Easter spring clean: Bottle polishing

After a blissfuly peaceful yet productive week it’s time to unwind, but stuff those eggs, I’ve three bottles that desperately need polishing off. Time for an Easter spring clean!

Flight

This first bottle I opened around a year ago and these were my tasting notes for the first few months of it’s custody:

Glendronach ‘Cask strength’ Batch 2 Ob. 55.2% WB87.32[323] WF89

  • N: Leather, raisins, teak garden furniture, something smokey?
  • T: A malty, estery and grassy sherry number moving fresher/grassier with aniseed>lemon grass. A few months down the road we’ve banana candy & banana liqueur alongside the bitter-sweet oak and CS spirit, both contributing equally to a big, focus-intense experience.
  • F: Toffee, aniseed, Butterkist popcorn and more aniseed>fresh liquorice, finishing with a bitter-vanilla ice-cream.
  • C: A modern NAS malt that really brings out the ‘old skool’, in a modern way – ‘Retronach’. It took a while to grow on me/open up but its no less that 88 points – same score as batch 3 WB.

[Many moons later] Final reflection

Glendronach

  • N: Even the dregs are powerful and resinous right till the last with dry oak tannins [from youthful casks] to the fore. It’s a sweet & nutty one and very bourbon-ey now – where’s the PX and oloroso gone? Then again, this was never simply a ‘sherry in your face’ job. Ten minutes later [it’s still opening up?!], I’m getting a little burnt tyre as it becomes much more oily with that teak garden furniture note coming back round – brought out with water. Only a little water opens the whole profile out actually [after a year], the leather, the raisins, the teak, the oily rubbery=fruity burnt=smoke [and tweed jackets], all back in the hood. It’s a fab combo.
  • T: The palate is just fine neat or with water. It begins immediately with a waxy & malty, perfectly sweet chew,… much chew on malty & salty caramel.,,,,,,, simply delicious. The sweet oiliness really shines, never sugary, never too savoury. Fine form.
  • F: Chocolate threatens but it’s all-caramel that comes through with perfectly sweet cinnamon All-sorts – thats a new combo! After that its time for more of those big dry cask tannins ‘a le nez’, yet the sweet oozing caramel hangs on too. Long, firm finish.
  • C: Blind, I may have called this out as a Bruichladdich given it’s profile and ‘balls’. Despite leaving this bottle open at dangerously low levels for sometime, the spirit was robust enough to perform as well at the last as at first – in fact, it’s better. This is delicious stuff with blameless form and a bottle that demonstrates the importance of allowing a whisky to fully open up & out for best results. Once fully softened, it sung.

Scores 89 points

Glenfarclas 105 10yo [btl 2006] Ob. 60% WB84[236] [WF]88 WM86[7]

I drunk a 2013 [35cl] bottle of the ‘105’ in Thailand recently and really fell for it. Drinking whisky in the heat doesn’t always work out but that ‘105’ and 26 degree heat at night combined perfectly [Scored 87]. This is an older version from 2006, distilled therefore in the mid-late 1990’s.

Glenfarclas

  • N: Husky dry, with a little dry coconut and caramel. Then there’s the pan-Asian notes with celery/allium freshness, caramelised-roasted fennel, Sake-with-soy [is that a thing?], salted crisps, Bouillon vegetable stock powder, burnt molasses, black treacle, dark chocolate, sunflower seeds in their toasted husks,…. Wow, what a talker – far more so than the 2013 bottling. A nose 100 bloggers [like me] may conjure 1000 nosing notes for.
  • T: Much like the Glendronach with a similar waxiness & balanced savoury-sweetness, though it’s less salty & dry yet with more creamy oiliness. There’s a tangy sherried/winey sweetness with a savoury-sweet-vegetal note creeping in, though the sherry & char holds that in check. It’s far more laid back compared to the ‘ballsy’ Glendronach and just a tad sharp.
  • F: Much less dryness than from the Glendronach, this having a creamy>oily-caramel salivating ending with a sherried freshness and milk chocolate [a note so prevalent in the 2013 bottle], appearing finally at the end. A note of stale oily crisps occurs only right at the death, but there’s also a subtle complex interplay between the sherry char, malt and freshness to enjoy.
  • C: It’s a touch rough-n-ready at times yet currently one of the auction bargains. It would make for a superb session malt although i preferred the 2013 bottling a little more for its slick performance overall.

Scores 86 points

Glenalba 1981/2015 34yo ‘Sherry cask finish’ Lidl [Lot: JM/012 batch #0862B] 40% WB82.35[19] SW6.7 JM:95

Glealba

  • N: Much more gentle than the first two with heaps of stewed fruits served with woody pine ice-cream. The word is integration of all the flavours as you may expect from such an aged blend like this. This melding brings lovely fruity, foosty, Fimo notes, a deep & sweet light-medium char toasting, honeyed-roasted fennel, singed roasted garlic,… and only a little cardboard. I simply love this soft and old blended style. Seems like a high malt content to me.
  • T: Comes in at once but there’s no congestion. Texturally it’s rather silken [as Richard Woodard notes with reference to the GA 25yo SW]. After the sherry-sugar complex has passed, the sweet & deep oak murmurs whilst the old malt, grain [detectable here], and sherry ‘make hay’.
  • F: Mild rubbery sulphur which is rather tasty on this occasion with most of the sherry finishing playing out at the death. It’s a long finish on oily, old, mild-bitter oak notes and sherried tannins.
  • C: I’ve caned this bottle with speed, much like i have with a number of bottles of the 25yo GA WB. It can be rather easy to snub these Lidl whiskies but i think they’re quite alright. Despite their frailties/shortcomings/logistics, you won’t find a better old, ’old style’ blend for a more attractive price [£50 2017], and to quote Richard once again ‘everything is precise and knows it’s place’ [25yo]. This 34yo is well blended old scotch and if you haven’t tried it yet,….  I think i prefer this in some ways to the 25yo, yet both have their ups & downs.

Scores 85 points

Off to France now, hoping to catch up with some malts from the mainland.

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