Tag Archive: Single Cask


Douglas Laing: Provenance Single Cask: Glengoyne 8 Year( Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very pale clear spirit with a light brackish hue to it.

Viscosity: Medium speed thin streaks.

Nose: Moss. Moderate alcohol. Citrus – fresh lime. Very fresh. Mojitos. Crushed leaves. Light menthol. Gin. Water adds vanilla pods.

Body: Warming. Smooth feel despite the alcohol. Very viscous. Soft toffee. Water makes creamier. Kiwi, grapes and vanilla. Apples. Jelly. Raisins.

Finish: Light charring. Malt drinks. Lots of oak. Greenery. Alcohol air. Water makes creamier. Brown bread. Fudge. More water adds raisins.

Conclusion: This really shows the energy of its relative youth. While not burning in its alcohol, it is still that very viscous styling of strong alcohol with a very melting jelly like feel to the centre and very familiar alcohol warmth with it.

Flavour wise it is also very youthful – lots of full on green fruit akin to a young spirit. Neat it is fairly raw, but water soothes that, turning it into a sweeter, creamier version of itself; In this form it seems to call slightly to Speyside character rather than its Highland home However underneath that is the more familiar sweet highland in a fudge and malt drink styled base. It is more gentle that normal, more a backing note than its more mature cousins.

In oddities that it has, there is a slight crushed leaves amongst the citrus notes – which makes if feel slightly mojitos like in its expression top and tail. Which is unexpected. A cocktail experience in a single malt.

It is a raw green fruit thing neat, becoming more recognisably highland sweet the more water you add. While I would say it is too simple neat, water gives an impressive depth for its youth with raisins and dark fruit coming out as a balance to the brighter green fruit. It is a very different experience from neat to water laden, going from super fresh to subtly dried fruit.

Not excellent, but has a decent range with water so I can’t complain.

Background: Hip flask sized bottles of whisky, one of my favourite ways of trying a wider range of whisky without having to spend a fortune on full sized bottles. This one, grabbed from Independent Spirit, is a Glengoyne bottling – done without colouring or chill filtering. I’ve actually been to the Glengoyne distillery, back when I did a tour of distilleries in Scotland – very pretty and tucked away near a waterfall. This was drunk while listening to Anthrax – Amongst The Living – no particular reason, just good tunes.

carn-mor-caperdonich-1992

Carn Mor: Caperdonich 1992 (Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 24 Year: 58.9% ABV)

Visual: Light gold.

Viscosity: Very slow thick streaks.

Nose: Clean and light. Citrus lemon and lime. Pencil shavings. Vanilla. Light toffee. Light floral. Water gives more floral. More water brings out peach notes and slight sulphur.

Body: Sweet. Honey and golden syrup mix. Very noticeable alcohol. Water makes much smoother. Butterscotch. Peppery. Lime. More water brings light apricot and dried pineapple and gives a slight waxy texture.

Finish: Alcohol strength. Oily sheen. Sulphur. Floral. Butterscotch. Water makes slightly soapy. White chocolate and tinned tropical fruits. Peppery and slightly waxy. More water adds dried apricot and pineapple.

Conclusion: This is far better than my first experience with Caperdonich. With the high abv this has, cask strength from a single cask, it gives a thicker, waxy texture that gives much more grip for the flavour.

It is a honey sweet whisky, using that and the waxy character as a base for some dried fruit, bourbon ageing tropical fruit and some floral notes floating over that. None of that is a too unusual style but the age of this means that it is delivered in a very clean style and, with water, pretty smoothly.

It carries what feels like a light smoke backing it up – giving it slightly more weight that a fruity floral whisky normally would have. Slight waxy and thick feel, slight sulphur and smoke at the back. In It makes if feel slightly old fashioned – like walking around in old stores and breathing in the air. In fact, while this is not stand out or special in the flavour it is very nice in the mouthfeel. It has a very special mouthfeel – kind of like what you got with direct heated whisky distilling in the old days. Don’t know if that is what is used here but it has that slightly burnt, gassy feel.

Anyway, not a world shaker, but interesting to examine, much better than my last experience, and solid in flavour.

Background: This is the second ever Caperdonich I have encountered – it is a dead distillery- closed in 2002 and demolished 2010, so we will see no more once it is gone. My first encounter was ok but nothing special – so when this was the second whisky in the Independent Spirit Uber whisky tasting I was intrigued to give it a go. As before, due to doing more notes that usual in a social environ this may be less detailed than usual, but I do my best.

Cooper's Choice Laggan Mill Cask 7977

Cooper’s Choice: Laggan Mill: Cask 7977 (Scottish Islay Single Cask Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very clear with a slight brackish tinge. Becomes very hazy with water.

Viscosity: Fast medium sized streaks.

Nose: Salt spray water. Paint pots. Wet moss. Oily. Chargrilled beef. Smoke. Rock Salts. Granite. More rocks with water.

Body: Lime sours. High alcohol. Golden syrup and custard. Beef broth. Yorkshire puddings. Blueberry and blackcurrant – slightly jammy. Smoother with water but still full bodied. More custard. Strawberry. Soft salted lemon juice.

Finish: Blueberry. Vodka. Lime jelly. Toffee. Honey. Peat and smoked beef slices. Water makes like vodka jelly mixed with custard notes. Brings out pepper, barley biscuits and malt chocolate.

Conclusion: Damn, this is nigh clear to the eye, but intense to the tongue. As mentioned in the Background I am certain this is a Lagavulin, but for that it is surprisingly fruity, while still having that lovely smoked broth character in full show.

As can be expected of a 46% abv whisky it is slightly alcohol led, but the basis of this strong Islay whisky is still easy to see. There is still those beef and peat notes but laid over a mix of toffee, custard and golden syrup in the base. I presume this was a bourbon barrel cask aged spirit and it seems much cleaner than most Lagavulin I have encountered, making it more of a shining bright and raw experience.

Maybe this is a younger expression as well than the usual 16 year old – it seems to allow more of the base spirit character show – with water however the alcohol gets toned down and you get this lovely mix of bright spirit against Islay rocks, peat and salt experience. The younger character seems to allow salted lemon to mix with sweet dark fruit in the middle, very juicy feeling and a real contrast to the harsh Islay style.

This makes for a less balanced expression that the 16 year official bottling, but it also means that this is worth trying as its own thing. You feel like you are getting another side of the Laguvulin spirit here.

Not quite as good as the 16 year or the distillers edition, but then again, Lagavulin is one of the jewels in the whisky crown. This is still awesome Lagavulin, which means awesome whisky, period.

Background: Bottled 2015, I don’t have an age statement for this one as I can’t find any indication of the distillation date. I have it on good authority that Laggan Mill is in fact, duh, duh, duh, Lagavulin as the distillery will not allow people to use their name on independent bottlings most of the time. I adore Lagavulin so this was a must grab when I found it at Independent Spirit. Anyway this is a single cask Hogshead, and one of 330 bottles. Drunk while listening to some Crossfaith – absolutely awesome band to see live if you get the chance.

Provenance Craigellachie Single Cask 10 Year

Provenance: Craigellachie Single Cask: 10 Year (Scotland Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very pale, almost make spirit colour.

Viscosity: Many very thin, slow streaks.

Nose: Crushed peppermints. Vanilla. Make spirit. Gritty. Water makes more floral.

Body: Chocolate limes. Warming to burning. Vanilla toffee. Broth. Water adds some peat and beef slices along with honey and lime. More water brings out big toffee, honey. Smoother, with vanilla custard and apples.

Finish: Alcohol air. Chocolate limes. Wood. Dusty. Water brings out beef broth and dumplings. Lime and chocolate separate now. Sweeter with more water, light milky coffee.

Conclusion: Craigellachie can be an awesome wee dram – a fact I was reminded of by the recent Wemyss Barrista’s Dram which I tried at a recent whisky tasting. I was having a chilled night so didn’t do notes of that one – instead I later grabbed this hip flask sized bottle to try a different and younger expression.

Well, this is very definitely younger -almost make spirit in colour. Neat it has more of a feel than a taste for the most part; In fact it us a quite simple dram, though thankfully without that vodka jelly feel that some strong, young, spirits have. Anyway, not much to write home about. However at 46% abv there is plenty of room for water, so let’s see how that goes.

It helps. Brings out a light peat and the associated broth kind of notes, but the main help is that it really smooths out the sweetness that is the mainstay of the whisky. Vanilla custard sweetness and honey being the most noticeable it brings to the fore.

It is far smoother and more enjoyable here. Oddly at ten years it still plays with the fresh apple notes that I would associate with a far younger spirit. It, however, gains a more noticeable, kind of malt chocolate, traditional whisky character. Albeit less noticeable than in most whisky.

So, in the end we have a very fresh and vibrant whisky, with hints at rather than shows the full range of Craigellachie’s depths. It is nice enough with water, however it feels younger than it is and I know Craigellachie can do more.

So, ok, but not the best show of what the distillery can do.

Background: Think this is the first time I’ve done notes for a Craigellachie – it is a fine whisky, so I decided to grab this independent bottling from Independent Spirit. Nice hip flask size, always a favourite for sampling new whisky. On eye it looks a heck of a lot lighter than most Craigellachie whisky I have seen. Should be an interesting dram. Dunk while listening to the Paranoia Agent OST – that anime is mind blowing.

Balvenie Single Barrel Sherry Cask 15 Year
Balvenie: Single Barrel Sherry Cask: 15 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 15 Year : 47.8% ABV)

Visual: Reddened bronze.

Viscosity: Very slow, very thin streaks, and many of them.

Nose: Sherry trifle and brandy cream. Alcohol warmth. Creme brulee. Sultanas. Full and rich. Water makes pencil shavings come out.

Body: Creme brulee. Malt chocolate. Strawberry jelly. Thick feel to the middle. Water makes thick sweet strawberry, though still with a touch of alcohol at the back. Orange creme and plums.

Finish: Spiced red grapes. Dry. Light oak. Dust balls. Malt chocolate. Bailies. Water brings out strawberry and brandy cream.

Conclusion: Odd timing drinking this so shortly after my discuss of the use of strawberries in beers recently. Odd as with water this really tastes like a strawberry whisky, not because strawberries were used in it. I presume anyway. Anyway a strawberry whisky, in a good way.

It is a sweet whisky, but far more robust than many sweet whiskeys, giving a whole range of spirit touched, creamy notes – resulting in trifle and bailies imagery coming out very easily. That creaminess is up front, but much more fruit is waiting to be brought out with water. The robustness is kept by backing the sweetness with spicy grapes that adds heft to the sweet trend without disrupting it.

There is a lot to bring out with water – the amount of water I was able to add while still being able to enjoy it meant that this seemed a lot larger than the actual pour I shared. It is also interesting in that I have seen sweet fruit notes like this before, but usually attached as contrast to a bigger, peatier, whisky. It is fun to encounter them in isolation here where they are the main show, not the contrast.

So, it seems a perfect match of barrel ageing to the Balvenie spirit for me – far more so than the bourbon cask. The feel of the spirit is just right for delivering the big sweetness and range while still preserving that distinct whisky character.

Of course, this is a single barrel range, so your experience may differ. My experience rocked though.

Background: Ok, you all know the score by now – ” Ok, bias warning first: This is a part of the Masters Of Malt Whisky Calendar given to The Bath Whisky and Rum Club, part of Independent Spirit, who invited me to assist with the notes in return for uploading them to alcohol and aphorisms. Sounded a very fair deal to me. Also, due to this we each only had half of the 3cl bottle so thoughts are based on a smaller exploration than usual. On the other hand I could not say no to the chance to try so many new whiskies. Many thanks!”. Originally I thought this was standard Single Barrel, but quickly realised this was the Sherry version, which sounded an interesting variant. Drunk while listening to New Model Army – Ghost Of Cain. Yes I am listening to them a lot, I got five albums in one pack, plenty of punk goodness there.

Hepburn's Choice Braeval 12 Year

Hepburn’s Choice: Braeval: 12 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Cask Single Malt Whisky: 12 Years: 46% ABV)

Visual: Thick grain to gold.

Viscosity: Mostly fast thick streaks.

Nose: Lime. Stewed apricot and raisins. Slightly alcohol spirity. Grain cereals. Water makes more cereal orientated.

Body: Fresh apricot and lime. Make spirit character. Pear drops. Shredded wheat if held on the tongue. Water makes more fiery at tail end, adds light strawberry and smooth custard and toffee up front. More water dims fire again and adds apples.

Finish: Shredded wheat. Alcohol air. Rice. More fiery with water. Malt drinks.

Conclusion: Twelve years? I have to admit I wouldn’t have guessed. This, while definitely whisky, still has a lot of the very fresh faced elements that I would usually associate with make spirit.

So is it bad then? Well, no – for that matter make spirit up to pre three year old soon to be whisky can often be fun, but it is a very unexpected experience for what is a decade plus old whisky.

Is it good then? Well it isn’t bad, though oddly for such a spirity whisky it does seem to work better neat. The spark of the whisky is the fun. Water, well initially it actually exaggerates the rough edges but with enough water it does smooth it out a bit. However under the brighter notes the base is quite cereal and workmanlike, so losing the brighter edges doesn’t improve the whisky.

Neat however it is a nice mix of stewed fruit, bright make spirit like green fruit and lots of energy. A bit rough, but a bit fun with it.

As it is a comparatively uncommon distillery I wouldn’t say seek it out as it is a mixed bag, and there are better that are easier to find – but taken neat it is an interesting whisky.

Background: This was kindly brought back from Scotland for my by my parents. Many thanks! Braeval is another distillery I had not tried before, and my attempt to try as many different distilleries as I can is progressing well. This is one of 523 bottles taken from a Sherry butt. Drunk while listening to some “Feed The Rhino” Because I like loud angry music. No real link to the whisky.

Dailuaine Provenance Single Cask

Provenance: Dailuaine: 10 Year: Single Cask (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 10 Years: 46% ABV)

Visual: Grain to gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Jelly babies. Spice. Pencil shavings. Water opens to crushed meringue, paprika and cinnamon. Some oak.

Body: Trifle. Raspberry. Spicy warmth. Brandy cream. Oak. Vanilla. Water lightens and adds coriander.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Oak. Brandy cream. Water gives a warming air and slight vodka feel. Coriander.

Conclusion: A while back I was discussing Amrut in Brewdog Bristol, and the resident whisky expert on the staff mentioned that he liked it as it had an almost Indian spice character which was unique to it rather than just copying scotch style. Now, I never really got that so much, but I bring it up as, well, it looks like Scotland has done that as well now.

This, not so well known distillery, is an odd mix. There is quite thick, cheap vodka, feel initially, but soon after it vanishes if you let it air. Then you get the meat of it, with brandy cream, raspberry trifle sweetness, mixing with Indian spice warmth.

Now, I know what you are thinking. Sounds shit right? You wouldn’t pour coriander on a trifle (Seriously don’t do that, it’s awful. Someone did that to me as a prank once). The odd thing is, I am really liking this. It has sweetness, warmth, and grounding oak. They compliment each other remarkably well. I can see why this isn’t a better known distillery if this is typical for the distillery, it is very unusual, but I would say it deserves recognition. It is dry and spicy for much of the time, then you get dessert treats rewarding you for your patience.

It does weaken with water, well mostly, the aroma does get far better and loses the harsher edges, but that is a contrast to the body which loses a lot of the complexity, becoming a more simple, if still unusual, spicy whisky.

So, based on this experience, this is a distillery well worth seeking out for something off the beaten track, and I will be keeping my eyes open for further expressions.

Background: Hip flask sized whisky! Again I found a 20cl bottle of a distillery I had not tried before at “The Tasting Rooms“, and after the success of the last one I was happy to grab this one to try again. This was distilled 2003, and drunk while listening to quite insane Pon Pon Pon meets metal. Before anyone judges me, Pon Pon Pon ties back to a memory of holiday in Japan, and metal makes everything better.

Provenance Glen Spey 2012

Provenance: Glen Spey: Single Cask 2012 (Scottish Single Cask Malt Whisky: 11 Years: 46% ABV)

Visual: Brackish water.

Viscosity: Mix of fast and middling streaks.

Nose: Strong cheap vodka spirit. Fiery. Raw make spirit. Pear drops. Green apples.

Body: Surprisingly smooth. Vanilla toffee and apples. Fire rises. Zest orange, quite sweet into orange crème. Smoothes over time. Water smoothes the fire massively but flavours diminish. More apples come out though.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Pears. Vanilla. Orange sorbet. Shredded wheat. Lime sorbet. Cheap vodka. Water makes less distinctive, adds digestives.

Conclusion: I’ve said it a lot really but…huh. It is a good word/utterance. You could hold an entire conversation with it if you add enough body language to aid.

The first sniff of this was pretty much rocket fuel. It felt half way between cheap vodka and raw make spirit. Now, I will admit I hadn’t given it long to air before drinking, but it was still far rougher than usual. So, I waited, and then took the first feared sip and…

Pretty darn smooth. There is a thick feel like cheap vodka spirit in the middle but the fire is way down. Subtle green fruit and vanilla notes against a lovely sharp orange. So, confused, I held the glass to the light. It still looked the same, brackish greened water, so light that it could be mistaken for very young spirit. Yet here it was, the flavours were similar to younger spirit, but far smoother than the aroma warned. There was that thicker texture, like cheap vodka, and the fire never completely dies down but still much more impressive than expected.

So onto the next step, adding water. It kills the fire, but the flavours become more indistinct with it, making for a whisky that tastes like a mix of biscuits and lime. Not unpleasant actually, not as harsh, but I did prefer the sharp fresh notes you got neat, for all the issues. So a bit of a trade off then. There’s also quite a bit of apples with water, like calvados aged whisky against malted drinks. Again interesting, but not as fresh as when taken neat.

So, a very interesting experiment, very fresh and raw. Even with water you do get good flavour, all green fruit and limes (which yes, I know is a green fruit, but I felt was worth pointing out separately for its prominence), if muted. If you ignore the aroma it is even nicely smooth. With the aroma it is a bit rough, and far from the compete package for a whisky. I would compare it as a rougher Hakushu 12, and it feels younger than its 11 years, but it does have charm in its exhuberance.

I cannot recommend this over the Hakushu, which does everything better, but it is a lively one to visit, for all its raw spirit like issues.

Background: 20cl bottles, a nice compromise between the risk of buying blind 70cl of spirit, and the one off visit of a 5cl mini. This independent bottling was found at The Tasting Rooms in Bath. I’ve never tried Glen Spey, nor any bottling from Provenance before, so it seemed a god time to give them a shot. Looking online, this seems to be one of their seasonal set of releases, this being a spring release. This is single cask and unchillfiltered. Broke out a bit of Nine Inch Nails as a backdrop to this tasting.

Clan Denny Girvan 1992

Clan Denny: Girvan Distillery:Vintage 1992 (Scottish Single Cask Single Grain Whisky: 21 Year: 59.6% ABV)

Visual: Quite thick viscous look in custard to gold colour.

Viscosity: Medium speed thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Caramel. Vanilla. Grain husks. Light sharp citrus notes. Custard. Sloe gin. Barley. Water makes slightly stewed fruit.

Body: Squeezed lime up front. Vanilla and custard. Warming but not burning. Cherries under cake sponge. Malt chocolate. Water removes the little alcohol presence and gives very smooth custard and toffee. Brings out apples, light cinnamon and twisted treacle.

Finish: Cherries and fruitcake. Raisins. Vanilla toffee. Light alcohol numbing. Malt chocolate and orange. Water adds cinnamon apples, but still has an alcoholic air.

Conclusion: Single grain, ok I will admit that even I take shots at single grain whisky at times. Unfairly. Well, mostly unfairly. Well, sometimes unfairly. This however puts its stall out and gives a good case for single grain whisky to exist.

For one thing it shows how with single grain the oak influence is very immediately evident, here with lots of smooth caramel, custard and vanilla flavour. Despite the abv the main body virtually never reaches that burning point where the alcohol obscures the flavour.

For another it shows a remarkable amount of depth. Neat you get a sharp lime touch on first sip, hints of dark fruit as you hold it, into a more evident fruitcake touched finish. With water the darker fruits shift and turn revealing green fruit flavours previously hidden.

It is that progression, both from sweet aroma to fruity finish, and in the progression with water, that makes it and between them it gives you a lot to examine. Now, the finish does always hold a slightly too alcoholic air for me, but for the most part it is very smooth and layered. Nothing harsh, just what I was looking for at the time.

It reminds me of blended malts in that it is very smooth, but here that single cask nature seems to present just enough of those slight odd unpolished edges that make up a charming whisky for me.

The distinguished end of easy going.

Background: Ok, Clan Denny is a name for a collection of (usually blended malt) Whiskys. Girvan is a single grain distillery. Ok, I’ve got it. This was drunk at Brewdog Bristol, recommended as something a bit different when I wanted a low peat whisky to start the day with. Now single grain and I have not got along often, but I have seen enough to know there are special grain whiskys out there. Therefore I took my pen, notebook and water and gave it a chance.

Glen Scotia 21 Year

Duncan Taylor: Glen Scotia 21 Year: Dimensions (Scottish Campbeltown Single Malt Single Cask Whisky: 21 Year: 52.8% ABV)

Visual: Dark bronzed colour.

Viscosity: Very slow, very thin streaks.

Nose: Butterscotch. Very light peppermint. Madeira cake. Plums. Toffee. Water adds sulphur and earthy touch. Orange liquore.

Body: Waxy. Very strong alcohol with a burning feel. Raisins. Spice. Red wine. Water soothes to Madeira, touch of gingerbread. Rich raisins and orange.

Finish: Mint leaves. Alcohol burn and burnt brown sugar. Treacle toffee. Warming. Tarry and sulphur touched when water is added. Sweet orange comes out.

Conclusion: Glen Scotia has always had a distinct feel to it, texture wise. Well, by always I mean the one other expression of it I have encountered, it still counts. This one pushes it even further with a very waxy, very thick and slightly oily mouth feel. The alcohol is very strong, even with water, and without it can easily numb the tongue. Furthermore it throws a sulphur and slightly earthy touch into the mix, making it distinct before you even get onto the main flavour elements.

You need to give this one some time to get the best out of it, let it stand still for a while, let a few drops of water help. Once you have given it time to rest the thick texture starts becoming useful, bringing out dark fruits, orange liquore and sweet wine. The time lets it seem smooth rather than burning, but without losing that oiliness.

The texture actually reminds me of Ben Nevis in texture, the only other whisky that has seemed so waxy. This however plays a very different flavour range, the sweetness is thick and slightly treacle like, there’s spice and gingerbread behind making it feel like the dark fruits have been soaked in strong spirits.

Of the five rare whisky’s had tonight this probably is the least distinctive for flavour, it seems like a polished whisky while the others feel quite unique, however it does have that texture I keep mentioning to make it stand out. I would say it is very competent, but not special, despite its immense rarity, and that I still don’t quite get along with the Glen Scotia style, though that may change with an expression in the future.

Overall it is enjoyable, complex and very thick. I am glad to have tried it, if for the opportunity to say I have if nothing else, but for the price it is merely very competent rather than a true gem.

Background: This was drunk at the amazing Independent Spirit Rare Whisky event at Circo. When they say rare they mean rare. This is one of only 66 casks in the world. (From cask 710394 – a quarter cask). 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.

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