Springbank 12y Blues Edition | 57.3% ABV | Bottled 2011

Springbank 12 Blues EditionThis Springbank 12y was selected by Hans Offringa and bottled for the Dutch market. It’s made up of 6 bourbon casks which produced 1260 bottles. They are bottled at a cask strength of 57,3% ABV.

Color: Very pale gold.

Nose: Oh yes, this is lovely! Sweetness at first, mango and some other exotic fruits, which evolves into a confectionary note, hints of bubblegum. Then some roasted almond, citrus and vanilla, with just a tiny bit of ash.

Palate: The sweetness continues here, mango and unripe banana. Some pepper spice, probably because of the high ABV. Nuts again, quite briny, and a hint of peat. There’s also a musky note in there, which I find typical in Campbeltown whisky.

Finish: The sweetness is still there, accompanied by vanilla and honey. Some bitter oak to balance it out, medium long.

I haven’t had a lot of Springbank, but I’ve loved every single one, and this is no exception.

89/100

Clynelish 1996 Signatory for The Bonding Dram | 50.9% ABV | Bottled 2016

Signatory’s Un-Chillfiltered range is one I hold in quite high regard, as they often bottle great whisky for the right price. This Clynelish has matured for 19 years and was bottled for the Belgian store The Bonding Dram at 50.9% ABV.

Color: White wine

Nose: I only have a sample, but I imagine there are bees inside the actual bottle. It’s full of luscious beeswax. A confectionary note as well, tutti frutti. Some honey, faint hints of mango and grass and a touch of flowers.

Palate: The wax carries on in the mouth. Accompanied by honey and vanilla. Some melon notes add some sweetness, with time, the faintest hints of pepper come out.

Finish: Well… you probably expected this: more wax. Some hints of flowers join this medium long finish.

This Clynelish is a pleasant whisky, dangerously drinkable and very smooth. It does border on being boring though, the wax is a bit too pronounced for me. I’m sure Clynelish fans will love this though.

85/100

Caol Ila 14y Unpeated | 59.3% ABV | Bottled 2012

Like a couple of Speyside distilleries try their hands on peated whisky, Caol Ila has been producing an unpeated version of their Islay malt for a couple of years now.

This is the 2012 version, which has matured in European Oak casks for 14 years. It’s bottled at cask strength of 59.3% ABV.

Color: Gold

Nose: Definitely maritime with loads of salt and seaweed. Then the casks kick in with some biscuits, sour lemon and a bit of raspberry and strawberry.

Palate: The biscuits are back, same with the lemon and salt. Then vanilla fudge and a good dose of black pepper. There’s also some oak and almonds in the background.

Finish: Quite sour, again from the lemon which persists. There’s some caramel which introduces some sweetness. It’s a medium long finish which ends with some oak, drying the mouth.

Don’t expect a sherry monster from this. The influences are there, but subdued by mostly salt and lemon. It’s a good dram, this Caol Ila, I like it quite a bit. Unfortunatly there isn’t much evolution going on in the glass, which keeps it on the simpler side of things.

85/100

Aultmore 12 | 40% ABV | Bottled ±2007

Aultmore is a distillery that doesn’t bring too many single malts to the market, but is used mostly by blenders, particularly in Dewars. In late 2014 they launched a new, rebranded Aultmore range, with the 12yo having 46% ABV.

This is the previous version, I believe to be bottled around 2007. Let’s see what this Speysider has in store.

Color: Amber, there’s probably some colorant in here.

Nose: Light fruits, malt and hints of grass. With some time in the glass more cereal notes come out, accompanied by some lemon. It’s quite a soft and inviting nose, yet not too complex.

Palate: Soft arrival with vanilla and sweet honey.

Finish: Some peppers come out alongside the honey. It leaves a smooth mouthfeel.

80/100

Longrow Red 11y Shiraz | 53.7% ABV | Bottled 2013

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.

88/100

Port Charlotte Scottish Barley | 50% ABV | Bottled 2013

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.

80/100

Glendronach 18y Allardice | 46% ABV | Bottled 2015

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.

Color: Mahogany

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?

84/100

Laphroaig 21y Friends of Laphroaig | 48.4% ABV | Bottled 2015

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.

Color: Gold

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.

91/100

Finlaggan Cask Strength | 58% ABV | Bottled 2013

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.

81/100

Laphroaig PX Cask | 48% ABV | Bottled 2013

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.

81/100