I’ve written notes in December I’ve got a crick in my neck. Thank goodness I’m not doing SMWS biglist anymore!
We tasted all of these when we went to Campbeltown in October and I remember being impressed by nearly all of it back then. I put that down to being on-premise with them at the time, but the outturn still stands up on its own merits. A superb outturn.
Body - Hard again, with something that I want to say is bloody scampi flavoured fries - but it's not fishy, it's something else. Probably malted barley in them (checks… no that can't be it, it's probably deep fried maize). There's a hot, peppery sweetness too.
Finish - Short and peppery, with soft fruit toffee and the afterglow of a bunch of Black Jacks.
Standard fare for a Tomatin.
Body - Sharp then boiled sweets and more orchard fruit, with "green" applewood chunks and cough candy. More toffeed with water, even better.
Finish - Long and malic still, with rounded sweetness, wood sours and a very little cigarette tar on the lips.
This was one we tried in Campbeltown that really stood out. A really, really beautiful nose and then a robust, well structured, compelling drinker.
Nose - Men's perfume this time, firmly so. And a dusty, medicinal quality, that kind of antifungal cream thing, where you smell it and you can taste it at the back of your tongue. That creaminess is verging on mango with time. Fruitier with water, a little more straight laced, but with a really wonderful gravitas, particularly considering the age.
Body - Very creamy, with a sour but creamy tropicality which is very compelling, like a salty mango lassi. A little fence-y with water.
Finish - Numbing and powdery again, not gunpowder, more like talcum powder. Long though, with peppery but tropical fruit.
This is a cracker too, a lovely mature character for the age and price and interesting to drink.
Nose - It's a hard, closed one at first, but approached gently there's a beguiling Chinese supermarket funk with a touch of coco butter and cut peach. Opens up quite a bit with water, more of the fruit and a lot more warmth.
Body - Hershey's chocolate, cardboard, but also coffee granules and baked plums. More compelling again with water, earthier but fruitier, a little more perfumed.
Finish - Medium and chocolatey, some Victoria plum jam (I'd say on toast but I'm being led).
A little bit hard work to unlock but worth it. I'd probably get the Miltonduff over this though.
Body - Delicious apple again; apple pie with a crispy crust and probably too many Bramleys.
Finish - Long with hot, warm toffee, cinnamon for the apple pie and tuiles.
My hunt for the 30 year old bourbon cask Glenrothes continues and this is a good contender.
As Phil has inspired me I might actually open one that I've hoarded for Christmas.
Body - A really complete delivery, liqueur chocolates, jelly fruits, then white wine and fruit polos. Creamier with water.
Finish - Medium-long, chewed orange peel and actually, mango peel. Oddly fence-y right at the end.
A warm, well rounded, if slightly timid whisky. I haven't had the Tomintoul yet though.
Nose - Lovely depth on this one, I remember this from Campbeltown. Ripe, tropical cask, just a little odd with that really intense fruity weirdness that 28+ year old Bunnahabhain can have just starting to manifest. Wood glue and strawberry laces.
Body - Unexpected coffee, I don't remember that (although that is unsurprising considering the day we had), with papaya and rhubarb fool. Sesame snaps and candied peel, some Calpol.
Finish - Very long and creamy, with faint, but neat, Vimto. Bandages and liquorice, as it builds, at the end.
This is superb, and still in stock at time of writing for some reason. Well-aged, unpeated Islay and a complete, delicious and very drinkable whisky. I didn't want to add water and so didn't, which is always a good sign.
Body - Big but cold, salted liquorice imps and green apple slices. More apple pie with water, with a hot sweetness.
Finish - Creamy but with red spice, like chilli vanilla ice cream.
Good stuff but a bit all over the place, a whole bottle would be tiring.
Body - Soft and sweet, then weirdly, muskily sweet with caught rhubarb juice and brown sugar.
Finish - Medium with cured oak planks on a hot summer day. Deliciously fruity with balanced sugar and acid.
A summery whisky for the end of the year. This is a lot better and significantly more robust than I was expecting. I (in theory) don't abide distillery prejudice, and I'm not sure what I've got against Tomintoul but it doesn't apply here.
Regions, countries, that's another matter.
Body - Full and peppery, with chewed aspirin (to offset the banana antibiotics) and liquorice torpedoes. And what I imagine bubble tea tastes like. I realise that's not very helpful…
Finish - Long with sour gobstoppers and chewed oak plank.
We had this at Darrenmas and it was superb then as now. It reads all over the place but it has "good bones" and works very well.
Body - Warm and sort of sherried, travel sweets and the smell of damp car-carpet, crushed charcoal.
Finish - Medium, warm white wine, soft liquorice.
This is extremely good (the nose particularly), only the lack of luxury in the delivery knocks it down from an A⊕.
Body - In some ways Balmenach is as distinctive as Springbank, there's a big orchard, charcoal and sour wood character. Maybe even a little bong water. The youth is here though, hard and sharp.
Finish - Medium, charred, toffee apples.
This is a gentle but interesting whisky - sweet and sour, light peat and slightly sharp oak.
Body - Bright at first, then young and over wooded, with lemon cleaning spray and a sherbet dibber.
Finish - Short, with lemon curd and washing up liquid. More cardboardy with water, although a lot longer.
A Springtime whisky, and a first duff note in an otherwise almost perfect bourbon-cask outturn.
Nose - Deep; burnt fruit, petrol. Waxed jacket on a cold day (I've never personally owned a waxed jacket but have worn them a long time ago). It is a splendidly fruited, balanced, restrained wax though; austere yet luxurious, with blackened apples.
Body - Burnt wood and nut toffee, peppery (again) and a little bit hedgey. A deep, caramelised fruitiness to it though.
Finish - Short and sweet, liquorice comfits at the tip of the tongue, cold port at the sides.
A by the numbers old Scotch, love that black, liquoricey depth.