Old Rhosdhu 29, 1990-2020, Refill Hogshead 416, 48.2% – WhiskyNerds

About two weeks ago the newest WhiskyNerds release came out. This time they opted for an Old Rhosdhu from 1990. Old Rhosdhu is one of the older brands of Loch Lomond Distillery.

So, in a way this is not a new distillery for them, but it is a new brand. My guess would be that it is a new brand for most of us, since you don’t come across it often, if ever.

They did the bottling together with Wu Dram Clan, which is a German club of folks whose taste it at least on par with the WhiskyNerds. I’ve had the luxury of tasting some of their past bottlings and I’m quite the fan.


I guess now is as good a time as any to write a little bit about this ‘new normal’. Not in regards to COVID-19, but in whisky pricing.

Loch Lomond has never been an overly popular distillery. In most cases I think that’s justified, but they do release some awesome bottlings now and then. However, a few short years (and one massively long year) ago this would result in prices being a little bit below average.

This is, after all, not a brand for which there are many collectors and it doesn’t really fly off the shelves.

However, with so many people fishing in the same pond, prices have started to soar once more. The WhiskyNerds’ Allt-a-Bhainne of a little while ago was an expensive one, too expensive for what it was. Let’s not even talk about the Caol Ila.

And now we sit here, looking at a 29 year old Old Rhosdhu that goes for (at least) € 225. I’m having some trouble letting that sink in.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand why this happens, and I also understand that Bram and Floris (and the Wu Dram Clan, in this case) don’t have much choice, if any. But as a broad development in the world of whisky, it seems that it gets more and more absurd. Even when we don’t think it can get anymore absurd.



Image from Whiskybase

Let’s get back to the good stuff. Let’s do tasting notes!

Sniff:
Light, with some funkiness. Paper, hessian, straw. Dried apple peel, porridge. Hints of candied lemon. Smoked butter.

Sip:
The palate is quite a lot sharper than I expected. Straw, oak, hessian, paper. Also slightly sweeter on the fruit side. Ripe pear, warm apple sauce.

Swallow:
The finish touches upon the light side of grain whisky, a hint of copper of some sort. Wood, apple and pear.

After all my nagging, I think the € 225 is acceptable for a whisky like this. There are some inconsistencies between the nose and the palate, but not so much so that it’s becomes an issue.

There are notes that I found hard to pin down and describe. That’s my limited palate acting up, I guess. However, I love the high complexity and uniqueness of the whisky. It’s not often that something ‘unique’ like this pops up, and that’s worth something!

90/100

Available at lots of good whisky shops

Thanks for the sample, Nerds!

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GlenGlassaugh Rare Cask 11, 2009-2020, Port Pipe 1830, 55.4% – OB

GlenGlassaugh was reopened in 2008, under guidance of Billy Walker, who took over BenRiach and GlenDronach before then. He’s now active at GlenAllachie since selling the trio of distilleries to Brown-Forman.

EDIT: GlenGlassaugh was restarted under guidance of Stuart Nicholson. Billy Walker took over in 2013.

To celebrate the reopening of the distillery in 2008, after being closed for over 20 years, the ‘Rare Cask Releases’ were done. It’s a set of single casks to showcase the diversity of the distillery’s output.

When this Port cask came out last year, it was one of the first ones I saw on Dutch shelves that was affordable, and even then we were talking at an eleven year old whisky at over € 100.

I believe it’s more affordable now, but I don’t know why it started popping up at lower prices.

My bottle was bottle-shared, used in a tasting and yesterday I finished the last bit of my share. Let’s see where this one ends up on the spectrum of deliciousness!

Sniff:
Jammy, with lots of fruit. Unmistakable a port cask. Quite some fruity and woody sweetness, with a nice scent of oak. Some stewed cherries and strawberries.

Sip:
Quite gentle for the ABV, with lots of old oak, and port. Slightly funky with wet dirt, dunnage warehouse floors. Stewed red fruits.

Swallow:
The finish is a bit more dry with a hint of white pepper. The jammy fruit lingers longest.

Quite sweet, with a lot of cask influence. Absolutely not bad though. It’s good that it’s typical for a port cask, but the drawback is that it’s hard to determine how the spirit has matured. Also, I would need more than one whisky to get a bit of a bearing of that.

Anyway, a solid whisky that is very enjoyable. Not overly complex or layered, though.

86/100

Available here

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Transistor, Blended Scotch Whisky, 43% – Compass Box (and Punk IPA)

Transistor is one of the three whiskies that have been released in cooperation with BrewDog. Whiskies specially selected to pair well with one of BrewDog’s most available beers.

There’s Tulip Torpedo, a rye whisky from Zuidam that is to be paired with Dead Pony Club. The third is Skeleton Key. This is a blended Scotch from Duncan Taylor.

All three are pretty readily available at quite affordable prices, however, we’re reviewing just the Transistor today.

Punk IPA is the beer that more or less kickstarted my fanaticism for good beer. I’ve had it quite a few times over the last decade. As in, probably over a hundred bottles or so. This seemed like it was something I needed to try.

First, I tried the whisky on its own:

Sniff:
Lots of vanilla and baked apple, hints of cinnamon and raisins. Quite sweet, with a lot of wheat flour.

Sip:
Some white pepper. Very consistent with the nose. Vanilla, sugary puff pastry, baked apple. Gentle, very gentle.

Swallow:
The finish still has some lingering pepper. The sweetness and vanilla is a bit toned down.

It’s a rather simple whisky. Absolutely not bad, but not something that most afficionados will sit down for to disect for tasting notes. Still, very well made and for € 40/45 you can do much worse.

83/100

After writing these notes I started drinking the beer as well and doing it ‘hauf an a hauf‘.

Initially I was rather skeptical, since the whisky has quite some sweet notes with lots of vanilla. And the Punk IPA is a pretty bitter beer, with some fruity notes, but nothing that indicates a combination with a gentle, but cask driven blended whisky!

A sip of the beer, which is hoppy, with hints of herbs and quite some fruit (apple, lychee), followed by the whisky, transforms from hoppy to fruity very fast, but almost seemless.

There’s a bit of a papery hint in the middle of the drinks, but nothing disturbing.

Apart from being an interesting experiment, it’s an awful lot of fun to drink. I think this is something very well done and it makes me very curious to the other two combinations!

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Girvan 27, 1989-2017, Bourbon Barrel 167863, 51.4% – Càrn Mòr Celebration of the Cask

Let’s start with a disclaimer.

I generally don’t care much for grain whisky. In most cases, especially in the last eight years or so, I consider it to be bottled too young. Before then, there were lots of really tasty 40+ year old being bottled, but in the end the character of the distillery is lost to cask influence.

Of course, a discussion can be had whether there is any distillery character at all since, contrary to single malts, grain distilleries are all about efficiency and not about quaintness. They are more akin to refineries than they are to white-walled farm buildings with a copper pot inside.

Then this one came along in Fiddler’s Advent Calendar, and JPH and I tasted it a few weeks ago. It kind-of stopped us in our tracks. I needed a bottle of this. That last part took some doing but in the end the Whiskybase marketplace came to the resque and I now sit here looking at my very own Girvan.

Let’s do tasting notes!

Sniff:
Baking spices, gentle but unmistakable oaky. Menthol, bergamot, lemongrass. That powdery sugar on boiled sweets (the tins, you know), dried pineapple and papaya. It does go towards the more typical barley sugar with some time.

Sip:
The palate is surprisingly gentle, with some grain-sugar sweetness. The floury dust in the boiled sweet tins. A bit more oak with a whiff of chili heat. Mango and chili chutney.

Swallow:
A bit more wine-gum like on the finish, but a bit more chili and oak too. Nicely warming, and quite long. Medium in length.

Not too sweet and quite complex. Absolutely gorgeous with the dried yellow fruits, boiled sweets and grain sugar. It’s like a Scottish take on bourbon, where they went over the top on quality and aging.

I absolutely love it, which is no surprise after the introduction and even though it is ‘only’ 27 years old (not ridiculously old for a grain whisky) I’m glad they didn’t push this any further.

90/100

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Blended Malt, 1993-2017, Ex-Sherry Hogshead 17, 53.6% – The Thompson Bros.

Yet another whisky from the Fiddler’s Advent Calendar. And a bottling from the yet-to-be-visited Thompson Brothers. As in, I still need to visit the Dornoch Castle Hotel and its whisky bar.

Of course, with this being a blended malt, there’s no information as to what went into the bottles to make the blend. They do tend to work out well, the last couple of years.

Image from Whiskybase

Let’s just dive in, before I start rambling.

Sniff:
Barley and tropical fruit. Not too much fruit, but definitely sherry, with its spices. Stewed apples, tea and blackberries.

Sip:
Very sherried and rather gentle at first. It gets more intense after a few seconds. Very fruity with stewed red fruit and apples. Blackberry juice and a hint of black tea. Some oak and baking spices.

Swallow:
A medium length finish with a bit more dryness, more oak. The fruit lingers quite a while. Nice and warming, without being hot.

It’s a very gentle dram, even though it has quite some alcohol to its name. Very drinkable with lots of fruit to make this whisky enjoyable and a bit of a friend to everyone. I can’t imagine this being polarizing.

The berries and tea on the nose appealed to me, and luckily it carried through on the palate. It does practically everything that you want a properly aged whisky to do.

87/100

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Orkney Island 2005-2020, 14yo, 59.7% – Berry Bros & Rudd for Whiskybase

Of course this is Highland Park. All of the ‘undisclosed’ Orkney whiskies are Highland Park.

This one was released sometime during the end of last year and I scored a bottle for bottle-sharing. I ended up with some 10cl for myself, because I like Highland Park in most situations.

Actually, I like Highland Park a lot. Somehow it just sits well with me, even though the indies are always undisclosed Orkney, and the official bottlings are generally too expensive. I do like the whisky, and I do like that there’s virtually no weird casks. Just straight forward sherry and bourbon casks.

Berry Bros and Rudd then. An old fashioned bottler that is a bit hit and miss for me. I like the approach, but I don’t always like their selection. They also focus on straight forward whiskies, most of the time. Sometimes, however, the selection is a bit bland. Not always, though.

Let’s see where this one sits.

Sniff:
Quite spirity, but heavy. Grain, moss, slate, some heathery peat. Also a whiff of leather, something funky, dunnage warehouses.

Sip:
Sharp, with a lot of grain, and quite some white oak for a ten year old. Heathery smoke, moss, some apple and minerals.

Swallow:
The finish is a bit more gentle, more sweet with a hint of vanilla. The weight of the smoke stays too, but the minerality is a bit less than it was on the palate.

As you might have deduced from the introduction, there’s a hint skepticism here. This whisky is a bit bland, like I described some of Berry’s whiskies. It’s absolutely not bad, but for a 14 year old Highland Park there’s just not much happening.

It follows the distillery character to a T, with some heaviness, some heathery smoke, some minerals. Maybe it’s the high ABV that makes it a bit closed, but somehow it just doesn’t deliver.

This one is just a bit boring.

84/100

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Lichtburg, 15 year old Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 2005-2020, Armagnac Cask 2003, 57.5% – Rolf Kaspar

Of course, this an independent Irish whiskey without it stating from which distillery it comes.

There’s a bit too much other information on the label though. It’s called Lichtburg for some arbitrary reason. It’s also labeled both as ‘Marika Single Cask’, and ‘Historic Series No. 1’, and it’s from bottler Rolf Kaspar. So, in a way it has four names, without a distillery…

Image from Whiskybase

Anyway, a 15 year old Irish whiskey is quite promising. I generally like these whiskies, especially if they have a little bit less sweetness than the 25 year old (or older) Irish whiskies of the last couple of years.

Sniff:
It’s quite spirity for a 15 year old whisky, with some sharp green and woody edge. Green malt, surprisingly. I think I’m getting a whiff of blue grapes and a bit of nectarine.

Sip:
The palate starts rather smooth, but soon the peppery heat kicks in. It’s quite sharp, but it does have a little bit of syrupy sweetness. It gets a bit dryer with a few seconds of time. There’s a light fruitiness too, grapes, apple, nectarine.

Swallow:
The finish is a little bit sweeter than the palate. It’s still a bit spirity, but not as green as before. More hints of malt, some malty sweetness, still quite fruity.

Strangely, it shows a note of green malt on the nose, which is not something used in single malt whisky. The combination of spirit throughout, and the fruitiness is quite nice.

The combination of the sweetness and the dry palate is interesting. The way the malt comes across is too. A very Irish whiskey in style, without the cloying sweetness. I like it!

86/100

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An Islay Distillery 12, 2008-2020, 54.2% – First Cask

Recently, Whisky Import Nederland, the company behind the First Cask brand, released a series of six whiskies. There were some interesting bottles in that batch, but the one that stood out was this ‘An Islay Distillery’.

Why, you ask? This:

Image result for lagavulin distillery

After seeing the image on the label there shouldn’t be any doubt about which distillery this is, unless they just put the wrong distillery on the label. I find that unlikely.

So, there is a 12 year old single cask Lagavulin available for less that € 80! I don’t expect it to be on par with the annual 12 year old, but it’s also about € 50 to € 60 less. Consider me intrigued!

Sniff:
Quite earthy on the nose, with a hint of dried lemon and washed up wood. There’s a hint of vanilla, with some leather and dried apple. It’s pretty herbaceous too, with a mix of dried herbs.

Sip:
The palate is as rich as the nose, but adds a few coastal notes that I didn’t pick up before. There’s black pepper and oak, but also vanilla and some syrupy sweetness. Dried thyme and basil.

Swallow:
The finish is rather gentle for a cask strength whisky, and pushes the coastal notes further, with slightly medicinal smoke. Some black pepper, some dried herbs, syrupy sweetness.

This is actually pretty nice. What I like is that it displays a different aspect of Lagavulin that normally is used for the annual 12 year old. The herbaceous notes are nice and combined with the sweetness it reminds of some kind of savory pastry that I can’t put my finger on.

Also, yes, this does taste like Lagavulin, albeit an atypical one. Of course, I’m utter shit at recognizing distilleries, but still.

Anyway, it’s a solid dram. It’s not as good as the regular annual 12 year old, but it certainly punches above the weight of similarly priced Islay whiskies. Recommended!

86/100

Available for € 76 at Drinks & Gifts

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Glen Morey 1977-2012, Bourbon Hogshead MoS 12021, 52.1% – Malts of Scotland

Yes, Glen Morey. At least, that’s according to the label. Malts of Scotland is famous for two things in my book: great whisky and typos on labels. “Images of Bartstown”, anyone?

Anyway, this 1977 Glen Moray was bottled almost a decade ago. Back then it got some laughs because of the typo on the label, but because of that it also got a lot of attention. I guess all publicity is good publicity, right?

Older Glen Moray can be great, I’ve had some awesome ones from the SMWS about a decade ago, so it seems they were sellings a lot of casks in one go. Since then it’s a bit more quiet.

The distillery is (to me at least) known for their gentle whiskies that don’t pack too much of a punch, but tone the intensity down in favor of comfort.

Sniff:
Maturity, but also slightly yeasty, hint of malty beer. A whiff of buttermilk, sweet barley, a whiff of floral honey. Slightly autumnal, with old leaves and ferns.

Sip:
Quite dry, with lots of malt. Barley, grist, a hint of porridge. Some honey, but also dry autumn leaves, a hint of tobacco. Quite some oak staves too.

Swallow:
Some peppery heat at first, but the dryness with oak, barley and custard too.

I guess this one fits the distillery quite well. It’s not a very intense dram and chooses the middle of the road in regards to flavors. Having said that, it does what it does very well.

The palate brings a bit of buttermilk and honey, which is nice. It’s also a bit autumnal which is something I thoroughly like too. So, good stuff. Just not amazing.

88/100

This sets you back some € 350, nowadays.

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Millburn 1978-2008, 46% – Gordon & MacPhail Rare Vintage

A bottle of Millburn was my first ‘expensive’ whisky, years ago. It unfortunately set a precedent and things have been going in every which way since.

I remember trying that bottle based on a sample Rob Stevens, of De Whiskykoning gave me. It was a 33 year old Blackadder Raw Cask bottling and it just blew me away. It took me a while to decide whether or not purchasing it should happen, but in the end it did. My first ever € 180 bottle of whisky.

Image from Whiskybase

Since then, the amount of Millburn whiskies tasted is shockingly low. Of course, there’s not much out there since it’s mostly a blenders product, and the place has been closed for almost 40 years. So, you can imagine me being quite thrilled when I found out there was a sample of this sitting in the Fiddler’s Advent Calendar.

Sniff:
Toast, and some dirt. Slightly earthy with a hint of straw. Smooth with some honey, and a whiff of vanilla.

Sip:
Quite some oak and white pepper. Honey sweetness with a hint of fresh lemon juice and lemon curd. Some vanilla, toast and barley.

Swallow:
The finish is much more malt and oak driven. The honey and lemon curd are still there, with some vanilla. Unripe banana.

Of course, I’ve checked this one out on Whiskybase and I think the average score there (87.40) is on the low side. I find this a thoroughly good whisky, and had a blast tasting it. Also, the combination of flavors make it a very typical whisky of the area and the era, which is also commendable.

89/100

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