Monthly Archives: March 2014

Glenmorangie Quarter Century Review

Glenmorangie Quarter Century246

43% abv

Score:  89.5/100


I have a handful of new Glenmorangie reviews coming up here on ATW in the next few days, but let’s get things started with the grandaddy of the family. 

While this may not be not the oldest malt the distillery has ever bottled, it is certainly the oldest in the current stable in terms of being a fairly regularly available offering.  It seems Glenmorangie just isn’t sitting on a lot of really mature stock.  Let’s hope this is something that is being corrected through proper cask management and warehousing now.  Personally, I’d love to see a Glenmo 35 at some point.

Quarter Century is, quite obviously, Glenmorangie’s 25 year old offering.  It’s price, while perhaps a tad extravagant for most wallets, is reflective of its coveted status at the top of the line.  I can’t help but think, though, that LVMH could have knocked about $100 off the price if it wasn’t served up in this ornate ‘perfume bottle’ snugged inside a beautiful massive glossy wooden box, complete with hard foam lining and a snazzy l’il booklet.  Yes…we all like good presentation and sexy aesthetics, but at the end of the day – when the bottle is empty – I can’t drink the box.  It simply becomes landfill.  Or an expensive (and really big) paperweight.

But let’s talk about whisky now, and forget about the baggage (even if it is a Louis Vuitton).

This is whisky with an almost universal appeal.  It is smooth as silk and almost as sweet as a first love.  Technically flawless, really.  There’s a balance here that could ensnare the non-whisky drinker and also please the discerning palate.  It’s a simple drink, but it’s very well made.  Sounds great, yeah?

Well…yes and no.  Infinite respect for the craft that went into creating this whisky, but I can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed with the lack of real personality and multi-dimensionality.  Big money should be rewarded with a big whisky.  We’re not quite there with this one.  Not too far off, but also not quite there.  I think the 43% abv is probably the major Achilles heel.  At 46%…now we’re talking.  At cask strength…I can’t even imagine.

Good dram though.  I certainly wouldn’t refuse a drop.  

Nose:  A neat profile built on orange and peach.  Vanilla and clean hardwoods.  Putty.  A touch of wax.  Good white chocolate with mild cranberry notes and some lemon.  Soft white-fleshed fruits and green grapes.  A smooth white dough note across all of it.  Very mild spices.  Maybe some muted lemon.

Palate:  Sugar cookies or vanilla cake.  More soft fruits with syrup or honey.  Mild ginger and faint dustings of allspice.  Oranges.  Very light (too light, actually) but…still tasty.

Thoughts:  The best Glenmorangie I’ve yet met (and certainly kicks the hell out the Pride release which retailed at about 10x the price).  This is very much an easy drinker, but is almost a little too easy.  I’d hoped for a bit more complexity and challenge.  Oh well.  A lovely drink either way.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

Springbank Cask Strength 12 y.o. (Batch 2) Review

Springbank Cask Strength 12 y.o.024 (Batch 2)

58.5% abv

Score:  88/100


I started writing this review a couple of weeks back, awkwardly tweaking and twisting words in an attempt to convey the points I was trying to make, but no matter how I worded it, it came across as forced and contrived. The ideas and analogies were applicable and relevant enough, but the words seemed to fit together as awkwardly as oxymoronic expressions like ‘country music’, ‘government worker’, ‘airline food’ or ‘good rum’.  It just wasn’t working.

After investing that much time working on something, however, it’s often hard to hit ‘delete’.  In the end I finally surrendered and, trust me, we’re all better off for it. When a writer, in any capacity, has nothing to say, or is having trouble articulating, it’s best he or she simply shuts up and powers off. That’s what I elected to do for a while.

Fast forward a couple weeks. Blank page. Let’s start again and simplify.

Springbank.  One of the world’s truly great distilleries and a last bastion of tradition and quality.  I’ve said enough good things about this distillery here on ATW that we can probably leave it at that and simply move on to some thoughts about this particular expression.

This 12 year old cask strength release was built from 60% fresh sherry butts and 40% refill sherry butts according to the Springbank site.  While most of the distillery’s output is quite good, it’s a pleasure to see it served up au natural, as it allows all of the gorgeously heavy farmy/peaty/smoky/malty notes to ring out with clarity and volume.  Drinking this one is like listening to one of your all time favourite albums on a great stereo…and then slowly cranking the volume higher and higher until the windows rattle and the neighbours are knocking.  Springbank has taken a great whisky and amped the shit out of it until it nearly overwhelms the senses.  There’s no straining to detect subtleties on this one.

Don’t get me wrong here though.  I’m not trying to sell this as any sort of angel’s tears or anything.  It is, after all, only a 12 year old, but you’re not likely to find many better out there in this age bracket.  Nice balance struck on this one.  And, man…as I hinted at above…so much ooomph!

If you’re new to the distillery’s output, I’d suggest maybe this isn’t the place to start.  It’s a little bigger than a ‘beginner’s malt’.  Having said that…if you already know and love Campbeltown’s (and one of Scotland’s) greatest distillery…dive in, folks.  This is a good’er.

Nose:  Smoke and farmy peat.  Kinda ashy.  Chocolate malt.  Caramel.  Just a touch of cherry.  Minty.  Very much what I want in a Springbank: big, heavy and malty.  Balance between fruits and smoky grains is brilliant.

Palate:  Ashy, smoky and peaty.  Fresh orange and some red/purple juices.  Into hard and dry pear, clean barley sugars and toothpicks.  Dark earth and clay or flint notes.  Nice arrival.  Loud and brash, but still showing there is some refinement.

Thoughts:   Not my favorite Springbank, but for a mere twelve years on this is an exceptional drink.  (Note: this is an edition from a few years back now)


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt