Review: Two Old and Two New Bottlings (Balblair, Bunnahabhain, Glendullan, Glenberry)

Remainders That Need to Go

Today I am clearing my whisky cabinet from those bottles that are almost history – you know, those bottles with 2-8 cl left in them but that still never seem to get empty although they are quite good. Of course I could refill them in samples … but I really have enough samples to wait, too. So, let’s kill them off, two old and two new ones. No huge tasting notes this time, just comments:


Glenberry 5 y.o., Straight Malt Scotch Whisky ‚de luxe‘, pear-shaped bottle, Premier Scotch Whisky Co., Italian Import by S.E.I.B.A. for Supermercati Pam-Spinea-Venezia, 75cl, 40 Gradi

Comment: Complex! Big wonderful OBF (Old Bottle Flavour), well-balanced between peachy fruit, dusty malt sweetness and peppery spice plus vanilla, toffee and whiffs of smoke from the oak. Later almonds, white chocolate, licorice, sawdust, orange zests and tangerines chime in. How can it be so complex with only five years of age? Good ole‘ times… . It even doesn’t fade away in the finish like other old blends and has traces that remind me of old Macallan and Tomatin 5 y.o. from the 1970ies. This Glenberry, bottled for a supermarket and priced below 10 Euros back then, can keep up with any standard Single Malt of today.

Score: 90-


Balblair 5 y.o. OB Pure Malt, Italian Import by Spirit S.p.A. Genova, 75cl, 40%

Comment: I have seen this in auctions for a very reasonable price and went for it – and never looked back. Well-made whisky that contributed to the world-renowned Ballantine’s blends. It is very flowery and light, again no offnote, but less impressive than the Glenberry. Hay, malt, honey, licorice, ginger, pepper, Marshmallows, apples, peaches and a little white oak can be found. A light ‚quaffer‘ that does no harm.

Score: 84


Glendullan 14 y.o. Murray McDavid for Malts and More, 5.5.1993 – 23.08.2007, Bourbon / Rioja Cask, 493 btl., 46%

Comment: It is rare that we get rather young Glendullan from the Speyside. Our friend Thomas Mansen from Malts and More recommended this one to me and it was enjoyed by most people who have tried it at our stands at fairs. Jim McEwan selected it for Thomas who made it an exclusive Malts and More bottling. Of course, this is modern whisky now, finished in a wine cask – a totally different ball game from what I had before in this tasting session. This is much more on primary notes. The wine is right there with the malt, herbs, blood orange and assorted (Asian) spices leaving a rather dry impression altogether. The nose is not overly complex at first, but after a while it becomes alive with melon, tangerine skin, berries and vanilla pod. On the palate I am getting grapes, raisins and sweet malt with whiffs of spice and smoke, really pleasant as a combo and quite sweet in the finish. Juicy! At 45 Euro, this is not a bad choice. If you mention ‚‘ at your purchase, Thomas might give you a discount on it.

Score: 87


Bunnahabhain 13 y.o. ‚the Octave‘ by Duncan Taylor, 1997 – 2010, Cask No. 383244, 73 btl., 51,2%

Comment: These peated Bunnahabhains from 1997 were always nice, but a bit simple. Now, as they gain greater age, they convince more and more people and show Bunnahabhain’s diversity. This one is a textbook example for that. And it is another bottle from Thomas Mansen. This Bunna with atttitude has rooty peat like a Port Charlotte but counters it with a bigger body to balance the phenolic load more evenly. Ashes and powerful spiciness meet maraschino cherries, lime, latte macchiato, leather, herbs, tar, diesel, kola nut, salt, chalk and traces of Nocino (green walnut liqueur). The palate reveals the three months in a small Sherry cask because of sweet wood-rancio-sulphur-mix that often comes with drams from such Octaves – unusual and more Bunnahabhain now, but you have to like sweet Islay Malts with gunpowder. This is a real alternative to the South Coast whiskies and screams for its use in blind tastings. Priced around 55 Euro. Same deal as with the Glendullan from above: mention us to Thomas for a discount.

Score: 88+

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