Dailuaine 10, 2010 (Sovereign for K&L)


From a week of reviews of heavily peated whiskies from the highlands let’s go to a week of milder fare from the Speyside. The last lot of Speysides I reviewed at the end of December were all fairly old—two 28 yo Glenfarclas (here and here) and a 33 yo Longmorn (here). We’ll start this week with a much younger whisky from a far less storied distillery: Dailuaine. This is from a sherry butt that was also part of K&L’s 2021 cask selections. I am now almost at the end of my reviews of that large batch; it would be good to get them done before the 2022 casks show up.

Dailuaine 10, 2010 (59.4%; Sovereign for K&L; sherry butt; from a bottle split)

Nose: A nice mix of sweet malt, light caramel and fruit (orange, apricot). Somewhat waxy on the second sniff with some honey in the mix too now. The citrus gets a little brighter as it goes and some cream emerges. The fruit gets richer as it sits and mixes nicely with the malt and the wax. With a lot more time it gets quite sweet. A few drops of water and the lemon wakes back up and picks up a biscuity note. Continue reading

Ballechin 15, 2005, Second-Fill Sherry (WhiskySponge)


Three Ballechins bottled by Whisky Sponge to start the month and year, I said. On Monday I reviewed a 17 yo distilled in 2004 and matured in a first-fill bourbon barrel. On Wednesday another 17 yo from 2004, this time matured in a refill fino butt. Here now to close the week is another sherry cask but this one was distilled a year later and is two years younger. It’s from a second-fill sherry hogshead—what kind of sherry does not appear to have been specified in this case.

As I said on Monday, I only recently learned that Angus MacRaild (the Whisky Sponge) was bottling whisky. I don’t know what reputation his releases have at this point or where they fall price-wise in the market. I will say that I liked the other two fine but did not find them to be anything particularly extraordinary. Will this one be a departure in either direction? Let’s see. Continue reading

Ballechin 17, 2004, Refill Fino (WhiskySponge)


Here is the second of three reviews of single casks of Ballechin—or peated Edradour—released recently by Whisky Sponge. See here for a review of the first cask (a first-fill bourbon barrel) and read the comments on that post for some discussion of the ethical issues that these releases raise. If you have any thoughts about any of that please add them to the comments on that first review so it all stays in one place.

Ballechin 17, 2004 (55.5%; WhiskySponge; Edition 36B; Refill Fino Sherry Butt; from a bottle split)

Nose: Dry, farmy peat with some sweet notes around the edges of the smoke. Gets more organic and vegetal as it sits—definitely something rotting in the undergrowth in the middle distance, the aroma being wafted over on a briny, sea breeze (yes, I know where Edradour is located). Water softens the whole up: the farmy peat abates and there’s a touch of vanilla now. The salt expands again with time. Continue reading

“A Fine Christmas Malt”, 16 yo, The Whisky Exchange 2021


Today is the day before Christmas and therefore I have for you a whisky with Christmas in its name. This is the 2021 edition of the Whisky Exchange’s “A Fine Christmas Malt”. It is 16 years old and ostensibly from a mystery distillery. However, at the bottom of the product page for this whisky on the TWE website the links offer “More from Highland Park”. I think this means that this is a Highland Park. Actually, I know it is but don’t ask me how I know: if word gets out that he’s been so indiscreet someone might have to shave his beard. I rather liked the last Highland Park I reviewed of this general age: a 17 yo bottled for K&L. Unlike that one this is not a single cask but a vatting of bourbon and sherry casks. A friend visiting London in November muled a bottle back to me. I was expecting it to be sold out by now but somehow it is still available—oh, when will the war on Christmas end? On the other hand, this means I am reviewing yet another currently available whisky. I truly am the king of timely whisky reviewers. Continue reading

Balvenie 15, Sherry Cask 12243


The week began with a review of the current batch of the Kilkerran 8, CS which was put together from first-fill oloroso cask matured spirit. Today’s review is of another sherry cask-matured whisky. This one, from Balvenie in the Speyside, is almost twice the age of the Kilkerran. The old Balvenie 15 Single Barrel series was one of my favourites back when I got into malt whisky in a big way. Those were all single bourbon casks. A little less than 10 years ago or so that series was discontinued in favour of a new 15 y sherry cask series. Unsurprisingly, these releases cost a lot more. The lowest price in the US right now seems to be just under $100 though in most states they cost a lot more than that—in Minnesota the lowest price shown on Winesearcher is currently $130 before tax. The only other cask in the series that I’ve reviewed so far was certainly not a whisky I’d want to pay $130 for—or for that matter even much less. Now, it’s true that there are very few whiskies any more of any age or cask type that I’m willing to pay those kinds of prices for. Will this one turn out to be one of them? Let’s see. I’m not sure when this was bottled, by the way—I assume sometime in the last couple of years. Continue reading

Kilkerran 8 CS, Batch 5


There have been a few general batch-numbered releases of a Kilkerran 8 CS in recent years. Going off the Whiskybase listings it would appear that the first couple of of these appeared in 2017 (I am not counting previous single cask releases or releases available only at the distillery). The 2017 (Batch 1 and Batch 2) and 2018 (Batch 3) releases were from bourbon casks. I was not the biggest fan of Batch 1 and have not tried the second or third batches. Batch 4 was released in 2019—I reviewed it earlier this year and after an unpromising opening rather liked—and was matured in re-charred oloroso sherry casks. After a year’s break, 2021’s release (Batch 5) is once again from oloroso sherry casks but this time they were first-fill oloroso casks. This is the release I am reviewing today as the first in a week of sherry cask whiskies. On Wednesday I’ll check in with a Balvenie single sherry cask and I’ll close out the week appropriately on Friday with The Whisky Exchange’s recent “A Fine Christmas Malt”. But first let’s get into this one. Continue reading

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2021, PX Finish


Islay week started out with a Bowmore released in 2019 and then took a jump back in time with an Ardbeg Uigeadail released in 2007. We’re now back to the present, indeed back in 2021 itself. Closing out the week is this year’s edition of the Cairdeas, Laphroaig’s annual Feis Ile release. I was not a fan of 2020’s Port & Wine casks release. The release a year before that was a cask strength version of the Triple Wood from the regular lineup. This year’s release is a cask strength version of the PX release (is that still in the core lineup?) which is basically the Triple Wood but with oloroso casks as the third type of cask involved in the maturation (after regular bourbon casks and quarter casks). Will it send the series back in the right direction? Even if it does, I do wish Laphroaig would go back to releasing good young bourbon cask whiskies in this series. All of the Cairdeas releases I’ve liked best have been from bourbon casks. Either that or just give us a straight forward sherry cask release (both 2018’s Fino and 2014’s Amontillado releases were finsihes/double maturations too). Anyway, let’s see what this one is like—maybe it’ll make me eat my words. Continue reading

Ardbeg Uigeadail, 2007 Release


Islay week continues. After starting at Bowmore on Monday we’ll now move down to the south coast for the remaining reviews of the week. And after a bourbon cask release to start the week we’ll head into deep, sherried territory. First up, a bottle from the 2007 release of the Ardbeg Uigeadail. In 2007 the Uigeadail was not new—the first release was in 2003—but it was certainly not the familiar name it has since become to fans of the distillery and of heavily peated whisky. The distillery itself was only in the early stages of its comeback. The release of the new 10 year old, distilled after the purchase and revitalization of the distillery in 1997 by Glenmorangie PLC, was still a year away. And the Uigeadail itself would not become a major sensation till 2009 when that sexist asshole in a Panama hat named it his pick for the best whisky in the world or whatever. Of course, in malt whisky lore, the golden age of the Ardbeg Uigeadail was already behind it then! It’s the releases from 2003 and 2004 that are famous for containing old sherried Ardbeg from1970s casks in them. But even if that time was gone by 2007, the Uigeadail of that era was rather excellent indeed. I want to say that this is the last of several bottles I’d purchased at the time but my usually trusty spreadsheet fails me. This is one of very few whiskies for which I have not recorded the place or date of purchase or a price. As I do have all that information recorded for my remaining bottles of the 2010 and 2013 releases I’m guessing this was not purchased alongside them. Anyway, what I have recorded is the score I gave the previous bottle—finished before I started the blog—and on that basis I am expecting to enjoy this very much. Let’s get to it. Continue reading

Talisker Distiller’s Edition, 2005-2015


Following Monday’s review of a bottle from the first-ever release of the Talisker 18 in 2004, let’s continue Talisker week with another from the distillery’s core range. The Talisker Distillers Edition—like all Diageo’s Distillers Edition releases—is the distillery’s entry-level age-stated malt—in this case the 10 yo—finished for a few months in sherry or wine casks—in this case, Amoroso sherry casks. As I’ve noted before, the only one of these I’ve consistently liked is the Lagavulin Distillers Edition. In most of the others the finish has not in my view tended to add very much that’s compelling to the base malt; though I suppose it is always good to have some variation. Such was my view of the only other Talisker Distillers Edition I’ve reviewed—the 2011 release. This one is from four years later. Will it be appreciably different? And will it make me curious enough about more recent releases to seek them out? Let’s see. Continue reading

Ben Nevis 20, 1997, King of the Hills (Old Particular)


We’ll stay in the western part of Scotland for the last of this week’s highlands reviews (which began at Ardmore on Monday and continued at Oban on Wednesday).

Ben Nevis is located less than 50 miles drive from Oban but the profiles of the distilleries’ malts are much further away from each other. Where Oban produces a relatively austere spirit, Ben Nevis puts out what can fairly be called a consistently funky one. Independent releases in recent years have done a lot to improve the distillery’s reputation and the official 10 yo was excellent too when I last checked in on it (I’m not sure of its current status). It’s no secret to those who read the blog regularly that I really enjoy Ben Nevis—exactly one year ago I placed it in the list of my five favourite distilleries. Their whiskies are not always great but they’re always interesting. Let’s see if this one manages to be both. It was bottled a couple of years ago by the Laings’ Old Particular label as part of a series of “cards”—I think there were cards for various regions. Ben Nevis, appropriately, was named “King of the Hills”. Continue reading

Macallan 12, 2008, PX Cask (SMWS 24.151)


And so ends this week of Macallan 12, 2008s. As a reminder, this is the third of three casks released at the same time by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society this year. All started out as spirit matured in first-fill oloroso butts before being filled into ex-bourbon, ex-oloroso and ex-PX casks respectively for two more years. An interesting prospect, this juxtaposition but in reality I was not hugely impressed by either Monday’s ex-bourbon cask or Wednesday’s ex-oloroso. I thought both were overpowered finally by both the oak and the crazy high abv at which all of these were bottled. Will this PX cask finally be the one I really like? I hope so.

Macallan 12, 2008 (63.1%; SMWS 24.149; oloroso + PX casks; from a bottle split)

Nose: Ah, this is very nice from the jump: plum sauce, orange peel, leather and just a bit of oak to frame it all. Brighter citrus emerges after a few minutes in the glass along with some pencil lead and some damp autumn leaves. As it sits further it gets stickier, the oak gets a little spicier, the plum expands further and it’s better integrated still. A few drops of water push the oak back and soften it up a bit: quite a bit of toffee now and some apricot to go with the plum. Continue reading

Macallan 12, 2008, Oloroso Cask (SMWS 24.149)


Here is the second of the recent Macallan trio from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. As I noted on Monday, the SMWS took whisky that had matured in oloroso butts for 10 years and then put it into different cask types for a further two. Monday’s 12 year old spent its last two years in bourbon casks. This one spent two more years in oloroso—in the original casks? in re-coopered oloroso hogsheads? I do not know. Well, I was not hugely impressed by the bourbon cask—too much alcohol and too much oak for my taste. This oloroso cask is at an even higher abv, but will the sherry cover up some of the oak? Let’s see.

Macallan 12, 2008 (63.6%; SMWS 24.149; oloroso casks; from a bottle split)

Nose: Rich oloroso notes (big surprise): raisins, cherry liqueur, dried orange peel, a bit of salt and a mildly beany note. Not much sign of oak on the first few sniffs but it emerges as it sits and gets some air: a big tannic burn that begins to cut through the rich notes. With more time the oak calms down a bit and the fruit reasserts itself (orange peel and cherry now joined by some apricot jam). A few drops of water and there’s much better integration of the fruit and the oak, and there’s some leather too now. Continue reading

Macallan 12, 2008, Bourbon Cask (SMWS 24.152)


This week’s whisky reviews are of a slightly unusual set. This is not just because they’re all reviews of whiskies distilled at Macallan—a distillery I have not covered much on the blog. (Why have I not covered much Macallan on the blog? Well, mostly because the relationship between quality, price and high-concept marketing at Macallan went haywire more than a decade ago.) The set is also unusual as it comprises three independent releases—there’s not so very much indie Macallan out there you see, especially in the US. All of these were bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. What makes them truly unusual is the relationship between them. All originated in a group of 10 yo oloroso sherry butts which were then filled into first-fill ex-bourbon, ex-oloroso and ex-PX casks for a further two years of maturation and bottled at the same time (presumably there have been other releases of the source spirit as well). Now you might think this would be a more striking juxtaposition if the original 10 years of maturation had happened in refill bourbon casks—thus allowing the variations from the subsequent double maturations to present on a more subtle canvas—but it should, at least in theory, be interesting to compare the three anyway. First up is the ex-bourbon cask which for some reason was given the name “Albino Rhino”. Continue reading

Kilchoman 10th Anniversary Release


After having reviewed only eight KIlchomans over the first seven and a half years of the blog’s life, I reviewed another five in the first half of this year. Let’s get that count up even higher by starting November with another pair of Kilchomans. First up is a multi-vintage vatting released in 2015 to mark the 10th anniversary of the distillery’s founding. This contains spirit distilled from 2012 to 2005. It couldn’t have any from the vintages after 2012, of course, because by law Scotch whisky has to be at least three years old. The oldest whisky in the vatting was 10 years old and indeed this includes spirit from the first cask ever filled at the distillery.  The cask types are a mix of bourbon and sherry but I’m not sure what the mix is or what the proportions of the various vintages is. And while I’m listing things I’m not sure of, I also don’t know if this ever came to the US—the distillery’s page indicates it was meant to be on sale at the distillery only. At any rate, here are my notes. Continue reading

Inchgower 22, 1998 (Sovereign for K&L)


Let’s close out Sherry Cask Week (and the month in whisky reviews) with another distillery that has not featured very much on the blog over the last 8.5 years and which I have very little experience with off the blog as well: Inchgower. (See here for Monday’s Blair Athol and here for Wednesday’s Dalmore.) One of the many Scottish distilleries that produces largely for blends, in this case for Bell’s, Inchgower doesn’t really have much of an identity as a single malt. Outside of appearances in Diageo’s Flora & Fauna series—which highlights its lesser-known distilleries—and the occasional special release, there is no OB release I am aware of. It does show up from indies and all the ones I’ve previously reviewed have been indie releases, and have been in the general age group of this 22 yo from a refill sherry butt which is part of K&L’s 2021 cask exclusives. Well, I liked all those other 20+ yo Inchgowers I’ve reviewed—and I also liked the Blair Athol 12 from this K&L set—and so I’m hopeful this will be good as well. Continue reading

Dalmore 18, 2001 (Cadenhead)


Sherry Cask Week began at Blair Athol n the Highlands on Monday. I liked that 12 yo bottled by Sovereign for K&L fine and thought it was a good value for a daily sipper. We’ll remain in the Highlands for this review, going a bit further north to Dalmore and adding six more years of age. I’ve not reviewed very many Dalmores on the blog—only two in fact before this one. I enjoyed the 12 yo and the Cigar Malt back when I first started drinking single malt whisky, which was also back when Dalmore’s whiskies were reasonably priced. But it’s been a while now since the distillery’s pricing ascended into the sphere of the very silly; and it’s also the case that there isn’t so very much indie Dalmore about, especially in the US. Not even Gordon & MacPhail have put out so very many Dalmores—though I do note that there seems to have been a slight uptick in the last few years. This 18 yo from Cadenhead also came out a couple of years ago. It’s not a full-term sherry matured, spending only the last two years in a sherry hogshead. At two years it’s really past being a finish and is squarely in double maturation territory. Well, let’s see how it compares to the Blair Athol. Continue reading

Blair Athol 12, 2009 (Sovereign for K&L)


I was planning to close the month out with the SMWS Macallan trio that was on the list for the month. However, for one reason or the other I have not had time to go pick up my share from those bottle splits. And so they’ll have to wait till November. Filling their sherry-forward slots instead are a trio of sherry cask-matured malts from three different distilleries. First up, the youngest of the three, a Blair Athol 12.

This is also my first review of K&L’s 2021 casks. This lot—at least the ones I’ve got samples of from bottle splits—don’t seem to be teaspooned out the wazoo. Presumably with the Trump tariff on single malts a thing of the past, teaspooning is no longer needing to be resorted to in order to keep prices down. Well, I suppose K&L’s 2020 Blair Athol cask—twice the age of this one—bore the distillery’s name openly too. I rather liked that one; let’s see if this is a worthy stablemate. Continue reading

Kilkerran Work in Progress 5, Sherry Wood


Closing out Campbeltown Week is the sherry cask counterpart to Wednesday’s excellent bourbon cask iteration of Kilkerran’s Work in Progress 5 release. This was, if I remember correctly, the first sherry cask release in the series—a feature repeated in the following Work in Progress releases. The Bourbon Wood was one of the best young whiskies I’ve had (and Monday’s 8 yo Glen Scotia was very good too). How will the Sherry Wood compare? Only one way to find out.

Kilkerran Work in Progress 5, Sherry Wood (46%; from my own bottle)

Nose: Though they’re exactly the same age and distillate this noses quite a bit younger than the Bourbon Wood with a mezcal-like note coming off the top. Below it is slightly rubbery peat, some lemon, some chalk and a lot of salt. Not much change with time. With a few drops of water it actually gets a little closer to the Bourbon as it becomes more austere and both the rubbery peat and the mezcal recede; more sweetness now: a bit of vanilla and some wet stones. Continue reading