Friday, 23 December 2016

Cadenhead’s Edinburgh shop, Springbank 19 years old

This was a special release for the Edinburgh Cadenhead’s shop back in August.  I made notes back in October after we split one, but got distracted and just found them.  This was one per customer and sold out quickly back then, but you might find it in auctions, well worth seeking out (these shop selected casks are always amazing).

Remember next year is the 175th anniversary at Cadenhead’s, so there will be much, much more of this kind of thing happening!  Can’t wait.

Springbank Cadenheads 19 years old, 53.4% A⊕+

13900082_628062357370222_1760641783453774481_nNose - Complex, robust and elegant. Perfumed, parmas and peat. And Parma ham? Springbank ages so quickly! It's like an old Caol Ila but gentler, with crab apple jelly and preserved lemons. Chalky bonbons round out this slightly baffling but incredible nose. Even better with water, with oaked white wine and fizzers.

Body - Heavily peated with bags of fruit and boiled sweets, but really gently balanced somehow too - apple pie and custard, salted caramel. Waxed apples, swimming pool, tooth coating tannins. You can't find whisky like this made in Japan.

Finish - Very, very long. Gunpowder, more jelly and toast with pate, sandalwood joss sticks at the end.

What a complicated, fruity and deliciously old peated whisky. So complete, so much fecundity. Imagine just tripping over that in the warehouse one day! Fantastic stuff.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Douglas Laing Grains

This was a tweet tasting that Douglas Laing, in typical fashion, really pushed the boat out on with the packaging and samples – four grains with matching (and very posh) confectionary.  I don't really hold with whisky pairings but somehow this was more special.  Grains seem to go very well with pastry and sweets and these were very good grains and very good sweets!

Unfortunately I had to miss the actual tasting due to work and life getting in the way (as seems to be the case with all tweet tastings recently, I very sadly had to miss the Balcones one this week to a wedding on a Monday!) but that means I put my effort into writing these notes later and without distraction.

Old Particular, Lomond Grain, 19 years old, 51.5% A+

Refill hogshead DL11184

loch-lomond-19-year-old-1996-cask-11184-old-particular-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - Beautifully sweet, sharp and cakey, with men's perfume, icing sugar, orange squash and weirdly, on exhale, the sweet crust of a slow roasted lamb shoulder. The wood here is perfect, after sipping there's almost liquorice, with warm radiator and beeswax. Really compelling.

Body - Great balance of robust grain and really rich, fatty banana fudge. Simple but just delicious to drink.

Finish - Medium long with soft vanilla oils throughout.

A really lovely character to this easy drinking but structured grain, I'd happily settle into a bottle of this.

With "mini Christmas cakes" - incorrectly. The two certainly play off each other nicely, I think the cake is enhanced by the whisky, but the whisky is better on its own. Excellent eating experience though!

Old Particular, Cambus, 24 years old, 51.5% A+

Refill hogshead DL1172

cambus-24-year-old-1991-cask-11172-old-particular-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - Bright with green apples, candy cigarettes and fruit polos. More perfumed than the Lomond (and more complex, mature cask) but with a sweeter, fudgier note. It is also lovely, this year really has been a good year for grains! With time there's something like toilet freshener (in a good way), and warm dessert wine. There is a good funk on the nose here too - big fat crayons and buttercream icing. Better with water; more fruit, more wax.

Body - Lots of apples in the delivery, really creamy, slightly odd, like Cajeta (goats milk caramel) on crackers.

Finish - Quite short, slightly mini-milky, I'm back with the fruit polos.

Another great drinker. Slightly more interest to it but a little less robust.

With "crème brulee chocolate cups" (which are f'ing delicious), the apple notes of the whisky become the backbone of the intensely creamy chocolates - the chocolate wins on the finish but the whisky ties the whole thing together.

These cup things are superb with peated whisky too, there's a delicious crunch that really goes well with them - where can I buy these!

Xtra Old Particular, Garnheath, 42 years old, 44.5% A⊕+

Refill barrel DL11209.  Another one of these over 40 Garnheaths!

garnheath-42-year-old-1974-cask-11209-xtra-old-particular-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - Dark and winey, with red cherries and big, deep waxes. Quite a step up from the Cambus, this has blood orange, furniture polish, royal icing, black forest gateaux, stewed red peppers in red wine and the general demeanour of a properly important whisky. The grain character is a bit of a footnote here - dried fruit, earth, cut flowers and cask are centre stage.

Body - Big and ripe - bright red lipstick, chupa chups and now the grain comes to balance things out - slightly sour yellow oak, a new ream of printer paper, candy cigarettes.

Finish - Medium, more paper, a hint of fly paper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

I didn't get to add water to this one. Big and bold on the nose, hard but interesting grain on the delivery. Delicious.

With "spiced Christmas fudge" - incorrectly. This works amazingly, it makes the fudge taste like chocolate. And it removes all the paper and makes the whisky taste almost sherried. I bet the tiny Christmas cake would have been even better though!

Xtra Old Particular, Invergordon, 50 years old, 49.7% A⊕⊕

Refill hogshead DL11182.  Douglas Laing really know how to knock it out of the park. 

invergordon-50-year-old-1966-cask-11182-xtra-old-particular-douglas-laing-whiskyNose - Less exciting on the nose than the Garnheath (more restrained), but fresher and with an even more complex style. More plastics, more plasticine, more clay. Overripe, browning apple, roasted pineapple and melted crayons.

Body - Ah… that is enormous. The pineapple comes first, then pancakes with maple syrup, then light peat and bananas.

Finish - Very long, very fruity. Extremely drying too. Waxes and floral notes keep trying to peak out from the cask but they're overpowered by tannins and wood (in a delicious, highly compelling way). This is a finish that speaks directly to your hind-brain. Your hind-brain wants another sip.

An extraordinarily compelling whisky, excitingly pitched with a real peat hit about it. I love it.

With "barley sugars and christmas flavoured hard candies" - I went with the barley sugar. Which is remarkable for some reason I can't quite fathom - it's a simple block of almost pure sugar, but has real complexity (slightly medicinal, woody). Where do you get incredible sweets like this? Anyway, with the whisky, it's almost pornographic on the nose - this is most unexpected - I probably should keep this to myself. Much, much younger on the delivery with this weird, austere, simple/complex sweet in my mouth. Makes me feel younger!

An unexpectedly fascinating and exciting whisky pairing and some great whiskies here.  I would recommend the Lomond and the Invergordon if you can push the boat out to it. 

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Macallan Edition #2

IMG_0721I’ve had this one a while and split it with a few friends (as we did #1 – reviewed in the middle of this lot), and am close to finishing the remains of the bottle, so a review is overdue! 

I’ve really been enjoying Macallan recently. When I toured the distillery, I couldn’t have had a more in-depth and intense tour, we saw pretty much everything.  We saw (as you do in most distilleries to be fair) the massive amounts of care taken to produce the spirit, look after it and select and blend it into releases.  There’s a whole team at the distillery dedicated to blending together the whisky, and they take real pride.  And of course Macallan is famous for good reason. 

Macallan, Edition #2, 48.2% A+

Quite the most orange bottle and box you've ever seen, which I wholeheartedly approve of.

IMG_0723Nose - Warmer and more "OB" than the Ed1, so it's a little softer, a little more elegant with stronger cask influence. Dried apricots, fresh peach and crayons. Felt tip pens, glace cherries and a new box of Marlboro lights. There really is that special something you only get with a properly blended whisky - a balance thing. Brighter fruits and more cask with water. Beautiful, really.

Body - Far drier than the Ed1, with toast and truffle honey, and spicy tobacco, but that characteristic heavy sherry Mac is lurking in the background. A bright, rich fruitiness, like Vimto has (not that it tastes of Vimto), and good balanced tannins. Everything disappears with water though, it's sold at 48.2% for good reason.

Finish - Quite short with Cherry Ripes and stewed tea. Clean and considered, wax cask at the end.

Another delicious OB Macallan meant to be enjoyed in a tumbler while chatting, not in a Glencairn in front of a laptop. Well recommended.

IMG_0722Compared to Ed1, it's less winey and I prefer 1’s oranges and lip salve on the nose. The nose on Ed1 also seems more Asian side by side and more spicy.  Ed2 is definitely more classy. Both are great whiskies, and both very Macallan – I think I prefer Edition 1 though.  Just a bit more power.  Both I could happily work through a bottle of.

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 even called took too long.  I’ll come back to that next week!  It’s bar only anyway. [EDIT: this is done now, I’ve snuck it inbetween the others]

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!


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


SMWS 53.240, Caol Ila, A Gathering Dinner Party, 16 years old, 64.2% C

16th March 2000, 276 bottles, virgin oak hogshead, heavy toast medium char.

IMG_1163Nose - Oddly light, biscuity, slightly herbal like, well, twigs. There's a faint red berry note too, which with the balsawood apparently almost completely obscures the Caol Ila. Real digging is required to find some Islay sweetness. Slightly better with water but there's suntan cream, red wine and wet cigarettes.

Body - Hot, spicy, peppery, slightly mucky and earthy (and not in a good way). The second sip is a lot better, much more jammy fruit, but I can't get my head round this very young balsa, cigar, biscuit thing. Hints of the dreaded Adnams whisky here, although slightly better sweetness.

Finish - Medium, most of that is sour cereal and sour hard sweets. Very hot.

A clumsy, sour and hard to drink whisky. Not recommended!

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.