TWE Old & Rare: Day 2, Part 2

I don’t normally smoke this early in the day if at all, but as it turns out, most of the malts and blends at the show are peated/smoked to a degree anyway. Furthermore, the smoke and peat aspect from these old bottlings seem to permeate less than the bombs of today. Much of that is down to their individual years in the cask and years in glass and much of it is down to the general style of the day.

Caol Ila 1995/2013 18yo Wilson & Morgan cask #10028 [494 bts] 58.6% WB90.48[35] OMoH8/10

Caol ila 1995.jpg

  • N: Soot, kippers and garden plant grow-spray.
  • T: Why don’t they make smoky biscuits with an oily-treacle, herbal, grain-sugar complex? It’s certainly a combination that works beautifully here.
  • F: Lots of smoke, chewy smoke.
  • C: Fabulous, one of the best whiskies of the show.

Scores 91 points.

Dewar’s 12yo ‘Pure malt’ late 1970’s [no label]

Dewar's 12.jpg

  • N: Worlds apart from the current Dewar’s WB. This smells generally blended in nature yet is incredibly vibrant (still), and brimming with apricots and plums.
  • T: Peppery, prickly prelude but soon it’s more soft and forgiving. Kind of rolls off the tongue though it does remain a little spicy.
  • F: Woody fresh with bitter wood oils, concluding with liquorice=aniseed
  • C: Would make for a great ‘Then & Now’ comparison tasting.

Scores 84 points

Timorous Beastie 40yo Blended Malt [2016] DL [1080 bts] 54.7% WB90.45[95] WF91 SW8.9

Timorous Beastie 40.jpg

  • N: Last time I thought I was trying this TB 40yo, it was in fact the NAS version WB. This is definitely the 40yo, yet ironically it’s similarly youthful and fruity – some clever re-cask rejuvenation going on.
  • T: Sour tasting, the wood pushing proceedings but well within tannic limits. There’s now an exceedingly well balanced, clean, oily and fruity-cereal-oaked journey.
  • F: Same again, now with a little olive brine. The soft, sour oak comes through firmly but without ever dominating.
  • C: Now i’ve tried both, the young & old TB share a very similar youthful character though this 40yo is in a different league.

Scores 89 points.

Dallas Dhu 1982Dallas Dhu 1982/2003 21yo SV cask #690 [btl #90/323] 43% WB87[1]

  • N: Distillate led but the oak brings a depth down under. Oaked sugars in the main.
  • T: Woody, malty, beefy, briny and (olive) oily.
  • F: Malty herbal
  • C: Much goodness from Dallas.

Scores 87 points.

Oban 12yo [1970’s] Ob. 70 proof [750ml] WB83.33[14] WF90 OMoH8/10

Oban 12.jpg

  • N: I’ve only ever had the standard 14yo twice and no other expressions. I’ll openly admit I’ve never been a fan despite Oban being the first distillery I ever visited. I was amazed by the damp and cold warehouse they showed us on the tour that was rather open to the elements. I think we were shown the relic casks, the graveyard, the forgotten, the rejected. Nosing this, its the first leather-malt of the weekend, more Inchgower than modern Oban I’m pleased to say.
  • T: Caramac malt with old [1970’s] plastic.
  • F: Plastic-to-wax and a little candy fruits.
  • C: What happened to Oban in the intervening years? The biggest educational whisky of the weekend.

Scores 83 points.

Glenallachie 35yo [2010] Speciality [685 bts] 46.9% WB90.81[66] WF90

Glenallachie 35.jpg

Only my fourth Glenallachie. Although its one of the larger whisky distilleries in Scotland producing around four million litres of spirit a year [2017], virtually all of it goes into the Chivas blends. Speciality bottled this in 2010 for their 10th Anniversary.

  • N: A cognac-sweet-medicinal-putty complex
  • T: Right up my street, tincture sweet, heather malt.
  • F: Proceeds with Pledge, peas and polish with leather, heather and hay. Rolls on with the dry heather and a little bitter-herbal.
  • C: A big highlight.

Scores 90 points.

Ardbeg 1975/1988 13yo G&M Intertrade Import [543 bts] 54.2% WB92.50[10] WF92 WM94[5] & WM94[2]

Ardbeg 1975.jpg

  • N: Heavy metallic-old blend vibe, moving then to herbal notes of coriander and basil before further notes of tomato, tamari, chlorine, tar and sweet iodine/brine.
  • T: Punchy, bold, ‘0-54.2 in 3 seconds’ arrival before dropping to cruise control thereafter. I focused on mild liquorice and herbal chewing gum with the emphasis on the herbal with its permeating quality
  • F: With the palate permeated, it’s ooh’s & aah’s from thereon in.
  • C: Exactly the kind of whisky you travel to Glasgow for.

Scores 91 points.

Littlemill 1977/2016 39yo Cadenhead Single bourbon cask 42.5% WB88.86[24]

If you think Brora and Karuizawa is rare, i’ve had far fewer experiences of Littlemill, two in fact before this – and they’ve both been excellent.

Littlemill 1977

  • N: Papaya, honey, pineapples, putty, plimsoles, paper-mache and clay. Perfect, flawless so far.
  • T: Large & prickly start but with a slick & waxy mouthfeel. Moves to a sour & bitter putty note into the finish. Things are ideal again at this stage after the boisterous beginning.
  • F: Sour aniseed coupled with the malt – the refill cask playing second fiddle. You know you’ve had something special.
  • C: Amongst some stiff competition, this was one of the best drams today. Then again, it’s been quite a day.

Scores 89 points

Brora 30yo [2007] 6th release Ob. [2958 bts] 55.7% WB93.32[191] WF93 WM92[7]

Brora 30yo.jpg

  • N: Heather honey with sweet malt to die for – aah, Brora. A little farm, peat and countryside, so plenty of agriculture but there’s heaps more to find, naturally.
  • T: Not the perfect start but it’s often on the finish where things really get going.
  • F: It’s that malt-honey sweetness that rolls on with trimmings.
  • C: Not one that set my world on fire [something i now see i said about the 7th release WB], but it is simply lovely.

Scores 89 points

Port Ellen 1982/2009 G&M CC new map 43% WB87.89[29]Port Ellen 1982

  • N: Sensational nose, and that’s within epic context.
  • T: Fairly peaty=smoky in relation to what’s gone before and a little less iodine.
  • F: Short-medium.
  • C: What a nose.

Scores 86 points

Inchgower 1993/2009 15yo Ob. Manager’s Choice cask #7917 [btl #038] 61.9% WB88.53[59] WF86~WM86[1]

Inchgower 1993.jpg

  • N: Sulphur, mint,  raspberry and damp.
  • T: The sherry is big, the sulphur is big, and yet the ‘bigness’ is short lived. Everything is short lived.
  • F: Short lived and done.
  • C: Inchgower is almost exclusively matured in sherry casks but sometimes that comes at a price. I’m aware that other commentators who i respect highly, haven’t had the sulphur experience i’ve had with this cask bottling so i will endeavour to retry this at another time. Can sulphur compounds from the juice develop within the bottle?

For now, it scores 81 points.

Lagavulin 1991/2016 24yo Ob. ‘200th Anniversary Charity Bottling’ cask #522b [522 bts] 52.7% WB93.54[30]Lagavulin 1991.png

From one of 522 bottles, most of which were being auctioned by at the time [Feb 2017]. Bottle #1 went for a staggering £7300 link.

  • C: A lovely sherry butt, fabulous from start to finish. Another show highlight – thanks Isabel.

Scores 91 points

The Old Man of Huy’s ‘Mystery Cameronbridge’ OMoH

  • N: As much as I am familiar with, and indeed like grain whisky, tasting one blind can always stump me at the end of, or indeed the start of any day. Nosing this, I thought it was a youngish, rum-like distillate – rum in fact.
  • T: Again, [Chalong Bay] rum i thought, being sweet and relatively simple spirit – in context of two days worth of O&R wonders. Yet this is also excellent distillate with a fabulous briny-waxy mouthfeel. Then there’s age and youth combined, so i’m further puzzled.
  • F: Light yet potent, runny~watery toffee finish – at cask strength i imagine.
  • C: I love it but what is it? is it rum or rhum. It’s not Clairin that’s for sure. Haha, stumped again, it’s a SMWS 1979 29yo Cameronbridge! WB Back to the drawing board.

Scores 85 points


The Auld Alliance 1973/2016 43yo ‘Three Rivers, Tokyo’ Speyside Single Malt 47.1%

  • N: This is much like yesterday’s last dram of the day, the 1973 Birthday Bunna Blog [kind of], yet there’s more putty and less tropical fruits. There is however pale pineapple in the mix certainly and shortbread too, and though fleeting, a sugar sprinkling on top insures the shortbread picture. My lasting note though [interestingly enough], is of the young yet ripe pineapple in a glass.

43yo speyside malt.jpg

  • T: Intense yet tight/organised arrival with varied notes such as dried tropical fruits, spices (camphor, tiger balm), more pineapple (how that Plantations Pineapple rum has opened my palate up to the pineapple bark note), and sweet green grass shoots [wheat-grass sweetness], and a little bubblegum. The sugars shoot everywhere with sweeter notes of cinnamon, vanilla and daiquiri leading the charge.
  • F: A Pina Colada finish, [thank you Connors], peanut skins, more daiquiri [mainly suggestive from the sweet sugared lime note], and yet more sweetness from the Pina Colada camp with more of that light young pineapple and soft, sweet
  • C: Great end to the first O&R festival.

This undisclosed Speyside single malt scores 89 points.

Reflection on day 2.

I unloaded a fair few thoughts after Day 1 LINK. Some final thoughts from the weekend include:

Vanilla – a word I seldom used all weekend.

Genericness – a word that can be applied equally to malts & blends then & now, though the styles are world’s apart.

‘Just so’ – a small phrase i used liberally this weekend.

I collected 21 sample bottles from the show, of malts that deserve time – all of which did in truth. I shall be reviewing them when time allows.

The event itself
Day 2 was hugely improved with the addition of tables and chairs in the middle of the great hall, but both days were a complete joy for me. The weekend was a quiet affair, the organisers deliberately limiting numbers on the first day to 300 people and the second day to 250. I rarely had to queue or wait to talk to someone and the whole event had a feeling of exclusivity. I also met a great deal of interesting and wonderful people.
Some of the exhibitors explained that whilst O&R was small & bespoke compared with the size & variety at Limburg for example, the quality was exemplary and even higher given the scale & exposure. I concur.

Glasgow is a great city for whisky enthusiasts. Accommodation is cheap, international cuisine is plentiful and there are numerous whisky bars – all within walking distance of each other. I’m off to the Pot Still to compare ‘then with now’, first hand. I will report back in due course.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in making TWE’s first Old & Rare Whisky Show a brilliant success.