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, 26 November 2015


Another whisky featured by Gordon & Macphail in their 'The Wood Makes the Whisky'-campaign comes from Speyburn Distillery. Hidden away on the outskirts of the village of Rothes, you can catch a glimpse of it of you look to the right when you reach the top of the hill on the A941 road to Elgin. Not much single malt comes from here though... you mostly only seen the their own 10yo and their NAS expression called 'Bradan Orach' and the rest finds its way into blended whisky.

Luckily we have companies like Gordon & Macphail, who over the years have bottled around 3 hand fulls of Speyburn. 

Again no bottling year is given on this sample, but this one is bottled in the 'Connoisseurs Choice'-series, a series that has been around since the mid-60s, albeit with different designs. It has also been bottled at a slightly higher strength of 46%.

Speyburn Distillery, August 26th 2012 © The Malt Desk

Speyburn 1991, 46%, Connoisseurs Choice, Gordon & Macphail

Colour is white wine

Similar picture by G&M, showing a 1989
As mentioned above this carries no exact age statement, but rather a vintage, but my best guess would make this around 23-24yo. It's fresh, yet mature with citrus, a little honey and some floral notes. If served blind, I'd have guessed Glenlivet by the nose alone. I also detect a little banana in here.

A lovely slightly dry and acidic arrival. Lots of barley sweetened lemons, more honey, vanilla and also a little rosehip, something I don't find much of in whisky. Only on the finish a little spicy fresh wood and ginger notes appears along with vague hints of mint.

A very straight forward light-in-style Speyside dram, an easy drinker, summer aperitif - very good!


Official sample provided by Gordon & Macphail

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Elgin-based independent bottler and Distillery owner (Benromach), Gordon & Macphail has launched a campaign to enlighten people's perception on how much the cask means for the maturation of whisky.

The campaign is called 'The Wood Makes the Whisky' and comes complete with a booklet and a website (www.gordonandmacphail.com/wood
explaining the casks are chosen to match a specific spirit and how the wood interacts with the spirit and resulting in that lovely tipple we all enjoy so much. All the very well made angles on maturation incl. wood types, time and cask sizes are covered in both the booklet and on the very well made website - good job!

'The Wood Makes the Whisky' also comes with almost a handful of samples and I'll start in the deep end with this Glen Grant. No bottling year is given on the sample, but looking at bottling dates for the released versions, this is probably around or just over 50 years old.

The still at Glen Grant, April 29th 2011 © The Malt Desk

Glen Grant 1954 40%, 1st fill sherry butts, Gordon & Macphail

Colour is chestnut

Picture by G&M
This just reeks of old whisky. Lots of red fruit and figs soaked in alcohol. Given some time the whole experience turn more towards tropical fruit, a direction I didn't expect from this old sherried number. Also in here are freshly polished hardwood and a little licorice.

Quite a powerfull presence and incredibly mouthfilling even at only 40%. Overripe/browned apple, dark honey and Wiener Melange but heading in a spicy/herbal direction. Dark fruits, moist raisins springs to mind later. There's a mint theme popping up on the finish along with what can only be described as an almost smoky/toasted feel, which suits this oldie quite well as everything is very well integrated. This finish just goes on and on... and on :-)

This is most certainly a blast from the past - amazing stuff!


Official sample provided by Gordon & Macphail

Tuesday, 10 November 2015


Its time for the last Cadenhead review this time around, but don't worry - more are coming soon :-)

As I mentioned in my Benriach review from 4th October, I was looking for something special to take home for the Cadenhead tasting and this Highland Park was it... It was first tried in a warehouse in Campbeltown where Mark Watt took us through a few of Cadenhead casks and my choice fell on this Highland Park, even though there were other very good offerings :-)

Mark Watt doing what he does best, May 7th 2015 - Photo by my whisky-compadre Johnny Rose

Highland Park 1988 27yo 52,6% ex-bourbon hogshead 1988/2008+ sherry hogshead 2008/May 2015, Cadenhead Cask Ends

Colour is dark mahogany

Thick heavy molasses syrupy notes, a slight dirty, smoky musty note as well, burnt caramel and figs and black cherries. The sherry is just about over the top and leaves no room for other than some dark chocolate notes as well...

Again heavy, lots of dirty notes bordering on sulphury but the again not, especially when allowed to breathe a bit. Notes of strong espresso, black olives, soy sauce and a the obvious wine/sherry and a slight charred finish.

This is big whisky, though not an incredible complex one...
You'll need to be into massive sherry bombs to appreciate this one, but then who doesn't like a whisky like this from time to time.

Again lovely stuff, this time directly out of the Cadenhead Warehouse in Campbeltown.


Thursday, 5 November 2015


Auchroisk Distillery, located not far from the small village of Mulben in Speyside, must have what is probably one of the quirkiest designs of a distillery ever. Its Architecture is inspired by a Gothic style and along with its sheer size (warehouses included) it could have doubled for a medieval castle had it had a wall and moat and been all black. The Distillery and especially the warehouses, however, are slightly blackened with fungus from the maturing whisky on site.

And there is quite a lot of whisky there. Owners Diageo have around 250.000 casks maturing there from various distilleries and further warehouses are planned on site. Warehousing is not the only thing bit at Auchroisk. The production is close to 6 million liters of spirit annually and there has been talk of an expansion in that area too.

Auchroisk Distillery and one of the warehouses behind it, April 29th 2011 © The Malt Desk
Auchroisk 1989 (xx.xx.1989/xx.03.2014) 24yo 57,5%, 2 sherry butts, 1140 bottles, Cadenhead Small Batch

Colour is light amber

Nutty and slightly sulphury in style but not enough to put me off. It also has a faint metallic note. Stale/brackish water, earthy notes and some orange. It then takes off in a herbal direction after a while, maybe juniper? It sounds kinda freaky, but it works...

Pleasant arrival on toffee, fruit and nuts before the alcohol rushes in reveals a slight sulphury edge on the palate along with malt and crusty Danish. Mind you, the sulphur is still not strong enough to put me off. I'd say the main there here is toffee/candied apple - it doesn't really stray far from that.

OK, maybe not a whisky that would inspire you to start sprouting poetry, but still pretty decent - and I really like the funky nose on this one :-)