Whisky Review: SMWS 70.40 Balblair 1989 30 Years Old “Eloquent Silence”

Style: Sweet and Elegant

Nose:
A tranquilizing and delicious entrance – Whipped cream, peach tart and poached pears aligned wonderfully together, stunning aroma. Slight tartness and spearmint on the flip side to complement the sweetness. Proceeding to layers of vanilla sugar, a bit ester-y as well, tropical fruits, pineapples and probably some jack fruits. Apple cider, red chillies, sawdust and the thinnest slice of ginger fizzling at the bottom. Very nice.

Palate:
Similar theme continues on the palate, bursts of nectarines, poached pears, peach tarts and chocolate eclairs blossoming elegantly. A touch of glazed kumquat, followed by vanilla bean ice cream and ginger shreds. More of the grassy and floral side of the spirit emerge with a warming glow in the middle. Sunflower oil dripping gently onto barley sugar, finish with a subtle tail of taro and oak tannins.

Finish:
More glazed pears, kumquat lightly brushed with oaky water. Sweet and slightly earthy.

Thoughts:
Sometimes SMWS can be quite innovative with naming their bottles, but in this case, I think “Eloquent Silence” is a very accurate description here. The expression is unfolding in such an expressive but gentle fashion without losing any power. Personally I think Balblair is a rather spicy make, but probably with thirty years of maturation, the distillate of Balblair reaches its peak and reveals its true greatness – Magically sweet, balanced and elegant. Top dram.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[50.2%| Independent Bottling| 1989 Distilled| 2020 Bottled| Single Cask| Cask Strength| 174 Bottles| Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel **]

Esmond

Whisky Review: SMWS 52.32 Old Pulteney 2007 12 Years Old “Highly Entertaining”

Style: Sweet, waxy and spicy

Nose:
Cutting through a prickling and dense peppermint fog, we reach a candlewax-sealed door which insulates layers of orange, poppyseed cake and limoncello. Side notes are deeply buried by the spirit spice. Lemon aloe vera gradually opens up, white grapes, red chilli shreds placed on the top. Distant diesel smoke, faint scent of barbeque grilled shrimps wavering in the air. Slightly muted, but a rather clean nose.

Palate:
Much more expressive on the palate, sweet explosion of citrus fruits at the front. Thick candlewax coating around a tropical fruits salad. The Highland waxiness is similar to Clynelish, but different. Soft floral fragrance, lime overtone, potpourri, Botrytis, coconut butter mixes with barley. Going slightly creamy towards the end. A touch of salt, imaginary peat, finish with another citrus zing.

Finish:
Soft notes of mangoes, canned pineapples and orange blossom scented candle with medicinal herbs.

Thoughts:
For me, there is always something special about Pulteney. Partly because it is one of my earliest whiskies, but mostly because of the balance between the distillate citrus and Highland waxiness is quite unique and charming. Different to how Clynelish does it, and probably it is designed to be bottled at 46%, but young Old Pulteney at higher strength can be also, as the name suggests, highly entertaining. It is probably not the most-hyped distillery, but this is a dram I like to spend a lazy afternoon with it. Close to one star.

✓+ [Recommended if you like the style/distillery]

[58.2%| 2007 Distilled| Independent Bottling| Single Cask| Cask Strength| 245 Bottles| 1st Fill Bourbon Cask| T+]

Esmond

Whisky Review: Silver Seal Royal Brackla 1976 36 Years Old

Style: Sweet and Dignified

Nose:
Sweet honeycomb beaming positively at the forefront. Paraffin, lemon candy and rustic coal fire, plenty of old school signatures here. Subtle buttermilk pancake and almond milk. Aloe Vera jelly, gradually moving towards a grassy patch while a powerful herbal spice giving a steely framework at the back. Chilli and five spices. Finish with a soft, earthy, carrot cake tail.

Palate:
Rustic sweet lemon honey piles on. Caramel sauce drizzling on malt sponge cake. Fat, oily citrus confectionaries rolling around rather freely. Yuzu jam, more honeycomb and aloe vera amping up the sweetness. Hints of cedarwood smoke, celery, cinnamon sticks and nutmeg. Herbal spice generating plenty of power in the background again, with plenty of sharp grassy notes filling up all the back spaces. Vanilla icing, coconut shreds and carrot cake towards the end.

Finish:
Spearmint lingering, fading vanilla malt, honey lemon with a little bit of wax on the top. Soft but quite nice.

Thoughts:
A beautiful old-school Royal Brackla which is different to the modern style. Charmingly sweet cask and distillate, little bit of peat, then some old bottle effect maybe… Damn, this is a dangerously addictive combination, especially for those who love whiskies from the past era. Royal Brackla is often overlooked as a single malt (thanks to Bacardi we are seeing more of it), it might be a freak cask, but more or less we can see its potential, or rather, the ceiling might be higher than many people think.

☆☆[Highly Recommended]

[51.9%| Independent Bottling| 1976 Distilled| 2012 Bottled| Cask number:6921| Bottle number: 2 of 106| Single Cask| Cask Strength| **]

Whisky Review: Rare Malts Selection Teaninich 1973 Aged 23 Years

Style: Spicy and Fruity

Nose:
Woah! Spice striking at a rather ferocious velocity and amplitude, well, that’s Rare Malts for you. A little bit of heathery up front, tropical fruits, honey mead and green leaves emerge as the heat wave subsides. White chocolate, soft hint of Jasmine flowers and sweet cranberries compote (perhaps a result of OBE) forming a waxy, luscious core. A pinch of five spices, white oak shavings, peppermint garnished on top of a gentle cereal malt. Pretty good, but perhaps some water might be needed to tame this dram.

Palate:
Powerful chilli spice cuts a searing path, with maximum flavours of apricots yoghurt, creamy white chocolate and steaming Sakura green tea flowing through the red-hot trails. Wood smoke plus a hint of vegetal peat (maybe?) gelled together by tropical fruits agar agar and paraffin wax. Lemon-orange citrus and Kensington mangoes slowly unravel as the spirit begins to shine. Fennel, asparagus and mint dressed on top of barley and malt.

Finish:
Sakura-matcha flavoured Kit-kat, dried apricots and red cranberries rolling around. Aloe vera jelly with minimal oak to finish.

Thoughts:
For whatever reason, it seems the Rare Malts selection tends to be very spicy regardless of its abv. When I turn the bottle around and look at the back label, it reads, “To enjoy this… at its best, measure one-part whisky to two parts still water at room temperature.” Ha! Guess I am doing it wrong all along. Back to this dram, once you adapt to its intensity, the handsome reward is an incredibly rich, creamy texture that you can almost die for. Together with the bountiful flavours and reasonably complex layerings, for a cask-strength drinker like me, it is a rather exquisite dram.

☆ [Recommended]

[57.1%| Original Bottling| 1973 Distilled| Limited Edition| Natural Cask Strength| Bottle Number: 552 *+]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary Teaninich 1983 Aged 35 Years

Style: Fruity, Complex and Spicy

Nose:
Cutting through the ethanol mist, we have a tantalising lemon aloe vera across the board. Hints of rosemary and cucumber floating on top of the sharp chilli which is piercing from the back. Some dried apricots and more lemon-citrus confectionaries as the sweetness expands. Kumquat and ginger candy beaming positively, the tone reverts back to the vegetal side as undertone of linseed, fried Spanish onions and maybe even a little garlic gradually surfaces. The aroma is elegantly rounded up and decorated with white floral rims. Very nice.

Palate:
Lemon aloe vera makes a gentle touch down onto the palate. Paraffin oil giving a beautiful waxy texture. Intricate and delicate vegetal notes (artichokes, tsaoko, mint and fennels) weaving in and stitching the expression together. Citrus confectionaries infused sago pudding with just a teasing vegetal-meaty touch. Absolutely delicious. Chilli spice sewed between the lines. Under the coat of almond skins sits a soft, taro-flavoured, earthy malt. Subtle passionfruit tail to finish.

Finish:
Tropical fruits tapioca, sweet potato soup, lemon candy agar agar and a little bit of digestive biscuits. Very soft and sweet.

Thoughts:
From memory this is a 1983 Teaninich at higher power. Relatively spicy, but in return it gives you higher “concentration” which translates into more substances and complexity. Despite maturing in a Butt, the sherry influence feels extremely limited, or it has entirely melded with the distillate to give a silky-fruity element to the expression. Overall, especially technically, it is an incredibly complete, well-matured and classy performance from this workhorse make. Excellent drop.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[57.5%| Independent Bottling| 1983 Distilled| 2018 Bottled| Single Cask| Non Coloured| Cask Strength| Matured in Refill Butt| Cask Number: 8070| Bottle Number: 135 of 575 **]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Adelphi Selection Teaninich 2007 12 Years Old

Style: Sherry sweet and Spicy

Nose:
Hmmmm, quite funky on the nose, liquorice roots, fennels, earthy potatoes, cereal and bacon strips are all immersed in dark fruits sauce. This sherry has a bit of everything in here, alas, they are pulling towards different directions. Not sure if that’s because of the cask or the spirit though… Growing a bit syrupy as we dig deeper, brown sugar and some resounding blackcurrants begin to emerge. Another teasing touch of bacon grease and camphor leading to a rather clean malt down at the bottom.

Palate:
The rhythm is more stable on the palate, sterilised sherry and malt unfolding carefully at a higher power, mostly in the form of spicy cereal and occasional peppermint spikes. Steaming taro and potato giving some starchy earthiness, while pork stew simmering very gently at the base. Black liquroice strikes back, cherry sauce and molasses spreading and funneling throughout the spirit. Black pepper, plenty of chocolate mint as well. Dry spice and alcohol heat pushing for a strong finish.

Finish:
Vegetal spice tails off and paves way for red fruit sherry notes to settle in. Ruby grapes and milk chocolate, all sweet and comfy.

Thoughts:
Adelphi has been dropping a lot of sherry bombs lately, and like most of them, it is dark and sweet, it punches hard, it might be a funky cask, but with this one it feels the distillate is provided a certain degree of freedom to maneuver, which imparted an extra level onto the expression. May it be a little bit clumsy, but it is definitely better than some sherry-alcohol hot mess that has been floating around the market these days. If anyone still remember the sub-10 years old dark-as-sin Glenrothes, personally I think this is a major upgrade on those.

[Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

[55.9% | Independent Bottling | 2007 Distilled | 2020 Bottled | 615 Bottles | Single Cask | Natural Cask Strength | Non-Chill Filtered | Cask Number: 301264 | T+]

Dram Review: The GlenDronach Single Cask Aged 20 Years (Cask No. 33)

[59.1%・20 Years Old・Distilled in 1993・Bottled in 2013・Official Bottling Specially Selected for AbbeyWhisky.com・Cask No. 33・Single Cask Release of 592 Bottles]

Nose:

Bright prunes, thrilling menthol with just a hint of meatiness. Sticky Christmas cake with maple syrup poured all over top and served with strong red tea.

Palate & Finish:

A bread pudding richness concentrating on vanilla and raisins with some of the raisin skin bitterness as well as dried orange slices, maple infused honey and ample of leathery notes and oak tannins sipping through.

The creamy tail becomes earthier, woodier, with cinnamon and poached fruits.

Thoughts:

This is my idea of a hometown comfort feed at its heartiest, I got started early on with a GDSC and I am still quite fond of a 93115 with this sort of delivery, it is what it is, and for me there is always a time and place for a dram like this, just makes you warm and fuzzy.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Kinko GlenDronach 1994 18 Years Old

[55.3%・18 Years Old・Distilled in 1994・Bottled in 2012・Kinko Bottling・Cask No. 2002・Single Cask Release of 234 Bottles]

Nose:

Leather, coal and Sherry. Meaty toffee and immensely powerful, cherry liquor poured over chocolate mousse and dressed with toasted almond flakes.

Palate & Finish:

Sticky and savoury on the palate, soy sauce and burnt toffee making up a heavy assault of savoury meatiness full of umami with an intense aftershock of earthy molasses.

The earthy and smoky vibe continues, salt-roasted almonds drenched in coffee syrup with the oiliness of the spirit lingers on.

Thoughts:

Wooahhh what a fierce dram, it’s so different, I can’t put my words around it but I imagine it would be immensely satisfying having a hearty pour of this over a thick, fat cut of steak

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: The GlenDronach Single Cask Aged 23 Years (Cask No. 40)

[58.5%・23 Years Old・Distilled in 1993・Bottled in 2016・Official Bottling・Cask No. 40・Single Cask Release of 584 Bottles]

Nose:

Quite provocative with a deep perfume note, acai berries, red cherries and red oak, creamed honey with a bright ginger-y zing.

Palate & Finish:

Bursting of maple syrup and simmering strawberry jam, seasoned with just a pinch of cinnamon with a creamy beeswax follow through.

A nicely delivered Oloroso tail of stewed fruits, lengthy and warming.

Thoughts:

A Jane Holloway kind of red.

☆ [Recommended]

Thank you Clifford brother..

-Nicholas

Dram Review: The Whisky Agency & The Nectar Tomatin Aged 45 Years

[46.1%・45 Years Old・Distilled in 1966・Bottled Circa 2011・The Whisky Agency and The Nectar Joint Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Leather and stewed dark fruits, all signs of a well aged dram.  There is perhaps a hint of rubber in the mix of forest berries and violets.

Palate & Finish:

Gorgeous burst of red cherries on a sweet, creamy mouthfeel, dusted with black tea, dark chocolate and finish off with a glaze of burnt dark syrup.

A well constructed tail of crushed berries and bitter tannins.

Thoughts:

I think this is good now but would have been a little bit more special had it been bottled a few years prior, just seems to have lost a bit of vibrancy..

45 years is a long time to age a whisky, and for most whiskies it’s probably a bit much.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas