Thursday, 17 January 2008

John McDougall: some samples tasted recently

John McDougall is a kind of living legend in the world of whisky. He spent his whole live in the whisky industry. As a distillery manager of prestigious distilleries like Springbank or Laphroaig or in other functions in about 20 other ones. More about John McDougall is to be found on the page dedicated to him on the site.
He is currently also an independent bottler and markets several whisky ranges. One of them is called "Golden Cask". This is quite a reasonably priced range and is not the top of the range of the John McDougall's whiskies.

Caol Ila 1996. Golden Cask. (10 ans, 58.5%)

A very nice nose, very typical of the distillery: plenty of peat and smoke . The sea is not far away neither. Right now, a great classic. In the palate, the traditional warmth of a Caol Ila with its smoky and peaty notes and some fresh citrus notes above. Not an exceptional complexity, but quite a good whisky anyway. The finish is very long, with still this mix of smoke, peat and sea spray in the mind. Unfortunately, alcohol remains dominant during the whole tasting. This whisky deserves some drops of water, and probably another tasting. 

Macduff 1984 Golden Cask (23 ans, 55%)

Flowers and malt to characterise the first nose. Nice spicy notes follow soon before making room to fresh hints of ripe fruit and cut grass. A pleasantly complex nose.
In the palate, an amazing mix of acid notes (citrus), slightly woody ones (nut) and a clear background of malt to harmonise the whole.  Not very complex but a very good whisky.
A nice finish, very pleasantly warm and relatively long which prolongs the pleasure of the tasting.

Macallan 1987, Golden Cask (19 ans, 54,7%)

A nice nose marked by sherry, on the Macallan way. Some chocolate notes and a touch of smoke. No aggressiveness at all.
In the palate,all the warmth of nice sherry with a slight woody touch. What a pity that the whole is dominated by the alcohol, as this hides all the underlying complexity. Adding some drops of water help a lot.
The finish is lingering and pleasant, marked by a memory of sherry and fine wood. The alcohol feeling remains alas very strong.
A second tasting just a few days later confirmed the nose impressions. Very smooth and pleasantly marked by sherry. A kind of light veil, a touch of moisture smell probably due to the non chill-filtering method seems to even enhance the pleasure.
The palate remains very pleasant too and the dominating character of the alcohol seem to be gone after 2 days since the bottle was first opened. Nice notes, with a light chocolate taste and still the nice sherry feeling.
The finish too seems to be much more  "tamed" than the first time.
A good Macallan.

Tobermory 1996. Golden Cask (10 ans, 60%)

A clear animal smell with hints of yeast. A kind of a mix of young leather and stable odours. Very light smoke hints.
The mouth is very pleasant and the high degree of alcohol does not hinder. Nice complexity allying leathery and meaty notes to other sea and peat ones.
The finish is pleasantly long and worm and the memory of this amazing whisky remains for minutes in the mouth.

Bladnoch. John McDougall selection 1990 (17 ans, 54.2%)

A very fresh nose, mixing smells of cut grass, hay and mint. A kind of duff smell seems to hang over this whisky, which enhances the nosing pleasure.
The mouth is first very close to pear alcohol and it develops later on some more bitter notes, without however considerably enhance the taste palette. The nose was really promising but the mouth is a bit disappointing.
The finish is warm and relatively long and fruity hints remain discretely present.Not this spectacular finish some Bladnoch bottles offer us...

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