Today I'll be reviewing some older whiskies. 7 of them to be exact! (Yes, it's a long one.) Nothing below 30, but I don't have anything above 50. I didn't plan to do this many but I've got all night so what the hell!
Shall we have an aperitif to start? Proper Serge style!
How 'bout this rare bottling for Simpson's staff on their 150th anniversary? Rumour has it this is Glenrothes.
I got this from a friend, which is rare for me because I haven't gotten set up on r/scotchswap, or because I don't have any
whisky friends. Said friend happened to work for Simpson's Malt for 30 yearsish. Thanks John!
Simpson's 150th Anniversary 30yo Highland Malt 40%
Nose: Classic old whisky. Classy oak leading the way, backed up by sweet fruit. Lots of sweet juicy oranges, orange confectionery, a little grape, putty, honey, some heather, a little wood smoke. Quite complex and engaging. Fits the profile for a Glenrothes.
Taste: Sweet and gentle, tonnes of orange, sweet and juicy, the oak creeps in gradually with a long development, coffee, some dark chocolate. The oak doesn't quite overpower. Honey, heather, woody, a wisp of wood smoke into the finish. It lacks a bit of power though.
Finish: Long length. Wood smoke, oak then orange juice tang.
Lacks a bit of oomph.
Up next is a Glenglassaugh sample I got off Finedrams.com. I remember this being powerful! It's also not toooo expensive for a 30yo, just under £200.
Glenglassaugh 30 44.8%
Nose: Intense creamy oak. Powerful tannins, European oak, sherry, raisin, date, very complex spice- Nutmeg, white pepper, cinnamon. Toffee, strong stewed tea, old leather armchair.
It's the oak doing all the talking but the oak must have been great quality. It's got a great balance about it. Refill European oak I would think.
Water: Lovely dark chocolate note combined with good coffee. More leather after a bit.
Taste: Intense and powerful. Quite creamy arrival with fresh fruit and toffee, then building and building with dried fruit- Raisin and fig, tannins, leather, tea and layers of oak, intense spice, toffee and then back to strong tea into the finish. Great balance.
Water: More gentle gradual arrival, building coffee and dark chocolate along with the oak and tannins, more leather, strong tea becoming a little dominant into the finish. A tiny bit rubbery leather after a while.
Finish: Long length. Well brewed double bag tea, lots of coffee, toffee and some tannic oak.
Balance is key and there's a great balance on this one. Water undoes that a bit.
Continuing with the 30yo's we'll have the first of the Master of Malt bottlings. Persistent rumours insist that they come from Glenfarclas, but I don't really have the experience with Glenfarclas to be able to tell.
Master of Malt Speyside 30 43.7%
Nose: A lot more dusty than the others. Quite light but fruity with toffee apple, green apple, lemon and floral oak. Lots of vanilla and little fairy cake. A floral note- Old dusty paper and pressed flowers, violets and hay. A little fausty with dust, old undisturbed room and dusty leather armchairs. Beautiful honey and melon combo developing over time.
Water: Oak coming out more- Dusty oak, going more fausty too with more dust, dust bookcase. More marzipan but more bitterness too, green apple and bitter lime juice, dusty very dark chocolate.
Taste: Seems like it's going to be sharp but lands like a feather. Ooooo, lots going on here. Creamy arrival, lemon citrus, then tingling light spice- Nutmeg, ginger and white pepper, and dusty fruit- Apple but more pear. Toffee, bitter oak developing with tannins, sawn wood, coffee and dark choclate.
Water: More creamy then the sweetness swelling (oh wow, it's good), then the bitterness taking over towards the finish with very dark chocolate. A lot more bitter after a few minutes, but still very nice with very dark (good quality) chocolate and good quality coffee beans. Pipe tobacco and barley malt mid palate.
Finish: Long length. Bitterness recedes with melon and some dark chocolate staying with you for a long time.
Quite reminds me of an old Glenfiddich bottled in the 1980's, although it's probably Glenfarclas. Distilled around the 1983 mark.
Before the rest of the MoM's let's have some between 30 and 40. Rummage Rummage Rummage
Well, neither of these are great but both show why older isn't always better.
Now the next one is a Bunnahabhain and I have to admit I don't find that older Bunna is better. I think it has been distilled too fast in the past and can be a little too harsh and oily. However, many people disagree with me. The 12yo is good though!
Bunnahbhain 1979 Dimensions Duncan Taylor 50.6%
Nose: Smells completely different to last time I had this. Last time it was fruity and yeasty. Now it's oak, oak, oak. Harsh alcohol, cardboard, sawn wood, intense dry oak, intense tannins. The bad side of refill.
Water: More fresh tropical fruit, more citrus and less oak. Some berries, mint, mojito, icing sugar. Much better!
Taste: Light and sweet. Building intense fruit- Grapefruit, mango, lots of citrus- orange and lemon. A yeasty fermenting fruit note develops and builds. Apple and pear. Oak taking over quickly with a harsh rubbery note. Burnt rubber and oak into the finish.
Water: Fuller arrival, creamier development with lots of citrus and powerful oaky tannins.
Finish: Long length. Powerful harsh dry oak and tannins.
Cask 4761, Dimensions bottling from Duncan Taylor. Bottled 2012, so 33yo. Overoaked would be an understatement. I believe there are good older Bunna's out there but I haven't come across one yet.
Now Glen Grant finished (oh dear) in a brandy barrel. Whenever I see finishing with an older whisky it makes me think why? Was the original barrel too tired? Was the spirit a bit weak?
|Glen Grant Distillery|
Glen Grant 1975 Douglas Laing Old and Rare 54%
Nose: Fruity, juicy and fragrant. Overripe to the point of almost rotting fruit. Brioche, red grape, a big juicy/meaty note, overripe mango, raisin, fig, rotting peaches, molasses, vanilla. An immense backbone of powerful oak and tannins in the background. The oak starts to overwhelm after a minute.
Water: Pushes the oak back and more fresh fruit comes out- White and red grape, apricot stones. Unfortunately the meaty note develops unpleasantly in the end- Left out meat, raw steak, SULPHUR.
Taste: A fruity arrival with prickling tannins, then recedes and comes back with swelling fresh fruit (mouth watering)- Overripe mango, but also pineapple then develops more dried fruit- Raisin and fig. The oak starts to creep out and becomes quite powerful into the finish.
Water: Sweeter arrival. Fresh fruit- Apricot and mango, then dried fruit- Raisin, fig and date with sulphur, lots of oak and tannins. Better without water I think.
Finish: Long length. An oaky bite! Then rotting fruit and more oak.
Distilled 1975, bottled 2011. 36 years old. The brandy covers everything else up, other than the oak of course. It's not terrible but falls short.
Ok, back to the MoM's. The 40yo is a lot more sherried, to its disadvantage I feel.
Master of Malt Speyside 40 2nd Ed. 43%
Colour: Dark Amber
Nose: Old, oaky and fruity. Liquorice, resinous wood, dusty vanilla pods, some honey, sherry, raisin, fig, toffee, spice cupboard- White pepper, nutmeg, nut. A slightly floral side- Pressed flowers, home made paper, old leather, old books.
Taste: Quite restrained. Gentle arrival with vanilla, developing more sweetness and dried fruit- Raisin, fig, sherry then more old notes- Leather, tobacco, Rancio, dusty garden shed, dusty books and some oak.
Finish: Medium length. Restrained sherried oak, a bit disappointing. Water: Coffee and dark chocolate.
Distilled around 1973. More sherried then the 30 but doesn't achieve the same complexity and balance.
And the last one, of course, is the MoM 50yo. Distilled around 1963, holy shit, that's the year my Mum was born! And over twice my age!! Managed to grab the last sample of this of edition.
Master of Malt Speyside 50 3rd Ed. 43%
Nose: Wow. Full, fresh and fruity with a balanced oak background. Just beautiful. Subtle liquorice, fresh juicy fruit- Apple, pear, pear tart, pineapple, passion fruit and mango. Balanced spice- Cinnamon and nutmeg. A floral note. Becoming even more juicy and fresh. Astonishing. Vanilla, toffee, toffee apple. The oak is still in the background providing a great structure. A grassy mineral note, even slightly rocky.
Men's cologne, menthol and ripe pineapple come out with oxidising.
Water: Citrus comes out- Lemon and the mineral becomes more apparent.
Taste: A citrus lead arrival with lemon and some prickling oak, oak and vanilla, then building juicy fruit, toffee, dark chocolate, coffee beans, the oak starting build up with strong tea, jasmine tea, cologne and leather into the finish. Builds and builds.
Water: A grassy mineral note comes out on arrival, mingling then with lemon, then developing more sherry with dried fruit, old paper, dust, vanilla, leather and tobacco.
Finish: Long length. Gradually recedes starting with lemon, perfume, tea and leather then with vanilla, fruit and oak. Cologne note stating and staying.
On the right side of great. The nose is almost perfect. The first time I tried this I considered giving it 90 but the taste has become a little less complex. Still great whisky considering it was in a barrel for approximately 18,262 days!
In the end, older whisky is hit and miss. You can easily miss and spend a lot of money.
Network Average: 78.8
60-64 Just About OK
65-69 Ok to Good
75-79 Very Good
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