Wednesday 28 December 2022

Malt Whisky Yearbook 2023 review

There are a huge (and growing) number of whisky books in the market, some of them good, some of them not so good. Personally though, there's only one annual book I always ensure I have in my collection on its release - Ingvar Ronde's Malt Whisky Yearbook, now in its 16th year with the recently-released 2023 Edition.

Since my first copy in 2008, I've found it to be the the quintessential source of whisky knowledge - easy to read, accurate, current, with a good mix of distillery profiles/histories and thought pieces written by some of the industry's best writers. This year's release for example includes articles like "The SWA - Rottweiler or St Barnard?", "The Complexities Of Whisky Sustainability" & "Lowlands on a High" (about the rejuvenation of this once-unloved region).

What makes Ronde's Malt Whisky Yearbook the one I always keep within easy reach however is the reference material. Whether it's distilleries, Independent Bottlers, whisky shops, "distilleries by owner", closed distilleries or distilleries by country, there's a huge amount of information laid out in an easy to find format. Did you know for example China has 4 active whisky distilleries? Can you list every single distillery under Diageo's ownership? Do you know the output capacity of Holyrood Distillery? All this sort of information is available within seconds - very handy for a whisky blogger, or anyone with more than a passing interest in whisky.

This year the book again includes "Websites to Watch" (page 73) - and again we're humbled to be listed alongside a number of fantastic sites.

At £15.95 (with shipping to Hong Kong only £3.95), Malt Whisky Yearbook continues to be excellent value, and in my opinion well worth picking up if you haven’t read it before, and a must-buy if you have! Available from


This copy of the Malt Whisky Yearbook was kindly provided by Ingvar Ronde, however the views above are entirely my own and would remain unchanged had I purchased the book myself.

Tuesday 27 December 2022

The Whisky Exchange Ben Nevis 1992-2020 23 Year Old Cask #1709 [Tasted #614]

Given my love of Ben Nevis (and how often I post / talk about them on Instagram), I really should post a few more tasting notes on this blog. So in an attempt to pad out the Nevis quota before the end of the year, here's a Whisky Exchange bottling kindly donated by a Hong Kong whisky mate, the talented Damoo from The Whisky Journey (IG / FB).

Distilled in 1996 (of course), this one was bottled from a single Hogshead in 2020 at 23yo & 52.1% ABV. The Whisky Exchange have a number of whisky ranges through their Elixir Distillers company, but I've always had good ones from this label, so it came high expectations...

Ben Nevis 1996 - 2020 Cask #1709 bottled by The Whisky Exchange (52.1% ABV, 23yo, One of 205 bottles, Highlands, no longer available)
Colour: Yellow straw

Nose: Lemon tart and butter menthols, followed by peach, pear and stewed apple.

Palate: Follows the nose, with an initial fruitiness, but more pear, heather, and a very slight grassy funk. I wouldn't call it tropical (though there is a little candied grapefruit) - more honey and stone fruits, but it's a wonderfully delicious dram.

Finish: Long, with heather, honey and orange slices.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100 (Martin). Up there with the better 1996s.


Thursday 1 December 2022

Indri Single Malt Indian Whisky - Trini [Tasted #613]

In the 3rd century BC - trade between India and other parts of the world was blooming. At that time, Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the ancient Indian Empire build a trade route that would connect Central Asia (all the way to Greece) to important trade centres in India. Many years later, the British Empire considerably rebuilt the road between 1833 and 1860 and aptly named this route the Grant Trunk Road or now also referred to as GT Road. 

Over the centuries, the GT road acted as one of the major trade routes in the region and the road is still very much used in the present-day Indian subcontinent for transportation. This route has been the gateway to the Indian sub-continent and has seen Traders, Merchants, Armies come and go, making it a prime region of cultural confluence. 

So what's this got to do with whisky you ask? Fast forward to 1995 and a distillery was built just off this iconic trade route. Piccadily, an Indian hospitality and entertainment group built a sugar mill and distillery off the GT road, in a small village known as Indri in the Haryana region. What would not be known at the time was that Indri would eventually feature on the global scale as one of India's award-winning whiskies. Since then, Piccadily has become the largest independent manufacturer and seller of malt spirits in India. 

The Haryana region is naturally abundant in water and it's also known as the 'Green Bowl of India.' Landlocked between mountain peaks that form part of the Himalayas range, the region, its surroundings and history would soon form part of the Indri single malt whisky story. 

The distillery in Indri, Haryana has six copper pot stills, three being wash stills and the other three being spirit stills. The production capacity is rated at around 4 million litres annually. The preparation of American imported oak barrels is also done on-site by the coopers at the distillery who would toast, char and repair the barrels on-site.

The development of the Indri single malt whisky has primarily been driven by Master Blender, Surrinder Kumar who has been developing malts from the distillery since 2004. The Indri Single Malt Whisky, in particular, has won numerous awards and also took gold at this year's International Spirits Challenge (ISC) overtaking the likes of Paul John and Rampur Whiskies. The former, I still love to this day; I fondly remember my first time, tasting the Paul John Oloroso when it first launched.

So what do I think of the Indri Single Malt Whisky, here are my thoughts.

Indri Single Malt Whisky - Trini; The Three Wood (46% ABV, NAS, Indri, Haryana, India, A$79.99 


While there is an inherent oakiness throughout, the layers of flavours on the nose and the palate make this a particularly interesting whisky. It is fruity, and light and can be had with or without a drop of water.

Nose: Summer fruits, loads of raspberries and blackberries, pineapple lollies and a dollop of creamy vanilla ice cream layered with a drizzle of honey.

Palate: Light, to begin with, the berry notes come through initially before a layer of gentle spice that follows. There is an undertone of oakiness that is carried throughout. The spices are mixed with citrus notes, orange zest, and some white pepper. 

Finish: The finish is medium and there are the tannin and the oak notes that remain along with some sour pineapple juice that lingers.

Rating: 91/100 (Hendy) 

Thanks to Madhu Kanna of Piccadily for sending us a bottle of Indri Single Malt Whisky to check out. 

Sunday 27 November 2022

Westward Dominio IV Pinot Noir, Tempranillo [Tasted #611 - #612]

Shape tasting? What is shape tasting? It's the term coined by Dominio IV's founder, Patric Reuter, to describe the pictorial representation of the aromas and flavours that unfold in time with his wines. 

Dominio IV wines, based in Mosier, Oregon is known for its syrah, tempranillo and pinot noir. Dominio IV winery is also where the method of "shape testing" was developed by Patrick Reuter. Visual presentation of tasting notes of the flavours and aromas can be seen on the labels of the Dominio IV Imagination Wine Series.

Inspired by both, the wines of Dominio IV and the visual representation of the profile of those wines - Miles Munroe, the Lead Distiller of Westward Distillery developed the Cascadia Creative Series. Dominio IV's innovative shape-tasting method was essential to the development of this new release with Patrick also painting the sensory experience from the whiskey to which his drawings are now featured on the Cascadia Creative Series boxes.

So what forms part of Westward's Cascadia Creative Series? The series will include Westward Whiskey Dominio IV Single Barrel Tempranillo Whiskey as well as a re-release of the Westward Whiskey Dominio IV Single Barrel Pinot Noir Whiskey. Both whiskies will have an ABV of 62.5% and the series has been developed exclusively for the Whisky Club.

We joined Miles Munroe for the launch of the Cascadia Creative Series here in Sydney where Miles talked through the long partnership that he's had with Dominio IV winery that culminated in the development of these expressions.

The last time Miles was down under was back in March 2019 and I got to sit down with him and spent some time getting to know him and his back story prior to joining Westward and what inspired him at Westward. Fast forward to 2022 and Miles has undoubtedly taken Westward to the next level, inspired by all the elements that make Westward what it is.

The Westward Whiskey Dominio IV Tempranillo Single Barrel at cask strength is made from scratch with Westward's original single malt. The distillation begins with a brew of an American Ale, using locally sourced two-row barley, ale yeast and a slow, low-temperature fermentation process. The whiskey is then distilled twice in custom low-reflux post stills before being matured in lightly charred American Oak barrels and finally, transferred at cask strength into an emptied Dominio IV Tempranillo French Oak Wine Casks. The whiskey is finished for an additional year before being bottled.

Head Distiller Miles Munroe noted, “The Dominio IV Tempranillo vineyard on the east of the Cascade Range produces incredibly robust grapes that match the fruit-forward flavours of Westward Whiskey. Because of this, we knew that finishing our Westward Whiskey at cask strength in their Tempranillo barrels would be the ideal flavour pairing and make for an extraordinary first expression to launch the Cascadia Creative Series in Australia."

So what's the Cascadia Creative Series like?

Westward Dominio IV Pinot Noir (62.5% ABV, NAS, Portland, Oregon, United States, A$195


The re-release of the Westward Whiskey Dominio IV Pinot Noir Single Barrel at cask strength comes after an incredible response to the initial release in Australia, which previously sold out through The Whisky Club in January 2021. Another exclusive release at cask-strength, this re-release expression sees the maturation of Westward's original single malt for 19 months in French Oak Pinot Noir Barrels from Dominio IV Wines.

Nose: Fruity, loads of strawberries, orange peels with some coconut shaving, mixed with raisins, some vanillin beans, green apples and a small remnant of nutmeg.

Palate: The palate is reminiscent of a Christmas panettone cake, with raisins and some candied orange. This sweetness is then followed by lots of spices, particularly cinnamon, nutmeg and some light chilli. 

Finish: The finish is long and elegant and transitions from the spice bomb to remnants of tannin, and nougat.

Rating: 92/100 (Hendy) 

Westward Dominio IV Tempranillo (62.5% ABV, NAS, Portland, Oregon, United States, A$195


The Westward Whiskey Dominio IV Tempranillo Single Barrel at cask strength sees the original Westward single malt being finished for 12 months in an emptied French Oak Dominio IV Tempranillo cask.

Nose:  The nose has layers of sticky date and sticky pudding. I can sense some crème de la crème and caramel. The sweetness is then followed with some earthy spices, clove, cinnamon, and perhaps a cinnamon donut. The nose is very dessert-like.

Palate: Those layers of sweetness ripple through the palate with notes of sticky date, burnt caramel, crème brûlée and maple-covered pancake. The spices that follow cut through the sweetness, with loads of clove and notes of cedar oak, 

Finish: The finish is dry, earthy and with some remnants of tobacco.

Rating: 92/100 (Hendy) 

I am quite impressed with both the expressions that make up the Cascadia Creative Series. Personally, I've been a fan of Westward's core single malt and seeing the culmination of the core single malt with the casks of various wine varietals has elevated the profile of their core single malt.

Thanks to Westward Whiskies and Agent 99 for having us as part of the Whisky Club preview event.


Monday 21 November 2022

Tasting the BlockBar x BenRiach 40 Year Old NFT Whisky [Tasted #610]

Hot on the heels of Hendy's recent "Brown Forman Whisky Showcase" post comes another Brown Forman single malt, although released in a very different manner...

I ran a poll on Instagram Stories back in January about NFT spirit sales, and unsurprisingly, there was a lot of distrust / disinterest. I'd write out my 2c on the matter here, but I think I covered it pretty well back then:

In summary, whilst there's a heap of BS NFT projects out there with little to no utility (and in my view, value, as the Crypto world is now realising), this isn't one of them...and the fact that so many well-established brands have partnered with BlockBar in such a short space of time (they just had their first birthday) says a lot.

One of those more recent brands is Benriach, who recently released their first NFT recently in the form of the Benriach 40yo Twin Set NFT, available in a limited "drop" of 10 sets only, exclusively via BlockBar.

A 1 of 10 release of a 40yo whisky is a pretty impressive thing to begin with, but not content to stop there, Benriach and BlockBar actually made this a set of two different 40yos. Both 40yo Benriach, but very different whiskies:
  •  "The Forty" - a peated Benriach matured in ex-Bourbon and ex-Port casks, bottled at 43.5%; and
  • "The Forty Octave Cask Matured" - a "classic Speyside" Benriach, matured in Octave casks and bottled at 51.5%
Benriach & BlockBar were kind enough to send me a sample of the former recently, so we could actually taste the liquid behind the NFT...

Benriach "The Forty" 40yo BlockBar NFT release (43.5% ABV, 40yo, One of 10 bottles, Speyside, ~6.78ETH / $8,000USD in a twinset)
Colour: Deep coffee copper

Nose: Old dunnage warehouse, dusty old school (desirable) old sherry casks, but with a vibrant fruitiness too - some blackcurrant, red apple and even some marzipan.

Palate: Follows the nose, with marzipan, then red apple. Theres oak, but it's balanced. I don't get any noticeable peat, but after 40 years (and presumably not an extreme level of PPM to begin with) that's to be expected. There's some humidor notes and coffee beans, a little walnut tannin towards the end, with some oolong tea and rich red berries.

Finish: Long, strong earl grey tea notes with residual oak tannins.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100 (Martin). A lovely dram.

Thanks to BlockBar, BenRiach / Brown Forman & GustoLuxe for the sample of "The Forty" Benriach, available via BlockBar now.


Monday 14 November 2022

Brown-Forman Whisky Showcase ft. GlenDronach 28yo (Batch 19) and Glenglassaugh 47yo [Tasted #608 - 609]

With an extensive portfolio of whiskies, how does one select a handful to showcase and highlight the different characters that may represent the portfolio.

That was the challenge taken on by Andy Tsai (Brown-Forman NSW/ACT Brand Ambassador), Grant Shearon (Brown-Forman Advocacy and Development Manager) and Stuart Reeves (Brown Forman Brand Manager) at the recent Brown Forman showcase event. 

The brief was simple, select 3 Benriach whiskies and 3 GlenDronach whiskies out of the extensive Benriach and GlenDronach portfolio to highlight the best of the rest. If that wasn't enough, the team also brought out a Glenglassaugh 47yo to accompany the set of Benriach and GlenDronach whiskies.

So what got selected and presented? These were the six whiskies that were featured:

  • Benriach Malting Season Batch 2
  • Benriach The Twelve
  • Benriach The Twenty One
  • GlenDronach 15yo "The Revival"
  • GlenDronach 18yo "The Allardice"
  • GlenDronach 28yo Batch 19 - Cask #6871

The Benriach Malting Season Batch 2 was the first one we first tasted. The Malting Season expression is the first expression to be produced entirely using barley malted from Benriach's Speyside distillery's historic floor maltings. The first edition of Benriach Malting Season is two-cask matured in bourbon and virgin oak barrels to bring out the wholesome, creamy flavour. There are notes of barley sugar, almond fudge and poached apple with smooth flavours of vanilla and honeyed pear, with nuttiness on the finish.

My favourite Benriach from the core series, the Benriach The Twelve was our second malt. The Twelve is a rich and smooth expression of Benriach Single Malt. Matured in a sherry-rich profile and combined with the addition of bourbon and port casks. Everything from rich honey, chocolate, baked black forest and some lingering oak spice. There is some citrus, sultana and spices on the finish. Very delicious.

The Benriach The Twenty One was the third expression we tasted. The unique aspect of the Twenty One is that this expression is known for its long maturation and the use of the four-cask maturation process. According to Dr Rachel Barrie, it is somewhat of a delicate process that requires patience and also combines unpeated and peated styles. The characters of aged bourbon, sherry, virgin oak and red wine casks are combined into this expression. It is very elegant. There is subtle inland peat, and some smoked bacon, together with honey, glazed cherry, baked orange, hazelnut and elegant spices.

The GlenDronach 15yo Revival Whisky has been refreshed recently and it is matured in PX and Oloroso sherry casks from Andalucía. The GlenDronach Revival has been a core feature of the GlenDronach series and there are notes of dark fruits, raisins, rich chocolate and manuka honey. It's almost like drinking Christmas in a glass. Delicious and by far remains my favourite GlenDronach go-to expression.

The 18yo brethren of the Revival is The GlenDronach 18yo Allardice. Matured in fine Oloroso sherry casks from Andalucía, Spain, the 18yo is similarly rich sherried Highland malt whisky with notes of dark treacle, allspice and walnut carrying and with a long, lingering finish. Many consider this expression as the ultimate sherry bomb.

The GlenDronach Cask Bottling Batch 19 - Cask #6871 (53% ABV, 28yo, Highlands, Scotland, A$1,100


If the Revival is considered Christmas in a glass, this GlenDronach cask series would be the main event. 

Nose: A whiff of raisins followed by some Christmas pudding alongside caramel tarts with some milk chocolate shavings. There are also notes of creme brulee and treacle syrup

Palate: Salted caramel with particular saltiness that comes through. The palate is viscous, layered with milk chocolate, and raisins before transitioning to spices; nutmeg, cinnamon and ground coffee

Finish: medium lingering with spices, in particular cinnamon

Rating: 93/100 (Hendy) 

Glenglassaugh 1972 vintage 47yo, cask #3802 (44.4% ABV, 47yo, Speyside, Scotland, A$7,750


The Glenglassaugh cask #3802 is a PX cask. Filled to cask in 1972 and bottled at 47yo, this Glenglassaugh 47yo is non-chill filtered and matured in coastal warehouses on the shores of Sandend Bay, it has notes of passionfruit and buttercream, kissed by the sea.

Nose: The passionfruit is prominent, with lots of passionfruit lollies, tropical fruits, some raisins, blackberries,  and vanilla. It's like a fruit salad mixed with berries. 

Palate: The passionfruit continues to dominate the palate followed by citrus notes before settling into sweet berries. The tannin is quite prominent before a spiced finish, white pepper. 

Finish: The finish is dry and there is a lingering oak note. 

Rating: 92/100 (Hendy)

The Brown Forman showcase event was a remarkable walkthrough of what Brown Forman has to offer. Everything from your classic Benriach Twelve to those bottlings from GlenDronach that would appease those around the Christmas table with its prominent rich, Christmas notes.

Thanks to Adrian of 'different' and Stuart Reeves from Brown Forman for extending the Brown Forman showcase event to us.


Sunday 30 October 2022

Dead Reckoning Rum: Independently bottled rum from around the World [Tasted #605 - 607]

We don't feature a lot of malternatives on the blog, but when we do, we prefer them to follow the same types of whiskies we typically like to drink - i.e. cask or higher strength, single cask, and/or independently bottled. So when Justin Boseley of Dead Reckoning Rum (IG) reached out recently, it only took a quick Google to learn this was the sort of malternative that ticks the TimeforWhisky boxes...

Justin runs La Rumbla Imports, a premium spirit store based in South Australia focusing on (you guessed it) rum, but also runs his own independent rum brand Dead Reckoning Rum, described as "An Australian Independent label specialising in master-mixed rum blends, single casks and some rare, forgotten ‘barn-finds’ of the Rum world".

Justin was kind enough to send through three samples of recent and upcoming releases, specifically:
  • Dead Reckoning Rum Mutiny - South Pacific Cask Strength 21 Year Old (65%)
  • Dead Reckoning Rum South Pacific Muscat Cask 10 Year Old (47%); and
  • Dead Reckoning Rum Mhoba - South Africa 2 Years 5 Months Old ex-Red Wine Cask (56%)

Being a relative newbie to rum, I hadn't heard of South Pacific Distillery, but a little Googling led me to learn it's from Fiji, owned by Coca-Cola, and has been bottled by other independent bottlers (Samaroli, Kill Devil etc..) previously. Whilst the distillery does release some of own bottlings at the younger end of the spectrum, it seems they didn't quite know what to do with some of the older stock they had on-hand, which is how Justin came to bottle the 21 Year Old featured here (due for release in November in Australia, $200AUD RRP).

Dead Reckoning Rum Mutiny - South Pacific Cask Strength 21 Year Old (65% ABV, 21yo, 100% tropical aged, 85-90% angels' share, 285 bottles, Fiji, $200AUD)
Colour: Deep burnished copper.

Nose: Grass-laden earthiness, stewed pears and peaches, along with banana & singed straw, funky, intriguing and inviting.

Palate: Big, mouth-filling Esthers give way to blackberry and blackcurrant notes, intense blackcurrant jubes, 85%+ dark chocolate and coffee beans then some black jelly babies. It’s big, very big, but not at all harsh. LOTS of flavour.

Finish: Long, dark chocolate coated coffee beans.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100 (Martin). At 65% this could've just been an overly hot mess, but it's not at all. It's complex, full of flavour, big, and delicious.

Dead Reckoning Rum South Pacific Muscat Cask 10 Year Old (47% ABV, 10yo, 100% tropical aged, 50% angels' share, 1,240 bottles, Fiji)
Colour: Copper gold.

Nose: Esthers, grass, and a sweet fruitiness.

Palate: I get toffee at first, followed up by Sultanas and 70% Lindt Chocolate. These are big flavours, but they're refined, and at 47%, eminently drinkable.

Finish: Long, with slight oak tannins and coffee grounds.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 89/100 (Martin). I like this.

Dead Reckoning Rum Mhoba - South Africa 2 Years 5 Months Old ex-Red Wine Cask (56% ABV, 2yrs 5mths old, 21% angels' share, 377 bottles, South Africa, $170AUD)
Colour: Burnished copper-gold

Nose: Wow, instantly I just get huge amounts of blackcurrant juice, followed by some apple juice. It's intense, it's huge, it's obviously young, but it's packed full of flavour.

Palate: Big esthers, alongside fresh apple juice and juicy blackcurrants. I left the sample bottle half-full for ~2 weeks and after that oxidation, noticed some chocolate milk and caramel chews.

Finish: On the shorter side, with more blackcurrent and grape, hints of chocolate before ending in slight hints of drying oak.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 86/100 (Martin). Super unique, youthful and not overly complex, but definitely a well-made rum - tasty and in no way "harsh".

Thanks to Justin of Dead Reckoning Rum for providing these samples - definitely a brand I'll be keeping my eye on in the future.


Friday 28 October 2022

G&M Private Collection Lochside 1981, St Magdalene 1982 & Glen Mhor 1982 (The Recollection Series) [Tasted #602 - 604]

The 10th anniversary celebrations may be over, but the epic whisky posts certainly aren't. Continuing the "closed distillery" theme of a few of our recent posts are three new releases from Gordon & MacPhail, as part of their new series "The Recollection - Lost works of Art from Scotland's Liquid History".

"The Recollection", a series of "rare single malts to revive and celebrate the character of now closed distilleries" is interesting in that it will span both Private Collection and Connoisseurs Choice ranges, presumably introducing bottles at a range of prices.

G&M were kind enough to send me three samples of "The Recollection" Private Collection releases recently, as a taste of things to come:
(The series has also seen bottlings from Pittyvaich, Inverleven, Convalmore, Imperial & Banff released recently too.)

Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Lochside 1981 40yo (49.2% ABV, 40yo, Cask #802, One of 141 bottles, Highland, £3199.99/ $4999 USD)
Initially a brewery, Lochside becan distillation with a Coffey still, followed by four pot stills in 1961. The distillery ran until the early 1990s, was demolished in 2005, and has a distillery character described as "a Highland whisky of medium body and fruit", complementing long-term Sherry maturation. This one in particular was matured in a refill Sherry hogshead.

Colour: Rich dark orange gold

Nose: Whole oranges, grapefruit, with a slightly minty undertone. Wine gums at first, with tropical fruits (subtle mango, coconut) emerging over time.

Palate: Grapefruit and passionfruit, some oak, orange zest and hints of dunnage warehouse and those lovely old sherry casks of years gone by. There's a slight nuttiness and a little of the mint from the nose too.

Finish: Slightly drying and herbal (herbal tea), with just a hint of tannin at the very end.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100 (Martin). Properly delicious, well-made and expertly-matured whisky.

Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection St Magdalene 1982 39yo (54.8% ABV, 39yo, Cask #2094, One of 165 bottles, Lowland, £2249.99 / $3499 USD)
St Magdalene (often called "Linlithgow") was built in the mid-18th century, and operated through to 1983 when it was closed. The distillery has since been renovated into residential flats, though the malting barn and kiln remain. The whisky offers a "light style of spirit with citrus and herbal influences". In this case, maturation was in a refill American hogshead.

Colour: Golden sunset

Nose: Herbal and spiced at first. After some time, milk chocolate emerges, along with lemon zest, white pepper (just a little), and some lime and grapefruit notes.

Palate: Apricot and peach, floral notes, milk chocolate, passionfruit, oak, vanilla ice cream drizzled with honey, and sweet milk tea.

Finish: Long, chocolate-coated pineapple alongside toasted oak.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100 (Martin). I don't generally reach for Lowland whiskies, but this one is lovely.

Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Glen Mhor 1982 40yo (50.8% ABV, 40yo, Cask #72, One of 174 bottles, Highland, £2249.99 / $3499 USD)
Built in 1892 & demolished in 1986, the whiskies of Glen Mhor are said to have a well-rounded spirit style which works well with G&M's bespoke Sherry casks (in this case, a refill sherry hoghsead).

Colour: Copper-gold.

Nose: Dark chocolate nuttiness. It's sherried, but the sherry's not in your face. There's also some nutella, herbal tea and maraschino cherries.

Palate: The chocolate from the nose carries through, as does the nuttiness. Then there are some stone fruits, oat cakes, dried tobacco leaves, varnish and manuka honey. A delicious variety.

Finish: Long, with earth-laden chocolate notes.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100 (Martin). Another delight.

All bottles will be available worldwide through usual G&M channels. Thanks to G&M and WSW for the samples.


Tuesday 25 October 2022

Tasted #601: Bushmills 2012 Burgundy Cask

One less commonly known thing is that whiskey distilling started in Ireland. Another fact is that the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery was granted a license to distill in 1608, making it one of the oldest distilleries in the world and certainly in Bushmills, Ireland. Though the town's first distillery didn't appear until 1784, there had been an improvement over the next century.

Triple pot distillation though did not start until the 1930s, following the appointment of Scotsman Jimmy Morrison as a manager to improve the make. Jimmy's triple type of pot still [distillation] was not in use anywhere else. He had come to Bushmills from Mortlach, which may raise the question of similarities? Between the 1930s and the 1970s, the distillery only produced peated whiskey. Fast forward to today, Bushmills makes light, grassy, triple-distilled malt and its original blends. 

So what do you get when you combine the triple distilled malt from one of the oldest distilleries with an approach that sees the use of historically significant casks to finish the malt? How about a rather pleasant and delicious triple-distilled whiskey. This was such when we tasted the Bushmills Burgundy Cask; a release that forms part of a special series created exclusively for The Whisky Club.

Bushmills have produced a three-part exclusive series for the Whisky Club, with the first series, released in 2020 being a 2006 vintage Marsala Cask aka Italian Sherry. The second series followed a 2011 vintage Banyuls Cask, a French Port matured Bushmills.

The Bushmills Burgundy Cask is the third and final release in the Bushmills Causeway Collection 2012. What's unique is that the Burgundy casks have been sourced from Domaine des Hospices, a winery dating back to the 1400s. The Burgundy Cask will also be the first release with Bushmill's new Master Blender Alex Thomas. She has described the release as "one of the best whiskeys that Bushmills have produced to date"

Distilled in 2012, the spirit was first laid down in Bushmills’ trademark Oloroso Sherry and Bourbon casks before being further matured for three-and-a-half-year in Burgundy red wine casks. Bottled this year, this non-chill filtered and non-coloured release has been bottled at cask strength; 51.8% ABV.

The Bushmills 2012 Burgundy Cask - The Causeway Collection (51.8% ABV, 10yo, Antrim, Ireland, A$135 (via The Whisky Club) 


Nose: The nose is fresh, sweet, and vanilla-laden. There are dried fruits mixed with strawberry jam and some custard apples. 

Palate: The palate builds on the sweetness from the nose with red velvet cake followed by a vanilla and strawberry jam sponge cake. The palate is rich and slowly evolves into notes of spiced toffee apple cake and sticky date pudding

Finish: The finish is long and smooth with spices and tannin remaining for a while longer

Rating: 93/100 (Hendy)

Thanks to Eilis Grainger of Mango Communications and The Whisky Club for providing us with a sample of this Bushmills Burgundy Cask release.


Saturday 22 October 2022

Tasted #600: Springbank 50yo 1919 (TimeforWhisky 10 Year Anniversary Dram)

Well here we are...10 years to the day since's very first post! Over 630 articles, 600 Tasting notes, and more amazing experiences than I ever thought possible....and still going strong!

Coinciding with this momentous occasion, Tasted Post #600 had to be something special (after all, the past 100's included a 65yo Lalique Macallan50yo OB Balvenie & 60yo Glenfarclas). Any of the previous 9 "10th Anniversary" whiskies would have been sufficient...but hey, milestones like this don't come along all that often - this whisky had to be something really special.

...and to that end, I present the Springbank 50 Year Old 1919. Filled into cask on 29th Dec 1919 (just 13 months after the end of WW1), and bottled on 25th Nov 1970, this whisky slumbered away in oak throughout the entire World War II, the moon landing, the Vietnam War, the first nuclear explosion...I could go on.

It's pretty incredible to try any 50 Year Old whisky, but to think this was distilled almost 100 years before I tried it....astounding.

As with several of the "10th Anniversary" whiskies over the past 10 days, this whisky was tasted thanks to the generosity of a fellow whisky lover (@whisky_is_better_aged again), at Hong Kong's WhiskyNow 2019. I'd just tried a different Springbank 50 Year Old (Millennium Collection, pictured below) when @whisky_is_better_aged mentioned he had something special under the table, and gestured for my glass.

When this 1919 Springbank was pulled out, I realised "something special" was an a bit of an understatement...

The bottle itself doesn't mention the year of distillation, but Emmanuel Dron's excellent "Collecting Scotch Whisky" tome has the accompanying letters which came with the bottle in 1970, detailing the key dates and figures. Of particular note is this whisky was bottled at 66.3 proof, or roughly 37.8% ABV - i.e. by today's standards, it couldn't legally be called Scotch whisky!

A distillery re-bottling of this sold for an incredible £183,500 less than a year ago, and though this original "Pear Shaped" Springbank 50 Year Old hasn't quite achieved such lofty prices, it's certainly incredible rare and valuable.

Springbank 50 Year Old 1919 Pear Shaped Bottle (66.3 proof (~37.8% ABV), 50yo, Campbeltown, Scotland)
Colour: Dull orange-gold.

Nose: Ok, well this is unlike any whisky I've nosed before. There's a dustiness, some earth-laden smoke, a herbal oiliness and some Vicks lozenges. It's...a spirit. I wouldn't immediately necessarily say whisky. It's complex, and lovely to nose, it's just...very unusual!

Dusty lemon tart with a freshly baked crust is my initial impression, followed by drying oak with a slight oiliness. Black jelly babies, a certain "barnyardiness" and camfourwood follow, before the dusty, earthy smoke of the nose re-appears. A mixed bag of flavours!

Short to medium in length, with overripe lemons, residual oak and a lingering forrest floor earthiness.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100. Subtle, understated, yet equally complex and baffling. On the whole though, an enjoyable whisky and an immensely satisfying experience.

Not the 1919...but another Springbank 50 Year Old (Millennium Collection) tasted on the same day.
(Yes, it was a good day...)

Well there we have it, 600 Tasting notes and 10 years. Hendy and I look forward to bringing you the next decade of eventstasting Notes and whisky news...and who knows maybe one day we'll even update this ancient website!

Thanks for reading / following - it really means a lot.


Friday 21 October 2022

Tasted #599: Highland Park 50 Year Old (2020 Release) (TimeforWhisky 10 Year Anniversary Dram)

Just over a year ago, I wrote about the HK launch of the Highland Park 50 and 18yo Single Cask Edition 4. Unfortunately, unlike the days of old, launch events for rare old bottles these days don't tend to feature tastings of the whisky being launched, so the 50 Year Old wasn't available for tasting.

Fast forward a few weeks though, and good mate Kam of Dram Good Stuff held one of his trademark epic dinners, where a small group open a crazy bottle (this time, the Highland Park 50) and everyone gets a generous share over a fantastic meal. Whilst I wasn't at the event, Kam was kind enough to share a taste of what was left afterwards.

I've been sitting on these tasting notes for a while, waiting for the right occasion to post them. This whisky very nearly became Tasted post #600...but I decided on something even more insane for that (as for what, you'll have to wait until tomorrow)!

This Highland Park 50 Year Old is actually the 3rd release. The first, released in 2010 in a Sterling Silver-wrapped bottle was followed by a second, released in 2018, with a silver design from design firm Discommon, and finally this third release in 2020, following the same design as the 2018 but in gold colour. Edit: Turns out there's since been a fourth release, rose gold-coloured with only 139 bottles released in 2021.

One thing I find really cool about this release is it utilises a bit of a solera system - whereby the whisky (9 refill casks laid down in 1968, then re-racked into a first-fill sherry cask in 2008) was married with some of the 2018 release.

Only 274 bottles were released (at $208,000HKD), so I count myself very fortunate to have tried it...but we all know whisky at this age can be amazing, or it can be "past its best". So which was this? Read on...

Highland Park 50 Year Old (2020 Release) (43.8% ABV, 50yo, 1 of 274 bottles, Orkney, Scotland, $208,000HKD, £22,500)

Colour: Dirty, dark copper.

Nose: Initially, you get that "old whisky" note that often only comes from well-aged whiskies - dunnage warehouse, old leather-bound books, and a hint of earthiness. Thing is, this is simultaneously showing strong, clean sherry notes, with some cola, flamed orange, herbs and fresh cigars. A 10/10 nose - stunning. So far so good!

Palate: Rich and fruity at first (cherries, stone fruit, orange peel) with an oddly satisfying velvety mouthfeel. There's an earthiness, some mustiness (in a good way - think dunnage warehouse again) but no noticeable oak tannins! Certainly no dominating oak anyway. There's a herbal element, some caramel, cola chews and finally sweet oranges.

Long, wit notes of sweet herbal lozenges and some residual oak notes at the very end.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 95/100. Hugely complex, hugely delicious. Whiskies like these may not be cheap, but (considering not every whisky of this age is actually good), it's always satisfying when a whisky this old is this good.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Tasted Post #600...and our actual 10th Anniversary!


A very big thanks (again!) to Kam Daswani of Dram Good Stuff for his generosity sharing this Highland Park.

Thursday 20 October 2022

Tasted #598: 1980 Port Ellen "Prima & Ultima III" 41yo (TimeforWhisky 10 Year Anniversary Dram)

We kicked off our 10th Anniversary tasting celebrations with a 40 Year old Brora from the Prima & Ultima collection (#2), so it felt fitting to (almost) bookend it with an even older Port Ellen, also from the Prima & Ultima collection - #3 this time.

Distilled in 1980 and bottled in July 2021 from two casks (refill American Oak hoggy, ex-Sherry European butt), this bottling joins the rarified ranks of the 40+ year old Port Ellen club - a club with few members and even fewer open bottles. 

1980 Port Ellen "Prima & Ultima III" 41 Year Old (59.6% ABV, 41yo, 1 of 605 bottles, Islay, Scotland, $15,200SGD)

Colour: Golden sunset.

Nose: Oak, lemon zest...if I didn't know better, I'd guess this could be a Caol Ila in its late teens or early 20s. Lemon pie with a freshly-baked crust. With a few drops of water, there's a lot of peppery peat.

Palate: Dusty lemon, salted, then lemon tart, BBQ'd pineapple rings, brine, salted plum, salted lime, then some hints of seaweed. There's a noticeable smokiness - more BBQ than medicinal or coastal, but the saltiness cuts through. 

Finish: Long, salted lemon with some subtle residual peat smoke.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100. A very enjoyable dram, with no signs of over-aging and no "off" notes. If you'd told me it was a 20-something year old Caol Ila (and priced accordingly), I'd believe you and be impressed....but at this sort of level ($15k SGD) I think I expected just a little bit more. 

A very big thanks (again) to Kam Daswani of Dram Good Stuff for his generosity sharing all three Prima & Ultima collections to date.


Wednesday 19 October 2022

Tasted #597: Caol Ila Manager's Dram Aged 15 Years (TimeforWhisky 10 Year Anniversary Dram)

Number 7 in our 10th Anniversary line-up comes again from Islay, in the form of the legendary Caol Ila "The Manager's Dram" Aged 15 Years. Bottled in 1990 and never officially sold, this release was given to friends and family of the Distillery, but if you want one today, you may need to fork out around £8,500...

Yesterday I spoke about the Bowmore Aston Martin DB5 1964 Black Bowmore, and how I'd tried the original release 5 years earlier at a Japanese bar (Rogin's Tavern). What I didn't mention was that there was one single whisky at the bar more expensive than the Black Bowmore, by quite a margin. It was this Caol Ila Manager's Dram. I didn't taste it, and had wanted to ever since.

About a year ago I posted the above photo on Instagram asking "Name a legendary dram you haven’t yet tried, but really want to?". It was done purely to spark some conversation, but then about 6 months later at a tasting with friends, a small sample was slipped to me by a very generous friend, with the label reading "Caol Ila Manager's Dram". 

Mind. Blown. Finally, I was going to get to experience the whisky many refer to as the most sublime expression of sherry and peat ever bottled....

Caol Ila "The Manager's Dram" Aged 15 Years (63% ABV, 15yo, Islay, Scotland, £8,500)
Colour: Intense coffee copper.

Nose: Huge, fruity sherry, followed immediately by smoky ham, salted plums, old leather, humdor. The notes just keep coming - it's hugely expressive, especially considering the 63% ABV. The salted plums become bonfire-smoked, with a side of salted chocolate, and some bacon.

Palate: Big, zesty sherry. Clean, but old school if that makes sense? Slightly dusty, but in no way sulphured. These are the casks you dream of!  Chocolate orange, leather, furniture polish, salted plums again, orange spices, oak, and salted nuts. With water, some maple bacon and a little more salinity.

Finish: Long oak tannins, BBQ meat brushed with a cherry glaze. It just goes on and on..with bacon through to the very end (with water, it's more of a smoked duck note).

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale):  94/100. Worthy of the hype? Dare I say it...yes.