Tag Archive: Single Malt


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.

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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.

Wolfburn: Aurora (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very light vanilla gold. Fast, thick streaks fom the spirit.

Nose: Sugared orange. Clean. Pear drops. Pencil shavings. Water adds vanilla and apple pie.

Body: Apple pie. Oak undertone. Pear drops. Slight alcohol burn. Water adds thick toffee. White pepper. More water adds sherried spice. Light soot.

Finish: Dry sherry and spice. Dry oak. Pear drops. Water adds dry toffee. More oak. Malt chocolate. More water adds spicy red grapes. Paprika and tannins.

Conclusion: This is quite the experience and not what I expected. For a sherried whisky this barely shows that side when drunk neat. Instead it comes in fresh and clean with sweet pear and orange notes, calling to a younger spirit style, but very clean and with some, but less than expected alcohol burn.

The sweet fruit continues through to the very end where finally the dry spice and sherry character comes out to underline the experience. While there is a touch of alcohol warmth, as referenced before, here it is bright, fresh and very pleasant with only that final hint of the sherry.

Water brings out a heavier character with the brighter front quickly moving out of the way to reveal a stodgy, thick dry toffee character and waaaay more of that sherried experience, with peppery and dry spice notes coming out.

While much more what you would expect from a sherry whisky with water, I actually prefer it neat. The contrast between the light, bright notes and the underlying sherry is striking and enjoyable – more than worth the trade off for the slight extra alcohol presence. By comparison with water it feels ok, good, but much more standard and doesn’t really stand out.

So, two very different takes on the whisky, both good, but much better neat in my opinion.

Background: Yay, had free time to to hit the Hideout again! Spotted that they had some Wolfburns there last time I went, and since I have not tried anything from that distillery before, promised myself I would drop back to give them a try. So I did. Success! Plus ten experience points. Quest Complete. Anyway this one is their sherry oak aged version, which sounded mighty tasty to me so I gave it a try. The place was bloody busy when I was in, turns out it was post a rugby match, so I couldn’t find a seat to use while doing my notes, but I tried my best for y’all.

Douglas Laing: Longmorn: Old Particular: 15 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 15 Year: 48.4% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened clear spirit. Very thin puckering comes from the spirit.

Nose: Clean. Sage. Alcohol tingle. Water adds cereal grains, strawberry and honey.

Body: Vibrant alcohol. Lime. Vanilla toffee. Water adds strawberry crème. Alcohol jelly. Honey. More water adds sweet apricot.

Finish: Slightly meaty. Touch of smoke. Lime. Alcohol jelly. Water adds strawberry crème. Honey. More water adds cake sponge and lychee.

Conclusion: Ok, neat this one really lost me. It has a lot of alcohol character, not harsh but very present. It results in a whisky that is kind of closed, with just very basic lime and vanilla notes that are obvious, with hints of something else around that which are hard to pin down. So I gave it some time, took a few more sips, but I just couldn’t get a feel for anything deeper from it.

Water, well water starts breaking through the shell around this whisky and changes it completely. It is very sweet, almost sickly levels of honey comes out along with gentle strawberry crème. It is still not complex, and still alcohol touched but now radically different from both itself neat and most other whiskies I have encountered.

More water lightens the sweetness, losing some of the interesting and unique notes, but it does balance things out a bit better in response.

So, in my experience this varied between closed with too much alcohol, and stupidly sweet. The thing is, there are such unusual elements here, and it is a fair chunk stronger than the base 40% abv, that I figure it is likely there is something worthwhile hidden in there, it just needs more experimentation to find the perfect water level to unlock that.

From my experience then I cannot recommend it. However I can acknowledge that there may be more to be found that my quick dalliance with it may have revealed.

Make of that what you will.

Background: So, fourth time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! 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. Only had a few encounters with Longmorn before and I don’t feel I quite have a handle on what to expect from this distillery yet so thought this would be an interesting one. Googled for more info on this bottling and can’t find anyone selling this particular expression yet at time of writing, so may not have hit the shelves yet. If anyone knows more please let me know. Went with The Kominas – Wild Nights In Guantánamo Bay for music while drinking. One of those albums I still love but wish the world would change so it wasn’t still so bloody relevant.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company: Single Malt Irish 14 Year: Batch 4 (Irish Single Malt Whiskey: 14 Year: 47.6% ABV)

Visual: Light, clear browned gold. Fast, thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Pencil shavings. Pear. Cereal grain. Lightly nutty. Water adds Shredded Wheat. Dried apricot. Dry sherry.

Body: Smooth. Toffee to caramel. Alcohol warmth. Very milky coffee. Pears. Quite thick. Sultanas if held in the mouth. Water adds apricot touch. Light apple. More water adds fruit cake notes.

Finish: Oatmeal. Alcohol air. Crushed walnuts. Water adds milky coffee notes. Slight sultanas. Slightly more alcohol presence. More water makes creamy. Dry sherry. More sultanas. Sherry trifle comes out over time.

Conclusion: This is a very robust Irish whiskey – giving a slightly thicker mouthfeel than normal, along with a bit of alcohol weight. In fact the alcohol never seems to completely go away, even with water, which is unusual for an Irish whiskey.

What water does do though, is give it a very interesting flavour progression. Well water and time, but mainly water. Initially the flavours seemed towards the lighter end of the spectrum with green fruit notes and sweet caramel, that are towards the more common and expected notes for Irish spirit, just with a thicker texture. It can be slightly overly oak touched in the aroma but generally nice.

Water brings out what feels like a lot of sherry ageing influence – there is dry sherry, light nuttiness, more fruitcake and dark fruit notes. It feels like each drop of water darkens the fruit more until finally sherry trifle sweetness bursts out, bringing it to a sweet flip side of the original spirit.

The weight of the whisky feels like Highland Scotch whisky, but it is still smooth despite the weight and depth of character. It feels like a very Scotch whisky influenced Irish whisky, kind of like the older, more sherried Bushmills’ expressions, only with more alcohol weight to give it more to delve into.

A very rewarding, slightly dry whisky. Don’t grab it if you want a more traditional Irish easy drinking smooth thing, but if you want an Irish whiskey you can really dig into and dissect then this is a good one to go to.

Background: I’ve had a tad of free time finally recently so dropped over to the Hideout to take advantage of their awesome whisky selection again. They had just got in a bumper selection of new That Boutique-y Whisky Company expressions in, think it is about twenty five expressions. I am becoming a fan of that lot, they are reasonably priced, and put out some brilliant expressions in weird and wonderful colourful bottles that are so unlike the usual sombre and reserved bottles. This one is an Irish Single Malt from an unnamed distillery – I’ve been wanting to grab more Irish stuff for a while so this was a nice chance – If I had to guess I would say this was Bushmills, but my knowledge of Irish single malts is significantly less than the Scottish stuff, so take that with a pinch of salt.


Douglas Laing: Bunnahabhain: Provenance: 10 Year (2019 Release) (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened gold. Slow thick puckering comes from the spirit.

Nose: Lightly oily, in a fish skin way. Salt. Sea breeze. Lime. Seaweed. Sweet syrup. Light menthol mint. Slight pepper. After Eight mint centres. Water adds more salt and wet rocks.

Body: Alcohol warmth but smooth. Honey. Pear drops. Dried beef slices. Vanilla toffee. Water makes smoother, more salt. Moss and honeycomb.

Finish: Honey. Dried beef. Soft sweet lime. Toffee. Water adds honeycomb.

Conclusion: This is significantly different to my last experience with Provenance Bunnahabhain, so I am glad I decided to do notes on it. This one is gently sweet, with the Islay salt and sea breeze character wafting over it.

There is an oily character that is appealing, giving a nice thickness, though neat the alcohol, that also gives weight to it, comes in a tad over warming. Water soothes it out easily though – and it can take quite a bit of water and still work, thought I will admit I feel it works best with just a few drops to take off the heat.

It balances sweet toffee with gentle Islay character. It doesn’t feel full Islay, as is Bunnahabhain’s want it is just slightly salty sea breeze touched, but that is enough here. It remains mostly on the sweet side, and has no harsh edges coming through.

The gentle Islay gets some nice rounding here with lime sweetness and definite honey – all in all a very nice, relaxing, but definitely Islay present drop of a dram.

Background: So, third time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! 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. It doesn’t list on the bottle but I think this is the bottled November 2018 edition. I nearly didn’t do notes on this, as I have done notes on the Douglas Laing Bunnahabhain Provenance 10 Year. Then I remembered these are single cask releases, so good odds it will be significantly different to previous notes. So here we are. Bunnahabhain is the (generally) unpeated side of Islay distilleries, which is odd as I keep getting smoke notes from them in the past. Probably psychosomatic, as I expect smoke when I encounter Islay notes. Anyway… went with Ozzy Osbourne – Memoirs Of a Madman while drinking. Still prefer Black Sabbath in general, but there are some cracking stand-alone tunes.

Ardbeg: Drum – Committee Release (Islay Single Malt Whisky: 52% ABV)

Visual: Very clear and light. Mix of fast and slow medium sized streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Heavy peat. Lightly waxy. Slight salt. Waxed fruit. Slight sugar cane. Fresh brown bread. Ripe banana. Banana leaves. Water adds nail polish and dried meat.

Body: Banana. Oily. Oily peat. Caramelised sugar. Rum. Palma violets. Water adds banana yogurt. Peat. Grapes.

Finish: Caramelised brown sugar. Molasses. Cherries. Rum. Peat. Banana and banana leaves. Waxy. Pear drops. Banana custard. Fatty sausage.

Conclusion: This feels like the most unexpected of experiences for me. It is a tropical tasting Ardbeg. It comes in with such a punch of a peaty aroma, but then drops you into smooth (and yes still peat influenced) perfection behind. It punches peat out, punches out waxy and heavy, burnt brown sugar and oily notes. It feels initially like it is going to be one to punch your teeth out.

On that first sip instead it comes in with subtle waxy, oily notes below the peaty weight, and leaves a touch of room which is nigh instantly filled by the rum coming in. It floods in with spicy and dry notes backed by lots of burnt, caramelised brown sugar and even molasses like notes.

More than that, what makes this seem so utterly different is that it has so much banana character added into this – waxy banana, mashed banana, banana yogurt, banana custard. Lots of banana notes really selling the tropical imagery and working so well against the spicier rum notes. Very sweet, always present behind the oily, peaty character.

Heavy peat, heavy sweet, thick waxy mouthfeel, meaty weight. It has full Ardbeg weight but is so sweet, rum touched and vibrant behind that. This is a legend, so polished, weighing the Ardbeg character but unlike any Ardbeg I have tried before.

It is something I never expected – a dessert meets Ardbeg peat whisky. It is both different and amazing, If you get the chance, and it is not silly money, try it. Genuinely great

Background: Final of the five whiskies tried at Independent Spirit‘s Uber Whisky Tasting. Ok, there was a sixth bonus one, this was the last official one, ok. This is this year’s take on the annual Arbeg Committee Release and one I was very excited to try – a rum finished Ardbeg! Going for stupid amounts of money if you try and find it online now, I was so chuffed to see it in the tasting so I could give it a go. As always with sessions like this I was doing notes in a group environment, so may be a tad more scattershot than normal but I do my best.

EDIT: This is the Committee Release version which is 52% abv compared to the standard release which I just found out exists and is 46% abv.

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