Some time ago, a new bottler showed up in shops without much fanfare. At least, it went quite unnoticed until the Mannochmore was rated with 90 points on Whiskyfun. Suddenly, things looked up and I went looking for a bottle. Of course, what I found was that there was an entire swell of bottles available, in line of ‘The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay’. The fable accompanying the brand name.
The entire batch was bought, tasted and reviewed, and I was rather enthusiastic about it all. The marketing, the labels, the whisky, the works.
The second batch of Fable whisky came around sometime last winter, and with the first batch being so well received, a bottle-share and a tasting was quickly organized. Things got very confusing with some chapters of the story being reused, distilleries being switched from one to another and such. Apart from that they also re-imagined the chapters themselves. Batch one was all chapter one, but batch two was spread over Chapter X to Chapter 11. I have no idea where it started and what was available when.
I decided to not buy some bottles because I figured I already had tried them in the first batch, but that turned out to be untrue, since new casks were bottled with the same labels and chapters. In short, I completely lost track of what was what. As a geek, I can tell you this is hugely annoying.
Anyway, the whiskies…
On my holidays I tried them again on a quiet afternoon. An initial lap was done in February when I did the online tasting with all six of them. This time I tried only five, since I didn’t have enough clean sample bottles to also bring the sixth. So, the five bourbon casks were had, and the sherry cask remains for a later time. Let’s dive in.
Glen Elgin 12, 2009-2021, Hogshead 801791, 56.8% – Fable
Very clean, but it pushes the notes of grass, hay and straw to the max. Slightly acidic, with some milky notes, and a whiff of oak.
Straw, barley, white wheat bread, hay. Some vanilla and, again, a very fierce palate. Massively dry on top of the heat. Not a lot of flavor going on, though.
A lingering heat of dry barley and, very surprisingly, a note of blackberries and cassis. After that it’s back to the barley, but not entirely without some fruitiness.
The finish corrects a bit of the blandness that came before. The red fruits are rather nice. Before that it’s just a bit of a buttery and sharp whisky, that doesn’t do much for me. Very generic, and therefore quite boring.
Glen Spey 13, 2008-2021, Hogshead 801891, 56.8% – Fable
That lactic acid note is here too, with the green ferns and moss, but accompanied by a moldy note. Like wet linnen left too long without drying. Some oak and vanilla, again.
Still a strong palate, but it takes a little longer to really start the burn. Lighter than the Teaninich, with less caramel and more leafy greens.
Barley and leafy greens, with a rather strong presence. Warming, and slightly sweeter than before.
Luckily that moldy note didn’t come through on the palate. But unfortunately there is no surprising fruitiness anywhere. Again, the buttery note and sharpness come through fiercely, and apart from the missing fruit it is not overly distinguishable from the Glen Elgin
Teaninich 13, 2008-2021, Hogshead 705802, 52.2% – Fable
Strong with lots of barley, green leaves and a bit of lactic acid. ‘Roomboter babbelaar’, as that would be called in Dutch. Some Caramac bars, with that creamy caramel style. Only after a while slightly sweeter, cask driven nites of wood and vanilla start showing up.
The palate is quite hot, far more so than the ABV or the nose suggests. Lots of white pepper, with a lot of dryness too. Green leaves like ferns and moss, a touch of oak and some barley. That slightly acidic note adds to the heat and dryness, but is far less caramel-y than before.
The finish is much more mellow, but not more outspoken. Some oak, some lactic acidity, some ferns, some barley.
Very generic, with no distillery character to speak of. I’m starting to doubt the bottles at this point. As in, isn’t it all the same whisky? Is this some kind of prank that has been pulled on me (and hundreds of others)?
Inchgower 12, 2009-2021, Hogshead 801616, 58% – Fable
Back to a moldy one! Some vanilla at first, but then it’s back to the wet linnen, hay, and old barley. The lactic acid is it on the up-tick again as well.
After the first three, this one still brings razorblades. Why are these whiskies so ridiculously hot on the palate? White pepper, chilly pepper, some oak, barley, dead ferns and brittle, brown moss. A bit of milky caramel again too
Still pretty hot on the way down, but the slightly increased richness due to the note of caramel helps.
With the ABV going up, the flavors are not getting more interesting. Unfortunately the moldy flavor is back here, and while I tend to like a bit of funkiness in my drams (Springbank, anyone), in this case it doesn’t really work since there’s not a lot going on to back these flavors up.
Auchroisk 13, 2008-2021, Hogshead 806196, 59% – Fable
Warming with baked barley, some pastry cream. A bit of a juniper note too, with straw and hay.
Straw, dry gin, some oak, hay, ferns in autumn. A lot of heat, dryness, peppery bite.
The finish is warming, but not hot. It’s quite generic though.
It’s a rather generic whisky and, while a rather naked distillate, there’s not a lot that points in the direction of Auchroisk. The fiery ABV doesn’t help and it drinks very hot, even for the 59%.
As you might be able to tell, I got a bit annoyed towards the end. That’s not a good sign.
Five high ABV drinks in and I am far from thrilled. The fruitiness on the Glen Elgin was the best part of the whiskies. After that things went straight into genericness. While I don’t think the whiskies are bad per se, they are very very similar to each other. That makes for the most uninteresting tasting I have done in a long time.
I really don’t see the appeal of these drams and feel a bit ripped off compared to the first batch.
Why still the 81/82 scores then? As said, the whiskies aren’t particularly bad, and if you would have one bottle it might be nice for a change of pace. But when things get realeased in batches, you expect some diversity and the bottles to be interesting next to each other. That is absolutely not the case.
Bummer. Pretty labels though.