The Usquebaugh Society’s 24th birthday – part 2

The rest of the birthday party for the Usquebaugh Society continued in much the same way. Epic whiskies were tasted, dumb jokes were being made (something about booze, and 30 good guys in one room), and tasting notes were scribbled down.

Limerick 1988 by Adelphi (Image from Royal Mile Whiskies)

Limerick 1988 by Adelphi (Image from Royal Mile Whiskies)

The fourth whisky of the afternoon was the Limerick 1988, bottled by Adelphi. Back when this came out it was received with some doubt. A premium priced Irish whiskey from an undisclosed distillery. I seem to remember it not selling too quickly initially. Nowadays, those things are much more viable since whisky fanatics like me and loads of others have found those whiskies are ridiculously good. Fruit bombs that even Lochside 1981 has a hard time keeping up with.

The nose of the Limerick is fruity like that with pineapple and a boat load of maracuja / passion fruit. It has a slight scent of ethanol and barley too. Slightly green at that, which I would sooner associate with Single Pot Still that Single Malt. The palate is slightly drying and sharper than I expected for a 58% whisky at 24 years old. The fruit and green barley are back too, and the passion fruit too. Lots of it. Pineapple too and something that is slightly bitter in a fruity way. The finish is exactly like the nose makes you expect. Not too long though. Fecking great!

I love this stuff. It’s ridiculously fruity without being overly sweet or too lemonade-like. This is a great whisky for sure. I would expect the extreme fruitiness to come from Bushmills.

Next up was Port Ellen. A bottling for The Whisky Shop buttled by Douglas Laing at 57.9%. Everybody always expects great things from Port Ellen, but I mostly am slightly wary. A lot of them are not as good as their price tag suggests. One of my fellow club members said this was one of the few Port Ellens he liked because it was more subtle than usual. I generally prefer the ones that really taste like lemon candy and shammy leather, so this was going to be interesting.

Tomatin 24 by Getränke Weiser. (Image from Whiskybase)

Tomatin 24 by Getränke Weiser. (Image from Whiskybase)

On the nose it was subtle, as promised, with smoke and salt, shammy leather but not much. Also lemon and white pepper. The palate is spicy and dry, with smoke and lemon. It’s slightly sharp but the flavors are all toned down a little bit. Christmas pudding and some red fruit. A grain flavor that’s surprisingly heavy. More like oats than barley. The finish is very consistent, and rather long and rich.

I would never have guessed this was a sherry cask by the color of it. The flavors make you doubt that notion but the Christmas pudding gives it a way a little bit. It’s a great Port Ellen, but not my favorite. However, a bottle in my collection would be nice!

Then a Tomatin 24 year old bottled by Getränke Weiser in 2004, so an oldie if there was one. At 54.2% it’s one of the more mellow whiskies of the afternoon. It’s a fruity one again, but lighter and less ‘in your face’ than the Limerick 1988. Pineapple, some maracuja, pear but also barley porridge, chalk and some cinnamon. The palate is dry and fruity with French bread, grains and licorice, pineapple, mango and passion fruit. The finish is very short with fruit and bread.

Brora 1977 from the Rare Malts

Brora 1977 from the Rare Malts

An interesting choice to put this after the Port Ellen and not such a lucky one I think. Also, the fruitiness is less explosive than the Irish one, but still rather tasty. I do find the finish too short though.

Last but not least was the Rare Malts Brora 24yo from 1977. I have had this one before so I didn’t write the most extensive tasting notes. And, like I’ve had before at tasting events, I just wanted to enjoy the whisky without picking it apart too much.

The whisky itself is very comparable to the Clynelish, but everything is in overdrive. The farm scents and flavors are more powerful. It’s not as light, but very comparable. The peat is pretty prominent and almost overpowering in combination with the alcohol, so while this is a ridiculously tasty whisky, I prefer the Clynelish.

So that was that. Seven 24 year old whiskies in good company and of a quality level that is seldom seen at whisky tastings. My favorite was the Clynelish, followed by the Limerick and Brora. The Cambus clocked in last, the Tomatin did slightly better and the middle ground is held by the Highland Park and the Port Ellen.

I still can’t really comprehend that they’ve been able to host this tasting for € 45 per person. I am wondering what the 25 year old tasting next year will bring and I’m already looking forward to it!


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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