Glen Grant 13, 1993 (James MacArthur)

After two weeks of peated whiskies (a week at Ardmore and then a week on Islay, at Caol Ila, Laphroaig and Bowmore) let’s end the month with what should be a pair of milder Speysiders. First up. a bourbon cask Glen Grant, distilled in 1993 and bottled at 13 years of age by James MacArthur (are they still around?).

Glen Grant 13, 1993 (57.7%; James MacArthur; bourbon cask 121926; from a sample from a friend)

Nose: Tart fruit off the top (a mix of apples/cider and orange) along with some oak and a bit of chalk. Maltier with a bit of air and the fruit turns a bit muskier (over-ripe pear, a hint of pineapple). The oak turns first resinous and then leafy and the citrus gets tarter (lime now rather than orange, some of it makrut lime). With time and air the musky fruit and the malt expand. Water pushes the acid and oak back and brings out more of the sweet fruit along with some cream. Continue reading


Clynelish 12, 1997 (James Macarthur)

With an interesting but not excellent Campbeltown stop behind us, let’s take the bourbon cask train up north to the Highlands and see if things improve. On paper, they should. After all, this is a 1997 vintage Clynelish and all the whisky geeks who believe in magical vintages will tell you that 1997 is a special year for Clynelish. It’s also the case that bourbon cask Clynelish in general is a good bet—see this 14 yo from Archives, for instance, and this one from Berry Bros. & Rudd (both from 1997). This was bottled in 2009 by James Macarthur, an outfit that doesn’t seem to be terribly ubiquitous anymore—not in the US anyway. If you have information on their status, please write in below. This is from a single cask but was bottled at 45% for some reason. I got the sample from Michael K. of Diving for Pearls and I’m not sure what it means that he doesn’t seem to have gotten round to reviewing his own bottle. Anyway, if this is close to either the Archives or Berry Bros. bottles I’ll be happy—but I won’t believe anymore than I currently do in magical vintages.  Continue reading

Bowmore 15, 1990 (James MacArthur)

Bowmore 15 (James MacArthur)
I continue my daring exploration of Bowmores from the fringes of their dangerous period with this 15 yo from 1990. Will this provide further support for my hypothesis that the problems at Bowmore had largely cleared up as early as 1990? Let’s see (and please keep in mind that my experience of this period is very limited compared to most geeks).

This is the last of three James MacArthur bottles split with Michael K. and Florin (who, as you may recall, is the sheriff of a small community in the Inland Empire and the author of such novels as Gravity’s Rainbow and The Crying of Lot 49). This review is also being simulposted with Michael’s at Diving for Pearls. [And here now is the link to Michael’s review.]

Continue reading

Caol Ila 12, 1994 (James MacArthur)

jmac-caolilaThis Caol Ila is the second of the three James MacArthur bottles I split with Michael Kravitz of Diving for Pearls and Florin (third-string quarterback for the San Diego Chargers and the Eater of Worlds). I liked the Longmorn a lot–will this be as good?

This review is also being simulposted with Michael’s and the link will be up as soon as I have it (and here it is). As always we have not discussed the whisky or our notes.

Caol Ila 12, 1996 (59.5%; James MacArthur “Old Masters”; cask 2103; from a bottle split with friends)

Nose: A little rubbery right off the bat but then there’s the peat, deep and phenolic and inky-sweet. With more time there’s some pencil lead and something meaty as well–in fact, the peat starts getting a little farmy and now there’s some rotting organic material in here. With even more time there’s some fruit–lime but also something sweeter–and some warm vanilla. And more than 30 minutes later there’s a strong cereal note. With a few drops of water it’s all about the lime but now it’s a little sweeter and integrated nicely with the (mildly) farmy smoke. Continue reading

Longmorn 15, 1992 (James Macarthur)

jmac-longmornHere is a Longmorn bottled a while ago by James MacArthur, an established indie. I’m not sure if their availability in the US has been uninterrupted. This bottle is from 2007, as are two more bought at the same time, but I don’t recall any since prior to the big splash they made a year or two ago. If you know if they’ve been here but quiet the whole time or if like Cadenhead’s they exited and then re-entered, please write in below.

This bottle (and a Bowmore and a Caol Ila) were split three ways with Michael Kravitz of Diving For Pearls and Florin, who fights crime up and down the Pacific Coast by night, all the while keeping up appearances as a rodeo clown in the greater Barstow area. This review is being posted simultaneously with Michael’s (link forthcoming as soon as I have woken up and found it: and here it is). This is, in fact, the first of five simultaneous reviews, all to be posted on Friday mornings. As usual we have not discussed the whisky or our notes ahead of time. Let’s see what we both think.

This cask seems to have been split with half being bottled for the US market and half for a whisky festival in Italy (both by James MacArthur). Continue reading