Tag Archive: 60-65% ABV


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.

Càrn Mòr: Celebration Of The Cask: Speyside 1991 (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 25 Years: 62.5% ABV)

Visual: Banana gold.

Viscosity: Thin slow puckering.

Nose: Thick. Stewed apricot. Caramel. Floral. Hard sweets. Light menthol and peppermint. Water makes more apples, grapes and light oak. More water and time adds golden syrup and white chocolate.

Body: Strong alcohol. Charring. Apples. Oily. Peppery. Vanilla. Waxy. Water makes butterscotch, oak and oddly stronger alcohol. More water brings more butterscotch – time makes even more so and slight tart grapes. Tinned tropical fruit.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Dry oak. Tongue numbing, Peppery. Water gives more alcohol and butterscotch. More water brings apples, pears and vanilla. White chocolate and tart grapes.

Conclusion: This is heavy duty, high alcohol and high burn whisky. In fact, it gets even higher alcohol character with a drop of water. Which is not what I expected. It takes a serious battering of water to get this thing to calm down.

This is an oily and waxy beast – it brings a huge wodge of sweet stewed fruit and caramel. Initially it is a deeply unsubtle beast – peppery, yes, but really concentrating on the heavy apricot. However as I paid attention I did realise it was a bit odd around the edges, with a menthol and peppermint character.

Water is definitely needed to bring everything in line so you can properly enjoy it. Neat it is fun, but harsh, mostly one track and what else it has doesn’t quite mesh. Time, and all that water makes it a very different experience. It becomes so much smoother, with lots of butterscotch coming out to create a coherent centre for everything else to hang off.

It is a thick, sweet one – some notes of white chocolate come out, matched by some tart grapes which seems to be the remnants of the odd elements in the neat whisky. It is strange that this was aged in a single sherry butt as it brings a lot of tropical fruit that I would usually associate with bourbon ageing. For a 25 year old whisky it is not exceptional in complexity, but gives a waxy texture that really sells what it does have. The texture takes a sweet whisky that would be good, but very simple for a 25 year one, and gives it a lot of grip and some unusual stylings. Very full, very thick – definitely not a bad one – but not great for the age. Solid.

Background: Wow, bottled in 2017, this still holds a massive abv for 25 years of ageing – and was the first of five whiskies tried at Independent Spirit for their second Uber Whisky tasting of the year. I loved the last tasting, so was very excited for this. Also, my first ever set of notes from The Speyside – the distillery, rather than the region Speyside (also called just “Spey” for a bunch of its bottling, probably to stop confusion with other whiskies from the region). This is one of 533 bottles. Anyway, as always for these events – I was doing my notes in a social environment, with five strong whiskies back to back – my notes may be affected by other peoples thoughts, the drunkenness, and the other whisky I had. However, as before, for trying five expensive and rare whiskies like this I could hardly miss the chance to do some notes. Hope they are ok by you.

Aberlour: A’Bunadh (Speyside Scottish Single Cask Malt Whisky: No Age Statement: 60.9%)

Visual: Dark burnished red, almost like red wine and treacle mixed together.

Viscosity: Very slow puckering and tiny crawling streaks.

Nose: Almonds, dust and treacle. Very pungent and heavy. Vanilla undertones. Christmas cake and sherry. Honey. With water it becomes much more floral with a touch of liquorice, and more honey. Even more brings out the odd mix of coffee cake and cherries.

Body: Red cherries, cream and a burning strength. Toffee fronted.  Water makes much more toffee evident. Still a very chewy powerful whisky.  Some coffee liquor and much more cream as you add more water.

Finish: Charcoal and chocolate. Light citrus as the power wears off. Black cherry when you add water with a hint of yogurt. Coffee and cream, Light spice.

Conclusion:  This really brings everything to the table and the kitchen sink.   Its flavours are nigh indestructible to heat and cold, from the burning treacle at cask strength, to toffee, cherries and cream with water. With all this you can pretty much treat it as a “Make your own favourite whisky” experimentation set.

Really heavy and thick with flavour, it’s like a ton of strong sensation ditched straight onto your tongue.

As heavy duty a whisky as you get without going the peat and salt assault route.  This really shows how to do a cask strength well. Goes well with some Christmas cake, and the like for a real warming Christmas.

Hakushu 1989 TWE 10th Anniversary Sherry cask . (Japanese Whisky: Single Cask Single Malt: 20 years Old: 62% ABV)

Disclaimer: tasted at a whisky show, this was a comparatively short measure so the tasting note is similarly reduced as I did not get time to contemplate the full range. However I still felt it worth sharing my thoughts on these whiskys I would otherwise have been unable to experience.

Visual: Deep rum red with warm brown depths.

Viscosity: Many, many fast forming streaks.

Nose: Sherry and red wine. Dry grapes. Not subtle but powerful.

Body: Very harsh alcohol punch as was to be expected. Without a touch of water most other notes are hidden. With the water it opens up with delicious trifle like notes and spicy richness. Again unsubtle but powerful.

Finish: Initial dry wood, tongue gets numb if taken at its raw strength. Surprisingly airy fields and woods develop with water for a more rounded end to this powerful number.

Conclusion: A fiery powerful sherry cask expression with simplicity and great power. It definitely needs water to appreciate and brings in everything fast and heavy. Not one that takes a long time to reveal its charm. An appealing if overpowering drink that will never be the most complex but will be appreciated.

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

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