More sampling delights from the 2020 Old & Rare Whisky Show, tasted in the comfort of home pre-lockdown. Today we explore seven plus two. We start this session with a more contemporary oldie from a closed distillery.
Caperdonich 1992 20yo Creative Whisky Tony Koehl Series cask #121137 52.2% WB87.95
- N: Bready/bakers yeasty-ness, apple & > firm pear > crumble.
- T: A continued yeasty fruity bready profile with [light] bakers yeast-y mash-y Littlemill vibes that talk of the stages of fermentation.
- F: A salivating spirulina-dryness that’s hard to describe. Also, light tinned fruits that border on waxy.
- C: Very decent all the way through. We can pop this one in the very popular straight-ahead category of malts that share a similarly balanced light-fruity distillate-forward profile.
Scores 88 points
Another contemporary oldie, this one from the C. Dully stand.
Fettercairn 1988/2019 30yo SV for C. Dully cask #2007 [btl #187/219] 56.9% WB89.30 WF89 WF88[Angus]
- N: Monkey nut/peanut oils with the skin and shells alongside a hessian note.
- T: Comes in [abv] strong and fizzy. It’s a moderately funny one, but not at all unpleasant – normally the sign of a better Fettercairn.
- F: Soft-hot with more husky almond nuttiness and a slightly strange oiliness which is well within limits. The final scene talks of peanut & cashew nut butters, set honey & Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, and dry Lockets at the death.
- C: An un-nutty/crazy Fettercairn for nut fans, and Fettercairn fans for that matter. With thanks to Christian and Pascal.
Scores 87 points
To Bihan Yang now for my first Avery’s bottling. Further reading: SW
Glen Grant 1969/1980 11yo Averys 40% [750ml] WB91.33 WF93
- N: Firmly sherried whisky that gives off candid aromas of a sweet sugary Toffee Crisp and fig & walnut liqueur. Underlying, it’s toasted > burnt > rubbery before the appearance of a meatiness with only a touch of rancio.
- T: Being all-sherry and oaky, I find this an astringent inward dram that refuses to blossom save for the rather unique sublime and gentile liquid-wax mouthfeel.
- F: We are both in agreement with Serge at this point: ‘,… short and dry’, although with a more succulent heathery-ness and a touch of smoke on the tail. Easter egg chocolate and barley sugar at the death.
- C: Even though it didn’t sit quite right with me [cask-driven quibbles], from the small sample we had, this was excellent. I’d have liked another shot at it.
Scores 89 points
Getting rare AND old-old now, I’m back to Whisky Auctioneer for another Glen Grant.
Glen Grant 45yo G&M Licensed bottling 40% [750ml] WB90.38
- N: An OBE’ed fruity number in the form of ripe fruits that were left unpicked and still hanging on their respective trees and shrubs well into late autumn. Other than that, we’ve a honeyed fruity malt with an old dusty blend-like quality.
- T: An OBE’ed bitter old blend.
- F: Cardboard-y and heathery.
- C: Darn it, another flat one. Not ok! No point in scoring bottles in these conditions.
Next up is an unusual vatted malt from G&M. It’s hard to tell from the label whether the Tamdhu was added to Glen Moray or vice versa and whether it was just the Tamdhu that was a single cask or whether this is a single cask vatting of the two – and what of percentages? Also, which of the two was the 4yo and how old was the other? Maybe it was a 4yo vatting. Anyone?
Glen Moray & Tamdhu 1964 4yo G&M single cask vatting #1036 59.3%
- N: Dusty fragrant keenly oozing spirit with a touch of barley-rum-funkiness and aromatic toasted peppercorns.
- T: Initially a little fizz before the entire palate enjoys a full coating [with water in the mouth] of this full-rich [lower yielding] barley-honey-forward bourbon-aged ‘4yo’ and all its underlying 1950s-60s [direct-fired, floor malting….etc.,] complexities. Adding to this sublime vatting is a grassy > floral easy-relaxed astringency from decades in glass.
- F: Slowly fading true & firm.
- C: Thick old barley essence from an era when yield was just one part of the equation. What a wonderful little oddity.
Scores 90 points
Another old & rare cask sample from G&M. These old Livets can be cracking, and are often in great nick. An abv of 50% gives it every chance.
Glenlivet 1938/1973 35yo G&M cask sample #105 50% [WF93]
- N: A boozy/runny/gooey compote-like old malt with a floral-herbal spongey pancake character and a light meatiness. In truth, it’s a nose that can offer you up any number of notes you care to conjure. This subtly expressive nose never spikes, being beautifully compressed [in music terms], my a master mixer!
- T: I imagine the most supreme chefs from around the world, were assembled at Glenlivet to concoct a collective wonder – and here it is! How could anyone not fall for this smoky < refill-sherry combo that talks of any number of flavour combos borne from spirit, oak, and glass ageing?
- F: As if it hasn’t already given enough, it opens out even further during the final phase. We enjoy an oaky chunky-fruit pie with thick vanilla custard and underlying pear drops. As if I needed to say, we aren’t talking about today’s vanillin, a world apart.
- C: Thank goodness for that abv that no doubt was crucial in helping to serve & preserve such a beautifully serendipitous recipe.
Scores 93 points
The Foz grabs a contemporary Glenlivet for comparison.
Glenlivet 12yo  Ob. Double Oak 40% WB81.75 Ralfy85 tWJ85
The beauty of a living library is you can instantly compare old with new. Though hardly comparable in most respects, we wanted to at least acknowledge Glenlivet’s distillery character between old gems like the previous 1938 cask sample to this present-day core range 12yo.
Remember the 12yo disappeared for a while? Founders Reserve proved no match and back came the 12yo.
- C: Would you believe that? There is indeed a firm family resemblance between this current 12yo and that amazing 1938 cask sample. Other than that, this contemporary bottling would need 20 more years in cask and 40 more in glass for there to be any reasonable further comparisons. This 12yo is very fair whisky in its own right.
Scores 83 points
Peat to finish, the whisky equivalent of having an after-dinner cigar.
Springbank 1990/2019 29yo Scoma ‘The Peat Bog’ cask #204 [239 bts] 47.5% [50cl] WB87.36 [WFcask#205]90
This is the only Springbank I procured at the show. The rest were too darn expensive.
- N: If tasting blind, I’d be thinking Islay over Campbeltown. The phenols from this Peat Bog transport me to a country fayre. Sweet, country/farmy and oily is the main character profile.
- T&F: As is often the Springbank way, this isn’t a complicated whisky, it’s a spot on drinker mind you! I note the quality of the illusionary dryness that isn’t actually dry. We also discuss whether this is nearer the profile of a Longrow than Springbank [given the heavy peatiness]. Eventually, we are satisfied that this is a Springbank through and through, albeit a heavier peated example. Without any excessive engineering in sight [as expected], it’s impossible not to become a little emotional over these ‘au naturel’ malts.
- C: This would surely make any whisky fan into a Springbank convert?
Scores 89 points
The Foz offers more, as is his way. One more for the road then.
Glenburgie 21yo  Elixir Black Friday [1800 bts] 53.1% WB89.11 WoW90
- C: Crisp fruity and oily with a clean/chiselled form and a chewy mouthfeel. Slender notes, excellent whisky [and a steal at £80].
Scores 88 points
7 thoughts on “Old & Rare 2020: Young-old & Old-old”
Enjoy your reviews. I’m curious as to how much one should be prepared to spend on samples at this show. It seems all too easy to burn through hundreds of pounds.
Indeed, attending the O&R show is a sure-fire way of burning through money at an alarming rate. However, it’s cheaper to try than buy [full bottles], and what an experience.
I justify the expense by spreading the cost over the year [in my head]. Indeed, it may take me a year to get through what I procured at the show and to save up for 2021.
Prices per 1cl were as follows [in order above]:
Caperdonich 20yo: £5
Fettercairn 1988 30yo: £4
Glen Grant 1969 Averys: £20
Glen Grant 45yo G&M: £10
G&M vatting Glen Moray & Tamdhu 1964 4yo: £15
Glenlivet 1938 35yo G&M: £25
Springbank 1990 29yo The Peat Bog’: £7
Fair enough – hard to complain with prices as reasonable as that. I’ll keep the show on my radar for next year.