Just short of greatness

You know that feeling when you are tasting a very, very good whisky, but somehow it just doesn’t cross the magical 90-point threshold? You realize that you’re tasting whisky that’s way above average, but you can’t shake the feeling you should have spent the money elsewhere?

I know I am very, very spoiled in regards to whisky, but that also has made me very picky in what I want to spend my money on. In all honesty I think that’s a good thing, because it means I’m very inclined to try a whisky before buying it, and in the end I spend less money because of it.

While leafing through my notebook I found a couple of these that I reviewed in the last couple of months (there’s a mountain of tasting notes that have not yet appeared on the blog) and thought to get these out there.

Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 1990-2017, 27yo, The Whisky Agency, 48.1%

The first of these drams that fell just shy is an Irish single malt from 1990. Now I know I have a love-hate relation with these whiskeys since they can be absolutely stellar in some cases, but in most there’s this chemical, candy-like sweetness that I don’t love.

On the nose it’s sweet like winegums (yup, there it is) and a hint of wheat ale with some sweetened lemon. Rather intense and crisp, but the sweetness trumps it. The palate is surprisingly sharp at first. The sweetness is back here too, with that chemical edge. Candy drops, wheat with lemon. Rather light. The finish is gentle and long with the candy sweetness and wheat ale notes. The fruit is a bit more tropical like mango and papaya. Dried pineapple too.

So, the dried pineapple on the finish is great. The wheat ale (wit beer) notes are interesting but not great, but there’s enough to like here. Quite complex, while being held back by the chemical sweetness.


(Thanks to Teun for the sample!)

Dailuaine 1974-2005, Cask B111/2, Berry Brothers and Rudd, 46%

This one I got for a bottle share with some friends. It had been making the rounds on some Facebook groups and I got my eye on it a while ago. I have had some early seventies Dailuaines in the past (I remember the Adieu Lina very fondly) and wanted this one.

That it was bottled by Berry’s made it more of a sure thing, since that’s a cracking bottler.

On the nose it’s smooth but with some kind of beery scent to it. I guess that’s due to the malting, and it’s something I’ve found in some other old Dailuaines as well. Lots of malt, a hint of crispness of lemon and lots of old oak. The palate is very consistent with the nose. Lots of barley, lots of newly cut oak but also something that makes it feel old. Like a sawmill. Dried apple peels and tree bark. The finish is dry and soft, quite rich with lots of oak again. Long, with heaps of barley, bread and beer. Apple and pear peels.

So, how is this not an amazing whisky, you ask? It does everything that you’d expect from an old Dailuaine, but it just lacks a bit of depth. The ‘oldness’ is definitely present, and there’s fruit, oak and some hoppy spiciness. But, for true greatness I would have expected a little more depth and flavor. There is some fruit and some spice, but not much of either. And just wood and barley keeps it below 90 points.


Yamazaki Limited Edition 2017, 43%

(no image as some guys started complaining of my post nicking their image from WhiskyBase)

Last year I did a bottle share with the 2016 release from Yamazaki and that whisky was amaze-balls. I kept 10cl of the bottle for myself and have considered buying an entire bottle for myself. So, when this year’s edition came around I shared one again. Maybe I should have waited since prices in the secondary market have been dropping since I bought the bottle… Quite unexpected for a Japanese whisky.

The nose of this one is dry and rich, with lots of oak and caramel, treacle and golden syrup. Lots and lots of oak with sweet peach, apricot and banana. The palate then, it’s soft, sweet and ever so slightly bitter. Peach and apricot and other stone fruits. Caramel again, and some browned butter. Very syrupy. The finish is very consistent and warm, with fruits, golden syrup and lots of oak.

This is the least interesting of this post. I’m not sure how it can be so vastly different from last year’s edition. I think this is the most un-Japanese whisky from Japan I’ve ever had. The woodiness doesn’t have that sandalwood like scent and flavor that is so common in Japanese whisky. Quite a shame, because that puts it on a level with much, much cheaper blended malts from Scotland.



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.
This entry was posted in - Irish Whiskey, - Japanese Whisky, Dailuaine, Yamazaki and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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