Tag Archive: 13 Year


Gordon & MacPhail: Discovery Range: Tormore 13 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 13 Year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Pale apple juice colour. Very slow puckering into medium thickness streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Barley biscuits. Lightly metallic. Vanilla. Pencil shavings. Apples and pears. Slight nail varnish. Sugar dusting. Rock dust. Water makes softer, with more green fruit and some pastry notes. Methanol touch.

Body: Vanilla fudge. Metallic alcohol touch. Pear note. Woody. Black peppery. Apple jam. Water makes softer. Custard. Pineapples. More green fruit.

Finish: Oak. Light charring and black pepper. Metallic. Strawberry cream touch. Notable alcohol. Malt chocolate. Fudge. Water adds melted chocolate toffee and menthol.

Conclusion: The first time I tried this, on first opening the bottle, I was not impressed. Slightly alcoholic, rough and not much flavour was the impression I got. It really felt like one to relegate to bulking up a blended whisky kind of malt.

So, now I have given it a few days to air, which tends to help, and there have been some changes going on here. Now, let’s be harsh first, cos the whisky sure is some times (Ba-dum-tch)

This is weirdly metallic with notable alcohol expressed – especially in the air of the finish. There is also a kind of nail varnish touch, so lots of odd off elements are expressed throughout.

So, yeah, still lots of issues with this. Water does help mellow the bad points, but they are still there – especially if you add too much water and go past the sweet spot where the rough notes come back with a vengeance. There is definitely a tipping point here when it comes to water.

However now, with a bit of time to air, there is some flavour to be found in there. Now you have soft apples, pears and general green fruit over a sweet toffee and custard base. Just a touch of water gives it a good grip and gets rid of the worst of the issues.

So, it is not a total write off now but, damn, I can’t recommend this. I can have a dram and not complain now I already have a bottle – but it has too many rough edges and too little in return for me to recommend getting a bottle to anyone else.

Not a good first impression for the distillery.

Background: This is one of the few, still running, single malt distilleries in Scotland that I have yet to try. So I grabbed a bottle. Went with Gordon & MacPhail as they have been good to me with their independent bottlings. This has been aged solely in bourbon casks so should be a quite clean expression of the spirit’s nature. This was bought from The Whisky Exchange, and drunk to the background of my mates playing Dungeons and Dragons over Skype as part of a lockdown catch up.

Douglas Laing: Independent Spirit: Old Particular: Port Dundas 13 Year (Scottish Single Grain Whisky: 13 Year: 48.4% ABV)

Visual: Very pale. Brackish water to pale yellow. Fast streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Viscous alcohol. Apples. Menthol. Water makes creamy and adds light peppermint.

Body: Baileys. Green apple. Strong alcohol. Water makes more creamy. Light peppermint. Toffee. Pears. More baileys. Viscous jelly alcohol feel.

Finish: Alcohol air. Menthol. Baileys. Pear. Water adds white chocolate. Tinned tropical fruit. Creamier and with peppermint notes.

Conclusion: This is a mix of the expected and the unexpected. I had tried this in the shop before buying and I have general memories of being impressed by it. Hence why I bought it, it wouldn’t make sense otherwise, right?

On first open of this bottle this seemed familiar, but I couldn’t work out why it had jumped out at me before. It had green fruit that spoke of a younger spirit matched with a thicker, viscous body – warming with a jelly like alcohol feel, but not burning like a young spirit would be. Good, but hardly stand out.

Which is why, these days, I do notes about a week after breaking open a bottle. It really seems to make all the difference.

Now, a week on, it has a lightly creamy liqueur like set of notes which becomes distinctly Baileys like with water. It is a completely unexpected blast that mixes with the green fruit to crate a thicker and heavier single grain experience. It is still that thick, viscous alcohol character in the body that you often get of grain, but with the creamier flavours heading out into a fresh peppermint and menthol endgame.

Usually I expect single grain to show more of the cask influence, but here the whisky is very much its own thing. There is white chocolate, toffee and tinned tropical fruit notes, that say bourbon ageing to me – but they take time to come out and take the stage.

This is very good – it does have some rough alcohol edges and slight overly heavy jelly alcohol character at times which are not the best, but generally it is very enjoyable. A touch of water helps but never quite removes the alcohol character – a flaw but not one that ruins this interesting experience.

Background: Another independent bottling from Independent Spirit – this time in collaboration with Douglas Laing. This is one of 126 bottles and was aged from 2004 to 2017. Port Dundas was a single grain distillery that stopped production in 2011. I’ve tried a 20 year bottling of it before, but is my sole experience of this distillery and not quite to my tastes. This was drunk while listening to the new Arch Enemy CD for the 2nd time– seems more varied than prior albums, taking a bit of time to get used to it.

Douglas Laing: Scallywag: 13 Year (Scottish Speyside Blended malt Whisky: 13 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Deep bronzed gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Plums. Some alcohol air. Vanilla fudge. Honey. Treacle. Water adds grapes to the mix.

Body: Smooth but warming. Honey. Raisins. Grapes. Some tannins and oak. Golden syrup. Water makes silky smooth. Adds grapes, quince rakija and pears. More water adds plums and dried apricot.

Finish: Light oak. Slightly peppery. Fig rolls. Tannins and tea bags. Honey. Water adds tart white grapes and pears.

Conclusion: Ok, with and without water is like night and day for this whisky. By which I am not saying that one is good and one is bad – just that they are radically different in emphasis while still having slight reflections of the other in some circumstances.

Neat it is very sherried, from a plum aroma to a tannins and grapes filled body layered over honey sweetness. There are hints of green grapes as well as the more expected red grapes in the there, but generally it is heavy sherried spice added to the native speyside sweetness. Water releases that green fruit so it can come to the fore, still matched with speyside sweetness, now with the plums and raisins at the back as mere sherried hints.

Time lets the two sides come to a compromise – the sherry raisins, pepper and tannins merging with the clear vanilla toffee and green fruit to give a very satisfying and silky smooth whisky. The slight raw alcohol it has neat, while never heavy in the first place, now has completely vanished.

This is a very good example of both the wide range that different Speyside distilleries can bring, the range you can get from blending the malts, and the smooth package that such blending can result in. No real rough edges, but manages to keep a lot of the individual malts character, and give room for water experimentation. I’m impressed.

Background: The first age statement release of the Speyside blended malt from Douglas Laing – this one matured in sherry butts in its entirety. So far their blended malts have impressed me highly – generally keeping the smoothness of the blended malt, without completely losing the character that their malt components bring. This was another of the rarer releases that Independent Spirit had a minis, so I, of course, grabbed one while I could. Felt like some straight forwards metal for music while drinking after being more experimental recently – so went for Shadows Fall – Fear Will Drag You Down.

Carn Mor Vintage Collection Longmorn 1996

Carn Mor Vintage Collection: Longmorn 1996 (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 13 Years: 46% ABV)

Visual: Light grain to bracken.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Notable alcohol. Soft lemon. Husked grain. Water turns to corn fields.

Body: Lemon sponge. Notable alcohol. Golden syrup cake. Slick feel. Menthol and peppermint. Oaked. Lime. Water makes more gentle, sweet and smooth. Light strawberry comes out with more water along with a shredded wheat character.

Finish: Dry, yet golden syrup flavoured. Oak. Crackers. More oaked with water and black liquorice bits.

Conclusion: I’m never quite sure if that has actually fully opened up. I’m still adding water to taste as I write. Still, I have had a fair chunk of it, and it has already progressed so I think I have a fair handle on it.

Top and tail this whisky never really clicks. The aroma is slightly closed, too burning without water, too muted once water is added. Tail and into the finish it too oaken, which weighs over all the other elements.

So, erm, yeah, a bad start for this one then. The middle does have a bit of play though. While it is hard to tell neat, there is a soothing soft lemon sponge character. Water helps, giving the soft sponge and soft fruit room to roam. Even with water it feels a tad rough around the edges, but the base core suggest a softer, more pleasant, whisky that it so much wants to be.

I can’t really recommend it based on that though – there is a good soft whisky in here somewhere, but the harsh edges makes me think it would have been better in something a bit more booming to age it.

Background: Bottled in 2009 from a hogshead cask, this proved a good chance to do some notes for Longmorn whisky, which I have tried before but never got around to doing notes for. Its a nice 20cl in size, small enough to not be a too huge commitment, but large enough to get a feel for the whisky. One of 1377 bottles, I grabbed this from Independent Spirit. Drunk whilst listening to Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes and Against Me! for a pumped up background music set.

Glenkinchie Distillers Edition

Glenkinchie Distillers Edition: 1999 (Scotland Single Malt Lowland Whisky: 13 years: 43% Abv)

Visual: Deep yellow gold.

Viscosity: Quite thick streaks.

Nose: Fruitcake. Vanilla. Alcohol is noticable. Oak. Fudge. Not much change with water.

Body: Cherries. Vanilla toffee. Sweet lime. Alcohol. Fudge and cake sponge. Fruitcake and raisins. Water smoothes, makes soft vanilla and Madeira. Slightly spicy and with malt chocolate.

Finish: Sour black cherry. Lime. Vanilla and oak. Toffee. Raisins. Water adds malt chocolate and spicy raisins. Still slight alcohol feel.

Conclusion: Unusual barrel ageing has a way of overwhelming lighter whiskys. They can be very interesting, but they often lose what you love in the base whisky. I think that is the reason why Islay whiskys area popular choice for the stronger barrel ageing.

To a degree this one suffers from that here, there is fruitcake, Madeira and spiced raisins all coming in well, and the softer native spirit’s vanilla notes are there, but the lighter edge notes are not. What you end up with is the contradiction in terms of a weightier lowland whisky. This does not affect me that much as I was never a huge Glenkinchie fan, but it may put off enthusiasts.

It is a nice enough whisky, with the fruitcake and raisins particularly noticeable. I can definitely say that my problem is not with the quality of the flavours. For me the main problem is that what it adds makes the whisky more mainstream feeling rather than more unusual. It seems to make it more like a highland whisky, or perhaps some of the notes remind me of Aberlour from Speyside. These are not bad notes but they don’t stand out from what should be a special whisky.

On the quality side my only issue is with the alcohol burn, while not heavy it is still noticeable, even with water, and as of such is not really welcome in a lowland whisky. Or even the highland feeling one this is.

So, quality in how it is made, but it doesn’t add elements that make it special, either as a lowland whisky, or an event whisky, rather aping already well explored styles. Again, this isn’t bad, but from a Distillers Edition you expect more. Ok, but does not stand out from the pack.

Background: I forgot to check the bottling date, looking online it should be 2012, which would make it about 13 years old. Anyway, another distillers edition – I thought this was a new one, but no, seems it has been around a while. So of course I had to try it. I have a high opinion of the distillers editions. This one has spent its extra time in Amontillado casks. This was drunk in Brewdog Bristol.

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