springbank 1965 local barley miltonduff 1966 sestante bruichladdich 1966

10th Anniversary: Springbank Local Barley 1965 / Miltonduff 1966 / Bruichladdich 1966

Did you know Words of Whisky celebrates its 10th Anniversary today? I should probably start thinking about a celebratory bottle to open tonight. But before I do, let’s review a few exceptional whiskies.

I didn’t need long to settle on a line-up. In the end, I decided on a roster of Scotch single malt whiskies where a Springbank Local Barley 1965 36 Years receives the lowest score. The other two whiskies were – not surprisingly – bottled for the Italian market many decades ago: a Bruichladdich 1966 ‘Riserva Veronelli’ for Moon Import and a Miltonduff 1966 23 Years Sestante for Antica Casa Marchesi Spinola.

Sometimes I use anniversaries like these to reflect. To take stock and look back. But not today, except for maybe very briefly. Over the years I’ve reviewed nearly 2,000 whiskies, a few dozen genevers and the odd rum or cognac. There has been the occasional interview or report. And that’s how I intend to go forward with Words of Whisky – it’s a log of my whisky journey.

Most importantly, Words of Whisky will always remain an independent website. Sometimes I come across online discussions about whisky bloggers, influencers, vloggers, commentators and the like. There’s not one that goes by without at least some sort of offhand remark about integrity. It’s often implied we are in it for the free whisky, tailoring our reviews in such a manner as not to endanger the flow of freebies. That irks me.

Of course, I can’t speak for anyone else but myself. In my case, Words of Whisky never was or has been about complimentary whisky. It is a passion project. And that hasn’t changed, even as whisky has become a big part of my day job. This website is where I can do and write what I want. It’s fully funded by me and I don’t make any money off of it. I wouldn’t want to. Because that would come with certain expectations from whoever is paying me.

Something that has changed is the increase in whisky sent to me by producers. It’s now to a point where I sometimes don’t have enough time to review every sample promptly. Or at times my publishing schedule (a strict limit of three articles per week) doesn’t allow for it. Some may view these freebies as a sort of payment. (They aren’t.) I view them as an added responsibility I take very seriously. I’ve always said that “my background in journalism means that I value journalistic principles, like objectivity, impartiality and independence, and apply them to my blog.”

However, I’ll gladly admit that staying impartial has become more difficult. In the past decade, either through Words of Whisky or other editorial work, I’ve gotten to know people working for brands or distilleries. And I’ve taken a liking to many of them. In some ways, that makes it harder to be critical, but I’ve also learned that most brand representatives appreciate honesty. Even more so, many have encouraged it, which has been very heartening.

First and foremost, I write my blog because I enjoy doing it. It’s my whisky log, remember? Of course, I try to make the articles entertaining reads, aimed at other whisky enthusiasts like myself. And I believe the best way is to be as genuine and straightforward as possible. I always attempt to be constructive with any criticism and explain my rationale, especially when I’m less than positive about a whisky. This approach has worked for me. It has fueled Words of Whisky for a decade now. And I hope it’ll continue to do so for many more years.

But there’s always room for improvement. It’d be great to receive feedback from anyone reading this. Is there anything you believe I can do better? Feel free to leave a comment or send me a message. With your feedback I can make tweaks and upgrades, so I can set up Words of Whisky for another decade. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that I still love doing this.

bruichladdich 1966 riserva veronelli moon import

Bruichladdich 1966/1983 (53.5%, Moon Import ‘Riserva Veronelli’, 2400 bts.)

Note: the picture above is for illustrative purposes and actually of the 1965 version of the Bruichladdich Riserva Veronelli.

Nose: It’s very sherry-forward, but that’s no surprise. Plenty of plums, some chocolate truffels, hints of nougat, but also slivers of rum raisins, peaches and Galia melon. Maybe some cured meats too, certainly a distinct graininess, a whiff of marzipan, and then finally crushed mint leaves.
Taste: Wow, much more intense than the nose suggests. Oily mouthfeel. Very bold. Slivers of charcoal, some diesel even. Then dark dried fruits, bitter chocolate, even some salt. Then that’s followed by mocha, ristretto and fennel seeds, as well soft spices.
Finish: Long. The fruits take the lead. A good amount of fresh berries, coffee grounds. and a few mint leaves.

A surprising difference between nose and palate. That doesn’t always work and sometimes leads me to lower a whisky’s score – not the case for the Bruichladdich 1966/1983 Riserva Veronelli. The boldness of the palate adds depth and intrigue, without ever affecting the balance in a negative way.

miltonduff 1966 23 years sestante sherry wood

Miltonduff 1966 23 Years (61.4%, Sestante for Antica Casa Marchesi Spinola, 1990)

Nose: Nothing shy about this one. Just a powerful, old-school sherry-matured whisky. Blackcurrants leading the way, but also a good amount of mirabelles, treacle, rich dark chocolate, white peaches, tinned pineapple, apricots and quinces. There’s a sliver of soy too, which not everybody seems to enjoy in their sherried whiskies, but I certainly do. Also old oak, bung cloth, burnt toast and earthen forest floors.
Taste: Intensely powerful! Probably partly because of the high abv, but mostly because it’s just a flavour bomb. The mouthfeel is oily, almost syrupy. Loads of dark chocolate, a few mushrooms, a pinch of white pepper, an assortment of berries, some coffee and thyme. Also slivers of cedar, a touch of resin and ginger. Finally slivers of tobacco and menthol.
Finish: Long. As in, you’ll-taste-this-the-next-day-when-you-wake-up long. Elegant red berries, oak and soft herbs.

It’s not too powerful without water, but I adding some certainly heightened my experience with it. The Miltonduff 1966 23 Years by Sestante, bottled for Antica Casa Marchesi Spinola, is one of those whiskies that imprints on you.

springbank 1965 36 years local barley 8

Springbank Local Barley 1965 36 Years (47.6%, OB, C#8)

Nose: Notes of hessian, damp leaves, dunnage floor and hemp rope alongside clear sherry influences. There’s whispers of tobacco, but some gentle red fruits like plums, raspberries and blood oranges too. Then a sliver of mint, wet pebbles, and light tropical touches – pineapple, mango, and pink grapefruit even. A good balance between fruity elements and more earthy, dunnage type aromas.
Taste: Gentle mineral touches with a fair amount of beeswax, honey, strong breakfast tea, some resins and a good amount of tannins. Also some white pepper, jammy apricots, orange zest and peaches. A soft salinity, and finally a touch of chocolate too.
Finish: Long. Somewhat dry at times with a good amount of spices (cinnamon, ginger, pepper), but also sweeter, jammy fruits. Just a sliver of smoke and a pinch of salt.

Bottled just in time, or maybe a tad too late. The palate of this Springbank Local Barley 1965 36 Years displays quite a lot of oak influence. Slightly tannic and dry at times. Having said that, it remains a sublime single malt with a mixture of traditional Springbank and restrained sherry influences. Truly excellent, just maybe a few points shy of world-class.

Photos: The Whisky Exchange

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