Being a part of Springbank, I always have high expectations of Longrow. The Red series in particular has garnered up quite a bit of interest over the years. This one matured in refill Bourbon casks for 6 years, and a further 5 years in Shiraz casks. It was bottled in 2013 at 53.7% ABV.
Color: Dark amber
Nose: Oh this is an interesting one. Both the Shiraz and Bourbon influence are fighting for your attention. A very sweet nose, both the red fruits from Shiraz and some honey/vanilla from the Bourbon. The peat comes through as well, leaving traces of fresh paint. Some pistachio and peppermint. While there’s a lot going on, it’s still quite delicate, ethereal.
Palate: It arrives with a think and oily mouthfeel. Sweet grapes, then lots of nuts, mainly walnuts and almonds. Raisins and bonfire smoke.
Finish: The nuts and raisins linger, leaving a mainly bitter finish. A touch of strawberry helps out and the peatsmoke is the most noticeable here.
This doesn’t disappoint. The marriage with the red wine casks seems to blend very well with Longrow spirit.
At the beginning of the 2000’s, Bruichladdich distillery started producing heavily peated spirit under the name of closeby town Port Charlotte. Currently, this sits between the Bruichladdich and Octomore expressions.
This is the basic one, a NAS bottling at 50% ABV.
Color: Very pale gold.
Nose: Smoke with vanilla cream, peppermint and barley. After some time in the glass some more lemon notes come out. Nuts can be found in the distance.
Palate: A wave of smoke hits you first. After that some metallic notes and quite medicinal peat. The youngness shows itself here.
Finish: It’s medium long, mostly briny and some lingering peat. There’s a touch of gingerbread as well.
You can taste it’s a young one. The nose does a decent job of hiding it, but the metallic notes on the otherwise quite simplistic palate seal the deal. Still, it’s an enjoyable dram.
GlenDronach is quickly becoming one of the most well known sherrybomb distilleries, particularly with their 15y Revival.
This one is a bit older, 18 years according to the label. However, as the distillery was closed from 1996 to 2001, and this one was bottled in 2015, the whisky has to be at least 20 years old. It’s bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Furniture polish, dried plums and raisins. This is quite a dense nose, it feels thick and punchy. Also some dates, overripe banana and an ever so slight hint of sulphur.
Palate: This arrives much smoother than I expected with some figs and oak. Then come some peppers, nutmeg, green herbs and oranges. Quite an oily mouthfeel and gradual development.
Finish: This continues the smoothness, some berries and raisins to be found, it’s medium to long.
This one needs some time in the glass. It’s quite complex, but I find the nose more interesting than the taste. I expected a much heavier kick on the palate, which most other tasting notes seem to have. Maybe the newer bottlings are a bit more mellow?
For Laphroaig’s 200th anniversary, they released a couple of commemorative bottles. Among them is this 21 year old version. It has matured in 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrels and it’s bottled at 48.4% ABV.
Nose: The expected peat, barbecue smoke and brine. Then a barrage of fruit that reveal themselves over time: lemon, grapefruit, avocado and some green herbal notes that I can’t quite put my finger on. With even more time it gets more tropical with notes of mango, banana and kiwi.
Palate: Smooth arrival. It starts of very salty before opening up. There’s marzipan, turkish delight, balsamic vinegar and oak, married with medicinal smoke.
Finish: sweet and dry, vanilla, smoke, smooth, herbal notes, very long, slight pepper.
Finish: Sweet and mouth drying. Vanilla, sweet smoke, the herbal notes are back again, and a touch of pepper. Luckily all this goodness lasts for a pretty long time.
Wow this is good. Very complex and the peat is perfectly balanced with the fruit flavors.
At £95 for a 350ml bottle, this is not cheap at all, but very much worth trying.
Finlaggan is an Islay whisky from an unknown distillery. It’s named after the place where the Lords of the Isles and Clan Donald stayed in the 13-15th century.
This cask strength version is bottled at a strong 58% ABV.
Color: White wine
Nose: Gives a very clean influence. The peatsmoke covers nearly everything. There’s a very slight hint of lemon, kiwi and oak. Iodine as well. After a while some slight sherry notes reveal themselves.
Palate: Ash, tar and peat get the forefront, if you didn’t realise by now, this is screaming Islay. Quite salty and hints of lemon peel. I had a bit of a soapy note as well. You can tell this is a young one.
Finish: Impressivly long for such a young whisky, the cask strength definitely helps here. Some soapy notes but mostly barbecue smoke.
This is a decent Islay whisky, especially if you consider the price. A good one to get acquainted with heavily peated malt, but a bit one-dimensional.
The Laphroaig PX cask is, contrary to what you may think, not just a Laphroaig matured in Pedro Ximenez casks. It has instead matured in American oak and Quarter Casks, and then finished in PX casks.
It’s supposed to be exclusive to travel retail, but can be found pretty easily. It’s bottled at a pleasant 48% ABV.
Color: Gold, lighter than I expected.
Nose: It’s warm and inviting. The sweetness from the sherry casks is combined with typical Laphroaig medicinal peat smoke. There’s plums, raisins, blackberry and some lemon as well. It’s sweet and sour. Quite promising.
Palate: Hit of peat combined with lemon rind, dark chocolate and some berries.
Finish: It starts of very sweet, confectionery. After some time bitter oak gets through that leaves a somewhat unpleasant note.
The nose on this one is promising, but it’s all somewhat unhinged. Some extreme sweetness here, peatbomb there,… It’s not a bad whisky in any way, but I feel like all the different casks have had their influences, but failed to deliver a whole.
Allt-A-Bhainne is quite rarely talked about. It’s the main malt component of many Chivas Regal blends. The distillery doesn’t put out any official bottlings, so it’s up to the independent ones.
This one was distilled in 1995 and bottled in 2012, it was bottled at a cask strength of 52.1% ABV.
Color: Pale gold
Nose: Starts of very clean and fresh: some lemon and melons. Then comes a grassy note followed by oak. After some time you get some hay. A very clean nose.
Palate: Lots of fruit on the first sip: Lemon, melons, green apples. Then some cereal and grain, ginger and spices. It’s a bit hot but not overly so.
Finish: Very long! Becomes bitter, liquorice. Wow this is really a long aftertaste…I’m impressed.
This was much better than I expected, considering there’s little to no fanfare about this distillery. It’s also quite complex. There’s some very nice play between the fruity and oaky influences.
Another one from the Springbank distillery tonight! Hazelburn is it’s unpeated brother, which is distilled 3 times. This one matured in ex-Bourbon casks and finished in Sauternes wood. It’s been in casks for only 8 years.
Color: Mahogany, quite dark, looks promising!
Nose: Oh my, there’s a lot in here: strawberries and red fruit, blue grapes, some hazelnut. Going a bit deeper there’s plums, orange and chocolate with a cherry liqueur. Very interesting for it’s age!
Palate: Dark chocolate, raisins, tannins, some matchsticks in the distance.
Finish: The wine comes through very clearly here, a rounded sweetness that lasts for quite a while
Another loverly whisky by Springbank, the nose on this one is simply fantastic.
An 18 year old Ardmore bottled by the Dutch Kintra Whisky. This comes out of a bourbon hogshead, cask 4907. It was bottled in 2011 at 49.8% ABV.
Color: Pale straw
Nose: Delicate fruit at first but it quickly gets overwhelmed by other notes. A strong vanilla one comes out at first. Digging a bit deeper, I get unripe banana and marshmallow. Play Doh! Almonds too, with time some more citrus. All of it is wrapped in a gentle dose of earthy peat.
Palate: Smooth vanilla again, quickly spiced up by black pepper and jalepeno. Banana, mandarin oranges, lychee, orange zest… this has some complexity to it. Some bitter oak to dry things out and a tarry note.
Finish: Oak tannins, some grass. Slightly ashy but still a fresh citrus note going on. Quite a long finish too.
Well, this one definitely surprised me. Lots going on, complex and ever-changing. I love the slight peat influence to make it bolder. A great Ardmore.
Today we have a Laphroaig bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. This one was distilled in 1997 and bottled in 2015, at 17 years of age. It’s bottled at a good 52.9% ABV. The SMWS named it Fantastical, magical, transporting… Let’s see where it takes us.
Color: Pale straw
Nose: The medicinal peat smoke jumps out, loads of antiseptic and ash. If you dig a little deeper there’s brine and some fresh lime. Then seafood, think lobster and crab. With more time in the glass, some more fruity notes come out, but they are burried beneath the peat.
Palate: Quite gradual arrival, especially considering the ABV. Peat smoke ofcourse, smoked sausage and seafoods, lobsters and crabs are back, joined by some oysters. Salt as well. Digging deep, some hints of marshmallow, vanilla and green apple.
Finish: The medicinal notes continue, obviously. Some green apple gives it a hint of sweetness. Grapefruit at the tail end of this quite long finish.
This is a textbook example of how medicinal a Laphroaig can get. It’s not bad, but a bit of a one trick pony. I prefer my heavily peated malts to be a bit fruitier.