About this blog:

This blog will feature tasting notes, reviews, distillery visits and whisky news with focus mainly on Scottish single malts. This will sometimes be accompanied by politically incorrect (whisky) opinions. You have now been warned! :-)
The views expressed here are entirely my own, unless otherwise stated.

Thursday, 29 November 2012


I think you know by now how much I value bottlings done by Adelphi.
This one is no exception! This cask is the sister cask to the one (#4319) that won the Scottish Field Award in its class in 2011.

Alex Bruce of Adelphi brought a bottle from this cask (#4318) as an extra when he visited last year and boy, was I sure he did that!

Lets talk about why...

Dailuaine 1983 27yo 55,9% refill sherry hogshead#4318, 189 bottles, Adelphi

Colour is glowing amber

Sweet vanilla'ed sherry, red berries, tobacco, fresh cut wood, almonds, chocolate and ginger

Delicious arrival on sweet dried fruits, fairly medium heavy in style though not as heavy as i.e. Mortlach. Then a peppery chocolaty style followed by crushed red grapes and latte style coffee. Very clean sherry style indeed with just the right amount of drying sherry, spices and nutty flavours at the end.

A premium quality dram, this one...


Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Next review is from that cult island and cult distillery, Islay and Ardbeg.

Indie bottler, Cadenhead - a sub branch of the Mitchell company in Campbeltown with e.g. Springbank under its wings as well has bottled around 2 casks each year over the past few years. They've done a lot more -of course- but I've been buying my Ardbegs from them on a regular basis since 2006.

Ardbeg 1993 14yo xx.02.2008 46%, 288 bottles from an ex-bourbon cask, Cadenhead Original Collection

Colour is white wine

Sooty peat, salt and damp and musty cellar. Beneath that is an almost cola like sweetness to it. Then some smoked lemon and wet charred wood, grains and a veggie note as well.

Gentle arrival on peat and citrus, then a mashy and veggie note again along with some grass and porridge. It then gets maritime with salt and tar and finishes off on medium level of peat and pepper.

Not a great Ardbeg in anyway, but rather a bit in style like what I associate with the new 'TEN' ... an with that said a bit too 'polished' and 'styled' for me...

I miss something raw and untamed Islay in this one!


Sunday, 25 November 2012


Aberlour Distillery does some great tours - although only 2 per day - at 10.00am and 2pm. The whisky connoiseur tour is obviously the 'Founder Tour' which includes both tastings paired with chocolates, new spirit experience and whisky drawn from the cask - Last time I did the tour it lasted close to 3 hours! Price is £25... at the end of the tour you also get the opportunity to fill your own Aberlour expression, which leads me - as in the previous review- to the next whisky.

This second bottle your own Aberlour is probably the closest you will get to the A'bunadh style - although this is a single cask - but still cask strength which is a huge plus, of course...

Aberlour 1996 (04.03.1996) 16yo 58,3% 1st fill sherry cask#2987, Distillery - Bottle your own 26.08.2012

Nutty brown/Oloroso

Dried fruits, sweet creamy chocolate, orange liqueur, hint of coffee with milk. Gets more winey with time and a clear cut oloroso sherry style shows itself. Think extra matured A'bunadh here and your close.

Dark rum style sweetness, the creamy chocolate is very present along with a natural malt sweetness, fruitcake and figs in caramel sauce and cooked apples.

Lovely - especially if you have a sweet tooth!


Friday, 23 November 2012


Aberlour does in particular one GREAT(er) bottling - the no age statement A'bunadh!
That said some batches have been sulphur tainted, though thats more an exception than a rule...

This time, I'll be review 2 expressions (in separate reviews).
Both are a part of their 'Bottle your own'-experience when you visit the distillery.

Both expressions are at cask strength, like the A'bunadh, but older - 16 years to be exact... and even distilled on the same date. The first one is matured in a 1st fill ex-bourbon cask, the second in a 1st fill sherry cask.

Aberlour 1996 (04.03.1996) 16yo 54,4% 1st fill bourbon cask#6837, Distillery - Bottle your own 26.08.2012

Straw coloured

Immense sweetness, vanilla, the sugared burnt almonds and danish marzipan. After that malt, oak and maybe a minimal hint of a soap? Lemon winegums, varnish and meringue.

Again an avalanche of sweetness, but also very oak driven this time, especially on the finish. Aberlour is naturally a very sweet spirit and a 1st fill bourbon cask really gets it going on vanilla, spiced apples and pears, custard and a bit of wet cardboard on the finish... did I mention it was oak driven???

83/100! Good, but not great!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


August 2012 saw my first visit to Isle of Arran - and what a beautiful place this is!
We spent the night on the south of the island at the Lagg Hotel (recommended!).
Good food there and fine rooms - no cell phone reception though, but wireless available there in some parts of the hotel.

Lagg Hotel, Isle of Arran, August 18th 2012 © The Malt Desk

The next day saw us travelling up the west coast of Arran to Lochranza and the Arran Distillery which is among Scotlands youngest distilleries, completed only back in 1995. The whisky from there is now reaching its mid-teens and is - in this bloggers humble opinion - has for a while been having a quality to be reckoned with.

The bottling reviewed below is from early 1996 which makes it some of the oldest yet released, though its not an official bottling...

Isle of Arran Distillery, August 19th 2012 © The Malt Desk

Lochranza (Arran) Distillery 1996 16yo 07.02.1996/xx.04.2012, 52,8% oak hoggie#51 (not specified), 299 bottles, Blackadder

Colour is full straw

Medium heavy nose, oily malt, freshly baked paestry and white fruit and oranges, waxy too plus a little varnish

Arrival om malt and natural caramel, lighter than expected from the nose. Even though this is most likely an ex-bourbon cask, I'm getting something that resembles Fino sherry notes with its dryness. Also getting shortbread and spices, pineapple and banana - incredibly mouth coating!

Arran is maturing nicely - this is great stuff and I suggest you try and hunt down at bottle of this delicious stuff!


Monday, 19 November 2012


We're back in the village of Rothes in central Speyside for this next review.
This is, as announced in the previous review, the 2nd Signatory release exclusively for Denmark this Autumn.

Had a wee nip of this one in the store about a week ago, where it came across as very promising. Back in the comfort of my 4 walls, I tried out the sample I was generously provided with...

Glenrothes 1996 16yo 17.05.1996/06.10.2012 57,5%, Hogshead#715113, 293 bottles, Signatory Vintage Exclusively for Denmark

Full straw in colour

Honeyed and peppery, heavy on malt with an alcohol nip, hint of apple, nutmeg and tangerines - very warming...

Medium arrival on spices and barley sugar and malt - very straight forward. Turns a bit drying but never bitter. Oranges and hints of chocolate pops up along with hints of strawberries, licorice root and honey.

I found this one very hard to dissect which I find very intriguing.
This is a great drinking malt - and that's what malts are for, right?


Saturday, 17 November 2012


North British is probably my favorite grain distillery since I find it more spicy and not cloyingly sweet like most other grains.

This one is a Denmark Exclusive by indie bottler Signatory, imported to Denmark by FC Whisky.
We usually seems a few of these every year and the last few bottlings I've tried have ranged from good to excellent - very good picks from FC Whisky for sure!

2 casks have been bottled and are now ready for the upcoming Xmas sale here in Denmark - a 1996 Glenrothes (will be reviewed later) and this North British - so how is it:

North British 1997 15yo 14.05.1997/06/10.2012 54,5%, Ex-bourbon barrel#246282, 175 bottles, Signatory Vintage Denmark Exclusive

Colour is pale straw

Very sweet, but also very closed at first nosing. I'm not getting much else than a little varnish, wet wood and very little fruit. 15 mins later this baby comes alive with clear vanilla, apricot, creamy coconut, fresh linen and white chocolate. Lovely!

Light arrival, first a spicy oak nip but then it rushes on to a stone fruit theme, mainly nectarines and apricots. The character then turns on more traditional grain whisky notes with a spicy sweetness - all very clean, delicate and crisp.
The finish is very much on tropical fruit, coconut and ginger. Again very delicious!

This one is far from as heavy on the sweetness as older grain whiskies usually are. Instead it shows a vibrant young side to grains that we don't see that much of - and I like that!

Good stuff - no doubt about that!


Thursday, 15 November 2012


Danish importer FC Whisky is the only one who's (so far) been allowed to bottle a 6yo single cask from Islay's smallest distillery - Kilchoman. Its a single cask - actually its the 7th !! single cask they've done for Denmark - a very impressive record, IMO...

Kilchoman is really making a name for itself these days with ex-Bunnahabhain manager John MacLellan at the wheel - so much that they risk of becoming a victim of their own success as their casks from their first production years are going fast...

Rumours says this particular cask here in this review will be the only single cask they will bottle from 2006 - time will tell...

Picture by FC Whisky

Meanwhile, lets try it:

Kilchoman 6yo 26.07.2006/08.10.2012, 59,4%, fresh bourbon cask#162/2006, 234 bottles, Distillery bottling Single cask#7 for Denmark

Straw coloured

Picture by FC Whisky
Vanillas straight of the glass from the bourbon cask along with fresh crispy sweet peat and bonfire notes. Also in here are quite a bit of farmyard after a short while.
Only small whiffs of new spirit are left in this one - hints of a little varnish/paint thinner comes to the surface once in while too along with a slight flowery/soapy hint and green banana - like very young Bowmore... I'm thinking fresh flowers thrown onto a bonfire?

Huge on sweet peat and vanilla, of course, then fisherman's boxes, scallops, peppery, some oils and a bit of lemony notes - everything is clean as a whistle though it doesn't last for that long - i.e. a short finish that requires you to wet your palate often to keep your experience going...

This is not overly complex in any way, but very much a step towards a more mature style Kilchoman and it certainly promises well for the future... This is the same time the best I have yet had from Islay's farm distillery!

85/100! ...for the vibrant young peaty style this one has

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


We're heading back to the south shore of Islay for this next review. Laphroaig is -to many- a love or hate whisky... but judging by their sales - especially in the US, the lovers sure outweighs the latter.

Laphroaig Visitors Centre entrance - May 2011 © The Malt Desk

This review is about a Laphroaig as it should be... Cask strength, non coloured and non-chill filtered. Laphroaig needs that punchy delivery that can only be done through a high abv% - and this one does that to full effect.

Lets see what we're dealing with here:

Laphroaig 10yo 12.04.2000/28.02.2010, 62,3%, Refill sherry butt#700052, 569 bottles, Signatory Vintage - Denmark Exclusive bottling

Amber in colour

Slightly sulphured, though nothing disturbing - like its adding to the experience rather that dragging it down. Some spirit burn but underneath there's seaweed and the peat, though not as dominant as one would expect in a young Laphroaig. Also some mint in there and a little 'dirty' sherry cask though it does give off some nice dark fruit sweetness - other things that comes to mind are cardboard, tobacco and cow dung.

Very different! as if the peat only runs at the side of your mouth as your mouth waters from the alcohol. A bit kippery for sure too and more of a rubbery style sulphur here on the palate. Burnt plastic, struck matches and wet tobacco leaves + spicy oak and oranges. Water makes it more drying and bitter on the finish.

A powerful young Laphroaig with lots more to offer than its original brethren.
It has quite an edge and is IMO best drunk neat...

86/100! as its still a bit 'dirty' in style - but good fun!

Sunday, 11 November 2012


Bought this bottle in Scotland this summer and had it open for about 2½ months now and think its about time to review it. Very fairly priced too at just under £60...

Talking about under... Below is a picture from a boat trip I was on in May 2011.
As we were coming up on Bunnahabhain en route to the Corryvreckan whirlpool, we passed the wreckage of the Wyre Majestic, a trawler that ran aground on Oct. 18th 1974 and still sits on the rocks around the point from the distillery.

The Wyre Majestic wreckage and Bunnahabhain Distillery just to the right - May 2011 © The Malt Desk

Bunnahabhain 1989 22yo 22.10.1989/28.05.2012 44,4%, ex-bourbon cask#5835, 279 bottles, A.D. Rattray

Straw coloured

Creamy butterscotch, candied fruits and a salty tang... even some peat, which is a bit unusual for a Bunnahabhain from this era. Barley sugar sweetness and some veggie notes too.

Malt extract, spices and certainly peat again. Also a lemony tang to this and hints of bran biscuits. Green fruits appear mid palate and then gives away to pencil shavings and a little heat and peat again on the finish.

A different Bunnahabhain this on - a bit more raw than their usual style and of course also from an ex-bourbon cask... Good stuff! 86/100!

Friday, 9 November 2012


Again, no need for further introduction to Port Ellen...

Port Ellen 1982 28yo 60%, refill sherry butt#2033, 534 bottles, Wilson & Morgan Barrel Selection

Colour is full straw

Upon initial pour a heavy bacon crisp nose and sweetness. After a short while it gives away to brine, salt, mint, citrus and a wet camp fire style smokiness and hint of chocolate... further time reveals some farmyard notes as well - Lovely nose, for sure!

Very lightly peated, much in style Caol Ilas around the 30yo mark as well. Its sweet, nutty and drying with citrus and also carries a hint of herbs and very delicate sherry notes - very mouth coating. Water brings out more smoke but still preserves much of the same overall notes.

A great Port Ellen this one! No doubt about that!


Wednesday, 7 November 2012


After my brief rant about Dalmore and their heavy use of e150 in my Wemyss 'Tropical Spice' (which is not coloured - review here), I recently tried a bottle of Dalmore 12 with an Italian tax stamp from around 1970.

I was thinking about both 'OBE' and oxidation upon opening it and I actually think I experienced a bit of both...

Dalmore 12yo 40% (app. 1959 - Italian tax stamp 1970), Distillery bottling

Description: Clear bottle, high bottle neck, smaller base - large screw cap

Light amber

Natural caramel, fruit, mineral oil (wet stone?) more fruits after a short oxidation, green grapes?
Later it shows licorice and mint

Bitter, drying, fruits again here, mix of sherry and bourbon casks here maybe? Hint of burnt brown sugar and marmelade, slightly herbal too - is there a hint of smoke in here too?

Decent drinkable bottling and very nice notes in it too - sadly, it just fell apart too quickly


Monday, 5 November 2012


Another hidden Speysider is Glenallachie. It's a new distillery in historical terms, having been built in in 1967-68. It's owned by the Chivas Group and it produces in excess of 3.000.000 liters of alcohol each year, almost all going into blends.

Glenallachie Distillery, Speyside Spring 2011 © The Malt Desk

Glenallachie doesn't have a an official bottling, except for an expression in the Chivas 50cl Cask Strength Series, which also means its far from readily available for you to try as a malt.

Luckily a few casks escape the blenders and this one I'm about to review is one of them... and oh, my... is it a special one...!

Glenallachie 1972 38yo xx.03.1972/xx.01.2011 50% Sherry butt#DL6880, 302 bottles, Douglas Laing - Old Malt Cask

Amber coloured

What a strange one, indeed...Fresh black engine oil, milk chocolate/latte? also giving off some incredible cigar box notes and a feeling of stepping into a mechanics pit... Its a 'dirty' nose for sure - but it works!

Bitter sweet, dark fruits with a smoky edge, hazelnuts and creamy coffee and again with a very oily dirty diesel feeling to it - then some cappucino notes and more old cigar box.

This has to be the strangest whisky I've had in 2012, so far... it all sounds very funky and/or repulsive... but its not - at least not to me!

This climbs way up there to 90/100!

Saturday, 3 November 2012


Usually the Karuizawas we see on the market are well aged, though this next one is only about 14/15yo depending on its distillation date in 1992 - that said, this one was also bottled back in 2007 when Karuizawa hadn't reached the hype status it currently possesses.

Another couple of reasons could certainly be that demand is high at the moment and also maybe (a rumour, I know) that a number of casks are reaching a stage in maturation where they have to be bottled if they're not to go OTT and turn into oak juice... Which is right? only a few selected people at No. One Drinks company knows as they sit on whatever stock is left from the Karuizawa distillery (lucky guys !!) :-)

So, how is Karuizawa at a younger age? lets try it...

Karuizawa 1992/20.02.2007 62,8%, hogshead#6978, Number One Drinks Company (closed)

Colour is light amber

Vanilla and hardwood all sorts, balsa wood in particular, a vague smoke and exotic spices, curry in there? I'm thinking American oak sherry hogshead here...

Nutmeg, vanilla with an oaky edge, damp cellar mustiness, gets spicier with water, getting hints of ginger now as well along with oranges and the faintest hint of peat smoke on the finish.

This one is incredibly well balanced, IMO - and extremely drinkable, even at full strength.


Thursday, 1 November 2012


Glendullan is one of those Diageo workhorses you don't really hear about.
Its often been made fun of, because of its name as its whisky has a reputation of being

They have been producing (along with Glen Ord) The Singleton for the American market some time and have recently been renovated, though production seem to have been slowed for some reason in the spring this year when I passed the distillery.

Other than that, it really beautifully located along the Dullan water before eventually reaching the Spey river down by the village of Craigellachie.

But is this whisky really dull? Had this edition on an earlier without taking notes, but lets be more serious this time, shall we?

Glendullan 1978 26yo, 56,6% bott. xx.04.2005,  Rare Malt Series

Full straw in colour

Heavy, hints of a flowery note, fruit - grilled banana and a some herbal notes. With time it gets more of a mashy note to it. Pretty hard to pick stuff out here, I think

Spicy oak, fruits - pineapple even? some nutmeg and honey melon and a little licorice, mint and a coating of natural caramel. Also thinking a part of this bottling comes from sherry casks as I get a particular sweetness here that I normally only get from that type of casks.

This one in particular is surely not dull - actually very good whisky indeed!