Tag Archive: 45-50% ABV


Gordon and MacPhail: Glen Mhor: 8 Year 100% Proof (Scotland Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 50% ABV)

Visual: Very dark bronzed gold. Fast, medium thickness streaks come from the spirit. Some visible sediment.

Nose: Thick. Strong alcohol aroma. Golden syrup to honey. Stewed apricot. Light menthol. Brown bread. Malt drinks. Nutty. Water makes smoother.

Body: Honey. Warming. Thick. Golden syrup. Ovaltine. Treacle. Fatty notes. Water adds dry sherry. Vanilla. Tannins. Toffee. Cherry notes very occasionally.

Finish: Honey. Brown bread. Malt drinks. Ovaltine. Treacle. Water adds massive dry sherry. Sultanas. More alcoholic air for a while. Tannins. Nutty. Lime touch.

Conclusion: OK, damn, I don’t think I have actually seen whisky with sediment like this in it before. It is part of a whole, well, old look to the thing. Sediment, dusty glass bottle – it has only spent 8 years in the oak, but looks every inch of the years it has spent out of it.

Still despite that it shows its …ahem …youth when you actually get into the whisky itself. Strong alcohol character when taken neat. A thick and syrupy style that pushes sweet but robust notes – emphasising thick flavours like honey, treacle and golden syrup.

I tried this both with and without sediment in the glass – if you keep the sediment in it adds more fatty character, vanilla notes and a thick mouthfeel. I decided not to put these in the main notes, but felt they were still worth pointing out in case people wanted to know if they should try with or without.

As a whisky it is bloody robust, even with water it is thick, clinging and strong. You can, thankfully, tone the alcohol down with water though. However it is still fatty, thick with a malt drink to nutty comparatively neutral backing against a solidly sweet, but dry and not sickly base.

It is a pretty simple whisky – seriously – I think it would be one that is best as part of a blended malt whisky, rather than as the whole thing as a single malt. It doesn’t give enough that I would list it as a must try, especially considering its cost these days. So, yeah this is a young expression, so maybe aged up the distillery gains its legs – however even young its distinctive punch and thick character would be a godsend to many a blended malt.

Ok as is, simple, not worth the cost it goes for these days, but feels like a vital component for a blender.

Background: Ohh, another distillery I have not tried before. For good reason on this one, it is another dead distillery so can get a bit costly. So I was intrigued when I found “Hard To Find Whisky” online and saw they had some minis of comparatively young spirit going for not too silly price. Was a tad wary, as I know old and rare whisky can be a scammers market, but they seemed to have a good reputation online so I gave them a try. Both minis I got where a bit below full fills, which I’m guessing is due to the screw caps not quite sealing it so losing some to evaporation over the years. Also noticed some sediment (as mentioned in the notes), which I did not expect – a quick google suggested this is common for heavily sherried whisky that has spent a long time in the bottle, which reassured me and seemed a reasonable sign that this was not just Bells in an old bottle. I did pour carefully from one glass to another, leaving some spirit with the sediment in the first glass so I could try with and without sediment. Went with Jack Off Jill – Sexless Demons and Scars for music. Still genuinely gutted I missed a chance to see them live when they did a one off reunion tour a few years back.

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Game Of Throne: House Lannister: Lagavulin: 9 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 9 Year: 46% ABV)

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

Nose: Smoked fish skins. Peaty. Smoked beef. Lightly medicinal and salty. Dried beef slices. Slight brown sugar. Brown bread. Slight golden syrup. Similar with water.

Body: Smooth and warming. Slight charring. Brown bread. Salt. Dried beef slices. Alcohol is more present if held. Chocolate. Cherries. Water makes more bready. Some white and red grapes.

Finish: Chocolate. Slightly dry. Soot. Dust-balls. Dried beef. Slight cherries. Lightly medicinal. Light sherry touch. Water adds slight sulphur and malt drinks. Slight peanut butter.

Conclusion: Man this is good. Though, as is nigh always true these days, I am glad I gave it a few weeks to air after opening before doing notes. The first few drams I had of it were good but very much sub the quality expected from a Lagavulin compared to the standard 16 year expression. Now, this still doesn’t reach the heights of that night perfect dram, but now definitely earning its place in the line up.

It has the dried meat, slight smoky, lightly medicinal Lagavulin character and is fairly smoothly delivered despite the traditional 46% abv alcohol bump.

What makes it stand out on its own, rather than as a lesser imitation of the 16 is the slight bit more presence from the sweeter notes. There’s sweet cherry, brown sugar and even some chocolate notes which was very unexpected for an Islay. It is only slightly sweeter but that gives more contrast and a slightly easier going style despite all the Islay notes. In some ways it feels close to the Distillers edition in that use of sweetness, if not quite as awesome.

Water smooths it even more, but also generally mutes things a bit, so I would recommend taking this one neat. Still, generally very nice – the only thing that keeps it from being up there with the best is a slightly more neutral, malt drink like middle that doesn’t express itself as well as either the peatier or the smokier notes. Later on, with water, there was even a mild peanut butter like note which wasn’t horrible, but similarly did not quite work.

Still a bloody good whisky, and the sweeter side of Lagavulin.

Background: So, Game of Thrones is still stupidly popular right? Nothing happened in the final season to put people off. This tasting notes is still relevant and hip right? Anyway, totally had to grab this one – Lagavulin is probably my favourite distillery, so a nine year expression of it, brand new for the GOT line, definitely caught my eye. Not terribly priced either all things considered. I put off opening it for a while as I had a few Islay bottles already open, but finally its time has come! Went back to New Model Army – The Ghost Of Cain for music for this, my music taste continues towards the more political again in these strange times. Yet another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Port Askiag 28 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 28 Years: 45.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold. Slow thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Subtle smoke. Subtle Iodine and salt. Soft lemon. Slight sharp lime. Mossy. Water adds a touch more salt.

Body: Smooth. Lime. Lightly medicinal. Soft orange. Slight kiwi. Slight beef slices. Water makes more buttery and adds orange peel.

Finish: Soft lime. Soft moss. Salted rocks. Light smoke. Dried beef. Water adds orange peel, butterscotch and more salt.

Conclusion: This is nothing like what you would expect from a Laphroaig, which is what this is rumoured to be and so is how I am treating it. It is so gentle, smooth , wearing a light medicinal character but very gentle. This softness allows out smooth and light citrus flavours that you would normally never see as they would be hidden by the peat and harsher edges.

It you want peat, heavy medicinal and kicking character, avoid this and go for something younger. This is smooth, wearing hints of what comes in younger Islay, but gentle as a I newborn lamb (note: I have never met a newborn lamb, for all I know they are vicious shits. I am going by their reputation).

So, this is an experience. A good one at that. I am so glad I got to try it, it is very, very good. Softly buttery, soft citrus and is the most gentle an Islay can be while still being recognisable. It even lets loose just a wisp of smoke, a grain of salt and a tiny dab of medicinal spirit, just to make sure you know it is an Islay.

Despite that quality I kind of find it hard to recommend in general. The smoothness is an utter treat to have here, but for general drinking I would want something more forceful and more showing the character I come to an Islay for. You are paying a lot to get everything smoothed down, and it goes down a treat, but if you want something this smooth and light, I’d say go for a whiskey designed that way in the first place.

That is for considering buying a bottle, if you get a chance to try a dram, this is totally worth trying – not just fascinating in seeing how Islay ages, but delicious as well – but it is one where I feel a full bottle would be wasted on me. So unless you are very rich and can take the hit easily I would say don’t grab a full bottle.

It is interesting in that I love it, but unlike say the Arbeg XOP, it is not a love that needs to be repeated at every chance you get.

Background: Uber whisky time again at Independent Spirit. I love these events, where you get to try some pretty rare whisky that would normally be prohibitively expensive by the dram. As always with events like these, it was a busy event, with talking and other people describing notes so I may have been influenced by that and my notes may be shorter and more incoherent than even normal. Normally Port Askaig is bottled from Caol Ila, but rumour says this is a Laphroaig, which if so is very interesting. You very rarely see old Laphroaigs, mainly as they are very peaty and medicinal and that vanishes quickly with age. Any which way this should be a fascinating one.

Red Breast: Lustra Edition (Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey: 46% ABV)

Visual: Deep rich gold with fast, thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Brandy cream. Rich sherry. Pencil shavings. Warming alcohol. Brandy snaps. Honey. Spirit soaked raisins. Water makes lighter and citrus touched. Lime notes.

Body: Smooth, but warming. Honey and toffee. Sugared orange sweets. Madeira cake. Brandy cream. Custard slices. Spicy sherry. Fig rolls. Sweet chocolate liqueur. Water adds soft lime, soft orange and lot of caramel.

Finish: Fudge. Spicy sherry. Madeira cake. Slight chocolate. Slight oak. Orange jelly sweets. Choc toffee. Spirit soaked raisins. Water makes much more chocolate and choc orange and brings out honey.

Conclusion: This is smooth, but so big! So sweet, but with spicy sherry keeping it grounded. It has so much of the Irish pot still whiskey mouthfeel evident, that lovely smooth but robust character, here expressed in a richer and fuller way than I have previously seen for a Red Breast.

Neat it is full of different spirity notes – brandy cream mixed with honey, and the time in a Oloroso sherry cask has given it lots of sweet and spicy sherry notes here. It very full on for such a smooth dram. Here, taken neat, I love it. Such a rewarding spirit flavour, with (again spirit soaked) dark fruit notes that feel like they belong to a heavier whiskey but are delivered so smooth,

With a touch of water this becomes even creamier – full of caramel and fudge notes. The honey notes that existed in the neat whiskey now is accompanied by a host of sweet notes to fight against the spirity character. Like this I love it! Smooth as silk, matching big sweetness and creaminess with everything that came before, just mellowed out. So very rewarding.

More water makes it lighter, allowing some of the more traditional Irish whiskey elements to come through – most notable some light and smooth citrus notes. Now all the elements are toned down for an easy drinking citrus, but still chocolate and sherry touched thing. Gentle orange notes mix in to bring out choc orange joy late on. So, yes, like this I love it.

Such a good whiskey all the way through. I recommend it without hesitation.

Background: Ok, first up – the background of the box describes this as having an “Endless” finish. I have tested this empirically and the finish has, as you may have guessed, ended. The lying toerags. Anyway, that aside, this is a version of the single pot still whiskey that has spent time in American and European oak before being moved into Lustra’s first fill Olorosso sherry casks. Been enjoying revisiting Red Breast recently so this very much caught my attention when I saw it in Independent Spirit. Was fairly warm again when I was drinking this. I hate the heat, so had fans on all around trying to keep the air moving. Went with Getter – Visceral for music while drinking.

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.

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.

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