E-pistle 2007/035 – Spring Stunner Alerts

By Bert Bruyneel, Belgium

Lately, we frequently notice prices of whisky always going higher. It gets tricky of spending our money to whisky that performs well with its price/quality ratio.This is why we started nominating ‘Stunners’ on our Wee Dram site. Those are comparable to the Bang For Your Bucks that Johannes started publishing on Malt Madness in the 1990’s. Because that list is still frozen, I thought recent discoveries should be covered here.

The ‘Stunners’ on our list cost with no exception less than 50,- Euro a bottle, but they all have an outstanding price/quality-ratio (to our taste off course). We think it’s a good idea, even our duty that we, as whisky-lovers who have the opportunity of tasting quiet some different whiskies, help our fellow-whisky enthusiasts to spend their hard earned money to good value for money nectar.

From now on, I will make a regular ‘Stunner-Report’ on Malt Maniacs. For my first ‘Stunner Report’, I went hunting on Whisky Live Verviers (Belgium), and selected these bottlings:

Nikka NAS ‘Pure Malt Black’ (43%, OB, Btl. +/- 2006, 50cl) – Ca. € 35
Nose: A typical Nikka nose, nice citrus but also some fresh oaky notes, subtile hints of peat.
Palate: Smooth and a little oily, peat is more present on the palate, orange zest, hits of vanilla: Nice long and warming finish.
Verdict: 86 points – Great balanced dram, nothing wrong with this one … yes, the Japs are coming.

Glenfarclas NAS ‘105 Cask Strength’ (60%, OB, +/- 2006) – Ca. € 48,-
Nose: nice sherry, slightly nutty, some cardboard, a true fruit basket.
Palate: starts peppery & rather dry, beautiful sherry experience, a slight nuttiness which evolutes to the fruitbasket from the nose.
Verdict: 88 points – This one is the result of a great piece of vatting.

Tyrconnell 10yo (46%, OB, Madeira Cask finish, Ireland, +/- 2006) – Ca. € 48,-
Nose: Citrus, winey, malty sweet, leather creme.
Palate: Spicy & quiet creamy, malty sweetness and citrus dominate the palate. A long, nice finish, nice development, remains creamy.
Verdict: 86 points – A nice, easy going, not super-complex but well-balanced whisky.

These are the ‘Stunners’ I selected at Whisky Live Verviers (out of more than 30 tasted whiskies).
I wasn’t really happy about this ‘yield’. My quest for stunners didn’t go as easy as I thought (hoped). As I stated before, it gets really tricky for finding true Stunners. Now our Uber Maniac ‘kindly requested’ that I make that half a dozen, so I continued looking. I tried here not to go for the commonly known stunners, but got more into the more obscure material. I came across this one:

Glenlossie ‘NC2 Range’ 13yo 1993/2006 (46%, Duncan Taylor, Sherry cask) – Ca. € 49,-
Nose: Dry leather, slightly nutty, some pepper, mineral, dried flowers.
Palate: Enters spicy and creamy, malty sweet initially and flowery domination after. A nice and rather long finish, nice developpement.
Verdict: 85 points – A true stunner in any sense of the word.

Another one was one I already tasted before (blind in the Malt Maniacs Awards), and already had called a stunner.
However, I re-tasted it especially for this report. Thanks Bert Coorevits for the sample. Anyhow, I stick to my Awards-score …
I like this one:

Girvan 1989/2006 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, casks #110634 & 110635) – Ca. € 48,-
Nose: Surprisingly fruity, very ‘grainy’, vanilla, very nice nose.
Palate: Sweet and still fruity, nice and gentle grainy notes, very smooth over the whole line. Nice sweet finish, not to complex though.
Verdict: 85 points – Recommended to everybody who wants a good ‘Grain whisky’ introduction.

Laphroaig 8yo 1998/2006 (48,5%, The Whisky Fair ‘Artist Edition’, 420 Bts.) – Ca. € 48,-
Nose: Less peat and more fruit one would expect from a Laphroaig this age, very sweet, after some time, some smoked bacon, nice.
Palate: Mineral notes initially, but massive peat right after, whiffs of orange, creamy and mellow surprisingly complex for that age.
A long nice complex finish with some nice citrus notes.
Verdict: 89 points – I wish there were more ‘youngies’ like this one.

So, I wish you all a happy hunting after these stunners. I’ll be back for more Stunner Alerts in the near future.
I even would like to especially look for stunners from lesser known distilleries, things that are kind of surprises … the kind of things nobody pays attention to while whisky shopping. With this promis, I’m ending my first Stunner Report.