Due to several factors, we get more and more modern whiskies these days. A comparison to wine is making sense: fewer bad ones, but less personality, more resemblance. Don’t worry, enough unique drams are still out there, and that is what makes the category Single Malt so exciting, but they are in a decline, and with more research in the field of wood management (which makes up to about 75% of the final taste, some experts claim) and cost effective production this shift will gain movement in the future. Today, I have picked two drams in the old style for a review (one of them is actually old):
Stewarts Dundee Cream of the Barley ‚De Luxe‘ Blended Scotch Whisky, Reina Import (Italy), 43 gradi
Comment: I had the mini on the photo, the big bottle from the same importer is even darker – and maybe better. A neck-hanger says it is smoothened out with over 20 y.o. whisky – quite promising. The nose is a mix of a typical old blend nose with OBF (Old Bottle flavour with aromas of cardboard, old dusty library etc.) and the one of a great old sherry-cask Single Malt, really well-balanced and not weakish at all. Big notes of coffee, cognac, apricots, cherries, flower-shop aromas, honey and pepper make this seductive. The taste is just like the nose, very quaffable, I must say. Did somebody pour cognac into one of the casks for this by mistake? Curious. It is a ‚whisgnac or cognsky‘ somehow, but in a good way. The finish can’t compete with the wonderful nose, though. Maybe not the most intense and complex dram on earth but a darn decent blend in a long-gone style that could kick some modern malt’s finished ass. A good starter into a tasting session or the world of old whiskies.
Cragganmore 18 y.o. SMWS 37.51, 23.03.1993 – 11.2011, first-fill Sherry Butt, 583 btl., 58,3%
Comment: The first-fill Sherry-Cask speaks in a loud and spicy way with a lot of pepper, but in a classic style. I think this one needs water, but let’s first nose it straight a bit more. Toffee, nettle tea, dark cooked fruits (plums), herbs and honey appear with some time. The sweetish taste reveals sherry and cherry (morello) in a malty surroundment (clever, Pit, it’s a malt), a bit Macallan-like overall, but more herbal altogether. Good quality that leaves the distillery character untouched but underscored. Dark fruits like raisins and the plums and clothes on the line come up again in the long and intense finish. Water helps to broaden the spectrum of aromas, but it performs well with time without water as well.