Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Macallan

TheMacallanLogoI’ve drunk quite a lot of Macallan in my time but barely written about it.  It’s position as *the* jewel in Edrington’s crown means that there’s a lot of premium whisky coming out of the distillery, and some very high prices for some quite ordinary single malt, and that makes the brand pretty unfashionable with the kind of people I hang out with.  As has been pointed out a million times before, that crowd make up about 0.001% of whisky sales and so Macallan has its market.

Anyway I’ve been enjoying Macallan more and more recently, for some reason.  My own internal fashion sense is swinging towards whisky at drinking strength – it might be because of the scores of open bottles of cask strength tasting whisky on my shelf I rarely turn to on Friday evening, it might be because I taste so little low strength whisky to write notes for this blog!  And there’s something honest about drinking well structured sherried whisky – like admitting you like Bailey’s.  Just enjoy it, it’s booze.

Macallan 12 years old, Sherry, 40% A-

This has passed me by so far and is lamented for its lacklustre performance compared with the olden times. I'm sure they churn a vatting of this out every month at Macallan, but I know for a fact they take time and pride in doing it well.

the-macallan-12-year-old-sherry-wood-whiskyNose - Sweet but restrained sherry, instantly recognisable as Macallan - sweet, almost fake red cherry, white wine, a touch of chopped parsley. Classy, sweet, and totally Speyside.

Body - Light, gently sweet, some toffee, cardboard and the initial delivery has a noticeable lack of midrange.

Finish - Quite long, richer than the delivery, gentle wood tannins and strawberry laces.

Can you get a more regular, drinking whisky? But the nose on this is classy and delicious, I'm sure this used to be a lot better but I could drink this all day (happily, it’s at 40%)

Macallan, Edition #1, 48% A+

This looks filthy in the bottle, absolutely cloudy with bits floating in it. Compared to the scrubbed, polished brightness of the normal output this is quite disconcerting!

A blend of 8 different casks, mostly sherry butt and puncheon.  Presumably more editions will be along shortly.

macallan-525x1011Nose - Darker and winier than the 12 (as you'd expect), richer fruit, cherry whistles, it has a much fuller "nose feel". Lip salve and marker pens, nearly - the ones that have an almondy note to them. Slightly burnt, a little bit toilet-like, weirdly. Wham bars with time.

Body - Deep, tannic and quite dirty/sexy. Oddly sweet and slightly nondescript, but it's extreme non-chill-filtering brings oils that save it slightly. There's an interesting sulphur here.

Finish - Quite long, blood oranges and sulphur. Very orangey at the end, orange squash practically.

Macallan does NCF? This is oily, orangey and politely dirty. I may have to come back to this one.

Whisky Broker, Macallan 24 years old, 54.5% A⊕

An ordinary bourbon cask here.

whiskybrokermacNose - Mineral and medicinal at first, not TCP, more like citronella. A deep toffee sweetness underneath that, sharp and bright though. And then, after digging through that, there's something properly exciting… there's that classical cask influence, the tobacco, clean sweetness and preserved lemons. Almost Islay, but a deep Speyside sweetness.

Body - Zesty, floral, balanced and obviously single cask, but it could be any distillery on the delivery. But it's a nice drinker. A nice touch of spirit sulphur, lemon sherbets.

Finish - Tannic and waxed, plenty of vanilla and quite tropical, like mango yoghurt. Spicy at the end. Actually, the lemon sherbets again right at the end. No… actually some time later, soy beans. Go figure.

A complex and downright delicious single cask whisky, and more typical of Whisky Broker than Macallan, perhaps, although I can spot some common DNA.

SMWS 24.127, Macallan, Northern Lights, 23 years old, 47.7% A⊕+

16th April 1991, refill bourbon, 262 bottles.

Reviewed previously at outturn, here.

20141204_171525[4]Nose - Definitely not austere anymore (as it was at the outturn), this has been open nearly 2 years. Very sweet pear drops, glazed cereal, toffee apples, and tannic skinned but juicy ripe nectarine (it's a bloody hot day today and this is refreshing on the nose, like nectarines are). Behind this, the utterly classy dusty cask that's (actually) so rare…. More ordinary cereal with water.

Body - Sharp and deeply sweet (more pear drops), licked joss sticks and transparent orange lolly pops. There's a lacquered sweetness that plays well against the hot alcohol here that makes this something special.

Finish - Long and beery, hot nectarines and varnish.

This is a big whisky that you would have called for first fill if younger, and goes to show how special the gear Macallan has to play with is before they let it down with water and blend the hell out of it. I liked it when it was newly opened, but I think I like it more oxygenated.

G&M Speymalt Macallan 18 years old (2016), 43% A⊕

Jun16-Speymalt-Macal98-16Nose - Sweet and wooded like wet, solventy varnish on fresh wood. Berried and cakey, like black cherry trifle. Those two things are simple but balanced, I have high hopes for this as a drammer. Actually this really opens up with water, there's more fruit and more dusty cask (than varnish).

Body - Unmistakably Macallan. Heavy sherry and heavy spirit, a touch of liquorice and salt, black plums. Softer and classier with water, jelly sweets against the stewed plums - but phenomenally sweet overall.

Finish - Long and deeply sweet, we're down to fresh plums and raisins at the end. This is so thick that, despite the very low ABV, I'm going to add water - which brings more black fruit - blackcurrant jam nearly.

A fantastic, mature Macallan, right on style, very drinkable and an absolute bargain at £60. Still available at Green Welly.

Macallan Ruby, 1824 series, 2014, 43% A+

the-macallan-ruby-1824-series-whiskyNose - Inkily sherried, just backing off silly as good heavily sherried OBs do. After that, crayons and clay, heavily sedimented port and window putty. Back to the sherry; it's really very well played, although not anything I wouldn't expect as a matter of course from Glendronach. It's juicy though, like a NEIPA, and berried, like a blackcurrant boiled sweet.  And wooded like new pine box. I like it.

Body - Soft, red wine, black cherries, stewed tea. Competent but sour in the way that Mac can be, balancing sherry, wood, spice and sour… but a tannic bitterness and overly sweet Vimto delivery takes the edge off.

Finish - Long and berried, the sour becomes slightly peated, everything is well integrated right to the end but it just tastes… a little young.

Very obviously big cask plus young cask doesn't quite hang together the way they'd hoped. It's very drinkable for sure, but it's no classic.

Macallan Rare Casks, 43% A⊕

the-macallan-rare-cask-whiskyNose - Ever so slightly classier while being sweeter and even more sweetly sherried. There's an almost rotten fruit funk in here which I find very appealing, and behind that pure distillery (the mash, the malt, the wood). Sweeter and cleaner with water.

Body - Much brighter than the Speymalt, slightly more competent than the Ruby but ploughing the same furrow. Sharper and slightly spicy but more interesting for it. Mango juice with water (especially texturally).

Finish - Really long, really, deeply sweet. Like sucking a boiled sweet in a hot car. Just balanced by wood though.

A big, big, boiled sweets whisky with depth and length. Meant to be drunk out of a cut glass tumbler after dinner, having enjoyed the theatre with the bottle, not dissected in a Glencairn.

Macallan Rare Casks Black, 42% A⊕

Thanks to MBNDavid and the team for a taste of this all the way from Israel!

macob.non67Nose - Unexpected. A little plasticky, some green apple, slightly Asian, quite deep wax. There's something BBQed on exhale, like a lit splint or licking your fingers after picking up a long-smoked piece of meat. With some time, something rather special develops… it becomes more sweetly Asian, with teenage cigarettes, and the exhale becomes funkier and sweeter.

Body - Dry and appley again. And just, frankly, a little old school. It is really tobacco-y too, and you know I love that. Toffee oils, burnt newspaper and balanced tannins.

Finish - More teenage smoking, this time it's the tar on the lips after a particularly satisfying rolly. Really, really tannic but very moreish, it reminds me of this bizarre clove, chocolate and tea hot-drink I had by the shot in Morocco once… no idea what that was, but it was merciless. And this has its soul but it's tempered.

I know it's not cool to like this, but I like this. Heavily sherried, oily with leather and tobacco. I could drink it all night.

Murray McDavid, SUM16/00, Macallan, 16yo, 46% A⊕'

First fill Oloroso Sherry Butt. I first tried this on the summer tweet tasting and saved the dregs for this flight – I never seem to write these MMD bottles up as there’s a disconnect between the tasting and the whisky getting bottled.  What are we actually trying?  Anyway, this one was good.

Nose - Fresh wine, perfume and lime juice. More toffee musk, there's a meal in here I can't place though.. Aubergine, ginger, green beans? I dunno… anyway it's a dark, complex, lacquered nose, really rich and satisfying, and that white wine and green herb is a breath of fresh air after all these OB sherry bombs.

Body - Simple sugars, icing and mushrooms stewed in red wine (on toast). Spicy oak, very tannic, lovely balance of sweet and savoury. Much more complex than the Rare Casks, very moreish.

Finish - Very long, light sulphur on exhale, a touch of gunpowder, delicious.

Really meaty this, and a great balance of spicy, sherry fruit and savoury. Pretty robust though.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Elements of Islay–Summer 2016 Outturn

More high quality small batch vattings in the Elements of Islay range.  I just can’t stop buying them, in their dinky medicine bottles.  And there’s no stopping them now that Mariella is brand ambassador.

My top picks (and I did pick them, they are sitting handsomely next to their colleagues on my shelf) are the Lp7 and Ma1, for very different reasons.

By the way, I’ve been using it as a tasting note for so long that I forget that some people haven’t tried Sichuan peppercorns.  They are lemony, peppery, taste a bit of hashish and make your mouth go numb.  You need to try Sichuan peppercorns – you can buy them here, but they’re a lot cheaper for a lot more in Chinese supermarkets.  It’s always in my cupboard, due to the works of Fuchsia Dunlop.

Elements of Islay Lp7, Laphroaig, 52.8% A⊕+

elem_lp7Nose - Ripe, green grapes and really dusty (crushed refreshers and medicinal peat). Shoe leather, old plasters, lilies, dried orange slices and Calpol. A beautiful combination of medicinal peat and tropical fruit, this is totally fantastic. Fresher and more confident with water.

Body - Coffee on inhale. Dusty again, but with fried Indian snacks, hops and fizzers*. Complex but not demanding, fresh but faintly dirty. Sour plums - particularly with water but I had it before and couldn't place it.

Finish - Chewed malt, very long with pineapple and dried mango slices. Meaty, peaty and highly medical at the end.

Probably the best Laphroaig I've had all year. Highly recommended.

Elements of Islay Ma1, Margadale (peated Bunnahabhain), 54.2% A+

elem_ma1Nose - There's the young, peated Bunnahabhain I know so well from SMWS. Coastal, shells, etc. but… there's a more grown up complexity here with rain water, felt tip pens, acrylic paints (citadel miniatures not wall paints), fresh linen and chocolate. I don't know if there's older spirit or just blending filling in the gaps but it works well. Sweeter but more metallic with water, but suddenly I'm reminded of Springbank (waxes, oil, fruit and peat), and finally it's the art room at school (clay, poster paints, sugar paper).

Body - A meaty smasher; sharpies, poster paints, chocolate malt (i.e. the stuff that goes in stout not chocolate and malt) and toffee apple. Beery with water.

Finish - Long and very sweet against the peat.

This is as complex and honest a peated Bunna I've had. Collect it or drink it, it works either way.

Elements of Islay Ln1, Loch Indaal (medium peated Bruichladdich), 62.5% A⊕

A new one on me, somewhere (ppm-wise) between Port Charlotte and Octomore apparently.

elem_ln1Nose - Fresh and clay-ey, slightly ashen. Highly perfumed, with preserved lemons, light funk and hot crayons on a radiator. There's something meaty by association in there too, like roast chicken with lemon shells in the cavity. Big, fat and complex.

Body – Teacher’s chalk, more fried lemon, big cereal peat, apple pie. I can see the Octomore association very clearly on the palate, the fresh malt comes through with water.

Finish - Long with lemon sherbets and Sichuan peppercorns.

A fat and lemony triumph. I very much enjoyed this sample but I'd rather own an open bottle of Ma1.

Elements of Islay Ar6, Ardbeg, 55.7% A+

elem_ar6Nose - Dusty, elegant and complete. Charred letter sealing wax (it was my grandmothers), linen (maybe by association), apple juice (from concentrate) and Marlboro light tobacco (unlit). Important Islay.

Body - Fresh apple, BBQ and just a hint of sulphur. It nudges cabbage but not alarmingly so. Battered peanuts and magazines, sweet and savoury. Gunpowder with water. Gunpowder's got sulphur in it, right?

Finish - Long and very drying, like placing a slab of sandalwood dredged in ground Sichuan peppercorns on your tongue. The fruit in here is very present but very odd, in the same way that it is in Turkish delight. Cocoa powder. That sulphur keeps poking its head out just before every next sip… damnit if I can't stop sipping this though…

Technically flawed but unputdownable, compelling fruit and a great "mouth experience".

* For the record, while I’m being all open about my tasting note markers, Fizzers are like (well they actually appear to be) parma violets without the perfume.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Tomatin Cu Bocan 2005 Vintage

Having blasted through my Tomatin backlog there’s nothing to compare this to, so I’ll just get it out there on its own.  While I do, please note that Green Welly have the sublime Contrast on offer right now (that is a serious bargain), as well as cask strength.

Tomatin Cu Bocan 2005 vintage, 50% A-

Aug16-Cu-Bocan2005Nose - Classic young Tomatin; fresh, sour, blonde wood, young, musky but high quality cask. Roasted green apple, whiteboard markers, a touch of cardboard and yesterday's rain soaked beach BBQ. A good balance of feisty, deeply sweet cask and mineral, but that slightly incongruous peat I often get on the nose with Cu Bocan doesn't quite gel for me.

Body - Apple chews, cap-gun caps, white wine and toast with marshmallows. Sour top notes are slightly malic also, with white grapes and Sudocrem.

Finish - Medium, quite hot with chocolate, coffee and charred cardboard. Grapefruit at the end.

Perfectly smashable as you might expect but it's playing the young, sour and peaty thing that young Caol Ila usually nails and not doing so well – the peat just isn’t strong enough. 

Friday, 5 August 2016

SMWS August 2016 Outturn

I’ve said before that outturns that don’t seem that interesting on paper (at first glance) usually end up most interesting, and this is one of those.  I was a bit worried that I’d end up with a full sheet of BUYs in here! I’ll get in trouble for these scores – it’s not appreciated when everything is recommended because most people are reading this to get an idea of what to buy without being able to taste them so I can understand that.  So I’ll cut to the chase, here’s my recommendations:

  • First off – standing at the bar?  Try the Linkwood, Balmenach and Glen Grant, maybe the Glen Moray, then the Laphroaig.
  • IMG_20160802_201234Jaded long-term SMWS drinkers looking for something good value but different should buy the Balmenach, 48.76.  It’s challenging, very interesting and under £50.
  • Less jaded members of the above demographic should buy the Glen Grant, 9.109.  It’s full flavoured, balanced and delicious.
  • Want to spend under £100 and get something high quality and classical?  Buy the Cragganmore,37.78 – tropical fruit, wax, wood – very mature for the price.
  • The grain, Cambus, G8.6 is good and cheaper (but younger) than previous weeks.  Still quite pricey for a 26 year old Cambus but lovely to drink.
  • At the top end, the Glen Moray and Longmorn are both incredibly good.  The Longmorn is the big old blockbuster of the outturn and pulls it off perfectly.  The Glen Moray is my pick out of these as its greener, fresher but still fabulous.
  • The cracking Laphroaig is well worth buying, same price as the Cragganmore – not quite as good I don’t think in absolute terms, but it has some TCP and it’s a Laphroaig so that will qualify it into most people’s shopping baskets.
  • The 20 year old Bowmore is the star of the outturn, £100 for nigh-on 26 year old Bowmore profile.

So you can see there’s a lot to choose from and of course I recommend you read the words too to see if it sounds like the kind of thing you want to drink. This has been the longest period you can have between outturns, and good things come to those who wait…

SMWS 85.38, Glen Elgin, Hazelnut iced coffee, 8 years old, 60.5% A+

25th October 2007, 144 bottles, first fill bourbon

IMG_20160802_173721Nose - Fresh, jewelled and spirity. Spearmint chews, wet rocks and drumsticks (the sweet) on exhale. The wood is the really competent part of this nose though; Sandalwood box and smouldering splints. Sweeter fruits and sponge cake with water… although this dusty, hot radiator thing is developing with time.

Body - Sharp and rather hot (with alcohol) in the initial delivery, green apple and gooseberry. Behind this, intense sweetness and baked apple. A much better experience with water (stone fruit and toffee), although still very sharp and sour, however with time the fruit and structure really develops, I like this.

Finish - Long and sharp, wood-led which balances the experience. Better again with water, sour fruit still but with mango and almonds.

This is a warming, complex drammer, perfect for a balmy summer evening, and best of all it really develops in the glass.


SMWS 48.76, Balmenach, The freshness of citrus!, 11 years old, 57.6% A+'

29th March 2005, 216 bottles, first fill bourbon

IMG_20160802_173747Nose - A lovely, gentle, lemon meringue pie… but also a ghost of the real intensity of brand new homebrew that you've ridiculously hopped with Simcoe (it's like a dank, almost rotten sharp fruit). Not that it's out of place, it's just a taste association. It's a bright, considered, well matured nose… even more so with water; deeper fruits and wood.

Body - More Asian than lemon meringue on the delivery, with hoi-sin sauce and pickled lemons, and more of that hot, hoppy wort. It's a little young and sharp around the edges but very rewarding.

Finish - Medium with, again, great cask sweetness and back to the lemon meringue. A touch of tobacco with water, and freshly cut pine. Bitterness is high though.

A slightly challenging but absolutely delicious young whisky, again. Those looking for something slightly out of the ordinary but high quality could do worse than this.


SMWS 9.109, Glen Grant, Zingy blackcurrant cheesecake, 12 years old, 59.3% A⊕

17th June 2003, 90 bottles, first fill bourbon

IMG_20160802_173750Nose - Deeper wood and fruit, like a good Highland Park. Christmas pudding (smelled, not tasted) and a polished school hall (lacquer, wood, dust and sweat - although maybe that's just me, it's pretty hot today). There's a lovely wineyness to this and after you've tasted it, enormous black cherry. More of that Highland Park light peat with water.

Body - Definitely getting the cheesecake, black cherry cheesecake I'd’ve said though. The fruit (sour, sweet, juicy) hits you right at the front, and it's backed by wood tannins and an almost medicinal sharpness.

Finish - Long and fruity, finally the Vimto comes… a nice oiliness on the tip of the tongue but quite bitter.

Love the black cherry in this, great interest and balance too. Again, the youth comes through in a slightly harsh bitterness that suggests this might have been totally epic in another dozen years, but this is still highly recommended.


SMWS 37.78, Cragganmore, Perfumed elegance, 17 years old, 48.2% A⊕

11th February 1999, 90 bottles, refill bourbon

IMG_20160802_173752Nose - This outturn is a real journey so far! Big fruity wax, roasted peaches, raspberry pound cake and fresh cut flowers. Beautiful. There's an Auchentoshan-like fruit/funk/wax thing being hinted at too.

Body - Deep and perfect fruit, but quite gentle with oaked Chardonnay and vanilla cream. Classical with water - you're definitely drinking Scotch but it's mature and almost not single-cask in its delivery.

Finish - Long and soft, more tropical with banana and mango smoothy.

A lovely whisky, properly matured but structured and totally drinkable.



SMWS G8.6, Cambus, Jazzed up banana split, 26 years old, 59.7% A⊕

12th June 1989, 258 bottles, refill bourbon

IMG_20160802_183625Nose - Very gentle compared to the above, with a real understated sweetness. Old pomander, candied orange, angelica, bourbon biscuits. Better with water, dustier with more whipped cream.

Body - Lovely on the delivery… dried banana, banana with vanilla cream and chocolate sauce, a hint of caraway.

Finish - Sweet and biscuity, crystal malt and aniseed, a very light hint of sulphur. Big mukhwas and very tannic at the end.

Another beautiful society grain. Not as perfect as the last two (G1.14 and G4.8) I bought but still very drinkable.


SMWS 77.44, Glen Ord, Cheerful childhood memories, 15 years old, 58.8% A'

3rd April 2001, 240 bottles, 2nd fill Sauternes

IMG_20160802_183622Nose - Dusty, sweet, sour, definitely more ordinary than the whiskies so far… yet still, it's has a slightly austere charm - cut flowers and earth, cajeta and boiled sweets. It's growing on me…

Body - Lemon sherbets (as usual with Glen Ord), lemon sorbet, lemon curd, mango sauce. That makes it sound a lot more intense and rich than it is, because there's a sharp youth and bitterness around the edges that takes away from the fun (and it's harsher with water).

Finish - Medium, sweet/sharp pineapple and dried mango slices. Very light pipe tobacco at the end.

Better than I thought it was going to be. A bit clumsy but very drinkable.


SMWS 64.74, Mannochmore, What afternoons are made for!, 15 years old, 57.6% A

5th March 2001, 228 bottles, first fill bourbon

IMG_20160802_183611Nose - Sharp apple, rain, fruit salad chews. Candle wax on inhale, fried crab shells on exhale, evaporated milk on malted milk biscuits. It's sweet but I'm reminded slightly of a cabin on a cross channel ferry - all handsoap and linen.

Body - Sharp and malty, tannic with grapefruit and roasted lemons. More fruit salad chews.

Finish - Lemon and granite, chewed liquorice root, coffee beans. Vanilla burps.

It's delicious, but in this outturn that bitterness and wood character marks it down.

SMWS 55.39, Royal Brackla, No pussycat, 18 years old, 56.5% A+

26th September 1997, 276 bottles, first fill bourbon then 2nd fill Sauternes

IMG_20160802_183618Nose - Ripe pear and iced rings, pure refill bourbon. This has the hallmarks of a boring whisky that needed saving. A metal file, smelled Sichuan peppercorns. There's tinned pineapple juice in the background, it's faint though.

Body - Much more interesting on the delivery, that wine finish has upped the game with slightly rotten fruit, roasted pineapple and black pepper. Very good.

Finish - Long and tannic, cracked black pepper and soap. It's practically peated, by association with the pepper.

This isn't brilliant but it is compelling, and the more I tasted it the more I enjoyed it. Maybe I'm just thirsty today.


SMWS 39.128, Linkwood, Back to primary school, 9 years old, 60.3% A+'

17th February 2007, 192 bottles, first fill bourbon

IMG_20160802_192437Nose - I can see the name from here; cream cheese sandwiches, poster paints and modelling clay. Sweet but slightly clarty, oily and quite complete. Strawberry sauce for an ice cream.

Body - Big, sweet and fruity, but biscuity with vanilla and raspberry jam. Stewed tea and panna cotta. Neat orange barley sugar squash. Menthol with water.

Finish - Medium long, oils and fruits galore. A really competent delivery right to the end - obvious first fill sweetness for sure, but well played.

I tasted this out of order (I forgot it) and almost didn't bother (who needs primary school Linkwood when you're about to try a 25 year old Bladnoch?) but I'm glad I did. Highly recommended.


SMWS 50.78, Bladnoch, Ready…steady…bake!, 25 years old, 60.2% A⊕'

26th January 1990, 168 bottles, refill bourbon

IMG_20160802_192419Nose - Floral and elegant, French cooked pastry (as they say, pale is a crime!), lowland cask musk, caramel shortbread biscuits. Very deep, very luxurious. Darker caramel with water.

Body - Mint toffee, more caramel shortbread, green apple chews, candy cigarettes and caraway. Light sulphur and Sauternes with water.

Finish - Very long with great oils and wood tannins. Lip salve. Finally, milky tea.

Another fantastic Bladnoch.


SMWS 35.145, Glen Moray, Lost in the dessert, 24 years old, 57.6% A⊕+

25th October 1991, 228 bottles, 2nd fill bourbon

IMG_20160802_192422Nose - After all that luxury and intrigue, back to refill bourbon punishment. Hard wood and unripe apple, cold tarmac and beer. Very green with time - cut runner beans and tequila. Actually this holds its own intrigue, with kola kubes against fresh turf and light vanilla sulphur. Fresh rain and cigar tobacco with water. Lovely.

Body - Very clever. Hang on a sec…

Fresh and zesty, big vanilla cask, green beans and clean, precise spirit. More drumsticks, liquorice allsorts (the white foam sandwich one), vanilla cream and very cold white wine. It's beautifully refreshing. Spicier with water, but fuller.

Finish - New make, high quality frozen vodka, musky honey, funny feet ice lollies and cut grass.

An unexpected pleasure. Maybe it's just the intensity of the flight but this is a breath of fresh air.


SMWS 7.130, Longmorn, Musky, floral, sweet perfumes, 25 years old, 55.1% A⊕+

15th June 1990, 240 bottles, refill bourbon

IMG_20160802_192425Nose - Musky, dusty and hot. Acrylic paints, liquorice torpedoes, grilled orange halves and cake. It's floral like a new bunch of flowers on a hot summer day, it's sweet and oaky like a warm Chardonnay.

Body - Crikey. Big, winey and meaty, stewed apricot tart with marzipan, hot dusty sulphur. Macaron and very ripe mango. Nectarines with water. Epic.

Finish - Long and peachy. Powdered cinnamon on grapefruit. Perfect poise to the end.

Really, really good, and a world away from the Glen Moray*.


*although I just, just prefer the 35, even though I don't on paper. Actually they're very different.

SMWS 29.188, Laphroaig, Cowboy beans, 17 years old, 53.9% A⊕+

13th May 1998, 246 bottles, refill bourbon

IMG_20160802_201244Nose - One of the sweet, coastal Laphs… all crushed shells and perfume and malted barley. There's a small, white cubed sweet - is it in the liquorice allsorts? I need to buy some of these and see if they live up to my memories of them. Deep in here there is the memory of the medicinal Laphroaig, hallelujah… but it's faint. Is it just that I've lost the ability to smell TCP? I might start dabbing it on my wrists* before drinking Laphroaig.

Body - Beautiful cereal, deep and charred. More soap, definitely bandages, fizzing germolene. Apple juice and cigarettes. Absolutely delicious.

Finish - Long with warm hotel apple juice, very complete in the mouth. Malic acid, very old TCP and wet oak take us to the end.

One of the best society Laphroaigs I've had in the last year, really tropical and a very compelling whisky overall.

* obviously I’m telling a lie here.  I did this ages ago and can confirm that it works really well.  Not something I’d do before entering a whisky bar though.  That’s worse than entering a whisky bar wearing perfume!

BUY BUY – great name, cracking Laphroaig

SMWS 3.278, Bowmore, Dirty martinis in the boat shed, 20 years old, 52.2% A⊕+'

27th March 1996, 252 bottles, refill bourbon

IMG_20160802_201240Nose - Oils paints and turpentine, window putty and petrol canister - a real garden shed. Lovely and sweet behind this though, the beginnings of alien Islay and salted cucumber. Sky high hopes…

Body - Bingo. Thick mango juice, salty parmas, big cigars minus the tar, chalk and permanent markers. Alka-seltzer and marshmallows.

Finish - Long, lovely alien fruit, totally complete… it's the youngest Islay I've had that nails this profile.



Did you know that turpentine is distilled pine resin? I’m surprised we don’t experience it more in whisky.


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Cadenheads July 2016 Authentic Collection

The July outturn is out today, just ahead of the release of Kilkerran 12 (August 12th)!  The Authentic Collection (normal bottles with green, white, red labels depending on the cask) is an outturn of single casks, released for the UK.  The Small Batch series (square bottles, black or gold labels) is 1-3 casks of whisky blended, which are released worldwide.


As before, it’s not all here – there’s a Cooley too which should be good, an old Aultmore (ditto), and a 27 year old Cameronbridge. 

I apologise if it seems I’ve picked the expensive ones as favourites.  To be honest I tasted them all without being told the prices (of course I know what costs more in general) and as I’ve said before, I just say it how I find it!

Royal Lochnagar, 17 years old, 56.8% A-

IMG_20160727_161404Nose - Gentle, fresh and appley. Hard candy shells feel young at first, but tobacco and cask musk add complexity. Candy cigarettes and a slightly herbal meatiness come with time. Fresher again with water, almost hand-soap.

Body - Sharp, sweet, quite spicy but an undercurrent of toffee rounds it out. Mukhwas with water.

Finish - Long and hot, rice paper and spiced pear.

A lovely, fresh, classy nose and it's a spicy, spikey whisky with deeply sweet undercurrents, lacking midrange overall.

Mannochomore, 19 years old, 54.7% A+

IMG_20160727_162306Nose - Seriously rich and cakey compared to the Lochnagar. Apple pie, with vanilla ice cream, fantastic minerality (wet rock, liquorice) balancing it out, but the overall feel is young again. Once your mouth is filled with vanilla cream (rather than Royal Lochnagar, i.e. after tasting) it starts to make more sense - that sense of richness works with the vibrant nose.

Body - Sweeter, lots of chocolate, faintly medicinal, hints of complex maturity, sour plums. Better with water, the short pastry is back, with anise biscuits and a flash of spice.

Finish - Pure vanilla whipped cream in the finish, rich and clarty, completely mouth filling.

A complex, slightly challenging and confusing, but ultimately rewarding whisky. Everything is right on paper but it somehow needed translating.

Tobermory, 21 years old, 53.8% A⊕

IMG_20160727_163313Nose - Complex and elegant. Restrained chocolate (nutty and austere like Mexican chocolate, but without the spice), trimmed hedges (wet cut wood, leaves and rain) and fresh cut red cherries.  Fresh cut red cherries don't really smell of "cherries", they smell of sugary fresh juice, ozone and very faint cherry stone and skin, and that's what I mean. More mineral with water, more wood and ozone. There's big toffee cask in here too but it's restrained and balanced. This is a refreshing nose and speaks of quality. Fingers, eyes and toes crossed…

Body - Big, meaty toffee wood, much bigger than the nose suggested. Coffee and Mexican chocolate again, toast and butter. Roasted plums and marzipan with water, seriously rich with toasted woods.

Finish - Long, with toffee and rosemary, grapefruit bitterness.

A bit of a rollercoaster this one, and hard work at times, but very satisfying.

Glen Spey, 21 years old, 54.2% A+

IMG_20160727_164451Nose - Fruitier and slightly sour, a vague feeling of pickled green chillies and hard green apples. Black jacks and bacon sandwiches. Orange juice with time.

Body - Big and bouncy. Slightly rum-like with Lucozade, cider and sweet vanilla wood. Again it feels very young but very confident and the maturity is waiting in the wings with toasted wood and a hint of sulphur.

Finish - Medium and very tannic, fresh bourbon cask, very drinkable.

This drinks like a 9 year old you can't believe is so young, if you see what I mean. The youth in the finish is (like the Lochnagar) belied by supporting notes of maturity. This is the kind of whisky I'd come back to time and again, and indeed I finished my sample before I could get water to it. Recommended.

Glen Garioch, 26 years old, 44.4% A⊕+

IMG_20160727_165358Nose - It's a big, sweet, cask heavy-hitter. Big marmalade notes but with deep, ancient cask wax. Orange ice-cream, whistle pops and a faint plastic book coverings nose over something approaching coastal (fresh oyster shells perhaps?)

Body - Holy moly, old beyond its years. Very juicy, lots of fruit, lots of old wood, very masculine. Scented candles (rose?)

Finish - Long and tannic, grapefruit all the way down - juice then zest then chewed oak. Cigarettes at the end, touching on cigars.

I would have guessed this as a 40 year old something - bourbon cask Glenfarclas probably. Cigars, marmalade, polished old wood and scented candles. It's perfect for Christmas.

Glentauchers, 26 years old, 48.2% A⊕+

1989-July 2016, bourbon barrel, 108 bottles.

IMG_20160727_170138Nose - More structure, more fruit, slightly younger than the Glen Garioch but on the same tracks. Big, old fruit and wax cask, with orange sorbet and beeswax.

Body - Beautiful old whisky again, 40 year old stuff. Deeper and less frivolous than the Glen Garioch, richer but more toppy, loads of chocolate toffee and just a hint of the vegetal on exhale. Even fruitier with water.

Finish - Long and ripe, rich chocolate all the way with red berries and privet hedge.

Another big one, really beautiful to drink. The Glen Garioch is noticeably more coastal and "refill" in comparison, but classier for it. This Glentauchers is massive though, and beautifully mature. They're both old and important in their own way so I can't call it between them, but if you're after slightly more restrained and balanced, it's the Glen Garioch. If you want a big old blockbuster, the Glentauchers. Both are highly recommended.

That's a lot to live up to.

Bruichladdich, 27 years old, 50.2% A⊕

IMG_20160727_171200Nose - Gentle refill laddie; chocolate and cranberries, candles and ripe pears. Herbal (cut flowers and earth) and coastal, in that understated way Bruichladdich is when it's "vanilla". I like it. I'm trying to subtract the previous two whiskies though. Bigger with water.

Body - Melon and banana foam sweets, beautifully gentle with understated fruits and a serious sweetness. Much more comprehensible with water, the sweetness blends better with fruit and fizz.

Finish - Intensely sweet and tending towards fizzing, tending towards old Islay. Petrichor with water. Very long and refreshing.

This is what proper (mature, refill bourbon) whisky tastes like. Recommended.

OK that really was a lot to live up to. Good luck Glenturret!

Glenturret, 28 years old, 44% B+

IMG_20160727_172159Nose - Younger but covered in melted/set candle wax. Maybe even sealing wax. More apples in the form of calvados, with the dibdab from the sherbet and a milky cup of tea.

Body - Most unexpected. It's like weak hot chocolate. It's like expensive old whisky wicked onto blotting paper and chewed. There's fruit fighting to get out (foxes glacier friut sweets) but it's hiding behind this weird cardboard tone.

Finish - That cardboardy note continues into the finish, with cheap coffee and caraway.

Unsatisfying - but it's a tough crowd at the moment.

Caol Ila, 36 years old, 53.3% A⊕+'

IMG_20160727_202638Nose - Hello old Caol Ila…. Dusty refreshers, whistle pops, coffee, ripe peaches, grilled pineapple with agave nectar and emulsion paint. The wood is ancient and sun bleached, it's very far from what most people would recognise as whisky.

Body - Dreamy. Painted in salted chocolate and coffee this time, with hot jacuzzi cover and summer in the woods. Powder paints and refreshers, dusty tannins. Slightly medicinal with water, with iced ring biscuits and battenburg cake.

Finish - Dusty, old, slightly hot with cracked paint on windowsills and window putty. Very, very tannic and drying, as old Caol Ila usually is. Long and balanced, and challenging but dreamy.

A classic, what everyone wants from an old Caol Ila. Is it noticeably older than the previous 30, 31, 32s? Not really, but it's a different cask, and what I wanted it to be, and most importantly, fantastic to drink.  Cheers!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Cadenheads Catch-up

Here’s some random bottles I didn’t manage to try at the time and subsequently got hold of – some I ran bottle shares on, some were run by others.  Well, Darren.  Thanks Darren!

When I made these notes, the Glenkinchie was still in stock.  Unfortunately it’s gone now.  Same with the Teaninich but with that one, that’s my fault.  I’m very impressed with the solera blend, it’s fantastic quality for the money and would be a brilliant every day drinker.

Cadenheads Strathclyde, Small Batch, 25 years old, 57.8% A+'

20160503_163039Nose - Sweet and volatile, green apples, cheap apple juice and boiled sweets. Very juicy, very relaxing – pretty chilled out in general! Ozone and ice cream at the beach, hand soap and granite. Classic hard grain. Rather lovely with water, softening out the hard spirit and bringing it together with the cream.

Body - Good toffee and hard grain balance, unripe apple and later in the delivery, extremely sweet with cheap vanilla ice cream. There's a dark cider note in here too. More apple juice with water.

Finish - Medium and clean, backs down from cloying but that vanilla cream runs right to the end with rhubarb and custard boiled sweets.

Cadenheads Strathclyde, Small Batch, 26 years old, 57.9% A+

1989-2015, 168 bottles, bourbon barrel.  This is still in stock.

20160503_163042Nose - Practically identical to the 25 year old with perhaps a touch more plastic book covering. Less pleasant (more cloying I guess, more artificial) but only nosed directly side by side. There's very little in it. Slightly better than the 25 with water, although that clotted cream note I couldn't place without water is more pronounced.

Body - More volatile but just as creamy as the 25, a touch more spice. Richer and fuller (closer to a malt) than the 25, tannic apple juice in the late delivery.

Finish - Longer and more assertively woody, good peppery notes at the end. Softer and fruitier with water.

There's almost nothing between these two drams and both are excellent grains, perfect summer drinking. Extremely drinkable with water too.

Cadenheads 12 year old blend, 46% sherry cask A+

"This blended whisky is matured in a sherry solera system whereby we will only ever bottle half of the batting before topping up the casks. The whisky is bottled at 46% and contains 65% Malt whisky and 35% Grain whisky. Although the bottling will change slightly with each bottling the aim is to retain a solid sherry influence in the blend."

WMCadenhead 12 sherrywood -750x1000Nose - This has a character that reminds me of the early days of discovering whisky. A sour berry cask led sweetness, waxy with plummy cereal. Young, dusty but delicious refill sherry. For the price, that is pretty impressive.  No hint of grain on the nose… actually with time I'm getting dusty chocolate and much more sherry. I don't know… this smells pretty smashing. A more mature nose with water.

Body - Much more in keeping with its price point. Immediate icing sugar, harder cereals, an obvious sweetness… but underneath a gentle sulphur and fresh, wet wood. Light orchard fruit with water but hardly there. Drowns easily.

Finish - A touch of coffee chocolate, cherry compote. Long with a lasting sweetness, and at the end the grain shows a bit.

Cracking at twice the price. Crushable.  Highly recommended if you want a £33 whisky and want it to be great.

Cadenheads Allt-a-Bhainne, Authentic Collection, 23 years old, 50% A+

1992-April 2016, bourbon barrel.

Allt A Bhainne 23 50 174 bottles -750x1000Nose - Sweet but fresh; chilled but very ripe green apple. Perhaps it’s iced apple Danish pastries?  With time, a really quite naughty, funky fecundity (slightly dank, musky and sulphurous, with on-the-turn white flowers). That is a seriously compelling and interesting nose but I fear too much sugar in the delivery…

Body - … narrowly avoided. Fresh, refill bourbon at the front, intense (first fill) sweetness at the back. Tobacco, roasted plum and floral honey. With water, cut orange on the nose, sweeter and more one-dimensional on the delivery.

Finish - Bitter, yellow wood, coffee beans and black cherries.

A conflicted dram. A fantastic nose, just the right side of too sweet initially but tiring after a while.

Cadenheads Glenkinchie, Authentic Collection, 28 years old, 53.5% A⊕+'

1987-April 2016

13239136_1016530835110190_5351309454114456471_nNose - Gentle, but dusty. Honeycomb and pollen, floor polish and crayons. There's a deep seated sweetness backing this, and with digging a herbal, almost earthy note - perhaps cut flower stalks too. Very distinct jelly babies with time, intensely sweet and fruity. A very classy lowlander, so much variety but not overdoing it.

Body - Heavenly. More fruity, lowland, lightly funky sweetness, tannins and tobacco, massive cask influence. Mature like a 30+ year old Tomatin but slightly more restrained.

Finish - Very long with more jelly babies and restrained spice, gentle funk and bags of fruit (orange, mango).

Just fantastic. Drinks like a 38 year old. Nearly an A⊕⊕.

Cadenheads Teaninich, Authentic Collection, 22 years old, 51.9% A⊕+

1993-April 2016, sherry cask

Teaninich 22 51.9 258 bottles -750x1000Nose - Cut oranges, dried orange slices, dried flowers (potpourri), a younger wood note (almost bourbon like) with deodorant. It's compelling but a little O.T.T. perhaps. With time and water, you get used to it - there's cherry/almond funk with the orange, and the bourbon is long gone. The empty glass evokes very clearly pata negra pork chops I once BBQed on holiday in Spain, basted with fresh orange juice using a rosemary brush. That alone makes it a keeper.

Body - Chocolate orange, and now a simply divine chocolate, sangria, cask, nut, chilli and sulphur rollercoaster.

Finish - Long and intense, toffee, nuts and sulphur back up this beautiful orange liqueur.

If the Amrut Naarangi had tasted like this there would have been a stampede. I just bought the last bottle, sorry.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Douglas Laing Backlog

A serious backlog.  Some samples, a tweet tasting, some bottleshares.  The quiet quality coming out of Douglas Laing is very impressive. 

First a catch up on the Remarkable Regional Malts drammers, then some young but confident Provenance fun, finally the Old Particular blockbusters.

The Epicurean, Lowland malt, 46.2% A+

the-epicurean-whiskyNose - This smells suspiciously like young Auchentoshan! I am a big Auchentoshan fan. Gentle, floral wax, barley sugar, royal icing, and young, slightly sour, but competent cask. Gentle not-quite-ripe mango, and laminated cardboard.

Body - Pretty delicious. Soft, sour toffee, mouthfilling oils, raspberry jam. Some tobacco with water.

Finish - Medium and quite intense on the young cask (plywood, bitter tannins, lots of oil, slightly fizzing) - plenty of first fill bourbon cask in here (or maybe it's just Auchentoshantastic).

Refreshing summer dramming… a really returnable nose, really enticing and even more so with water. Big, structured sweetness on the delivery. An excellent blended malt. Recommended.

Scallywag, Speyside malt, 46% A

Reviewed before but that was the first batch, I’m sure this must be a later one.

scallywag-whiskyNose - Restrained sweetness and gently waxed, with that trademark Douglas Laing sour complexity. I'm much better attuned to the young Speyside character than I was when I first tried this whisky; ripe pears and soft Glenrothes bring together the gentle sweetness. With time, there's a quite compelling mineral edge to it.

Body - Slightly spicy (young sherried Macallan), unripe green apple, lemon sherbets. It's an Edrington special.

Finish - Sharp, young sherried malt. Quite short with fennel seeds and a rounding toffee.

This works well but reminds me of how much I struggled with the batch 1 bottle I had.

Scallywag Cask Strength, Batch #2, 54.1% A+

scallywag-cask-strength-whiskyNose - More intensely Glenrothes and better for it. More perfume (both men's and women's), more glacé cherries. It has the midrange knocked back into it, definitely preferred, £10 well spent. Big vanilla tones with water, like essence of milk tart.

Body - Night and day better, it's amazing the difference a few percent makes (I suppose it's a different batch though). Intense orange oils, penny toffees, a big sherry backbone here. Properly delicious. Flaws open up with water (lack of midrange, shortness on delivery). Maybe I'm just too used to cask strength single cask.

Finish - Long and tannic, almost cloying at the back of the tongue. Love hearts at the end.

This definitely works well, recommended over the regular strength.

Now some of the Provenance series.  The first few notes were from a tweet tasting (#TasteTheRegion) I can’t believe I haven’t written up yet.  They all seem to still be in stock though.  Then some other, more recent ones.

Douglas Laing Provenance, Macduff 8 years old, 46% A

Refill hogshead 10986

macduff-8-year-old-2007-cask-10986-provenance-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - Fresh, white winey, light malic sourness - next to that a really fruity sweetness, quite perfumed and floral. Lots of orange ice cream, powdered ginger. A lovely, confident, fruity nose with lots of richness. Good stuff. With water, sweeter, slightly richer, less perfumed.

Body - Quite sharp, hot, sour, but with corn, hot sugar syrup and a touch of ginger again. Fuller initially with water, slightly fruitier, but then a touch of cardboard and more spice.

Finish - Quite short, red pepper. Chilli pepper with water.

A really solid drammer, it'd be a good Autumn drink I think.

Douglas Laing Provenance, Mortlach 8 years old, 46% A⊕'

Refill hogshead 11075.  At £45 and still in stock I’d call this a no brainer (I bought one ages ago).

mortlach-8-year-old-2008-cask-11075-provenance-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - Complex, fresh orchard fruit, delightful cask wax, extremely juicy. Hints of acrylic paint and petrichor, and a touch of paraffin (hot earth, window putty - it's like an old greenhouse). Fruitier and waxier with water. It's a beautiful thing.

Body - Beautifully deep and sweet, quite a lot of hot radiator and spice in there too. Orange zest. Very ripe, fruity - fruit pastilles and neat orange squash. I must be too used to cask strength as I can't get used to 46% whisky with water, but it does develop a slightly more cereal and grown up delivery.

Finish - Slightly sharp and biscuity. Medium but smashable. Lush.

This is seriously good for the age, well recommended.

Douglas Laing Provenance, Benrinnes 11 years old, 46% A+'

benrinnes-11-year-old-2004-cask-10717-provenance-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - Muddier and much less exciting on the nose at first, less fruit, more cereal and a touch of sulphur. But with time, a lovely fruit note battles through; orange and tart tatin, with cherry lip salve and colouring pencils. Grows on you. Even more orange juice with water.

Body - Rich and oily, slightly hot at the side of the palate with fresh cherry tobacco. Almost chewy with lots of orange zest. Ginger snaps, beef stew and carrots. Wow that really has grown on me. Toastier and slightly spicy with water, with hotter waxes.

Finish - Long and tannic, really quite dry. Good though. Tropical burps although that could have been the Mortlach, this was a fast tasting.

Douglas Laing Provenance, Bunnahabhain 8 years old, 46% A⊕

bunnahabhain-8-year-old-2007-cask-10966-provenance-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - Sweet, soft toffee, slightly salty and very satisfying. Not unlike a salted caramel. There's something coastal in here but only by association, like chips fried in beef dripping with salt and vinegar. Lovely to nose an unpeated young bunna and this is a good one. Riper with water and very bunna, very old bunna. Lovely.

Body - Ripe peaches, cardboard, honey, burnt toast, sechuan peppercorns and black pepper. Waxy and slightly meaty but that cardboard note is a little offputting. More intense with water - spicier, more black pepper.

Finish - Very drying indeed, almost metallic.

Douglas Laing Provenance, Glenallachie 7 years old, 46% A+

glenallachie-11-years-old-2000-provenance-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - Sweet, ripe and deep. Crayons and stewed tomatoes. Orange icing. A lovely custard creams biscuit note. Deeper toffee sweetness with water, very nice.

Body - Ripe and intensely fruity, like orange candy whistles. Cardboard and orange again? Fried chilli pepper.

Finish - Toasty and tannic, a touch of hot sulphur, quite long. Better with water, the sweetness from the nose comes out.

Douglas Laing Provenance, Dailuaine, 7 years old, 46% A⊕

Cask 10960, sherry butt. There are some cracking Provenance bottlings.

dailuaine-7-year-old-2008-cask-10960-provenance-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - The epitome of young, complex, waxy, malt cask. This is the kind of nose you'd look back on with rose tinted spectacles if they weren't still churning them out all day every day. Chalky, earthy with letter sealing wax and well iced cupcakes. Floury textured pears, and a touch of liquorice root. These young DLaing casks are often like this – ballsy but fab. I want to believe this is Clynelish weirdly. Slightly better and more mature with water.

Body - Rich, complete… chocolate covered salted caramel, more ripe pear, sesame snaps. There's definitely a coastal or slightly peated note here, perhaps it's been stored next to their collection of Port Ellen casks.

Finish - Raw cereal, numbing and oily. Charred at the end.

What a lovely, honest, drinkable whisky with loads of character and structure. Highly recommended.  Just like that Mortlach earlier, that was amazing.

Douglas Laing Old Particular, Glenburgie 18 years old, 48.4% B⊕'

Refill sherry cask 10873, June 1997-August 2015, 744 bottles.

glenburgie-18-year-old-1997-cask-10873-old-particular-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - Sour coconut ice, sulphured refill sherry cask. Meaty and vinegared, with a real undercurrent of wax, bon bons and complex, sweet sherry. It's a conflicted nose - but somehow I'm expecting greatness on the delivery.

Body - That bizarre sweet and sour continues into the delivery, this is the kind of thing Springbank gets away with on account of its awesome spirit… but it's not totally pleasant here. Red wine vinegar and chewed crayons. Take a big swig of it and it's apple Danish pastries.

Finish - More old red wine, Australian (hot and strong), pâté on toast. Tannic with spray deodorant with water.

Despite those weird notes I'm finding myself very drawn to another sip of this and it's all gone. Weird whisky, but compelling.

Douglas Laing Old Particular, Aberlour, 21 years old, 51.5% B⊕

September 1992-August 2014, refill hogshead 10436. High hopes.

aberlour-21-year-old-1992-cask-10436-old-particular-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - More sugar-works. Royal icing and fresh HQ cask. A steadying note of white wine and seaside rock, ozone and mint work so well. A still winter night.

Body - Intense, dirty sugar, with apple chews and wax behind it. Buttercream icing. Dear lord this is one of the sweetest whiskies I've ever tasted.

Finish - Long and intensely, cloyingly sweet. Fudge. Strawberries covered in icing sugar.

I thought we were onto something with the nose (I was looking for stock). But it crashed and burned in the delivery. Too sweet for me.

Douglas Laing Old Particular, Craigellachie, 20 years old, 51.5% A⊕

September 1995-December 2015, 314 bottles, sherry butt 10962.

craigellachie-20-year-old-1995-cask-10962-old-particular-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - Sweet still but balanced and structured. I don't think we'll have the same problems with this as the last two. Toasted marshmallows, Hovis biscuits, lighter fluid and chocolate. Total crayons. I love it.

Body - Complete. Cherry compote, sherry vinegar, orange matchmakers.

Finish - Medium, slightly spikey, classic sherry. Then oranges all the way down - kumquat, blood orange, fresh orange juice.

Despite being somewhat hard to drink, it's technically fabulous. It's the Glenburgie inverted. I wish I'd saved enough to mix the two.

Douglas Laing Old Particular, Bunnahabhain, 14 years old, for Green Welly, 48.4% A⊕+

150 bottles, sherry cask.

May16-Bunnahabhain-GWS-OPNose - Sweet, dark, oily and somehow fresh. It's that Islay dustiness. Why am I smelling hop oils? This has that fantastic "light seasoning" of peat that Highland Park does - as with hops, sometimes less is more and this is making me think of a significantly older Islay whisky.

Body - Seaside rock, mint toffee and white chocolate. Very clear Vimto. God this is good to drink.

Finish - Persistent tannins against the blackcurrant. Numbing and very drinkable. Chalky at the end.

This makes me feel younger and the whisky older. That's the best combination.

They know how to pick them at Green Welly!

Douglas Laing Old Particular, Port Charlotte, Port Hogshead, 10 years old, 48.4% A-

October 2005 - February 2016

Apr16-Bruichladdich-10OPNose - Smells like a young SMWS Ledaig. Crushed shells, ozone, malt vinegar. Perhaps a bit darker. Cherry chocolate, coffee. Back to the seaside, wet granite, chalk and rain. A back note of cabbage.

Body - The initial delivery is super-smooth; sweet, clean, chalky fruit, boiled sweets and midget gems. The tannins build a the back of your tongue.

Finish - Toffee and licked charred wood, but always velvety. The cabbage raises its head again but it's fleeting.

Like a late-twenties Bowmore, this has that velvet, alien, svelte arrival, but it doesn't have the complexity or maturity to back it up. And the cabbage is a concern.

Another good year so far at Douglas Laing – thanks!