Chieftain’s Tasting Review Notes, Round III

Round III of quick notes from the recent Chieftain’s tasting hosted by K&L Wines at Martin’s West in Redwood city…

Chieftain’s 1991 Linkwood 16 Year Old

Yet another rarely-seen-in-distillery-bottlings…bottling, Linkwood has been around since the early 1800’s, going through the usual myriad ownership changes before ultimately landing in Diageo’s prodigious lap. Like Allt’A Bhainne and Glencadam, Linkwood spends most of its time producing malt used in blends, specifically Bell’s and Johnnie Walker.

The Nose: Nice inviting nose with candied apple and a little tropical fruit. There’s a few juniper berry notes as well as a slightly floral and tannic quality.

The Palate: Big, full-bodied mouthfeel, very lush. More tropical fruit and apple moves quickly into nice, rich, smooth malt and oak.

The Finish:  Medium long, nice lingering richness.

Thoughts: An excellent malt. A nice nose and a delicious palate almost dominated by oak but in a balanced and integrated way. 16 years seems to have been the perfect age for this cask.

Chieftain’s 1991 Linkwood 16 Year Old, Speyside

43% ABV

Score:  86

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Chieftain’s 1993 Glenrothes Burgundy Finish, 14 Year Old

Glenrothes has quickly become a mainstay of Speyside malts. Most of their distillery bottlings are matured in sherry casks as well as the expected bourbon casks, so this Burgundy finished offering was an intriguing one.

The Nose:  Nice nose, you can definitely sense the burgundy  of the cask.  It’s smooth, Vin Santo – y, with brown sugar and caramel.  Hidden well in the back is a bit of Juicy Fruit gum and pineapple

The Body: Thinnish mouthfeel. Some drying oak hits early and stays around with more bright sherry traits. Begins to get a little salty and ashy towards the end.

The Finish: oak, salt, and ash

Thoughts: While this starts with nice nose, it falls a little flat after that. It seems slightly over-oaked without anything to back it up.

Chieftain’s 1993 Glenrothes Burgundy Finish, 14 Year Old, Speyside

43% ABV

Score:  80

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Wrap-up thoughts: The new Chieftain’s are a solid bunch. There were a couple that didn’t quite work for me, but I still thought they were decent drams. The Linkwood and Glencadam in particular were excellent and, of course, I found the Port Ellen to be spectacular. To me,  the one common thread that stands out for these six Highland and Speysiders is the attention to the wood. The oak plays a major role here, mostly to the good. I also really appreciate that the line gives a chance to try lesser known malts from distilleries like Allt’ A Bhainne and Glencadam. These are welcome additions to the indie-bottling world.

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