Category Archives: Whisky Tastings

Crabbie 30 Year Old Single Malt

The name of Crabbie has remained famous throughout its long history in the Scottish drinks trade but latterly only for the company’s peerless Green Ginger Wine, an essential ingredient in the Whisky Mac cocktail, and more recently for a successful alcoholic ginger beer.

This was not always the case.  The Crabbie company can trace its roots back to 1801, when Millar Crabbie first established an upholstering company in Edinburgh. Millar Crabbie soon switched to grocery and from there to import and export of spices, blending and distribution of cordials and eventually, under the control of Millar’s son, John Crabbie, blending whisky.

The company flourished and by the middle of the 19th century had acquired extensive warehousing and bonded premises in Leith and the Haddington distillery in East Lothian which produced grain spirit for the company’s products until the middle of the 1860s.  Subsequently, in the 1880s, Crabbie was involved in the foundation of the North British grain distillery alongside Andrew Usher and William Sanderson, and became the first chairman of the board.

Crabbie 12-year-old from around the fifties

The Crabbie company continued producing blended whiskies throughout the 20th century but its fortunes dwindled following its acquisition by Diageo forerunner Distillers Company Limited in the 1960s. Production of the company’s own brand whiskies ceased in the 1970s and the Crabbie brand was sold in the 1980s to MacDonald and Muir, owners of the Highland Queen blend and Glenmorangie distillery.  

Halewood International acquired Crabbie in 2007 and set about reviving the brand, first with the previously-mentioned ginger beer. The new owners have ambitious plans for Crabbie, last year announcing a proposed new Edinburgh micro-distillery to produce both gin and whisky.

In the meantime, to continue the brand’s renaissance Crabbie have introduced two new sourced whiskies, an 8 year old Highland dram and a single cask 30 year old Speyside single malt bottled at natural strength from a refill Oloroso sherry butt.  Just 330 bottles of the 30 year old have been released for the UK, but luckily we’ve managed to secure a small parcel of stock, and of course we had to try it. Here’s our tasting notes:

Crabbie 30 Year Old Single Speyside Malt, 48.6%

Nose: A symphony of oak and fruit straight off the bat: the kind of really, really classy polished old wood and hints of raisins and cooked apples that lets you know straight away that this is a great whisky. There’s pretty much everything you’d want: autumn leaves, damson jam, sponge cake and a wonderfully floral edge of orange blossom and honeysuckle. Develops more on patisserie with fruit cookies, then fine milk chocolate, coffee ice cream and roast hazelnuts. The integration and balance are absolutely fantastic, nothing dominating, everything intertwined.

Palate: Medium-full in weight but very full flavours. Big but not overpowering oak attack initially, then hints of marmalade. A flash of dusty bookshelves, faint bonfire smoke, then fruit buns, burnt raisins on the edge of a fruit cake, apple pie, icing sugar, chocolate again, dried figs – absolutely textbook refill sherry. The balance is very good and water isn’t really necessary, but a very small drop lifts a tinned fruit syrup flavour. Gets more nutty with time in the glass.

Finish: Warming and very good length. Cinnamon bark, malt loaf, fruit leather and cracked black pepper on a slow fade.

Comment: Majestic stuff.  This nigh-on perfect refill sherry cask is the epitome of an autumnal whisky, begging for a comfy chair and a fireplace – it’s really got the long-matured, oak-reactive X factor that only a long time in a cask can bestow. There are big, soft-edged tannins and it’s quite warm on first tasting at full strength but the fruit always wins out and the oak is finely-poised but never too dusty or bitter. Just fantastic whisky.

Although we can’t reveal which distillery Crabbie 30 year old is from, we can promise that if the distillery name was on the bottle it’d be cheap at five times the price of this bottling, which is available for £500 here. We suspect there could be a rush on this product once word gets out, so don’t hang around if you want one!

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APRIL AUCTION – FULL CASKS HELD IN BOND – TASTING NOTES

Whisky Online Auctions Tasting Notes: Bruichladdich cask 1641

Colour: White wine

Nose: As is common with lower natural cask strength malts, this has a superb freshness about it. A light green fruitiness, some notes of crushed nettle, bath salts, minerals and wet pebbles. Underneath, with a little breathing time, there are notes of pine needle, light cereals and parsley butter. Touches of citrus throughout.

Palate: Surprisingly creamy. Vanilla foam with banana syrup, cocoanut milk, pink candy floss and strawberry wine. The greener fruit qualities you’d expect from Bruichladdich emerge with a little time. Notes of gooseberry wine, elderflower jam and some drying salty notes such as sandalwood and tea tree oil at the back.

Finish: Good length. Full of lighter cereals, lemon oil, barley water and some notes of green olive and turmeric adding an earthy element in the aftertaste.

Comments: An extremely fresh and drinkable Bruichladdich. Very much an afternoon kind of whisky. The lower strength does not hinder the texture or overtly enhance the tannin, rather it helps elevate the softer cereal and citrus fruit tones throughout the whisky. A cask that demands to be bottled imminently due to the strength, but will yield a highly enjoyable and approachable dram.

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Macallan 18 Year Olds – Tasting Notes

Following on from our triumphant appearance at Old & Rare Whisky Show in Glasgow, we thought it’d be a good idea to publish some tasting notes on some of the whiskies we had on offer at the Show, so that those of you who couldn’t make it can get an (online) taste of what you missed.

First up is a trio of Macallan 18 year olds from different eras. We’ve got a recent Macallan Fine Oak 18 year old, then a 1982 18 year old bottled at the turn of the century and a 1973 18 year old bottled in 1991.

 

Macallan 18 Year Old Fine Oak Edition – often regarded as the best of the bunch from the Fine Oak series, which was met with, shall we say, a mixed response from whisky fans when they first appeared in 2004. The negativity at the time was a reaction against the fact that the Macallan had abandoned its previous principle of only releasing single malt from sherry casks, blending the Fine Oak range with both bourbon and sherry cask-matured spirit. However, let’s let the whisky speak for itself.

Nose: Biscuity initially, with polished wood notes and some honeyed porridge. Classic lighter Speyside character. Develops older ‘church pew’ aromas, apple peelings and hard icing sugar with time in the glass but overall this is quite a restrained nose.

Palate: Mediumweight, with a slightly hot mouthfeel. Classic toasted barley notes and well-integrated flavours from the nose, particularly the apple note. Flapjacks, dry Weetabix, then a cooked lemon sour note.

Finish: Medium length, drying. Tart apples. A little warm but quite gentle nonetheless.

Comments: Fascinating to taste more distillate-driven Macallan, and this is textbook Speyside, but while considered in isolation it’s a perfectly decent whisky, it’s also easy to see why the sherryhead hardcore Macallan fans wanted nothing to do with it. It’s an elegant whisky but lacking in what was considered the Macallan character at the time.

Macallan 1982 18 Year Old – Bottled in 2000 and originally sold at a retail price around £40, although auction prices are now well north of £1000.  1982 is of course the vintage of the famous Gran Reserva bottlings from the early 2000s that were a huge factor in the Macallan boom. Bottled from 100% sherrywood, naturally – the Fine Oak range was a good few years away when this bottling came out.

Nose: Wow, this is definitely more what you expect from Macallan (or at least what you used to expect). Really glorious sherry profile, sweet wood and dried fruits – mixed peel, prunes, dates, dried figs, treacle, cooked raisins, stewed apples. It’s the subtle, perfectly-balanced old oak notes that really kick this up into classic territory, though. One of those achingly gorgeous noses it seems almost a pity to destroy by actually drinking the whisky.

Palate: Medium-full but powerfully flavoured. Yes, this is exactly what you want it to be. All the fruity Dundee cake flavours from the nose, plus the supporting foundation of polished old bookcases. The difference is that the wood is more prominent here, a constant note rather than flitting in and out as on the nose, adding cinnamon and dusty vanilla notes to the swirling dried fruit palate. You’d never call this too oaky though.

Finish: Good length for the relatively light weight. Cooked oranges, cloves, fading cinnamon.

Comments: Absolutely wonderful. One weeps to think that this could be had for £240 a case. Certainly one of the first stops on my (sadly imaginary) Time Machine Supermarket Sweep.

Macallan 1973 18 Year Old – Released in 1991, when whisky was just something you bought and drank rather than collected or invested in, this is sherry-matured Macallan from the distillery’s golden era. This is a fascinating chance to try a relatively younger version of the spirit that would cause such a storm when bottled as a 25 or 30 year old in the late 1990s and early 2000s and was one of the major contributors to the worldwide explosion of  interest in single malt whisky. Auction prices for this bottle are creeping up towards £1500 now.

Nose: Still very sherry-dominated, obviously, but right from the start it’s clear that this is a very different beast to the 1982.  There are many of the same elements, but it’s bolder and with big differences in emphasis. Very upfront burnt raisins, dark toffee, rich marmalade, a little rum fudge, faint (acceptable) sulphur, Christmas pudding, orange liqueur, malt loaf, burnt gingerbread.

Palate: Medium-full. Mouthwatering sweet sherry oak, and for that reason it’s closer to the 1982 than the nose, but there’s still the same big differences in emphasis. The raisins, marmalade and Christmas pud steal the show, but there’s also cocoa powder, rum’n’raisin fudge and orange liqueur.

Finish: Great length for the strength. The intensity of the flavours fades very slowly, leaving the tongue tingling.

Comments: Where the 1982 was exquisite, balanced and elegant this is mostly all about knockout sensuality, with some hidden depths. It’s Audrey Hepburn vs. Rita Hayworth, Monet vs. Picasso. A fabulously expressive whisky.

 

A fascinating mini-flight, and it’s very tough pick a favourite. Macallan 18yo was always sold as a classic after-dinner malt and if I’d just put away a big steak in a nice restaurant I’d be going for the 1973.  Reading a book or staring into the fire on a winter’s evening, though, it’d be the 1982 every time for me. In such exalted company the Fine Oak doesn’t get much of a look-in, but that’s to be expected and it’s a perfectly drinkable whisky in its own right.

Hope you enjoyed our tasting notes – stay tuned to the blog, we’ll have more updates very soon.

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Old & Rare Whisky Show – Glasgow 2018

Last weekend the Whisky-Online Auctions team headed to Glasgow for the second Old &
Rare Whisky Show in Glasgow’s Grand Central Hotel, and it was another cracking event.
The team for the weekend was headed by Harrison Ormerod from Whisky-Online, ably
assisted by spirits trainer Tim Roberts and whisky writer Tim Forbes.

The format for the Show was much the same as the previous year, with visitors buying
whichever drams they fancied in 1cl measures that started at just £1 and went up to £200 a dram. Along with the long session times – the Show was open for 6 hours each day – these small measures mean that visitors could take their time and savour many more different drams at cheaper prices than larger measures would allow. We’re big fans of this system, although the long hours meant there were a few sore feet amongst the exhibitors at the end.

The real stars of the Show, of course, were the whiskies – and what amazing drams we had on offer for the lucky punters. The jewel in the crown of our stand was the legendary Queen’s Visit Port Ellen 12 year old, an incredibly rare whisky bottled in 1980 when Her Majesty popped over to Islay to inspect the Port Ellen Maltings.

The whisky for this bottling was drawn from two casks dating from 1967 (the year the
distillery reopened after a 37 year silence), and only a very small number of bottles were
produced, to be given to the Queen’s retinue, local dignitaries and some senior distillery staff on the day of the visit. This Port Ellen is famous for its colossal 99-point score from
Whiskyfun and that reputation ensured a stampede to the Whisky-Online stand as soon as the Show’s doors opened. Over the course of the event almost the entire bottle was sold at £200 per 1cl – a lot of money for a dram, but a bargain considering the bottle’s £12,000+ valuation.

Another standout dram at the Whisky-Online stand was the Brora 1972 Rare Malts 22 year old. This is another whisky with a massive reputation, and it wasn’t hard to see why. Bottled at 61.1% but very approachable nonetheless with a gloriously farmyardy aroma, hints of custard and condensed milk balanced with ashy phenols and wet turf. We only had half a bottle of this one left, and at a very fair £100 per nip (considering the £7,100 recent auction price) the bottle was finished long before the end of the Show – as was the Black Bowmore 2nd Release at the same price.

Of course, the Show wasn’t just about very expensive whiskies, and our stand had a lot of outstanding drams at very affordable prices. As well as the recent Tomatin 36 year old, which flew out at just £5 a dram, we had quite a few very reasonable official Macallans, with the 1982 18 year old available at £10 and the 1973 18 year old at just £15. These made a fascinating comparison with the 25 year old Macallan Anniversary 1965 (£25) and the wonderful 1980s Macallan 25yo decanter (£50).

Talisker was well-represented too, with a dark, earthy 1972 Berry Bros bottling and the classic grassy, smoky 1970s 8 year old both hugely popular at £10 a dram. The word-of- mouth hit of the show for us, though, was the 1955 50 year old Secret Stills bottling of Talisker by Gordon & Macphail. We were practically giving away this sherry monster at just £25 a nip – several punters came back for second helpings – and there might have been a few envious glances from Gordon & Macphail themselves, who had the stand next door…

Blends are always great value at our auctions, and our show offering reflected that as well, with a 1955-bottled White Horse and a Black And White from 1941 wowing the lucky visitors at only £10 each. It’s great to be able to share these historic whiskies with appreciative whisky fans, and the Show stood out for its relaxed atmosphere, no matter how busy the stand got.

We like to bring a few esoteric drams to the Show as well – it’s fun to show people bottles they’ve never even seen before. This year we had two versions of 1960s Four Bells Demerara Rum, one bottled before Guyana’s independence in 1966, the other soon after (and many thanks to former El Dorado ambassador Stefanie Holt for the info!). These dark, sweet, raisiny rums had strikingly different characters but were both delicious.

On the whisky side, some highly discerning connoisseurs were delighted with our massively smoky Caperdonich 5 year old at £10 a nip, and a few clued-up punters spotted our half-bottle of Ben Nevis 1977 bottled by Cadenhead’s in 1991. This was a very austere, but beautiful, whisky at a massive cask strength of 62% – and at just £3 for 1cl, we reckon it was one of the best bargains at the Show.

The event was a great success once again, and everyone on the Whisky-Online stand enjoyed it immensely, as did the hundreds of lucky whisky fans who flocked to try our delicious whiskies! Full credit to the Show’s organisers and we hope to see them again next year.

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January Auction – Full Cask Held in Bond – Tasting Notes

As another cask of Macallan in bond arrives for auction, it is worth remembering that this year the new Macallan distillery will open to the public. As full production commences at this new distillery the original Macallan distillery – where this very cask was distilled back in 1989 – will cease production. Leaving aside the arguments about the implications of this decision, the fact remains that this is a scarce opportunity to acquire a cask of Macallan from the original distillery – a liquid that some may come to consider increasingly historic and valuable in light of these aforementioned forthcoming developments. On top of this, this particular cask has spent its entire life maturing on site at the distillery. Something which adds that extra layer of history and romance to what is, most importantly, an excellent whisky in its own right.

Whisky Online Auctions Tasting Notes:

Colour: Gold

Nose: This is a classical, aged Speyside profile with a forward note of honey, buttered toast, sweet and savoury patisserie, yellow flowers, pollen and various notes of toasted sunflower seeds, cereals, hay and, with a little opening up time, a rather beautiful and fragrant aroma of orange peel and citrus cake. Develops with white and green fruits and more citrus aspects.

Palate: Surprisingly spicy. Spice cake, cinnamon buns, pumpernickel and rye breads, olive oil, a light mineral aspect and subtle earthiness. Develops towards quince, turmeric and this orangey note again, manifesting here as orange bitters and mulling spices.

Finish: Long with drying earthiness, light waxes and more cereal and hay loft notes. Still slightly buttery in texture with some background green fruits.

Comments: A perfect example of well-aged Macallan that displays the distillate weight and character extremely well without any undue or excess influence from the cask. This could be bottled now but it seems a shame not to allow it to reach 30 years. The freshness and the flavour profile are still perfectly vibrant and I see no reason why the cask could not be allowed to mature for anything up to a further five years.

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September Auction – Full Casks Held in Bond – Tasting Notes

It has been quite remarkable seeing the results that these bonded casks of mature whisky – in particular Macallan – have achieved over the past few sales. So, we’re pleased to be able to offer the final two ex-sherry hogsheads of Macallan from this parcel of stock in our latest auction. The character of the whisky in both is of exemplary quality and both casks exhibit great maturation with at least a further decade of ageing potential ahead of them. Similarly, they are joined by an unusually characterful barrel of 2006 Tullibardine which shows a remarkably complex sweetness. This will no doubt be a more affordable cask for anyone looking for something interesting as a future bottle share with friends or something special as a bit of fun or an investment for themselves. Like the Macallans, it already exhibits good maturity and should continue to improve for at least another five years.

 

Macallan 1995 – Cask 7738: Refill Hogshead – 58.00% ABV – Approximately 205 Bottles

Nose: Beautifully earthy and fragrant. Full of moss, ferns, all kinds of dried herbs, pumpernickel bread, wet leaves and mushroom powder. A cooling coal hearth, a touch of strawberry liqueur, some hessian and dunnage warehouse and a dusting of cocoa powder. Beautifully integrated sherry and distillate.

Palate: Big, a little sharp at first, and full of spices like nutmeg, cinnamon powder, cloves and various other mulling spices. Some cured meats, freshly baked brown bread, black olives, sage, rosemary and gorse flowers. A touch of desiccated cocoanut and muesli comes through as well. Some more meaty notes in the form of bovril and beef stock.

Finish: Long, earthy, meaty and full of dark fruits and warming spices. Quite a layered finish ending up on a long chocolatey fade.

Comments: Another blinding good mid-aged Macallan. Again, this could easily sail to 30 years of age without too much trouble it would appear. One that will certainly reward a little patience in the bond.

Macallan 1995 – Cask 7739: Refill Hogshead – 60.00% ABV – Approximately 236 Bottles

Colour: Gold.

Nose: A rather elegant, plush and fatty nose at first. Notes of wax, wood resin, camphor and furniture oil give way to greener and lusher fruit notes and floral scents such as geranium, rosehip and Turkish Delight. There are some notes of dried rosemary, motor oil, pistachio nuts and a background note of mint.

Mouth: A big oily delivery full of spice, seville orange marmalade, fruit compotes, some traces of tar resin, pine cones and orange cocktail bitters. Notes of turmeric, greengages, lamp oil, hessian, clove rock and madeira cake. Quite rich, oily and intense.

Finish: Lengthy and with more of these polished wood, oil and dark, preserved fruit qualities. Quite spicy towards the end and with a lingering leathery note.

Comments: This is a big and relatively uncompromising example of Macallan, already showing good maturity at around 22 years of age. However, I feel it has great potential and could go to 30 years or more quite easily. A good one to sit on if you have the patience.

Tullibardine 2006 – Cask 806: Bourbon Barrel – 57.09% ABV – Approximately 219 Bottles

 

Colour: Gold

Nose: A warm butterscotch arises at first. Followed by subtle notes of treacle, soft toffee, vanilla ice cream, some wood shavings and candy floss. Quite a confectionary nose this one, but cleanly and vibrantly so. Time reveals some more farmyard touches of wet hay, damp sack cloth and various oils and industrial aspects. Quite straightforwardly ‘highlands’ in style.

Palate: The strength is surprisingly shy at first which is a good sign. This has pink grapefruit, foam shrimp sweets, barley sugar, red strawberry laces. A whole sweetie shop full of flavours. Red liquorice, caraway liqueur, some grassy touches perhaps hinting at a dryness peeping through. With time some nutmeg and fresh herbs emerge.

Finish: Quite long and lemony with vanilla cream, some slightly salty notes like frying pancetta and touches of grass and rosewater.

Comments: A surprisingly lively, flavoursome and idiosyncratic cask of Tullibardine. One that could be bottled now or continue up until around 15 years of age quite easily.

 

Auction Ends Wednesday 1st November From 8pm.

Any further queries please do not hesitate to ask.
Call: 01253 620 376  | Mobile: 07767 22 22 00 | Email: auctions@whisky-online.com

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September Auction – Full Casks Held in Bond – Tasting Notes

casks in bondIt seems that the impressive recent results for casks of whisky still held in bond in our previous sales have unearthed some more tantalising examples for auction. Another pair of Macallan 1994 ex-sherry hogsheads and – intriguingly – a 1990 barrel of Littlemill. To see a name as sought after as Macallan come up for sale is always exciting, but a cask of whisky from a closed distillery adds an extra layer of intrigue to the sale. Here are our notes for these casks based on the most recent samples drawn at the time of their last gaging.

 

Littlemill 1990. Bourbon barrel. Cask number 918. Remaining Litres of Alcohol (RLA) 85. 50% abv. 

Littlemill 1990 - Cask 918 - Held In Bond - Tasting Notes

Colour: Plain gold.Nose: At first an even balance between fresh fruits such as banana, kiwi, cider apple and pineapple, alongside touches of varnish and wood spice. The profile is immediately reminiscent and typical of other early 1990s Littlemills. Develops further with notes of fresh gooseberry, gorse and some grassy and wildflower qualities.

Nose: At first an even balance between fresh fruits such as banana, kiwi, cider apple and pineapple, alongside touches of varnish and wood spice. The profile is immediately reminiscent and typical of other early 1990s Littlemills. Develops further with notes of fresh gooseberry, gorse and some grassy and wildflower qualities.

Palate: Surprisingly zingy at first. Sharp fruit notes of tart gooseberry, citrus and a light grassiness. There is a substantial cereal aspect as well; notes of porridge oats, toast and barley sugar. The sweetness from the wood is noticeable but well integrated with the distillate. Some further notes of milk chocolate, vanilla fudge and cocoa. A little more tropical fruits towards the finish.

Finish: Medium length. Lingering butterscotch, barley sweetness and some green fruitiness.

Comments: The nose was the best part of this one, although overall it is a fine and classical example of Littlemill from this era. At times it is reminiscent of some of these Irish single malts of similar vintage. It retains good freshness for its age and shows a lively and often delicious fruit character. The purchaser of this cask may want to consider getting this one bottled sooner rather than later as, while it may reach 30, it is already showing signs of full maturity and may not benefit particularly from further extended ageing.

littlemill cask 918 -BID HERE

 

Macallan 1994. Refill sherry hogshead. Cask number 2316. 58.9%. 

Macallan 1994 - Cask 2316 - Held In Bond - Tasting Notes

Colour: Full Amber

Nose: An immediate and beautifully earthy, nervous and resinous sherry. Surprisingly old style and reminiscent of some old Campbell Hope & King bottlings of Macallan with these bold notes of walnut wine, earthen floors, dunnage, many dark fruits such as dates, prune juice and sultanas along with rancio and pipe tobacco. Develops further tertiary notes of mint leaf, eucalyptus and camphor. Quite a remarkable nose!

Palate: The sherry character still dominates, although the weightiness of the distillate still matches it well and there is wonderful balance between these notes of truffle, earth, fruit jams, molasses and black pepper. Quite stunning really. With time some flecks of green fruit, tree bark and hessian emerge.

Finish: Long and very warm. A glow of dense, chocolatey sherry with dried herbs and morello cherries.

Comments: A spectacular and delightfully old style Macallan. Reminiscent in some ways of some early 1970s Glendronachs. The sherry is clean but dense and earthy, although never too intense or overbearing on the spirit. This could easily be bottled now or be left for up to another five years. Any longer however and I get the sense that it could easily start to become imbalanced.

Macallan 1994

 

Macallan 1994. Refill sherry hogshead. Cask number 2317. 60.5%.

Macallan 1994 - Cask 2317 - Held In Bond - Tasting Notes

Colour: Light Amber

Nose: Lighter, leafier and a little hotter than cask 2316. This is more towards green pepper, dried mushrooms, red fruits and notes of pollen, wild flowers, mead and dried herbs. More powerful and perhaps more singular than its sibling but not quite in the same old style vein.   With time becomes more menthol and waxy giving way to some lovely green fruits.

Palate: Juicy fruits in the form of fruit jams and cordials with some dark chocolate, mint choc chip ice cream and herbal liqueurs. Cocktail bitters, caraway, rosewater and beeswax all appear. It wears its high abv surprisingly well. There is an oiliness and more overt fruitiness that betrays the fact this one is more dominated by the distillate and the cask is slightly less active than 2316. A meatiness towards the finish like beef stock.

Finish: Long with plenty of green fruit, wet leaves, cigar boxes, cured meats and peppery notes. Towards the end quite a distinctive note of orange bitters and orange peel emerges.

Comments: Perhaps not as stellar as 2316 but this is still excellent Macallan. The freshness means it could easily stand further ageing for a number of years should the purchaser choose to keep it in bond for extended maturation. However, it is already an excellent Macallan and it would not be too soon to bottle it in the coming year.

Macallan cask 2317


 

Auction Ends Wednesday 2nd August From 8 pm.

Any further queries please do not hesitate to ask.
Call: 01253 620 376  | Mobile: 07767 22 22 00 | Email: auctions@whisky-online.com

 

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Port Charlotte 2004. Bourbon Cask Up For Auction

After last month’s rather staggering success of the two 1993 Macallan casks, we’re delighted to have another very interesting and desirable bonded cask of whisky up for auction. This time it’s a 2004 Port Charlotte. These Port Charlottes were sold back in 2001 – 2005 for what now looks like bargain basement prices. Very few of them have sold on the secondary ‘open’ market before, with most of the cask sales taking place privately before now. So this should be an interesting experiment to find mature, bonded Port Charlotte’s current market value. Below is my assessment of the cask’s current qualities. The sample tasted was drawn from the cask’s most recent gaging.

Port-charlotte-cask Auction Lot and Certificate

Port Charlotte 2004. Cask 969. Bourbon. Tasting Notes

Colour: Gold

Nose: Bonfire smoke, wood ash, lots of briny and dense coastal characteristics and tertiary notes of iodine, mercurochrome, TCP and ink. The medical and coastal characteristics are both powerful but in balance and the overall impression is one of good maturity and potency. This is a BIG Islay whisky. With a little breathing, there are some more typical farmyard aspects which I find typify many early 2000s Port Charlottes of this age. Notes of hay, silage, some drying seaweed, old rope and kelp. There is a sense of building and increasing complexity with time and air. With water: The farmyard aspects really come to dominate now. More earthiness, notes of bark, black olives and an eventual drift back towards medicine. Quite excellent!

Palate: The arrival is quite intense and brings with it a sense of incense and smouldering wood. This quickly passes to reveal some notes of lemon oil and lemon zest, vanilla cream, smoked fish and a broad spectrum of medical complexities. There is also an underlying spiciness that adds balance to the natural sweetness of the distillate. Overall the texture is quite fat and oily, there is a ‘meatiness’ about it which alludes to chewing smoked mussels in brine. With water: lemon juice, sea salt, fresh oysters and more of these briny aspects mixed with a nice olive oil quality. Perhaps some herbal aspects as well, suggestions of dried rosemary and more kelp notes.

Impressions: This is a well-matured Port Charlotte from a clean and nicely balanced cask which has matured the distillate well without ever overshadowing or dominating the spirit. There is a strong sense of distillery identity and a natural ‘charisma’ about the distillate. These triumvirate Port Charlotte qualities of seashore, medicine and farmyard are all present and nicely balanced which leads to a complex, intriguing and delicious dram. This could easily be bottled now but should also continue to improve quite comfortably for at least another 3-4 years in bond. I would expect it to show particularly well at around 18 – 20 years of age.

Port Charlotte 2004 - Cask 969 - Click Here

Auction Ends Wednesday 2nd August From 8 pm.

Any further queries please do not hesitate to ask.
Call: 01253 620 376  | Mobile: 07767 22 22 00 | Email: auctions@whisky-online.com

 

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Old & Rare Whisky Show – Glasgow 2017

Whisky-Online Auctions made our first ever official appearance at a whisky festival recently, with a stand at the inaugural Old & Rare Whisky Show in Glasgow.  The show took place in the city’s Grand Central Hotel, which has recently undergone an extremely painstaking (read: expensive and time-consuming) facelift to restore it to its former glory.

https://whiskyshow.com/glasgow/exhibitors/6971/whisky-online-auctions/

WhiskyShow-old&rare2

So it was that on the Saturday and Sunday of 18th-19th February a total of around 700 committed whisky devotees flowed into the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, a beautiful high-ceilinged, multi-chandeliered space, to partake in some of the finest, oldest and rarest drams ever assembled in the UK.  The £100 ticket price seems expensive but becomes an amazing deal when one takes into account that this includes your first £50 of whisky tokens to spend at the stands.

As it was their debut event, Wayne and Harrison Ormerod from Whisky-Online were determined to impress the crowds with their drams. To that end, they put together an absolutely stellar line-up of whiskies for visitors to try. Wayne and Harrison were joined on the stand by whisky writer Tim Forbes for a bit of experienced help.

Old & Rare Whisky Show Dram List

The format of the show was very simple – all the exhibitors’ drams were sold in measures of 1cl (10ml), payable in either tokens or cash.  This system has many benefits – it encourages responsible drinking, visitors can try many more whiskies without becoming inebriated and it brings the price of the most expensive drams down so that visitors can taste whiskies at a level they might not normally be able to afford. The exhibitors really played their part as well, with some very sensible (even generous) pricing on a range of to-die-for whiskies.

Prices on the Whisky-Online Auctions stand started at just £3 for a range of cracking drams from the 1980s and earlier – standout drams included a heavily-sherried Macallan 12yo OB litre bottle from the 1980s and a pair of 12yo OB Obans, one bottled late 1970s and one just after the metric labels came into force at the beginning of the 1980s.  Along with some 1970s Glen Grant square bottles these saw plenty of action throughout the show.

Getting into the more serious stuff, the stand also had a very rare blend – a black-and-gold label Old Vatted Glenlivet estimated to have been bottled around the 1930s, priced at just £10 for 1cl.  This one became more and more popular as the show went on and word got out about it.  Also at this price was a ‘secret’ Bowmore 1961 bottled in 1974 for Berry Bros. & Rudd, a very gentle, tropical dram.

Moving up another level to around £16-20 per dram and now the customers were really spoiled with a series of very rare single malts.  These included a pair of Highland Parks: the spectacular 1955 G&M Cask and a 1961 22yo bottled for Duthie – even Serge Valentin hadn’t seen this one before.  There was also the famous 1971 Glen Garioch bottled for Oddbins in the 1990s, which was a steal for just £16.

The most popular dram at this price range, though, was the mysterious Springbank 20yo ‘Dell Fines’ – a really brilliant spirit-led dram distilled at some point during the golden period from mid-1960s to early 1970s.  No-one really knows anything about this dram, other than it was probably bottled in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and only two bottles have ever turned up on the market – one of which was now open.

Fortunately, the quality of the whisky was certainly never in doubt – it was truly extraordinary and the punters were soon flocking to the stand to try it. Opening this bottle was a real brainwave by the boys, and at £20 for a 1cl dram it represented an amazing opportunity for the show visitors, especially as the only other known bottle is retailing at £2000 elsewhere.

Finally to the Whisky-Online Auction’s two absolute ne plus ultra-highlights at the show: The Brora 40yo, which was going for £110 per cl; and the 1967 Largiemeanoch 12yo at £200 a measure.  The Brora 40yo was very popular, and it wasn’t hard to see why – this was a famously high-scoring dram and remains the oldest official Brora ever released.  The large square crystal decanter looked very impressive on the Whisky-Online Auction stand (although it was so chunky that pouring accurately without spilling was rather difficult), and just about everyone who bought a dram was taking pictures of the bottle to show their friends back home.

As for the Largiemeanoch, well… the word ‘legendary’ gets overused a lot but this is a truly legendary whisky.  Bottled, possibly by Cadenhead’s, for the Howgate Wine Co. at the end of the 1970s, Largiemeanoch 12yo is a mix of three consecutive casks bottled at 54.2% and is now regarded by many cognoscenti not only as one of the best Bowmores ever bottled, but also one of the greatest ever single malts. It’s a brilliant fusion of heavy phenolic and massively intense tropical fruit aromas and flavours. Truly breathtaking stuff.

Famously, this bottling received 97 points on Whiskyfun, and it was clear at the show that its reputation had preceded it.  There was the group of Dutch whisky enthusiasts who had bought tickets and flown over to the show specifically to taste it, and who insisted on having their pictures taken caressing it behind the stand; there was the customer who bought ten measures of it right at the start of the show to take back for his friends in Singapore; and there was the Asian man who, unable to attend the show himself, had bought his girlfriend a ticket and sent her in with a list of whiskies to buy, with the Brora and Largiemeanoch top of the list.

Special mention, however, goes to the unsuspecting fellow who misread the price ticket and ordered a dram of Largiemeanoch believing it to be £20.  After the whisky was poured he was understandably taken aback when asked for another £180, but to his eternal credit he took a sniff of the whisky and then marched straight to an ATM for the rest of the money. We can only doff our caps to him, and hope that his wife didn’t find out.

Over the course of the show over half the bottle of Largiemeanoch was sold, and there were several visitors trying (unsuccessfully) to buy the remains of both the Brora and the Largie at the end of the event. Wayne and Harrison couldn’t be tempted, though – they must have a plan for it.

Overall, the show was a great experience for the Whisky-Online Auction team and there’s no doubt that their whiskies made a lot of lucky visitors very happy. Mission accomplished, and hopefully that’s the first of many successful events for the team.

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Angus’s Birthday Bash Bottles – Part 3

 

 

Balvenie-Glenlivet.

As We Get It. Macfarlane, Bruce & Co. Circa 1970. 102.9 proof.

I love this series and the early ones by MB&C are almost all great. Hard to find nowadays.

Colour: Oaked Chardonnay

Nose: Gravel, chalk, seashore, dried seaweed and after a minute glimmers of tropical fruits such as pineapple, papaya and passion fruit. This is young, hot and totally pristine distillate – you could also be forgiven for mistaking this for a very strong young 1960s Bowmore. Goes on with fresh cut grass, mangoes, agave juice and a little blade like stab of smoke. Totally brilliant distillate, old style but entirely captivating; austere yet playful. With water… more citrus and more cereal now, it’s clearly a young whisky but that really doesn’t matter when the distillate is this good and swaggers about with this much character. It’s still remarkably coastal for Balvenie, water brings out a beautifully elegant saline note amongst all the wild flowers and fresh garden fruits.

Palate: It’s hot but the fruit is pretty immediate, more cactus, mango, gravel – all kinds of minerals in fact – more of this suggestive Bowmoreness, butter, chives, cereal, parsley – gorgeous. There’s also emerging notes of olive oil, sunflower seeds and brioche with a huge freshness. This is clean, hyper sharp and really alive. Probably the closest you can get to how whisky tasted when freshly bottled 40-50 years ago, there’s almost no old bottle effect in this at all. With water: more salt, orange peel, tangerine liqueur, a faint dusting of spices and more citrus notes. Perhaps moving more towards more classical Balvenie qualities now but still remains remarkably coastal. Just wonderful!

Finish: Long, sharp, coastal and pristine. A Samurai dancing with many blades. Citrus, wild flowers, bread, agave tequila and more little flashes of tropical fruits.

Comments: It’s worth re-iterating the above: I’m convinced these bottlings are the closest you can get to how whisky tasted when freshly bottled several decades ago. The freshness, the youth of the spirit and the huge character of the distillate are all loud and impeccable. Also a totally unique Balvenie that feels as though it was conceived secretly on Islay.

Score: 91/100

 

Macallan-Glenlivet.

As We Get It. Macfarlane, Bruce & Co. Circa 1960. 100.9 proof.

This is the oldest ‘As We Get It’ bottling I’ve ever seen let alone tasted. Probably one of the earliest releases they ever did. I’m excited…

Colour: White wine

Nose: Another very young one, spirity but hyper-clean, very fresh and alive with citrus notes, (lemon cheesecake as someone said when it was first opened) fresh barley and more of these lovely notes of chives, parsley and fresh butter. Little notes of geranium, juniper and rapeseed oil develop but the whole remains perhaps a little closed still. Lets try some water… lemons, thistles, gorse, wax, stone fruits and dandelions. There just isn’t a trace of wood anywhere in this one but the purity and character is just wonderful. Becomes fatter with more plum fruit notes and cereals after a little more time.

Palate: A beautiful beginning on all kinds of waxes, soot, minerals, hessian and chives. Sunflower seeds, olive oil, dried mango and freshly baked tea cake. It’s quite dry but beautifully complex and elegant. Once again the whisky is clearly young but such things just don’t matter when the distillate is so well made and rich with personality. With water… water seems to magnify the waxiness and bring out more of the classical old highlands style qualities such as sootiness, slight farmyard touches, spices and citrus peel. Quite majestic distillate if you ask me.

Finish: Wonderfully long on all sorts of citrus notes, freshly baked cakes, breads, wax and all kinds of oils.

Comments: Another fantastic old As We Get It bottling that shares a lot in common with the Balvenie. Once again the obvious youthfulness and power of the spirit are great assets here. These bottlings are both like perfectly preserved liquid time capsules of the raw character of malt whisky and how it used to taste several decades ago, pre-modernisation. Just wonderful, I can’t decide between them so.. snap:

Score: 91/100

 

 

Whisky Tasting Bottles
Left: Macallan-Glenlivet. Right: Balvenie-Glenlivet

 

 


 

Stay tuned for Angus’s Birthday Bash Bottles – Part 4. In the meantime If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy these:

Angus’s Birthday Bash Bottles – Part 1

Angus’s Birthday Bash Bottles – Part 2

Whisky-Online Exclusive | Ardmore 1993-2015 Tasting Notes

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