Monday, August 27, 2012

50 year old whisky

Whisky this age is normally something I find way too expensive or simply can't afford.

But recently Archives bottled a grain that was availbale at 150€. A very affordable price for such old whisky

North British

North British is a grain distillery located in Edinburgh, it was founded in 1885. 

They got a nice homepage with lots of info and photos

Now how is this old whisky ?

North British 1962 Archives 45.2% 50yo
Hogshead #29 168 bottles
Distilled 31/5 - 1962, bottled 24/7 - 2012

Initial nose is a bit odd and newmakey, but give it just a couple of minutes in the glass and its gone. Some say that a whisky needs a minute in the glass for every year it has been in the cask, so waiting 2 minutes is a little requirement.

Old grains can be very spicy from the wood influence, but this is not. The wood influence is there, but it's more like a classical bourbon woodyness than the sometimes heavy spicy grain woodyness I often find in old grains. This is also, quite surprising a fruity grain. The best way I can describe it, is a delicate fruity bourbon. Bourbons are very intensive compared to single malt, and on the intensity scale this is like a typical scottish malt whisky. It's the reused casks!!

The nose is gentle, with delicate wood, a hint of a cardamon/nutmeg mix, and it just gets better and better as times go. Bourbonesque sweetness.

A tiny and very late hint of fruityness in the nose carries over in the palate where it is much more present than in the nose. Otherwise the notes from nose carries over, with delicate wood again and the sweet laidback spices on the fruity bed

A really delicious dram, that develops a lot with time in the glass. I spend 1 hour with this and it was one hour well spent. A dram to be saved for those moments where you have the time. It goes well with a movie or soccer match on the tele

So if you ever get around this dram, be nice and spend the time that 50 years in cask deserves it to have. It will be rewarded. Delicateness supreme

Rating 92

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lochside and Glenury Royal

These samples has been sitting on my shelf for more than 1½ year, I think its time.

Gordon and MacPhail is one of the worlds oldest and also one of the worlds leading independent bottlers. Historically it had and has a tradition of getting their own casks filled at distilleries and then maturing them in their own warehouse in Elgin.

Gordon and MacPhail's shop in Elgin

1. Lochside Gordon and MacPhail 1981-2005 43%
The nose is slightly musty, old, fruity - plums in brandy. The palate adds some sweetness, nutty flavour and almonds, with berries like cherries and plums. Wood spices emergens near the finish which is a well balanced mix of sweet woodspices and fruityness
A delicate dram that doesn't really suffer for being bottled at 43%
Rating 91
Lochside was located on the east coast of Scotland in Montrose. Last destillation in 1992.  It's demolished

2. Glenury Royal Gordon and MacPhail 1984-2010 43%
I know when you taste one whisky straight after another, what you mainly get is what really differes from the first. The thing that hit my face with this one is that's its slightly drier and doesn't have the same level of fruityness as the Lochside. It got a lot of hazelnut. I never had a whisky before with this much hazelnutflavour. Not bad. Unless you don't like hazelnut! There is a little tiny hint of peat as well. The finish is longer, dominated by the hazelnuts and again sweets wood spices
Rating 91
Glenury Royal was located on the east coast of Scotland in Stonehaven. Last destillation in 1985. It's partly demolished, partly turned into flats. It's rare even for a distillery closed after 1983

A couple of great drams that has some similarities, especially in texture and oilyness, the initial likelyhoods just go down two separate ways. What makes this drams great is that the many years in the wood hasn't overpowered the fruity or nutty flavour of these whiskies, which are the dominating flavours here. Compliments to Gordon and MacPhail for bottling these drams at what seems to be the exact perfect time

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Elijah Craig 12yo

1. Elijah Craig 12yo 47%

Elijah Craig is a  low rye bourbon offer from Heaven Hill, which is aged a little longer than their various Evan Williams offerings, which is probably made from the same mashbill recipe.

Evan Williams 12yo

Two days ago I reviewed some Evan Williams here :

Back to the Elijah Craig. The thing I note from this bourbon is minty nose and flavours. Where as the Evan Williams current versions come as bourbons with a vanilla dominance to me. 

This has got a higher ABV, but the alcoholburn is nonexistant to me, so very drinkable. The few extra years in the cask has smoothened this one out a bit relative to the Evan Williams Single Barrel (EWSB) offering I tasted two days ago. 

There is offcourse more to this than just mint. There's a delicate background of wood, with a slight rye spicyness backing this up. Adding to this some hidden fruityness of bitter oranges and "raw" peaches. The finish is long and balanced with the mint edging in again

This is a very good companion to the EWSB, with plenty of differences as described. Where I live the 12yo is slightly cheaper than the EWSB and both are quite affordable at the danish whisky price level

Rating 87

Both Evan Williams and Elijah Craig are named after historical (near mythical) Kentucky bourbon distillers. 

Elijah Craig is(was) also available as an 18yo. This has just been replaced by a 20yo and doubled in price, showing that bourbons probably are going down the same sad premiumisation path as scotch did.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Karuizawa Vintage 1973

1. Karuizawa Vintage 1973 cask 6249 56%
Bottled March 2008. American Oak Sherry Butt. Bottle 216 of 342
Martin's Selection of Single Casks
A bottle for the Norwegian Market, selected by Martin Tønder Smith


A very delicate nose meets me, sweet strong wine, dried fruits, sweet wet woods, actual very sweet nose on the verge of being too much, but its not too much ! Fantastic nose
The palate is surprisingly dry, what you expect from the nose is just not there, slightly bitter and fruity, the whisky is extraordinarily oily in it's texture. The alcohol and intensity makes this a powerful sweet fruit bomb.
The finish is dominated by a nice fruityness of canned pears and sweet fresh apples. So basically a sweet nose that goes very fruity on the palate and finish with a hint of bitterness

Rating 88

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Evan Williams dusties

Evan Williams is a cheap american bourbon, it's on the shelves to compete with the likes of Jack Daniels and Jim Beam White. Pricewise it's very very cheap, at least in the US. In my opinion it's a better bourbon than Jack Daniel's and Jim Beam, but it's not really a big deal. Evan Williams got a lot more vanilla in the flavour and as such has a little more to offer. For some odd reason the label is very similar to the Jack Daniel's label, I wonder who was first in the design ?

I managed to grab a couple of dusties Evan Williams of and the first thing I note is that it has an age statement. 7 years old. If you buy a bottle today, it won't have an age statement. The next thing I note is the proof. 90 proof. Todays regular version is 43%

The third thing I noted on the bottles was the volume. One is 4/5 quart, the other is labeled both as 750ml and 25.4 fl. oz.. This makes it possible to determinate the age period of the bottlings. In 1979 and 1980 distilleries labeled bottles im both systems, then switched to only metric from 1981 and forward. So the first bottle is 1978 or older, the second bottle is from 1979 or 1980. The second bottle has "79" in the bottom and the first has "74" so my good guess is that the whiskeys are from these vintages, give or take, as a bottle could be manufactured earlier than the whiskey inside. So this is really exciting, as I here have bourbons produced in the 60's and in the 70's. The third bottle is Evan Williams Single Barrel vintage 2000 and it's a little less than 9 years old. Evan Williams being a Heaven Hill label, you can assume that this last bottle was distilled at Heaven Hill's Bernheim plant which they acquired from Diageo in 1998. The Old Heaven Hill distillery burned in 1996. But as it's not uncommon for Heaven Hill to source casks elsewhere you don't really know. In the period where Heaven Hill didn't have their own distillery they produced at Early Times, and up to this date the Rittenhouse Rye still is made there (It has been moved to Bernheim as well, but everything released up to this date as bottled in bond is still Early Times)

A trio of Evan Williams

1. Evan Williams 7yo 90 proof bottled 1974
A very nice nose, it's got a slight floral touch. The palate is sweet and full bodies and very well balanced. Hints of honey and fruits. This actual reminds me of older speysides. And all is goodness is well balanced on the wood. This is really a great bourbon. It reminds me of some old Stitzel Weller bottlings where also a lot of flavours easily emerge through the dominant wood that is always a trademark of bourbons. Yummy.
Rating 90 
2. Evan Williams 7yo 90 proof bottled 1979
More what I would expect from a bourbon this age. The wood and the rye spices are what hits me first. The body is good and very well balanced, but I mainly get the rye flavours and a somewhat higher alcohol burnb than the 74. But still a very nice bourbon.
Rating 82

Seems like something drastic happened between these bottling, and beside me being born, I don't know what happened. Maybe older barrels were used ?. Different mashbill ? (I doubt). Sourced casks ? 
3. Evan Williams Single Barrel 2000 barrel 117
Barreled 11/08 2000, Bottled 30/10 2009
I always expect single barrel selections to be better than the regular products. This also has a few more years in the barrel than the current Evan Williams which I reckon is probably around 6-7 years old.
Great Nose. This is more like the 74, with hints of honey and fruits appearing again. Vanilla and the wood impacts make me think of dry wood. Again a very different bourbon. The 74 was fruity and honeyed, the 79 was rye spiced and this is dominated by vanilla wood flavours. I also get some nutty flavours. And the rye spicyness on the finish. This is a classical bourbon and it has the flavours you wish and expect in a good bourbon.
Rating 87

Older versions of Heaven Hill bourbon is bottled as Elijah Craig. They also bottle a wheated version under the Old Fitzgerald label. Every year they release special premium batches under the Parker's Heritage Collection label. And their rye is, as mentioned above, Rittenhouse, which I have reviewed here:

 But it doesnt end with that, there's quite a few more labels under the HH umbrella

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Whiskybroker and Bladnoch

Whiskybroker and Bladnoch is close related. Whiskybroker is a company by Martin Armstrong, son of Bladnochs Raymond Armstrong. Whiskybroker is selling casks as well as an independent bottler. The style and pricelevel is very similar to that of Bladnochs, who also sold a bit of casks (not many) but also sells bottles via their online forum

Their websites are and

Here's one from each

1. Longmorn 20yo 55.7% Whiskybroker
Bottle 13/54 Hoghshead 71752. Distilled 25th May 1992 Bottled 17th July 2012

Remarkable low turnout!. The nose is quite woody, similar to the floor varnish associations I get from old bourbons, which is something I REALLY like. The palate is very woody and dry, with a big bomb of faintly sweet but big fruityness behind. Note, that for me, dry and sweet are not necesarily opposites, as when I mention dry it's more texture related, while sweet is taste related. If you don't like wood stay away from this. This dram is a constant fight between the wood and fruit, each taking turns in attacking your palate in big waves, where the dryness from the wood easily outbattles the sweetness of the whisky, while palatewise the fruityness easily stands up for itself. The fruits I get is sweet strawberries and cherries boiled with a little bit of sugar. Despite the wood this is not very bitter, the finish is long and dominated by the fruit

My theory is that the wood impact is sucked into a third of the usual amount of bottles, which gives this bourbon similarities as bourbon is matured on fresh wood and do have more wood influence than scotch as a very general thumbrule. A very special whisky, probably not everybody's cup of tea and if it is you still need to be in the mood for it. Very Bourbonesque

Rating 89

2. Mannochmore 28yo 52.1% Bladnoch Forum
Bottle 110/270 Hoghshead 2853. Distilled 12th August 1982 Bottled 23th March 2011

This is a cask that has taken a lot of spicy flavours from the wood. The whisky has gained a lot from being open a month and a half. The nose is laidback and nothing spectacular with some odd sweetness, the great stuff comes out in the palate:
coconut, cinnamon, vanilla, spicy, laidback apples.
The finish is nice with the different wood spices lingering

Rating 85

Thanks to Miroslaw of for the bottle :-)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Two Highland Park oldies from Duncan Taylor

It’s always interesting to try very old whiskies and discover layers of nuances lying there dreaming after all those years in a cask. Some of my best tasting experiences have emerged from tasting old stuff but some of my biggest disappointments have also come from oldies. Time to try a couple of old Highland Park’s from Duncan Taylor.

Highland Park 37 yo 05.1966/09.2003, Duncan Taylor Peerless, cask 4642, 169 bottles, 41.3%

Nose: dusty and moist cellar where different kind of berries are stored. A hint of exotic fruit – coconut and pineapple – in a combination with sweat and used socks.
Taste: Sweet wood, soft pineapple and rhubarb. In the finish I get apple pie, bitter wood and black tea.

Rating: 85

Highland Park 40 yo 28.03.1968/11.11.2008, Duncan Taylor Peerless, cask 3465, 177 bottles, 40.1%

Nose: Exotic mixture of fruits jumps in your face. Then some dried flowers (violets?), mothballs and mint leaves followed by cigarette tobacco.
Taste: Flowers, bitter chocolate, autumn leaves in the forest. The fruit seems on it’s way but suddenly stops like a car at a red traffic light. Only some juicy wood remains.

Rating: 84

Some interesting notes along the way in these old HP’s but the lack of oomph is prominent. I wonder how these old timers would have tasted if they had been bottled when they were 20-25 years old..

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Willet 25yo Rye Barrel 1372

Willet Distillery

I recently visited Willet Distillery. Willet distillery was founded on a farm outside Bardstown in 1935 by Thompson Willet, and operated until the early 80's. The property of the distillery was purchased by the founders son-in-law, Even G Kulsveen and the world was introduced to a company called Kentucky Bourbon Distillers. KBD operates as what us scotch drinkers would call an independent bottler, which is buying whiskey from other distilleries and then maturing and bottling it until they find it to be right time. I was told by their distillery staff that they actually went one step further than this, by actually sending their own staff into other distilleries and producing their own make. A bit similar to a ghost brewery like Mikkeler!

Until now that is. Willet Distillery reopened here in 2012

Willet Distillery. The Tower hosts the column still

Bottom of the column still

Willet Potstill

Kentucky Bourbon Distilleries are behind many labels of bourbons and ryes. If you see a label, that you can't obviously connect to a real specific distillery, chances are great, that the whiskey was bottled by or sourced through KBD. 

The Willet itself is just one of very many KBD labels. It's a range of single casks bourbon and ryes in all imaginable ages and should be considered a KBD top shelf product. So far this has proved to be one of my favourite ranges.

1. Willet Rye Barrel #1372 25yo 47%
Distilled 10th May 1983

 I found a bottle of this at Limburg festival. Limburg is an abundance whisky. Thousands of bottlings. But not much bourbon. I reckon I was able to locate just a handful of bottles. This was one of them, and the sample bottle was all the stand had. Not possible to purchase a bottle. But I talked them into to selling me the dreg, probably around a third of a bottle.

 The colour is dark, even for a bourbon. The first thing that meets me is this fantastic floor varnish old liquid wood nose with a notable rye hint in the background. Simply fantastic and one of those legendary noses you just can sit back and sniff forever. 
 The palate is magnificient complex....
It's dry in a sense like the whiskey is jumpings off your tongue. Licorise, oriental flowers, floral rye spicyness, perfumes, all on a background of loads of heavy delicate wood and floor varnish. 
Almost all the taste sensation is at the very back of your mouth and tongue, which is typical of old and well matured whisk(e)ys. This is a dram to savour. One of those to drink laid back with eyes closed. It's like being in heaven for a few seconds. It's a constant conflict between nosing and drinking as I really just wants to sit and nose this forever, but I also wants to sit and drink this forever. This is a prime example why I think ryes really first comes to its greatness at older ages, where the spicyness and woodyness can blend into a magnificient balance of fantastic flavours.

Rating 94

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Kornog - French Whisky

Kornog is the peated version of malt whisky made at the french distillery Glann Ar Mor.

Glann Ar Mor is located in Brittany. Brittany, like Scotland has Celtic heritage. More than 250000 is reckoned to speak Breton in and around Brittany, which is actually more than speaks Gaelic in Scotland.

Glann Ar Mor ("By the sea") is a very oldfashioned distillery. Direct flamed, slow distilling, wooden washbacks, wormtubs. Kornog is around 35ppm peat level. None of these bottlings has an age statement or vintage, but they are pretty young as the distillery started official production in 2005


1. Kornog Taouarc'h Pevared 10 SC 46%
A sauternes casked Kornog

The nose is peaty, sweet and fruity. If you can talk about a nose being full-bodies, this is an example. The sweet woody fragrances fills your nose with a very warming experience. The palate is sweet, the sauternes has really made a nice impact on this malt, giving a good balance between malt, peat and sweetness. Fruity, like canned pears, a tiny hint of coconut. Tastewise this whisky is as peaty if not more than the Kildalton Islay Malts. The peat is a classic peat. Good long finish

Rating 87

2. Kornog Saint Ivy 2012 59.9%
A single cask (ex-bourbon)

A much more clean and simple whisky. At least on the nose. It is replaced by an unexpected flavourful and more fullbodied palate. It's dry, peaty with notable wood influence, hint of vanilla. A classic peated whisky. The finish is remarkable long and you can taste this whisky for a looong time. Wow

Rating 89

A remarkable set of whiskies. Is it the traditional (old fashioned) production method that gives this fullbodied delightful whiskies which excellences allready at this young age ?. It's unknow how old these whiskies are but  an age of 5-7 years is my estimate based on when the distillery started production. Blind, I would have guessed these to be at least 10 years old. What impresses me mostly is the fantastic long and flavourful finishes

I can't wait to see what this remarkable distillery will be able to put out when the whisky reaches ages of 10-12. Right now it is serious competition to Islay's and I have to say I prefer Kornog to similar new projects on Islay like Kilchoman and Port Charlotte