dinsdag 12 augustus 2014

Jura Superstition

Jura Floozy

Last review before I leave for Islay, how about a young floozy (no disrespect intended) from the neighboring Isle of Jura?

The Malt


Nose: young, soft and slightly salty: faint hints apple wood smoke, scents of linseed, porridge and hint of pine. (Nose less strong than the last bottle that I tried)

Mouth: strong on the palate, porridge with a spoonful of white pepper. Underlying sweetness with hints of caramel and butter are spiced up with a dash of salt and pepper, further notes of peat and a teaspoon of honey.

Finish: Medium long with hints of caramel, honey, butter, soft smoke, hints banana, vanilla and a bit of rough grind pepper in the finishing touch.


Origin with a touch of spice (bam! spice weasel)


vrijdag 1 augustus 2014

Clynelish 14yo OB

A True Classic



Cleaning out the cabinet, and saw that my bottle of Clynelish 14yo was almost empty, time to replace it. But as I'm likely to make a stop at the distillery anyway in two weeks time, I guess it couldn't hurt to finish this one.
I did a review on another Clynelish 14yo on this blog in March, but that was a release from the independent excellent independent bottler Blackadder. 
I don't want to fall in repetition here, but I have a weakness for that wine-like quality that characterizes all clynelish bottling. And in my opinion, a bottle of Clynelish  is a quite essential part of a man's whisky, one of the cornerstones of his collection. This is a distillery with a solid reputation that has been granted a prominent place in my personal top 10.

The Malt


Nose: Zesty, floral and ever so slightly waxy: a basket of tangerines, a vague scent of pears, vanilla sticks, a whiff of smoke (has always been a mystery to me), sea spray and something reminiscent of paraffin.
(A dash of water sets the salty aromas free.)

Mouth: elegant medium body, clean and oily on the palate: a marriage of fruit and spice. 
Fruity tones: bitter orange oil, vanilla, undertones of bitter oak and hints of juniper.
Spicy tones: black pepper and ginger.
(Water induces a certain softness, spicy notes are replaced by softer fruity ones, but the dryness and bitter remain.)
Finish: Quite long, bitter and salty, with a bit of spicy oak and a drop of smoke in its tail.
(with water: soft and long, but the viper lost some of its venom; an overall saltier profile)


Well what is there more to say? This is just an excellent whisky, by a brilliant team of distillers. Simple as that; a solid whisky.


woensdag 30 juli 2014

BenRiach: Heart of Speyside

Entry Level Dram

My Apologies

The author letting his inner child out in the Yorkshire Dales

Long time since I wrote a review, but since I'm currently making some space in my cabinet for a few new bottles, I might as well do a few reviews on older bottles in my possession. I had high hopes to find some interesting bottles whilst on vacation in Yorkshire, but I was deadly wrong. Thus until my trip to the Northern Highlands, Skye and Islay next month (yes I'm quite the busy bee), there won't be any new exciting whisky-reviews, only a well known classics that you'll find in the cabinets of whisky lover all around the world.

So for this is a review of an easy cheap NAS. Speysider, known as Heart of Speyside from the BenRiach distillery. It is the entry level dram from Flagship Range of the BenRiach distillery.

The Malt


Colour: Straw gold

Nose: Fresh nose with soft elements of heather, grass and honey. soft undertones of salt and oak wood with a touch of spice. Very clean.

Mouth: fruity and farmy notes, soft and slightly buttery on the palate with once more hints of honey and heather. Tones of oak wood but not overly powerful and a whiff of pepper and soft smoke.

Finish: Stronger in the finish with powerful notes of pepper, sweetened up with a teaspoon of honey.


Harmless and overall pleasant, don't expect a complex majestic dram here for this price. Probably one of the better decent entry-level whiskies out there. well worth a try.

Score: 80

zondag 29 juni 2014

Springbank 15yo OB

Another Springbank


With everyone talking about the CV, the 10yo, the 12yo and the Cask Strength, one would almost forget there was a 15yo Springbank.
Another dram from one of my favorite distilleries, located in the former whisky capital in the world: Campbeltown. I've said this before and I'll say it again, I'v never had a bad whisky from this distillery before. And with their different styles for their three standard lines: Springbank, Longrow and Hazelburn, they've shown us that they're quite capable of creating a wide range of different expressions, each with a distinctive taste.

The Malt


fresh nose, but a little waxy, dominant notes of orange peel, a whiff of honey, scents of iodine (seaweed) A second layer of subtle fruit, (pears, cherries, pineapple and bananas), sweet fudge, traces of sherry, leather, peat and oakiness.

Mouth: bitter and dry palate, a bit of smoke with a touch of lemon zest. Undertones of spice, soft notes of earthy peat.

Finish: Lasting and dry, elements of genever (juniper), lemon, leather and noticeable traces of peat and tar.


I love Springbank and it was an excellent whisky, but I was not really blown away by it. It is not a real step up from the 12 or the 10yo. That being said, it doesn't need to, it is an enjoyable smooth whisky with a most enjoyable nose. Not overly complex, but an artisan tour the force.


zondag 22 juni 2014

GlenDronach 21yo

My Midsummer Night's Dram



Don’t think anyone is going to fight me on this, but Glendronach is one of the best distilleries out there at the moment. The miracles in cask selection the people of Billy Walker performed after the take-over in 2009. So much that the 15yo revival in no time, became an all-time favorite with the whisky crowd. So what about one of its older brothers: next to the 18yo the official range offers a 21yo expression, called Parliament. 

The Malt


Colour: red amber.
Given that Glendronach does not add any e150 to their bottlings, it is quite impressive 
Nose: great nose, with lots of elements that I generally associate with other beverages. Powerful but refined notes of sherry and lighter tones of sweet wine, rum and coffee, a bit bitter, dark chocolate and some slightly meaty tones, like cooked ham. Underlying are notes of chopped parsley, some fruity elements: oranges, figs and cherries, with a whiff of peaty smoke. Lastly, a strange hint of latex paint, but not unpleasant.
Mouth: fresh grape juice on the palate evolves into bitter tones of coffee, orange, blackberries, more notes of ham, with spices: cloves, ginger and nutmeg, 
Finish: long and lingering. More notes of wine and coffee, a touch of liquorice, lychees, dark chocolate, strips of leather, tobacco, with a light undertone of vanilla and orange oil. 


A beautiful nose that reminds me of other sherry monsters, but less rough and much more refined. Fine on the palate, though the nose raised my expectations and it didn’t completely live up to it. Then again, this is a very fine whisky, smooth and not in any way abrasive (even for a 48%ABV). I’m just going to say it, this is another great whisky, The charismatic 15yo has a wiser, posh but smooth brother and it will be hard to choose.

Score: 88

vrijdag 13 juni 2014

Highland Park 16yo

Highland Park Light

A forgotten whisky


In the days before 16yo Highland Parks were sold in wooden designer containers and fancy bottles, they were part of the regular range and were available for travel retail at your local airport. Although they came at a low price and a large volume (1l bottles), there are barely any reviews available for this whisky.
The 16yo apparently did not catch on, was subsequently withdrawn from the stores and pretty much forgotten after that.

The same goes for this bottle, I bought it in a regular whisky shop, but according to the bottle code, it was distilled back in 1992 and bottled in 2008. So it spend 6 years waiting on a shelf, without increasing significantly in value.

The Malt

The bottle:
light amber colour, bottled at 40% ABV

Nose: a soft and faint nose. 
Notes of honey accompanied by a whiff of light peat smoke, hints from sherry, vanilla and biscuits. Further are more hints from wood, a bit like smoldering apple wood, heather floral notes and soft undertones of cereal.

Mouth: mildly sweet palate, with a thin body. 
Soft floral notes of heather, peat, vanilla, toffee and undertones of oak wood.

Finish: bitter, dry and short. 
Notes of caramel, honey and liquorice. But so short that you can hardly call it a finish



I concur with Serge Valentin that it was probably designed to introduce a new crowd to the Highland Park Taste. Thus it is far too weak to be properly enjoyed by the regular malt drinker. It feels like a toned-down 12yo with a fair dash of water. A "Highland Park Light" as I call it. Make no mistake, this is in no way a bad whisky, it is a bit weak overall you might really enjoy it if you never tasted a true Highland Park. It is as if the distillery released a young NAS version of their regular range. But not worth buying, a weakling from a mighty distillery, you'll find nothing here that you can't find in other Highland Park expressions. 
So go for the regular range instead, Highland Park always has some great tasteful expressions available.

Score: 75

woensdag 11 juni 2014

Arran 14yo

Easy Summer Sipper


Over the past year I've found a renewed fondness for the orange-nosed younglings of the Southern Hebrides, Jura and Arran.

The Arran 14 was launched in 2010 and was their oldest expression until the release of a 17yo,earlier this year.I haven't had the opportunity yet to try this new expression. But at least for now, the older=better saying seems to apply to the Arran range, with the 14yo outclassing the rest.

The Malt


Colour: straw gold
Nose: the 4Fs: fresh, fruity, floral and fairly complex Underlying tones of a fruit hamper: scents from oranges, bananas, pineapple, peaches, raspberries, butter apples. But this is no overly fruity malt, the floral notes and the vanilla tone it down, making it more creamy: with soft hints of vanilla, mint, honey and whiffs of freshly cut grass. In the background some salty liquorice is lingering with hints of oak.
Mouth: a base of citrus notes, toffee, sea salt , with a touch of honey and various spices: ginger, cinnamon and clove.
Finish: rather long, slightly bitter and drying, spicy with black pepper, cinnamon and a touch of salt. Slightly briny, beyond the spicy facade there are notes of shortbread, oak, nutmeg, vanilla with underlying notes of tangerine.


Just as with the Juras a strong and complex fruity nose, a bit flat on the palate, but a strong finale. An easy light and fruity sipper for a warm summer's day.

Score: 85

zondag 1 juni 2014

Old Pulteney 1990/2004 Blackadder Raw Cask

The Shape Shifter

Incidentally while I tastes this dram, the 2013 album of Swedish metal band Amon Amarth: The Deceiver of the Gods was playing on my stereo.
One particular song that came up, in my eyes perfectly captured the spirit of this whisky: The Shape Shifter, a song about the Nordic god Loki, the god of mischief. (no not the marvel version) with the power to change his form, be it a man or an animal.   
For legal reasons I did not refer to this whisky in my title as "Loki", as not to unleash Ragnarök from the people of Highland Park upon myself ;)

The Malt


Another Blackadder Raw Cask, a miniature. Distilled in 1990, bottled in 2004. A 13yo single malt, matured in cask #3951. Bottled at 65.3% ABV (I actually had to check my register, but this is the whisky, with the highest ABV that I have tried thus far)

Colour: pale gold
Nose: without water: fruity and fresh, lacking the usual coastal character of Old Pulteney, white fruits, pears, scents of fresh cinnamon and hint of vanilla. 
with water added: more hints of mint, eucalyptus and a whiff of coconut. The white fruits develop into a powerful fresh strawberry aroma, what a transformation!
Mouth: without water: an intensely fruity palate with overwhelming notes of pear, like a ripe durandeau. But far too powerful at this ABV-level
with water added: the pears disappear and are replaced with notes of coconut, hints of oranges, lemon peels.
Finish: a long, bold and dry finish with spicy overtones: a predominant strong touch of cinnamon.


Hats off, just another great whisky by Blackadder. Like the title promised: a real shape shifter. When water is added the profile of the whisky rapidly transforms into a whole new palate of flavours. Not overly complex, but such bold flavours. That strawberry nose was impressive.
Experiments with water on the whisky was like tasting two different whiskies. But also a necessity, a spicy whisky at 65,3% felt like I poored boiling water down my throat, a dash of water please? 
Highly recommended.


PS: Also got his little brother, the Blackadder Raw Cask 1990/2003, will review it next week.

vrijdag 30 mei 2014

Time Capsule

For quite some time I have been playing with the idea  of buying a bottle of whisky, with the same age as myself. By that I mean, a whisky distilled in the same year as I was born.
I got a few other bottles, that I keep aside for special occasions or just to drink later. But I destined this one to be for the ages. Something I'll keep in the cabinet for the next 50 years or so.
Now what were the requirements for this bottle?
  • I was born on the 15th of January 1990, so it had to be a distillation from that very same year. I came across some Bladnoch from November 1990, but that was almost a whole year down the line.
  • A distillery that I appreciate (self-explanatory) Some distilleries like Highland Park offer a 1990 expression, at a reasonable price, but after consulting a few reviews, I decided to move on.
  • The price was another significant factor. If I wanted a famous whisky from 1990, I could have payed a lot of money for an  Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist or a Glendronach 1990. But I was unwilling to pay up over €200 for a bottle that I would only try in a couple of years. My line of thought was that the better the price/quality 
  • Cheap equals bad? There are a lot of bottles out there from 1990, some can be picked up from prices as low as €40. Most of them from independent bottlers. So the whisky monitor from Malt Maniacs will come in handy. Imagine the disappointment if after half a decade you'll have to pour your bottle down the sink?
  • Something unique. It shouldn't be to hard to find a regular Glenfiddich OB. So I decided to look for an independent bottler.
  • Something I haven't tried yet, if I finally get to try the bottle, I want to be surprised. Not knowing is half the thrill. 

The Winner

So the winner was a Blackadder Raw Cask Balblair 21yo 1990/2011, bottled at 56.4 ABV, single refill Sherry Butt, one of 679 bottles.
This one was actually a distillation from June 1990. Balblair is one of those distilleries that only recently managed to generate some publicity around its single malt bottlings, but still an obscure whisky to most people. I like its house style: a true Northern Highlander with rich & grand profile.
The price was about €130 (the official 1990 Vintage was about €89), but I did not follow any advise buying this bottle, simply because there wasn't anything to find online on this particular bottle.
I chose, a Blackadder Raw Cask, as I enjoyed various excellent bottles from Blackadder before and I love the Raw cask concept. Un-Chill Filtered, no colour was added (but look at that natural colour from the cask: simply delicious)
Notes from Blackadder:
  • Nose: Fresh, woody, with some peat, short-crust pastry. 
  • Taste: Very rich, buttery, solid peats, lots of fruit. Apples, plums and also almonds. 
  • Finish: Very long, somewhat spicy. Satisfying.
Now of to the cabinet with you to gather some dust

vrijdag 23 mei 2014

Ardbeg, Bowmore, Caol Ila, Laphroaigh & Big Peat

A handful of Douglas Laings

My laziness knows no bounds, the tasting was on Wednesday, it took me two days to finally rewrite my notes into a solid review.
First and foremost, my gratitude goes out to The Whisky Wire and the good folks at Douglas Laing, for putting this great selection of whiskies together.
As part of the Big Peat tweet tasting we descended unto the queen of the Hebrides and got our fair share of isle's liquid riches. Thus easing the pain of not being able to partake in the Feis Ile festivities.

Caol Ila 2009/2014: Young & Feisty (Douglas Laing Provenance) 

The Malt

Colour: Very pale, white wine, barely any colouring from the cask. Probably due its young age and lack of lower contact with the cask: matured in a refill hogshead. (One thing's for sure, no E150 was added in either of these whiskies. So, no masks, no false facades, which is of course greatly appreciated.)
Nose: Young and grassy: a vague touch of sea spray with a whiff of fermenting rice (yeast), slightly peaty with traces of rubber, trails of smoky tar and soot. 
There is some sourness in the nose, something that reminds me of adhesive, pears, elements that hint to the oak from the cask and to finish it up: a pinch of butter.
Mouth: Briny-, oily-style palate: slightly vegetable, olives, iodine, elements of lemon, raisins and notes of petrol
Finish: A delayed fuse: medium long and burning, with underlying sugary notes


De gustibus et coloribus non est disputandum: a particular nose,  but not too strong on the palate. My first guess was a young Bowmore, however it wasrevealed to be a young Caol Ila. A very interesting whisky, like the name itself promises: young and feisty. But it looks like I, as far as whiskies are concerned, am more interested in the Milf-section. 

Score: 82

Laphroaig 8yo 2005/2014 (Douglas Laing Provenance)

The Malt


Colour: Pale white with nice long legs
Nose: Hints of pine, wood polish, honey, (quite deep)underlying elements of menthol, leather and a whiff of smoky vanilla. With water added: a much peatier nose and stronger fruity aroma's
Mouth: Smoke, a not overly-complex palate, slightly fruity: peach, banana and black currant, light peat, white pepper, orange peel and notes of tea. With water added: much stronger medicinal peaty notes
Finish: Medium long peppery burn, with hints of medicinal peat.


I guess Laphroaig has one of the most recognizable tastes of all the Islays. That medicinal peat is their watermark. And I was right, a young Laphroaig. Less interesting nose than the Caol Ila but so much more enjoyable on the palate.

Score: 85

Bowmore 12yo 2001/2014 (Douglas Laing Old Particular)

The Malt


Colour: White wine
Nose: Pineapple, trails of smoky peat, soot, hints of ginger. Predominant salty smoked bacon, and biscuits
Mouth: A soft body, oily on the palate, dried fruit: figs and dates, both salty and meaty with various spices: rosemary, thyme and coriander. But most importantly: charcoal smoked succulent roasted pig's meat.
Finish: Long and warm, with more notes of that glowing roast.


My first guess would have been Caol Ila or maybe even Ardbeg, as I experienced some low-level bacon notes in those whiskies before. So when it was revealed that this was a 12yo Bowmore, I was simply stunned. This simply is a great whisky, not too complex, but what a treat! I was craving for some salty bacon after trying this one.
The way this whisky was able to capture those spicy and meaty notes is nothing short of a miracle. Even more, when you compare this to a regular 12yo Bowmore, this is by miles the superior malt. A clear example of real cask selection skills, I will trace this one down for sure, it belongs in my cabinet. 

Score: 89

Big Peat

The Vatted Malt


 Pale hay
Nose: Curious yogurt aromas escaping from the bottle while poring the glass. Zesty hints of lemon, honey, a whiff of mint, thyme spice, white pepper and cereal. With water added: a fuller smokier nose, notes of earthy peat, bonfire smoke, iodine and some fruity notes are added to the mix
Mouth: Warm and balanced, more honey, spices and dark earthy peat with hints of salt. With water added: some citrus, oranges and grilled fruit reveal themselves, this dram definitely needs a few drops of water to reveal the underlying sugary and fruity notes 
Finish: Sharp and peppery, more hints of peat, a long and lingering finish.


I was expecting that sample #5, would most likely be the Big Peat dram. But sample #4 tasted vaguely familiar, so I went for Big Peat and once again I was right (2/5: not bad, not bad at all). What I like most about this one, is the nose, I could sniff this one for hours.
The most impressive about this whisky is probably its price: a quality vatted Islay-malt for only €38. Certainly worth buying. 

Score: 85

Ardbeg 23yo 1991/2014 (Douglas Laing Director's Cut)

The Malt


Colour: Pale hay
Nose: Once again meaty, hints of roast juice, chocolate, honey. Fruity: raspberry and cranberries, overall a  blend of various red fruits with something more tropical hidden in the mix. Scents reminiscent of strips of old leather and orange peel. 
Mouth: Rich, old and balanced. An oily palate, chunks of dark chocolate, a fine selection of redolent herbs, humid forest soil, rich smoky peat, notes of raspberry, a hint from the wood and some more sweet sugary notes.
Finish: Orange oil in the finish, tobacco, peat and strips of leather. Sweet and soft, well balanced fruity notes.


What a way to finish a tasting, a pure class-act. My guess was that this could well be a Port Ellen (yes, I know, maybe a bit amateurish of me). No this winner was an Ardbeg, well out of my price-range of course, but nonetheless a stunner. A blast from Ardbeg's Past, ... I could keep talking in hyperboles, but that's a bit of a cliché in itself, isn't it? No, this simply was a great dram. You simply can't beat a well matured Islay-malt, no matter what the NAS-crowd says.

Score: 90

vrijdag 9 mei 2014

Laphroaig Quarter Cask

Muscled Peat



Long time since I added a review to this blog, but the last few weeks have been quite hectic. So I decided to repost a review I did for the Connosr website last week.
The matter at hand was a discussion about a certain whisky that I love, from a certain distillery that I adore.
We're talking about the Laphroaigh Quarter Cask of course.
Now the topic of discussion was has the quality declined ever since the revamped packaging has been introduced?
That being said, I do like the new sleek design better than the old one, something I can't say about the 10yo, where I believe the simplified illustration makes it look a bit cheap-ish. (just because I'm poor don't mean I can't be a snob).

Luckily I had just ordered a new bottle from the guys at drankdozijn.nl (amazing prices, excellent service, I can't express that enough), so it was time to put the hypothesis to the test.

The Malt


The whisky: A nice warm golden glow, bottled at 48%

Nose: A predominant salty nose, with hints of honey, brine and fresh oak from the cask. A whiff of peppermint, pine resin and vanilla sticks. With underlying smoky notes of medicinal peat. This is unmistakably the trademark nose of a good Laphroaig. 
(note to self where do other reviews keep getting their fruity notes from?)

Mouth: Full bodied: Toffee with iodine and peat. But it's fairly short, not much I can actually describe here: there is little to no time to explore this second act, the curtains are only lifted for a quick glimpse before the grand finale rushes the stage.

Finish: A fists hits you right in the face: salty peaty waves come rolling in.Thick layers of smoke with thyme and vanilla. A long and lingering finish.

(Note: some whiskies blossom with a dash of water, this one doesn't. By adding water to the quarter cask it will feel like you broke this young stallion's spirit. The bottled product is exactly the way it should be.)


By the odd chance that anyone from the Laphroaig distillery were ever to read this, please don't hate me.
But it does feel like it lost some of its steam over the years, the balance seem to have been a bit disrupted, and it feels like the finish is missing some of its former layers. 
But overall this is still a great whisky, many distilleries can only dream about producing such a class-act. 
Laphroaig is one of those distilleries, that knows how to capture the essence of the terroir in his malt.
To put it to the test  I offered a glass to my father, a whisky novice and even he immediately made the connection with a Lagavulin I offered him a few months ago.


vrijdag 18 april 2014

Lagavulin 16yo (OB)

Eternal Love


I would love to say just like Johannes v/d Heuvel from maltmadness.com, that the Lagavulin 16 was my first encounter with single malt, that just blew my mind and was the start of a long and fascinating journey.
Well unfortunately I can't even recall when I had my first 16yo, it was probably one of the first ten bottles that I tried. My first single malt was an ultra cheap Glen Moray NAS that I bought in Jedburgh, the Glenkinchie 12yo came in second. The first Lagavulin expression I had was the 1996 Distillers edition.

The Lagavulin 16 is a classic and as more and more people come to love it, prices are on the rise and according to some the quality on the decline.
I remember buying my first bottle for only €32, now the local supermarket charges me about €56. So the whisky is slowly moving from, being a real bang for your buck, to the higher echelons of the whisky market.
But hey, so far I have not hesitated a single moment to replace an empty Lagavulin in my cabinet, it is a whisky we must all cherish. And hopefully Diageo will not step in at one point and replace this classic with a younger NAS version.

 The Malt

Nose: Tar and soot rise from the glass, mellow raisins, a whiff of iodine,  hints from the sherry cask, rubber, liquorice, and salty ham.  But it's not farmy in anyway, it is fresh and refined.

Mouth: Salty liquorice,  rich on the smoke, peat, prominent oak from the cask,  hints of walnuts,  with something slightly vegetable in the background. 

Finish: Here lies the true power of Lagavulin, that finish teleports you right to an armchair in a Scottish bothy with a smoldering peat hearth-fire. Long and salty, with strips of leather, and peat; fresh from the bog.
This is simply divine, just sit back, relax, take another sip and all will be right with the world.


Bow down for the queen, her angelic voice has put a spell on you. I hear the Isle calling me, time for a pildrammage.
Now, why do I adore this malt? It might not be a 8-course meal in a fancy restaurant (although if the prices keep rising it might well be), it's more like a good old-fashioned succulent steak with all the classic ingredients: peat and sherry. (and we all know that most of the time, that's all we need in life)
It's a piece of the soul of Islay, right there in your glass, a sip and the world around you disappears, it's just you and the mysterious isle.
If you don't have one in your cabinet by now, you will be forever lost

woensdag 26 maart 2014

The Glengoyne range (OB)

Comparing some Glengoyne expressions



I had my first Glengoyne, back in the days when I was studying in Edinburgh, as part of the Erasmus Program. I had already sampled a few whiskies during previous vacations in Scotland, but it was during that time that I really had the opportunity to develop my taste for single malt whisky.
The only Glengoyne expressions I tried back then were the 10 and the 12yo, but I was quite impressed by this non-peated malt.

In my humble opinion, as lover of the peaty beasts of Islay, Glengoyne is an exciting whisky, it doesn't hide behind a facade of light peat and a cheap sherry finish. No it is out there, with its own original style, providing us with an unfamiliar exquisite marriage of flavours thanks to its slow distillation process and air dried barley.

As far as non-peated malts go, my preference will always go out to Glengoyne

The Distillery

The distillery was my first stop along the beaten track of the West Highland Way. The Distillery is situated right on the border between the Lowlands and the Highlands, in the shadow of the Dumgoyne. So when you climb the fence , the dunnages on your left will still be part of the Lowlands, while the distillery across the road is the first piece of the Highland's you'll set foot on.

The Distillery is quite small and compact, lodged into the gorge of the Glengoyne burn. One of the more picturesque distilleries in Scotland (hell, most of them are), but the modern warehouses on the other side of the road are a bit of a spoiler.
After the first few miles, a free dram or two were more than welcome and fortunately for me and my companions, the shop owners were willing to "donate" some of their golden liquor, to lessen our thirst.
This is where I first tried the 18yo and the Teapot Dram. Only bought a few miniatures, my backpack weighed about 15kg at the beginning of our hike ( at the end it was almost 18kg, as my companions started treating me as their mule).

We had lunch near the magnificent waterfall at the dam, but there was no time left for a guided visit to the distillery, as we had to press on to reach the Millarochy camping site before nightfall.

Luckily enough, the doors of the stillhouse were open and I still got a peek.
(The belt of my backpack gave me a bit of a pot belly)

Maybe next time, I'll get to visit the distillery thoroughly.

The Malts

Today I've decided to put some of the Glengoyne expressions side to side to compare them. On today's menu: a Glengoyne 12yo, a 15 and 18yo miniature and the Teapot Dram.

Glengoyne 12yo


Colour: sunglow gold.

Nose: a fresh nose, oak wood, with notes of vanilla with a whiff of citrus. But also very sweet: chocolate, , coconut, fudge and caramel.
Mouth: a nice body: thick and oily. A table full of delicacies: caramel, toffee, butterscotch, gingerbread and vanilla sticks.With some fruity notes, cider apples and lemon zest and malty undertones.
Finish: medium long, sweet and malty, caramel with some slight peppery notes.

Conclusion: a fine, entry-level malt, a true classic with a quite interesting palate, You won't regret buying this, should be part of every whisky lover's liquor cabinet.

Score: 83

Glengoyne 15yo


Colour: poppy gold.

Nose: Complex and refined, but still very fresh. Malty and sugary with notes of lemon, vanilla and chocolate. Scents reminiscent of dried fruits and roasted nuts on a background of spicy toasted oak. A very compelling nose, I could sniff at this dram for hours.
Mouth: rich, dry and spicy. A full body, with orange peels, stewed apples, delicate notes of leather, spicy with touches of cinnamon and nutmeg and again, notes of sticky toffee.
Finish: quite long and smooth, a full round taste with chocolate notes and a whiff of polished oak .

Conclusion: impressive, this is my favorite Glengoyne expression thus far. If I could have my pick, I would buy this one instead of the older 18yo expression.

Score: 88

Glengoyne 18yo


Colour: harvest gold.

Nose: less impressive than the 15, one again, toffee and chocolate notes, but fruitier this time: apple peels, banana, dried apricots and oranges, heavier sherry influences, but with grassy undertones and a whiff of menthol. Nice and rich nose.
Mouth: much spicier on the palate, overtones of white pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. Oak wood and vanilla with hints of almonds. Close to the 15yo on the palate but less refined, with more influence from the sherry aromas.
Finish: very long, slightly bitter and dry, with a peppery aftertaste.

Conclusion: Overall an excellent malt, the problem was that I tried it after the 15yo, which still is in my opinion the stronger of the two. But that doesn't mean the 18 isn't an great malt on its own. There are probably others who will find the 18yo more appealing, for the same reasons that I prefer the 15yo. (De gustibus et coloribus non est disputandum)

Score: 86

Glengoyne Teapot Dram (Batch 2)


A NAS vatting of five first-fill sherry butts (three at 9 years in American oak, one at 13 years in American oak, and one at 14 years in European oak) and bottled at cask strength

Colour: deep rose mahogany (as described on the site, and I agree!), quite impressive

Nose: full and sherried nose, but not overly dominant (this is no sherry bomb). Fruity: dried plums, figs and sultanas. Spicy: rough grind black pepper and nutmeg.  And sweet with burned caramel and  orange pastries.
After some time, a slight breeze of floral notes reveals itself.
Mouth: a full bodied biter, prickling your tongue with cinnamon apples, toffee, candied ginger and notes of tea, and than burning it with an explosion of mustard and spicy peppers. Underlying tones of oak wood and hazelnuts
Finish: a long finish, with warm and spicy notes of herbal-tea lingering in your mouth. And filling your body with pleasant warmness. 

Conclusion: This is definitely one for the dark and cold winter evenings (I'll put this bottle right next to my Blair Athol 12yo).
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to present the winner of this evening, what a class-act. If you come across this one in your local liquor store or on the web, don't hesitate to pick it up.

Score: 90

maandag 24 maart 2014

Arran 10yo

Young Stallion



The entry level Arran seems to divide the whisky community, some appreciate its honest simplicity, for others this seems to be a deal breaker. So I've seen reviews from enthusiasts and from those who grind it into the dust. I've decided to join forces with the former.
The 10yo was the first expression from this young distillery that I tried a couple of years ago. 
The distillery suffered from bad press in its early years after the release of their first malts, but the dark days are gone and Arran has taken its place among the better Scottish distilleries that are well worth the try

The Malt


Non chill-filtered and no colour was added, the golden straw colour is the product of a marriage first and second fill bourbon and sherry casks on a 70-30 ratio, or was it 80-20? sources seem to differ.
Nose: Very light and clean nose, mild fruity characteristics: kiwi and bananas, butterscotch, but also farmy and grainy, scents reminiscent of a warm oatmeal. 
Mouth: Creamy on the palate, citrus notes, spiced up with a teaspoon of ginger spice and sweet overripe apples. 
Finish: Long, with a touch of salt but predominant vanilla overtones. 


A nice, clean and refreshing malt: young and full of life. An inexpensive widely available whisky, which proved to be an easy and relax Sunday evening sipper. Although my preferences go out to its bustier older sister, the Arran 14yo.

Score: 80

zaterdag 22 maart 2014

Springbank 10yo (OB) vs. Blackadder Raw Cask 1995/2005

Comparing two expressions

No competition


Another week, another Blackadder Raw Cask, I really need to stay away from this bottler, their bottles are addictively good.
On today's menu, a young Springbank at cask strength, from 1995, bottled in 2005.
To make things a bit more interesting, I will compare it to an official 10yo bottling from 2010.
When I posted this review on Whiskyconnosr, I received some valid criticism, thus I incorporated my responses into this review.

The Malt(s)

The Blackadder is a single cask, cask strength whisky bottled at 58,4%, the Springbank (OB) at 46%.


  • Blackadder: burnished pale gold,reminds me of the Macallan Gold, no colour was added, nice natural colouring distinctive of the American oak cask (however, it matured in a Sherry Pipe!). But by God,so much residu from the cask is left in this one. 
  • Springbank (OB): slightly darker, deep gold/amber; the range of colouring leans more towards red-brown 

  • Blackadder: Eucalyptus, hints of vix rub, walnut oil and genever seasoned in oak casks. (with water added): no genever, more like brandy now and lamb roast with rosemary
  • Springbank (OB): Hints of salt, grain, smoked bacon, pine resin with a much more farmy quality to it
  • Blackadder: Dried oranges, tea, a whiff of peat. (with water added): But also fruity (unlike the nose suggested): apples, grapefruits and quinces, vine flowers, and salty liquorice.
  • Springbank (OB): Hints of orange and lemon, pepper, tea, hints of salt and wood scrapings, much more peat added to the mix and some spices lingering in the background.
  • Blackadder: Long and warm, but surprisingly dry and bitter, salt breaks through, replacing the earlier sweetness. 
  • Springbank (OB): Long and pleasant, with notes of fresh peat, slices of lemon and rough grind pepper (no saltiness here)


Not quite the same dram is it now? I think the official 10yo bottling is quite impressive actually, so young and vibrant. This is an entry-level malt that comes at a more than reasonable price and blows the competition from the same price-level completely away. But hey, we don’t expect anything less from the Springbank Distillery 

Now the Blackadder is something else. That both these drams come from the same distillery shouldn't come as a complete surprise, they are obviously sisters. 
But the Blackadder developed quite a different nose and finish, I dare say that the bodies had a lot of elements in common, The menthol scents where something I had not encountered yet, but it proved to be essential for this tasty dram. 
Who won? The Blackadder, but the official bottling came in a close second. The main advantage of the official Springbank was that only did cost a fraction of the price I paid for the Blackadder.

Criticism and Questions:

Which casks were used: 
The difference was probably made here. The Blackadder used a fresh amontillado pipe, so the contact with the wood was kept to a minimum. The Blackadder was also bottled from a single cask. 
The Springbank (OB) however is a vatting of both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks (no idea which types they used) in a ratio 60:40.

Does colour have a bearing on flavour?:
The colour itself not per se, but it can be a valid indication of the influence of the wood and the cask's previous contents. 
The pale golden colour is generally not something that you would expect from a malt matured in a ex-sherry cask, but given that it was a pipe, the contact from the whisk with the wood was kept to a minimum.
The official bottling most likely had much more contact with the wood. 

On a different note, the Blackadder is a raw cask, if they really did add the scrapings afterwards, it might have had its influence on the colour and the flavour.

Is it fair to compare the OB to a CS/SC malt: 
I guess not. There is an official bottling at cask strength out there: the "10yo 100 proof", a malt with a strength of 57%. But these were matured solely in bourbon casks and unfortunately I do not own a bottle. This is no objective comparison. 
What both have in common: distillery, distillation process, ingredients, age and not-predominant sherry cask influence. 
What's different: year of distillation, influence from bourbon casks, cask type (not sure which one they used for the official bottling), strength (although I watered the Blackadder significantly down) and vatted vs. single cask.
It was never meant to be a competition between whiskies that are each other's equals. They are just two malts that have a lot of features in common and which are both in my possession.

Score: (OB):86                     (Blackadder): 88

Feedback is always appreciated.

zaterdag 15 maart 2014

Clynelish 14yo 1989/2003 Raw Cask

Vanilla Wine

Another week, another Blackadder Raw Cask, I guess? This week an old Clynelish from 1989. Thus far I've only tried the 14yo official bottling and I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by Clynelish, a very distinct taste. 

The Distillery


Clynelish is probably one of the odd distilleries out there, while founded in 1819, the name is currently used for the new distillery that was build right next to the old one, that was renamed Brora. Interestingly enough, although the old distillery was called the Clynelish distillery for over 150 years, people still think of Clynelish as a replacement of the old "Brora" and state that Clynelish has Brora stills.
The whisky is a favorite of many blenders, thus the distillery concentrated on volume rather than developing its own expressions, so initial bottlings of the single malt are rare. Only in 2003 the standard 14yo expression became available for the wider public.
As far as lighter peated highland whiskies go, to me this is one of my favorite distilleries with a solid spot in my top 10.

The Malt


The bottle: a 5cl miniature, normally they just contain some small particles from the cask, this one is downright filthy. The colour is very pale, un-chillfiltered, no colour additives and cask strength as usual.

The malt simply begs for a couple drops of water.

Nose: Stunning, a very powerful but fresh nose: vanilla (not just hints of it, feels like you're actually sniffing a vanilla stick), coffee, ripe durondeau pears, coconut, mowed grass and quite a blast of smoke.

Taste: a fruit basket: apples, pears, mango, white grapes. This one needs water to come to life, cause the smoke is actually quite overwhelming. A whisky with a farmy quality to it.

Finish: long and smoky, a waxy citrus aftertaste.


What a refined dram: very fresh and fruity, tastes very young and lively, but still with a lot of depth. Layers of various white fruits one after another, with a powerful blast of smoke. Great distillery or great bottler? I guess both.

Score: 89

maandag 10 maart 2014

Jura Origin 10yo (OB)

A bitter orange

The Distillery


The owners of the Jura distillery like to refer to the early Isle of Jura distillery as their origin and even proudly put the year 1810 on their bottles.
The old distillery however went silent in 1901, the current distillery is an almost entirely new construction from 1963. I must admit that this vexes me a bit, can you really still claim you're the same distillery after 60 years of silence and decay? I'll admit it's harmless but maybe they should put the year 1963 on their label.

Why I picked it back up

I have to admit that I'm not really that much of a Jura fan. I appreciate the superstition, I like the Diurachs, I’m good friends with the Prophecy, but the 10yo?

My soon-to-be, brother in law, a Jack Daniels fan, asked me to introduce him to the world of scotch whisky. One weekend bored out of my skull, I agreed to join him and my sister in their search for the ideal wedding location. Luckily for me, we passed by my favorite whisky shop, where I bought an absolutely stunning bottle of Lochside. And, per his request, I selected a few miniatures: HP 12, Old Pulteney 12, Bladnoch, Bunnahabhain 10, Glendronach Revival, Jura 10 and when we returned back home, I gave him a 20cl bottle of Lagavulin and an unopened Ardbeg 10yo miniature to try out at home.

Guess what? He adored the Jura and went back to the store to buy himself a full bottle, leaving me flabbergasted. How could he choose the Jura over all these great malts? Did I miss something?

Which brings us back to tonight: in front of me, a dram of Jura Origin 10yo.

The Malt


Nose: Light and surprisingly fresh: oranges, cereals, sunflower oil, a pinch of butter, wood polish, with faint hints of salt, but overall notes of spring blossoms.

Taste: dried oranges, again notes of cereal, orange blossoms, honey, oak wood shavings, ginger and a whiff of iodine.

Finish: long, dry and bitter, with fading notes of orange and ginger.


Has the Jura 10, like the superstition improved over the years? Last bottle I tried was a pre-2008? bottle as it still had the "Isle of Jura" logo on it instead of just "Jura".
This not the malt that I recall from my previous tastings, but a significant improved version. Sometimes it pays off to give a whisky a second chance.

Score: 80

zondag 9 maart 2014

Ardbeg Uigeadail (OB)

Smoky Tongue Biter



The Uigeadail has been a blank spot on my whisky resume for quite some time now, as the Ardbeg distillery still remains barely charted territory.
In my early whisky days I had some misconceptions about the distillery, due to my first encounter with a bad batch of Ardbeg 10yo. But now that my fate has been restored and I've turned my attention back to the Islay malts, I'm going to try out the Uigeadail, named after the loch that serves as the distillery's water source.

The Malt

Nose: fairly simple actually, not too complex: fresh quite medicinal peat fresh from the moors (normally the trademark of Laphroaig) , deep smoke, humid dark forest soil, scents of iodine, rough ground black pepper, with underlying tones of sherry, almonds, honey and a whiff of vanilla.

Taste: tar, salty liquorice, lemon peels, tobacco; quite the tongue biter, (with water): honey,walnuts and surprisingly enough a slice of lemon cheese cake

Finish: long as it lingers in your mouth for a few minutes with notes of tar, black pepper, cigar smoke and chocolate raisins. The finish will leave you with the impression that you've just smoked a fine cigar


Wow, this was a great dram, I already regret not trying this earlier, I've been a fool. This puts Ardbeg right into my top 10 distilleries.

I'm not a firm believer in the terroir aspect of Scotch, but the three Kildalton distilleries sure do make some extraordinary, guess I'll just have to pack my bags and retire to Islay permanently, who knows maybe they're in need of a still-man for one of their distilleries.

Score: 92

vrijdag 7 maart 2014

Tobermory 10yo (OB)

Spicy Saké

Bought me a bottle in Portree (yes, I know, it's on the isle of the Talisker single malt) a couple of weeks ago, but only opened it now, had to try a few others first.

The Malt


Nose: well what can I say: when I opened the bottle, I was surprised that the first scents that reached my nose were not those that I generally associate with a whisky,it actually reminded me more of Saké.
With a second, proper, nosing that same saké sent became an undertone, but still very present, overall the nose is fairly light, some barley, yes, spices, grinded pepper to be more specific. Nothing special, except for that strange Saké smell.

Taste: oily, dried fruits, maybe a hints of cinnamon and salt with whiffs of smoke, but well saturated with spices. Some other reviews claimed that it has a long finish, I tend to disagree; my experience is rather short and light but that peppery taste does hang around in your mouth for quite some time.

Overall not a bad malt, but not really my taste. Overall judgement may be a bit harsh, but I expected much more from this islander

Score: 72

St. Magdalene 1982/2008 Blackadder Raw Cask

Scottish Calvados



Another week, another lost distillery, This week it's St.Magdalene's (Linlithgow) turn. Closed like so many others in 1983, the distillery however was preserved as they turned the old buildings into apartments.
I remember driving past the old distillery in 2012, I only started drinking single malts a year earlier and I had no idea that this was one of the famous lost distilleries, nor did I know its name.

Now almost two years later, I'll my first taste. Another Blackadder raw cask, this is the second one I tried, after a Lochside from 1981 and I must say that this is a great bottler, and I'm quite digging the raw cask concept.

The Malt

Colour is rather pale, non-chill filtered, no colour added, and at a whopping 61,8% cask strength!Like a previous review on this site said: quite the bang for your buck! But it needs a few drops of water.

Nose: Surprisingly light, a faint whiff of peat, lemon and oranges. Farmy quality, with grassy notes but also chloride scents? Strange for an inland distillery, maybe they came with the peat.

Taste: a nice and fruity dram, very hot due to the high alcohol percentage. Very prominent flavour of pears, reminds me more of a nice calvados from Normandy than the average scotch.
Peat, apples, powerful peppery notes and yet again some saltiness.

Finish: Grand dry finish, with black pepper and lemon.


Not as amazing as the last two drams from lost distilleries I had, but this one was reasonably cheaper than the others. Actually It came at a great price and I'm glad I have this bottle. Will I run to the store to buy some more? probably not, but I'll certainly enjoy the one that I have. So if you want to try the St.Magdalene before the last bottles are locked away in some rich man's safe, this is the one to try, it comes at a great price and is an extraordinary malt.

Score: 84