Bought: Online Auction, 5th October 2017
85/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)
72/100 – Malt Maniacs (for 70cl 1993 version)
Kinclaith wasn’t a distillery in its own right as it was constructed in the grounds of the Strathclyde grain distillery in Glasgow, which makes it a Lowland whisky. Founded in 1957 Kinclaith was closed in 1975 and subsequently demolished. In its short 18-year life Kinclaith was used for blending (primarily in Long John) and never officially sold as single malt. Whiskybase only list 5 independent bottlers releasing Kinclaith as a single malt with Cadenhead starting in 1985 with a 20-year-old. If you have a spare €2,000 you can buy this bottle from a shop in Germany. Hmmm, perhaps not!
Whiskybase list the last independent bottling of Kinclaith by ‘The Whisky Talker’ in 2010, some 7 years ago. That’s hardly surprising since it’s over 40 years since Kinclaith ceased to be. Are there any casks left unopened I wonder? My 5cl by Gordon & MacPhail (G&M) was probably bottled in 1993 (as per the 70cl, making it 25/26yo) but there isn’t a code confirming this on the back of the bottle’s label. There was also a 70cl G&M bottle released in 1991. I’ve wanted a miniature Kinclaith by G&M for years but I’ve never see one with a good neck level. My bottle (pictured below) has liquid up to the shoulders, which is as good as it gets. At least it’s enough to provide a taste of this rare Lowland gem.
Tasting notes and comment from Whiskybase (translated from German):
Nose: Light oak, some water mint, hair spray, old copper coins, dried, tropical fruits (pineapple, papaya, apricot), Werther’s original, Grand Marnier, cotton candy and some burnt caramel. With time and air, the whiskey opens up and becomes more fruity and finer.
Taste: Sweetish and slightly creamy with lots of malt and light vanilla. In addition there are bright fruits and some lemon. Then becoming pepperier. Light tannins, a bit orange bitter and a hint of bitters. At the end, the bitter oak occupies the entire mouth.
Finish: Medium in the middle, woody, slightly bitter and with a fine malty sweetness. In between, the tropical fruits flash out of the nose. At the end some milk coffee.
Comments: Old-school Malt! I would have thought the Lowlander to be much easier because of its geographical origin. The tropical fruits are great, but cannot prevail over the bitter oak. This is also a bit too bitter and too dominant for me.
Posted in Kinclaith (closed 1975)
Tagged 1990s, 40%, 5cl, Gordon & MacPhail, Kinclaith, Kinclaith (closed 1975), Lowland, Lowlands, NAS, Online Whisky Auction, Single Malt
Source: Family Gift, late 1990s
88/100 – Whiskybase (average from 13 member votes)
This highly acclaimed Macallan 10yo was a gift from my uncle Hamish and added to the family collection in the late 1990s. I believe the style of bottling was first introduced in the mid 1990s and carried on until the launch of the ‘Fine Oak’ range in 2004. Before 2004 the standard Macallan was all ‘sherry oak’ so there wasn’t a need to make a distinction on the label. After 2004 bottles were clearly labelled either ‘Sherry Oak’ or ‘Fine Oak’.
It’s hard to believe that back in the 1990s supermarkets would sometimes discount this Macallan 10yo to less than £20. Today it typically sells at auction for about £200 and retails closer to £300. It’s good but it’s not that good. Exclusively matured in selected sherry oak casks from Jarez the box features an autumnal scene of Easter Elchies house, Craigellachie, Speyside, which is the ‘Home of the Macallan’.
Scoring 88/100 on Whiskybase is an excellent score and only about a point less than what you’d expect the Macallan 18yo to get. I’ve tasted this Macallan 10yo many times and I wouldn’t say it was that good but it’s definitely a fine dram. It’s more of an 85/100 from me.
Tasting notes from ‘Ormiston Whisky’:
Nose: Matured, sherry notes, raisins, rich, vanilla, caramel, fudge, slightly pungy.
Taste: Sweet with lovely fruity layers, clear wood spices (nutmeg, cinnamon etc.) some black pepper as well.
Finish: Soothing with some tutti frutti sherry notes.
Bought: Whisky Auction, 24th May 2017
87/100 – Whisky Bible 2006
83.71/100 – Whiskybase (average from 9 member votes)
In 2015 a similar bottle of Glenturret 15yo sold at auction for £70, in 2016 for £50 and I got this old malt for £35 in 2017. At the same time the retail value of this bottle has been going up at a similar rate. This is because whisky shops tend to think that all whisky is increasing in value, which simply isn’t true, not if you follow the auction sites. If you want an old bottling of Glenturret than now is the time to buy at auction. If you’ve got an old bottle of this 15yo you’d like to sell then hold onto it because I have a feeling the auction price of this little beauty will bounce back.
When I say “beauty” I am of course referring to the taste not the packaging. In the 1990s Glenturret were going through a phase of asking a colour-blind hamster to design their boxes and labels. Dirty yellow and brown, really?! But what’s inside has gone down extremely well with 9 members of Whiskybase where nearly 84/100 is a fantastic score. One member concludes with “wonderfully balanced with a easygoing flavor palette.”
Although Jim Murray’s score of 87/100 in his Whisky Bible 2006 is a good bit after the 1990s this was a fairly consistent 15yo as it moved across the millennium. Mr Murray’s score classifies this dram as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”. He says about the taste “highly intense malt that sweetens, mildly oily with a hint of oak” and summaries with “a discontinued bottling now: if you see it, it is worth the small investment”. And I couldn’t agree more!
Tasting notes provided on Whiskybase:
Nose: Flowery, sweet and pleasant.
Taste: Soft vanilla notes, light peppery and notes of fruit.
Finish: Pleasantly sharp and soothing.
Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 9th February 2016
76.5/100 – Whiskybase (average from 22 member votes)
Whether you’re a seasoned sipper or a dramming newbie, we all share a common bond – that first whisky experience. For me it’s the Glenturret smell that reminds me of my embryonic encounters with whisky, be it as single malt from my father’s sideboard or in the Famous Grouse blend. No matter how many distilleries I’ve tried, or however far from the centre of Scotland they hail from, it’s the smell of Glenturret that brings me ‘home’ to those formative moments that defined what whisky was to me.
I inherited a Glenturret 8-year-old from the 1990s and I’ve wanted to add the 12yo for many years. It isn’t the best whisky in the world, and the brown packaging is borderline grotesque but I love it for sentimental reasons. Scoring 76.5/100 on Whiskybase is a so-so score. Respected reviewer Mark Dermul says of the taste “ouch! On the palate, however, it is immediately unpleasant. Sweet and sour with the emphasis on sour, very sharp and alcoholic despite the low ABV. A bit of earth and lots of wood make it dry. The fruitiness (some apples and citrus) have trouble showing themselves. Finally I get something metallic as if the whisky was poured from a can. Could that be OBE [old bottle effect]? After all, this whisky has been sitting in the bottle for almost 20 years, which is longer than it spent in the cask.”
Thankfully it’s not all doom and gloom with one member remarking “a lovely dram as an aperitif. A shame that this one is no longer produced.” I agree but it still appears at auction for a reasonable £40-£60. Don’t all rush at once!
Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 20th May 2015
84.74/100 – Whiskybase (average from 37 member votes)
I believe (and correct me if I’m wrong) that this is the 12yo labelling prior to the one before the current one. For those of you translating my blog into your language, I hope that made sense. To put it another way, this version of the 12yo is from the 1990s, the next label change covered the early 2000s and then in about 2007 we have the bottle we see today. The ratings for these 3 versions on Whiskybase are:
- 84.74/100 – 1990s (average from 37 member votes)
- 83.01/100 – Early 2000s (average from 104 member votes)
- 82.38/100 – 2007 onwards (average from 718 member votes)
As a long-term fan of the HP 12yo, I’m a bit concerned about the downward trend these ratings suggest. In the Whisky Bible 2015 the author, Jim Murray, rates the latest 12yo a lowly 78/100 and morns the parting of the former version which he scored 92/100 in his 2006 edition of his book. According to Whiskybase, the previous version (my version) was even better. Comments include “a wonderful robust 12y old Highland Park”, “a classic with a great nose” and “sweet sherry with a pleasant smoke, what more would you like?”
I must admit, the last time I tried my new, open bottle of HP12yo I wasn’t impressed with the taste. I noticed a somewhat fusty flavour. I’m worried I’m starting to detect sulphur, which Jim Murray complains has ruined the HP12. This gives more reason to try a previous version in a taste comparison. Ideally I’d like to get a miniature from the early 2000s and compare all three. Watch this space!
Bought: Online Auction, 12th December 2014
81.25/100 – Whiskybase (average from 4 member votes)
As a pre-Christmas treat I decided to have a punt on a few whiskies I fancied in an online auction. Gradually, as the minutes ticked away, I was outbid on all but this bottle of Knockdu 12yo from the 1990s. I was interested in it because it predates the change by the distillery to AnCnoc, just in case people got confused with the other distillery called Knockando. Personally I don’t see the problem with two distilleries starting with ‘Knock’ given how many distilleries start with “Glen”. We all know the likes of Glenmorangie, Glenlivet and Glenfiddich are well established but surely the lesser ‘Glen’ distilleries are much of a muchness for whisky buyers outside of Scotland? And quite a few people in Scotland too! What makes Glenlossie, Glen Spey, or Glenallachie stand out from the rest?!
I’d done my research and I knew that my bottle of Knockdu without a box could fetch around £30 at auction, so I was delighted to get it for £15. But, add commission, postage, etc, and it set me back £28. That’s probably not bad compared to its originally price in the 1990s. Although the Whiskybase score of 81.25/100 doesn’t look good, the latest 2012 listing for the AnCnoc 12yo scores less than 80. Admittedly that’s from 238 votes compared to 4, so a bigger variation of tastes.
I’m tempted to keep this bottle as an investment, even though it’s hardly a classic of its day. In 10 years time the experienced whisky drinkers will be telling the novices that the whisky of the 1990s was soooo much better than now, much like some of today’s whisky aficionados say whisky was better in the 1980s. Or I might take out my bottle of AnCnoc 12yo and do a taste comparison. That sounds like a better plan! 🙂