Jul 172011
 

BRUICHLADDICH TASTING

LEGACY SERIES – ONE TO SIX / DNA 1&2 / 40 YEAR OLD

 

What does LEGACY mean as its applies to this series of whiskies tasted?  We, the gang of four (almost the gang of three, after a heated debate over scoring) set out to answer this question.  Tempers were stemmed after one of the gang of four reminded us that burying a body in the ground might prove to be difficult after one’s been drinking.

The Legacy here is in the stock of whisky laid down prior to the distillery being mothballed in 1994.  And in the stillmen who worked there before the production went silent.  Stillmen like Neil MacTaggart, who started at Bruichladdich in 1970; Duncan McGillivray in 1974 (sorry for breaking your sod cutter/lifter back in 2008); and Duncan MacFadyen in 1989, who came back in 2001 to continue production.  The Legacy is also in the rich history, starting with the brothers William, John and Robert Harvey who built the distillery in 1881, up on the bank near the shores of Loch Indaal and named it as such.

I believe that the distillery workers and the owners of Bruichladdich, past and present, collectively set out to make the FINEST SPIRIT that could be made, as they draw great pride (also daily drams) from their jobs.  This legacy quote from Woodrow Wilson summarizes how I feel about whisky making:  “You are not here merely to make a living.  You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a FINER SPIRIT of hope and achievement.  You are here to enrich the world.  You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand”.

What is the future of Bruichladdich and the continued  legacy of this great establishment?  It is no secret that Andrew Grey is no longer working for the distillery, rumors of a sale persist, an unwelcome recession has hurt cash flow, along with delaying plans to start up a second distillery at Port Charlotte and criticism still abounds over the amount of expressions on the market.  But people come and go, every distillery sells sooner or later, the economy will rebound and having a greater choice in your whisky section is always a good thing.  If the current ownership were to sell (PLEASE, JUST NOT TO DIAGEO!!!) the legacy left behind by Andrew Grey, Jim McEwan (please never stick your finger in my whisky glass again), Mark Reynier, Simon Coughlin and the other thirty plus owners and employees, would be tasted for years to come and all the innovation and hard work would be realized by both the future owners and by us, the whisky drudges and judges.

 

 

LEGACY #1   –   36 YEAR OLD  40.6% ABV BOTTLED 2002 BOTTLE #896

NOSE:  Honey, butter, floral, fruity.

TASTE:  Cinnamon, raspberry/strawberry.  Very sweet.

FINISH:  Medium to long.  Tad briny.

ASSESSMENT:  Nice and pleasant to drink.

RATED:  #5 of the six Legacy series and #8 overall

 

LEGACY #2   –  37 YEAR OLD 41.8% ABV BOTTLED 2003 BOTTLE #972 OF 1500

NOSE:  Punchy peach.  Grassy.

TASTE:  Sweet, nutty.

FINISH:  Medium, little dry.

ASSESSMENT:  Worn down by age.  I think I can taste Jim McEwan’s finger in this one.

RATED:  #6 of the Legacy series and #9 overall.

 

LEGACY #3  –   35 YEAR OLD 40.7% ABV BOTTLED 2004 BOTTLE #206 OF 1572

NOSE:  Butterscotch, very creamy.  Fruity.

TASTE:  Almost tropical.  Chewy.

FINISH:  Great long smooth finish.

ASSESSMENT:  Reminds me of eating fresh strawberries with clotted cream at Wimbledon.

RATED:  #1 of the Legacy series and #3 overall.

 

LEGACY #4  –    32 YEAR OLD 47.5% ABV BOTTLED 2005 BOTTLE #129 OF 820

NOSE:  Apples & raisins.  Spices.

TASTE:  Honey. Botanicals.  The sweet honey coats your tongue.

FINISH:  Long and warming.

ASSESSMENT:  Like drinking liquid gold.  Similar to the 1970.

RATED:  #4 of the legacy series and #6 overall.

 

LEGACY #5   –   33 YEAR OLD 40.9% ABV BOTTLED 2006 BOTTLE # 993 OF 1690

NOSE:  Oaky.  Caramel and almonds .  Apricots.

TASTE:  Very demure.  Sweet.  Licorice.

FINISH:  Creamy.  Medium.

ASSESSMENT:  Not a bad expression of an older Bruichladdich.

RATED:  #3 of the legacy series and  #5 overall.

 

LEGACY #6   –   34 YEAR OLD 41.0% ABV BOTTLED 2007 BOTTLE #170 OF 1704

NOSE:  Light and dark fruits.  Honey and mint.

TASTE:  Cream.  Cherries and cinnamon.

FINISH:  Medium and very light.

ASSESSMENT:  Completely lip-smacking.

RATED:  #2 of the legacy series and #4 overall.

 

 

DNA #1   –   36 YEAR OLD 41.0% ABV BOTTLE #673 BOURBON & SHERRY CASKS  FROM SIXTIES & SEVENTIES FINISHED IN CHATEAU LE PIN WINE CASKS

NOSE:  Candied cherries.  Floral and some honey.

TASTE:  Vanilla, milk chocolate.  Raisins.

FINISH:  Long.  Little dry.  Fades gently at the end.

ASSESSMENT:  What a great drink.  Could drink this all day long.

RATED:  #1 of the DNA series and #2 overall.

 

DNA #2  –   32 YEAR OLD 47.4% ABV DISTILLED 1977 BOTTLED 2009 BOTTLE # 385 OF 844

NOSE:  Musty.  Spearmint.  Butterscotch.

TASTE:  Licorice.  Chocolate.  Nutty.

FINISH:  Crisp and long.

ASSESSMENT:  Nice drink to savor.

RATED:  #2 of the DNA series and #7 overall.

 

40 YEAR OLD  43.1% ABV  DISTILLED OCTOBER 24 , 1964 BOTTLED 2004  BOTTLE #230 OF 550

NOSE:  Minty fresh bourbon.  Farmy.  Ripe melons.

TASTE:  Tropical and much more.  Creamy.

FINISH:  Long and enjoyable.  Bit briny at the end.

ASSESSMENT:  Number one favorite of the night.  Best expression of Bruichladdich I have ever tasted.

RATED:  #1 overall.

 

 

*Please, Bruichladdich, buy back as many privately owned casks as you can find, to bottle more of the 40 year!

It seems that whenever  it comes to Bruichladdich, for every action there is an equal and opposite criticism, more so than any other Distillery.

 

– Maltmonster

 Posted by at 9:40 am
Jul 122011
 

The Charm of a Southern Belle

Deep in the heart of Kentucky, on the banks of Hardin’s Creek, there rests a tiny little burg called Loretto.  Aside from downhome charm and quaint Southern beauty, this Marion County ‘city’ offers the world something equally full of heart and character.

That something is Maker’s Mark bourbon.

At once steeped in tradition and forging new paths, the Maker’s distillery is a veritable treasure in the American whiskey scene.  The distillery has been producing in its current incarnation since 1954, though under other guises production on site began as early as 1805.

The bourbon we know today is one of premium prestige and affordable approachability.

Maker’s characteristic sweetness, heft (45%) and spice have made it a household name globally, while the bourbon’s unique mashbill (70% corn, 16% red winter wheat and 14% malted barley) allows us a drink that sparkles like a gem in the formidable gold setting that comprises the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

The classy addition of the red wax dipped neck makes this a bourbon sans compare.

One final personal bias I have to add…any bourbon known as a ‘whisky’ and not a ‘whiskey’, for some inexplicable reason, also scores an extra point or two from this guy.

 

 

Maker’s Mark – New Make Spirit

Details:  Clear as a virgin’s conscience.  ABV unknown.  AKA ‘white dog’ as American new-make spirit.

Nose:  Big raw grains and orchard fruit.  Mild waxy notes.  Somewhat plastic.  Foot-like and alcoholic.  Lacks the rich fruity dessert notes of mature Maker’s, but the shadow is there.

Palate:  Cherry lip balm and grain liquor.  Raw and footy.  Definitely needs wood influence.  The potential is barely recognizable (again…just hints).  Finish is primarily corn.

Verdict:  A little aggressive.  Not in terms of alcoholic bite or anything, but in a somewhat cloying foot odor that is hard to get around.  The spice, vanilla and fruit that so characterizes Maker’s Mark is obviously not here yet due to the lack of wood influence.  There is something almost plastic-like in this ‘just off the still’ juice.  Not for the faint-hearted.

 

Maker's Mark Original Red Seal

 

Maker’s Mark – Original Red Seal

Details:  Aged between 6 and 7 ½ years.  Rich honeyed-amber color.

Nose:  Honeyed fruit.  Corn and oak.  Rich cherry spice and creamy dessert notes.  Hint of toffee and vanilla.  Mild Cacao.  Wax (think lip balm).  Just a hint, fleeting, of something sharp and green.

Palate:  Oak carries vanilla and spices.  Hint of mint.  Honeyed grains and cherry.  Finish is corn/grain and oaked cherry.

Verdict:  Biggest fruity notes of all.  Deep and mysterious.  Charming as hell.  The fruit marries oh so well with the spice and wood and the vanilla tempers everything beautifully.  A must have in any whisky cabinet, methinks.

 

Maker's Mark 46

 

Maker’s Mark – 46

Details:  Starts off as standard mature Maker’s Mark aged 6 to 7 ½ years.  Seared oak staves are inserted into the cask to add a caramelized sugar depth before the cask is resealed to mature for a few months longer.  The ‘46’ refers to the batch experiment that finally ‘made the cut’ so to speak.

Nose:  Wax (lypsyl).  More caramel and vanilla than standard Maker’s, and a touch less fruit.  Healthy hint of maple.  Fruity, but less cherry than I would expect from this distillery.  Dusty corn.  Vanilla and a mild nutmeg.

Palate:  Spiced corn and youthful fruit.  Fades into throbbing popcorn and fruit-tinged finish.  Oak holds on a little too.

Verdict:  Beautiful variant on the Maker’s Mark standard.  Better?  In terms of composition…perhaps a touch.  In terms of enjoyment…hmmm…tough call.  More mature and mellow anyway.  Even a few more months in wood in the Kentucky clime allows for a more mature spirit.

 

Southern Beauty

 

– Notes:  Curt

          – Photos:  Pat (www.standstillphotography.ca)

 Posted by at 9:25 pm
Jul 102011
 

TASTING OF TWO  1972 GLENDRONACH
CANADA & SWEDEN

 

In order to try a repair the rift that exists between Canada and Sweden over the 1994 Olympic games, after  Sweden took the gold medal in hockey from us in an overtime shootout and then went on to make a postage stamp with the winning goal on it, I thought it would be appropriate, as sign of good faith, to do tasting notes in both official languages.  Please excuse my heartfelt
attempt to translate these notes properly, as some of the meaning might be lost in the translation.

 

 

1972 CASK # 718   38 YEAR OLD 51.5% ABV  BOTTLE # 313 OF 396
MARCH 2 1972 – JUNE 2010.  OLOROSO SHERRY BUTT.

NOSE: Oranges.  Varnish.  Coffee bean and lavender.  Raspberry.  Burnt butter.

“Potatis, köttbullar, sill.”

TASTE: Dark chocolate.  Bitter tannins.  Black pepper and mint.

“Färgade smaksatt vodka.”

FINISH: Long and warming

“Längre än Tiger Woods marrigae löfte.”

ASSESSMENT: Good expression of Glendronach, but it’s hard to get past that one off note of varnish on the nose.

“Detta är bättre än Dolph Lundgren är en skådespelare och mindre störande än att sätta ihop Ikea-möbler.”

 

 

1972 CASK # 711 39 YEAR OLD  ABV – CASK STRENGTH,  ADVANCE SAMPLE FOR KENSGINGTON WINE MARKET.  OLOROSO SHERRY BUTT.

NOSE: Fruit explosion.  Pineapple, bananas, mango, melons, cherries and oranges.  Cocoa and mint.

“Kål renar, inlagd sill.”

TASTE: Melons and prunes.  Tannins from the sherry.  Raisins, coffee and cinnamon.

“Färgade smaksatt vodka.”

FINISH: Long and fantastic.  Begins creamy & spicy, then warms up and fades gently.  Little briny at the back end.

“Ungefär lika länge som en Abba-musikalen.”

ASSESSMENT: Complex and balanced older sherry fruit bomb.  What a nose!  Would put this whisky right between the Black Bowmore and the Glenfarclas 40 year old.

“Detta är whisky att Sedin tvillingarna skulle ha firat med om de hade visat upp och spelade i sista matchen i Stanley Cup-finalen.”

 

– Sincerely, Maltmonster

 Posted by at 5:33 pm
Jul 032011
 

ODE TO………………BLACK BOWMORE

 

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious whiskies of forgotten lore,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my liquor cabinet door.

“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my liquor cabinet door

Only this, the famous Black Bowmore.”

 

 

To honor the famous Black Bowmore we gathered together again, the infamous gang of four, to taste this thing of lore.

Some of us have tried the Black Bowmore, along with the White Bowmore and the Gold Bowmore, but never have any of us tried all three together in a vertical tasting.  We also had a chance, due to one generous sole in our infamous gang of four, to try some older, and equally as good, Bowmore.

So on a wet and dreary night in June we banded together to taste and ponder a few Bowmore and nothing more…

 

15 YEAR OLD  MARINER SCREENPRINT LABLE  43% ABV  BOTTLED
APPROXIMATELY 1994  2ND  RELEASE  OF THE 15 YEAR OLD

NOSE: Oranges and burnt toast.  Marzipan.  Fudge.

TASTE: Peat.  Little fruit.  Briny and creamy.

FINISH: Medium to long.

ASSESSMENT: Great expression of a younger Bowmore that was outstanding.  Only wish the younger Bowmore of today could be as good.

 

21 YEAR OLD 43 % ABV   PHASED OUT  FOR THE 25 YEAR OLD

NOSE: Big old fat juicy peach.  Strawberries and Cherries.  Honey.

TASTE: Peach & cream in harmony.  Buttery.  Little mint.

FINISH: Medium.  Wee bit a salt at the very end.

ASSESSMENT: Little peat or brine at this age.

 

25 YEAR OLD 43% ABV  BLUE MOONLIGHT OVER BOWMORE  & SEA
GULLS CERAMIC BOTTLE

NOSE: Light tropical fruit.  Coffee and dark chocolate.  Bit floral.

TASTE: Toffee.  Licorice.  Infused dark fruits.  Pomegranates.

FINISH: Medium to long.  Fades away nicely.

ASSESSMENT: Rich and complex drink.

 

30 YEAR OLD 43% ABV BLACK SEA DRAGON CERAMIC BOTTLE

NOSE: Tropical fruit, but less than the 25.  Oranges, cherries, melons and apples.  Oaky and maybe a bit of charcoal.

TASTE: Cherries and sherry cask imparted spice.  Marzipan.  Mint and dark chocolate.

FINISH: Medium to long.  Brine arrives at the end.

ASSESSMENT: What a great bottle and great expression of a fruity Bowmore.  I remember they had a hard time selling these for less than $200 in Calgary back in 2002, If I had only bought more.

 

34 YEAR OLD 1971 51% ABV  BOTTLE # 761 OF 960

NOSE: Earthy.  Coffee beans.  Tobacco and dark chocolate.

TASTE: Nutmeg.  Spicy sherry notes.

FINISH: Medium to long.

ASSESSMENT: Probably mixed one bad cask with a good one or two to hide it.

 

37 YEAR OLD  1968 43.3% ABV  BOTTLE # 683 OF 708

NOSE: Tropical fruit explosion!  Grapefruit & orange.  Minty sweet Bourbon.

TASTE: Again you get pleasantly assaulted by the tropical fruit.  Bananas.  Little spice and Briny.

FINISH: Long.  Absolutely no peat.  Fades nicely with a little salt at the end.

ASSESSMENT: Nose is in the Black Bowmore range.  Incredible whisky, was not prepared for how good this was.

 

42 YEAR OLD 1964 40.5% ABV  BOTTLE # 668 OF 827 BLACK BOWMORE
BOTTLED 2007,  4TH AND FINAL RELEASE , VATTED FROM ONLY OLOROSO CASKS

NOSE: Fruit bomb!  If you can think of the fruit, you can find it in this five alive fruit cocktail.  Milk chocolate.  Coffee bean.
Minty and little vanilla.

TASTE: Oranges & cherries.  Dark chocolate.  Licorice.

FINISH: Long and fades nicely with the memory of the nose.

ASSESSMENT: They state it was a vatting of Oloroso casks from 1964, but methinks that there is a possibility that maybe a bourbon cask was dumped into the sherry cask, as there is some sweet hints of vanilla.  The wow factor maybe in order here. What a nose.  This whisky could bring any rum child to instant conversion into a whisky man or woman.

 

43 YEAR OLD 1964 42.8% ABV  BOTTLE # 673 OF 732 WHITE BOWMORE, BOTTLED 2008 , VATTING OF SIX BOURBON CASKS

NOSE: Tropical fruits, but much more subtle.  Floral.  Winey notes.  Little oaky.

TASTE: Overwhelming amount of fruits.  Vanilla.  Oaky and dry.

FINISH: Long.  Very smooth and enjoyable.

ASSESSMENT: Past its prime.  Would have been better to bottle this a few years earlier.

 

44 YEAR OLD 1964 42.4% ABV BOTTLE # 156 OF 701 GOLD BOWMORE ,
BOTTLED 2009 , VATTING OF BOURBON AND ONE OLOROSO CASK

NOSE: Melons, cherries and oranges.  Vanilla.  Touch of smoke.

TASTE: Complex.  Nutmeg and sharp ginger.

FINISH: Medium to long.  Brine shows up at the very end.

ASSESSMENT: Rich full nose.  The most balanced of the three (Black, White and Gold) releases.

 

The number one rated whisky of the night was the Black Bowmore, the second (was also the first choice of some of the gang) was the 37 year old from 1968, followed by the Gold, then the White and 30 year old.

I know the Black Bowmore was meant to be drank, but I can’t help feeling sad, that once the cork is open you are obligated to finish the bottle within a reasonable period of time, and after this bottle is drained of its contents, the Black Bowmore shall be Nevermore …………….. (Good thing we have a spare bottle)

 

– Nothing More, Maltmonster

 Posted by at 3:57 pm