The remarkable Glen Grant 64 year (1949) 40%

No… that is not a typo… that really is 64 years… as in matured for 64 years… with the new make spirit laid to rest in first fill sherry butts in 1949. A piece of whisky history with the clocks turned back.

And I had a chance to sample it completely blind… no clue what I was trying or how exceptionally rare such a dram is.

Glen Grant 64 year (24/11/1949 –  6/6/2014) Cask 2200 + 3185 40%

What did my wee sniff, swish and savour sampling reveal?

  • Nose – Old wood varnish, betel leaf, peach pit, drizzle  of maple syrup, ripe fruits, specifically then shifted into roasted pineapple and a bit of jackfruit, red wine tannins, a bit yeasty, those sweet and sour, tart and tangy Chinese (Li Hing Mui) or Japanese (Umeboshi) dried plums, a hint of old leather
  • Palate – What have I discovered? A bit bitter with elements rarely found like hing, then shifts into raw mango powder or unripe guava, some tamarind, like bhel puri masala, yet no spicy “pepper” heat, continued that sweet element with substance yet truly tangy too, remarkable
  • Finish – After a simply marvellous nose, interesting palate, the finish was surprisingly light… closing with a puff of smoke

Overall it was a mystery – delicate and unique. Surprisingly tangy yet sweet too. Complex yet not heavy. Clearly old yet had fresh elements also. a kaleidoscope of contradictions… that somehow worked together in weird and wonderful ways.

I kept aside just a few drops to revisit after some time and was rewarded with an exceptional bouquet of fruits, flowers then pine.

The last drop drained, I again set the empty glass aside… and returned an hour later to discover the most glorious perfume! Simply wafting out from the glass. Beautiful.

When we learned this was matured in a 1st fill sherry butt, it was such a surprise. The colour was so light whereas previous brushes with older sherry drams were deep and dark – like the Glendronach 39 – 42 year.

It also is a complete marvel that after 64 years it could still achieve the min 40% required for it to be called a whisky!

This certainly goes into the category of “once in a lifetime” and I also have to appreciate the work the Gordon + MacPhail team are doing preserving then releasing rare examples of whisky history to the world.

Here is what the folks over at Gordon & MacPhail have to say:

Without water:

  • Nose – Delicate Sherry aromas mingle with vanilla, rose water, and violet notes. Hints of burnt sugar, prune, and a lingering marzipan edge develops.
  • Palate – White pepper initially with grapefruit and hints of apricot preserve. Ground coffee and toasted almond flavours are complemented by underlying cigar ash.
  • Finish – Long, floral, and smoky.

With water:

  • Nose – Tropical fruits with pineapple and mango aromas. Subtle beeswax polish notes combine with bonfire embers and an orange zest edge.
  • Palate – Ripe banana, raisin, and fresh grapefruit flavours with a delicate hint of violets complemented by a lingering smoky edge.

Other rare vintages sampled over the years:

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A’bunadh Batch #52 (2015) 60.5%

During our December sampling session, one of our fellow tasters brought along an Abelour A’bunadh. It is remarkable to  realize they are on to batches in the 50s… and soon to hit 60! I still have fond memories of their sherry bombs of the 20s…

But  on to this one… what did we think?

Abelour A’bunadh Aberlour A’bunadh Batch No 52 (NAS 2015) 60.5%

  • Nose – As expected – a complete sherry bomb, lots of chewy black cherries, Christmas cake, dark dried fruits, almost rum like
  • Taste – Christmas cake, a drizzle of caramel, warm and smooth, apply cider, raisins, prunes, robust and bursting with character, a little ginger, creamy and very berry Christmassy
  • Finish – Sweet spice with more of those dark cherries
  • Water – As always, opens up with a generous dollop of water

Worked for us and met every expectation for a Christmas sherry bomb dram!

And what about other Aberlour experiences?

And other drams sampled in our chilled out evening?

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Zuidam Millstone Sherry 55.5%

This was my 1st taste of Zuidam’s Millstone Whiskies… This Dutch distillery is known for its uncompromising quality.

Malt Maniac 2016 Awards

Zuidam Millstone (11.9.1998/5.8.2016) Odoroso Sherry Cask #2530 55.5% OB 44 of 203 bottles

  • Nose – Sharp juicy fruits, plum wine, dash of sweet spices with cinnamon, cloves and allspice, back to a burst of red fruits, sultanas, honey water then prunes, a shifting spice from black pepper to cayenne, then back to fruity boiled sweets or candied orange
  • Palate – Wow! Now we are talking a serious dram. Om biscuits with that distinctive caraway, perhaps a bit of kalonji too. Clear stamp of sherry with some age behind it too…
  • Finish – Gorgeous finish
  • Water – No interest in adding…

An unmistakable Christmas dram. Stunning.

While this was an official bottling, there are no notes on the Zuidam website…  however this dram won Malt Maniac’s 2016 “Thumbs Up” award so clearly someone agrees this is a mighty fine dram!

What else did we try in our “Sinful Samples” evening?

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Undisclosed Distillery – Wilson + Morgan “Highland Heart” Sherry Cask 43%

Our 6th anniversary session had a twist – rather than our usual blind tasting approach, I opted for bottles that do not disclose the distillery. My last choice was Wilson & Morgan, an independent whisky bottler out of Italy – “The Italian way to Scotland’s finest whiskies.”

“Here’s to women’s kisses, and to whiskey, amber clear;
not as sweet as a woman’s kiss, but a damn sight more sincere!”

wm-sherry-cask

Wilson & Morgan “Highland Heart” Sherry Cask 9 year (2006/2015) 43%

Here is what our original underground tasting group had to say:

  • Nose – Immediate sherry, then old leather chair, dusty bookshelves, incredibly rich, marmalade, coffee, chocolate, toffee, slightly nutty, yet with that sweet stewed prunes sherry underlying it all
  • Palate – Sooooo soft! Cotton ball soft. More of the rich orange, incredibly rounded, simply so tasty you wanted to settle down with it for an entire evening
  • Finish – Red pepper, mile long finish, left you salivating for more

As one taster put it “Such a tasty whisky!” And another dubbed it “very royal.” It indeed had quite a regal quality – a classy classic whisky. The interplay of a hint of peat with royal sherry reminded us of an aged GlenDronach, yet softer and exceedingly well-rounded.

Some of us re-sampled it with a nutella cheesecake or salty sweet cookies dipped in warm chocolate milk… a delightful combination! (from One Street Over).

What does the bottle tell us? It was distilled April 2006, bottle January 2015 as a room sample Cask No 2004/2011.

The William & Morgan’s Sherry cask is known to be from the Macallan distillery. When I first sampled it at La Maison du Whisky, I simply fell in love. The nutty quality, the clear stamp of sherry with flirtatious peat… All I could think was – if this is what Macallan can still produce, where has it all gone? Truly a superb whisky.

Here is what the William & Morgan folks have to say about their whisky:

Returning to sherry intensity after the more delicate 2014 release, our young Speysider tries to evoke memories of a beloved legendary whisky from this region that was sold as a 7 years old in Italy and of which we have fond memories. 

  • The nose is very winey, almost spicy and slightly astringent, with the fragrance of walnuts. 
  • On the palate it retains this lively spiciness, for a pungently peppery character, but it’s well matched by the resinous sweetness of dried fruits (peaches, apricots, plums, sultana raisins) and at the same time it’s kept lean and fresh by a clean mineralogy. It tastes already fully mature thanks to the very active oak casks. 
  • In the end it adds a note of liquorice, to complement the interplay of spice and sweetness

Purchased at La Maison du Whisky as part of a whisky ‘speed dating‘ session.

We loved it!!

The trio of whiskies sampled in our undisclosed distillery evening included:

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Nordic Explorers #10 – Finland’s Teerenpeli Kaski 43%

Next up in our Nordic Explorer‘s session was a whisky from Finland.

My first introduction to Teerenpeli was their 10 year – a most enjoyable dram. So memorable in fact it was part of our top pics for the Ladies Choice evening for the BMC gentlemen. Alas we could only acquire one small 500ml bottle – not nearly enough for our combined evening – so it was not re-sampled.

Kaski is Teerenpeli’s nod to sherry whiskies… The name comes from the tradition of first slash and burn the ground to produce KASKI (swidden) which then enables the first phase of cultivation – a new beginning.

Photo: Teerenpeli website

Photo: Teerenpeli website

Teerenpeli Kaski Distiller’s Choice 43%

  • Nose – Cinnamon spice, subtle, honey, nuts like pine nuts or blanched almonds, after an initial strength, there is a freshness that surfaces, then after some time a clear stamp of vanilla, apricot and beautifully rounded
  • Palate – Lovely! Soft, smooth, yet with enough character to make it interesting with a cinnamon chaser
  • Finish – A nice hint of smoke

My Nordic Whisky Lady sampling companion and I were both in our whisky ‘happy place’ – you know that comfy space where you simply want to sit back, relax and enjoy. Who cared about tasting notes and nuances – this was simply a fine dram. One of those whiskies you wish you had a bottle sitting around at home to sip companionably.

In short – two thumbs up!

The Kaski is approximately 6-7 years old, matured in sherry casks only.

Here is what the folks over at Teerenpeli have to say:

  • Colour – Roasted brown sugar
  • Nose – Notes of fruitiness and a light peat
  • Palate – Smooth, grain-like and rich
  • Spicy aftertaste combines raisin-like fruit cake

In our last whisky quartet from the Nordic drams, this was by far our favourite!

*** Whiskies courtesy of 

For more information, do read Thomas’ posts on Whisky Saga. Specifically:

A fascinating journey so far with our Nordic whisky experiences:

  1. Smögen Single Cask 7/2011 4 year old 57.3%
  2. Smögen Sherry Project 1:4 57.2%
  3. Box Whisky The Festival 2015 54.5%
  4. Shareholders 2016 52%
  5. Mackmyra Preludium:01 – De Första Dropparna, 3 year 55.6%
  6. Mackmyra 8 YO Dram Good Whisky 54.4%
  7. Mackmyra Bachair 3 YO Private Cask
  8. Audny Series 3 4 year 46%
  9. Flóki Young Malt 1st Edition 47%
  10. Teerenpeli Kaski Distiller’s Choice 43% (this post)

With only two to go, our Nordic whisky adventures are nearing  a close…

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Bowmore Laimrig 15 year 54.4%

Inspired by my digging out older tasting notes on the Bowmore 21 year, I cracked open the box of whisky samples brought back from Canada. This was one my aunt and uncle simply decided I needed to try!

As soon as I had a whiff, I understood why…

Bowmore (Hicklings)

Bowmore Laimrig 15 year (Hicklings)

Bowmore Laimrig 15 year 54.4% (Bottle 14,532 of 15,000)

Here is what I found:

  • Colour – Deep rich copper, almost brown
  • Nose – Resin, sweet almost spearmint, then hazelnuts, treacle, rum raisins, red cherries, minty flirtation merging into eucalyptus
  • Taste – Bursts on the palate with leather, smoked bacon, then roasted slightly bitter nuts, raisins come to the fore, some spices like crushing cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a mortar and pestle, a bit of tobacco… something else too.. chocolate?
  • Finish – A bit bitter, almost ashy, wine, sticks around for some time rather than dash off
  • Water – I was initially reluctant to try… but wow! Sweater, saltier, spicier yet also smoother and more rounded, warmed the cockles… plum notes, yummy chocolate on the palate, clear sherry wine finish
  • Overall – What I enjoy most was it never stayed still… beginning with the nose it shifts, evolves as it airs… then on sipping the palate also revealed different elements, unfolding at its own pace

The more I sipped, the more I appreciated it. The longer it aired, the more emerged. Exactly what I like to see in a whisky. What a treat to discover!

The Laimrig takes its inspiration from Bowmore’s stone pier where the distillery’s barley was once unloaded and their whiskies would travel the globe.

It is finished in Spanish sherry butts, is cask strength, non-chill filtered and intended to have a rich, dark character and colour.

Official tasting notes:

  • On the eye teak brown.
  • Breathe in sweet dark sherry, figs and cocoa balanced with smoky peatiness and a salty tang.
  • Sip a rich combination of chocolate, sherry, raisins and smoke.
  • Savour the long and lingering finish.

What others say:

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