Tag Archives: Winter Warmer

#82 – Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Edition

Distillery: Ardbeg
Name: Dark Cove (2016 Committee Edition)
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 55%
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: Unavailable
Nose: Petroleum, tar, dark chocolate, toffee
Taste: Peat, dark chocolate, coffee,
Finish: Medium, peaty, spice
Rating: 8/10

I had the pleasure of visiting Islay around this time last year and while there I made the trip to the Ardbeg distillery to do the Warehouse Tasting. What a great place and great location/atmosphere to do a tasting. While at the distillery I spotted the Committee Edition of Dark Cove, knocked out at 55% rather than the 46.5% of the standard.

The initial hit on the nose as I pour is of petroleum, it’s strong but very short lived. It then opens up into a hot tar and dark chocolate mixture, if you can even imagine that. Give it a bit more time and it starts to soften and you begin to get a little more creamy toffee note. The ABV is very obvious at first but it does soften as it aerates and after a couple of minutes any burn has gone.
Onto the palate and you are presented with that much sort after Ardbeg peat, but it’s not alone. Oh no, it brings some welcome friends, high cocoa dark chocolate and a little bit of coffee come along for the ride, giving this peaty monster some real depth. Given a few minutes I start to detect a subtle sweetness coming through, some of that toffee from the nose maybe. This leads into a medium length finish that is a little dry, unsurprisingly peaty with a real spicy hit.
A truly wonderful expression from Ardbeg yet again, different enough from the core range with a much deeper quality to it coming from those sherry casks, and yet still light enough to be enjoyed on a summer evening. A great dram any time of the year.

#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.


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.

Compass Box The Peat Monster

Distillery: Compass Box
Name: The Peat Monster
Region: Highland
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 5cl
Price: £37 (70cl)
Nose: Iodine, salty, sweet, orchard fruits
Taste: Peaty, smoky, light, salty, floral, spice
Finish: Long, peaty, oak, light, spicy
Rating: 5/10
Lastly I move onto Peat Monster, a blend of an Islay malt, Isle of Mull malt and a slightly peated Speyside malt to give “a balanced, highly drinkable peaty blended malt Scotch whisky”. I’m partial to peated whiskies, both highly peated Islay drams as well as other more subtle offerings from various distilleries, so this one should be interesting to try.
Well unsurprisingly it hits you with iodine initially but also with a refreshing salty note to it and a sweetness, a little too much for me at first but it does lessen are the air gets around it. As it aerates, hidden behind the iodine which also begins to lessens, you can get the orchard fruit notes coming through. The 46% ABV is also apparent on the nose.
The palate is predominately peaty as you would expect but it does have a lovely smoky note to it as well. The peat dies down some leading into a more delicate palate, a slightly coastal saltiness maybe followed by a soft floral note and a little spice. This leads on to the inevitably long peaty finish which is still light and spicy with an oaky dryness present also.
Yet another light and easy drinking dram from Compass Box. For the peat heads amongst us, this is a well balanced and easily approached dram suitable for both summer evenings due to it’s lightness, but also as a winter warmer due to it’s warm and spicy characters. I’m not sure I’m struck on the nose as such to be honest but the palate is certainly pleasant enough.
Thanks to Compass Box for the sample.

Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 Year Old Bourbon

Distillery: Smooth Ambler
Name: Old Scout
Region: West Viginia
Age: 7
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 49.5%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £3.89 (£47 for 75cl)
Colour: Amber
Nose: Dry, rye, a little sweetness, oak, burnt wood
Taste: Slight sweetness, rye, smooth, creamy
Finish: Long, spicy, sweet, dry
Rating: 8/10
Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 Year Old Bourbon

I actually won this in a raffle at my local pub, The Victoria Newcastle-under-Lyme, as part of their Drinks By The Drink Whisky Advent Calendar competition. Each day they have been raffling off that days’ dram and giving all of the takings to charity.

It has a lovely nose to it, softer that a lot of the bourbons I have had before, not as sweet and a little more complex. Once covered for a little while the oak and burnt wood aromas really stood out. Once left to aerate a while the dryness mellows and the sweetness picks up a little, still not really sweet though.

At 49.5% this has a bit of an alcohol bite to it at first, but that fades to reveal a slight initial sweetness that quickly gives way to the rye. At 36% rye in the mashbill I believe this is quite high (feel free to correct me on this) and it has ensured that this bourbon not too sweet and has just enough rye on the nose and palate. On second sip, and given time to aerate a little, the alcohol bite lessens to reveal the smoothness and creaminess of this bourbon that makes it so moreish. The addition of water really takes that bite away and smoothens it out more, although a surprisingly small amount is needed to achieve this given its ABV.

The finish is long with a lovely warming spiciness to it that leads into a seemingly sweeter taste than is present on the nose or palate; after this there is a dryness as the final finish.

To be honest I haven’t really sat down and really ‘tasted’ bourbons before, they have just been drams I have had when out, usually after a few beers, or around friends whilst chatting, so I have never really appreciated them that much in the past. This one however has really opened my eyes to how good they can be, it is a real contender to gain a place in my collection, not as a replacement to a single malt, they are like chalk and cheese, two completely different drinks, it would be an addition for when I fancy something different.

Fettercairn Fasque

Distillery: Fettercairn
Name: Fasque
Region: Highland
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 42%
Batch No.:
Colour: Dark Amber
Nose: Pleasant, slight fruitiness
Taste: Well-rounded, rich, creamy, some sweetness
Finish: Spice, medium length
Rating: 6/10
Fettercairn Fasque

Fettercairn is not a distillery I am really familiar with, so I did not know what to expect from the Fasque, the introductory whisky in their range from what I can gather. At first I was unsure, the nose is pleasant enough but nothing really jumps out, other than a slight fruitiness once it has been left a little while, and had chance to oxygenate. The palate however was a different story and recovered it from the realms of the low score. It’s smooth, which is aided by the slight creaminess, well-balanced with some richer flavours coming through, and a slight sweetness towards the end moving onto a little spice on the finish, that lasts just long enough.

I was turned around with this one, an enjoyable dram that will be a good addition to the winter, drinking whisky collection. I managed to get this on offer at £25, though it is usually about £30 I think, but it is still worth the money.