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 January 2015


Benromach Distillery in the town of Forres between the river Findhorn and the west of the Speyside 'capitol' of Elgin prides themselves in producing a style of Speyside whisky associated with the 1960 or before that...

What does that mean, you ask? Well, back then most barley was malted at the distillery and peat was used as fuel when drying the barley, instead of hot air used at many commercial malting sites today and this produced a quite peated whisky compared to todays regular offerings from Speyside distilleries.

Benromach, owned by independent bottler, Gordon & MacPhail of Elgin has successfully revived that style and has worked their was up towards it for some time now, since they acquired Benromach Distillery in 1993 and after a restoration period started distilling there again in 1998.

I've already had the opportunity to try the 10yo version at 43% but wasn't able to take any notes at the time but from memory, the 100 proof 57% version I'm about to review seems quite the more robust dram, not only in alcohol strength, but also in overall flavour profile as opposed to the 43% which seems alot more sweet. 100 proof btw, is an old Imperial measure equivalent of 57% abv.

This dram is quite sherried and I'm suspecting maybe just a slightly bit more sherry cask influence in this one than in the 43% version which supposedly is made up 80% ex-bourbon casks and 20% ex-sherry casks.

Benromach Distillery Visitors Center, August 24th 2012 © The Malt Desk

Benromach 10yo 100 Proof 57% (2014), Distillery bottling

Colour is amber

Initial impressions are a lovely mix of dark fruit (sherry) and smoky notes all delivered to your nose by the high alcohol strength of 57% - so just be a little careful nosing this! I'm actually quite surprised at the peating level of this one...

There's lots more in there though - here we go... I've already mentioned the dark fruits, fresh tobacco leaves, mint/menthol and lots of chocolate notes, thinking After Eight mint sweets, but also other kinds without mint - e.g. Danish Anton Berg chocolates Plum in Madeira and regular chocolate covered marzipan bars. Also getting notes of burnt caramel, overripe apple, orange peel on a bonfire and thick malt. Wow!

Somewhat more aggressive on the palate. A good part of the 57%shows itself on arrival, but turns into a dry peat smoke and with sherry showing itself as burnt figs, earthy/dusty floors, overripe/brown banana. It then turns peppery and goes into BBQ overdrive with wood chips, lots smoky meat glace, BBQ rub paprika/chili style.

The addition of water to this drams kills the complexity fairly quickly, but if the alcohol bothers you, then by all means go ahead but I suggest you just let you palate adjust to it and let your mouth produce the saliva needed to dilute this one...

I also find the some wood chips notes present on the finish suggesting the use of some very active oak, maybe to finish the whisky. This prevents me from giving this one both thumbs-up and propelling it to 90p.

There's no denying the fact that this is great whisky and I'll probably be getting myself a bottle before long...

Finally, thanks to Soren from Skjold Burne Vinhandel for the sample!


Tuesday, 27 January 2015


This year, I'll be going back to Islay for the first time in 4 years... and I'm looking very much forward to it :-)
2015 is also the Bicentennial for 2 of Islay's most prominent distilleries, Ardbeg and Laphroaig but we must not forget the distillery located in between the two... Lagavulin!

For some die-hard Islay-fans, Lagavulin has become their new go-to distillery when they discovered a noticeable change in the make-up of their usual tipple - now, this may be a coincidence... or maybe not, as we've seen quite a few distilleries come up with new product ranges and discontinuing old ones.

Now, Lagavulin distillery seems to be a rock solid distillery with only a few different bottlings available and one of them is the annual release of their 12yo expression. It's an ex-bourbon matured version, praised highly over the past years and the 2013 edition is no exception.

Lagavulin Distillery, August 12th 2009 © The Malt Desk

Lagavulin 12yo (2013) 55,1%, refill ex-bourbon casks, Distillery bottling

Colour is pale straw

Sweet peat and citrus immediately hits the nose along with a burnt leaves, ozone, a nipping salty feeling, tar and dried seaweed, damp earth and chimney soot. After a while the citrus notes stands out more, leaving you with a feeling of fresh lemon/lime and heavily smoked salmon and mineral note like hot sand.

A lovely sweet and creamy arrival before a peat and spice blast sets in followed by salted apple, vanilla, ash and blood oranges and some mineral and vegetal notes. The finish gets dry at first, then goes all creamy and peaty barley-lishious (that a word? well, it is now) with peppery spices running along the edges of your tongue.

This is really good whisky and goes to show that Lagavulin is truly one of Islay's best distilleries.


Saturday, 17 January 2015


In October 2014 I visited Balblair Distillery, but didn't take any whisky with me from there...
To be honest, my suitcase was about full at the time already (well, maybe room for 1 more bottle) but there certainly wasn't room for a Balblair in its very large box.

As I quite like the style of most of of the North Highlanders (Clynelish is one of my favourites and my first malt ever was a Glenmorangie) I made a promise to myself that I would look up some Balblair soon.

On the way home to Denmark, passing through Amsterdam Schiphol Airport I spotted a chance fulfil my promise there already and picked up this 2004/2014 offering at just €40 for 1 liter - a very good price, I think...

Balblair Distillery, October 20th 2014 © The Malt Desk

Balblair 2004/2014 46% 1st release bourbon matured, Distillery bottling

Colour is straw

There's some young spirit lurking underneath the whole thing, making it quite fresh and lively. Vanilla, pear, hint of yeast, some custard and buttermilk along with fresh cut grass. Also some fresh lemony notes in there along with some ginger and a faint mustiness. Water brings out a slight floral/fresh linen note...

Starts with an easy and gentle arrival on vanilla, overripe apple, green banana, malt and gingery notes... It soon turns spicy, though followed by some honeyed notes and showing that above mentioned freshness on the palate as well.

The younger spirit is kept in place by excellent cask management here, but it is still allowed to show its malty freshness. Water makes the whole experience quite spicy/peppery along with resinous notes, dried hops and yeasty notes.

A good dram and probably one most palates can come to terms with...


Wednesday, 14 January 2015


You know your Disco? I barely remember it myself, but apparently a few on The Scotch Malt Whisky Society's tasting panel do remember (or at least know) the Sylvester hit 'you make me fee mighty real' from 1979.

The whisky in this review, however, will not take us that far back - just back to 2001 when the spirit ran off the still at Glen Moray Distillery in Elgin.

It's also boom times at Glen Moray and by the end of 2015 they'll be able to put out 6,5 million liters of spirit annually from 6 pairs of stills :-O quite a bit!

The Visitor centre at Glen Moray Distillery (larger than it looks) October 17th 2014 © The Malt Desk

Glen Moray 2001 (11.12.2001) 12yo 'Y
ou make me fee (mighty real)' 57,9%, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 235 bottles, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Colour is full straw

Similar bottle is shown

Heavy on the vanilla from the 1st fill bourbon barrel. Haribo wine gums, mint and loads of barley/malt, overripe cherries, hints of a toasted wood and fresh ginger too - but that's all very faint. The main theme here is the massive sweetness.

Very spice on arrival, pepper, a little fresh ginger notes, cumin and nutmeg before another rush of sweetness sets in. Lots of malt, sucrose and artificial sweetener and more vanilla and also some honey to easy off the spicy attack. On the finish this whisky develops some raspberry, caramel and more of that oaky/peppery nip.

Quite a dram! Lots of things happening but it seems like there's just a bit too much oak influence... maybe a year or 2 less in the cask for this one would have done wonders? still not a bad dram though.


Wednesday, 7 January 2015


Having review 12 different Mortlachs already here on The Malt Desk, its one of the high-jumpers if you look at the distilleries I've reviewed so far in the 31 months that this little blog has been running.

I've covered many things Mortlach in my previous reviews to I'm skipping right to this next one...

Mortlach warehouses behind the distillery, May 4th 2014 © The Malt Desk

Mortlach 1995 76.115 (19.07.1995/xx.xx.2013) 'Glamping in a Yurt' 18yo, 56,5%, refill sherry butt, 535 bottles, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Colour is Full gold

Sweet and full, mint (toothpaste), fresh, sports drink but settling down after a while offering classic dried fruit notes, milk chocolate and lovely balanced oak once it has been allowed to breathe a bit in the glass

Huge on overripe banana, ginger in a sherry cask (American Oak sherry cask) ??, an ozone feel, more fruit - oranges and candied apple turning slightly bitter at the end, spices, honey and wood sap. Very full flavoured but producing only a little of that well know Mortlach 'meatyness'

Not the best of Mortlachs but far from bad either. Still a good experience :-)