Mothballed Distillery

Review: Carsebridge 48 Year Old Single Grain Scotch Whisky (Diageo Special Releases 2018) by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Diageo.

Image courtesy of Diageo.

ABV
43.2%
Aging
48 Years; Refill American Oak Hogsheads
Recipe
100% Grain (Likely Corn)
Distiller Carsebridge (Alloa, Scotland)

Carsebridge was a lowland grain distillery which closed in 1983, but at one point it was the largest distillery (by area, not necessarily production) in Scotland in 1886. It was thought to be the largest grain distillery in Scotland when it closed. Scottish grain whiskies are becoming more common now, column distilled from corn or wheat into a very light whisky which is used as the base for blends.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Diageo Special Releases 2018

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2018

What a nose! It is incredibly rich, and not too oaky. I really like old, lighter whiskies.

It’s slightly sour, with lots of vanilla, and touches of a floral character. That combined with the vanilla makes me think of a dried vanilla flower, if such a thing even exists. Yet, the nose is still intense and oaky. Old, dry seville marmelade, dried dill, honey, and luscious aged whisky notes. Also, it’s a bit dusty. The palate has this - but it’s quite sweet, creamy, and slightly sour with a sense of umami throughout. The seville marmelade really comes out, but also the honey, vanilla, dried flowers, peach, and not too much oak at all! Finish is short and light, lightly sweet and clean.

I tried this next to Nikka Coffey Grain and it made Coffey Grain taste like a bottom shelf product (it is not!).

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). Nearly, but not quite, a level higher.

Value: Very Low (based on $1500)


Review: Pittyvaich 28 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Diageo Special Releases 2018) by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Diageo.

Image courtesy of Diageo.

ABV
52.1%
Aging
28 Years; Refill American Oak Hogsheads
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Pittyvaich (Dufftown, Scotland)

Pittyvaich is a mothballed distillery which only operated for a few years – it was only operated from 1975 to 1993. This bottling came towards the end of the distillery – distilled in 1989. Pittyvaich closed because of industry restructuring, but was used largely for blends so its single malts have never been widely available. This whisky has lived longer in a barrel than the distillery did!

Not the first special release bottling we’ve had (there was a 20 year old in 2009) – but this is quite fun!


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Diageo Special Releases 2018

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2018

The nose is incredibly fruity, with pear, apple, fresh peach, fresh apricot, pineapple – but also light spice in white pepper, olive sourdough, and mixed citrus peel. A bit waxy at cask strength, but this dies down with water. The palate continues, lightly fruity – but it has a core of magnificent barley. It’s quite beautiful – the barley, clean and rich, sits at the centre of everything – with fruit overtop and light oak underneath. It has a bit of the classic older scotch characteristic to it, which is a bit cardboard-y. Nice apple on the palate, and the finish is creamy and slightly tannic, with some nice spice. Great mouthfeel, and it really does well at cask strength – I don’t often like lighter Scotch malts at cask strength, but I’ll take this one at full force! There is a great mix of barley, fruit, light baking spice, and earthiness on the finish. A fantastic single malt!

The empty glass is rich and enticing, too – spicy and oaky, but still with very nice barley.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low, based on $655.


Review: Port Ellen 37 Year Old 1979 Single Malt Scotch Whisky (2017 Special Release) by Jason Hambrey

Thanks to Diageo for the picture.

Thanks to Diageo for the picture.

ABV
51.0%
Aging
Refill American Oak hogsheads and butts; 37 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Port Ellen (Port Ellen, Scotland)

Port Ellen, here we have another mothballed distillery soon to be resurrected. This special release was composed of a vatting of 8 casks, resulting in 2,988 bottles. Let's see what the old Islay will reveal...


Review (2018)

  • Batch: 2017 Special Releases, 1979

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Gorgeous colour in the glass. But you forget about the colour once you get to the nose – wow! Blueberries, smoke, mixed herbs, moss, straw, dried fish, rubber, and lots of sea minerality. There’s more – grapefruit, sesame, virgin olive oil, cacao nibs, leather...more? might as well - Wet heather (plants, not flowers), blueberry bushes, vanilla, alphonso mango, black pepper, oak, brown rice, dry bacon, rockpools, apricots, light butterscotch, guanabana, himalayan pink salt...

The palate is smoky, rubbery, and yet still sweet with a load of vegetal peat szechuan pepper, and thyme – lots of thyme. Lavender, candle wax, brown sugar, chutney – rubbery on the end. Perfectly balanced between the load of flavors present, the sweet vanilla, and the peat. Creamy, tropical fruit character is still here, too.  Quite remarkable. Brightens on the finish with pickled lemons, heater, clove, oak, szechuan peppers, crispy bacon, malty beer, black olives, and a good dose of smoke. And a bit more thyme...

One of the best whiskies which I’ve ever tasted.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: Low. You don’t buy a $4000 whisky for value.


Review: Brora 34 Year Old 1982 Single Malt Scotch Whisky (2017 Special Release) by Jason Hambrey

Thanks to Diageo for the picture.

Thanks to Diageo for the picture.

ABV
51.9%
Aging
Ex-Bourbon Barrels; 34 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Brora (Brora, Scotland)

You wonder how much Brora is still left - this is the youngest Brora in some years, distilled the year before the distillery closed. This year, Diageo started plans to re-open the distillery, which will come with much fanfare and likely expensive price tags in the future - but good news, nonetheless. Let's hope the quality matches some of the best Brora years...


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 2017 Special Releases, 1982

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Lots of creamy fruit on the nose, and tropical too. Jackfruit, kiwi, mango, toffee, slight woody smoke, soot, apples, gooseberries, blueberries, leather, light earthiness, almonds, lemons, rose petals, and growing waxiness – almost meaty. Immensely complex. Waxiness grows. The palate is much more smoke forward than the nose, with vanilla, butterscotch, limestone, straw, and lemon surrounding it. The tropical fruits still remain central, with spice, smoke, and the sweet vanilla/butterscotch/custard filling in the gaps. The finish is smoky, but bright with lots of fruit – apple, kiwi, white pepper, oak, and spicy tobacco. Dry, woody, and smoky with time. The old notes are terrific.

Not nearly the smoky, fruity Brora I tried last year- but this is still fantastic.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low. Coming in at over 2000$ in most places, even the best of whiskies aren’t high value.


Review: Brora 35 Year Old 1978 Single Malt Scotch Whisky (2014 Special Release) by Jason Hambrey

ABV
48.6%
Aging
Refill American and European Oak Casks; 35 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Brora (Brora, Scotland)

Yes, here is a legendary Brora - the peated spirit that ran from Clynelish's stills to supply blends until 1983 when the distillery was mothballed. The peated spirit was produced to help with production of blends in light of a drought in Islay which resulted in a shortage of peated whiskies to supply the blenders. It is now one of the most sought after (and expensive) whiskies, and Diageo has tended to release a vatting of Brora as part of their special releases each year.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 1978

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

The nose is smoky, fruity, and dry, with burning leaves, blueberry, light spice, beeswax, almonds, chickpeas, apple, orange, walnut, blueberry, rubber, with a beautiful marine mineral character as well. The palate is incredibly creamy, with lots of smoke, vanilla, and terrific drying smoke and wax character towards the spicy finish. An incredibly deep finish, full of creamy fruit, smoke, and spice. An unbelievable palate – I could keep going on, but do I need to? Should such a whisky be reviewed, or just marveled at? For this, the latter. First rate, classic, elegant, unbelieveable stuff.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: Low. You don’t buy this for value…