Category Archives: Highland

#79 – Wolfburn Single Malt

Distillery: Wolfburn
Name: Single Malt
Age: 3
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £46 (The Whisky Exchange)
Nose: Sweet, light fruits, citrus, minerals, malt, peat
Taste: Honey, malty, coastal, spicy
Finish: Long, floral, smokey, spicy
Rating: 5/10
Wolfburn has a long history, the distillery originating back to 1821 and is the most northerly mainland distillery in Britain. This particular bottle was from the first release as I got my pre-order in as soon as I heard about the new distillery. A long wait later and here we are, ready to review.
As you would expect from such a young whisky, it is very light, straw colour. The initial nose has some sweetness to it with some light, fleshy fruits present. This moves into a citrus aroma with some slight mineral notes and a hint of peat. Given a bit of airing time the malty notes start to come through.
Onto the palate and you get an initial honey sweetness but is again quickly dismissed, this time by the spicy malt that follows. The malt dies down mid palate, though the spice remains for some time and blends in well with some subtle coastal/salty notes which, in turn leads into a slightly smokey floral edge on the finish. After a bit or aeration the sweetness begins to make a bold return and holds it’s ground which I found an interesting turn of events.
For 3 year old whisky this is actually quite a pleasant dram. It obviously has some of the youthful qualities you would expect with a whisky of this age, but with a drop of water/ice in it, this is an amazing dram to sit out in the sun with, or I dare say that youthfulness would be interesting in some cocktails.
I’m looking forward to trying some of their later expressions.

#73 – Tomatin 18 Year Old

Distillery: Tomatin
Name: N/A
Age: 18
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £75 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Light, fresh, cereal, vanilla
Taste: Light, sweet, dry, cereal
Finish: Medium, dry, spicy
Rating: 6/10
The Tomatin 18 year old has been finished in Oloroso sherry casks which is very surprising when you first nose it. It is very light and fresh, cut grass with some floral notes too, not what I was expecting to be honest. To mix things up a bit though there are also some cereal notes there too that help to add a little depth to the nose.
Onto the palate and that light quality remains but it is sweeter than the nose suggests, but only initially. The cereal notes then take over along with quite a dryness. There are not really any of the sherry qualities in there though, I was expecting them to be there, if somewhat subtly as I do not suspect it has been in the sherry casks for long. The finish is medium to long with a very dry and spicy quality to it.
This will be 5th Tomatin I’ve had and although none have been bad, none have really stood out for me either. I will persevere however as I think it has the potential to be a whisky I can enjoy,  I just need to find the right one.

#68 – Loch Lomond 12 Year Old Single Grain Organic

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Name: Single Grain Organic (Dà Mhìle)
Region: Highland
Age: 12
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: Sold Out
Nose: Light, toffee, white fruits, citrus
Taste: Light, toffee, vegetal, spicy
Finish: Short, dry, vegetal
Rating: 5/10

Bottled by Dà Mhìle, a Welsh independent bottler, this sherry cask matured, organic single grain whisky was distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2012.

It has a light aroma that is lead by light toffee notes and followed by notes of white fleshy fruits. There is also some citrus that comes through near the end. With a little time there comes some marzipan notes that replace the toffee and just a touch of a metallic note towards the end.

Onto the palate and it is nice and light much like the nose and again with the light toffee leading. Following the toffee it develops into a slight vegetal dram, a little earthy and then straight into a lovely spicy lift to the end. The finish is quite short and dry with the vegetal notes sticking around.

I would suggest small pours and quick drinking with this one as it is better without the aeration in my opinion. It suits the sweet and spicy characters that comes on first pour more so than the vegetal notes that come with aeration. An enjoyable dram either way though that is very light, lending itself to a summer evening after a hard day at work.

Loch Lomond – Inchmurrin 15yo-21yo

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Name: Inchmurrin (Signatory)
Region: Highland
Age: 15
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 43%
Cask No.: 24 & 25
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: Sold Out
Nose: Cereal, fresh bread, musty, metallic
Taste: Light, sweet, marzipan, cereal
Finish: Short, warm, slight spice, metallic
Rating: 4/10

This is my first visit to the land of Inchmurrin. I had a single sample but decided to give it a fair test by getting a selection of 5 drams and do a side-by-side tasting.

Nose is very musty at first, think wet winter leaves with some cereal and fresh bread thrown in there also; this finishes with a slight metallic note. It’s quite an unusual nose that is dram has, not like anything I have had before from memory.

Onto the palate and you get a light but sugary sweet welcome, a little marzipan in there along with that slight cereal note just showing it’s head. It all leads onto a fairly short and metallic finish but it does come with a slightly warm, spiciness to it.

Not my favourite dram, the nose is not great and the metallic notes spoil it for me.

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Name: Inchmurrin (Signatory)
Region: Highland
Age: 15
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 43%
Cask No.: 28
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: Sold Out
Nose: Light, metallic, cereal, light fruits
Taste: Light, sweet, cereal, dryish
Finish: Medium, warm, dry, metallic
Rating: 4/10

So I thought it would be interesting to try another 15 year old from the same bottler, Signatory, just from a slightly later cask, cask 28 rather than the mix of 24 & 25 that the last one was. Lets see how it compares.

The first thing that hits me is that metallic nose, just like the last one. The cereal note is also there but not quite as strong. In place of the cereal is some light fruit notes like green apples. This makes it a little lighter on the nose, not that the last wasn’t already though.

The palate is also very similar but a little lighter, not as sweet, no marzipan but more cereal and with a definite dryness to it. The finish is a little longer with the dryness continuing. It looses some of the spice yet manages to keep the warmth, it also shares that metallic note unfortunately.

Still not great but a little better than the previous expression.

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Name: Inchmurrin
Region: Highland
Age: 18
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 46%
Cask No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £56 (Master of Malt 70cl)
Nose: Citrus, cereal, toffee
Taste: Creamy, toffee, raisins, malt
Finish: Medium, warm, spicy
Rating: 5/10

Onto an official bottling this time for the 18 year old. The nose is a delight compared to the previous ones I have to say, a real citrus note to it but with an added depth from a toffee sweetness that is also present. The cereal note that I found in the previous drams is also there but not as overpowering and I’m glad to say the metallic note has almost gone.

The palate has a lovely creamy toffee quality to it with the addition of some raisins. A little of the citrus comes through towards the end to lighten the load a little and leads onto a medium length but very warm finish. There is a hint of something spicy on the finish but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. With the addition of water a maltiness comes through on the palate and the finish dries out quite a lot.

Much better than the two 15 year old in my opinion, that nose is greatly improved and the metallic quality has all but gone.

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Name: Inchmurrin
Region: Highland
Age: 19
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 58.1%
Cask No.: 2844 & 2845
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: Sold Out
Nose: Vanilla, citrus, metallic, toffee
Taste: Spicy, slightly dry, toffee
Finish: Long, warm, spicy, malty
Rating: 5/10

Back to Signatory this time for the 19 year old coming from casks 2844 & 2845, lets hope the extra 4 years has removed that metallic edge.

First impressions are that there is an improvement, there is a strong vanilla note present at first along with some citrus to lighten it. The cereal has gone from this one but unfortunately the metallic quality is back, to a much lesser degree though. The vanilla and metallic notes dispense after a while and are replaced with welcome toffee notes.

Lots of spice is what hits you as you take a sip, lots of spice with a slight dryness when held in the mouth for a while. That toffee also comes through to give a richness with a slight sweetness. The finish is long, warm and really spicy with a surprising maltiness there also that works quite well.

There is no hiding the fact that this is cask strength, there is a definite ABV burn without water, but with the addition of it the spice is greatly reduced on the palate which takes some of the attraction away, still present on the finish however.

A big improvement on the 15s I have to say, those 4 years did the trick. It is still lacking something for me though to score highly.

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Name: Inchmurrin
Region: Highland
Age: 21
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 46%
Cask No.:
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £77 (Master of Malt 70cl)
Nose: Floral, citrus, toffee
Taste: Light, crisp, floral, malty
Finish: Long, light, malty
Rating: 6/10

The final one of the night is the distillery bottling of a 21 year old. It has a very pleasant but unusually nose to it. There is an overpowering note to the nose that I have to say I am not familiar with, it seems floral; Master of Malt mention honeysuckle, but that is not something I can identify with. It has a light citrus note to it also along with some toffee sweetness.

The palate is lighter than I expected with a real crispness to it from the citrus carried through from the nose. That floral quality is still there also with a little malt making an appearance towards the end. Quite a well balanced and refreshing dram this one. The finish is quite long yet light with the malt holding on.

Best of the lot this one, well balanced and easy to drink without any of that metallic nonsense going on. Still nothing amazing in my eyes, but if you like your whiskies light and malty then this is not a bad choice, and for the money it’s not bad value for a 21 year old.

Invergordon – Batch 1 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

Distillery: Invergordon
Name: That Boutique-y Whisky Company (Batch 1)
Region: Highland
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 41.6%
Batch No.: 1
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £72 (Batch 2 70cl)
Nose: Rich, rye, slightly sweet, spicy
Taste: Smooth, summer fruits, sweet, spicy
Finish: Medium length, sweet, lightly spicy
Rating: 8/10
That Boutique-y Whisky Company, what can I say but, what a reputation. No-one seems to have a bad thing to say about them and that seemed enough to make me give them a go. I thought I would start with something a little different from my norm, an Invergorden single grain whisky. The sample I have is from batch 1 which produced just 252 bottles and is now discontinued, batch 2 is available though.
I don’t really know grain whiskies so was not sure what to expect with this one, it was not what I got that’s for sure. The first thing that came to mind was a good bourbon, but then I though, maybe a rye actually because it does to have the bourbon sweetness. It is rich and powerful with a really spice to it, again made me thing of a rye. After a bit there was another note coming through, a kind of nut toffee sweetness, and something else that I could not put my finger on, that really annoys me . If I could only use one word to describe it, it would be simply ‘amazing’.
The palate was just as much of a shock, really smooth as you roll it around your mouth and then, wham, have a mouthful of summer fruits with a hint of spice for good measure. Now you may call me mad for the next thing I say, hints of sloe gin in there also. I know, I know but it really did have sloes in there and maybe I just always thing of gin when sloes are mentioned, I don’t know.
I was blown away by this one I have to say. I didn’t know what to expect from it but it certainly wasn’t anything of this quality. I could easily drink this stuff all night, a drinking whisky and a savouring whisky all in one, shame I didn’t splash out on a bottle what I had the chance 🙁

Old Pulteney WK217 Spectrum

Distillery: Old Pulteney
Name: WK217 Spectrum
Region: Highland
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: ?
Nose: Rich, earthy, maple syrup, caramel, coastal (eventually)
Taste: Rich, sweet, smooth, coastal
Finish: Medium, light, slightly dry
Rating: 7/10

The WK217 Spectrum is a UK Travel Retail only bottling from Old Pulteney. It is the third and final release of their range related to extraordinary boats from Wick. I was informed that if I liked their 17 year old offering then I should give this one a go. Since I do, I took them up on the offer.

So the nose was way more complex than I was expecting. It is very rich, like it has been finished in sherry cask for a period (I don’t know if it has). There is also a real earthy note to it. Once aired a little the earthiness fades and then you get hit with the maple syrup and caramel, what a lovely nose. I’m surprised that the characteristic coastal/salty notes is not really present, it is there but not in anger and only when aired for a long period.

Onto the palate and yes, there’s the Old Pulteney flavour I wanted. It starts quite rich and smooth, moving into a sweetness and then the coastal character comes through, again not as much is with most from them though. This leads onto a medium length finish that is actually quite light with a slight dryness, but a very subtle dryness.

I have to admit this was better than I was expecting. It was more complex than expected through the full range and kept giving as it was left to aerate. Yet another fantastic offering from Old Pulteney. That leaves only one of their range that I have not been a fan of, that’s the Navigator, hay, they can’t cater for everyone with every dram can they.

I would like to thank Tom (@Tom_Blumsom) again for the sample.

Deanston 12 Year Old

Distillery: Deanston
Name:
Region: Highland
Age: 12
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 10cl
Price: £10 (from The Whisky Shop)
Nose: Vanilla, chocolate, plum
Taste: Chocolate, creamy, dark fruits
Finish: Medium length, oaky, slightly dry
Rating: 6/10

This was the second of three in a tasting set that was bought for me. It has been finished in Oloroso sherry casks so has a nice copperish colour to it. I was fortunate enough to be part of the The Whisky Stramash (@WhiskyStramash) tweet tasting this Tuesday gone, and one of the drams included was a Deanston 12 year old, with added vanilla pods, it was lovely. This reminded me that I had a bottle of Deanston in that I had not opened, so now it is.

It has a lovely nose it with a strong vanilla note to it with underlying chocolate and plum also. On the palate the chocolate is quite powerful and gives it a lovely creamy texture followed but some dark fruit action. The finish is of medium length with a subtle oaky note and the slight dryness that goes with it.

Overall it is a nice dram, a good nose with plenty of flavour. That’s 2 out of 2 for Deanston so far, I may have to try some more of their offerings.

Blair Athol Flora and Fauna 12 Year Old

Distillery: Blair Athol
Name: Flora and Fauna
Region: Highland
Age: 12
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £40 (70cl)
Nose: Rich, sherry
Taste: Medium body, smooth,  sherry, malty
Finish: Short, slight spice
Rating: 6/10

I’ve been meaning to try this for quite a while, I’ve heard good things about it and it looks a lovely colour, right up my street. The nose hits you with lovely, rich sherry notes but unfortunately not much more, it’s not bad but after the first nosing I was expecting it to open up well, but it doesn’t really.

The palate is smooth with good body and a nice level of sherry, nothing too powerful but enough to make it interesting. Once held in the mouth a while you get a slight dryness followed by a malty kick. This leads to a short but lightly spiced finish.

Overall I enjoyed this, nothing too complex but a pleasant, easy drinking sherry cask dram.  At £40 I think it is about at it’s max, I wouldn’t want to pay any more than that for it. It actually reminds me a little of a Dailuaine 16 Year Old, less complex version admittedly but if memory serve correct, it is similar. Personally I would probably spend the little extra to get the Dailuaine.

Balblair 2002 – 1st Release

Distillery: Balblair
Name: 2002 – 1st Release
Region: Highland
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £39 (70cl)
Nose: Light, vanilla, marzipan
Taste: Fresh, light fruits, slight spice
Finish: Short and sweet
Rating: 5/10

I’ve tried the 2003, 1990 and 1983 at Whisky Live festival in London just a few weeks ago, and then remembered that I had a sample of the 2002 at home. Whilst they were still fresh in my mind I thought I would do a tasting.

The nose is very light with strong vanilla notes. I also picked a hint of marzipan and, having seen other tasting notes admittedly, icing sugar. On the palate it is really light and refreshing, think light fruits, ripe apples and pears with a subtle spice towards the end. There is not much on the finish though to be honest, it is short with a slight fruity sweetness.

Overall it reminds me a lot of the 2003 unsurprisingly, a light enjoyable dram, but at 46% it is worth adding a drop of water to make it go down smoothly.

Clynelish 14 Year Old

Distillery: Clynelish
Name: N/A
Region: Highland (Coastal)
Age: 14
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £25 (was on offer, usually about £35)
Nose: Light fruits, fresh, lightly oaky, dry
Taste: Light, smooth, light fruits, salty, slight dryness
Finish: Long, light saltiness, dryness lessens, oaky
Rating: 7/10
Clynelish 14 Year Old

I first bought a bottle of Clynelish (Klyn-leesh) 14 year old at it’s full price of around £35, and after finishing it surprisingly quickly, I thought it was worth every penny, so when I saw it on offer I snapped another bottle up.

This is a great summer dram as it is a wonderfully light and refreshing, with the coastal roots very apparent, the saltiness really adds to it’s freshness. At 46% abv you would be forgiven for thinking that it will have some real alcohol burn, but you would be pleasantly surprised. There is some there but it is not overpowering and does not take away from the pure quality that is present in this dram. I also find that the longer it has to aerate, the less the abv is apparent so I do not usually add any water.

I did add some water for this tasting however so that I could portray what it is like. Adding a small amount of water does very little to the nose or palate; adding enough to reduce the abv burn however, just makes the palate a bit too watery and bland unfortunately and kills the finish. The nose changes very little however but it does bring out a saltiness that was not really there originally, but the oakyness seems to disappear.

Overall I would have to say that this is my ‘everyday’ dram, I have just finished this bottle and will be on the lookout for a replacement. Until I find a whisky that is as light and refreshing as this, that also has enough complexity to make it an interesting dram every time I have one, I will always try to keep a bottle in, a wonderful dram. If you have any suggestions by the way, they would be much appreciated.