Sunday, May 23, 2021

The 300th review… Let’s get fancy! Laddie, Glenfarclas, Glendronach, Highland Park

… And for my next trick… I have some number of reasonably old and fancy samples that I was going to review so may as well do it now to commemorate the occasion.

I’ve been writing down some sort of feedback for whiskey on this site for about two years now with first review published on 2019-01-05 https://www.aerin.or … y:entry190105-080208. One of the below entries will cross the 300th score I’ve given. A number of early reviews doesn’t have actual grades, but instead I’ve retroactively scored them as ‘N/A’ since I wasn’t doing scoring system at the time.

Bruichladdich 23, 1993, Cadenhead SiB, Ex-Bourbon, 48.9%
My experience with Cadenhead bottlings hasn’t been great so far… https://www.aerin.or … y:entry210108-212720 But fingers crossed? Anyways, onto this… Color is white straw… really light even for ex-bourbon and such age. On the other hand, the nose… is luxurious (I’m expecting I’ll be using a lot of ‘luxurious’ in this post overall) vanilla, cereal, malt notes with lots of green apples opening up over time. Not even a whiff of smoke either. The palate got a surprising amount of ‘green wood’, a bunch of apples, vanilla, and surprisingly thin consistency for its age. In the aftertaste some spice finally comes out but it really fades fast and nothing particularly interesting is in there, leaving little bit of woody aftertaste in the mouth. Considering this is a Laddie… it tastes nothing like other Bruichladdich product I’ve ever tried. Really, this is something I’ve have expected out of Old Malt Cask and even then, OMCs of this age have been much more interesting. Yet another Cadenhead’s ‘dud’, IMHO. Oh, it’s prenty tasty and very drinkable but this isn’t anywhere near what I expected it to be based on distillery name. Thin consistency, spiced apple, vanilla and cereal mix this could be anything generic in there. It is certainly enjoyable on the palate but with the distillery and the age this is an awful value/performance ratio. Tough one to score, but settling on ‘purely taste-based’ score, as scarcity and value pushes it easily into C’s. Don’t bother chasing it down; to say that I’m disappointed would be correct. With Cadenhead proclaiming themselves experts at IB’s they can and shoud do much better than that.
https://www.whiskyba … ruichladdich-1993-ca
Score: B-

Glenfarclas 24, K&L SP, 1st fill Oloroso, 50%
1990 vintage. 1st fill oloroso. Something special? Yes indeed! A treat! Nose is just luxurious old wood, slightly sweet and nutty varnish backed by alcohol, baking spices, some stewed fruits. My gosh, I can spend hours with my nose in the glass. It’s that good. The palate… Tobacco and leather in the back; party in the front. Incredibly intense, dark and rich with flavors. Not too sweet, it could be considered just a tad too woody… Yet… So good. Dark bitter caramel and nuts are in play all over together with vanilla and woodyness. Minor nit at the very back of the long aftertaste as it becomes a little bit too charred and woody and it’s really crying out for a just a tiny dollop of sweetness there. It mostly fades with repeated tastes and few drops of water, which are both needed and not necessary depending on the preference. Super delicious nonetheless and for Oloroso fans this is incredible. Not too spicy, not too bitter, not too sweet, yet still amazing overall. Deliciously balanced treat bottled nearly a decade ago from an era of affordable quality that’s long gone by now. This easily matches some of the best from Glendronach on enjoyment.
Score: A+

Highland Park 27, Sherry, 52.6%
No other information provided. Gotta go on guesses. Varnish on the nose suggests oloroso and the color suggests 1st fill. Very intense sherry notes, fruit compote, little bit of sea salt and lots of baking spices. Another one I can spend a long time with my nose stuck in the glass. There seems to be a pattern btw, 20+ year old sherry casks do that to me. Just on the nose alone… Incredible! Creamy consistency on the palate, sherry, woody and spices dominate yet not unbalanced. Perhaps a touch of smoke somewhere in there, but hard to be found under everything and as with a lot of old peated whiskeys the actual peat usually binds to sherry to create more complex molecules rather than staying a dumpster fire, but I digress. Lots of coffee and some leather on the aftertaste, yet again with wood and spices. The overall experience isn’t sweet but stays well balanced. Yet again, lots of wood influences in this one but as would be expected out of sherry single cask with such age. Old, dark, thick, slightly smoky, with the smells of mothballed smokehouse, dusty sherry cask? Yes please! This is extremely complex multi layered experience going on in the glass here. Yet again, I’ll use the uninhabited island analogy on whether or not I’d be left with supply of this there… and the answer is very much a ‘yes’. Complexity and flavor like these don’t come around very often. This also takes few drops of water like a champ and arguably becomes the better for it, with slightly sweeter palate as alcohol takes a step back. An easy score here.
It is unclear if that’s the same bottle, but it’s the only one that matches on Whiskey Base: https://www.whiskyba … ighland-park-1988-ca
Score: A+

Glendronach 26, PX Puncheon #5963, 55%
To cap this lineup… We got my personal favorite distillery Glendronach! The nose screams “Hello PX”, aka stewed fig compote. There’s so much dessert sweetness on the nose. On the palate it’s everything I want. It’s sweet yet woody, bitter yet spicy and balanced. So oaky as to be nearly charry with bbq smoke this evokes some sweeter Texas smoke notes to me, yet totally unpeated. The aftertaste is a bit of a letdown, quite woody sliding from sweet into spicy and slightly charry bitterness. But it lasts a heck of a long time. Short version, this is really really good, but not quite amazing. Unfortunately, it’s got too much wood influence going on in there that’s not quite as balanced as I would have truly preferred. Good? Absolutely, with plenty of wow factor. Amazing overall? Not quite.
https://www.whiskyba … iskies/whisky/175347
Score: A-

A small retrospective is in order. As evidenced by a number of high grades above… I am a big fan of sherried 20+ year old single casks so my opinions are certainly biased and subjective. Please make up your own mind and palate based on your own preferences, mine are truly my own.

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown