Tag Archive: Single Cask


Douglas Laing: Platinum XOP Ardbeg 1992 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 25 Year: 50.5% ABV)

Visual: Very clear light grain with green touches. Fast, thick streaks form from the spirit.

Nose: Charcoal. Medicinal. Soot. Cheesy yeastiness to mature cheddar. Light orange zest. Burnt marshmallow. Water adds white chocolate, kippers and vanilla.

Body: Strong alcohol. Oily. Almost evaporates on tongue. Waxy and medicinal. Slight traditional lemonade. Water adds mature cheese, fudge and a lime touch. More water adds custard, smoked fish and nut oils. Later vanilla, coconut and light golden syrup notes.

Finish: Butterscotch. Oily. Charring. Tart grapes. Salt. White pepper. Water adds mature cheddar, squeezed lime and light cherry. Walnut oils. Milky chocolate.

Conclusion: Well fuck me, this is one heck of a dram. Now, neat it is intense, but slightly closed. There is massive charcoal, medicinal notes, massively oily and waxy. It is one that hits the throat and then almost evaporates away, just leaving charring and salt. There some hints of more to it though – a cheese yeastiness, slight sweetness, but they are only hints. Similarly traditional lemonade imagery floats over it, but never quite forms fully.

Now, when you add water, holy shit that is when you start to get real play from this! Mature full bodied cheese flavour now matched with oily nut flavours and feel that adds such depth to the once closed whisky.

The bourbon cask notes are now slowly coming out with the usual vanilla, fudge and coconut sweetness as light notes against the heavy oils – notes that rise up the more you add water into syrup and custard fuller sweet notes. However at no point does it forget its base, booming with charcoal and smoked kipper heaviness, just now with more behind that.

This is intense, complex, sweet with delicate notes somehow surviving the oily nut character and medicinal style. Now, this is not nine hundred pounds good to me, as I don’t have that kind of cash to throw around, but it is the best damn Ardbeg I have ever encountered, so for people who have that kind of money, then yeah I would say get it.

Background: So, before we go any further, I found out how much this cost. Nearly nine hundred fucking quid. Fuck me. Anyway… this was the third whisky of Independent Spirit‘s recent Uber whisky tasting. You may have wondered where the 2nd went. It was Glenfarclas 21, I had already done notes on that. Still a good dram. Anyway, this is cask strength, single cask, bottled in 2018, unchillfiltered, Ardbeg that is one of 251 bottles, so something very special to try. As is usual for these kind of events I was slightly distracted by the event, but still tried to do the best notes I could as who would know when I would get the chance to try whisky like this again – especially for this one.

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Ichiro: Chichibu: Single Cask: No 2650 (Japanese Single Malt Whisky: 6 Year: 59.3% ABV)

Visual: Deep rich gold.

Nose: Cherries and black cherries. Rich red wine. Slight darker red wine notes as well. Shortbread. Red grapes. Water makes lightly tarry and oily.

Body: Creamy. Cherries. Sweet red wine. Water brings apricot, plums and light sulphur. Chewy feel. Fudge.

Finish: Black cherry. Creamy. A mix of rye and bourbon whisky notes. Apricot. Water adds plums, lightly grassy. Light charred notes and greenery.

Conclusion: It is odd, looking at these notes, I am using a lot of the same words that I used to describe the port pipes Chichibu whisky, but when you examine them holistically rather than point by point they are very different whiskies. For example. This leans heavier on the darker fruit, and less on the lighter fruit, which instantly creates a darker, heavier impression on the tongue and in the mind.

It is heavy on the dark red wine notes, sweet but with the harder charred oak notes below. Again most of the base spirit character is lost to the weight of the barrel ageing, but the greenery notes do come out with a lot of water added. It is a lot creamier than the other Chichibu I tried tonight, giving a nice, smooth mouthfeel.

This is a rewarding dark whisky, but does not really stand out from the other similarly sherry aged whiskies around and you can get them a lot cheaper than this. This is a very good whisky, but despite that it is not a stand out one. If you like sherry, then this does sherry ageing very obviously, utterly laden with dark fruit, but from that the base character is overwhelmed.

Glad to have tried it, but there are better examples of sherry you can buy for less.

Background:. One final Chichibu whisky of the tasting – this one a single cask – cask no 2650 to be exact, aged from 2010 to 2016, so, six years aged I guess, ish. This one is a travel exclusive, so I presume only available at certain airports. Again, a bloomin’ hard one to get hold of then. This was aged first in bourbon casks then finished in oloroso sherry casks. Due to this being from a tasting, with the usual distractions coming from cool info being given by the host, chatting, smaller measures, etc my notes will be a tad shorter than usual. However the chance to try and do notes on these five whiskies that would set me back silly money if I tried to buy them all individually meant that I gave it my best shot. This Chichubu tasting was done at Independent Spirit but the whisky was provided by James, a private collector who did the tasting itself. At twenty five quid it was ridiculously good value. Chichibu is a tiny distillery that started operating in 2008 and I think is the newest Japanese distillery still. Never tried their stuff, but had heard many good things about them before going in.

Douglas Laing’s Provenance Single Cask: Auchentoshan 11 Year (Scottish Lowland Whisky: 11 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very light and pale, with a slight brackish hue. Very slow streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Strawberry crème. Viscous alcohol notes. Dark Belgian chocolate. Pine cones and pine needles. Water adds peppermint, more water turns menthol.

Body: Warming. Grapes. Shortbread. Vanilla fudge. Oak. Lightly peppery. Water adds slight sulphur. More water adds creamy notes and lots of grapes. Cinnamon doughnuts.

Finish: Oaken. Pine spray. Menthol. Fudge. Strawberry crème. Water makes more menthol. Mint leaves. More water adds grapes, light cinnamon and Belgian black chocolate.

Conclusion:There are lots of different elements in this – ones I would never expect to see side by side. The most disparate elements never seem to overlap, instead you get each of the distinctly different elements coming out one after each other.

First aroma notes come out like Belgian chocolate and strawberry crème- yet the body after that comes out as tart grapes and light fudge. Then, as that goes out the strawberry crème comes back out in the finish.

On another run it was alcohol strong, piney and heavy on the aroma, going into a peppery body, then somehow out into menthol freshness in the finish. I’d like to claim that it is water, or time that makes this change – but while water does bring changes, it seems like any of the prior elements can return at any point.

So, to try and generalise a whisky that seems to actively resist categorisation – well, generally there are some grapes. Generally there are slight pine to pine cone notes. It is generally smooth but warming and generally there are some sweet notes behind that – be it toffee, chocolate of strawberry.

What is oddest, for all that is odd about this whisky, is that for all the odd notes, this does not actually really stand out as a whisky. It has the odd moments, as described above, but they all clinging around a solid but unexceptional whisky. Very contrary, no? Not bad, hard to sum up which is a value in itself. Not a must have, not one to avoid. Not bad.

Background: Yay, mini hip flasks of whisky- chances to try different experimentations without spending a vast amount on a full size bottle. It is especially nice with lowland ones like this as I can be a bit mixed on how I find stuff from this region. The Provenance lot, whisky taken from a single cask and bottled at just a tad stronger strength than normal, has been pretty solid so far. I grabbed it from Independent Spirit and put on Miracle Of Sound’s Level 8 while drinking – very cool drinking music.

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.

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