...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Glengoyne 12 year old 2001 SMWS 123.8

Monday's whisky was quiet, Wednesday's was harsh. Today's lived in a port pipe for 12 years and was bottled at a much higher ABV than the other two Glengoynes.


As is the SMWS fashion, the bottle came with a silly name and silly price, and people bought it. Lots of it, in fact, because the pipe turned out 743 bottles. Yes, a 12 year old Glengoyne delivered a $130,000 gross to the company who named a Scottish whisky aged in a Portuguese fortified wine cask, "In the Spanish mountains".

Yes. "In the Spanish mountains." I mean...

...For fuck's sake. WHICH IS IT: the Sierra Nevada, Sistema de Gredos or The Sierra Madrona? If you're going to be odd, be specific. Like this:

PUTIN THE PYRENEES

See? That has four meanings, and least two are funny. And, like your titles, it has nothing to do with the whisky.

Stay tuned for the next "Name That Whisky!", brought to you by SMWS.

source

Distillery: 
Glengoyne
Owner: Ian MacLeod Distillers
Region: Highlands, but right on the Southern border
Independent bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 12 years (3 April 2001 to 2014)
Maturation: refill port pipe
"Poetic" name: ← nope
Cask number123.8
Outturn: 743
Alcohol by Volume: 59.2%
(thanks to Brett P for the sample!)

NEAT
The nose begins with oat, cocoa and raspberry jam. Then there's almond brittle, fresh baked whole wheat bread, ground cloves, funky honey and burnt pie crust. The palate is warm but not hot, showing off Syrah, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne and ginger snap cookies. It finishes with blackberry jam, salt and the ginger snaps.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose keeps most of the same notes, but also picks up chocolate, roses, orange zest and a little bit of maple. The palate gets simpler, toastier and saltier. Subtle grape notes and mint candy. Only lightly sweet. Bitter cocoa, tart berries and a sprinkle of sugar in the finish.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
While Wednesday's 16yo was all alcohol burn at 51.1%abv, this 12 year old from SMWS reads lighter than its 59.2% ABV. This whisky's palate and finish are very bright and expressive without being h-o-t. The nose is great. The whisky also takes water well, peeling back the port for some more classic whisky notes to peek through. Yeah, it can be a little winey at full power, but I like it. In fact this is one of the best Glengoynes I've had. Cheers to Putin the Pyrenees!

Availability - sold out
Pricing - £110, in 2014. Yuh.
Rating - 88

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Glengoyne 16 year old 1997 Sovereign for K&L, cask HL9968

Monday's Glengoyne was from many sherry casks, today's comes from a single bourbon cask. And it's from an independent bottler. Several years ago, one rarely saw indie Glengoynes. But now there are casks from Cadenhead, Malts of Scotland, SMWS, Berry Brothers and both Laings. At least 95% of these casks are not released in the United States, which is why this K&L Wine Merchants exclusive cask from one of the Laing brands was probably of interest to some whisky enthusiasts in this country. Time to see if it's good.


Distillery: Glengoyne
Owner: Ian MacLeod Distillers
Region: Highlands, but right on the Southern border
Independent Bottler: Hunter Hamilton
Range: The Sovereign
Exclusive to: K&L Wine Merchants
Age: 16 years old (1997 - ????)
Maturation: probably a refill bourbon barrel
Cask numberHH9968
Alcohol by Volume: 51.1%
(thanks to Brett P for the sample!)

NEAT
Riesling and roasted barley on the nose. Then corn bread, lemon zest, citronella oil and American oak. More of the last as time goes on. The raw, sharp palate reads hotter than the ABV. Salt and minerals, barley, lime and a hint of vanilla. But mostly burn. It finishes with minerals, limes and fire.

Needs water. Hopefully.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or ⅔ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Barley, sand, lemon, caramel and a hint of mushrooms on the nose. The palate is still plenty hot. There's a tiny bit more fruit, maybe blueberries and nectarines? Some vanilla cookies. There are hints of fruits and flowers in the finish but it's still stark and hot.

DILUTED TO ~40%abv, or 1⅔ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Lemon, ginger, mint and coffee cake on the nose. Lemon, pepper and bitterness in the palate, along with berries and stones. Stones, berries, pepper and caramel in the finish.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
The exact opposite of the official 21, this single cask Glengoyne is loud and difficult. (I'm glad I did not try them side by side because this one may have fared even worse than it did here.) The nose always works, but the palate does not. Water and oxygen don't help. It reminds me of the many 6-7 year old single cask single malts that are still popping up like weeds at European retailers. Those whiskies have the excuse of being 6-7 years old, and perhaps would have been salvageable at twice their ages. This whisky is already 16 years old. At least it was pulled before it became raw and oaky. This feels like the sort of whisky that some companies would choose re-rack or finish before unleashing it to the thirsty thousands. A port cask, anyone?

Availability - sold out
Pricing - $79.99
Rating - 77

Monday, March 18, 2019

Glengoyne 21 year old

Yes, St. Patrick's Day came and went, yet there was no Irish whiskey review on Diving for Pearls. But here's what I've got for you: Glengoyne. With the substantial influence the Irish had on the Lowlands and Lowland whisky, and with Glengoyne sitting right on the border of the Highlands and Lowlands......

Well, there it is.

Glengoyne rarely goes astray (in my experience) and they remain proudly unpeated, so I've wanted to review more of their whiskies, but I have only three samples in my stash. After this weekend's tastings, there are now zero samples. How about I start with a Glengoyne that can actually be purchased?

The official Glengoyne 21 year old, to be more specific. I first tried this whisky at an Edinburgh pub during our 2017 trip. The whisky was perfectly fine, but also perfectly forgettable as it was much like most other reasonably made sherried single malts. Since I was sipping it in a pub, I thought perhaps something from the whisky was being lost in the environment. So this weekend I tried it a second time, but at home.


Distillery: Glengoyne
Owner: Ian MacLeod Distillers
Region: Highlands, but right on the border
Age: minimum 21 years
Maturation: "exclusively in hand-selected sherry casks"
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Chillfiltered? ???
Caramel Colorant? No, according to their site
(Thanks to St. Brett for the sample!)

NOTES
The nose takes a few minutes to wake up. First there are mild notes of dried berries, oak spice and anise. Caramel sauce and cinnamon. A bakery note (cream puffs, perhaps?). With time in the glass it gains a nutty sherry note, along with hints of orange juice and vanilla. The palate is always pleasant and gentle. Silky sherry and a light bitterness in the fore. Grape-ier notes in the midground. After 30 minutes, there's a rush of malt and almonds. It's never too sweet. It finishes slightly sweeter and with more tannins. Almonds, pinot noir, oranges and limes.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
On one hand, one wishes that Macallan still made whisky like this. On the other hand, there's nothing that says "Glengoyne" about this whisky. It could be any sherry cask single malt. On the third hand, this whisky is so quiet it almost vanishes before one can sort out what one just drank. It feels lighter than 43%abv (or 40% for that matter), aside from a good texture in the mouth. So, it's one of those whiskies that's just fine, and probably won't disappoint, unless you're looking for distillery character (whatever that may be) or something more vibrant.

Availability - Many specialty liquor retailers in USA and Europe
Pricing - $130-$190 in the US. $90-$150 in Europe (ex-VAT).
Rating - 83

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Linkwood 26 year old 1989 Whiskybroker, cask 1828

(This post was delayed one day because I was stricken with Boogie Fever. I think it's going around, people.)

I don't think I've reviewed a Whiskybroker bottling before. Led by Martin Armstrong, Whiskybroker has my favorite indie bottler name — yes, they are whisky brokers — and uses magnificently generic labels. They also used to have the lowest prices in the biz for single cask releases.

Today's 26 year old Linkwood was purchased for a OCSC event in 2015. It was about £100 (w/VAT) back then. I have no memory of how well it was received at the event, so I had no idea what to expect when I lined it up next to the 1991 Linkwood.

Blurry bottle on the left
Distillery: Linkwood
Owner: Diageo
Region: Speyside (Lossie)
Independent Bottler: Whiskybroker
Age: 26 years (4 April 1989 - 18 April 2015)
Maturation: Hogshead
Cask#: 1828
Outturn: 288 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 53.1%

NEAT
Aside from orange notes, the nose reads much different than the other four Linkwoods I've just reviewed. One side it's very floral; on the other it's metallic and industrial. And there's caramel in the middle. It gets "heavier" with time. (I don't know, that's what my notes said.) Dense American oak meets peach pie. Meanwhile, the palate is exists in a different dimension. It's bitter, tart and peppery. Very drying. Kind of moldy. It softens up with time as the citrus notes come rolling in. The finish is dry and tart, like an aggressively tannic wine. Also, lots of heat and salt.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or < 1 tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose pulls its shit together. It's fruitier, prettier, cleaner and better balanced. It also gains new notes of anise and malt. The palate gets sweeter, and picks up more citrus. But it's still very drying and acidic. The moldy note lingers in the background. The finish changes little aside from gaining more wood notes.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
The whiskybase community loved this bottling. I do not.

When neat the nose is a quirky mess, but fun, and is a rounded pleasure when diluted. Meanwhile, the palate. I actually don't mind the moldy note. At least that's a curiosity. I wrote "hard to drink" in my notes. That's probably not a good thing. I think that was due to the "aggressive" (a word I used four times in my notes) acidity and tannins.

This wasn't a palate problem since my test dram of Glenfiddich(!) smelled and tasted right, as did the 1991 Linkwood. Maybe I'm a wuss. Maybe there was something wrong with the sample I poured myself from the actual bottle. Or maybe I'm just going to switch to a different distillery next week.

Availability - all gone
Pricing - ~£100 w/VAT three years ago
Rating - 79 (with water)

Monday, March 11, 2019

Linkwood 20 year old 1991-2011 Berry Bros & Rudd, cask 10343

Usually when Florin sends me samples, they get filed away for thirty-eight years. But for reasons unknown I immediately opened the 2oz sample bottle of this Linkwood 20yo and split its contents between one glencairn and one 1oz bottle. I remember enjoying the drink and considering breaking into many of my samples to do the same. I haven't, but I should.

There may have been two releases from this cask. Whiskybase lists a cask strength version sold through K&L — though I have my doubts about it since "Sovereign" is a Laing brand, not a Berry Brothers brand. The other release, which I know exists because I saw it with my own eyes at Total Wine & More back in the day, was bottled at 46%abv and is what I'm reviewing today.

I tried it side-by-side with a 26 year old Linkwood (to be reviewed on Wednesday Thursday). They were very different whiskies.

Blurry bottle on the right
Distillery: Linkwood
Owner: Diageo
Region: Speyside (Lossie)
Independent Bottler: Berry Bros & Rudd
Age: 20 years (1991-2011)
Maturation: ???
Cask#: 10343
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
(Thanks, Florin!)

NEAT
Mango nectar. lychee, orange zest and Skittles on the nose. A little bit of oak and chile pepper fumes in the background. Passionfruit cream and grapefruit juice appear after 20+ minutes. The simpler palate shows lemons, limes and vanilla. Smaller notes of honeydew and mango. It's mildly sweet, tangy and peppery. The finish is long, though sharper and narrower than the palate. Lots of citrus, with smaller notes of salt and milk chocolate.

DILUTED TO ~40%abv, or < 1tsp of water per 30mL whisky
On the nose there are gummi bears and oranges over a layer of French oak-like toasted spices. The palate has become saltier and woodier. Mostly citrus, vanilla and sugar. It finishes lightly sweet and citric.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
I wish I hadn't passed over this bottle all those years ago. I'm a sucker for fruity whisky, and this one delivers. It's not complex, it doesn't swim well and it starts to lose focus in the finish, but those are small gripes this time around because the whisky is such a pleasant drink. It's the sort of whisky that one does not lose interest in halfway down the bottle. I could use more of those.

Availability - all gone
Pricing - ???
Rating - 86 (neat only!)

Friday, March 8, 2019

Linkwood 29 year old 1985 Signatory for K&L, cask 450

And now another single hogshead of Linkwood. This time it's from Signatory's Unchillfiltered range, and was sold exclusively through K&L Wines.

I was looking for a challenger to Wednesday's very fine 16yo 1998, and here it is. A 29 year old with less evaporation (and yes, I'm taking the dilution into consideration). This sample came from an LA Scotch Club / K&L event that included one fabulous Springbank and one fabulous Glenlivet. Is that a promising or threatening sign for this Linkwood????


Distillery: Linkwood
Owner: Diageo
Region: Speyside (Lossie)
Independent Bottler: Signatory
Age: 29 years (26 November 1985 - 7 June 2015)
Maturation: Hogshead
Cask#: 450
Outturn: 201 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Exclusive to: K&L Wine Merchants

NOSE
The nose is musty and malty, with mushroom and mustard. A bright fruit cocktail note merges with hints of vanilla and brine. It gets more candied and grassy with time. Fruity and malty on the palate too, with lots of lemon and lime. Pears, apples, vanilla and oak spices. The simple sweetness makes this a very easy drinking whisky. The youthful finish has all that citrus, along with apple/floral notes. (Sorry, I ran out of alliteration.)

DILUTED TO ~43%abv, or ⅓ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose loses its old musty side, but holds on to the fruit and wood. Tangerines, fruit cocktail syrup, ground cardamom and vanilla. The palate gets louder. The citrus is sweeter. The malt is...maltier. More pepper, and the beginnings of something tannic. The sweetness nearly vanishes from the finish, leaving mostly pepper, salt and a little bit of grain.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
Aside from the neat nose, this Linkwood reads younger than its age. Also apart from the sniffer, it's simple and light. I like a little more fight and complexity, so I don't recommend diluting this one. Also, adding water starts oaking up the place, which also happened when Wednesday's Linkwood was hydrated. As Jordan and Florin mentioned in the comments on Monday, there's definitely a vatted malt or well-aged blended whisky character present, especially in its flavors. Though the '98 Linkwood appeals more to my preferences, this '85 would always please a crowd.

Availability - all gone
Pricing - $199.99
Rating - 86 (neat only!)

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Linkwood 16 year old 1998 Signatory for Binny's, cask 5121

Next up is a Linkwood from Signatory's Cask Strength Collection, sold exclusively through Binny's. Though its alcohol content is parked right in my favorite ABV zone (46-50), I am a little concerned that it dropped this low at this whisky's age. The small outturn also points to considerable evaporation. But the very tiny (and probably very drunk) optimist on my brain's shoulder is reminding me of my good experience with Binnys's's's cask selections in the past.

Mr. Amiable Opinions picked up a bottle of this stuff for a nice price less than three years ago. Thank you, sir, for parting with this sample!


Distillery: Linkwood
Owner: Diageo
Region: Speyside (Lossie)
Independent Bottler: Signatory
Age: 16 years (4 June 1998 - 8 April 2014)
Maturation: Hogshead
Cask#: 5121
Outturn: 165 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 49.3%
Exclusive to: Binny's

NEAT
The nose stocks all the fruits up front: peaches, bananas, applesauce and something exotic. There's also a level of savory-ish things, like BBQ-flavored chips and ground mustard seed. It all gets meatier with time, while also picking up oak spice and bubblegum notes. The palate is warm but never hot. It has tart citrus, white fruit juices and a bright bitter bite. After some time the citrus gets sweeter, a little bit of vanilla sneaks in and a Talisker-like cayenne pepper note appears. Lots of citrus in the lengthy finish, along with zippy fresh ginger and oak spice.

DILUTED to ~43%abv, or ¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Citronella, orange candy, barbecue sauce and bubblegum on the nose. The palate has become gentler and fruitier, but tannins keep interrupting, drying things out. It finishes with oak spice and malt, like a Compass Box creation.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
Nope, nothing wrong with the abv here. With its fruits, the palate is vivid without ever feeling hot. But the real picnic party is in this Linkwood's nose, all fruity, meaty and spicy. Though oak is always present, it never intrudes......while neat. Adding water turns the palate much too tannic and constricts the nose.

So 49.3%abv is indeed its money spot. This is another low-hype, high-quality pick by Binny's. (This cask is long gone, but Binny's has a murder of Signatory Linkwoods right now. But tough noogies for folks outside of Illinois. And most of us are folks outside of Illinois.) I'm having a difficult time picturing another contemporary Linkwood topping this one. Though the tiny optimist likes the challenge.

Availability - all gone
Pricing - they put it on clearance for $69.99 at the end
Rating - 88 (neat only!)

Monday, March 4, 2019

Linkwood 16 year old 1995 Signatory, cask 648

I realized while filming this month's Killing Whisky History episode I've posted very few Linkwood reviews so...

WELCOME TO LINKWOOD MONTH!

Just kidding. It's more like Linkwood Week and a Half. There are three of these critters this week, one from each of Signatory's ranges. First up is a 1995 single cask from Signatory's Vintage 43%abv line. Thank you to Jordan of Chemistry of the Cocktail for the sample!


Distillery: Linkwood
Owner: Diageo
Region: Speyside (Lossie)
Independent Bottler: Signatory
Age: 16 years (30 January 1995 - 8 August 2011)
Maturation: Hogshead
Cask#: 648
Alcohol by Volume: 43%

NOTES
The nose starts off with toasted grains and a mild cheddar note (likely from the yeast). Then comes lemon and baked pear, with hints of vanilla, metal and mushrooms. A pretty floral new make note appears after 30 minutes. There's something old school blendy about the palate. It's slightly salty and savory, with small notes of honey and metal. Tangerines and pears, then an aromatic note that's somewhere between flower blossoms and flower kiss candy. The finish has a good warmth and length to it considering its alcohol content. Honey and tart citrus, a balance of salt and sweet, then a whiff of coal smoke.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
This Linkwood was what was expecting to find (without success) in those Glenfiddichs last month, with its pears and citrus along with a balance of sugar and salt, though the spirit provides a bit of an edge that 'Fiddich's blenders would never allow in their mega batches. The Linkwood comes across younger than its age, due to a casual cask, but it never feels raw. It seems like it might just blend well, so I saved a few mLs for one of my terrifying mini vattings. I'll report back on it in a couple weeks.

Availability - ???
Pricing - it was around $70 back in the day
Rating - 84

Friday, March 1, 2019

Killing Whisky History, Episode 22: Linkwood Distillery "A" vs Linkwood Distillery "B"

A Mad Men episode started me down the path that led to this episode. The set designer's effort was thoughtful, though the bottle was an anachronism. In any case...


In 1971 a newer modern distillery (B) was built adjacent to the original Linkwood distillery (A) that had been constructed 150 years earlier. In 1985, Linkwood A was closed, never to reopen. In this episode, I try a Linkwood single malt from each distillery. SPOILER ALERT: On the March Lamb-Lion Meter, they're both delightful lions.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Randy Brandy drinks Chateau de Pellehaut Armagnac twice

Wow, that was riveting.

Diving for Kravitz spent an entire month on Glenfiddich 12. Have you ever seen someone try so hard to lose his readership? Well, hold my brandy (or whatever it is that the idiot-adults-who-want-to-be-cool-like-the-idiot-kids say).

After many trips to France on the company dime, K&L's Didactic Duo brought Armagnac to this great country to slake the thirst of their destitute devotees during the Obama years. Two "blog" posts later, every whisky nut with a chile in his ass bought every bottle because they were told to do so by Jesus Driscoll. Or was it "Jesus, Driscoll"?

Now Randy Brandy's going to rewrite the Chateau de Pellehaut introduction that the ginger cartoon formerly known as Sku once composed:

In France there's a place called Armagnac. In Armagnac there are three places called Bas-Armagnac Tenareze, and Haut-Armagnac. In Tenareze there is a brandy producer known as Chateau de Pellehaut. Tenareze is near Condom.

Florin, the Pappy of Armagnac sample givers, sent Kravitz two samples of CdP because he wants him to go Haut'ing. Don't tell me that's not how it's pronounced. Both Armagnacs were distilled from the Folle Blanche grape emissions and were both K&L blue light specials.

Photos of sample bottles are very important
Here are my notes.

Chateau de Pellehaut 16 year old 2001, 48.6%abv

Nose - Dark chocolate, black cherry ice cream, lemon, cinnamon, toffee. That's the first glass. The second glass smells like milk chocolate, vanilla bean, apples and anise.
Palate - Cherries, oranges, toffee and cloves. Kinda sweet. Lots of cask, but good cask. More ginger powder and black cherry soda in the second glass.
Finish - Cherries, mint, oranges, oak spice and dirt.

More Notes - This is brandy for bourbon drinkers, and I'm definitely the first person who has ever said that. But you can keep your bourbon, I'll take this instead. It tastes good, it smells good. The oak knows its place. Meanwhile 16 year old bourbon costs as much as John Edwards' haircut. Remember that? That was great and it's still funny.

Chateau de Pellehaut 17 year old 1996, 50.4%abv

Nose - Dried cherries, apple skins, peach skins, flowers, cinnamon, almond fudge and brine.
Palate - Dominican cigars, almonds and lemon cake. Salted caramel candy, candied peels and candied ginger. There's something between cocoa and leather going on in the second glass.
Finish - Warm baked orchard fruits, oak spice, mint. It's long. Long as......well, you've seen the pictures.

More Notes - Pour this for your whisky friends and tell them it's a 30 year old sherry cask single malt. Or don't pour it for them and keep it for yourself because it's better than whisky.

There were my notes.

How whisky were these armagnacs? My wife, Brandy, walked into my man cave after this tasting was over and said, "Gross. It smells like whisky in here." That's how whisky they were. Jesus Driscoll knew his market.

RATINGS:
Chateau de Pellehaut 16 year old 2001: B/B+
Chateau de Pellehaut 17 year old 1996: B+/A-   (the A- is for the whisky people who didn't buy this bottle)

Monday, February 25, 2019

7 Thoughts About Glenfiddich Month

1. I am forever cured of Glenfiddich 12 and its ancestry

Trying many versions of the same whisky expression over a period of three weeks is the most direct route for this writer to lose all interest in the subject matter. Though other whisky writers/bloggers would knock out all eight whiskies in one night, I am not in a social position wherein that behavior is appropriate. Also, I wouldn't trust my compromised senses after the fourth whisky. It's not that I judge those who choose that approach.

Who I am kidding? Of course I judge those people. Look at this website. I rate inanimate objects.

2. I am forever cured of Glenfiddich 12 and its ancestry

The trouble began when the current version of Glenfiddich 12 turned out to be mediocre. Then four out of seven of its predecessors proved to be at the same level or worse. The palate's the problem. The eight palates average out to a C- range of ratings.

Lessons #1 and #2 should have been taken to heart years ago when I spent a month reviewing nothing but middle-shelf blends. In fact, that month permanently changed my approach to this blog. You don't see me searching for bargains in sub-$20 dollar scotch anymore.

3. Bad fill-levels were not the source of the problem

All eight bottles had excellent fill levels. None of the bottles had the faded label tell-tale signs of sun damage. All, except the 2017 bottle, had screwtops, so there was no damage caused by warped corks. And every bottle came from a different source.

4. Mini bottles were not the problem

In my Killing Whisky History series I've consumed the contents of numerous minis much older and with worse fill levels than this month's whiskies, and none — except, perhaps, one from 70 years ago — were as off in the palate as 3/4s of the 'Fiddich minis.

5. Where's the pears?

Pear is (or was) my favorite nose/palate characteristic of young Glenfiddich. It was the one way I could pick Glenfiddich out in a blind tasting. You'll find that note listed just once in my reviews of the eight Glenfiddichs. Was that note getting filtered out by better (or worse?) maturation? Or was it all psychosomatic in the first place?

6. Whisky from decades past wasn't always better than whisky made now

Yes, I have often been a Luddite when it comes to whisky. Hell, that's why I keep seeking out dusties. But my real experience, as often demonstrated in many Killing Whisky History videos, is that a lot of the old stuff wasn't always great either. Mediocrity is timeless.

7. This has nothing to do with Glenfiddich. Or does it?

Friday, February 22, 2019

Glenfiddich 8 year old Pure Malt, bottled 1979


I end this Glenfiddich voyage forty years ago. Alas, we finally have a bottle date on the bottom.


Glenfiddich Pure Malt had an 8 year age statement from near the brand's birth until the end of the 1970s. After that it went NAS for nearly two decades of darkness, aside from a short stint as a 10-year-old in Japan.

I obtained this mini as some point within the past two years, but I don't know how or when. But as you can see from that top photo, the fill level is money. I'm fairly excited about this.


Distillery: Glenfiddich
Owner: William Grant & Sons
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Age: at least 8 years old
Maturation: ???
Bottle Date: 79
Alcohol by Volume: 43%

Dunnage, malt, limes, peaches, smoked almonds, salty pork, sesame oil and a hint of butterscotch on the nose. The palate is different. Burlap, soap, greasy rags, chalk dust, limes, vanilla simple syrup and a lot of metal. There's some dingy smoke in there, among the acids and peppercorns. It gets violently, chemically sweet by the 20 minute mark. Soap, burlap and metal in the finish. Again, it gets so cloying so quickly.

What a nose. What a palate. What a mess. It's not often I find a Grade A scent attached to a Grade D- taste. When I first smelled the whisky, I thought, "My god, there's going to be a 90-point Glenfiddich on Diving for Pearls!" I was mistaken.

Unlike Wednesday's whisky, it didn't take time for the soap to take over. It was there from the start. So was a literally bloody amount of metal. It was a matter of *sniff* "Awesome" *sip* "Awful", *sniff* "Awesome" *sip* "Awful", and so on until I dumped a quarter of it down the sink. And that is how Glenfiddich Month ended.

Availability - one can find these minis at auctions
Pricing - ???
Rating - 72 (once again, the nose is all that keeps it out of the 60s)

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Glenfiddich Pure Malt, bottled early 1980s

Before it was Our Signature Malt, it was Special Reserve; before it was Special Reserve, it was Special Old Reserve; and before it was Special Old Reserve, it was Pure Malt.

There was a short phase of Pure Malt when Glenfiddich removed some color and texture from the label resulting in a flatter, though aged, look. Within this period, there was even briefer moment when the abv dropped to 40%. How lucky am I to get to experience it?


Distillery: Glenfiddich
Owner: William Grant & Sons
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Age: no age statement
Maturation: ???
Bottle Code: none?
Alcohol by Volume: 40%

At first burst, the nose is all moldy clothes, sand, clay and metal. Some chemical reaction begins at the 20 minute mark and the nose keeps opening further and further with time, in approximately this fashion: vanilla, whipped cream, mixed berry jam, roses, fruity cinnamon, lemon zest and fermenting apples. Twenty minutes later the musty notes are gone. The palate begins rugged as well. Cork (though the bottle has a screwtop), dust, metal, ethyl, black pepper and tobacco. Beneath that is a simple sweetness and tartness. It gets sweeter and soapier with time, picking up some plastic notes. With the first couple of sips, the finish is cleaner than the palate with a lemon and funky honey combination. But then comes the cork. And the soap. It keeps some sweetness and lemon. But the soap.

With time in the glass the whisky's nose ascended, while the palate crumbled completely. The palate was challenging to begin with, but the soap and plastic notes that start to take over become unnerving. This mini had a perfect fill level so I didn't anticipate this problem. Perhaps the whisky wasn't great when it was bottled? It's certainly a different creature than the 1986 bottling. I have no idea what to expect from Friday's whisky.

Availability - Auctions
Pricing - ???
Rating - 75 (but don't linger over the stuff)

Monday, February 18, 2019

Glenfiddich Special Old Reserve, bottled circa 1986

In the mid-to-late 1980's Glenfiddich removed the "Old" from their whisky's name, Special Old Reserve. That 'Old' was around for only a few years, while Special (not Old) Reserve had its place on the label for nearly two decades. Once again, I somehow wound up with a bottle that was caught in the transition:


At least this time the design was mostly coordinated. It's just the 'Old' that's missing from the tube.

Placing the exact year of bottling is difficult. At least Whiskybase has a matching 1000mL bottle from 1986 to use as a reference. Was Special Reserve actually younger than Special Old Reserve? Probably not. But here's to hoping there's some maturity in the Olds.


Distillery: Glenfiddich
Owner: William Grant & Sons
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Age: no age statement
Maturation: ???
Bottle Code: LE4675281143
Alcohol by Volume: 43%

The color is back to a pale hue. The nose has some lovely old dunnage stink to it. Beneath that is a series of bright fruity, floral notes: peaches in honey, clementines, lemons, apples and vanilla bean. Lots of fresh ginger in the palate. Sweet citrus and a little bit of raspberry jam. There are smaller notes of molasses, burlap, herbal bitterness, salt and wood smoke. It gets maltier with time. It finishes with fresh ginger, limes, honey, salt and smoke, with the limes holding on the longest.

A pair of pliers was required to get the cap off this mini. That tight seal may have helped keep this whisky fresh and fruity, similar in quality to my bottle of early '90s Special Reserve. The citrus and ginger notes also formed a bit of a link between the two whiskies. This one is a little simpler than the early '90s version, and the extra 3 three alcohol points neither add nor subtract anything. No, it doesn't seem to be any older than the Special Reserves I've reviewed, but it's still a comfy starter single malt. That touch of smoke doesn't hurt either.

Availability - Auctions
Pricing - ???
Rating - 82

Friday, February 15, 2019

Glenfiddich Special Reserve, bottled 1990ish @ 43%abv!

We have reached the 43%abv era of Glenfiddich Special Reserve!

*trumpets trumpet*

*sun shines*

*dog licks his balls*

But does it matter? Will that little bit of extra alcohol and less water result in more flavor and better texture? I hope so.

Today's Glenfiddich Special Reserve is from the early-er '90s. It's a 50mL, bottled for the USA. Its label nearly identical to the that of the 750mL reviewed on Wednesday, except for one factor:


There's that extra 3 points of poison. And now there's a listing of "(86 Proof)". As of 1990, liquor bottles were required to list alcohol content in %. Some companies listed both proof and abv for the first year or two in the transition. Others possibly started doing so before 1990.

In 1989, the Surgeon General's warning became an added requirement. This mini's got it:


So I lined this whisky up with Wednesday's Glenfiddich and the 2017 bottling. It was the first time in these tastings that I had a slightly higher than moderate expectations.


Distillery: 
Glenfiddich
Owner: William Grant & Sons
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Age: no age statement
Maturation: ???
Bottle Code: LD....and then a string of smudged, vanishing numbers
Alcohol by Volume: 43%

Its color is actually darker than the other early 1990s bottling. There's yeast, dough, honey, white bread, salt and burlap at the core of the whisky's nose. Mint and strawberry candies at the edges. Small highlights of apples and smoked meat appear occasionally. The palate is vanilla cardboard and sugar. Tangy limes and a hint of cigars in the far back. Gradually the limes and vanilla push forward. It takes an hour before the cardboard flavor dissipates. The lightly sweet finish has limes, vanilla and cardboard.

The nose is full of promise. The palate is full of disappointment. Okay, that's polite. The palate is crap. The 50mL bottle had an excellent fill level, so it's not an oxidation issue. It's just a very flat batch, possibly assembled from used-up casks. It even underperformed the 2017 bottling. Having an extra 3 points of alcohol doesn't help if the whisky is flawed.

Next week, we go back to the '80s and early '70s....

Availability - one can find these minis at auctions
Pricing - ???, I think I paid less than $10 for it
Rating - 74 (only the nose keeps this out of the 60s)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Glenfiddich Special Reserve, bottled early 1990s


Traveling back in time, we're now in the era when Glenfiddich was transitioning away from the "Pure Malt" nomenclature. As a result there are some design inconsistencies between the bottle label and the tube, where one will see both the Pure Malt and Single Malt titles.


When I tried this whisky up against the 2017 bottling in the most recent Killing Whisky History, this 'Fiddich came out on top. That made me happy because this bottle is 750mL, and it's sad to have 750mLs of bleh.

I found the bottle at a random liquor store somewhere in Orange County in the spring of 2016. There were at least four more bottles on the shelf, and the gent behind the counter wanted to sell me all of them. I didn't take him up on it because I wasn't sure if I knew what the whisky was like. He was a nice guy, though, and kinda desperate to get rid of someone crap no one else wanted. All four bottles are probably still there. Ready, set, go, find it!


Distillery: Glenfiddich
Owner: William Grant & Sons
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Age: no age statement
Maturation: bourbon casks, probably
Alcohol by Volume: 40%
Chillfiltered? ???
Caramel Colorant? ???

First thing to note is the color which is much lighter than the three Glenfiddichs that preceded it this month. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if no e150a was applied. The nose is vibrant for 40%abv. Lots of barley, flowers and orange juice. A mix of honey mustard and ground mustard seed. With some time in the glass, the whisky develops notes of butterscotch and key lime pie. The palate feels much thicker than the 2017's. The sweeter notes — butterscotch, confectioner's sugar, vanilla bean — are balanced with some zippy notes of horseradish and ginger. After a while it gains peach nectar and flower notes without losing anything along the way. The finish has a decent length. It's mildly sweet with lots of citrus and ginger, and smaller notes of mint and vanilla bean.

This is very pleasant without being generic. It's textured and tasty with a little bit of complexity. I don't think there's longer-aged whisky in the mix, but the bourbon casks are doing their job without overwhelming the spirit. There's no sherry cask influence to be found, but that's not a bad thing here. It's the most enjoyable Glenfiddich of the group so far, by far.

Availability - ???
Pricing - bought it for $37.99 in 2016
Rating - 84

Monday, February 11, 2019

Glenfiddich Special Reserve 12 year old, late 1990s (Europe release)

I bought this 350mL from a reliable European retailer that had listed it as a late '90s bottling.


Its front label is very similar to the 2002's, but it has a much different bottle code. At some point in the 1990s Glenfiddich switched from L-number to L-letter codes, e.g. L2 vs LK. Unlike the 2002 bottling, this whisky was produced for Europe. It has a 350mL volume (as opposed to 375mL in the US) and it has Greek, French and Icelandic words on the back.


We're still in GF's 40%abv phase, about which all I have to say is 🙁. And though the Pure Malt phase has not yet been reached, the label compromises with the term Pure Single Malt. Speaking of compromises, see this bit of comedy:

With a smile!
No compromises except industrial dye, aggressive chill-filtration and the heaviest dilution allowed.


Distillery: Glenfiddich
Owner: William Grant & Sons
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Age: minimum 12 years
Maturation: bourbon casks and sherry casks, maybe?
Bottle Code: LK6023020532
Alcohol by Volume: 40%
Chillfiltered? Yes
Caramel Colorant? Yes

The nose begins with a mix of lemon, lime and orange peels, framed by a generic Speyside/Highland sherry cask note. It takes 20+ minutes for small notes of yeast, Blue Moon beer and peach candy to float up. The very thin palate shows toffee, nuts, Milk Duds and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Tart limes last the longest, and a metallic note stings underneath. After 30+ minutes, a bland caramel note starts to take over, and a hint of woody bitterness enters. The short finish is all sweet citrus, caramel, pepper and woody bitterness.

The 2002 and 2017 were sampled alongside this bottling, and this late '90s GF lands between the two quality-wise. To those of you who carry within your hopes and hearts that all 1990s whiskies have some old glut stock in them, may I just say #NotAll1990sScotch. This whisky is neither horrible nor grievously flawed, but it's devastatingly boring. Having gone through multiple glasses of the stuff, I've been unable to glean anything further. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the rest of the bottle's contents, other that maybe vatting filler?

Availability - ???
Pricing - this was $17 before shipping
Rating - 78

Friday, February 8, 2019

Glenfiddich Special Reserve 12 year old, bottled 2002

Back when I was still dusty hunting on the streets of Long Beach, I once found something significant to only me:
I opened the bottle promptly, admittedly a rare act for me. I saved a big sample and I saved the glasses! This is the one whisky this month that's from a saved quantity, a wee bottle I knew I was saving for something, but didn't know what.

The contents of the bottle vanished down my gullet quickly. At that point in time I was drinking only cask strength whiskies, so this Glenfiddich drank easily. Also, that was my first month of fatherhood, so this Glenfiddich drank easily.

With some time, perspective and a slightly clearer mind, I tried it side-by-side with the current Glenfiddich 12.


Distillery: Glenfiddich
Owner: William Grant & Sons
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Age: minimum 12 years
Maturation: bourbon casks and sherry casks, likely more of the former
Bottle Code: L2-something
Alcohol by Volume: 40%
Chillfiltered? Yup
Caramel Colorant? Uh huh

Deeper and brighter than the 2017 bottling's nose, the 2002 version smells of apple skins, cinnamon, flowers, pears, dates and lemon juice. There's also a whiff of old sherried oak. With time the lemon juice turns into lemon bars, and small notes of cherry candy and vanilla bean appear. The palate has wood spice, roasted nuts, lemon juice, tart berries and a hint of toasted coconut. Though some cocoa and tangier citrus notes develop, it fades quickly overall. Mild heat and mild sweet in the finish. Tart citrus and berries, apples and mint.

This is a significant improvement over the 2017 edition, or the 2017 was a retrogression from this. It feels better matured, it's fruitier and the oak offers some gentle influence. The alleged 15/85 mix of sherry and bourbon casks seems to have worked here as well.

Its main weakness is the Unholy Trinity of Whisky Abuse: filtration, coloration and maximum dilution. It's thin in the mouth and has no staying power. The flavor is here then it's gone. It even has me looking forward to this month's 43%abv Glenfiddichs.

Still, there's more going on with this 2002 bottling, than the Glenfiddich 12 year old from 2017. It's more expressive and enjoyable. And it's better than most of the blends its age.

Availability - ???
Pricing - I think this gift pack was $29.99
Rating - 81

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Glenfiddich 12 year old, bottled late 2017

Once upon a time, I understood Glenfiddich's bottle codes. But when the company updated their bottle design, in 2017, they changed the coding. So I can tell you that this whisky was either bottled on November 24th (L328) or December 12th (1212). Whichever day it may be, I don't think the year was 2018 because this 375mL was already collecting dust on the shelf in Ohio in January 2019.

Those are some sturdy maths right there.

Because you've watched this month's Killing Whisky History episode you know I already provided on-camera tasting notes and a brief opinion for this bottle. Now I'm going to give you a second review for free! The whisky has had a couple of weeks and 1¼ smidgeons of oxygen. And now I'm going to give the whisky another go from within my hermetically sealed whisky chamber wherein I can take my time and blast Blondie's Greatest Hits.

I'm using the rest of this bottle's contents as the control whisky in all the Glenfiddich tastings this month. Because the entry-level Glenfiddich was never designed for a complex experience, the tasting notes will likely remain brief throughout this month. I'll compensate by writing extensive introductions.


Distillery: Glenfiddich
Owner: William Grant & Sons
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Age: minimum 12 years
Maturation: bourbon casks and sherry casks, likely more of the former
Bottle Code: L328 5057 1212 1233
Alcohol by Volume: 40%
Chillfiltered? Yep
Caramel Colorant? Yip Yip Yip Yip Yip Yip

NOTES!
Hmm, the nose has opened up a little bit. While there's still plenty of barley, the eau de vie note has retreated to the midground. Now there are more flowers, orange peels and golden raisins. It smells very sugary. It gets grainier with time and gains(?) a cardboard note. The palate is simply sugar, vanilla, roasted barley and raw almonds. Equal parts tangy, drying and bitter. Seems like grain whisky meets eau die vie, with no mouthfeel. It finishes tangy and sweet, with hints of almonds and wood smoke.

CONCLUSIONS!
The nose has certainly improved over the past two weeks. The palate has not. It's singing out for the nose's fruits and/or flowers. I've found the best way to address this is via a highball with Rogan's orange bitters and a generous cut of lemon peel.

I've always preferred Glenfiddich 12 over Glenlivet 12 but the distance between the two has narrowed considerably. This current version of Glenfiddich 12 has gotten mighty close to Blend Territory. That's somewhat understandable, as it is the starter 'Fiddich. But a 750mL bottle goes for $45 here in Ohio, which is more than Lot No. 40 and Evan Williams BIB, combined. This may be the last bottle of GF12 I buy. ☹

The only hope is the past. Maybe earlier versions will be better...

Availability - Everywhere
Pricing - $25-$60, yes, things are silly
Rating - 76

Monday, February 4, 2019

Glenfiddich: An Introduction and History

source
Though he had a stable job to support his nine children, William Grant chose to quit his gig as Mortlach's manager in order to build his own distillery. Constructed from the stones of River Fiddich, the distillery was dubbed Glenfiddich, or "valley of the deer". In 1886, Grant caught a break when Cardhu distillery sold off their used distilling gear — including stills, water mill, worm tubs and mash tun — for all of £120. Glenfiddich spirit first passed through those stills on Christmas day, 1887.

When whisky broker William Williams & Company quickly bought up the distillery's entire output, Grant then increased the 400 gallons/week yield and started supplying whisky to Pattisons Ltd. Many distilleries were crushed when Pattisons went bust in 1898, but because Grant pivoted his business and started producing his own blends, Glenfiddich survived. Their most successful blend for more than a half century was Standfast (named after Clan Grant's motto).

source
William Grant had a stroke in 1900, and in 1903 the family business was turned into an LLC known as William Grant & Sons. The company has stayed in the family ever since.

In 1957, the company contracted modernist designer, Hans Schleger, to rework their packaging design. The result was the industry's first three-cornered bottle, an iconic design that only changed once, in 1964, when its clear glass was switched to green glass for their new product.

Single malt whisky had existed since legal whisky production began, but what made Glenfiddich's 1963 foray into single malt unique was the decision to promote and market it, worldwide, with the same effort put towards blended whisky. This sudden, risky maneuver wasn't blind chutzpah. It was prompted by necessity.

In 1963, Distillers Company Limited ended its grain whisky contract with William Grant & Sons, putting Standfast's production at risk. William Grant's great-grandchildren adapted just as he did when circumstances became difficult. They built their own grain distillery, Girvan, within the year. And Glenfiddich 8 year old Pure Malt made its debut.

Thought it took a few years, the gamble paid off. In 1964, Glenfiddich Pure Malt (or Straight Malt in the US) sold 4,000 cases. In 1974, it sold nearly 120,000 cases. Around 1,200,000 cases of Glenfiddich's single malt were exported in 2017. With its jump on the rest of the marketplace, Glenfiddich has been the number one selling single malt brand for 54 of the past 55 years. As recently as 2007, Glenfiddich had 18% of the single malt export market, which was more than the 2nd and 3rd single malts combined. As of 2016, they still held 12.5% of the market.

source
In addition to trailblazing the single malt marketplace, Glenfiddich was the first single malt to show up in Duty Free shops, in 1968. The distillery was also was the first in Scotland to build a visitor center, in 1969.

The distillery has outsourced its malt supply since its floor maltings were closed in 1958. They've used the same water source, Robbie Dhu, since the 1880s, but their production levels have increased slightly, approximately 173x. The distillery now has 32 stills (some of which remain direct-fired), 32 Douglas Fir washbacks and two stainless steel mash tuns. The fermentation time is either 60 or 72 hours (depending on one's source).

Though Glenfiddich's entry level single malt has kept the same bottle shape for more than five decades, its name and label design has shifted more than a half dozen times. It's been known as a Pure Malt, Pure Single Malt, Straight Malt, Unblended and Single Malt, though it's always been 100% malt whisky from the same distillery. It went by the same Special Reserve or Special Old Reserve name for at least 30 years, but is now labelled as "Our Signature Malt". It's been an NAS, 8yo, 10yo and 12yo whisky at different times. Its balance of sherry to bourbon casks (15/85 in 2008) has also likely changed a bit over the years.

Glenfiddich 12 year old was the first single malt I ever tried, 20-ish years ago. I've been curious to find out how the liquid has changed, so I collected eight bottles from batches produced over the past four decades. Now I'm going to open them up and drink 'em. Gird your loins, it's going to be a 'Fiddich February.


Sources:
--MacLean, Charles. Whiskypedia. A Compendium of Scotch Whisky. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2010.
--MacLean, Charles. Scotch Whisky, A Liquid History. London, UK: Cassell Illustrated, 2005.
--Ronde, Ingvar (Ed.). Malt Whisky Yearbook 2018. Shropshire, UK: MagDig Media. 2017
--www.scotchwhisky.com

Friday, February 1, 2019

Killing Whisky History, Episode 21: Glenfiddich early '90s versus today's Glenfiddich 12

Welcome to a special February full of Special Reserve! I'm devoting this entire month to four decades (two centuries!) of Glenfiddich's entry level single malt. We know it now as their 12 year old expression, but it's had other names. Special Reserve, Special Old Reserve. Pure Malt, Straight Malt, Single Malt, Signature Malt. 8 year old, 10 year old, ??? year old.

I'm kicking it all off with this video, a comparison of early 1990s Glenfiddich Special Reserve and the current version of Glenfiddich 12.


On Monday, it's all about Glenfiddich's history. Then, starting on Wednesday, I'll work backwards from the newer bottlings to the dustier stuff. The Teens back to the Seventies. It's the best way to spend National Children's Dental Health Month, really.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Ardmore Triple Wood

In their attempt to fashion Ardmore like its southern sibling Laphroaig, Beam Suntory gave it a matching expression with the same name: Triple Wood. Laphroaig Triple Wood is the least Laphroaigy Laphroaig (though I've yet to try the loathed Select), thus my concern about them dressing up another young spirit in three layers of oak.


Distillery: Ardmore
Ownership: Beam Suntory
Region: Highlands (Eastern)
Age: NAS, thus it's a minimum of 3 years old
Maturation: "American Oak barrels, quarter casks and puncheons"
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? probably
(from a purchased sample)

NEAT
The color is light gold with a greenish tint. The nose begins with band-aids and tropical fruit punch, then there's oregano, disinfectant and calamine lotion. LOTS of peat. Vanilla bean and apricot jam = hamantaschen? The peat strikes hard in the palate as well, showing up as dark, gritty, bitter smoke. And moss. Not all is darkness though. There are bananas and fresh ginger, as well as hints of prunes and fruit juice. The finish is the least sweet part of the package. It's all smoke, soil and ginger.

DILUTED TO ~40%abv, or < 1 tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Peat, eucalyptus and pine sap on the nose. The quarter casks start barging in as the smell of new oak wafts up. Bitter smoke, smoked meat, peppercorns and simple syrup on the palate. It finishes warmer, more acidic and very smoky.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
Three notes I wrote at the bottom of the page:
--It kinda works
--Peatier than Laphroaig Triple Wood?
--No water please

When I tried Ardmore Triple Wood side-by-side with the carpentry-free Aultmore 12yo I liked them equally, even though they're so very different. This Ardmore surprised me, especially with its big crazy nose.

It's not an easy whisky, and I normally don't complain about that. But it comes in 1 liter bottles only, and I can't see getting through even half that quantity without getting tired of it. It also left me wondering what a puncheon (alone) of modern Ardmore would taste like. How about it, Ardmore? I'm just going to keep chucking ideas at you, Distillery, until I run out of bad ones.

Availability - Travel retail and a few dozen European shops
Pricing - $50-$60 for 1000mL
Rating - 83 (no water please)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Aultmore 12 year old

In late 2014, Bacardi Limited plopped three (Craigellachie, Royal Brackla and Aultmore) brand new and two rebooted (Macduff "Glen Deveron" and Aberfeldy) single malt ranges onto the scotch market all at once. It was nice to see five un-sexy distilleries' names suddenly appearing on shelves and retailer websites. The launch was called, "The Last Great Malts", a term that carries the weight of sadness and loss, rather than joy. Luckily marketing blather trends towards falsehoods and there have been numerous (three?) great whiskies released since.

I've read a few positive reviews of the Aultmore range, and have meant to try at least one of these whiskies for some time. I've tasted a grand total of two Aultmores before today, so I have no preconceptions about this sample.


Distillery: Aultmore
Ownership: Bacardi Limited (via John Dewar & Sons)
Region: Speyside (Moray)
Age: minimum 12 years
Maturation: refill hogsheads
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(from a purchased sample)

NEAT
The color is gorgeously pale, like me! The nose is almost entirely barley, yeast, soil and wet sand. Some hints of farm and mezcal float about. The palate has a good balance of mild sweetness and mild herbal bitterness. It's very malty, with small notes of bananas, tart citrus, vanilla, roasted seeds and nuts. More barley in the finish, along with grass, pineapple juice, bananas and chili oil.

DILUTED TO ~40%abv, or < 1 tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Now the nose has barley, chalk dust, homemade applesauce and cat piss (for you wine fans). The palate hasn't changed much. There's a madeira-like sweetness to it, as well as plenty of grass and herbs, and something sort of phenolic. The finish is shorter and grassier, with less sweetness.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
Clean as whistle, this one. It is, to steal MAO's term, unadorned. Congrats to the blenders for fashioning a single malt that tastes like malt. The 46%abv/NC/NCF presentation need also be highlighted.

There's an absence of excitement to it, and I guess there's something sort of thrilling about that. If you're looking to take a vacation from all the oaky oak that has slithered its way into most modern releases, this whisky is a decent destination. It would be a quality starter malt, in lieu of Glens Fiddich and Livet, but it carries a 50% premium over those whiskies in the US. Is $60 now the going rate of a starter malt?

Availability - Many specialty whisky retailers in Europe and USA
Pricing - $50-$75 (USA), $35-$55 (Europe, ex-VAT)
Rating - 83