Tag Archive: SV

Signatory Vintage Glen Albyn 1978

Signatory Vintage: Glen Albyn: 1978 (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 24 Year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold. Hazy with water.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Heather. Vanilla. Very smooth. Light smoke and coal dust. White chunks in tropical fruit tins. Pencil shavings. Water makes more dusty.

Body: Smooth. Oak. Vanilla. Light alcohol if left on tongue. Peppery. Water releases light glacier cherry and tropical fruit. White chocolate and light honey with an alcohol back. More water adds lime and toffee.

Finish: oak. Coal dust breathed in. Peppery. White chocolate. Light sulphur. Orange zest. Water adds tropical fruit tines and soft alcohol tingle. Slightly oily and honey notes.

Conclusion: Hmm, first impressions on this were exceedingly average, if anything can be such a thing. It was the very basic set of highland notes such as heather, obvious vanilla and such like. Very well delivered admittedly, smooth as can be, but since it is 24 years old that should go without saying. I was disappointed – it was slightly peppery and oaken – not bad notes but there was nothing stand out to recommend it for.

Water helps. Though I get the feeling the base spirit is quite neutral as what is brought out is a fine exhibition of the effects of bourbon barrel ageing. There is vanilla, white chocolate, tropical fruits – all very clean and smoothly delivered – with glacier cherries as sweet high notes. The base whisky just seems to add a light oily character to it for grip.

With water it does goes down a tropical fruit treat – however – best I can tell most of that is the clean delivery of the barrel ageing, and at the high cost for a dead distillery I cannot recommend it for that. It just delivers little unique to itself. However, that said, I am very much enjoying the show of the oak for what it is.

A very clean, smooth, whisky that lets the oak run wild. Glad I got to try it, but not worth dead distillery costs.

Background: I’ve been saving this one for a special occasion. Closed since 1983, the bottlings tend to only go up in price, so I grabbed one when I could, I kept it in the cupboard for whenever I wanted something unusual. Anyway, drunk while listening to various of the Warren Ellis compiled Superburst mixtapes, which don’t seem to be online any more, and taking time to kick back and just chill. This is cask 697 and bottle 354 of 365.


SV Glen Elgin 1995

Signatory Vintage: Glen Elgin: 1995 (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 17 year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very clear light banana gold.

Nose: Slight stewed apples. Cinnamon. Nuttiness. Slight black cherries. Condensed cream. Apricot. Slight pepper. Water adds more apples, even more water makes very soft.

Body: Lime and nutty behind. Alcohol presence. Apricot and apples. Peppery late on. Toffee sweet. Water brings out more toffee and apples, and not much is needed to dim fire. More toffee and chocolate with more water.

Finish: Peppery. Barley. Slight salty mild cheese. Nutty. Fudge. Water adds chocolate. Water makes mainly fudge and chocolate with a hint of spiced apricot.

Conclusion: As a first introduction to Glen Elgin this has some fine range on it. Very full fruitiness, light apples and apricot with tantalising cherries on the nose. A bit full of fire neat, but tasty. Water brings a whole new level to it; the subtle nut backing becomes rounded into chocolate fudge sweetness which early on provides a backing for the fruit. Later on the sweetness becomes forefront with the fruit backing it. It is a good progression that never leaves a weak point mid shift.

With a reasonable amount of water it becomes more simple and more toffee based though still pleasant. With less water you get much more play, a peppery note to the body, and sweet cream in the nose. While fiery it is worth it for the extra levels of play.

Both the base whisky flavour and this particular expression are pleasant. It reminds me of the Hakushu 12, though this has more grounding to it. I prefer the Hakushu, this is not as fresh and open, but is still fine.

A very fine fruity and sweet expression.

Background; Drunk at the tasting rooms. Yes again. They have become quite the starting point to the week day drink up. This time Glen Elgin, not one I have had before, and coming in at a nice 17 years, so hopefully should have had plenty of time to smooth out the whisky. Spent a lot of time chatting with the staff while drinking so it had plenty of time to air.


Signatory Vintage: Laphroaig 1998 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 14 year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very light grain colour.

Viscosity: Very slow, puckers to middle sized streaks.

Nose: Butterscotch. Salt. Medicinal. Lemon sherbet. Honeycomb. Touch of oak. White grapes. Smoke and peat. Water lightens to a sulphur style.

Body: Good peat. White grapes. Butterscotch. Custard. Water adds meat broth, syrup and salt.

Finish: Smoke. Light oak. White grapes. Dry. Water lightens and adds beef slices. Some treacle and milk chocolate for sweetness.

Conclusion: An independent bottling of Laphroaig. Should be worth an experiment. This comes in much sweeter than the official bottling. It is smooth and without and hint of alcohol kick which allows real juicy grapes and sweet butterscotch to come through.

Before anyone calls heresy I will mention that there is still that medicinal and salt touch to the aroma . The body does lack a lot of Laphroaig’s traditional harsher elements thought it emphasises the peat and meat flavours. It is still Laphroaig but with a change of emphasis.

It is a refined Laphroaig, smoother even still than the quarter cask but without that lovely level of complexity.  It does have a great mix of Islay character and lovely sweetness.  Water makes even sweeter and more butterscotch dominated but I will say that the brasher character you get neat is much more to my taste.

A whisky for when you want to dance with the bigger flavours of Islay but don’t want it to punish you for it. Not the quintessential Islay but an exceedingly good bottling. I would highly recommend it. Distinctly Laphroaig and yet still distinctly its own thing.

Background: Bottled 2012 and non chill filtered, bottled from a hogshead cask. This was drunk at the tasting rooms and was one of the new bottlings they had got in.  I don’t often see independent bottlings of Laphroaig and it is a bit of a favourite so I decided to grab it.


Signatory Vintage: Highland Park 1987 (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: 24 Years: 43% ABV)

Visual: Gold.

Viscosity: Slow to break into streaks from the liquid. Thin and light when streaks do form.

Nose: Sweet vanilla. Light salty rocks. Smooth and toffee notes.; Dims when water is added.

Body: Smooth with slight rocks character. Sweet lime. Custard and toffee. Honeycomb. Water bring out full on honey and makes very sweet and an almost syrup texture. More toffee with water.

Finish: Lime jelly custard and, yes, toffee.  Dry shortbread. Light oak and smoke. Malt chocolate. Water makes for more chocolate and cough drops like honey taste.

Conclusion: This is very smooth, even for a Highland Park. By default it is notably smooth, but with water it becomes exceedingly so.  There is barely any island character, a touch of light salt and rocks but the main notable element is this real thick honey flavour.  There can be an almost cough drop like take on it with water and the texture, though smooth, has a syrup like quality to it.  Despite the finishes cough drop imitations at time it is still shockingly easy going.

It took me a while to get use to this, mainly as it was completely different to what I expected. There’s nice sweet notes of toffee, vanilla and chocolate dusted throughout laced over that light salty rocks.  It is very relaxing and , when you get used to it, a great texture that just slips down.

The honey can get too heavy, especially in the finish where it can be a bit sickly sweet, but that very slight rocks helps balance by reigning it in just a touch.  It’s a tasty whisky but doesn’t have anywhere near the robust range I was hoping for.

So a great texture, utterly smooth, good sweetness and a dash of rough offset. Could do with a bit more range but still tasty.

A good relaxing island walk of a drink.

Background: Bottled 2011, I found this independent bottling at the Tasting Rooms in Bath. Since I had a gift voucher for there form Christmas it seemed the perfect time to treat myself.  I love Highland Park and find it a nice balance of smoothness to island character.  The 18 year in particular is a favourite.

Signatory Vintage: The Un-chillfiltered Collection Fettercairn 1996 (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 14 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very clear grain.

Viscosity: Very slow thin puckering and streaks.

Nose: Lime sorbet, grain and vanilla. Slight alcohol burn.  Very clean. Cheesecake, strawberry.  Water makes more floral bringing out heather.

Body: Meaty, with vanilla and toffee. Strawberry hints. Beef slices.  Water lightens the meat and makes more toffee and custard flavoured. Adds strawberry and a tinge of lime.

Finish: Beef slices and beef crisp dusting. Milk chocolate and slight bitter chocolate. Water makes lime and orange elements come out.

Conclusion: This carries a lot more weight than I remember my last (and only) sampling of Fettercairn having. Without water it has a nice meaty weight body which was not something I was expecting.  This doesn’t affect the favour that much, it is a definite smooth lime and sweet vanilla entity, but it does give it a bit of extra weight and grip.

The combination of extra weight and fresh cutting flavour makes for a surprisingly good combo. It weakens a bit with water, but still remains competent, so much so that I think preference for with or without water will be a mater of personal taste for most with this one.  While the whisky does not have the wide range that I tend to look for, it does work well at giving heft to the sorbet style flavours that can often be somewhat ethereal and badly defined.

A bit too much water can push it to being slightly heather and floral dominated, losing some of the flavour. Too little and it has a just slightly burning influence. There is a decent range between those two extremes though and even the extremes have their advantages.  Generally it is a pleasant easy drinking whisky, with a bit more freshness and weight than usual.

A nice Fettercairn expression, for the little experience I have of them. Not a favourite whisky but well balanced.

Background: Drunk at the tasting rooms. I’ve only encountered Fettercairn once before, in a bar while going on a distillery tour around Scotland. It didn’t make a huge impression then I have to admit. Then again I was kind of on whisky overdose during that holiday for some reason.   As the name suggests this hasn’t been chill filtered, this means it goes slightly cloudy when cold or when water is added, more importantly it means that is hasn’t been through a process which removes some of the elements that make up the flavours of the whisky.

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