Tomintoul 2006, 11 years old, 55.4% A
Body - Lemon ice lollies then, a little lemon cream and royal icing. Very clean.
Finish - Long and zesty (funnily enough), sharp spirit and a gentle cask.
A lovely Spring-into-Summer sipper. That young wood and citrus freshness works very well.
Knockdhu 2006, 11 years old, 54.7% A⊕
Body - Rich, ripe and delicious, fizzers over hot chocolate and Amarula.
Finish - Medium with a really considered, fruity dismount. Nicely done.
I accidentally didn't take enough of this but I think it's pretty special.
Macduff 2006, 11 years old, 46% A+
Body - Soft and sweet, extremely gentle and considered. Baked apples, perhaps a little cinnamon.
Finish- Then there's a peppery structure in here that stops it being one dimensional. Medium to short, with a serious slug of sugar and dried flowers at the end.
I was wondering how a single cask got the 46% treatment and the 3 casks in the Knockdhu got the cask strength but it's because this is a great single cask which benefitted from being let down to 46%. Makes sense. The sweetness on the delivery pulls it down a notch.
North British 1985, 32 years old, 55.2% A-
Body - Soft grain, orange cream, very sweet with a tiny bit of lavender.
Finish - Dries up (and freshens up) significantly at the end with orange pith and a little clove.
Not sure about this one, it's a decent drinker but it seems to lack an identity - what's it supposed to be, an old grain or a sherry bomb? It's neither; cocktail whisky.
Tomatin 2008, 10 years old, 54.4% A+'
Nose - You can tell this is young Tomatin a mile off. Dusty cask, apple wood, competent, balanced spirit, a freshly opened packet of Marlboro lights. A little musk, a little leather, a little fruit, a little ozone.
Body - Delicious, rich and balanced, there's something catching at the back of the throat, a lick of peat.
Finish - Medium to long, well balanced to the end with wax, whistle pops and faintly, liquorice imps at the end.
Perfect young Tomatin, very well recommended as a proper drinker. I've a bottle of young small batch Glenrothes at home that I think I gave the same score to, that I return to time and again. This would be the same.
Ord 2006, 12 years old, 46% A+
Nose - Herbal, forest floor - something like an A-level chemistry lab in here, but brought together by this almost wine-like, oaked sweetness. It's like when you order a dessert in a super posh restaurant and it comes with twigs and dry ice and cubes of some sweet stuff - it's not quite sweet or savoury but it is remarkable.
Body - Gentle and classy, again there's that green wood feel to it, and an underlying jelly-sweet faint fruity sweetness. It's a really balanced initial delivery, really elegant but it passes into that woodiness which isn't unwelcome but it is quite unexpected.
Finish - A little short, light woods and green jelly sweets. Actually I think I did have an absinth jelly cube or two in a dessert in a restaurant once…
Delicious and quite remarkable, this would be an excellent choice for an in-depth tasting.
Glen Spey 2001, 16 years old, 54% A+
Body - Big and rich compared to the nose, a little red chilli and burnt sugar, a lot more fruit (roasted pineapple slices).
Finish - Medium to long with charred apple crumble and a little ash.
A quite classy and old school nose and good richness and interest in the delivery but isn't that well integrated.
Glenrothes 1996, 21 years old, 50.9% A⊕+
Nose - Complex but gentle, there's wood varnish, sweet but sour cider, washing up liquid (or maybe it's magic - plastic - bubbles). And of course the old, hot radiator, apple and wood feel of well matured Glenrothes. Hops and peppermint tea on exhale. Extremely confident.
Body - Rich, tropical fruit, balanced but with that slightly cheesy thing from very old whisky (way older than 21).
Finish - Very long, caraway and cut wood floorboards against that deep, fruity sweetness. Mango skin and a perhaps imagined fish sauce and coconut ending.
A rich, complex, old school and extremely drinkable whisky. It's not quite as mind-bendingly recommendable, quite, as that Benrinnes 20 from two months ago, but it's still brilliant. A two bottle job.
Ben Nevis 1996, 21 years old, 52.9% A⊕'
Nose - Solvent clean, mineral - but also passion fruit and lemon sorbet. Pritt stick and lemon barley squash. There's a sense of rightness in the nose, a fresh confidence, a little bit different but it all still stacks up… so far.
Body - Confident again, fresh but then really deep and rich, really old school fruit and toffee. Wood glue and a licked envelope.
Finish - Long with coffee, chocolate spread on toast and that slightly murky funk I always long for in Ben Nevis.
I find Ben Nevis to be extremely unreliable - and I either love them or hate them. I love this but I do think it might be a little bit personal so tread carefully. That's not to say this isn't a firm recommendation.
Linkwood 1995, 22 years old, 48.8% A⊕
Nose - Green apple - some baked bramleys, some fridge cold dessert apples. Underneath, a dusty fruit, a herbal warmth (crushed bay and rosemary in the hand), rain on hot tarmac. It is exactly what you were expecting.
Body - Hard, slightly peppery but deliciously deep with toffee, vanilla ice cream and hot tart tatin.
Finish - Long with musky toffee, blue cheese and cracked black pepper.
Great structure and balance here, lovely fruit and classically presented but no surprises.
Cadenhead's Creations, Light Fruity Sherry 1973, 44 years old, 43.4% A⊕-
Nose - Some whisky is light but intense, very odd when that happens. That old wood is perfect on the nose, it's practically black, so much so it moves up into solvent abuse. Majestic orchard fruit, hard caramel on salted peanuts, a really balancing pastry and marker pen, hot wood glue and even hot electrical insulation… we are moving into old bourbon territory...
Body - Old cognac actually, with cigar stubs in a damp ashtray, baked apples and raisins.
Finish - Quite short. Sweet liquorice torpedoes and dusty caraway. The finish could be from any bourbon.
I'm using my most confusing score for the second time. There's a huge amount of majesty in this, and then at the end it's a little overdone. But you could smell this forever (and then sip something cheaper) - that would be very cost effective.
Glentauchers 1990, 27 years old, 54.4% A⊕
Nose - A confident nose, it's rich but quite spirity, I think a long maturation on very refill cask which makes for a gentle, white, slightly agave, but extremely well rounded and considered experience. Lemon slices in tequila and tonic? But that underplays the quality of the spirit.
Body - Heavenly; it's a perfect delivery with coffee, nuts, coconut ice and nougat. Buanana fritters in coconut milk.
Finish - Long but light, the nuts and nougat to the end. Good tannins.
Light but confident in the nose, utterly delicious in the delivery, right to end. Yum. (no surprise for Glentauchers)
Bunnahabhain 1989, 28 years old, 43.8% A⊕+
2xHHD. Yeah I've just got these two hogsheads of 1989 Bunnahabhain over there, shall we mix them?
Actually I’d guess one of them was understrength. But goes to show…
Nose - Deep, clarty, slightly caught and ashen. Some E45 cream (so, chalky), almond croissant, more sauna wood, wet cut casks in the rain. Petrol and French strawberry tarts with time. Gentle though, not even drinking strength.
Body - Argh… heaven again, the structure here makes up for the abv, and the orange juice and zest livens up and balances the depth of oak and spirit.
Finish - Very long and full of orange skin, even marmalade. Cut flower stalks and preserved lemons at the end.
Extremely good, there are flashes of "this is too weak" but the quality makes up for it every time. Grab this while you can.