Tag Archive: 21 Year


Wemyss Glentauchers Liquorice Spiral 1992

Wemyss: Glentauchers: Liquorice Spiral: 1992 (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 21 Years: 46% ABV)

Visual: Pale, slightly murky.

Viscosity: Medium thick streaks.

Nose: Not well defined. Spiced apple. Cinnamon sticks. Water adds alcohol air, light sulphur and sugar dusting.

Body: Caramel. Fire. Turmeric. Vanilla fudge. Nutmeg. Much bigger with water. Creamy and honey styled. Apples. Light sweet raspberry and strawberries.

Finish: Apples and tannins and oak. Almonds. Fudge. Ginseng. Water changes to cream and light chocolate. Coconut and stir fry notes.

Conclusion: You know, an old whisky like this should not need, nor benefit so much from adding water. Because it really does. The whisky doesn’t show much up front at all – the nose is closed, giving up very little. The problem seems to be that the notes are not well defined, for me at least – so I was nervous going in to try it.

Sipping without water was better, but not so much so to excite me. It was a bit sweet and slightly spiced – however add a bit of water, and give a bit of time, and you find the whisky as it should be.

Now it is smooth and creamy, like a honey yogurt, an introduction of which makes for a lovely first few moments. This then seeps out into red fruit, then finally, as you have swallowed and the experience fades you get a twist of tannins and ginseng. Thankfully lightly done in those last elements, as done too heavily it would be abrupt – as is it adds just the slightest almost stir fry note and grounded character. I know that element is usually considered a bad thing to have in whisky, but here it gives a kind of umami final feel which is unusual and welcome.

Neat this doesn’t live up to expectations, but with water it is remarkably complex – mixing sweetness, grounding notes, and such a range of flavour. This is a genuinely intriguing whisky, and one with lots to examine, and well worth the time it takes.

Background: Burn on! or, this was the third whisky of the pre Burn’s night tasting at Independent Spirit. I had only just tried Glentauchers for the first time a few weeks ago, and now this nicely aged example fell into my lap. There were only 339 bottles of this produced, so I considered myself lucky to get to try it – as before this was a tutored group tasting so my notes ,may have been influenced despite my best efforts.

Clan Denny Girvan 1992

Clan Denny: Girvan Distillery:Vintage 1992 (Scottish Single Cask Single Grain Whisky: 21 Year: 59.6% ABV)

Visual: Quite thick viscous look in custard to gold colour.

Viscosity: Medium speed thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Caramel. Vanilla. Grain husks. Light sharp citrus notes. Custard. Sloe gin. Barley. Water makes slightly stewed fruit.

Body: Squeezed lime up front. Vanilla and custard. Warming but not burning. Cherries under cake sponge. Malt chocolate. Water removes the little alcohol presence and gives very smooth custard and toffee. Brings out apples, light cinnamon and twisted treacle.

Finish: Cherries and fruitcake. Raisins. Vanilla toffee. Light alcohol numbing. Malt chocolate and orange. Water adds cinnamon apples, but still has an alcoholic air.

Conclusion: Single grain, ok I will admit that even I take shots at single grain whisky at times. Unfairly. Well, mostly unfairly. Well, sometimes unfairly. This however puts its stall out and gives a good case for single grain whisky to exist.

For one thing it shows how with single grain the oak influence is very immediately evident, here with lots of smooth caramel, custard and vanilla flavour. Despite the abv the main body virtually never reaches that burning point where the alcohol obscures the flavour.

For another it shows a remarkable amount of depth. Neat you get a sharp lime touch on first sip, hints of dark fruit as you hold it, into a more evident fruitcake touched finish. With water the darker fruits shift and turn revealing green fruit flavours previously hidden.

It is that progression, both from sweet aroma to fruity finish, and in the progression with water, that makes it and between them it gives you a lot to examine. Now, the finish does always hold a slightly too alcoholic air for me, but for the most part it is very smooth and layered. Nothing harsh, just what I was looking for at the time.

It reminds me of blended malts in that it is very smooth, but here that single cask nature seems to present just enough of those slight odd unpolished edges that make up a charming whisky for me.

The distinguished end of easy going.

Background: Ok, Clan Denny is a name for a collection of (usually blended malt) Whiskys. Girvan is a single grain distillery. Ok, I’ve got it. This was drunk at Brewdog Bristol, recommended as something a bit different when I wanted a low peat whisky to start the day with. Now single grain and I have not got along often, but I have seen enough to know there are special grain whiskys out there. Therefore I took my pen, notebook and water and gave it a chance.

Glen Scotia 21 Year

Duncan Taylor: Glen Scotia 21 Year: Dimensions (Scottish Campbeltown Single Malt Single Cask Whisky: 21 Year: 52.8% ABV)

Visual: Dark bronzed colour.

Viscosity: Very slow, very thin streaks.

Nose: Butterscotch. Very light peppermint. Madeira cake. Plums. Toffee. Water adds sulphur and earthy touch. Orange liquore.

Body: Waxy. Very strong alcohol with a burning feel. Raisins. Spice. Red wine. Water soothes to Madeira, touch of gingerbread. Rich raisins and orange.

Finish: Mint leaves. Alcohol burn and burnt brown sugar. Treacle toffee. Warming. Tarry and sulphur touched when water is added. Sweet orange comes out.

Conclusion: Glen Scotia has always had a distinct feel to it, texture wise. Well, by always I mean the one other expression of it I have encountered, it still counts. This one pushes it even further with a very waxy, very thick and slightly oily mouth feel. The alcohol is very strong, even with water, and without it can easily numb the tongue. Furthermore it throws a sulphur and slightly earthy touch into the mix, making it distinct before you even get onto the main flavour elements.

You need to give this one some time to get the best out of it, let it stand still for a while, let a few drops of water help. Once you have given it time to rest the thick texture starts becoming useful, bringing out dark fruits, orange liquore and sweet wine. The time lets it seem smooth rather than burning, but without losing that oiliness.

The texture actually reminds me of Ben Nevis in texture, the only other whisky that has seemed so waxy. This however plays a very different flavour range, the sweetness is thick and slightly treacle like, there’s spice and gingerbread behind making it feel like the dark fruits have been soaked in strong spirits.

Of the five rare whisky’s had tonight this probably is the least distinctive for flavour, it seems like a polished whisky while the others feel quite unique, however it does have that texture I keep mentioning to make it stand out. I would say it is very competent, but not special, despite its immense rarity, and that I still don’t quite get along with the Glen Scotia style, though that may change with an expression in the future.

Overall it is enjoyable, complex and very thick. I am glad to have tried it, if for the opportunity to say I have if nothing else, but for the price it is merely very competent rather than a true gem.

Background: This was drunk at the amazing Independent Spirit Rare Whisky event at Circo. When they say rare they mean rare. This is one of only 66 casks in the world. (From cask 710394 – a quarter cask). We had five whiskys that night, with other guests, my friend Matt, and Chris from Independent spirits all giving their thoughts. Since I know how easy it is to get psychosomatic flavours after someone else mentions them consider the above a view of the general opinion on the whisky so I can call it a feature rather than a bug. Due to the nature of the event my notes were somewhat haphazard, but hopefully I’ve managed to put them together into something readable.

Glenfarclas 21 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 21 Years: 43% ABV)

Visual: A slightly treacled gold.

Viscosity: A few middling streaks, but generally very slow puckering into thin streaks.

Nose: Warming haze hits first, then dried apricots and ginger. Wood shavings and marmalade.

Body:  Sherried. Apricots and tangerines. Lightly spiced red berries. Toffee front and spiced back. Banana.

Finish:  Introduced with slow charring and bitter chocolate. Touch of chocolate orange intermixed.  Christmas spices, banana and tangerine peel.  Finally a dry brown bread feel lasts through.

Conclusion: It’s rare to find a Glenfarclas of this age just lying around in a pub. Life can be great some times huh?

The farclas spirit is normally quite sweet and sherried. This is sweet but what really hits is the fruitiness, all summer fruits and marmalade bits.  The marmalade makes me think of Dalmore, but with a very summery back rather than the smooth chocolate of that whisky.

The finish dries out your mouth significantly, and invites another sip. Whilst this is a good counter balance to it getting over sickly it’s probably the weakest part of the whisky.

There lots going on in the main body, fresh and sunny.  If I’d got a chance to add water I think it would have helped the end somewhat. Overall a very complex and delicious spirit of wonderful life that I think I could do with experimenting with a bit more with.

Background: I’d spotted this little gem in a pub a few weeks back and had been looking for excuses to visit and tasting note it since then. Thankfully the opportunity came up sooner rather than later.  GLO over at “It’s Just the Booze Dancing” and I have been comparing tasting notes on a few expressions of Glenfarclas of late.  My confusion at them listing it as a Highland Whisky when it is quite blatantly from Speyside was recently  resolved when reading one of Michael Jackson’s books where he explains the Speyside district is within the Highland Region, thus allowing a whisky to be both. Well glad we cleared that up.  I didn’t get a chance to add water to the whisky to explore its range, mores the pity.

Highland Park 21 Year (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: Scotland: 21 Year: 47.5% ABV)

(Apparently this whisky is made exclusively for travel retail, which makes me wonder how I got it in the first place)

Visual: Deep seeped bronzed honey.

Viscosity: Slight puckering only for the first 30 seconds before finally a small set of infinitely slow streaks form.

Nose: Raisins, planed wood and vanilla. The abv is very evident. Hay. Water added brings out gingerbread, coriander and crushed orange peel. A touch more and you find carrot, whipped cream and crushed mint leaves.

Body: Plums, honeycomb, raisins and wood. Water adds golden syrup, more raisins, carrot, fruitcake raspberry and grass.

Finish: Chocolate, charring, slight salt and peat. More malt chocolate. Spirit soaked fruit, earthy and some grassiness again.

Conclusion: Highland Park always turns out good spirit, and this expression is no exception. Definitely needs a touch of water though as the high ABV burns out some of the flavour without.

An odd carrot and coriander feel to this whisky makes it an intriguing almost carrot cake drink. Fascinating though that may be, it doesn’t bring quite the spark I attribute to the 18 and 25 year versions of this Whisky.

It’s a more down to earth dram, that experiments with earthy grounded flavours, very much calling to the cut earth, turned peat and wild island environ in which it is made.

In a pinch I would call this the Farmers Yard delight of the Highland Parks, Down to earth and distinctly unsubtle, but with am enjoyable rough and ready quality

Bushmills 21 Year Single Malt (Irish Whiskey: Single Malt: 21 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Light honey

Viscosity: thin but slow to form streaks

Nose: figs, port and dry oak, rich fruit pudding and brandy cream

Taste: rich summer fruits, sweet wine, that bushmills something

Finish: Dry wood, black cherry hint of vanilla

Conclusion: A amazingly complex and well balanced whiskey, a masterclass effort and a delight to drink

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