Category Archives: Whisky Reviews

Bruichladdich 2003 11 Year Old Crofter’s Cask Review

Islay is a small island with a population count hovering around 3,300 people. Many of them are working in the whisky and tourism industry and so it’s logical that some of them rose to fame and can even be celebrities for whisky lovers. But not all Islay celebrities are human, as some would argue that Crofter, a dog owned by Steve Bavin, now of Islay Ales and formerly of Bruichladdich distillery, can also be considered as a local celebrity, especially during the yearly Feis pilgrimage.

Crofter, a dog who entertains his owner Steve and other Islay visitors over the years is featured on a private bottling done by Steve, both in title and label, and I’m sure Crofter contributed a lot to the success of this 11 year old Bruichladdich by sniffing out the right cask. Or maybe it’s just because Steve worked there and knew which cask to select?

Bruichladdich 2003 11 Year Old Crofter’s Cask (61.1%)

Nose: Very clean, lots of minerals, melon and honey, dusty when sniffed neat,  very little peat and smoke, salt. Continue reading

Highland Park Hobbister (Keystone Series) Review

It’s pretty rare that I post two reviews in a single day, and I don’t think I ever did that on a Sunday where for half a world it’s a weekend day. But I couldn’t help myself today’s as it’s the 50th birthday of Martin Markvardsen, the Highland Park Senior Brand Ambassador and hands down the best social networks communicative brand ambassador I have ever crossed paths with. So in honor of Martin’s birthday, here’s a review of a tasty and special HP whisky, The Highland Park Hobbister.

Here’s what Highland Park has to say on Hobbister:

Highland Park Hobbister is the first release in the Keystone Series – a collection of special bottlings that highlight our five Keystones of production which combine to make Highland Park stand apart from other Single Malts.

Hobbister takes its name from our peat moor. Lying seven short miles from our distillery, the exposed and barren moor offers little cover from the ferocious winds that frequently batter the island. This environment creates a unique aromatic peat consisting of decaying heather and plants rather than the trees that characterise the peat used by other distilleries.

Highland Park Hobbister (51.4%, 1200 bottles, £75)

Photo credit: whisky-onlineauctions.com

Continue reading

Hazelburn 13 Year Old Oloroso Cask Review

After a few years that Springbank Distillery was quiet on their Hazelburn (Springbank unpeated triple distillation) front, in the last year we’ve been treated with two special/limited editions of Hazelburn in different casks. First came the Hazelburn 9 Year Old that was finished for a few years in Barolo wine casks, which was real good whisky. And now we have a 13 Year Old Hazelburn that was aged in a mix of first fill and refill Oloroso casks. Now, first fill Oloroso casks can be very dominating and with the delicate nature of Hazelburn spirit and with extra four years (over the Barolo expression), it was interesting to see if Springbank has managed to get the balance right here and how much of the Hazelburn nature has been preserved here.

Hazelburn 2003 13 Year Old Oloroso Cask (47.1%, £59.99/€67.99)

Nose: My first taste of the Hazelburn was after tasting the Kilkerran 8 (review to follow later this week) and it felt too mellow and watery, but the second time around was much better, tasting it at the beginning of the evening. Sweet Oloroso sherry impact, raisins, dried fruit, milk chocolate and cocoa, then a generous dash of Campbeltown funk (unpeated or not you can’t avoid it) with petrol, car exhaust fumes and farm greenery. After it breathed in the glass, there were extra berries and it becomes more sherried and less Campbeltown-y. Overall it felt a tad thin behind the sherry (‘thanks’ to the Hazelburn triple distillate). Continue reading

Highland Park 2003 13 Year Old Single Cask #2115 HPAS (Highland Park Appreciation Society) Review

Highland Park has embarked on a new series since October last year. 14 (and counting) single casks were released in the new Single Cask Series (so far), and all of them were directed into very specific markets: shops and airport exclusives and one cask was even bottled for the biggest Highland Park Facebook fan group called Highland Park Appreciation Society (or HPAS as it’s widely known among its members).

I was looking into acquiring a bottle when it got released but getting one was deemed too complicated with no direct shipping route from the shop to me. Thankfully, some HPAS members were sharing their bottles so I managed to get a sample (thanks Peter!).

All those single casks carry age statement of 12 to 14 year old, with prices hovering around 150 (for most of them) and the HPAS single cask is a 13 year old with 576 bottles released from the sherry butt to the faithful members of HPAS, although you can find some bottles on auction sites.

Highland Park 2003 13 Year Old Single Cask #2115 HPAS (59.1%)

Nose: Big dirty sherry HP bomb. Let’s see…there’s  peat, gentle smoke, floral & heather flowers, a big sulphur impact with TONS of struck matches and a bit of rubber. dust and a bowl of sweet/sour dried and fresh red berries. Continue reading

Douglas Laing Scallywag 13 Year Old Review

Douglas Laing, the Independent bottlers, has been building upon their regional malts brand success in the last year. First there were the 5 regional malts, Big Peat, Scallywag, Timorous Beastie, Rock Oyster and The Epicurean along with three Cask Strength variants: Big Peat X-mas, Scallywag CS and Rock Oyster CS. But in the last year, we’ve seen a wave of limited editions with age statements. It started with Timorous Beastie 21 & 40 (note to self: post the review already!) and then came Scallywag 13 Year Old which is the subject of today’s review. There is also a duo of 18 Year Old that were now released, Timorous Beastie 18 (Yes, another one in the series) and Rock Oyster 18 which I hope to review in the not too far future.

The Scallywag theme is Sherried Speyside, based on Glenrothes, Macallan and Mortlach. I liked the basic Scallywag and the Cask Strength edition, so will the 13 yo stay true to the tradition?

Douglas Laing Scallywag 13 Year Old (46%, £53.95/€69,99)

Nose: Velvety sweet lightly dried fruit, sultanas, strong vanilla and a malt porridge so must be some American oak in there. Slowly a rich and deep milk chocolate note shows up coupled with nutmeg and a dash of cinnamon.  Continue reading

Ardbeg 1991 25 Year Old ‘Shieldmaiden Malin’ (The Duchess) Review

Today’s the Last day of Feis Ile 2017 and it’s Ardbeg day, also celebrated in Ardbeg embassies all around in the world. I’ve already reviewed the committee edition of this year Festival bottling, the Kelpie, so let’s go and close it out with a bang, reviewing an indie Ardbeg – a 1991 25 year old Ardbeg, bottled by my friend Nils an Rijn, who’s behind the  Dutch shop Best of Wines under the The Duchess brand.

A bit of history: Ardbeg were closed since early 1981 until 1989 and then was working a mere two months a year, operated by Laphroaig personnel until the last closure at 1996. That means it’s quite rare to see a bottling from this period as we’re used to post 96 or 70s bottles.

Ardbeg 1991 25 Year Old ‘Shieldmaiden Malin’ (The Duchess) (49.8%, €794,99)

Nose: Farmy with hay, minerals, sherry vinegar almost balsamic, old earthy wet peat, dried red fruit develops slowly, green tobacco leaves and cigar leaves, smoked fishes, soot and white pepper. Very smooth

Palate: Tar, peat, Lapsang Souchong tea, white pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon, earthy peat is crispier here (comparing to the nose) and is well defined, salt and a touch of farm greenery.

Finish: Medium length, lingering wet peat, pepper and Lapsang Souchong tea, salty and mineraly.

Thoughts: Oh what a big start to The Duchess line up! Not a big peat monster after all those years and the saltiness and greenery makes it a tad different (and still good) Ardbeg. It’s an expensive whisky, yeah I know. This is what old and rare stuff costs nowadays (although my main gripe is with the lesser stuff that costs a leg and an arm.

(Official sample provided by The Best of Wines)

Bunnahabhain 1990 23 Year Old (Archives The Fishes of Samoa) Review

We’re approaching the end of Feis Ile 2017. Only two more distilleries left: Bunnahabhain today and Ardbeg tomorrow. Here’s your Bunnahabhain fix for today: a 23 year old sherried bunna from the Whiskybase.com Archives series. A sherry butt #52 that was distilled on 12/1990, bottled 02/2014 yielding only 201 bottles (might be a cask share).

Bunnahabhain 1990 23 Year Old (Archives The Fishes of Samoa) (47.9%)

Nose: Dried fruit and despite the low ABV it’s quite intense and punchy at first. Lots of raisins too, feeling a bit lighter due to some fresh red fruit and berries puree/mash, some vanilla and honey. Slowly some chocolate, nutmeg and cinnamon shows up. Continue reading