New Whiskies

Batch 143

by
Batch 143: Mossburn blended malt, Balblair 1991 Balblair 2000, Cadenhead Creations, Dalmore 45

It’s a game of two halves this week as Dave Broom gets his teeth into three single malts from the north east coast, ahead of a trio of blended malts.

Balblair kicks things off with a second release of its 2000 vintage, and third release of its 1991 vintage, both of which show off the distillery’s lush fruitiness in all its glory.

Our third single malt comes in the guise of a 45-year-old Dalmore, its balanced, polished maturity and signature blackcurrant pastille profile demonstrating a mastery of wood management, says Broom. Is it deserving of a £10,000 price tag though?

The first of three blended malts is a new edition of indie bottler Wm Cadenhead’s Creations, this time a 26-year-old Light Creamy Vanilla with notes of flaky pastry and cooked orchard fruits. ‘Hugely drinkable,’ Broom gushes, though he warns of limited availability.

The final two expressions come from a new range by Mossburn Distillers & Blenders, the company behind the new distilling complex in Jedburgh and Torabhaig on Skye. Both form part of the Signature Cask Series – a range of whiskies part-matured in bespoke-built casks.

The Island blended malt uses first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels with toasted virgin European heads, resulting in a bonfire-like smoky dram that would ‘make a mean Highball’. The Speyside blended malt meanwhile has been finished in oloroso Sherry butts with heavily charred virgin American oak heads, resulting in a chocolatey, cakey dram that’s ‘rewarding and fun’.

If you’ve not realised by now, our weekly whisky reviews come accompanied by their own Spotify playlist. Click on the links in each ‘Right Time, Right Place’ to play.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Balblair 2000, 2nd release

    Balblair 2000, 2nd release
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Powerful, and fruity with this slow expansion into thick fruit syrups, rosehip, ripe apple, black cherry/tayberry, tangerine marmalade, and manuka honey. There’s a scented element as it opens and begins to show the layers and complexities of maturity. There’s added depth when water is added: sweet date, some light wood, the brightness of sumac, some toffee apple, and then a heady jasmine element.

    Palate

    Sweet, unctuous and concentrated, with berry and orchard fruits to start which heads towards mango, all encased in this caramelised natural syrupy feel. The supporting structure becomes more apparent when water is added and the heady florals begin to unfold along with more estery fruits, though it remains sweet and sumptuous.

    Finish

    Spicy and surprisingly light.

    Conclusion

    Balblair in ridiculously effusive form. Heady stuff.

    Right place, right time

    Rich, energetic and almost too much, but with Grace.

    Balblair 1991, 3rd release

    Balblair 1991, 3rd release
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Light nose burn on this with a mix of fresh orchard fruit, some sanded wood, then toffee, dried rasps and touches of butterscotch toffee. Opens gently with a touch of grassiness, but this is quickly followed by a very Balblair soft (berry) honeyed fruitiness which remains in charge. Its complexities could be overlooked by the surprising freshness for its age. There’s cinnamon, peach, mixed peel, and a whisper of dry leaves. Water shows its mature elements with a light waxiness.

    Palate

    Mouth-filling and generous, there’s some stewed rhubarb, orange, and red fruits which add a light acidity that sits above caramel flan and more Sherried elements. Never heavy, the key to this is the way in which the subtle spices, the sandalwood elements, caramel, and the fruits work together. Relaxed, mature.

    Finish

    After this control there’s a late burst of black fruits and spice, then caramel sauce on ice cream.

    Conclusion

    If the 2000 is all show and lushness this has elegance, length and depth. One of those you keep coming back to.

    Right place, right time

    A clear relation to the 2000, but with more age and sophistication. Once I Was.

    Dalmore 45 Years Old

    Dalmore 45 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    40%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A massive melange of coffee and ripe Rioja-like strawberries and chocolate, mixed with cherry and cassis. When neat you have no idea of age or maturity, it’s just this wall of sweet, rich, red fruits (with a dollop of marzipan). When water is added the coffee remains, but now we get the sense of time: dusty spices, strawberry yoghurt, apricot, red fruit syrup, beeswax polish and cedar.

    Palate

    Now the mature elements start to show (again especially after a drop, no more, of water). It starts with rose and scented woods, waxy (floor polish) cigar box, which by the centre of the tongue have yielded to Dalmore’s signature blackcurrant pastille and some bitter chocolate. The tannins are remarkably well balanced.

    Finish

    Ripe with layered red fruits and Ribena.

    Conclusion

    A lesson in working with aged spirits and flavour management.

    Right place, right time

    Fruity but with considered depth, and as smooth as Caramel.

    Cadenhead Creations Light Creamy Vanilla, 26 Years Old (Cadenhead)

    Cadenhead Creations Light Creamy Vanilla, 26 Years Old (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    43.8%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    n/a
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Round and gentle with ripe pear, flaky pastry, cold butter, old-fashioned lemonade, and light ginger accompanied by a touch of discreet oak. It’s all brioche, white chocolate, and orange Starburst which then gives way to light oak. There are subtle complexities at work here. With water, there’s pastéis de nata, and frangipane tart, while the pear and melon reappear. Just lovely.

    Palate

    A sweet start with Danish pastry glazed with honey, then dusted with cinnamon and allspice, with an added herbal element and some pineapple kicking in on the back palate.

    Finish

    Fading into nutmeg and dry spices.

    Conclusion

    Delicious and mellow and hugely drinkable. There ain’t a lot, so get cracking.

    Right place, right time

    Hard at work in a patisserie. This is the Song of a Baker.

    Island Blended Malt (Mossburn)

    Island Blended Malt (Mossburn)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    Islands
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Punchy, with maritime smoke and the aroma of drying driftwood backed with bog myrtle/bay rum, then a mace-like spiciness before things cool down with a smear of apple sauce. Steadily adds a gentle depth which hints at dashi. This balance is maintained when water is added although the mineral elements are upped and a more youthful edge shows itself.

    Palate

    Light agave syrup to start, with a bonfire-like woodsmoke element mingling with pine, some moss, and salinity. The mid-palate has a soft length with hits of spice adding a tingling effect. By the back palate you’re heading into lemon being squeezed on oysters.

    Finish

    Peppery, then smoky.

    Conclusion

    The first bottlings from Mossburn whose Borders distillery should be open this year. Aged in ex-Bourbon barrels, then given a second maturation in a mix of casks with fresh Bourbon staves, and others with heads made with heavily-toasted European oak. Well worth a look and would make a mean Highball.

    Right place, right time

    Sitting on the harbour wall eating Haddock and Chips.

    Speyside Blended Malt (Mossburn)

    Speyside Blended Malt (Mossburn)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Concentrated, almost meaty Sherried elements accompanied by dried peels, almond, fresh pomegranate, and redcurrant. Then it begins to sweeten and soften into milky coffee/milk chocolate. It’s somehow robust and earthy, but gentle at the same time. In time, a hint of inner tube, a little sulphur (especially with water), dry moorland and a rewarding Sherried funk.

    Palate

    Lush and rounded, with dusty heather root, then little spikes of attack adding interest all the way through: cacao, red fruits, chili pepper, before it starts to deepen into fig, raisin, and cake mix, all balanced by vanilla and caramel, with a floral top note. When water is added it becomes more juicily fruity and spicy. A balanced and rather substantial dram with good length.

    Finish

    Concentrated. Date.

    Conclusion

    This is a rewarding and fun dram that’s proof of great blending. Like the Island, this uses a complex mix of casks (detailed on the label) kicking off in refill ex-Bourbon, then a secondary maturation in either first-fill oloroso butts, or heavily charred virgin American oak.

    Right place, right time

    Gentle and strange, Skippin’ Barfit Through the Heather.

Scroll To Top