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New Whiskies

Batch 191

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Tomatin 50, Cadenhead Tomatin 10, Tomatin 9 and Burnside blended malt, Benromach Vintage 1977 and Daftmill 2006 Winter Release

Highland and Lowland, old and new, indie bottlers and distillery editions – Dave Broom grapples with a selection of polar opposites this week.

First up is the second of Benromach’s new Heritage collection (see Batch 189 for the 1972 expression). At 41 years old, Broom finds a whisky mature, soft and discreet – it’s a shame only 122 bottles exist.

Next up is Burnside, a 26-year-old Speyside blended malt from Cadenhead, which is very sweet. ‘While it never fully expands, it remains a good glass,’ Broom claims, likening the nose to wildflowers in the woods.

A limited edition from one of Scotland’s newer micro-distilleries, Daftmill’s Winter Release is a Lowland malt with legs, as Broom uncovers a well-balanced, easy-drinking dram.

Finally, onto a trio of Tomatins. Kicking off with a pair of young Cadenhead bottlings, Broom finds a nine-year-old baffling. Why bottle a whisky ahead of its prime? he asks.

A 10-year-old fares little better, with ‘an unresolved mix of dustiness’ on the palate. Both young Tomatins remain a little too overtly distillery-forward for Broom’s tastes.

On the other end of the scale, a 50-year-old official bottling is Tomatin’s oldest whisky to date and it shows, with a long finish that smacks of rancio. At £10,000 a bottle, however, this review may be the closest many drinkers get to sampling a dram.

The accompanying soundtrack is suitably polar, with a synth soundscape from Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and angelic harmonies from Virginia Astley rubbing shoulders with Booker T and Pink Floyd. Click on the links in ‘Right Place, Right Time’ to hear more.

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Benromach 41 Years Old, 1977, Heritage Collection

    Score

    89

    Benromach 41 Years Old, 1977, Heritage Collection
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    49.6%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Gorgeously mature, rich and sweet baked fruits: rhubarb and apple crumble (with custard) and an airily light mintiness – Fox’s Glacier Mints, to be more precise – on top with some dry oak in the background. Next comes a lift of Poire Williams before things flick back to the mature depths. Water adds in almost winey black fruits, warm cinnamon buns and toffee apples. Eventually, there’s a drying nuttiness.

    Palate

    Clearly mature. Thick, with some bung cloth, light tobacco, but there’s still some bright acidity as those top notes kick in. The mid-palate is lightly oily, while retronasally you pick out oxidised fruits. This slightly discreet yet gently soft quality continues when water is added, though by now the tannins add a dry cedary note.

    Finish

    A little touch of rhubarb but things are now drying and becoming rather grave.

    Conclusion

    An elegant and mature single cask.

    Right place, right time

    Slowly it starts to Envelop you.

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    Burnside 26 Years Old, 1991 (Cadenhead)

    Score

    83

    Burnside 26 Years Old, 1991 (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46.7%
    Production type
    Blended malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Clean and quite intense with a distinct apple quality (one of this week’s themes) that takes things into a Calvados-like realm mixed with cider press and apple vinegar. There’s a little Muscat grape, a drying twist of mealiness and then some pine honey starts to seep in alongside wet moss. With water you get a light funkiness and bluebells in the woods.

    Palate

    Has a gentle touch with a mix of freshness that’s surprising for its age. There’s some vanilla and a thick palate, but also some heat, then things become increasingly spicy and acidic (sumac and goji berry), adding an underlying tension which slightly knocks the overall balance. Water allows the sweet fruits more space and gives a better coherence, adding in some barley sugar.

    Finish

    Slightly hard.

    Conclusion

    Burnside is a teaspooned malt: Balvenie with a splash of Glenfiddich. While this never quite expands fully, it remains a good glass.

    Right place, right time

    Biting into the Ripest of Apples.

    Daftmill Winter Release, 2006

    Score

    85

    Daftmill Winter Release, 2006
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Sweet and gentle, with some light cereal, fresh fruit and a slightly herbal quality, mostly dill. In time you get cream and apricot jam with some lemon. Water brings fresh barley forward while at the back there’s notes of violet. Soft.

    Palate

    It starts in a lightly perfumed, floral manner with elements of elderflower before unsalted butter comes in along with biscuity warmth. The mid-palate is nicely chewy, while water stirs in marzipan and nougat. Subtly complex and well balanced.

    Finish

    A light mix of blackberry and strawberry jam. Silky.

    Conclusion

    Easy drinking (and that’s not a criticism, but an asset). The weight in the middle shows that this is a distillate with legs.

    Right place, right time

    Drawn in Like Bees to Foxglove.

    Tomatin 9 Years Old, 2009 (Cadenhead)

    Score

    78

    Tomatin 9 Years Old, 2009 (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    60.1%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Fairly hot with a needle-sharp quality, a tiny touch of straw and a florist shop (with wet oasis), then some coconut as the cask starts to show. It’s still edgy, green and flinty when water is added. Young.

    Palate

    A pure and quite sweet start with lots of estery fruits (banana, green apples and pear drops) and a green vegetal element. There’s a scented sweetness that’s just a little hidden by the fierce heat. In time you can discern some lime marmalade. Water produces hazelnut crumb and some cream, but things remain somewhat racy.

    Finish

    Citric and acidic. Fizzy.

    Conclusion

    There’s a feeling of things not being fully formed, which is OK for a new distillery showing a work in progress, but why do the same for a well-established one?

    Right place, right time

    A salad with Green Onions.

    Tomatin 10 Years Old, 2008 (Cadenhead)

    Score

    79

    Tomatin 10 Years Old, 2008 (Cadenhead)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    55.5%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Light and, like its slightly younger brother, starts hot and intense with a similar green grassiness and green banana. Here there’s a tiny touch of char, orange pith and green apple. This lean quality is calmed with water, which allows light creamy wood to come in.

    Palate

    This character continues on to the palate – citrus, green (unripe) fruit, gooseberry, then an unresolved mix of dustiness with a softer cask influence trying to assert itself. It does become more buttery with water. Just lacking in mid-palate sweetness and weight.

    Finish

    Bright, acidic and slightly hot.

    Conclusion

    There’s a little more development here than on the nine-year-old, with softer cask influence, but things remain resolutely distillery forward.

    Right place, right time

    A world of Apples and Oranges.

    Tomatin 50 Years Old

    Score

    91

    Tomatin 50 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    45.3%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Highland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Heady and mead-like, with plenty of quince, stewed peaches and then a savoury edge of sesame oil, beeswax polish, boiled sweets and even a hint of pear drop. A highly complex melange of aromas that deepen into yew, then Lamingtons and red cherry. Things are relaxed, but there’s a pulsing energy at its heart. Rancio is released with a drop of water, which also takes the aromas into freshly-ground coffee, black banana and Cognac-esque fruitiness. Excellent.

    Palate

    It’s not surprising that this has a very gentle start, but that doesn’t mean that there’s any lessening of overall complexity. You’re now getting a clearly mature mix of praline, chocolate, lightly bitter citrus peels, some wax, tropical fruit and more of the almond element seen on the nose. Water makes the tannins more evident, adding a lightly drying grip alongside cigar leaf, fruit skin, toffee and caramelised fruits.

    Finish

    Long and rancio-filled – there’s even some of the sesame again.

    Conclusion

    Truly elegant and fascinating… if you have a spare £10k.

    Right place, right time

    Memories of A Summer Long Since Passed.

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