New Whiskies

Batch 172

by
Deanston Brandy Cask Finish, Ledaig 19 Years Old oloroso and PX finishes, Mortlach marriage of casks, Tobermory 12 years old and Tomatin 30 years old.

A quartet of limited edition whiskies from Deanston and Tobermory distilleries take up the bulk of Dave Broom’s desk this week, bolstered by a more mature Tomatin and a Mortlach from independent bottler Elixir Distillers.

Broom dives in with a Deanston brandy cask finish distilled in 2008. It’s all sweetness, with toffee, fruits and hot crossed buns, but it’s got heft with waxy and fleshy elements. ‘A triumph’ Broom proclaims, and a veritable steal for the price.

Next up is the first of two back-to-back Ledaigs. The oloroso-finished whisky is a big, meaty mouthful that is soft on the palate and even softer with dilution. Broom finds it marred slightly by its texture, all oil and rubber.

Its twin, the PX finish, does slightly better. Rubber’s still bouncing around, but Broom finds the PX 'smothers the tongue while still allowing the smoke to come out, adding depth’. The end result is pudding over a peat fire – an unusual, very Scottish combination.

Breaking up the party of Distell whiskies is a 22-year-old Mortlach bottling by London-based Elixir Distillers. There’s more thickness here as Broom bandies about steak pie and venison, solid pub grub perfect for autumn.

Ledaig’s unpeated alter-ego, Tobermory, provides a 12-year-old fino cask finish with a musky, funky element that reminds Broom of old hiking boots. A rogue scent of pickled onion drifts through the nose, which gave Broom pause for thought. What was missing in the mix, however, was the freshness inherent in fino Sherry.

Finishing off with this batch’s elder statesman, a very gentle 30-year-old Tomatin is ‘a fleeting moment of an alternative’ to today’s bombastic whiskies. It’s a delicate dram, with passion fruit and rhubarb crumble shyly coming forward. Water, however, provides enormous intensity, making this a malt of two halves.

Today’s playlist veers from the demure – Scotland’s own Lone Pigeon – to downright filthy basslines courtesy of funk legend Bootsy Collins. Bounce like you’re made of rubber.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Deanston Brandy Cask Finish, 10 Years Old, 2008

    Deanston Brandy Cask Finish, 10 Years Old, 2008
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    56.4%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Medium weight and quite spicy, with a very light cereal (bircher or wholemeal hot cross buns) touch to start with. It lifts well into more exotic elements with hints of resin, a tiny touch of menthol and apple. As it opens, you get genmaicha – roasted tea and rice – before things sweeten into runny toffee and become more waxy, with some heavy florals. Water accentuates these last qualities, adding some complexity and depth. Well rounded and nicely balanced.

    Palate

    A dry start, then mouth-filling with added toffee elements, but also chestnut honey and that waxiness again, which now is more about feel, while the nuts and baking spices add a mix of dryness and bright elements. In time, there’s more red fruits and a fleshier aspect. Water brings out a slightly more serious and oak-driven quality.

    Finish

    Nuts and apples.

    Conclusion

    Brandy casks can be hard to balance. This is a triumph, and a steal at £60.

    Right place, right time

    ‘Breakfast in the morning on an old copper plate.’ Concubine Rice #1.

    Ledaig 19 Years Old, Oloroso Finish

    Ledaig 19 Years Old, Oloroso Finish
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46.3%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islands
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Big, burning moor smoke plus a meaty quality like smoked pork belly (with fat), alongside some sultana and brininess, walnut oil and violet cream chocolate. In time you get box-fresh trainers and squid ink, while dilution brings out a rubbery, fatty quality without diminishing the smoke.

    Palate

    A very soft and quite yielding/ oily start with the dried fruits at the back. You expect a big rumbling peaty monster, but instead it is quite calm and controlled with a slightly slippery, textural quality. Things soften further with dilution, but it loses some intensity.

    Finish

    Smoke, rubber, citrus zest and then cracked pepper.

    Conclusion

    It’s only that slight rubbery/ oily quality that knocks it back.

    Right place, right time

     If you eat barbecue in a wet suit you can say Goodbye to Pork Pie fat.

    Ledaig 19 Years Old, PX Finish

    Ledaig 19 Years Old, PX Finish
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55.7%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islands
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    Hotter than the oloroso and as a result, slightly harder to get into. There’s some pomegranate molasses, treacle, raisin, brine, and smoke – albeit with some rubber attached. Deepens in time. With water, things become more suet-like (spotted dick?) along with cigar smoke, seaweed and then, inexorably, a new hot water bottle.

    Palate

    The quite velvety PX covering smothers the tongue while still allowing the smoke to come out, thereby adding some depth and interest. The distillery oils (oil paint) are still there, but the fruits are riper. Water adds in some orange, but things do flatten.

    Finish

    Smoked chocolate, biscuit, but it’s also slightly rubbery.

    Conclusion

    The PX works well here.

    Right place, right time

    Fruit pudding (suet and raisin if you’re interested) cooked over a peat fire under a Strange Sky.

    Mortlach 22 Years Old, Single Malts of Scotland (Elixir Distillers)

    Mortlach 22 Years Old, Single Malts of Scotland (Elixir Distillers)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54.2%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Rounded and quite thick, there’s steak pie and gravy and distant wet earth, damp beech mould, some sweet cardboard (this is a good thing) and in time, well-hung venison that then has a black cherry sauce poured over it. A sweet, fruity element balances the earthiness. Hint of wet dog. Water pulls things deeper, adding roasting tin and some plum pudding.

    Palate

    Big and bold. It’s all prune and dried cherry bitterness with added clove, while the powdery tannins give structure to what is a powerfully concentrated mid-palate. It has a huge retronasal quality of allspice, clove and cocoa nibs and dry, rooty elements. Dilution adds mouthfeel and brings the chocolate elements forward.

    Finish

    Shifts from steak pie to mole sauce.

    Conclusion

    A hearty, rib-sticking stew of a Mortlach.

    Right place, right time

    A hearty lunch after a walk in the woods, the smells of the earth Brought With The Rain.

    Tobermory 12 Years Old, Fino Cask Finish

    Tobermory 12 Years Old, Fino Cask Finish
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55.1%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islands
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    There’s a musky, slightly funky oxidative element and just a hint of rubber bands and light minerals. Quite hot with plain oak and a yeasty note, then, weirdly, a whiff of pickled onion. In time there’s the chalky dankness of an old wine cellar. Water adds more oak and minerality.

    Palate

    Sweeter than you might expect with an oily quality. There is a flowery element trying to emerge, along with some spearmint. Some black pepper and frying mustard seed, then something deeper that brings to mind old hiking boots. Water brings out the oxidised aspects along with touches of old potato sack.

    Finish

    Firm and slightly ashy. Rubbery.

    Conclusion

    A slightly uncomfortable mix with none of fino’s inherent freshness.

    Right place, right time

    Rubbery, funky Stretchin’ Out.

    Tomatin 30 Years Old

    Tomatin 30 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    A little shy. There’s tropical fruit, tinned peach in syrup, nectarine juice, then rhubarb crumble with custard alongside light mace and wood shavings. In other words, mature and elegant with plenty of fruity/ beeswaxy rancio with some muguet touches. A drop of water ignites huge concentration and intensity, with passion fruit and fresh mango to the fore. It does fade relatively quickly though.

    Palate

    So gentle you wonder whether things are just too soft. The texture is like satin. It’s the spice which saves it (cinnamon buns, then some sumac-like brightness) by anchoring the mid-palate, allowing the almost ethereal fruits to float over the tongue. Water again gives a burst of intensity.

    Finish

    Gentle, fruited, then it’s gone.

    Conclusion

    This softness is at odds with the in-yer-face whiskies of today. A fleeting moment of an alternative.

    Right place, right time

    A vision of The Cloths of Heaven.

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