Tag Archives: Independent Bottling

The 1983 Tasting Series #10: Port Ellen

I almost hate putting “Port Ellen” in the title of a blog post; it’s the cheapest trick available to whiskey bloggers. Some twitter bot will retweet your link-tweet; people will click because – OH MY GOD, IT’S PORT ELLEN.

Not to say it’s not great stuff. Of all of the 1983s, it’s one of the most consistently enjoyable distilleries. In my experience, Port Ellen doesn’t pack a lot of surprises, but it does what it does so well. In fact, the only Port Ellen I’ve had that I didn’t like was the PLOWED society bottling.

I’m not going to recap anything about Port Ellen here. It’s been discussed to death elsewhere, even on this blog.

The bottle in the 1983 tasting series was an Old Bothwell release. Old Bothwell doesn’t really exist on this side of the Atlantic. Even then, they don’t seem to be extremely common compared to other bottlers. I don’t really see much mention of them in the usual dens of whisky discussion, and when they are mentioned it seems to be in connection with Port Ellen.

So – the whisky. The nose is unsurprisingly textbook Port Ellen – the familiar, slightly diesel-smelling Port Ellen peat; there’s a little hint of lemon and some malty sweetness. It’s lightly briny, faintly mineral, and a touch floral.

The palate has a nice peated quality to it; slightly rubber with some tar. There’s also black pepper, nice malt and a gentle wood quality to it. It finishes more smoky; rubber and diesel notes on the peat. It picks up a little heat, has a faint lemony kick and then finishes with malt and light woodiness.

I thought this was a super-approachable and nicely done Port Ellen. I enjoyed it a great deal.

The 1983 Tasting Comes To A Close

Now for some reflection and self-criticism.

This is a really boring idea for a tasting.

It’s even more boring to write up.

The thing is, there’s no interesting thing here to hang one’s hat on. It’s a shameless exercise in checking the box of closed distilleries; the least discerning type of vapid whisky  adventurism and the most vulgar form of tourism-as-connoisseurship. While it’s passable as a sort of low-grade “tasting of old malts”, there’s not a lot here to pick apart. With one sample per distillery, bottle choice is everything. Thirty years on, that task is quite demanding. The Glenlochys I’ve tried have been rather similar. I still have no sense of Glenugie (though I have some samples from friends I will try in the future). There’s still a wash of generic character over a bunch of these. Sure, some have distinguished themselves – Port Ellen (as always), Brora (as usual); Brechin retains its title as “distillery most deserving closure”. But there’s a vast middle ground that still is a cipher.

The checkboxes are there, many “hard to find” distilleries have now been enjoyed, but I think as far as an educational exercise or critical analysis, there really was no bedrock to build on in this tasting.

That’s not to say I think the participants of this tasting shouldn’t have enjoyed it if they did. I’d like to be clear on that (if any are reading) – and for whisky tasting in general. I don’t claim to be any sort of authority, or even particularly knowledgeable. I don’t claim my experience is transferrable or more valid than yours or anyone’s. The only validity you have in a subjective experience is what you bring to it and what you take away from it.

Even my more simple exercises – Teacher’s over time; Macallan old verticals and replicas vs modern whiskies have had a very clear basis for comparison and discussion. This is essentially a random grab-bag of distilleries that share a simple coincidence of having been closed. You may as well throw darts at the periodic table of whisky and buy one bottle each from the first ten distilleries you hit and call it a tasting.

That said, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little bit fun.

At a glance:

Port Ellen 1982 Old Bothwell (#2044) 28y 57.5% ABV
Nose: 
Familiar slightly diesel-tinged Port Ellen peat with a great mix of lemon and malty sweetness. Lightly briny, faintly mineral and a touch floral.
Palate: Nice peat – slightly rubbery; a little tar, some black pepper, some pleasing malt, a little gentle wood.
Finish: Smokier on exit. A little rubber and diesel from the peat; a bit of heat, a lemony touch again and then some malt and light wood.
Comment: Super-approachable and really nicely done Port Ellen.  Everything you’d want.
Rating: A-

The 1983 Tasting Series #9: Glenugie

The 1983 tasting series has its penultimate entry in Glenugie.

Glenugie was an unknown for me coming into this tasting. It hasn’t seen a tidal wave of single cask releases a la Port Ellen, or garnered a strong reputation like Brora has on the basis of a few stunning whiskies. I knew Serge at Whiskyfun regards it quite highly; even with critical acclaim on that level, I hadn’t managed to try any. It, like many of the other 1983 closures, is just increasingly rare. There were a few Old Malt Cask bottles floating around, but they were few and far between. When I found a Signatory decanter, I jumped on it.

The Signatory release is somewhat uncommon for Signatory in my experience – instead of a standard single-cask release, this particular Glenugie (cask #2) had 100 months additional finishing in an oloroso cask. “Finishing” seems to be a stretch in this case; at 33 years old, it spent nearly a quarter of its time in wood being finished. However, I won’t launch into a research project (or garden variety rant) on the difference between “secondary maturation” and “finishing” (to say nothing of “finesse”) in this case.

The nose on this Glenugie showed overt sherry influences with light leatheriness, slightly mushroomy earthiness, some white pepper, rich dried fruit – orange and fig – and a surprising hint of madras curry.

The palate is very thick and mouth-coating, with the clear sherry notes again. A little pepper and some heat come in after a moment; but there’s a fair amount of wood and slight nuttiness balancing it, as well as dried fruit.

The finish is nutty and woody but generally sweet with dried fruit and other sherry notes. It dries a little woody and has some apple skin, but is generally big and lasting.

As expected, it’s a big, dense, and generally nicely nuanced sherry character. There’s not much I’d change about this whisky except pulling back the pepper quality a touch.

That being said, where this succeeds as a straight-up sherry bomb, it’s not clear in providing a sense of the distillery character. In that regard, while I enjoyed this on its own merits and as a big sherried whisky, I still don’t feel like I’ve really got a sense of what drives Glenugie. I guess I”ll have to find more to drink in the near future (if it’s available or affordable!)

Coming up next, the 1983 series begins near where it started, as well as some general reflections on the tasting.

At a glance: 

Glenugie 1977 Signatory 33y Cask #2 Oloroso Finish (100 months) – 57.2% ABV
Nose:
  Nice mix of light leather, slight mushroomy earthiness, a little white pepper, some rich dried fruit notes; a little orange, some fig, and believe it or not, a very faint hint of madras curry.
Palate:  Very thick and mouth-coating, clear sherry presence, a little pepper and gaining some heat. Slightly nutty; a reasonable wood presence. A touch of black pepper. Some dried fruit.
Finish:  Nutty and woody, sweet with dried fruit and sherry, dries towards wood with some apple skin. Quite big and lasting.
Comment:  Very dense, nicely nuanced. Very little I’d change except for maybe dialing the pepper back a touch.
Rating: A-

The 1983 Tasting Series #8: Glenlochy

If there was a bottle that was a complete pain to procure for the 1983 tasting series, it had to be Glenlochy. It’s inevitable that some of these old distilleries that produced whisky almost completely for blending purposes would disappear from the independent bottling scene sooner or later, and Glenlochy seems to be fading.

Signatory is the only bottler who seems to bring out bottles with any regularity – the bottle I am reviewing today is a Signatory Vintage decanter; K&L’s exclusive cask is a signatory, and the UK seems to get a slow trickle of Signatory Glenlochy releases. If you think Port Ellen or Brora are the top of the heap, Glenlochy prices will come as a surprise. If you can find one, you are going to pay north of $400 as a resident of the US. Even the route of picking an old Connoisseur’s Choice bottle won’t work: the ones I found were right around $400 with shipping.

This was the last bottle I acquired for the tasting (though not the last in the series) – they weren’t common and were always high in price. I kept waiting for a deal to show up, but in the over two years I watched prices, there wasn’t anything resembling a reasonably priced Glenlochy. My advice if you’ve considered buying a bottle is to just pull the trigger now, because there’s fairly a firm floor at $400 and they’re only going to increase.

This was the second Glenlochy I’ve tried – the first I had was actually the K&L cask, which David OG provided a small sample of at a tasting that included some of their other whiskies. I didn’t take notes on it at the time, but it’s remained a fairly distinct point of reference in the last few months, especially knowing that I’d have another in reasonably short order.

It seems that the history of the Glenlochy distillery is relatively unremarkable – no flaming rivers of whisky that were then consumed by livestock. I won’t even bore with details; in this case, if you’re interested in Glenlochy, you might be best advised to visit the site of one Glenlochy enthusiast.

This particular cask from Signatory, distilled in 1980, bottled at 31 years old at 53.1% from cask 3021, leads with a peppery kick, mixing white ad black peppers, more heavily on black. Vanilla and malt follow behind that, with gentle and slightly watery fruit notes – primarily white peach and a hint of apricot. It’s pinned down with a nicely subtle honey body.

The palate is slightly woody but with the maltiness and honey from the nose. It’s slightly thinner than a medium mouthfeel, but definitely not “thin”. Again, white pepper shows up as does a dab of cayenne. There’s some dryness and bitterness on the palate with a moment’s rest, and it gets a touch earthy.

It finishes with malt and pepper, honey, and then it all kind of falls into a buttermilk biscuit with honey vibe. Really nice…. until it dries more and it’s an earthy cantaloupe rind. Not so great.

For me, this particular Glenlochy is somewhat off balance – the peppery notes were prevalent to me and a little too assertive. If the malt and honey qualities weren’t overpowered by pepper, then they have a tendency to dry towards bitterness and mustiness. If you’re an addict for scratching closed distilleries off the list, it’s worth a try, but this particular bottle was definitely not one that by any means would be a must-hit. Save your “rare whisky” allowance for a nice Port Ellen or Brora, in my opinion, if this bottle was your sole option.

But, it’s not. The K&L bottle, to my recollection, was a little more forward with the stone fruit qualities and had the malty sweetness. However, I had it after a few other whiskies that were fairly strong in their character, so it’s not an impression I’d feel comfortable making a recommendation on. My impression though favored the K&L bottle, bearing that caveat in mind. (As I said, no notes were taken, just my general thoughts, and I didn’t score, nor would I publish a score in this case if I had). Is it worth the $450 they’re asking? I’m not sure. If you want a big, massive, bold whisky I would be considering something other then Glenlochy in general though.

It’s a fun whisky to have on the checklist and unlike many bottles released these days, but I don’t know that I see myself forking over the asking price these days based on what I’ve had.

At a glance:

Glenlochy 1980 – Signatory Vintage, 31y, #3021 – 53.1% ABV
Nose: 
A little peppery kick initially, a mix of black & white peppers (heavier on black). Behind it is vanilla and malt. Gentle and slightly watery fruit notes; white peach, a hint of apricot. Nice subtle honey.
Palate:  Slightly woody mixed with malt and light honey, a slightly thinner mouthfeel. Pepper again; this time white pepper with a faint dab of cayenne. Gets a little dry and slightly bitter. A bit earthy.
Finish:  Malty with slight pepper; honey, a little buttermilk biscuit with the honey for a second but it fades in favor of an earthy cantaloupe rind finish.
Comment:  This is a touch oddly-balanced; the pepper is a bit assertive and overpowers the fruit, as does the slightly bitter and musty side of things.
Rating: B-

The 1983 Tasting Series #7: Glen Albyn

Glen Albyn is one of the lesser-seen 1983 distilleries. According to Oliver Klimek’s interesting reference, Glen Albyn falls under the “Endangered” category, like many of the other 1983s. I can’t say I’ve seen more than two of these in the last several years.

This week’s survey of the closed 83′s is a Hart Brothers bottling of Glen Albyn; distilled in February of 1978 and bottled in February of 2004. It’s bottled at 46%, a touch lower than I’d normally like to see from an independent bottling, but not too watery. Certainly well within the realm of what we’d expect from a modern distillery bottling, so that’s a good thing.

The nose on the Glen Albyn was very fruity – kind of a mix of fruit cocktail syrup and some very light white wine on the sweeter side of things. There’s confectioner’s sugar, and it’s very floral. I also get some Jolly Rancher candy (watermelon and maybe a bit of the cherry ones too). There’s a trace of wood, but this is just an amazingly fruity nose.

The palate ends up being suprisingly substantial. There’s wood and white pepper with a little dash of smoked paprika. It’s hugely malty and has a little sweet barley behind that. I’d expected this to be either slightly syrupy or thin but floral, and it’s got plenty of weight.

The finish is dry with malt sugars and wood, and is generally sweet. It’s not a very remarkable finish.

It’s an interesting malt, and one that I enjoyed, because of the head fake between the nose and the rest of it. I was expecting a slightly lighter Balblair style whisky, but the palate was much more grounded and earthy with a faint smokiness. It was really unusual and generally speaking, I find it hard not to enjoy these fake-out whiskies on some level. It’s perhaps a novelty thing, but they can be quite fun.

At a glance:

Glen Albyn 1978 Hart Brothers – 26y 46% ABV
Nose:
  Very fruity, kind of a mix of fruit cocktail syrup and a light white wine. Some confectioner’s sugar, very floral. I get little flashes of Jolly Rancher candy (Watermelon, maybe cherry). Some light wood but this is all about fruit.
Palate:  A little more substantial on the palate than I expected, with some wood and a light dusting of white pepper. A little smoked paprika behind that. Tons of malt, a little sweet barley sugar.
Finish:  Somewhat dry; malt sugars, wood, generally sweet.
Comment:  Very interesting. The nose suggested something syrupy like a Balblair, but the palate came in much more grounded and earthy with kind of a faint smokiness. It’s a bit unusual but I enjoyed it.
Rating: B

The 1983 Tasting Series #6: Brora

At last, the mighty Brora.

If you’re a follower of Serge over at Whiskyfun, you know that Brora occupies a spot somewhere near “holy sacrament” in his whisky preferences. It’s certainly in the upper echelon. I’ve had a fair number of whiskies from Brora and found them to be hit or miss – when they’re on, they are nearly unmatched; when they aren’t, they’re good-to-OK. In comparison to Port Ellen which is usually wildly consistent, Brora can be a crazy grab-bag. That’s what makes this fun, right?

Brora is an interesting distillery. It’s almost impossible to mention it without mentioning Clynelish – a sister distillery, and in fact, the name that the distillery we call Brora bore at one time. So: older Clynelish (mid-60s and prior) is actually what you’d see now as Brora; Clynelish from after that point is a separate building. Brora these days usually — but not always — implies that there will be a moderate-to-heavy peating level included.

A while back, K&L scored a pretty surprising coup in their 2011 Single Cask program when they had a 30 year old Brora bottled by Chieftain’s, from a first-fill sherry cask. I and many others jumped on this bottle almost immediately. It sold out long before arrival. K&L split the cask with Binny’s and Binny’s may have a few bottles left, but this one is fast disappearing.

I’d held my bottle aside for a special occasion, not knowing what it might be. When this closed distillery tasting came along, I suspected this may be the perfect occasion. This 1983 tasting has been conducted with some people who are not extremely experienced with Scotch whisky and I thought this would be a fun one to share – it reminds me of Sku’s generosity.

A couple years ago, on a fairly hot summer night, I had a really fun evening at Sku’s house. I’d met him a few weeks prior, and was getting my feet wet in the LA whiskey scene. He generously invited me over to his house, and even more generously opened a trio of Diageo Broras. He then went on to open so many other amazing bottles, and this has been indelibly stamped on my mind as the model for generosity that we should all aspire to. I had a lot of fun that night, tasting some all time favorites (Brora 30y 2007) and some all-time least-favorites (Usuikyou 1983). All in short supply, all generously shared. I hoped perhaps this tasting would let me pay that generosity forward in some way.

So, back to the Brora in question. K&L/Binny’s; 1981 distillation, 30 years. As dark as you’d want to see a whisky; gorgeously deep brown.

The nose had rich, full woody notes, with a light hint of oranges, and slight dust – kind of that “old study” quality (I guess with some oranges on the table). It was lightly earthy with fig and a hint of balsamic vinegar with a touch of molasses. The nose was intoxicating. I could just nose this whisky all day.

The palate was perfectly mouth-coating, with a sherry nuttiness and earthiness with plenty of wood. There was a slight quality of Kiwi shoe polish, some leather, and light sichuan peppercorn mouth-numbing heat. Cayenne pepper, figs, and molasses rounded it out with some faint peat in the background.

The finish had tons of dried fruits, pepper, and wood. There was a really nice apple skin note on the background, almost tangibly from a fresh Fuji apple. There was the slightest hint of rubbery quality but it worked so well.

This was one of the most phenomenal Broras I’ve ever had, with a fabulous cask influence and a luxurious mouthfeel.

Now, to step back briefly. I had a sample of this one quite early on, and it had received quite a bit of air in the sample bottle. I wasn’t particularly impressed with it at the time, and I thought it had more than a bit of wood to it – to the point that I’d dismissed it as being somewhat overoaked. The fresh bottle experience is quite different and on a shortlist of favorites. In all honesty, given the data points, I’d expect this one to have the potential to oxidize to something unpleasant. I’d suggest if you have a bottle of this or come across it (like I said, Binny’s may have a few but the K&L ones are long gone), you might want to consume it quickly – better yet, share with many friends. If those are not options, you should definitely consider gassing it with Private Preserve.

As I finished my whisky, I thought, “boy, there’s part of me that wishes I hadn’t shared this and kept it to myself”. I’m still reminded of the generosity of Sku sharing his great whisky with me and that makes me feel better about spreading the love on this one. That said, you better believe I called to try and secure more of this.

Most surprisingly, and this is largely a story for another time, I had the privilege of scratching one of my “bucket list” of drams off this weekend – Brorageddon. Brorageddon is an absolutely fantastic and almost impossibly dense and nuanced whisky. And yet – I think I might prefer this barrel pick. Write me off as a dilettante or a no-palate feeb; but I really loved this. If you can find some, you should absolutely try it. As with all of the 1983′s, these are vanishing fast now.

At a glance:

Brora 1981 Chieftain’s 30y for K&L & Binny’s, 1981 #1523, 54.6%
Nose:  Rich wood, light hint of oranges, slightly dusty. Lightly earthy, a little hint of fig and a faint hint of balsamic vinegar. A touch of molasses.
Palate:  Mouth-coating, beautifully nutty and earthy with plenty of wood. A little hint of kiwi shoe polish, a touch of leather, some light sichuan peppercorn and cayenne pepper. Lightly figgy and a touch of molasses. Very faint peat in the background.
Finish:  Nice. Dried fruits, some pepper, plenty of wood. Some really nice apple skin on the finish too. Slightest rubbery hints in a good way.
Comment:  Really excellent. Perfect cask influence. Just beautiful. One of the best Broras I’ve ever had.
Rating: A-

Trader Joe’s Speyside & Highland – Any Winners?

Last year on St. Pat’s, I obligatorily took a look at some Irish whiskey. My favorite at the time was Trader Joe’s brand – and in subsequent encounters I’ve still found a lot to like.

If you’ve been browsing the various discussion forums or are a redditor, you’ll have doubtless seen mention of the new Trader Joe’s offerings, a 10 year Highland and an 18 year Speyside. Could Trader Joe’s repeat their Irish coup? Sku of Sku’s Recent Eats and I decided to split the pair of bottles to see. We’ve got a joint review going!

These bottles, it’s worth mentioning, are cheap. Ridiculously cheap. 10 year old Highlander for $20? Yes, please. 18 year old Speyside for 26 bucks!?  Since these were Speyside & Highland, we ran a pretty solid chance of not encountering remnant stock of the old FWP-infested Bowmore.

It’s kind of amazing how these can be offered at this price when all we read about from producers and bloggers (myself included) is the ever-increasing price train thanks to those hobgoblins of increased demand, tightening stocks and rising price of materials. However, if that distillery name is off the label, suddenly the price is screamingly reasonable… curious. I won’t call bullshit on anyone yet, but I definitely am more curious about the emperor’s clothes now…

Age before beauty: Let’s shake thing up and start with what might be the deal of the (young) decade – the 18y Speyside.

The nose is fruity and rich, with a light waxy quality. It’s got apples, light pears, a slight dusting of sugar, gentle malt, faint white pepper. It’s really vibrant and rich. The palate starts out unexpectedly woody; there’s a light earthiness and some fruity sweetness opening up. It’s slightly dry on balance with a light apple skin, but it’s dominated in large part by the lightly bitter wood.

The finish is malt-forward, followed by some dry wood, but with plenty of fruit – it’s long on apples and pears. It’s an enjoyable enough malt – a gorgeous nose to be sure – but the bitterness really mars it. It’s got a very rich flavor and is surprisingly robust for 40%, but the dry bitterness just doesn’t work for me.

OK, not bad for a whiskey that costs about 70 cents per year it was aged. What about the 10y Highland?

The 10y Highland starts with a bit of doughiness upfront, and is slightly thin and sweet. Some acetone notes flutter in and out on the nose; light maltiness fills it out. It’s slightly young, but not offensively so. The palate is watery, but sweet with some gently insistent malt. There’s a slight pleasing spicy tingle on the tip of the tongue and a light touch of wood.

The Highlander finishes malty, with cookie dough and heavy brown sugar. Apple skin and faint earthiness with a touch of pear round it out. It’s not bad for a 20 buck single malt, but it doesn’t do it for me – it lacks a certain focus on the palate and the nose is a bit young.

This may not seem like a ringing endorsement, but let’s step back and have a brief sanity check. These are both less than 30 bucks. They’re totally drinkable. No distillery is going to let its best product get out super cheaply under a store brand, so we should temper our expectations. I like the richness and clarity of the 18 and if I personally was restricted to a $30-and-less bottle, I personally would choose the 18y Speyside. I can see a very good argument for the 10y Highlander, but it reminds me a little too much of some underdeveloped, underaged whiskies I haven’t enjoyed. I’d imagine it’s a product of a third-fill or so cask; it’s got no clear off notes but it’s just a not my personal style.

However, if you’re in the TJ’s whisky selection, I think the clear winner is the Irish to this day. But after you’ve picked it up, go to the freezer section and buy some of their mini-pot-pies… enjoyable!

Read the review at Sku’s Recent Eats

 

At a glance:

Trader Joe’s Highland Single Malt Scotch 10y 40% ABV
Nose:  A little doughy upfront, slightly thin and sweet. A bit of nail polish remover, a hint of acetone. Lightly malty.
Palate:  Watery but sweet, with gently insistent malt and a slight pleasing tingle of spiciness on the tip of the tongue. Slight wood touch.
Finish:  Malty to finish with a bit of cookie dough and brown sugar. Some apple skin and a faint touch of earthiness; some pear.
Comment:  Given a 10y single malt for $20, it’s not bad. In absolute terms though it doesn’t do much for me.
Rating: C+

Trader Joe’s Speyside Single Malt Scotch 18y 40% ABV
Nose:  Fruity and rich; a little light waxy quality; apples, light pears, slight dusting of sugar, gentle malt, faint white pepper.
Palate:  Woody upfront initially, slightly earthy, with some fruit-based sweetness opening up after a minute. Leaning towards a slight dryness. Slight apple skin.
Finish:  Malt comes forward a bit more on the finish, still some slightly dry wood, and plenty of fruit – long again on apples and pears.
Comment:  The nose is enjoyable enough but the bitterness mars this. I think the flavor is richer than the 10y and it’s robust, but that dry bitterness doesn’t work.
Rating: B-

Give Thanks! Caol Ila and Dusty Bourbons

This is a quick update – I’m busy getting ready for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving feast. However, a quick pause is in order to give a little more color to a whisky I recommended in the Haphazard Whiskey Holiday Gift Guide. I’ve gotten a bunch of questions about the $130 sherried Caol Ila I mentioned in the import section.

It’s true, this is a really fun whisky and I’m kind of stunned it’s still available. I perhaps overstated the sherry influence; it’s there but it just adds dimension that might otherwise be lacking. The nose on it has a light smoke influence, nice orchard aromas with ripe Fuji apples, some denser red fruity notes, a little prune, some waxiness and some buttery richness.

The palate is light initially but gets that familiar oily, weighty Caol Ila presence. Some light, dry smokiness is balanced with waxy apples and gentle wood. Light, gentle peppery spice is there as is some pleasing lightly tart apple flavor.

The finish is the best part of this one. A little smokiness, slightly drying, and some nice rich fruitiness. Apple cider and some pepper zip give this heat and it’s got a lightly medicinal presence too.

It’s an immensely drinkable Caol Ila, a great show of age and a decent price.

Now, for the Dusty Bourbons. LAWS recently had a great bourbon meeting featuring all kinds of mostly dusty (really) old bourbons. Sku is covering this periodically for Dusty Thursdays and providing some more color on them. I don’t have a lot of insight to add to this one but thought I’d give general impressions. Full tasting notes on this are up at LAWS and you can compare the different opinions, which is what makes meetings like that fun.

Old Grand Dad reminded me of modern Four Roses – spicy, nicely woody but with a hint of that vanilla creaminess. Fairfax County seemed a bit marred by green woody notes. Very Old Fitzgerald – I’ve detailed a VVOF from the ’70s here. This was the weirdest SW I’ve had. A good deal darker in flavor, a little more nuance. Very interesting. As Adam says, I think Stitzel Weller dusties are a touch overrated but it was a lot of fun.

For me, the highlight was the President’s Choice, the first Brown Forman I’ve loved. I’m coming to peace with my love for easy-drinking 90 proof bourbons and this was right up that alley. Eagle Rare 101 from ’79 followed, and it was modern in profile by comparison, but just a bit dry.

Kentucky Vintage was an oddball wreck and I thought it was overoaked. It had so much wood on it that it started to almost seem peated at times – exceedingly weird. I’ve discussed Jefferson’s Ocean Aged earlier here.

There’s not much more to add; it was a fun night and worth sharing.

Update: Apparently there is something to add. David OG from K&L posted his recap of the night at the K&L Spirits Journal today. 

At a glance:

Caol Ila 1984 27y (Distilled 1-1984, Bottled 6-2011) 52.4% ABV
TheWhiskyBarrel.com Exclusive (Bottled by Douglas Laing)
Nose: 
Light influence of smoke, a nice orchard aroma with ripe Fuji apples, a little bit of denser red fruity notes, a touch of prune, lightly waxy and a touch buttery. 
Palate: 
Light initially but gaining some oily weight. Light dry smokiness balances with some waxy apple notes, a gentle wood influence. Light gentle peppery spice. Some pleasing light apple tartness as well. 
Finish:
Comment: 
Immensely drinkable, a great aged Caol Ila. The finish is really enjoyable. I wasn’t initially blown away by it, but the lighter cider notes just killed me and made me keep wanting more. That said, just a touch short of my personal A-range.  
Rating:
B+