...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Sample Sweep: Five dead distilleries


These five samples come from LA Scotch Club events 5-6 years ago. What was I waiting for, you ask? This! This post is what I was waiting for. There's 15-20mL of each which will actually allow me to try them all at the same time. But due to the samples' sizes I'll just be providing grade ranges. The tasting is arranged per the photo, not only in ABV order (sorta) but also per my expectations that I'm trying to repress.

North Port-Brechin 24yo 1981 Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, 43%abv

I've tried three North Ports before this, didn't hold any of them in high regard. It's good to see LASC was able to get a Connoisseurs Choice bottle above 40%abv.

Nose - Malt, metal, wet dog, Calvados and grapefruit. Then fruity cinnamon and charred chile skins.
Palate - Malty and lemony, reading stronger than its ABV. Fruity tobacco meets dunnage and minerals. Just a hint of OBE quirkiness.
Finish - Cayenne, citrus, soot and minerals.

Commentary: So of course I find a North Port to adore now. I'm not even going to say "Yeah, but 46%abv..." because this is such a great whisky right where it is balance fruit, earth and industry. Damn.

Rating Range: B+/A- (or 88-90, probably)

Lochside 1981-2004 Lombard, Jewels of Scotland 50%abv

I know very little about Lochside, and even less about Lombard. I probably know more about Lombardy. This intro just writes itself. Ladies and Gentlemen, Diving for Pearls's only Lochside:

Nose - A lovely balance here. Lemons, yellow nectarines and lilac blossoms meet dunnage and wet sand.
Palate - LOTS of citrus, followed by honey and hay. Hints of dunnage and burlap.
Finish - Tart citrus, honey and a peppery zing.

Commentary: As soon as I sipped this I realized this was a special taste off, not just for historical purposes, but because there were at least two great whiskies in the bunch. Such a pretty whisky, this one, with just a hint of darkness at its edges.

Rating Range: B+/A- (or 88-90, probably)

pic from whiskyauction

Glenury Royal 23 year old 1966 Cadenhead dumpy bottle, 53.8%abv

I probably should have read my bottle label when setting up the drinking order because this is from A Dumpy. The Cadenhead dumpies. I mean... Now my expectations are high.

Nose - Much heftier than the previous malts. Citrons and limes. And PEACHES. Peaches. peaches. Honey roasted almonds. A few drops of water are added, and out come the old books, toffee and anise.
Palate - Musty fusty dunnage floor meets dusty OBE. But also molasses, lychee, grapefruit and tart berries. Dilution hightens the fruits.
Finish - Tart fruits, herbal bitterness and molasses.

Commentary: Well shit. Expectations met. I've said this before (probably about old Bowmore or something), but had I been of the previous generation, cutting my teeth on the Cadendead dumpies 30 years ago, I probably would have quit scotch by now and entered a monastery.  

Rating Range: A- (or 91-93, probably)

Glenlochy 17 year old 1977 Cadenhead, green glass, 61.8%abv

Enter the Cadenhead Fire Water Era. Some hydration will be necessary. I've had only a few Glenlochies but I think I liked them all. Here are some actual tasting notes:

Nose - Rocks, wool, wet sand. Shredded wheat and a hint of butterscotch. Dilution brings out some fruits (clementines and white nectarines) while dialing up the wool note as well.
Palate - Buttery cornbread, honey, dried grasses, dates and grape jam. Dilution actually narrows the palate, lots of sugar and grain, some wool, a few berries.
Finish - Very sweet. Dates and grapes. Adding water quiets it down, making it grainy and salty.

Commentary: Unlike the dumpy era, the green glass Cadenheads can be problematic with a lot of limp casks and super high ABVs. Some of the bottlings are pretty good, some are not. While I appreciate this Glenlochy's austere notes, I mostly found it hot and bland. Water might have worked on the nose but it hamstrung the flavors. And next to the Glenury Royal, it just seemed worn thin.

Rating Range: B- (or 80-83, probably)

Linlithgow 25 year old 1982 Signatory for LMDW, Wine Treated Butt #2201, 59.2%abv

St. Mags! I'm two for two with Linlithgow / St. Magdalene single malts (including another '82). Though the cask was "wine treated" the whisky has kept a light gold color, so I think this won't tumble down the Murray McDavid path. Here's to closing strong.

Nose - It has a lean side with stones, grasses and oatmeal, but it's also very sugary, candied. Hints of honey and lemon keep it from going too gooey. Dilution add some variety. More malt, more lemons, a hint of beef stock. Though there's still lots of candy shop.
Palate - Sweet citrus, sweet grains, sweet melons. Hints of grass and plastic. It gets more industrial and mineral with dilution. Some tart limes jump in as well.
Finish - Quiet, warm, plastic and honeydew. With dilution it leans towards stones and peppercorns.

Commentary: Honestly, I was not a big fan of this whisky before I added water to it. But even with dilution, the Linlithgow didn't finish well. I wonder if this "wine treated butt" was actually a brief secondary maturation because there's still something raw and grainy running through the whole whisky. I'm being a bit rough on it here, because it's not that bad. But for Linlithgow, Signatory and LMDW this feels like it's falling short.

Rating Range: B- (or 81-84, probably)

That did not unfold as I'd expected, but the positives far outweighed the negatives. The opportunity to try five such whiskies in one sitting is not something I take for granted. The fact I had samples like this just sitting around is a wonderful thing. I'm getting a little sappy here because there's so much misery right now, and this little bit of material pleasure was needed this past weekend. So I encourage everyone to break into his/her/their dusty samples and drink up for the hell of it. Vive les Dumpies!