Following on from Part 1:
Legendary [murky-dark] juice, with an impressive circulation of 20400 bottles according to Whiskybase. However, this bottle when opened at the first Old & Rare Show in 2017 [blog], was deemed a goner by the exhibitor – tragedy! I took away a free sample just to make sure, and as not to ruin my palate on the day.
- N: Initially OBE-dry orange juice over Shandy meets soot, pickled gherkins on salted crisps and briny plasticine. An hour or so later, we’ve gin-like botanicals, pickled miso/tamarind, honeyed=dry herbs, used tins and tinned fruit segments [oranges, tangerines>apricots].
- T: Oh yes, this is so gone. It’s dusty, bitter and weak, though all the original magic juice desperately tries to rally with a strange hollow-ish bitter travel.
- F: A bitter, dry waxy finish.
- C: A frustrating experience, as it’s not unpleasant, but unreachable.
Suspicion sets in when a core-range classic gets a re-branding. Branding costs, and it’s often at the expense of us and the whisky. Let’s see.
- N: Some lovely sherry casks are evidently in use, complimented by a touch of peat and liquorice Fairy Fancies. With an oaky dryness, there’s a welcoming softness overall.
- T: I’d prefer this at 46% but 43% is just about ok. Fairly well rounded in the middle stages.
- F: Clean balanced finish with that profile lingering, mainly now on dried fruits & raisins into a light peaty < dryness.
- C: It seems the price has remained just under £100, for now. Quality-wise, I’d get a bottle in sooner than later if you’re tempted.
Scores 87 points
Released earlier this year , it went straight into WB’s top 5, all-time highest rated Glenallachie’s.
- N: The nose talks of salty/seaweed-y oak groynes, lightly fried [and aromatically spiced] almond shells=cashews, buttered coconut, mouldy/chalky [cheese<book] shops, fusty dried apricots/tea leaves & dried seeds, recently read newspapers, leatherette, a little shoe polish, [glacier] cherry liqueur, herbal Quaker Oak Crisps, old oak fence posts, sugar-coated/honeyed [pea]-nut bars…. you get the picture. As much as I’m loving my Christmas sluggers [the Glenfarclas 105 and BBR’s Sherry cask blend], you enter another realm with these rare old malts. Some of the grand oldies like this one begin slipping away from their original category towards the wider spirits family tree, with firm references to Cognac/Armagnac and even suggestions of full-bodied dark red wines not far away. Call me a cynic, but I cannot help sensing the palate won’t quite live up to its superb aroma.
- T: The oak arrives first, and despite the impressive abv, it dims quickly. Adding water [in the mouth] however, crucially brings out more of a fatty chew along with a narrow/acute fruity meatiness with dry sweet-citrus fruit smoothies, some very light yet tasty rolling tobacco, an aged old-skool herbal bourbon-sweetness, light & sweet craft cordials and plenty more oak fence panels. We’ve more fusty dried seeds, tea leaves, dried herbs and nut husks on the turn.
- F: A woody pepperiness ratty-tat-tats at the door whilst the remnants ring on and on.
- C: Whilst the palate requires some attention, one can sit right back in ones armchair with the nose and let the world spin by. If you can afford it, you’ll enjoy your bottle no end. Reminds me a little of the Trojan [blog].
Scores 91 points
Caol Ila 1980/2016 35yo HL Old and Rare [46 bottles] 52.1% WB90.71
- N: Bourbon cask maturation can be so refreshing after sherry, even after great sherry numbers. The peat here is firm yet modest, which means it’s integrated. Notes aren’t as obvious as the Glenallachie, but I picked out almond shells, lightly salted wet pebbles, very light lemon-y salad dressing, lemon drizzle biscuits and breaded oysters [imagine]. Caol Ila’s signatory dirty oiliness lies within, something I distinctly noted from my first Caol Ila 12yo I bought many years ago in Swanage.
- T: There’s no need for water, though dilution will immediately lead to a thicker mouthfeel. Either way there’s an assured yet refreshing/pick-me-up bitter citrus cereal development, the smoke utterly assimilated. It takes water like a duck to, er,…. Nutty witch hazel on the turn.
- F: Wraps up fairly smartly with a peated < malted barley chew, as candid as the raw ingredients themselves on a distillery tour. Further nutty witch hazel action concludes, though it also salivates at the death.
- C: HL bottled only 46 in 2016, but at 52.1% abv, we may see some shared or sister cask bottlings from other independents in due course, unless the water evaporation was significant. I over-scored this last time , reflective of its surroundings no doubt. There’s little subjective romance here [compared to the Glenallachie], nor too much complexity. This is simply decent spirit, well-aged in a decent cask.
Scores 90 points
Happy New Year!!