Port Ellen 1979 SV

Port Ellen 1979 Signatory Vintage (1993)

A few days ago, as I was approaching quite a milestone for me in my whisky journey, I made a poll on Twitter asking what should be my 1000th dram. Amongst the propositions, I had this Port Ellen 1979 Signatory Vintage and a Brora 1981, also from Signatory Vintage. With more than 60 votes and until the very last seconds, it was a ‘huge’ battle between the two, that ended in… a draw. Since I wasn’t going to do blend of the two as my 1000th different whisky tried, I decided for the Port Ellen to be the 999th whisky (because it had two nines in its vintage), whilst the Brora would be the 1000th whisky I’d try (and also because my first Brora was my 500th whisky, so let’s stay consistent). So here we are, with an old bottling from a closed distillery (for now, as it should reopen next year): a Port Ellen 1979 Signatory Vintage (and from my vintage, thanks for the easy pun).

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Ardnamurchan Distillery

Ardnamurchan AD/07.21:05 (2021)

Ardnamurchan‘s history starts with Adelphi’s, but not the nowadays Adelphi we know. Adelphi is an independent bottler, but the name Adelphi appeared way before the indy bottling company creation. Initially, Adelphi was the name of a distillery. So as usual, we’ll talk about the distilleries (plural) history as well as the bottler’s, then we’ll review their fifth batch, the Ardnamurchan AD/07.21:05.

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Drumshanbo Galánta (2021)

Drumshanbo Galánta (2021)

It’s in the village of Drumshanbo, in the heart of rural Ireland, that Patrick J. Rigney decided to build his own distillery. He was looking for a wild place, and he found it near Connacht, on the shores of Lough Allen, at the foothills of Sliabh an Iarainn (The Iron Mountain, a large 585 metres high hill in County Leitrim). The Shed Distillery‘s production started in 2014, and on the 21st of December, for the Winter solstice, that all the team laid down their first cask of yet to become whiskey. The distillery features five pot stills, three for whiskey and two for their gunpowder Irish gin, and two column stills for their vodka. They use Irish barley for their single pot still whiskey, both malted and unmalted, as well as Irish Barra oats, and Irish malted barley for their single malt. And that’s the Single Malt that we’re going to taste: the Drumshanbo Galánta.

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Glen Albyn Distillery

Glen Albyn 1974 Gordon & Macphail (2003)

Second whisky of my closed distilleries series comes from Inverness in the Highlands. We have today a Glen Albyn 1974 from Gordon & Macphail‘s Connoisseurs Choice’s range, at the time of their map labels. But first, let’s talk about Glen Albyn history and a view about how it ran at the end of the 1800s. Then, we’ll review this Glen Albyn 1974 Gordon & Macphail.

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Glenesk 1980 Gordon & Macphail

Glenesk 1980 Gordon & Macphail (2014)

During my few days in London a few weeks ago, I went twice to the absolutely fantastic Melody Whisky Bar, and treated myself the first time to a Closed Distilleries flight, and the second time other few closed distilleries as well as some unicorns. I took detailed tasting notes whilst taking the time to study these whiskies from now silent stills (for most of the whiskies I tried there), and so now I’ll put those notes down on those pages. Whilst all of these whiskies might not be as good as the melancholy for silent distilleries would want them to be, these are witnesses of other times and stories and as such, deserve respect and attention. And as you’ll have guessed, we start with this Glenesk 1980 from Gordon & Macphail this series of reviews of whiskies from closed distilleries.

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Suntory Hibiki 21-year-old

Suntory Hibiki 17-year-old and Hibiki 21-year-old

In 1987, Suntory’s Master Blender Keizo Saji decided to develop a blended whisky to reflect the sophistication of Suntory’s techniques. Suntory says that their Chief Blender, Koichi Inatomi, sampled and tasted aged malt whiskies from one million casks at Suntory. Maybe not just to make Hibiki, as 1 million casks sampled would mean 91 samples a day for 30 years… Anyway, in the end, Saji and Inatomi found the flavour they wanted by blending thirty distinctive malt and grain whiskies from Suntory distilleries, Yamazaki and Hakushu for the malt, and Chita for the grain. The first Hibiki, Hibiki 17-year-old was released in 1989 to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Suntory whisky. The 21-year-old would follow in 1994. Whatever the expression from the range, they are always presented in the brand’s trademark 24-faceted bottle representing the Japanese seasons. So let’s try those two initial expressions from the range, Suntory Hibiki 17 and 21-year-old.

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Balblair Distillery

Balblair 2008 #717 and 2006 Single Cask #77

We’re back to the Highland and more specifically back to Balblair. This time, it’s another proof of how friends can influence your spendings, especially when you’re weak regarding a specific distillery. You just need to tell some of my friends “new Ben Nevis something” and bam!, they throw money at their computer (not like they’re wrong when it’s for a Ben Nevis). Me… it works with a few distilleries in the same way, including Balblair… So we’ll review today a Balblair 2006 single cask bottled for La Maison Du Whisky, highly recommended by a friend who even offered to buy it back, should I dislike it. That’s how in love with that bottle he is. And we’ll review at the same time another single cask, a Balblair 2008 hand filled at the distillery in 2019.

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Echlinville Distillery

Dunville’s 10-Year-Old PX

Dunville’s is an old Irish whiskey brand that has been revised by Shane Braniff, the founder of Echlinville Distillery. Originally created in 1808, this brand was active and very successful for more than a century. At the end of the 19th century, Ireland was producing 14 million gallons of whiskey a year. Out of those 14 million cases, 2.5 million were distilled at The Royal Irish Distilleries – the original home of Dunville’s Irish Whiskey. Unfortunately, in 1931, Robert Lambart Dunville, the fifth Chairman of Dunville & Co. Ltd., died suddenly at the age of 38. He had only one surviving brother, living in Australia and who didn’t want to take over the company. The distillery lost its way, distillation stopped in 1935 and the distillery was liquidated the next year. The name stayed silent for 80 years, until Echlinville bought this Belfast brand in order to resuscitate it a few years ago. We’ll review today a recent years Dunville’s: the Dunville’s 10-year-old PX.

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St Kilian Distillery

St. Kilian Signature Edition Three and Four

And that’s another country I can now cross off my ‘have I tasted a whisky from this country?’ list. St. Killian is a pretty young distillery, as its foundation just goes back to 2015. Unlike many young distilleries, they produce only whisky. No gin, no vodka, no rum, just whisky. They do produce whisky liqueur, however, but using their own whisky. With a 200.000 litres per year capacity, St. Kilian is one of the biggest whisky distilleries in Germany. By the way, I recently learnt that Germany is second to Scotland only regarding the number of whisky distilleries, with more than 250 grain distilleries producing whisky, and 130 out of those declaring themselves specifically as whisky distilleries. However, when I look at the German distilleries mentioned in the Malt Whisky Yearbook from Ingvar Ronde (a must-read!), I have to admit I’ve ever heard of only two of them. Two possible reasons: either they’re not exported much, or I’m an ignorant. Meh, probably a bit of both. Anyway, time to review two of their oldest expressions (in terms of date of release, not age): the St. Kilian Signature Edition Three and Four.

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The Liberator Storehouse Special Malt X Moscatel Finish

The Liberator Storehouse Special Malt x Moscatel (2022)

We’re back to Ireland today, with a Liberator from Wayward Irish Spirits. Wayward, as whiskey bonders, offer several ranges of whiskeys: The Liberator, and the Lakeview Single Estate Whiskey. The first one, Liberator, is sourced whiskey that they mature, finish, and bottle on their estate, whilst the Lakeview is distilled for Wayward but with grain from their own single estate, knowing exactly where do the grain comes from, the target being becoming a grain to glass distillery. They hope to start distilling on site in 2024. But for now, we’re trying a sourced whiskey they matured, finished and bottled: The Liberator Storehouse Special Malt X Moscatel. Yes, that’s a very long name.

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