Tag Archives: Savouring Whisky

#89 – Bruichladdich Micro-Provenance Series

Distillery: Bruichladdich
Name: Cask Evolution Exploration 2006
Age: 9
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 64%
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £70 I think
Distilled: 2006
Bottled: 2015-07-24
Bottle: 253 or 273
Barley: Optic
Cask Type: Fresh Bourbon
Oak Type: Quercus Alba
Warehouse: 02. L01
Nose: Sugar cane, barley, vegital
Taste: Hot! creamy, dry, vegital, slight sweetness, spicy
Finish: Medium, dry
Rating: 8/10

One of the bottles I picked up as part of my 2016 Scotland trip when I visited the Bruichladdich distillery. The Micro-Provenance Series as Bruichladdich describes it is:

“An ongoing exploratory series of single casks, specially selected to examine the evolutionary influences on maturing Islay Single Malt Whisky – the variables of age, vintage, wood, barley, storage, humidity, heat and marine climate – the very essence of provenance.”

The nose is quite light but heavy on the sugar cane. Barley notes come through too but sugar is the predominate aroma. If you cover it for a while and then nose it you get some vegital notes and slight underlying maritime notes too but it quickly gets bullied out of the way by the sugar cane. It is a pleasant enough nose but not overly complex most of the time but it certainly hides that 64% well, no ABV burn at all.

Boom! there’s that 64%, my god does this have a kick on the palate. It is a little more viscous than most whiskies having quite a creamy quality, but also quite dry, a little strange. The vegital notes that were hiding on the nose make their presence know on the palate and work really well with the whisky’s creamy nature. The sugar cane from the nose makes a brief appearance mid-palate which takes you from an initial dryness to sweet and back to dry again, it’s an experience this whisky that’s for sure. The tail end of the palate is full on spice before going into a medium length and quite dry finish.

In conclusion then, awesome! The nose could be better in truth, pleasant but not quite complex enough for me given it is a savouring whisky. The palate however is all sort of awesome. There is plenty going on but it is really well balanced too so there are not too many overpowering qualities going on. There were lots of options to choose from at the distillery and I’m just glad that the one I chose was a good’n.

#88 – Springbank 10 Year Old (Caged Bottle)

Distillery: Springbank
Name: Caged Bottle
Age: 10
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 58.4%
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £45
Distilled: 2005-08-19
Bottled: 2016
Bottles: 1
Nose: Creme brulee, marzipan, oily, hay, musty, minerals
Taste: Oily, creme brulee, dark chocolate, treacle
Finish: Long, dry, spicy
Rating: 9/10

So I have a very special treat for you today, I will be sampling my Springbank 10 year old Caged Bottle. What is the Caged Bottle? I hear you ask, well let me explain. When you visit the distillery shop you have the opportunity to view their Caged whiskies, which are literally caged off. I there are an assortment of one off bottlings, yes that’s right, bottle number 1 of 1. To help make the experience a little more special you also get to sign the bottle out of the cage, so your name will forever be in the caged bottlings log.

The nose is just out of this world for a 10 year old, seriously amazing. I am hit with creme brulee initially with some marzipan coming through just afterwards. It also has an oily nose to, I think linseed oil. At the tail of the nose there is a slight floral note with hay coming through. After a while it begins to take on a musty quality with a slight mineral edge.

The palate has a lovely thick oily texture to it with some real spice there too. I’m happy to say that the creme brulee makes an appearance again along with some dark chocolate and some treacle. It also has a good woody quality which is bought out with a touch of water.

In conclusion then, Amazing! It just has so much going on from the nose to the palate and onto the finish. I love how it has the signature Springbank flavour but you have to work your way through so many layers of awesomeness before you get there. Unfortunately because it is so damn nice I don’t foresee it lasting long so I suspect I will have to make another trip to the distillery sometime soon.

#80 – Kilchoman 2008 Vintage

Distillery: Kilchoman
Name: 2008 Vintage
Age: 7
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £66 (The Whisky Exchange)
Nose: Citrus, barley, peat
Taste: Slight sweetness, smoke, blueberries
Finish: Medium, spice
Rating: 8/10

Kilchoman is the newest of the Islay distilleries, the first in 125 years in fact, opening in 2005 and is actually a farm distillery. The expression I am trying today is the 2008 Vintage that I purchased when I visited the distillery last year (2016), such a wonderful location too.

The nose is not too complicated with this dram (but not in a bad way, trust me), it starts with a heavy hit of citrus and barley, giving it a wonderfully fresh aroma. This leads onto a lightly creamy note and then into a peaty finish, the creaminess really softening the peat out however, just lovely.

Onto the palate and you are first tempted into a slight honey sweet note, but then get gently guided away by the smoke and lead towards a light blueberry mid-palate, what an experience. Nothing heavy or forceful here, all just well balanced. I guess the most ‘overpowering’ thing is the spice on the finish, and even then, it’s a push to say overpowering to be honest.

I’ve been privileged enough to have tried most common expressions of Kilchoman and I have to say, this is by far my favourite. It’s just so well balanced, it’s awesome chilled on a warm summers day and yet can equally be savoured on cooler days thanks to the spicy finish.

If this is what we get for a 7 year old whisky, I really can’t wait to see what the 10 year old equivalent is like.

#72 – Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection – Four Wood

Distillery: Woodford Reserve
Name: Master’s Collection – Four Wood
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 47.2%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £144 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Rich, maple syrup, toffee, ripe fruits, nutty
Taste: Smooth, spicy, oaky, nutmeg, berries
Finish: Long, dry, spicy
Rating: 9/10

I couldn’t resist buying a sample of this when doing a recent Master of Malt order, it just sounds so interesting. Initially matured in American oak, finished in barrels made from Maple Wood, Oloroso Sherry Wood and Port Wood, how awesome is that?

Huge depth to this one, great body to it. There is a sweetness present from the maple, toffee and ripe fruits, it’s not a sickly sweetness though. There is a spice presence too, I can’t pick it out but it makes me think of cake, so I’m guessing something used in baking. Given a few minutes I can pickup on some subtle walnut and the cake style sweetness begins to develop more. Very impressive.

The palate is very rich, silky smooth and viscous with a lovely level of spice. There is a fruity and maple sweetness there but reasonably subtle as the oaky dryness quickly reins it in, taking the sweetness but leaving the flavour. There is a hint of nutmeg and maybe some dark berries in there too. The finish is long with a warming spice and just a little dryness to it.

Exceptionally good dram this one, it has definitely lived up to my expectation. Very complex, continues to develop over time making it a great savouring bourbon. At £144 it is not cheap, but I’ve had more expensive whiskies that are not as good, I’d say it’s worth the money to be honest.

#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.

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 🙁

Laphroaig An Cuan Mor

Distillery: Laphroaig
Name: An Cuan Mor
Region: Islay
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 48%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: ?
Nose: Light peat, rich, smoke, dark fruits, sweet, metallic, brine
Taste: Creamy, lightly peaty, salty, liquorice, spicy
Finish: Long, peaty, spicy
Rating: 8/10
Currently only available as a Travel Retail bottling, the name translates to ‘Big Ocean’. It is double matured, initially in first-fill ex-American white oak bourbon casks and then in European oak.
It has a wonderfully complex nose with the characteristic peat and smoke having a bit more of a background role than usual. It is really rich and full of dark fruits, a real sweetness but with a slight metallic edge finishing with a brine like quality, I’m thinking cockles or muscles.
The palate is super smooth with a creamy mouth-feel. It is only lightly peaty with a light liquorice quality coming through which leads onto a quick hit of salt before the spiciness kicks in at the end. The finish is long and peaty, as it always is with Laphroaig, with a real spice to it.
Thanks to Tom (@Tom_Blumsom) for the sample.

Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 45

Distillery: Aberlour
Name: a’Bunadh Batch 45
Region: Speyside
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 60.2%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: No longer available
Nose: Sherry, dark fruits, spice
Taste: Oily, rich, sherry, slightly sweet, oaky, dry, spice
Finish: Long, warm, spicy
Rating: 7/10

I tried an a’Bunadh many years ago when I visited the Aberlour distillery when I first got into whisky, no idea what batch it was though, one of the early ones I think. I remember not liking it much actually, but my tastes have changed a lot of the years so I thought I would give it another try.

So do I still dislike it? Hell No! I’m so glad my palate has improved over the years because this is lovely. The nose is full of rich sherry and dark fruit notes with lashings of spice. The palate has a wonderful oily feel to it initially giving a lovely mouth feel. Then the sherry hits again with a sweetness that often comes with it, this gets kicked in the background however by the oak and the dry quality that occupancies it. All of this however has to give way the the spice which is there in abundance. This remains into the long and warm finish.

At 60.2% this obviously needs a bit of water. It has the alcohol burn throughout without it, still lovely and drinkable though, and the addition of water really opens it up and smooths that burning, becoming sweeter and fruitier. Be sure to work it around your mouth as well, so much flavour comes out of this one.

Well I’m glad I revisited this one, yet another great dram from Aberlour.

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.

Dalmore Constellations Tasting

As I arrived at my seat I was pleasantly surprised to be presented with a little goody bag which contained a book containing full details of the Dalmore Constellations range and a very nice, and heavy, tumbler. More importantly I was also presented with 6 whiskies. The tasting was ran by David Robertson, the Rare Whisky Director at Dalmore and a fantastic bloke, knowledgeable and a good laugh. Before moving onto the Constellations range we had a couple to warm up with:

18 Year Old

It all started with the 18 year old; a dark amber whisky bottled at 43% and retailing from around £90. What hit me first was that all too familiar Dalmore signature note that was present on both the nose and then palate. It was rich on both nose and palate which led to a lovely smoothness and onto a long warming finish. I great introductory whisky for the tasting, 6/10.

King Alexander III

We then moved on to the King Alexander III which is bottled at 40% and retails from around £120. The King Alexander is an amazing mix of whiskies that have been matured in a variety of casks; Dalmore’s master distiller, Richard Paterson, selected differently-aged malts matured in Madeira, Sherry, Marsala, Port and Bourbon casks to create this fantastic whisky. All of this gave it a dark amber colour and a rich but slightly sweet nose; the palate was also rich, well rounded and smooth with some spice and a slight dryness coming through towards the end. The finish was of medium length with an initial sweetness that dried towards the end. I gave it a well deserved 8/10.

Constellations 1978

Then on to the Constellations collections, starting with the oldest we were to taste, the 1978. The ’78 was matured in American white oak for 29 years and them moved into a Matusalem Oloroso sherry butt for a further 4 years before being bottled. It was a light amber colour, bottled at 47.1% and retails at around £6400. The nose had a slight sweetness to it but nothing overpowering, very well balanced with the complexity of the nose. On the palate it was very light with light fruit notes and some citrus coming through; this lightness continued onto the medium length finish with the addition of some sweetness. I did not get the usual Dalmore flavour coming through with this one, it actually reminded me of a really good Armagnac. An outstanding whisky, 10/10.

Constellations 1981 Cask 4

There are 2 1981 bottlings in the collection, cask 3 and 4, I tried cask 4 which has been matured for 26 years in American white oak and then moved into an Amoroso Oloroso sherry butt for a further 4 years and gives it a dark amber colour. It is bottled at 54% and retails at around £3750. The nose is again rich with definite sherry notes and the sweetness that comes with it. The palate is also very rich, full bodied with the signature Dalmore flavour also coming through which lasts to the medium length, rich finish. An enjoyable whisky, 7/10.

Constellations 1990

The 1990 has been matured in American white oak for 19 years and them moved into a Matusalem Oloroso sherry butt for a further 2 years before being bottled at 56.5%, and retailing at around £2500. It has an amber colour and a sweet but rich nose. On the palate it is smooth and rich which actually lightens towards the end, it also has some dryness without the addition of water which does disappear once some is added. The Dalmore flavour that I expect was not present in this one, or at least not in the foreground, there were some hints of it in the background. This dryness continues to the medium length finish; again with the addition of water this is not apparent. This one definitely benefits from the addition of water where the previous ones did not need it. An amazing whisky, 9/10.

Constellations 1992

And finally onto the 1992 which has been matured in American white oak for 10 years and them moved into a European oak Quercus Robur Port Pipe for a further 9 years before being bottled at 53.8%; retailing at around £2000. This has a dark amber colour due to the length of time in the port pipe and gives it a rich, sweet nose with some citrus notes coming through also. The palate is, like all of the others, rich and smooth but also with some sweetness there but very well rounded and full bodied. It has a lovely long, warm finish to it with some dryness present without the addition of water, much like the ’90. It again has the distinctive Dalmore flavour, a very enjoyable dram, 8/10


Overall this was a very special tasting, previously I had only tried the Dalmore 12yo, which I was not particularly taken on to be honest, which is why I wanted to do this tasting, to sample some of the best Dalmore has to offer in order to be able to really decide whether Dalmore was a dram for me. Well I think it is safe to say that they won me over, I may never be able to afford any of the Constellations collection, but the King Alexander III is in reach and is also a fantastic whisky, I urge all to try this one, so much going on in it and I can imagine that you will pick different things out each time you try it due to the variety of casks used.