New Whiskies

Batch 115

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Batch 115: Benromach Triple Distilled, Jura One and All, Glendronach Kingsman, Glen Scotia 18, Tormore, Arran Gordon and MacPhail

There’s a fragrant, fruity theme through this week’s batch of new whisky reviews, as Dave Broom explores expressions from Speyside, the Islands and Campbeltown.

GlenDronach claims that its latest release is a ‘whisky fit for a Kingsman’, but does it attract a score worthy of its own Oscar?

Benromach’s burgeoning venture into triple distillation is also studied this week, and returns with an encouraging verdict on its future potential.

Community is at the heart of Jura’s One and All release, a 20-year-old edition from the island distillery matured in Sherry and wine casks that displays complex layers without tipping over into sickly jamminess.

An 18-year-old release from Glen Scotia provides a waxy, fruity and heavily-scented experience, while two youthful yet ‘charming’ and ‘balanced’ independent bottlings of Arran and the rarely-seen Tormore distillery from Gordon & MacPhail represent good value for money.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Arran 2009, 8 Years Old (Gordon & MacPhail)

    Arran 2009, 8 Years Old (Gordon & MacPhail)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islands
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Medium weight. There’s some chocolate-covered orange, which is given a drier edge by a bran element, before some cow breath sweetness emerges, closely accompanied by honey-sweetened camomile tea. Water gives an extra red fruit sweetness and more of Arran’s signature sweet citrus peel.

    Palate

    Soft and quite fruity to start. It has a lovely weight for its age and a juicy (unfiltered) apple juice-like quality on the mid-palate, while the citrus buzzes. In time, you pick up some coffee cream icing (perhaps from the cask). Spicier with water.

    Finish

    A tiny bit of heat. Sweet nuttiness adds some length.

    Conclusion

    Very well-balanced and, if not immensely complex, a really sound Arran.

    Right place, right time

    A distracted hoverfly in the apple orchard.

    Benromach Triple Distilled, 2009

    Benromach Triple Distilled, 2009
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Intense and fine-boned with a powdery hint of narcissus and freesia. Then comes a sweet note akin to carrot tops and freshly peeled parsnip, and a tiny nudge of smoke before it rounds out with some (just) ripe white peach. When watered down, things become a little edgy, with added fresh white linen.

    Palate

    Fairly sweet and estery. The florals return alongside some green pear, before things soften in the mid-palate into apricot and everything clenches together. Though things are quite tense, with water there’s still some gentle lemon accents along with a hint of smoke and dust.

    Finish

    Short and slightly fragile.

    Conclusion

    Distilled in 2009. This has decent balance for its relative youth. Great to see a distillery extending its portfolio in this way. Keep your eye on this. 

    Right place, right time

    When you were young, you were the King of Carrot Flowers:
    Part 1
    Parts 2 & 3

    Glendronach 1991, Kingsman Edition

    Glendronach 1991, Kingsman Edition
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    A so-wrong-it’s-right stinky funk is the first element to be triggered – leather, cheese rind, then gravy browning and ’dronach’s sweet, warm turned earth. Things are given an added twist as dried raspberries/tayberries emerge in the autumnal woods. Heavy, yes, but there’s always rich sweet fruits tinged with this animalic element. A drop of water brings out more cheese rind and heavy velvet drapes.

    Palate

    Slow and relaxed, showing pretty classy restraint. Everything is suddenly glossy and polished, the tannins are soft, there’s added marmalade and molasses. Water softens things still further and brings out clootie dumpling/spotted dick (take your pick).

    Finish

    Complex and richly fruited. Scented peels and incense. Long.

    Conclusion

    A powerful, elegant Glendronach. 

    Right place, right time

    An urbane old gentleman smoking a fine Cuban cigar.

    Glen Scotia 18 Years Old

    Glen Scotia 18 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Campbeltown
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Big, lavender-scented polish mixed with scented candle, patchouli, rose and Turkish Delight. Then comes baked fruit, along with highly-polished furniture. The oloroso finish pokes its head up with water, along with a more overt waxiness and some butterscotch toffee. 

    Palate

    It’s this waxiness which comes to the fore on the tongue, while the heavily scented elements recede slightly. There are heavy, juicy fruits, peach jam and a Tokaji-like oxidised note. Bold, but well-balanced. In time, a dry, winnowed wheat element adds a touch of dryness before the oloroso kicks in. I’m not sure it needs water – it certainly doesn’t need a lot – but its addition does help to spread the thick fruits more evenly across the palate.

    Finish

    Long and juicy, with fresh spice on the end.

    Conclusion

    According to the label, this has been ‘gently matured’, which begs the question what vigorous maturation might be like. That aside, this is a mature, balanced and pleasingly funky drop.

    Right place, right time

    Relaxing with a herbal cigarette in an aristocratic hippy pad. Dark Star begins. By the time The Dead have finished, so is the bottle.

    Jura 20 Years Old, One and All

    Jura 20 Years Old, One and All
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    51%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islands
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Quite oily wood greets you, with an added vinous element reminiscent of cherry-like red fruits. There’s good depth – leather, saddle soap, treacle, alongside bitter chocolate that slowly gives way to walnut bread, then brown banana and, with water, malted milk.

    Palate

    Rounded, thick and pretty sweet. The flavour starts like a half-melted Milky Way, then the cereal gives a crunch to the mid-palate, before heavy red and black fruit syrup softens things once more and adds length. It can cope with a little water, which pulls down the alcohol, accentuates this balance between the crisp cereal and the rich dried fruits.

    Finish

    Raisined and long.

    Conclusion

    There’s a mix of wine and Sherry casks being used here, but it never tips over into jammy fruit juice territory. Layered and complex.

    Right place, right time

    Uncle Monty’s wine cellar?

    Tormore 2004, 13 Years Old (Gordon & MacPhail)

    Tormore 2004, 13 Years Old (Gordon & MacPhail)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    59.6%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    This opens with a heathery/scented grass-like aroma that flirts with pot-pourri, before it dries into hazelnuts in a hessian sack. Then things soften once more as muguet makes a move forward. Strangely, it then dries again. With water there’s silage, old apples and a touch of glue. 

    Palate

    Touches of dried fruit and spice – given extra volume by the strength. Then comes almond milk and a plump, rounded and slightly creamy, almost banana-like quality mixed with almond milk. As is typical with Tormore, things then dry suddenly. 

    Finish

    Creaminess, lemon zest, then the cereal crunch.

    Conclusion

    A paradoxical malt, but with charming spots. 

    Right place, right time

    Aimlessly wandering around a Highland craft emporium.

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