Thursday, 15 November 2018

Some Clynelish

Clynelish, distillery exclusive bottling, 46% A+

Thanks to JS for splitting this!

clynelish distilleryNose - Really beautiful, a waxy, slightly sour and floral nose, with charred meats and polished woods. Very old school and grown up, and very inviting.

Body - Slightly austere at first, then peppery and woodsy with cut dandelion stalks and a little burnt toast.

Finish - Medium and a little acrid, but with an undercurrent of soft fruit toffee and brine.

A wonderful nose and then a little bit angular in the delivery unfortunately, but there is some good rich fruit and wax in here.

Thank you Jon for the next two…

Signatory Clynelish 2008, 10 years old, 46% A-

Bourbon cask, 01.03.2008-10.04.2018

clysig2008Nose - Bright, ripe, rich lemon tart, with fat candle wax, lemon sherbets and custard cremes.

Body - Very soft, almost not there. Light, dusty sherbet, orange curd, double cream.

Finish - Surprisingly long and creamy, delicate but insistent.

This is a very light, almost dusty whisky, and good for it. A lovely citrussey nose, there's a big hole in the delivery, but it's a delicious, creamy thing to drink.

Signatory Clynelish 1996, 21 years old, 46% A⊕

Refill butt, 11.12.1996-28.02.2018

clysig1996v11Nose - Big, sour, deep, slightly medicinal with some gunpowder and sawdust. A dirty, sort of sooty, burnt wax but also a bright, orange and mango fruitiness too.

Body - Cleaner than I was expecting, the orange is back with twisted peel and big chunks of flesh. Almost orange furniture polish.

Finish - Medium to long, and with a more peppery orange peel, with cinnamon stick and a little chocolate clove - no hole in the delivery here - it's rich, citrussy and well balanced to the end.

A lovely thing to drink, full of Christmassy orange and spices.

Sjoerd's posh fino cask thing

Thanks to Sjoerd for sending me a nice dram of this beauty.  He sent it in an unmarked sample bottle which I labelled as “Sjoerd’s posh fino cask thing”, which then disappeared into my tangle of untasted samples and I had to ask him what it was.  It’s this.

The Whisky Agency Speyside, 1975 to 2016, 40 years old, full term in fino sherry butt, 55% A⊕⊕

TWAspeysideNose - Light, varnished, with a slightly sour, but very old school vibe to it. Cracked black varnish, buttercream icing and raspberry, and now a deep, ripe wax. Deeper and fruitier as you concentrate on it, touches of cream cheese and ripe mango, with a wonderful structure at the same time. Really interesting and promising, I loved digging for the deep wood.

Body - A gentle considered arrival - old school, a little nutty and a touch of salt, then a big spike of structural wood and candied orange slices.

Finish - Very long and intensely old with liquorice allsorts and christmas cake - that sweet, sour, wax and maturity thing is huge in the finish.

Perfectly judged, left to ripen to exactly the right point. I love whisky that evolves as you concentrate on it. This is complex and engaging.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky

Cotswolds Whisky 4/2017, 46% A+

cotswolds-single-malt-whiskyNose - Fresh but dusty, sweet and lowlandery, cold apple and orange slices. A really lovely, spirity whisky with good, clean cask, men's deodorant and fresh PVA glue.

Body - Off sweet icing sugar with chalky bonbons and yesterday's acrylic paint.

Finish - Short but balanced, orange peel and a touch of liquorice at the end.

A really lovely, young drinking whisky, highly recommended and a promise of great things to come.  Thanks Jon!

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Cadenhead's November 2018 (Autumn Batch 2) outturn

Small Batch 23

Strathclyde 1989, 29 years old, 55.7% A+

Ex-bourbon hogsheads, 330 bottles

STRATHCLYDE%2028%2055.7%20VOL%20330%20BOTTLES%20-750x1000Nose - Orange citrus, sawdust and bright, rich musk. Soft, grainy (texture-wise) toffee with milk chocolate and a little black cherry jam. Men's perfume - leather but slightly floral. More sawdust and musk with water.

Body - Deeply sweet, like toffee plus strawberry sauce on an ice cream cone. Some dusty fence behind that, a little new leatherette and a light punch in the nose. More obviously grain-y (whisky-wise) with water.

Finish - Medium and intensely sweet, but not quite cloying. Strawberry tart (French cooked pastry).

A really beautifully sweet, fruity nose, but a bit clumsy and full on in the delivery.

Inchgower 2009, 9 years old, 56.5% B+

2 sherry hogsheads, 582 bottles

INCHGOWER%209%20582%20BOTTLES%20-750x1000Nose - A deep one on the nose, almost a little crotchy. But really rich - catching pastry, fruit and nut bars, lots of fat candle wax and some blackcurrant jam (maybe neat Ribena). This doesn't feel overdone, oversherried, or undermatured at all (on the nose at least). With time, crushed blackberries, cut plum and the contents of a tea bag (yes, tea - but dry and small cut).

Body - Very hard and very wooded in the delivery, black pepper and palate biting acidity. Intensely sweet behind it, touching on menthol and lemon. Just pulls that punch near the end of the delivery. Less biting with water, but the reduction in sweetness leaves a hole and makes it more flawed.

Finish - Very long with harsh, bitter and charred woods next to a burning sweetness. You're left with sugar and Ribena at the very end.

Promising nose but clumsy delivery lets it down, reminds me of the virgin oak failures at SMWS. Too much wood, too young.

Creations - Light, creamy, smoky 2007, 10 years old 60.5% A⊕

Campbeltown mix - Longrow, Kilkerran and Invergordon. Approximately 50% malt to grain.

CREATIONS%2010%20C-TOWN%20MIX60.5%20-750x1000Nose - Dusty, musky and fruity. Tobacco peat, reminds me of Ardbeg at first, with a really considered richness to it. Baked plums with orange zest, hot radiator. Really high hopes.

Body - Warm, rich, bold but balanced. Loads of depth, loads of character, this reminds me a lot of the Compass Box flaming heart, with a Springbank note.  The grain is really rounding it out but it's somehow punchier than flaming heart.

Finish - Very long with clove, blackberries and cut oak. Lemon sorbet and vanilla buttercream at the end. Very hot black pepper at the end.

This is a huge success, like an old school Ardbeg sandwiching a flaming heart. Extremely drinkable, I didn't get to add water.

Deanston 2008, 10 years old, 56.2% A+

576 bottles

DEANSTON%2010%2056.2%20576%20BOTTLES%20-750x1000Nose - Young and waxy, with hot raspberry compote, flaked almonds and crème patissiere. Rich, grainy and a little clarty, but also confident, satisfying and rich. There's a sort of medical cream in here which is very comforting, perhaps Sudocrem. Better with water, the fruit and wood come together better with the young spirit.

Body - The same sort of thing; this is the kind of confident, young, satisfying whisky that makes you really pucker up in a whisky bar. Lemon pith, hot balsa wood, mulled cider, apple peel - extremely tasty. More pastry with water.

Finish - Long with icing sugar, crisp green apple and cookie dough. A little sherbet lemon with water.

A delicious young drammer, good fruit and structure and wears its spirit well. Recommended.

Ord 2005, 13 years old, 56.5% A+'

1 hogshead, 1 butt, 954 bottles

ORD%2013%2056.5%20VOL%20954%20BOTTLES%20-750x1000Nose - Clean and floral; men's perfume again, leather jacket again. Some cherry chocolate and some pot pourri. It has that dusty complexity you'd expect at a distillery tasting.

Body - Oranges, beautiful soft, musky fruit and buttercream icing. Strawberry jam, mango smoothie.

Finish - Short and tasty, a creamy and HQ cask. Echoes of raspberry jam at the end.

A warm, reassuring, soft and deeply fruited whisky, yet not without structure and interest. Lovely.

Benrinnes 2004, 14 years old, 55.4% A

864 bottles

BENRINNES%2014%2055.4%20864%20BOTTLES%20-750x1000Nose - Bright but clarty cereal, quite new-makey compared to the Ord. But there are depths behind that - behind royal icing and buttercream - a light sourness, some chewy meringue, some candied peel, soft toffee, some handsoap.

Body - Toasty, unexpectedly dark and fruity, with a lightly dirty note to it - again, it's sort of new-makey (that dirty edge is from the spirit) but had the corners rounded. These must have been very inactive casks? Maybe then finished in first fill…

Finish - A café latte and some iron filings.

It doesn't look good on paper but I actually really enjoyed drinking this - a spirit led whisky rather than a cask led whisky, and that's not a bad thing.

Glenrothes 2001, 17 years old, 53% A-

528 bottles

GLENROTHES%2017%2053%20VOL%2070CL%20-750x1000Nose - Balance and intrigue. Fresh fruit - green apple peel, lime and half-time oranges. Dusty but wet, cold, hard bourbon cask. A fresh and complete dram in a dunnage warehouse. Cut grass with water.

Body - Very sweet and almost liquorice. Icing sugar and coffee, cold eclairs. Chocolatier with water.

Finish - Long and intensely sweet, a little tobacco and chalky bonbons.

This promises a lot on the nose but the delivery is too overtly sweet and doesn't have that complex, grown up fruit I'm after.

Glenlossie 1993, 24 years old, 53.6% A⊕+'

Single cask, 240 bottles

GLENLOSSIE%2024%2053_6%20240%20BOTTLES%20-750x1000Nose - Immediately this is obviously old and dry - and tropical. Fresh mango and dried orange slices, with cognac-like dry fruit. It's leathery, but with this creamy, plasticky, felted fruit to it. Dreamy.

Body - Ripe, creamy and intense, with more mango, extra-thick double cream and plastic book covering.

Finish - Very long and rich, and like biting into a cream filled canoli. A biscuity end, finishing like one of those peanut-butter-imperial-stouts. Just have another smell of the empty glass…. Wow.

A beautiful, important whisky and sort flawless. Effortless, at the very least.

Paul John 2011, 6 years old, 56.6% A⊕

1 barrel, 1 hogshead, 564 bottles. Matured 6 years in Goa. High expectations.

paul johnNose - Ripe, dark and sour fruit, like a Victoria plum. A gentle peat behind this, and almost sherried, with yoghurt covered raisins and smouldering hard oak. These Goa matured whiskies have this note like really, really old whisky in them which comes out with time, and is really compelling.

Body - A beautiful combination of melon, fireworks, cloves and charred wood.

Finish - Long and incense-y, dusty fruits and candy cigarettes.

Paul John's whisky often reminds me of ancient Scotch mixed with really young, vibrant sweet whisky.

Highland Park 1989, 29 years old, 40.6% A⊕+

Single cask, 198 bottles

highlandparkNose - Soft, creamy, almost English-hoppy. Refreshers, lemon sorbet, baked apples and Neapolitan ice cream. Lightly waxed, cut floor boards, bright but mellow (baked) citrus. Very delicate, but then it is at a painfully low ABV.

Body - Milky, ancient and delicious. Wet pastry and a fresh pack of Marlboro lights. Rhubarb fool, lemon posset.

Finish - Short and sweet. Ghostly peat at the end.

Crushable, light but luxurious. A bottle of this wouldn't last long (and wouldn't survive long due to the low ABV). Really tasty though, more please.

Auchroisk 2006, 12 years old, 55.3% B+

534 bottles

auchroiskNose - Lemon curd and bay leaves, with tetra pak apple juice and chocolate covered marzipan. Light and chalky with rich cereal.

Body - Sharp and acidic, a little butyric, with lemon tart and caramel. A good balance of sweet, fruit and acid, but a little ordinary I suppose.

Finish - Quite long, more citrus, good tannins.

An decent whisky but nothing much to write home about.

Speyburn 2008, 10 years old, 46% A

speyburnNose - Dark, deep and mucky, with wax, rich, soft butter caramel and charred desiccated coconut. Very meaty, really lives up to the intense colour on the nose.

Body - Fresh and zesty but still with the brown butter, plus chocolate eclairs (the sweets), black cherry jam, burnt pastry and a little black pepper. A really rich, rolling, fruity delivery.

Finish - Short but pleasantly burnt.

I really like this meaty, buttery whisky - I'm so pleased that it lived up to the colour without being forced (like the Inchgower).

Glen Grant 1992, 25 years old, 50.4% A+

Single cask 144 bottles

glengrantNose - Rich cereal, a little citrus, some blackcurrant travel sweets. It's inoffensively matured, polite, a little fruity, with this understated, ripe, caramel complexity

Body - Great depth of toffee and fruit, baked plums and a fizzing gunpowder later on. Some sawdust. It's even riper on the delivery than the nose.

Finish - Short but flashes of citrus sour and tannins punctuate the rich toffee fruit.

Very good... but a bit by the numbers.

Laphroaig 1998, 20 years old, 54.3% A⊕+

LAPHROAIG%2020%20474%20BOTTLES%20-750x1000Nose - Dusty, dank, coastal peat. Buttons all pushed! Lightly meaty, damp wood and cherry tunes, hallelujah. It's the fruity side of peat and cut wood.

Body - Soft, glacé cherry and raspberry tea. Brightly wooded and tannic with TCP on the fingers while eating black pepper crisps. Very old school although I would have thought it an old Ardbeg than a Laph...

Finish - Medium, with green apple and Sudocrem.

A stately Islay, beautiful of course.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Cadenhead's September 2018 (Autumn Batch 1) outturn

This is a long time coming, but I was delayed by The Whisky Show and a cheeky little trip to Campbeltown. 


Guyana 2002, 15 years old, 46% A-

GUY%2015%2046%20VOL%20-750x1000Nose - Sweet, bright, floral, pleasantly wooded. Royal icing and lemon buttercream, really quite Scotchy to be honest. Good warm wax against the cold sugars.

Body - Very soft, peachy and floral. Very light liquorice on the tip of the tongue. A subtle creaminess.

Finish - Short but fruity with a little pepper and (finally) a touch of rummy funk.

An extremely gentle rum, but considerate and well balanced. Not particularly rummy though!

Nicaragua 1999, 19 years old, 46% A

Nicaraguan%2019%2046%20VOL%20-750x1000Nose - Deeper, waxier and a little anty. It's (despite being gentle) as cask dominated as the Guyana, but the nose is much more alive with gunpowder, lemon curd and lipstick.

Body - Clean but more intense than the Guyana, soft fruit and subtle peppery spice at the side of the tongue. Fruit and sugar, orange curd.

Finish - Quite long and drying, with surprisingly firm tannins, a touch of spice but well balanced throughout.

A step up in terms of depth and interest, this is a lovely, soft mature spirit and very sippable.

Barbados Foursquare 2006, 12 years old, 58.5% A

4%20Sq%20Rum%2012-750x1000Nose - Complex woods and wax again here, with a flinty, burnt lemon top note. Deeper waxes with time, and handsoap.

Body - Bright and orangey with subtle spices and a firm black pepper on the tip of the tongue. Quite a lot of depth behind it, soft toffee and gentle petrol. Deliciously rich.

Finish - Medium with iron filings and fizzing, bold esters at the end.

Hard to find fault with this but it's not setting my world on fire.

Guyana 1999, 18 years old, Uitvlugt, 58.7% A+

Utiv%20Guy%2018%20-750x1000Nose - 3-dimensional compared to the previous three - brightly dank and funky with cut flower stalks, Savoiardi biscuits, freshly cracked black pepper and a punch in the nose. A fresh bunch of flowers from the supermarket.

Body - Big, bright and bold again, well balanced and delicious to drink though, with an almondy, cakey back note.

Finish - Medium to long with chewed pencil, rice paper and trebor softmints.

A remarkable thing to drink, earthy but floral, bright but medicinal, chalky and fresh. Well recommended but it is a conversation stopper!

Belize 2007, 11 years old, Travellers, 64.6% A+

Belize%2011%20-750x1000Nose - Dark and flinty, like a young sherry cask that's more about colour than complexity. But then there is a richness here; chocolate cake and pipe tobacco, a musky depth made by sugar and time in wood.

Body - Deep and winey, liquorice and Seville orange.

Finish - Long with big, charred woods and burnt orange.

This is really quite good. It reminds me of one of those ill advised SMWS finishes (you know, refill bourbon for 11 years, then an un-advertised 6 months in virgin oak and a final panic 3 months in PX) that somehow just about works. This isn't quite as good as the Uitvlugt but you could drink it more peacefully.

Trinidad 1997, 20 years old, Caroni, 60.6% A+

Caroni%2020%20-750x1000Nose - Dark and waxy with burnt paper and dirty esters - plus charred meat and engine oil. Reminds me of a cold, urban music event - 3am with burgers and generators, and diesel fumes next door. There is, however, a nice fruit pulling this together (which is what happens in wood and in Campbeltown) but I am slightly scared for the delivery.

Body - Intensely lacquered, black polished wood and beetle shells. Caramelised apple and new engine oil with water, charred raisins.

Finish - Old, bandaged wounds and liquorice. Burnt, wet wood with water.

A dirty but complicated beast. I did enjoy drinking it but I would never pull the cork on an open bottle at home.


Benriach 2008 10 years old, 56.5% B+

276 bottles

Benriach%2010%20276%20bottles%2056.5%20-750x1000Nose - Sour, then sweet, like an overripe lemon. Waxy and oddly meaty after that, with cardboard, very distinct warm white wine and a quite light but enjoyable cask musk. Almost a rosé wine with water.

Body - Waxy and vegetal, cut cucumber peel and juniper (I'll probably find out this was a mis-labelled gin later). A big, mouthcoating, citrus/pepper/fence panel bruiser in some ways but it's also restrained in some ways too, it kind of works. Richer and more complex with water.

Finish - Medium short and quite peppery, very tannic in the mouth afterwards.

Austere but no-nonsense, it works well as a tasting/sipping whisky. You would have to be very zen to come back to it many sessions in a row, though.

Speyside 1994 23 years old, 50.9% A⊕+

210 bottles

SPEYSIDE%2023%20210%20bottles%20-750x1000Nose - Elegant fruit and wood immediately, there's touches of pink wafer biscuit, gastrique and cut flower stalks, with dried orange peel and cheap squash. Extremely promising.

Body - A huge fruit arrival, creamy, luxuriant and lush, then a deft turn into toffee, wood tannins, then tropical fruit and burnt pastry. A touch of liquorice with water.

Finish - Long but tannic, entirely justified by flashes of tropicality and stewed tea.

This feels very old school to me, a glorious nose, with a delivery that's luxurious but challenging at the same time. This would be perfect tasted in a dunnage warehouse.

Tamnavulin 1992, 26 years old, 51.3% A-

234 bottles

TAMNAVULIN%2026%2051.3VOL%20234%20-750x1000Nose - More wax, but thinner, with washing up liquid and felt box (perhaps sandalwood). There's an insistent vanilla and orange or lemon curd underneath that. A little burnt, nutty and vinegary perhaps. Toast and butter with water.

Body - Sweet and poised between nuts and fruit in the front of the delivery, burnt wine at the back. An absolutely lovely delivery, better than the nose. Icing sugar with water.

Finish - Long with fruits at the side of the tongue and wood waxes and tannins at the back. Chewed liquorice root at the end, and this is accentuated with water.

An interesting whisky, looking really good on paper, but stumbles with integration and falls apart with water.

Aultmore 1997, 21 years old, 52.1% A+

234 bottles

Aultmore%2021%2052.1%20-750x1000Nose - Chalky, minty with light but sweetshoppy fruit - powdered orange drink - and powdered peanut butter. Boiled sweets with time, somewhere between travel sweets and pineapple cubes. Just a touch of brown sauce. It is very light but it does sort of remind me of "the old days" (5 years ago).

Body - Big fruit, then mouthfilling mallow, sour plums and liquorice tannins. Liquorice rizlas and cherry tunes. Foam prawn sweets with water, and green peppercorns.

Finish - Big, meaty and musky with barley sugar, juicy fruit chewing gum and blackcurrant boiled sweets at the end. A very long finish, mouth puckering tannins alongside the fruit.

Unexpected; I was expecting luxury but got this fruit and sour rollercoaster. It's very good, but definitely tiring.

Tomatin 2008, 10 years old, 53% A⊕

168 bottles

Tomatin%2010%2053%20VOL%20168%20bottles%20-750x1000Nose - Unmistakable young Tomatin. Hard and waxy, with pepper, acrylic and candied peel and that touch of petrol. Deeper and fruitier with water, jelly snakes.

Body - Perfect delivery for this character of whisky; sweet and creamy, quite intense but not overdone. Beautifully sweet with floral and creamy notes and a very oily mouthfeel. A touch dirtier with water.

Finish - Liquorice all-sorts, rose petals and an unexpected fecundity at the end of the delivery.

A cracking whisky, just the kind of refill-bourbon cask to pour yourself into a bottle of.

Tullibardine 1993, 25 years old, 40.7% A⊕+

222 bottles

TULLIBARDINE%2025%2040.7%20VOL%20222%20-750x1000Nose - In this outturn of elderly refill bourbon, this one is older and dirtier than the others. Sweet acrylic, new oil paints and chocolate covered brazil nuts. There's a tropical depth beneath it, under the freshly sanded oak planks and varnish.

Body - Wow - extremely soft, sweet and ripe - dirty, almost cheesy maturity, orange juice and lots of wood and paint. Feels 40.

Finish - Medium, cream cheese with marmalade and soft, burnt pastry. Long fruits though, lots of balanced but intense wood tannins.

Plucked before it kicked the bucket, this whisky wears its painfully low ABV extremely well and tastes much older than 25.

Glenburgie 1992, 26 years old, 50.2% B⊕

216 bottles

Glenburgie%2026%2050.2%20216%20bottles%20-750x1000Nose - A climb-down from the Tullibardine, this is much more ordinary (tough act to follow). Warm white wine, soft toffee and cut rosemary stalk. A touch butyric. Powdery with water, caviar on blinis.

Body - Chalky with peppery woods, then quite intensely sharp and sour, and oddly savoury - perhaps turmeric and walnuts. Much richer with water, but with this odd new-makey character (hard, dirty barley, catch at the back of the throat) to it.

Finish - A long, rich finish with wet whiteboard markers, cranberry sauce and blackcurrant jam.

Weird. Not a fan, but there are some great points in here.

Fettercairn 1988, 29 years old, 54.9% A⊕

252 bottles

Fettercairn%2029%2054.9%20252%20bottles%20-750x1000Nose - Rich, short pastry, baked apples and flaked almonds, custard and a toffee sauce. Beautiful woods behind that, structural and luxurious, with waxes, strawberry lip gloss and strawberry leaves.

Body - Like the Tullibardine, this is collecting its pension but it's much more spritely - quite a spritzy, unexpected burst of orange zest and juice, then a slow descent into grapefruit, squash, Sichuan peppercorns and then the wood.

Finish - Very long, balanced wood, fruit, lots of pepper.

This is a big, bold, beautiful whisky. The only thing that pulls it back from the top mark is that the delivery is a little too intense or brash. I love the fruit, wood and excitement with the huge maturity though, and the almost infinite finish.

Glen Scotia 1992, 26 years old, 47.3% A⊕

228 bottles

Glenscotia%2026%20228%20bottles%20%2047.3-750x1000Nose - Creamy, nutty, oily and absolutely Campbeltown. It must be in the water, Springbank and Glen Scotia share the same supply. Or maybe it's in the air. This has that dusty maturity that comes so easily there, hints of diesel, engine oil and blackcurrant travel sweets.

Body - Ripe and rich, then brightly peppery and astringent. Black fruits and boiled sweets, blackjacks.

Finish - Long with blackcurrant jam and blood orange.

Superb. Full of black fruit and Campbeltown goodness.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Cadenhead Club - Campbeltown tasting

This year, the night before the Campbeltown festival, they held the first tasting to pick the next Cadenhead’s club bottling.  I couldn’t go to this, I couldn’t take another day off work and away from home, but Ronnie, bless him, saved me the dregs from around his table (I think!) so I could taste them.  Now that the new club bottling has been announced (a 25 year old Glen Grant, the last whisky in the tasting), it reminded me that I’d made notes for these!


These were tasted blind at the tasting and I tasted them blind too – my guesses are given inline (and 100% wrong as usual).  I had a video of the “reveal” to get the answers from and I’ve found it a little hard to hear the results over the sound of a large number of cheering, clapping, middle aged men at the tasting (why are they cheering?) – also Jenna’s accent is hard to decipher for me over the noise too – so some of the details might be wrong.  Please correct me [EDIT: thank you Ozgur Ozlen for providing the full details!]


1 Inchmurrin 21 years old, 1996, 53.1% A-

Hhd, cask 4574, 17 December 1996

Nose - Warming and woodsy with lots of midrange. Lovely waxes, quite dusty but a little cereal sour with it. Apple chews, white marshmallow and some perfume.

Body - Softly fruited at first, then a spike of slightly harder spirit, some cardboard, then a first fill bourbon saccharin sweetness.

Finish - Medium, with pink peppercorns and sesame prawn toast.

A lovely nose here, really floral and inviting. Clumsy sweetness in the delivery.

Guessing Speyburn 11, FF bourbon.

2 Speyside 26 years old, 50.1% A'

Hhd, cask 51, 16 September 1991

Nose - Medium sweet, rich and nutty; warm caramel with peanut brittle. Newly painted furniture and treacle tart.

Body - Soft with Mexican chocolate and a Pomander. Walnut whip.

Finish - Long and sweet with caraway and lemsip. The midrange falls away quite quickly leaving fruit and caramel.

Rich, sweet and satisfying (particularly on the nose) but slightly unbalanced in the delivery.

Guessing Glenrothes 19, refill sherry.

3 Littlemill 27 years old, 52.1% A

Hhd, cask 3040, 16th October 1990

Nose - Big and malic, brown apple juice with brown sugar and cherry pipe tobacco. Mr Kipling chocolate cupcakes.

Body - French browned pastry with burnt sugar and pop tarts. Some petrol, some tobacco.

Finish - Long and musky, with slightly charred raisins and plum crumble.

Sweet and waxy, slightly winey but great waxes.

Who knows, I will guess it's FF bourbon and 13. Miltonduff.

4 Tullibardine 24 years old, 46.1% A⊕'

Hhd, cask 1868, 8th June 1993

Nose - Ripe with Sauvignon Blanc and brie, biscuits and grapes. A beautifully balanced and considered character, perfect spirit against the cask. Candle wax and oat cakes.

Body - Soft and dusty with buttercream, acrylic varnish and black pepper.

Finish - Long with more buttercream icing and muhkwas, quite astringent and a little cheesy.

I like this - it feels weird and old, it has gravitas. I know there is a Littlemill in here that everyone didn't pick, so I'm going to guess that, 27 years old. Bourbon cask.

5 Glenrothes 21 years old, 55.8% A⊕

Butt, cask 22, 21st October 1996 

Nose - Dank and herbal, tack dry gloss paint with chocolate and Sangria. A beautifully sweet red wine cask feel here, very deep, sweet and waxy. Either that or its Indian.

Body - Sweet and formic, bitter woods, very ripe with tarte tatin. Baked plums and black pepper.

Finish - Long with black pepper and marzipan. Very moreish.

I love this. I am doubtful that Cadenhead's would pick an Indian whisky as a club bottling so I'm going to discount the Indian thing, so I will guess 21 year old Glenfarclas, sherry cask (long finish). I'd buy it.

6 Glen Grant 24 years old, 52.4% sherry hogshead since June 2016, A+'

Cask 15/249-1, 13th October 1993

Nose - This is an old sherry cask too. Old cracked gloss paint, library and blue cheese. Very rich with leather jacket and men's perfume, but slightly herbal (fresh rosemary, thyme).

Body - Cherry Ripe bars, milk tart and condensed milk. Absolutely delicious.

Finish - Medium long with milk bottle sweets and cherry compote.

A big, sweet, creamy and fruity whisky, but balanced by wood and a big spirit. I'm guessing Blair Athol 28, sherry cask.


Thursday, 27 September 2018

Daftmill’s first two


Daftmill Summer Release A⊕+

daftmill-2006-summer-batch-release-whiskyNose - Light, citrus, wax, insistently creamy. Then there's a much dirtier depth to it, a lowlandery fecundity which has rosemary and roasted pork fat, cut flower stalks and peach.

Body - Extremely fruity if understated, it has that '76 Tomatin funky tropicality to it, perhaps a little Irish too. Some petrol/plastic book covering.

Finish - Long and ripe, really quite sweet and full of apple and ripe nectarines, orange jelly sweets and cut oak. It seems to get fruitier as it fades.

If the excitement dies down a little I'm looking forward to drinking bottles of this.  Such deep fruit and sugars, but balanced by weird, slightly alien funk.

Daftmill Inaugural Release A+

daftmill-2005-inaugural-release-whiskyNose - Noticeably rawer and more angular than the summer release, with acrylic paint, fresh planed oak and liquorice rizlas. It feels like there's some virgin oak in the mix here. That character from the Summer release is here too though; waxy, fruity, a bit weird, herbal and winey. It feels a bit more "single cask".

Body - Fresh, then sugar sweet, then sort of meaty (slow cooked pork belly and soy) with sugar coated fennel seeds.

Finish - Long with the same astringent sweetness from the initial delivery. Spicier, hotter than the summer, but robustly fruity with a big bourbon cask woodsy pepper. Feels like something you'd have at the bar in SMWS.

Another delicious whisky, nowhere near as luxurious as the Summer though.

Thanks a million EdC for sorting out these!

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

SMWS 35th Anniversary Tasting Pack

This was a tasting hosted by John virtually and in person from Leith!  I couldn’t attend at the time but have been allowed to taste them.

It’s been nearly a year since I stopped tasting the outturn every month but the relatively small number of casks I’ve tried in that time have been really good on the whole.  And honestly it is quite nice to not be quite so obsessive about it.

SMWS 135.6, Inchmoan, Cones versus crones, 10 years old, 57.1% A⊕

13th September 2007, 2nd fill bourbon, 297 bottles. I had a couple of 135s in the London bar the other night with Mr. Storry and they were both great.

135.6Nose - An immediately arresting nose, very confident. Waxy is the main thing - rich, plasticky wood with vanilla sponge, raspberry jam and party balloons. It must be the weird stills that makes this unmistakable and very drinkable character. Underneath the wood glue thing there's warm, cut peach and apricot sweets. More citrussy with water, and a little more anty.

Body - Sweet but balanced, Fizzers and a coke float. A sherbet dib-dab dibber. A little more herbal with water, rosemary and poached pear.

Finish - Turns into Refreshers (they are different from Fizzers, but subtly so) and buzzes round the lips and tongue with twisted orange peel, grapefruit peel and sherbet.

What a cracking whisky; confident, interesting, well balanced and a real pleasure to drink.


SMWS 35.214, Glen Moray, Without pretence, 22 years old, 55.7% C+

27th October 1995, 1st fill bourbon, 221 Bottles

35.214Nose - Waxy but much more cautious than the 135, with boiled sweets, linseed oil, blue-ball-liquorice-allsorts and custard creams. I'm still getting those Fizzers on exhale but I think they're a remnant from the previous. Deeper and better with water, with candied orange peel and beedis.

Body - Strange… some of it's young, some of it's bitter and some of it's virgin oaky. It's a bruising delivery, palate stripping. Orange oils at first, then this oaky, liquorice fire comes down on you…

Finish - Long and bitter with burnt orange, rolling tobacco and chewed liquorice root. There's a deep sweetness underneath but it's crushed by this bitter wood oil, like a young, black, cask strength bourbon.

An interesting nose, but an extremely clumsy delivery full of chilli, bitter oak and numbing oils. I suspect this has been finished in something extremely active, and it hasn't worked. A shame because the nose is great.

SMWS 63.49, Glentauchers, In the dark of the abyss, 11 years old, 60.6% B+

29th June 2006, refill oloroso butt, 549 bottles

63.49Nose - Just ever so gently dirty, a charred, nutty (waxy) but imprecise sherry nose. Hazelnuts, filter coffee and posh dark chocolate, and a very dark sweetness - prunes, fig rolls, treacle pudding. It really is a very compelling, exciting nose.

Body - Flaking, dark varnish, then chewy toffees, Christmas cake icing, burnt orange and acrylic paint. Brighter orange with water, cake with an apricot jam filling.

Finish - Medicinal, dirty again - bandages, hoisin sauce and Durian. Very long with more prunes (the packet has been open a while and they're drier) and sweet, cumin-y mukhwas.

This is all over the place, but fascinating for it. This is another palate crusher and would make a good end of evening dram at the bar, or as a bottle - something out of the ordinary if you are starting to build up a collection of so far "safe" society bottles.

SMWS 93.94, Glen Scotia, The final trawl, 15 years old, 56.8% A+

6th May 2002, refill bourbon, 226 bottles

93.94Nose - Blessed Campbeltown! Dry and dusty, yet intensely sweet with dusty Kipling slices and jelly lemon sweet slices. This is so ripe, balanced and well composed compared to the last two, it's night and day. Waxy, sweetshop, weird Campbeltown heaven.

Body - The same - dry and sweet, waxy and weird, dirty and fun - coffee chocolates and leatherette.

Finish - Long and very sweet, with milk chocolate icing, warm double cream and a little stilton at the end. Deep wood varnish with time though, it builds and builds.

Citrus, farmyard and a lingering sensation of blue cheese. Glen Scotia plays a dangerous game with its Campbeltown cards and sometimes wins - this is one of the winners.  Yum.


SMWS 29.249, Laphroaig, Sweet black tea in the surgery, 21 years old, 48.6% A⊕+

26th November 1996, 2nd fill PX hogshead, 230 bottles. 19 years in refill bourbon before.

29.249Nose - Felt lined box, old varnished wood, Refreshers again (old Islay being where I'd expect them) and royal icing. One of those posh nylon-looking tea bags ([googles] tea pigs apparently, and it's made out of biodegradable corn starch) and that wonderful smell of Summer-into-Autumn evening air. Pellet smokers, cut orange, carpet tiles.

Body - Sweet and medicinal, with star anise, soy sauce and new magazine.

Finish - Medium-long with dirty, medicinal peat. A longed-for cigarette on a cold, windy day. It's not quite TCP though, those days, apparently, are gone.

The nose is extremely special on this, the delivery is a little more tricky in terms of the prestige this whisky should have, however I'm more excited by this than the others.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Compass Box The Story of the Spaniard

A new addition to the core range for Compass Box and a lovely drammer.

Compass Box The Spaniard, 43% A+

Compass-Box-The-SpaniardNose - Rich and sweet at first, then lots of wine - sweet and sour - some pineapple. Musky and soft toffee underneath that, and a candy necklace. As always, a beautiful nose from CB.

Body - Slightly gunpowdery, licks of a red wine cask - nutty but no sulphur. Reminds me in some ways of the Macallan 12 sherry oak, which I tasted at the start of this session (but not this post). Lots of depth to this, but also quite waxy, quite painty, quite burnt.

Finish - Medium but highly tannic, burnt toast with fizzers and a little bit of cigarette smoke. Black pepper and red wine at the end.

Compass Box blended malts are a great opposite to single cask/cask strength and this is a proper drinker. I wouldn't have too many problems seeing one of these bottles off in half a year or so (that's good going) although it could do with 3% more ABV.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Compass Box Flaming Heart 2018 edition

The 2016 version of this was just brilliant, I have squirrelled away a few bottles for the whiskypocalypse, so I have eagerly cracked a bottle of the 2018 version. 

Compass Box Flaming Heart 2018 edition, 48.9% A⊕+

compass-box-flaming-heart-2018-edition-whiskyNose - Ripe, fruity, waxy, grown up - spent gunpowder peat, caught caramel, a little blown electrical components, some furniture polish and chocolate mousse. Baked fruits, boiled sweets and apple pie. All of that beautifully balanced, it's brilliant.

Body - Earthy and spicy from the designer woods, rich and waxy with plum crumble (a little caught), some sweet and sour peat at the end of the arrival - like the nose, the delivery is a journey.

Finish - Sweet and fruity, then into perfumed, waxy peat. Medium length and very graceful at the end.

A superb drinking whisky, perfectly balanced and extremely moreish. Rich, waxy and fruity with quite robust peat, the lick of sherry cask is very welcome. Another success.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Aldi Irish 26 years old

Read all about it here, this was sold at some ludicrous price like £40, then actually discounted later on. Thanks so much to the ever awesome Jon for sending me a dram of this.

Aldi, Irish 26 years old A⊕

Nose - Dark fruit and fizzy sweets; a little bit of musk at first then a surprisingly nice complexity - cask and Refreshers. The fruit is sort of blackcurrant travel sweets, icing sugar and that almost petrol structure. Very promising.

Body - Orange chews and blackcurrant jam under buttercream icing. A luxurious, fruity arrival.

Finish - Quite long with the cream and fruit well balanced.

To be this well balanced and structured despite the fruit, sugar and age is quite a feat. Very impressed. They should have given this to the whisky agency to bottle for £260 a bottle.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

More Springbank Officials

As this is my favourite distillery, I am delighted to post this wrap up of nearly all the 2018 official releases so far (I’m just missing the 12CS - the Longrow 18, Springbank 21 are here with the HB Oloroso, and that amazing re-charred HB and Chardonnay Longrow are here).  These below are still available, except I think the (not core) Longrow Oloroso which has finished showing in the UK.

Hazelburn 10 years old, 46% A+

August 2018 batch. Triple distilled, "unpeated", and bourbon casks.

fullsizeoutput_4de-750x1000Nose - The purest expression of Hazelburn (aside from remembering the R&K); the slightly off-sweet waxy oils, the sweetshop cask, a sherbet dib-dab dibber. Floral (air freshener and pot pourri), a tiny amount of cherry pipe tobacco, maybe some liquorice Rizlas.

Body - Wax crayon and buttercream icing after a toot on that cherry roll-up. The engine oils make this dry when the notes read as sweet. Quite a lot of peat builds up with repeated sips.

Finish - Sweet, floral, a little burnt and quite short, liquorice imps and coffee granules are left at the end.

I wonder if it's the equipment that has all the peat in it, or if it's in the casks? Either way, this is a very compelling drinker and an absolute steal - as a more "pure" or austere version of Springbank it's extremely balanced and very well put together.

Springbank 10 years old, 46% A

August 2018 batch. 2.5x distilled, peated, sherry and bourbon casks.

SPRINGBANK%2010%2046%20-750x1000Nose - More three-dimensional than the Hazelburn, but then this is less distilled, has more cask variety and non-incidental peat! A very confident nose, with linseed oil, Campari, singed rosemary, vanilla cream and candle wax (big ones, not birthday ones). Water makes it sweeter, with a touch of superglue and clay.

Body – Off-dry with metal filings, engine oil (properly) and quite burnt. Dank and dusty, although the dustiness does have a hollow side to it here, particularly with the low ABV.

Finish - Charred wood, licked joss sticks and cigar tar.

The nose is just stunning in this batch, but the peat is really quite high in the delivery and it seems a little aggressive.

Springbank 15 years old, 46% A⊕

August 2018 batch. Sherry casks.

SPR%2015%2046%20VOL%20-750x1000Nose - The sweet spot for Springbank, it comes alive with currants, toasted almonds, sweet fruit cake, gastrique, blackcurrant jam, new carpet tiles and new library. Medicinal too; fresh bandage and Sudocrem.

Body - The peat in the 10 is turned down a couple of notches and the sherry cask fills in the gaps perfectly, adding chocolate icing, more blackcurrant jam, sulphur and walnuts. There's an almost red wine cask feel to this as you keep drinking, cloves and leather start to develop (a character that is explored more fully with Longrow).

Finish – Long, with new lino, fondant icing and vanilla ice cream. Nutty and oily at the end, the sherry cask and the Campbeltown dry the mouth out and make you sip again - one of the most compelling whisky experiences there is.

It's my favourite drinking whisky, those that you can just pour yourself into. I should make a list of those, and this will be #1.

Springbank 18 years old, 46% A⊕+

August 2018 batch, bourbon casks.

springbank-18-year-old-whiskyNose - Cleaner (because of the bourbon) than the 15 and more elegant than the 10, this has the best of the Hazelburn 10 and the SB15. It's fresh and waxy, but deep and poised - "complete" is the first word than came to mind. So; waxy cask, gently "tropical" fruits like peach and ripe pear, with plastic book covering, polished leather, cut grass (and a big sod of earth) and whistle pops.

Body - Whistle pop first, again, then red apple, strawberry mivvi… and Marlboro reds, toast and honey, Christmas cake and acrylic paint. Peppery notes build with time, but the engine oils back them up.

Finish - Very long, peppery and perfectly balanced bitterness. Victoria plum jam at the end.

Campbeltown just matures whisky faster. While you can hardly miss in the Springbank warehouses, it's impressive that this blend of casks just hits the mark so perfectly. This is as complex and intense a whisky you could ask for but it's so perfectly drinkable. And we haven't even got to Longrow yet, where the fireworks are.

Longrow Classic/Peated, 46% A⊕

August 2018 batch, 2x distilled.

longrow-peated-whiskyNose - Sweet, sour, dusty, off-dry, but weirder. The heavier the peating, the fewer the distillations, the deeper it becomes. The peaches are there again, with baked red apples, Germolene and old school permanent markers, but as with Octomore the heavier peating somehow mellows the peat and makes it more alien.

Body - Clean, a little sweet, with baked bramley apples, raisin, coffee and anise.

Finish - Medium-short and very clean, with window putty, royal icing, aniseed and fizzing lemon sherbet at the end.

The dusty nose with this balance and complexity is something that you need to spend a lot of money to achieve on Islay and Longrow has always nailed it. When I first tasted Springbank, I had a dram of this and then bought a bottle and stashed it, thinking "you won't be able to get whisky at this price and quality for much longer" - and you still can.

Longrow 14 years old, sherry cask, 57.8% A+

9,000 bottles, 2018 official release, refill Oloroso. I've been looking forward to this, thanks Jon for sharing this with me!

longrow-14-year-old-sherry-cask-matured-whiskyNose - Deep, intense, with menthol and new fence panel. Reminds me a lot of the society Longrow Sauternes with added lavender and crushed marble. And with time it really deepens - leatherette, sriracha sauce and cut spring onions. Much more new paint with water.

Body - Dirty sherry, oily and ripe, restrained nut, sweet sulphur and then so much Campbeltown. It's an archetypical Springbank whisky turned up a couple of notches. Lots of liquorice with water, roots and imps, very tannic and black.

Finish - Sweetly jewelled, grapes and paint. Very long and acrylic, especially with water.

I imagine this is what Campbeltown whisky was like 50 years ago. I bet in 20 years' time a closed bottle of this is going to be incredible. It's a Campbeltown rollercoaster today, extremely challenging and rewarding… but an open bottle will last a long time!