After two weeks in a row of bourbon cask whiskies (from Bladnoch, Linkwood, Dailuaine, Ardmore, Glen Garioch and Teaninich), let’s finish the month, and the year, with a week of sherry-matured whiskies. Instead of going up in age over the course of the week—as I usually do—let’s do them in order of increasing sherry influence. First up, accordingly is a single cask Ben Nevis 18, 1991 that was bottled by Mackillop’s Choice back in 2010. I purchased this bottle not too long after, and as with so many bottles purchased in that time period, I have no idea why I haven’t opened it in all these years—except perhaps that I purchased rather a lot of bottles in that time period. Anyway, it’s open now.
By the way, I was surprised to learn that Mackillop’s Choice is still a going concern—or at least that it was just a few years ago. Whiskybase doesn’t have any listings for 2022 or 2021 releases from the label but there were at least a few releases in 2020. If you’d asked me before I looked it up, I would have guessed they’d long gone the way of Scott’s Selection. Based on Whiskybase listings, the heyday does seem to have ended in the early 2010s, when they were still releasing 20-30 malts in most years. Continue reading →
Last month I reviewed whiskies from Port Ellen and Brora. Here now is a whisky from another distillery that closed in the early 1980s but whose post-closure releases have not developed the aura, on the whole, that the whiskies from Port Ellen and Brora have: the Lowlands distillery, Linlithgow/St. Magdalene. I’ve only reviewed two other Linlithgows (and not had very many more than two). At the time of my first review (also of a 1982 distillation), I noted that I did not know if anything distinguished the malt released under the Linlithgow name from that released as St. Magdalene. Almost six years later, I still don’t; if you know the answer, please write in below. This particular Linlithgow was released in 2011 or 2012 by Mackillop’s Choice. I’m not entirely sure if Mackillop’s Choice is still on the go (another question for the better informed to answer)—at any rate, I don’t see any 2019 releases from them on Whiskybase and there were only a handful in 2018. Anyway, let’s get to the whisky! Continue reading →
Mid-1970s Tomatin is as close as you come to a sure thing in the single malt world. Of course, a lot of people say that it’s 1976 Tomatin that’s the sure thing, but, as I’ve noted more than once before, that’s mostly romantic thinking about magic vintages. Anyway, it’s not like Tomatins from even 1976 are easy to find anymore; indeed, the entire decade seems to be exhausted now, with most available casks either bottled as singles or probably blended away. And I’m not referring only to Tomatin—when’s the last time you saw casks of Longmorn or even BenRiach show up in quick succession from the indies? And the little that comes available now costs a king’s ransom. And the tedious, old refrain: just a few years ago this was not true. As it happens, I passed on a chance then to purchase this bottle for not very much money (relatively speaking).
But who knows, maybe there are casks from the late 1980s and early 1990s as well from Tomatin and Longmorn et al that will also astonish us all when they get bottled between 25 and 35 years of age. Of course, I will probably not be able to afford any of those.
Continue reading →
Benrinnes is another distillery with which I am not too well acquainted. It is in the Speyside and pumps out a lot of whisky for Diageo’s blends–they’re known for a sherried style and for triple-distillation* (the only Speysider apparently to do this). The only regular official release, I think, is the 15 yo in the Flora & Fauna range. I haven’t had this one, but I’ve had some indies: a younger, more atypical cask strength ex-bourbon 11 yo from Signatory (which I liked fine) and two older releases, one of which I liked well enough (a 26 yo from Chieftain’s), one that I thought was just okay (a 25 yo from the Bladnoch forum). I’m hoping to get to know these distilleries that are relative blindspots for me a little better and so this Mackillop’s Choice bottling.
*Edit: see clarifications in the comments on this score. Continue reading →