Sunday, July 22, 2012

12 whiskybase whiskies in 4 hours

Long time whiskyfriend Ras Mazunga, and fellow PLOWED member likes to send me samples from his shops own independent bottling label ARCHIVEs, some of which has been sitting on my shelf for some time now. I better do something about it. Normally I would only review 1 or 2 whisky at a time, but today I will do 12!!. A lot of puritans will shake their head on this, but this is in fact a great mirror of how I often drink whisky with friends, where we sit down and go through 20-30 drams and just have fun, and do some light comparisons between the drams

Ras filling our bourbon cask at Las Vegas Distillery

So this is a set of fast reviews where I will spread thoughts about these malts and compare them to each other.

1. Tomintoul 1969 42.4% 42yo
Sweet, fruity, candy, winegums, fruit drops gently replaced by a delicate sweet spicyness when the first nips are taken. This is exactly how you hope an old Tomintoul will taste. Rating 90

2. Glen Grant 1975 46.6% 36yo
Sweet, spicy, also candy again, which for is typical old Glen Grant. Similar in style to the Tomintoul, but more dry and oily, with a lot more spicy wood with a medicinal finish. Rating 88

3. Dailuaine 1983 47.3%  28yo
Very Oily, heavy in texture, classic malt whisky. Grassy oiliness oozes in the nose, and I find it remarkable how the oilyness hits you allready at the nose. Just a hint of woodspice. The remarkably oilyness continues for long in the finish Rating 86

4. Longmorn 1992 48.5%  19yo
After the Daluiane this is back to a more normal texture. Mint is the first thing that hits me, not intense, but more on the light side, still nice oilyness and this has a slight meaty texture as well. Rating 87

5. Imperial 1995 51.7%  16yo
Great Classic Imperial. Mint. Vanilla. This is sooo imprinted with these bourbon characteristics that I could describe this as a bourbon without the heavy wood and the sweet corn. What's left ?. Mint and vanilla. Simple. Great. Delicious. Rating 90

PS Many great Imperials "flooding" the market at the moment from bottlers like Gordon and MacPhail, OMC and Duncan Taylor. This is another one to mark up this relative unknown and unfortunately closed distillery.I'm a big fan of this relaxed simple vanila/mint/bourbon style

6. Glenrothes 1988 53.4% 23yo
Never been the biggest fan of Glenrothes. The 1991 OB was a big pleasuree to me though, and this reminds me of that. This actually tastes a bit like a mix of the Dailuaine and the Imperial!. Fullbodied, not a lot of vanilla and mint, but it's there. Rating 88

Allright, feeling slight intoxicated by now, brewed some coffee (Ethiopean beans off course), to clean my palate between drams. Still 6 drams to go

7. Littlemill 1988 49.3% 23yo
This is the 2nd Archives Littlemill and I really loved the first one, which was an unusual and weird malt malt whisky, but hey, isn't that the Littlemill in a nutshell ?
It's reviewed here :
This is the first "tainted" dram in the session. I wouldn't expect otherwise from Littlemill, which is almost always on the weird side in the world of whisky. Tainted is a hard word, cause there is nothing wrong with this dram, just a slight rubberness, but its my favourite kind of rubberness, it's the women in tight wet latex again. This is smooth velvet latex sherry cask and quite nice. Not very herbal opposed to the first bottling, more mainstream, but still the light fingerprint of Littlemill. Quite smooth and delicious actually. Rating 87

8. Glen Garioch 1990 54.0% 21yo
I always considered Glen Garioch recent bottlings to be somewhat on the rough side, and this is also a bit rougher compared to the 7 first drams, but not as much as expected. The first thing that hits me is the peat. Is Glen Garioch a peated malt or not?, it depends on the period it was distilled in. Around 1990 they for sure used considerable amounts of peat, at least enough for me to pick it up :-)
This Glen Garioch got quite a lot of peat (relatively) but is still very delicate highland whisky. Rather dry, medium woodspicy Rating 88

If you are looking for serious whiskyblogging I would stop reading now

9. Highland Park 2000 50.9% 11yo 
According to the whiskybase website this is 11½ years old. I thought only kids younger than 6 counted their age in ½ years :-)
I didn't describe colours of the drams before, so far most of the drams have been whiskycoloured. This one is far lighter in colour than any of the other drams. Highland Park is said to be heathery and this is exactly what I can taste from this dram right now. After 8 drams my palate is not in the best shape, but I reckon what I pickup is mainly differences from what else I had. HP is also supposed to be peaty, but being a peathead for many years I often find myself immune to peaty flacours, especially after a series of drams. The heather is here. The colour would suggest an immature whisky but is not so. It's rather delicate flowers and probably a good way to experience the true distillery character of Highland Park, not masked by Sherry casks. Well, some would say that sherry casks is part of the HP distillery character so maybe not..:-). First time in this session I feel the spirit of the whisky coming through (ethanol). This is very different to what HP offers itself via their OB's
Rating 83

10. Isle of Jura 1988 51.3% 24yo
What can be more scary than Isle of Jura ?. The OB line tends to scare away most whiskyentusiast, while at the same time being quite popular with people that are not every day whisky drinkers. I have similar views as the mainstream whisky entusiast on Isle of Jura, but I have to admit that some of their special releases have been very nice as well as a few independents. Lets see how this fare...
Some sour notes in the notes which I don't like, but my nose quite fast get used to it and a lot of fruityness emerges. But everytime I lift the glass back to my nose I get this (baby)puke. The palate is better, but still this offnote I dont really like in Jura. Cabbage ? Yuk. This will only appeal to Jura Fans. Admitted, there's a lot of good things going on in this malt, but a delicious sticky toffee pudding is never gonna taste good with sour parmesan cheese in top. Rating 70

I am getting pished now. I for surely how hope the last two whiskies are better

11. Ledaig 2004 61.9% 7yo
The youngster in this seesion. Ledaig often gives me same troubles as Jura. There's just this offnote I never liked (I usually refer to it as the tobermory-note, as this is where I experienced it first many years ago.)
This has got it just a little bit on the nose, but not much. The palate is a fullbodied malt whit great oily texture, but still with a sour ledaig youthness that I am no particular fan of. Well, if you drink a young whisky, expect it to taste like a young whisky. But do young whiskies have to taste sour. No. Rating 79

My hopes are now left on Laphroaig

12. Laphroaig 1998 54.2% 13½yo
After 10 and 11 this is pure whisky heaven :-). A well balanced peaty whisky. Not as floral as I find younger OB Laphroaigs, and this is exactly why IB Laphroaigs is my favourite to OB these years when it comes to 15 years or younger. This is a nice peaty Laphroaig, and if you are a peathead looking for great alternatives to OB islay releases this will not dissapoint you. Rating 87

Final comments :

Archives is an excellent independet bottler which easily matches OB's when it comes to Tomintoul, Laphroaig, Glenrothes and Glen Garioch and gives a good alternative when it comes to Highland Park. If you don't like Ledaig and Jura, Archives wont change your mind. For the more unknown distilleries expect top class whiskies


  1. I may have to see about ordering a couple of bottles from WhiskyBase. The Laphroaig, Imperial and Dailuaine looke wonderful. As for the OB Laphroaig 10, it wanders around a bit in profile. I get plenty of green apples in the more recent releases but for a time it was all about smoke.


  2. Thank you for reviewing the Archives bottlings.
    Ras Mazunga

  3. lovely stuff Macdeffe!
    i have some of those to try at home (10/10)/

  4. Macdeffe, I have tasted all of these as well, and largely agree with your assessments with one notable exception, the Ledaig. In general, the only Ledaigs that I tend to enjoy are those distilled between 1972-1974. While Ledaig made some superb whiskies during that period, I don't care for most of their more recent offerings. However, I thought that the Archive 2007 Ledaig was an excellent pick, a very powerful mix of peat and citrus flavors that balanced well in spite of the huge presence on the palate. I will note that I did not appreciate the Ledaig the first time I tasted it. If you like young very intense whiskies, this one is worth trying.

    Much more in line with your notes, the Archive 1969 Tomintoul is indeed stunning. It never ceases to amaze me how Tomintoul and few other light spirits can mature gracefully to profound beauty at great age.