Category: Whisky Tasting Notes


Lux Row – Rebel Yell: Small Batch Reserve (American Bourbon Whiskey: 45.3% ABV)

Visual: Deep thick, darkened gold. Fast, thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Pepper. Vanilla. Rye crackers. Heather. Moss. A menthol, minty edge – minty chewing gum. Water adds hot fudge cake.

Body: Smooth. Honey. Rye crackers. Peppery. Slight alcohol over time. Dry fudge. Water adds sweet fudge. Subtle orange crème. Raspberry yogurt hard chunks. Subtle white then red grapes.

Finish: Vanilla. Muesli. Peppery. Rye crackers. Water makes more peppery. Fudge. Light grapes.

Conclusion: You know, usually I find American whiskey, especially bourbon, doesn’t play to well with water. From experience drinking bourbon in the USA I see that ice is popular, but generally for me, water doesn’t do a whole lot.

This bourbon is the counter argument to that idea. Neat it is, well, a bourbon. Rye cracker notes and peppery character puts it on the spicier end of the spectrum, and the alcohol is smooth making it a well made bourbon, but generally it has that same vanilla sweetness base and nothing really stands out. I was actually fairly bored with it, and ready to give it a kicking in the notes, but I wasn’t 100% sure. There were hints. Just hints of something more. There was a strange minty menthol edge to aroma, slight dry fudge in the body. Hints, and not great by themselves but still hints.

Water takes those hints and makes them really come out. Sweet creamy fudge, red and white grape notes. In fact the red grape notes make for what I would swear was sherry ageing notes if for the fact that would not be allowed for a bourbon. It comes across as sweeter and richer notes under the smooth body. Now you have the spicier notes against rich sweetness, fresh notes against sweet grapes. Now I don’t want to emphasise the influence of these new elements too much here, they are but backing notes, but they are a great complement to what has come before.

Now there are still a few sticking points – the finish is a bit dry and a bit overly peppery, but generally this is a good bourbon. With water anyway – so yeah, use water, it is worth it. If you can live with a sub par finish the rest of this is pretty darn good.

Background: So, the “Rebel Yell” was a battle cry by confederate soldiers. Awkward. To not put a too subtle point on it, the confederacy were fucking pricks. It is also a song by Billy Idol which is a bit meh, but not the confederacy, so looks amazing in comparison. Apparently this bourbon was popularised a lot by Billy Idol and Keith Richards – I’ve not heard a lot about it, but it has been in the general background of a bunch of Bourbon discussion so I thought it would be nice to give it a try. This is a wheated bourbon, and was found at Independent Spirit. I went with Rise Against: Appeal To Reason for music while drinking. Not as good as Endgame as an album but definitely one of my preferred Rise Against albums.

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Midleton: Barry Crockett Legacy (Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey: 46% ABV)

Visual: Darkened gold. Slow thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Sherry trifle. Alcohol hits in a wave. Almonds. Pencil shavings. Menthol. Brandy cream. Water adds fatty butter notes and pepper. Pumpkin. Slight lime. Apricot.

Body: Smooth. Caramel. Alcohol feel if held. Vanilla. Brown bread. Honeycomb. Peppery. Water makes very smooth. Dry cake sponge. More vanilla. Apricot.

Finish: Oak. Sulphur notes. Dry sherry. Peppery. Fatty butter. Water brings out more fatty notes. Slight fatty cheese. Buttery shortbread. Sherry trifle.

Conclusion: This is unexpectedly thick for a triple distilled Irish whiskey, It’s still smooth (for the most part), still packed with those sweet vanilla and caramel notes – but against that it has an odd, slightly fatty and buttery thick note and flavour. It is really hard to describe but gives a more robust flavour and feel than most of the style.

To move back from that for a moment, initial impressions are completely against all that I just said. The aroma comes straight out with strong alcohol against sherry trifle. Two elements that notably do not show up much within the rest of the whiskey. Odd. Go figure. Admittedly there is a little alcohol if you hold this in your mouth, and there are subtle sherry feeling notes that have come from bloody somewhere, I don’t know where, as time goes on, but neither are anywhere as dominant as they first come across.

Neat it does have that touch of alcohol if held, as we just discussed, but a few drops of water quickly remove that. The rest of the whiskey’s character is remarkably resistant to water – keeping that odd fatty feel even up to where I had nearly 50/50 with water,

What water does do is change it from a simple sweet treat to a peppery touched thing that still shows the sweetness, then with a ton of water it becomes a kind of buttery shortbread character, which can become quite empty of any other character if you put in too much water. My preference is to just add a few drops, to add a bit of contrast to the sweetness and lose the alcohol character, but leave everything else intact.

So, is it good and worth buying? Eh, it’s average. The fatty, buttery notes are interesting but not an element I would actively search for in a whiskey. It makes it less easy drinking, but not really more rewarding.

Ok, but there are far better out there.

Background: More whiskey minis! I only really know Midleton from their very rare, so was surprised to see this – a new single pot still expression in Independent Spirit. Even more surprised to see it in a mini. Anyway googling tells me this is a mix of bourbon cask aged and new American oak aged whiskey. I put on the haunting Perte D’Identité by Marie Davidson while drinking.

Hepburn’s Choice: Glenburgie 8 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened spirit.

Nose: Jelly alcohol feel. Toffee. Lime jelly. Sage. Pencil shavings. Peppery. Water brings out a menthol character.

Body: Clean vanilla. Smooth. Fudge. Menthol. Lime sweets. Lightly oily. Earthy herbs. Water adds smooth toffee and nut oils.

Finish: Caramel. Slight oak. Dried herbs. Water adds nut oils. Praline touch. Light salt.

Conclusion: This is gentle and soothing, which is odd as the first impressions I got of this was of a jelly like thick alcohol aroma that made me wonder if we were going to get something rough as fuck. Thankfully as it turns out, we were not.

What we get instead is a mix of gentle vanilla and toffee sweetness with soothing herbal notes. I can’t quite put my finger on the herbal notes to pin down how to describe them – they are savoury, feel slightly earthy, root like, very natural tasting and slightly dried. It feels like something that would be put in a drink to help you get a good nights sleep.

It is reasonably thick, slightly oily and herbal. Gentle flavours but with a robust texture. It doesn’t feel like a must drink dram, but does feel like a nice nightcap whisky. Which is appropriate as I’m having it last thing at night and it is feeling perfect for that moment.

Water drops the alcohol aroma down and really brings out the herbal character – by itself the herbal notes may have ended up a bit much, but thankfully the sweet backing helps everything just slide down.

A very different, easy drinking dram. Not a must have classic but very gentle and welcoming. I hope I find more from the distillery as I think it deserves more investigation.

Background: Another distillery I have yet to try, in nice 20cl format! Not that many Scottish single malt distilleries I haven’t tried now. Unless you include dead distilleries, in which there are loads but generally I can’t afford them. Saw this in the Whisky Shop in Bath, and after a quick check to confirm it was one of the distilleries I had yet to try I snapped it up. I like the 20cl format, small enough that it is fairly cheap to try compared to a full bottle, but with enough spirit that you have a bit of an explore with it compared to a standard miniature. Went with Epic Beard Men – This Was Supposed To Be Fun for background music.

Douglas Laing: Provenance: Ardmore 10 Year (Scottish Highland Whisky: 10 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual:Very pale gold. Thick, fast streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Salt. Peaty moss. Black pepper. Clean alcohol tingle. Light sulphur. Brown bread. Water adds a make spirit touch.

Body: Vanilla fudge. Salt. Peat. Slight golden syrup. Brown bread. Water adds sweet honey, oily peat and caramel.

Finish: Beef slices. Moss. Smoke. Salt touch. Water adds oily peat. Pepper.

Conclusion: Now this seems surprisingly full on for an Ardmore. It’s a spirit I’m more used to associating with a mix of heavy sweet Highland character and well used moderate peat character.

Neat this has a clean alcohol and salt style that calls more to a sort of Islay or Island character than usual for the spirit. It isn’t a heavy part of the whisky, but at this point the spirit really isn’t showing the sweeter notes of an Ardmore so it comes through a lot more than you would expect.

Water brings out the sweeter honey and caramel notes –but it still has the slightly more rocky, salty notes haunting it in an after image. A nice mix, if not what I was expecting. The whisky doesn’t react much to the water beyond that. It is a decent match of styles but doesn’t pull a lot from the sweeter Highland style to make it stand out. While I can appreciate the more Island/Islay style character, as a smooth but medicinal whisky it can’t compare with, say, a good Caol Ila.

A decent, Island touched, sweet dram, but not a stand out one.

Background: So, final time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! Though it does mean I no longer have an excuse to make that Undertale reference. I am sad. These were donated to me by Independent Spirit for me to do notes on – much appreciated! Being a sample this is a smaller measure than normal, so may be slightly shorter notes that usual, not that I’m complaining. From a quick google this looks to be the 2008 distilled, 2018 bottled edition, which would make it aged in a refill hogshead cask. This was drunk shortly after the previous notes, so I was still listening to Byzantine.

Douglas Laing: Old Particular: Port Dundas 14 Year (Scottish Single Grain Whisky: 14 Year: 48.4% abv)

Visual: Deep gold. Middling speed thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Thick honey. Honey nut cornflakes. Slight alcohol tingle. Grapes. Caramel. Vanilla. Water adds light sulphur and apples.

Body: Honey. Apricot. Oak. Smooth orange juice hints. Grapes. Slight alcohol harshness. Water makes smooth, with more honey and slight apple. Custard sweetness.

Finish: Caramel. Honey. Oak. Alcohol air. Water adds apples and more honey.

Conclusion: Wow, this is a honey sweet, syrupy, caramel laden whisky. I don’t think I have ever encountered a whisky as flat out sweet as this before.

It has a touch of rough alcohol neat, but a few drops of water quickly sorts that out. Then, had with those few drops of water, you have massively sweet, syrupy tasting whisky delivered smoothly with a few green fruit notes around the edges.

It’s fairly simple, but impressively powerful in the sweet flavours. I will have to admit that I have yet to get a grip on what exactly is the Port Dundas house style – every expression I’ve had has been so very different, possible the house style is that it takes so much from the oak and that is why, but any which way, I can definitely see the appeal of this one. It is very well set to be an easy sipping whisky, with water at least – the only bit against that is that it gets a tad overly oaken in the finish, but generally it is good.

So, a sweet burst of a whisky – if that is your thing then definitely check it out.

Background: So, eighth time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! (I’m repeating myself so much that I’m starting to feel like San at the end of a bad run on Undertale …) These were donated to me by Independent Spirit for me to do notes on – much appreciated! Being a sample this is a smaller measure than normal, so may be slightly shorter notes that usual, not that I’m complaining. From a quick google I think this is distilled 2004, bottled 2014 and was aged in a Pedro Ximénez cask, which would explain a lot of the unusual notes I got. Went with some unusual heavy tunes for this, a CD a mate gifted to me years ago – Byzantine – The Fundamental Component – I have no idea what the lyrics are saying, but it is heavy as fuck.

Douglas Laing: Provenance: Caol Ila: 8 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Almost completely clear spirit with just a slight green hue. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Clean medicinal character. Salt. Smoked beef slices and peat. Soft lime. Water adds slight vanilla.

Body: Sweet vanilla toffee. Clean medicinal character. Salt. Cake Sponge. Water adds more cake sponge character.

Finish: Light oak. Soot. Clean. Salt. Peppery. Water adds charring.

Conclusion: This is a very clean Caol Ila – smooth but still medicinal and salty. It seems to get very little flavour from the oak compared to usual. There are some sweet vanilla notes, but generally it just delivers that Islay medicinal character very clearly. Oddly though there is also very little peat evident either – it is clearly there in the aroma, but nigh absent from the slightly dry main body and finish.

It is very enjoyable, a very stripped down Caol Ila with very few bells and whistles. It is the base spirit smoothed out by age but seemingly otherwise just delivered as is. I was wondering if water would bring out more, but it does very little. I slowly added drop after drop until the thing was drowned and it generally just soothed the alcohol and gave a more gentle sponge character. That was it.

So, pretty good for what it is, but a tad too one note to be a classic. It is very good to show what lies at the root of the distillery style. Apart from being stripped down the only real flaw is that it needs a bit more refinement in the finish where it is a tad rough. Not horribly so though,

It does the job but brings no surprises. I enjoyed it as that though.

Background: So, seventh time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! (I’m repeating myself so much that I’m starting to feel like San at the end of a bad run on Undertale …) These were donated to me by Independent Spirit for me to do notes on – much appreciated! Being a sample this is a smaller measure than normal, so may be slightly shorter notes that usual, not that I’m complaining. From a quick google I think this is made 2011, bottled 2019 . I’m a huge fan of Caol Ila, it tends to be a nice mix of Islay character and smoother, sweeter whisky – giving both peat and medicinal notes, while still not being too harsh. Let us see if this one holds up. I put Republic’s live album on while drinking. Bit of retro tunes from one of my early favourite bands.

Douglas Laing: Old Particular: Mortlach: 12 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 48.4% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened spirit with fast, thick streaks coming from it.

Nose: Oily peat. Nutty chocolate. Praline. Smooth vanilla toffee. Salt touch. Water makes peppery. Dry oak.

Body: Tangy alcohol. Tangy orange. Bready. Salt. Slightly oily. Dry oak. Water adds dry soot. Vanilla. Pepper. Pears. Oily coffee.

Finish: Soot. Sugared orange. Oak. Charring. Drying alcohol air. Water makes peppery and brings out oily coffee.

Conclusion: Mortlach is always an odd one. Well, I say always. I’ve tried it like, maybe three times before this. So, basically I say that as I am pretending to be more knowledgeable about the distilleries output than I actually am. Hopefully no one will see through this sham.

Initially oily and somewhat peaty the whisky shows decent weight and throws in a touch of what would normally be Island region salty character. Below that though is thicker oily nuts and chocolate against sweet sugared orange. It is one of those that defies easy classification under the whisky regions with Highland Weight, some Islay peat and plenty of fresh Speyside sweetness. Instead what defines it is that oiliness that takes everything else and makes it its own thing entirely.

Taken neat this is just weighty enough, has just enough Island sea feel, and just sweet enough for me. Ok, it is a bit alcohol touched and a bit rough edged, but it is very distinctive and makes for an interesting dram.

Water reduces the alcohol feel, but apart from that it doesn’t really help. It makes the whisky drier and more peppery, more astringent and loses a lot of the core oily weight. It is most notable in how the oily peat instead comes across as dry soot.

So, keep this one as one to enjoy neat. Take the rougher edges it has on the chin and enjoy. It is the unusual, oily dram that mixes in a bit from each whisky region to give a complex, rich experience. Not the best Mortlach I have had – the 16 year is still the standout for me, and that is considering I haven’t tried any particularly old or unusual expressions from the distillery – but it does enough that id say give it a go if you want to drip your toes into the Mortlach style.

Background: So, sixth time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! (I’m repeating myself so much that I’m starting to feel like San at the end of a bad run on Undertale …) These were donated to me by Independent Spirit for me to do notes on – much appreciated! Being a sample this is a smaller measure than normal, so may be slightly shorter notes that usual, not that I’m complaining. A quick google suggests this may be the 2006 distilled, 2018 bottled version. I could be wrong though. I’ve not had a huge amount of Mortlach but have always been intrigued by its strange style. Went with Jack Off Jill, Sexless Demons and Scars for music with this one. Such a great mix of anger and singing talent.

Douglas Laing: Provenance: Dailuaine: 8 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Clear, light gold. Fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Honey. Caramel. Floral. Heather. Oak. Whiff of sulphur. Water adds slight lychee.

Body: Warming alcohol. Honey. Vanilla fudge. Oak. Slight custard. Water more fudge. Lychee touch. Cinnamon. Brandy cream.

Finish: Dry oak. Slight sulphur. Soot. Water adds lychee. Fudge. Slight coriander.

Conclusion: This feels gentle and slightly generic. Easy to drink, but just slightly empty. A lot less viscous that last time I encountered a Provenance bottling from this distillery, with less jellied alcohol feel – thought still slight spice, albeit more gentle than before.

Neat it is simple sweet fudge flavour with honey and light floral backing. It is slightly light which is pretty surprising considering this packing an extra 6% abv over the minimum which would usual give a bit more grip. Water doesn’t change that but does add slight extra fruity edges and drying cinnamon sweetness into a coriander savoury touch in the finish.

It is still fairly simple – the contrast is nice, but doesn’t really address the lightness at the heart of the character. It is ok, very gentle, especially with water, and the spice edge does not alter that. It does keep it from becoming too samey moment to moment, but still never really grabs me.

Understated, not bad but doesn’t really earn its place either.

Background: So, fifth time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! (I’m repeating myself so much that I’m starting to feel like San at the end of a bad run on Undertale …) These were donated to me by Independent Spirit for me to do notes on – much appreciated! Being a sample this is a smaller measure than normal, so may be slightly shorter notes that usual, not that I’m complaining. From a quick google I think this is made 2010, bottled 2019, and aged in a sherry butt. I have tried a Provenance Dailuaine before, last time was a 10 year though. Put on Television Villain‘s self titled album while drinking – still a blinder of an album, and I’m not just saying that ‘cos they are mates. Seriously, give it a listen.

Wolfburn: Aurora (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very light vanilla gold. Fast, thick streaks fom the spirit.

Nose: Sugared orange. Clean. Pear drops. Pencil shavings. Water adds vanilla and apple pie.

Body: Apple pie. Oak undertone. Pear drops. Slight alcohol burn. Water adds thick toffee. White pepper. More water adds sherried spice. Light soot.

Finish: Dry sherry and spice. Dry oak. Pear drops. Water adds dry toffee. More oak. Malt chocolate. More water adds spicy red grapes. Paprika and tannins.

Conclusion: This is quite the experience and not what I expected. For a sherried whisky this barely shows that side when drunk neat. Instead it comes in fresh and clean with sweet pear and orange notes, calling to a younger spirit style, but very clean and with some, but less than expected alcohol burn.

The sweet fruit continues through to the very end where finally the dry spice and sherry character comes out to underline the experience. While there is a touch of alcohol warmth, as referenced before, here it is bright, fresh and very pleasant with only that final hint of the sherry.

Water brings out a heavier character with the brighter front quickly moving out of the way to reveal a stodgy, thick dry toffee character and waaaay more of that sherried experience, with peppery and dry spice notes coming out.

While much more what you would expect from a sherry whisky with water, I actually prefer it neat. The contrast between the light, bright notes and the underlying sherry is striking and enjoyable – more than worth the trade off for the slight extra alcohol presence. By comparison with water it feels ok, good, but much more standard and doesn’t really stand out.

So, two very different takes on the whisky, both good, but much better neat in my opinion.

Background: Yay, had free time to to hit the Hideout again! Spotted that they had some Wolfburns there last time I went, and since I have not tried anything from that distillery before, promised myself I would drop back to give them a try. So I did. Success! Plus ten experience points. Quest Complete. Anyway this one is their sherry oak aged version, which sounded mighty tasty to me so I gave it a try. The place was bloody busy when I was in, turns out it was post a rugby match, so I couldn’t find a seat to use while doing my notes, but I tried my best for y’all.

Douglas Laing: Longmorn: Old Particular: 15 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 15 Year: 48.4% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened clear spirit. Very thin puckering comes from the spirit.

Nose: Clean. Sage. Alcohol tingle. Water adds cereal grains, strawberry and honey.

Body: Vibrant alcohol. Lime. Vanilla toffee. Water adds strawberry crème. Alcohol jelly. Honey. More water adds sweet apricot.

Finish: Slightly meaty. Touch of smoke. Lime. Alcohol jelly. Water adds strawberry crème. Honey. More water adds cake sponge and lychee.

Conclusion: Ok, neat this one really lost me. It has a lot of alcohol character, not harsh but very present. It results in a whisky that is kind of closed, with just very basic lime and vanilla notes that are obvious, with hints of something else around that which are hard to pin down. So I gave it some time, took a few more sips, but I just couldn’t get a feel for anything deeper from it.

Water, well water starts breaking through the shell around this whisky and changes it completely. It is very sweet, almost sickly levels of honey comes out along with gentle strawberry crème. It is still not complex, and still alcohol touched but now radically different from both itself neat and most other whiskies I have encountered.

More water lightens the sweetness, losing some of the interesting and unique notes, but it does balance things out a bit better in response.

So, in my experience this varied between closed with too much alcohol, and stupidly sweet. The thing is, there are such unusual elements here, and it is a fair chunk stronger than the base 40% abv, that I figure it is likely there is something worthwhile hidden in there, it just needs more experimentation to find the perfect water level to unlock that.

From my experience then I cannot recommend it. However I can acknowledge that there may be more to be found that my quick dalliance with it may have revealed.

Make of that what you will.

Background: So, fourth time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! These were donated to me by Independent Spirit for me to do notes on – much appreciated! Being a sample this is a smaller measure than normal, so may be slightly shorter notes that usual, not that I’m complaining. Only had a few encounters with Longmorn before and I don’t feel I quite have a handle on what to expect from this distillery yet so thought this would be an interesting one. Googled for more info on this bottling and can’t find anyone selling this particular expression yet at time of writing, so may not have hit the shelves yet. If anyone knows more please let me know. Went with The Kominas – Wild Nights In Guantánamo Bay for music while drinking. One of those albums I still love but wish the world would change so it wasn’t still so bloody relevant.

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