Royal Brackla – The Royal Jubilee Commemorative 12 Year Old 1999 – Old Matt Cask (Douglas Laing)

Speyside Single Malt, 12 Years, 50% ABV, $79

Smells of grass, mild peat, feint smoke and peanut brittle. The taste is very tangy and sweet, then peppery followed by a warm leathery peppered finish. Lemon, orange, vanilla and ginger start strong and fade very slowly. The pepper starts slowly and builds to a crescendo, then slowly diminishes into the mildly smoked finish. A splash of water tones down the citrus and spice elements and reveals a bit more peat and smoke. The finish is very long and peppery with the leathery bitterness persisting for minutes. This is a very complex and tasty whisky. Only the pepper seems to be out of balance even after dilution; however, I like a spicy whisky so this is fine by me. The more I drink, the more the citrus notes are evident… grapefruit and orange.

The bottler says:

A 12 year old Royal Brackla, this is part of Douglas Laing’s Old Malt Cask series. This particular release was bottled to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. One of just 250 bottles.

Aberlour A’Bunadh, Batch 42

Speyside Single Malt, 10 Years, 60.3% ABV, $53

The aroma is overpowered by pepper (not surprising at 120°), but I detect notes of toffee and barley as well. It’s clear that this one needs some water to open up.

Ah, that’s better! Now scents of caramel, banana, orange and cinnamon move to the forefront. The taste is a montage of fruit and spice with orange, cinnamon, salty caramel, ginger, vanilla and cayenne. The finish is long and spicy with a leathery feel, but a light sweetness persists for a long time. During the transition, I detect graham crackers and vanilla. My initial taste of this last night wasn’t nearly as favorable, but spending some time with A’Bunadh has been enjoyable. This one is complex, fruity, sweet, spicy, woody and dry. It should definitely keep you interested with all that is going on with the nose and palate.

Here’s Aberlour’s description:

A’bunadh, Gaelic for ‘of the origin’, is matured exclusively in Oloroso ex-sherry butts. It is a natural cask-strength malt whisky produced without the use of modern-day chill filtering methods or the addition of water.

Tomintoul 10 Year Old

Speyside Single Malt, 10 Years, 40% ABV, $40

Really nice aroma of orange, grass, burnt sugar and honey. The light peat is set against a backdrop of oak, honey, orange and vanilla. The taste is light, but the aftertaste is bitter, then peppery. The peaty bitterness returns after the burn subsides. This is not a complex whisky, but its got a nice, light, sweet taste; however, the bitterness is a bit much to be perceived as a complement to the quickly diminished flavors. It does have a long finish, but its not as good as the nose or the initial light flavor.

I am becoming accustomed to the Speyside style and I like it. The gentle introduction to peaty smoke has been enjoyable. I just hope I can handle any Islay that may show up along the journey.

The distiller’s notes suggest:

A gentle 10 year old from the Speyside distillery, Tomintoul.

Blair Athol 22 Year Old 1989 Cask 2928 – Dimensions (Duncan Taylor)

Speyside Single Malt, 22 Years,
49.9% ABV, $137

A lot of alcohol in the nose, but there’s also a salty vanilla and orange with just a hint of flint. The vanilla becomes more prominent after a few breaths and a bit of caramel begins to show itself. On the palate, a sweet, salty vanilla that transitions to a citrus taste accompanied by a long bold burn. As the burning fades (and it takes a while), a bitterness of oak remains with just a hint of char. This one definitely needs some water!

With the addition of water, the flavor becomes more of spices… ginger, nutmeg and pepper. The nose starts showing some charred oak with an ever evident burn of the alcohol… that aspect doesn’t seem to let up. With more water, a distinct corn aroma appears… a sweet, syrupy kind… corn syrup, I guess. The flavor becomes more salty and sweet with an intense caramel note. The alcohol finally fades a bit quicker, but there’s a distinct bright peppery finish that displaces the bitterness that was there before. It’s still noticeable, but the balance is much better.

Here’s the description from Master of Malt:

A spicy Speyside malt distilled at Blair Athol in May 1989. It was aged for 22 years in cask 2928 before bottling at natural cask strength in March 2012.

Glenfarclas 1981 Family Cask Release V

Speyside Single Malt, 29 Years, 50.9% ABV, $564

On the nose, lightly peaty with orange, vanilla, butterscotch and honey. I taste the butterscotch and honey along with a bit of smoke. The peaty smoke is more noticeable as I continue to sip, then gives way to a lingering light smoke with a sweet alcohol burn that lasts for a good minute or so. It’s got a light oily feel to it and needs a bit of water. Adding very little water releases a smoky aroma and reduces the burn considerably. The sweetness remains and is joined by bitter orange and white pepper, while the oiliness is greatly reduced. Still, the smoky aftertaste lingers even longer and coats my mouth.

This is my first real experience with a peated Scotch and I have to admit that I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve had very few Scotch whiskies, but this has got to be the best one by a significant margin. I’m looking forward to the next 23 days.

Here is what Master of Malt had to say about this one:

The fifth release of Glenfarclas 1981, this whisky was aged in a single plain hogshead (cask 58), and it was bottled at natural cask strength in 2010. It marks a change from many of the family casks as it’s bottled from a plain cask, and not a sherry cask.