Tag Archive: 10 Year


Buffalo Trace: Old Rip Van Winkle: 10 Year (USA: Bourbon Whiskey: 53.5% ABV)

Visual: Bright orange gold, in an almost lucozade style in the light. Fast thick steaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Touch of smoke. Lots of varied breakfast cereals. Shreddies. Maize cereals. Moderate rye crackers and peppery character. Brown bread. Crushed leaves. Brown sugar. Thick and slightly musty.

Body: Thick and warming. Oily. Vanilla. Dry oak. Treacle touch. Heavy. Buttery. Fudge. Brown bread. Orange cream.

Finish; Tannins and astringent. Peppery. Toffee and vanilla. Dry fudge. Buttery and slightly fatty.

Conclusion: This is heavy. Now the alcohol is doing a lot of the work in making it so, with a more dry character up front, but then allowing the fattier, oilier notes to come through after. There is a lot about the mouthfeel and texture that it doing the heavy lifting here to make seem very different to the other Van Winkles.

It is still slightly peppery, but initially it has none of those orange notes I usually associate with the Van Winkles. Instead, behind the fatty character is a mix of brown bread and lots of breakfast cereals into a sturdy toffee and fudge character. Still quite dry in how it is delivered, thick of body and very heavy.

Like this it is very much about the feel for me rather than the flavour. The oils, the thickness, the fatty character that is all what makes it interesting. The flavours are not unusual, but that feel really works what can be done with the abv.

Finally, late on after some time to air, the orange cream notes do finally make an appearance. It seems no amount of abv can fully hide this Van Winkle note for too long.

Not a favourite of mine, but a stand out for being different from the usual Van Winkle fare.

Background: So, writing this for the second time, it has been about a year and half since Independent Spirit did one of their whisky tastings. For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on right now, probably something small and unimportant. So they opened with this – a six USA whiskey, predominately bourbon, rare as hell set of a tasting. Joking aside, I was nervous about going, due to, well covid and not wanting to be a virus spreader, but it was held in the well ventilated, covered back area of Wolf Saloon, which had a decent amount of room as well, so I thought I would give it a go as part of my attempt to return to being social in this new world. Of the six whiskeys I had already done notes on two, and this was the third whisky of the evening and the only Van Winkle of the set I had not tried yet. Chris from Independent Spirit did give a lovely amount of info the background of each whiskey, but I will admit due to alcohol I have forgot most of the fine details. This is a wheated bourbon, and each of the Van Winkles use the same mash load. After trying this I had Pappy Van Winkle 15 again for the first time in years – this time I found a softness of mushy cooked apples and pear notes, and some tropical fruit I had not found before, making it a smoother thing than I remembered before.

Laphroaig: 10 Original Cask Strength – Batch 12 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 60.1% ABV)

Visual: Burnished reddened gold. Slow puckering comes from the spirit along with a few faster, thick streaks.

Nose: Camomile. Germolene (I think). Smoke. Peppery. Peat. Meat broth. Medicinal spirit. Orange zest. Charring. Some alcohol tingly. Slightly oily. Water makes clearer, and cleaner medicinal style. Dry soot. More orange zest.

Body: Warming initially, alcohol feel builds up quickly. Dried apricot. Medicinal and slightly dry. Beefy. Lots of peat. Slight malt chocolate. Vanilla and vanilla toffee. Water adds honey and makes smoother. Beef broth. Orange notes. Peach.

Finish: Warming and tingling. Beef slices. Malt chocolate. Slight lime air. Numbing alcohol after a while. Cheese puff crisps. Slight caramel. Slight orange crème. Water adds cleaner orange notes and lime.

Conclusion: The first time I popped this open it was fucking intense. Possibly too intense, but still such an experience. Here, with a few weeks open under its belt, we get a much more balanced look. As always, time to air is your friend with whisky.

Neat it is still intense, though surprisingly smooth on first sip considering the abv – though the alcohol come in quickly after. It is not as numbing as you would expect but it is still numbing.

Neat it gives in exchange for the abv an even more medicinal style dram than the standard Laphroaig – not just in the dry spirit character, but even a kind of medicinal cream to medicinal bandages style aroma that I more associate with my small experience of Port Ellen.

Thee peat experience is also there, smokey and big. It is still not Ardbeg level peaty but still intense. The sweeter notes of the spirit come out more chocolatey with the bigger body, though still with vanilla backing. Similar the bigger body brings even more of the subtle citrus notes under that. Everything is bigger, and if you are fine with the alcohol weight it is 100% worth it.

Water smooths it out a lot – it is still evidently medicinal and peaty, but now with lots more sweetness. It is actually shockingly smooth all things considered and with many more fruity notes underneath including stuff I would not normally associate with Laphroaig like the subtle peach notes backing it.

Any way you take it, this is pure Laphroaig , from its most uncompromising to its most complex. I absolutely love it. Just make sure you give it some time to air before you make up your mind as first impressions are brutal!

Background: Ohh my, saw this at Independent Spirit and I wanted it instantly. Laphroaig 10 was my entry point to heavy duty Islay whisky and I still love it. Found out one of my friends in the Netherlands had actually tried this already, the lucky lucky person! Anyway, one of my mates commented that this tasted like Orange Marmite, if such a thing could exist, so that may have influenced my thoughts while tasting. I went with the live Undertale album for listening while drinking, light happy and chill, stuff I need at the mo.

Daftmill: Summer Batch 2008 (Scottish Lowland Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Light gold. Fast, medium thickness streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Light. Limes. Sugar dusting to honey. Light menthol. Vanilla toffee. Light oak. Water adds light peppermint.

Body: Very smooth. Sugared orange. Vanilla custard. Creamy lime. Fudge. Smooth caramel. Shortbread. Water makes creamier and adds more toffee.

Finish: Sugar dusting. Pencil shavings. Vanilla fudge. Cake sponge. Water adds choc toffee and white chocolate.

Conclusion: I’ve mentioned before that I am not the hugest fan of lowland whisky. It is ok, and I have run into some good expressions, but it is not usually my first pick. Therefore this is a bit of a shock in that it is bloody lovely. So lovely that, after missing doing notes on it once, I hunted it out to try again and this time bring my notebook!

It is super smooth – the alcohol gently coming along with a bit of a menthol air, but generally it has that Irish influenced (I presume) triple distilled smooth character. What makes it different is that it has a good level of vanilla toffee and fudge sweet grip that makes it that tiny smidge thicker than a normal lowland.

It shows remarkable subtlety , with orange and lime soft fruit notes, and a bit more caramel grip that pops up at a few moments, again giving it just that touch more grip and thickness, all dusted down with a light sugar touch.

I can see why, even past its rarity, this is so prized. It isn’t auction flipper prices level good, but for standard prices it is an amazing lowland. Water brings out even more, with a heavier chocolate notes. Well I say heavier, it is still super smooth, but just again a touch heavier that the sugar dust front and vanilla touch thicker backing it has neat.

Unfortunately it seems the lowland I find I can whole heartedly recommend is the one that is hardest to find. Darn it! Smooth, just touch of sweet weight, graceful subtlety. Amazingly easy to drink, but so rewarding. I love it.

Background: So … people who follow my twitter (both of you) may remember I put up a post saying I had not done notes on this. So may be wondering how come these notes are here. I first ran into this at an Uber whisky tasting where I had not brought my notebook as I was just chilling that night. It was amazing. I then found out that The Hideout had a bottle of it in. So I had to run over to do full notes on it. See. Easy. Until the uber whisky tasting I had not even heard of this distillery – it is a comparatively new one, and does an absolutely miniscule output each year. Web sites crash as people try to get hold of bottles, so I am spoiled to have had multiple chances to try it. This was bottled 2019, from being distilled 2008. Not much else to add. The Hideout is awesome.

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: Bunnahabhain: Provenance: 10 Year (2019 Release) (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened gold. Slow thick puckering comes from the spirit.

Nose: Lightly oily, in a fish skin way. Salt. Sea breeze. Lime. Seaweed. Sweet syrup. Light menthol mint. Slight pepper. After Eight mint centres. Water adds more salt and wet rocks.

Body: Alcohol warmth but smooth. Honey. Pear drops. Dried beef slices. Vanilla toffee. Water makes smoother, more salt. Moss and honeycomb.

Finish: Honey. Dried beef. Soft sweet lime. Toffee. Water adds honeycomb.

Conclusion: This is significantly different to my last experience with Provenance Bunnahabhain, so I am glad I decided to do notes on it. This one is gently sweet, with the Islay salt and sea breeze character wafting over it.

There is an oily character that is appealing, giving a nice thickness, though neat the alcohol, that also gives weight to it, comes in a tad over warming. Water soothes it out easily though – and it can take quite a bit of water and still work, thought I will admit I feel it works best with just a few drops to take off the heat.

It balances sweet toffee with gentle Islay character. It doesn’t feel full Islay, as is Bunnahabhain’s want it is just slightly salty sea breeze touched, but that is enough here. It remains mostly on the sweet side, and has no harsh edges coming through.

The gentle Islay gets some nice rounding here with lime sweetness and definite honey – all in all a very nice, relaxing, but definitely Islay present drop of a dram.

Background: So, third 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. It doesn’t list on the bottle but I think this is the bottled November 2018 edition. I nearly didn’t do notes on this, as I have done notes on the Douglas Laing Bunnahabhain Provenance 10 Year. Then I remembered these are single cask releases, so good odds it will be significantly different to previous notes. So here we are. Bunnahabhain is the (generally) unpeated side of Islay distilleries, which is odd as I keep getting smoke notes from them in the past. Probably psychosomatic, as I expect smoke when I encounter Islay notes. Anyway… went with Ozzy Osbourne – Memoirs Of a Madman while drinking. Still prefer Black Sabbath in general, but there are some cracking stand-alone tunes.

The GlenAllachie: Cask Strength: Batch 2: 10 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 54.8% ABV)

Visual: Bright gold. Spirit comes down in a slow, solid sheet across the edges of the glass.

Nose: Brown sugar. Alcohol warmth. Golden syrup. Blueberry crumble. Stewed apricot. Madeira cake. Custard. White sugar dusting. Water smooths. Adds Calvados and apply jelly.

Body: Smooth front into an alcohol burn. Apple pies. Dry honey. Water adds custard notes and smooths. Adds lots more apple. Still some alcohol evident. More water adds Calvados. Strawberry jam. Madeira. Pinot Noir.

Finish: Numbing alcohol. Sour dough. Oak chips. Dry. Apples. Water adds raisins. Strawberry jam. Blueberry. More water adds Calvados and sulphur.

Conclusion: Ok, two big things to address here. One there is lots of barrel ageing influence in this. Like … tons. Dark fruit in blueberry and strawberry jam style, lighter sweetness, wine notes. Lots going on. Second thing – there is a lot of apple in here, from apple jelly to Calvados, to everything in-between.

Oh, wait, I missed one. Three – the alcohol in this thing is immense! Not surprising as it is over 50% abv, but taken neat this goes from tasty to burning pretty fast. It means that you only really get the edge of the flavour profile before your tongue gets numbed. The first few seconds are surprisingly smooth, then the potent alcohol booms. Definitely experiment with water for this one.

So, as you may have guessed, taken neat it is just a bit too booming, going into a dry and oaken finish. Water however really brings out the range of the experience.

As indicated before, there is a lot going on. The barrel ageing brings many spirity notes – Madeira being the most notable, more red wine notes come out as you add more water – now smoothed out by more vanilla and custard notes which I’m guessing are from the bourbon and virgin oak. No idea where the apple comes from – maybe the base spirit? – but it becomes more and more evident the more water you add and really is the backbone of this varied spirit.

It is complex, but very barrel ageing led – I like the apple character of the (maybe) base spirit, but there are also slight sulphur, slight muggy notes and rough edges. It feels slightly like it is relying on the barrel ageing to override the existing rough edges.

Still, despite that it is a tasty experience, with lots going on – so as an examination of the oak influence this is very good, but it has a a few off notes under its charms.

Background: Time to try a distillery I have not tried before! Wooo! Though is it just me or does GlenAllachie sound like one of those knock offs where they try and mash two famous whiskeys together to fool you – like if you saw a bottle of Jim Daniels or something. Possibly just me. Anyway, grabbed this from the whisky exchange. The cask strength grabbed me eye as it would give more room to experiment with water and see what it could do. It has been aged in a mix of PX and oloroso sherry, first fill bourbon and virgin oak casks. That also caught my attention I have to admit, that is some sweet barrel ageing going on there. Not much else to add – put on some Mclusky to listen to while drinking, music as varied and mixed up as that barrel ageing selection.

Douglas Laing: Provenance Single Cask: Bunnahabhain 10 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Single Cask Whisky: 10 year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Clear, slightly greened brackish hue. Very light coloured.

Nose: Thick, salty, slightly viscous oily notes. Brown bread. Fish oils. Light broth. Wet rocks. Greenery. Water makes more salty, smoother, more rock notes.

Body: Honey. Rocks. Salt. Alcohol warmth. Gentle peat. Slight dry medicinal to strong alcohol character. Mature cheese, peppery. Butter fat. Water makes smoother, saltier, drier and less sweet. Vanilla and vanilla toffee. Slight lime.

Finish: Brown bread. Dry. Dry vodka. Gentle peat smoke. Water adds slight lime, vanilla and white chocolate.

Conclusion: Ok, Bunnahabhain is generally an unpeated whisky, I know that. This still tastes lightly smokey, ok? I cant lie on that one! It isn’t a meaty smoke character. But there is still some. Anyway, got that out of the way.

Neat it is a thick, kind of fish skin oils touched, slightly alcohol warm thing with big honey sweetness against a salty, rocky Islay character. The higher alcohol feel makes it a tad drying, which doesn’t quite match the sweeter character but it makes a simple, comparatively gentle Islay flavour set with a nice oily, thick mouthfeel.

Water does a lot of good, removing the harsher alcohol notes and the accompanying dryness, but it also strip out the more interesting flavours. The sweetness becomes more gentle and the odd oily, butter fats and peppery notes are lost.

Water makes it the easy drinking Islay, still showing a light peat smoke (I have no idea how), gentle sweetness and light salt. Easy to drink but most of the fun is lost. Id say the more interesting texture and flavour of the neat whisky makes it worth the slighter harsher notes that come with it. Give it some time to air, to get rid of some of the rough fumes, but drink neat – it makes for a reasonable attempt at a balance.

It isn’t a standout of the Islay world, but it really shows the non chill filtered style with a very nuanced mouthfeel that would otherwise have been lost. The slight mature cheese notes seem to be one of those extra elements and one I find fascinating. Apart from that it is generic light side of Islay flavour, good mouthfeel and some rough notes.

Not bad, not must have, but a decent take on the light end of Islay.

Background: Been digging these hip flask sized Single Cask bottlings for a while, a chance to get to know a whisky reasonably without dedicating the cash to a full bottle. Though I have had so many now I needed to ask for help from the lot at Independent Spirit so I could look up online which ones I have already done notes on. Bunnahabhain is an interesting one, a generally unpeated Islay. Not one I have had a huge range of experience with so this was chance to try and sort that. I’d been watching Kaizo Trap tons recently so put on some Leslie Wai music while drinking. Mainly Paradigm, the track from Kaizo Trap. This was distilled Oct 2007 and bottled Dec 2017.

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.

Càrn Mòr: Strictly Limited: Teaninich: 10 Year (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 46% abv)

Visual: Very pale clear gold.

Viscosity: Very slow, medium sized streaks.

Nose: Apples. Alcohol. Clean spirity character. Pears. Vanilla. Slightly floral. Slightly grassy. Water adds hay fields notes.

Body: Smooth texture but strong alcohol. Apples and pears. Pear drops. Slight fudge. Clean character. Soft pastry. Water makes much smoother, more fudge and lots more apple.

Finish: Pear drops. Vanilla. Very evident alcohol. Make spirit character. Water smooths out and adds apple pie.

Conclusion: This is basically what make spirit wants to be when it grows up. Ok, technically what make spirit wants to be when it grows up is all whisky ever but…. Ok technically as a non sapient entity make spirit doesn’t “want” anything. Just, ya know, run with me on this one.

Raw make spirit to young whisky is rough as fuck, but generally energetic as hell in the flavours with lots of green fruit notes and such. A few whiskies such as the Hakushu manage to keep the pear drop and apples notes as they age, but usually these green fruit notes just fade away to be replaced by heavier elements from the oak ageing.

Neat this is still a bit alcohol filled, but despite that feels smoother than that would indicate – and a wee bit of water deals with the fire very nicely. Then taken like that, all those youthful apple pie and pear drop notes are here, but now in a smooth, slightly fudge based whisky with a far more easy going character than the equivalent flavoured make spirit would ever give you.

So – while not one with the hugest range, you get all the loveliness and none of the harshness that makes this seem like the world’s smoothest make spirit in an older whisky. Not super complex, but super enjoyable to drink.

Background: Don’t see much Teaninich around, it is normally used in blends. We were given a sample of this after one of Independent Spirit‘s Rare Whisky Tasting Nights, and I remembered enjoying it – so a few weeks later I headed back and grabbed a bottle. Mainly hoping my drunken memories were not lying to me. This was bottled 2007 and is one of 725 bottles put together from two casks of whisky. Drunk while listening to more Two Steps From Hell. Yes I drank this just after Mythos. That beer was so bland I didn’t think it would interfere with doing notes much.

bruichladdich-octomore-10-year2nd-release

Bruichladdich: Octomore: 10 Years(2nd Release) (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 57.3% ABV)

Visual: Dark gold.

Viscosity: Very fast thick streaks.

Nose: Smokey bacon. Lots of peat smoke. Slight salt. Smoked beef. Beef stew and pigs in blankets. Slight cherry pocked digestives.

Body: Honey. Huge peat. Lime. Dried beef. Slight cherries. Sauternes wine. Water adds peach and honey and makes much sweeter. Slight custard sweetness notes.

Finish: Alcohol tingle. Salt. Very medicinal. Slightly numbing. Honey. Peach syrup added with water.

Conclusion: This is so much sweeter than the younger Octomore! It still comes in with the heavy peat and medicinal style though, do not worry. As it has soothed a bit with age that now comes across as a massively meaty feast of a whisky – especially on the nose. Kind of a smoked meat (especially smoked bacon) fest, That aroma however does not hint at a lot of what is to come. In fact originally it comes across more smoked meat than even the other Octomores I have tried.

The body keeps the peaty character, but is much more honeyed, and has an almost Sauternes wine sweet character. It is so sweet and fruity under the heavy peat that it is less that smooth assault you might expect and is instead a much more complex yet still peaty beast. Without water the finish is very medicinal, again calling to its roots as a more harsh whisky, water again brings out that sweetness.

It is so unexpected – still meaty. Still peaty – but very much tamed by the newfound sweetness. Even slight custard sweetness over the salted Islay base. If you want sheer assault then this has moved away from that and you will be let down. If you want a big sweet Islay style peated whisky – well this is very good and still intense. The honey wine soaked meat feast peat whisky.

Background: Fourth whisky at the uber whisky tasting at Independent Spirit. I loved my previous experience with the Octomore so was very much looking forwards to trying this 10 year version. Now, while it is peated at 167 ppm, age tends to take away peat character quite quickly – so wasn’t quite sure how this would work out for intensity. Also this has been aged in both Bourbon and the more unusual Grenache Blac casks. One of 18,000 bottles – so fairly but not insanely rare. My whisky glass photos are getting a bit crap now – sorry – alcohol influence! As before due to the social event and the number of whiskies tried, by notes may not be as detailed as normal – nor it seems my photos. As always I tried my best.

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