The show bottlings for the 2017 whisky show had success written all over them from the start. TWE selection, fantastic artwork, a great theme, great value. The stand at the show was the one I directed everyone to when they asked what’s good – that and the Signatory one next to it.
I tasted the Glenrothes and Springbank early on on the Saturday and was blown away by the Glenrothes in particular. The Springbank lived up to expectations. The rest were bottles I didn’t pay much attention to at the time – they were good but it’s a whisky festival, it’s not the best place to focus. Fortunately, our Darren was good enough to buy the whole set on the spot and split all the bottles with our club, and so I bring you these notes. I hope you can see that I’m just as gushing when I pay for samples as when they’re provided free of charge! haha.
Anyway, this is my shelf at home – that’s how good they are. They are mostly still in stock.
Nose - Clean, but ripe fruit (galia melon), cough candy and crushed candle wax. It is exceptionally fresh, green and Spring-like, with a delicate, bright wood to it. Lovely. Colder with water, a little apple mint and a lot more minerality.
Body - Clean and delicious, fizzing with sherbet and toffee but almost chewy. Sourer with water, more fizzing but more toffee.
Finish - Very long with Smucker's goober grape (swirled peanut butter and grape jelly) plus slightly charred wood. More ordinary with water, although more charred.
A delight, particularly neat. And a real drinker.
Nose - Waxier and darker, this has fountain pen ink, blackberries, and a gentle but reassuring cask musk. With time that black fruit develops - a touch of Ribena, some purple Refreshers (do they taste different? Maybe it's parma violets) and some poster paint. Extremely classy and a little bit sexy.
Body - Rich and fruity, blackcurrant mirror-glaze tart with a French cooked pastry and those weird orange Revels.
Finish - Very long, mouth coating and ripe, fizzing wood and spikes of sour fruit. Finally, vanilla sponge with icing. Everything is a little bit muted with water, better experienced neat.
Absolutely fantastic - really complex, loads of fruit, well structured. Highly recommended.
Nose - Slightly meaty, a little menthol, a lot of treacle tart but mostly this beautifully elegant wood and fruit character. Also, newly laid asphalt, candy cigarettes, ozone and a touch of fresh towels. Complicated and excellent. More lemon or orange curd with water.
Body - More of that menthol, with a slightly citrus character, which seems young at first but with wood and toffee, develops into a really floral, woodsy elegance - more limoncello than lemons. Extremely drinkable, very Balblair indeed.
Finish - Long and full of numbing, slightly clarty oils. Echoes of eucalyptus oil and cut oak planks.
This is absolutely superb also, a big whisky but really crushable. It's more restrained than the Glentauchers but a little bit more rewarding in some ways for it. Also highly recommended, and will happily scratch a HQ Balblair itch if you have one.
Nose - Big, bright, but classical and balanced. Perfect old bourbon Glenrothes. Musky cask, a touch of char, a lot of green apple, some spent fireworks and even a little bandage. But it's the delivery I remember curling my toes at the whisky show.
Body - Enormous - intensely fruited, lots of big, deep toffee and cigarettes, hints of sulphur with gentle, but mature wood. Scotch.
Finish - Long with numbing oils, soft toffee pennies, baked apples and cigar tobacco. The lingering feeling is one of warm, relaxed luxury. Afterwards you're left with a real glow.
I bought two of these. Just love it. It’s a perfect expression of Speyside.
Nose - Mineral, wax, restrained peat, and a little bit of changing room action - towels, talcum powder, feet, slightly off-date fungicidal cream and “men together”. Also though, well cared for leather, softmints and potting compost.
Body - A really wide and all-encompassing arrival with chocolate covered raisins, hard pears, Mr.Kipling French Fancies and salted caramel.
Finish - Long but slightly bitter, with Sichuan peppercorns, toast and honey, and charred oak chunks.
A phenomenal nose, a delicious delivery but not up there with the unpeated ones so far.
Nose - Immediately this is the kind of sexy stuff that makes old Springbank so enticing - dusty, seductive, fizzy, ghostly peat perfectly blended with old wood, bright but winey, lots of baked pineapple and bounty bars but dry as a bone.
Body - Tobacco, wet wood, dried banana and orange peel. Arresting and very drinkable. Some coffee with water.
Finish - Long with more lemon zest peat and struck flints. Longer with water, with more refreshing fruits.
This is exactly what you would hope for - a big old Springbank but with the corners not yet blended out. Delicious, complex, it transports you directly to Campbeltown.
Nose - Remember how good young Caol Ila can be? Just like Ledaig, this makes you double take. Acrylic paint with wet yeast, fresh bandages and Germolene. Both the Germolene and the yeast get right up in your sinuses in a kind of oily way, just like this does. Ultra-HQ.
Body - Clean and fruity, with very distinct, freshly crushed* malted barley and faint extra strong mints (if you see what I mean, it's not extra strong but it's that character of mint). Gentle at first, the pepperyness builds.
Finish - Long and honest, with white pepper (slightly funky), preserved lemons and hot spring rolls.
Surprisingly gentle, and extremely good. This is going to break my embargo on buying yet more Caol Ila.
* I say this as a man who owns a malt mill