Whiskybase
Overall rating
89.00/100
votes
2
Category
Blend
Bottler
Portal Dingwall & Norris (PD&N)
Bottling serie
Blended Scotch Whisky
Bottled
1930s
Strength
86 (proof)
Size
757 ml
Label
4/5 QUART - 86 PROOF
Bottled for
Imported by Bellows & Company Inc. New York
Added on
08 Jun 2015 7:49 am by WhiskyLovingPianist

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2 × member ratings

3 × in collection

Whisky Reviews for Bellows & Company Choicest Liqueur

6 users have left a review for this whisky and scored it an average of 89.00 points

  1. WhiskyLovingPianist scored this whisky 87 points Connoisseur

    https://whiskylovingpianist.wordpress.com/2018/01/04/bottle-polishing-2017-into-2018/

    From time to time I crack open one of a number of 3cl samples I decanted from a full bottle back in 2015. Here’s two of those times. I had the first of these sample straight after a Macphail’s 1938 45yo [WB] [score: 89], for a random 1930’s mini series tasting - though comparisons were incidental. Talking of incidentals, the price I paid for this bottle worked out as approximately 1p per day of it’s lengthy life spent mainly in glass not cask.

    SAMPLE 1

    N: Lacking the density and complexity of the Macphail’s, this Bellows shows a far more basic nature. There is however a similar resonance between the two, though how I could quantify that is anyone’s guess. Whilst initially lacking specifics, it’s decidedly ambitious and never lacking in interest or intrigue. This malt’s body is somewhat metallic and Bovril like - think yeasty, meaty stock. So, to recap: grainy metallic Bovril with a touch of white wine vinegar - who can resist?

    T: Light and oily - thin sewing machine oil coupled with a light salad dressing oil, thickening gently as the grain becomes more chewy. It’s such a sublime & subtle barley led, honeyed development, the oak giving only light support. There is harmony however in it’s blended balance, no doubt brought about through subsequent years of bottle ageing/marrying.

    F: Having said that, the spirit is now more pronounced though there’s no denying that the oak does have a least some influence - this isn’t a NAS 3yo. What results is a creamy, honeyed and relatively vibrant uncomplicated blend which would be merely gluggable if it weren’t for all those decades in interwar glass. The finish however is the weakest part of its profile, a little dry and talc-y.

    C: I can’t help reacting emotionally to this whisky. Maybe it’s because it’s the first really old bottle I ever bought. It’s so simple and yet so abstruse - a new word for me. It means obscure, esoteric, little known, puzzling, perplexing, enigmatic, cryptic, mysterious. At times of [my] clarity it’s nothing more than a standard/fair ye olde blend, albeit with a high malt content. There’s certainly more here than that, but would these abstruse subtleties show up in a blind tasting? Of the samples I gave out, the little feedback I’ve had back would suggest so. Today, it scores a B-[86]

    SAMPLE 2

    N: Flinty, match sulphur on the nose, turning a little peaty as it opens out. Soon it’s a richer honeyed malt with notes of tomato juice, armagnac certainly, a little fennel and some metallic qualities. Ebbing & flowing, it becomes decidedly more grainy with some heathers. Love it.

    T: Even more metallic on arrival than was initially detected on the nose, but it rallies. Grainy, flinty and light bitter=sour sweet with a grainy, [metallic] lemon pith development. Forever displaying a high malt ratio, it becomes creamier & more chocolate-y into the finish. A Speysider, probably. Glen Moray? What are the chances? More likely perhaps is Glenlivet given the historical trade links Portal, Dingwall & Norris had already established with Glenlivet by the 1890’s [link], but then PD&N bottled everything from port to rum for international markets.

    F: Sustains for a short while before falling away, the savoury, cream>sweetness lingering.

    C: Love it, love it. Every dram an education.

    Scores a B[-]

  2. WhiskyLovingPianist scored this whisky 87 points Connoisseur

    N: Round three. Immediate faint whiff of peat that vanishes in a flash - but then reappears and disappears all the while. Develops quickly in the glass with a thicker more substantial body weight, more malty, fruity [stewed peaches>plums=apricots=melon], sweet tomatoes, a few soft spices/stock, floral-herbal, grainy oak & cereal, vanilla, resin,…  It’s a swirling profile, ever changing.
    T: Rather soft at first yet never thin. Rounded, then a little prickle. Sour grain then, a tad chalky developing on a waxy, dryish yet nearly buttery mouthfeel. Add water [in the mouth] for a more salivating arrival and a more rounded, honeyed delivery with a little oozing chocolate maltiness for sure. On opening up its decidedly more confident and oily with some sharpness and mineral notes. Quite some weight on the palate now too. A tad bitter>sour grain element now translating as sour-cream and a little liquorice? fresh.
    F: Soft sour, a touch of witch hazel - seemingly very short at first but stretching out as it opens up. A little cream with water turning sour with a vegetal, green earthy note. Mineral, surgical spirit finish, not unlike Port Ellen at the death but not as subtle. Then the cream goes on and on,... theres an afterlife!
    C: The longer you leave it and investigate, the more you get. Every sniff and sip is different. Lovely to come back to from time to time - the joys of decanting! 

    Scores an 88/89

    Further reading Whisky Monitor: 88[4]

  3. WhiskyLovingPianist scored this whisky 87 points Connoisseur

    Notes from [the brilliant] Nick, who should get himself on whiskybase ;]

    "I was impressed by the complexity, there's a bit of everything in there: malt from the barley, fruit, a certain fragrant quality that might owe something to its age, balanced oak, a touch of smoke, sweetness from the grain (an unusually low proportion prhps) all beautifully integrated with age and a touch of smoke. I remember enjoying a lot of dark flavours in particular, liquorice tobacco cocoa cedar box leather etc without the attention seeking vulgarity of too much sherry cask. I liked the 'non classic' fruit mix which combined dried with fresh perhaps. (Apricots and apples?] [You're gonna get so much out of that bottle as you get to know it].

  4. WhiskyLovingPianist scored this whisky 87 points Connoisseur

    N: Round two. Today it hilariously smells like a classic 60-70’s GM Speyside bottling. The phenols are much stronger with way more stamina/resilience to cope with exposure in the glass. Plenty of woody ripe apples, plums, light grasses, a light Baileys, vanilla wafers, minimal caramel, clotted cream, fruity cardboard [the two seem fused - aah its a mango & passion-fruits Innocence smoothie with the carton influence], mushroom crisps [another idea for the whisky cook book!], and lets not forget the soft but deep nutty oak. There’s clearly some good age whisky in here.
    T: Beautifully light malt arrival [Ootori WB], except this one gradually grows and thickens towards an exquisite gentile mouthfeel and steady/lengthy delivery. Peppery and yet sugary with bitter/sweet lemon into the finish - very much coming across as a representative Speysider today.
    F: What develops clearly here is soft and light summer fruits [melon], sweet lemon[ade] and plenty of cream with a dryish finish with the strong oak presence, easily matching the spirit. Later there are strong, dark chocolate notes with suggestions of bourbon fruits and tobacco locked into the wood it seems. Not long but a really neat finish.
    C: Ive calmed down from the excitement of opening day, but this is simply beautiful. i could drink a lot of this if i had a time machine.

    Scores a B+ [88]

  5. WhiskyLovingPianist scored this whisky 87 points Connoisseur

    N: After some cork crumbling issues, incredibly its intact and immediately clear theres a high malt ratio. Theres no cardboard but a vinegar note to start but this subsides. Then theres a malt sweetness, a touch of caramel, deep but soft oak is the with chestnut mushrooms. Seems fairly volatile, starting impressively robust but the feints are gone after around 10 seconds - needing to build up again under a lid. Its actually a fresh malt nose with some carbon, a surgical hint and even a peat edge too. Despite its volatility, for a few seconds it reveals its potential. Ive let a glass sit for a while and now its definitely behaving like a grand old single malt. Honey malt is matched by a mushroomy, vegetal,.. i want to say freshness but its too dulled for that, dry yet oily fruits with some more defined, subtle peat notes now. Some ginger cake is offering itself as slowly but surely all these elements unravel themselves. I’ve dared to add two drops of water. An hour after opening, this comes across as more of a single malt, with some peat, sherry cask influence, lots of sultanas now, and those fruity/oily mineral notes, its got it all, this could contain Macallan or Linkwood although now im getting a Lowlands vibe - Bladnoch/Auchentoshan, but im really stabbing in the dark. Either way, its amazing. and the high malt content is showing true now. Its interesting that the fruit notes are the most fragile followed less by the peat. Ok nose done, im dying to try.
    T: Hmmm, well its totally intact on the palate. Theres initially a pregnant pause until some peppery and salty malty spirit gathers pace into a gentile but steady honey malt delivery, turning more oily with a sublime honeyed, waxy mouthfeel - improved immensely with residue of water in the mouth. Then some light chocolate notes come out along with some peat and soft oak to die for.. Long, steady journey here and the mouthfeel improves minute by minute. Half an hour later and its way more peaty, almost Ardbegian at times with a creamy maltiness on the mouthfeel and to taste. And what of the oak. I can tell you that theres a perfect balance here and some superb blending. Of course the integration is utterly complete, having spent around 80 years in the bottle. This baby is magnificent. The arrival now is superb, its all superb.
    F: Only hints of [bourbon] fruits and a fresher, definitely grain=herbal, dryish oak finish. Quite a surgical finish, witch-hazel, a touch of Listerine and definitely TCP [but only a hint], also nettles and charcoal. At the death there are mineral hues that go on forever, and the whole mouthfeel is still ringing like a rock gig in the ears hours after the main event. Later on, and with water the creamy malt sweetness hangs around till the close.
    C: Volatile for sure but still easily able to show its dynamism from start to finish. I absolutely love it. That mouthfeel and the balance, ive never had anything like it - its so fragile and light and yet quietly enormous!

    Scores an A- [90]

  6. WhiskyLovingPianist scored this whisky 87 points Connoisseur

    Until an independent picture has been received and approved at WB, here’s what this largely unknown, mid 1930’s whisky looks like: whiskysauctioneer.com

    For further reading:

    Whisky Monitor88[4] and Whiskyfun:

    Bellows & Company ‘Choicest Liqueur Blended Scotch Whisky’ (86° US proof, OB, Portal Dungwall & Norris, US, bottled 1930’s)  Colour amber. Nose: this one isn’t weak at all and starts on quite some caramel, roasted nuts and something delicately resinous. Quite some peat in there, it appears. Grows bolder by the minute, getting rather malty and liquoricy, with also a little chocolate. Not grainy at all, I guess there was lots of malt (maybe around 70-80%). Very nice, that’s for sure. Mouth: sweet and creamy attack with quite some oomph. A slight bitterness (cork?) but nothing excessive. Develops on caramel again, apricot jam, caramelized peanuts, pastries… And an unexpectedly long finish on cake and coffee plus a little mint and maybe strawberries. And pepper. An excellent surprise, we’ve had many recent blends (and malts) that were much blander. 86 points (and thanks Konstantin)

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