Saturday, July 1, 2023

Craigellachie 15 & 17 & 21, Clynelish 13, OMC Samples Advance, Back to Speyside!

Craigellachie 15, Old Particular, K&L SP, 57.7%
Here we got 2006 Craigellachie, aged in sherry butt from Old Particular. The nose is excellently funky sherry backed by malt and alcohol, there’s something that reminds me of a complex mechanism in there, like a smell of an an old engine parts. Reasonably dry palate isn’t overwhelmed by sherry and offers tons of nutty, spicy character with a slightly bitter note and baking spices dominating. Medium-long aftertaste with light bitterness that fades into sweet malt note. The palate gets even better with water snapping everything into balance. Overall: This is excellent, interesting, intricate, nuanced but not subtle pour easily on par with OB Exceptional Casks from the distillery. It’s loud, it’s in your face, and it’s very complex in it’s flavors. Value: At $99 this was priced right for the sherry cask and age.
Score: B+ (A- w/ water)

Craigellachie 17, Original Bottling, 46%
Original bottling by Craigellachie, 17 years old and likely bottled in 2019. The nose got dark honey, vanilla latte, perfume and stewed plums. The palate got soft, yet bitter-sweet notes similar to coffee, it’s warming, lightly spiced with cloves and nutmeg and overall well rounded. The aftertaste got more of that soft black pepper and leftover baking spices finishing on a nice roasted vanilla note. Overall: This is rounded, enjoyable speysider. A very enjoyable night cap that’s not over-complicated. Admittedly, it shares the niche with many others of its type but that’s not a bad place to be. Value: Herein we got a problem. It’s priced at $159 which is nearly twice were it should be priced at. I would not pay more than a $100 for this and neither should you.
Score: B

Craigellachie 21, Distiller’s Art, 52.7%
A 1995 vintage single cask Craigellachie, aged in sherry butt, cask proof. Intense red fruits with plums dominating, alcohol & vanilla on the nose. Somewhat spicy, exceptionally fruity palate, yet again red fruits dominate thought vanilla mocha flavors with coffee and chocolate are ready to challenge for first place. Chili pepper and chocolate aftertaste with baking spice at the very end wraps up the experience. Overall: This really feels like the 17 above, amped to 11. Delicious. With water it almost becomes a ‘better 17′, which is an unfortunate comparison for the 17. Value: Priced at $129 this wasn’t all that cheap back in the day but nowadays that price is a bargain especially compared to almost every speyside malt at that age and cask type that is essentially priced at twice that amount.
Score: A-

Clynelish 13, Gordon & Macphail #307220, K&L SP, 57.8%
A Clynelish from 2009, aged 13 years in refill sherry hogshead. Unlike the Other Clynelish, this one leans towards heavy sherry. Tobacco cologne on the nose, dried apricots and plums, toasted honey covered by sherry blanket. Savory, woody, drying palate, that yet contains dark chocolate and caramelized molasses; huge hit of baking spices. Finally, honeyed, sweet, yet still toasty aftertaste that’s about medium length. Overall: Not my favorite Clynelish to be honest, this is one is almost smothered by the cask influence. The malt tries to stick it’s head out and in the end neither cask nor malt are able to win, making it an incoherent experience. Enjoyable for the secondary notes, and passable with the primary flavors. Value: Priced at $139 this is right on the edge of reasonable considering that some of these casks are spectacular. So the question becomes… do you feel lucky?
Score: B

And a quick set of reviews of old malt cask advanced samples from friend Ivan. All of these are in refill bourbon barrels and all proofed at exactly 50% abv.
Example of one of these. I’ll note that these are reasonably priced on sale ~$25 for the 200ml bottle, with Dailuaine probably being the worst value of the 4 per spec. Malt, citrus and pepper seem to be the theme with most most refill bourbon OMC bottles and these are no exception.

Dailuaine – 9 years — 50% — Score: C — Young and fresh, with newmake character. It’s earthy, it’s meaty, it’s peppery, it’s brash and it’s all sharp corners. Could be enjoyable at the right moment but certainly not for everyone. There are few interesting notes in the secondaries, but they are just developing and are yet to truly shine.
Balmenach — 14 years — 50% — Score: B — Citrucy, peppery, enjoyable OMC faire. Punchy alcohol in front, very active for only 50%, sweet and malty middle. Lots of peppers and baking spice at the tail end. A spiced lemon curd basically.
Glen Moray — 15 years — 50% — Score: B+ — Sweet, fruity, refreshing and still peppery, bordering on sichuan, yet balanced by the sweetness and umami. This one is solid and enjoyable.
Longmorn – 15 years — 50% — Score: B — Starts sweet and lemon-forward, but weers into toasted baking spices almost immediately. Curry mix, star anise, cloves, ginger, chili. Sweet, and very punchy.

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