Tag Archive: 14 Year


Signatory Vintage: The Un-chillfiltered Collection Fettercairn 1996 (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 14 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very clear grain.

Viscosity: Very slow thin puckering and streaks.

Nose: Lime sorbet, grain and vanilla. Slight alcohol burn.  Very clean. Cheesecake, strawberry.  Water makes more floral bringing out heather.

Body: Meaty, with vanilla and toffee. Strawberry hints. Beef slices.  Water lightens the meat and makes more toffee and custard flavoured. Adds strawberry and a tinge of lime.

Finish: Beef slices and beef crisp dusting. Milk chocolate and slight bitter chocolate. Water makes lime and orange elements come out.

Conclusion: This carries a lot more weight than I remember my last (and only) sampling of Fettercairn having. Without water it has a nice meaty weight body which was not something I was expecting.  This doesn’t affect the favour that much, it is a definite smooth lime and sweet vanilla entity, but it does give it a bit of extra weight and grip.

The combination of extra weight and fresh cutting flavour makes for a surprisingly good combo. It weakens a bit with water, but still remains competent, so much so that I think preference for with or without water will be a mater of personal taste for most with this one.  While the whisky does not have the wide range that I tend to look for, it does work well at giving heft to the sorbet style flavours that can often be somewhat ethereal and badly defined.

A bit too much water can push it to being slightly heather and floral dominated, losing some of the flavour. Too little and it has a just slightly burning influence. There is a decent range between those two extremes though and even the extremes have their advantages.  Generally it is a pleasant easy drinking whisky, with a bit more freshness and weight than usual.

A nice Fettercairn expression, for the little experience I have of them. Not a favourite whisky but well balanced.

Background: Drunk at the tasting rooms. I’ve only encountered Fettercairn once before, in a bar while going on a distillery tour around Scotland. It didn’t make a huge impression then I have to admit. Then again I was kind of on whisky overdose during that holiday for some reason.   As the name suggests this hasn’t been chill filtered, this means it goes slightly cloudy when cold or when water is added, more importantly it means that is hasn’t been through a process which removes some of the elements that make up the flavours of the whisky.

Oban: Distillers Edition (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 14 Years: 43% ABV)

Visual: A thick custard gold

Viscosity: Fairly even in distribution and fast in spirit’s speed of descent down the glass.

Nose: Light smoke. Smooth oak and pencil shavings. Waters adds some sulphur.

Body: Smooth.  Madeira sweet. Lime jelly. Sultanas and red wine.  Soaked fruitcake. Glacier cherries. Hint of milk chocolate. Water makes even sweeter and adds a meaty broth touch. Even more water adds white grapes.

Finish: Red cherries. Dry tongue feel. Madeira again. Custard.  Smoke. Dry bitter chocolate. Water adds beef crisps and light peat. White grapes again comes with more water.

Conclusion: These distillers editions really add a sweetness to normally quite harsh whiskies don’t they?

Was slightly worried on first glance with this one as the aroma is fairly weak and doesn’t hint at much of a whisky contained below the surface.

When you get into the whisky itself you find it a Madeira and fruitcake styled addition to the Oban line that is rich and if taken without water very much missing the usual almost Island character like influence of main Oban (Yes I know Oban isn’t an Island whisky, but it does have a few calls to the type due to it’s coastal location)

In an odd inversion of expectations water actually brings out the more beef and smoke elements which balance out what would otherwise be a too sweet whisky. Even with water the sweetness isn’t hidden, you are just given new elements to contrast it.

This, with water, is a lovely complex whisky, full of rich flavour and just enough of an edge. The texture is smooth as can be, and like the Caol Ila Distillers Edition, teeters on the edge of too sweet, especially without water. It does ride that thin edge well and gives far more unexpected flavours than your average sweet whisky.

Frankly all the Distiller Editions in the set have been superb. I’d rank this behind the Lagavulin (which I really should review at some point) but none of them are bad and all are good variations on quality bold whisky.

Well worth a try, or a bottle if you have the money about.

Background: Distilled 1995, bottled 2009. Aged in Montilla casks. I have never tried Montilla but presume it is responsible for the elements that seemed Madeira like to me. Oban is a pretty solid whisky at any point and I have enjoyed the distillers editions so far so this seemed a good pick to try. Drunk at the Rummer hotel, where there was a bit of a wedding reception going on t the time oddly. Oh and yes, I know it’s not the best focused photo. Sorry.

The Arran Malt: 14 Years (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: 14 Years: 46% ABV)

Visual: Golden grain.

Viscosity: Very slow to form streaks from the spirit. Very slow streaks and very thin when they do form.

Nose: Slightly smoky. Red cherries. Mustard seeds and shortbread. Slightly creamy. Watercress. Slight eggs. Water makes the eggs more obvious and slightly musty.

Body: Creamy. Blue berry crumble. Light sugar dusting. Thick texture. Slight milky chocolate. Sweeter with water. Golden syrup and banana syrup. Slight walnuts. Much creamier with water.

Finish: Milky chocolate and pepper. Shortbread again. Light oak. Water adds banana bread and pancake. Still peppery with water and more oak filled.

Conclusion: When I tried the Arran 10 a while back I already knew that this bottle was awaiting me and I was intrigued to see what a few extra years would do to it. So now it’s here, what do we find?

Still creamy, but now it’s got some body to it. It’s like it spent the last four years on an intensive fitness regime for flavour.  Lots of sweet and lightly fruity elements to the whisky with a light pepper influence rounding it off. Very easy drinking and great to go alongside a dessert. So this far in and I’m already pretty impressed.

Then there’s the whisky when you get water added in. It’s quite a shock, much sweeter and with a sudden banana influence. Again its dessert accompanying whisky, but now almost syrupy in nature. It’s more a change in pitch than in style, similar yet distinctly different.

This whisky is very much a pumped up version of the ten year, but it has aged marvellously, smoother and fuller in all aspects.  It is probably too sweet to be a general drinking whisky, but anywhere from dessert to late night snacks it would fit in the schedule nicely.

A single use, two style whisky to be enjoyed.

Background:  Isle of Arran is a comparatively new Island malt, and quite significantly different from the harsh and salty island archetype. I’d tried the ten year a while back, and before that had seen the whiskys influence on Brewdog’s Paradox beer, so despite being a relative newbie to the spirit I’ve still had a bit of history with the distillery.

This was a present from my parents for which I thank them muchly. In fact the first dram was sampled whilst watching the Doctor Who Christmas special. A fine way to spend Christmas day (New Doctor Who is one of the few good things about Christmas In My Opinion)

Tasting Notes: Oban 14 Year

Oban 14 Year (Highland Scottish single malt whisky: 14 Year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Pure gold.

Viscosity: Very slow slothful streaks.

Nose: Grain and wheat, the lightest hint of peat but subtle and understated. Bails of hay in storage rooms, farm animal food pellets.

Body: Light burnt feel, harsh grain and slight salt. Light honey back. Slightly sour. Rhubarb with just a touch of sugar. Bit of vanilla, then some floral.

Finish: Smoke, feel of turned earth. Again some salt. Real rising fire and extending the salt.

Conclusion: Such an incredibly balanced whisky, telling a fine tale of the distilleries placement as a border guard between the highlands and the islands. Bitter and harsh elements are distinctly noticeable but not to the point that it becomes the whole of the whisky.

It’s not got fire, light sweetness or peatiness taken too far, each element is balanced by the other – It aims for a knife edge balance and subtlety.

Whilst I must admit my favourite whiskeys have a touch more of the extremes I can but take my hat off to the skill taken to make this whisky.

Glen Moray Bourbon Single Cask 1995: Bottled At Distillery (Scottish Whisky: Cask Strength Single Cask Speyside Single Malt: 14 Year: 60.7% ABV)

Visual: Just slightly cloudy yellow gold. Light in colour.

Viscosity: Quick thin trails.

Nose: Very strong and sharp initially, slight detergent nose before water is added.

Body: Very sweet and string; choc chip cookies. Touch of malt chocolate and barley; syrup.

Finish: Alcohol punch; dry shortbread. Wholemeal cheese cracker and dry powder. Light.

Conclusion: Simple but punchy. Definitely benefits from water and has a brilliant cookie style body. Would go brilliantly with jam sponge.

A nice cask strength for those who don’t like the sharper edges. Not perfect, simple and direct to good effect.

Thanks To Dylan Almond For Supplying This Whisky

Chivas Brother: Cask Strength Strathisla (Highland: Single Malt Scotch Whisky: 14 Year :56.9% ABV)

Visual: Light yellow gold. Due to being unchillfiltered it gains a heat haze shadow when water is added.

Viscosity: Takes a while to form and has slow but very thick streaks.

Nose: Dry and nutty. Harsh but sweet. Fromage frais. The cask strength alcohol bite grabs the back of the throat. Water added gives the feeling of a sweet stream on your tastebuds and brings out lighter vanilla notes.

Finish: Very sweet, lemon meringue; harsh burnt wood after which leaves the mouth slightly dry. With water treacle tart emerges and a huge amount of nuttiness.

Conclusion: A brilliant nutty whisky which expands a lot with application of varied amounts of water due to its cask strength. The alcohol punch is obvious but unlike some cask strengths it does not harm the nature of the whisky even undiluted. A strong dram with a lot to say. A fine whisky for discussion or maybe perhaps post a theatre play would be appropriate given its refined air.

Far better than the already reasonable chivas regal of which strathisla whisky makes up a significant part.

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