Glen Keith 1992 – Whisky-Fässle

Oh, the f-ing joy of sample trading…

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It’s either this (from WhiskyBase)

I’ve had this sample for about three years and I know I traded it with someone. I also know it’s a 1992 Glen Keith, bottled by Whisky-Fässle. However, that’s all the information there is, and I can’t figure out whether it’s the 19 or 20 year old.

For some reason I expect this to be the 20 year old, since that would mean it was bottled a year closer to the year in which I traded it. I shamefully only get to review it now, after a few years on my shelf, after a few years on someone else’s shelf.

The fun thing, whether this is version A or B, it’s very much a Glen Keith. I’ve tried quite a few over the years, they weren’t exactly hen’s teeth when 1992 was about 19 to 22 years ago. Every bottler had some and most of them were rather similar to this. So, a quintessential duck-labeled Glen Keith.

Tip for samplers out there: Label your samples properly. Not everything gets drunk immediately, and at some point you forget what’s what.

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Or this (also from WhiskyBase)

Sniff:
Lots of pastry cream with the typical way Glen Keith carries American oak. Or the other way around. Lots of vanilla and creamy scents. Quite sweet with the wood itself playing second fiddle. Becomes more dry with hints of tea after a while.

Sip:
Gentle at first, but some chili heat kicks in after a few seconds. The dessert sweetness remains with brioche and pastry cream. Some dry oak and English blend tea.

Finish:
The finish goes more towards the tea and drier notes, with the dessert/vanilla/pastry cream taking a big step back. Now I get some apple and star fruit.

It’s got more depth than I expected it to have. It’s not just vanilla and bourbon cask influence. There’s a lot more to it if you give it some time and attention. Especially the addition of the fruitiness on the finish pushed it up a little bit. Apart from that, as with most of these Glen Keiths, there’s a shitload of vanilla custard, which isn’t necessarily bad, but just the median whisky nowadays. Although I do think this execution is quite loveable.

88/100

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Knob Creek 9yo, cask 3127, 60% – K&L Wine Merchants

There’s about a bazillion Knob Creek single casks out and about, mostly in America. Unfortunately they’re mostly not available in Europe, but sometimes I somehow get a sample from one.

Also, now I’m thinking about it, I think all the 60% ones are Single Barrel releases. I’m not 100% sure but I think it’s the case. Anyway, I got a sample and I drank it a few months ago. I’m only writing about it now, because I was planning to do some big Bourbon splash that I’m not getting around to. Also, I’m not getting around to some posts I do want to write, because life is getting in the way.

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Sniff:
Very strong bourbon. Big flavors, with lots of corn, oak and caramel. Big sweetness and slightly bitter. Cigar leaves, cherries and some rancio.

Sip:
60% is noticable. There’s a lot of oak, a lot of corn, sweetness, bitterness. Some deep flavors of autumn leaves, cigars, allspice.

Swallow:
The finish is similar, but adds a layer of dates and dark cherries.

While I wasn’t a big fan of a few of the earlier releases of the 60% version of Knob Creek. That surprised me quite a bit since I absolutely love the 50% version. I loved it ever since it had an age statement. Which got downsized to some tiny font at the bottom of the label with a promise from Jim Beam that it wouldn’t go away (the age statement that is), after which it of course got removed. Currently, it’s ‘patiently aged’, whatever that means.

Anyway, this is a stellar Bourbon that I absolutely loved drinking. It’s strong, obviously, but it’s not just fire and alcohol. There’s a lot more with fruit and autumnal flavors that I love in good Bourbon.

90/100

Knob Creek 9yo, cask 3127, 60%, K&L Wine Merchants

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Caol Ila 1990, 28yo, 48% – The Whisky Nerds

I always get a little excited when a new Whisky Nerds bottling is announced. So far, all they’ve bottled is about the best you can spend you booze-allocated-money on. The Lagavulin was a bit of an exception, since it was a more-than-excellent whisky, except it was priced waaaaay out of my league.

A shame that it was released at the same time as their Springbank, since that one sold out instantly and I wanted a bottle of it. And now there’s this Caol Ila. I’ve had a wee sip of it during a whisky tasting at De Whiskykoning last month.

So, now I sit here with a sample of it poured, with a nice tune in the background (Courtney Marie Andrews’ Tiny Desk Concert). Trying to write proper tasting notes, that do this whisky justice.

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
I’ve had it in front of me while writing the introduction above, and there’s quite a lot of ashy smoke, with a fruity sweetness coming from the glass. Very promising. Tropical yellow fruit and little to no bite on the nose. I get pineapple, apple, all rather crisp. A hint of oak, with a very slight salinity. The smoke gets a bit of an engine grease scent, which I like in Caol Ila.

Sip:
The palate is quite gentle, but has more oak than the nose. Still not a lot though. Mostly fruity with a smoky scent. Like eating pineapple with the barbecue dying out. A hint of grill-grease. A tad sweet, a tad dry, very gentle and no flavors overpowering anything else. A very well balanced palate. Apple, maybe some almond slices. Quite coastal too, which adds a bit of depth.

Swallow:
The finish veers towards the smoke a little bit more. It’s slightly drier than I expected with oak, and maybe some nutmeg. A hint of apple, and something more sweet that I can’t put a name to.

This is a gentle giant. There are no big flavors, but the balance is stellar. It has a very old fashioned style with the retained smoke and gentle fruity flavors. Nowadays, most Islay whiskies go big on the smoke and this is actually a lot nicer.

I absolutely love the whisky, and when I heard Bram and Floris were bottling a Caol Ila I knew I was in for something good. I know they love whiskies like this, and luckily I do too. Stellar stuff.

Now the elephant in the room. It’s been addressed in the other reviews of this bottle I’ve seen too (here and here). I’ve seen older Caol Ila’s bottled by Cadenhead’s for about € 200 for years. This one is quite a bit younger than those, and significantly more expensive. Clocking in at € 550 I find this a surprisingly expensive whisky for The Whisky Nerds. Let’s hope they tone the price tags down on future bottlings a bit…

Not entirely surprising, this one is still rather easy to get. Find sellers here.

91/100

Caol Ila 1990-2019, 28 years old, Refill Oloroso cask 13129, 48%, The Whisky Nerds.

Thanks to Bram and Floris for supplying a sample.

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Caol Ila 10, 58.2% – OB, Feis Ile 2018

It’s been two weeks since I posted. I knew it’d been a while, but I didn’t realize it was that long. In those two weeks I’ve barely had a moment to myself, didn’t write any notes and didn’t even properly sit down for a dram of whisky with some attention. At least not beyond recognizing ‘there’s been better’ or ‘this is rather good’.

What I did do is see a lot of family, work a lot, play some Magic if it was planned beforehand. The kids have gotten quite some attention from me with their mum being out and about quite a bit in these two weeks too.

But anyway, a whisky review. I know the WhiskyNerds are waiting for a different Caol Ila review, but I don’t want to drink a € 550 per bottle whisky without giving it my everything. Which means I’m paying attention to this one, but it’s slightly rushed.

Caol Ila from 2018’s Feis Ile. A whisky from Refill US Hogsheads and Rejuvenated EU Butts. So “random casks”. No information on prior contents but I guess it’s safe to go for some sherry and some bourbon. A 10 year old, which isn’t bad these days. Let’s get in.

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Image from WhiskyBase

Sniff:
A mix of salinity, engine fumes, diesel, mezcal and peat smoke. It has a crisp fruitiness that reminds me of unripe pears and starfruit. Rather intense, but while there’s a lot of big flavors, it’s not overpowering. It’s quite appealing and rather gentle. The smoke is a combination of charcoal and diesel. Interesting.

Sip:
The palate is surprisingly sharp, but also very fruity. Starfruit, unripe Conference pears, granny smith apples. Even some white grapes. The smoke is hiding behind some oak. So, there’s oak, there’s smoke. Again, rather diesel-y, which makes it a bit mezcal like too. Smoked lemon, rather plant-like.

Swallow:
The finish is a bit richer, a bit more sweet. The fruit is still present, but the pears are more sweet, the grapes more like muscat grapes, the apples less granny-y. The smoke is a bit more like greasy soot, but not with any barbebcue flavors.

This is quite the whisky. There’s quite a lot happening and even though it’s only ten years old, it lost most of the youthful harshness already. The wood is not very present, but the distillate with the style of smoke that Caol Ila produces nowadays is something I like quite a lot!

I’m not 100% sure what the inital sales price was, but if it’s below the € 100 mark, this is a cracking whisky at it’s price. I can imagine getting one now, at around € 150/175.

89/100

Caol Ila 10, Feis Ile 2018, Refill US Hogsheads and Rejuvenated EU Butts, 58.2%. Available through many channels for around € 150 or a bit more.

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Tamdhu Batch Strength 001, 58.8%

Sometimes someone else posts a bottle-share in ‘my’ bottle-share group and sometimes I buy or trade a sample of said share. In this situation, I got my hands on a 2015 bottling of Tamdhu, the first of their Batch Strength releases.

I think, in this case, Batch Strength means that it’s actually a cask strength whisky, but made of multiple casks. I might be able to find that out by Googling it, but I don’t really case, to be honest. High strength Tamdhu, from sherry casks. Sounds good to me!

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Image from WhiskyBase

Sniff:
Simple fruity oloroso. Lots of apricots, prunes and dates. Some barley and a whiff of old hessian. Gets stale after a few seconds, strangely. Still fruity, but dusty and ‘old’ in the wrong way.

Sip:
Quite dry and strong, but not overly so. Fruit, oak, barley and some dry hessian, straw, coconut husk. Peaches, apricots and baking spices.

Swallow:
Warming, slightly hot even. More sweet fruitiness and less dry notes. Quite some wet oak, and a bit of dirt.

What we should keep in mind with this whisky is that it’s one of those affordable cask strength releases that have become popular over the last couple of years. BenRiach, Glengoyne, GlenDronach are all doing it, and if I put my mind to it, I’d probably find a few others too. All of them have in common that there’s no age statement and they clock in around € 70 or so.

With that in mind I think this is a fairly priced whisky, in the current market. However, when I spend a bit of money in the € 70 range, I would hope for a bit more impact. A bit more depth. A bit more like, for example, Springbank 12 CS.

I think that when you’re looking to buy a Tamdhu, you’d be better of trying to track down the regular 15 year old and spend € 20 more. Of course, if you open the floodgates, where does it end? But I do think there’s better Tamdhu to be had at similar prices.

84/100

Tamdhu Batch Strength 001, 58.8%, available in several shops around € 70

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Speyside Region Blended Malt, 1973, 43yo, 47.4% – The Whisky Agency for The Whisky Exchange

Of course, I’m far too late in reviewing this sample that was sent to me by The Whisky Exchange. However, I very much doubt the bottles lasted a second longer because of it.

A blended malt from the early seventies, from Speyside. I’d be surprised if there’s no Glenfarclas in this. However, the rest could be anything, of course.

It’s six years older than I am, but that doesn’t mean it’s old in its style. Also, it’s insanely promising to get a whisky that’s from a ridiculously good bottler, and from a renowned shop known for its epic selections.

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gfctwa1973-e1553459805900.jpgSniff:
Very old and a very classic whisky. Sweet with honey and old, but not funky oak. Ripe peaches, a hint of apple, apricot jam and stewed apple. Quite a bit of beeswax, candied lemon and mandarin.

Sip:
Not sharp, but there is some warmth and a lot of fruit. Apple core, peaches and oak. Beeswax, candied citrus fruit, both sour and sweet. Honey, mandarin, apricot jam again. A whiff of smoke and old casks.

Swallow:
The finish has a bit more freshness, more the citrus fruit than the waxy notes. These are still present, but the fruitiness is ramped up a little bit. Strangely, it’s a bit beery, in the way the oak shines through.

Honestly, this is a cracker. The layers of flavor that explode from the whisky as soon as you start sniffing it is fantastic. The tropical fruitiness hits first, then you get the waxy and woody notes. After all that you get the citrus. It keeps giving.

I don’t remember exactly what it cost when it came out, but it was, I think, some 300 or 400 pounds. Now it’s only available in the secondary market for almost 600 euros. Of course, it’s going up in price, but I can imagine buying this at the original price and be quite chuffed with it. That doesn’t happen often with prices like this. Awesome, awesome stuff.

92/100

Speyside Region Blended Malt, 1973-2017, 43yo, 47.4%, The Whisky Agency for The Whisky Exchange

Thanks to The Whisky Exchange for shipping a sample over. It’s amazing.

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Willett 8yo, Cask 1408, 58.8%

Willett is one of those American whiskey projects that blends products from elsewhere while they build their distillery. The big difference is that Willett has been around for ages and gathered lots of fame with their very old rye whiskeys in the past.

I have to admit that I’ve not kept track of their most recent endeavours (the last three years or so), but before that I read a little bit about them and did a bottle-share.

It ended up being one of those bottle-shares that should have made me more wary of organizing bottle-shares of random stuff like American Rye Whiskey, with one of them having undergone a Curacao finish. Of course, as happens with these things, it didn’t fill up and I ended up with my fair share of expenses covering for that.

Of course, what I should have done is cancel the order and just get one bottle for myself instead of five with 30cl gone.

Anyway, water under the bridge, money down the drain. It happens and keeps happening since I am very bad at keeping money in my pocket.

Tasting notes then! An eight year old single cask from bought stock, if I’m not mistaken. Back when I bought this their own distillate was about two years old.

20190320_205431Sniff:
Dry oak, quite fiery with lots of spices. Grain, dry thyme and old mint. A hint of sweetness, some coffee powder.

Sip:
Quite gentle for the percentage, but it gets more fiery fast. A lot of spices, and very, very dry. Very similar to the nose. Pink peppercorns, chili heat. Dry thyme and old mint.

Swallow:
The finish is a bit more ‘normal’. Quite gentle again, more chili heat too. A very long and herbaceous finish.

So, a rather typical rye whiskey, but made very, very well. It ticks the typical rye whiskey boxes with there being some crisp herbaceous notes, some spicy and hot notes, and a lot of dry grain, along with the sweetness of the American oak. Great stuff.

As with everything good, the price has gone over the top. If I’m not mistaken, this was already €100 when I bought it, and now it’s about three times that. And yes, American whiskey in Europe is ridiculously priced.

88/100

Willett 8yo, Family Estate Bottled Single Barrel Rye, Cask 1408, 58.8%

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