A Glenfiddich 18 year old and assumptions made...

Ok... we have been saying "need to buy a bottle of this one" for a while now. We have tasted it at many occasions like below, what I wrote after a festival.

"At the Whisky by the Sea festival we had a taste of the 18 year old Glenfiddich. Lovely dram! Sweet, warm, fruity, fudge and so much more. One to put on the to buy list for sure, great!" 

We have been to the distillery a couple of times now and have seen also the making of this wonderful whisky. And have seen what it says at the label "married in small batches"  But I made an assumption. I know, stupid! The assumption was that even when married in small batches, Glenfiddich, the size being it for a producer of whisky, that they would make a product that is very similar like the other batches. Noticed the batch number before, but never stood still, and realised the big differences there are between them. Just made the assumption, maybe little things different, but an 18 year old is an 18 year old, and that you get with every bottle a same like experience. Oh boy, what was I wrong!

At the Whisky Weekend Amsterdam we once more ended at the stand of Maxxium and chatted to Tony, the ambassador for Glenfiddich and Balvenie really here in the Netherlands. He put in front of us two different batches #3047 and #3300. We have never put two batches of this 18 year old side by side and were amazed. The batch #3047 was smooth, sweet and full with fruity, honey and rich dried fruits. Batch #3300 was more rich vanilla, and more spices and chilli pepper. Also fruit and sweet, but a completely different experience. I cant see back on the photo's of earlier festivals what batch we tried before, and have a sample of some here from our last tour being the designated drivers we could sample some but without a batch number.

So I went home, thinking about this for a bit. Thanks Tony for this quick wake up call, and letting me see that I made a quick and not correct assumption about this wonderful whisky. But also damn you a bit, but with a smile, that I now really have to go to the shop and purchase myself a bottle :-)

For today, with the shops closed I will dive into the sample in front of me. But this also made me think again about something else that I have noticed a bit going on. And must say that I also have done it, but now going back a bit on it. When starting to drink whisky you start mostly with the bigger brands, like for instance Glenfiddich. But then you wonder more and more to the other tables at festivals with the more limited and older bottlings, more independent bottlers and so. You all now what I am talking about. Those are really great and loving it, absolutely, not going to deny that! I am always for keeping it as it is, and keeping it clear what it is, and craft and so. Just like I always will say what I find of a whisky if that is positive or negative. It is my taste.

But what I wanted to say really is, just stop sometimes, and try a blend, or maybe something from the bigger brands from their standard range. I hear a lot "oh, no thank you, that's just a....." And you see people pulling their noses up. Well. Why not really look at them, yes ignoring the fact that it can be NAS, non chill filtered and maybe also coloured and not at a strength you might want to see. But it still has craft and passion in it. Making it, and maturing it in the right way. Try to see beyond the brand and just smell and taste, you can be amazed. It is not all bad you know? Whisky is to be enjoyed, there for it is made. And not all is maybe to every ones liking, but is that so bad? There is something for every one. But please don't limit your self in the explorations of the massive assortment of whisk(e)y and other spirits out there. It never hurts to try something sometimes, you never know when you will be surprised...

Thanks Tony, for keeping me with both feet on the ground again... Sometimes you just need a reality check.
And for the notes on 18 year old sample in front of me?

Warm, spices, soft, smooth, creamy, chocolate pudding, toffee, clover honey, raisin, vanilla, red apples, oranges and hint of chilli pepper and mint. Warm wintery spices and some ginger mixed with fruits and fresh citrus notes.

Like the nose, lovely balanced feel between nose and palate. Sweet, fruit and spices mixed giving it a warm feel and want you to snuggle in front of a fireplace and sip this. Different kind of fruits come more to the front the longer I hold the glass in my hand and let it breath. Maybe hinting towards a bit tropical fruit note like mango almost?

Medium length, sweet and chocolate creamy feel left behind. Very pleasant.

I give this one a 7,5 out of 10. As said before, no clue on batch number, but like it very much.

Abbey Whisky - Kilchoman 5 yo - Tasting Notes

This 5 year old whisky has been distilled in 2009 at the Kilchoman distillery on Islay, and was matured in cask #285 for a total of 5 years. It was bottled at 58,3% in 2014 for Abbey Whisky.

The nose is sweet and liquerish, full with spices, chili pepper, ginger, fruits, salt, chocolate and a hint of tobacco. Dense fruit notes and heather. Feels a bit also like standing on a beach with seaweed on the rocks, salty wind and in your hair, and eating a fresh salmon sandwich. That was the image going through my mind, with the notes of the peat and heather behind you mixing in the air. Fresh lime note in the back with peaty/salty zing to it... Banana, red apple, cream, and something that makes me think of rye bread a bit. Mhmmm....

On the palate at first some sweet honey and dried apricots feeling coming through with rich vanilla and sultana's. Fruit mixed with honeycomb, some mint, lime, banana, red apple, cream, thick, liquerish and chewy.

Palate and nose show a balanced feel or warm, spices, sweet and full range of different notes. Even with a good dash of water added it still is a warm explosion of chilli pepper, fruit and some dry sweet earthy notes.

A good length finish with some vanilla, liquerish, creamy, sultana's and cocoa notes. As said a good array of different notes in here, feels balanced and not too overpowering on the dryer earthy and peaty notes. Scoring it a 7,5 out of 10.

The Macallan 10 - Tasting Notes

Have been given the chance recently to taste the Macallan 12 year old, the 1976, an 18 year old, and this 10 year old next to each other and make some notes on these whiskies.

This 10 year old is bottled at 57% and has a spicy and sweet nose on it. A little bit of fresh wood lingering through there with some gingerbread and warm spices. Vanilla, raisins, fruits, dades and some freshness combined with some "young" notes. That was the only description I could make from that, it had a bit young feel to it. But could not lay my finger on it exactly.

The palate was warm, sweet, spices, chilli pepper, vanilla, liquerish and honey. At first there was some dry and bit spicy nutty note coming through and then it changed in light chocolate. Very chewable whisky I found it to be. Sweet but for me a bit too dry on the palate. A medium length finish, with sweet liquerish and a hint of minty freshness.

When adding water to this one trying to reduce a bit of the chilli pepper and spices and get more the notes underneath, I discovered it can take a lot of water, and the nose changed to gummibears a bit. The palate was more sweet notes but still a high note of macademia nuts and walnuts.  The finish was liquerish and honey and stayed medium sweet. With or without water added my score kept the same, an 7,5 out of 10 for this great dram. Thanks Werner for letting me write some notes on it!

The Macallan 12 - Tasting Notes

While having friends over for tasting and exchanging some whisky I got the chance to write some notes on this the Macallan 12 year old bottling from them.

The nose was light and sweet with a light tobacco and leather note in the back. Some stone fruits, honey, vanilla, raisin and toffee coming through. Also some ginger bread and light warm spice notes.

On the palate it was sweet, and not too heavy on the notes in it, but honey sweet and filled with dried stone fruits. Vanilla, raisin and toffee coming back strongly again. Banana foam candy, fruit cake, cream and chocolate.

A nicely balanced and fruity dram with many very present toffee notes. Not too dry on the tobacco and leather and a full nose and palate. Medium length finish with sweet notes like honey and soft chocolate. Giving it a 7,5 out of 10. Nice one. Thanks Werner for sharing!

Glenmorangie Companta - Tasting Notes

The Glenmorangie Companta is the result of spirit extra matured in Grand Cru casks from Clos de Tart and those of a fortified wine from Côtes du Rhône. Non chill-filtered and bottled at 46%. For some more information on this one you can have a look here or have a look around in their shop ;-)

Cassis, chilli pepper, rich vanilla, thick syrup, oranges, plums, red warm apples, spices, sweet. Honey and some heather floral notes. The feel of floral combined with some Highland's roughness. Some warm black current and forest fruit jam in combination with some pastry, reminding me of baklava a bit.

Fruits, black current, vanilla, crème brulee, thick, sweet, orange, citrus and mint freshness. Cassis, plums, powdered sugar, light dryness of leather feel combined with the chilli pepper coming back from the nose. The notes from the nose come back very nicely making it a sweet and fruity dram.

Sweet, middle length finish. Mostly rich vanilla and cherry coming through, giving me the feel of a sugary coated mouth from drinking to much cassis after each other.

7 out of 10. It is a nice and balanced dram for sure, but a bit too overly sweet I find. Something to serve with a lush desert maybe?

Highland Park Ambassador's Choice - Tasting Notes

Highland Park Ambassador's Choice, a 10 year old whisky. Making some notes on it after we all got a sample to take home from the Whisky Live Festival in The Hague last year due to their anniversary.

The nose is very mossy, moorish and dense at first. Some vanilla, heather, honey and thick flower notes emerged to the front. It has a bit rough coastal feel to it, and all the notes combined give you after a bit a feel of soft leather and fruits. But there is the overall feel of a bit "harsh" on the nose.

On the palate I find raisin, lime, lots of sweetness and dense herbal/mossy notes. Makes me feel like walking in a very wet bog a bit, combined with salt and chocolate. But with a hint of citrus and mint freshness in the end.

From the moorish notes it develops into a bit more soft lavender and other floral notes, sweet fudge and soft nougat. Soft fruits notes coming trough it all like red apples, banana, soft cherry notes and mango, pineapple and oranges.

Find the finish not to be long and sugary sweet on the teeth, with some dried apricots and mango. Maybe also a hint of coconut dryness in the very end with the light peaty feel?

This dram gets more gentle with time for sure but keep finding it a bit too closed and harsh on some sites to my liking. But that's just me. That's why I am giving it a small 7 out of 10. It has some depth and development in it, so not bad at all, but just not my preferred one of the Highland Park range...

Aberfeldy 12 (Batch #2905) - Tasting Notes

Aberfeldy 12 years old, a whisky I must say find it good value for money. Not too expensive and can please a lot of people. Maybe could use a bit more strength on it, but I like it must say, and glad I got myself a bottle, just for when you like a good dram after a long day at work...

The nose is sweet, fudge, chocolate mouse, citrus, pomolo, pink grapefruit, honey, red pepper (light in the back). After a bit of time some of the spices and floral notes from the palate I find also on the nose. Dry backing spices with ripe galia melon and some nice parma ham...

On the palate honey sweet, bit caramel, and loads of toffee and chocolate notes coming through at first. There is some spice like cinnamon and nutmeg going on in there combined with chili pepper. Some dry nuts coming through also after a bit of time and dry notes going more to some cereal feel in a way. Fruit notes like pear juice, red apple, citrus and banana coming through but also some floral notes, soft roses and violets almost.

The finish is soft and fudgy sweet, with cinnamon dryness and not too long... As said nice sipping dram, has enough in it, and is good value for money. Marking it a good 7+ out of 10 for sure. Something to try out when you see a bottle.

The Macallan - 1976 - 18 yo - Tasting Notes

So, what do you get when whisky and friends come together? Sometimes very nice line ups for sure to try out and talk about with each other. So was the case when Werner came around for a night last year and brought some whiskies to share along. He brought some older bottlings he found recently along of The Macallan to try out. 

Not a huge fan of newer The Macallan bottlings must say sadly so this was a great opportunity to taste some of the older ones every one keeps talking about against some of the newer ones he and us had around the house. Well, always in for a line up like this to compare it and talk about, I was also not saying no to this bottling from 1976, being my birth year. This one I just had to sit down with and make some notes on. It ended up being a night filled with trying out more whiskies from all over the world with each other and discussing them. Was great making notes on this one, and some others that night, but the most important thing as always is, that it was great fun and loved sharing and talking about it with whisky lovers. Thanks Werner for sharing these!

Dark sweet honey, leather, tobacco, vanilla, raisin, dried fruits, deep Sherry notes. Sweet forrest fruits lying underneath, bit creamy and light toffee notes.

Becomes sweeter with time, more toffee and dark chocolate notes coming to the front. The Sherry influence is very clear here but is not too overpowering.

Pepper, spices. sweet, bit bitter nutty note and leather/tobacco dryness at first. It fades back and releases sweeter notes underlying beneath the walnuts, honey, vanilla, raisin, cassis, red berry, raspberries an tea biscuits. Reminds me of Spekuk on the palate a bit. bit sweet and spices.

With some time the bitter notes become less present and becomes more a combination of dark chocolate and walnuts. And giving it even more time the sweet dark and red forrest fruit notes become stronger.

Medium length and sweet. Honey and demerara sugar sweetness on the teeth.

It is on the nose and palate balanced and warm, with a good complexity to it. A good 7,5 out of 10 for sure for me.

Spirit of Scotland - Ardbeg 1996/2005 - Tasting Notes

This is a bottling of Speymalt Whisky Dist. Ltd from Gordon & MacPhail. This was distilled at the Ardbeg distillery in 1996 and matured in cask #935 and bottled on 1-9-2005 at 52,9%. Got a taste of this one at a tasting held at the shop van Wees by Mr van Wees. Lovely night with lovely whiskies in the line up.

Peat, sweet, fruity, custard and salty coastal notes. Anise, herbal, heather, fresh, black pepper, dried fruits and dense cake. The custard and salty coastal notes combine very nicely together.

Blast of peat and sweetness, pepper, warm spices, honey, salty, chocolate, heather, herbal and fruits.

Long and warm

8 out of 10, beautiful dram, fresh, sweet, complex, warm and fruity. Sadly this one was in the end op an 8 - dram line up of an amazing tasting. So my palate was a bit "full"  with the impressions of the other ones at that time and had a difficult time to get more specific notes out if it. Got stuck with the warm, sweet, fruity and spices a bit. But it was a great dram for sure, enjoyed it very much!

SMWS 127.37 Port Charlotte - "Dinosaurs dancing to Stravinsky" - Tasting Notes

We got a very nice sample sent over by Yoav a while back of the SMWS 127.37 Port Charlotte, a 9 year old bottling called "Dinosaurs dancing to Stravinsky". Bottled at 66.5%, non-chill filtered and natural colour. Looked forward to making some notes on this one for a bit now... so lets go shall we?

Bonfire, charcoal, sweet fruits, red apple, sweet, dark honey, apricots, mango, spices, chilli pepper, warm, tobacco, prunes, tropical fruits, liquerish, anise, toffee

Sweet, smoke, warm, bonfire, fruit, honey, like the notes on the nose. Chilli pepper and first lots of charcoal, bit dry mixed with tobacco and some dark chocolate and fruit coming to the front after that. Dried fruits, heather, woody herbs, liquerish and sweet floral notes also. Then after searching a bit behind the charcoal I find more tropical fruits, anise, cinnamon, rich vanilla, raisin, toffee, cranberry, raspberry, black current, creamy and chocolate

Long finish, sweet and bit dry wood/charcoal notes with a hint of cherry. In the end finished with chocolate notes and crème brulee. 

Scoring 8,5 out of 10. A complex, full and balanced dram. It keeps developing, wow just beautiful. Thanks Yoav for sharing!