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AUGUST AUCTION – MORE CASKS HELD IN BOND – TASTING NOTES

Two Tobermory Whisky Casks For Sale

Joining the 1989 Macallan in our August whisky sale are two 1994 Tobermory casks.

Cask #39 was originally filled on the 14/12/1994 into a First Fill Hogshead. This cask would currently yield approximately 244 x 70cl bottles of whisky currently at 24 years old.

Whilst cask #5015 was originally filled on the 20/06/1994  into aFirst Fill Butt. This cask would currently yield approximately 461 x 70cl bottles of whisky currently at 24 years old.

Whisky Online Auctions Tasting Notes: Tobermory 1993. Cask #39

Colour: Pale Gold

Nose: A more straightforward, lemony and briny example. Lots of soot, yeasty notes, chalk, limestone, minerals and sea air. Impressively fragrant and floral, with more of these notes of linen, bath salts and fabric softener. Background hints of lemon peel, gravel and menthol cigarettes. Quite a lot of cereal qualities as well.

Palate: Very taught, chiselled and pure in style. Brittle minerality, toasted cereals and seeds, some brake fluid, light medicines and more chalky notes. A more typical, perhaps ‘classical Tobermory’ example but in a good way. Perhaps more idiosyncratic and characterful than cask 5015. More lemony and yeasty notes. Lots of hay and grasses as well.

Finish: Long, ashy, mineral, brittle, flinty and slightly saline. A slightly chemical aspect as well but in a good, characterful way.

Comments: The cask here is quieter and the distillate louder. It should comfortably mature well for a further 5-10 years. It still retains a lovely freshness and fragrant quality. A very interesting and rather good example of Tobermory.

Whisky Online Auctions Tasting Notes: Tobermory 1993. Cask #5015

Colour: Gold

Nose: A good and pleasingly textured sweetness. Notes of lemon cake, poppy seed, some beach sand and sandalwood. Fresh, clean and elegantly coastal. Develops further tertiary notes of bread, sourdough, fabric softeners and lemon barley water. The underlying maltier tones get more pronounced with time.

Palate: Many toasted cereal notes, butterscotch, cream soda and hints of grass and olive oil. Again it’s quite clean and with a kind of porridge-like stodgy texture. Some brittle, concrete and chalky notes along with some soot and mustard seed. Surprisingly powerful and still possessing some hints of sea air and beach minerals.

Finish: Medium-long. Some wood ash, butter, more taught minerality and a few white floral aspects. Good.

Comments: An excellent mid-aged Tobermory. Good sweetness and texture. Lacking some of the more ‘unlikely’ characteristics this distillery could be prone to in this era. The cask has had a clear voice with these sweeter aspects, although I expect this could easily improve further over another five years of maturation.

If you are interested in buying this cask, you can register to bid on our auction here: https://www.whisky-onlineauctions.com/create-account/

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December Auction Highlights 2017

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Old Oban Whisky Circa 1900

One of, if not the greatest and most fascinating bottles of whisky we’ve ever had the pleasure of auctioning. We collected this bottle from an elderly lady in West Brom. This bottle along with a 1940s Blair Athol was part of an estate the vendor inherited many years ago. Both bottles have been sat in a side cabinet ever since.
Established in 1793 Oban is the only surviving distillery in the Oban area. Today Oban is renowned for being part of the Classic Malt Selection whilst older bottlings are few and far between with the distinct diamond shaped 12 year old from the 1970s springing to mind. Reminiscing and the only other bottle remotely close to this era is the Old Mull Blend from 1917 we auctioned in December 2016. The reason why I mention this example is because Oban is known as one of the main malt contributors for Old Mull.
The hotel mentioned on the label is located in the heart of Oban and is approximately half a mile from the distillery. The hotel now trades under the name Kelvin Hotel. The hotel is a grade B listed building and is one of the oldest and most original in the 19th century planned town. From our research the Scottish architect who made alterations to the hotel in 1896 was James Begg. This relates to when we believe the whisky was bottled.
The bottle itself is so original with its beautiful imperfections. To say this bottle is over a century old and the fact it’s survived two World Wars is incredible and unbelievable. Whoever wins this bottle will certainly be sat on a serious piece of Scottish liquid history. Truthfully it deserves spotlight in a museum. One of a kind and once in a lifetime.

This month’s auction features a collection of 24 Murray McDavid bottlings. The majority of the collection consists of whiskies distilled in the late 1960s and 1970s with the exception of one or two from the early 1980s. You will find obscurity such as the 1969 Islay Trilogy; a 36 year old marriage of selected Islay malts matured in both bourbon and sherry casks. There’s some unusual cask types such as a 1967 Strathisla from Bourbon, Grenachie Banyuls casks to a 1969 Macallan from Bourbon, Marsanne, Roussanne Casks! And sought after distilleries such as Glendronach that you rarely see bottled by independents.

We’ve got another great selection of casks that are held in bond, in Scotland. There’s a 1990 Sherry Hogshead Macallan that would currently yield approximately 240 bottles at 27 years of age and a 1996 Sherry Butt that would currently yield approximately 526 bottles at 21 years of age. It’s a bold and well-structured mid-age Macallan. This one has a clear and clean sherry influence which should really start to hit perfect within the next decade. Another one that is well worth hanging onto and being patient for. Even if it is already excellent. Then we have a run of 1992 Isle of Jura. Cask 5486 would currently yield approximately 172 bottles at 47.1%. This is a solid and expressive example of Jura. Ideal for bottling within the next year given the strength. Interestingly, cask 5487 would yield approximately 64 at 32.8%. On its own this is too weak to legally be called whisky, but as a component to vat with a younger or higher abv whisky it could work extremely well. Especially with one of the other, higher abv, sister casks of Jura. Cask 5488 would currently yield approximately 197 bottled at 49.6%. Probably the best of the four Jura casks. And also the one with the most future staying power. Although, my feeling is it would not really take more than a further two years maturation and that it could quite easily be bottled now or in the next few months. Finally cask 5490 would currently yield approximately 172 at 47.4%. This is another solid mid-aged Jura. Again ideal for bottling now or in the next 12 months.

The only official vintage Ardbeg distilled in the 1960s. A vatting of two casks from 1965 left at the distillery when LVMH took over. Casks 3678 and 3679 made up a yield of a mere 261 bottles at just short of 40 years old. Surprisingly this appearance in our Special Extended Christmas sale is the first time we’ve had the pleasure of auctioning this showpiece.

The very first Macallan Lalique makes a welcome return for our highlight auction of the year. First released in 2006 with an outturn of only 470 bottles; a large proportion of the stock in this bottling was substantially older than 50 years. Another often overlooked fact about the first Lalique edition is that many of them were opened and consumed, as a result the true number that remains is now far lower than many actually realise making this the hardest in the Lalique series to acquire now. A truly remarkable feat of design, cask selection, blending and execution by Lalique and Macallan, and one of the great modern masterpieces of single malt scotch whisky. This starting block for the other entries in the Lalique series that followed remains the ultimate in prestige and one of the best Macallans ever bottled.

Blair Althol is one of two surviving distilleries in the Pitlochry area and is often overlooked as a single malt with its association to Bell’s. Available official bottlings generally date back to the late 1960s and 1970s but believe it or not, these don’t appear as often as you may think, nevermind a 1940s. The distillery was mothballed between 1932 – 1949 and rebuilt in 1949. It went with the times in the late 1950s where it was modernised. In 1973 two more stills were added and in 1975 the dark grains plant was built.

What makes this bottling so rare is the fact it’s composed of whisky from the original distillery before it was mothballed in 1932. This is the first time we’ve laid eyes on such an old bottle from this distillery and the likelihood of us coming across another would be a miracle. So, if you’re looking to add this to your collection or you’re simply as curious as us to see what it tastes like, you won’t be disappointed either way.

Finally we will end with this simple crock that holds possibly the greatest whisky we’ll ever live to see. A 1955 Bowmore bottled for the opening of the visitors center in 1974. This was passed down to the vendor by their grandfather who worked at the distillery at the time. Great provenance and surprisingly this one is rammed to the top.

Don’t stop here as there’s so much more to see. Click through to our site and browse the entire selection of unique whiskies we’ve put together for our final auction of 2017.
As always all bottles will start off at £10 with no set reserves meaning every bid is a potential winning bid.

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Have a wonderful Christmas & New Year from all of us here at ​Whisky Online Auctions.

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November Auction Highlights 2017

Whisky-Online Auctions November Auction Is Now Live!
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If anyone is looking to have their own bottling, we have a very solid and very drinkable 20-year-old Arran in our November sale. It shows the delights of whiskies which reach naturally low cask strengths at often surprising speeds. Obviously the buyer of this cask should seek to have it bottled within a year, as this is really at its peak and any prolonged ageing could run the risk of dipping below 40%. However, as things stand, this is a very easy and delicious Arran. • Follow for full tasting notes •

This month’s auction features an impressive collection of over 50 Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottlings. The collection was acquired by a Society member from 1990 – 1995 and includes many fine examples we’ve never auctioned before, along with those we may not of seen for some time. Ones to look out for include a 1972 Lomond: Lomond sat on the Dumbarton complex from 1956 – 1985 where it produced only to contribute to blends such as Ballantine’s and almost 0% for single malt bottlings. The only two casks of Lomond ever bottled as a single malt are by the SMWS. Making 98.1 not only one of the rarest SMWS bottlings but one of the rarest Scottish single malt distillates in existence. Other eye-catching examples are a 1979 Rosebank matured in a first-fill Oloroso cask, which is quite unusual for a Lowland whisky. Neighbouring distilleries Balvenie & Glenfiddich make a very rare appearance with a 1979 40.4 and an immensely intriguing 1978 15.6. Not directly part of the collection but avalible in this sale are Yoichi point 1,2,3 & 4 and last but no means least a 1979 Glenlochy Distributed by: Eurodivins S.A Guests Paris that almost seems not to exist.

Bona-fided highlights have to be the Macallan 50-year-old Millennium & the Springbank Millennium set. We’ve not seen the Macallan Millennium since early 2015 and there’s no surprise why as it’s amongst a handful of bottlings that standout as not only one of the greatest Macallans ever bottled but amongst the greatest whiskies ever bottled. A real crowning glory of a whisky. The Springbank Millennium set is just a masterclass of whiskies that will take you through a wonderful era of distillation. The set consists of six whiskies bottled between 1998 & 2001 and range from 25-year-old to 50-year-old.

If there’s any PLOWED nutters out there you will be pleased to see we have the 1972 Brorageddon & its younger sibling Ardbeggeddon. These were bottled as single casks by Douglas Laing where the majority were sold through The Whisky Shop. These exceptional casks were selected by a bunch of American connoisseurs and whisky nuts called the ‘PLOWED’ society and for good reason have garnered a reputation not only for the quirky names but for the sheer quality of the liquid inside. These rarely see the light of auction due to the amount of bottles released and the fact many have now been consumed

Then we have three magical 1964 Bowmore – The Black is a second release bottled for the US market whilst the White & Gold are UK bottlings. These will be Lotted up as single items. Among all these incredible whiskies you will also find multiple 40-year-olds from distilleries such as Dalmore & Bruichladdich. Bags full of Macallan as far back as the 1950s. All sorts of official bottlings from the 1970s1980s & 1990s. The usual raft from the Syndicate that are slowly drying up and a plethora of well aged independent bottlings. Those into their old blends will be pleased with the excellent selection avalible dating back to the early 20th century that make for memorable drinking experiences. If you’re looking for presents or drinking stock for Christmas this auction is going to be your last opportunity as the cut off date for shipping is going to be early/mid December; please bear in mind once the auction has closed, parcels will be shipped out in order of payment received.

As always all bottles will start off at £10 with no set reserves meaning every bid is a potential winning bid.

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All the best from all of us here at Whisky Online Auctions.

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October Auction Results 2017

Our recent auction was marked by yet another impressive result for bonded casks of Macallan. While not quite as staggering as last month’s results, these 1995 refill hogsheads both performed admirably fetching £52,100 a piece. Showing that any mature stock of Macallan in bond still commands a serious premium. There will be further casks coming to auction with Whisky Online over the next couple of sales so it will be interesting to see how they compare.

Moving to the bottles. The SMWS 26 Malts collection hit a new record result at £4400, quite a tidy improvement over the recent days where it often sold for around £2500. Strong results also for the Laphroaig 1960 at £4000 and the Caol Ila Manager’s Dram at £3400. Both bottles which are driven largely by the wonderful, and historic, character of the liquid.

The following slew of Macallan results were largely typical, consistent and high. With all bottles hitting the top end of their current market value. Demand for aged, classic era, sherry matured Macallan still seems insatiable. The 1971 34 year old Bowmore was another bottling which could be picked up for sub £1000 for a number of years, nice to see these amazing bottlings getting a little more recognition these days with the latest example finishing up at an impressive £1900. Although, given the demand for other similar quality Bowmores, I suspect this bottle will still have some way to go over the coming years.

Speaking of Bowmore, the 1961-1973 example by Berry Brothers is another of those bottles that no one really knew about until one got opened a few years back and tasted by some whisky friends and subsequently written about. Bottles back then used to change hands for less than £200 – this latest one sold for £1700! If you’ve taste the liquid however, it’s not too hard to see why. Not unlike the 30 year old Sea Dragon Bowmore which continues to be in high demand, finishing up last night at £1250

Staying on Islay it seems any Lagavulin with a bit of age can command serious money. Four bottles of the Syndicate 38 year old bottling – the oldest known bottling of Lagavulin – fetched between £1500-1550 each. This is another bottle which seems destined to fly higher in price in the coming years.

Other notable high end results were the Lochside 1966 Celtic Heartlands bottling for £1300 – these old 60s Lochside single malts are really starting to pick up serious – and deserved – attention. The Longmorn 1969 Gordon & MacPhail CASK edition for £925. Again, anyone who has tasted these bottlings will ‘get it’. And speaking of whiskies which are starting to gain overdue recognition, the Glen Elgin 15 year old Manager’s Dram hit an impressive £875. This bottling could be snapped up for £200-300 for a long time and has only recently started to ascent to new heights. Similarly the Aberfeldy and Oban Bicentenary Manager’s Drams both fetched £600 each – very healthy results for these bottles. Even the Oban 19 year old at £420 was a stronger than usual result. Could we be on the cusp of a new trading level for the older Manager’s Dram bottlings?

Midleton continue its collectable march with the 1985 release fetching a cool £775. Similarly the 1970 Bruichladdich impressed with a £725 hammer price – another step higher for this one, how long before it hits the four figure mark? It’s often said that dark  whisky is alluring and, in the case of the Cadenhead white label 1979 Springbank, it isn’t hard to see why it’s deep hue would have contributed to its £725 hammer price.

Another type of bottling that is seeing renewed interest these days are the old, legendary blends. Particularly brands such as Logan’s which are, like White Horse and Mackie’s, known to contain significant amounts of Lagavulin and Malt Mill. This beautiful 1950s example fetched a deserved £675. Macallan madness doesn’t also manifest in the official bottlings, you may not think a 1988 26 year old Macallan by Douglas Laing merited a hammer price of £600, but someone else certainly did.

A Laphroaig 10 year old from the 1980s fetched £550, even with a low filling level. As understanding of just how special these bottlings are spreads, the prices only seem to solidify.

Going through the rest of the £100-500 range of the sale the prices were by and large towards the upper end of market value for most bottles. There were a few slightly juicer bargains. The Ord 16 year old Manager’s Dram seemed to buck the trend of the other bottles form this series in the sale selling for £370, which is a tad softer than other recent results. The Ord 30 year old 2005 special release also still looks like good value at £300 considering what a stellar whisky it is. Likewise a litre of 12 year old Highland Park from the 1980s for £185 also seemed like a pretty quaffable price.

Otherwise though, there were slim pickings for bargain hunters. It seems one of the key aspects of today’s secondary whisky market is proliferation of knowledge has all but dried up bargains. Almost everything seems to fetch its consistent value these days. A great thing if you’re a seller; frustrating if you’re a buyer – especially one looking to buy to drink. Still, a buyout market also means a plentiful and regular supply of juicy bottles. So, until next month…

Next Auction Starts Wednesday 22nd November

If you are looking to sell your whisky and would like to take advantage of our  5% sellers commission, record hammer prices and fast payouts then contact us today to get your FREE valuation, Expert Advice and take part in our next auction.

Our valuers Wayne and Harrison will also be on the road this month offering FREE personal home collections. If you have any whiskies you would like to have collected or simply want to discuss how our auctions works, please feel free to call us on 01253 620376 and we’ll happily assist. Please note personal collections are subject to availability and of course we have to make them economical.

London Area – Wednesday 8th November
Scotland Area – Wednesday 15th – 16th November

 Get in touch & Book Your Free Collection
Call: 01253 620 376 | Mobile: 07767 22 22 00
Email: auctions@whisky-online. com

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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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Angus’s Birthday Bash Bottles – Part 2

Berry Brothers Choicest Liqueur Scotch Whisky ‘Of Great Age’. Bottled circa 1970. 70 proof.

An old brand by Berry Brothers that was most likely a classy vatted malt with a decent bit of age. From a time when ‘of great age’ meant more than it probably would today.

Colour: Light copper

Nose: Take a box of tools, rub with good quality shoe polish, add a couple of old leather-bound library books and then a good slosh of wet gravel and you might be approaching something of this nose. Of course there are also all these wonderful herbal subtleties, little prickly notes of resin, old hard wood shavings, the inside of a freshly made quality acoustic guitar (niche tasting note I know) and then – with about a minutes breathing – wonderful fruits both tropical and green. This really does give the impression of ‘generic old style, mature malt whisky from the 1950s/60s’. You get a clear sense of what they were trying to do with this brand, incidentally probably one that was not too expensive at the time.

Palate: There’s a clear sherry component lurking somewhere in here, beautiful and delicate notes of wet earth, ginger bread, darjeeling tea leaves, old cognac, raisins and fruit loaf. The only frustration is that you can feel how great it must have been at full strength or even 80 proof. Lovely resinous, slightly drying mineral notes coming through now with more classical waxy and spicy notes.

Finish: Good length for 40%. More notes of tea leafs, raisins and various fruits and minerals.

Comments: What a shame about the strength but it’s still incredibly delicious. The sort of whisky you can imagine a couple of dottery old Tory backbenchers quaffing unfeasibly large measures of while chomping cigars and gleefully contemplating Ted Heath’s recent election victory in the corner of some smoggy bar in the House Of Commons.

Score: 89/100

 

Berry Brothers Choicest Liqueur Scotch Whisky ‘Of Great Age’. Bottled circa 1950. 70 proof.

Lets see how the same brand was 20 years previously…

Colour: Light gold.

Nose: Peat. Immediate peat – of a style that just isn’t made at any distillery today and hasn’t really been made in Scotland since the 1960s. A peated farmyard full of old tractor sheds, sheep fanks, peat fired kilns and motor oil. More of these tool boxes, flints, hay bales, silage and greasy rags. Sounds a bit strange perhaps and it was actually a bit stranger when it was first opened but after a week of breathing this has turned into the love child of Brora and a 1940s Highland Park. A wee twinkle of fruits dancing around in the background. Coal hearths and a great big church candle full of wax as well.

Palate: Now the slight weirdness returns, a whole farm in a glass with wormwood, ancient absinth diluted with ancient Chartreuse Vert and chamomile, caraway and old bonfire embers. Gravel and graphite oil with overripe bananas and yet more quite stinky farminess. I really love this but I know some would find it quite extreme and quite weird. It reminds me of an very old Lagavulin Spring Cap that was extremely coastal to the point of being fishy, this is similar but in an extremely farmy direction. Big, fat, greasy peat still floating about in there. Nothing like this has been made for decades in Scotland.

Finish: Long, hefty, farmy and peaty. A big, quirky old bruiser of a dram.

Comments: It’s a tough one to score, it’s so much fun and I really like it, although I can understand why others might struggle with it. Lets be diplomatic and say:

Score: Technical level: 87/100 – Personal level: 91/100

Left: circa 1950. Right: circa 1970
Left: circa 1950. Right: circa 1970

 


 

Stay tuned for Angus’s Birthday Bash Bottles – Part 3. In the meantime If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy these:

• Angus’s Birthday Bash Bottles – Part 1

• Whisky-Online Exclusive | Ardmore 1993-2015 Tasting Notes

 

 

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Angus’s Birthday Bash Bottles – Part 1

 

Last week I used the fact I turned 30 this year as a thinly veiled excuse to open a silly amount of old bottles I’d been stashing away these past few years with all my whisky pals. The brief was pretty simple, everyone turn up to the great Dornoch Castle Hotel for a few days and we’ll methodically open and taste the lot of them. This we did with much passion and vigour. Needless to say we had a lot of fun. So, over the next few weeks for purposes of fun and posterity, I’ll post my notes for all the bottles we opened and shared in the order they were tasted. First up:

 

Grant’s Strandfast. Bottled 1930s. 70 proof. 

This is most likely a high malt content blend and was the ‘house brand’ for William Grants for quite a number of decades.

Colour: Gold

Nose: It’s worth pointing out that the level on this bottle was totally perfect, just around the middle of the neck and the cork was aged but in very good condition. No wonder then that it is immediately so fresh but also classically pre-war in style. A beautiful and elegant mix of all kinds of fried herbs, waxes, shoe polish, minerals, steel wool, wood spice, old Chartreuse Juane and the lightest of phenols. Not too peaty this one. Goes on with tiny dancing notes of tincture, wood sap and hessian and resin. Beautiful.

Palate: The strength is light but the attack is good and rich with wonderful tertiary notes of forest flora, earth, leaves, some soot, various oils and waxes, more herbal notes of old herb liqueurs, green tea, some lemon oils and noticeably more peat now. Great thickness and presence in the mouth. This share many obvious similarities with quite a few other old 1930s era blends but is quite a bit more complex than most others. Goes on with a little green fruit, some delicate, dusty old phenols and a little paraffin.

Finish: Soft, waxy and herbal. Really delicious and in sync with the nose and palate if not the longest.

Comments: Emotional and genuinely beautiful stuff. If this had been bottled with even just three more degrees of alcohol it could easily have been up to 92-93 for me. As it is it’s still a solid…

Score: 90/100

 

Grant’s Liqueur Scotch Whisky. Early 1930s. 

Grants Liqueur

No mention of blending on the label (although there were none on the Standfast either) and no statements of strength. The capsule, bottle and label suggest a slightly earlier bottling and more a expensive one. This could possibly be a straight vatting of Glenfiddich and Balvenie, lets see…

Colour: Gold, quite identical to the Stand Fast.

Nose: This shares quite a bit of DNA with the Stand Fast but feels also immediately richer and more punchy. Some bigger and more assertive notes of wool, hessian, wax and caraway with something a bit tarry underneath. Some top notch olive oil, brown bread, butter and ripe green fruits. The nose feels kind of simultaneously fat and delicate – like a sumo wrestler with a hangover.

Palate: Oily and full of herbs, earth, tinned fruit syrups, wax, hessian and camphor. I feel this is possibly still a blend but if it is the grain is almost silent after so many decades under the weight of all that big, fat malt. Juicy cereal notes, more oils and waxes, more buttery, herbal notes – engages the whole palate gently but firmly. A farmyard quality arises after a little time along with more spices and notes of stewed apples.

Finish: Longer than the Stand Fast with a green fruit and grassy note alongside all these usual characters of wax, oil and spice.

Comments: Another beautiful old high malt content blend. Probably quite an expensive bottling back in the day and also probably around 70 proof much like the Stand Fast. The two share a lot of real similarities, it’s just a shame that the level on the Liqueur was fair bit lower when opened compared to the Stand Fast, if they had both been in the neck it would have been even more intriguing. Still, two totally beautiful, highly emotional ancient bottlings.

Score: 90/100

 

Old Angus. 1930s.  

Old Angus

I was looking for one of these for quite a few years and finally found a bottle last year that had a good level just a whisper above the base of the neck. Once again no statement of strength on the label.

Colour: Pale gold.

Nose: POW! Totally stunning peat. Really just a wonderful mix of iodine, peat oils, tar, embrocations, seashore, little drizzles of lemon juice and pebbles. This could be an old Lagavulin White Horse or 1960s Caol Ila, seriously! When we opened this everyone remarked about the peat but this has opened up tremendously. Not a shred of grain on the nose anywhere, just light citrus and green fruits wrapped up in a whole bag of stunning, old style peat aromas. Glorious.

Palate: Snap. More of this wonderful peat character, very in sync with the nose. Medical complexities, peat sap (is that a thing), tar, rope, old kreel nets, smoked kippers smothered in lemon juice, some smoked grains and plenty camphor and hessian. A mouthful of Ardbeg’s dunnage warehouse from the 1950s. It’s just an endless cavalcade of all these various flavours and characters in all kinds of continuous combinations and varying degrees of intensity. Great poise in the mouth, never overpowering, always elegant and well structured.

Finish: Long long long (as George Harrison said), beautiful mineral, ashy peat oils and smoke. Kippery, tarry, medicinal and lightly fruity. Just delicious.

Comments: I will now drive myself mad attempting to work out what malts went into this. Lets just say an equal vatting of 1920s Malt Mill and Laphroaig and leave it at that. Of course if could quite easily be Highland Park or Talisker or any number of old, long closed Campbeltown distilleries. Were they using cheap brands like Old Angus to dump excess Campbeltown stock into in those days? We’ll probably never know. On the rear label it says ‘A noble Scotch. Gentle as a Lamb’, I’ll not argue with that. Although it’s not like any Angus I’ve ever met. If I didn’t know the provenance of this bottle and someone poured it to me and told me it had been refilled with an old Lagavulin White Horse I wouldn’t have even blinked, not a shred of grain in sight, no doubt comprehensively slaughtered by all that peated malt inside the bottle over all these decades.

Score: 92/100 


 

Stay tuned for Angus’s Birthday Bash Bottles – Part 2. In the meantime If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy these:

• Old & Rare Whisky Tasting at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society

• Good Spirits Whisky Tasting – Hosted By Whisky-Online Auctions

• Dornach Castle Hotel Welcomes all Whisky Enthusiasts!

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Old & Rare whisky Tasting at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Fancy tasting some old and rare drams courtesy of Whisky-Online Auctions this November?

Our specialist Angus MacRaild will be hosting two very special whisky tastings next month in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Friday the 20th of November @ 7pm

Angus will be showcasing seven exceptional and hard to find bottles at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society Vaults in Leith. This event will be open to both members and non-members and will be priced at £60 per head which includes all seven drams and a selection of very fine cheeses.

The line-up includes

• Black Bull 40 year old blend. 41.9%.
• Deanston 30 year old. Rare official bottling exclusive to USA. 46.7%.
• Glendronach 12 year old. Bottled 1980s. 100% sherry matured. 40%.
• Tamdhu 1981 13 year old. Cadenheads. Sherry matured. 59.9%.
• Bowmore 12 year old. Duty Free bottling early 1980s. 43%.
• Highland Park 25 year old. Bottled 1990s. 51.5%.
• Plus an as yet undisclosed, long gone SMWS bottling from the past.

 

Bottles3

Attendees are free to bring along any bottles they are interested to have valued as Angus will be discussing the ins and outs of bottle valuation, the great allure of old bottles and the history of SMWS bottlings.

Buy tickets online now

Or call 01253 620376 to book tickets via telephone (opening hours Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm)

On Saturday the 21st in Glasgow Angus will be hosting a whisky tasting of a fine selection of old and rare drams in a relaxed and informal setting of the Good Spirits Co in Glasgow, these tasting line-ups are kept under wraps until the night but the last one included Johnnie Walker Black Label from the 1930s so there are always some seriously old bottles getting cracked at these events. Tickets are £45 and are available from the Good Spirits Co shop or by calling them on 0141 258 8427.

 

 

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Good Spirits Whisky Tasting – Hosted By WOA

Last Saturday I hosted a whisky tasting at the Good Spirits company in Glasgow. The premise of such events is to promote Whisky Online Auctions, educate people about old bottles that you can generally only find at auctions and for Good Spirits to get a bit of kudos for hosting the kind of tastings you can’t really go to anywhere else in Glasgow. The reality is that it was simply a good excuse to crack open a clutch of rather tasty old bottles. I wasn’t sure what to expect with quite a few of these once I’d put the line-up together but in the end I was pleasantly surprised. Here are some rambling and overlong tasting notes for your distraction and mildly informative amusement.

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Haig Dimple. Spring Cap. 1950s. 70 proof. 

1

Colour: Slightly orangey gold

Nose: Immediately pungent with notes of tyre inner tube, slightly stale camphor, tool boxes, old sheds and old copper coins. Typical old spring cap taint and OBE that is to be found in many of these old spring cap sealed blends from the 40s and 50s. Given a little time though there are some pleasant notes of hessian, hay, nice medicinal touches and a pretty old style phenolic character bubbling away underneath. One of those whiskies where you can feel there’s a delicious old dram in there, it’s just a bit buried by capsule taint and old bottle effect.

Palate: Less taint apparent in the palate; immediately there is a lot of peat, iron wool and various metallic notes but also resin, camphor and something pleasantly mineral. An old barn yard with a broken down Fergie tractor and tins of mysterious oils lying about the place. Very old style in its character and composition but also obviously quite a bit of OBE.

Finish: Very drying and spicy with some wood smoke, white pepper and more oil and mineral qualities. Medium length.

Comments: I really like these old blends from the 1950s and earlier where there was a considerably higher malt content than modern counterparts. After all these years in the glass the malt really shuts out the grain and gives you a great overall impression of the generic character of malt whisky in Scotland in the 1940s/50s. It’s just such a shame about the taint from the spring caps and the OBE, it really makes it kind of hard to score as you can feel there is a fantastic whisky just simmering away underneath. What’s also interesting is how for so long a lot of whisky aficionados raved about spring caps as the best type of capsule for preserving a bottle’s fill level. This may be true but after tasting quite a number of these bottles over the years I feel that corks are really the best for preserving the actual character of the whisky. Speaking of which…

 Score: 77/100

Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old. – 

Stopper cork. Late 1930s (late King George V). No strength statement visible but probably 70/75 proof.

2

Colour: Light amber – an aged Sauternes.

Nose: Beautiful! This is quite a way from the Dimple. Bags of delicate phenols, resins, oils, wax, long aged yellow Chartreuse, light spices, some candied orange peel, camphor, little medicinal complexities, the list goes on… Just one of these perfectly preserved old, quite high malt content blends that shows little or no grain influence at all leaving you just an impression of a very old, pre-war style of malt whisky with a much bigger peat influence and much more pronounced balance between wood and distillery character. Goes on with notes of tea tree oil, aged cognac and dark rye bread.

Palate: There’s still bite and freshness about this even after nearly eighty years in the bottle. Lots of peat but it’s an older style, drier kind of peat, more on rootiness, herbal notes, camphor, minerals, wax and soot. A style that comes from more extensive use of floor maltings and deeper cut peat. Becomes more tarry as well with notes of gentian and Clacquesin (look it up!). Pure pleasure.

Finish: Good length, earthy, rooty and phenolic with all these little touches of wax, mead, hessian, tar and a lingering farmy quality.

Comments: An exemplary old blend from which the malt component really sings high and loud. Beautifully classy, old style and quite emotional considering this style of whisky is completely extinct in today’s industry. I think that when you can find these bottles with corks and decent fill levels then they can be a recipe for absolute drinking pleasure.

Score: 91/100

 

Glenordie 12 Year Old. 1980s. 75cl. 40%.

3

Colour: Gold

Nose: Straight away you get this beautiful and brilliant waxiness, lashings of minerals, stone fruits, slight coastal freshness, ripe pears, greengages and sandalwood. It’s a style which is very typically ‘old highlands’, quite close to nearby Clynelish from the same era and totally distillate driven; the wood in this one is very quiet. It’s not overly complex but the personality is big, direct and beautifully structured and poised. Becomes a little more buttery after a few minutes with notes of fresh herbs such as chives and parsley.

Palate: Good punch for 40% with more of a continuation of the nose than anything else. Lots of thick waxiness, slight phenolic notes, lemon skins, cereals, herbs, minerals, pebbles, little grassy notes, fresh brown bread, sunflower seeds, olive oil. Once again this is almost totally distillate driven, the wood has played a perfect supporting role but is in no way dominating, there’s just a wonderfully understated sweetness towards the back of the palate.

Finish: Not the longest but leaves a wonderful mix of waxes, breads, olive oil and mineral notes. Very refreshing and hugely drinkable.

Comments: A bottle of the old Ainslie & Heilbron Clynelish 12yo bottled around the same time as this one will set you back around £300-350 at auction; these bottles go for about £70-90 and are better whisky in my book. Although it is important to bear in mind that there were quite a few different batches under this label and not all are of the same quality. Old Glen Ord – distilled pre 1980 – is one of the real unsung treasures of whisky for me. I love this distillate driven style with huge personality in every part of the whisky, the fingerprints of the distillery are all over this one. It’s not a sexy style by any means and is probably an acquired taste for many, but it’s well worth seeking out as there are so few whiskies bottled these days that reflect this style.

Score: 90/100

(Would have been higher with a slightly longer finish)


Bruichladdich 1986 – 2001 15 Year Old.

Country Life. Oloroso Sherry Butt. Cask: 356. 800 bottles. 70cl. 46%.

4Colour: Polished Copper

Nose: Immediately rich with dark fruits such as prunes, cognac soaked raisins and dates with lovely rising note of orange peel and a over-arcing saltiness. Beautifully clean sherry that really feels like it has come from a proper european oak sherry cask that has held proper Oloroso. Goes on with an elegant nuttiness like fresh hazelnuts and peanut brittle then notes of fresh, wild strawberries and brown bread. After a while some signature Bruichladdich green fruits begin to arise giving the whole thing a wider, slightly more complex profile. Very enjoyable.

Palate: Thick and syrupy at first with a big, stodgy sweetness of sherry up front which moves into a much more drying, slightly tannic profile towards the back of the palate with big notes of dark chocolate, all kinds of nuts, prunes, cocoa powder and nice biting spiciness from the wood. There’s not as much evidence of distillery character on the palate as on the nose but there is still a lean saline streak running through it which gives the overall impression of atlantic freshness. Becomes a little earthier with time and more herbal perhaps with a rich espresso note. Still mucho tasty.

Finish: Not too drying with good length and more lovely notes of nuts, cocoa, espresso and dark fruits, some maraschino cherries also.

Comments: A very satisfying dram, one I remember trying years ago not long after it had been released and liking it a lot. Trying it again I feel it’s better than I remember it. One of these great early bottlings of Bruichladdich by the new ownership team in 2001 that was later sort of overshadowed by the plethora of ‘stuff’ that got released. It’s worth remembering that this same batch of 1986 sherry casks went on to end up in Blacker Still so it’s interesting to try one of the batch at an earlier age. A very clean sherry cask that still holds pleasing glimmers of distillery character underneath and is overall highly quaffable.

Score: 87/100

Mortlach 10 Year Old.

Editor’s Nose. OB for Insider Magazine late 1990s. 70cl. 60.5%. A curious official bottling of Mortlach done for the 10th anniversary of Insider Magazine in the late 1990s.

5Colour: Oaked Chardonnay

Nose: A not unexpected zing of alcohol at first sniffing, but despite this there is a very ‘Rare Malts’ feel to this. It’s immediately very austere and distillate driven with notes of pears, fabric, muesli, olive oil and touches of camphor. It really has something of this ‘United Distillers’ philosophy about it. A lot of the 1990s/early 2000s Manager’s Drams and Rare Malts really had a similar kind of oomhpy, very pure kind of profile that was heavily towards refill wood and distillery character. Lets add some water and see what gives… With water the glass quickly seems to overflow with minerals, citrus notes, more grassiness, more olive oil and some garden fruits.

Palate: Neat this is much in keeping with the nose: hot and austere. Very grassy, lean, mineral and quite punchy with an elegant natural sweetness about it like a vanilla laced honey. Slighty herbal and floral with a little more breathing and some very pleasant notes of cereal, buttered toast, fresh bread and sesame seeds. But generally this needs water… With water: herbal liqueurs, butter, caraway, lemon oil, green tea, green peppercorns, more muesli and cornbread.

Finish: Long, grassy, lemony and playful with little flashes of green fruits, buttered toast, mirabelle eau de vie and eucalyptus.

Comments: A big dram that needs to be wrestled to the floor a bit. The sort of whisky where you can have a lot of fun if you’ve got time and some water. There are probably about three or four different whiskies in a glass of this if you go drop by drop with the agua.  There is pleasure to be had and the quality is high but it’s not an easy dram and it remained seemingly immovable in its austerity. A whisky for tories perhaps…?

Score: 83/100

Talisker 1989 – 1999 Friends Of The Classic Malts. 7000 bottles. 70cl. 59.3%.

6

Colour: Straw/Gold

Nose: It appears a pop-up kipper smokery has set up shop in this glass. Seriously kippers, whelks, seashore, fresh scallops, smoked mussels; basically a whole shellfish platter. Pretty typical Talisker with lots of pepper, huge coastal aspects and a wonderful undercurrent of rich, green fruitiness. Notes of seaweed, iodine, tcp, tar and various ointments. Hugely expressive even at cask strength. Very chiseled and sharp with a growing note of fresh lemon juice – you could do a great ceviche with this one – and thick tincture and mercurochrome notes. With water: it’s still lethally sharp with great poise and structure. The water does seem to merge the lemon juice notes with the medicine, pepper and peat though so that what you’re left with is perhaps even better balance and more immediate gluggability. Or a glass of Talisker 10 year old you might otherwise say.

Palate: A big lean slab of peat at first which quickly acquiesces to black pepper, lemon juice, smoke mackerel, tar liqueur (Clacquesin again – look it up), shore pebbles and more medical complexities. Pure, blade like, classic Talisker to be honest. With water: it’s fruitier with water, lemon juice becomes lemon oil and we get more little subtleties such as smoked tea, cereals, yet more tar, gentian eau de vie and a pleasing lick of white pepper. Once again we are left with a perfect glass of Talisker 10 year old.

Finish: Very long, focussing on minerals, citrus notes, pepper laced peat, tiny smoky notes, a kipper fanfare and more medicine. A toothbrush non-requirement whisky.

Comments: Basically a cask strength version of Talisker 10 year old, which is obviously nothing less than fab. Once again I do recall trying this one before quite a long time ago but I’m convinced it is better this time. Perhaps that is my perspective or time which has done that but I can’t help but feel the fact that this has now had over fifteen years in the bottle is a help. Cask strength peated whisky plus a good number of years in the glass seems to breed only complexity in my experience. Anyway, a very classic, delicious Talisker.

Score: 90/100

 

These types of old bottles are often found in our monthly auctions, so keep your eyes peeled and have a rummage.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you!

 

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