HINT: The 38y needs a lot of breathing time to fully enfold (15 minutes minimum, better more).
Wow, two extraordinary fine and complex 'tauchers that really justify the high price tag of around 300 Euro (it is rather rare that I do such a statement as I started drinking whisky when you got two bottles of sixties Ardbeg for such a price). Highly recommended to everyone who can afford such prices and prefers complex fruit-driven drams without any flaws. I do, for sure...
The 38y is of an amontillad colour while the 39y is one shade darker at deep copper. The texture of the 39y shows a fat sticky ring but neither legs nor tears and the 38y shows some very slow legs and a few fat tears developing out of a comparable sticky ring at the top of the glass. Wow, both noses are truly complex on dozens of different aromas of all kinds of fruits, some herbs, honeys, spices and summer floral notes. The 39y is sweeter and less herbal what I personally like a little more. But both own fantastic noses, no doubt! Drams to sniff for hours...
The taste of both drams is unbelievably complex too, just like the noses. The different flavours roll in several waves over the taste buds as if they want to make sure that no one is overlooked. The 38y is sugary-spicy-fruity-honeyish and the 39y fruity-fruity-fruity ad infinitum. But it is not boring as there are almost all kinds of different fruits one can imagine in there. Some spicy wooden structures keep them contained just like supermarket shelves while creamy toffee notes charm the taste buds additionally. I adore such fruity whiskies so this round takes the 39y again. Water is not needed on the 39y as this dram is perfect as it is. The 38y turns sweeter on some water what is delicious - but again I like this dram best when neat, too.
The 39y arrives instantly coating on the palate with just minor astringent moments from tannins, no wonder after 39 years in a cask. These tannins are rather pleasant than annoying and provide a nice counterpart to the sweetness of the taste. The 38y is comparable in coating with some peppery moments due to the higher abv (50.8% vs. 43.8%). No astringent or drying feelings from heavy tannins here, so I like the 38y better on this dimension. Both finishes are very, very long and you taste it even minutes after you swallowed the dram. The 39y keeps its flabbergasting fruitiness and adds nice chocolatey and nutty flavours to it. No bitter, drying or astringent feelings from tannins anymore - how did this happen? It tastes like a miracle. The 38y gets sweeter during the finish and adds chocolatey and minty flavours (remember "After Eight"?). No unpleasant moments either, simply adorable. Nevertheless I prefer the 39y again.