Clynelish 1982-1995, 13yo, 43% – Usquebaugh Society

When I see Clynelish from before 1996, my interest peaks. Not that that year heralded a downturn or anything, but that was a good vintage, and anything from before it is generally priceless stuff. Then, a while ago this one popped up on my radar for a sort of acceptable amount. Especially since I bottle-shared it. That it was bottled for/by my former whisky club was an added USP.

So, old Clynelish, in both ways. Distilled 37 year ago, bottled 24 years ago. And only at 43%. There were a lot of things that could go wrong, including the not too high score on Whiskybase of 83.33 points. The bottle-share sold out in minutes and while the samples haven’t been doled out yet, I decided to just get the review up.

20190816_140456Sniff:
On the nose the first thing I get is the typical Clynelish waxiness. The second thing I notice is the very typical light distillate that was so prominent in the 1980s. There’s oak and barley, and hessian too. Slightly foresty, but mostly like a creek running over stones. A bit of grass.

Sip:
For a 43% whisky it’s fairly intense with some black pepper, wax coats, candles, a furniture shop, leather. There’s oak and old barley too. After a little bit of swimming the waxiness and a certain oiliness that wasn’t there before. Beeswax and honey as well as a bit of old oak and hessian.

Swallow:
The finish is a tad short, and the waxiness is gone quickly. Other than that, the woodiness and lightness linger. The old oak and barley remain the strongest flavors.

The nose is very reminiscent of blends distilled in the 1980s in a way that suggests the style, but the quality of this whisky is much higher than those blends (in general). The rest of it is just very solid Clynelish. I think it would have benefitted from a higher ABV, but in the 1995 world of whisky that wasn’t much of a thing.

Still, I think it is much better than the 83.33 points Whiskybase users have given it. Not surprisingly with a bottle this old and rare, the score is based on just three votes. I’m about to up that a bit.

The finish is rather typical for a 43% whisky, so especially here you notice the low ABV, but the palate and the nose keep the score up. Typical Clynelish, with its waxy notes, and that’s a very, very good thing.

87/100

Clynelish 1982-1995, 13yo, cask 131, 43%, Usquebaugh Society

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Inchgower 1982-2011, 29yo, 54.6% – Duncan Taylor

Ah, Inchgower 1982. A whisky that got popular because a lot of it tastes like Clynelish from the same era. At least, in my circles that’s what it’s famous for. It is also why I bought this bottle a year or two ago. But now, after quite a lot of ‘tasting’ it is time to review it, and get the tail end of the bottle out of the way. 

Duncan Taylor then. I’m not entirely sure how it is abroad, but in my circles (both physical and offline) Duncan Taylor is a bottler that is all but forgotten. A few years ago I got some samples from them and I think that’s the last I’ve heard from them. And I mean that mostly in a ‘all about releases’ way. Did they run out of casks, or are they just no longer marketing in the ‘circles’ that I’m in?

Anyway, the whisky then.

Sniff:
Even after almost three decades of aging, it’s fairly green, with ferns and moss and blocks of slate in a creek. In short, foresty. After that there’s some malt and malt sugar, a bit of white oak and icing sugar. A spirity sharpness keeps the cask at bay, which is something that I like.

Sip:
The palate is pretty sharp, with alcohol (and the heat thereof) being more forward than I expected. It’s malty and slightly fruity with apples, white grapes and starfruit. After a while there’s some black pepper in the mix, and chilis too. Not a lot, but just a sharp edge. Barley, sugary and some oak flavors too.

Swallow:
The finish is weird, compared to the palate. There’s suddenly a lot more ‘mature’ flavors happening with some old leather and furniture polish. It kind of straightens this whisky out a bit. A fairly long finish that forgets about the fruitiness from before, and the moss and ferns. Instead it goes for the wood, malt, older style.

Well, as with all glassses I’ve poured from this bottle, it’s a bit weird. It clearly shows two faces. At first, there’s a spirit driven dram that doesn’t show any way of letting go of that character, even after twentynine years of aging. Then you get to the finish and it shows it’s other cheek.

This is mostly the reason that I never fell in love with this dram, even though it has lots of things to discover and sit down for. However, it does feel very inconsistent and out of balance. Strangely, though, now that I’m properly sitting down for it, it start growing on me. For the first time, right before I finish it.

87/100

Inchgower 29yo, 1982-2011, Oak cask #6974, 54.6%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld.

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Perspective, and a change of it…

So, another whisky blogger (Malt Klaus) recently wrote an article about how he had become immersed in the world of whisky, and a reset of perspective happened only when he started focusing on something else. It’s a very good read, check it out here.

While I’m in no way a bee keeper, or interested in that particular hobby, the post made me think. Thinking is something you try to have time for on holiday, hence the long time of no posts here.

Something to drink while camping…

Over the last two years, my perspective has been slowly changing from whisky to something else. It’s been a process that’s been going on for years, though. With more and more whisky becoming unobtainable, or uninteresting, I find I still can get excited about things, but these things are fewer, and further between. However, since both my palate and whisky in general have been getting more expensive (in some cases ridiculously so), it’s not gotten any cheaper, even with far less bottles bought.

Two years ago I started playing Magic: the Gathering again, and as anyone who has ever played that game knows, it’s anything but cheap. Whisky has one other massive drawback, and that’s that it’s simply not healthy to be drinking strong booze all the time. With me trying not to drink on most weekdays, it means that I cram in quite a few drams in the weekend, or not getting around to any when the weekend is packed. Not necessarily a bad thing, but also something that makes it a hard hobby to have.

Two years of playing/buying cards again… And this is far from all.

So, Klaus’ randomly bought €75 bottle of whisky just sitting on his desk with no particular plan is something that made think about this. Since when has € 75 become insignificant? Since when is it a normal thing to buy something without any particular use for it? Here’s me trying to be a bit more sensible with my money, especially since buying more bottles of whisky makes absolutely no sense when you have something the bears the name ‘whisky collection’.

Also, trying (I’ve been known to fail) to not buy any more whisky should leave some money for trips to Scotland, to ‘do’ whisky instead of just drinking it. Now, when the social aspect of travel and going places to meet people gets added to the equation, that changes everything. There’s not much in this world I like doing more than experiencing whisky in that way, or having a few drinks with friends, or just seeing the country where whisky is made, even without visiting a distillery!

So, is this blog going to stop? No.

Am I going dry? No.

Am I going to get rid of my whisky collection? No (well, by trying to drink more than I buy)

I’ll try to keep getting three posts per week up, I’ve got dozens of tasting notes lined up, but I just don’t get around to blogging all that often.

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Diamond Distillery 20yo, Guyana, 50.8% – The Duchess

This is a bit of an interesting one, as was the Foursquare from a few days ago. The Foursquare was matured in both bourbon casks (fairly regular) and sherry casks (fairly unique). This one is matured in Armagnac casks, even more out of the ordinary than the sherry casks were. I wonder how this works out, because this is a pretty different distillate compared to what rum is.

Again, this is a bottling from The Duchess, a Dutch bottler makeing ways into the world of rum, and to a somewhat lesser extent, the world of whisky. They sent me a sample to get some exposure, fully knowing that my views are my own. The booze is sponsored, the review is not.

While that sounds ominous, it’s just to get some of the ‘newer readers’, if they exist, in the know about how these sent samples work.

I don’t know much about Diamond Distillery, apart from that I’ve tasted rum from them before, in a pretty shit bottle share I did some years ago. In this case I blame myself for the lower quality level of the share, since I didn’t pick many good bottles then, while knowing there’s much better out there.

18498_big

Let’s see what this one is about.

Sniff:
Wow! That Armagnac cask is there! A very ‘young fruity’ distillate is quite noticable. The rum sweetness is behind that all, but there’s not much of it.

Sip:
Quite sharp, even though it’s a lot less sharp. The fruit distillate is pushed back a bit, with very dry, and very not-sweet rum. Sugar cane with it’s grassy flavors.

Swallow:
More of the grassy notes. Lots of green flavors, grass, parsley, herbs. Sugar cane, molasses.

So, there’s two sides to this rum. I love the fact that it’s been matured in a cask that’s rather experimental. It makes for a pretty unique drink and something different to try. However, I think the Armagnac overpowers the rum to a too big extent. The fruit distillate is very, very present and pushes out the more typical rum flavors.

What is a very sizeable redeeming factor is that this is available for € 95, which is pretty cheap for a 20 year old rum!

80/100

Diamond Distillery 20 years old, 1998-2019, Guyana, Armagnac Cask #27, 50.8%

Sample kindly provided by Best of Wines.

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Caroni 21yo, Trinidad, 64.1% – The Duchess

Caroni is more or less the Port Ellen of the rum world. It’s been closed for a decade or two, and prices are soaring since most people are only now (the last couple of years) discovering the quality of the product. Or, maybe, as with Port Ellen whisky, it needed more time than it had had when they decided to close the place down.

Anyway, Caroni is no more. Stocks are running out. I’ve managed to taste a few, here and there. Most notably at Cadenhead’s last year in April, when FV and I were straggling to pick up our bottles. Back then we had an 18 year old one, which was described as Mark Watt’s private cask, by Mitch. If I remember correctly, that is.

But now, a year and a bit later, I’m writing about another one, bottled by The Duchess. My friend Nils works for the brand (and more or less created it, if I’m not mistaken), and has been bottlings some great rums over the last few years.

Of course, this being from a closed distillery makes the price go up, but compared to some other recent releases, the € 200 this goes for isn’t that far fetched. Also, this clocking in at 64.1% means you can make a bottle and half of it without it getting too weak…

18190_bigSniff:
Rather complex, herbaceous, sweet, burnt caramel, walnuts, pears. Not too woody, molasses, golden syrup. Dark bread, lots of depth.

Sip:
Quite sharp, but also quite palatable at 64%. Dark, fruity, some baking spices. Figs, prunes, dark bread, golden syrup, molasses.

Swallow:
The finish is quite rich, with chocolate, popcorn, walnuts. Caramel, and sweet wood.

Now, I’m not an authority on anything, let alone older rums. What I do know is that I like this one and it’s different from the overly sweet and woody stuff you’d expect from a 20 year old Caribbean spirit.

I do love that it’s both fruity and herbaceous. It doesn’t give too much way to sugar and caramel and oak. So, there’s a lot of character here and that makes for an awesome drink. Recommened!

89/100

Caroni 1998-2019, 21 years old, Cask #20, Trinidad, 64.1%. Available from Best of Wines for € 200

Sample provided by Best of Wines, much obliged!

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Foursquare Hereditas 14yo, Barbados, 56% – The Whisky Exchange

It’s been a while since I got this sample, but I’ve been quite busy over the last couple of months. Most reviews that have appeared on this wee blog have been written ages ago, because that saves a lot of time when writing a post. However, this week I finally got around to trying it, together with two other rum samples I got from Dutch bottler The Duchess (through Best of Wines / Best of Whiskies).

But, back to this one. It’s been bottled for/by The Whisky Exchange who, like many other bottlers, are exploring rum more and more, with whisky becoming more expensive and (if more affordable) worse. This specific bottling from Foursquare Distillery in Barbados has been matured in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks.

rum_fou14yo

A sample was provided by The Whisky Exchange

Sniff:
Very soft for a cask strength like this. Warming, with a bit of heat on the nose. Slightly herbaceous, and grassy. Burnt sugar, some iron, quite gentle.

Sip:
Very much like whisky on the arrival, with vanilla and a lot of oak. Quite dry, burnt caramel, that green, herbaceous note again. Warming with a small hint of chili and copper.

Swallow:
A mellow finish, with more typical rum notes of sugar, wood, molasses. Rather long, with a little dryness and sweetness remaining. Towards the end there’s a hint of matches, in a good way.

I’m not entirely sure whether the sherry cask maturation is something I really enjoy on spirits that are sweeter to begin with. I’ve had it with Bourbon as well, with a Heaven Hill matured in a sherry cask. In this case it, I think, flattens out the spirit a little bit. I’ve noticed quite some similarities with whisky, which I think indicates that the casks are taking over and driving the flavors and scents more than the distillery.

Having said that, it’s still a rather nice drink, and maybe it’s more my unfamiliarity with rum’s different distilleries and characters thereof.

85/100

Foursquare Hereditas 14yo, Barbados, 2520 bottles from bourbon and sherry casks, 56%, The Whisky Exchange, £79.95 at The Whisky Exchange.

A sample was provided, free of charge, by The Whisky Exchange

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Jura One and All, 21yo, 51%

Let’s get this out: I generally think of Jura as my second least favorite distillery in Scotland. The number one spot is taken by Abhainn Dearg. Somehow, I decided to give them another chance two years ago when this one came out. It must have been a shit day, since it’s not only a Jura, but also a jumble of generally not-so-good-for-whisky casks. They could have kept the Pinot Noir and Cabernet, for all I care.

To demonstrate how much I don’t like Jura, just read on.

I was on the Isle of Jura last year. We decided during our trip on Islay to do a little bit of walking there. Of course, ferry times weren’t properly investigated, so we didn’t get around to climbing one of the paps, but did some hiking randomly. Also, we decided we knew better than the extremely detailed and updated hiking maps and decided there was a path where there was none. Somehow, after a torn pair of pants, mud up to our crotches and knackered hiking boots, we ended up at the Jura Distillery. We didn’t go in. It might be one of the most hard to reach distilleries in Scotland, and we couldn’t be arsed.

Anyway, a 21 year old Jura, from Sherry, Bourbon, Cabernet and Pinot Noir casks. I tried to bottle share it but didn’t get through all the bits. I brought it to Maltstock last year after taking a small sample for later assessing. I think it emptied over the weekend.

isle-of-jura-one-and-all-whiskySniff:
A lot of cask influence from the wine casks. It changes the normal funkiness of Jura. Still, it has a bit of that rubber band scent that puts me off of Jura. There’s a lot of oak, with a jumble of scents, none prominent.

Sip:
The palate is rather sweet and has a lot of peppery heat. Black pepper, pink peppercorns and chili. Again, a bit of a jumble. A lot of oak, and the funkiness is a bit less than on the nose. More feinty, and smoke, heavy smoke. Thick and fatty, with hints of barbecue.

Swallow:
The finish is rather mellow, with a bit of dry oak, more than before. The wine cask is coming through, with sweetness and rancio and fruit.

Quite drinkable, for a Jura. The balance is weird (…not there…) with the wine casks taking over the distillate, and the rest of the casks only adding a bit of confusion instead of depth.

I can’t seem to like what they’re produce. I tried that 1966 one which was great, but apart from that, I don’t think I’ve ever had one I wanted a bottle of in hindsight.

78/100

Jura One and All, 21 years old, a variety of casks, 51%. Available for 125 quid

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