Glenrothes 1989

Glenrothes 1989Glenrothes 1989, 43% ABV, Speyside single malt.

This distillery designates it’s single malts by vintage, rather than age.  This particular bottling of Glenrothes 1989 was aged 11 years, released in 2002.

Light on the nose, with faint aromas of sweet molasses and fruit.  On the palate, spicy notes with sherry, transforming to liquorice.  The finish is smooth and moderate.

A solid whisky, I would think to be more for the tastes of those who seek sweeter, less agressive, drams.   Possibly a nice after dinner aperitif.

Balvenie Tun 1401, Batch 6

Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch 6 Balvenie Tun labelBalvenie Tun 1401, Batch 6.  Speyside single malt.

This Balvenie Tun 1401 is one of a series that provide variations combinations of older and newer aged casks.  The Batch 6 is a bottling comprised of whisky from seven bourbon and two sherry casks.   The bottling actually specifies the barrels from which the batch was created.   It does not have an age specification, and the ages of the barrels used to create the batch are not specified, but are said to include casks from across a number of decades.

The nose is delicate, with bourbon, fruit notes and a hint of aged-sherry.  It coats the palate, a slight oily feel, with a mix of sweet (orange, toffee) emerging to spicy (pepper).  The finish is medium to long, dry with the pepper/spice lingering.

This is a most interesting and delightful single malt.  It is a smoother, more subdued dram than I expected given the mix of bourbon and sherry casks.  It also has a complex mix of youth and age that brings a special quality, something that I have found in other single malts as well.

Oban 18

Oban 18Oban 18, 43% ABV.

This is a West Highland single malt, from a small distillery with limited production.  The Oban 18 is aged in oak casks.

A subtle nose, understated citrus notes.  On the palate, I find peach and honey with an emerging spice and oak.  The finish is long and warm with nuanced spices.  I found the finish pleasantly surprising, the character and depth of this scotch unfolds in smooth waves.

This is an excellent whisky.  If you want pronounced peat and smoke, Oban 18 is not the dram for you.   But, if you want a smooth, easy drinking, not overly sweet single malt, I would recommend giving this one a try.  It has all the character you would expect to find in a complex whisky.



Glenfarclas 17

Glenfarclas 17Glenfarclas 17, 43% ABV

I enjoyed revisiting this Speyside single malt, it had been a while since I last sampled it.  Glenfarclas is one of the few (perhaps now the only?) family owned single malt distilleries.  Characteristic of the speyside tradition, this is a whisky with a sherry influence, one that is consistent with all Glenfarclas bottling.  They do not play with variations of different cask treatments that you can find in other distillery offerings, they only use ex-sherry barrels for their finishing.

The sweetness comes across clearly to the nose, carried by a blend of vanilla and butterscotch, mixed with understated peat smoke.  On the palate, it is complex, warming with the sherry sweetness, cinnamon, and spices teasing the tongue.  The finish is nicely balanced, warm and just long enough, with a wisp of smoke lingering in the aftermath.

I know that many are drawn to the sweeter sherry treatments of single malts.   The Glenfarclas 17 certainly brings those notes to the performance.  Yet, it also reminds you that single malts are complex, with the peat and smoke just pronounced enough to  appeal to those who seek those elements in their whisky.

It might just be a whisky that would be good to share when you need to address a range of preferences.  Indeed, I would enjoy getting a group of friends, with diverse tastes, together to give this single malt a try.  It might just have a little something for everyone.   It would be intriguing to see what elements of this whisky’s complex profile would stand out in light of different preferences.




Ardbeg Auriverdes

Ardbeg AuriverdesArdbeg Auriverdes, 49.9% ABV, non chill-filtered.

I was surprised to come across this new Ardbeg Auriverdes at The Still when I dropped by on my way home from Farmers Market on Saturday.  I knew it was the special bottling that would be released in association with their annual Ardbeg Day.   I have been able to acquire some from this event in prior years after they went into wider production, like Ardbog and Ardbeg Alligator.   But, never so soon.  Admittedly, I was anxious to welcome this new member of my Ardbeg neighborhood.

According to the Ardbeg website, Auriverdes is “a whisky of two halves”.  It is aged in the same bourbon barrels as other Ardbeg, but the cask lids are “toasted’ using a special treatment.

The nose does show some of the impact of this toasting of the lids, with a subtle smoke overlaying a mix of vanilla and brine.  The palate is sweet on entry, followed with a subdued peat, closing with roasted coffee.  The finish seems short and dry, more like I would expect in a young whisky.

I will need to visit this whisky again.   In one respect, my first impression is that it is less Ardbeg-like than I would have expected.  While the foundation is there, it is subtle and does not come across with some of the aggressive notes that expect to find in an Ardbeg.  In some respects, it may be closer to Ardbeg Alligator than the classic Ardbeg 10.

This is why I will need to visit again and reassess.   I came to this tasting with what I have come to expect from a fine Ardbeg on my mind, and in that respect I do find Auriverdes coming up a bit short.   But, if someone had poured me a dram, given it to me without letting me know what it is, I think I would have made a more positive assessment.   I would have likely recognized it as an Islay single malt, but perhaps not an Ardbeg.

Do not get me wrong, I will drink and enjoy it.   It will just not rise to the level of being a favorite.