It’s here, i’ve arrived! Let’s get started.
Glen Albyn 1979/2008 29yo The Whisky Shop ‘Glenkeir Treasures’ [208 bts] 56.5% WB87.75
- N: My Old & Rare Whisky Festival gets of to a cracking start with my second ever Glen Albyn, a closed distillery dram priced the same [for a 1cl measure], as a glass of Hardy’s Shiraz at the local Travelodge. I know which i prefer, though i’m not sure the Travelodge bar is open just yet. My morning nose detects honeyed, grassy toffee, straw and goats yoghurt.
- T: Exactly the same here. Seemingly straight ahead sugary, honeyed, grassy malt but with an even oily, silky direction.
- F: Honey and beeswax
- C: A very nice starter.
Scores 86 points
St Magdalene 1963/1984 21yo Cadenhead 92 US Proof OMoH10/10
- N: After only my second Glen Albyn comes only my fourth St. Magdalene – this is what the Old & Rare Whisky Show is all about. The nose displays a bit of everything on the fruity, oily and farmy fronts. There’s some un-troubling OBE and lots of un-struck match and balsa wood.
- T: Unusual peated/burnt notes – unusual for modern times that is.
- F: The production processes are easily identifiable yet integrated into the mix, such were the slow maturation practices back in the day. Long, complex finish.
- C: Really good. What a morning!
Scores 89 points
- N: It’s before noon and I’ve already heard fabulous things about this rye whiskey [the room whispers], and Joseph Hyman is confident that this whiskey [on his Skinner stand], is the best pour on show – and he may well be right. First impressions – wow, potent yet soft. Notes of banana chips, old putty, sweet curry spice, shortbread, korma with yoghurt, candy and notes of which are ancient, before my time [anyone’s time now], and therefore nye-on impossible to describe in a 1cl hit – and not least because the profile changes every sniff. I simply have no precedent for this whiskey – like that breathtaking 63yo Mortlach WB. There’s plenty of malt content here. Joseph reckons up to 25%.
- T: Cherry sherry, putty,…. it’s crazy, it’s amazing, and it’s as thick as “the big print version of the complete works of Charles Dickens” – Blackadder.
- F: It doesn’t hang around too long but finishes true.
- C: Legend has it that Sukhinder, who had this as his first dram of the weekend, was cart-wheeling out the room after trying it. Scores super high, has to be – it’s in a class of its own.
I managed to acquire a little 2cl party bag [see right, thanks J], so I’ll be back with a fuller, more in-depth review in time. It’s one of my all-time whisk[e]y highlights.
Scores 93 points
Glen Garry blended scotch [btl 1948] John Hopkins & Co. 86.8 proof
- N: Staying with Joseph on the Skinner stand, this old 1948 blend is still so alive after all those years in the bottle. The label states the blended malts are from Glen Elgin & Longmorn, bottled by John Hopkins & Co. in Glasgow. It has that familiar old blend character [that makes me giggle], with notes of macadamia pulp and burnt popcorn amongst other things.
- T: Similar to plenty of other old blends, this one focused on the malted, smoked barley and a little-sweet maltiness moving into honeyed fresh yet lingering on the sweet side.
- F: A slight bitter note like old cognac [the wood talking no doubt], with the honeyed-sweet-malt lingering.
- C: These old blends are often a joy and this old oldie is no exception.
Scores 82 points
Dallas Dhu 1963/1979 16yo Cadenhead [750ml]
- N: Still on the Skinner stand, a stand i end up standing by much of the weekend as it turns out. How many Dallas Dhu have i tried? Only a paltry three expressions before this. After the old Glen Garry blend we are firmly back to 100% malt and back to bourbon cask[s] with a dram that’s grassy & a little farmy.
- T: Quite like the Glen Albyn 1979 in its straight ahead simplicity.
- F: Keeps on going – the high alcohol strength helping plenty, though i didn’t actually catch the actual abv. Anyone?
- C: Lovely, toasted, honeyed, grassy malt. What strikes me [today], to be the main difference with whisky now and then, appears to be in the malting.
Scores 87 points
- N: Drats, it’s sulphur & smoke and water won’t rescue it.
- T: Super strong sulphured sherry and lots of iced confectionary. Water brings out the, well not sure what – it’s a mishmash with some fizz too.
- F: Wine, sweet wine and chocolate malt.
- C: This is strange. Much of this dram has been Iost to the sulphur notes, yet it’s a single cask and I’m aware that this is considered by some well respected luminaries as spectacular [WF] – and i’m both a Serge and an Inchgower fan! OBE, contamination?
Hopefully i’ll get to revisit it in a new light another time, but today i score it 80 points.
- N: Only my third Banff! – this festival is quite something! I’m liking my fourth Banff and it’s farminess – another common trait among most of these O&R malts, due to [i believe] the characteristic maltings done in-house. I also detect lemonade & lime popsicles, aniseed candy-string and blackberries amongst other delights. From refills i imagine?
- T: Toasted & farmy sweet malt, toffee and warm ice cream. The smoked malt, again noteworthy as a common trait in most of the ‘oldie’ style malts.
- F: Bourbon, toasted classic.
- C: A consummate rare beast, soon up for sale at a well-known whisky auction house [contact Harrison for a price]. It’s a treat to be enjoying [these old whiskies with their] subtle farmy notes, without having a bonfire/peat bomb attached.
Scores 88 points
Caledonian 1976/2011 34yo Ob. [bottled for] The Dead Whisky Society cask #90015 [btl #221/295 54% WB92
- N: Only my fifth Caledonian [one more even than the great Serge WF], and £4 for a 1cl is very decent. Soft yet potent nose – well hey, it’s 54% abv. Toffee peanuts and lots more putty with water. Not hugely heavily varnished.
- T: Some of the cream I’m expecting is there overlapping the oak. The putty has a go before the mash & oak become entrenched.
- F: More of the same.
- C: I feel adding water spoilt it, but with the strength it needed it – between a rock and a hard place.
Scores 81 points
Extra Special Liqueur [Old] ‘Vatted Glenlivet’ Speyside blend [1930’s] no abv
- N: Distinctive old blend giving whiffs of old tinned tomatoes, some OBE, metal and saturated oaked-sherry malt. It becomes sweeter & richer as the minutes pass.
- T: That subtle ash is fab whilst the rest is quite bulky, clumsy even. It’s better with water, which it takes to surprisingly easily.
- F: A longer finish than many old blends could muster, especially at this age. Really good, complex finish.
- C: Medals, F, N, P – when does that happen, the finish on an old blend taking the gold medal?
Scores 84 points
Miltonduff 1978/1990 SMWS 72.2 60.8% [750ml] WB0
- N: SMWS’s second bottling of Miltonduff though bottle releases on WB currently go back to 1961 . I get huge runny honey notes, lots of cereal barley, ground flours, Lockets cough sweets and a cardboardy dunnage.
- T: It’s strong [naturally] with a thick malty honeyed body.
- F: Goes on and on.
- C: Good & solid, true & hearty.
Scores 87 points
- N: Not dislike the previous old blends in stewed complexity, depth and befuddlement, such was the style & range of the day. I see this as more Talisker-esque than Lagavulin with my contemporary eyes. [Much to learn].
- T: Herbal=allium and soft peat, perfectly integrated into the mix. The sweet/sour/bitter flavour camps are all here, though there’s no umami.
- F: Hums the same wonderful tune.
- C: Fab, really fab. Accessible and challenging all in one hit.
Scores 91 points
And that’s lunch on day one.