Requesting Help In Picking A Whisky, Aged 34 Years +
I need some help picking a nice bottle of whisky from a somewhat limited selection. I am planning a small vacation to visit friends and family, and would like to surprise my brother (who got me interested in whisky) and a good friend (relatively recently lured into the world of whisky by myself) with a drink from a bottle of something special. Having decided to fork out quite a bit more than usual (I am looking at things that cost three to four times as much as what I usually buy), I would like to make sure I get something that's actually quite excellent, rather than just "OK".
Certain criteria apply in this case:
personally, I enjoy a nice freaky Laphroaig or Lagavulin as much as (if not more than) a smoother Oban or Glenlivet, and my brother is really into Islay single malts, but my other friend is not too keen on the smoky beasts (yet, anyway - he'll learn, I'm sure). In order to please everyone as much as possible, something not too hairy would seem to be in order. I happen to know that The Glenlivet is a favorite of his;
also, admittedly perhaps out of sheer silliness, I have decided that I should greatly enjoy the drinking of a fine whisky that is of greater age than myself. While age is not necessarily synonymous with quality in itself, it obviously plays a part in the development of the whisky, and well... it just seems fun! I am currently 33 years old, so I am primarily looking for something aged 34 years +. Bonus points will be awarded to candidates aged more than 37 years (the age of my brother).
Now, I live in Norway, where booze is expensive and suppliers limited - in fact, you can only buy spirits from a single government regulated chain. I have looked through their current lists of what's available to order, as they don't have this stuff on the shelves at the local store. Sadly, their product descriptions don't necessarily include dates of distillation or bottling, so it gets tricky if, for instance, multiple different 39-year old releases of a certain whisky exist. I suppose one could ask them to find the relevant details if necessary.
My apologies for the extremely long presentation, but I do tend to go on... now, let's get down to business!
At the moment - based on age, maximum price, and availability - it appears my choices include the following:
- Adelphi Selection Bunnahabhain 1975 35 Y.O. (refill bourbon cask #456)
- Alchemist Ben Nevis 42 YO
- Benromach 39 Years Old
- Bruichladdich Legacy Series VI Single Malt (
- Caledonian 1965 (45 yrs)
- Caperdonich 38 Years Old Lonach Cask Strength
- Caperdonich Rare Auld Single Malt 34 Years Old
- Glenlivet 39 Years Lonach Old Cask Strength
- Glenlivet 39 Years Rare Auld Cask Strength
- Glenfarclas Single Malt 40 Y.O.
- Port Dundas 1973 (36 yrs)
Perhaps unsurprisingly, simply googling the various names has not left me with a definitive conclusion (I did find a very favorable review of the Alchemist Ben Nevis, as well as a disappointing review of the Glenlivet Old Lonach, among others), but I hope this community can help me out.
Thank you in advance for any help you have to offer :)
Less expensive stuff with a hint of smoke and not dominating you might try to get the non-peat liker into peat's merits would be anything from Highland Park, Springbank, Benromach 10 year, Glenturret and Benriach. However, stay away from Benriachs Curiositas Peat as it is as peaty as a peaty Islay. I'd think you should be able to find some of these in Norge.
I'm a fan of the Ben Nevis whiskies I've had, though I've had nothing older than 17 years. The Glenfarclas 40 is an AWESOME whisky, and I highly recommend it. Further to Islay, you'll find no peat on the Bunnahabhain even though it's from Islay; contrary to the beliefs of many, not everything from Islay is peated. Additionally, the peatiness wanes with age. In fact, I've had 40+ year Bowmores where it's a struggle to decipher peat.
Speaking of Bowmore, this is a good place to start a newbie on peat. They're not as big and unctuous as Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Ardbeg and Caol Ila.
I won't be trying to win over my peat-newbie friend on this trip, I think; he tried Lagavulin 16 and didn't care for it, but if he comes to visit, I still have a bottle of Bowmore 12 that's worth a try, as you rightly suggest. :) For now, I'll settle for finding an excellent scotch that can be enjoyed by all.
I see that the Glenfarclas 40 you recommend so warmly has indeed won quite a few awards, and descriptions of it have made me quite curious; unsurprisingly, it is the most expensive of my current options, and stretching my intended budget somewhat... but then again, not by much in the greater scheme! ;)
So at the moment, the Glenfarclas is looking quite good, even though I'm still rather curious about the Alchemist Ben Nevis, as well as the Adelphi Bunnahabhain... I suppose we're getting somewhere, though :)
I would put forward an older "HP" a bit of smoke but not enough to put your friend off... i too hate smoke but love the hps.....good luck in finding something....
I assume HP is short for Highland Park - I haven't got any experience with the brand, but I will keep it in mind for a later occasion, as I see there are several bottlings available over here. :)
It's not on the short list for this particular search, though, as I have my mind set on acquiring something that's aged quite a bit longer than the HPs I have to choose from at the moment. I am quite curious about what such a long time, perhaps some 40-ish years, does to a fine single malt. :D
Your best bet for some rare independent bottling evaluations and/or tasting notes is the Malt Maniac's Malt Monitor.
They taste almost everything worth tasting. Sometimes there are no notes though, only a score. An 80 is a very good score for them and an >=85 is a must buy. Take a look.
Thank you for the link - that's really quite excellent!
Couldn't find the Alchemist bottling of Ben Nevis 42 on there, but the Glenfarclas 40 is looking even better now - I also found some reviews of it here and there, and it does seem to be excellent quality *and* value for money.
The Bunnahabhain 1975 is running a fairly close second right now, and even though it fairly consistently receives slightly lower ratings, I am actually considering getting it because of its relative rarity (being one of only 157 bottles, while the Glenfarclas 40 appears to be readily available for some time still...) - any thoughts?
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