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.

Monday, 30 June 2014


When you shop for distillery bottlings of Glenrothes, you'll notice that almost all of them carries a vintage year, as in all the whisky in the bottling comes from that particular year - a good thing when lots of other distilleries releasing No-Age-Statement whisky... That said, so does Glenrothes, but not to an extend where its taken over their product range - I like that!

Normally, I'd say that you have to go for Glenrothes at the age of 12+ to get the best balanced tipple from this distillery, but sometimes, you just stumble across a younger bottling from an incredible active cask that just creates a massive flavour profile.

The Glenrothes, I'm about to review is one such - and it's also an indie bottling at high strength as, sadly, most you ever see from the distillery itself is either 40/43% bottlings.

A couple of stills at The Glenrothes Distillery, May 5th 2012 © The Malt Desk 

Glenrothes 2007 7yo 67,5%, 1st fill spanish oak sherry hogshead#3523, 329 bottles, Adelphi

Colour is mahogany

Lovely sherried nose, with an abundance of dark fruits, plums, prunes and raisins, but also strong coffee and dark chocolate. With its kick it reminds me a bit of Aberlour A'Bunadh, but far from as sweet as the Aberlour... and also less oily. Also a slight burnt caramel note to it.

Gentle arrival in spite of being 67,5% alcohol. Prunes and orange notes dominate along with a hint of something BBQ-like/smoky but fades quickly and gives away to espresso/crunchy coffee bean notes. The finish turns slightly bitter with hints of dark liqueurs (Tia Maria/Kahlua), pepper and alcohol nip. Not incredibly complex, but what it does, it does
really well.

I love this, very straight forward and hugely enjoyable!


Thursday, 26 June 2014


They say that every distillery is capable of producing decent and, maybe, even good whisky, its just a matter of the combination of good spirit and casks that's not really a secret... However, if you're not able to have these two most important factors work, I'm afraid its all uphill from there... and this is sadly how it is with the Speyside Distillery.

Located on the very edge of Speyside, across the A9 main road and not far from the village of Kingussie and the beautiful ruins of the Ruthven Barracks, the distillery is, once you get there, a pretty little spot with old fashioned stone buildings and water wheel - kind of a miniature of Strathisla Distillery in Keith... but that's where the similarities stop...

I've never really had a good whisky from Speyside Distillery, but I've always wanted to give this Distillery a second (or third or fo..) chance - and when I was offered a sample of a cask bottled by one of my favourite bottlers, Cadenhead, I was yet again up for the challenge.
Previously, I've only subjected my tastebuds to distillery bottlings, incl. their blend Drumguish ... and sadly, I've been far from impressed :-/

Let's see how this one fares...

Everything is under one roof at the Speyside Distillery, May 2nd 2011 © The Malt Desk

Speyside Distillery 1994 15yo (bottled xx.06.2009), 64,6%, ex-bourbon hogshead, 200 bottles, Cadenhead Authentic Collection

Colour is straw

Similar bottle shown

Wow, heavy on the alcohol, of course - Let's start by taking this one for a swim *splash* Much better - more approachable now with vanilla and licorice and anise notes, some glue notes, green soda sports drink, grass, candied onions (if there is such out there?? :-O) custard and some few notes of something i can only describe as floral... Much more pleasant and expressive than expected

Oak and malt and actually quite thin on the palate, except for the alcohol with almost no notes carried through from the nose. It's hot! and not as in hot due to the alcohol abv% but more like a bad spirit cut. As already mentioned, malt is in here and a little lemon/orange notes, ginger powder and then vanilla and more glue and sappy notes and maybe a little raspberry on the far finish

Another Speyside Distillery bottling not really doing it for me, I'm afraid :-(
It's drinkable with alot of water added, though

I've had far more enjoyable whiskies. Anyway, thanks to Kalle for the sample!


Saturday, 21 June 2014


Knockdhu Distillery or rather AnCnoc as their whisky is called is a distillery on the edge of the Speyside region - actually its in the Highland, east of Speyside and a distillery you'd easily miss when in the area. They're usually not open to the public, but they've, most times, been very forthcoming if you contact them in advance if you want a peek inside.

Their whisky carries a style I like, very 'highland' as my review will also show and usually their bottlings are a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks - so it can't be all bad, can it? ;-)

On to the review...

Knockdhu Distillery, September 27th 2009 © The Malt Desk

AnCnoc 1975 30yo, (bottled xx.09.2005) 50%, Spanish & American oak, Distillery bottling

Colour is light amber

Vanilla, cooked fruits, quite some honey and sherry influence, a little mint and very generous with musty earthy notes as well - very 'highland' to me...

The dark fruit sherry influence is there again right away, more fruit - mainly citrus lead by oranges and with an very lovely malty edge. Vanilla is in here too along with a slight burnt note and a herbal edge, tea, nutmeg and dash of pepper. Is there a trace of peat in here as well?

Lovely whisky for sure!


Monday, 16 June 2014


As with the previous whisky I reviewed here, the Miltonduff by Adelphi, Glenburgie is also a large contributor to the Ballantines blend. So far, I've only reviewed one other Glenburgie here on The Malt Desk and you can read that review here.

It's straight on to the review...

Glenburgie Distillery hiding behind the trees - picture from WikiMedia

Glenburgie 1985 71.36 (28.05.1985/xx.09.2012) 27yo 'Two seasons in a dram' 58,1%, Refill ex-bourbon hogshead, 206 bottles, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Colour is dark amber

Very nice, bakery shop, vanilla, hint of chocolate, marmalade - full blown Danish pastry. Underneath there's some very subtle spices and dark wood notes and strong tea along with some musty notes.

What happened here? Immediate wood arrival, wet planks, sawdust, cardboard and wet newspaper and very drying. Mid palate it gives off some tropical fruit mango/multi fruit juice style and some nutmeg, but the wood quickly rushes back in, leaving an impression of too much time in the wood and some overly oaky American bourbon...

This is close to oak juice, IMO - you need to drown this one in water to drink it...

A rare miss by the SMWS

70/100! ... very much credited to the good nose on this one

Thursday, 12 June 2014


This will be the first Miltonduff I'll be reviewing here on The Malt Desk.

Miltonduff is one of those distilleries that live its life in relative silence, attention wise - but not production wise - its a big distillery, owned by Pernod Ricard/Chivas and producing whisky for the Ballantines blend.

When I think about it, we rarely see bottlings of Miltonduff around, in spite of a good handful being bottles by the independent bottlers - why, you ask? Well, I guess they fly off the shelves pretty quickly... and that, in my book, is a sign of a quality whisky... oh, and when Miltonduffs do come out, they're also at reasonably prices - at least compared to more famous brands... quality for your hard earned money - there you go... :-)

On my whisky travels I've had Miltonduffs bottled by Gordon & Macphail, a couple of them dark as the night with sherry from both 1968 and 1969 - great whisky! Today, though these bottling have crept up over £300 - but its still less than bottlings from the same vintage from more popular distilleries...  I've also had a couple of the official batches of early 90's from the Chivas Cask Strength Series, which more clearly shows what this distillery has to offer... So do go and try!

For this review though, I'll be going somewhere in between with a 1981 from Adelphi

Bonded warehouses at Miltonduff Distillery - picture from WikiMedia

Miltonduff 1981 32yo, 53,2%, refill ex-bourbon hogshead#5066, 197 bottles, Adelphi

Colour is full straw

Oak comes out here very clearly to begin with....
Then it produces some hints of heavy grassy notes and dried ginger, some subdued floral notes and a well rounded sweetness counter balanced by oak nipping on your nostrils. Also some apple'ish notes in there...

Pink meringues, that apple again - this time as baked apple crumble, some lemonade, white chocolate ending on strawberry and oranges and a herbal notes.... Wow, what a burst of flavour - but its still kind of all over the place with everything it has to offer and miss some balance here and there.

Very good whisky nevertheless!


Monday, 9 June 2014


I've covered Highland Park quite a few times here on The Malt Desk already, so I'll skip right to the review...

Highland Park 1988 23yo (16.06.1988/xx.03.2012) 50,8%, cask#716, Mackillop's Choice

Colour is full straw

Similar bottle is shown

Sweet bourbon cask and honey notes, vanilla, fresh fruit and a little peat and ashy note?. Also a bit of old wood notes - maybe bung cloth and a bit of almonds??
Not very expressive - even with water added...

Now there's the fruit... it goes from oranges over apple to pineapple and honey dew melon. Cask spice nip and vanilla, vague hint of scent kind of artificial flowers you get for decorative purposes, only on the palate here... sounds weird, but its not unpleasant in any way.
Bit of cherry note in there as well, showing itself on the finish along with a hint of ginger and oak...

The palate is certainly more expressive than the nose on this one and saves it, making this a good Highland park... and since I don't give ½ point it'll still reaches a respectable...


Monday, 2 June 2014


This is the first Bladnoch I'll be reviewing here, which is quite odd really, as I've had a few over the past couple of years of running The Malt Desk...

Bladnoch is the southern most distillery in Scotland, all the way down to the south west in Galloway just outside Wigtown. Getting there is quite a drive as its mostly smaller roads leading there, but once there you get that its really quite a tranquil place.

Most will have picked up on the Bladnoch Distillery chatter going around at the moment, a chatter concerning sales of the place, but nothing finite at this moment and AFAIK its still open for offers...

The whisky at Bladnoch is sometimes a tad more oily in style (in my book, at least) than the rest of the Lowland distilleries up near Edinburg, Falkirk (Rosebank, Littlemill, St. Magdalene) and Glasgow and some great bottling have come out of there over the past few years even though its from the old stock, from before the current owner(s) was distilling.

As the distillery is currently up for sale, its still unsure what will happen to the place but I do hope it'll not be lost/mothballed...

Let's try a bottling from the old regime when United Distillers (now Diageo) owned the place...

Bladnoch Distillery, May 6th 2010 © The Malt Desk

Bladnoch 1990 50.54 (10.07.1990) 23yo 'Jam Session' 50%, Refill ex-bourbon barrel, 104 bottles, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Colour is straw

Some varnish/paint thinner notes, grape fruit, honey, hay, fresh cut grass, overripe banana, passion fruits and white rum

Medium light in style, crisp malt arrival turning into tropical fruits, again passion fruits and banana, but also pineapple and mango - all running well into the finish. Varnish sometimes pops up on the finish, but a little water kills it off, including on the nose, bringing out a hint of sour instead.

It's one of those whiskies with very little cask influence - a trait I've seen in a few bottles lately.
I love this Bladnoch, but I'm not sure its a whisky for everyone...