Flash flood Friday: Old & Rare samples #2

Its been months since i begun working through my TWE Old & Rare samples [blog]. Time today to enjoy six more beauties whilst the heavens contemplate on opening.

Tamnavulin [Glenlivet] 20yo [1980’s] Moon-import [Btl #1236] 46% [75cl] WB91.24[23]

An Italian import. Casks: Sherry wood. Colour: prune juice/old cognacs. Legs: super-tacky.

Tamnavulin 20 best.jpg

  • N1: No sherry bomb in the modern [2010’s] sense, given the likely bottle ageing/softening, likely refill-cask use and style of the day – this is distillate from around the 1960’s. Bottled at 46% however, this Tamnavulin has certainly retained its vibrancy. Given just how reminiscent it is of old cognacs=armagnacs of the same period, i can only conclude that French oak must have been in predominant use here. In the main, beautifully integrated grapey/sherry-oaked nose with a herbal, linseed-oil, wood-shaving nuttiness. Undercurrent notes include hints of vanilla, sweet beets, fig, pickled gherkins, wet ivy, roast potatoes! Think ill move along to the Coleburn & Convalmore first and come back to this more dessert-style dram.
  • N2: Im back! After the C & C, this old sherried Speysider appears even more old-skool Armagnac-y than before. Think Dupeyron, Darroze, Martell, Courvoisier – a blend of. So, an old [& old-style], grape-base spirit aged in [French] oak, all of it seemingly coming from the casks. Not sure much of the spirit is getting a look in.
  • T: Same story. Soft aromatic-spiced prune juice blended with Cognac & Armagnac. There is a faint maltiness underneath but you have to go looking. Mouthfeel is wonderfully squidgy-dry.
  • F: More squidgy-dry with boot polish, oiled old leather, cherry brandy, more grapey, sherried oaky stuff and tannins.
  • C: Cricket is a game of bat & ball, and whilst no-one wants to see a one-sided competition, this game was still rather good. Whilst us malt-heads look for malternatives, heres a cogna/armagna-ternative.

Scores 86 points


Coleburn 1979/2000 21yo Ob. Rare Malts 59.4% WB87.16[114] WM83[3]

Coleburn 21.jpg

  • N: Starts off with a fistful of dry grasses [hay/straw]. a firm sponge with subtle vanilla>lemon essence, a [marjoram] herbal note, a subtle-fruit rolled-oat raw crumble spiced with cloves and a little dry farm/cowpat note [hot summers day dry]. The cask directs a firm savoury dry woodiness as the fruit crumble fades in & out. Seems a little cagey at the moment but i sense more curiosities lurk beneath. Later on we have a development of old oil paint brushes, metallic cream, rhubarb and jackfruit alongside more recognised Speyside floral notes and spongey & grassy tones – as detected first off. Add water for a more recognisable, softer, still farmy, broad savoury>sweet malt.
  • T: Intense, sustained arrival with no peppery heat or troublesome spikes. Mouthfeel is oily [neat] and waxier with water, with a rubbery-spongey textural quality. Water allows flow & movement, though its journey is steady, relaxed and unrushed.
  • F: A soft warm spiciness builds. The finish however is fairly short though it hums a little, leaving with it a savoury, slightly industrial/metallic edge. Not totally satiating, but most likeable and one you can put your faith in to return with more goodies.
  • C: Look at all that blurb! On another day i reckon i could be happy with noting this simply as ‘an enjoyable light-farmy, firm savoury-grassy, Spey-style malt with a decent body and an industrial edge – showing its best with a little water’. On the other hand, it is a super-interesting whisky given its rarity, & un-commercial old Spey-style, one im so glad i have had the luxury of time with.

Scores 87 points


Convalmore 1978/2003 24yo Ob. Rare malts 59.4% WB89.64[150] WF90 WM87[12]

Convalmore 24.jpg

  • N: This leads on nicely from the Coleburn, given their regional & stylistic similarities. This is however far more chatty first off and sweeter, with honeyed tart-ish fruits and a handful of sultanas alongside a sweet-smokey farmy note, apple pie, oaky chocolate and dried nettle [tea] leaves. It shares with the Coleburn the same oily abv pow, both bottled at a whooping 59.4%. Whereas the Coleburn opens up [like most malts] over time, unprecedentedly  this Convalmore appears to become more astringent & stubborn. That aside, theres a really interesting industrial vs rural complexity going on. Adding water brings more astringent firmness [a fruity-ish Mannochmore if you will], with a little malty/beer leather developing and occasional flashes of [synthetic] fruity essential oil vibrancy, alongside used plasters [Serge took me down that path], aromatic spices & camphor – good just got gooder.
  • T: Partially stubborn on the palate too but most desirable, a style I like. Savoury>oily, thick, full bodied yet squidgy on the surface – in English: firm on the inside, softer on the outside. Taste-wise we have a straight-ahead/no fuss oily-barley/malty style with a fascinating combo of waxiness, herbal[tea]-fruitiness and coal. Theres also the mouthfeel to be savoured, one that becomes slicker & slicker with a shy ode to Brora.
  • F: Waxy-fresh finish longer than the Coleburn, and though somewhat floury=metallic, its cleaner and a touch closer to satiable.
  • C: What a good pair, this & the Coleburn. Both are excellent and I liked both just as much, though the Convalmore pips a few more points for that mouthfeel, finish and a little more complexity.

Scores 89 points


Glen Albyn 1974/2004 30yo Blackadder, Raw Cask #1601 [258 bts] 58.1% WB87.33[3] WF85 WM83[2]

From a single cask Hogshead. I cant profess to know the distillery character as this is only my fourth Glen Albyn ever, but i found the previous three most favourable: [86]WB, [88] WB and particularly the Rare Malts 1975 [89] WB.

Glen Albyn 1974.jpg

  • N: Despite being abv-huge, its an easy yet complex reader. I wont start ‘reeling-off’ as usual [sigh of relief], so here instead are some highlight notes. Lets start with the bitter-sweet herbal molasses, the liquorice wood, citrus biscuits, Terrycloth, sweet-chilli relish, waxy porridge… I like this slightly oddball, natural style – ooh i can’t resist it, im going in!
  • T: Sweet-bitter, a touch farmy and totally forgiving with a few drops of water in the mouth. Rather innocuous in the middle stages and ‘as-a-bone’ dry into the finish.
  • F: Bone-dry waxiness, fruity newspaper mache,… and with that its largely gone with hints of honeyed grassy porridgy<barley to finish.
  • C: Though ive only had now four Glen Albyn, a theme thats developing is: a quirky natural-style – one im rather enjoying.

Scores 86 points


Bunnahabhain 1973/2013 40yo Whiskyman ‘Birthday dram’ [btl #83/155] 48.5% WB91.53[64] WF91

I had this at TWE O&R show and just had to take a little more home to re-savour. I scored it 90 points at the time.


  • N: Its one of those ‘aah’ drams, perfectly-sweet & creamy, served with a supreme fruit salad [strawberries, apples, melons, papaya,…..], custard creams and pastries galore – all of it waxed-up like apples & pears prepared for a Green Grocer display. Add a few herbs [marjoram, spearmint perhaps], sweet dandelion & burdock, other floral fragrant delights, ginger beer, sweet prune juice, dates,… you get the picture. In short, a heavenly aromatic/fragrant, tropical fruit-basket>herbal candle.
  • T: I didnt take this home for ‘under-the-microscope’ scrutiny, i simply wanted to enjoy more of its ‘super-happy place’.
  • F: Aside from the [tropical] elixir-sweet fruit basket, theres a key counter note of bitter-sour dunnage & sweet-bitter mandarin citrus running underneath – one which naturally belies this malts true grand age.
  • C: And what of age, and score for that matter? – just a number, thats what. Joy in a glass right here, a fine way to celebrate life [starting] at 40.

Scores 91 points


Glen Ord 1962/1989 26yo R W Duthie 56.2% WB94[10]

Another dram i tried at the O&R show and felt it necessary to take home and ponder over. I scored it 91 points on the day.

This is definitely my last of the night, so much epic-ness! First impressions: this is a firm, straight-forward malt whisky and no messing, sharing similar traits to the Glen Albyn as well as the Coleburn & Convalmore. All are bottled at strength, all old boys [though this is the oldest by bottling year], and all solid/robust in style with a deeper/more subtle-complex undercurrent – which is why I brought them home for more considered contemplation.


  • N: Bitter<sweet complex of rum, molasses, ginger, corn syrup, maple syrup, cognac, prune syrup, fresh figs, dried figs,,…. Sure its sweet, but not overly so. Thats helped by an oat biscuit base, lime-coconut, [sweet] grapefruit, granola, honeyed cornflakes,… ok, its sweet – a controlled sweet with a sweet-savoury/citrus base.
  • T: Beautiful arrival, just so, clean, slick body and opening out all flower-like and leading onto a slick chew. Doesnt do a great deal [just yet] but those sugars are engagingly tasty. That sweet-complex never gets too out of hand, though theres certainly a Jalebi stickiness to it – the sweet grapefruit citrus helping to balance things. A serene calm right now but the cogs are turning.
  • F: After a heathery slick and beautiful oaked cereals, it finishes impeccably with a gentle sweet vanilla-barley spirit coupled with that now firmly established [sherried] old-skool sugar-oak complex,………… hold on,.. it hasn’t nearly finished yet,…..
  • C: I didnt quite manage to take in just how beautiful, impeccable & flawless this was at the show, given the nature of things at public events. Its true brilliance struck me during the [never-ending] finish that i could allow myself at home. From what ive experienced of old Macallan, id put this on par with some of those stella 60’s bottlings, in both performance and style. A fully satiating whisky.

Scores 93 points

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