Weekend Whisky Reviews: Craigellachie, Glendronach, Laphroaig, Imperial and more!
Cleaning out a few bottles, and leaving some thoughts, my favourite in the batch has to be the Glendronach yet again — there’s an incredible consistence and structure to their outturn, followed by the fruity novelty that is the Craigellachie. A good showing from the Imperial.
I wasn’t impressed with Oban, but the Clynelish 14 OB was solid. For peat lovers, the final dram, an IB Laphroaig, is quite fantastic and delicious.
Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 7 / 57.9% / $?
This is a cask strength release from Glendronach, matured in Oloroso/PX sherry casks. There is no more information on the label except this lot code:
- Color: light brown
- Nose: burnt brown sugar, floral and honeyed, vanilla, cigar smoke
- Taste: toasted marshmallow and port wine, leather, crushed peppermint, and blackberry
- Finish: very long, deep, sweet with a hint of salt
Sadly I bought this in person quite some time ago and don’t recall the price, except for the impression that I thought it was a good deal, so probably around the $70 mark.
This is not a sherry bomb, this is a very lovely sherried whisky that is subtle, clean, flavourful, and layered with complexities. If you see a bottle around under $100, it’s a definite buy. Also — how do other batches compare, if you’d had them before?
Craigellachie 18 Old Malt Cask 1999 / 45.9% / $91
This is one of 91 bottles from sherry butt #HL14846, distilled december 1999 and bottled march 2018 for Hunter Laing & Co’s Old Malt Cask line of independent bottlings. It is natural colour, unfiltered, and cask strength.
I bought it on the secondary market, as I’ve been a fan of OMC for quite a while. This is my first Craigellachie, from reading online it seems like it most of their product ends up in Dewars!
- Color: amber
- Nose: mint, strawberries, fresh-baked apple pie, hot monsoon rain
- Taste: sherry, strawberries, cream and mint, sweet grass, a hint of tropical citrus fruits
- Finish: the finish is extremely long and creamy, sugar glaze and a hint of nutmeg
This is pretty uncomplicated; sweet dessert sherry, strawberries, and mint are extremely forward. I am interested in the ABV on this cask, which at just under 46% at 18 years seems quite low, and a 91 bottle yield is very very low. There are not any Laing 1999 18 yrs, so it’s not a split cask… so maybe a spilt cask?
Glen Rothes 1997 Signatory Velier Anniversary / 53.1% / $200
Tasted with a bit of filtered tap water
This is a special Glenrothes from Signatory, released in honour of the 70th anniversary of Italian importer Velier. It comes in an eye-numbing orange-red on green label, and was distilled in 02/06/1997, bottled on 17/04/2017 after sitting for 19 years in a refill sherry butt.
The outturn is 605 bottles at natural cask strenght, with natural colour, no filtration.
- Color: dark brown
- Nose: candle wax, SHERRY, ketchup, burnt rubber, and sulphur
- Taste: thick, butter and nuts off the top, dry sherry, a musty cigar room; snap peas
- Finish: medium, some sweetness that quickly tapers off, traces of orange peels
This is a pretty good, sulphury Glenrothes, juiced up at cask strength, but it’s also got tons of unpalatable off notes. I’m glad to have tried it, but I like a more subtle/balanced style sherried whisky.
Imperial 20 1995 Signatory Vintage / 46% / $110
This lovely dram was distilled on 18.09.1995 and bottled 18.02.2016 after sitting in Hogsheads numbers 50255, 50257, and 50258. This is bottle #319 out of some unknown quantity, and is natural colour and unfiltered. But … sadly not cask strength!
- Color: straw
- Nose: creamy and floral, with hints of lemon peel, chalky dry white wine, apricot
- Taste: malty and oily, loads of oak and vanilla ice cream; grassy butter
- Finish: medium, burnt sugar, crisp green apples
This has that nice, rich, buttery Imperial classic flavour that I like to see. It would be better at cask strength, but thanks to no chill-filtration, it’s quite a nice dram for reading.
Oban Distiller’s Edition 2005 / 43% / $82
I picked this up as filler to try for a TWE order where I was targeting the Talisker Special Release 2019, because shipping a single bottle to Japan is not good value for the money.
This is the Oban Distiller’s edition, distilled in 2005, bottled in 2019 (code OD 168.FE), apparently finished for 6–18 months in a first-fill Montilla Fino Sherry cask.
- Color: tawny
- Nose: chocolate, orange peels, wet clay, pu’er tea
- Taste: thin, dry oranges, clover honey, bitters
- Finish: medium; short, cloying sweetness
This is by no means terrible, but it’s bland, and lacks structure. Would not rebuy.
Clynelish 14 / 46% / $60
Clynelish, the famed Brora’s twin, has finally got a few OB releases on the market, and this one, aged 14 years in ex-bourbon/sherry casks, is quite affordable. This almost certainly coloured and chill-filtered.
- Color: e150a
- Nose: ethanol, creme brulee, jasmine, mint, light peatiness
- Taste: rich and oily, sherry, salty ocean breeze, and lemon;some classic waxy character
- Finish: medium, some of the sherry comes out a little more,
This is a lovely OB of Clynelish — it’s got a lot of the floral, fruity notes and waxy mouthtaste you find in the more exalted IBs. The notes are not as pure as those, because this is younger, and a vatting. Also, I quite appreciate the higher 46% ABV in a standard bottling!
Ian Macleod’s As We Get It / 59.4% / $45
This “Secret Islay” is described as:
STRAIGHT FROM THE CASK'AS WE GET IT' is bottled directly from its original casks at cask strength under the sole responsibility of Ian Macleod & Co. Ltd. Only the very best casks of this smooth bodied Islay Single Malt, which have been matured for many years, are selected for 'AS WE GET IT'.
This has a lot code of 16/03/15. So what is it?
- Color: chestnut
- Nose: burning tires, peat smoke, iodine, oak planks, hot liquor
- Taste: super tarry, oily mouthfeel; fresh strawberries, flaming kelp, sea urchin
- Finish: long and bright
This one is Laphroaig. Who knows what other batches / releases could be. This is actually quite remarkable, it’s like a punchier cask-strength Laphroaig quarter cask!