Tag Archive: Scotland


Douglas Laing: Big Peat (Islay Blended Malt: No age statement: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very pale grain touch and with hint of brackish green.

Viscosity: Very slow thin puckering.

Nose: Lightly medicinal but clean. Salt and moss. Light alcohol air. Peat smoke. Water makes slightly harsher medicinal but cleaner alcohol with more moss.

Body: Beef. Vanilla and toffee. Light chocolate to praline notes. Salt. Crushed nuts. Peat. Light alcohol air. Water makes smooth – caramel and fudge notes. More water makes slight golden syrup.

Finish: Peat smoke. Smoked beef slices. Light cherries. Chocolate. Salt. Lightly medicinal. Nutty. Water makes more beefy and peaty.

Conclusion: The odd thing I find with vatted malts is that, unlike single malts or standard blended whisky, they often can work best without water. It is a miracle! I guess since they have more room to design the exact nature of the whisky it may be easier to get just the balance they want.

Anyway, that is to say, this is a good whisky with water, but best tried neat.

This is, well – not a simple whisky, but a fairly straightforward whisky if you get the difference. It seems very clean, but despite that a typical Islay style on the aroma. Not heavily done, smooth as vatted malts often are, but balances the peat, salt and medicinal notes.

The body is the biggest difference from an Islay single malt – it is very sweet for an Islay. Most Islay have some sweetness, but this has a thicker toffee, caramel or even fudge character depending on the level of water used, and behind that some chocolate notes mixed in there. A much more solid base in the sweetness. From that the peat, beef smoke and salt that the Island is famous for seem much more well contrasted and a smoother experience because of that.

So, why do I say it should be drunk with no water? Well, without water it feels more intense and – despite the alcohol being slightly noticeable – it still seems less harsh in the medicinal notes that with a little water. Now, if you add a lot of water, rather than a little water, then it gains the caramel character and becomes very smooth indeed in all things, however that comes at the cost of a lot of what you came here for – the peat. So, yep, without water is the way for me.

Now, on that note, for something call Big Peat it is, well, moderate peat on the Islay scale. So, not one in you want it super intense and peaty. However as a smooth, balanced, sweet and peaty whisky it is very good. So, not as super intense as the name suggests but that does not make it bad in any way at all.

Background: Had a few run ins with this one, first at a tasting session at Independent Spirit, then a Douglas Laing tasting at The Hideout. I never had my tasting note kit on me though,I was going for more social nights out at the time. So now, finally I get to do my notes as Independent Spirit kindly donated a measure of it for doing some notes on. Many thanks. This is an Islay vatted malt made with Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore and the closed distillery Port Ellen whisky! It was drunk while listening to some Meshuggah – hard music for heavy peat. Also drunk after watching some new Doctor Who, so in a generally good frame of mind. Also, because we are childish, at the first tasting note we were amused by the idea of having some of Big Peat in our mouth. Also we were drinking, which may explain it. Also that works better when said rather than written down.

Brewdog: Paradox Rye (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 15% ABV)

Visual: Black. Short lived brown creamy head that settles to a loose bubble dusting.

Nose: Milk chocolate. Tiramisu. Bourbon. Caramel. Crushed rye crackers. Praline. Crushed walnuts and coffee cake.

Body: Bitter chocolate and coffee cake. Smooth. Low alcohol character. Caramel. Vanilla fudge. Cocoa dust. Slightly bready. Bourbon comes out as it warms.

Finish: Coca dust. Rye crackers. Crushed peanuts. Chocolate cake. Coffee cake. Crushed walnuts and pecan pie. Spirity air. Bourbon.

Conclusion: This has been less influenced by the rye bourbon ageing than I had imagined – at least at first. Initially the alcohol feel, and bourbon feel, in this is pretty low. Alcohol warmth but that is about it on that side.

Instead it is very smooth – chocolate cake and coffee cake styled luxury imperial stout. A lot more nutty that previous Paradoxes though – which I presume is a more subtle piece of influence from the time in the oak.

Strangely there is very little of the big vanilla notes that you tend to get with American oak ageing. Even as the beer warms, and a bourbon air comes out in the finish, it is more subtle than usual. This finally revealed oak ageing influence seems a mixed blessing. It gains a slight spirity feel as it warms. I prefer this sort of thing to feel integrated into the beer, while here it seems to float as a separate note rather than part of the beer itself. Also, for all the beer seems to gain a good nuttiness, in general the beer feels like a very smooth base Paradox separate from those spirity notes. There are comparatively few added elements outside the bourbon air.

So, a mixed blessing, but still a blessing to have spent time in the oak. The oak rest has made it smooth as hell, and the base notes are emphasised in exceptionally good ways because of that. Praline for the chocolate, rich for the coffee cake, and the aforementioned great range of nuts. Very good – it just feels like it needs either less oak influence to ditch the spirity air and indulge the luxury, or more oak influence to add more complex layers to justify the spirit air.

So, not perfect, but a very luxurious smooth imperial stout. Feels like either a great example of what you would want from an unaged imperial stout, or a slightly weak take on an aged one. Make of that what you will.

Background: Ok, we all know the drill by now – big imperial stout. Aged in barrels – in this case Rye bourbon. As always I am not an unbiased actor in Brewdog beer. Grabbed from the Brewdog store. Think that covers the usual stuff. Despite being canned now, this still comes in a presentation box. Which seems a bit of a waste of material, and looks a tad silly. I used to be up for the more fancy things around beers, when they were used occasionally for really special stuff. They are used for so much these days the novelty has worn off and it just looks like an unnecessary waste of resources. Wanted some simple but heavy music for drinking this – so shoved on some Obituary. Nice, heavy and guitar led. Job done.

Talisker: Storm (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: No age: 45.8% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold.

Viscosity: Medium streaks.

Nose: Tarry peat smoke. Dried beef slices. Honey. Peppery. Noticeable alcohol. Sulphur. Charred oak. Cigarette ash. Water adds more smoke, salty rocks and caramel. Slightly floral.

Body: Smooth – caramel and custard. Alcohol if held. Tarry. Dried beef slices. Red cherries. Water makes more caramel and more tarry notes. No alcohol evident now. Peppery. Even more water increases the caramel.

Finish: Bready. Peaty. Some moss. Malt chocolate. Red cherries. Dry. Water adds salt, charring and mild chocolate cake. Fudge. Peppery.

Conclusion: Quick summary – with no water, meh this is ok. With water – oh yeah, this is what I am looking for. Either way, the aroma tells you exactly what is coming.

The aroma is tarry, peaty and evident from way across from the glass. I could pickup the first notes while still doing the photo shots at the start. Lots of thick notes here, but without the harsh or medicinal notes that an Islay would have in a similar whisky.

Neat it is fairly smooth – if held too long alcohol does develop, but generally nothing too heavy. However when neat the flavours doesn’t hold half the weight that the aroma promises – it is generally more dominated by the smoother caramel notes. There is some rounding – some dried beef slices and interesting cherry notes, but really lacking the tarry thickness of the aroma.

As I have been indicating at the start, water really does the job here. The alcohol is all smoothed away – a slight island salty and rocky character gets added to the smooth caramel base. More importantly the bigger notes promised come out – peppery, thick, tarry. It is still smooth bodied but now with a weight of flavour which then leads out into a chocolate and fudge finish that is matched by peat and salt.

It feels like it takes all the benefits of a harsh Islay, strips the harshness and adds it to the traditional island Talisker complexity.

Another stormer (ha-ha) of a whisky from Talisker.

Background: The final of a pack of three Talisker miniatures grabbed from Independent Spirit. This one is described as a more intense flavours take on the standard Talisker. Which sounds good by me. I was a bit nervous as I know either Storm, or Dark Storm has a really bad reputation. But, since I couldn’t remember which I tried to not let that influence me. This was drunk while listening to Ulver: The Assassination of Julius Caesar again. Still getting used to the very different nature of it, but good background drinking music.

Brewdog Vs Beavertown: Coffee and Cigarettes (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 12.1% ABV)

Visual: Black. Brown coffee rim of a head and a dash of a head across the main body.

Nose: Tar. Peat. Brown sugar. Smoke. Thick treacle and caramel. Ash. Honey. Rich coffee. Crushed muscat grapes.

Body: Ash. Smoke. Mild bitter chocolate. Rich coffee beans to coffee cake. Light carrot. Smoked meat. Spiced red grapes.

Finish: Milky chocolate. Smoke. Smoked meat. Shortbread. Bitter coffee. Slight salt air. Slight carrot cake. Cocoa dust. Ash. Spicy grapes. Treacle.

Conclusion: You know, you can rarely criticise Brewdog beers for not matching their concept. This, well it matches the concept to a tee. This has coffee, rich and full up front with thinner and more raw notes at times; This also has ash, smoke and such cigarette imagery. Quite peated and full up front, dry and smokey at the end, with smoke meat dished out throughout to help the idea.

Despite all this, which is impressive, I am a tad disappointed. Please let me explain why. The aroma is a booming beast – tarry, smokey and meaty. It hints and brown sugar and rich, sweet and spicy dark fruit. Frankly amazing. Not quite explaining the disappointment, am I? Give me a mo.

None of the above is entirely absent from the body, but it is far more restrained. Drier really, and a touch lighter. Not thin, but far from the beast of an aroma that dragged you in. A lot of the notes aren’t their at the start as well, they take a long time to develop. The spice grapes especially take some time to build up, so the initial impression are a distinct let down from the wonderful aroma.

When it has built up is is a) Very good and b) still nowhere near as booming as the aroma. While the nose is tarry, caramel thick and full of the burnt sugar the body is dry coffee cake and cocoa dusting. Not bad but distinctly different in intensity.

It is still good though – lost of coffee, spice grapes and caramel taste late on – lots of salt air but far from Islay heavy duty. It is drier than most Imperial Stouts, lighter all times but still complex with tons of well defined smoke and coffee notes. So, despite my criticism I enjoyed it – just a tad too dry, a tad too reined in. Small flaws but with a bit extra boom this could have been a classic.

So, good beer that does the concept well and well balanced. Maybe they made it how they did as a bigger beer would have blown out the balance. Who knows? Any which way, very good, but not ten quid a pop good. For that cost I demand a lot from a beer. Nearly worth it, but not quite for me. Hopefully I’ve given you enough info to decide for yourself if you think it would be worth that much to you.

Background: As I always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This one, a collaboration with the excellent Beavertown brewery, is one with a heck of a lot shoved in. Made with oats, muscovado sugar, coffee then aged in three different whisky casks – Islay, Rye and Bourbon it sounds like from the description at the Brewdog Store. This was drunk while listening to the experimental funk, guitar mash up wonder that is Praxis: Transmutation. Not broken that out for a while, still weird and awesome.

Tempest Brewing: The Old Fashioned: Bourbon Barrel Aged (Scotland: IIPA: 9.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy, cloudy, reddened apricot with medium caramel touched white head. On later pours the head grows to be utterly massive.

Nose: Ginger bread. Orange liqueur and orange bitters. Lots of rye bourbon. Crushed mint leaves. Musty hops. Vanilla and toffee.

Body: Vanilla. Orange bitters. Peppermint cream. Rye crackers. Peppery. Gingerbread. Caramel notes. Moderate hop bitterness. Lemon cream. Thick. Bananas. Key lime.

Finish: Peppermint chewing gum. Greenery. Musty hops. Vanilla. Peppery. Light oak. Seville orange and marmalade. Bourbon. Kiwi. Creamy bananas. Sour lime.

Conclusion: Does the concept perfectly? Tick. Just about can still see the DIPA below it? Just about tick. Thick texture? Big tick. Tons of bourbon? Huge tick. Lots of ticks kicking this off.

On the cocktail concept side of things – this has tons of orange, orange bitters with the IIPA hop bitterness, zest marmalade into the finish. Lots of very well defined, rye touched and similarly orange influenced bourbon notes. This is pretty unusual, usually I expect just the vanilla and spirit notes from the bourbon ageing – but you really can taste the range of bourbon notes in here.

That alone would be interesting enough, but if you take your time and let it warm, there is actually even more to this. Initially the body underneath everything is lovely and creamy and thick – with vanilla notes but not much else. A solid delivery system for the concept but not much else. Then, as it warms more hops in kiwi and key lime and the like float out form underneath. Lovely green fruit notes that complement the beer and give contrast to the core conceit.

Now, to enjoy this beer you have to buy into the concept – but it doesn’t exactly hide that. If you do though, it does it so well. Lots of malt character in sweet custard and toffee to compensate for the hop and orange bitters, giving it a lovely balance of tart, bitter, fruity and malty character.

What would normally be a flaw – the muggy nature of the hops, probably due to the ageing, is not too out of place here. The hop flavours aren’t so crisp and prickling, and due to that they seem to merge with the orange bitters styles better. That was either utterly great planning, or bloody good luck in developing this beer.

Any which way, a brilliant idea well done. If you aren’t fundamentally against the concept then, damn, try it.

Background: Another beer it was hard to pick a beer style for – Ratebeer lists it as part of the wide category “American Strong Ale”, The base beer is a Double IPA according to the bottle, and they advise to drink it fresh due to high hop character. I went for Imperial IPA, but it is a toss up really. Anyway this is the aforementioned DIPA, made with orange and ginger, and aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels to mimic the flavours of the “Old Fashioned” cocktail – one I drank my first of in only the past … year I think. I lose track of time easily. It is also in a wax topped bottle. Fuck that wax. Fuck it in the ear. Took me fucking ages to get it off. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to some riot grrrl punk from Heavens To Betsy – “Calculated” to be specific.


Talisker: Skye (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: No Age: 45.8% ABV

Visual: Deep bronzed apricot.

Viscosity: Mix of slow and fast medium sized streaks.

Nose: Salt. Wet rocks. Smoke. Seaweed and rich caramelised brown sugar. Crumpets. Black liquorice. Water makes slight golden syrup backing and treacle.

Body: Smooth. Vanilla and soft lime. Rocks. Some alcohol character. Brown sugar. Light peaty and meaty character. Slight vanilla custard. Water makes buttery and smooth. Apricot. White chocolate.

Finish: Brown sugar. Crumpets. Slight chalk. Slight charring. White bread. Cooked pork. Vanilla custard. Water makes buttery with a mix of white chocolate and golden syrup. Tinned tropical fruits and toasted teacakes.

Conclusion: For all this does have an alcohol touch to it, this is a very smooth whisky – one that progresses from gentle sweet elements to entice you in, into the more recognisable, robust Talisker character.

It holds the gentle peat warmth, the slight salt and the gentle not-Islay island coastal character of a standard Talisker, and rides out into vanilla custard and brown sugar as the sweet base develops. This is not too unexpected – while this is less forceful than the 10 year old, it still plays in a familiar ball park.

What stands out here is the gentle bready character to the whole thing – from crusty white bread to crumpets – all touched with buttery sweetness – it gives both a gentle grip and an extra smoothness in the combination. The butteryness especially feels thick – slightly oily – full natural butter feeling with the flavour rather than cheap supermarket stuff.

Water soothes the alcohol touches it had when neat, and brings out some sweet aprictots, but the general gist of the thing remains the same.

Overall a very impressive dram that captures both the expressive island character. And a slightly more gentle sipping whisky, balanced by toasted teacake top and bottom.

A gentle yet complex and toasted dram. Very nice, very easily drinkable – very much up my street.

Background: So, after the uber whisky night I felt like more whisky a day or so later. So, I remembered I had a pack of miniature Taliskers I had grabbed from Independent Spirit a few weeks before. Time to break them out. This one is aged in a mix of refill and toasted American oak casks – apparently to give a bit smoother character. This was drunk while listening to some of the haunting Ulver tunes on the atgclvlsscap album. Very good background, yet atmospheric music for a good whisky.

Douglas Laing: Old Particular: Caol Ila: 20 Year (Scotland Islay Single Malt Whisky: 20 Years: 51.5% ABV)

Visual: Very pale greened grain.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Medicinal. Charcoal. Charred oak. Salt. Quite clean. Moss. Water is similar but smoother.

Body: Clean vanilla and caramel. Tinned tropical fruit. Tingling hint of alcohol. Water adds light custard. Cooked pork meaty notes. Oily and quite viscous. Light lemon.

Finish: Medicinal. Thick sheen. Oily. Slight tar. Mostly clean. Slight teacakes. Water doesn’t completely remove alcohol tingle.

Conclusion: This is a very clean Caol Ila. Very viscous as well in how it delivers the medicinal notes compared to the usual rather dry medicinal character of a lot of these. It really has a thickness to it, giving a thick sheen on your tongue rather than only evaporating to fill the mouth. It makes it a chewable medicinal style, with some, but not a vast amount of the Islay peat smoke coming in with it.

Flavour wise, while peat light, it lands smack solidly in the middle of what you would expect of a Caol Ila. Smooth vanilla and tropical fruit styling that I presume come from time spent in a bourbon cask – warming, with slight lemon notes and the expected salt character – it is not as unusual in flavour as it is in texture, but everything is done very smoothly indeed. So, the expected range, just polished beyond what you normally see.

It is not one that will convert people who weren’t fans of Caol Ila to begin with – but with the smoother character you find the vanilla and toffee being more present and offsetting the more medicinal notes – so it may tip someone on the fence over into liking it. Nothing is too hash, even the alcohol tingle feels more warming than burning – obviously its old age being put to good use. As long as you are not put off by Islay, then this is a smooth take on that, especially with water.

I have made this comparison before with other whiskies, but this does have small calls to Kiln Embers with its smoothness and salted lemon characteristics. This however is far more distinctively Islay and wears it more openly. A classic of Caol Ila, one that doesn’t break the style, but does it very well indeed.

Background: This is the final of the five whiskies had at Independent Spirit‘s latest Uber whisky night. This is an aged independent bottling of Caol Ila. I’m a big fan of all of Islay, and Caol Ila is definitely in the top 50% of them. Any more detailed than that is hard to call with the quality of the area. This should be an interesting one- while not the heaviest peated Islay, Caol Ila still has some character of it, and peat tends to vanish quickly with age. Should be fun. This is one of 316 bottlings for this release. 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.

Highland Park: Fire Edition (Scotland Island Single Malt Whisky: 15 Year: 45.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold.

Viscosity: Moderate speed and thickness streaks.

Nose: Dry rum and brandy cream. Slight smoke. Moss. Thick aroma. Light oak. Butter. Water adds some blueberries.

Body: Toffee. Light caramel. Light treacle. Strawberry. Alcohol is noticeable. Buttered crumpets. Water brings out sweet butter. More strawberry. Fudge. Vanilla and brambles.

Finish: Alcohol air. Toast. Light charring. Red berries. Toasted teacakes. Butter. Smoke. Water brings more butter and red berries. Blueberry.

Conclusion: This is very bready indeed – like a mix of toast to toasted teacakes. Really solid, and packed through with red fruit. It is very interesting examining this one immediately after the Springbank 25 year – they both wear their port influence proudly. This is more solid, and because of that is more immediately appreciable as a whisky. However because of that it also doesn’t wear quite the same range of flavour at the tail end of its life. By the way that isn’t intended as a harsh criticism – more an examination of the trade off you get with whisky. It is very nice, with subtle vanilla sweetness matched with lightly tart red and dark berries.

It is a full on, rich berry expression – very much pushing the imagery of picking your own berries on a summer picnic kind of thing – the Highland Park base giving a solid texture and weight for the fruity experience to work from.

It feels full of brambles – and if this was just slightly jammy it would make a perfect image of full on jam covered toasted sandwiches. It isn’t so it doesn’t, but it is that kind of thing it is coming close to. As it is it is a fresher faced experience, with a solid whisky base. Without water it feels a bit more thick and musky – with water the freshness of the fruit opens up. So, Springbank 25 wins on complexity – but you cannot go far wrong with this for a solid experience. Again, maybe not worth the cost of a fancy bottle, but very much worth trying if you can.

Background: Yep, it is the fourth of the whiskies tried at the recent Independent Spirit Uber Whisky Tasting. This one, well I am a big Highland Park fan, but I can’t quite shake the impression that you are paying a lot for the bottle on this one. It is a pretty bottle I will admit. Not several hundred quid pretty, but pretty. Anyway, this is one of 28,000 bottles and is aged completely in port casks. 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.

Springbank: 25 Year (Scottish Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky: 25 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Yellow gold.

Viscosity: Mix of fast and thin streaks with some puckering from the spirit.

Nose: Strawberry. Peach melba. Quince rakia. Smooth. Tinned tropical fruit. Mandarin orange. Marzipan. Water makes floral with lots of red berries and caramel.

Body: Smooth. Mandarin orange. Marzipan. Slightly light. Dry. Water adds custard and makes feel thicker. Dry raisins. Peach. Red berries and grapes. Spiced raisins. Light grassiness. Custard and sherry trifle.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Raisins. Smooth. Light menthol and orange juice. Light grapes. Dry rum. Water adds fudge, red berries, dry Thai seven spice and a light grassiness.

Conclusion: Old whisky tends to feel very smooth, but can also feel kind of light. This can be a shock to people who have not had aged whisky before and expect it to burst with flavour from the first moment. Generally I find you need to take your rime with it, let it fill the air inside your mouth and seep into the taste-buds – that is when they get going. Basically that is what you get with this.

The aroma is complex though – it is that which tells you what to look for in the body, what may come out if you give it time and attention. It bursts with all the levels of notes that you could hope for – rich red fruit, peach melba, orange notes. There is so much going on, and while the body doesn’t quite ever match this amazing aroma – if you ever find a whisky that does – then you will have one of the all time greats.

Therefore, initially as indicated before, the first sip may seem a bit of a let down. It is quite light, and may vanish fast leaving marzipan sweetness, and hints of light fruit. Be prepared though, take your time, and add no more than a drop of water and you will be ready ( lots of people avoided adding that drop of water- feeling it didn’t need it at this age. I found it actually made the whisky a tad thicker, and really opened it up. So I would recommend trying at least before you finish the whisky – but no more than a drop). You get dryer notes coming with that – light dry raisins and sherry spice – now it is good, not exceptional but good – spicy grounding below the fruit notes. Take your time and slowly much more red fruit develops – now you get most of the notes hinted by the aroma, the fruit burst, before that leads out into dry spiced rum and raisins in the finish.

Time again like the water, gives this more body somehow – slight stewed fruit notes, and a more solid, less shimmery light take to the marzipan. This really is one to take as long as you can with.

This is very different to the standard Springbank – there is only a light grassiness, most of that style is lost – and very little of the subtle smoke that the whisky usually trades on. Instead you get a lot more influence from the oak – it keeps hints of the Springbank style, but is drier, and much fruitier with spicy depth. Very nice – very subtle and complex. Not worth the 350 odd quid price, but very nice.

Background: As a huge Campbeltown, and by that I generally mean Springbank, fan (There are a total of three Distilleries there now) I was very much happy to hear that this was part of the Uber whisky tasting at Independent Spirit. This spirit was aged in Sherry and Bourbon casks, much as you would expect, then merged together in refill Port casks. Which is less expected, but very awesome. This is one of only 900 bottles releases in 2017. Again, I know how lucky I was to get to try this. 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.

Springbank: Local Barley: 11 Year (Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky: 11 Years: 53.1% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold.

Viscosity: Mix of slow puckering and fast streaks.

Nose: Peat smoke. Wheat field. Vanilla. Slight grapes. Slight sour character. Buttery shortbread. Sulphur touch. Menthol. Water brings more sour fruits.

Body: Slight sour grapes, alcohol touch. Vanilla toffee. Oily. Water brings slight caramel, lightly grassy character. Apples and peppery character.

Finish: Floral air. Strong alcohol. Quince rakia. Slight white wine. Vanilla. Light oily nuts. Malt chocolate and toffee. Dry Madeira. Water gives a menthol air, smoke and apples. Drying notes.

Conclusion: This is very unusual for a Springbank. It does have the grassy character, the slight smoke – it is identifiable as a Springbank. However it is unusual in that it has a slightly sour, kind of fresh taste to it. It reminds me a bit of quince rakia, and it it makes it a fresher, less heavy base that gives this an entirely different feel overall.

Into that freshness is a light vanilla sweetness – the two interact interestingly with those aforementioned Springbank core elements – the grassiness isn’t very pronounced, instead giving a slight solid grounding to what is actually a quite clean feeling spirit. Also, in that clean spirit some of the younger spirit flavours – apples and green fruits, but delivered in a smooth aged whisky style. It even has a slight menthol freshness mixing in with unusual base, resulting a a minty touched mouth tingling feel overall.

It really does emphasis that unusual base – sour grapes touched and tingling. I would call it unique, except I actually have a recent reference point – this feels like a single malt equivalent to the 40 year Timorous Beastie that confused me so much at the last Uber tasting. This isn’t as complex, but is heavier and thicker – however they both show the same unusual tart mouthfeel.

I find this more an interesting experience than an awesome standout whisky, so it isn’t the best of the Springbank range – however it still shows the Springbank quality and is very good. One I’d say to definitely try if you get the chance, but hard to justify grabbing a full bottle of.

Background: Second of the whiskies I tried at the second Uber Whisky tastings that Independent Spirit have done this year. I am a huge fan of Springbank, so this was one I really looked forwards to. This is the second release of “Local barley”, whisky made with barley from local farms (in this case Bere barley from Aros Farm). The first release was a 16 year, this one is 11 year and one of approximately 9000 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.

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