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.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018


Forgive me... a week has gone by since my last review was posted...

With the risk of sounding like you're sitting in a confessional at Mortlach Church this, yet to some unknown distillery, continues to have a following among whisky anoraks. Although some may have lost their faith and fallen from the good Mortlach grace, or atleast, fallen from the official bottlings from this iconic Speyside distillery, many continues to drink independently bottled Mortlachs.

Sadly there aren't many indie bottled Mortlachs out there these days even though a failed attempt by the distillers to re-launch Mortlach as an ultra premium malt in 50cl bottles should have left them with enough stock to sell on to independent bottlers as sales of that re-launch/revamping failed miserably.

Late July 2018 a press release revealed another attempt to re-lauch Mortlach,  this time with a 12, 16 and 20yo bottling (woohoo, ages statement is back in the entry level bottle) and pricing from £50 to £200, but this time in 70cl bottles.... However, with the general price increase, this will pretty much stay on level with the previous releases, sadly...

I know the bottling I'm about to review also will have carried a significant price tag as well, but as far as I know its sold out and I haven't been able to confirm its original price when writing this review but rest assured that I'd be happy to spend a good handful of money on a bottling like this.

Mortlach Stillhouse, May 1st 2010 © The Malt Desk

Mortlach 1981 31yo 54% Dist. 05.02.1987/bottled 03.07.2018 Batch 18/061 Refill sherry hogshead#425, 200 bottles, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Cask Strength

Colour is dark mahogany - appearance in the glass is thick with slow logs on the side of the glass

© G&M
At first a dash of oak, then notes of old dark well matured Rhum and not whisky plus spiked Bailey's Iced Coffee, extra strong coffee added. Classic old style sherry notes with lots of dark fruits, add to that burnt toffee and wet bung cloth. Love this!

Quite a drying feeling upon arrival, but its them filled with brown banana, figs and dark chocolate and strong coffee notes.

The finish goes on forever with a bit of drying oak and those love old school sherry notes. Lovely, just... Lovely!

Its a sherry monster for sure and no real sherried sulphur notes in this one - only hints of Mortlachs own style of spirit sulphur. This one will be popular among the lovers of this particular heavily sherried style - incl. me


Official sample provided by G&M

Wednesday, 5 September 2018


We're staying north of Inverness for this next review.
Clynelish is one of my all time favourite distilleries and the standard 14yo bottling from the distillers at Diageo is one of the best reasonably standard releases out there, IMO

I last passed the distillery in late September 2016 on a whisky trip together with 4 whisky friends to discover the tours and prices had gone mad! Tours with tastings that were just the slightest bit interesting for the whisky anorak started at £100! Glad we had a bottle of Glenmorangie 1979 and Brora 1983 back at our holiday house, I had brought back to Scotland for our groups mutual enjoyment.

Prices aside, Clynelish makes a great whisky and this one from Gordon & MacPhail is no exception. Something extraordinary just happens to the Clynelish spirit when it passes 20+ years.

On to the review:

Clynelish Distillery fenced off during renovation in October 2014 © The Malt Desk

Clynelish 1989 28yo 49,8% Dist. 15.11.1989/bottled 26.06.2018 Batch 18/035, Refill American hogshead, 221 bottles, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Cask Strength

Colour is straw - quite thick feling to this when swirled gently in the glass

A slight dusty and moldy warehouse note pops op at you right away only to be pushed aside by mild oak and bit of that trademark oily/waxiness often found in Clynelish. Just after that an incredible fruit burst comes through with lots of apple, pears and bananas accompanied by honey and a faint briny note. Just lovely!

Lovely thick and mouth coating. There are juicy fruits of a more tropical style this time like a multi fruit juice style thing. A few drops of water brings out a little ginger and turns it more citrussy in style and adding some sugared candy sticks notes to it as well.

A lovely Clynelish for sure! I'd love a full bottle and the time to explore this further..


Official sample provided by G&M

Saturday, 1 September 2018


Its been quiet here for a while - the reasons are many and some of it personal, so on to the whisky :-)

Whisky Merchant and Independent Bottler, Gordon & Macphail, based in Elgin (Speyside), Scotland is celebrating its 50th birthday of their Connoisseurs Choice series this year and that means new bottlings galore, 37 in total actually, including some bottlings over the age of 30.

I've chosen to start with a review of an Old Pulteney from 1998, a bottle that I've also just recently bought a bottle of. I've always had a soft spot for this distillery and its remote location in the far north of Scotland in the town of Wick has only left me to visit this place just under a handful of times even though I travelled Scotland at least a couple of times a year for the past 18 years.

Like I said, I've always had a soft spot of this distillery, especially the 17yo official expression and the oh, so glorious hand bottlings offered to those who make their way up to the north of Scotland. Often these handbottlings have been matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks as the Pulteney from G&M I'm about to try, so expectations are high.

Cask available for handbottling on 20th October 2014 © The Malt Desk
Old Pulteney 1998 19yo 57,5% Dist. 26.08.1998/bottled 21.06.2018, Batch 18/049, First fill ex-bourbon cask, 192 bottles, Gordon & Macphail Connoisseurs Choice Cask Strength

Colour is copper - quite heavy and oily in the glass

Initially quite heavy on the oak but more is lurking in the background. Have to give it some time zzzZZZzzz... After a good 15mins the oak has settled to a sawdusty note, vanilla spongecake, malt and breakfast tea.

Water makes this go cloudy in an instance (Welcome NCF) Out comes hints of citrus fruit before its all oak and malt galore.

Lots of oak on the palate as well, so you have to like that. Again some fruit (overripe apples and pears) is present behind the oak, but its struggling a bit to come out. The finish is all on oak, malt and hints of dark chocolate.

Luckily I like a bit of oak in my whisky, but I think this one has maybe spent a year or 2 too long in the cask. 19 years in a first fill bourbon cask is a long time and it shows in this whisky. Am I glad, I bought a bottle before tasting this sample? Yes! Will I be drinking it and not passing it on? Certainly! It just posseses a style that is maybe not to everyones liking...


Official sample provided by G&M