Very late with the notes due to Campbeltown festival, everything that had stock at the end of day one is basically still in stock though.
Bourbon hogshead, 300 bottles
Nose - Waxy and wooded - wood glue (maybe UHU), with bright, intense fruit (quite tropical, some orange zest and juice) and some dust. Very compelling, arresting even. There's a gunpowdery feeling after you've exhaled. Deeper fruit (soft mango), richer citrus with water.
Body - Sharp but serious, burnt orange caramel, bracingly bitter but tempered by Refreshers. That fruity bitterness is along the lines of a DIPA, the intensity of the sugar and overall profile carries the bitterness well. Sweeter and less bracing with water, seriously fruity and the bitterness is well balanced if still structural.
Finish - Bitter tannins but rich and biscuity, grapefruit zest and tropical juice at the end.
This is exactly the kind of young, bright, technically excellent but interesting whisky that launches long obsessions with independent single casks. This is seriously good, my opinion of Glenburgie continues to rise.
Bourbon barrel, 168 bottles
Nose - Somewhere between ripe apple and apple chews, yet another tropically intense Benrinnes nose - good toffee depth behind this and that cigar box style of old cask. Fruit and warm, understated wood. Even fruitier with water.
Body - Beautifully fruited again, intense and surprising at first, sweetshop near the end of the delivery with blasts of aspirin and a touch of liquorice in the middle. More robust, oddly, with water, more drying.
Finish - Long and fizzing, twists of orange zest and Campari, wood and musk at the end. Water brings a little fresh mint leaf, chewed grass.
Another superb Benrinnes. Someone said to me (and it's non-sold-out status at time of writing confirms) that people don't generally go crazy for Benrinnes. I can't see why, it's up there with Linkwood for dependably excellent, tropical Scotch.
Bourbon hogshead, 222 bottles
Nose - Young and hard, wood glue like the Glenburgie but much less forgiving; unripe pear, porridge oats, Pritt Stick and a punch in the nose. There's wax and musk and a sort of cold fruit, maybe gooseberry fool, underneath but I think it needs water to get there. After sipping there's an instant coffee granules and starfruit feel to it - all very one dimensional and cold though. Much better with water - strawberry cheesecake, malted ice cream - but it still has that hard candy shell thing I associate with English whisky (Adnams – I do more often than not really enjoy English Whisky Company whisky).
Body - Much better than the nose, the fruit is still hard but it's sweeter and richer, the oats are extremely present. It's strange how different not-Scotch is, I'm always amazed at the contrast. Better with water, the fruit becomes somewhat roasted, there's a feeling of soft blue cheese and oatcakes, black pepper, slightly musky.
Finish - Short, cloying, awkward. Much better with water, I like the cheesy thing.
A young, challenging, awkward whisky.
Refill sherry cask, 480 bottles
Nose - Bright and surprisingly hard for the age and distillery, with hand soap, candy necklace and royal icing. Crushed ice. After sipping, the nuttiness continues in the nose with some crayon. It's very austere. Carrot cake with water, some swimming pool.
Body - Off-sweet, nutty (praline rather than peanuts), cracked, old wood varnish and whistle pops. Softer and sweeter with water, a little Wham bar even?
Finish - Quite hard, very light input from the cask - rolling tobacco and slightly burnt croissant. Black pepper crisps with water.
Having gushed about the Benrinnes, I'm surprised at what should have been a tropical masterpiece. Expectation management perhaps, but not a fan of this one. I'd much rather drink the Benrinnes.
5 years in Goa, 1 year in Campbeltown. Refill bourbon barrel. They have to bottle them in India, shipped to Scotland and then disgorged into a cask there. Then rebottled after some time in the warehouse later. We had a cask at the warehouse tour at Campbeltown festival this year, which was fantastic.
Nose - Brown sugar, hot malt extract, as sweet and dark and surprisingly complex as they always are (the three PJs from Cadenhead's I've had that is!). Damp cigar wrappers, damp cloths on a hot radiator, roasted plums, pomegranate molasses. But nutty, very masculine.
Body - More sherry cask than the Linkwood; deep burnt sugar and praline, pork crackling, soft liquorice, smoking a Marlboro light. Utterly delicious as always.
Finish - Slightly shorter and more one dimensional that the initial delivery suggested. A little clove chocolate though, bourbon soaked raisins. Still a rich and lip smacking experience, vanilla cream and icing.
Somewhere there's a cask that spent 5 years in Goa and is destined to have 15 years in Campbeltown, and that will be very, very special. For now these casks are brilliant drinkers.
Bowmore 2001, 17 years old, 53.8% B+
Nose - A musky one at first, then fruit polos with French custard tart (maybe strawberry glazed), planed pine planks, cracked salt crust and ice cream wafers. More of that fruit with water, more cheap ice cream too, and a welcome medicinal note.
Body - Sweet but gentle and salty, like a cold seafood platter… and a Mr. Whippy. Then there's a big, tarry peat - I hesitate to go to rope as it's all a bit stereotypical but I can only say it how I find it! Softer and creamier with water.
Finish - Long and surprisingly dirty. Numbing wood, quite harsh by the end.
Having lived through endless months of mid-teens-refill-sherry Bowmore a few years ago (to the point of having to stop myself buying them), this is quite ordinary I'm afraid. Unlike the…
Laphroaig 1998, 19 years old, 53.4% A⊕-
Nose - A fresh, fizzing, musky, estery one on the nose. Balanced sugars, some plastic, dirty medicinal (sort of TCP but more a cream, more bandage). Baked apple and dried orange slices, ozone. Almost in "old wound" territory, certainly some overheated electrics.
Body - Soft, creamy at first, then a really dirty TCP, quite rotten but bright with fruit (tropical squash) and fizzers/gunpowder.
Finish - Long and rich, more filth all the way through. Robust peat builds with each sip but the fruit and burning plastic rides it out. Tannic, black fruit at the end.
Dirty, dirty stuff, and extremely moreish. I didn't get to add water.
Single cask, 282 bottles
Nose - Sharp, slightly sour with magic balloons and green apple. Wood chips, cut grass and a little menthol cigarette. Smells a bit like cognac mixed with some crazy wooded rum - it's not elegant but it is full of character and HQ cask. More "cognac" with water, more sweetshop too.
Body - Varnish, waxed wood, charcoal and lolly stick. A new bag of damp compost. The dibber in a sherbet dibdab. Some good dryness with water, dustier.
Finish - Long and extremely oily, big fruits at the end. Rum and raisin, more menthol.
Scoring this "as a whisky" this is delicious, quite a bruiser and full of excellent wood and fruit character.
Miltonduff 2008, 10 years old, 55.7% B-
Nose - Dry, biscuity (actually a bit like wood pellets), rich cereal and just a little dirty. Meaty but mineral, some iron, some pork. One of "those" bourbon casks that everyone thinks is really a sherry cask.
Body - Soft, balanced sugars, cakey and more of that sulphur from the nose. Sweet, hard candy shells on top.
Finish - Medium to short, quite bitter and hot, lonely wood at the end, perhaps with a little balsamic vinegar.
For some reason this reminds me of cat biscuits. If this was SMWS I would guess a 3 month PX finish. I'm not a huge fan although it does have some crowd pleasing charms. Probably fare quite well at a whisky festival.
Bourbon hogshead, 252 bottles
Body - More of the same; restraint and wax, orchard fruit and more fruit polos, maybe a little cough candy. Softer, but more sweet shoppy with water.
Finish - Long and sourly astringent, with whiteboard markers and pear drops. Very long actually, building fruits, increasingly tropical.
A deliciously fruity and well-structured speysider that pushes the sugar just a little too far with water. Proper bourbon drammer though.
Bourbon barrel, 198 bottles
Nose - Deep and earthy. There was a flash of gummy sweets and rich waxy cask but the earth took over almost immediately - loam, compost, some chews, cadbury snack! bars. Curly wurlys? The fruit comes back after a while, with some sawdust and gloss paint, but it's all a little clumsy.
Body - Loads more milk chocolate, biscuit and some pear. A great fruit to cake balance, chew sweets warm and soft out your pocket. Weaker with water, less interesting.
Finish - Medium to long, a little astringent, a little thin, an odd tinge of sulphur which might be from previous whiskies.
Refill sherry butt, 390 bottles
Body - Rich and cakey, and very "tasty" - it's meaty with baked/rotten apples and raisins.
Finish - Fizzing but very rich, backed by fence panel and liquorice imps.
This is a proper blustering old Scotch. Drops the ball on the luxury a little in the late delivery but the nose is proper.
Not Port Dundas 1988, 29 years old, 50.7% A⊕
Bit of a mix up with the samples here I think.
Nose - Bright and sweet, liquorice torpedoes, a really old (dusty) peat character- lemon curd or cheescake.
Body - Dry and dusty, big tannins, this has a distinct Campbeltown character to it.
Finish - Medium long with cigarettes and Mr. Kipling.
I reckon this is a late teen Longrow. Yum. I want a bottle!