Chieftain’s Tasting Review Notes, Round I

Part of Ian Macleod’s family, the Chieftain’s line-up of independent bottlings has recently found its way to the whisky shelves of the U.S. David Driscoll of K&L Wines hosted a recent tasting at Martin’s West in Redwood city to introduce the new line-up. The big draw of the night for me was another taste of their 1982 25 Year Old Port Ellen, which blew me away the first time I had it so I was interested to see if it would knock me out a second time. I’m happy to say that it did. The first time I tried it was on the heels of a couple of other peated malts but this time around it followed lighter Speysiders, yet I still found it as grand and complex as the first time around. It was interesting to get Whisky Wall’s Chris’ take on it as well.  He found it a great dram but not the best Port Ellen he’d had…which just made me tremble with fear and delight. I guess I need several thousand dollars to go on a serious Port Ellen mission…

So, without much random silliness, here are some quick notes on the first two of the evening with more to follow…

Chieftain’s 1976 Allt’A Bhainne 31 Year Old

An old whisky from a young distillery. This cask was filled in 1976, one year after the distillery opened. Primarily used in Chivas Regal blends, Allt’A Bhainne does not release any distillery single malts so this was nice opportunity to sample a pretty obscure whisky.

The Nose: Very stately, nicely oaked and tannic, balanced with fruit – raisins and lemon peel. A bit of roasted almonds, too.

The Palate: Full and slightly honeyed entry, a little herbaceous as well then the oak comes on strong. Towards the end, just a faint touch of ashy smoke.

The Finish: Warming and still ashy, not quite as drying and tannic as expected…but definitely oaky.

Thoughts: A nice, old yet still vibrant Speysider. This one handles its age well. Perhaps slightly too oaky at the end for my taste, but just barely. The ashy, smokey quality was a nice surprise.

Chieftain’s 1976 Allt’A Bhainne 31 Year Old

43% ABV

Score:  84


Chieftain’s 1996 Dalmore Madeira 11 Year Old

The Dalmore’s certainly a well-known Highland malt and while I’ve tried several distillery expressions, this was the first independent and wine-finished taste I’ve had.

The Nose:  Slightly odd. This had an almost  soapy nose…fruity soapy, but still soapy and a little plastic-y. A bit floral with some apple cider, there wasn’t much Madeira to it other than a whiff of grape skins.

The Palate: Ah, here’s the sherry, the European oak comes through right away along with more cider. Fairly drying towards the end.

The Finish: Peppery and more tannic than expected for 11 years.

Thoughts:  Hmmm…the nose was pretty off-putting to me and was a little at odds with the palate. The Madeira really only showed up in tannins, not so much in flavor. I was missing the qualities I usually find and like in The Dalmores.

Chieftain’s 1996 Dalmore Madeira 11 Year Old

43% ABV

Score:  76


One thought on “Chieftain’s Tasting Review Notes, Round I

  1. Great review, this one and part II. Looking forward to the next installment. Nice and detailed on each of the expressions. The PE was definitely great, it was just less “edgy” as some of the other expressions I have tried. I have some fumes left of the Provenance bottling – let me know when you have some free time to try!

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