Category: Whisky Tasting Notes


Douglas Laing’s XOP Laphroaig 18 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Single Cask Whisky: 18 year: 56.8% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed with slow thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Peat. Charcoal. Strong alcohol. Salt. Sultanas. Moss and seaweed. Medicinal. Dry cake sponge. Kippers. Brown sugar. Water adds smoke and oily notes.

Body: Sherry. Strong alcohol. Charring and soot. Medicinal. Salt. Charred nougat. Salt. Water adds cherries. Dry red wine. Huge peat. Tannins. Raisins. Slight peach. Grapes. Plums.

Finish: Soot. Dried beef. Numbing alcohol. Malt chocolate. Iodine. Water adds tannins. More malt chocolate. Nut oils. Tofu. Vanilla toffee and chocolate toffee.

Conclusion: Usually Laphroaig loses some of the peat and medicinal intensity as it ages, losing some of those elements that make the younger spirit so very identifiable. For what it loses there it however gains greater subtlety, smoothness and complexity.

This does not lose the intensity in any way, shape or form. It is sooty, peaty, dried beef, salt, seaweed and medicinal all in one, all punching out at the brutal cask strength. The sherry ageing, usually so dominant in whisky, tries to push to the fore. It brings, oddly enough, dry sherry notes as well as the more expected red wine notes, but they are backing the intense Laphroaig character, not leading it or controlling it.

Neat it is a brutally intense experience – there is sweetness coming like nougat that has been quickly charred somehow – harsh, with oiliness coming in from kippers to nut oils seeping under that. It feels as much as it tastes, with hard to place savoury notes weighing in heavily to ground it.

Now, if that kick is too much there is always water to play with, and the high abv gives a lot of room to do so. It still keeps the medicinal and sooty character, but brings out layers of dry red wine, sultanas, cherries and even odd fruit notes, before heading back into a dry and medicinal finish.

Now, I tend to wait a week or so after opening a bottle to do notes these days, seems to clear out some rough notes, so I’ve had this a few times now. Caught at the wrong moment this can be quite closed as a whisky. The intense alcohol, charring and smoke can close off access to everything else, and sometimes is seems even water play can’t open it up. Other times, caught at the right moment it has all the goodness of a young Laphroaig, some quarter cask notes, matched with rich red fruit and a mix of red wine notes that makes it utterly exceptional.

I love it – it is a super intense ride of Laphroaig and more. However, even loving it, it is a ride of high points and low points depending on how it is reacting today. For the high points I am happy with it, as when it is on it us bloody amazing and I have not seen such a mix of intensity, Laphroaig character and wood character work so well before. However at the cost, something that may be not super reliable on the high may not be worth it for you.

So, look at the cost, look at the info here, make up your mind. You call.

Background: Ok, this is very expensive even for an 18 year old Laphroaig, and those are not exactly common. I was allowed to try the tiniest of sips of a sample at Independent Spirit and it blew me away, but there was no way I could get it at the time. Then I received a cheque saying an audit had revealed I was owed money and well, so now I own a bottle. I don’t believe in fate, but if I did then it definitely wanted me to have this whisky. Anyway, cask strength, in a stupidly over the top box which is so wasteful, but I would be lying if I said I did not find cool. I am a hypocrite, grr, down with wasteful packaging! Anyway, I was nervous breaking this open, hoping it would hold up to my memory – especially after buying the darn thing! Anyway put on some old, more goth era Lacuna Coil while drinking. Still like their more metal newer stuff, but it seems to waste the vocal range that the singers have – old school is where it is at.

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Jameson: Caskmates Stout Edition (Irish Blended Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Moderate gold colour with fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Creamy. Menthol. Noticeable alcohol. Soft lime. Coffee notes. Dried apricot. Brown sugar. Aniseed. Water adds dry honey.

Body: Creamy. Lime jelly. Milky chocolate. Alcohol tingle. Baileys. Aniseed. Water adds vanilla custard. Apricot. More chocolate and baileys. More creamy.

Finish: Milky chocolate and milky coffee. Lime jelly. Shortbread. Light oak. Water adds slight cardboard. Bitter cocoa. Chocolate bourbons. Menthol.

Conclusion: Stout aged whiskey? It had to happen eventually. Stout just makes sense for giving complementary flavours – much more sense in my opinion than the hoppier beers that have already been tried. So how well does it work in this case?

Not bad actually. It is pretty creamy, though with a few rougher alcohol elements, especially when taken neat. While the stout elements, especially chocolate, come through clearly, it dominates the whiskey less than you might expect. You get the chocolate, some small amount of coffee and a big dose of creamy Baileys like character. There is a tingle of fruity Jameson’s spirit character below, but the main kick of that is waiting for water to be added to it can come out better. Instead at this point it has a light aniseed like character that prickles around the edges in a spicy way.

Water changes things around quite a bit. It soothes the alcohol, though at the cost of bringing out some cardboard like grain spirit notes at the very back. However as a trade off for that it does bring up the notes from the base Jamesons. Now the cream chocolate notes come out around soft lime, vanilla custard and apricot that create a much more rewarding and complex experience. The apricot especially booms. Then soothes into a chocolate and shortbread finish.

So, stout ageing works well, very will in fact. The base spirit has some rough notes, even with water, and some of the more off notes of blended whisky comes through with water. But those are small elements and generally I was impressed by it. As time goes on a menthol freshness comes out around the whole thing, unexpected, mouth tingling and refreshes from the heavier chocolate notes.

Not super refined, but very good flavour for a very good price and definitely shows that stout ageing whiskey is something worth investing time in.

Background: This sample was a gift from a friend from work – thanks Matt! He also did the photo of his bottle so I had something to go here, so double thanks. Anyway, the naming is pretty self explanatory. Jameson’s gave whiskey casks to the Franciscan Well brewery which stored stout in it. This cask was then given back to Jamerson who aged whiskey in it. Makes sense right? I’ve run into IPA aged whiskey before but this is my first encounter with stout aged ones. Put on some Miracle Of Sound while drinking this. I would claim it is because both of them are from Ireland, but really I just love his music. It’s awesome.

Kilchoman: Port Cask: 2018 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 50% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed with a red to rose wine hue. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Oily. Burnt tyres. Potpourri. Rose wine. Toast. Petals. Ash and smoke. Cold cellars. Brown sugar.

Body: Strawberry. Tingling alcohol. Dusty. Charred toast and brown bread. Soot. Water adds peat, cherries, perfume air, soft cherryaid and salt.

Finish: Dusty. Toast. Salt. Red berries. Muted red wine. Malt drinks and malt chocolate. Water adds toffee and caramel. Riesen chocolate chews. Soot. Dried apricot. Cherries.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a lot better than my first encounter with it at a whisky tasting night. It probably helps that this time it isn’t the fourth whisky in the rotation, plus it has had some time to breath. Anyway, back then I was worried that I had grabbed a dull one and had it waiting for me at home. Now? Well let us see.

Neat it is still lacklustre and a bit closed. It is a mix of sooty and perfumed in the body, which was weird as it had a very enticing oily aroma enticing you in, just seeping slowly over the lip of the glass, but the actual sipping of it gives none of that. Without water that closed nature means you get very little of the port influence. It actually felt kind of toast like – quite drab.

Water makes a big different. It is still slightly closed and more sooty than peaty, but now it has subtle red fruit in the body, and that element raises more the more you add extra water into the mix. I find it odd as it is muted in the red fruit and muted in the Islay characteristics – both individual elements feel weak, but together it is more than the sum of its parts. The subtle red fruit behind soot works better than I would have imagined it would. Grounded, ash over muted red wine and cherries. Still not great one, but somehow these elements come together to accentuate each other well.

So, not as good in my opinion as the demand for it would suggest, especially before giving it some time to air where it was very closed. Now, well it is a solid sooty, smokey whisky against good use of port. Well with water at least. I respect it, but can’t say I would recommend it highly against the other Islays or even the other Kilchomans. Interesting as one of the little done port aged Islay, but far from a must have.

Background: Had this for a short while before trying – I had to grab it fast as it is one of 10,000 bottles and they flew off the shelves. Kilchoman has been a lovely new Islay distillery, and I’m generally a fan of Port Cask ageing so it seemed like a must buy. I was a bit nervous though – after buying it I had tried it at an Independent Spirit Uber whisky tasting and found it kind of average- plus on immediately breaking this open the first dram seemed similarly mediocre. Still, as I do with whisky these days I left it a week or so after opening before doing notes – lets see if a bit of time to breath has helped it. Put on some of The Royal They while drinking – their mix of quirky tunes yet solid lyrics delivered often in a more upbeat sound than the actual message would lead you to expect has made me a fan.

Loch Lomond: 18 Year (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 18 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold. Slow, thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Alcohol air. Dark fruit. Blueberry. Twigs. Vanilla. Raisins. Caramelised brown sugar. Water adds menthol and gooseberries.

Body: Very smooth. Blueberries. Raisins. Light alcohol taste. Small red berries. Moss. Dried teabags and tannins. Water adds apricot syrup. Oak. Custard slices.

Finish: Moss. Charred oak. Light alcohol air. Malt chocolate. Slight sour toffee. Teabags. Water adds fudge. Tart grapes. Lightly metallic.

Conclusion: This feels like it is aiming to take Loch Lomond on the same sort of spirit journey that the more prestigious distilleries such as Glenfiddich and Glenlivet do with their 18 years. You know, the ones where they emphasise the dark fruit a bit more, make the main whisky very smooth, that kind of thing. Now, those famous whiskies aren’t perfect in my opinion, but still this one feels like it isn’t really reaching their level.

Now let’s look at what it does have. It has the dark fruit – in raisins, blueberries and touches of slightly tarter small red berries. That aspect works. It is pretty smooth as well, especially with water, so not too bad on that side either. It comes within spitting distance of what it is trying to do is what I am saying.

However there is, well, a kind of alcohol air, like cheaper grain spirit, along with heavy teabag like tannin notes that would have worked in a heavier whisky but felt odd in this smoother fruit fest. Water does help with that, bringing out a smoother flavour, but still with an odd, slightly closed element that is half way between tart grapes and slight metallic notes in the finish.

It feels close to what it should be – the flavours are big all the way into the finish, which is good, it is smooth in the body which is good, but tainted by those off notes that makes it feel like an also ran of the whisky world.

Ok, but far behind the competition.

Background: This is another one grabbed from The Whisky Shop in town, they had a huge range of Loch Lomond in minis so I decided to grab a bit older one to see how it goes. Not been a huge Loch Lomond fan up to now, but some whiskies only really shine in their later years. Put on The Eels: End Times while drinking- only just grabbed it. I always like The Eels, they always feel happy in a sad way, or sad in a happy way, and says that is ok either way. Which is nice.

Loch Lomond: Inchmurrin: Madeira Wood Finish (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold. Fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Salty. Cooked fish skins. Hard sweets. Raisins. Sour red wine. Strong alcohol air. Light turpentine. Peppermint. Water adds menthol and cherries.

Body: Smooth. Oily. Cherries. Smoke. Salt. Shortbread. Vanilla. Lightly waxy. Water adds golden syrup. Brown sugar. Soft peat and dried beef. Apricot. Spicy raisins. Madeira cake.

Finish: Peppery. Light charring. Dry peat. Oily. Vanilla custard. Water – raisins. Smoke. Menthol. Madeira cake and salt.

Conclusion:This is not an Islay, I am aware of that before you all jump on me, however it does seem to be trying to pick up a lot of the Islay traits, so I will be referring to that region quite a lot here. I think it is as most not Islay/Island whiskies that use peat only take the peat element, and none of the rest of the Islay character. Which is cool, it creates a different experience. This however has a saltiness and an oily, fish skin character that actually brings to mind the less brutal and medicinal of the Islay range. This is especially true neat where it is a bit of a harsher edged thing.

Neat it has a touch of red wine in the character, and some cherry notes, all of which I presume are due to the odder Madeira barrel ageing, but I have to admit it doesn’t seem like how Madeira usually shows itself – in fact it is a tad sour red wine rather than the sweeter notes I would expect. This results in the neat whisky feeling like someone took a lighter Islay and added a bit of a heavier wine barrel ageing to it. It has what would be rougher notes if they were heavier and thicker, but are manageable as it – something like turpentine if it was heavier, but thankfully not so at the moment.

Now, when you add water to this it does two big things. First it brings out the more neutral natural sweetness and the fruitiness of the unpeated side of the whisky. Second it brings out the more traditional Madeira styling with fruity raisin sweetness. Both element involve sweetness yes, and fruit, yes I did already notice that.

Overall it is an ok bit of peat, an ok bit of base spirit and an ok bit of Madeira ageing. It is not a common combination of styles so I will say it has value for that, but each individual element has been done better elsewhere – it is only the combination that makes it stand out.

Still an Islay influenced Highland whisky in Madeira oak, something a bit different and ok as that.

Background: People who have been following these notes for a while will know I like getting the chance to try a lot of different whiskies, but often miniatures only have the more common expressions. Which means you have to buy a big bottle – yes I know, woe is me, but it still means you are taking a risk dropping money sight unseen. So when I saw a bunch of Loch Lomond, and their peated offshoot Inchmurrin at The Whisky Shop in Bath I decided to grab a few. This one is a Madeira finished expression, which I tend to be a fan of, though I don’t think I have tried many, if any peated whiskies with Madeira finishes. Should be interesting. I’d grabbed Ozzy Osbourne – Memoirs Of A Madman recently and was listening to that while drinking. I prefer the Black Sabbath stuff, but still some great tunes in there.

Kilchoman: Comraich: Batch 3 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 10 year: 55.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold with a mix of fast and slow streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Smoke and honey. Thick stewed fruit and raisins. Barbecue glaze. Water adds beef slices.

Body: Thick and oily. Smoked gammon. Stewed apricot. Big peat and well done steak. Charring. Honey. Water adds cherries, fruitcake and more oily character. Shortbread. Sticky toffee.

Finish: Oily, kippers. Oily smoke. Ash and charcoal touch. Water adds raisins and sultanas. Black-cherry.

Conclusion: This is absurdly easy to drink for an over 50% abv whisky. I was half way through it before I realised I should think about adding water and seeing how that altered things. Now don’t be tricked into thinking that this means this is a light whisky though. This is a thick, oily and heavy thing – it is just that it is delivered absolutely smooth with pretty much no alcohol character at all. If fact it turns out adding water made the alcohol just slightly more evident as there was no way it could make it any less. This is an impressive beast from the get go.

It has bloody big flavours to match that big body as well – smoked thick cut gammon, thick stewed and dark fruit against a heavy sweetness. Everything is thick, oily and smoked – in fact the smoke and the oil mix perfectly to create the feel of the ideal of the concept of peat juice dripping on your tongue.

So, with it being that impressive neat, does water weaken the experience? Hell no! There is now big sweetness but still heavy character – dark fruit comes out to match the meat and smoke, making fruit cake and black-cherry along with more traditional beef notes for the meat. Everything fills your mouth with its oily sheen and peaty air. This is all underlined by an oily by more understated finish – dry ash, smoke and charring all add up to draw a line under each sip’s experience.

So, to conclude, this is amazing neat, amazing with water as it adds to an already exellent experience and the alcohol strength gives a lot of room to experiment.

For Islay fans, if you can find it, this is a must try.

Background: Oh man, this is a rare one – the Comraich series is, best I can tell, a whisky that is released only to select bars around the world. In this case there are only three bars in the UK that have it – thankfully The Hideout of Bath is one of them! So, yeah, bias warning, I was hyped to get to try this. This was my second time drinking it, the first was, as you might expect, also at the Hideout, but had come after an absolutely brilliant Irish whiskey tasting so I realised I may not have got all of the subtlety, so I returned, pen in hand to try it on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Oh the hard life. It is a mix of three ten year old casks, two bourbon and one sherry aged from 2007 to 2017. While drinking I noticed a little dinosaur hiding in the wall, so grabbed a shot of him to add below.

Aberfeldy: 12 Year (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold with fast streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Soft lime. Grain fields. Alcohol air. Soft toffee. Apples. Water lightens everything.

Body: Smooth. Quicksilver alcohol notes. Soft lime sorbet. Malt chocolate. Floral. Fudge. Water adds soft vanilla, more fudge and walnuts.

Finish: Nutty. Light charred oak. Malt chocolate air. Malt biscuits. Fudge. Water adds more nuts, bitter chocolate, honey and grain field air.

Conclusion:This feels like a kind of middle of the road Highland malt. Which is possibly appropriate considering it is predominantly used in the popular, but actually not bad Dewars blended whisky.

Now it being middle of the road is not exactly high praise, but neither is it a massive insult, it is just there is little to surprise you here. Initially the alcohol is a tad present, holding back some of the notes from showing themselves, but already you have a gentle but solid sweet backing of malt chocolate and toffee. An element that only becomes more gentle, yet also more obvious as water is added and the alcohol touch recedes.

What build upon this base is a floral air and a solid nutty character which is what gives it its main flavour – around that light green fruit notes work at the edges, especially when tried neat, but the nuttiness is what stays when ever other element has faded away.

It is slightly alcohol rough neat, and never really showy – it is offensive but shows the main highland characteristics solidly. It isn’t bad, but I cannot really recommend it as there are so very, very more interesting whiskies out there.

Background: I went to the Aberfeldy distillery back in my early whisky note taking days, quite a fun place, aimed at a more touristy front and concentrating more on its Dewars blended whisky than the single malt, but I did get to try a decent range of their whisky at a tasting there. Then I don’t think I have tried it again until now – after seeing it at The Star Inn I decided to give it another go. I have expanded my range massively since then so I wondered how it would hold up. Was nice to have a bit of shade and a spare moment to drink this as I had an otherwise busy day, so the break was welcome. The Star has a nice whisky selection – nothing too unusual, but a fair decent range, and some good cask ales. Think I may have to get back into the habit of sticking my head in every now and then to do notes.

The Loch Fyne: The Living Cask 1745 (Scottish Blended Malt Whisky: 43.6% ABV)

Visual: Solid gold. Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Pungent peat. Moss. Aubergine. Brown bread. Dried beef slices. Smooth. Dumplings. Light salt. Solid. Water makes drier. Lightly nutty amongst the peat.

Body: Smooth. Honey. Alcohol warmth. Peppered beef slices. Vanilla toffee. Smooth, mouth filling peat. Water adds caramel, more honey. Even smoother and adds light apricot.

Finish: Fruitcake. Raisins. Salt. Malt chocolate. Oily. Cherries. Port. Falling apart beef and heavy peat. Water keeps fairly similar.

Conclusion: This is bloody smooth. It is honeyed, weighty in thickness but no alcohol burn at all, just a soothing warmness. The peat is meaty and filling, coating the mouth and giving a gentle mossy smoke to everything while the sweeter notes dance. Gentle isn’t quite the right word – more it just oozes into every tastebud so easily that it feels like it was always there. In fact it works so well that I was afraid to add water lest I spoil it.

I shouldn’t have worried, all the water did was make it even smoother still and bring out more sweet character – now bringing toffee notes against the meaty broth imagery.

What is most notable about this whisky is what Islay elements it doesn’t use. There are no medicinal touches, very little salt – it just balances the sweet, thick notes with big meaty peat creating an exceptionally smooth yet booming whisky. It is so different from a lot of Islays – if actually feels like what the already good Elements Of Islay whisky was aiming for – sweet, but peaty – but this actually does it so much better.

Basically, I am very impressed. So, what flaws does this have? Well it is single minded – water soothes but changes very little. What you see at the start is what you get at the end. If you are happy with that as I was, then I can recommend this whole heartedly.

Background: I’ve been intrigued by the Living Cask for a while – a blended malt whisky where the cask is topped up regularly with more malt so it is ever changing and every varying, with some of the malt sticking around each time. A fascinating concept. So, when I saw this mini at The Whisky Shop I thought I would grab it. They had a pretty decent mini selection there – I may have to grab some more for random notes. After a quick google it looks 1745 is their original Islay only blended malt, with the other Living Casks being offshoots where other malts are added. I think. Let me know if I got it wrong please. Put on Massive Attack: Mezzanine for this. Had a feeling it would be a big moody whisky and wanted tunes to match.

Elements Of Islay: Peat (Scottish Blended Malt Whisky: 45% ABV)

Visual: Very pale with a greenish hint, very slow streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Medicinal. Salt. Peat smoke punch. Watered down lime cordial. Moss. Water is very similar to neat.

Body: Sweet golden syrup and maple syrup. Salt. Alcohol warmth. Barbecue glazed meat. Cherries. Vanilla toffee. Water makes beefy, peaty and choc limes.

Finish: Cherries. Salt. Medicinal. Vanilla. Creamy soda. Toffee. Beef crisp’s flavouring. Lime jelly. Water adds choc limes, dried beef and oily character.

Conclusion: You know for a whisky called “Peat”, this is smooth as silk. Which is not a contradiction I guess, just not what you would expect. I mean, it is pretty peaty, but does not seem obsessed by it it an Octomore kind of way as you would think.

Initial impression tend toward the Caol Ila side of the Islay island – medicinal, dry, slightly salty but not harsh, The highest amount of peat you are going to get in the whisky comes here as the aroma floats with a nice punch of peat, making you think you are heading into a harsher whisky than it actually is.

The first sip is where your expectations shift – it is peaty and meaty, sure, but the first hit is more syrup touched – almost like maple syrup and that makes the medicinal notes it holds far smoother and easier to slip down. There are soft lime notes, but big sweetness and the kind of smoothness you generally get with a good quality vatted malt.

I feel like the name of this whisky betrays it – it makes you expected a much harsher and more assaulting whisky than the one you get. It still has the medicinal, oiliness and saltiness but smooth- and if you add water it opens up to reveal new levels of smoothness for Islay whisky.

With water light cherries comes out, choc toffee then choc lime. As before it is meaty and brothy in the peat character but the medicinal and salt character becomes smoother and smoother as you add the drops. It feels like an excellent Islay with all the edges polished off. Now the smoothed edges is something I both love and hate – it loses some of the unique charm of Islay but becomes an entity that stands as something special of its own by doing that.

An excellent vatted malt, but it is about a balance of notes of which only one part is the peat of the name.

Background: So, as mentioned in my last whisky notes, it is traditional when one of us holds a whisky night that the rest chip in and grab a bottle for the host – this was the bottle we gave the last host,and he was kind enough to let me borrow it to do notes on a measure. Many thanks. Unlike most elements of Islay, this is a blended malt rather than a single malt with the distillery identified by a pseudo elemental letter. There is also a cask strength version of this going around which I am very tempted to try some time. This was drunk very shortly after the last set of whisky notes, so I was on my second listen through of Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes – Modern Ruin. Still prefer the first album, which is far more raw, but it is not a bad wee album.

Tullibardine: 225 Sauternes Finish (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 43% ABV)

Visual: Bright shining gold with fast, thick streaks coming from the spirit.

Nose: Oaken. Honey. Dried apricot. Vanilla. Sulphur touch. Lightly waxy. Water adds pears to the mix.

Body: Smooth and thick. Honey. Oak. Sulphur touch. Waxy touch. Golden syrup. Water adds custard, pears, apricot and cake sponge. Cherries and chocolate fudge.

Finish: Waxy. Cherries. Dried apricot. Honey and golden syrup. Lots of oak. Sulphur. Water adds custard slices. Pears. Light fresh cut apples. Still a waxy sheen. Chocolate toffee.

Conclusion: From what I remember from visiting the distillery, Tullibardine has a lot of experience with unusual cask finishes. Ok course back then it was to help eke out the value from their remaining supply of the odd distilleries spirit while they got their new distillery up and running. Still, experience is experience, no matter how you got it.

Neat this thing is pretty oaken – nice enough but a bit too woody for my taste. Though there are already a lot of good things going for it in the feel. It is thick, smooth but just slightly waxy – an element that gives, along with the wisp of sulphur, the imagery of candles that floats across the whisky. Even neat the sweetness from the Sauternes finish is shown with very honeyed notes – fairly simple but bright, thick and tongue coating.

Water give it what the whisky needs though and that is subtlety. The sweetness becomes gentle and breaks as if light encountering a prism, spreading into honey, custard and golden syrup against apricot notes that that work over the sweetness. Similarly more of the flavour from the base spirit seems to come out, though I will remind you that I have not encountered much from the distillery’s stock made since it reopened. Still, out from under the powerful cask finish seems to come pear and cut apple notes, along with a more recognisable general whisky feel that now back up the sweeter notes. The wax and sulphur notes lessen but still help hold some grip to the whisky.

Even with water this does pack a few rougher edges that feel like younger whisky spirit notes, but nothing that majorly hurts it, it just lacks polish.

Overall this uses the finish very well for a dessert feeling whisky. It does have a few rough edges, especially neat, but with a dash of water it is a sweet and enjoyable dram.

Background: Tullibardine is distillery I first encountered as part of a road trip around Scotland’s whisky distilleries many a year ago. It is a far cry from the usual rustic imagery, on an industrial area in the midst of grey concrete. It hadn’t been open long at that point, having been recently reopened after being mothballed back in 1995 so they were selling the remnants of the whisky from its previous existence. Since then I think I have encountered their new spirit once before, but without my notebook to hand, so this is my first set of notes for the re-opened distilleries whisky. This was given to me at a whisky night I hosted a few weeks back – it has become a tradition at our whisky nights that everyone else chips in to buy a bottle for the host. Which is nice. Many thanks. Originally they had planned to grab a different bottling, but the supermarket was out of stock, so bumped them up to this one – finished in Sauternes sweet wine casks – for free. Which was also nice. Put on Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes – Modern Ruin for this one. Seems a gentler album that their first, may take a bit of time to get used to that, but still solid.

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