Category Archives: Scottish

#77 – Glenrothes 25 Year Old – 1995 (Murray McDavid)

Distillery: Glenrothes
Name: 1995 – Benchmark Collection
Age: 25
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: 15/136
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £135 (Master of Malt)
Bottle No.: 1 of 255
Cask No.: 14341
Cask Type: Jurançon Wine Cask
Distilled: N/A
Bottled: October 2015
Nose: Toffee, marzipan, slightly floral
Taste: Rich, dry, spicy, raisins
Finish: Long, spicy
Rating: 8/10

This is an independent bottling of Glenrothes 25 year old by Murray McDavid as part of their Benchmark Collection. It has been matured in a wine cask from Jurançon, South West France, who produce both dry and sweet white wine, I am unsure which was used for the finish however.

glenrothes25yomurraymcdavid

It has a medium body to the nose with strong hints of light toffee, without too much sweetness though, and some initial marzipan. It is picked up a little by some floral notes making it lighter on the nose than the colour would suggest. On that note, Jurançon is known for white wines (according to Wikipedia) which again the colour would not suggest. The official notes also mention anise too which I can get a hint of once left to aerate a while.

The palate has a boldness to it; there is some initial sweetness but it is really well balanced by a dryness that follows and into a soft spice. All of this leads in to a raisin mid-palate. The finish is long and strong. There is an oaky dryness and spice to it too, lovely.

A real winter dram this one; very different finish from the wine cask but in all the right ways. I don’t have a sweet tooth but I like how well this balances the sweetness with the dryness. Credit to the guys at Claxton’s.

#76 – Tobermory 20 Year Old (Claxton’s)

Distillery: Tobermory
Name: N/A
Age: 20
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 48%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £? (was a present)
Bottle No.: 32 of 294
Cask No.: 1501-652
Cask Type: Refill Hogshead
Distilled: 26th April 1996
Bottled: 2016
Nose: Light, straw, malty, herbal, white pepper
Taste: Slight sweetness, malt, coastal, slight spice
Finish: Long, dry, spicy
Rating: 8/10

This is an independent bottling of Tobermory 20 year old by the York based bottler Claxton’s and is Natural in colour and Non-chill filtered.

Firstly, what an awesome looking bottle, a little more awkward to pour out of, but what it lacks in practicality it makes in style 🙂

tobermory20yoclaxtons

So the nose is light and delicate with a lovely hit of straw and some subtle malt coming through. There is also a well balanced herbal note to it making it very refreshing on the nose. There is a soft spice to it on the finish like white pepper.

The palate is light like the nose with a hint of malt to it. As you hold it in you mouth for a while you get some coastal notes coming through, not too overpowering, just enough to work with the slightly sweet mid-palate leading to a soft spice. The finish itself is long and dry with the spice building to a nice fiery heat.

Overall this has been a very enjoyable dram, the whole bottle has gone down well, especially over the summer when the majority of it went. It is light and easy drinking but has some depth to it when you are in the mood to take notice.

#75 – Arran 18 Year Old (Whiskybroker Bottling)

Distillery: Arran
Name: N/A
Age: 18
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 51.1%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £45 (No longer available)
Bottle No.: 8 of 319
Cask No.: 551
Cask Type: Refill Sherry Hogshead
Distilled: 17th July 1996
Bottled: 28th August 2014
Nose: Dried fruits, marzipan, almonds, sweet
Taste: Rich, sherry, oaky, dry
Finish: Long, warm, spicy
Rating: 7/10

This is an independent bottling of the Arran 18 year old offered by Whiskybroker. It was actually available a little before the official 18 year old release which is one of the reasons I bought it.

The sherry cask is very obvious from the lovely rich colour. The nose I found interesting, not as deep as I was expecting but does have some richness from the dried fruits, I can pick out dates in there, it is very sweet though, a sugary sweetness too. The usual fruity nose that I expect from an Arran is not present in this one, the sherry cask has definitely had an affect on that.

The sherry finish becomes very apparent on the palate, very rich with some spicy oak notes, leaving it a little dry. There is also some alcohol burn in there too without water. Speaking of which, in the unlikely event of you finding yourself with a dram of this, add some water as it helps to open it up a little. The finish is long and warm, the spice from the oak seems to go on forever.

Well I have enjoyed the bottle but I do think it is a little too overpowering on the sherry front, the delicacies that I can usually find in an Arran just aren’t there which is a shame. Fantastic value for money though, well worth checking out the website for their ever changing range.

#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.

#70 – Single Grain Whiskies

I have noticed I have a number of single grain whiskies in at present and thought it time for a comparison. The bulk of them are from the Girvan distillery but there is also a Signatory bottling of an undisclosed Ayrshire distillery.

I will start with a few notes I found from a previous tasting for 2 whiskies from The Girvan Patent Still, their New Make Spirit and No4 Apps whiskies.

Distillery: The Girvan Patent Still
Name: New Make Spirit
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 42%
Nose: Saké, sweet, light, grassy, smooth
Taste: Smooth, light, light fruits, vodkaish
Rating: 4/10
Distillery: The Girvan Patent Still
Name: No4. Apps
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 42%
NoseDelicate, vanilla, cream, pineapple, orchid fruits
Taste: Toffee, peppery, vanilla, citrusy
Rating: 4/10

And now onto the rest of the Single Grain whiskies.

Distillery: Undisclosed
Name: 1998 Ayrshire – Single Grain Collection from Signatory
Age: 16
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £31 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Sweet, sponge cake
Taste: Light, spicy, pepper, dry, earthy, chocolate, tobacco
Finish: Short, spicy, dry
Rating: 7/10

This is an undisclosed Single Grain whisky from Ayrshire that was distilled on 21st August 1998 and bottled on 30th October 2015 by Signatory.

So surprisingly this does not have a particularly spicy nose which is a characteristic that I have come to expect from grain whiskies, instead it has a sugary sweetness, sponge cake. It is not particularly complicated but for £30 I’m not expecting it to be. The sweetness lessens after a couple of minutes leaving the sponge cake and a new, slightly metallic crispness.

Onto the palate and you are hit with that lovely peppery spice that I was expecting. It is very light with an initial sweetness that evolves into a slightly earthy note and a hint of chocolate and cigar tobacco just at the end, I wasn’t expecting the chocolate and tobacco. The earthiness is like wet leaves, gives it a surprising depth given the nose. The finish is short in flavour but quite long in a lingering spice.

Overall I am very impressed with this whisky. It is cheap so a great drinking whisky, light and refreshing so a great summer dram but has a lovely warming spice too, will still be good in winter then. A great all rounder by all accounts.

Distillery: The Girvan Patent Still
Age: 25
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 42%
Bottle Size: 5cl
Price: £245 (Master of Malt)
NoseSpicy, oaky, raisins, slight vanilla, citrusy, orange, dark toffee
Taste: Dark toffee, sherry, creamy, spice
Finish: Medium, spice, oak
Rating: 8/10

Onto the 25 year old from The Girvan Patent Still and the nose is wonderful, deep and complex with a good level of spice, not too overpowering. You get a little vanilla and toffee sweetness that is well managed by the oak to ensure it is not too sweet, the raisins also help to add depth. There is a subtle orange citrus note there also to lighten it a touch.

Dark toffee again on the palate with a sherry note there also. It is very smooth with a well balanced spice towards the end that continues onto the medium length finish. Depth is added by the raisins, similar to the nose.

A very pleasant dram, plenty of complexity on both the nose and palate making it a great savouring whisky.

Distillery: The Girvan Patent Still
Age: 30
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 42%
Bottle Size: 5cl
Price: £366 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Sugared almonds, citrus, light fruits, toffee
Taste: Smooth, oily, slight raisin, battenberg cake, woody, spice
Finish: Light spice, dry
Rating: 8/10

Great nose again, light toffee this time along with some sugared almonds. Not as deep as the 25 year old but lighter and more fruit present.

Super smooth on the palate, the oily texture coats the mouth with the subtle spice and notes of Battenberg cake. There is some depth to it also from the raisin notes and wood, also giving it a slightly dry finish.

Another great offering from The Girvan Patent Still, well balanced with good sweetness, spice and dryness. Another savouring dram for sure.

Distillery: Girvan Distillery
Name: 1965 – The Clan Denny by Douglas Laing
Age: 46
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 49.7%
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: Sold out (Master of Malt)
Nose: Old leather, oak, damp cellar, baked fruits, vanilla
Taste: Leather, baked fruit, nutmeg
Finish: Long, dry, spicy, charred wood, salty
Rating: 10/10

This is a 1965 bottle from Douglas Laing as part of their The Clan Denny range. It is a sample that I got in my pack from Whisky Tasting Company a while back that I have been looking forward to.

WOW! That aroma is amazing! An instant and powerful hit of old leather in a damp cellar, surrounded by old oak. Baked fruits follow with a hint of nuttiness adding to the depth with some vanilla sweetness lightening things a little.
Well after such an amazing nose I am really looking forward to the palate…and, oh dear. Only joking 🙂 The palate does not disappoint, truly amazing just like the aroma. The old leather is there again as are the baked fruits that have now been sprinkled with nutmeg to give a lovely, well balanced spice. There is so much going on with this dram, it just keeps giving. The finish is wonderfully long with a great level of spice and a sense of charred wood and then unexpectedly a hint of salt.
Well it is safe to say that this dram has blown me away. The best grain whisky I have tried by a country mile, I’m just gutted that I can’t get a full bottle now. This has been truthfully one of the nicest whiskies I have had the pleasure of trying.

#69 – A Collection of Arrans

So I was going through some old notes recently and I came across some from the Arran Tweet Tasting that I did back in April of 2015. Since I never got around to posting them on the blog I thought I would do so now, allbeit 12 months late.
Distillery: Arran
Name: Sauternes Cask
Region: Island
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 50%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: ?
Nose: Pears, honey, citrus
Taste: Creamy, light fruits, honey, spicy
Finish: Long, dry, woody
Rating: 7/10
On the nose my notes were talking about pears and honey but state that it was not as sweet as expected from a Sauternes cask. There are also mentions of citrus, specifically orange and that it develops a slight metallic note after a bit.
The palate was creamy at first then thins on the finish. Some light ripe fruits and honey with a warm spicy edge coming in at the end. With a little water the fruits really beginning to come through making it fresher and slightly perfumey. The finish was long, slightly dry with some woodiness to it.
Distillery: Arran
Name: N/A
Region: Island
Age: 18
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: ?
Nose: Sugary, vanilla, baked fruit, earthy
Taste: Light, creamy, nutty, salty, oily, warm, spicy
Finish: Medium, lightly spicy
Rating: 8/10
On the nose my notes were saying that this one was sugary with some vanilla and baked fruit, developing a slightly earthy note after a while. There were mentions of sponge cake and apple strudel also.
The palate was creamy with notes of walnut but also had a saltiness to it. It was spicy with an oily texture yet remained quite light. Some sherry notes began to come through after a while too. With water the sherry notes were enhanced along with a fruitiness and some marzipan. The finish had a warming spice to it with a medium length.
Distillery: Arran
Name: Premium Single Bourbon Cask
Region: Island
Age: 13
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 55.3%
Batch No.: Casks 99/103
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: ?
Nose: Vanilla, citrus, light fruits, slightly salty
Taste: Fresh, tropical fruit, spicy
Finish: Short, light, spicy
Rating: 9/10
The nose was light and fresh with some vanilla, light fruits and citrus present as well as a salty quality. They also mention how much it developed when it was given time to aerate.
The palate was light and fresh with a heavy dose of tropical fruits and spice. Citrus notes is what was making it so light and fresh but also made it a very easy drinking dram, even at the high ABV. With water the vanilla was enhanced but the citrus lessened, it remained spicy however and got a little dryer. The finish was short but light and fruity with a well balanced spice to it.
Distillery: Arran
Name: 1st White Stag Bottling
Region: Island
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 54.2%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: ?
Nose: Creamy, marzipan, citrus, earthy
Taste: Creamy, dark fruits, sherry, some spice
Finish: Long, dry, spicy
Rating: 7/10
On the nose the creaminess of the first two came back along with some marzipan, then a sharper citrus and earthy note. Later some  dark chocolate, toffee and cherry came through.
The palate was creamy at first but when held in the mouth for a while it became clean and crisp. There was a nice balance of sweetness and dark fruits with the sherry notes also coming through. Some real spice but also some ABV burn along with it. With water it became more fragrant and more earthy but a sweetness developed along with it.

#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.

Scapa 16 Year Old

Distillery: Scapa
Name: N/A
Region: Island
Age: 16
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £60 (70cl)
Nose: Light, metallic, light toffee
Taste: Medium body, grass, coastal, oak, spice
Finish: Short, coastal, dry
Rating: 6/10

Scapa is the lesser known distillery from Orkney, Highland Park obviously being the better known one.

The nose is quite light with a metallic edge to it making it crisp and clean. There are some light toffee notes in there too which help to give a bit more depth to it.

The palate has a medium body, it starts as a light grassy whisky with some slightly coastal/salty notes but then, similar to the nose, deepens a little, this time with some oak and spice. It is quite refreshing as it picks up with the coastal notes again on the finish, although the oakyness does give it a dry finish.

Overall a pleasant dram, definitely a summer dram with its coastal notes.

Cooper’s Cask Coffee – Whiskey Coffee

Well this is a first for me that’s for sure, a coffee review. I was contacted by Cooper’s Cask Coffee via this blog informing me of their Whiskey Barrel Aged coffee and asked if I would be interested in conducting a review. Since I love whisky (believe it or not) and I am a fan of good quality coffee, I jumped at the chance, this should be a very interesting combination.

Producer: Cooper’s Cask Coffee
Roast Level: Medium
Batch: #2
Roasted: 2015-07-17
Bean Origin: Unknown
Website: http://www.cooperscaskcoffee.com/

The Beans

The beans are sourced as fresh, green, unroasted coffee beans which ‘exhibit the subtle flavours and aromas that will match and compliment the whiskey barrel ageing’. There is no mention as to what country the beans are sourced from unfortunately, that would be nice to know. The guys at Cooper’s Cask Coffee have been testing various roasting levels and ageing time to get what they feel is the ideal balance of coffee and whiskey from the single malt whiskey barrels.

The beans themselves have a lovely aroma, the whiskey presence is obvious but not overpowering. There is a slight sweetness there, some notes of dark chocolate and I also get a hint of cigar tobacco too. I can pickup on some fruit also but I can’t put my finger on what it is, the guys at Cooper’s Cask Coffee say papaya.

When ground you get all of the same qualities, just slightly enhanced, the whiskey aroma does come out a little more at this point.

Brewing Equipment

I recently broke my Bodum cafetiere which was rather annoying as I had this coffee on it’s way for me to review. As I was about to purchase another I remembered a colleague of mine saying that he uses a Aerobie AeroPress coffee maker and he has said that it was a wonderful bit of kit, so I decided to give one of those ago instead. I have made a couple of brews with it since it has arrived and can confirm, it is a wonderful bit of kit.

Water was heated to 80 degrees as suggested by the folks at Aerobie.

Americano

I decided to start with an Americano, or Black Coffee as I would usually call it. This is firstly because it is how I usually drink my coffee but also because I think trying it as an Espresso is best saved until after due to the intensity of the flavour.

On the nose it has a lovely sweetness from the whiskey which is again clearly there but not overpowering. The fruitiness also carries over very well, and I now think I know what I am getting, strawberry flavoured chocolates, subtle though. There is still another fruit there but I can’t place it yet.

Onto the palate and the whiskey is really well balanced, it is again present but not overpowering, which I imagine could have been an easy balance to get wrong. There is an initial sweetness from the whiskey and fruit quality, I still get a little of the strawberry chocolate. It is lovely and smooth with just a slight woody dryness at the very end. This is a very fruity coffee but light, refreshing, summer fruits for me making it an easy drinking and refreshing summer evening coffee.

Espresso

As an espresso I find the base coffee aroma is far more prominent than as an Americano, you still get that whiskey presence but not as much, not what I expected to be honest. The fruitiness is still there, though I hardly get the strawberries now, still get the dark chocolate though. It has a slightly dryer aroma to it, more of the cigar tobacco than as an Americano and a slight smoky quality.

The palate is definitely dryer with intense dark chocolate and tobacco. The fruit flavour is still there but the sweetness is not, though the whiskey flavour picks up at the end to lighten it a little. The finish is long and dry with a slight bitterness which is not present on the initial palate. It turns in to more of a cold winter evening coffee as an Espresso for me.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed doing this review, I have never just sat and concentrated on a coffee like this before. What I liked about the Cooper’s Cask Coffee is that it is both a summer and a winter coffee depending on how you have it. Either way it is an evening coffee though in my eyes, it is one that you want to sit down and really enjoy after work.

I was impressed with the balance that they have managed with this, the coffee is smooth, not too bitter and the whiskey is not overpowering.

On a side note, I also tried the coffee made with my spare cafetiere, it’s not a great one though, and I have to say that I did prefer the results of the AeroPress. Although the cafetiere produces a quality brew, the AeroPress gets the same level of flavour out in a much shorter time, resulting in a smoother, less bitter coffee.

The Forgotten Blend…My Blend

I was going through my whisky collection last night and found a bottle of  Auchentoshan Three Wood which got me all excited because I didn’t know I had any. Then I though ‘that’s strange, I’m sure we polished that off months ago on one of our whisky club meets’. Then I remembered, it is not Auchentoshan Three Wood in the bottle (I was a little disappointed at this point), it was in fact my very own Blend that I started back in January 2014.

I had a quick look through my blog and found my original post detailing it’s contents, at this point it had the following in it:

  1. Cardhu 12 year old
  2. Clynelish 14 year old
  3. Dalmore 12 Year Old
  4. Edradour 10 year old
  5. Edradour 13 year old Natural Cask Strength
  6. Jura Superstition
  7. Jura Diurachs’ Own
  8. Mackmyra The 1st Edition
  9. St George’s Chapter 11
  10. Talisker Storm
  11. Tomintoul 12 Year Old Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish

That’s not a bad blend, 11 single malts from 9 distilleries and 3 countries. Since I have quite a few new additions to my collection since this was started it though, I thought it time to top the bottle up so I grabbed the following and added to the blend:

  1. Talisker 10 Year Old
  2. Talisker 57° North
  3. Talisker 6 Year Old from the Douglas Laing Provenance collection
  4. Hyde 10 Year Old Irish whiskey
  5. Old Pulteney 12 Year Old
  6. Paul John Brilliance
  7. Glenlivet The French Oak Reserve 15 Year Old

At this point I was quite happy with what my blend consisted of, 18 different single malts from 13 different distilleries and from 5 countries, so I was about to leave it there, but then I thought ‘actually I could make this an exceptional blend’ (potentially at least).

I thought in order to make this an exceptional blend I need to add some exceptional malts, so I went rummaging through my whisky collection again and dug out the following in an attempt to make this blend something even more special:

  1. Bowmore Darkest 15 Year Old
  2. Bowmore 15 Year Old from the Douglas Laing Old Particular collection
  3. Caol Ila 18 Year Old from the Hunter Laing The Old Malt Cask collection
  4. Clynelish 17 Year Old from The Creative Whisky Co Ltd
  5. GlenDronach 15 Year Old
  6. Glenallachie Cask Strength Edition 15 Year Old
  7. Glenburgie 26 Year Old
  8. Highland Park 18 Year Old
  9. Lagavulin The Distillers Edition 1995 Double Matured 16 Year Old
  10. Macallan Fine Oak 18 Year Old
  11. Mortlach 20 Year Old from the Hunter Laing The Old Malt Cask collection
  12. Old Pulteney Cask Strength 1993 13 Year Old from Gordon & MacPhail

Now I have a full bottle of a blend consisting of 30 different single malts from 22 distilleries and 5 countries. I will leave this a little while all in the same bottle before tasting, I don’t actually know if it will make a difference, if anyone knows then I would be interested to find out.

I have done a previous tasting and review of the original blend back in February 2014 and I am so looking forward to doing another now, a post will be sure to follow.