Tag Archive: 5 Years


Littlemill: Dunglass 5 Year (Scottish Lowland Single Malt Whisky: 5 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold colour, with quite slow puckering from the spirit.

Nose: Clean vanilla. Ash. Dried beef slices. Alcoholic lime. Broken rocks. Alcohol tingle. Water makes gentle. Light moss and gentle peat.

Body: Smooth. Lime. Vanilla toffee. Cream. Managed peat. Water adds more ash like notes and heavier smoke.

Finish: Vanilla fudge. Smoke. Slightly dry. Water adds heavier smoke. More water brings out a wet cardboard note.

Conclusion: Now, for all they are prized for collectors, with a lot of dead distilleries I can see why they died. A lot are not particularly stand out in the whisky world. This distillery, and more so than just the distillery, this particular Dunglass style expression – why did this not survive?

As a pretty expensive dram it is fairly simple for what you are paying. It is smooth, very obviously lowland character with smooth vanilla. The peat used is gentle, and while there is a bit of youthful alcohol it is still generally smooth, and the little bump it has can easily be smoothed out with a few drops of water. It would seem to be a very stereotypical smooth lowland if it wasn’t for that gentle peat.

That gentle peat? That is such a pleasure. Not fancy, but it gives a very different character to this easy to drink whisky. A tasty peat character but without any of the harshness that usually comes with peat – in fact this is gentler than most of the unpeated whisky on the market.

If you add more than just a drop of water to this it does become more ash filled, more peaty and heavier. Not bad, but it makes it lose its raison d’etre. There are many better peatier and heavy whiskies than this with some water, but none that are as lowland smooth, sweet and yet peated as it is before you add that water. At least none that have been encountered by me. In fact I was surprised to find out Littlemill was not triple distilling at this time as this very much has that character. A bit more water also adds a less pleasant wet cardboard note, this is definitely just a drop or two of water dram.

As a rare whisky it is too expensive for what it should be – a gentle, easy drinking whisky with that surprising touch of peat weight, but I genuinely want an easier to buy whisky like this. Someone please make and release it. This is simple, satisfying, sweet and peaty and you can’t go wrong with it except for the higher price.

Background: So, another chance to try a dead distillery, thought technically the distillery is not a new one to me. I got to try a Littlemill a long time back at the Rummer Hotel. This however is a rare lightly peated expression they did in the late 1960s, with the actual distillery closing in 1992 (ish? I’ve seen 1994 listed as well, and it had closed previously in 1984 – frankly don’t trust these dates too much, I’ve seen too many different ones) and dismantled 1997. Looks like they also did a heavily peated one called Dumbuck, but I’ve not tried that one. Anyway saw this 5 year old miniature at Old and Rare Whisky. As I have mentioned before they are expensive, even for the whisky they sell, but the chance to try this whisky without needed to buy a full and very expensive bottle was an opportunity I did not want to pass up. As you can tell from the spirit being made in the 60s and this being 5 years old, this bottle has been around a while, and the cap seemed to almost fuse with the bottle. Took some proper effort to get it off and to the whisky inside. There isn’t any abv listed on the bottle, but the listing online said 40% abv so that is what I put here. Wanted some light but haunting music for backing so went with Celeste: Farewell.

Ardnamurchan: Release 2: AD/01.21.01 (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 5 Years: 46.8% ABV)

Visual: Light pale gold with quite fast, thick streaks coming from the spirit.

Nose: Sherry soaked raisins. Vanilla. Lime cordial air. Fatty butter. Charcoal dust. Water makes sooty and adds crumpets notes.

Body: Honey. Fatty butter. Charcoal dust and charred wood. Raisins to fruitcake. Dry sherry. Vanilla fudge. Water adds Madeira. Pink lemonade and menthol.

Finish: Charring. Burnt meat ends. Dust. Fatty butter. Slightly dry. Sultanas. Water makes more fruity to fruitcake. Light crushed peanuts. More soot. Pink lemonade.

Conclusion: Well, a bit of time to air has really opened this one up. As you can see I’m in the second half of the bottle as I’ve had it a while, and generally I find that a few weeks to let a whisky air can often really help. As mentioned in the background, I’ve been a bit rubbish at this recently.

But! This is not about me, this is about whisky. So, how is it?

When I first tried this the thing I noticed most was that it was kind of fatty butter thick and slightly harsh in its soot character against the vanilla background. It was ok, interesting – especially in the texture, but generally not one I would recommend.

As mentioned, time has really opened it up. From far more raisins coming out in the aroma, to a more balanced level of fatty character in the body, to Madeira notes coming out. This now has a lot more dark fruit balancing out the dry, sooty smoke character that initially made the whisky quite harsh.

The fatty character is still there, especially later on in the body and into the finish. It gives a lot of weight and grip which is good, but the flavour of it is not quite for me. The flavour becomes a lot more evident with water, so bear that in mind if you are of similar mind.

Even odder, but more favourable to me, is that the water adds a kind of lemon and raspberry sweet note that I can best describe as pink lemonade like. Which I think is a new for me in tasting notes. Probably. I have done a LOT of notes by now. Anyway, you end up with smoke and soot, over a fatty thickness, into sweet raisins and citrus sweet pink lemonade over dry sherry. It is a weird mash up.

I think I prefer it neat though. The fatty character is more balanced, the sherry influence pleasant and still a solid vanilla character against the soot. With water is admittedly far more interesting, but also far less balanced.

A good chewy whisky, not a must have at this point as it is either solid or super interesting but never manages to marry the two. It is still a very good start for this distillery.

Background: So, I had nearly completed my attempt to try whisky from every active malt whisky distillery in Scotland (and a fair chunk of silent ones). Anyway, a whole bunch of new ones have opened up and a reasonable amount of them are actually putting bottled whisky out now. My task is never done. This is one of them, Ardnamurchan’s second release which I managed to snag from Independent Spirit before their stock vanished. As you can probably tell from the bottle I have had this a while. My taste note taking skills are dropping with ever month of this darn virus outbreak, but I am trying to keep lethargy from setting in. In good news, had my first shot now, half way to full vaccination! There is no age statement on the bottle, but a bit of googling gave the five years listed here. Similarly it told me this is aged in 65% bourbon wood and 35% a mix of PX and Oloroso sherry casks, which is nice information to know. Went with the ever haunting David Bowie: Black Star as background music when drinking.

Marks and Spencer: Kenmore: 5 Year Blended Scotch Whisky (Scottish Blended Whisky: 5 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Deep, slightly reddened gold. Very fast, thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Caramel. Neutral spirit alcohol. Vanilla. Pencil shavings. Dry rice. Orange skin.

Body: Smooth front quickly into burning alcohol. Dry rice. Caramel. Cherries. Vanilla fudge. Light smoke. Dried beef. Water makes smoother, more dried rice.

Finish: Dry rice. Alcohol air. Dry stir fry veg. Soot. Rough. Dry bamboo. Charring. Water adds more rice and makes peppery.

Conclusion: This is pretty rough – though with a few oddly smooth notes amongst them. Neat it is pretty alcohol touched. It is not too bad on the nose – fairly neutral in the alcohol feel there amongst sweet caramel and vanilla notes. Nowt too complex but decent, if fairly basic.

The first sip comes in smooth vanilla toffee … for about two seconds … then nope, alcohol burn as fuck. I was pleasantly surprised for those two seconds before the burn cut in, and then it leads out into a finish that is way too rough.

Still, no worries, it is a young blended whisky and there are some good notes in there – orange in the aroma and cherries in the body, a touch of smoke as well against caramel and vanilla toffee. I know how this works, young whisky just needs a drop of water to open it up, right?

Turns out the answer is fuck no.

Dry bamboo, stir fry and rice notes are prevalent – along with a rough general alcohol air. Though I will say at least the alcohol fire is doused with water. Unfortunately everything else is significantly worse – especially in the unpleasant, long lasting dry bamboo finish.

Neat it has hints of adequacy – sweet, subtle soot and smoke, some fruit. Hints, but unfortunately with far too much alcohol that makes most of it hidden. Water kills the fire, but makes it shit.

Avoid.

Background: This was a kind gift from a colleague at work for Christmas. Many thanks. Despite how much I slagged it off. Still many thanks. I notice it lists caramel as an ingredient, which explains how it looks so dark for a 5 year old whisky. Not much else to add. I put on Siouxsie and the Banshees to listen to while drinking, felt like something a bit strange, joyous and alternative.

Octomore 6 1

Bruichladdich: Octomore 6.1 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 5 Year: 57% ABV)

Visual: Clear grain gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Very dry. White wine. Medicinal. Alcohol tingling feel. Peppered beef. Orange liquore. Water adds sulphur and makes suddenly very peaty and slightly grassy.

Body: Peat. Prickling feel. Beef slices. Medicinal and drying. Pepper. Grapes. Dessert wine. Vanilla toffee. Grassy. Oak. Apples. Water adds vanilla cream and emphasises the peat.

Finish: Smoke. Dry, Vanilla. Beef jerky. Peat. Light paprika. Toffee. Medicinal character. Cardamom. Rice. Apples and light lime.

Conclusion: This is intense and immense. Oddly the immense character comes less in the form of smoke and more in the very medicinal character that dominates the early part of the spirit. The peat brings in beef slices and does still bring in a reasonable heft of smoke, all very drying. It is an experience just for that but behind the punch there is light vanilla sweetness and wine like white grapes, surprisingly delicate notes behind the assault and a great balance to the peat. While it is not as complex as Ardbog it is just as thrilling as you would expect.

Oddly, after having the 5.1 a year ago, this is actually less drying and more towards the medicinal as said, as opposed to the 5.1 which was more thick peat feel. This however balances much better, there is more room, when you acclimatise, to feel the softer notes behind.

With water added it becomes even more overpowering in the peat, causing an initial gasp of surprise as the water has the exact opposite effect of the expected. The huge, bigger peat however gains an even softer backing with apples in amongst the grapes. It is much lovelier here, richer and smoother without any sacrifice to the peat. With more water it becomes creamier and creamier behind the medicinal front. The further you go, the more it becomes an exercise in contradicting notes that somehow work.

Intense neat, wine like and yet harshly powerful with water, creamy strength and peaty with even more water, it is never super complex but never lets down on its reputation. Very full, and yet can feel so surprisingly soft at times as you become used to the peat. Well worth trying for what it is, both an experience and a good whisky.

Background: One thousand drink reviews! That is just slightly scary, but for the big 1K we have this special number. At 167 ppm this is nearly the peatiest whisky ever (version 5.1 which I tried but never reviewed was 169). This was drunk at the amazing Independent Spirit Rare Whisky event at Circo. When they say rare they mean rare, while there are still some bottles of this still available they tend to go very fast and then the price rockets up. We had five whiskys that night, with other guests, my friend Matt, and Chris from Independent spirits all giving their thoughts. Since I know how easy it is to get psychosomatic flavours after someone else mentions them consider the above a view of the general opinion on the whisky so I can call it a feature rather than a bug. Due to the nature of the event my notes were somewhat haphazard, but hopefully I’ve managed to put them together into something readable. Thanks to the guys at Independent spirit for such an awesome event and for giving me a cheer for completing my thousandth review.

Benromach Sassicaia Finish. (Scottish Whisky: Single Malt: 5 Years: Speyside: 45% ABV)

Visual: Deep soaked blood orange bronzed whisky.

Viscosity: Fast forming, at some points it comes down the glass in waves.

Nose: Spicy, blackcurrant soaked in brandy. Some saltiness and (shockingly) rich wine.

Body: Rich, fruit cake, caramel. Slight harshness. Sultanas and olives. Curry house snacks. The alcohol is obvious but becomes less so with nursing and a touch of water. Water also brings out more sweetness to counterbalance the spicyness.

Finish: Dry, spicy again. Dried fruits – dusting of mixed spices. Turmic and cloves.

Conclusion: This fine finish makes the Benromach whisky a spicy feisty beast, full of fruit and wine elements.

Definitely a whisky that benefits from nursing to take off the fire and let the elements play, and for some the water is vital to hide the harsher elements.

Lovely lively whisky and I have empirically tested that it goes great with Christmas cake.

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