me here to comment on any Dram-atics article, I'll include as
many replies as possible
A Happy New Year
procedure as every year"
Please allow me a
little private pontification
2012 gently eases into recent memory and the bud that is 2013
promises to flower with hopes of even more highlights. There's
no denying that 2012 was a great year for me as after wallowing
in the self-pity and denial of unemployment (and insolvency),
things suddenly started to improve as my job changed slightly
for the better and I actually started living again. OK, so
things are still very tight as I continue to pay my dues, but
touch wood, 2013 will continue in an upwards and forwards
But what about
Well, January 2013 sees my second anniversary as a certified
Maniac, although some say I should have been certified long ago
and, earlier in the year I was delighted to be able to join the
largest real-life gathering of Malt Maniacs in their fifteen
year history as more than 20 of our like-minded group gathered
in Scotland to celebrate the next fifteen years and look back at
the last fifteen. This was certainly the whisky highlight of the
year for me as I finally met the majority of The Maniacs and had
unlimited opportunity over the course of a few days to discuss
our mutual mania. My thanks here also extend to Diageo who
kindly provided the perfect setting for our meeting and even
opened corporate doors which are usually kept firmly closed.
Speaking of whisky; this year's MMA (Malt Maniacs Awards)
was astoundingly successful with a depth of quality rarely
sampled together. This was borne out by the results which
provided 12 gold medals compared to the eight of 2011. I'll not
go into full details again here as our
MM website has full details
of the awards, medals and full judges' scorecard.
participation in MMA 2012 had a quite unusual effect in that
after sampling all the entries and many more than once in order
to finalise my personal scores, I began to queston my inner
feelings for whisky. Throughout December my senses turned away
from this marvellous hobby and moved more towards my love of
classical music and spending more of my free time with my wife.
Needless to say this time also meant my updates to this website
were very few and far between. I have managed to get my reviews
online for all twelve gold medal winners, but as yet that's all
and during my navel searching I even considered closing it down
or leaving it to wallow in a state of no further updates, such
was my apathy for a few weeks.
Fortunately my apathy has passed and as 2013 blossoms I'm
already planning some quite Maniacal features in the not too
distant future and yes, when I say Maniacal I'm talking serious
head to heads for which I hope to be joined by another Maniac or
two, but if not then it could be "Whisky for One" and "Same
procedure as every year,
Slàinte Mhath and a happy and healthy 2013 to all my readers.
gold in them thar Drams"
Could this be the
start of the Bavarian Gold Rush of 2013?
I certainly hope not as I couldn't really deal with hordes of
prospective tasters, Glencairns in hand, blocking this tiny
street in the backwaters of Erding, all hoping to gleem a few
drops of what seems to have become liquid gold.
No seriously, I've
often said it's a special occasion when my good Dramming friend
and fellow madman Oliver Klimek calls in for an evening of
whiskymania and yesterday was certainly no exception. A few
weeks ago we were discussing what I can only describe as The
Glendronach Effect on the Malt Maniacs Awards when I had the
crazy idea to pit them against each other and see if there could
be one overall winner amongst a line-up of award winners and
gold medallists, but just for fun let's add a couple of curve
I now present to
you "Glen-DROOL-nach" an evening of sherry, eight drams
including two MMA Supreme Champions and five gold medals all
competing in three head-to-heads and in search of a single
golden nugget, let's see how it pans out shall we?
Not bad for
1996 15y Cask 233
1994 17y Cask 107
The evening started
two Oloroso Sherry Cask offerings, both in their teens,
distilled just two years apart and bottled in 2011. When I first
tried these (blind) for MMA 2011 I found the nose of the 15y
Cask 233 to have a light rubberiness, perhaps even hints of
fishing harbour alongside the rich dark fruitiness of heavily
sherried nuts, raisins & figs. This seems to have changed
somewhat with time in my refilled sample bottle as the
rubberiness is gone and replaced by a distinct BBQ suggestion,
lots of furniture polish and something not quite coffee, nor
quite chocolate, but along those lines. The palate still has
some woodiness, perhaps a little more now and that almost-coffee
on the nose is very much distinct coffee-ness on the palate,
although at the same time it really is quite dry.
The 17y Cask 107
originally offered lots of rich wax polish, currants and almond
(marzipan) on the nose and this too has changed with time. It
now offers a massive initial burst of coffee and leather
followed after some minutes in the glass by a lightly floral but
rich fruitiness. Very nice indeed. The palate appears to have
gained a quite distinctive floral woodiness alongside the
original dark fruitiness. It's also dry but not as dry as the
For MMA 2011 I had the 17y Cask 107 as a clear two point winner,
but although I still prefer cask 107, it's a much closer contest
with its lead reduced to just a single point.
Two MMA Supreme
Two Gold Medals
Two sister casks
1972 39y Cask 712
1972 40y Cask 713
Take two (Oloroso
Butt) sister casks, fill them with new spirit in 1972
let them rest in a Scottish warehouse for around four decades.
Fill one in 2011 at the age of 39 years and enter it into MMA
2011. Fill the second a year later in 2012 at a ripe old 40
years and enter it into MMA 2012 and if that new spirit is from
Glendronach distillery, one would appear to have an almost
certain recipe for alchemy. In this case, not only gold but also
two supreme champions, but can these sisters be separated? Can
we find a single champion?
Cask 712, 39y,
bottled 2011 was, in my opinion a herbal delight offering a
lightly smoked woodiness, black cherries, amaretto and antique
leather. Today this exudes coffee, chocolate and faint tobacco
alongside a slightly lesser suggestion of that dark fruitiness.
The palate is rich, full bodied and mouth-coating.
Cask 713, 40y,
bottled 2012 remains intensely herbal and fruity (black
cherries, figs, dates) but also seems to fade or lighten quite
quickly. The herbal fruitiness sits alongside some woodiness on
the palate which leads into a long, intense and lightly peppery
Is it really fair to try to separate these two champions? They
are both truly excellent whiskies and worthy award winners, but
yes, Oliver and I are on a mission tonight and although we both
agree on the winner, we slightly disagree (as usual) on the
actual scores. We agree that Cask 712 is the clear winner, by
three points for me but Oliver has an extra point or two between
Three more gold
medals but this time from PX sherry Puncheons; just
how do these stack up not only against each other, but also
against the two Oloroso Butts?
1972-2011, 39y When I first tried this (blind) for MMA 2011
I found it oozing dark fruitiness, just like our English
Christmas cake. It also had lots of aged oak and leather. Today
it explodes with a rich coffee-ness, dark chocolate and indeed
that leatheriness but also a faint suggestion of a mild cheese,
maybe something like Emmentaler. The palate has a light
pepperiness alongside the wood and dark fruitiness.
1971-2011, 40y The first of two more sister casks, both
filled in 1971 but this one bottled at 40 years old in 2011. It
has bundles of fruitiness, but also a quite strong suggestion of
rubberiness, which has changed quite significantly from my
original experience of dark fruits and lightly toasted raisins a
1971-2012, 41y When I tried this for MMA 2012 just a couple
or so months ago I was delighted to find a smooth creaminess
with hints of honey and more toasted dark fruitiness. I still
agree with those thoughts but today I also find lots of herbal
elements once again akin to that dandelion & burdock drink from
my youth. It's still deliciously long and creamy and an absolute
... and now for
something completely different.
Well, maybe not
Cask Strength Batch 1
Strength, Batch 1This
has a lovely dark coppery colour and the nose immediately offers
dusty fudge with a slight dryness. Somehow this reminds me of a
single cask rum, a trait which Oliver immediately agrees with.
After some 10 minutes in the glass the nose expands to offer
something indeed quite different which, after studying it for a
few more minutes I can only describe as "baked pearwrapped in
marzipan and served on a bed of Weetabix with a leaf or two of
fresh spearmint". Oliver gave a "Paddington" stare.
is richly fruity, abounding with figs, damson, dates and even a
hint of Hoi-Sin sauce.
With 5 drops of
water the nose turned more musty and nutty whilst the palate
was slightly more sweet with a lightly peppered nuttiness.
A further 5
drops of water suddenly give the whisky a very maritime
characteristic as it now suggests an old sea-soaked salty pier.
Both Oliver and I agreed that this is a whisky which needs time
and also one worth spending the time with.
evening draws to a close as we attempt to decide upon our golden
nugget(s). Between us we have three clear favourites, but
firstly what of the others?
233 or Cask 107? We both agree here on the 17y Cask 107, it
just has more and is a point or two better.
Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 1: As I mentioned, it's a
good whisky which most definitely benefits from both time and
water. Give it both and you'll be rewarded.
the prized golden nugget: We both agree that Cask 712 is
magnificent, but then I initially preferred the PX Cask 2033 and
Oliver the PX Cask 1247. Gentle debate followed and we finally
agreed that each of these three drams deserved a rather Golden
92 points, but we are here to find "the best of the best" so yet
further debate ensued until we settled upon 92.75 points, 92.5
points and then 92 points.
Congratulations to (Oloroso) Cask 712 which we felt edged Cask
1247, which in turn just pipped Cask 2033.
The Fab Fourties
comes the Dram"
I think it's fair
to say yesterday
more a labour of love than a hard day's night as I lined
up not four, but a fab five flight of forties. All children of
the sixties except for the 40y youngster Glenury Royal they come
together for one final magical mystery tour.
1969-2012 "Liquid Sun"
matured for 43 years in a refill hogshead this is wonderfully
rich and golden in colour. As for the nose it's very aromatic
with lightly perfumed notes, lots of vanilla alongside gentle
hints of wood and
even reminiscent of an evening rape field
after a day of hot sunshine. That vanilla extends to the palate
but is accompanied by a massive and exotic fruitiness akin to a
cocktail of apricot, mango, papaya and maybe even galia melon.
The finish is very long and also filled with that exotic
My overall impression is one of de-light-fulness,
I love that fruitiness and would happily sit on the patio on a
summer evening with a dram or three of this to keep me company.
For MMA 2012 I scored this an excellent 86, but I'm now raising
this by a couple of points to 88, so good it certainly is:
distilled 6.10.1967, cask No.6579, "Exclusive Malts" for
Another Tomintoul and another refill hogshead but two years
older, how does it compare? The colour is also rich golden but
the nose couldn't be more different; in fact I think I just
cleaned and polished my dining room table with this, so strong
is the initial burst of furniture polish. No, it's not bad, it's
very good, just massively polished. As the polish settles I
suddenly find a suggestion of well-baked jacket potato skin
background fruitiness. As time passes the polish
fades further and a gentle musty oakiness expands. The palate is
different again with incredible intensity, lots of exotic
fruitiness and even a suggestion of coconut. The fruitiness
extends into the long and also intense finish.
My overall impression is one of a delightful, unassuming
and awfully civilised dram. Good old high quality understatement:
Glenury Royal 40y,
youngster is a rather fetching 40 year old Glenury Royal and
glows a pale amber in the glass. Ooohh this is deep, a little
antiseptic and very Atlantic. There's a dark fruitiness on the
nose too which exudes raisins and cherries, but that
Atlantic-ness is just quite stunning. It's maritime, lightly
salty and a little woody, just like an aged Atlantic pier. The
palate has an earthiness, not quite peaty but again very
Atlantic and quite massively intense as it sits right on the
front of the palate leading into the long finish.
This is definitely
a Great which I scored 91 for MMA 2012 and again a
90-91 points here. Moonlight Bay.
cask No.2, "Adelphi"
in my glass, does it stain? Now that surely should be a song
title? Lots of aromatic toasted oakiness on the nose with hints
of amaretto and some smoky woodiness in the background. Nice,
very nice. The palate initially abounds with creamy cherries,
expanding to plums or damsons marinated in rich red wine. The
overall effect is rich and deep, but very dry as is the very
I generally tend to
like Glenrothes at 17y or above and this is no exception as it's
a very good whisky with lots of rich character and even a light
smokiness. The only slight negative is the dryness, but it's
still quite excellent although I have downgraded my 88 points
from MMA 2012 to 87 points here. Twist and Shout.
for LMDW" I
love the coppery tinge in the rich dark teak colour of this
whisky. This was matured in a first-fill sherry butt and not
surprisingly the nose just exudes age and richness. There's a
suggestion of roasted coffee beans, oil of orange, aged oak,
candle wax and even a lightly toasted perfumed quality. Can you
toast perfume? The palate is just big, very big as it explodes
with a dark fruitiness of figs, plums, dark cherries and some
accompanying toasted almonds or perhaps chestnuts. The finish
can only be described as massive, rich, long and slightly dry.
This whisky is just
massive, bold and definitely not an advocate of understatement.
Great? Yes, undoubtedly, although my 94 points
from MMA 2011 is now a firm 91. I am the Walrus.
Roaring forties? It
would certainly seem so with some of these giants, but I was
also impressed with the subliminally light characteristics of
them too, especially the Tomintouls as they certainly stood up
well to the competition of two well-aged sherry monsters. I
really couldn't separate the two Tomintoul and awarded each the
same 88pts. As for the sherry monsters; the Glenrothes was just
a little too dry compared to the Strathisla.
Royal; magnificent and equalling the 91 points I awarded the
Strathisla, in fact if there is to be a single winner then I
just favour the Glenury Royal for those Atlantic notes and
From me to You,
out the old, ring in the new"
I promised a few
truly Maniacal articles for the new year
what better way to begin than by looking towards a distillery
which was mothballed in 1986 and which lay dormant until 2008
when it was re-opened by The Glenglassaugh Distillery Company.
Refurbishment began on 29th February
2008 and after being
officially reopened on 25th November, spirit began flowing from
the stills on 4th December with the first casks being filled on
But why should
this tasting be Maniacal? Well, old stocks of Glenglassaugh
still exist and are readily available, but at a significant
price and yes, they have a certain reputation for quality, so
why not compare two of these oldies with their first two
releases of whisky after their reopening?
today is Revival; the first official whisky to be
released by the new owners. It's three years old and bottled at
46% abv. Secondly comes Evolution which is a limited
release, matured in George Dickel (Tennessee) casks and bottled
at 57.2% abv. Thirdly and the first of the two oldies is the
Madeira edition of The Massandra Connection. Distilled in
October 1978 and bottled in July 2012 it's 33 years old and
finished in Madeira (style) wine casks. Finally
there's one of Glenglassaugh's Manager's Legacy bottlings
honouring Walter Grant, the distillery manager from March
1962 to August 1967. The whisky distillation was overseen by
Walter in May 1967 and filled into a refill hogshead cask where
it was left to mature for 42-43 years before being bottled in
2010 at 40.4% abv.
is now the third
time I've tried this whisky, the first being a pre-release
before bottling, the next two this actual released
version, but today is the first time I've directly compared it
to some older bottlings.
It has a pale
yellow golden colour and the nose immediately exudes a rich
malty fruitiness including what I can only describe as hints of
bread dough and Atlantic driftwood. With time in the glass the
Atlantic drift-woodiness fades to be replaced by a suggestion of
red wine. The palate is richly fruity with damson & bramble (blackberry)
jam alongside a quite solid burgundy wine presence which
continues through the finish too.
Unlike the last
time I tried this I didn't add any water today, but my previous
notes say that this really improved further with a few drops.
follow-up to Revival this has been matured in Tennessee (George
Dickel) bourbon casks but doesn't carry an age statement.
The colour is
extremely pale yellow and the nose initially offers spirity
bread dough and hay. It steadily expands to include the
fruitiness of peach, pineapple and pink grapefruit. Yes, it's
now a very fruity bread dough waiting to be baked. That bread
dough effect isn't to be found on the palate which abounds a
fruitiness akin to pink grapefruit and predominantly; cantaloupe
melon. The fruitiness lingers long on the palate right into and
through the finish.
This comes across
as a little spirity but also very fruity, in a slightly citrus
way with that pineapple and grapefruit, but it has lots of
character and the fruitiness is certainly welcome.
- Madeira finish: I
recently reviewed this whisky (blind) as part of MMA 2012 where
I loved it and awarded it a Great 90 points, so let's now see
how it stacks up against its distillery counterparts.
This is dark teak
in colour and the rich nose just screams aged oak, leather and a
nuttiness marinated in sherry or heavy red wine. In fact the
rich aged character of the wood and leather also offer the
vitality of youthfulness. Nice. The palate is once again very
fruity, but with damson, plum and bramble alongside suggestions
of red wine and oak. There's the
slightest hint of coconut on the finish which reminds me of
flavoured coconut sticks we buy in the local Christmas markets.
Excellent, luxurious & still a Great.
is the oldest of today's treats being distilled in May 1967 and
bottled in 2010.
The colour is dark
amber, bordering upon dark treacle toffee and the nose is filled
with an oakiness and dark fruits like cherries and plums.
Not only am I reminded of childhood treats like treacle toffee (by
the colour), but now the nose is suggesting another rare treat
called brandy snap which was a staple offering at local
fairgrounds through the summer into Autumn. The palate offers a
creamy, slightly toasted luxury with that fruitiness alongside
hints of port wine. The finish is long, rich and sweet.
This is truly
wonderful, yes Great again, especially with so many childhood
memories being evoked.
This new versus old
comparison has been quite illustrating and extremely interesting
as it's the first time I've tried these head-to-head.
The Revival shows lots of maturity beyond
its three years, something which I personally attribute to the
fact that it comprises a number of red wine cask variants in the
mix, or recipe. This also explains the differences I found
between the pre-release version I tried and this released one.
Evolution is a 'pure' bourbon cask edition and has a
light spirit-iness alongside oodles of fruitiness with pineapple,
pink grapefruit and cantaloupe melon.
The Massandra 'Madeira' obviously exhibits lots of red
wine and rich dark fruitiness but that suggestion of coconut
right at the end was surprising and delightful. The "Walter
Grant" was brimming with not only great aromas and flavours,
but also some wonderful childhood memories.
impressions immediately spring to mind here; firstly the
fruitiness of Glenglassaugh spirit which matures wonderfully in
the cask. The fruitiness is apparent in all four expressions
tested here and varies from the citrus aspects of Evolution
which had no red wine / sherry exposure, to the richness of
those which did. I'd love to try a well-aged version of
Evolution in years to come. This brings me to my second
impression which is just how well the Glenglassaugh spirit
combines with wine finishing. I'm not the biggest fan of wine
finishes in general, but they really seem to work well here.
As a final comment do I have a winner or favourite
these? They are all good whiskies but I think
I still prefer the Revival to Evolution, the extra body and
depth just edges it for me. As for the oldies; they were and are
still Greats in my book, each scoring a
magnificent 90 points, but if had to select an absolute winner
I'd give an extra half point to Walter Grant. Glen-Class-augh
indeed! Slàinte Mhath.
2009-2013 by Keith Wood - All rights reserved - Whisky-Emporium