more akin to banana sweets than tiramisu (but that’s just Dave Broom’s opinion), before a second Invergordon – this time a 25-year-old from Cadenhead, that’s oily like the last and showing ‘real maturity’. And, to finish, the inaugural whisky from Douglas Laing’s first range of Old Particular whiskies, Consortium of Cards – a ‘firm, but good’ 18-year-old Laphroaig.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Ardbeg Kelpie

    Ardbeg Kelpie
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Availability
    Committee-only expression
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Oily and resinous with a light menthol element that brings to mind blackcurrant Tunes. Some dark chocolate and ginger wine follows, and as things begin to cohere you pick up some fatty/meaty elements, along with boiled chestnuts. Rich oak tones: planed wood, cacao. More complex with water as the black cherry and smoke develops, alongside wet moss, soot and smoked bresaola.

    Palate

    Simultaneous hit of smoke, oils and heat. There’s quite firm structure and the Ardbeggian grunt is cut by a slight edginess. Again, water improves things, adding more weight to the mid-palate. Spicier but smoky.

    Finish

    Sweetens out with roasted vanilla pod. 

    Conclusion

    Has a gallus kind of swagger to it.

    Right place, right time

    Munching on a Lorne sausage roll while sailing over the Corryvreckan, oblivious to what lies beneath.

    Carsebridge 40 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Carsebridge 40 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46.3%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Mature and savoury with massive, heady linseed oil notes. Immediate balance and complexity. The wood notes are rich – a high-end cabinet maker’s workshop – but there are sufficient sweet elements to counterbalance: black grape, an almost waxy element.

    Palate

    Intense and exotic. That oil again, but with water you get rose petal, tropical fruits, scented wood, dried blood orange. Becomes increasingly like a single pot still Irish whiskey.

    Finish

    Long and elegant.

    Conclusion

    An extraordinary grain. There are only 78 bottles. Grab one.

    Right place, right time

    A French polisher’s idea of heaven. 

    Glen Grant 21 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Glen Grant 21 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51.5%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Gentle, mature and not over-oaked. Headily perfumed, with touches of cooked apple, talcum powder, wild green strawberry, orgeat, mirabelle and green peach. There’s more dry structure evident with water.

    Palate

    Soft and immediately lifted. It has a decent creaminess in the centre, though the buzz of alcohol is a little edgy. There is compensatory grassiness and some floral elements. Water loses the texture and that gentle aspect.

    Finish

    A little sharp when neat.

    Conclusion

    Elegant and gentle nose. The palate is a slight let-down, but I’m being picky.

    Right place, right time

    Light custard on apple crumble.

    Invergordon 1997 Tiramisu Layers (Wemyss Malts)

    Invergordon 1997 Tiramisu Layers (Wemyss Malts)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruit & Spicy
    Nose

    Soft, almost oily, mature mix of old column still rum, some char alongside white chocolate, ripe banana/banana chews and red fruit. Greener with water.

    Palate

    Sweet start with those enthusiastic rummy elements, and a firm back-palate. Light chocolate (darker now) alongside raspberry. Soft, sweet and mature, but there’s power here. Water reduces the complexity a little.

    Finish

    Slightly sharp.

    Conclusion

    Front-loaded and rummy. Delightful.

    Right place, right time

    Count Arthur Strong arrives on the doorstep with a speckly banana.

    Invergordon 25 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Invergordon 25 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48.3%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Rich and, like the Wemyss, slightly oily. There’s real maturity here with flax seed, chocolate on top of a cappuccino, then some peanut. Balanced oak. It’s from a Bourbon hoggie, but there’s an oxidised note like a fino en rama. Some orange. Complex and balanced.

    Palate

    Massive toasted marshmallow. This is quite Canadian in its mellow, soft power. A velvety texture. Here the heat adds a balancing zestiness. Complex, mature and layered. 

    Finish

    Some anise, then light spice.

    Conclusion

    Mature and with a real elegance that cuts through the sweetness. 

    Right place, right time

    Morning coffee in a top-end brasserie.

    Laphroaig 18 Years Old Queen of the Hebrides (Douglas Laing)

    Laphroaig 18 Years Old Queen of the Hebrides (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Big and rooty. Moor burn, then tarry notes, some rubber, cracked pepper, spent peat fire. Like the Ardbeg, there’s a light meatiness. Water brings out Laphroaig’s green notes: fern, angelica and watercress. The smoke is retained.

    Palate

    Dry, with immediate earthy smoke meaning this needs to sweeten quickly. While silky enough, it continues to dry – that peat ash again. Water comes to its aid, bringing out the herbal element, some water mint and a more cereal, crisp edge.

    Finish

    Dry, smoky.

    Conclusion

    A firm Laphroaig, but a good one.

    Right place, right time

    Old wellies thick with mud.

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