It happened again, Loungers! Following the great success of last year’s event that I told you all about, The Whisky Show Old and Rare hit Glasgow’s Grand Central Hotel once more earlier this year (in February, as it goes) [Yes, Connas – how the hell has this report taken so long?! – Ed]. And, once more, there were more tasty rarities than you can shake a stick at, and I tasted some belters – including my first Dallas Dhu!

There was, however, one key difference with this year’s show: I WASN’T WORKING! This meant that I got to try lots more whisky and talk to lots more of the exhibitors than last year, and as ever the open and friendly nature of the people – some of whom are among the most recognised and respected authorities on the subject – was reassuringly jolly and informative.

And, since I’m nice, I’ve acquired some drams from three of these lovely exhibitors for the purposes of reviewing them for you! You’re Welcome…

First up, a wander to the stand shared by the show’s joint organisers Angus MacRaild and Jonny McMillan is inevitably a highlight and this year was no exception. My two favourite drams of the show – a ’72 Ledaig and a ‘66 Glenugie in case you were wondering – were from these long-time friends of TWL.

 

Jonny McMillan

Jonny literally landed his dream job, selecting whiskies for Berry Brothers and Rudd alongside the legendary Doug McIvor, after a long spell with The Great Whisky Company. Somewhat unsurprisingly, given that BBR distribute it, he was pouring the most recent release from Daftmill Distillery. And since I’ve reviewed all of them previously, a sample came back with me for you!

Daftmill Winter

 

Daftmill 2006 Winter 2018 Release (vatting of six Bourbon Barrels), 46%, £100-130 at auction

Colour: Pale Hay

Nose: Light creaminess and floral notes at first. Dig deeper for recognisable bourbon influences: vanilla, bananas, warm shortbread and wood shavings.

Palate: A little confusing to begin with. There’s a creamy and spicy combo that clashes for a millisecond, but then the creaminess takes hold, plus rice pudding with pineapples, then lemon notes lightly spike through oaty cereal dashed with honey. Fresh strawberries play their part too, wrapped in warm pastry.

Finish: Longer than I was expecting, and slightly spicier. Dry coriander seed washes in with grapefruit and the oak notes just cling…

Comment: Well, the Cuthbert brothers set a high bar with their inaugural bottlings and I’m happy to say that it can stay exactly where it is! And with their next bottling imminent (fully matured in sherry casks, no less!) they can rest easy knowing that I’m in the queue for one! You’re welcome, guys!

 

Angus MacRaild

Whisky consultant, writer (his work has been featured on the Whisky Lounge blog on multiple occasions) and leading specialist on historical bottlings, Angus had an intriguing Springbank 10yo bottled in the 1980’s. And since I’ve not reviewed a Springbank on here yet, I popped a measure in a sample bottle and brought it home for analysis!

Springbank 10 1970s

Springbank 10yo 1980s, 57.6%

Price – Ask an auctioneer! Forbes, feel free to interject on this subject! [An awful lot of money – Ed.]

Colour: Sherbet Lemons

Nose: Wowzer! Old School Funky (in a very good way)! Citrussy, oily minerals, maybe a suggestion of peanutty crust. Some seashore inflections and the faintest faraway of whisper of peat. Covered in lemony beeswax…

Palate: Shit the bed, there’s no way this can be 57%! Utterly inviting waxiness holding together a petrolly, fruity odyssey, coating the palate luxuriously. Healthy seasonings and that floral peat whisper following, with resin-like menthol to boot.

Finish: The mouthfeel clings for a welcome lifetime, somewhere between the medicine cabinet and digging a seaside garden. That menthol breaks down into its components of freshly-dug garden mint and tarmac, leaving a fresh seaside breeze…

Comment: Putting it simply: I love this Whisky. My vocabulary is not good enough to describe how much I love it. The Whisky Sponge Glen Moray I reviewed a while ago is no longer the best I’ve reviewed on this blog. I now need to find some more. That’s going to be fun *applies for overdraft*.

 

Fiddlers of Drumnadrochit

Finally, situated a mere 10 metres across the room, were the offerings from The Fiddlers Bar, who’d driven in specially from Drumnadrochit on the western banks of Loch Ness. Trust me, folks, if you’ve not been you should most definitely make a point of visiting. The entire bar is a gantry, literally whisky on every wall wherever you look, an utter paradise for whisky lovers (and the fish and chips are awesome too).

Occasionally, beneath the mass of joviality, joking, fish masks, and silliness, it can be easy to forget that Fiddlers’ proprietor Jon Beach is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to knowledge and experience of old and rare whisky. He also happens to be an avid collector of Port Ellen, so when I paid him a visit you can guess what I had my eyes on…

Dallas Dhu 12yo 1970s, 43% (as if I can afford Port Ellen in today’s market, you lunatics!)

Price: Ask an Auctioneer! (Forbes, see above!) [I think these are actually from the 1990s – very possibly distilled in the 1970s. Anyway, probably £150-200 – Ed.]

Nose: There’s that oily minerality that I’m noticing more and more in older vintage bottlings (I approve!), thin engine oil and waxy cereals almost bordering on savoury, with underlying lemon drizzle cake…

Palate: Malty orange oil with fresh herby inflections, lemongrass and overripe apples. Ahhh, the return of the wax, with sweet honey and a slight dusting of white pepper. There’s something I can’t quite put my finger on in the periphery too, maybe olives, but don’t quote me on that!

Finish: Medium length with that honey and pepper fading slowly into slight lemon balm and heather at the end.

Overview: This is my first outing with Dallas Dhu, and it’s good whisky. I’ll certainly be looking out for more of it (the overdraft may have taken to much of a battering at this point for a full bottle though!) before giving my final opinion on Dallas Dhu make. A good dram though, Loungers. A good dram indeed!

All in all, I’m reminded of one word from the review I wrote following last years Old and Rare:

“Unctuousness”

It’s somewhere within all the “waxy”, “thick”, “luxuriousness” that I’ve been going on about with these older vintage bottles. And it keeps my interest in these whiskies piqued. In my humble experience it is a lot more prominent in older bottlings than newer offerings.

The question I now must ask is, why this is so? Old Production Methods or Equipment? Something Happens in the Bottle? I’ve just been lucky in my choice of older bottlings?

Who Knows? Time for me to get researching, folks (maybe some more Dallas Dhu)! Thanks for popping in again, everyone, and a big shout out to Leonora, Olivia and all the Whisky Exchange team for delivering yet another great show!

See you soon!

Connas