Friday, 2 December 2016

SMWS December 2016 Outturn

December’s outturn is usually where you get the big guns, after the volume outturn in November and everyone’s bought their presents, they buy something for themselves.  That whole setup is becoming very expensive for me!  Also, getting this one in the can is something of a relief as having reviewed 96 SMWS whiskies in the last 6 weeks I’m starting to yearn for some more gentle whisky in front of the telly out of a tumbler with no laptop… or maybe being able to talk to people while drinking!

Not that I’m complaining of course – there are over 170 single cask whiskies behind the bar in Greville street, all unique, all with their own interesting things to discover, atoms of distillery character, cask and finishing foibles, ages and styles.  There’s a lot to explore, discover and understand, and that’s why I love SMWS.

November and December went off in Greville street like a bomb, the place really isn’t quite set up to hold that much stock, there’s whisky everywhere.  And now they’ve done away with paper outturns they’re even more confused.  22 different casks arrived in time for the outturn and we were working off a packing slip until the outturn was published yesterday.  I’ve tried them all*, notes are below, and marked as to which are in the outturn (on sale at 9am today!) and which are bar only.  A few (all of which are worth getting) are small outturn and\or will go quickly, so you should be quick if you want them. 

* actually not quite all, a 16 year old Caol Ila finished in virgin oak was a step too far, and negotiating with Phil over text message to get a photo of the label (with him several hours into drinking with Andreas)  so I could find out what the damn thing was or was called thing took too long.  I’ll come back to that next week!  It’s bar only anyway.

SMWS 54.43, Aberlour, Fresh and fruity frolics, 9 years old, 59.5% A⊕

4th April 2007, 228 bottles, first fill bourbon

IMG_0662Nose - Quite appealing this. Initially quite dry and wooded (splints, not quite fences) and you fear youth, but then a grown up and quite deliciously balanced sweetness comes - refreshers, beeswax and honey, digestive biscuits, earth, pencils. With time that earth comes through even more, with a touch of tobacco and some cocoa powder. Even better with water, more of that earthy chocolate, more orange.

Body - Lemon sherbets, crayon wax and fennel seeds, candied orange peel. More fruit with water, more orange waxes.

Finish - Long but quite astringent. Some toffee at the end.

Surprisingly delicious this, I hadn't meant to open with such a good one, I just went for the youngest! That is a particularly lovely nose, with old school cask and chocolate, not too sweet on the bourbon, and a delicious but considered delivery, just the kind of bourbon cask I enjoy. Highly recommended!

BUY

SMWS 7.157, Longmorn, Cleopatra meets Robin Hood, 12 years old, 60.9% B+

22nd September 2003, 186 bottles, first fill bourbon

IMG_0663Nose - Slightly warmer, muskier, a little meatier than the 54 - a bit less exciting, a little simpler but has more cheap milk chocolate and a little washable kids paint. Much more interesting with water; new carpet, new gloss paint.

Body - Delicious in the initial delivery, with big, bright lacquered fruit - very FF bourbon. Then it degrades a little - sharp, sour woods. The simplicity of this isn't holding up to the earthy complexity of the Aberlour. A touch of overripe fruit and tobacco with water.

Finish - Long and slightly sour. Hints of fruity, musky cask coming through, perhaps pulled a little young. Hot alcohol at the end. Better with water but lacking midrange.

A decent dram, a little simplistic perhaps but nothing terribly wrong with it. A little more interesting with water but I would have left it in cask another decade.

SMWS 64.87, Mannochmore, Rays of Sunshine, 12 years old, 59.2% A-

26th May 2004, 222 bottles, first fill bourbon

IMG_0664Nose - A big difference here, this is all pink marshmallows, women's perfume and strawberry jam on wholemeal toast (my typical breakfast). On exhale there's this hint of very old refill bourbon cask. More fruit but simpler with water.

Body - Very sweet with apricot jam in the initial delivery, turning into toast with honey. Better with water, that sugar is more balanced with fruit and wood.

Finish - Medium long, with more apricot, rose water, a little almond and candy cigarettes. Quite astringent and a little tougher than I'm making out, although very drinkable.

Intense, fruity sweetness and purple marshmallows makes me think of that Penderyn that I'm having trouble finishing the bottle of, so I can't recommend this as a bottle buy, but worth a go at the bar.

SMWS 36.105, Benrinnes, Herbal delights, 13 years old, 55.8% A

14th August 2002, 198 bottles, first fill bourbon

IMG_0665Nose - Bright but earthy, chalky bonbons, fresh flowers (I'll say lilies because it's the only one I know), herbal (dried bay and oregano) and underneath all that, toffee chocolate sweetness. Lovely and floral. More chocolate toffee with water, more fruit (cut oranges), and a touch of swimming pool.

Body - Quite a gentle delivery, like sweet melting chocolate on the tongue. Toffee pennies and chocolate orange perhaps. There's an interesting balance of fruit, chocolate and tannins in here that's quite compelling. Better with water, more obviously delicious with a musky retronasal note.

Finish - Long but astringent, back into the florist rather than the sweetshop. Matchmakers (mint) at the end though.

Very drinkable, well balanced but probably not one you'd come back to during a whole bottle. Worth a go at the bar.

SMWS 48.79, Balmenach, 'Caught Red Handed', 11 years old, 56.8% A+

29th March 2005, 168 bottles, first fill bourbon

IMG_0666Nose - Intense, naughty sugars (gummy sweets, the white bit in liquorice allsorts, foam bananas), but well balanced - minerality, ozone, limoncello, candle wax, cask musk. Floral again but sweeter and fresher. A really compelling nose.

Body - Big fruit sweetness at the front, then toast and sesame, then a ripe, waxy funk, and a light feeling of peat. Cigarettes feature briefly (both unlit and then a touch of ashtray). An even better fruit, cask, petrol balance with water.

Finish - Medium with pickled chillies and sweets brought back from holiday (a bit weird, a bit well-travelled). Good bright spices and fruit/wood balance make it very drinkable.

A complex, interesting and well put together drinking whisky. Good tannins and lemon sour make it balance and bring you back for more.

BUY

SMWS 41.87, Dailuaine, Punchy perfumed peach and plum, 11 years old, 59.3% B+

4th March 2005, 192 bottles, first fill bourbon

IMG_0681Nose - Sweet, grapey and mineral - bright, fizzing and green. Back on the cheap icing here but with a juicy agave feel to it… but there's something more, like dissolving vitamin C tablets. I do like these young, mineral whiskies that are interesting and complete, and the wax, chalk and grape thing is compelling. More chalky with water, but more pronounced chocolate.

Body - Arrestingly sweet and sharp, with great minerality and waxes. Unripe pear and whistle pops, lots of spicy toffee. Sour apple with water.

Finish - Long, very sweet, quite sour and very spicy. Sour wood at the end. No… more hot chocolate at the end.

A really interesting, curious nose on this, and a very ordinary delivery.

SMWS 85.44, Glen Elgin, Have your cake and eat it, 10 years old, 59.4% B

22nd June 2006, 234 bottles, first fill bourbon

IMG_0675Nose - Really interesting again, my initial impression was one of that deep, winey sweetness you get in beef stew, but sourer, like you've just deglazed a pan with vinegar. With time, nuttier, charred raisins, pencil cases, angelica - perhaps fruit cake then. More freshly fruited with water.

Body - Extremely sweet at first, pure sweetshop (the denser, sweeter foam bananas) and fake cappuccino drink (from a packet), then stewed tea. Astringent and a slightly fake sweetness with water. Even more fizzing.

Finish - Then toffee at the end, Sechuan peppercorns on the tip of the tongue, fizzing tannins at the side of the tongue.

Ordinary first fill bourbon padding. This could have done with a trip through the virginoakinator.

SMWS 76.130, Mortlach, Forever Young!, 28 years old, 53% A⊕+

24th September 1987, 186 bottles, refill bourbon – BAR ONLY

IMG_0667Nose - Old and rich, like a big old white Burgundy. Blusteringly old actually, this feels more like 35  with old leather chairs, well-polished wood, orange buttercream icing, and a dark, almost dank backnote of coffee beans in dark chocolate, drying sherry vinegar and old cask. The fruit here is good but it's all about the old wood, neat. With water, it opens up even more. It now reminds me, weirdly, of old Glenfiddich.

Body - Extremely old.. Just give me a minute. Enormous waxed cask, with dried bitter orange peel, petrol station, strawberry laces and apricot and almond tart. A really satisfying floral, waxy, fruity character. So gentle - old fruit and tobacco. I really can't stop drinking this. Even better with water, into old Tomatin territory with the fruit.

Finish - Dandelion stalks, cigar tobacco, baked apple, and effortless cask right to the end, outpacing the fruit. This reminds me of the finish on a 40 year old calvados. Quite zesty with repeated sips, I was waiting for this youth! It's a footnote.

This is old school amazing whisky. Intense, balanced, well matured (any longer might have been pushing it). Highly recommended, I will be getting this.

BUY

SMWS 72.50, Miltonduff, A Nomad's tent, 31 years old, 54.4% A⊕

27th November 1984, 210 bottles, refill bourbon

IMG_0668Nose - Where the Mortlach was blustering, this is fresh, important, bright. Starfruit, unripe green apple, Coconut Ice, royal icing and sugar crusted pistachios. A little fabric softener, some warm white wine, some flaked almonds. It's all a little austere though, I think this should have come before the Mortlach and really you need to take your time with it.

Body - Sweet but extremely elegant on the delivery, no austerity anymore. Soft, green fruit, softened homemade ice cream, raspberry jam, glossy chocolate icing. It's delicious.

Finish - Long and perfectly balanced, that "posh dessert" thing goes right to the end. Finally, waxes.

This is a big, fruity, delicious whisky which you would smash, but it's not as good as the Mortlach in my opinion. Popular view at the time was the other way round though so… well I can only tell you what I thought!

BUY

SMWS 35.147, Glen Moray, Spicy sweet sensation, 21 years old, 55.3% A-

11th November 1994, 270 bottles, first fill toasted oak hogshead

IMG_0669Nose - Red, hard berries, jammy dodgers, a little Sangria and good hard/sour rye oak note. Cakey with time, but the American feeling of this whisky on the nose is quite exciting after the old stuff and presumably a good lead in to what's next. It gets better with time too, mellowing and integrating… to a point. Better with water, the parts come together more readily.

Body - Very interesting - playing a line right down the middle of spicy rye, middle-aged Scotch, black fruits and coffee. It's a bit of a jack of all trades, master of none though. I really like the sweetness and fruit but then… it's kind of arrested by one dimensional wood.

Finish - Unexpectedly extremely sweet and rich in the finish, Victoria sponge and buttercream. Delicious.

A schizophrenic whisky. Some of it is very delicious but it hasn't come together with the charred oak yet. Maybe it never would have, who knows! Definitely a good pick for the bar but there have been so many funky, fun Glen Morays this year that do this kind of thing better that I can't recommend it for a bottle.  Certainly try it at the bar.  Darren loved it.

SMWS 44.75, Craigellachie, Sticky blossom and spice, 12 years old, 55.9% B⊕

9th June 2004, 210 bottles, virgin oak hogshead, heavy toast medium char.

IMG_0679Nose - Much more classical on the nose, with sweet tobacco, planed oak, ripe Victoria plums and frost blown raspberries out of the freezer. There is a disconcerting youth nudging in here, with hollow cereal and yellow wood, but it's pushed back by fruit and wham bars. Sweeter and fruitier with water.

Body - Sharp, bright, very toasted and richly sweet with honey, beeswax, raspberry juice and orange oil. Mexican chocolate with water.

Finish - Long, very fruity and very oily, with cigarette tobacco and red chilli. Toffee pennies near the end, followed by chewed pencils. Very spicy with water.

Very interesting this one, quite a ride with all that fighting between the fruit, wood and spice. Definitely worth a dram at the bar.

SMWS 7.154, Longmorn, Stylish & Vibrant!, 30 years old, 44.4% A?

24th September 1985, 72 bottles, virgin oak hogshead, heavy toast medium char  – BAR ONLY

IMG_0677Nose - Very strange. Like you took a big old whisky and splashed vinegar on your hands before smelling it. There's waxy tropical fruit bubbling away underneath very clear cigar tobacco, fence panel next to candle wax, new gardening compost with baked, nearly mouldy apples. It's more rotten on exhale than inhale, that cigar on inhale is very special, but the wax, fruit and wood are all at odds. Better fruits and integration with water, the apple is less rotten too. Reminds me of floor boards being stained, or balsa wood.  It’s also very strangely formic.

Body - Very interesting - more of the same though really, baked apples, cigars, toffee oak, camp coffee plus cold red wine and milliput. With time, peach sweets and red apple skin. With water, skin on rice pudding and stewed tea.

Finish - Medium, hot and musky, with lots of spongey wood.

I invented a new mark for this. It's an enormous car crash but quite interesting and really drinkable nonetheless. I like the fruit, I like the old Longmorn, I actually quite like the virgin oak but it doesn't belong with the first two. And hats off to Euan for having the stones to do this: "30 year old, refill bourbon Longmorn, 72 bottles… finished in Virgin Oak".

I wouldn't recommend buying it though.

SMWS C2.1, Exquisitely polished, XO, 67%

Cognac Petite Champagne, 492 bottles, Cognac barrel. I don't know anything about Cognac!  – BAR ONLY

IMG_0683Nose - Apple pie, varnished wood, linseed oil and.. There's just so much apple pie and wood in here - burnt candle wax, dry poster paint. Apple pie… Varnished wood…

Body - Intensely polished, actually knocking on fly spray (if you can remember what that smells like), quite sharp and weird, quite chemical. Although, what do I know… better with wood but it's outclassed by everything else today.

Finish - Medium-short, medicinal. Hints of wax near the end but nothing to write home about.

I've little interest in this, it isn't whisky and it isn't worth the units.  Unlike the next one…

SMWS C3.1, A fragrant ramble, Extra Old, 50.9%

Cognac Grande Champagne, 558 bottles, Cognac barrel.

IMG_0684Nose - Much more interesting, sour and volatile like marker pens, but far bigger, fruitier and better integrated. This is more like November's Cognac (C1.2), with stewed apples and libraries galore. There's a lovely herbal element to this; slightly cooked with pastry, green olives, cut grass. Better with water, more pastry, absolutely delicious.

Body - Bright, then waxy, rich, and fruity (like an olive oil is fruity), extraordinarily tasty - I could quite get into this Cognac thing. There's a really beautiful balance here between citrus zest, sour wood and sweet apples that's really delicious to drink.

Finish - Really expressive, right through the finish, really green, herbal and sweet with lightly charred raisins, bamboo and green apple skin. Apple pips with water, right at the end.

This is phenomenal.

BUY

SMWS B4.3, FEW distillery, Full flavour behaviour, 3 years old, 63.4% A⊕

8th February 2013, 108 bottles, new charred oak

IMG_0685Nose - You can just picture the tiny oak casks here. Initially this is pure hollow oak (the colour is fabulous by the way). Start digging, there's charred pineapple, UHU glue… wood glue? I want to say cake but its more meaty, like sausage meat goes after long smoking with really fruity BBQ sauce. With time this really grows on you, delicious.

Body - Big, apply, fruity oak. Chocolate covered raisins, cherry tunes, cheap raspberry jam. The vivid fruit in here is a real surprise, seriously delicious.

Finish - Medium and very juicy, cherry pipe tobacco, cheap cherry pie and liquorice. Mouth wateringly fruity.

This is extraordinary. How? Tiny casks and extreme weather conditions I guess.

BUY

SMWS RW1.1, Rye from FEW Distillery?, Simply supermassive, 3 years old, 61.8% A

4th April 2013, 96 bottles, new charred oak. Rye whisky!  I am (quite reliably I think) led to believe that this is Rye whiskey from FEW distillery but don’t know for sure.

IMG_0686Nose - Pure milk chocolate on the nose, quite rich and creamy, the wood is much softer here, better integrated. Ripe pear, rose petals and almost overripe peach, some cask wax with digging, amazing to get that after 3 years. Coffee, blackcurrants, dark chocolate with time.

Body - Sharper, but richer than the B4.3, there is a really deep creamy note to this with that rye. Cherry chocolate cake with double cream, blackcurrant sorbet. Quite spicy too, like a black pepper, chilli glaze.

Finish - White wine, tobacco, lemon sorbet.

Again, this is delicious. Not as remarkable as the B4.3 but really chuggable, I could drink more of this in an evening than the bourbon.

BUY

SMWS 4.223, Highland Park, Angel's delight, 20 years old, 52.1% A⊕+

30th November 1995, 210 bottles, 1st fill PX hogshead (previously ex-bourbon) – BAR ONLY (sorry)

IMG_0688Nose - Restrained sweetness, a little wax, a faint, faint peating. Give it time… there's a delightful, almost Japanese austerity here with light cigarettes, green apple skin and sealing wax. It's a metal workshop, with engine oil, burnt and wiped away. It's really compelling to smell but it's quite light, fingers crossed.

Body - Certainly less restrained, burnt candles and wicks, ancient waxy cask, cut cherries and then the toasty peat. There's a herbal quality here too, with cucumber, washing chives, pea pods. For some reason I could see this in the HP Fire bottle.

Finish - Big, rich, complete, red.

It is delicious. It's a bit restrained on the nose but the delivery (waxy, intense peat and oak, red fruit) is so remarkable I can forgive it. And it's the wax and red fruits that really make it stand out. Recommended - bar and bottle.

BUY

Two Bowmores next, only the first of which is in the outturn.  The outturn one was distilled and bottled a year before the bar only one, and they’re completely different.  Both are excellent to be honest, one’s shy but elegant, the other’s bigger, sweeter but more obviously delicious. 

SMWS 3.274, Bowmore, Crab sticks and foam shrimps, 20 years old, 53.1% A+'

6th April 1995, 216 bottles, refill bourbon

IMG_0670Nose - Bright white and powdery, crushed shells and salt, a squeezed Marlboro light cigarette. Just a small hint of fizzers. A touch of Chinese supermarket about this with water.

Body - Sweet, rich and complete, with refreshers, green apple and apple jelly. Delicious - quite edible actually. Even better with water, more earthy.

Finish - Slightly funky, very long with seafood and (very clearly) Marie Rose sauce. It gets sweeter as the finish develops, fruit salad chews at the end.

Quite a restrained Bowmore, but well-judged and delicious to drink.

BUY

SMWS 3.295, Bowmore, Bouquets and spades, 20 years old, 54.6% A⊕

5th April 1996, 228 bottles, refill bourbon (a year minus one day after the previous one)  – BAR ONLY

IMG_0671Nose - Much riper, more waxes, more refreshers, maybe even a touch of blessed parmas? Icing sugar and chalk take the edge off a bit. The 274 is more waxy and austere than this, which more obviously "old Bowmore" and a lot classier for it.

Body - Ripe and delicious, like Haribo dunked in white wine, but with a surprisingly floral edge, and fruity too (star fruit and pineapple). The delivery on the 274 is more restrained but this is a mature blockbuster (and even better with water).

Finish - Long and deliciously sweet, great balance of gentle peat and fruit and very long oils.

More fruits, oils and just bigger in every way than the 274, this is very different indeed and also well recommended.  Bar only so get some while you can.

BUY

SMWS 33.134, Ardbeg, Peat roasted pig Hawaiian style, 8 years old, 60.9% A⊕

24th May 2007, 648 bottles, 2nd fill sherry butt

IMG_0689Nose - Quite ordinary sweet cereal on inhale, oddly meaty and floral on exhale. Maybe I'm being influenced by the title, but there's cold pork fat in there somewhere. Gets better with time - bright, medicinal raspberry jam, hundreds and thousands and a touch of Ribena. There's a really lovely alien dusty element here with, weirdly, French Fancies and Lemsip powder (as a powder) behind it. WTF.

Body - Mineral, primarily. Then quite significant charred wood, redcurrant jelly and pineapple juice. It really is delicious to drink, unexpectedly tropical. More fruit with water.

Finish - Long and really sweet, that pineapple really gelling with the peat. Aspirin at the end, omnipresent charred oak.

Delicious stuff, really fruity. Took a while to get going though.

SMWS 29.204, Laphroaig, A day at the beach, 18 years old, 53.6% A+

3rd December 1997, 276 bottles, refill bourbon  – BAR ONLY

IMG_0690Nose - Unexpectedly sweet and bright, like a fresh Christmas cake - royal icing, marzipan and fruitcake, but still moist and vibrant. Sauvignon blanc, fizzers and limestone… and melon flesh… and swimming pool up the nose. Part of this is disappointingly light, part is excitingly bright.

Body - At first, gentle with light cereal and then, enormously, extraordinarily peated! Then back to lemon and lime pastry and a touch of bandage, with tiny chorizo sausages and lots of black pepper. Sweeter, fruitier with water, and just a hint of sulphur.

Finish - Slightly fetid, a touch of bandage, and quite a lot of lemon juice. Lots of lemon and peat at the end - the finish seems to die off quickly but with repeated sips there's that intense, lingering peat and even some TCP.

More intensely peaty that TCP'y, it's great to get an intense Laphroaig although this more brutal than classical.

Still, certainly worth a go at the bar.

Happy Christmas!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Two Christmas Crackers

IMG_0340Another pair.  A couple of rarely spotted, well matured, intensely coloured whiskies from two excellent independent bottlers.  I meant to post this before the November outturns but it got lost in the excitement!  I was reminded because there was an online tasting tonight of old Douglas Laing grains, not including the Carsebridge but interesting stuff which I should have been on but couldn’t attend at the last minute.  I’ll write notes for those soon though.

Note these bottles were both fresh open (only a couple of days) and whisky this colour often benefits from air and time. 

Douglas Laing Old Particular, Carsebridge, 33 years old, 44.9% A+

December 1982-September 2016, refill hogshead DL11339. Clearly a refill sherry hogshead, it's the colour of Vimto.

IMG_0342Nose - You don't get many ancient sherry cask grains, so when one comes along (like the 48 year old Whisky Agency Girvan) it's worth pouncing on it. This is a slightly shy dance between sherry (Christmas pudding mixture, wood varnish, ripe banana and toffee sauce), grain (apple and oak), and cask (milk tart, wax and orange), in much the same way Fig rolls are. Fig rolls are awesome aren't they? Think how you'd like a very old grain in sherry to be played out - it's like that here. Now, I don't know if this was 30 years in refill bourbon and then finished, and to be honest I suspect it was something like that from the nose because of the amount of yellow in here against the red, but I like it.

Body - More fig rolls, cocoa powder, red chilli and endless pastry. Some of the grain character makes itself known through lemon and wood splints mid-way through the delivery, but it's soon overcome by Mexican chocolate and yoghurt covered raisins. Weaker, more separated with water.

Finish - Medium, lip-smackingly tasty, big stewed tea tannins, sawdust.

This is an exceedingly drinkable whisky, although it's all over the shop in terms of character and probably has nothing to do with Carsebridge (not that I’ve had much) or perhaps even grain whisky. Essentially it's a very nice, well matured whisky cocktail.

Whisky Broker Glenrothes, 19 years old, 53.5% A⊕

28th April 1997, bottled 17th October 2016, Sherry Butt 7157, 643 bottles. I don’t think this one is finished.

IMG_0341Nose - Funkier fruit here, riper. When I first nosed this on opening the bottle I thought I couldn't detect any Glenrothes but now it's starting to remind me of that tasting in the dunnage warehouse. I still think Glenrothes is best drunk very old in bourbon but this is quite classical. Black jacks, toffee, a little charcoal and strawberry laces. This is the kind of single cask nose that's fascinating and delicious but really, badly wants to be blended into something utterly majestic (single malt, but with other balancing casks).

Body - Hot red berries, sangria perhaps? Very sweet up front - all travel sweets and foxes glacier fruit. A light hand with the sulphur, nuts and raisins later. Red chilli takes the edge off the luxury a touch, but the tannins help. More strawberry with water, a bit more cask.

Finish - Long and spicy. Chargrilled chicken with flaked red pepper, lemon juice and sherry vinegar.

On reflection, this is classic big sherry Glenrothes. That doesn't mean it's as good as big old Glendronach, but it's pretty crushable.

Monday, 28 November 2016

SMWS November 2016 Outturn 3/4

IMG_0560Saving the best until last*, November 3 is a simply fantastic outturn full of successful finishes and some really serious old Scotch.  I far preferred this November’s to last November’s outturn, with four outturns weekly, there was structure and a sense of occasion to each.  Much more digestible. 

Finally getting the whole thing in the can (microseconds ahead of December), I have been reflecting how good the whole thing was.  Genuinely.  I’m quite impressed with these wacky finishes – some miss the mark but some are really fantastic, with really interesting and drinkable results.  There’s still a lot of big old stuff here too.  Here’s my favourites from the whole outturn:

And below, from this outturn

  • 5.51, Auchentoshan, Sunshine in a glass, 17 years old
  • 48.80, Balmenach, Satisfying and comforting, 14 years old
  • 63.36, Glentauchers, A Caribbean dream, 26 years old
  • 50.90, Bladnoch, Apple-Calvados Fruitcake, 26 years old
  • 76.129, Mortlach, A real Peach, 28 years old
  • 59.54, Teaninich, Elegant, classy and simply beautiful, 32 years old
  • 10.96, Bunnahabhain, A beachcomber’s bounty, 9 years old

As you can see, a very lot of very good whisky.

* I did anyway, unintentionally.

IMG_0559

SMWS G7.11, Girvan, Simple pleasure, 15 years old, 59.6% A⊕

27th September 2000, 168 bottles, refill bourbon

IMG_0569Nose - Big and sweet, beautiful grain (much older) at first, then malty, dusty sweet cask and new leather belt, with a distinct blue cheese note on exhale. Back to the grain, there's white grapes, royal icing, Chardonnay and ice cubes. Great with water too, a little window putty and fruitier. Really lovely, fingers crossed.

Body - Beautifully perfumed, a great balance of sweet white fruit and oak, bitter dried orange zest and a slightly astringent toasted coriander seeds. Orange juice and oak with water.

Finish - Long but quite hot, with stewed tea tannins (but not dark) at the side of the tongue and licked splints. Slightly woodier with water, slightly bitterer. I prefer it neat.

What a fantastic grain, particularly for this age but either way. Another cracking grain in November, highly recommended.

BUY

SMWS 5.51, Auchentoshan, Sunshine in a glass, 17 years old, 52.7% A+'

24th June 1999, 210 bottles, first fill bourbon

IMG_0570Nose - Goodness me, Auchentoshan is absolute filth. Silly putty, cherry flavoured erasers, whistle pops and candy cigarettes. Mineral and metallic too. Right up my alley. More fruit, more funk with water.

Body - More austere than expected, but very rich and almost greasy, with green apple sweets and orange curd. Still, it's fruity and vibrant at the same time (as always) - cold cloudy lemonade. Definitely less good with water, as 5's often are, more beery, more bitter.

Finish - Lemon hibiscus saison (I've just brewed one) and cherry lip salve. Great oils through the long finish. Clearer fruit with water, and a bit longer too, but less luxurious.

Another funky, deliciously fruity Auchentoshan. What a distillery.

BUY

SMWS 48.80, Balmenach, Satisfying and comforting, 14 years old, 58% A+'

1st November 2001, 144 bottles, first fill bourbon

IMG_0566Nose - Back down to earth now, with a malty, chocolate and coffee bean driven nose. Sweet, rich and bright, with kola kubes, lynx deodorant (or is that me?) and dried malt extract. Very satisfying on the nose. More blonde wood and more lemon with water.

Body - The initial delivery is incredibly rich, like letting a chocolate button melt on the tip of your tongue. Then slightly fizzing with red apple sweets and a little tobacco (tar on the lips). Delicious though.

Finish - Very long and oily, long, ripe oils and sweetshop intensity throughout, and ending with balancing wood and charred lemon shell.

One of the most satisfying whiskies I've ever tasted, the only reason I won’t buy it is because I wouldn't be able to stop chugging it.

BUY

SMWS 64.86, Mannochmore, You really should try this, 12 years old, 59.8% A+

26th May 2004, 228 bottles, first fill bourbon

IMG_0565Nose - Just a little bit more restrained than that (turned out to be) blockbuster Balmenach. Waxier, with chalky bonbons, a little hard candy shell and marshmallow. And a slightly disappointing herbal youth - long grass and shellac. Slightly medicinal with water.

Body - A sweet and sour rollercoaster, alternating over the delivery and developing into more hard icing and a little liquorice. Pretty delicious though. Even better with water (as was the nose) with the rollercoaster becoming more integrated, and the herbal notes less jarring.

Finish - Medium, with intense sweetness playing off against floral notes and emulsion paints. A little bit of coffee at the end. It feels slightly peated with water, it's certainly sharper and more tannic at the end. Tropical burps too.

A robust and delicious drammer I'd be raving about a bit harder if it wasn't for the amount of excellence before it (and we haven't even got to the big stuff). Still recommended though.

BUY

SMWS 63.36, Glentauchers, A Caribbean dream, 26 years old, 51.8% A⊕'

19th December 1989, 180 bottles, refill bourbon

IMG_0571Nose - Blustering old Scotch, like the nose on a £250 blended whisky in a posh bottle. Sweetly tropical (mango) but pulling its punch with ozone, white wine and hard icing. Give it time… there's star fruit, the blue-balled liquorice allsort and oak panelling. It's a restrained old thing (although fruitier with water). Looking forward to tasting it.

Body - Aha… that all makes sense. Big old fruit, it's massively tropical at its own, gentle, pace. Very sweet and slightly alien, balanced by hard oak and coffee. I'm reminded of weird 70s Tomatin, but part of that is because I really want to be able to drink that so much, all the time.

Finish - Medium to long with well thought through oak tannins and a touch of burnt toast. Liquorice at the end.

Old Glentauchers is glorious and this is fascinating as well. Once I started comparing it to old Tomatin, it started to let me down, but in its own right it's fantastic stuff. Just shy of the double plus, and anyway fans of bell curves will want me to leave room for the Mortach, Teaninich and Bladnoch before coming down really hard on the virgin oak finishes.

BUY

SMWS 50.90, Bladnoch, Apple-Calvados Fruitcake, 26 years old, 60.5% A⊕+

15th May 1990, 150 bottles, refill bourbon

IMG_0564Nose - Ripe, UHU glue and apple driven, with biscuity sweet and short pastry, orange wax, neat squash and mini milks! Seriously tasty (nosey?). With time, lemon minerality plays off against tart tatin.

Body - There's a beautiful balance here that's so fleeting it's hard to capture. Cut flowers, hot wort, sesame snaps, hot dogs and instant coffee all feature. I couldn't tell you any more than that though. OK, salted caramel with water.

Finish - Long with deep seated sweetness; toffee pennies and chocolate malt. Tropical at the end, with ripe pineapple and apple pie (with cinnamon and pastry). Really dry though, which brings you back in. Chocolate buttons, again, with water… right at the very end, after about 90 seconds.

The very definition of complex. Top of the class again Bladnoch.

BUY

SMWS 76.129, Mortlach, A real Peach, 28 years old, 55.4% A⊕+'

22nd September 1987, 246 bottles, refill bourbon

IMG_0561Nose - It took me a lot of distracted sniffing to realise what this was reminding me of and why it was so different to the 50 – it’s Brettanomyces. More straw, more felt, more rotten fruit but still, this is up there in terms of big cask, fruit and solvent. Peaches in secondary. Perfumed, delicate but robust, and very mature. This is a restrained, fascinating bruiser. Even better with water; dessert wine and satsuma peel, a touch of petrol.

Body - More fecundity, more rotten balance. Caramel glaze (slightly caught), tahini and sliced green apple.

Finish - Medium with port tannins and musky truffle honey. Seriously, meatily delicious. What is going on with this outturn!? Better again with water.

Pushing all the right buttons this one (although it took me a little while to swing round to it); fruity, balance, funk, intensity and integration. And perfectly matured. What a whisky. And I haven't even got to the 32 year old yet!

BUY

SMWS 59.54, Teaninich, Elegant, classy and simply beautiful, 32 years old, 50.5% A⊕⊕

8th November 1983, 186 bottles, refill bourbon

IMG_0573Nose - Wholly living up to the name, this has intensity and balance like a multi-grand old OB. Sweetshop glaze with cigarette tobacco, lemon sherbets and dried orange slices. It screams age, but isn't blustery and it doesn't have that hole in it that the blend mentioned earlier would have. This is old school - the kind of thing you'd smell in the lab at a a major whisky producer when they were trying to impress you with something completely unobtainable.

Body - Sweet, soft, balanced and toasted. Soft fruit toffee, old oak, chocolate cigarettes (remember those? I hadn't until now) and blackcurrant chocolate liqueur.

Finish - Very, very long with constant fruit toffee. Purple. Perfect.

Make no mistake, this is the kind of whisky you get in the Diageo special releases, and wish you had £550 to spend on it. I didn't get to put water in, I probably wouldn't have preferred it anyway.

BUY

SMWS 41.83, Dailuaine, 'Sherry, Sherry Baby', 9 years old, 58.7% A+'

14th July 2006, 546 bottles, 1st fill Oloroso butt

IMG_0574Nose - Really unfair to do this after the 59, but here goes. Nutty but bracing; sherry vinegar and prunes darken things up with marker pens and emulsion paint. More baked fruit on pastry with water. Another delicious nose, this really does hold its own against the majesty of the Teaninich.

Body - Dark, slight dirty and tannic, but no real sulphur here. Baked apple and ripe (slightly too soft) Victoria plum, with roasting coffee beans and a touch of chilli (that's probably the sulphur).

Finish - Long and hot, DIY shop (solvents, paint) next to the bakers. More of that saison from earlier.

A really delicious whisky, the Oloroso is nutty, rich and chewy, almost a red wine cask. Well recommended, and it even stood up to the Teaninich.

BUY

SMWS 121.95, Arran, Toddy for the mind and body, 16 years old, 54.3% A+

1st January 2000 (I've got a bottle of that millennium Arran somewhere, working on NYD is a bit harsh!), 258 bottles, 2nd fill Sauternes hogshead. "After fourteen years in bourbon, we transferred this to a second-fill Sauternes hogshead."

IMG_0572Nose - Ripe and fruity, compellingly sweet but a slightly guilty pleasure, like hubba bubba. Tropical, dusty, more funky balance with water.

Body - Even more simple - finally the weight of excellence in this outturn is beginning to take its toll. But give it time and the vanilla and fruit icing starts to make more sense. This is seriously sweet though. Better with water, more balanced.

Finish - Long, big and clarty, full of vanilla like one of those massively layered cakes you can only get a really thin slice of because it's so tall.

A delicious thing to drink. If I had to criticise it (and it'd make a change from gushing), this isn't very Arran - it could be anything. But I'd happily drink a lot of it. I did try it in the bar the other day (a proper measure) and liked it then, but not as much as the 4.221 or 37.81 I had.

BUY

SMWS 35.159, Glen Moray, Waves of intensity, 21 years old, 55.5% A+

11th November 1994, 270 bottles, 1st fill toasted oak hogshead

IMG_0568Nose - Ripe, and almost ordinary on this list - just a bourbon? Yellow oak and hard cherry, pipe tobacco and the "wasp tunnel" (a raspberry cage in summer). Cheap Neapolitan ice cream (it has all three components very clearly). Waxy with time. Damn, this is delicious too. Fruitier with water, black forest gateaux.

Body - Chocolate milk, then hot chocolate, then chocolate cherries, then pipe tobacco. Ripe plums, hot off the tree, and more apple pie.

Finish - That intense clove/chocolate thing I once had in Morocco, with sour plums, fresh cut ginger and chewed pencils. Lots of icing sugar and vanilla at the end.

Pity they used "BFG" already in November, this is black cherry, chocolate and cake all over. Another entirely delicious whisky and very drinkable.

BUY

SMWS 28.31, Tullibardine, Anything but Airy-Fairy!, 9 years old, 60% A+

14th September 2006, 466 bottles, Virgin oak butt, heavy toast medium char. "Nine years in a 2nd fill Oloroso sherry butt, finished in a virgin oak butt with a heavy toast and a medium char." Should be a massive bruiser!

IMG_0575Nose - Sweet and sour, cereal and purple raspberry sweets. The virgin oak really works well on the nose here with the intense sugars, meaty sherry vinegar and royal icing. It sounds more bruising than it is though, that purple fruit means it's quite sweet and enticing, and waxy after you've tasted it.

Body - Sweet and sour again on the delivery. Quite apparent youth in the initial delivery, but with milk chocolate, oak planks, red wine and a nutty sherry backing. Very tasty. Sweeter orange toffee with water.

Finish - Very long and quite hot, with red chilli, liquorice and blood orange at the end.

A very, very successful finish on this young sherried whisky. Well recommended, particularly just before heading into the peaters at the bar.

BUY

SMWS 44.74, Craigellachie, Bridge of spice, 13 years old, 59.4% A-

6th November 2002, 270 bottles, Virgin oak hogshead, heavy toast/medium char. Previously ex-bourbon. Excellent effort on the name.

IMG_0567Nose - Bright and ozoney at first, with hand soap, cold apples and candy cigarettes. Then on exhale, there's clarty vanilla and butter, and younger notes (new fence panel and cereal) - the virgin oak is detracting from the maturity.

Body - Sweet, painfully young in the initial delivery but then a really thick sweetness with breakfast orange juice and fruit salad chews. A touch of hot, musky orange too - chocolate orange perhaps. Less of the painful youth with water, but

Finish - Sweet and fruity, mouth coating oils, quite long. Cinnamon fireballs with water.

Not quite keeping up with this cohort but very drinkable and really interesting in its own way - I like the integration of the virgin oak finish with the orange and intense sugar from the spirit and bourbon cask.

SMWS 66.91, Ardmore, Mechanic’s workshop by the sea, 13 years old, 57.4% A+'

9th October 2002, 198 bottles, 2nd fill bourbon

IMG_0563Nose - Bright, waxy and sweetly coastal, with a gentle peat funk behind it that makes me think of very high quality Islay rather than Ardmore. Sherbet dibdabs, lemon curd and fizzy sour gummy sweets in front of that beautiful cask. Thick vanilla cream with water.

Body - Creamy, waxy and very fruity, with peaches, bananas and fizzers. This could be an Auchentoshan blended with a Laphroaig (don't try that at home). A touch of instant coffee, lots of milk chocolate and grapefruit zest with water.

Finish - Long, quite spicy. Here the fruit sadly evaporates, leaving candles, drying wood and dried orange peel.

Another fantastic whisky, I rarely find the 66s to be this good. A really appealing character and very drinkable too.

BUY

SMWS 10.96, Bunnahabhain, A beachcomber’s bounty, 9 years old, 61.5% A⊕

1st December 2006, 228 bottles, refill bourbon

IMG_0562Nose - Sweet and coastal as expected, but delightfully darkly sour as not. Hard oak blocks, new leatherette and Pizza Hut "ground beef". Apple and hard waxes (cold candles), rolling tobacco and liquorice Rizlas. Even better with water, with oily, cold mechanic's garage and sudden tropical fruit. Really promising.

Body - Beautifully, and intensely sweet with green apple and grape skin. Sweet liquorice root, absinthe.

Finish - Long and green, liquorice allsorts galore. Absolutely delicious and totally unexpected.

What a phenomenally delicious whisky.

BUY

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Cadenheads November 2016 Authentic Collection

A small outturn, a Christmas present!

I thought this was coming out on Friday but apparently it’s Thursday (today) so here goes…everything is going online at 12:30pm 24/11/2016, so you should be able to get any of these if you’re quick.

Hazelburn 2007, 8 years old, 54% A+

162 bottles.  Recharred bourbon barrel, possibly Springbank?

IMG_0607Nose - Light, fruity, good dusty cask. A lovely, clean, ripe apple and tobacco nose. Beautifully fruity, delicate and really mature for the age.

Body - Young but bright and robust, light peat hit to it but quite hot.

Finish - Medium, green apple and salted caramel.

A really lovely, clean, elegant nose, with a confident delivery. Delicious.

Clynelish 1990, 26 years old, 45.3% A+

258 bottles, bourbon barrel

IMG_0613Nose - Sweetly waxed, cut peaches and cherry lip salve. Classy.

Body - Big, big wax, mango dried and peach gummy sweets.

Finish - Candle wax and buttercream icing.

Extremely sweet this one, cake and vanilla icing, loads of peach.

Ord 1996, 20 years old, 54.3% A⊕

252 bottles.  Lafitte since 2009

IMG_0611Nose - Fresh red wine cask, light hazelnuts, quite meaty - lamb and mint sauce? Red apple skin and crackling.

Body - Spicy, with reduced red wine sauce, fennel tops and olives. A beautiful musk with water, absolutely cracking.

Finish - Very nutty with burnt toast and cherry jam.

A deeply satisfying, well judged red wine cask

Mortlach 1998, 27 years old, 52.6% A⊕

498 bottles.  Sherry wood

IMG_0614Nose - Deeply classy, bright fruit and big cask. Grapes, men's perfume, chocolate but an undercurrent of ripe, red fruit; raspberry, cut cherries and then fresh flowers and Pritt Stick. Classical - like a very old OB might nose. More tobacco with water.

Body - Gentle refill sherry here, quite austere. Slightly spicy, quite dry but with a beautiful light peat and dry wax cask. Even waxier with water, with cigarette tobacco and black pepper.

Finish - Long and bright, tannic and dry, very compelling. Even longer with water, with dried cherries and wood chips.

Really very classy indeed.

Springbank 2002, 14 years old, 47.7% A⊕+

168 bottles, bourbon barrel.

IMG_0609Nose - Here we go. White fruit and peat, marshmallow and women's perfume. Beautiful casking here again, cigar and menthol tobacco. Complex, bright, deep but with floral funk.

Body - Perfect… quite biscuity but bright, slightly funky wood and cookie dough.

Finish - Medium, very sweet, dessert wine, but beautiful balance.

Aboslutely delicious again, and unputdownable.

Glen Scotia 2000, 16 years old, 57.8% A+

612 bottles, first fill sherry.

IMG_0610Nose - Sweet and quite odd, table polish, refreshers and rotting fruit. Sweet, funky and slightly fizzing. Quite arresting, quite interesting though, fingers crossed…

Body - Goodness me… very dirty, in a lightly restrained way. Baked apple with cineammon sticks, strawberry laces and quite hot sulphur.

Finish - Really playing very dangerous games with the sulphur on this one, hot and drying but not overdone, just.

Hot and funky, compelling but weird.

Bowmore 13 years old, 56.7% A⊕

Nose - Sweet, gentle and insistent, with orange zest, fizzers and liquorice root and cut flower stalks.

Body - Sweet at first, then gentle and warming. Fizzy Haribos and herbal cigarettes. Complex and gently arresting.

Finish - Long and tannic, woodsy notes balance out the fizzing peat and sweetness. Tobacco at the end.

Really, really drinkable, grown up with tobacco and growing warmth. Highly recommended.

Ardbeg 1993, 23 years old, 47.7% A⊕+

210 bottles, bourbon hogshead.

IMG_0615Nose - Complex and old, gentle Islay on inhale, bandages on exhale. Really dirty… yet gentle. I'm confused. Beedis, liquorice allsorts, wet wood. Reminds me of posh BBQed food - slightly acrid but lots of airy complexity.

Body - Wax and liquorice, a building fruity funk, red cherries and rolling tobacco. So much wax! Very mature.

Finish - Long with ripe pear and lots of fruit to the end, white peach and star fruit.

Another very classy whisky. Fascinating development and dangerously drammable.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Cadenheads October 2016 Authentic Collection

This was released way back in the last week of October, and my late notes are another victim of my hectic November.  But I was able to make them more complete than normal (for Cadenheads) as a result.  I’m getting this out just ahead of the November outturn (which is small but perfectly formed with a Hazelburn and Springbank to match the fabulous Longrow here).  There’s some fantastic other bottles in October though, a big sherry Glenfarclas, a cracking red wine cask and a very special teenage Laphroaig. 

Cambus 28 years old, 46.6% B+

1988, 216 bottles, ex-bourbon

cambusNose - Typical Cadenhead's grain - lots of classy wood. Gentle but masculine sweetness (leather, sandalwood, coffee being made next door), slightly dusty, a touch of ozone and thick orange peel. Behind that, milk tart, sponge cake (but only faintly). After sipping, waxier. After water, harder waxes, classroom chalk and unchewed black jacks.

Body - Fresh but dry and green - so olives and Fino. Actually this is most reminiscent of a gin martini, but with that much more interesting nose. Olive oil and lemon wax. Too faint with water - the cakes disappear and the martini is quite austere.

Finish - Medium and cakey, but clean and mineral. Quite dry and herbal, gin again. Fizzingly tannic at the sides of the tongue with water.

I could easily dram this easy drinking and austere grain all night, but I probably wouldn't end up paying much attention.

Tomintoul 10 years old, 56.9% B⊕

2006, 258 bottles, ex-bourbon

tomintoulNose - Of course this is richer and oilier than the grain, which always comes as a relief no matter how much I enjoy the grains. Birthday candles (which always seem to go with the buttercream icing), sweet, dusty cask and cut oranges. Slightly hollow; great top dressing and bass but not enough midrange, like an old but overpriced big commercial blend would be. Better with water, that midrange fills in a bit, now it feels like an older Arran on the nose.

Body - Big and robust, quite young and sour though, sharp fruit, black pepper and a little red chilli. Lemon curd behind that, and hot buttered toast.

Finish - Long with thick citrus notes and spicy cask. With water, longer and more herbal - bay, cut flowers, black pepper.

A good nose on this but an ordinary delivery.

Littlemill 24 years old, 52.2% B+

1992, ex-bourbon

littlemillNose - Roasted coconut, foam bananas, cut flowers and green apple peelings. I'm tempted to go for wagon wheels. Quite restrained. Better with water, Fimo and rose petals.

Body - Waxy - crayons and sharpened colouring pencils. A flash of warm, baked apples and raisins, warm Sauvignon blanc. Pencil cases with water.

Finish - Long and peppery, unripe and austere. Hazelnuts at the end. Faintly tropical with water.

An honest whisky, but not one I'd turn to often. There's nothing wrong with it but frankly I prefer the Tomintoul.

Loch Lomond (Inchmurrin), 19 years old, 49.5% A+

1996, 318 bottles, ex-bourbon

lochlomondNose - Noses like a red wine cask. Ripe, red apple, wood polish, blood orange peel and fence panels. There's something deeply delicious about the nose, but that might just be that the previous whiskies were so austere. Just a slight hint of something funky - cigar tobacco and earth. Waxier with time, school hall levels…

Body - Toffee, chewed pencils, apple and potato peelings. Toast and just a touch of truffle honey. Just on the delicious side of cardboardy.

Finish - Long but tannic, cold red wine. Green Sichuan peppercorns without the lemon. Charred newspaper at the end.

A lovely nose on this, like a good red wine cask, great fruit and structure. A very drinkable delivery, but lacking a little luxury.

Longmorn, 26 years old, 55.3% A⊕

1990, 162 bottles, ex-bourbon

longmornNose - Very mature and very refill. Waxy cask, slightly petrolic, cut ruby grapefruit and wood polish, the very definition of classy. I wouldn't have been surprised to find this nose on a multi-grand old Japanese malt. Even better with water, more orange and more old lacquered wood.

Body - Rich, wide and mouth filling, with charred pastry and lightly peated (it seems). Orange, vanilla, tobacco and toffee play out the delivery. Muskier with water.

Finish - Very long, with roasted oranges and French cooked pastry. A slightly floral, rotten note takes the edge off late in the finish, a little swimming pool retronasally at the end. More tannic with water but still just as fun.

A luxurious, delicious and slightly challenging whisky. You'd pay attention while dramming this one.

Bunnahabhain, 26 years old, 45.9% A⊕'

1989, 246 bottles, ex-bourbon

bunnaNose - Displaying the beginnings of that deep, toffee, alien sweetness that 26 year old Bunna has, this is sweet, complex, floral and confident. And beginning to be a bit weird too, with hops, laundry liquid and lemon sherbets. More tropical fruit with water.

Body - Complex, coastal (slightly salty) and most definitely peated. Peppery, slightly dirty peat at that. Palm oil and pine nuts. Funkier, more oily wood with water, more tannic too.

Finish - Cigarette tobacco and burnt toast. Great oils and a real, classic old bunna finish here. With time, pineapple (near the skin) and ripe mango.

Much more important than the Longmorn and old beyond its years (more like 36), highly recommended.

Glenfarclas, 26 years old, 50.8% A⊕+

1990, ex-sherry

GlenfarclasNose - Wow… big and old like a “family cask”, sweetly winey with overripe apple like a batch X PX Glendronach. Leather, felt, baked apple and fruit salad chews, bright and delicious, I could smell this all night. Even better with water, with red cherries and sugar crusted shortbread.

Body - A delicious sherry bomb, loads of demerara rum and practically cookie dough in its sweetness. Tart tatin, dank cigars.

Finish - Medium, the sweetness is saved somewhat by a complex maturity with Asian fruit and aniseed. So much fruit!

An unexpectedly full on big old sherry bomb, and perfectly done. A guilty pleasure, a little, but a good substitute for one of those older, very expensive OBs and highly recommended.

Strathmill, 20 years old, 52.7% A⊕

1995, Chateaux Lafitte since 2009

strathmillNose - Cadenhead's like a long wine finish, at least 6 years. This is a meaty one, stewed red wine and beef, carrots and bay. It's deeply satisfying on the nose, with chocolate covered marzipan, coffee beans and Simnel cake. And of course a truckload of oranges. More tobacco with water.

Body - Hot, dank, meaty and nutty red wine cask. More nutty and sweetly sexy than your average Society gorda, and really juicy too. Blood orange marmalade, sweet chilli sauce and sesame snaps.

Finish - Long and sweet, Foxes glacier fruit (the orange ones of course).

Deeply, deeply delicious. Wow. Good casking! I really regret not picking up a bottle of this.

Longrow, 14 years old, 49.3% A⊕+

2002, ex-bourbon

longrowNose - Clean and clear. Balanced cereal, honey, sea shells and burning driftwood, and really, really refreshing. Waxed wood. With time and sipping, this becomes much more interesting, real old Islay funk and fruit. Fabulous.

Body - Complete and complex, pineapple, marzipan and glace cherries. Don't add water.

Finish - Long with enormous fruit in the finish; pineapple jelly, lemon tart, then lime jelly and just loads of jelly. Then cake.

Noses and drinks like a mid-30s Islay OB, it's that "complete". There's no way I would have called this for Campbeltown let alone 14, but I know I really, really like it.

Caol Ila, 15 years old, 53% A⊕

2000, ex-bourbon

caolilaNose - Bright and solventy, a remarkable purity for mid-teens Caol Ila. The S&V is tempered by window putty and Sauternes, fried rosemary and wet marble. I like it. After sipping the nose improves further, with chocolate brazil nuts and coffee beans.

Body - Rich and exceptionally delicious, it's the slight funk that does it, the hint of frying oil against the intense citric acid S&V crisps. Lightly tropical too.

Finish – Medium, with crisps. Mouth-watering tannins. Cake. At the end this just feels like a long afternoon in a distillery.

Fantastic stuff for a 15, highly recommended. I've got way too much Caol Ila to entertain buying a bottle of this but if you haven't, and you can find this, dive in.

Laphroaig, 18 years old, 55.9% A⊕+

1998, 204 bottles, ex-bourbon

IMG_0623Nose - Sweetly coastal, slightly rotten like an old mussel shell on the beach, slightly oversweet like a browning windfall apple. Mineral alongside this, with lemon sweets and cold marble. I keep coming back to that overripe apple, fascinating, because it matches the Islay peat perfectly (like Kilchoman has) but it's a lot softer. An undercurrent to this (like trying to catch something out of the corner of your eye) is lightly fetid hospitals - bandages and laundry. Actually it’s the minerality that's tying this all together. Slightly meatier, more toast with water.

Body – “Lite” but complete, soft but brightly fizzing and citrus. Charred oak logs and sesame snaps with olives and satsumas. A really rounded delivery with an ever-present medicinal tannin behind it. Even better with water, like one of the Elements Lp's; very sweet with fetid germolene and lemon pepper.  Exciting like a tequila and a slice of lime, but complex and grown up too.

Finish - Extremely long, almost never-ending with sherbet lemon and fizzers.

An unannounced intensity on this one, arresting and delicious, and utterly unputdownable.

I should have November’s outturn notes by Friday morning in time for it to go live on the site..