Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Benriach batch 15 1991 burgundy

Notes for the big boy from the 15th single cask batch, plus a few extras I had lurking in my notebook.

Benriach 1991, 26 years old, 49.4% A⊕

Single cask batch 15

Full term maturation in Burgundy barrique, 19/08/1991, cask 6898, 270 bottles

IMG_6006Nose - Cherry jam, chocolate Mr Kipling cupcakes and lots of wood - hard oak sawdust and a little virgin oak cask. The plummy, jammy fruit around that is intense though, almost a Cherry Ripe bar - maybe a bag of strawberry laces on a hot car journey.

Body - Soft fruit; plum crumble and travel sweets. The intense fruit is never off balance, big wood and icing sugar round it out.

Finish - Very long, really rich right to the end - it's almost Vimto at the end. The nose seems slightly more almondy and a little petrolly after sipping.

A marvellous fruit bomb, none of the nuts and sulphur this could have had - this was a really sweet cask. And 26 years full term in a red wine cask I couldn't resist. Despite the wood, this is a very soft whisky though and is playing a rich, fruity game rather than being weird or tropical so this is probably a drinker rather than a "tasting" whisky.

Then there’s a few Benriachs sitting in my notes that for some reason I didn’t get round to publishing, so they may as well go here “for the archive”.  These notes are from 2.5 years ago, I should do an audit.

Cadenheads, Benriach-Glenlivet, Rum Cask, 22 years old, 52.9% A+

1992-January 2015, 216 bottles.  Apologies to Whiskyfun for nicking the photo it’s the only one I can find.  I recycled my bottle of it a long, long time ago.

Benriach-Glenlivet-22-yo-1992-CadenheadNose - Austere, ozoney and cereal. Oddly lacquered, but with real depth and clean, hard oak, washed cranberries and talcum powder. Unsweetened rum might season this whisky but it's bourbon cask that forms the backbone. A great "boring" whisky nose.

Body - Icing sugar and Mukhwas, very sweet (from the bourbon) but very dry (from the rum) and totally balanced with herbal liquorice and hard wood. Even sweeter with water. The overall impression (particularly with water) is one of competence and a rich body

Finish - Medium but elegant. Mainly sweet though.

This is classic, elegant Scotch. No fireworks but very well put together. When I first opened this bottle, the rum was right to the fore, and perhaps a little too much. These are the dying drams of the bottle and the Scotch has reasserted itself. But it’s the nose that really does it for me; restrained and much younger than 22, but beautiful wood, musky and sweet, drying rum and very confident. This was a good one…

Adelphi, BenRiach 23 Year Old 1990 (cask 10698), 52.9% A⊕

benriach-23-year-old-1990-cask-10698-adelphi-whiskyNose - Light, white wine and deep orange squash, practically kia-ora. Oddly reminiscent of sushi too… rice carbs and sweet vinegar. Very drinkable, very credible - exactly what you'd expect from an Adelphi bottling.

Body - There's something oddly "right" about the delivery here too, maybe I'm just in a good mood. Sweet, a touch of cardboard, bran flakes and cereal, sour plums. More cask wax with water.

Finish - Oranges all the way down. Orange juice, orange wax, orange peel at the end.

Just a beautiful drinking whisky, even better with water. Perfectly played fruit, sour, sweet, wood, tannins, bitterness right across the nose and delivery, and all held in check making it a total drammer. So much so I stopped making notes and started just drinking it. Delicious.

Benriach 18 years old, Dunder, 46% A+

Thanks to Yoav, MBNDavid and the Israel team for this sample!

benriach-18-year-old-dunder-whiskyNose - Beautifully deeply peated on the nose, quite rich, warm and slightly dirty. Classy oak, ozone and varnish, love hearts, chalk and (almost) raspberries. With water, even better, with Grenadine, a little mint and lovely cask tones.

Body - Soft and tobacco-ey but a bit one dimensional. I am smoking and eating a tart tatin. It's really sweet actually; liquorice torpedoes. Much more rounded with water.

Finish - Long, white wine and tannins. Lots of wood oils. Sweet pipe tobacco with water and lots shaved wood. Intense.

I really like this - very robust, quite sweet and dirty but really delicious, quite a funky rum cask.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Cadenhead's Authentic Collection Summer 2018

As expected, the Ardbeg and Kilkerran are excellent.  As remembered, the English Whisky peated is too.  Surprise hits are the Glen Moray and Cameronbridge.

Ord 2008, 10 years old, 58.3% A+

264 bottles

ORD%2010-750x1000Nose - Waxy and quite creamy, with cracked boiled sweets and ripe peach, plum and a little parkin on exhale. This is one of those "young in great wood" noses. Zestier, twisted citrus peel with water. It's fruity and sweet but with a lovely structure.

Body - Sweet, spikey with balanced richness. Slightly burnt toast with dark marmalade. Bitter with water, unbalances the intensity of the sweet fruit.

Finish - Medium to short, hot on the lips and fizzing on the tip of the tongue. Boiled sweets and woodsy at the end.

A lovely drinking, Spring into Summer whisky.

Linkwood 2006, 11 years old, 59.3% A-

294 bottles

LINKWOOD%2011%2059_3-750x1000Nose - As fresh and fruity as the Ord but more grown up, there's leather jacket and midget gems, rose petals and a little spearmint. Oddly masculine for all that, though.

Body - Very ripe and fruity, very sweet. Some unsettling new-make notes on top of that, acetone and liquorice, but it is very drinkable nonetheless.

Finish - Short-ish, although the liquorice lingers. Quite an afterglow of boiled sweets, hard malt, liquorice and some tar though.

An initially exciting whisky with flaws that build up over time.

Cameronbridge 1984, 34 years old, 50.3% A⊕'

180 bottles

CAMERONBRIDGE%2034-750x1000Nose - Beautifully sweet and ripe, full of fruit (orange, plum), petrichor and deep cask wax. Old, varnished woods, buttercream and cigar tobacco.

Body - Gentle and beautiful, apple pie (crusted brown sugar and French brown pastry), tobacco leaf and gentle rum notes.

Finish - The grain comes through in the finish, it's medium length with apple juice, blonde wood and caramelised sugar.

A world class nose and delicious drinking, this is a fantastic grain.

Glenrothes 2001, 16 years old, 52.6% A⊕

210 bottles

GLENROTHES%2016%2052_6-750x1000Nose - Deep and fruity, fruit salad chews with black jacks after. Ripe orange, warm toffee, and that appley note that yesterday's acrylic varnish has. Extremely reassuring.

Body - Rich fruit toffee, but still very gentle with coffee chocolates late in the delivery. Somewhat dusty and almost medicinal in the middle though, not as luxurious as the 20-somethings we've been spoiled by.

Finish - Long, sweet and oily, not quite clarty though. Those Éclair chocolate/toffee sweets at the end.

I'm such a fan of this distillery. Rich, rewarding, effortlessly fruity and sweet but not unbalanced.

Bladnoch 1992, 26 years old, 49.3% A⊕

246 bottles

BLADNOCH%2026%2049_3%20-750x1000Nose - Bright but breezy, it's always laundry with Bladnoch! It approaches you very sweet but pulls it at the last minute, it's kind of dry and fresh, not quite mineral, sort of nutty. Elegant on the nose, good waxes, leather and toffee… and apple pips, but we'll see in the delivery.

Body - Rich with a real backbone to it, numbing wood oils and a deep sweetness, but gentle and dry, balanced out by touches of Morello cherry jam.

Finish - Long with the wood oils, liquorice imps and a touch of calvados.

They're either elegant and special, or a bit boring, and this is a good one. A contemplating, tasting whisky rather than a glugger though.

Cognac Grosperrin, 32 years old, 52.8% A⊕+

384 bottles

COGNAC%2032-750x1000Nose - Dry, with dusty raisins, linseed oil, oil caraway seeds and dried orange slices. There's a deep sweetness underneath that but the dryness is practically medicinal. Satchel territory.

Body - Incredibly rich, tart tatin and intense, tar levels of wood extraction (not overdone though). That tart tatin, caramelised fruit and crumble thing is brilliant.

Finish - Burnt, brown apple slices, charred pork crackling and liquorice imps. It's extremely deep, full of apples, raspberry, farmyard hay and oak.

To be this dry on the nose, then intensely fruity and wooded on the delivery - brilliant. This is a massive spirit and a far cry from the ultra-balanced blended cognacs I have been getting into.

Ardbeg 1993, 24 years old, 54.6% A⊕+

138 bottles. 138! Across all Cadenhead's shops.

fullsizeoutput_479-750x1000Nose - Sweet, heavenly, dusty, Islay peat! Wood glue and sawdust, cold white wine and Refreshers. Fresh, white and dusty with marshmallows, buttercream icing and Foxes glacier fruits. A freshly opened pack of wound dressing, and an old, brown, hard leather jacket.

Body - Deep but bitter wooded, apple slices cut and browning, very sweet but excitingly wooded.

Finish - Very long, with cigarette tar, apple pips and stalk, polos and chalky bonbons.

This doesn't disappoint. I've found old Ardbeg is sometimes disappointingly light but this ticks all the right boxes (sorry).

Balmenach 2005, 13 years old, 53.5% A+

294 bottles

BALMENACH%20294%20BOTTLES%20-750x1000Nose - Fresh orange juice, very zesty and slightly punch-in-the-nose, but there's a sense of biting into an orange quarter here (pulp and pith and lots of juice). Fruitier but more burnt with water, seriously hot by the pool. It's a tannic and bright, hot Summer whisky.

Body - Sweet but hot and burnt, with cigar tobacco and liquorice Rizlas. Ripe and dark with water, the wood oils still dominate.

Finish - Long with dark toffee (caught) and liquorice imps.

This is an absolutely fantastic whisky; it's challenging and a bit palate crushing in some ways, but it's balanced, interesting and great to drink. It'd be great by the glass or at a tasting, be a bit tiring for a bottle.

Benrinnes 2004, 14 years old, 56.9% B+

294 bottles

BENRINNES%2014%2056_9%20-750x1000Nose - Almost minty fresh, with peach, wax and cold Chardonnay. Lemon peel and orange juice, and a little candied peel. Even more Summery with water, gin and orange juice.

Body - Very sweet but very hot, unexpectedly nutty and a little butyric. Fruity boiled sweets. Comes together much better with water, the fruit is intense.

Finish - Medium long with intense sugar, numbing oils and hard oak.

A typically tropical Benrinnes, but quite hot and spicy and a little too sweet.

Kilkerran 2007, 11 years old, 58.1% A⊕

564 bottles, sherry butt.  The first independent Kilkerran, outside of the warehouse tasting bottles.

KILKERRAN%2011-750x1000Nose - Sweet, sharp and dusty. Sawdust and splintered varnish, coal dust, mint leaves and blackcurrant ice cream. Deep and intensely fruited but with a lovely cakey richness to it.

Body - Blackcurrant chews, Corvonia chesty cough mixture and cherry tunes. Rich wine cask and Campbeltown peat now makes me think of cloves.

Finish - Medium to long, really rich - it's a proper sherry bomb. Cherries at the end with a little rosemary.

Dusty, red and fruity, very rich but balanced. Another reasonably young but intense wine cask from Campbeltown, a cracking drammer.

Glen Moray 1992, 25 years old, 52.5% A⊕+'

204 bottles.

GLENMORAY%2025%2052_5%20-750x1000Nose - Slightly sharp, dried coconut, ozone and bonbons. Some kind of punch with orange slices, mint leaves and pear (?) in it. It's fresh, fruity and lush.

Body - Soft, tropical, but beautifully structured - mineral and lightly wooded into tropical fruit, Refreshers, then sawdust.

Finish - Long with a slight char, burnt sesame seeds and a little hazelnut. That dusty sweetshop note continues right to the end.

Love the Refreshers in this fruity, Summery and beautifully structured whisky. An unexpected highlight of the outturn.

Glenfarclas 1988, 30 years old, 50.9% A⊕+

GLENFARCLAS%2030%2050_9%20-750x1000Nose - Slightly more savoury and meaty than the Glen Moray, although it has sponge cake, vanilla cream and some sherry vinegar. It is rich, deep and very well balanced.

Body - Jewelled, tropical but a little fizzing and tannic. There is something in this whisky I can't place, some food item.

Finish - Very long, good tannins and creamy with warm citrus to the end... woodsy at the very end.

A properly grown up whisky, wears its age very well.

English Whisky Company 2009, peated, 8 years old, 61.9% A+

228 bottles

ENGLISH%208%2061_9%20-750x1000Nose - Confidently peated, like a top quality but young (modern) Laphroaig (last time my notes said Caol Ila!). Good fizzing, flinty and cold.

Body - Ripe, clean and fizzing - cold pear and Refreshers. Lily petals.

Finish - Long and white, with lemon sorbet and candy cigarettes.

As brilliant a young peater as I remember it from the festival, they’ve struck gold with this cask. Well recommended.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Tomintoul Five Decades

Thanks to Stephen at Cadenhead’s for giving me the sample!

Tomintoul Five Decades, 50% A⊕

tomintoul-five-decades-50th-anniversary-whiskyNose - Sweet and sour, whistle pops and posh apple juice, beautifully fruited but quite arresting with that sour note and some cask wax. Not exactly what you'd expect from Tomintoul, much more challenging, but very good.

Body - Cleanly fruited again, satsumas and barley sugar. Maybe fruit polos. Sweet and deliciously fruity.

Finish - Long and gently tannic with splints, orange peel and a little liquorice imp.

This is an extremely crushable and delicious whisky, lots of fruit and sugar but very drinkable with a long, balanced, structured finish.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Two Croftengeas

Croftengea is the most heavily peated malt that’s made at Loch Lomond in their special stills with rectifying columns rather than lyne arms that definitely aren’t Lomond stills.  A bit of an oddity, so it was very interesting to see two different single casks released within weeks of each other.

The character of these is very distinctive, a sort of warm, herbal peat, quite intense and along the lines of an Octomore or wine cask Longrow to my taste. 

SMWS 122.21, What’s cooking?, 15 years old, Croftengea,  56.8% A⊕

16th April 2002, 2nd fill bourbon then ex-sherry, 220 bottles

IMG_5827Nose - Rich, off sweet, with clotted cream, leather jacket, warm white wine and Morello cherry jam. There is a weird, warm richness to these Croftengeas which is extremely reassuring.

Body - Blackberry fool, more cherry jam and warm, creamy peat. Peppered pork crackling and apple sauce.

Finish - Fizzing peat, black pepper with liquorice root at the end. Quite spicy after a few sips.

A wonderfully weird but lovely thing to drink.

TWE exclusive Croftengea, 9 years old, 54.8% A+

IMG_5826Nose - Brighter than the society cask but still has that apple note; fresh green apple and cheap apple juice. Weirdly there's a sweet, orange thing here too, like chicken tikka masala - turmeric, sugar, cloves and cinnamon. It's very herbal.

Body - Light and dry, quite dirty and almost struck-match (not that it's sulphury, it's more gunpowder). That dirty feeling was a bit of a turn off when the bottle was fresh open but things have improved over time. Repeated sips accentuate the sugar and fruit over the matches.

Finish - Long and farmyardy, with straw, dung, baked apples (raisins and custard). Lots of liquorice and black pepper at the end.

Spicier and dirtier than the society cask, and fascinating in its own way. Both of these casks are great buys, but the SMWS one I know I will finish first.

Just a note to say that when you mix them together it's a brilliant single malt. Highly recommend you make a 20cl bottle of this!

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Vit’s Whiskies

These two whiskies have nothing in common except that Vit gave samples of them to me when we met at Campbeltown festival.  Thanks Vit!

Cadenhead's 175th, Burnside 28 years old, 47.3% A⊕+

132 bottles

burnsideNose - Immediate bright, a huge bubblegum nose full of sweetshop fruits - a tropical cask. Behind this an almost charred wort, burnt plastic in the distance, pink foam shrimp and spray paint. Pretty massive, very interesting.

Body - Soft but numbingly wooded, with liquorice torpedoes, cracked black pepper and neat Vimto. Marshmallow and Turkish Delight later.

Finish - Long but extremely soft and gentle, deliciously floral with more rose water and more pink shrimp. There's a bitter, astringent edge to the finish which is practically virgin oaky but it's held together with fruit and complexity.

What a wonderful but weird whisky, in some ways it's over-wooded, but then there's this incredibly floral and pink character to it. Absolutely fascinating and a wonderful thing to drink.

Ladyburn 27 years old, 50.4% A⊕

Rotation 4437

ladyburnNose - A weird combination of bright/sour that I would associate with new whisky and virgin oak (again) and an underlying orchard fruit, bound together by cask, liquorice and wax. The longer you smell it the creamier it becomes.

Body - Liquorice root, warm white wine, buttercream and deep waxy cask. It's bizarre, again - quite a pair of whiskies these - reminds me of an American rye whisky. There is an undeniable lowland character to this though, a few sips in and it starts to dominate.

Finish - Long and numbing, Nice biscuits and Jammy Dodgers. Lots of peppery fizz at the end, backed up by clotted cream and contrasting tannins.

Quite a rollercoaster, the character is decidedly odd for an old Scotch, but the more you dig the better it gets. The long lasting tannins are very moreish.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Campbeltown Festival 2018




Day 1, 23rd May

Springbank Society Tasting, 23.05.2018 11:00

Blind tasting, pick the best one to be bottled. Although at the end they admitted the chosen cask would be blended with two other casks!  So not sure what we really picked here.


1. n- Fresh, chalky wax, light mint. Slightly herbal, beautiful fresh vanilla. b- Clean, crushed barley and mineral. Ozone and slightly burnt sugar. f- Medium with royal icing and caraway. Clean and delicious drinker.

Guess 8yo Hazelburn, FB - A

2. n-Sweet and mineral, a little roast pork, some ghostly peat. Buttercream icing. b- Singed splints and a touch of gunpowder, fizzing refreshers. Quite light and slightly plastic. f- Long and hot with charred oak and pepper, very drying. Quite an austere whisky, a little hard going.

Guess 8yo Hazelburn, RB - B+

3. n- Fresh and complex, beautifully fruited and quite ancient peat. b- Clean fruit, a bit of dirty malt, quite cheesy, oddly rotten. Very hot with sulphur although not cabbagey. f- Long, fizzing and drying, quite a sulphur burnt note to it at the end. Challenging and quite hot but lots of fruit.

Guess 18yo Springbank, RS A⊖

4. n- Sweet, dirty like hot dogs and mustard, quite nutty like a wine cask with old library. Beautifully dusty. b- Nutty and dirty, definitely a refill wine cask. A touch of balsamic vinegar. Good menthol and a little clove. Old varnish. f- Very long, quite medicinal, flakes of coconut. Wonderfully weird and delicious, a particularly good nose.

Guess Springbank 12yo red wine cask - A⊕

5. n- Light, ethereal, good cask with melon, new inner tube and hints of germolene. b- Deliciously light and creamy with cloves, white gloss paint. f- Refreshers, cloves, lots of oils. Really complete, beautifully balanced.

Guess Longrow 18yo, FB - A⊕

6. n- Clean, bright, lemon fairy liquid - but no lack of depth. Lovely citrus woods, wood glue and lemon drizzle cake. b- Beautifully charred sugars and burnt hay, lemon shells. Very gentle and considered. f- Long and fresh, peppery with malt peat and sliced oranges. Delicious old Campbeltown

Guess Longrow 14yo, refill rum

I voted for #6.


IMG_5175Winner was number 4, my second choice.

  1. HB, Rum 12yo
  2. HB, Re-charred bourbon 10yo
  3. SB, Demerara rum, 14yo
  4. SB, Fresh port, 14yo
  5. LR, Fresh bourbon, 17yo
  6. LR, Re-charred sherry, 10yo

Springbank dinner, 19:00

As always three casks are rolled out, we taste them all and the winner is bottled for the attendees.  This year the focus was Longrow.


1. Longrow 2007 Sauternes, 57.8% A-

n- Balanced sugars and baked plums, brown sugar. Nose improves with time. b- Rich and very ripe, black grape skin, quite charred. f- Burnt caramel, charred oak, black pepper. Good but very sweet and tiring in the end.



2. Longrow 2004 rum, 54.7% A⊕

n- Clean but rummy, stewed apples, cigar tobacco and candy cigarettes. b- Beautifully fresh with green apple, cough candy and liquorice. f- Long and astringent, cloves and menthol again. Delicious and bracingly fresh, loads of character.

3. Longrow 2000, Oloroso, 47.5% A+

n- dark and brooding, dusty with crushed mineral, cask car, birthday candles and ripe red apples. b- Clean and lightly medicinal, almost refreshing with Swiss throat lozenges, blackberries and cut flower stalks. f- Bracingly bitter but peppery. A robust but charming component of standard LR18. Very good.

I voted for 2, the crowd, of course, picked 3.

Day 2, 24th May

Springbank Warehouse Tasting


Hazelburn 20 years old, 18th July 1997, 55.8% A⊕+

IMG_5203Oldest cask of HB, tasted the last two years

n- Deep, fruity cake, strawberries and cream, stewed raisins and apples. Incredibly fruity. b- perfectly balanced, light, fresh and fruity. Quite a lot of cereal and gunpowder too. f- Great structure, perfect woods, kola kubes and toast and honey.

Kilkerran 10 years fresh port, 4 years in bourbon, 14 years old, 53.4% A⊕

Originally part of the set of different casks, the remnants of which we've tasted the last two years at the festival also.

n- Fruit and nut chocolate bar, cut hedge, dusty woods and liquorice imps. b- toasty but very complex, more herbal with custard tarts and dandelion stalks. f- long and bracingly bitter, melon and dried fruit at the end.

Kilkerran 10 years rum cask, 4 years in bourbon. A⊕

IMG_5204Filled immediately after the port cask and part of that same set originally.

n- light but lots of wax, the same herbal freshness, dunnage. b- Deliciously creamy, vanilla icing and sweet pastry case. b- Rum tannins, cracked black pepper.

Springbank 23 years old, 50% A⊕+'

3 years in fresh sherry. Vatted for the cask strength but headed now for the 25 year old.

n- Deep and dirty, fresh oils and liquorice torpedoes. Dried orange and sangria. b- Dirty and sour, but extremely fresh with apple puree and oranges. Caramelised orange peel. f- delicious and complete, but really drying with loads of oranges at the end. A stunningly citrus, very dirty take on a big Springbank. Epic.

Longrow red 10 years old, 7 years in refill bourbon then in refill port. 59% A+

IMG_5205n- dry but creamy, fence panels, burnt toast with apricot jam. b- Sweet, blackcurrant, gunpowder. f- vanilla buttercream, loads of black pepper.

Springbank 25 years old, <50% A⊕+

Coming October.

n- Deep and dark with subdued blackcurrants, blackberry compote, rhubarb fool. b- perfect balance of dusty peat, orchard fruit, peppery wood and milk bottle sweets. f- perfectly poised. Perfect drinking whisky.

The Directors Cut tasting.

"The good the bad and the ugly" - Ranald Watson, Mark Watts, Findlay Ross.


Findlay Ross - top right. Hazelburn from the warehouse tasting, notes above.

Mark Watt - top middle.

Macallan 1989, 29 years old, 43% A⊕

n- Sweet, sugary with extreme fruit and dusty mangoes, warm cereal. Very old and very bourbon Mac. b- Creamy, waxy but very rich with orange oils and orange curd. Chalky. f- Long and drying with dried apricot and charred plum skins.

Just like that last SMWS Macallan - chalky, fruity and cereal, very delicious.

Ranald - top left.

Springbank refill Oloroso, 1990 Dec 20th, 27 years old, 45.7%

Oldest cask owned by the distillery although not the oldest stored there, there are a couple of 1989 casks.

n- Light and mineral, but creamy and ripe with baked apple and light engine oil. Musky and muscular, life affirming and delicious. b- Gentle gun oil and cracked black pepper, grilled pineapple and rosemary. f- Dry and oaked but fresh and tannic. Extremely long with wood and fruit.

A completely delicious, dry and elegant whisky. The nose has the sugar from the sherry cask, the delivery all dry and nutty. Very special. It is earmarked for a planned launch of a 30 year old Springbank in a couple of years.


Ranald 2, bottom left

Springbank 22nd July 1991, refill oloroso cask 232, 26 years old, 48.7% A⊕+'

n- Immense. Beautifully lacquered with acrylic paint, sealing wax and almonds. Old oak beams and leather jacket. Just a touch of stables/horse blanket. b- crisp and fruity but biscuity and floral. Liquorice roots and all-sorts. f- extremely long, with toffee and light engine oil.

Even more beautiful than the 27 year old, utterly delicious.

Mark Watt 2, bottom middle.

Cadenhead's Kilkerran 11 years old, full sherry butt, 26th April 2007 A+

First ever indie Kilkerran (except the warehouse casks we had last year). Just announced for "Summer batch 2"

n- Dark and nutty, earth and olives. b- oil paints and charcoal , blackberries. f- long with dark fruits.

Findlay bottom right

Longrow 1994, refill bourbon. Oldest Longrow owned by the distillery. A⊕+

n- Dry, dusty lavender, salty and highly medical. Refreshers and bidis. Hot salt. b- Bandages, cloves and aniseed. Ripe with lots of toffee. Complete. f- tabasco, cardamom and cloves,

Magical and extremely odd.

Springbank New and Forthcoming releases

Ronan Currie


1. Hazelburn open day 2018, 10 years old, Marsala cask 59.6% A+

n- Sweet black fruit, Vimto and newly planed oak. 'Fizzing'. b- Dark; sweet and fizzy, clean but hot. f- Blackcurrant jam, black tea, robustly fruited. Really drinkable.

2. Hazelburn oloroso - already tasted.

3. Springbank 21yo May 2018 - already tasted.

4. Springbank 12yo CS, 57.5% A+

This is a cask from the upcoming batch in August (following one will be in February 2019)

n- dirty and sulphurous, puddle water. Stewed fruits and brown sugar. b- Balanced but nutty and dirty. Sweet pudding. f- Medium with cherry compote. Very sweet, almost cloying.

The final vatting is 70% sherry 30% bourbon

5. Longrow 16 years old A⊕

Just released, but not at the time of tasting.

n-Sweet white wine and leatherette, crushed Alka-Seltzer and fizzers. b- alien, rotting apples, Haribo. f- More Alka, parma violets, mango. Meaty burps.

Delicious and weird.

6. Longrow open day, 15 years old refill port, 58.7% A+'

n- dirty red wine, bandages, blackberry tea. Fresh marijuana, blackcurrant fool. b- Dirty wine cask, really intensely fruited with cigar tobacco. Touch of sulphur. f- Medium, cake, chocolate frosting, petrol.


Day 3, 25th May

Friday 10:00am - Cadenhead's Warehouse Tour


Aultmore 21 years old, 53.2% A+

n- Bright lacquered fruits, sawdust, royal icing. b- Dirty and hot (but it is 10am), robust structure but lovely orange zest. f- Grapefruit peel and fizzing vitamin C tablets,

Really delicious citrus drinker.

Strathclyde 1989, 57.2% A+

n- Almond biscuit, beautifully warm woods, really balanced and very full. b- Fresh apple, toffee and cut oak planks. Hazelnuts. f- Short, fresh with numbing wood oils. A touch butyric (although, the hour). Peppery.

A delicious, robust but wonderfully fruited grain. I don't buy many grains but I did go for this one.


Highland Park 25yo, A⊕

n- Big, tropical and creamy. Very sweet but balanced and appealing. b- Quite hot just behind sweetshop fruits, bitter peat and robust woods. f- Oily, very drying, quite long and bitter.

Deliciously fruity but very robust. Tropical burps but who knows where they're from.

Paul John, 5 years in Goa, 1 in Campbeltown, 56.7% A+'

n- dried fruit cake with rum, sweet with sour wine and burning fence panel. b- Very sweet, sour and overripe. Gloss paint, a touch of horse manure. f- Very long and cakey. Surprisingly ripe and delicious drinking.

Springbank 14 years old, rum barrel, 57% A⊕

n- Musky, sweet, restrained, soft wax. TCP and earth. Better with water, deeper. b- Delicious Springbank oils, really dusty and bright. f- Long and utterly delicious, dusty, oily and drying at the end.

Caroni rum 19 years old, 66.5%

n- Glace cherry, dry but massively fruited. Petrol and sealing wax. b- Bright and really challenging with Swarfega, caraway and aniseed. f- Fruity, tropical, very bitter, very dirty.

Cadenhead's Masterclass, 13:15


Macduff 29 years old, refill sherry butt, 55.1% A⊕

This is from the June SB outturn

n- soft fruit, stewed strawberry, whipped cream. b- Orange slices, black pepper, iron filings. Grapefruit juice and stewed tea with water. f- Medium with hard oak and liquorice imps. Delicious but robust citrus pith.

North British 32 years old, refill sherry butt, 55.2% A

n- Warm with vanilla sponge, buttercream icing and a bright, green, confident wood. b- restrained sherry, a little raisin. Very sweet though and slightly rummy. f- Dry, quite bitter with lemon sherbets and liquorice imps.

Bright but warm easy drinking grain - a Summer crusher.


Glenturret 31 years old, 44.5% (yes this is cask strength) A⊕

This is from the June SB outturn, which I have just written up and I didn't like this whisky half as much!

n- Brightly sweet, lovely old cask with pink wafer biscuits, toffee apples, flat cola and old wood varnish. Pretty epic. b- reduced red wine, rum and raisin ice cream, floor polish. Great fruit structure balance. f- Milk chocolate and instant coffee. Really soft and gentle though, certainly not a sherry bomb. Really drinkable old Scotch.

English Whisky company, 8 years old, 61.9% A+

Also just announced for Summer batch 2. Peated.

n- Bright and young, like a young Caol Ila. Biscuity malt, quite hard oak, dirty cereal and black pepper. b- beautifully balanced orchard fruit and a quite intense peat. Royal icing and musky honey. f- Long, quite hot and heavily peated.

Another really excellent English Whisky, as HQ as a young CI but a more biscuity, phenolic character. The honey is really pronounced here.

Aberfeldy 22 years old, 55.2% A⊕

This one was Jenna's choice and available to buy by the bottle along with Cameron's choice below. Mark said good luck trying to flip an Aberfeldy but I've always liked them, I bought a couple.

n- Bright and deep lacquered fruit, coffee and very HQ cask. This is proper visitor's centre whisky. b- Perfectly creamy with Nice biscuits and Portuguese custard tarts. f- Long and perfectly balanced, fruity to the end.

Just a delicious drinking whisky, a cork chucker.

Bowmore 17 years old, 54.2% A⊕

Cameron's choice.

n- Much bigger, a dirty complexity in the nose, with cut flower stalks, pot pourri, pop tarts. Wonderful. b- Dusty, creamy and sweet, with carrot cake and blackcurrant jam. f- Long and brightly peated, charred lemon shells.

A really perfect nose and a little ordinary in the delivery.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

1968 Islays, for Paul’s 50th

These whiskies were brought to me very kindly by my friend Darren, who attended the clearly amazing 50th birthday celebration and tour of his friend Paul Fournel.  They went to Islay with Paul’s dad and five friends and visited every distillery, opened the bottles below in their home distilleries, and drank them all!  All except the Caol Ila, which was donated to them by Dr. Billy Sinclair at Bunnahabhain distillery. 


Obviously this was a huge privilege to try these, it must have been amazing to see off the bottles!  Thanks so much to Paul and Darren, and happy birthday Paul.

Adelphi Bunnahabhain 1968, 41 years old, 41.2% A⊕+

41-year-old-1968-adelphi-whiskyNose - Intense and heavenly. My first impression was one approaching hubba bubba (hubba bunna? That does work actually), such is the fruity intensity and depth here. Then through bright plastic, magic bubbles, and up almost into Fairy Liquid. This is sewn together with a beautifully judged cask wax, lip salve and Summer perfume. New York cheese cake with lime later. Beautiful.

Body - Now in the delivery there's an ancient sherry cask, fruity and dusty, with last Christmas's hazelnuts, age blackened wood against bright Summer fruits - melon and orange segments, a little ripe pear. It has that really, really old Scotch wood thing that is right on the edge but this is perfectly balanced.

Finish - Medium with chilled, oaked Chardonnay - tannic but refreshing. Rich pastry, buttery at the end.

A superbly balanced ancient whisky, drinking extremely well and not a sherry bomb at all despite the colour.  It wears its age extremely well. What's amazing is how refreshing and spritely the fruits are, and how well the wood, sherry and structure runs through the whisky. I particularly like the melon.

Caol Ila 1968, 2nd fill sherry cask, private sample, unknown ABV. A⊕+

36993235_1754973834599216_6937621322738434048_nNose - Dirty and rustic, nutty sherry cask with bright cut peach and baked plums. Haribo and leather armchair. Maybe in the waiting room of a really nice office. Lipstick waxes, French-golden pastry and a little frangipane. With time, the wax starts to dominate, the sherry becomes more and more red-wine-cask.

Body - Between bright fruit and flypaper, cracked black pepper crisps and Kia-ora juice drink. Thick fruit juice and tannins.

Finish - Steak au poivre with apple sauce. Fence panels at the end.

I'm guessing this one has spent a while in an infrequently opened sample bottle, but there is majesty here and thick, tropical fruit juice.

Celtic Heartlands Bowmore 1968, 35 years old, 40.6% A⊕⊕

bowcel1968Nose - Slightly pornographic this one, hold on a second… fresh and floral, but dusty - somewhere between travel sweets and Refreshers - and with this light but otherworldly tropicality. There's fruit polos, ripe papaya, a new pack of plasters, love hearts and just a little swimming pool (maybe the changing rooms). The low ABV makes it all the more weird.

Body - Huge, ripe, fizzing wood, with sesame and lots of funk, slightly formic, reminds me of the 80s Bowmore I've had but no Parmas - it has the same fruit/puckeringly dry/alien remnants of peat thing going. It is unputdownable.

Finish - Insanely long, massively tropical with a huge (and balanced) astringency which is extremely arresting and compelling. Behind the papaya, touches of liquorice root and juniper.

An epic whisky. A perfect expression of very old Bowmore. It has so much fruit, in such a weirdly backhanded way. A real privilege to get to try this!

Hart Brothers, Laphroaig 1968, 26 years old, 43% A⊕⊕

lrghb_1968Nose - I was expecting medicine but the medicine is very distant, next door. This is in some ways similar to the Bowmore but this is sort of introverted where the Bowmore was outgoing; the tropicality is hiding slightly, a mango and banana smoothie with hand soap, buttercream and an old leather jacket. Actually… it's very reassuring.

Body - Ancient, peppery woods, there's an arrestingly sweet medicinal note now, cough candy and antiseptic cream. There's also a very compelling fruit next to the cough candy, with green apple and baked pears, liquorice torpedoes and lime marmalade.

Finish - Extremely long again, brightly sweet across the entire development with that slightly fetid old peat providing more structure. Soft waxes linger after the finish, the smell of bandages on your hands.

Very special again (of course), this is a fascinating whisky with real gravitas, but again utterly wonderful to drink. With hindsight this has more elegance than the Bowmore but is a little more challenging. I think this might haunt me even more than the Bowmore. The empty glass smells of BBQ, cigars and leather, gone but won’t be forgotten…