Gauntleys Whisky Newsletter No. 13 February 2006 – Scotch Whisky News

Whisky Intelligence has reproduced (with permission) The Gauntleys Whisky Newsletter for February 2006; a small sample of scotch whisky archeology. The author, Chris Goodrum, has some excellent insights of whisky, which makes for excellent reading on a Sunday.  Enjoy!

Dear Whisky Customers
 
I hope you all had a good Christmas and enjoyed a few choice drams. If the amount of whisky we sold this Christmas was any indication then some of you will have had some very nice stuff indeed.
 
So what’s in this months newsletter? Well it has been brought to my attention that I haven’t mentioned Bruichladdich/ Murray McDavid for awhile and I know the guys read the newsletter and get upset when I’m um how should I say it……….. critical?  anyway they kindly sent me some samples of their new range of rxm’s that they have recently bottled and ………….. well you’ll just have to read my review.
 
I do like this time of the year, with shelves looking rather bare it gives me a chance to have a good fiddle with the list, and to that end, my good friends at Duncan Taylor and at Bladnoch have sent me down some samples for me to take a look at, which I have reviewed.
 
But firstly a bit of fun. Last year I told you of the best selling whiskies of the year and after checking last years list, there is surprisingly no change at the top. Many people thought that the Penderyn sold well last year due to it’s novelty value and that it wouldn’t sustain a high level of sales once that novelty value had worn off. Well they were wrong. Sales have continued because customers liked it, and it goes to show that it has sustained these sales due to the very high quality of the spirit being produced. Springbank 10 year old and Bruichladdich 10 year old are always of a high standard, and are go-to malts in the 30 region. It’s nice to see a couple of Duncan Taylor bottlings in the list, and as they read the newsletter as well, I hope that they will be chuffed. The rise of the Bruichladdich Infinity has probably had an impact on sales of the 17 year old and on sales of the Lagavulin 16 year old. With the release of the second edition 15 year old Bruichladdich it has had an obvious impact on sales of the first edition. In fact if you add sales of both of them together it would have just piped the Infinity to fourth place. There is no surprise to see the Laphroiag Quarter Cask in the top 10 as it is a superb malt and with it being the cheapest malt in the list, will it top the chart next year?
 
GAUNTLEYS TOP 15 WHISKIES OF 2005
(Last years position in brackets)
 
1. (1) Penderyn Welsh Whisky
2. (2) Springbank 10 year old
3. (3) Bruichladdich 10 year old
4. (-) Bruichladdich Infinity
5. (-) Duncan Taylor Auld Reekie
6. (-) Duncan Taylor Invergordon 1965
7. (-) John McDougall’s Bladnoch 1988
8. (-) Laphroiag Quarter Cask
9. (-) Balvenie 12 year old
10. (5) Bruichladdich 17 year old
11. (-) Murray McDavid Mortlach 1993
12. (8) Lagavulin 16 year old
13. (6) Bruichladdich 15 year old 1st Edition
14. (-) Edradour 10 year old
15. (-) Macallan 10 year old Fine Oak
 
New Stuff from Duncan Taylor

The more samples I taste of their range the more impressed I am, Highland park withstanding. This batch of samples included a 31 year old Glen Craig, which was rather thin and had probably spent just too long in the cask, a 29 year old Glen Mhor which was ok, gentle and soft and with a finish that reminded me of vodka. I ummed and contemplated it but at £72.95 I didn’t think it was really worth it.

Next up was a 26 year old Pittyvaich which as a distillery is one of the ‘bad three’ according to Jim Murray. Incidentally while on the subject of Jim Murray, his 2006 whisky bible is now out, and at £9.99 is a cracking read, and we should have some copies available in February. Anyway I quite liked it, although there isn’t a huge amount of fruit the quality of the wood is lovely – one for the oak lovers!

Next up was a 29 year old Dallas Dhu which was a superb, mature malt followed by a 14 year old Glentauchers and a 11 year old Mortlach which were delicious. The Mortlach is just so clean and crisp, a classic Speyside. Tasting notes follow.

WHISKY GALORE RANGE

Glentauchers 1990 (14 year old) 46% £30.95

Clean and slightly oily aromas of tangerine, vanilla oak, oily spices and dusty orange fruit. Dry and clean on the palate opening with dusty spices and delicate fruit, then, bang, out of nowhere comes the lovely hard, crisp barley, more spices and a hint of juniper. Very long with the gin-like botanicals lasting , along with the spice!

Mortlach 1993 (11 year old) 46% £26.95

Clean, crisp aromas of earthy malt, orange and apricot fruit, with grassy, barley sugar notes – lovely depth and crispness. Dry and crisp on the palate with apricot, malt, earthy spices and a soft natural character. Medium bodied, faultlessly clean, great delicacy and a touch of spice on the middle with white fruit and salt notes to finish. This is an absolute bargain!

PEERLESS RANGE

Inchgower 1968 (36 year old) 46.3% £99.95

Wow, great nose. Mature with light malt and alcohol laced orange marmalade (I can see Jim Murray having this on toast for breakfast!). It takes awhile to really get going, but it is worth the wait. Lovely mature, oily mouth feel, restrained sweetness of old natural honey, lots of malt and a touch of spice. Great intensity with a mouth watering finish with the mature fruit flavours shooting off everywhere. Very long with Cognac-esque (or old Grain) dried fruit notes in the finish. A big wow factor.

RAREST OF THE RARE RANGE

Dallas Dhu 1975 (29 year old) 47.1% £75.95

Lovely nose. Clean, honeyed orange fruit and soft spices rise from the glass. This has a superb depth of mature fruit, earth and vanilla. Delicate, soft, succulent and mature. Full of honeyed malt fruit and a hint of wood tannins. Lovely mouthfeel, delicately oily with gentle spice and a lively finish.

 Pittyvaich 1979 (26 year old) 45.9% £51.95

Clean, soft aromas of deliciously creamy oak and mature oily fruit. The oak is so soft and sweet its just lovely. On the palate the oak is not so dominating allowing the quite salty, soft, mature white fruit to come through. Delicate and long with vanilla oil and Alsace-esque slightly spiced and smoky white pear and peach.

VERY SPECIAL BOTTLINGS BY BLADNOCH

Raymond at Bladnoch has produced two new bottlings. The first is a Bladnoch 15 year old Rum Cask Finish and the second is a special bottling of a couple of casks of 12 year old Craggenmore which Raymond has selected, along with these samples they kindly sent me a sneak preview of the peated Bladnoch which is currently 5 years old, and I imagine won’t be available for at least another 3 to 5 years.

Bladnoch Rum Cask Finish 15 year old 57.4% £45.95

Clean, aromatic, light and grassy with citrus fruit, vanilla oak and a very slight sweetness from the rum cask, maybe there is a hint of Demerara sugar. The finish is so subtle it’s almost unnoticeable. Dry on the palate with oily golden apricot fruit followed by delicate spicy malt and grass/ hay. Superb mouthfeel, rounded and sweet with the vaguest hint of rum/ dried fruits on the finish. The rum cask has certainly given it quite a full body and added a subtle sweetness. Superb length with the oak flavours holding on. Water emphasises the clean oak on the nose along with the mellow apricot and slight tropical spiciness. On the palate it brings forward the rum/ dried fruit flavours. It shows up its superb balance and creates waves of spice, oak and citrus fruit, along with garden flowers and juniper notes. This is soft and divine and floods the mouth with flavours. This could be the best finish I’ve tasted, maybe even better than the Mission series port finished Macallan.

Raymond’s Craggenmore 12 year old 62% £TBC

Stunning, absolutely storming. Breakfast cereal with crushed bananas sprinkled with delicate sweet spice, a touch of orange fruit and lashings of the cleanest oak this side of the Mission Series – Jim McEwan would have loved to get his hands on this. Awesomely deep, it blows the distillery bottling out of the water and I haven’t tasted it yet! Wow, lovely soft entry with oily malt and serious banana, tropical fruit and dusty spices. Wow, it gets better. Very intense and tangy middle leaves the tongue tingling, great length with a touch of botanicals and clean oak. A drop of water brings out the citrus orange and tangerine, but on the palate is where it really does it for me. Softens and sweetens, this is stunning stuff, dripping with honey glazed cereals and fruits, the oak is glorious too, soft, creamy and to die for. Hats off to Raymond, this is stunning, and if Jim Murray doesn’t give it a 95+ I’ll eat my hat!

Peated Bladnoch, currently 5 years old

Quite obviously it has that ‘off the still’ note, but is beginning to mature. The light, medicinal peat aromas greet the nose first and underneath lurks the citrus bladnoch character. On the palate is again displays its youth and has not quite melded together. The peat is delicate and trying to merge with the oily fruit and malt. it has a lovely sweetness and there is not much in the way of oak influence at present. As an experiment I tasted it against the 4 year old bottling of Inchmoan, the peated malt from the Loch Lowmond distillery, and on the nose the Inchmoan is as hard as nails with more coal smoke and positively revels in its rawness, where as the Bladnoch is soft and subtle and more beguiling with a lot more of a fruity character. In the mouth the Inchmoan is more tart and full of coal dust and again hard as nails, raw, edgy, forceful and complete, it was certainly able to be bottled at four years of age whereas the Bladnoch is going to need a bit more time, and although it is a bit of fun to occasionally drink and be assaulted by the Inchmoan I would choose the Bladnoch, even in its current state.

SPRINGBANK

The distillery has just released its bottling schedule for this year, and in April they will be releasing a 25 year old Springbank. In September they will be releasing a 9 year old Marsala Finished Springbank along with a second release of the famous (or infamous) 8 year old Hazelburn, which according to the distillery will be in a completely different packaging to the first edition. It will this time be bottled in a regular Springbank style bottle and will only have one label featuring a silhouette of three stills. As you will be aware these are limited in number, so if you would like to put your name down for any of them please let me know as soon as possible.

Springbank 25 year old 46%  £161.95

Springbank 9 year old Marsala Finish 46% £38.95

Hazelburn 8 year old 46%£33.95

Clean, quite honeyed aromas of wheaty, earthy citrus, orange cream, vanilla oils and toasty malt. This really is quite delightful, smooth and rounded. Dry on the palate, initially a touch floral with orange flavours and delicate honey and sweet spices. Youthful and gloriously tangy with a long oily, spicy finish. I tasted this against a similarly aged Longrow recently and if you take the peat smoke away there is a very obvious similarity to them. Forget the hype of the first edition, with its collector labels and by a bottle as it is a rather easy going, pleasant dram.

A GENERAL ROUND UP OF TASTINGS

Bruichladdich 15 year old Second Edition 46% £39.95

Ex Bourbon cask, which has spent a further 25 weeks finishing in ex Chateau Yquem casks. Lovely maturing aromas of floral, earthy, apricot, apple, creme brulee,

at this point the newsletter abruptly ends ………WI

Visit Gauntleys at http://www.gauntley-wine.co.uk/

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