Ardbeg Bourbon Cask (single cask sample)

Ardbeg Distillery and Me

Ardbeg Bourbon Cask (single cask sample)

~ 52-54% ABV / ~10-12 Years Old

Score: 84/100

What they say:

Ardbeg single cask sample, bourbon cask matured provided by Ardbeg Distillery

Ardbeg Distillery and Me

What I say:

Should have paid more attention at school! Too busy being distracted by the beautiful distillery and its surroundings during our whistle-stop tour. To make up for lack of tasting time (though to be fair we were provided with a dram of Uigeadail with lunch plus a dram of Galileo & Blasda after the tour) we were provisioned with 3 bottles of single cask samples all of the same ABV and Age (both of which I am wildly guessing at as I really can’t remember the exact details) however I am very sure they were each matured in either Bourbon, French Oak or Sherry casks; representative of the building blocks of both the Uigeadail [Bourbon + Sherry cask] or Corryvreckan [Bourbon + French Oak cask] expressions. I opted to sample them in the order Bourbon>French Oak>Sherry in an attempt to preserve my palate and expecting increasing influences of the casks used. This is what I thought of the Bourbon cask matured Ardbeg

Colour:

Very pale light straw gold, highly refractive (Paler than Ardbeg Blasda)

Nose:

‘High’ or sweet Acetone and estery like nail polish and over-ripe banana, malty and strongly lactic (aroma’s I more associate with Lagavulin but have come to recognize in Ardbeg –  with more malt than lactic [usually!]) vanilla and coconut cream, smoky ash

Taste:

Peaty, woody oak, malty yeasty marmite, nutmeg and cinnamon spice, brown sugar and toffee sweetness, peanut satay and coconut cream

Finish:

Long mixture of peat and oak with creamy coconut

Would I buy it:

Sadly not actually for sale, I really enjoyed this Ardbeg cask sample, the only drawback was the peat smoke on the nose had a slightly smoldering ash or dirty ashtray quality (more akin to Caol Ila peaty influence) though the palate and finish were sublime. If anything this sample was like a cask strength version of the ever-popular Ardbeg 10 Year Old expression. A very fine and solid dram with a more reserved mini-monster of peat influence, delicious.

Water of Life Society 30/04/2014 – Compass Box

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Water of Life Society 30/04/2014

Compass Box

CBW-Hexagonal-Logo-Din-Black

WoLS Compass Box Aerial

This weeks EPIC (and final, no really final WoLS tasting of 13/14) tasting was hosted by Gregg Glass (@CompassBoxGregg). Assistant Whiskymaker & Whisky Ambassador at craft Scotch whiskymaker Compass Box Whisky Co.

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Compass Box Great King Street Artists Blend & Hauf n’ Hauf with Weird Beard Double IPA

43% ABV, Score: 74/100

Colour: Full Gold

Nose: Honey sweet, floral, toasted almonds/marzipan

Taste: very smooth vanilla, apple, sweet, slightly sour, grapefruit pith, oranges, light malty, peanut and almond flavours

Finish: Short, mellow, sweet then sour

WOLS Compass Box HnH

What Gregg said: Great King Street range of blends are purely grain and malt blends, non chilltiltered and vatted before bottling. GKS is constructed from a lot of Clynelish matured in both Bourbon and new French Oak casks and Teaninich matured in Sherry casks with a typical average age of around 9 to 11 years maturation. Approximately 45% of this blend is Girvan single grain although Gregg stated they usually use Cameronbridge Grain at around 11 years old. The story behind the super-hoppy IPA hauf’n’hauf Gregg claims was that’s what they were drinking when they came up with the GKS blend as a companion/chaser…

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Compass Box Oak Cross

46% ABV, Score: 84/100

Colour: Full amber gold

Nose: Apple, vanilla, oak wood, cereal barley malt

Taste: Honey and golden syrup sweetness, butterscotch, highland toffee, clotted cream fudge, but very light (not cloying) on the palate

Finish: Short, slightly spicy cinnamon

What Gregg said: Oak Cross is from Compass Box’s range of 100% vatted single malt blends. These primarily consist of a mixture of 3 malts: ~60% Clynelish, ~20% Dailuaine and ~20% Teaninich, matured mostly in 1st fill and refill Bourbon casks (again ~9 to 11 years matured) this constitutes their “Naked” pure malt blend. This is then re-casked after belnding to marry in either old Bourbon casks or new Toasted French Oak casks and left for a further year to marry and further mature in their new casks before bottling.  The French Oak casks are sourced from the Vosges forest region in France. In the following image you will see a sample of Naked blend next to the refill Bourbon cask stave on the left and a Toasted French Oak sample next to a pieces of French Oak displaying 3 different char levels of toasting – note the colour in the “F” French Oak matured blend.

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Compass box initially experimented with toasted French oak staves or blocks that were dropped into the blend in its new Bourbon cask during the marrying year. Unfortunately the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) took exception to this and stopped the practice. Now Compass Box have the marrying casks remade so that they use a refill Bourbon barrel with Toasted French Oak cask ends to create a hybrid marrying cask.

spicetree_bottle_box

Compass Box Spice Tree

43% ABV, Score: 84/100

Colour: Dark amber gold

Nose: Ginger and cinnamon, honey and golden syrup

Taste: Sweet toffee and honey, golden syrup, ginger, deeper notes of liquorice and high % cocoa chocolate

Finish: Spicy and lingers with a zesty grapefruit pith, slightly drying

What Gregg said: The Spice Tree all malt blend is essentially the same naked blend as Oak Cross above but this time matured in heavily toasted French oak. The original batches were made using the submerged French Oak staves in Bourbon casks. Gregg pointed out that not only do they source their French Oak directly but they have it air-seasoned (not kiln dried) for around 2 years and it is identical to the wood used by wine producers in the same region. Gregg also stated that typically around 6-15 casks minimum would be used to produce a batch of their all malt blends.

peatmonster_bottle_box

Compass Box Peat Monster

46% ABV, Score: 86/100

Colour: Full gold

Nose: Peanut, peat, reasonably sweet honey

Taste: Sweet peanut peat, smooth, Madagascan vanilla and coconut notes underneath

Finish: Warming peat, gentle reflux with  vanilla

What Gregg said: The Peat Monster is another all malt blend but this time a completely different set of single malts are used, also a minimum of 25-30 casks would be used per batch (possibly partly to match demand). The blend is made from ~ 20-28% Talisker, ~40% Laphroaig and ~10-14% either Ardmore or Ledaig. Previous batches had been constructed with around 46% Caol Ila replacing the Laphroaig but availability had changed – a situation they are hoping to reverse. Due to the fluctuation in availability Gregg explained that as a company they had taken the decision to start buying and maturing New Make from various (~5) distilleries and maturing them in 1st fill Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrels. Buffalo Trace barrels give the best results as they have one of the best cooperage’s and the barrel to variation is minimal – giving consistent maturation results. Gregg sent round sprays of both Caol Ila peaty New Make and then 1 year old Caol Ila Matured in 1st Fill Bourbon cask, the difference was obvious with a reduction in the harshness of the peat and instant vanilla essence character taken on after maturation.

Hedonism-Box-Bottle

Compass Box Hedonism

43% ABV, Score: 85/100

Colour: Light Gold

Nose: Light and delicate Custard Cream biscuits

Taste: Smooth and light, Custard Cream biscuits, vanilla, cream, custard

Finish: Short with a little hint of spice

What Gregg said: Hedonism is an all grain blend, produced in small batches using only grain whisky matured in 1st fill ex-bourbon casks aged to around 19-26 years old before blending. Laser spray codes (L:number) should be found on each bottle indicating the day/month/year of each batch produced.

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Compass Box Great King Street Experimental Batch #TR-06

43% ABV, Score: 75/100

Colour: Gold

Nose: Vanilla, honey, wafts of peat smoke

Taste: Smooth vanilla cream slightly smoky peat

Finish: Medium sweet

What Gregg said: Both experimental GKS batches contain about 30% grain whisky (again GKS is a malt and grain blend), TR-06 contains ~33% Cameronbridge Grain and 26% Laphroaig giving a subtle vanilla and peaty flavour

Compass Box Great King Street Experimental Batch #00-V4

43% ABV, Score: 78/100

Colour: Gold with amber hints

Nose: Tannic and leathery – definite sherry influence

Taste: Fruity, sherry fizz, tannic but lacked a little depth/body

Finish: Medium, suede leather

What Gregg said: Again ~30% grain this consists of some sherry-matured malts – the most interesting and obvious suggestion was to mix these two experimental batched together to see what ratio’s provided the nicest balance between them. Obviously these split the room in terms of favourites but everyone agreed a little of each was probably required to get the best out of both.

PeatMonster10th-Bottle

Compass Box Peat Monster 10th Anniversary Park Avenue Edition Cask Strength

54.7% ABV, Score: 88/100

Colour: Full Gold

Nose: Peat smoke, apples, seaspray

Taste: Refined and mature, gentle peat, fruity apples, some vanilla and a little cereal malt balance this out with a little old oak wood

Finish: Long earthy peat smoke

What Gregg said: This 10th Anniversary edition of the Peat Monster was produced for Park Avenue Liqours in New York. This blend is made up from ~44% 10 year old Benrinnes – matured in sherry casks, 28% Cameronbridge Grain, ~2% Laphroaig, a little Teaninch 1st fill Bourbon cask matured and the remainder 7-8 year old Caol Ila similar to that used in the Eleuthera blend. The result is a more complex blend and slightly older overall composite compared to the standard Peat Monster expression.

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Compass Box Peat Asyla

54.7% ABV, Score: 79/100

Colour: Gold

Nose: Sweet apples and vanilla

Taste: Malty cereal, vanilla custard, ‘grain’ whisky

Finish: Ethereal and light

What Gregg said: Asyla is the only grain/malt blend in the Compass Box Signature Range, this contains a high percentage of Grain whisky and Linkwood single malt. This particular expression was constructed using the “style equation” of drinker + occasion = whisky type. Asyla is designed as a “party” whisky perhaps for use in long drinks and cocktails to which it lends itself particularly well. Sadly after the Peat Monster 10th I was unlikely to rate this one too highly as I was blown away by the last!

WoLS Compass Box Lineup

In conclusion, so ends one of the most whisky-filled and information-packed tasting sessions of the WoLS year. A massive thanks to Gregg Glass and Compass Box (especially John Glaser their Whiskymaker) for a fantastic and educational evening.

Ardbeg Galileo 12 Years Old 1999 (Official Bottling)

Ardbeg Galileo

Ardbeg Galileo 12 Years Old 1999 (Official Bottling)

49% ABV, ~£150-£200 for 70cl

Score: 79/100

Ardbeg Galileo Pointy

What they say:

Distilled in 1999 and matured for 12 years, some of the spirit was wholly matured in ex-marsala wine casks, the remainder in Bourbon casks.

What I say:

Galileo was launched to celebrate Ardbeg’s collaboration with Texas-based company NanoRacks as part of a project to study the extraction of terpenes (a group of organic compounds resulting from the degradation of Oak norisoprenoids which contribute to either fruity-violet or tobacco like aromas in the final whisky) from wood by a 50/50 water/ethanol mixture in microgravity. See experiment details on NanoRacks website here.

Sadly, no space whisky was used in the production of Galileo. At 2 years long and using only 6ml of 50% ABV to dip each of their wood MixStix into I suspect no space whisky was actually made at all in this process, but why let the truth get in the way of a good story..? So here’s what we thought of 100% distilled by Martians in Space:1999 and matured on Jupiter super-space whisky Ardbeg Galileo, sadly sampled on Earth and not it’s intended export market near Alpha Centauri.

Colour:

Full gold

Nose:

Malty, Elastoplast sticking plasters, briny seaweed, vanilla, coconut, sweet freshly grated nutmeg, iron filings

Taste:

Almost fruity spice, cinnamon, pepper, peaty malt, chewy and complex, oily and mouth filling, hot and spicy chipotle, acidic, medicinal, fusty oak wood, germolene and vanilla custard

Finish:

Long, malty, spice and peat

Would I buy it:

Sadly I don’t have enough Space moola (or Quasi Universal Intergalactic Denomination QUID’s) to buy a bottle of this stuff, though I did get to sample it from a bottle clearly intended for some giant intergalactic species. I actually found this rather young and feisty and a little too acidic for my liking, so glad I kept my Quatloos in the bank after all.

Ardbeg Galileo Sampling

 

64.51 ‘Tuck-time in a stately home’ (SMWS)

SMWS

64.51 ‘Tuck-time in a stately home’ (SMWS)

55.8%, £87.20 for 70cl available from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Score: 85/100

SMWS

What they say:

The nose, with polished wood, oiled cricket bats and flowers, was like entering a stately home – once inside we were offered Moffat toffees, Turkish Delight, Crunchie Bars, Jammy Dodgers, Bounty Bars, marzipan petit-fours and apple strudel – delicious tuck! The palate had unexpected ginger heat, liquorice and oak – but also delivered sweetness (After Eights, cola cubes, vanilla, golden syrup, ice-lolly sticks) – a very pleasant combination. The reduced nose suggested fresh-baked pain au raisin, custard, ginger Edinburgh Rock, Berwick Cockles, lychees, honeysuckle and lavender. The palate was sweetly perfumed with apricots, light woody tannins, tobacco and menthol. Diageo distillery built in 1971.

Drinking tip: Quite a summery dram – maybe for a hip flask, while watching cricket on the village green.

Date Distilled: 14 February 1990 Colour: Gingery gold Age: 23 years years Flavour : Juicy, oaky & vanilla Cask Type: Refill ex-bourbon barrel Whisky Region: Speyside Lossie

What I say:

A 23 year old bottling from Mannochmore by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, sampled at the Homecoming Glasgow Whisky Festival in May 2014

Colour:

Amber Gold

Nose:

Sweet putty/linseed oil, leather/suede, fruity, almond, coconut, wood polish

Taste:

Sweet cinnamon bubblegum, a little spice, waxy, fruity, nutty walnut and pecan, honey and maple syrup, figs, wood polish

Finish:

Long woody and figgy

Would I buy it:

Very impressed with this dram and hadn’t previously sampled anything from Mannochmore. While I am not a member of the SMWS I am coming closer and closer to joining, especially after sampling cracking drams like this. Admittedly the pricing maybe a little steep though the age and strength and sheer pleasure contained in this particular bottle almost make the pricing seem sensible. Plus it is getting less and less frequent we try new distilleries these days so happy to tick the Mannochmore box and very keen to try more if this expression is anything to gauge it by.

Isle of Jura Boutique Barrels 1993 Sherry JI Finish (Official Bottling)

Isle of Jura 1993 Sherry JI

Isle of Jura Boutique Barrels 1993 Sherry JI Finish (Official Bottling)

54% ABV, £78.65 for 70cl available from The Whisky Exchange

Score 87/100

What they say:

Isle of Jura Boutique Barrels

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The word ‘Boutique’ evokes a small but special space filled with an assortment of fine and beautiful things (clothes, trinkets, whiskies). The kind of things you simply can’t find anywhere else – especially not in a high street chain.

It’s with this ethos in mind that Isle of Jura have named their new series ‘Boutique Barrels’.  The idea was to create a range of very special single malts for whisky enthusiasts, making bespoke single cask bottlings available to consumers without the fuss of fancy packaging to distract from the spirit (a laudable goal if ever there was one).  At the same time, the range gives the distillery the opportunity to show off what their spirit is capable, by making available some of its more special casks, hand-picked over a period of five years by the Master Distiller.

The Isle of Jura Boutique Barrels are all vintage single cask bottlings (rare enough in itself for this distillery), and have been bottled at full strength without chill-filtration – in short, the goal has been to preserve the natural elements of the spirit for whisky aficionados and connoisseurs to appreciate.

The initial selection for the Boutique Barrels range is a trio of single casks from different vintages and maturation styles.

This Jura 1993 is part of the distillery’s ‘Boutique Barrels’ series of single casks, bottled at full cask strength. This ‘Sherry Ji’ edition has been finished in Oloroso sherry butts.

Isle of Jura 1993 Sherry JI

• A sensual delight
• A subtle array of flavours; warm deeply mature and inviting
• A mouth-watering collection of flavours that only an island and a unique Oloroso Sherry cask can bring
• Rich citrus marmalade, crushed almonds, spicy ginger and roasted coffee
THE CASK
• Drawn from the richness of the finest cask to complete this masterpiece
• Matured in American white oak from 1993 until 2002 at the Jura distillery
• Re-racked in 2002 into Oloroso Pasada Sherry Butts from Gonzalez Byass in Spain – which nurtured and tamed this island malt to perfection

What I say:

An interesting Jura expression, purchased because you don’t often come across unusually matured Jura (well no more so than there ambiguous core range and travel exclusives). A distillery that seems to have embraced NAS a long time before it was contentious, and even before it was new and cool. Jura were producing expressions that either gave no age statement or were constructed from mixed aged whiskies – their range was much more based around hitting very different flavour profiles. For their boutique barrel range they seem to have come back to the mainstream wisdom by releasing specific year vintages finished in well-defined casks. I had to go for the Sherry option, there really wasn’t a choice! I find Jura very drinkable in most of their expressions and I love Sherry matured/finished whiskies too. Here’s what we thought…

Colour:

Blood orange ruby

Nose:

Leather, lots of leather and tinges of rubber typical of sherry maturation, toffee, some fruity elements and cocoa or sweetened coffee (Latte or something similar)

Taste:

Warming, smooth, fruity, new and old leather, cocoa and chocolate, nutty almond, hazelnut, plum, fig and prunes

Finish:

Medium/long, sweet, fruity and earthy

Would I buy it:

Hell yes! This is simply delicious, a stunning Jura expression, I was worried about the more than faint rubbery hints on the nose – often evidence that the sherry cask has added sulphuric notes back into the whisky which can be overwhelmingly acrid and distasteful. Not on this occasion however the palate serves up a smorgasbord of flavours I just love and which compliment each other immensely. This is a whisky to sip in an old leather armchair while you munch on some fine nutty chocolate and mull over your dram and a good book after dinner.

Ardbeg Blasda (Official Bottling)

Ardbeg Blasda

Ardbeg Blasda (Official Bottling)

40% ABV, £170 for 70cl

Score: 75/100

Ardbeg Blasda

What they say:

We all know Ardbeg packs a peaty punch, but if you remove some of that peat, can Ardbeg still retain its perfect balance? The mind bog-gling answer is “yes”! By taming our usual mighty peating levels we created Blasda, peated to an average of just 8 parts per million phenol (8ppm) compared to the more usual 24ppm. Blasda is still perfectly balanced, but light, sweet and delicious.

Aroma

Deliciously sweet and refreshing. On first nosing, the aroma is reminiscent of baked banoffie pie and roast chestnuts. On further nosing, cloves, pine cones and fresh mint rise from the glass, softened by creamy vanilla custard. A tingle of lemon and lime marmalade cuts through the vanilla with spiced pears followed by a breath of menthol and sea salt. Deep ripe fruits fuse with almond and vanilla.

With water, the sweet effervescence of sherbet vanilla and chocolate limes burst from the liquid. A bouquet of scented violet, narcissus and chrysanthemum bring a sparkling ethereal fragrance. Cured ham with a dusting of white pepper and cinnamon is served with gentle smoked fish and green peppers, with a sprig of leafy mint on top.

Taste

Refreshing, silky and creamy to the palate, the initial sip is sweet with a mixture of sugared almonds, marzipan and hints of dried fruits. Gentle peat oils well up on the palate, remaining soft, clean and dry with a dusting of powdery parma violets. Tangy lemon juice and orange rind freshen the palate with a gentle fizz. Later tingling spices and creamy cappuccino bring a gentle warmth.

Finish

The finish is medium in length and tingly with a refreshing balance of chrysanthemum tea, clean lemon zest, creamy vanilla and hints of cinnamon spiced apple.

What I say:

During our recent society trip to Islay we of course stopped by Ardbeg distillery for lunch and a wee tour culminating in collecting a whole bunch of Ardbeg samples which due to time constraints we had to load onto the bus as we sped on to Laphroaig. Later that evening back in the hostel in Port Charlotte we got a chance to work our way through some of these samples. Naturally the first being the un-peated Blasda, tasted before all the others which were more typical of the heavily peated Ardbeg style.

Colour:

Very pale straw gold, light tears

Nose:

Strong malt, slightly lactic, savoury sweetness, iodine and seaweed (Nori), sesame seeds

Taste:

Light, creamy and oily, cereal, hay, lightly oaked, nutty hazelnut and almond, gentle earthen quality, copper, vanilla cream/custard – hints of crème brulee

Finish:

Medium/short, malty and slightly lactic

Would I buy it:

My overall opinion of Ardbeg’s “lightly-peated” expression was that it was composed of nothing in extremes. Not particularly impressive I likened this to the Caol Ila Stitchell Reserve in that it seems to be lacking something (peat!) and in so doing reveals a whole host of jarring, unappealing flavours that didn’t float my boat. If you fail to like Ardbeg because of the peat, this 8ppm expression is unlikely to win you over.

Mortlach 22 Years Old 1989 [Cask 3926] (Mackillops Choice)

Mortlach 22yo 1989 Mackillops

Mortlach 22 Years Old 1989 [Cask 3926] (Mackillops Choice)

54.9% ABV, £110 for 70cl

Score: 90/100

mortlach-22-year-old-1989-cask-3926-mackillops-choice-whisky

What they say:

A cask strength sherry-matured Mortlach from MacKillop’s Choice. This was distilled on the 1st September 1989 and aged for 22 years in cask 3926 before bottling in March of 2012. Each bottle is individually numbered.

What I say:

The conclusion (temporarily) of our recent libations through some Indie bottled Mortlach’s. I’m sure before too long I’ll discover plenty more and try those too… Anyway lets end on a high!

Colour:

Pale gold

Nose:

Crisp mint and fresh green apple, toffee and honey sweetness, greengages, honeydew melon, oaky wood and cereal barley malt can also be discovered in the depths of the glass

Taste:

Buttery in texture with cinnamon spice and lime zest fizz initially, this mellows into a fruity citrus with green apples and a good measure of ginger, toffee, hints of cocoa and a little salted caramel

Finish:

Heart warming and spirit/vaporous, sweet with a citric edge

Would I buy it:

I could be tempted though I’d consider £100 possibly as an upper limit for a single bottle of whisky; perhaps if really treating myself I could excuse this purchase! What a dram though, this one required a little time to breathe in the glass and became sweeter and creamier with air, but still awarded it a full 90 points on our scale – possibly the best whisky (bang per buck) of 2014 so far…

Mortlach 20 Years Old 1990 [Cask 6069] Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

mortlach-20-year-old-1990-cask-6069-cask-strength-collection-signatory-whisky

Mortlach 20 Years Old 1990 [Cask 6069] Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

57.9% ABV, £75 for 70cl

Score: 85/100

mortlach-20-year-old-1990-cask-6069-cask-strength-collection-signatory-whisky

What they say:

This was distilled at Mortlach on the 17th September 1990 and it was aged in refill sherry butt number 6069 for 20 years before bottling on the 18th January 2011. A release of 521 numbered decanter bottles from Signatory.

What I say:

Continuing on the Mortlach theme, here is a 20 year old cask strength expression bottled by Signatory.

Colour:

Russet/amber gold

Nose:

Fruity figs, plums, sherry, leather, slightly minty

Taste:

Initially warming and slightly spicy, oak wood, old leather and mint tinged with walnut, fruity plum, raisins and hints of cinnamon, liquorice or anise – definitely something herbal

Finish:

Relatively short, fruity and sweet

Would I buy it:

Again another great Indie bottling of Mortlach, mildly complex but incorporates lots of subtly synergistic flavours that evolve as you breathe or taste this expression. On serial dramming I suspected that some of the colour and flavour may have been enhanced by a little over-charring of the cask, plus there was still a lot of sherry influence coming through despite it being from a refill cask? Either way simply delicious! Again my recommendation would be to snap this one up if there is any left!

Mortlach 18 Years Old 1995 – Strictly Limited (Càrn Mòr)

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Mortlach 18 Years Old 1995 – Strictly Limited (Càrn Mòr)

46% ABV, £60 for 70cl

Score: 86/100

mortlach-18-year-old-1995-strictly-limited-carn-mor-whisky

What they say:

Distilled in 1995 and bottled in 2013, this amalgamation of 2 Hogshead casks producing 693 bottles

What I say:

Another Mortlach, this time at 18 years old, an amalgamate (or marriage) of 2 casks, bottled by Càrn Mòr from Bankfoot in Perthsire (next to the Scottish Liqueur Centre) now owned by Morrison and Mackay Whisky. Another of my favourite Indie bottlers too, again mostly down to their impeccable selection, I am always a regular and prolonged visitor at their stand at the whisky shows – a good indication of my high regard for their bottlings!

Colour:

Very pale gold

Nose:

Slightly floral honey and barley malt, fresh spearmint, green apples, lemon and lime zest with hints of ginger

Taste:

Smooth and fresh crisp green apple with cinnamon spice, pink grapefruit zest, sugary honey, heather, chewy cereal malt with hints of sweet lime cordial, vanilla custard and Murray Mints (boiled sweets/toffee made from butter and mint)

Finish:

Refreshing and mouth wateringly sweet honey and oaky wood linger

Would I buy it:

Tempted but under a bottle embargo due to lack of space at the moment, will reserve further judgement until the new Mortlach range is out – hoping that this will still be available as it is a third of the projected price of the official 18 year old bottling! If you have 60 bucks burning a hole in your pocket go buy this one from Càrn Mòr immediately!!!

Mortlach 21 Years Old 1991 [Cask 12/943] – Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

Mortlach 21 Years Old 1991 [Cask 12/943] - Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

Mortlach 21 Years Old 1991 [Cask 12/943] – Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

53.8% ABV, £75 for 70cl

Score: 85/100

Mortlach 21 Years Old 1991 [Cask 12/943] - Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

What they say:

Distilled on 1st October 1991 and bottled on 8th November 2011, this expression from Mortlach Distillery was matured in refill sherry butt #12/943 for 21 years and produced a 315 bottle outturn. Bottled by Signatory Vintage as part of their Cask Strength Collection

What I say:

Oooh another old Mortlach – Ok so I am on a bit of a theme here, I have in fact been tasting every Mortlach I can get my hands on in the run up to their launching the new range of official bottlings. Purely for research purposes of course, I was really testing out the variety of expressions and also the quality from different independent bottlers whilst keeping as many variables as uniform as possible (honest!)

Colour:

Pale antique gold

Nose:

Honey, toffee, butterscotch, vanilla and coconut

Taste:

Smooth butterscotch toffee and clotted cream fudge, hints of fresh mint leaves and lime zest

Finish:

Long oaky wood, toffee sweetness and refreshing mint mouthwash

Would I buy it:

I was most surprised after tasting this blind that it had been anywhere near a sherry cask. My guess would be either a 2nd refill or a pretty (close to) exhausted cask was used. Little to no sherry influence was detected in our tasting notes; more than likely the biggest effect on the spirit was the remaining character from the European oak that the sherry butt was made out of. Still this was particularly delicious and has just the right balance of smooth creamy fudge flavours with that hint of mint and zest to refresh the palate at the end making you want to go back and sip some more.

 

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