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, 27 April 2015


Glenfarclas Distillery requires no further introduction to most people.

The distillery is what I'd classify as a Speyside landmark and a distillery you just have to get yourself acquainted with - otherwise your whisky journey will incomplete. When visiting the distillery and looking around their warehouses, you'll still find casks from yesteryear and some of those casks gets bottles as the distiller's highly accalaimed 'Family Cask'-series.

You also don't see many independent bottling from Glenfarclas, so when I come across some I usually make an effort to get to try them. This one, I tried at recently a deluxe SMWS tasting in the local club. Quite some goodies were had that evening, so expect more review from that tasting over the course of the next month or 2...

Casks, casks, casks... @Glenfarclas Distillery, May 4th 2013 © The Malt Desk

Glenfarclas 1970 1.134 (xx.01.1970/xx.12.2006) 36yo 'Indescribable bliss' 53%, ex-sherry cask, 233 bottles, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Colour is dark amber

Very closed at first, but this one has been trapped in a bottle for almost 10 years - it needs to breathe... Oh, wow... this is really old school sherry. Dusty bookshelves, bags of mushrooms and nutmeg. It has a sweet yet still spicy Oloroso style of sherry that you only find in casks from that era. Its like the wine is still fermenting here, vague yeasty notes and a nutty liqueur and dark chocolates. There's an underlying herbal notes in here as well along with hint of raspberries.

Dark berries, some vague elderberry and blackcurrant, more nuts and chocolates, mulled wine and lots of malt. Some overripe oranges comes through mid palate along with a streak of bitter oak throwing it a bit off balance. The finish is bitter/spicy (peppery) with some cloves as well. Be careful if you want to add water to this one... it literally only takes a few drops and when it does, it puts the oak and wine in the background and brings out its heavy malty side.

This is truly a malt of yesteryear, lots of notes only associated with old whisky in here and its a privilege to try this, even if it has a slight flaw. This bottle will certainly appeal to the romantic in you...


Tuesday, 21 April 2015


Much have been said about the current style of Macallan - the Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby...

Statements like 'a shadow of it self...' 'thin and without heart...' and 'Where has my Macallan gone?' has been seen posted on social media but if you look at it from the average whisky drinkers point of view, this is probably still good whisky, right? Well, we're all at different places on our whisky journey and the many people drinking these new expressions will most likely not know (or even care) what older versions tasted like and are also most likely not prepared to put down the money to find out... and for that reason these NAS expressions will probably live on - sadly!

Don't get me wrong, they're fine for the businessman rushing through the airport while wanting to pick up something with a popular brand name on, but they're no longer enough for the malt anorak with lots of malt mileage under his belt - then again, the anoraks are not where the turnover is to be found, volume sales is generated by an entirely different customer base...

Here and there, however, are bottles of Macallan tucked away under staircases and in cupboards, like at the place of a very good whisky friend of mine... Recently he brought out a heavily sherried Macallan to enjoy with friends as it should be... 

Macallan fishing hut on the distillery beat on the Spey River, June 13th 2013 © The Malt Desk

Macallan 1990 14yo (13.02.1990/xx.06.2004) 59,8%, sherry butt#2643, 201 bottles, Blackadder

Colour is mahogany

Starts big and somewhat dirty with some matchstick sulphur.
Wet tobacco leaves, very ashy and earthy, leather, prunes, reduced balsamico, dark chocolate and a well sized alcohol attack on the nose.

Big and meaty! this could be a Mortlach! There's certainly a Mortlach style sulphury edge to it. The alcohol delivers a huge punch and the whole thing seems a bit hot to begin with, but time will calm this down a bit.

There's that leather again, notes of earthiness and mushrooms and burnt coffee - very closed in fact! A little water brings out some expected dark fruit notes, overripe oranges, black pepper. Even with water this show a distinct and not that well integrated oaky side.

A big brute of a Macallan! Much of it because of its high alcohol strength...


Thanks to JBH for the big dram and sample!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015


Benromach has been making a lot of noise with its recently released 10yo version, especially the 100 proof version. It has received excellent reviews in most places - incl here - so when a chance to try some more Benromach presented itself

Benromach has been releasing organic whisky since 2006 and the latest version from them is the 2008 vintage. This Benromach Organic is certified by the UK Soil Association which means it has to meet certain standards all the way from barley to bottle.

Matured in virgin oak casks, we should expect a very noticeable effect on the spirit from these casks. There's a fine balance virgin oak and spirit and if the producers are not careful, you can end up with oak juice instead of whisky but Gordon & MacPhail, who owns Benromach are seasoned veterans when it comes taking care of their casks - both from Benromach and other distilleries.

Benromach Distillery, August 24th 2012 © The Malt Desk

Benromach Organic 2008/2014 43%, virgin oak casks, Distillery bottling

Colour is light amber

A very active and full nose - quite big and expressive, actually...
Very thick and fruity on overripe fruits, mainly brown and/or warm banana, vanilla, toffee and hints of coconut. After a while some lovely malt notes appear along with hints of charred wood.

The virgin oak casks have don their job well here. There's creamy malt, cooked fruit and what can only resemble artificial honey melon flavour. Also a distinct peppery edge to be found in there - most likely from the effect of the very active oak. Water releases a fresh grassiness, mostly on the nose and also hints of powdered ginger on the palate, mixing with the peppery notes.

This whisky is somewhere between 5 and 6 years old, but carries no noticeable notes of new make spirit - again thanks to the virgin oak casks. I could maybe have wished for a tad bitterness and peppery oak on the finish, but other than that I have to say that this is quite good whisky!

Finally, I'd like to commend G&M and Benromach for putting the vintage on this bottling and with that offering disclosure on whats really in the bottle.


Official sample provided by Gordon & MacPhail / Benromach

...and a little footnote for you...

During the upcoming Spirit of Speyside Festival, running from April 30th through to May 5th, Benromach Distillery provides quite an extensive range of events for whisky lovers and other good folk making their way to town of Forres in Moray. Check out what events are available by following the link to the festival above.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015


2 weeks ago, I reviewed the Kilchoman Port Cask which was not to my liking at all, actually its the lowest scoring whisky I've reviewed here on The Malt Desk. 

I've had a few comments from people on that review, both on Facebook and in my inbox, saying how they completely disagree with me on the Port Cask version.. I only have one thing to say - thank the whisky gods we do not all have the same taste! :-)

About a week ago I got offered another Kilchoman sample - a Kilchoman quite mature compared to the Port Cask version which I tried at a recent tasting.

This Kilchoman is the oldest I've seen bottled so far, carrying an ago of just over 8½ years. It's an ex-bourbon cask bottled exclusively for Denmark and this bottling is the remainder of a private cask previously owned by a small group of gentlemen here in Denmark who decided they drink couldn't drink a whole cask of Kilchoman after all. After taking a small share of the cask, the rest was then bought by the Danish importer FC Whisky and released for our enjoyment. This is also the 11th single cask bottled for Denmark...

You can find the rest of the details on the bottling below.

Kilchoman Single Cask No. 11 for Denmark © The Malt Desk

Kilchoman 2006 8yo (xx.07.2006/05.02.2015) 55,9%, ex-bourbon cask#165/2006, 250 bottles, Distillery bottling for FC Whisky Denmark

Colour is straw

Lots of peat smoke and vanilla from the cask - all very fresh and lively and appearing very mature and well balanced. Very active oak - probably a first fill cask - shows a hint of what Kilchoman is about to become when gaining a little age.

There's both citrus and apple in here and I already mentioned vanilla. The smoke develops to have a character much like a smokehouse with both vegetal and meaty notes - quite intriguing! There's also a little farm yard to be found in here...

Very nice! Very creamy arrival. It lends a big smoky hit followed by a rush of sweetness, mainly on vanilla and fruits. Some peppery notes then rushes through accompanied by the ever present sweet peat.

The finish shows a hint of varnish, camp fire smoke and pine resin, however this doesn't ruin the overall feeling that this is a very well polished Kilchoman and if this is a sign of things to come, we're in for some treats...

Did I mention how creamy this is? even at almost 56%?

A lovely youngster, this one... and since there's no ½ point here on The Malt Desk it reaches *drum roll*


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