Dornoch Castle Whisky Bar: Part 2

Following on from Part 1, here’s part 2.

Linkwood 1974/2005 30yo Ob. ‘Rare Malts’ [6000 bts] 54.9% WB89.31[102] WF85 WM87[8]

  • N: Feck yeah, here’s a massively full nose with notes of sweet lemons, orange, pineapple,…  presented together with a huge, glistening vibrancy. Then there’s the floral side blooming with fuchsias, lilies and apple blossom. And then there’s the vanilla from the bourbon, maybe exclusively bourbon. These Rare Malts are often stella performers that come now [2017], with a stella price. Maybe this one will still justify its inflated price tag.

Linkwood 1974.png

  • T: Hmmm, a bitter fruity arrival which then deadens,…. Strange, I wasn’t expecting that – and then it goes bone dry. Really needs a drop of water, but even then not a great deal happens. There are some innocuous fruits and a spiritiness accompanied by plenty of plain malt notes. There’s a firm [solid 85 score] mouthfeel with some peppery-fresh notes following into the development.
  • F: What happened to this? Murky, paper-cardboard-mulch, draff notes and a little peat [noticeable in comparison to the Mannochmore that follows WB]. Then there’s a second finishing wave on sour-cream vanillas with hints of green woody sticks.
  • C: I really dig Linkwood, but this was the last dram I finished out of the ten. The wonderfully voluminous & vibrant ‘fruit basket’ nose didn’t translate thereafter. The palate and finish, although not bad in their own right, pale into insignificance in the shadow of the mighty nose. Now from one favourite distillery of mine to another: Mannochmore.

Scores 85 points

Mannochmore 1974/1997 22yo Ob. ‘Rare Malts’ 60.1% WB85.22[48] WF65[no notes] WM73[7]

Mannochmore 1974.png

  • N: Currently the oldest listed Mannochmore on WB [2017]. A powerful & strong chocolate malt. Even with water and then more water it’s plain strong & so uncompromising. Imagine Rosebank on rocket fuel and i kinda love it. Talking of roses, there are rose-water lemon notes after an hour or so and a little satsuma. Nothing like the fruit bowl of the previous Linkwood WB but moving closer to it.
  • T: Strong again, in both abv and sheer punch. Simply smashes through like a defiant strike of a sharp yet heavy blade. Add water and,… no change. An hour later and it’s settled a little, trading a little of it’s sheer power for more density. It’s also a little less, sharp! Descriptors of note: heavy hummus-buckwheat paste.
  • F: Slightly bitter/sour, actually more bitter,… then sour – sour hummus with a touch of oily crisps at the death.
  • C: Mannochmore makes me smile, it’s so resolute, so gutsy, so obstinate – so of course, lots of people will hate this outright. In the last few years [2015-17], it’s the SMWS that are presenting the best Mannochmore’s in my microcosmic whisky world. Let’s stay with on the ‘off the radar’ radar distilleries and move to Teaninich WB.

Scores 84 points

Teaninich 1993/2016 22yo Cadenhead ‘Wood range: Sherry cask’ [258 bts] 51.9% WB86.85[29]

  • N: This is malt #9 and one that stands out. Notes of cherry-apricot fudge,… hmm more toffee actually, soft toffee. Teaninich often reminds me most of another ‘off the radar’ distillery, Inchgower – with its equally malty character. A little [sherried] cough syrup with the emphasis on the syrup in the main. It becomes even more syrup like – apricot syrup, grape syrup. A really pleasing, very sweet nose.

Teaninich 1993.png

  • T: More sweetness in the form of syrup & honey-[pancake toppings]-sweet than turns boozy,….. then more towards molasses – really boozy molasses. Some burnt spirit notes [rushed/over cut distillate?], turning boozy again – toffee boozy with a little tyre and butterscotch molasses [a la Strathclyde].
  • F: Kind of quirky and still kinda desirable and chewy with some bitterness – black treacle-like. Ok, it falls on its face a little but hey, I’ve won athletics medals that way [true story]. Draff notes at the death – that’s fine.
  • C: I can see why Teaninich is on that ‘off the radar’ radar, just don’t let Diageo know we know. Let’s stay with Teaninich and go older yet younger WB.

Scores 86 points

Teaninich 1983/1997 13yo Cadenhead ‘Authentic Collection’ 57.9% WB86[1]

  • N: Not so blatant as the previous Teaninich WB, but goes along similar lines. It’s strong [like the 1974 Mannochmore WB] and at 57.9% it’s no surprise really. Some applesastringent malt that speaks loudest, even with water. It’s peppery with some cloves and even some onion. It’s really strong, ok.

Teaninich 1983

  • T: Yeah, rawr!!,…. and robust plus [just like the Mannochmore], with massive, uncompromising power. Those apples on the nose come through with the crusty crust of short-crust pastry on top. Then come sour notes touching bitterness but on the front of the tongue – so this is no easy pleaser, you have to work at it. There’s more onion-malt and then a deep sour.
  • F: Still astringent to the last and a little raw. Being far younger than the previous 22yo WB, it’s [only] 13yo and it shows.
  • C: What a contrast to the 22yo. This is an ‘immediate’ malt, one that feels like the spirit is still ‘receiving’. It’s hard to overcome that deep sour. Let’s move along, again with Teaninich and an even earlier vintage WB.

Scores 77 points

Teaninich 1971 15yo G&M CC Brown label 40% [750ml] WB0

There are still plenty of 1970’s G&M 5cl miniatures around from virtually all the distilleries [open or closed], but not so for Teaninich WB – that’s how ‘under the radar’ this distillery really is. Imagine then my excitement at finding a 1971 vintage in a bar, from a full bottle and available for reasonable dosh. Hoorah for Dornoch bar!

  • N: Heinz sandwich spread [so a little corn syrup],…. and then even more sandwich spread. I must find out what’s in that stuff and discover it’s connection with both the whisky & food industries, as it’s a note that comes up often – apart from corn syrup that is. This is so generically G&M. Apologies for keep mentioning that, but frustratingly it’s all too true. So that translates as over-ripe fruits and stewed fruits with rhubarb and a little cubed candied ginger the main players. Seriously though, those fruits are on the edge of turning into fermenting brown squished things. Settles down as a thick, concentrated noser.

Teaninich 1971.png

  • T: Starts off with a similar kind of density also with a touch of tomato/Worcester sauce – almost. Then it becomes oaky with a little varnish – very oaky in fact with oaked vanillas. Then,…. then it’s lovely with super form to the finish. A good recovery.
  • F: Dry, heathery butter with more ripe apples. It lingers, it really lingers. Finishes with cigars, caramelised cigars – now there’s a thing!
  • C: There’s much to be discovered at Teaninich but grrr, this is as much about the generic G&M 1970’s profile as it is about the distillery. I shouldn’t complain, i also love that old style. it’s good whisky if you can get it, if you can get it,…. [name that song?] Before I collapse, let’s try one more. Let’s finish with a Lowland WB.

Scores 85 points

Bladnoch 1974/2002 SV cask #1781-82 [331 bts] 50.6% WB89.75[6]

Bladnoch 1974.png

  • N: It’s very malty, so fits in perfectly with previous company. Furthermore, it’s an oily, simple, strong and sturdy malt with a little chocolate [light chocolate], and hazelnuts.
  • T: Ooh yes, wow – that hits the herbal-tincture sweet-spot with a woody-creamy-maltiness. Yep, spot on!
  • F: More on herbal sweet, with herbal-husky vanilla and green split peas. Perfect cask taste – yes, I can actually taste the cask.
  • C: Tastes more than the sum of its parts whilst allowing you to enjoy those parts also. Certainly the best dram of the day and possibly the best dram of the week.

Scores 89 points

What a fine way to conclude one fine day [and evening], in the world’s best whisky bar! I’ll be up there again soon enough. Meanwhile you can read about my visit to the distillery out back behind the Dornoch bar, right here: LINK.