Tobermory 20, 1994 (Wilson & Morgan)

My first review for this month was of a Tobermory distilled in 1994 and bottled by the Italian independent, Wilson & Morgan. Let’s close out the month’s whisky reviews with another Tobermory distilled in 1994 and bottled by Wilson & Morgan. This is two years older than the previous—and where that was from an ex-bourbon cask, this one is from an oloroso sherry cask. Sherry cask Tobermorys have heretofore been the ones I’ve liked the best and I’m hoping that trend will continue with this one. Let’s get right to it.

(By the way, though this may seem like a very untimely review, I believe this is still available in Europe.)

Tobermory 20, 1994 (50%; Wilson & Morgan; oloroso sherry cask #5043; from a purchased sample)  Continue reading


Tobermory 18, 1994 (Wilson & Morgan)

Let’s start the month with a review of a malt from a distillery that is probably one of the most acquired of tastes in all of whiskydom, and a taste that I have not yet quite managed to acquire: Tobermory. The two Tobermorys I’ve liked the most have both been from sherry casks (this 19 yo from The Whisky Exchange, and this much older one from Alambic Classique). I’ve not fared as well with ex-bourbon Tobermory, where the idiosyncrasies of the distillate really get a chance to shine. I’m not a fan of the official 10 yo and nor was I particularly enthused by the 17 yo from Glen Fahrn that I reviewed in January—though I did find things to like about it. (It’s a different story with their peated variant, Ledaig, which I’ve been getting more and more into in the last few years—both ex-sherry and ex-bourbon.)

Well, let’s see how this 18 yo goes.  Continue reading

Macduff 31, 1980 (Wilson & Morgan)

This is the very first Macduff I have ever reviewed. It is also, I believe, the very first Macduff I have ever had—my spreadsheet does not record any other. Not much Macduff is available, and what is available is usually under the Glen Deveron name. In fact, Winesearcher currently shows nothing available in the US under either name. So for my American readers this is a particularly useless review. Not only is this whisky unavailable but if it should pique your interest in the distillery, it does not appear that we can even find anything else from them here. Such is life.

Macduff, part of the Bacardi/John Dewar holdings, is located in the Speyside and is a relatively new distillery. It was founded in the 1960s, and has mostly produced whisky for the owners’ blends. And at various points the distillery has in fact been named Glen Deveron. Some identity issues, obviously but that’s not all that’s unusual about them. They also apparently run a combination of two wash and three spirit stills. As to whether this is an interesting fact is a different matter. But I’m certainly hoping this older Macduff will be.  Continue reading

Home Blend 35, 1980 (Wilson & Morgan)

Home Blend 35, 1980, Wilson & Morgan
This blended whisky was put out by the Italian bottlers, Wilson & Morgan. I’m not sure how it was made—other than noting sherry cask maturation the label does not specify. Was it one of those rare cases of a grain whisky and a malt whisky being combined at distillation and matured as a blend for the full term? Or was it two separate casks married together at the age of 35? Unless the sherry cask was merely a “finishing” or “marrying” cask I’d expect it to be blended at birth (so to speak), as I’m not sure how common maturing grain whisky in sherry casks would have been in 1980. It’s also the case that they released three separate casks of a 35 yo blend in 2015, all from the 1980 vintage. This might suggest that they were all single casks. I assume they came across these casks in someone’s moldering inventory and snapped them up—Wilson & Morgan don’t seem to have released any other such blends at any rate.. If you know more about the antecedents of these casks please write in below.  Continue reading

Ben Nevis 18, 1995 (Wilson & Morgan), Take 2

Ben Nevis 18, 1995, Wilson & Morgan
I’ve reviewed this Ben Nevis before. That was a review of a purchased sample — I ended by saying I might have to purchase a bottle and I did. I opened the bottle pretty quickly after purchase and took it to one of my local group’s tastings (where it did quite well). I’ve been drinking the bottle down at a pretty steady clip since then and figured I’d re-review it to see how much overlap there is between my notes on the two occasions. You’ll have to believe me when I say that I have not re-read the first review before starting on this one.

Ben Nevis 18, 1995 (55.5%; Wilson & Morgan; sherry butt 657; from my own bottle)

Nose: Sharp and a little varnishy at first; some paraffin too. Then the fruit begins to emerge: bright citrus and a more indistinct muskiness below. Gets quite dusty as it sits and a little bit malty as well. With a lot more time the sharper notes recede and the fruit is to the fore (and sweeter now). And with water the sharp notes are all but gone and there’s a biscuity quality to go with the sweet citrus.   Continue reading

Caol Ila 16, 1998 (Wilson & Morgan)

Caol Ila 16, 1998, Wilson & Morgan
I ended February with a review of a peated whisky and so let’s start March with another peated whisky. And since it’s been a long while since I’ve reviewed a bourbon cask Caol Ila, let’s start with one of those. This one was bottled by the Italian indie outfit, Wilson & Morgan and came from a second fill bourbon cask.

Caol Ila 16, 1998 (60.4%; Wilson & Morgan; second fill bourbon cask 10165; from a purchased sample)

Nose: Some lemon, some almond oil, some sweet, mineral peat, the slightest hint of vanilla—but it’s all rather tightly packed and needs air and water. With a bit of air there’s some cereal notes as well and some acidic smoke but it’s still rather tight. With a lot more time it begins to open up further and the citrus gets more interesting: some lime peel, some grapefruit; some mothballs too. Water brings out more cereal, more mothballs and more mineral sweetness and some cream.   Continue reading

Ben Nevis 18, 1995 (Wilson & Morgan)

Ben Nevis 18, 1995, Wilson & Morgan
I’ve noted many times before the phenomenon of distilleries that were unloved when they were open eventually becoming hot tickets some years after their closure. You could certainly add Ben Nevis to the list of unloved distilleries. When I was first getting serious/deranged about single malt whisky Ben Nevis was one of the distilleries of which very few people had anything positive to say. It was seen as an eccentric distillery at best, and even those who didn’t dislike its malt would concede that its product was wildly inconsistent. You might have thought that it too would need to close down to get a better reputation, a la Littlemill. Of late, however, it’s begun to seem that they might not need that drastic step. A lot of indie Ben Nevis has been showing up in the last couple of years, and a lot of it has been fairly well received. And given the high prices that the distillery has begun to charge for its teenaged vintage releases it appears that the worm may well have begun to turn. Indie Ben Nevis, however, remains good value. Continue reading

Bowmore 22, 1990 (Wilson & Morgan)

Bowmore 22, 1990 (Wilson & Morgan)
It’s been a while since I’ve had a good sherried Bowmore and I am hoping this may be one of them. It was distilled in 1990 (just at the edge of the danger zone). The last sherried 1990 I tasted was excellent (this one from A.D. Rattray) but that was full-term matured in a sherry cask, I believe; this is a PX finish (presumably of an ex-bourbon cask). As to how long the finishing period was, I have no idea. As for where the finish happened: from Wilson & Morgan’s website it appears that they’ve released a number of sherry finished malts and that they purchase their own sherry casks for the purpose (see here). Is this common among other independent bottlers who release finished whiskies as well? I would imagine many indies are not set up to do this sort of thing (unlike Wilson & Morgan or Murray McDavid who have/had wine business history)—if so, where do their finished casks come from? Are they leftovers from distilleries’ own special releases/experiments? If you know more about this phenomenon, please write in below.  Continue reading

Glenrothes 25, 1988 (Wilson & Morgan)

Glenrothes 25, 1988, Wilson & Morgan
Because I am so on top of things I was going to say that this is the oldest Glenrothes I’ve ever had. But then, because I am even more on top of things, I checked and found that I’ve already reviewed another Glenrothes 25, 1988. So this is not the oldest Glenrothes I’ve ever had (that’s coming soon though). However, I will soon be an authority on 25 yo Glenrothes from 1988, or at least more of an authority than that other whisky blogger you follow who’s only had one Glenrothes 25, 1988, the poor sap, I don’t know how he lives with himself. So far this has been five sentences with zero useful content (four if you generously count this sentence as useful, and you really should since I did go back and count). And frankly, the odds are not good of there being dramatic improvement.. So I should probably just get to the review already—I mean don’t you want to find out about this Glenrothes 25, 1988 from a relatively obscure Italian bottler with a non-Italian name?  Continue reading

Glen Scotia 20, 1991 (Wilson & Morgan)

Glen Scotia 20, 1991, Wilson & Morgan
Glen Scotia is the other Campbeltown distillery (Springbank being the Campbeltown distillery). I know very little about them and have tasted about as much. They don’t have the best reputation among whisky geeks but none of the (few) Glen Scotias I’ve tasted have been bad and the only other “older” one I’ve had I quite liked. That was this Archives bottling, also, as it happens, a 20 yo. Unlike that one this is from a sherry cask. Will it be as good? I hope so.

I also know very little about Wilson & Morgan, the bottler this is from and this is the first of their releases that I’ve ever tried. They’re an Italian outfit and as far as I can make out from their website they’ve been around for about 20 years and their owner is a sharp dresser. Why Wilson & Morgan if they’re Italian? Probably for the same reason that Indian whiskies have names like Peter Scot and Bagpiper. Anyway, let’s get to it.

Continue reading