Rare Malts Tuesday June 3rd, 2014

Rare Malts is one of our corner stone tastings, and we have been doing it since before I started working at Kensington Wine Market more than 13 years ago. The tasting highlights whiskies 20 or more years of age, those from closed distilleries and the very rare. This occasion was for the most part no different, with older whiskies and one particularly rare closed one. That said I couldn’t resist starting things off with a 19 year old. Our superb new Aberlour single cask from Berry Bros. & Rudd is a cracker. Participants didn’t seem to mind this slight transgression, the Aberlour is very tasty, and the rest of the range more than lived up to the billing!

As always our range was tasted blind, and participants were kept in the dark with respect to age, distillery, region, cask type and strength. We sampled in the following order:

  1. Berry’s Aberlour 1994 KWM Cask – My Tasting Note: “Nose: very toasty with lots of honey and vanilla extract; as the oak settles down a little it becomes very nutty with ripe orchard fruits, brown sugar and a touch of orange; Palate: big, rich and toasty with coating vanillans and loads of sweet honey; it becomes creamier with more ripe white orchard fruit, sweet Mandarin orange and some decadent spices: ginger and cinnamon; Finish: long, nutty and toasty with more rich honey, white fruits and sweet Mandarin.” – $139.99
  2. Cadenhead Linkwood-Glenlivet 1987 26 Year – 56.8% – Sherry Butts – 972 Bottles – My Tasting Note: “Nose: floral, toasty and citric with a hint of pine; French bakery notes, fruit flan, orange and melon; Palate: lush, coating and toasty with more French baked goods, candied orange and melons; becomes more floral, with white chocolate and juicy oak; the spices develop in layers first candied ginger, then cloves, cinnamon and finally black pepper; Finish: long, coating and toasty with drying oak, floral tones, gentle spice and a return of the hints of pine. - $284.99
  3. Cadenhead Auchroisk 1989 24 Year – 57.5% – Sherry Butts – 1140 Bottles – My Tasting Notes: “Nose: leathery and earthy with raisins, dates and figs, roasted nuts and under ripe oranges; rich Oloroso sherry notes and musty old oak; Palate: big-nutty-Oloroso sherry, firm leather, damp tobacco, cloves, black licorice, burnt orange peel and black pepper; burnt raisins, bacon wrapped dates and Christmas cake; Finish: long, rich, nutty and leathery with fading raisins and Christmas cake.” - $190.99
  4. Glendronach 1991 Cask 5405 – 49.9% – 21 Year – Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon – 702 Bottles – My Tasting Note: “Nose: syrupy with leather, tobacco, chocolate, candied fruits and Christmas cake; raisins, dates and figs, melons and some citrus; Palate: very fruity and leathery with tobacco, dark spices and bakers chocolate; some lighter fruits like melon and Seville oranges appear but are replaced by burn raisins, date and prosciutto warpped dates filled with blue cheese; classic Christmas cake notes; Finish: long coating and sweet with soft leather and tobacco leaf.” - $201.99
  5. Talisker 25 Year 2012 Ed. – 45.8% – 5772 Bottles – My Tasting Note: “Nose: waxy with brown sugar, browning apples, soft earthy smoke, briny coastal notes and hot spices; cantaloupe, mandarin orange and clean smoke; Palate: buttery, creamy, tropical, waxy and smoky with a hint of briny coastal notes; so soft, with such clean smoke, honey comb and clotted cream; the peat is deft with clean smoke; more melon, browning apple, mandarin orange and hot spices like chilli flakes; Finish: long, coating, creamy and subtly smoke with fading salty smoke.” - $249.99
  6. Brora 35 Year – 49.9% – 1977 – Bottle No. 9 of 2944 – My Tasting Note: “Nose: classic Brora beeswax, subtle smoke and soft tropical fruits: melons, mango and papaya; elegant maritime notes: steamed mussels and pan seared scallops; very creamy and cleanly smoked, this is one elegant older whisky; Palate: sweet, liquid honey, beeswax and mouth-watering fruits: more melons, mangos and papaya, but also candied apple and poached pear; the clean smoke reappears with more sweet pan seared scallops and salty mussels; the peat grows and becomes earthier with a touch of anise; Finish: long and coating with more beeswax, clean smoke and maritime notes; hard to imagine Brora getting much better than this! – $949.99
  7. Signatory Caol Ila 1982 30 Year – 53% – Cask 6487 – Hogshead – 226 Bottles – My Tasting Note: “Nose: silky, smoke, cream and tropical fruit; wine gums, jujubes and briny coastal notes; mango and pineapple begins to emerge with a hint of decadent spice; Palate: more medicinal, coastal and smoky than the nose bellied; the creaminess is there, as are the gelatin candies and fruit, but they are overshadowed by dark peat, chocolate covered espresso beans and spices: clove, anise and fennel; Finish: long and still medicinal with peat , smoke and spices which fade making way for creamy oak and wine gums.” - $311.99

All the whiskies showed well, but as always the participants were allowed to select their favourites. The following are the Top 3 As Selected by our Customers:

  1. Signatory Caol Ila 1982 30 Year Tied w/ Cadenhead Linkwood 1987 26 Year
  2. Glendronach 1991 Cask 5405
  3. Brora 35 Year

My opinion differed slightly from the group, I put the Brora first, the Linkwood second and the Caol Ila 3rd with the Talisker, Aberlour and Glendronach not far behind! The Top 3 in My Humble Opinion:

  1. Brora 35 Year
  2. Cadenhead Linkwood 1987 26 Year
  3. Signatory Caol Ila 1982 30 Year



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