Tag Archive: Whisky


Highland Park: Fire Edition (Scotland Island Single Malt Whisky: 15 Year: 45.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold.

Viscosity: Moderate speed and thickness streaks.

Nose: Dry rum and brandy cream. Slight smoke. Moss. Thick aroma. Light oak. Butter. Water adds some blueberries.

Body: Toffee. Light caramel. Light treacle. Strawberry. Alcohol is noticeable. Buttered crumpets. Water brings out sweet butter. More strawberry. Fudge. Vanilla and brambles.

Finish: Alcohol air. Toast. Light charring. Red berries. Toasted teacakes. Butter. Smoke. Water brings more butter and red berries. Blueberry.

Conclusion: This is very bready indeed – like a mix of toast to toasted teacakes. Really solid, and packed through with red fruit. It is very interesting examining this one immediately after the Springbank 25 year – they both wear their port influence proudly. This is more solid, and because of that is more immediately appreciable as a whisky. However because of that it also doesn’t wear quite the same range of flavour at the tail end of its life. By the way that isn’t intended as a harsh criticism – more an examination of the trade off you get with whisky. It is very nice, with subtle vanilla sweetness matched with lightly tart red and dark berries.

It is a full on, rich berry expression – very much pushing the imagery of picking your own berries on a summer picnic kind of thing – the Highland Park base giving a solid texture and weight for the fruity experience to work from.

It feels full of brambles – and if this was just slightly jammy it would make a perfect image of full on jam covered toasted sandwiches. It isn’t so it doesn’t, but it is that kind of thing it is coming close to. As it is it is a fresher faced experience, with a solid whisky base. Without water it feels a bit more thick and musky – with water the freshness of the fruit opens up. So, Springbank 25 wins on complexity – but you cannot go far wrong with this for a solid experience. Again, maybe not worth the cost of a fancy bottle, but very much worth trying if you can.

Background: Yep, it is the fourth of the whiskies tried at the recent Independent Spirit Uber Whisky Tasting. This one, well I am a big Highland Park fan, but I can’t quite shake the impression that you are paying a lot for the bottle on this one. It is a pretty bottle I will admit. Not several hundred quid pretty, but pretty. Anyway, this is one of 28,000 bottles and is aged completely in port casks. Anyway, as always for these events – I was doing my notes in a social environment, with five strong whiskies back to back – my notes may be affected by other peoples thoughts, the drunkenness, and the other whisky I had. However, as before, for trying five expensive and rare whiskies like this I could hardly miss the chance to do some notes. Hope they are ok by you.

Springbank: 25 Year (Scottish Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky: 25 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Yellow gold.

Viscosity: Mix of fast and thin streaks with some puckering from the spirit.

Nose: Strawberry. Peach melba. Quince rakia. Smooth. Tinned tropical fruit. Mandarin orange. Marzipan. Water makes floral with lots of red berries and caramel.

Body: Smooth. Mandarin orange. Marzipan. Slightly light. Dry. Water adds custard and makes feel thicker. Dry raisins. Peach. Red berries and grapes. Spiced raisins. Light grassiness. Custard and sherry trifle.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Raisins. Smooth. Light menthol and orange juice. Light grapes. Dry rum. Water adds fudge, red berries, dry Thai seven spice and a light grassiness.

Conclusion: Old whisky tends to feel very smooth, but can also feel kind of light. This can be a shock to people who have not had aged whisky before and expect it to burst with flavour from the first moment. Generally I find you need to take your rime with it, let it fill the air inside your mouth and seep into the taste-buds – that is when they get going. Basically that is what you get with this.

The aroma is complex though – it is that which tells you what to look for in the body, what may come out if you give it time and attention. It bursts with all the levels of notes that you could hope for – rich red fruit, peach melba, orange notes. There is so much going on, and while the body doesn’t quite ever match this amazing aroma – if you ever find a whisky that does – then you will have one of the all time greats.

Therefore, initially as indicated before, the first sip may seem a bit of a let down. It is quite light, and may vanish fast leaving marzipan sweetness, and hints of light fruit. Be prepared though, take your time, and add no more than a drop of water and you will be ready ( lots of people avoided adding that drop of water- feeling it didn’t need it at this age. I found it actually made the whisky a tad thicker, and really opened it up. So I would recommend trying at least before you finish the whisky – but no more than a drop). You get dryer notes coming with that – light dry raisins and sherry spice – now it is good, not exceptional but good – spicy grounding below the fruit notes. Take your time and slowly much more red fruit develops – now you get most of the notes hinted by the aroma, the fruit burst, before that leads out into dry spiced rum and raisins in the finish.

Time again like the water, gives this more body somehow – slight stewed fruit notes, and a more solid, less shimmery light take to the marzipan. This really is one to take as long as you can with.

This is very different to the standard Springbank – there is only a light grassiness, most of that style is lost – and very little of the subtle smoke that the whisky usually trades on. Instead you get a lot more influence from the oak – it keeps hints of the Springbank style, but is drier, and much fruitier with spicy depth. Very nice – very subtle and complex. Not worth the 350 odd quid price, but very nice.

Background: As a huge Campbeltown, and by that I generally mean Springbank, fan (There are a total of three Distilleries there now) I was very much happy to hear that this was part of the Uber whisky tasting at Independent Spirit. This spirit was aged in Sherry and Bourbon casks, much as you would expect, then merged together in refill Port casks. Which is less expected, but very awesome. This is one of only 900 bottles releases in 2017. Again, I know how lucky I was to get to try this. Anyway, as always for these events – I was doing my notes in a social environment, with five strong whiskies back to back – my notes may be affected by other peoples thoughts, the drunkenness, and the other whisky I had. However, as before, for trying five expensive and rare whiskies like this I could hardly miss the chance to do some notes. Hope they are ok by you.

Springbank: Local Barley: 11 Year (Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky: 11 Years: 53.1% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold.

Viscosity: Mix of slow puckering and fast streaks.

Nose: Peat smoke. Wheat field. Vanilla. Slight grapes. Slight sour character. Buttery shortbread. Sulphur touch. Menthol. Water brings more sour fruits.

Body: Slight sour grapes, alcohol touch. Vanilla toffee. Oily. Water brings slight caramel, lightly grassy character. Apples and peppery character.

Finish: Floral air. Strong alcohol. Quince rakia. Slight white wine. Vanilla. Light oily nuts. Malt chocolate and toffee. Dry Madeira. Water gives a menthol air, smoke and apples. Drying notes.

Conclusion: This is very unusual for a Springbank. It does have the grassy character, the slight smoke – it is identifiable as a Springbank. However it is unusual in that it has a slightly sour, kind of fresh taste to it. It reminds me a bit of quince rakia, and it it makes it a fresher, less heavy base that gives this an entirely different feel overall.

Into that freshness is a light vanilla sweetness – the two interact interestingly with those aforementioned Springbank core elements – the grassiness isn’t very pronounced, instead giving a slight solid grounding to what is actually a quite clean feeling spirit. Also, in that clean spirit some of the younger spirit flavours – apples and green fruits, but delivered in a smooth aged whisky style. It even has a slight menthol freshness mixing in with unusual base, resulting a a minty touched mouth tingling feel overall.

It really does emphasis that unusual base – sour grapes touched and tingling. I would call it unique, except I actually have a recent reference point – this feels like a single malt equivalent to the 40 year Timorous Beastie that confused me so much at the last Uber tasting. This isn’t as complex, but is heavier and thicker – however they both show the same unusual tart mouthfeel.

I find this more an interesting experience than an awesome standout whisky, so it isn’t the best of the Springbank range – however it still shows the Springbank quality and is very good. One I’d say to definitely try if you get the chance, but hard to justify grabbing a full bottle of.

Background: Second of the whiskies I tried at the second Uber Whisky tastings that Independent Spirit have done this year. I am a huge fan of Springbank, so this was one I really looked forwards to. This is the second release of “Local barley”, whisky made with barley from local farms (in this case Bere barley from Aros Farm). The first release was a 16 year, this one is 11 year and one of approximately 9000 bottles. Anyway, as always for these events – I was doing my notes in a social environment, with five strong whiskies back to back – my notes may be affected by other peoples thoughts, the drunkenness, and the other whisky I had. However, as before, for trying five expensive and rare whiskies like this I could hardly miss the chance to do some notes. Hope they are ok by you.

Càrn Mòr: Celebration Of The Cask: Speyside 1991 (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 25 Years: 62.5% ABV)

Visual: Banana gold.

Viscosity: Thin slow puckering.

Nose: Thick. Stewed apricot. Caramel. Floral. Hard sweets. Light menthol and peppermint. Water makes more apples, grapes and light oak. More water and time adds golden syrup and white chocolate.

Body: Strong alcohol. Charring. Apples. Oily. Peppery. Vanilla. Waxy. Water makes butterscotch, oak and oddly stronger alcohol. More water brings more butterscotch – time makes even more so and slight tart grapes. Tinned tropical fruit.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Dry oak. Tongue numbing, Peppery. Water gives more alcohol and butterscotch. More water brings apples, pears and vanilla. White chocolate and tart grapes.

Conclusion: This is heavy duty, high alcohol and high burn whisky. In fact, it gets even higher alcohol character with a drop of water. Which is not what I expected. It takes a serious battering of water to get this thing to calm down.

This is an oily and waxy beast – it brings a huge wodge of sweet stewed fruit and caramel. Initially it is a deeply unsubtle beast – peppery, yes, but really concentrating on the heavy apricot. However as I paid attention I did realise it was a bit odd around the edges, with a menthol and peppermint character.

Water is definitely needed to bring everything in line so you can properly enjoy it. Neat it is fun, but harsh, mostly one track and what else it has doesn’t quite mesh. Time, and all that water makes it a very different experience. It becomes so much smoother, with lots of butterscotch coming out to create a coherent centre for everything else to hang off.

It is a thick, sweet one – some notes of white chocolate come out, matched by some tart grapes which seems to be the remnants of the odd elements in the neat whisky. It is strange that this was aged in a single sherry butt as it brings a lot of tropical fruit that I would usually associate with bourbon ageing. For a 25 year old whisky it is not exceptional in complexity, but gives a waxy texture that really sells what it does have. The texture takes a sweet whisky that would be good, but very simple for a 25 year one, and gives it a lot of grip and some unusual stylings. Very full, very thick – definitely not a bad one – but not great for the age. Solid.

Background: Wow, bottled in 2017, this still holds a massive abv for 25 years of ageing – and was the first of five whiskies tried at Independent Spirit for their second Uber Whisky tasting of the year. I loved the last tasting, so was very excited for this. Also, my first ever set of notes from The Speyside – the distillery, rather than the region Speyside (also called just “Spey” for a bunch of its bottling, probably to stop confusion with other whiskies from the region). This is one of 533 bottles. Anyway, as always for these events – I was doing my notes in a social environment, with five strong whiskies back to back – my notes may be affected by other peoples thoughts, the drunkenness, and the other whisky I had. However, as before, for trying five expensive and rare whiskies like this I could hardly miss the chance to do some notes. Hope they are ok by you.

douglas-laing-old-particular-laphroaig-18-year

Douglas Laing: Old Particular: Laphroaig 18 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 18 Year: 48.4% ABV)

Visual: Quite light grain gold.

Viscosity: Slow thin puckering.

Nose: Salted rocks. Peat. Medicinal. Dry. Ash. Salted lemon. Water adds ashtray style notes.

Body: Dry. Lemon juice. Vanilla. White grapes. Dry white wine. Salt. Peat. Water adds lemon cordial and wine gums. Slight oily and slight creamy character.

Finish: Lemon juice and dry salted lemons. Slight golden syrup. Cinder toffee. Water adds more lemon. Toffee. Even more water adds malt chocolate.

Conclusion: This is an odd mix of fresh squeezed lemon and dry salted lemons, all mixed up with a medicinal Laphroaig character. It is less harsh than the similar medicinal notes in a younger Laphroaig, but it still shows some of that pure salt behind the more mellow salted lemon character.

Nice as this is it doesn’t have the booming depth or intensity of the Quarter Cask – instead it makes a fresher, and somehow refreshing, yet intense character. The spirit is smooth – showing surprisingly little alcohol character and with that gives a show of an oily base and a slight creamy character that doesn’t seem to come out in other expressions I have tried. With water it becomes more creamy and slightly dessert like making it almost a medicinal lemon meringue of the Islay world. Another case of words I never thought I would type. I know the idea sounds horrible. It is not. This is actually pretty darn nice.

This is a strange expression – the lemon character reminds me of the unpopular Laphroaig Select – an ok whisky but one I tend to refer to as the lemonade of the Laphroaig world due to its lighter character and lack of a lot of what makes Laphroaig recognisable. This however does not sacrifice its fuller character as it brings in the smoothness and lemon flavours, making it far better than that weaker attempt. In fact this lays in the same area as the blended malt Kiln Embers – which is both a complement – as that is a very nice whisky – and a problem, as that was far cheaper than this expression. This is slightly better than Kiln Embers, but only just and for that slight bit extra it costs a lot more cash. So, depending on your cash flow, make your choice. Had as I did, I enjoyed it, but for grabbing a bottle – Kiln Embers is the one I would return to if you can still find it.

Background: One of 317 bottles this is a rare independent bottling, single cask Laphroaig expression and the final of the five whiskies had at the uber whisky tasting night at Independent Spirit. I am a huge Laphroaig fan, and you don’t see many bottlings of these guys so was looking forwards to this. My photo skills were pretty much gone by the time I took a photo of this glass – sorry – I blame alcohol. As before due to the social environ and number of whiskies tried at the event my notes may be less comprehensible than normal – I try my best.

bruichladdich-octomore-10-year2nd-release

Bruichladdich: Octomore: 10 Years(2nd Release) (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 57.3% ABV)

Visual: Dark gold.

Viscosity: Very fast thick streaks.

Nose: Smokey bacon. Lots of peat smoke. Slight salt. Smoked beef. Beef stew and pigs in blankets. Slight cherry pocked digestives.

Body: Honey. Huge peat. Lime. Dried beef. Slight cherries. Sauternes wine. Water adds peach and honey and makes much sweeter. Slight custard sweetness notes.

Finish: Alcohol tingle. Salt. Very medicinal. Slightly numbing. Honey. Peach syrup added with water.

Conclusion: This is so much sweeter than the younger Octomore! It still comes in with the heavy peat and medicinal style though, do not worry. As it has soothed a bit with age that now comes across as a massively meaty feast of a whisky – especially on the nose. Kind of a smoked meat (especially smoked bacon) fest, That aroma however does not hint at a lot of what is to come. In fact originally it comes across more smoked meat than even the other Octomores I have tried.

The body keeps the peaty character, but is much more honeyed, and has an almost Sauternes wine sweet character. It is so sweet and fruity under the heavy peat that it is less that smooth assault you might expect and is instead a much more complex yet still peaty beast. Without water the finish is very medicinal, again calling to its roots as a more harsh whisky, water again brings out that sweetness.

It is so unexpected – still meaty. Still peaty – but very much tamed by the newfound sweetness. Even slight custard sweetness over the salted Islay base. If you want sheer assault then this has moved away from that and you will be let down. If you want a big sweet Islay style peated whisky – well this is very good and still intense. The honey wine soaked meat feast peat whisky.

Background: Fourth whisky at the uber whisky tasting at Independent Spirit. I loved my previous experience with the Octomore so was very much looking forwards to trying this 10 year version. Now, while it is peated at 167 ppm, age tends to take away peat character quite quickly – so wasn’t quite sure how this would work out for intensity. Also this has been aged in both Bourbon and the more unusual Grenache Blac casks. One of 18,000 bottles – so fairly but not insanely rare. My whisky glass photos are getting a bit crap now – sorry – alcohol influence! As before due to the social event and the number of whiskies tried, by notes may not be as detailed as normal – nor it seems my photos. As always I tried my best.

timorous-beastie-40-year

Douglas Laing: Timorous Beastie: 40 Year (Scottish Blended Malt Whisky: 40 Year: 54.7% ABV0

Visual: Custard gold.

Viscosity: Slow thick streaks.

Nose: Very floral. Slight menthol. Vanilla. Oily and waxy. Heather. Light smoke. Battenberg. Grapes. Cream soda. Water adds sour grapes and sulphur. Butterscotch.

Body: Grapes. Caramac sweet bars. Definite alcohol. White wine. Cream soda. Water makes more marshmallow front and citrus back. Apples in a calvados style comes out over time.

Finish: Strong alcohol. Gin. Elderberry. Grapes. Waxy. Cream soda. Drying. Tropical fruit and white chocolate. White wine. Water adds more grapes and a slight make spirit style fruitiness.

Conclusion: This is not what I expected of a 40 year old whisky, not at all. It has all the vibrancy of a young whisky – especially a fruitiness that hints to make spirit, but it is matched with a smooth character and a very white wine style character that speaks of its age. It even has a very unusual cream soda style side of sweetness. It matches very vinous notes with butterscotch and even a slight sharpness in the fruitiness in a way that is very rarely seen in whisky.

There are elements that range as wide, and are as unexpected as a waxy battenberg, a sharp butterscotch, and a vinous soda. Combinations of words that you would not expect to be seen together, even less so to work as well as they do. It is very distinct and different. Most old whiskies I try are good, but feel so smooth as to be understated – the strong abv of this means that it is still forceful in its odd complexity.

Water integrates the notes and smooths it out a lot, but it still keeps a slight sharpness – what gets brought out is more white chocolate and tropical fruit – really emphasising the bourbon ageing influence.

A spritzy, unusual, gin influenced, winey, butterscotch whisky. It feels like it has been influenced by far more spirits than it can possibly have been – white wine, grappa, gin, rakia, calvados. So many styles resulting in a whisky unlike any other. It does have slight rough edges at times of sourness and alcohol, but I have not seen many spirits this fascinating and unique. So, not the best, but unique and that earns it a heck of a place in itself.

Background: 300 whisky tasting notes! I actually had a bottle set aside for this, but ended up hitting the 300 at Independent Spirit‘s uber whisky tasting. A 40 year old blended malt is one well worth the 300 mark, so what a wonderful coincidence! Sorry the photo is a bit rubbish on this – I started drinking then realised I hadn’t done the photo yet so it is a bit hurried and half empty. My bad. As before as this was a social event with five different whiskies my notes may be shorter and more scattershot than normal but I do my best.

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.

timorous-beastie-21-year-sherry-edition

Douglas Laing: Timorous Beastie: 21 Year Sherry Edition (Scottish Blended Malt Whisky: 21 Year: 46.8% ABV)

Visual: Dark gold.

Viscosity: Very slow thick streaks.

Nose: Strawberry yogurt. Blackcurrant. Moderate oak. Vanilla. Mince pies. Dry. Water adds dried apricot and stewed fruit notes. Treacle. Oily character. Later you get red wine, port and more blackcurrant.

Body: Strawberry. Lots of sherry. Dried spice. Thai 7 spice jars. Dry. Sultanas. Water makes sweeter and spice raisins.

Finish: Blueberry. Mince pies. Dry. Vanilla. Sultanas. Thai 7 spice. Water makes much more spicy. Slight marzipan. Red wine.

Conclusion: This is very sherried, emphasising the drier end of the spectrum as well. It seems sweeter on the nose than it actually turns out to be – on the aroma it promises almost strawberry yogurt kind of notes. However this sweetness doesn’t really penetrate the body. Instead you get darker fruit, mince pies, Christmas spices and dry wine – it gives quite the intense but not harsh character.

There are some light sweet notes – some vanilla, and some parts of the blueberry are sweet, but these elements are rounding ones, not the notes emphasised.

It is nice enough like that – a bit one note but I was enjoying it – water however brings out a slight stewed fruitiness that gives it that tiny hint extra sweetness it needs. Now it is very rewarding, balancing and giving a huge range of flavour within the sherry style.

Then if you give it just a bit of time it rewards you yet again – giving much more red wine and dark fruits amongst the suet mince pie dryness. It is a brilliant example of sherry work here, emphasising it to heavy degree without become so overpowered by it that it becomes one note and dull which can be a flaw on heavily sherried whisky.

It is just fruity enough to let that re-emphasise the dry spiciness. Very nice and complex. I heartily approve. As a vinous, fruity, drying and sherried whisky in equal measure this is a big one I have no hesitation in recommending if you can afford it.

Background: So, Independent Spirit did another one of their Uber whisky tastings – their last one was the first of their tastings I went to and was sensational, so of course I jumped on this one. This is the first of five whiskies had that night. As it was a social event, and due to having more whisky back to back than I normally do for notes these may be slightly shorter and more scattered notes that usual. I did my best for you all though. Kicked off big with a 21 year blended malt. Don’t think I have ever tried standard Timorous Beastie – however its existence led to me winning a pub quiz once as the image of the mouse on the front meant that I knew what animal the term refers to. See? Drinking is good for knowledge.

ailsa-bay-eponymous-bottling

Ailsa Bay – Eponymous bottling (Scottish Lowland Single Malt Whisky: 48.9% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellowed gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Big smoke. Chinese stir fry vegetables. Moss. Salted rocks. Vanilla. Peppermint. Water cleans out the vegetable notes.

Body: Vanilla. Smoke. Light fudge. Salt. Slightly medicinal. Water smooths. More vanilla. Slight lime. Slight bready character. Malt chocolate.

Finish: Peat. Malt chocolate. Light salt. Vanilla. Slight greenery. Water adds honey sweetness. More malt chocolate to choc orange. Quite drying. Slight Chinese stir fry vegetables.

Conclusion: This is another whisky that I am glad I gave a while to open up before doing notes. When I first broke this open about a week ago, it seemed very dominated by a stir fry vegetable character behind the smoke. A very bad look for nearly any whisky. Anyway, these days where I can I give the whisky a week or so before I do notes, time for the vapours to roam the now less than full bottle. It often helps, so, we now try the whisky in that state.

This is still very peat forward, drying and smokey with slightly medicinal and salted notes – though it is not overly tied to those last two concepts. Instead the main backing to the peat is a gentle, smooth toffee sweetness. Neat it still has a bit of the stir fry in the aroma, but that goes with water. With a lot of water that stir fry returns to linger in the finish- so it is a balancing act to find the sweet spot on this one.

Still, in the middle, with just enough water you get a nice balance of both worlds. You get the sweetness, the peat – a good intensity backed by a good sweetness. Despite the texture it is never easy drinking, but it is not due to any fire or harsh spirit notes – in fact it plays very smooth, and even enhances itself with some chocolate notes as the water comes in.

So, with water, does it have any problems? Well, a couple – a big one is the cost. For all the peat and sweetness it brings, and the impressive texture, it is still a young whisky. It lacks a certain complexity – I find the Ardmore does sweet and peat better and with more subtlety – or if you want the intense side, for this cost you can get Laphroaig Quarter Cask – which is a legend that shows how to really get the most out of small cask ageing.

This is a good show for a first release, though marred by those stir fry notes mentioned – but it does not match the complexity or quality you would expect for the price. There are much better, similar whiskies. I anticipate good things from this distillery, but unless you really must try the first release, I would hold out for a later, richer, expression.

Background: This was a Christmas gift from my parents – many thanks! This is a no age statement bottling, but the Ailsa Bay Distillery has been part of the Girvan distillery since 2007, so it with this being released in 2016 it would probably have a max age of about 8 years, and probably less. This highly peated whisky has been “Micro matured” by which I presume they mean aged in a smaller cask so there is more contact with the wood. The label lists this as having a pppm of 21 (peat raing) and sppm of 11 (google tells me this is the sweetness rating -not seen that before). Drunk while listening to Ulver – atgclvlsscap, a weird experimental mash up that gave a lovely haunting backdrop to the drinking.

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