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 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

Duo of Kilchoman Single Casks Caroni Rum Cask Finish (4 Year Old & 5 Year Old) for LMDW Review

Kilchoman (and Jura) day at Feis Ile 2017 so it’s logical to post 2 posts, one for Kilchoman and one for Jura. However, I’m short of time today so instead I’ve opted to go for a single post on Kilchoman whisky. But we’ll still get two reviews as the post will cover a duo of young Kilchomans, both finished in Caroni Rum Casks, bottled exclusively for LMDW 60th anniversary.

What’s so special about those bottles? Glad you’re asking. First of all, Caroni distillery isn’t your ‘average’ rum. It’s sitting in the opposite direction of Zacapa, Applelton and all those sugary rums. It’s like Islay peated whisky to the gentle speyside whisky.

Or maybe should we say it’s like Port Ellen? because the second special thing here is that Caroni distillery was closed down in the early 2000s. So kudos to Kilchoman for sourcing casks of that closed distillery (and I hope we’ll see more whiskies in Caroni Rum casks).

It’s also interesting to see the arbitrary age rule in action here. The difference between the casks is merely 3 months: the younger one filled into casks on 01.12.2011 and the older one filled exactly 3 months earlier on 01.09.2011 and crossing the 5 year old line by mere 5 days when both casks were bottled on the same day of 05.09.2016.

Kilchoman 2011 4 Year Old Caroni Rum Cask Finish (59.5%, Cask #531)

Nose: Rich and intense, very sweet at first with gentle yet crisp Kilchoman peat and a bit of tar behind the sweetness, ripe banana, a gentle Caroni dirtiness with a touch of petrol and crushed black olives. After it breaths, there’s more peat, coconut, maltiness and perfumed honey. Continue reading

Wemyss Bowmore 1987-2014 ‘Sweet Peat Posy’ Review

Another day, another distillery open day and today belongs to Bowmore distillery, the officially oldest active distillery on Islay (although some would disagree).

This is a 1987 vintage Bowmore that was bottled back in 2014 that I had the pleasure of tasting it at Whisky Live Tel-Aviv last year.

Wemyss Bowmore 1987-2014 ‘Sweet Peat Posy’ (46%, 231 bottles)

Nose: Malt, sweet lemonade, then the sweet peat comes through although it’s very lightly smoked, sweet heavy floral notes. After a while some milk chocolate and sea breeze. Very sweet one and very very floral, mind you it’s not FWP but floral.

Palate: Sweet peat, mellow malt and then big-time notes of flowers, hay and grass, tobacco, white pepper, oak wood spices and milk chocolate.

Finish: Long finish with sweet and floral themes. massive floral note on the front, sweet peat and delicate floral smoke follows through.

Thoughts: The flowers are strong with this one. It’s not for everyone nor the casual Bowmore/Islay peated whisky. Nevertheless, it’s a good whisky

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016 Madeira Cask Review

It’s my favorite Islay distillery day at Feis Ile – Laphroaig distillery. Despite some recent disappointing (or even bad) releases from Laphroaig, there are still some good official releases. Let’s go back one year and review one of them, the 2016 Cairdeas that was matured in bourbon barrels and then finished in Madeira casks.

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016 Madeira Cask (51.6%, $79.99)

Nose: At my first tasting of this whisky I thought it wasn’t quite well with disharmony between the peat and the fruitiness of the Madeira cask but a few weeks later it’s better with gentle peat, red grapes and red berries, a bit of zest (orange peels?) and malt. With a few drops of water sharper smoke on the front. Smoke is the star with red berries fruit  at backseat with touch of peat and medicinal notes but the water kind of transform it into a very one dimensional whisky. Continue reading

SMWS 53.233 Fireman’s Gloves on a Mermaid (19 Year Old Caol Ila) Review


Today is Caol Ila day at Feis Ile 2017 and let me tell you something: Caol Ila may be the least sexy (or most boring – up for you to decide) distillery on Islay. We’re so familiar with their standard and unchanged lineup expressions and with no new expressions popping out from the distillery, it seems like Caol Ila is a bit forgotten. But let me tell you something: the spirit they produce at Caol Ila? It is underrated.

There are some jolly good whiskies coming out from those copper stills. Old Caol Ila whiskies are amazing and even the younger whiskies can be good.

Want a proof? Today’s whisky is your evidence. Initially I planned a review of te Official Caol Ila 25 yo which is more than decent and is available for purchase for a very decent price, but I ‘slipped’ and drank it all without writing notes. Oops.

So next Caol Ila on the shelf was this 19 year old Caol Ila bottled by SMWS. It’s a clear proof that Caol Ila whisky is good and also my first SMWS review in a long while. Damn I should review more of those!

SMWS 53.233 Fireman’s Gloves on a Mermaid (19 Year Old Caol Ila) (60.5%, 258 bottles)

Nose: Full of brine and salt, pudding-y, gentle peat smoke and bonfire smoke from afar, somewhat medicinal although it’s not laphroaig-esque and juicy. Continue reading