With this non-theme still going strong, here’s four more for the tasting archives. First up, a seminal malt all whisky enthusiasts would do well to have on their perma-shelf.
[Knockdhu] An Cnoc 12yo  Ob. 40% WB80.17 WF84 WM77
- N: At first, freshly cut [orchard] fruits, soon followed by offerings along the lines of stewed fruits and sweetened well-ripened melons with a floral honeyed aroma over straw,… and from Serge – dandelions! I’ll further add: broad beans, peas in the pod, corn flour, and daisies to this subtle yet beguiling brew.
- T: Reminding me somewhat of Balblair of a similar age and strength, this is not disappointing at 40%. Indeed, there’s plenty of fight from this minimum-strength-bottled malt with a more than reasonable distillate/cask balance that holds onto some weight and texture. Adding just a drop of water provides grapefruit notes and more of that dandelion bitterness. Neat, stewed fruits, caramel, waxy maltiness,…. either way, it’s never dry or drying.
- F: More caramel and light milk chocolate towards the tail over a charred oaky mash. Could there be more age to this than the 12 stated?
- C: It’s been a fair while since I visited this one but it still remains a firm favourite and a strong alternative to Balblair 12. Either way, Inverhouse are happy.
Scores 84 points
Aultmore 2010/2020 The Firkin Tawny Port cask #SC15 [273 bts] 48.9% [30ml] WB88.35
Compliments of Nick who, after I’d enjoyed a flight of five at the Croydon Whisky Festival 2023 [WLP], handed me this 30ml sample as a party bag takeout.
- N: The more you look,… varied fruits over breads to pastries, a savoury [Shreddies] cereal mash, a vegetal [watercress/lambs lettuce] element, musty port with cheeses, manuka honey, leather & tobacco, slightly congealed vegetable oil,…. Unlike those five other Firkin’s I tried [WLP], this one sports a distinct and fundamental [wine] cask influence.
- T: Fruity again – orchard & tropical – and a touch perfumed, this one is fairly cask-led without smothering the spirit and its silk thickish yet somewhat prickly mouthfeel.
- F: A long unravel and decent-length finish with just a little more cinnamon wood prickliness – especially neat – over strawberries and [ice]-cream, Strawberry Split, vanilla, nettles, drying tobacco leaves, and drying dunnage-y/dank bitter wood. Blind, I’d imagine this would be impossible to age.
- C: If not technically water-tight, this 9-10yo Aultmore packs a lot in with great credit to that tawny port cask procuring complex results beyond its years.
Scores 86 points
Charbay Double & Twisted [2014/+-2022] Ob. 45% [750ml] [WB0]
Whilst charbay.com says: ‘In 1983 Charbay opened in Ukiah, California – No. 177 distillery in America. Since then over 2000 distilleries have come and some have gone’, WF says: ‘Some garage whiskey’. ’Basically, it’s beer distilled in a Charentais still (cognac still) and matured in active wood’.
Charbay.com [again] tells us this is ‘A blend of custom brewed Straight Malt, Pilsner Beer and Big Bear Black Stout, Straight malt and Pilsner aged 4 years, Stout aged 8 years’, [whiskeyjug]: ‘,… created to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the distillery and created by their master distiller Marko’,
This particular release was distilled in 2014, released??
- N: A bizarre/unique [innovative?] bouquet, reminiscent of elderflower wine into gin borne from a complex botanical & spiced basket. Reminiscent of Bache Gabrielsen 1971-vintage cognac [WLP], we’ve a drop of Cointreau, a confectionary sweetie mix combo, buttered popcorn, dry spiced toffee into a light molasses, sweetened whisked egg whites with lemon juice, hint of [vanilla] icecream, sweet grapefruit into blood orange, [Stone’s] ginger wine,…
- T: Tastes as you’d imagine from the nose with a fizzy herbal blonde to dark beer-like delivery – the pilsner and stout incredibly candid and neatly integrated. With a decent oily weight throughout, the abv strength of 45% is plenty.
- F: Lingering bitter botanical hops-like finish. I spot no flaws save for it’s more like a fortified beer than whisky for the most part.
- C: Extremely well made beer-centric whiskey. Are beer lovers not loving this too? An ideal introduction/gateway into whisky for the beer drinker one could imagine. With thanks to Fi Shoop.
Scores 87 points
The Wanderer 1992/2016 24yo Exile Casks American Oak #1602 [188 bts] 54.6% [50cl] WB88 WF85 WN89 PS4.5
- N: An eclectic [random] zesty pokey fruity [saw]-dusty ex-bourbon number with column still-like leanings, the abv acting like a Spanx body sock [if you will] that helps to hold this old skool composition together. Vanilla and still-dry fatty desiccated coconut notes appear firmly with time.
- T: Pokey and drying – neat or otherwise – with a workable/manageable spirity oily fruit tea/perfumed soapy/hairspray [off] note I’ve not come across in a long long time – reminiscent of a 25yo ‘Rare Cask Reserve’ from William Grant [WB], though a lot better.
- F: Suggestions of dry marmalade and blood orange over [saw]dusty & chalky-dry still slightly pokey/fresh [spirity & casky] coconut-y mashy malty finish.
- C: This release didn’t float my boat as Exile Casks’ The Trojan [WLP88] did, though many respected commentators spoke highly of it. Though I favoured The Trojan, it too was no masterpiece though both were released at a time when price point, provenance and presentation were proportional. Treat The Trojan and The Wanderer, then, as a charming pair of their time.
Scores 85 points