Earlier this month, I was pleasantly surprised to find this sample set in my mailbox. It includes Claxton’s entire Spring 2019 outturn. Again, the English indie bottler picked a wide-spread selection of drams, ranging from an almost shy Speysider (Longmorn 10yo) to a wonderfully sherried islander (Tobermory 24yo) to a juvenile but complex Islay malt (Caol Ila 7yo). The gaps in between are filled by a fruity Miltonduff 10yo from a 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel and a savory Loch Lomond 13yo from a hogshead. After trying them all, I wrote down my tasting notes. To get five whisky reviews squeezed into one blog post, I kept the texts a little shorter than usual. Still, I hope they paint a good picture of these top-class single cask bottlings.
Longmorn 10yo 2008
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • Bourbon barrel • 52.8% • 275 bottles)
This 10-year-old Longmorn is pale in the glass and subtle in the nose. Its scent has sugared popcorn, fresh vanilla and ripe maracuya. The mouthfeel is full and milky with pineapple, pastry and a bit of citrus. Though the whisky is unpeated, it feels as if there is a very thin layer of cigarette smoke around the flavors. The fruity finish has a bit of an ashy touch, too. In regard to its character, this bourbon-matured Speysider is somewhat low-key. But that is exactly what I like about it. It is pleasantly unobtrusive and highly enjoyable.
Miltonduff 10yo 2008
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • 1st fill ex-bourbon • 55.8% • 248 bottles)
Last year, Claxton’s released an amazing Miltonduff 9yo from a 1st fill ex-bourbon barrel. Let’s see how this one turns out, which has almost the same stats (with the exception that it is one year older). The nose is rich and deep with peach, chamomile, cereals and a bit of spice. The palate has a waxy complexion. The first sensation is sweet with caramel fudge, macadamia nuts and forest honey. There is also a grassy note and some yeast dough. With time, the whisky turns more and more into a “veggie” direction. It ends on mushy apples, grilled portobellos and herb-infused honey. This is not an ordinary dram by any means. But it is a good one… a really good one!
Tobermory 24yo 1994
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • Sherry butt • 55.3% • 346 bottles)
This 24-year-old single malt Scotch whisky from the Isle of Mull is both the oldest and the darkest of the five. The sherry cask not only reveals itself to the eye, but also to the nose and mouth. The bouquet is juicy and fruity at first. With time, it becomes sturdier – nougat, raisins and spices chime in. Tobermory’s signature freshness (green apples and fresh ginger) is present as well. The taste is initially sweet with milk chocolate pralines, cocktail cherries and sugared cappuccino. Then follow red fruits and ripe plums as well as apples, peaches and blueberries. The aftertaste is a bit on the short side, but it is lovely – it has mint chocolate, strawberry sauce and soft raisins. I found this to be a delicate, refined and well-aged islander in which the character of the distillate is accentuated but not overlaid by the sherry cask.
Loch Lomond 13yo 2005
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • Hogshead • 54.3% • 286 bottles)
When I sniff this 13-year-old Highlander from Loch Lomond (a malt and grain distillery not too far away from Glasgow), it feels strong and compact. Chewy nougat, roasted hazelnuts and a puff of cigarette smoke make for a thick, mouthwatering bouquet. On the tongue there is again a lot of chocolate – dark, creamy and intense. It is accompanied by squashed brambles, caramelized pears and noticeable smoke. The peaty-puffy finish is sweet and memorable with marzipan, pistachio and hazelnut cake. This is a very interesting and greatly palatable pour from a distillery on the rise. For a long time, Loch Lomond has not been the most glamorous whisky production site in Scotland. But they are now correcting that image, one top-class bottling at a time!
Caol Ila 7yo 2012
(Single Malt Scotch Whisky • Refill hogshead • 60% • 285 bottles)
I already tried this Caol Ila 7yo at the Pinkernell’s booth at Kieler Whisky Messe. My first impression was really good. But I also had quite a few other drams that day. So I am curious to see what this whisky is like, when I sip it in a calm environment at home. Let’s go…! The powerful scent has heavy smoke, earthy redbeet, roasted pork, maracuya-flavored buttermilk, burnt driftwood and a shovel-load of vegetable peat. There is a lot going on in this young, edgy dram from the north-east coast of Islay. The palate is raw and strong. It has smoke, wood, zucchini, minerals, salt, citrus and mocha. The high ABV electrifies the tongue. Towards the end, the whisky gets a wee bit softer. It fades (comparatively) gentle and leaves behind sizzling twigs, moist harbor planks, brown bananas, chocolate tablets and, of course, puffy peat smoke. A real feast for Islay worshipers!
Longmorn 10yo 2008 (Single Malt Scotch Whisky / Speyside / Bourbon barrel / 52.8% / ~80 Euro)
Miltonduff 10yo 2008 (Single Malt Scotch Whisky / Speyside / 1st fill ex-bourbon / 55.8% / ~68 Euro)
Tobermory 24yo 1994 (Single Malt Scotch Whisky / Islands / Sherry butt / 55.3% / ~155 Euro)
Loch Lomond 13yo 2005 (Single Malt Scotch Whisky / Highlands / Hogshead / 57.5% / ~90 Euro)
Caol Ila 7yo 2012 (Single Malt Scotch Whisky / Islay / Ref. hogshead / 60% / ~85 Euro)
Claxton’s @ Web: http://www.claxtonsspirits.com/ (Bottler)
Claxton’s @ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/claxtonsspirits/ (Bottler)
Pinkernell’s @ Web: http://www.pinkernells.de/ (German Importer)
Pinkernell’s @ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pinkernellsberlin/ (German Importer)
*** Whisky samples kindly provided by Claxton’s ***