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15 Years Ago

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15 Years Ago

Postby Choochoo » Thu Feb 15, 2007 3:21 pm

OK, here’s a question for some on the forum who’ve been enjoying whisky for a bit longer than I have.

Let say the year is 1992 (or early to mid 90’s in general), what was the state of single malts, or whisk(e)y in general? What was the standing of single malts in the marketplace like? What were some of the better whiskies that were commonly available, perhaps ones that are not around today? Was there any whisky that used to be great back then, but now have seriously dropped off in quality?

The reason I ask is because I started drinking around ’92, and basically drank some of the crappiest stuff out there at the time. I was curious to think if I had “known then what I know now”, what would the world of whisky be like back then? I’d be curious about any memories or thoughts on this (so lets rev up the old nostalgia machines and travel back to the ancient days of the early 90's.....).
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Feb 15, 2007 4:03 pm

My drinking was done on a student budget and my number 1 bottle was Claymore because it was cheap. Single malts were obtainable from Oddbins and Bottoms Up - brands that I remember included Bowmore, The Singleton of Auchriosk, Highland Park, Glenfiddich, Bunnahabhain, Laphroaig, the six Classic Malts. Oddbins did have some special and expensive whiskies - I bought and loved a 24yo Highland Park 1967 - made all the more special because it was older than me. There was also an independent offy that had some of the early Flora and Fauna stuff in wooden boxes - I remember a Rosebank that had no flavour at all. There was no Internet and this meant that mail order whisky shopping or informative forums like these were unknown. Finishing was (almost) unheard of, although Auchriosk did make a thing out of being transferred mid stream into sherrywood. The best whisky tasting book on the market was Charles MacLean's Malt Whisky Almanac, which offered tasting notes for each distillery, rather than for each bottling. The Friends of Laphroaig used to send you little presents.
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Postby Mustardhead » Fri Feb 16, 2007 1:26 am

I also remember Claymore rather fondly :)

There were single malts around, lots of them! From a very quick skip through a Michael Jackson book, the ones I would have been in the market for at that time were:

Aberlour 10, The Singleton of Authroisk (I loved that whisky!), Balvenie FR, Dufftown Glenlivet 8, Glendronach 12 (I loved that one also!), Glenfiddich NAS, Glen Grant NAS and 10, Glenlivet 12 and Smiths 15, Glenmorangie 10 (I really didn't like it then and love it now), Highland Park 12, Knockando various vintages (more varied and interesting then than now), Lagavulin 12!, Laphroaig 10 and 15, Macallan 10, Talisker 10.

I don't remember some of the Classic Malts being around then but they must have been. Nor do I recall current standards like Jura, Glen Moray and Tobermoray.

There was good stuff around in the 1980s, I bought my one and only bottle of 25 year old Macallan in 1989. I remember Lagavulin 12 and I kid myself that I remember Talisker 8....
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Postby Wave » Fri Feb 16, 2007 7:04 am

I remember the Lagavulin 12 (non-CS) too but I'm thinking it was earlier than '92 ...well at least here. Around that time (maybe before) I was buying Laphroaig 15yo for $35 a bottle, after a large alcohol tax increase where most liquor went up several dollars a bottle the Laphroaig 15 doubled in price!! :shock: I never did hear why. Heck with this! I started to buy the Laga 12 and it wasn't long afterward that it too was gone. :cry:

In the mid-80's to early 90's we had a rather large liquor store, a converted supermarket with a decent selection of single malts. The 1st single malts I ever bought were from there which included Bruichladdich, Glendullan, Miltonduff and Macallan among others.


Cheers!
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Postby Choochoo » Fri Feb 16, 2007 3:37 pm

Interesting - Claymore, I don't recall seeing it anywhere these days - any idea what's become of it, what was it like?

Also, any thoughts on how the Lagavulin 12 was compared with todays 16yo?
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Postby Wave » Fri Feb 16, 2007 6:10 pm

I love the Laga 12, actually had a minnie left and drank it this last New Years eve. Just as I remembered it, a more in-your-face peatiness with undertones of chocolate and slightly sherried. The newer Lagavulin 12yo CS is a nice replacement for the old Laga 12, but just not the same.


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Postby kildalton » Fri Feb 16, 2007 6:45 pm

I think that talisker 10 in early 90's was very good,
I must confess I've been quite disappointed wit last batches of 10 y.o
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Postby Mustardhead » Sat Feb 17, 2007 12:35 am

Choochoo wrote:Interesting - Claymore, I don't recall seeing it anywhere these days - any idea what's become of it, what was it like?

Also, any thoughts on how the Lagavulin 12 was compared with todays 16yo?


The nearest you can get to Claymore over there is to mix equal parts Everclear and Thunderbird. Same effect I think )

Claymore is as rough as a badger's bum and probably as tasty .... but for those like Nick on a studen't budget in 1992 and the same for me over 10 years earlier, it was great :D

My memory of Lagavulin 12 is that it was like a cross between Laphroaig 10 and Lagavulin 16. The important issue was that it was very affordable. I suspect Wave is right, that Lagavulin 12 probably wasn't still around in 1992, how time flies :(
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Postby Muskrat Portage » Sat Feb 17, 2007 12:54 am

Mustardhead wrote: ...mix equal parts Everclear and Thunderbird. Same effect I think )...Lagavulin 12 probably wasn't still around in 1992, how time flies :(
Mustardhead, How the heck do you know about Everclear? - that's a dark memory from my University days in the 70's as well! ... Do you, mayhaps, recall Vaugn Bode drawing "Cheech Wizard" etc, in National Lampoon? Sorry, I digress yet again...
Choochoo:
15 years ago... I remember Glenlivet, 'Fiddich, Macallan, Oban, Talisker and Singleton of Auchroisk being readily available in the early 90's. Going back 25 years to University, it was the Glens Livet and Fiddich and Haig & Haig Dimple. Prior to that was Carrington Rye and Molson Canadian as my beverages of choice. hmmm...34 years of legal imbibing...wow!
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Postby Choochoo » Sat Feb 17, 2007 5:53 am

Ahhh, all very interesting. I have a feeling that the Talisker would have been my favorite back then, I still keep my eye out for the bottles in the older boxes. The newer, blue boxed stuff has a burnt tire finish that I can't get used to.

And Everclear, we had that here as well, that was dangerous stuff to mess with. Back in those days I was certainly misguided and often would go for the malt liquor (colt 45, St. Ides, Bull Ice :twisted: ....) - I guess I got the "malt" part of it right. Then again, when being under 21 here in the states, getting booze was serious stealth & undercover business, and we'd take whatever we could get.
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Postby Elagabalus » Sat Feb 17, 2007 6:05 am

LOL Colt 45 yes you are right. When you are underage any kind of booze will do I suppose, you just want to get drunk with your friends. 8)
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Postby Choochoo » Sat Feb 17, 2007 6:07 am

... like Billy D. sez: "It works every time"
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Postby Rudy » Sun Feb 18, 2007 10:25 pm

Hi Choochoo,

In the early 90’s single malt whisky was not as popular or widely known as it is today. The group of established brands was not only smaller, but were difficult to get as well. Now (at least in the Netherlands) any small village has a liquor store that stocks at least 40 or so single malts.

In these days, 10yo was destilled in the 80’s, 18 yo from the 70’s, older whiskies even from the 60’s. (no surprise, I know).

That means amongst other though:

That Macallan was really from sherry casks that were plenty available in the UK after shipping the sherry in casks to the UK. Afaik this has decreased or stopped (due to legislation: sherry had to be bottled, and change of sherry consumption in the UK). So good sherry casks are now a real asset. The signature of Macallan does not exist any longer according to my memory. Like Macallan OB 8yo, lots of character, never tasted by me again (not comparable to the Italian 7 yo). The recent 18yo distilled since the 80’s are uuuh….different. Very recently the fine oak range is released that reflects the issues mentioned above.

I (we) have missed the Allied bottlings of Ardbeg 10, I only have the 30yo.
A few years later you should have bought all the G&M 1974’s, OB 1975’s and Provenances. Ardbeg was closed/mothballed for a while, most bottlings now are from the new start-up. The distillery does not have any old stock from the 70’s left.

Port Ellens were around, also (or should I better say: especially) at younger ages.

We missed a few great Bowmores, not only the black one, but also the 25yo from 1968. They were not as soapy as some expressions tended to be.

Springbank was easily available at older (15+) ages. We should have invested in the 21yo. If it would not become more valuable (but it did), we’d had one of the more perfect whiskies for the rest of our life.

Originally, distilleries used coal to fire the stills and changed to gas. That was still recognizable in some whiskies bottled in the early 90’s.

I started to get into whisky later, halfway in the 90’s. So I missed a lot of the above things as well.
Some on the forum can tell much more in detail of the situation then.

So now there’re no good whiskies any longer?
Don't think so, still more than enough available than our wallets or health could deal with!

Cheers and enjoy,

Rudy
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Sun Feb 18, 2007 11:02 pm

From when i started drinking malts in the early 80's the only place i could get malts in Newcastle for a long time was Fenwick Dept store , then Oddbins opened and we could get some of the weird and wonderful , still got the dregs of a wonderful Cadenheads 1977 16yo Caol Ila Bottle YY !

i've got an old Oddbins Islay promotional booklet from 1997 (offers runs from 29th sept until 28th Oct 1997) with the Ralph Steadman Islay distillery prints in it .The offers were......

Ardbeg 17 £27.99

Ardbeg 1978 £35.00 (yoinks !!!)

Caol Ila 15 £26.99 (what price now ?)

Bruichladdich 10 £20.99 (the Cream label )

Bruichladdich 26 £62.49 (Stillmans Dram , i actually got offered that one for £50 in the shop , snapped their hand off!)

Lagavulin 16yo £25.99

Laphroaig 10 £21.99

Laphroaig 15 £26.99

Laphroaig 10CS £29.99

Port Ellen 14 £24.99 (Hart bros)

Port Ellen 19 £29.99 (Hart bros)

Bowmore 12 £21.69

Bowmore CS £29.99

Bowmore 21 £49.99

Bunnahabhain 17 £29.99

Bunnahabhain 1963 £79.99


A year later it got like this....

Lagavulin 16 £21.99

Laphroaig 15 £29.99

Macallan 18 £32.49

Port Ellen 12 £17.99 ( which bloody bottling was this ?)

Springbank 21yo £29.99

Springbank 1977 £29.99

Springbank 1965 £59.99 (the first Local Barley ?)

Ardbeg 1975 £29.99 (Eek !)

Ardbeg 1978 £29.99 (double Eek !!)

Wish i hadn't kept this info....... :cry:

Can anyone remember when the Classic Malts were £30 for 2 at the likes of Asda ? Early 90's i think
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Feb 19, 2007 10:31 am

You'd need to add on 26% for inflation (yes, I actually checked...) and these appear to be promotional prices. It is interesting, then that some of the regular bottlings seem to have come down in price since 1997 (the Laphroaigs) whilst the older bottlings have probably increased. But in a way, we know that Islay has become more fashionable, so it is understandable that prices have risen as demand exceeds supply.

There are plenty of bargains in the shops today. The problem is that we cannot spot tommorow's trends any more than people could spot the trends in 1997. So we'll have to wait 10 years to find out what today's bargains really were.
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Postby Rudy » Tue Feb 20, 2007 12:37 am

Could someone delete SoI's post up there, I got tears in my eyes when I read the first few lines, could not read any further after the first Port Ellen line..... :cry:
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Postby Mustardhead » Tue Feb 20, 2007 12:48 am

Rudy wrote:Could someone delete SoI's post up there, I got tears in my eyes when I read the first few lines, could not read any further after the first Port Ellen line..... :cry:


I bet Port Ellen 12 year old was about as exciting as Caol Ila 12 or Laphroaig 10 .... it is only worshipped now because the distillery is dead and the whisky is ancient ;)
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Postby Rudy » Tue Feb 20, 2007 1:33 am

Hi Mustardhead,

I gladly would accept your bet and lose it.

You're right that there's a sort of craze on Port Ellen, but that's not what I'm looking for.
I was offered a sip once without knowing what it was. But I know what I like. After the WOW, the answer to the obvious question was 'young Port Ellen' (don't remember, 9 or 13yo). Youngest I could get at that time was already 18yo. So what was normal then are collector bottles now. And we can't turn back time, so all that is left is to win the lottery...

Rudy.

PS: another example is the Springer 21. Now it's back on the market again at approximately 5 times the price SoI mentioned. I only wonder whether it tastes the same. If it did, would it still be worth the price paid now...
Last edited by Rudy on Tue Feb 20, 2007 1:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Mustardhead » Tue Feb 20, 2007 1:37 am

Rudy

Then if a young Port Ellen had the wow factor for you, I wish there was plenty around for you to drink. We should all be able to find the malts we like.

Roger
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Postby Rudy » Tue Feb 20, 2007 1:43 am

Thanks for your wishes Mustardhead, fortunately, there are enough options still around.

Rudy
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Postby Wave » Tue Feb 20, 2007 3:03 am

Mustardhead wrote:
Rudy wrote:Could someone delete SoI's post up there, I got tears in my eyes when I read the first few lines, could not read any further after the first Port Ellen line..... :cry:


I bet Port Ellen 12 year old was about as exciting as Caol Ila 12 or Laphroaig 10 .... it is only worshipped now because the distillery is dead and the whisky is ancient ;)


Almost 15 years ago is about when I tried my 1st Port Ellen, a 13yo Signatory (can't remember vintage), but those bottles and an '80 16yo Sig Cask Strength that came out a few years later are what turned me into the Port Ellen fanatic that I am today! 8)


Cheers!
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Postby Wave » Tue Feb 20, 2007 3:35 am

How the heck do you know about Everclear?


Hehe, I have a bottle of it in my cabinet! :lol: Makes great Cherrybombs!

Take a jar of maraschino cherries and pour out the juice, fill with Everclear. Store in the icebox for a month then use the supercharged cherries in your favorite drink for that added kick! :shock:


Cheers!
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Feb 20, 2007 3:49 am

I'll bet you could do watermelons with it, too, but you wouldn't want to get them too close to the barbecue.

The Flaming Watermelons would be a cool name for a band. Or a drink.
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