New Whiskies

Batch 136

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Batch 136: Aultmore, Carsebridge, Glendronach, North British, The Tweeddale, Wolfburn

A neat split between single malts and single grains this week, with three of each, including liquid from two closed distilleries (Carsebridge and Cambus, the latter the source of The Tweeddale A Silent Character).

There’s also a hefty dollop of aged whisky here. If we strip out the Wolfburn (NAS, but youthful), the youngest – but most expensive – dram here is GlenDronach’s 24-year-old Grandeur, a mighty Sherry bomb that reminds Dave Broom of a funky pair of trousers.

Moving up in age, we have that Cambus single grain from R&B Distillers’ The Tweeddale label. ‘A Silent Character’ is 27 years old and impresses Broom with its ‘softly decadent’ nature.

Independent bottler Wm Cadenhead provides two 28-year-old whiskies this week, and both are well-received: an Aultmore single malt from a Sherry hogshead is praised for its oily, resinous texture, while a single grain sourced from North British wins Broom over with its ‘wise and relaxed’ character.

Cadenhead is also the source for the oldest whisky on show here, a 41-year-old single grain from the ‘lost’ distillery of Carsebridge. Complex and ‘slightly enigmatic’, it’s said to be worth a look.

We close with that altogether more youthful Wolfburn release, but this is no anti-climax: another seriously impressive whisky from the far north beguiles Broom with its floral fragrance. ‘Real class,’ he enthuses.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Aultmore 28 Years Old, 1989 (Cadenhead)

    Aultmore 28 Years Old, 1989 (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43.4%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    As oily as Mr Oliver Oyl’s Oily Emporium. Resinous too, headily so. A mix of walnut, sesame, wood oils and supple leather, all given a fresh lick of varnish; then damp leaf mould and, at last, the fruit: red apple, raisin, blackberry and hawthorn, roast almond. Shows real maturity and has managed to extract elements from the wood without becoming woody. In time, becomes more savoury, but don’t add water.

    Palate

    It starts with light, leathery tannins and and dried fruit alongside cinnamon balls and a hint of light maltiness. It becomes more soothing in the centre, with enough silkiness to (just) hold off any unwanted grippiness. Concentrated, with a sudden surge of red fruits, and that oiliness. Persistent, balanced and textured.

    Finish

    Highly complex mix of dried cherry, bilberry, some oiliness and a final bitter kick.

    Conclusion

    There’s this sense of how all of the elements which have slowly been compressed together are beginning to move out again in a new direction as the whisky moves into its final phase. The Sherry hoggie strikes again. Highly recommended.

    Right place, right time

    A lumber camp in the High Sierra.

    Carsebridge 41 Years Old, 1976 (Cadenhead)

    Carsebridge 41 Years Old, 1976 (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    49.1%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Slightly foxed book with an accompanying dry, grain silo-like aroma, plus an intriguing hint of mint and sweet cicely. Complex, but also strangely elusive, with a light smokiness in the background – char? It does need time, and water, which though it initially draws forth a paraffin note, soon settles into a complex, fascinating, shifting mix of cashew, honey, sweet fruits, a continuation of the mintiness and an oxidised, vinous quality (old Vouvray).

    Palate

    Thick, layered and complex, with lots of apricot, mango, papaya and guava, bound together by honey, then a fizzy, Space Dust-like element. The wood adds a light drying element, while the tannins are low. That smokiness re-emerges at the back of the palate. The water does pull out some ripe banana and chocolate sauce, but don’t overdo it.

    Finish

    Raspberry ripple ice cream (in a cone).

    Conclusion

    A complex and slightly enigmatic old grain. Well worth a look.

    Right place, right time

    Contemplating the wrinkles of time.

    GlenDronach 24 Years Old ‘Grandeur’ Batch 9

    GlenDronach 24 Years Old ‘Grandeur’ Batch 9
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Massive Sherry funk, which has already moved far beyond dried fruit and Christmas cake and embraced a new dimension of mature hard cheese, pimenton, smoked ham and chorizo, roasting chestnuts and the the image of a sawdust-floored tabanco (Sherry bar) at closing time. There’s some underlying sulphur which comes out with time. It can cope with a drop of water, which adds more wood, resin, a hint of Marmite, Brandy de Jerez and smoke.

    Palate

    No surprise that this is big. It’s big, but although there are some pretty powerful tannins roaming around, there’s touches of bitter chocolate that bring to mind some Oaxacan mole. The sheer weight of the distillate keeps them at bay, adding in mulberry richness, some liquorice and smoke. It develops more PX-like characters in its concentration, the tannins drying on the mid- to back-palate. Water brings out more sulphur.

    Finish

    Tries to sweeten, but that’s soon pulled back into the dark, seething mass.

    Conclusion

    A monster of a Sherry bomb.

    Right place, right time

    As big and funky as George Clinton’s trousers.

    North British 28 Years Old, 1989 (Cadenhead)

    North British 28 Years Old, 1989 (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    59.5%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Quite rich, though also pretty hot. There’s tangerine, mashed banana (and banana skin), fruit peelings and white chocolate. It deserves to be given time as it is only then that it starts to show its maturity, alongside more crowd-pleasing aromas of thick cream, toffee and corn dogs. Water adds a blast of Tooty Frootie sweets before a previously hidden fir/ wintergreen element begins to take charge.

    Palate

    Big and sweet, with lots of tropical fruit character. Almost floral to start, then some sugar cane syrup rum, then blueberries in maple syrup, before you get a touch of oak and balsa wood (plus a whisper of char), some coconut and roast pineapple, while the scented, herbal, pine forest elements lurk in the background. Water helps to make things pliant, sweeter and more honeyed.

    Finish

    Lightly drying, some almond milk, dill and a bouquet garni.

    Conclusion

    A wise and relaxed old grain.

    Right place, right time

    The doctor glances up from his papers and looks over his spectacles.

    The Tweeddale A Silent Character 27 Years Old Single Grain

    The Tweeddale A Silent Character 27 Years Old Single Grain
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    52%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    There’s a light nose burn at kick-off, accompanied by a mix of honey and light oak, and a crisp element similar to a dry bowl of Sugar Puffs. Some light lemon sits behind, along with fruit syrups, macadamia, osmanthus, a hint of frangipani blossom and cream-filled meringue. Water is a good idea, adding a Milky Way-like chocolate mousse, while a citric sweetness sits underneath.

    Palate

    A controlled, sweet start with stewed orange peel, mead and soft caramel, that then settles into honeycomb (dessert) and toasted marshmallow. It remains smooth, albeit with some enlivening buzz from the alcohol. Water, as with the other grains, shows chocolate elements and more rummy phenolics, alongside green mango.

    Finish

    Sweet still; whipped chocolate.

    Conclusion

    Lightly layered, softly decadent.

    Right place, right time

    Hummingbirds at a feeder.

    Wolfburn Batch 270

    Wolfburn Batch 270
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Fresh and lightly fruity; the aroma of tinned pears and apple combined with the sweet dustiness of a woollen mill and a light vegetal note behind. Has this mix of sweetness which flirts with oiliness, but then bursts into fragrant white fruit blossom. Water brings out a more obviously youthful side, but there’s real class here.

    Palate

    Direct, with quite fleshy fruit – those apples and pears with added ripe melon, some sweet mash, while the florals are more bluebell-like. The mid-palate remains sweet and well-balanced. Again only on the back-palate (and with water) do you get the sense of its age.

    Finish

    Jersey ice cream.

    Conclusion

    Drawn from a 100-litre cask. Holds its own well in this company.

    Right place, right time

    Walking past a florist.

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