Tag Archives: 18yo

Imperial 1995 18-year-old (casks 50284+50285)

Bought: CASC, Aberdeen, 24th March 2016

Ratings:
87.4/100 – Whiskybase (average from 7 member votes)

The independent bottler Signatory Vintage (SV) seem to be dominating the market with releases from the closed Imperial distillery. In 2016, according to the whiskies listed on Whiskybase, big independent bottlers Gordon & MacPhail released one bottle of Imperial, as did Duncan Taylor, whereas SV released 16. These were either single cask bottlings or a combination of two or three casks. So you have to think that SV bought up a lot of old stock from the Imperial distillery, which was demolished in 2013 but production had been mothballed since 1998.

Not only does SV have a lot of old casks from Imperial, they seem to be exclusively from whisky distilled in 1995. They’ve been releasing numerous bottles from this year since 2011, either at cask strength or 46%, and always un-chillfiltered and natural colour. Other independent bottlers have Imperial casks post-1995 showing that the distillery was still producing whisky as late as the fateful 1998. So it won’t be long before the youngest new bottlings will be a minimum of 20 years old. Collectable? Definitely but maybe not returning a profit for a while given the way SV are flooding the market. It’s almost as if they know there’s a whisky boom!

Having tasted this bottle of Imperial (I have a 19yo as my investment) I would agree with the excellent score on Whiskybase. This is a fantastic old Speysider. It’s a great shame it’s gone but SV are certainly making sure it’s not difficult to get hold of, for now. I suspect that prices may follow a similar rise to bottles of Littlemill (dismantled in 1997), which were quite reasonable a few years ago but are now rare and £200+.

Tasting notes left on Whiskybase:
Nose: Apple, almond, caramel, vanilla, honey, citrus and a whiff of smoke.
Taste: Honey, hazelnut, caramel, citrus, beeswax, white pepper and vanilla.
Finish: Caramel, hazelnut, honey, vanilla and chestnut.

Macallan 18-year-old ‘Sherry Oak’ 2016

Bought: Amazon, 14th November 2016

Ratings:
89/100 – Whiskybase (average from 30 member votes)
5/5 – Master of Malt (from 4 reviews)

If you want to get into whisky as an investment you can’t go far wrong with the Macallan 18yo ‘Sherry Oak’ (for now). If anyone criticises you with the tiresome adage “but whisky should be drunk!” slap them hard across the face and remind them that alcohol is a poison. But seriously, it’s none of their business what you spend your money on or how you treat your whisky. Those critics are usually hypocrites because they’ll be only too delighted to buy rare, vintage whisky at auction that would have been drunk long ago were it not for the collectors and investors. I bought my first Macallan 18yo in the summer of 2015 and only 18 months later it was consistently getting £100 more at auction. It’s liquid gold I tell thee!

But what is the Macallan 18yo like to drink? As I mentioned for the 1995 vintage, this is the Rolls Royce of whisky with a deep, smooth texture and heated seats. It’s very rare that you hear a bad word about the Macallan 18yo and year after year the quality is kept high. 89/100 on Whiskybase is a fantastic score and the equal of any previous vintage. Comments on Master of Malt include “perfect”, “the Macallan 18 is still one of my all time favourites”, “fantastic” and “a hefty price tag, but for a special occasion it’s worth it!”

Here are the tasting notes from Master of Malt:
Nose: Classic dried fruit, crème de cacao and crème anglaise with ginger and oak.
Palate: Winter spice, sultanas, toffee apple, rich oak and mixed peels.
Finish: Oak shavings, raisins and caramel.

If you would like to buy the Macallan 18yo and are happy to play a waiting game I’d recommend finding it on Amazon, adding it to your wishlist and waiting until the price drops to sub £150 (if you’re in the UK). I believe it had one mad moment when it hit £125 last year after dropping from the heady heights of its typical RRP of £200.

macallan-18yo-2016-70cl

Brora 1981 18-year-old

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 16th December 2015

Ratings:
88/100 – Whiskybase (average from 6 member votes)
87/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 4 maniac votes)

Of the distilleries that were closed in 1983, Brora, Dallas Dhu, Glen Albyn, Glenlochy, Glen Mhor, Glenugie, North Port, Port Ellen and St. Magdalene I tend to think of Brora as being second to Port Ellen in terms of cost. Even blends that contain a bit of Brora such as the Ainslie’s can make £400+ for a bottle at auction. If you ask me it’s bonkers but nobody does. Brora was formerly known as Clynelish but in 1968 the owners built a brand new distillery right next door. Later that year the old distillery ceased production, made redundant by the new Clynelish. It was only thanks to a shortage of peated malt from Islay for the Johnnie Walker blend that old Clynelish distillery was brought back to life in 1969. For a while it was known as Clynelish II until the name Brora was taken from the town the distillery was located. The strongly peated, Islay-esque Brora continued until 1973 when it was toned down to a more Highland-style level of peat. Once into the 1980s Brora became similar to the Clynelish whisky of today but still with something distinctive about it.

It’s only when you realise how short-lived Brora was, and the different phases of flavour it had, that you understand why it costs so much at auction. Not that any of the boys from 1983 are cheap but Dallas Dhu, Glen Mhor and North Port are currently the most reasonable of the nine. But I do think the Brora whisky distilled in the 1980s, like my bottle, is overpriced for what it is because of the hype caused by the rare, heavily peated Brora of 1969 and the early 70s. All that seems to be lost in the sands of time and every Brora is labelled as precious, and therefore valuable.

88/100 on Whiskybase and 87/100 on Malt Maniacs suggest that this Brora bottled by Signatory is a cracking dram. A member on Whiskybase leaves the tasting notes of:

Nose: Sweet. Cooked pears. Hint of nutmeg. Some peat smoke.

Taste: Sweet. Fruit juice with wood chips.

Finish: The wood lingers on when then sweets are gone.

Comments: The nose is really good. It smells much older than 19 years. Taste is good too but the finish isn’t very nice.

It’s good to know there’s still a bit of peat lingering in this 1981 Brora but I hope I don’t agree about the finish when I come to try it.

Brora 1981 18yo 5cl

Glentauchers 1996 18-year-old

Bought: Bartels Whisky, 8th December 2015

Ratings:
84/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)

Bartels Whisky tempted me yet again with another great offer on this Glentauchers 18yo, reduced to £40 in a pre-Christmas sale. This independent bottler has a habit of doing that, and a cask-strength, age statement bottle for 40 notes is hard to beat these days. If this is something that interests you then you can follow updates on Bartels’ Facebook page here.

I must admit that Glentauchers is one of those Speyside distilleries I tend to forget about. It’s like the member of a boy band, the one on the left, with the hair and the teeth that did a bit of dancing and backing vocals. You remember him don’t you? In my book about distilleries, the section under ‘Points of Special Interest’ for Glentauchers mentions the co-founder, James Buchanan, created a blend that he later registered as the ‘Black and White’ brand. That’s about as fascinating as it gets.

It’s just as well we’re drinking whisky not history and it’s in the glass that Glentauchers becomes memorable. The Whisky Bible 2016 lists 16 different bottlings with 8, exactly half, scoring over 90/100. The house style is light-bodied, fruity, fragrant, nutty, floral and malt. The casks are ex-bourbon and the malt is unpeated. Any time I spy ‘fruit’ and ‘nut’ in the tasting notes it gets me reaching for some dark chocolate to accompany the whisky. Having only spent £40 I think I can afford a couple of bars!

Tasting notes left on Whiskybase:

Nose: Fresh, summery nose on young apples, vanilla, freshly cut grass, mint and lemon. Some breakfast cereals. Yes, Kellogg’s original corn flakes! The second whiff adds some unripe banana.
Taste: The body might have been a bit bigger, but it tastes nice. Fruity (more of the same) and feisty. Think pepper, ginger and a pinch of cinnamon.
Finish: Medium long finish on apple, vanilla and pepper.

Here’s ‘The Good Dram Show’ on You Tube with their review of this Glentauchers, the first of a series of 6 single malts from Bartels Whisky (Sept 2015):

Glentauchers 1996 18yo 70cl

Springbank 18-year-old

Bought: Abbey Whisky, 28th October 2015

Ratings:
90.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
89/100 – Ralfy of www.ralfy.com
87.07/100 – Whiskybase (average from 43 member votes)

Good review after good review after good review and I got the Springbank 18yo because it’s purple. The box and label that is, not the whisky. Well I do love purple! But seriously, I’m a big fan of the Springbank 10yo and after getting the 12yo ‘cask strength’ the natural progression is to add the 18yo. Scoring 90.5/100 in the Whisky Bible classifies this dram as ‘brilliant’ and the author, Jim Murray, says of the taste “yummy, mouthwatering barley and green banana. Fresh with excellent light acacia honey”. He summarises with “just one so-so butt away from bliss”. Spank that naughty butt! Thankfully it was only a minor blip in Mr Murray’s enjoyment.

87/100 on Whiskybase is a fantastic score with one voter saying they prefer this version of the 18yo to the one with the old label. They summarise with “a very accessible Springbank. Good stuff.”

For an expert overview, here’s the legendary Ralfy discussing the Springbank 18yo, which he scores 89/100 (from October 2014):

Springbank 18yo 70cl

Macallan 1995 18-year-old ‘Sherry Oak’

Bought: Drinkfinder, 21st July 2015

Ratings:
89.24/100 – Whiskybase (average from 70 member votes)

At last I have the Macallan 18yo! Admittedly I had to sell one of my kidneys on Ebay to get it but at least I still have my liver to process this fine whisky. No collection would be complete without it. There was a rumour a while ago that Macallan were removing the year of distillation from the 18yo, which finally happened (it now has the bottling year). Without the distillation year printed on the label the 18yo may not be as collectable. There’s no denying its quality though because over 89/100 on Whiskybase is a fantastic score.

In May 2014 I made a note that Amazon were selling the Macallan 18yo for £122.45 and free postage. 18 months later and you’ll be lucky to find it for less than £150. It wont be many more years before it hits £200, which makes getting a bottle or two now quite a good investment. But, as Horst Luening says in his video review below of the 1996 release, this is the Rolls Royce of whisky, so Macallan obviously feel there’s a market for this dram no matter how astronomical the price. I don’t think I’ll be selling any more organs to get a second bottle! One will do.

Macallan 1995 18yo 70cl

Glenmorangie 18-year-old ‘Extremely Rare’

Bought: Tesco, 17th July 2015

Ratings:
91/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
94/100 – Whisky Bitch (her You Tube video below)
86.18/100 – Whiskybase (average from 291 member votes)

I would say “extremely rare my arse!” except there’s only one of my butt and many thousands of the Glenmorangie 18yo. If it’s in a supermarket then it’s not even rare, let alone ‘extremely rare’. But there’s no denying the quality of this dram from Glenmorangie, even if their terminology for its abundance is questionable.

91/100 in the Whisky Bible from Jim Murray categorises this whisky as ‘brilliant’. Commenting about the taste “sharp, eye-watering mix of fruit and mainly honeyed barley; nutty and, with the confident vanillas, forming a breakfast cereal completeness.” Mr Murray summaries with “having thrown off some previous gremlins, now a perfect start to the day whisky.” Hmmm! Don’t drink whisky for breakfast kids; it makes your cereal go soggy!

Over 86/100 on Whiskybase is an excellent mark with reviewers commenting “whisky of serious distinction”, “wonderfully creamy and thick” and “better than the Original 10yo”. The Whisky Bitch in her review below from February 2014 absolutely loves this whisky and gets a strong taste of bananas. That’s not a flavour I’ve commonly seen in reviews for this Glenmorangie but every palate is slightly different. See what you think.

Glenmorangie 18yo Extremely Rare 70cl

Laphroaig 18-year-old

Bought: The Whisky Shop, 17th June 2015

Ratings:
94/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
85/100 – Ralfy – His review on You Tube here (April 2012)
87.98/100 – Whiskybase (average from 272 member votes)

94/100 from Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible classifies this single malt from Islay as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live”. That’s assuming you like throat sweets of course. In his review Mr Murray says of the taste “perhaps it’s the big leg-up from the rampant hickory, but the peat here offers a vague Fisherman’s Friend cough sweet quality far more usually associated with Bowmore, except here it comes in a milder, Demerara-sweetened form with a few strands of liquorice helping that hickory to a gentler level.” He summarises with “this is Laphroaig’s replacement for the woefully inadequate and gutless 15-year-old. And talk about taking a giant step in the right direction. Absolutely brimming with character and panache, from the first molecules escaping the bottle as you pour to the very final ember dying on the middle of your tongue.”

It’s interesting what Jim Murray has to say about the former 15yo because, whatever your opinion of it, bottles can make over £200 at auction. Now that the 18yo has been discontinued you have to wonder what it will be like as an investment. Perhaps bottles will be selling for £300+ in the not-to-distant future.

Watch out for that TCP taste, which is mentioned both on Whiskybase and by Ralfy. Unfortunately so is the presence of added colourant. Ralfy has a rant about this and in summary he says the whisky is “decent but not great”. Nevertheless 85/100 is an excellent mark from him. Nearly 88/100 on Whiskybase is very high with comments of “a strong showing by Laphroaig. I like this one much better than the new (and old) 15yo” and “very smooth and silky. Like it a lot! This is a very elegant expression with a nice strength!”

Laphroaig 18yo 70cl

Johnnie Walker Platinum Label 18-year-old

Bought: Amazon, 15th December 2014

Ratings:
88/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
82.91/100 – Whiskybase (average from 25 member votes)

I find Whiskybase a useful website for ratings but, if you live in the UK like I do, avoid looking at how much whiskies cost in Europe (unless you intend to order from there, or like to weep uncontrollably). As I write this, the cheapest place in Europe (listed on Whiskybase) for a 70cl bottle of the Platinum Label is €47.50, which equates to £35.62. The cheapest UK online price I can find is £65.02, nearly £30 more expensive than its European equivalent! It reminds me why we used to do booze-cruises to France 10+ years ago. If you travel to and from Holland or Germany on a regular basis, you’re quids in for whisky purchases, quite literally! More quids remain in your pocket.

88/100 in the Whisky Bible rates this JW blend as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”. Reading the review by the author, Jim Murray, you realise the Platinum shares a common trait with several other versions of JW, which is a lackluster finish. This can also be seen in the Blue Label and Spice Road (Travel Retail release). But it’s only a minor criticism, which I’ve seen mentioned elsewhere in other Internet reviews.

I bought a 20cl bottle to tick this blend off my JW colour collection. Would I buy a 70cl bottle at £65? No. Here are examples of cheaper, 18yo single malts, and their Whisky Bible 2015 ratings:

  • £40.99 – Stronachie 18yo – 88.5/100
  • £53.99 – Inchmurrin 18yo – 92.5/100
  • £54.99 – Glenlivet 18yo – 91/100
  • £56.51 – Tomatin 18yo – 92.5/100

As I’m more of a single malt man (at this stage of my experience) I’d buy a bottle of one or all of the above long before I got a full 70cl of JW Platinum. But it’s still a reasonable blend nonetheless.

Johnnie Walker Platinum Label 18yo 20cl

Glenlivet 18-year-old

Bought – The Whisky Exchange, 27th August 2014

Ratings:
91/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
85/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 4 ratings)

I always like it when the Whisky Bible says the best part of a whisky I buy is the taste. Yes, the nose is important, and the finish, and the overall balance but, call me old fashioned, I do enjoy the tasting part. Jim Murray’s score of 91/100 contains a taste rating of 23.5/25, which equates to 94/100. He says of this element “fabulous, honey-sweet and slightly sharp edge to the barley: excellent weight and mouthfeel with the honeycomb on the nose making slow but decisive incursions.” His summary says that this 18yo has greatly improved and is well worth seeking out in this form.

I only have a miniature of this Glenlivet but I’ve got my sights set on a 100cl bottle only available at certain airports. Currently a normal 70cl version of this 18yo is £58.35 but the 100cl is £65.99, which is much better value. Except, one has to have £65.99, and I’ve currently got desires on other Travel Retail whisky. The Glenlivet 18yo will have to wait its turn.

Here’s Jo of Whisky Wednesday on You Tube with his review (June 2015):

Glenlivet 18yo 5cl