We're delighted to have the expertise of Mark Newton from Malt Review on board this November to share his knowledge & wisdom on all things whisky. Here he looks at Independent bottler Càrn Mòr, sampling 7 single casks from their Celebration of the Cask range.
Tasting notes by Mark Newton...
The colour is a pale gold. Initial aromas are crisp, clean grassy notes, which are followed by sweet vanilla. All very classic stuff and really very spritely. Fresh butter, lime juice and grapefruit or gooseberries. Then there’s a hint of tropical fruits such as mango. The taste follows the nose perfectly, bringing clear, wine-like crispness at first, and some very grassy, straw-like notes - almost reminding me of some classic Aultmore characters. A very dense, dry Riesling wine minerality, before time in the glass reveals more grapefruit juice and light acidity. The finish is very long and warming, with plenty of black pepper.
Glen Moray often feels rather delicate and full of subtleties and this is a very good example of the distillery’s character. A charming, subtle whisky.
Glen Garioch 17 Year Old - 1998 | Single Cask 3827 | 57.5% | Sherry Hogshead
Lovely looking russet colour. And almost textbook Highland elegance on the nose at first. Classic dried fruits, but then with darker fruits on top. A hedgerow in autumn: elderberry, blackberry, and a redcurrant tartness. Curiously this is not an overly sweet whisky, but with a touch of balsamic vinegar or soy sauce tartness once the fruit fades to bring a nice balance. The whisky is thinly textured, with a clean expression that very much follows the nose. Plenty of raisins and classic qualities, but then it leans towards a very slight umami-ness with red tomatoes. Time in the glass tames the tannic bitterness to let the rich fruit shine, and elderberry continues into the finish. It’s nicely cloying for a light texture, with a little oak showing over the tartness.
Everything feels elegant and balanced and it’s a lovely autumnal whisky.
A lovely glowing amber colour. The nose is delightfully approachable, with gorgeous stewed apples and a very mead-like quality, with heather honey and a touch of peppermint. The mint feels more apparent with time, then come some more tropical hints such as mango and pineapple. Delicious and very moreish. An excellent display of older vanilla notes, toffee, mixed with orange marmalade and crab apple jelly. It’s actually quite herbal too, and just a touch of woodiness beginning to dominate the middle before the fruits rush back in. Stewed apples then follow once again, with a touch of nutmeg. The finish is long, fruity and mouth-watering, with a delightful - and not at all overpowering - warmth. Excellent stuff!
A pale gold colour, indicating perhaps second fill casks? Ledaig can always be a very lively dram and this is certainly of that nature! The peat on the nose is unusual, a sort of fresh, ashy - no, almost ash-tray like - and it duels with honey and citrus. Feisty, even for its age and cask influence. Vanilla and coal dust, with digestive biscuits and dried hops. The taste is again quite an unusual, pugnacious contrast of dry, ashy peat and vanilla, with a touch of menthol in there too. Water brings out many more mellow apple notes, pears, and light floral honey. With time in the glass comes more malty and husky qualities. Then interesting fight between the ashiness and those fruit qualities reminiscent of some outlier Caol Ilas. The finish is again smokey, but cigar smoke this time followed by malted milk biscuits, black pepper. Finally, just touch of menthol.
It’s a challenging Ledaig and this expression will be interesting to those who seek out more unusual peated whiskies.
A nice russet colour to look at. The aromas are fairly narrow, as often can be the case with Fettercairn, but it is a pleasant expression, focussed around vanilla flavours, toffee and fudge. Eventually with time it opens up to be rather winey with touches of candle wax, baked banana and a little bit of ginger. The texture is light and thing, with a slight coffee bitterness and a dollop of maple syrup. This is quite an oaky whisky, with some real mouth-warming black pepper. Water brings out some gentle fruit and a little waxiness. An aniseed finish that’s almost menthol for a moment, and then the oak returns.
A fine old gold colour. The nose brings intense vanilla flavours and a massive sweetness, which eventually fades to reveal toffee and apples. Sizzling lime juice, pineapples and mango then follow, but this is a very high ABV expression and so a few drops of water are required. That water reveals tomatoes, blackcurrant bush leaves (a greener version of the blackberry fruit), gooseberries, and a little floral perfume. Very nice indeed. The palate is warm, intense, bringing lime cordial with ginger, orange marmalade and chilli peppers. Curiously the water doesn’t quite do as many favours here as it does to the nose. Those lime notes endure for a while, along with grapefruit juice. Indeed, citrus lingers on the finish, with occasional custard qualities, but a thumping oak note for balance. A typically fun Longmorn.
Gosh! This is astonishingly dark whisky. Old oak or burnt umber, but it’s most unusual. The nose is outrageously sweet, almost like a dark rum and certainly thick molasses. There are dried fruits - prunes, dried figs - but this is intense stuff. Tiramisu or PX sherry. A few drops of water certainly does not knock back much! Perhaps it lets those dried fruits shine through a little more, but this is some entertaining stuff. In the mouth it is certainly part of the intense syrup spectrum, but not thickly textured as one might expect. Plum jam, raisins stewed in brandy, and again Tiramisu shines here. There’s a little dark chocolate bitterness. Such is that sweet intensity that there’s not much room for other flavours to manifest - even with water - but I don’t think it’s to the detriment of the whisky. Instead, this is just unusual character shining. The finish is not as long as you might think, and the texture remains thin, but brings a little nice tannic tartness.
Absolutely a curious, and delightful beast, but in a world of often identical-tasting grain whiskies, this is a rare treat.