New Whiskies

Batch 91

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Whisky tasting notes: Batch 91

If you don’t mind your whiskies a little off-centre – much like our chief engineer Dave Broom – then the first whisky in this newest batch will serve you well. But be warned, this particular Ben Nevis is probably not suitable for vegetarians/vegans… Next is a 25-year-old Bruichladdich, packed with the distillery’s distinctive fruity character, before the first of two ‘gorgeous’ Glen Elgin bottlings, this one aged 21 years and bottled by Cadenhead. The second, aged slightly longer at 25 years old, is from Master of Malt and carries a hint of mint and apricots. Another release from Master of Malt follows – a 23-year-old Glenrothes, full of fruits, nuts and a touch of citrus. And Broom sticks with Glenrothes to finish this week’s tastings, with the distillery’s relaunched 1995 American Oak vintage.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Ben Nevis 15 Years Old (Hunter Laing)

    Ben Nevis 15 Years Old (Hunter Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    It’s Ben Nevis all right; big, meaty, with traces of its sulphury new make still lingering. It’s reminiscent of a steak thrown athwart the flames, coated with tamarind. There’s also some earthy dried grasses, red liquorice, before some hints of fuselly pot still rum. Water makes things lighter – Zippo lighter, in fact.

    Palate

    Big, oily and unctuous. As you may have already gathered, it’s not subtle (or for vegans), but there is that heavy, floral lily shared with Craigellachie, which shows promise – and it’s this element that comes through with water, adding a gentle silkiness to all the madness below.

    Finish

    Long, roasted.

    Conclusion

    That flow when water is added shows how this would have developed in a couple of years. At the moment – for those who don’t mind their whisky hefty and slightly strange… like me, in fact.

    Right place, right time

    Peter Fonda in ‘The Young Lovers’/ Primal Scream in the ’90s.

    Bruichladdich 25 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Bruichladdich 25 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Has all of the distillery’s distinctive, fat fruitiness, here coming across as peach juice and elderflower cordial, with some sweet, nutty almond for interest. A light chalkiness, before a squeak of Magic Marker. With water, you get light cereal, plum skin and unripe pear.

    Palate

    As the nose implies, it’s all ripe and fat, buttery even, but it’s retained its fragrance. Water brings this further forward, although it does then lose a little energy.

    Finish

    Sappy, balsa wood, perfumed.

    Conclusion

    Though it’s been kept in Burgundy cask since 2011 there’s no overt wine-iness (thankfully). Aperitif? No, I’ve got two already.

    Right place, right time

    Attempting to revise for exams in a sunny garden.

    Glen Elgin 21 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Glen Elgin 21 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Some vanilla to start with, bringing to mind white chocolate ice cream. There’s some cask influence here (which is more obvious when compared to the Master of Malt version below), with some sweet sawdust alongside the distillery’s classic peachy notes. Water brings out more lactone.

    Palate

    A quiet start, with touches of mint alongside lemon verbena, then apricot with the oak adding some grip. It’s similar to the old ‘White Horse’ Glen Elgins, with generous, but gentle, sweet fruits. It needs water, though, which pulls the oak forward.

    Finish

    Light peach stone.

    Conclusion

    The only issue here (and I’m being harsh) is that the oakiness isn’t quite fully knitted, but this remains a gorgeous dram.

    Right place, right time

    Being carried away by the romantic roller coaster of Chopin’s Preludes.

    Glen Elgin 1991 (25 Years Old, Master of Malt)

    Glen Elgin 1991 (25 Years Old, Master of Malt)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52.5%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Gentle, fruity and very spring-like from the start: white grape juice, apricot skin, hints of apple blossom and sakura. Utterly delightful. Water takes it into blackcurrant leaf and white fruits.

    Palate

    Fragrantly fruity with just a tiny jag of acid as well. Juicily fresh with some basil, a hint of oak allowing some dry structure to add balance, then comes agave syrup to flesh everything back out again. Water makes things too light so, despite the strength, I’d keep it on the side.

    Finish

    Gently fruited and clean.

    Conclusion

    As well as a fascinating comparison to the Cadenhead bottling, it’s also a companion piece to the ’Laddie. A gorgeous Glen Elgin for a spring day.

    Right place, right time

    First weekend of spring, listening to the wonderful Rachel Newton. Buy her work

    Glenrothes 1992 (23 Years Old, Master of Malt)

    Glenrothes 1992 (23 Years Old, Master of Malt)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A medium to rich nose that drifts towards the maltier style of ’Rothes, trailing cashew macadamia in its way, along with set clover honey and honeysuckle blossom. There’s some depth and a little of the distillery’s funky, old damp tweed element. Water brings out clootie dumpling skin.

    Palate

    This ticks all the boxes: apple sponge slightly burnt at the edges, some hay, dried fruits, nuts, vanilla and, with some air rattling through the mouth, a lift of lemon. You do have to work at it, as it fades rapidly. Water slows things down but you do still get the big ’Rothes retronasal thing. Mouth-filling initially, but then recedes…

    Finish

    … into a background buzz of alcohol.

    Conclusion

    It’s a lovely ’Rothes, just lacking in energy.

    Right place, right time

    Walking, slightly weary, through the garden at the start of the fishing trip…

    Glenrothes 1995 American Oak

    Glenrothes 1995 American Oak
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    45%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Big, with some butterscotch, creamy toffee and blurry baked fruit, alongside some dried peach. There’s good weight and depth and, as with the Master of Malt bottling, a touch of lemon peel. With water, some black banana and a refined earthiness.

    Palate

    Very soft and gentle with a lightly honeyed quality that moves things into maple syrup and those macadamia nuts seen in the previous example – though now there is added violet chocolate, apple cake, sultana, red cherry and toffee. Water reveals some tannin, but also amplifies (from the mid-palate on) those pillowy fruits.

    Finish

    Vanilla and cream toffee.

    Conclusion

    A calm and reflective ’Rothes.

    Right place, right time

    … the anglers wander back, mud on their fine brogues.

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