I wasn’t able to get this out before the bottles hit the shelves (something about it being on the first Friday in February!) but nearly everything that was in stock is still in stock anyway. The Highland Park, tasted below, didn’t make it to the site*, neither did the 40 year old Carsebridge, which I haven’t tried but have managed to get on a bottleshare of, so will get notes up for that soon.
After the new Local Barley (11 years old, Bere barley from Aros farm near Machrihanish airport, 53.1%, rumoured to be roughly £85 and highly anticipated) there is another small outturn at the end of February (I think) that’s a little more ordinary but no doubt has some great casks in it. Later on in the year we will see some seriously rare and interesting casks coming out in celebration, and of course we’re all booked up now to go to Campbeltown festival in May. What a year!
* [EDIT: apparently a few bottles did hit the site but didn’t last long!]
Nose - That heady combination of sweet, overripe fruit, intense high quality bourbon cask (including new oak sawdust) and Sangria that really sings. Marker pens, wood glue and blueberries. Heady, berried and exciting, more so with water - more berries, more intense sweetness.
Body - Delicious, but quite hot and dusty, with cut green apple and charred peaches. A touch of cardboard. Creamier with water and a touch of Marlboro light tobacco.
Finish - Sun bleached wood and ripe peach. Spicy and acrylic at the end with retronasal petrol, more wood varnish with water, turning to zesty women's perfume.
Fantastic fruit and great complexity in this juicy, summery drammer. Recommended.
Nose - Sharper woods but more varnish here, white wine instead of red, green apples instead of peach but also a really delightful, fresh cask wax. Lovely cream and white floral tones too - just the most beautifully elegant but delicious nose. Softer and simpler with water, but still delicious.
Body - Clay, cream and a touch of red chilli. Then double cream and green pepper. Warm and musky with water.
Finish - Quite hot and lactic, spicy cinnamon - building spice in fact. Gentler with water. A little horseradish sauce at the end.
A totally wonderful nose but not a massive fan of the building cinnamon jawbreaker in the delivery, a little too hot.
Body - Soft, sweet with foam bananas and chilli dusted grilled pineapple. A gentle but intense and mouth filling experience between cream, wood, fruit and spice that makes me want to sit back with a big slosh of this rather than a 1cl sample! Slightly astringent though, not feeling too old, just properly matured and still challenging.
Finish - Medium to long, more chilli spice (wondering if it’s a hangover from the Aultmore or just my palate today), green apple wood and lemon zest at the end.
Astringent woods, citrus zest, orchard fruit and totally mouth filling. This is a whisky for long consideration over the course of a whole bottle (over many sittings of course). Recommended.
Nose - Gentle wax, white modelling clay, soft cut plums, white pepper, slightly floral with a touch of potpourri and HQ cask musk. But that clay and fruit is the best bit. Tobacco with water, perfume in the empty glass.
Body - Wax, cask and toast. Big fruit oils, foxes glacier fruits and a little mango (texturally as well as tropically). Suddenly very mature with water, that cask comes to the fore with extra tobacco and Asian fruit.
Finish - Medium, gentle and chalky. A very considered dismount (a long slow fade out). Cask musk at the end.
A slightly unexpected hit, this got better the more time you gave it and eventually has the demeanour of a very important whisky indeed. Restrained but serious. Highly recommended.
Nose - Sweet lemon, flinty, slightly minty (fresh, herbal mint) - quite mineral and a little earthy, minted new potatoes I guess, or maybe cold potatoes from the ground. This is either a palate cleanser between courses or a serious whisky to challenge (there’s promising cask sweetness and fruit underneath the herbs and minerals). More lemon juice with water, more cask.
Body - Exciting, bright fruit, minced cooked lamb and menthol tobacco (I thought the lamb I had on the nose was autosuggested by the minted potatoes and filtered it out but it's definitely there). French cooked pastry, sweet and… so much lamb! Almost chewy with water.
Finish - Minty, chalky bonbons, deep lemon boiled sweets at the end.
This was definitely a challenging whisky, and absolutely delicious too. Glen Elgin is always a dark horse… I really like this one for the confusing but compelling mix of fruit, musk and meat. Recommended.
Nose - A noticeable step up in maturity in the nose, more glazed, more cigar than cigarette, glacé cherries and bubble mixture, just crushed coriander seeds. With time, UHU glue and poster paints. Beautiful. Even better with water, more acrylic and oil paints, fantastic balance.
Body - Well judged. Warm with overripe fruit and smores, marmalade and cigar tar. Less interesting with water, too far into the volatiles.
Finish - Long, with cherries, Sauternes, more coriander, fruit toffee and a gentle descent into woods.
This is the slightly alien but extremely delicious I was hoping the Caperdonich would be (even though that was great for other reasons in the end). This is highly recommended.
Nose - Redder and more charred - cranberries, leather, poster paint again (let's assume its red) and beaten old oak. Importantly, behind this there's a really special chalk and fruit, minty bonbons, fried sage and a little engine oil. Very special, fingers crossed.
Body - Sweet, deep and extremely herbal. Loads more herbal mint and bright, chopped rosemary.
Finish - Long, sweet and creamy, with more rosemary and a touch of sriracha. Impressively creamy and oily at the end, practically peppermint creams.
Another beautiful whisky from an unexpected distillery. Creamy and chocolatey, complex and enticing on the nose, and delicious to drink. Recommended.
Burgundy hogshead since October 2011
Nose - Glazed red berries, mukhwas, liquorice torpedoes, blackboard chalk and a touch of swimming pool. Red wine casks are unpredictable! It's perfumed with men's deodorant and candy cigarettes. Sweet and white, ironically. There is a lightly dirty element here that I'm looking for; strawberry laces, buttercream icing, bubble gum… but that might be confirmation bias more than anything.
Body - Extremely soft and fruity, fantastic alien Islay in here, that dirty red wine cask works perfectly with it. Flashes of sulphur, gets the adrenaline pumping! This really pushes my buttons (but YMMV!).
Finish - Long, musky and hot, fizzers. Much less interesting with water.
For me, this one is really special. I suspect that might be something odd about me - the filth tightrope plus the fizzing alien Islay really turns me on. I'm in love…
Sherry hogshead since December 2013, previously bourbon hogshead.
Nose - A big, fruity sherry nose, with sweet/sour chalk and cask, one of these whiskies I suspect is going to make me think of very expensive Glenfarclas - it's the depth and quality of the sherry that does it. I wonder what was in the sherry cask before, or is it fresh fill? Black fruits, PX sherry, mineral, menthol cask, almost medicinal. Slightly charred with water.
Body - Sweet, creamy, extremely oily - more medicinal notes with cloves and germolene.
Finish - So much oil. Very long, lots of wood and toast. Liquorice with water, just a little hint of sulphur.
What a perfect nose on this well-built sherried whisky. Too much wood in the end though, too oily. I'd struggle with a bottle but could smell this forever, this would have been better in a small batch I think?
Highland Park 28 years old, 49.6% A⊕+
Port hogshead since 2007
Body - Deep and intensely sweet and fizzing with old peat and wine. Water makes it softer but more intense (weirdly) with a lick of sulphur and red wine. Last sips include Turrón.
Finish - Very long and dusty, black fruits and licked tobacco. A complete and exciting finish. Even longer with water, fruitier. Lots of fizzing tannins though.
A fascinating, complicated and brightly fruity whisky redolent of Campbeltown as much as it is of Orkney. Very highly recommended.