Glenugie 1977 Part Des Anges 29 Years Old

Glenugie 1977 part des anges
Distillery/Brand: Glenugie | Region: Highland | ABV: 49.6% | Color: Sunlight
Nose: 23 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 89

Review
This is part 3 of three Closed Distillery whiskies that I tasted recently. After tasting the 1979 Glen Albyn and the 1977 Inverleven the third one in this lineup from Part Des Anges was this Glenugie.

Distilled in 1977 this single cask, cask strength is 29 years old. After almost three decades in a barrel it barely squeaked through being an actual whisky. Barely 50% ABV at the time of bottling. Another few years and the ABV would have definitely dropped below 40%

Established in 1831 Glenugie was quite a prolific little single malt distillery and in the late thirties even managed a total overhaul to it’s equipment with oil replacing the coal fires used to operate the stills.

Silent during World War I it resumed distilling soon after but 1983 saw it (and a dozen other distilleries) being mothballed due to extremely high competition and a drop in global demand for single malts.

The distillery has since been demolished.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at a cask strength of 49.6%

Nose: Chocolate. Honey. Toffee. Tobacco. Coffee. Oak. Seems like there’s some old school sherry involved here. But given that it’s a single cask may seem unlikely. Though there’s every possibility this may have been re-racked earlier on in it’s maturation. Let it breathe and it mellows out. Lemon. Rock salt. Cherries. Sherry.

Palate: Dark honey. Sherry. Chocolate. Coffee beans. Mint. Lack of literature on this particular expression leaves a lot of room open for interpretation. I’m guessing some Oloroso influence early on in life and then a re-rack into second-fill bourbons. I could be wrong or dead right!

Finish: Oak. Eucalyptus.

I’d say this is another fine whisky from Part Des Anges. The general consensus, when we tasted the three that night, was that all were at par with each other and generally of a high standard.

What was truly amazing was how all three morphed into completely different animals the longer you spent with them.

This will need your undivided attention.

Rating: 89

Inverleven 1977 Part Des Anges 29 Years Old

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Distillery/Brand: Inverleven | Region: Lowland | ABV: 54.8% | Colour: Pale Straw
Nose: 23 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 91

Review
This is part two of three independent single malts I tasted with a group of whisky enthusiasts one evening. All part of the Closed Distillery series from Part Des Anges.

This is the closed distillery of Inverleven aka Dumbarton which operated between 1938 and 1991. Michael Jackson considered it a Lowland even though the nearby distillery of Loch Lomond is considered a Highland. Since it’s on the border of both it’s regionality will always be up for debate.

Inverleven was part of the the Dumbarton Distillery complex. At one point it was Scotland’s largest grain whisky producer churning out whiskies for blending for George Ballantines.

Some of the old pot stills of Inverleven were sold on to Bruichladdich shortly after the distillery re-opened, along with a lot of second hand distillation equipment. In fact Port Charlotte is made using the old Inverleven stills.

This particular Inverleven is a single cask bottling and served at a cask strength of 54.8%

My sample is from a brand new bottle.

Nose: Lemon. Citrus. Apricot. Mint. Fennel. Kaffir lime leaves. Lavender. Lemon sponge cake. Oxidization gives it a savory, leafy edge. Tobacco leaf. Fresh wood. Licorice. I like it.

Palate: Nutty. White pepper. Caramel. Limestone. Oak. Plums. The delivery is quite oily. Tobacco. Oak. Cinnamon. It’s quite a nice delivery. Full bodied. Takes to water quite well. Just a couple of drops, mind you.

Finish: Long. Oily. Clove.

This is yet another solid whisky from Part Des Anges. I’ve had only three of their offerings but the consensus that evening was that all three were rock solid.

Rating: 91

Glen Albyn 1979 Part Des Anges 27 Years Old

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Distillery/Brand: Glen Albyn | Region: Highland | ABV: 53.2% | Colour: Young Sauternes
Nose: 22 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 90

Review
I hadn’t heard of Glen Albyn until I came across this particular expression at an event for my whisky club. Unfortunately, there was no way I could give it any sort of attention since the evening was a social one and I was playing host to around 75 guests.

I did, however, manage to pick it up for a small tasting session at my place, along with two other closed distillery bottles from the same independent. This series is known as the Closed Distillery Series from Part Des Anges.

Each expression is served at cask strength and is from a single cask. This in it’s self is quite a rarity and I was quite eager to tuck into it and see for my self.

The distillery closed it’s doors in 1983 following a slump in whisky demand and was subsequently demolished three years later. The site is now home to a shopping complex.

Independent bottles of this distillery keep popping up now and then but expect that to stop soon once stocks are completely depleted.

My sample is from a brand new bottled and served at a cask strength of 53.2%

The following notes are a mix of two tasting sessions over two weeks apart.

Nose: Pineapple. Papaya. Apricots. Very fruity. Garam masala. White flowers. Lime. Hint of oak. Oxidization opens up the nose even more. Butter malt. Grist. Mint. Chalk. Green apples. It has an extremely fresh and fruity nose and the longer it breathes the more layers it packs on.

Palate: Again very fruity. Pineapple. Honey. Demerara sugar. White pepper. Touch of oak. Citrus. It is gentle and medium bodied. Oxidization adds more. Herbs. Butterscotch. Ginger. All spice.

Finish: Long. Oily. Touch bitter. Garam masala. Touch of oak.

This is quite an interesting whisky. It was a hit at the tasting and for some was the top performer of the evening. While I quite like it I have to admit I preferred it more the first time around. I would have easily given it a score in it’s early 90s but the second session would be closer to late 80s.

So I’ll do what is fair and mark it on the average. Regardless, it’s well worth the experience.

Rating: 90

Aberlour Abunadh Batch 50

Aberlour abunadh batch50

Distillery/Brand: Aberlour | Region: Speyside | ABV: 59.6% | Color: Old Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 90

Review

Looks like we’re up to Batch 50 now! Aberlour have been churning out this cult classic since 1997 where they take spirit that has been maturing exclusively in Olorosol sherry butts and blend them together.

Each batch has a unique number and official literature claims each whisky has between five and twenty five year old spirit in it.

How much of the twenty five is in there (given it’s rather affordable price tag) is open to speculation. But regardless of that rather tall claim let’s all agree that the spirit inside these bottlings is quite special.

Despite it’s rather weak entry level 10 the distillery has some pretty serious expressions on offer and the A’bunadh series does nothing to dent that reputation.

It is a tribute to it’s founder James Fleming and is a throwback to the days when whisky was hand made and served at cask strength.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 59.6%

Nose: Dry leaves. Autumn. Earth. Soil. Oak. Black peppercorns. Wild berries. Toffee. Wild berries. Toffee. Apples. Tobacco leaf. Dark honey. Treacle. Tamarind. Adding a few drops of water brings out more. Dark fruits. Plums. Red Vermouth. Hint of smoke. A deep and creamy nose with a strong oaky overtone.

Palate: Maple syrup. Chocolate. Red grapes. Black pepper. Cinnamon. Dry leaves. Oak. With water it’s creamier on the mouth feel. Just like most A’bunadhs. More minty. Licorice. Peach compote.

Finish: Long. Oak. Cinnamon. Dries slowly. Water makes it a touch bitter.

Another accomplished A’bunadh. Brought it out at a home tasting recently and was a big hit with my guests.

And why not?

Rating: 90

Amrut Cask Strength – Bottled May 2006

Amrut caskStrength May2006

Distillery/Brand: Amrut | Region: India | ABV: 62.6% | Colour: Deep Gold
Nose: 23 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 24 | Rating: 94

Review

Everyone knows I have a soft spot for Amrut whiskies. It is easily in my Top 3 distilleries of all time. Not because it’s from India (where my wife and so many close friends are from). And not because it’s brand ambassador and Whisky Icon of 2012, Mr Ashok Chokalingam, is a dear friend.

It is actually because they ensure that the local community benefits from gainful employment. They employ scores of women to work in their distillery even though they can quite easily automate the process and save a ton of money.

But they choose not to. And for that they will have my undying respect.

Now add to that extremely lofty work ethic the ability to produce some of the most delicious spirit the planet has ever seen and you will begin to understand my infatuation with this little giant of the whisky industry.

Don’t ask me how but some how I managed to snag the holy grail of Indian whiskies: the first ever cask strength Amrut ever released. A beautifully complex young ‘un that has been first matured in virgin oak and then in first-fill bourbon.

So intense is the transfer of flavor from the bourbon barrels that, before I fact checked with Ashok himself, I was quite convinced that there was some sherry involved in the making. But that’s not the case.

This is a gorgeous cask strength spirit served at 62.6% and bottled in May 2006. My sample is from a brand new bottle.

Nose: Cadbury chocolate. Hint of smoke. Caramel. Oak. Red grapes. Red berries. Clove. Black pepper. Red apple. Demerera sugar. Touch of salt. There is a sweet earthiness to this whisky with the spices in the fore. A few drops of water will make it even more spicy. Tremendous.

Palate: Clove. Chocolate. Fudge. Cinnamon. Garam masala. Red grapes. Caramel. Burn oak. If I didn’t know any better I would think there was some sherry involved. Almost PX like. But now I know it’s the virgin oak. Powerful stuff.

Finish: Long. Oily. Cinnamon. Oak.

As with all Amruts the magnificent oak almost always plays a central role. Such is the case here as well. This is one cracking dram which I’m quite privileged to have gotten my hands on.

And you know the best part? I’m meeting Ashok next week and he has no idea I’m going to serve him this.

Rating: 94

Happy New Year

Happy new year
It’s been quite an interesting year. I started 2014 off with the resolution that I would add at least 100 new reviews to Malt Activist by the year end. At one point it looked like I would easily cross 200 at the rate I was going! 

However, I decided to slow down and take stock of my life and the importance and effects of alcohol. I took a month off to detox (which I do every year) but this year I also made a very serious decision to get my health back on track. In the exuberance of wanting to taste new expressions all the time I was ignoring the effects of the aftermath. Mild hangovers would lead to poor eating choices and the total inability to get any exercise done.

What followed was an alarming increase in weight as well as cholesterol – both bad signs! Hence, in September of this year I decided to change my life around completely. Got into a serious fitness regime where I employed a trainer, joined a fitness class and started eating right. Which meant alcohol and whisky tasting had to take a back seat. I was looking to find the right balance because while I love being healthy I still love tasting new whiskies.

I think I have finally reached that elusive balance. I restrict my self to no more than three whiskies per tasting and no more than one tasting a week. And never on a weeknight. This allows me to really focus on what I’m enjoying because I know that’s all I’m going to get. It also allows me to be a little picky with what I’m going to review. Hopefully this translates into quality over quantity.

My resolution, therefore, for 2015 is to review as many quality whiskies as my new lifestyle will allow. This might mean lesser posts in a year but certainly much more substantial ones in the long run.

I still managed to publish 133 reviews in 2014 which beat my target by a decent 33 more reviews. I’d call that a successful year!

Finally I just want to say a massive thanks to all those who visit Malt Activist and think my opinions are worth their time. This year was also a new record in number of visitors who visited my reviews. I hope you have as much fun reading them as much as I do writing them.

To a prosperous and healthy new year!

Longmorn 15 Years Old

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Distillery/Brand: Longmorn | Region: Speyside | ABV: 45% | Color: Gold
Nose: 23 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 90

Review
I had a super hard time trying to locate this discontinued bottle from Longmorn. The 15 year old has been replaced by the 16 making this crowd favorite quite a serious collectible.

I managed to get hold of one after reading some rave reviews pretty much every where and was waiting for some alone time to sample it. As it turned out Christmas was the day.

There is precious little information on this Speysider (cask, etc) for some reason which makes me very curious to find out the type of cask used to craft this fine spirit. I know there’s a mix of both bourbon and sherry but I would really like to know the type of sherry and the lengths of time in each wood.

While the lack of information is frustrating the spirit is anything but. This is an example of good old fashioned skill showing off in the form of nicely controlled flavors.

My sample is from a brand new bottle from 2010 and bottled at 45%

Nose: Brown chocolate. Coffee. Berries. Oak. Quite dry on the nose. Fennel. Aniseed. Hint of mint. Cherries. Black peppers. Raisins. Black licorice. Salt. Clove. Quite a bouquet. The sherry is on point without over powering.

Palate: Honey. Salt. Chocolate. Peppers. Oak. Cinnamon. Oranges. Melon. Dates. Fruit cake. Christmas pudding. The palate points to a delicate Oloroso or PX influence some where in there.

Finish: Medium. Oily. Oak. Cinnamon. Cardboard.

This is a very tasty single malt. I can understand why it has legions of fans. And I feel by discontinuing it’s production it has become even more coveted.

One of the more assertive Speyside flavors you will find.

Rating: 90