...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Kaiyō The Sheri, First Edition

No, Kaiyō did not distill any of this week's whiskies. Kaiyō is a négociant crossed with an NDP, wrapped in a shell corporation. If you don't believe me, please read this very thorough, and kind of bananas, post at Nomunication.jp. (Proper respect to Richard on that one.)

What I can say this week's three Kaiyō whiskies is that they're probably Japanese single malt that has been teaspooned with another (Japanese?) single malt. They can't call them a single malt because of that silly teaspoon and they can't call it Japanese because it was aged on the ocean part-time. But the bottle's label has kanji on it and a Keeper of the Kiddish Quaich is in charge of blending the stuff.

Are you still with me? If so, you're not drinking enough.

Brand: Kaiyō
Ownership: hopefully the IRS knows
Type: Vatted, or Blended, Malt
Country: Japan
MaturationOloroso + PX + Mizunara Casks
Age: NAS
Bottled: 2019
Exclusive to: not Japan
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
(from a bottle split)


The nose starts with a combo of anise, oranges, grape juice and flower kiss candy. And it......works. It expands with time, picking up marzipan, cherry lollies, dried cranberries and Crème de cassis.

A creamy mouthfeel brings cherry cola, tart oranges and a hint of rosy florals in the palate. Hints of oak spice and semisweet chocolate stay in the background.

It finishes with tart and tangy oranges, oak spice and a touch of coffee.


Much to my surprise this turned out to be a very drinkable thing, and never gets too sweet. In fact, it's comparable in quality to many ≤12yo heavily sherried scotches. I doubt you'll find much from the mizunara casks since they're usually subtler than sherry-seasoned casks, and Kaiyō had a heavy hand on the sherry here, possibly to make sure the whisky was true to its name. I'd buy a bottle were it half its price.

Availability - Still around in the US
Pricing - $120-$140
Rating - 84

Friday, October 28, 2022

Frysk Hynder 4 year old 2017 Dutch Single Malt, cask 255B

Located in Friesland, Netherlands, Us Heit Distillery produces a flock of liqueurs and its own single malt, Frysk Hynder. They've released scores, if not hundreds, of single casks, the majority of which have been reduced to 40%abv. Many of the casks have been seasoned with "Red Wine", with others having received the sherry or cognac treatment. Today's Frysk Hynder spent its time in one of those "red wine" casks, and was bottled one month before its fifth birthday.

Distillery: Us Heit Distillery
Ownership: the van der Linde family
Brand: Frysk Hynder
Region: Friesland, Netherlands
Age: 4 years old (3 April 2017 - 3 March 2022)
Maturation: Red wine
Cask #: 255B
Outturn: ???
Alcohol by Volume: 40%
(sample pilfered at an event)


On the nose I'm finding raspberries, orange oil, white bread, lots of eggy sulfur, even more Velveeta slices, and I don't want to smell it anymore.

Prunes, metal and tissues arrive first in the palate, followed by corn syrup, ginger ale and burnt saltines.

If finishes burnt and bitter, but brief.


This whisky was wrong on many levels. I snooped around to find out if any of their other whiskies had issues, and quickly discovered that the Frysk Hynder brand gets an F as its Whiskybase Ranking. To be fair, those rankings go down to G (why?). Anyway, I'm assuming the whisky gets bottled so young because the casks prove fatal beyond five years, which may be same the reason for the maximum dilution. The palate is very strange and unpleasant though not horrifying, but the nose is nearly nauseating. I will not apologize for the alliteration. This is the second worst whisky I've had this year.

Availability - ???
Pricing - ???
Rating - 61

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Ninety 20 year old Canadian Rye Whisky

Originally named Sunnyvale Distillery, Highwood Distillery was built in High River, Alberta, 37 years ago. In 2005, the distillery's owners bought Potter's Distillers, an NDP/broker with a good stash of its own Canadian casks. Using both sources, Highwood Distillers currently bottles a wide range of whiskies and flavored-whiskies, two of which tilt the Canadian scales at 45%abv, a 5 year old rye and a 20 year old rye, both of the Ninety (as in proof) brand. I have a 2oz sample of that 20 year old rye right here...

Company: Highwood Distillers
Brand: Ninety
Distillery: Highwood Distillery (and perhaps others)
Region: Alberta, Canada (and perhaps others)
Type: Rye
Age: at least 20 years
Maturation: Bourbon barrels for the first two decades, then six months in sherry casks
Alcohol by Volume: 45%
Chillfiltered? Probably
e150a? Probably
(from a bottle split)


The nose begins lightly fruity and floral. Apples and peaches. Wheated bourbon and Nillas. It gets quirkier with time, picking up notes of Dove soap, Loch Lomond-type funk and shoe polish.

The palate is very very sweet. Root beer, vanilla and loads of caramel blanket the foreground. Mocha, neutral grain spirit and a hint of bitterness lie below.

Caramel, mint extract and mocha fill the cloying finish.


The pleasures of Canadian whiskies largely escape me. Perhaps Ninety would fare better next to Canadian Club's Rye, but Lot No. 40 whups it royally in a side-by-side. The enjoyable nose does rescue Ninety's score from the D-range. But this really seems like caramel-flavored whisky, the resulting palate made for sweeter teeth than mine. Not a great week for international whiskies so far...

Availability - Canadiana
Pricing - 60-70USD(?)
Rating - 74

Monday, October 24, 2022

Hammer Head 30 year old 1989 Czech Single Malt, cask 378


When I reviewed the 20yo nine years ago, I thought Hammer Head single malt was a once-in-a-lifetime little tchotchke. Then came a 23 year old, a 25 year old, two 28 year olds, and now a 30 year old that costs $500.

For those who haven't heard the tale, here's the recap: on the brink of the Velvet Revolution the Czechoslovakian communist government-run Prádlo distillery cranked out some batches of single malt spirit made from local barley. Once bottled, two decades later, the whisky was named after the Hammer Head mill that had ground up the barley back in 1989.

Clearly it wasn't just a couple casks. The first release alone had an outturn of 80,000 bottles. And now, 30 years on, there have been a few single casks. All but two of the releases have been at strengths between 40.7% and 43.7%abv, yet today's 30yo weighs in at 51.2%abv. It's not chillfiltered, but I see no claims about its coloration. I don't know what to expect here, but I'm happy to try 30 year old Czech whisky any day!

Distillery: Prádlo Distillery
Ownership: STOCK Plzeň-Božkov s.r.o.
Brand: Hammer Head
Region: Prádlo, Czech Republic
Age: 30 years old (1989-2020)
Maturation: Czech oak casks
Cask #: 378
Outturn: 300 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 51.2%
(from a bottle split)


At first there's a unique mix of hazelnuts, tobacco and steel on the nose. A little bit of ocean brine drifts through the background, golden raisins and orange liqueur fill the midground. The palate is intensely woody, or should I say woodsy. It's more forest-like than generic oak. The bitterness is almost Cynar-like, with heaps of black pepper and smoked paprika floating on top. It finishes a bit tougher, with bark, ash and dry soil

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or ¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The nose has shifted a bit. It's more floral, and some grape juice shows up. Otherwise it's all barrel char and peanuts. Yeeeeeesh, the palate. It's all woody bitterness. The finish feels almost unsafe with its heavy acridity and bitterness.


The whisky's nose is very sniffable, when neat. The palate is a quirky curio, when neat. Its finish doesn't terrify, when neat. But it's nigh undrinkable when diluted. If this was one of their honey casks, then I sincerely hope there won't be a 35 year old Hammer Head. It was a cool brand, but this stuff is all oak juice. If casks remain, perhaps they can be blended with the current Prádlo malt for a fun hand-in-hand communism + capitalism vatting. I'm going to be kind with the score here, but I'd be okay with never again trying another pour of 1989 Hammer Head.

Availability - In the US of A, of all places
Pricing - $500(!)
Rating - 77 (when neat, 64 when diluted)

Friday, October 21, 2022

Springbank 14 year old 2007 Cadenhead

I'm going to keep the kibitzing to a minimum here because I just want to get to the notes for this whisky, a teenage bourbon barrel Springbank bottled by Cadenhead just a few months ago. It is good.

Distillery: Springbank
Brand: Springbank
Region: Campbeltown
"Independent" bottler: Cadenhead
Age: 14 years (Late 2007 - Summer 2022)
Maturation: bourbon barrel
Outturn: 198 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 54.9%
(from a bottle split)


Yes. Fruit. Nose. Mangoes, dried apricots, citrons, grapefruits. Around the fruits swirl all sorts of lovely things like sage, toasted seaweed, rope, saline and Juicy Fruit gum.

At first, the palate is all guava juice. In-season black plums, apricot jam, lemon candy and moss arrive next. It gets earthier with time, but always switches back to guava and plums. It makes for terrifyingly easy drinking at this strength. So, no, no dilution here.

The finish glows with Lotte's ume (plum) gum, apricots (dried and fresh), and bright sweet citrus. Then peaches and smoked sea salt.


I'm not going to call this a contemporary classic because I had only a small sample of the whisky, but if I had a bottle......if I had a bottle. Though this is my favorite official or semi-official Springbank since the 16 year old Local Barley, it's a different experience than anything else they've released recently. It's like a fruity 20-30 year old Speyside, like Glenburgie or Longmorn, has merged with an old peated malt whose phenolics have long since drifted into the dunnage, leaving behind quiet impressions of youth. That's all I'm asking for in a whisky really.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - maybe £85 upon release
Rating - 91

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Kilkerran 11 year old 2020 Cadenhead

Next up in this terrifyingly-recent-bottling series is an 11 year old Kilkerran, released by Cadenhead a couple months ago. The folks in charge of J&A Mitchell's production have a gem in Glengyle (Kilkerran's distillery), often making single malt that tops Springbank at a young age. Kilkerran's Work in Progress series remains my favorite window into the life of a developing single malt style/brand/whisky. The early bourbon cask WIPs were terrific, while the older sherry cask WIPs were possibly better.

So I know that Glengyle can deliver after 6 to 11 maturation years......when in small batches. The more recent single cask sherry syrup coming from the distillery has been less convincing. Today's single bourbon barrel comes from Cadenhead, so it's kinda technically an official bottling since Cadenhead, Kilkerran and Glengyle distillery are all owned by the same folks.

Distillery: Glengyle
Owner: Mitchell's Glengyle Limited
Brand: Kilkerran
Region: Campbeltown
"Independent" bottler: Cadenhead
Age: 11 years (Late 2010 - Summer 2022)
Maturation: bourbon barrel
Outturn: 210 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 57.2%
(from a bottle split)


Yeast and soda bread lead the nose, with white peaches and cigarette ash following. Little bits of blossoms, butterscotch and charred marshmallows appear after some time. I find a lot of wood smoke and new make in the early palate. Lots of limes up top, a few yuzus and yellow peaches beneath. Black pepper, sweet limes and leafy smoky finish it off.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or 1½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

Reminiscent of Westland Distillery's peaty wort, the nose is full of barley, yeast and oats, with florals in the background, occasional notes of vanilla cookies and almond cookies around the edges. The palate is raw and very sweet. Simple peatiness in the foreground; pencil graphite in the middle; vanilla, cardboard and cannabis hints in the back. The nondescript finish is tangy, sweet and kind of bitter.


This is almost new make; good new make, but still the clear stuff. I always appreciate when Cadenhead goes gentle on the oak, but I wonder why this spirit wasn't kept in the barrel for several years more. It doesn't hold together well once diluted, so sipping it neatly is recommended. As is often the case with these youngsters, the nose wins the day.

Availability - perhaps at the remaining Cadenhead shops?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 83 (neat only; at least a 5-point drop when diluted)

Monday, October 17, 2022

Longrow 20 year old 2001 Springbank Society

Dear readers, this week I am reviewing a trio of single malts that were bottled within the past two months. Please know that I am okay, and that the appropriate authorities have already been notified. I promise I will not make a habit of this.

Also all three whiskies are from Campbeltown, so the remaining bottles are probably on auction sites already.

First up is a 20 year old Longrow, distilled in 2001. Something happened with a parcel of older Longrow casks. In 2022 alone there were at least 10 single casks that were dumped at strengths between 40.1% and 44.9%abv. Meanwhile, today's whisky was fashioned from a batch of six casks that resulted in a 47.9%abv cask strength, so there were likely some more very low strength, or sub-40%abv, casks in the mix. Were these a bunch of leaky casks or was this a warehouse issue? If you know please share in the comment section below, thanks!

For what it's worth, 47.9%abv is a damned good drinking strength.

Distillery: Springbank
Brand: Longrow
Region: Campbeltown
Age: 20 years (October 2001 - August 2022)
Maturation: six refill bourbon hogsheads
Outturn1,488 bottles
Exclusive to: The Springbank Society
Alcohol by Volume: 47.9%
(from a bottle split)


Very Islay on the nose as it starts with seaweed, antiseptic and lemons. Lychee juice, apple juice, apple danish and metal appear next, somewhere around the middle. Hints of farm and dried apricots stay in the background.

A very zingy (technical term) citrus smoke fills the palate. Mild notes of sweet, tart and bitter balance out in background. It improves with time as it picks up a combo of oranges + black walnuts + salty smoke, with bits of dry savory herbs and dried apricots around the edges.

Tangy lemons and smoky residue finish it off, with smaller notes of black walnuts and sweet oranges in the background.


Fans can keep chasing those wine-finished teenage-ish Longrows, while I'd be happy with any 18-21yo refill casks. This batch lands right between Islay and Campbeltown – at the Isle of Gigha? – delivering ocean, medicine and citrus. Nothing seems to have been wrong with any of the casks, though it falls a little short in development and complexity in the palate and finish, keeping it from the 90-point range. I'm left wondering, how many of Longrow casks will make it to 25 years?

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - I dunno
Rating - 88

Friday, October 14, 2022

Hazelburn 21 year old, bottled 2022

Yes, like Longrow, Hazelburn now has an official 21 year old built from a mix of sherry and bourbon casks, with a 3600-bottle outturn. I know the whisky world was more excited about the simultaneously-bottled Springbank 30yo, but how many of those 30s are actually going to be opened and appreciated, let alone shared or split? Meanwhile, the Hazelburn 21 is going for 1/10th of the Springer's price on the secondary market. It's not cheap, but it's considerably cheaper. Cheers to baby Hazelburn getting older!

Distillery: Springbank
Owner: J&A Mitchell
Brand: Hazelburn
Region: Campbeltown
Age: at least 21 years old
Maturation70% sherry casks + 30% bourbon casks
Bottled: 22 April 2022
Outturn: 3,600 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
(from a bottle split)


Honey, anise, toasted oak spice and orange blossoms appear in the nose first. Darker elements arrive next: earthy molasses, brine, Fee Brothers black walnut bitters (which neither taste nor smell like black walnuts), and a hint of wood smoke. Raw walnuts and more smoke develop with time.

Oranges, molasses, dried cherries and dry nutty Oloroso form the palate's base. Menthol and moderate bitterness fill in the middle. More molasses and raw nut notes appear after 30+ minutes.

It finishes with raw walnuts, orange peel, dried cherries and menthol.


Yep, Hazelburn now makes big kid whisky as the brand enters its third decade. And I hope the 21 becomes a permanent addition to the standard range......if the ownership chooses to go with a standard Hazelburn range. Anyway, the Hazelburn 21 is of a similar high quality as the Longrow 21. The sherry casks lead the way, but the fortified wine was of a dry, lean sort so it meets the spirit well without overwhelming it. I do get the feeling that if they had let these casks sit until they hit 25yo then this would have become too woody. Another bit of good cask management over there on Well Close.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - Not cheap
Rating - 88

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Hazelburn 20 year old 1998, Single Refill Barrel

Hoping to correct the downward trend of this week's whiskies, I'm pouring my sample of a 20 year old single refill ex-bourbon barrel of Springbank distillery's triple-distilled single malt, Hazelburn. It was bottled exclusively for some folks in Bremen (Germany, not Ohio ☹) by the distillery four years ago. To Thursdays!

Distillery: Springbank
Owner: J&A Mitchell
Brand: Hazelburn
Region: Campbeltown
Age: 20 years (May 1998 - September 2018)
MaturationRefill Bourbon Barrel
Outturn: 192 bottles
Exclusively for: Hanseatische Weinhandelsgesellschaft (sp?), Bremen
Alcohol by Volume: 55.5%
(from a bottle split)


Lovely nose, a barley bomb loaded with fresh cereal grains, as well as lemons, lemongrass, mint leaf and apricots. After 30 minutes, it gets VERY peachy. Herbs hit the palate first, both savory and bitter. Then lemons + lemongrass + lemon pepper. Maple, tangy smoke, guava and yuzu emerge from the background. Tart > sweet in the finish, all lemons, grapefruit and yuzu.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or 1¼ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The nose: peaches, loquats, guavas, pastry and a whiff of smoldering rope. Meanwhile the palate becomes even more herbal, smoky and austere. It finishes similar to the palate with some additional lime in the background.


Like an older sibling to Monday's great 13yo, this 20 year old is the first outright Hazelburn home run I've had. (Admittedly, I've tried only a baker's dozen.) With just a little bit of oak, heaps of fruits and grains, and a touch of smoke, this Hazelburn is a thrill to nose and a warm pleasure to sip. A cask pulled at the right time. Lucky Bremer Menschen!

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 90

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Hazelburn 15 year old 2003, Single Port Cask

The color of these Hazelburns gets darker with each day. It's a single refill port hoggie this time, though judging by the whisky's rosy tint, it wasn't a particularly refill hog. This particular single cask appears to have been bottled specifically for the US of A, selected by Pacific Edge in 2018. So I'm right on time as always.

Distillery: Springbank
Owner: J&A Mitchell
Brand: Hazelburn
Region: Campbeltown
Age: 15 years (April 2003 - November 2018)
MaturationRefill Port Hogshead
Outturn: 264 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 56.6%
(from a bottle split)


The nose is not at all what I'd expected. It's kind of odd, in fact. It starts with clay, saline, hazelnuts, plaster and mothballs. Then it picks up toasted almonds, a hint of antiseptic and something between barrel char and graphite. 45 minutes in: blueberry pie. The palate arrives oddly as well, reading like a wonky cheese plate: gorgonzola, brie, raw almonds and a wee blob of berry preserves. It's hot, tart, tannic and slightly smoky. It finishes salty, cheesy and farmy with minor notes of tart berries and peppery sulfur.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or >1¼ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ with the nose: brine, mothballs, metal, wood smoke, dark chocolate and gorgonzola. It tastes of wheat, paper, tart berries and dirty hay, while the finishes matches than palate.


Some drinkers would grade this whisky a D or F, with its cheese and sulfur, and I would understand that. I'm not going to tell you this whisky makes any sense, and it's possible I received a weird sample, but I appreciate the way the nose shuffles gears and dimensions. And the palate is quite different than anything else I've had this year. But like yesterday's 13yo Oloroso, today's 15yo Portie crumbles when diluted. Can't say I like where this week's whiskies are headed...

Availability - Sold out?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 81 (neat only; when diluted it sinks deep into the 70s)

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Hazelburn 13 year old 2007 Oloroso Cask Matured

Yesterday's Hazelburn was probably frequently mistaken for today's Hazelburn. Same age and vintage (down to the month), and bottled seven months apart. I thought I accidentally sourced the same whisky twice. But no, this 13yo was assembled entirely from oloroso casks, and is a smidgen stronger than Monday's H-burn. How did it fare in a Taste Off?

Distillery: Springbank
Owner: J&A Mitchell
Brand: Hazelburn
Region: Campbeltown
Age: 13 years (June 2007 - 23 Sept 2020)
Maturation100% Oloroso casks
Outturn: 9,900 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 50.3%
(from a bottle split)


The nose doesn't read like a contemporary sherried beast, and the casks smell clean. It's gently nutty, with some toffee, shortbread biscuits and a hint of nectarine. No black raisins nor prunes. With time, it shifts towards toffee, smoke and dried currants. The palate, on the other hand, is a sherry 'splosion. Sultanas, figs and sea salt at first. Then lemons and stones. It picks up a bit of sulfur and black raisins as it sits in the glass. No sulfur in the finish though. In fact it holds onto the sultanas, dried currants and lemon zest.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or ½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

It noses of raw almonds, dried apricots, sultanas and digestive biscuits. Meanwhile, sulfur starts taking over the palate, allowing small odes of oranges, black raisins and woody bitterness. It finish tart, bitter and raisiny.


Keep water far away from this one as it crumbles once diluted. In fact, drink the whisky fast because it doesn't air out particularly well. My score probably seems generous, but if you catch it early, it's quite good, especially in the nose and finish. But FWIW, I'd quickly take yesterday's 13yo over this 13yo any and every day.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 85 (neat only; when diluted it sinks into the 70s)

Monday, October 10, 2022

Hazelburn 13 year old 2007, Limited Edition 2021

Of the distiller's four brands, J&A Mitchell's triple-distilled single malt continues to receive the least amount of geek lust. That's fine. I'd say, "More for the rest of us," if I could find one damned bottle of Hazelburn anywhere. Anyway, if you spy the official 10 year old, have at it, it's very good.

Methinks menoses peat in nearly every Hazeblurn, as is the case with many "unpeated" malts from peaty distilleries, but that's a feature not a bug; a little extra dash of phenolics never hurt any whisky. I have here at hand five Hazelburns, and I'll review one each day this week. Will I find some peatiness, fruitiness, triple-distilled oddities, or all of the above?

Today, it's 2021's 13 year old limited edition that somewhat mirrors Springbank's 12yo CSes, with its 75% bourbon cask, 25% sherry cask approach.

Ignore the pic, this was actually the 2021 release
Distillery: Springbank
Owner: J&A Mitchell
Brand: Hazelburn
Region: Campbeltown
Age: 13 years (June 2007 - 12 April 2021)
Maturation75% ex-bourbon casks, 25% ex-sherry casks
Outturn: 6,300 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 48.6%
(sample from a bottle split, via Mr. Ricebowl)


A gorgeous amount of barley in the nose, along with a vibrant ocean breeze. A good dose of seaweed meets a patch of moss. Lemon joins confectioner's sugar. A hint of hot tar in the background. The palate is sweet and tart, with loads of barley, peaches and apricots. Moments of butterscotch, salt and farm float by here and there. The finish has a decent length, and holds onto the apricots, salt, barley and lemon.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or >¼ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The nose focuses on apples, lemons, apricots and hay. The palate gets sharper, tarter and saltier. The finish is all apples, salt and hay.


I adore this style of whisky, barley-driven yet not half-baked. It's also the apricottiest™ whisky I've ever had. Makes me regret not picking up a bottle last year. I think the low ABV had me slightly worried, or maybe it was my personal life falling apart. Six of one, half dozen of the other. What a great start to this week!

Availability - Sold out?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 89

Friday, October 7, 2022

Bea's Birthday Booze: Ben Nevis 25 year old 1984, cask 98/35/1

With today's review, Ben Nevis ties Bowmore for the distillery with the second-most posts on this site. (Springbank holds the top spot, though it does fall behind the killer Bs if I subtract Longrows and Hazelburns.) Huzzah for Ben Nevis!

This will be the oldest official bottling, and only the second 1980s, Ben Nevis I've ever tried. The previous '80s BN wasn't particularly great, and that distillery had some weird decades before Asahi/Nikka stepped in to fix up the joint in the 1990s. So I have no idea what this 25yo will taste like.

But I am interested in its double maturation, with 13+ years in bourbon casks and 11+ years in one sherry butt. The distillery did this with at least a half dozen 1984s. Ben Nevis tends to have very good sherry casks, so perhaps the management rescued some hoggies that weren't punching their weight.

Time to see if it worked.

Distillery: Ben Nevis
Region: Highlands (Western)
Age: 25 years old (December 1984 - January 2010)
Maturation: Bourbon: Dec 1984 - October 1998; then Sherry: October 1998 - January 2010
Cask #: 98/35/1
Outturn: 628 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 56.0%
(from a bottle split)


It's a chocolatey baking-spicy sherry cask, in the nose at least. Earth, oats, gunpowder caps, cow manure and saline fill in the rest. It's a party, and it's bumpin'. The palate, though, is slightly soapy and dusty. Oranges, limes, chocolate and cherry lollies arrive later. Some salt and fabric in the background. But that soap note never leaves. It does mutate into an OBE type note in the finish, though tangy citrus, bitter chocolate, and a lot of sweetness almost cover it up.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or 1¼ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The nose becomes mellower and better integrated. Toffee pudding, pipe tobacco and milk chocolate merge with tangerines and limes. Citrus takes the forefront in the palate, with the soap being pushed into the distance. Talcum powder, herbal bitterness and burlap linger around the edges. A good balance of tart, sweet and gentle smoke stay in the midground. The soap eventually vanishes. That same mix of tart, sweet and smoke stays through the finish.


I'll try to accentuate the positives. Though the cask flexes its muscle fibers, the whisky isn't Oaky. I'm always a sucker for citrus + smoke (see Ardmore, well-aged Longrow, some Caol Ilas, etc.), and the diluted palate delivers that very thing. This cask never reaches the quality of Nevis's Naughty Nineties but it's still pretty darn good, especially once air and water wash the soap away.

Availability - Secondary market?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 87 (diluted)

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Bea's Birthday Booze: Auchroisk 38 year old 1982 SMWS 95.39

If you're reading this, I have survived food poisoning, Yom Kippur, and Beatrice's birthday party. Maybe.

Like the '65 Glenfarclas, today's Auchroisk was consumed before the aforementioned entertainment. In fact, two whiskies were Taste Off adversaries. Auchroisk is less famous than Glenfarclas, as well as 95% of the rest of the Speyside distilleries, possibly because Diageo smuggles it all into J&B. J&B was a mighty fine blend in the 1960s, but Auchroisk was born in 1974. Yet can we blame this distillery (which is younger than some of my readers) for J&B's decline? I say, "no!", without any proof. And I do hope you enjoyed this paragraph's journey.

Distillery: Auchroisk
Ownership: Diageo
Region: Speyside (Central)
Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 38 years (15 Jan 1982 - 2020)
Maturation: refill sherry butt
Cask #: 95.39
Outturn: 477 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 53.0%
(from a bottle split)


The nose begins with flowers and fruits: roses, citrons, cherries, plums and dried apricots. It then gains mild notes of fudge and freshly rolled cigars with time. Mango arrives first in the palate, then apricots, followed by lots of tart fruits. Tart berries, tart nectarines and lemons. It finishes salty and tart, with some of the palate's fruits, though no mango. Tannins creep up with time.

DILUTED to ~48%abv,  >½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

Dilution tightens the nose's focus, while adding a salty/beachy note. Still full of roses and stone fruits, but now with a dash of marzipan underneath. The palate gets bitterer and tarter. Lots of toasted oak, with its spices and nuts. The finish matches the palate, with the tannins leading.


When neat, this whisky is nearly a 90-pointer until oak keeps the finish from sticking the landing. I approached dilution with a gentle hand, finding the nose improving and the palate declining. Again, the finish fell short. Despite this negativity, I really enjoyed the fruity side of this Auchroisk's palate, and could nose the glass all night. I'm left wondering if this would have been even more glorious if bottled 5-10 years earlier.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 87

Monday, October 3, 2022

Bea's Birthday Booze: Glenfarclas 1965-2005 Scott's Selection

Beatrice turns five years old this week. This means she will promptly exit the fearsome, frightful, forever fours, right? Please? We just completed a very bumpy weekend together, and I'm navigating food poisoning so I'll have something cute to say about my youngest on another post.

According to a whiskyfun post from 15(!) years ago, today's independently bottled whisky caused some trouble because Scott's Selection dared list Glenfarclas's name on the label. Serge also loved the heck out of the whisky. Did I also love the heck out of it?

Distillery: Glenfarclas
Ownership: J&G Grant
Region: Speyside (Central)
Bottler: Scott's Selection
Age: ~40 years (1965 - 2005)
Maturation: "Oakwood casks" (yep)
Outturn: ???
Alcohol by Volume: 48.5%
(A big thank you to Cobo!!!)


This nose has four quadrants. First, the old stuff: dunnage, mothballs and dusty leather. Second, the fruits: guava and pineapple juices. Third, desserts: toffee and milk chocolate. Fourth, the curios: rotting kelp on the beach and calamine lotion. Sometimes these zones cross, and sometimes they segregate. It works, though.

Sadly the palate falls short of the nose. It's a bit dusty, sweet and bitter at the start, with notes of anise, limes, burlap and plums in the mid- to background. But then oak takes over. Beyond the woody bitterness and tannin, I can sort out a few new notes like soil, coffee grounds and baking chocolate.

It finishes with menthol, wormwood and black coffee after early sips. Later sips turn into a mix of lime juice and oak juice.


No, I was not smitten with this one, though if the palate matched the nose this would have been quite an entertaining sipper. But also, I'm not a diehard fan of ultra-aged Glenfarclas, with their 43yo cognac cask being a rare exception. The spirit seems to be hyper extractive, which works well for their younger sherried products, but starts pulling up splinters by the fourth decade. Cobo, who generously provided this sample, was also less enamored of it than ol' WF was. The nose was what salvaged it for me, but, again, whisky is made for drinking.

Availability - Secondary market?
Pricing - ????
Rating - 83