Our friend Jens never let us down when it comes to well chosen bottlings. After a little silence he has new drams ready. Thanks to his kindness I was able to try them before release. Here are my notes – as always only personal and subjective:
Benrinnes 18 y.o. Whisky-Fässle 1997 – 2016, Hogshead, 52,2%
Orchard fruits (yeah, loads of apples, pears apricots, bitter oranges, cristallized mangos with saffron, traces of banana and pineapples, a fruit fly’s paradise and whiffs of a juicy fruit gum), malt, licorice, ginger, almond milk with vanilla sugar, tonka beans, freshly cleaned mahogani cupboard, quite some wood smoke, ozone and coal gas freshness. Grassy, malty and slightly nutty (pistachio) on the palate at first, then the fruit and caramel/vanilla take center stage. With a really nice and long finsh. 89.
Fine Lowland Grain (Girvan) 52 y.o. Whisky-Fässle 1964 – 2016, Barrel, 47,7%
Dinosaur! Typical of such old grains, it changes between the categories of rum, bourbon and scotch all the time, rollercoaster. What a deep nose, like the finest rum aged for over 30 years in Caribbean climate. However, the vodka-esque graininess is still there as well as vanilla and caramel. Green tea, muscovado sweetness and ripe tropical fruits, coconut oil, spinach, undergrowth and bublegum. The oak and spicy elements never overwhelm, this is still somewhat spirit-driven after all these years. A must-have for maltsters and rumheads alike. 91.
Fine Blended Malt of various very old vintages for Whisky-Fässle, bottled 2016, Sherry Butt, 45,2%
The nose reveals canned milk, ginger bread, very Speysidey in its esters, vanilla, green tea, and mostly: plum cake with cinnamon and whipped cream on top (Zwetschgendatschi)! Then nettles. It becomes dusty with old-style class in moments, some sherry rounds it off discretly. The palate is so well organized, very classy again and totally my style. Some won’t get this eöegance, but if you are into old drams that are not overloaded with primary aromas, this is your choice – and mine. Balance king, no offnote, dangerously drinkable. LOVE it. Great price-performance ratio – Jens, you Swabian wizard of quality. 91.
Glenrothes 19 y.o. Whisky-Fässle 1997 – 2016, Sherry Butt, 51,8%
Wonderful resistance of the great Glenrothes distillery character (a favourite of blend masters) that stands up to heaviest sherry fire. Like a Glendronach in moments, but juicier. Dark fruits (but not only raisins like with treated cask aromas), ginger bread hearts with cherry jam filling, jaffa cake (orange meets chocolate on a sponge cake), geranium flowerpot earth with some petals, morello marvel. The palate is a good combination of bone dry vs. juicy sherry, the dry character wins in the end. A really nice sherry monster with some distillery character preserved. 90+.
Barbancourt 12 y.o. Whisky-Fässle 2004 – 2016, Bourbon Barrel, 51,9% (Rhum from Haiti)
Very much like the 15 y.o. original version (which is adorable and helps many good people in Haiti to survive), but with more depth and power. However, the bourbon wood is louder than I would have liked it (vanilla), but some are exactly looking for that. Very soft, balanced and slightly earty – plus licorice. This Haitian Agricole is an interesting alternative to Martinique or Guadeloupe. Try it. 89.
Epris 17 y.o. Whisky-Fässle 1999 – 2016, Barrel, 45,6% (Rum from Brazil)
Never had this distillery before, mybe once with a Cadenhead Brazilian bottling – wow, very different: rotten limes, green tea and rose hip touch, mint, orange zest. It tastes almost like a spiced rum, really funky stuff on the freestyle edge, you have to like this, but it has personality. The finish has menthol, rotten oranges, and many weird but somehow interesting elements. It grows on you if you are open to new styles. 87.