Another super night at the Lord Nelson in Brighton sees Malt ‘n’ Copper host ‘Variety Night’, a random selection of six currently available malts to feast upon. First up, a grain.
Strathclyde 2005/2016 10yo DL ‘Old Particular’ #11062 50.9% WB86
This cask must be following me around. I know it well.
Unlike stronger spirits, sherry doesnt strip as much of the oak away, meaning those refill sherry casks have more to give in the following years than say rum or ex bourbon casks. This would seem to work in the favour of Strathclyde grain which extracts a huge amount of wood info in only 10 years.
- N: A molasses-sugar complex mainly on toffee/butterscotch with a sweet-honeyed cereal base and a touch of rose water. Becomes really syrupy an hour in, like an undiluted fruit cordial.
- T: Sweet-sugary woody toffee complex.
- F: Short but with a similar form to a single malt. A varied & changing profile over time.
- C: My old faithful. Still the best 10yo grain whisky i know.
Scores 90 points
Benriach opened in 1897, two years before the Patterson crash. It closed two years later as a result of the crash and the prevailing domestic economic, and didn’t reopen again until 1965. It closed yet again in 2002. A turn of fortune from 2003 onwards has seen the expansion of Benriach, a reopening of its maltings, the acquisition of other distilleries [Glendronach & Glenglassaugh] and this year, the appointment of Rachel Barrie SW as master blender. Benriach is still 70% family owned.
Benriach CS Batch 1  Ob. 57.2% WB83.35 WF86
- N: Creamy emulsion, cracked pepper on vanilla wafer and plenty of funfair goodies. ‘New skool’ [Benromach-y] vibe.
- T: Light & crisp and initially more prickly heat with water. Develops later on honeyed barley and soft sweet lemon [so classic Speysider], becoming richer and creamier over time.
- F: Creams up beautifully and flows home. Super form.
- C: Decent all-rounded ‘new skool’ creamy malt. It’s got everything a decent whisky should have.
Scores 87 points
Stopping outside the Tormore distillery is tricky enough due to it being situated right on the side of the fast bending A96, but getting inside it is another matter. Arguably the most photographed yet least visited distillery in the world, people with no interest in whisky stop in amazement to take photos of this striking building. They would be excused for thinking it was more a hydro-spa than a distillery, designed by Alexander Cullen [and Sir Albert Richardson] in 1959. The surrounding buildings are as equally stunning, more akin to posh, private estate dwellings than industrial out-houses.
Tormore is presently owned by Chivas Regal, who also own Strathclyde.
Tormore 2002/2017 14yo GM Private Collection [4000 bts] 45% WB85.28
This Tormore sees a 22 month finish in Cote Rotie wood after around 12 years in bourbon. Cote Rotie wine is one of the most famous of the northern Rhône appellations.
- N: Copper-clean with some nutty sulphur & tyre. Overall quite vague with notes of steamed new potatoes, leathery potato mash and tomato & fresh lemons with a tutti-frutti vanilla sweetness. An oddity so far.
- T: Light sulphury/fruity tyres, that sulphury quality working nicely with the red wine.
- F: Short finish on burnt peanuts.
- C: If you were asked to produce a whisky using a coppery/sulphury Tormore whisky and Cote Rotie red wine casks, i think you’d be pleased with this result. In that respect, it’s quite the success.
Scores 85 points
[Springbank] Longrow 2003/2017 13yo ‘Red’ Ob. [9000 bts] 51.3% WB87.65 Blog
My second visit of this Longrow, the ‘Red’ indicating the 15 month De Toren Malbec Finish.
- N: Salty fruitiness and creamy peat [straight-ahead/standard peat smoke], and firm active oak.
- T: An easy drinker but a bit fizzy at times. Becomes deliciously sweet with a salty creamy-barley maltiness, a candy & wine-y fruitiness and a sweet onion freshness.
- F: Vanilla mints.
- C: A touch tedious on a personal level but a fine whisky regardless.
Scores 87 points
Ardbeg An Oa  Ob. 46.6% WB83.72 WF85
Made up from all-sorts of casks.
- N: Mainly vegetal custard creams and loads of stewed veg – cabbage, carrots, leeks, parsnips,.. – oh, and lemonade!
- T: Squidgy & foamy with vegetal peat and bin juice.
- F: Quickly fades before a final show of vegetal sweet ash.
- C: It’s pretty decent but nothing stella.
Scores 85 points
Ardbeg Kelpie  Ob.  46% WB83.59
Kelpie is a Scottish term for a mystical shape-shifting water spirit that inhabits the waterways of Scotland. It’s aged in virgin Black-Sea oak casks and bourbon barrels.
- N: Potent nose, thicker than the An Oa. Yet more lactose notes [a feature in this evenings tasting] and sulphury & mineral hues [from distillation?], with other more particular notes that include flower pollen, suede and peas.
- T: Arrives as expected and does all the right things thereafter. More oily vegetal/lactose movement later on.
- F: Grassy and fruity with lots going on besides.
- C: As Spam said ‘It tastes like Ardbeg you could get back in the naughties, but now at three times the the price’ – £95, in Oct ’17. Good point and inflation aside, this is a very good whisky, a polished Ardbeg. Scores one more point than the An Oa which is half the price of this Kelpie.
Scores 86 points
Thankyou to the Malt ‘n’ Copper team.
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