By Bert Bruyneel, Belgium
Here after, you’ll be able to read my third ‘Stunner Report’… In the ‘editorial’ of my former Stunners Report, I had a few words about the crazy price politics that are recently being used in the whisky industry. I’m afraid this won’t be getting better, on the contrary. Another fact I had to admit is the fact that I really have to taste a LOT of whisky to select a dozen of stunners. A good experience was a tasting I recently did for Cask Six (a club in Belgium). They asked me to select a great line-up with top whiskies. However, I decided to give a blind tasting. In this blind tasting, I had put 6 of the bottlings I formerly selected as ‘stunners’. I think it’s too easy scoring with toppers. The challenge is bigger to make the audience happy with < €50,- whiskies.
The great thing was that every one of the six whiskies was voted ‘best of the evening’ at least by one person in the tasting, another great thing was seeing it is still possible to get good whisky for less than 50,- Euros. It’s also a good opportunity for discovering ‘obscure’ distilleries, and a new proof one has to taste as many different whiskies as possible.
Let’s not spill to much time talking, and let’s get to the tasting:
Bowmore 9yo 1998/2008 (46%, DT NC2)
Nose: a smoky and medicinal nose, typical Bowmore character, some floral notes, citrus.
Palate: smooth and dry, subtle peat, nice complexity. The finish is nice, full, complex and elegant.
Verdict: 88 points: so much more than just peat.
Bowmore 9yo 1998/2008 ‘Womb Ore’ (46%, Daily Dram)
Nose: very smoky to be a Bowmore, oranges, very medicinal.
Palate: smooth and creamy, keeps on being very smoky to be a Bowmore, lots of oranges and medicine.
The finish is very smoky, but gives a nice complexity.
Verdict: 89 points, again so much more than just peat.
Glentauchers 16yo 1990/2007 (46%, DT NC2)
Nose: nice oak, red fruit, banana, very nice nose.
Palate: slightly spicy and dry, red fruit, oak, gets quite some depth. The finish is nicely warming, and the oaky tones come through, nice one.
Verdict: 87 points. This one has a great price/quality rating.
Caol Ila 15yo 1992/2007 (46%, DT NC2)
Nose: real Caol Ila, nice peat, floral, some lactic notes.
Palate: peat, true Caol Ila, some citrus, lots of medicine, and some floral notes. Maybe gets somewhat unilateral peat in the finish.
Verdict: 85 points, a very nice Caol Ila.
Scapa 12yo 1995/2008 (46%, DL Provenance, autumn/winter)
Nose: very fresh nose, floral, mint, slightmy mineral, subtle touches of peat.
Palate: spicy and creamy, nice evolution, remains very fresh, a fruit basket, very subtle smokiness. Keeps on having a great evolution and gets really creamy in the finish.
Verdict: 87 points , nice thing and for sure a stunner !!!
Cooley 11yo 1996/2008 ‘The Dark Angel’ (46%, Daily Dram)
Nose: banana, some mineraal, malty sweet: 21
Palate: slightly spicy and creamy, banana, mineral, somewhat clean, lots of fruits. The banana aromas are dominant in the finish, a nice finish.
Verdict: 87 points, a true daily dram.
Imperial 11yo 1996/2008 ‘Lime Pair’ (46%, Daily Dram)
Nose: clean, mineral, grassy.
Palate: mellow and creamy, slightly smoky touches, LOTS more complex than the nose made us suspect.
A quiet nice and rather complex finish.
Verdict: 87 points. Pity a bit for the nose, but I haven’t ever seen one drink with the nose …
Pittyvaich 12yo (43%, Flora & Fauna, +/- 2005)
Nose: a forest, humus, glazed Brussels chicory, nutty, some mineral.
Palate: spicy and creamy, sherry tones, nutty, great mouth feel, nice sweetness. A full, warming and creamy finish.
Verdict: 87 points, a very tasty dram.
Laphroaig 8yo 1998/ 2007 (46%, DL Provenance, Autumn/Autumn)
Nose: a peat-bomb, lots of phenols and medicine, a hot racing tyre.
Palate: smooth and dry to get creamier, still a peat bomb with lots of medicine, some citrus on the second taste.
The finish is full and robust, with still a certain complexity.
Verdict: 87 points , a great young Laphroaig.
Auchentoshan 10yo 1996/2006 (46%, DL Provenance, Summer/Summer)
Nose: clean, mineral, herbal, some spices.
Palate: slightly spicy and creamy, clean, grassy, mineral. The finish is long and pleasant.
Verdict: 85 points, could perhaps have some more depth.
Benriach 12yo ‘Arumaticus Fumosus’ (46%, OB, Peated Jam. Dark Rum Finish, 1740 Bts.)
Nose: deep peat, very medicinal, fresh, citrus, barbecue, smoke from an oak fire.
Palate: smooth and dry to get spicier, nice peat, lots of orange, some medicine. The finish remains peaty and spicy, very pleasant.
Verdict: 86 points, for the true peat-heads !!!
Ben Nevis 10yo (46%, OB 2007)
Nose: a nice fruity nose, oak, vanilla, bourbonny touches.
Palate: dry and slightly peppery, apples, vanilla, bourbonny. The finish is nice and long, apples and vanilla dominate.
Verdict: 86 points.
So, again I wish you all a happy hunting after these bang-for-the-bucks. I’ll be back for more Stunner Alerts as soon as I find one more dozen. After all, this ‘quest for stunners’ turns out to be not as easy as I initially expected, but again, taste as much as possible from as many distilleries as possible, and after all … only your personal taste counts !!!
Stay tuned for more …