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Friday, June 19, 2020

Three ol' Speyside/Highland samples from Whiskybase

Gosh, remember when Whiskybase Shop sold samples? Yeah they were tiny, but there were some gems. My three remaining Whiskybase samples are probably not gems, but they don't fit any other planned lineups and I need to consume my old samples, so here we are. They're sitting right here and I'm about to taste them side-by-side, and not in the order in the picture, instead I'll do 'em by age.

Deanston 15 year old 1997 Archives, hogshead #1959, 55.8%abv

So Deanston has become a thing. I know neither when nor why. Maybe it has something to do with Ian Macmillan's work? I dunno. If you were to go back in time 15 years and tell single malt geeks that Deanston and Edradour single casks would become popular someday, those folks would laugh in your face and exclaim, "Yeah, right after Ledaig gets overexposed."

Nose - It starts with a minty, sugary bourbon-like blast that gradually peels away baring toasted grains, dried herbs and hot cardboard. Adding water brings out more herbs, yeast and anise.

Palate - Vanilla, sugar and a hint of mint to start, again tilting towards bourbon. Some good herbal bitterness and a simple tartness adds character. It gets sweet, sour and papery once diluted.

Finish - Better than the palate. Vanilla, apples and lemon juice. Dilution turns it sour, bitter and papery.

Not one of Archives's best picks. I think the hogshead is more of a problem than the Deanston spirit. Keep water away from this one and perhaps it'll appeal to your American whiskey-drinking friends or your American whiskey-drinking self.

Rating range - C+ (77-79)

Speyside Region 18 year old 1998 Archives, butt #1034, 52.7%abv

These "Speyside Region" malts are often Glenfarclas, sometimes Glenlivet and probably not the actual Speyside distillery. That's it for the introduction.

Nose - Milk chocolate, dried cherries, black pepper and balsamic vinegar with smaller notes of vanilla and limes in the background. Not much change once water is added, it's just flatter, quieter.

Palate - Mildly sweet with dried berries, toffee, cocoa and bits of earth and woody bitterness. Dilution sweetens it up, brings in the flowers and vanilla beans.

Finish - Milk chocolate, toffee and vanilla ice cream. A little bit of woody bitterness. Once diluted it matches the palate.

A good middle-ground sherried thing, the whisky could indeed be from any Speyside production facility. I love the milk chocolate, but could do with less woody bitterness. Again, it's better when neat, and the nose proves to be the most complex element.

Rating range - B (84-86)

Cragganmore 20 year old 1991 Whiskybroker, hogshead #1146, 53.4%abv

There needs to be more Cragganmore on this blog, but there ain't much Cragganmore around. No one samples it out and I don't live near a Cadenhead shop in Europe. I don't live in Europe, period.

Nose - Aw yeah. Iodine, mango pits, fish sauce, cucumber skins. Hints of malt and industrial funk. It gets waxier and herbal with dilution and even picks up a toffee pudding note.

Palate - Lean and not sweet. Industrial, metallic and earthy. Limes and herbal liqueur. A bit of butterscotch appears after some time. Lots of soot and citrus appear once water is added.

Finish - Inky and herbal. Some dunnage. Hints of lemon and butterscotch. Stays the same after dilution.

This whisky was such weird fun. I just adore this imperfect (or is it perfect?) dingy style, and I'm always on the lookout for it. But also, THIS BOTTLE WAS 46 EUROS. Eight years ago. I'm not saying everything in the world was better eight years ago but. 

Rating range - B+ (87-89)