the first editions whisky

Review: Recent ‘First Editions’-Bottlings (Littlemill, Bladnoch, Miltonduff, Caperdonich, Glen Elgin, Bunnahabhain and Clynelish)

Andrew Laing’s new series is not yet widely known but his bottlings are really noteworthy (find some reviews here, there, there, there, there, there and there). Today I am tasting seven recent bottlings.

Littlemill 21 y.o. The First Editions 1991, 47,7%

ThisThe First Editions logo is a great Lowland malt right from the start, mostly on vanilla, American oak (with quite some Bourbon traces) and thyme. I also find other mediterranean herbs, soft smoke, green tea, nettles bark, big marshmallow sweetness (almost like a liqueur in moments), lemon zest, caramel and almonds (Amaretto, especially on the palate). It is powerful in the mouth and less woody than the nose would suggest. Water helps this but adds bitter notes. 88 points.

 

Bladnoch 21 y.o. The First Editions 1990, 58,3%

Don’t rush this one. It is a very green (herbal) and lemony altogether. I am getting a sharp grassiness on loads of alcohol, some nettles, blue cheese (indeed also the aromas of a fondue with cheese and beef), vanilla and lemon, lemon balm, verbena, orange zest and caramellized orange skins, grapefruit, cardamom and soft smoke. Water releases more orange power and improves the sharpness. 86+ points.

 

Miltonduff 17 y.o. The First Editions 1995, 59,4%

Andrew Laing and his First Edition Releases

Andrew Laing and his First Edition Releases

My title on this one would be ‘Apricot Heaven’. Miltonduff always offers interesting drams that can deliver, and this one is no exception. It starts off very fruity (infusion, tea-like in general) and intense (great concentration). The big aroma is apricot (liqueur, fruit, canned fruit, schnapps, etc.) accompanied by peaches lemon zest, white pepper and vanilla. No water is necessary (but can broaden the mouthfeel) and the sweet Miltonduff maltiness coats the tongue along with wonderful fruit oiliness. Maybe not overly complex but simply nice. 89 points.

 

Caperdonich 20 y.o. The First Editions 1992, 55,5%

This one didn’t fully convince me but still is a nice but shy dram. It is rather malty with honey, heather, aromatic smoke, cider, white chocolate, ginger and some zestiness (lemon and orange). On the palate it is too hot for my taste (ginger and spices going wild in the ethanol), so I add water: a rounding off-effect takes place but no gain in complexity. 82 points.

 

Glen Elgin 26 y.o. The First Editions 1985, 46,6%

Nicely concentrated on bergamotte and Asian spices (nutmeg, ginger bread, white pepper). In the second row we find pears, yellow apples, figs and pistachio. The palate shows huge complexity and fruit oils in perfect balance (no water!). I love it but it is hard to pin down the aromas here, maybe spinach and all the aromas above with fruits of all kind … well, let’s say loveable and unique, tightly knit. 90 points.

 

Bunnahabhain 23 y.o. The First Editions 1989 ‘Bordeaux Finish’ 50,2%

Bunnahabhain Distillery smallMy favourite dram in this session is this one, although I hadn’t expected the finish to work so well. Well, never judge a book by its cover … . This Bunnie is austere and very complex at the same time, revealing amazing maritime aromas (salt, fresh sea air, ozone-laden sea spray, mossy peat whiffs, etc.). The complexity goes on with jamon on melon, polished leather, black pepper, Roquefort cheese, lemon drops and the notes from the wine (red grapes, raisins, etc.) which really fit here. To me it noses like an old elegant Islay dram from a time gone by, and the palate matches this experience. Soft peat and spice round off the excellent show. Kudos! 91- points.

 

Clynelish 23 y.o. The First Editions 1988, 50%

This cheesy Clynelish is a funky one with unusually big notes of caramel, (blue) cheese, milk coffee and leather along the typical profile with candelwax, green apples and Atlantic depression moving in. I can’t fully decide if I like this mix in the nose. However, it turns way more classic Clynelish on the palate (plus a little cheese again). This dram screams for a piece of Cheddar. Nice spices in the finish. No water necessary. 88+ points.first editions single malt range

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