Always make the best out of a situation. Isolation gave me time to taste some really nice drams after my nose was not congested anymore. My friends Boris, Martin, Dino and Maic provided me with some quarantine tipples. Thanks, guys! All of these are not expected to score low and I have heard good things, so this will be nitpicking. So without further delay, here some notes to distinguish:
Highland 36 y.o. Mancarella 1983, Hogshead 50, 47,3%
Cristallized tropical fruits (star fruit, pink grapefruit, lime, pineapple, maracuja, etc.), coconut, apple strudel, the wood is there but wonderfully discrete and adding interesting spice aromas that totally fit in (pepper, cinnamon, resin, supernice oakiness, all tuned well). It reminds me of older Springbank in moments, then it is very Tomatin-70s again, which might very well be the origin 🙂 – what a combo. 91+.
Speyside Malt 46 y.o. Maltbarn 1973 – 2019, Sherry cask, 68 btl., 49,7%
Darker and sweeter in terms of wood than the predecessor, also somewhat rooty at first. Nutty, liqueurish, tropical fruits, Manuka honey, cristallized orange peel, Asian spice, dark wood, marzian It becomes brighter with time in its spectrum, peaches, pineapple, kiwi and marshmallows come to the fore. Very complex, take your time with this one. 91-.
Highland Malt 32 y.o. Maltbarn 1987 – 2019, Sherry cask, 159 btl., 49,9%
Great harmony, old sherry wood, plums, cherries, raisins, kiwi, leathery spice, dark chocolate, X-Mas-cake, nettles, tobacco. A classic profile fitting a Chesterfield club chair setting in a mahogany room. Chewy, gimme more! 91-.
Secret Speyside 24 y.o. Brothers in Malt 1995 – 2020, Bourbon Barrel 1409061, 261 btl., 52,1%
May I say the M-word? Smells just like an Easter Elchies House Malt 😉 Great fruit acidity, depth and balance, hard to grasp this fruit basket with discrete spiciness. Citrus fruits of all kind, pineapple, dried apricots, white grapes, hive, spring flowers, nutcake, roasted hazelnuts, wine gums, ginger, leather … soooo Speyside! The subtlest of smoke lingers within this harmonic dram where the oak is only traceable in secondary and tertiary aromas. High class, a sipper for all day, no offnote here. Great choice. 91.
Springbank 19 y.0. The Whisky Kingdom / Duckhammer’s 2000 – 2020, Refill Sherry Hogshead 669, 50,8%
Spicy over all, and with its typical maltiness, discrete peat in background, milky oats, Serrano ham, fresh grain, peaches and apricots (Bellini), strawberries, cherries, coconut, almonds and marzipan, salty brine, seaspray and ozone (nice coastal freshness), pepper, rubbery leather, moss, very complex, a smoky one that also lets fruit build up – there is lots going on, „Daddy like“! 91+.
Invergordon 46 y.o. Mancarella 1972, 49,2%
Pina Colada (Pineapple, coconut, cream, rum, vanilla) on speed! Typical old Invergordon, and perfect as such within its limits, sporting sweet juicy oak, catnip, mulch, fudge, cinnamon, nutmeg and loads of maple syrup. It offers elements of the worlds of Bourbon, Rum and old Blended Whisky all in one, and White Russian. Dino’s third great Invergordon, nicely done, dude. 90+.
Clynelish 23 y.o. Maltbarn 1996 – 2020, Bourbon cask, 170 btl., 48,7%
Waxy and spicy, fruit acidity: there are aromas of leather, candles, hay, Sauvignon Blanc, then a great fruitiness breaks through (Granny Smith apples, peaches, passion fruit, pineapple, satsumas, gooseberries, plums), then persipan, beehive, ferny rocks, lime lemonade, wasabi, slight traces of darker oak bitterness as an antidote – all in excellent harmony, and highly drinkable. Plus, I love these pictures on the labels. 90.
Lochindaal (Bruichladdich) 9 y.o. Brothers in Malt 2010 – 2020, Bourbon Barrel 4337, 241 btl., 58,9%
From a rare run that is slightly peatier than Port Charlotte make. Well-dosed peat smoke still allowing complexity to come through, nice and original. Chalky minerality, kelp, fish smoker in action (yeah!), freshness of salty sea spray, resin, rubber boots, green tea, sheep shed, toffee, lime dash, roots, leather, wasabi … and sweeter than expected on the palate. A great example of a complex Islay Malt with hints of Campbeltown-esque maltiness. 90.
Caol Ila 20 y.o. Maltbarn 1999 – 2o20, Sherry cask, 118 btl., 48,9%
A dusty version (old sherry cask), interestingly different but still a typical Caol Ila (juniper in kelp, black olives), quite a lot of peat smoke, one for discovering more layers. 89.
Octomore 8 y.o.Maltbarn 2010/11 – 2020, Bourbon and Wine casks, 43 btl., 58,3%
Read the label for more insights. A cheesy peatster, tar, seaweed, nettles and herbal weeds, dried apple rings, lemon skin, shed by the sea, leather, Virginia tobacco, smoked mackerel, sweet on palate with mentholated moments that dissolve into a peat, resin and iodine combo, loooong finish. Typical and good. 90.