Tag Archive: Single Malt


Linlithgow (Aka St Magdalene): Silent Stills: 22 Year (Scottish Lowland Single Malt Whisky: 22 Year: 51.7% ABV)

Visual: Pale Gold. Slow but thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Clean. Soft lime. Light alcohol tingle. Barley. Light honey. Crusty white bread. Soft vanilla. Water adds toffee and fudge. More honey. Apple.

Body: Clean and smooth. Soft lime. Slight alcohol if held. Rice. Peppery. Water adds cake sponge, honey and more alcohol notes. Apples. More water again adds apricot.

Finish: Rice. Slight charred oak. Vanilla. Slightly spritzy and peppery. Babycham. Water adds honey, custard and slight sulphur. Dry rice.

Conclusion: Ok, drunk neat this is, well, very simple. Smooth, with only a touch of alcohol despite the high abv. It is clean, but also kind of empty. Some light sweet notes are there, and a light lime but that is against a kind of rice to cereal backing that gives little over a generic kind of spritzy feel. Not a good start.

Water, surprisingly, makes it more robust and sweet in a way that actually reminds me of Highland whisky rather than its lowland home. Lots of honey notes now, some fudge and a cake sponge solid body. More weighty and rounded, though still with a kind of dry rice unpleasantness in the finish. Also the robustness has also seemed to bring more of the alcohol that previously had been locked away inside. So, a tad more alcohol burn but generally a lot more interesting.

So, slightly rough edged in flavours, if not in mouthfeel, but now soft green fruit comes out over big sweetness in a generally smooth (apart from that finish) dram. More water helps fine a nice balance, clearing the rough edges and giving a getle sweet and lightly fruity dram. That is several fucking hundred quid a 70cl bottle.

It is an ok dram, smooth, gentle, and reasonable flavour – but no better than say, an entry level Macallan or similar. Interesting to try, but seriously don’t go out of your way to try it unless you are either rich, or an obsessive taster like me.

Background; This was intended as my 400th whisky tasting note, until I hit that total at an Uber Whisky Tasting night. So this is now my second 400th tasting. I can do that. This is a rare one – from the dead St Magdalene distillery – aka Linlithgow. Seems different expressions were put out under different names. Anyway, a lowland distillery – not many of them around any more and they tend to be lighter and smoother so should be a bit different. I saw this mini at The Whisky Exchange a long time back and grabbed it as the chance to try these dead distilleries are not one I pass up if I can, and I just cannot afford the full 70cl bottles most of the time. Wanted some not intrusive background music so put on some Taiko drumming, used to listen to this regularly, lovely encompassing rhythmic sounds that let me really get into the whisky.

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Elements Of Islay: Pi 6 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky:7 Year: 55.3% ABV)

Visual: Very light, clear gold. Slow thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Sooty peat. Charred oak. Clean. Beef slices. Water makes smoother.

Body: Honey. Thick. Oily. Soot. Malt chocolate. Chilli seeds. Water adds beef slices. Ginger and more chilli seed. Buttery. Nut oils. Cleanly medicinal.

Finish: Soot. Vanilla. Nut oils. Oily. Water adds chilli seeds. More alcohol burn. Buttery. Medicinal.

Conclusion: This is a sooty, oily whisky. Initially though it comes across as sweet and honeyed on those early sips, but it quickly moves beyond that to become thing with oily, sooty thickness. Despite that it somehow manages to keep a slightly clean medicinal character as a base.

It feels very much every inch the Islay, rocking as it is the soot and the medicinal character. Admittedly it has less salty and meaty than usual, but still it weighs just enough of that to be identifiable. It is a very clean dram up front, ending up instead as a thick sooty and gritty dram on the way out.

Water brings out a bit of heat to it. With more of the high alcohol being evident, and a mix of chilli seeds and ginger warmth. It feels big and thick, mouth coating and warm.

It is good, but for the price tag it does not stand out as a special one. It is a clean and polished example of the Islay, with a bit of sooty grittiness at the end to pep it up. That works well, but doesn’t push the limits of what can be done with a good whisky.

Very nice still, slightly buttery as well, something that seems to be a trend at the uber whisky tasting tonight. If I had to pick an element that stands out it is more oily than the norm considering how clean the rest of the dram is – so if you want that oilier take on clean medicine this may catch your eye. Otherwise I would say the far cheaper Laphraog Quarter Cask is still the way to go for a good Islay drop. This is nice but not stand out

Background: 400th Whisky Tasting Note! I actually had something special set aside for no 400, but since it fell on the final entry of an Uber whisky tasting it seemed rude to not go with this one instead. Soooo … Uber whisky time again at Independent Spirit. I love these events, where you get to try some pretty rare whisky that would normally be prohibitively expensive by the dram. As always with events like these, it was a busy event, with talking and other people describing notes so I may have been influenced by that and my notes may be shorter and more incoherent than even normal. Elements of Islay do slightly smaller than normal, 50cl independent bottles of Islay whisky with the faux chemical letter identifying the distillery. In this case Pi is Port Charlotte. Hey don’t ask me, I didn’t pick it. Port Charlotte is itself a heavily peated take on Bruichladdich. A quick google tells me this was aged in a mix of three bourbon barrels. Should be interesting.

Port Askiag 28 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 28 Years: 45.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold. Slow thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Subtle smoke. Subtle Iodine and salt. Soft lemon. Slight sharp lime. Mossy. Water adds a touch more salt.

Body: Smooth. Lime. Lightly medicinal. Soft orange. Slight kiwi. Slight beef slices. Water makes more buttery and adds orange peel.

Finish: Soft lime. Soft moss. Salted rocks. Light smoke. Dried beef. Water adds orange peel, butterscotch and more salt.

Conclusion: This is nothing like what you would expect from a Laphroaig, which is what this is rumoured to be and so is how I am treating it. It is so gentle, smooth , wearing a light medicinal character but very gentle. This softness allows out smooth and light citrus flavours that you would normally never see as they would be hidden by the peat and harsher edges.

It you want peat, heavy medicinal and kicking character, avoid this and go for something younger. This is smooth, wearing hints of what comes in younger Islay, but gentle as a I newborn lamb (note: I have never met a newborn lamb, for all I know they are vicious shits. I am going by their reputation).

So, this is an experience. A good one at that. I am so glad I got to try it, it is very, very good. Softly buttery, soft citrus and is the most gentle an Islay can be while still being recognisable. It even lets loose just a wisp of smoke, a grain of salt and a tiny dab of medicinal spirit, just to make sure you know it is an Islay.

Despite that quality I kind of find it hard to recommend in general. The smoothness is an utter treat to have here, but for general drinking I would want something more forceful and more showing the character I come to an Islay for. You are paying a lot to get everything smoothed down, and it goes down a treat, but if you want something this smooth and light, I’d say go for a whiskey designed that way in the first place.

That is for considering buying a bottle, if you get a chance to try a dram, this is totally worth trying – not just fascinating in seeing how Islay ages, but delicious as well – but it is one where I feel a full bottle would be wasted on me. So unless you are very rich and can take the hit easily I would say don’t grab a full bottle.

It is interesting in that I love it, but unlike say the Arbeg XOP, it is not a love that needs to be repeated at every chance you get.

Background: Uber whisky time again at Independent Spirit. I love these events, where you get to try some pretty rare whisky that would normally be prohibitively expensive by the dram. As always with events like these, it was a busy event, with talking and other people describing notes so I may have been influenced by that and my notes may be shorter and more incoherent than even normal. Normally Port Askaig is bottled from Caol Ila, but rumour says this is a Laphroaig, which if so is very interesting. You very rarely see old Laphroaigs, mainly as they are very peaty and medicinal and that vanishes quickly with age. Any which way this should be a fascinating one.

Berry Bros and Rudd: Orkney Islands 17 Year (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: 17 Year: 56.4% ABV)

Visual: Very light yellowed gold. Fast, thick streaks come initially from the spirit, followed by slow puckering.

Nose: Caramel. Vanilla toffee. Honeyed shreddies. Wisp of smoke. White grapes. Pencil shavings. Water makes mossy and brings out more oak.

Body: Burning alcohol. Crumpets. Charred oak. Butter. Water makes more buttery and adds shortbread.

Finish: Charred oak. Bitter. Light salt and sea breeze. Water adds wet rocks. Butter. Peppery.

Conclusion: Ok, for one, this needs water. Neat it is burning, buttery and very much lacking in any subtlety. Not that the aroma lets you know what is coming, oh no, that aroma is a sneaky one. It tells you that what is coming is sweet and gentle with just a wisp of smoke. Lying fucking aroma.

Now water does its job and smooths the alcohol down, making it into a very robust (and I mean VERY robust) crumpety, bready, buttery dram, with a peppery finish and still that wisp of smoke. It is heavy feeling and still very different from that sweet, gentle aroma. If you pay attention there are slight grapes, slight vanilla, but generally it is just a straight forward crumpets and butter kind of savoury thing.

So, with that said, it is not a favourite of mine. Some people at the tasting seemed to get more from it than I did, but for me it is too burning neat, and still too simple with water, so overall is a comparatively empty dram flavour wise.

Feels solid in texture, but feels like the base of a whisky to be built from, rather than a decent whisky in itself. A pity as I love a good Highland Park (sorry, a good “Orkney Islands” WINK), but this one doesn’t grab me.

Background: Uber whisky time again at Independent Spirit. I love these events, where you get to try some pretty rare whisky that would normally be prohibitively expensive by the dram. As always with events like these, it was a busy event, with talking and other people describing notes so I may have been influenced by that and my notes may be shorter and more incoherent than even normal. Now, while this could be one of two Orkey distilleries, it is blatantly a Highland Park. They barely even try to hide it. I’m a big fan of Highland Park, not revisited them for a while so had high hopes for this. From the bottle it was distilled 2000 and bottled 2018.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company: Three Ships: Batch 1 (South African Single Malt Whisky: 6 Years: 53.7% ABV)

Visual: Deep, rich gold. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Thick. Stewed dark fruit. Waxy leaves. Partially melted brown sugar. Slightly oily and slight smoke. Waxy in general. Banana skins. Water brings out cake sponge. Toffee and light peppercorn.

Body: Thick and oily. Kind of oily peat. Stewed apricot. Golden syrup. Shortbread. Brown bread. Charcoal touch. Water adds fudge. Charred oak. More waxy,

Finish: Stewed apricot. Milky chocolate. Slight banana. Charcoal and charred oak. American bread. Water adds noticeable alcohol. Slight apples. Treacle. Golden syrup. More milky chocolate.

Conclusion: Wow, this is thick and chewy, but despite that and a high abv this comes across far smoother than the low number of years ageing would indicate. As mentioned in the background, I’m guessing this is at least partly due to ageing in high temperatures. This has such a smooth mouthfeel, especially considering the over 50% abv, but you can really get your teeth into it.

Flavour-wise it is very different to most whiskies I have encountered out there. It feels like it hints at a waxier take on a sweet and big Highland whisky at the base, but far chewier, and even has what tastes like a decent amount of oily smoke underneath it (I have no idea if this is peated at all, but something definitely gives an oily peat like character in there – the whole thing is a bit outside my standard set of reference points, so I’m working without a net here).

It is a very gripping, kind of waxed leaves feel and even hints of flavour, and that grip means that all the other flavours stick around as well. The highland like impressions come across as a heavy, weighty sweetness – burnt brown sugar, fudge and what tastes like a relatively restrained sweetness version of golden syrup. These become especially evident with water – the alcohol is never burning, and never really obscures, but it does open up brilliantly with just a few drops, and can cope with a lot more.

Its unique character is that waxy greenery, an element I don’t recognise from any other whisky and adds a real savoury weight to this, mixing well with the oily, charred notes to make for a dark, savoury undertone.

A lovely mix – Highland meets a dash of Islay, meets elements I have only previously encountered in Indian whisky and makes for something really rewarding, multifaceted, recognisable as whisky but different. Well worth trying.

Background: This caught my eye a while back at The Hideout. I’d not tried any whisky from South Africa before, and I wondered what it would be like. So after an amazing Paul John whisky tasting held there I grabbed myself a measure. Was very impressed so went back later to do notes on it. This has been aged in American Oak and PX sherry casks (or so a quick google tells me). Six years is not old for a whisky, but I’m guessing that similar to ageing whisky in India (as the Paul Johns guide told us) the higher heat means a much higher loss to the angel share, and a much more rapid ageing. Three Ships is one of the brands of whisky from the James Sedgwick Distillery that also does the Bain’s single grain whisky. Again, so google tells me.

Hepburn’s Choice: Glenburgie 8 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened spirit.

Nose: Jelly alcohol feel. Toffee. Lime jelly. Sage. Pencil shavings. Peppery. Water brings out a menthol character.

Body: Clean vanilla. Smooth. Fudge. Menthol. Lime sweets. Lightly oily. Earthy herbs. Water adds smooth toffee and nut oils.

Finish: Caramel. Slight oak. Dried herbs. Water adds nut oils. Praline touch. Light salt.

Conclusion: This is gentle and soothing, which is odd as the first impressions I got of this was of a jelly like thick alcohol aroma that made me wonder if we were going to get something rough as fuck. Thankfully as it turns out, we were not.

What we get instead is a mix of gentle vanilla and toffee sweetness with soothing herbal notes. I can’t quite put my finger on the herbal notes to pin down how to describe them – they are savoury, feel slightly earthy, root like, very natural tasting and slightly dried. It feels like something that would be put in a drink to help you get a good nights sleep.

It is reasonably thick, slightly oily and herbal. Gentle flavours but with a robust texture. It doesn’t feel like a must drink dram, but does feel like a nice nightcap whisky. Which is appropriate as I’m having it last thing at night and it is feeling perfect for that moment.

Water drops the alcohol aroma down and really brings out the herbal character – by itself the herbal notes may have ended up a bit much, but thankfully the sweet backing helps everything just slide down.

A very different, easy drinking dram. Not a must have classic but very gentle and welcoming. I hope I find more from the distillery as I think it deserves more investigation.

Background: Another distillery I have yet to try, in nice 20cl format! Not that many Scottish single malt distilleries I haven’t tried now. Unless you include dead distilleries, in which there are loads but generally I can’t afford them. Saw this in the Whisky Shop in Bath, and after a quick check to confirm it was one of the distilleries I had yet to try I snapped it up. I like the 20cl format, small enough that it is fairly cheap to try compared to a full bottle, but with enough spirit that you have a bit of an explore with it compared to a standard miniature. Went with Epic Beard Men – This Was Supposed To Be Fun for background music.

Douglas Laing: Provenance: Ardmore 10 Year (Scottish Highland Whisky: 10 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual:Very pale gold. Thick, fast streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Salt. Peaty moss. Black pepper. Clean alcohol tingle. Light sulphur. Brown bread. Water adds a make spirit touch.

Body: Vanilla fudge. Salt. Peat. Slight golden syrup. Brown bread. Water adds sweet honey, oily peat and caramel.

Finish: Beef slices. Moss. Smoke. Salt touch. Water adds oily peat. Pepper.

Conclusion: Now this seems surprisingly full on for an Ardmore. It’s a spirit I’m more used to associating with a mix of heavy sweet Highland character and well used moderate peat character.

Neat this has a clean alcohol and salt style that calls more to a sort of Islay or Island character than usual for the spirit. It isn’t a heavy part of the whisky, but at this point the spirit really isn’t showing the sweeter notes of an Ardmore so it comes through a lot more than you would expect.

Water brings out the sweeter honey and caramel notes –but it still has the slightly more rocky, salty notes haunting it in an after image. A nice mix, if not what I was expecting. The whisky doesn’t react much to the water beyond that. It is a decent match of styles but doesn’t pull a lot from the sweeter Highland style to make it stand out. While I can appreciate the more Island/Islay style character, as a smooth but medicinal whisky it can’t compare with, say, a good Caol Ila.

A decent, Island touched, sweet dram, but not a stand out one.

Background: So, final time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! Though it does mean I no longer have an excuse to make that Undertale reference. I am sad. These were donated to me by Independent Spirit for me to do notes on – much appreciated! Being a sample this is a smaller measure than normal, so may be slightly shorter notes that usual, not that I’m complaining. From a quick google this looks to be the 2008 distilled, 2018 bottled edition, which would make it aged in a refill hogshead cask. This was drunk shortly after the previous notes, so I was still listening to Byzantine.

Douglas Laing: Provenance: Caol Ila: 8 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Almost completely clear spirit with just a slight green hue. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Clean medicinal character. Salt. Smoked beef slices and peat. Soft lime. Water adds slight vanilla.

Body: Sweet vanilla toffee. Clean medicinal character. Salt. Cake Sponge. Water adds more cake sponge character.

Finish: Light oak. Soot. Clean. Salt. Peppery. Water adds charring.

Conclusion: This is a very clean Caol Ila – smooth but still medicinal and salty. It seems to get very little flavour from the oak compared to usual. There are some sweet vanilla notes, but generally it just delivers that Islay medicinal character very clearly. Oddly though there is also very little peat evident either – it is clearly there in the aroma, but nigh absent from the slightly dry main body and finish.

It is very enjoyable, a very stripped down Caol Ila with very few bells and whistles. It is the base spirit smoothed out by age but seemingly otherwise just delivered as is. I was wondering if water would bring out more, but it does very little. I slowly added drop after drop until the thing was drowned and it generally just soothed the alcohol and gave a more gentle sponge character. That was it.

So, pretty good for what it is, but a tad too one note to be a classic. It is very good to show what lies at the root of the distillery style. Apart from being stripped down the only real flaw is that it needs a bit more refinement in the finish where it is a tad rough. Not horribly so though,

It does the job but brings no surprises. I enjoyed it as that though.

Background: So, seventh time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! (I’m repeating myself so much that I’m starting to feel like San at the end of a bad run on Undertale …) These were donated to me by Independent Spirit for me to do notes on – much appreciated! Being a sample this is a smaller measure than normal, so may be slightly shorter notes that usual, not that I’m complaining. From a quick google I think this is made 2011, bottled 2019 . I’m a huge fan of Caol Ila, it tends to be a nice mix of Islay character and smoother, sweeter whisky – giving both peat and medicinal notes, while still not being too harsh. Let us see if this one holds up. I put Republic’s live album on while drinking. Bit of retro tunes from one of my early favourite bands.

Douglas Laing: Old Particular: Mortlach: 12 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 48.4% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened spirit with fast, thick streaks coming from it.

Nose: Oily peat. Nutty chocolate. Praline. Smooth vanilla toffee. Salt touch. Water makes peppery. Dry oak.

Body: Tangy alcohol. Tangy orange. Bready. Salt. Slightly oily. Dry oak. Water adds dry soot. Vanilla. Pepper. Pears. Oily coffee.

Finish: Soot. Sugared orange. Oak. Charring. Drying alcohol air. Water makes peppery and brings out oily coffee.

Conclusion: Mortlach is always an odd one. Well, I say always. I’ve tried it like, maybe three times before this. So, basically I say that as I am pretending to be more knowledgeable about the distilleries output than I actually am. Hopefully no one will see through this sham.

Initially oily and somewhat peaty the whisky shows decent weight and throws in a touch of what would normally be Island region salty character. Below that though is thicker oily nuts and chocolate against sweet sugared orange. It is one of those that defies easy classification under the whisky regions with Highland Weight, some Islay peat and plenty of fresh Speyside sweetness. Instead what defines it is that oiliness that takes everything else and makes it its own thing entirely.

Taken neat this is just weighty enough, has just enough Island sea feel, and just sweet enough for me. Ok, it is a bit alcohol touched and a bit rough edged, but it is very distinctive and makes for an interesting dram.

Water reduces the alcohol feel, but apart from that it doesn’t really help. It makes the whisky drier and more peppery, more astringent and loses a lot of the core oily weight. It is most notable in how the oily peat instead comes across as dry soot.

So, keep this one as one to enjoy neat. Take the rougher edges it has on the chin and enjoy. It is the unusual, oily dram that mixes in a bit from each whisky region to give a complex, rich experience. Not the best Mortlach I have had – the 16 year is still the standout for me, and that is considering I haven’t tried any particularly old or unusual expressions from the distillery – but it does enough that id say give it a go if you want to drip your toes into the Mortlach style.

Background: So, sixth time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! (I’m repeating myself so much that I’m starting to feel like San at the end of a bad run on Undertale …) These were donated to me by Independent Spirit for me to do notes on – much appreciated! Being a sample this is a smaller measure than normal, so may be slightly shorter notes that usual, not that I’m complaining. A quick google suggests this may be the 2006 distilled, 2018 bottled version. I could be wrong though. I’ve not had a huge amount of Mortlach but have always been intrigued by its strange style. Went with Jack Off Jill, Sexless Demons and Scars for music with this one. Such a great mix of anger and singing talent.

Douglas Laing: Provenance: Dailuaine: 8 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Clear, light gold. Fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Honey. Caramel. Floral. Heather. Oak. Whiff of sulphur. Water adds slight lychee.

Body: Warming alcohol. Honey. Vanilla fudge. Oak. Slight custard. Water more fudge. Lychee touch. Cinnamon. Brandy cream.

Finish: Dry oak. Slight sulphur. Soot. Water adds lychee. Fudge. Slight coriander.

Conclusion: This feels gentle and slightly generic. Easy to drink, but just slightly empty. A lot less viscous that last time I encountered a Provenance bottling from this distillery, with less jellied alcohol feel – thought still slight spice, albeit more gentle than before.

Neat it is simple sweet fudge flavour with honey and light floral backing. It is slightly light which is pretty surprising considering this packing an extra 6% abv over the minimum which would usual give a bit more grip. Water doesn’t change that but does add slight extra fruity edges and drying cinnamon sweetness into a coriander savoury touch in the finish.

It is still fairly simple – the contrast is nice, but doesn’t really address the lightness at the heart of the character. It is ok, very gentle, especially with water, and the spice edge does not alter that. It does keep it from becoming too samey moment to moment, but still never really grabs me.

Understated, not bad but doesn’t really earn its place either.

Background: So, fifth time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! (I’m repeating myself so much that I’m starting to feel like San at the end of a bad run on Undertale …) These were donated to me by Independent Spirit for me to do notes on – much appreciated! Being a sample this is a smaller measure than normal, so may be slightly shorter notes that usual, not that I’m complaining. From a quick google I think this is made 2010, bottled 2019, and aged in a sherry butt. I have tried a Provenance Dailuaine before, last time was a 10 year though. Put on Television Villain‘s self titled album while drinking – still a blinder of an album, and I’m not just saying that ‘cos they are mates. Seriously, give it a listen.

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