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.