Hunter Laing North British Tasting Notes

Posted: August 11, 2015 in North British, Scottish Grain Whisky

Hunter Laing Sovereign North British 1996 (21 year old) 54.8%

Bourbon/ Code: SOV2121/ Dist: Oct 1996 Btl: 2017/ Tasted: Jan 2018

The nose is slightly perfumed and soapy with dried fruit and hints of lemon sherbet, toasty oak and vanilla.

The palate has a good depth of supple dried fruit and toasty oak. Hints of cereal, sultana, dried citrus rind and sweet apricot follow. Lovely intensity with a crisp, citric middle and a long, coconutty finish.

Hunter Laing Sovereign North British 1989 (25 year old) 59.7%

Bourbon/ Code: SOV2055/ Dist: Sept 1989 Btl: Mar 2015/ Tasted: Apr 2015

Pungent aromas of grainy oak and grainy spice show first. The sultana, fig and prune notes follow along with some fudgy vanillins.

The palate is full and robust. Toffee apple, chunky vanilla and soft grain notes to begin with. It sweetens towards the middle as the sweet oak kicks in and the finish is wonderfully fruity – banana, apricot and coconut. Good length with lingering bitter, tongue tingling spice and oak. The palate displays a lot more complexity than the nose.

Hunter Laing Sovereign North British 1989 (26 year old) 63.1%

Code: SOV2076/ Dist: Sept 1989 Btl: Sept 2015/ Tasted Oct 2015

A sweet and herbal nose with layer upon layer of succulent, juicy acacia honey and subtle rum-like dried fruits, ginger cake and herbal spice. Add buckets of big, toasty ‘Bourbony’ oak to the mix and you have one hell of a nose! It’s so honeyed and oaked that you can’t even smell the alcohol.

Full and honeyed on the palate. The alcohol is more noticeable and accentuates the crisp, herbal graininess of the spirit. Subtle, lightly toffee coated dried fruit and even subtler oak appear with just a fleck of vanilla. Lovely, intense, herbal spice finish with a touch of dark chocolate and returning honey. It still doesn’t seem like it’s over 60%!

A drop of water brings forward the dried fruit, mint leaves and gentle cinnamon notes. It’s still quiet oaky but a little more restrained. On the palate the oak displays a little burnt caramel now and the overall complexity is lessened. Medium length now with a touch of drier fruit and oak on the finish. Now the oak has regressed it does show up the relative neutrality of the spirit.

Hunter Laing Sovereign Grain North British 1962 (50 year old) 57.2%

Bourbon/ Code: SOV2003/ HL9930

Dist: 1962 Btl: Aug 2013/ Tasted: Oct 2013

A real, crisp and smoky nose as the intense, herbal grains emerge first, all set against a lovely, smoky, treacle background. Layers of dates, raisins, cashew nut, pine resin, cinnamon, pure vanilla pod and coconut unfold. Wow! The aromas are spectacularly good! Then the lush American oak vanillins arrive bringing some gentle, sweet wood spices and hints of coffee and mocha. Profound isn’t the word!

The palate is soft and open with some coffee’d tannins followed by moist fruitcake and treacle, shot through with a thin sliver of smoke. The gentle American oak rolls in with some lovely, mature wood notes and lazy marzipan spices. So full and now the mouth coating oils have got going its stunning. The finish has a lovely, textbook bitter/ sweet balance. On the one hand there is some intense, herbal, grain spirit but the deliciously sweet treacle balances, wrapping up all those chocolaty tannins and verily sticking them to the mouth. Devine!

Hunter Laing Sovereign North British 1961 (55 year old) 55.1%

Refill Sherry Butt/ Code: SOV2104/ Dist: Dec 1961 Btl: 2017/ Tasted: Mar 2017

Immediate aromas of dusty wood spice – cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, clove and ginger. These are followed by Armagnac-esque pruney dried fruit, liquorice, treacle, and incense. Wonderfully eounded and succulent with hints of vanilla and grainy dried fruit. Superb depth and balance.

The palate opens with the pepper and spice coated dried fruit with a touch of treacle, leather, tobacco, cinnamon, coriander powder, bitter, dark chocolate and gritty but super smooth tannins. Like the nose it has a superb, mature, Armagnac-esque character with a subtle charred oak note. Very peppery on the middle with some freshening citrus and grain notes coming through. Exceedingly long (around 2 to 3 minutes) with the dark chocolate, prunes, raisin and dried banana lingering. The grippy grain notes return in the after-taste.


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