Monday, December 6, 2010

Amazing stuff on auction block

Bonhams has a wonderful auction of rare and unique whisky this month. If anyone needs a agent for adding to your collection, let me know. Details here:
Take a look at the cover shot below - the HP Bicentenary 1977 (lot 206) is available  - 6 bottles expected in the $1300-1600 range. An old favorite of mine...

I also highly recommend looking at grabbing lot 274 -
Also really think this is one of the best values - lot 270 a case of Springbank Bourbonwood -

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Chanukka

Chanuka treat from Tullibardine - a 17year old from 1992 at 44.7%.I opened this special Chanukka Menora edition of Tullibardine to honor the holiday. Chabbad of Buckhurst Hill in the UK had a special fundraiser last year and filled a menorah with this whisky and then sold off the bottles. Turns out it is a very nice, relatively sweet bourbon cask.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Warning!!! Do not add water to this one

Scapa, 19 year old, 1989 Vintage, 52.7% from D&M Aficionado's Club has a terrific nose. But be not add water to this one as the nose will go foul and the taste changes to yuck (no better way to describe it).
Here is Malt Advocates review:
This single cask bottling of Scapa is a beauty! Brilliant gold color. Clean and fresh on the nose and palate, with complex bright fruit (peach, tangerine, Golden Delicious apple, honeydew melon, pineapple), spice (cinnamon, vanilla, subtle cocoa), appetizing brine, and beach pebbles, all on a bed of creamy, squeaky clean honeyed malt. Dynamic, appetizing, briny, dried spice finish. A delicious, superbly balanced whisky that makes a great aperitif, but I could drink this any time.
(and btw - this is really a MacKillops production delivered exclusively to D&M)

Monday, November 29, 2010

comments - pls tell us who you are...

Many thanks for recent comments - pls email us to tell us who you are!

Aultmore beats Tormore is new to both of these distilleries and conducted quite a face-off. Both are from D&M clubs. These bottles came just in time as we were losing faith in the D&M club selections. The Connoisseurs' club bottle (really MacKillop for source on both) was really fresh. A 15 year old Tormore - clearly a bourbon cask. No need for water. All the right bourbon cask notes - sweetness and a bit of char. But then came the Aultmore... 
D&M notes on the 21 yr old cask strength Aultmore: Aultmore 21 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky -D&M Exclusive Bottling. This whisky was brought to us by Lorne McKillop and was distilled on June of 1988. Aged for 21 years and bottled at 55.2 % ABV cask strength from cask # 2546. The scotch is bright brass in color with steady legs, the nose is dominated by toasted barley, brown sugar and followed by marshmallow and a touch of sea air. Rich, malty flavors, lots of upfront fruit consisting of melon, citrus, pear. The finish shows campfire smoke and cumin. The addition of water opens up notes of cocoa, vanilla, salt water taffy and really tames the spice. D&M Tasting Notes.
Aultmore Distillery lies several miles north of the town of Keith on the eastern fringe of Speyside. This remote and sparse location was a smugglers paradise. The numerous burns and the peat-rich springs of the Foggie Moss from which the distillery draws its waters, were additional incentives for the illicit stills.
Edward Alexander a prominent scotch figure (known for Benrinnes and Dallas Dhu to name a few) built Aultmore in 1894. The distillery initially did very well and production was doubled in the first few years. However the Pattison crash was just around the corner. The crash hit Edwards hard as he had been a large supplier of bulk whisky to Pattison. Production continued at Aultmore but times were difficult. Pattison’s downfall has led to a surplus of Speyside Malt whisky on the market, Prohibition in America and the 1920s depression all took their toll. Finally, Edwards sold the distillery to John Dewar & Sons Ltd of Perth .
In the early fifties, the Aultmore and Imperial distilleries performed pioneering experiments that would lead to utilizing most of the distillery waste matter (pot ale and draff) for protein-rich animal feed. This practice is now industry-wide and makes the production of scotch whisky one of the most ecologically sound industries in existence.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

3 Murray McDavids and 3 Advil

A little taste test is likely to turn into a serious headache tomorrow as they are all so good.
The line up: all three start in bourbon / oak caks
Springbank 9yr - 2000 finished in Chateau D'Yquem cask
Caol Ila 13yr -1996 finished in Chateau D'Yquem cask
Highland Park 14yr - 1995 finished in Chateau Lafite cask
The bottom line: the picture should tell which one i like the best.
The Springbank is so unique as it is a young bourbon only Springbank and then gets a sweet finish. Tasting notes suggest guava, pineapple, meringue, brown sugar, salted butter, green grapes and toasted malt. The HP is terrific. Might beat the Springbank for complexity and color, but the finish is a bit harsh (smoke/char). Tasting notes include a sweet smoke - almost can taste the charred honeyed oak cask. There is ripe dark fruit (esp on the nose) and coffee beans and plums. The Caol Ila is no slouch, but had a tough time keeping up with the other two. The peat was what you would expect, and the surprise came with the pleasant softness of the finish. Tasting notes include clementine, apricot, honey, carmel, citrus and no shortage of smoke.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The go to scotch

While Mortlach always takes me out of a funk, the HP 18 is the go-to scotch. You really can never go wrong with this one. Yes, the 25, and 30yr old distillery bottlings are a significant step up from the 18, but you really cannot go wrong with it.

The late, great, Michael Jackson's review:
Nose: Warm, notably flowery. Heather-honey, fresh oak, sap, peat, smoky fragrance. Very aromatic and appetising.

Remarkably smooth, firm, rounded. Lightly salty. Leafy (vine leaves?), pine nuts. Lots of flavour development: nuts, honey, cinnamon, dryish ginger.


Spicy, very dry, oaky, smoky, hot.


If I smoked I would have a cigar with this one.

Mortlach fever

Whenever I go thru my collection and hit a few disappointments, I go to the top shelf and grab a Mortlach. This 21 year old is not hard to find and is really a great example of that musty old church and graveyard up the hill from the distillery.

A review writes: Mortlach is one of the sherry giants of Speyside, what a reputation to live up to! This 21-year-old expression is a refined take, which adds a great deal of complexity, smoothness and class. The typical characteristics of Mortlach are all there with bracken flavours, herbal notes and an element of dryness on the finish. Aged perfectly, this Mortlach goes unsurprisingly well when sat with glass in one hand and chocolate in the other!

Glencadam 30 yr old - ever hear of it?

OK. I admit to never having heard of Glencadam. I ran into this when looking at the runners-up in the Scottish Fields Magazine Whisky competition. A 30yr old of this repute - had to try it. ... and a gorgeous bottle too.
Distilled in 1978 and bottled at 46%vol. Comes from a sherry butt and yielded 615 bottles. The nose is better than the taste. Lots of sherry, ripe berries and talcum powder. Very full body and tastes of earthy spice and oranges. Long finish, but a bit bitter - even with a splash of water. 

Scottish Field writes: Glencadam is not such a well known distillery but in the past few years its whisky has been quietly gaining a reputation amongst whisky drinkers and has picked up several awards in the process. I have grown fond of its whiskies from the 1970’s and was thrilled when this 30 year old expression was released. Its stylishly designed bottle which is limited to only 615 bottles makes it a rather attractive purchase to collectors but for those who do pop the cork to indulge on its contents certainly will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another winning HP

1995 Highland Park 14 Year Old from Murray McDavid, finished in a Chateau Lafite Cask.
I landed a few bottles of this really fine HP. Murray McDavid is really getting good at these wine finished wonders. I cleaned K&L out of thelast of their stock.
This peach colored Highland Park expression has more smoke than the distillery bottlings do and when married with the exquisite claret influence of the Chateau Lafite barrels, the enhancement is truly marvelous. Subtle hints of peat mark the entry before giving way to dried cherries and red fruits. The mid-palate shows honey and then an earthy note before finishing rich and long, yet completely dry. There is no kiss of sweetness to be found, only the classic campfire of the Island malts melded effortlessly with the flavor of Bordeaux's finest wine.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Glenury from Duncan Taylor

A really fine bourbon cask highlander. I am still looking for more of this if anyone has any leads...

Bottling: Rarest of the Rare Glenury Royal 1984 - 20yo Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
Cask No: 3049.
Colour: Very pale white wine.
Nose: Oily, heavy and full. Very creamy.
Flavour: Fresh wood, slighty creamy and dry.
Finish: Woodiness comes through along with green fruits.
Comments: A creamy – fruity dram.

Glenury was great

Sad that this distillery did not make it thru the whisky recession in the mid 80s. Most of the site are now apartments.

Glenury Royal distillery was founded in 1824 in Stonehaven. The founder was one Robert Barclay-Allardice, an MP and the Laird of Ury at that time. Captain Barclay-Allardice was also the first man to walk 1000 miles in 1000 consecutive hours giving him a place in the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame. His contact in Parliament, a Mr Windsor allowed access to King George IV who granted him permission to use ‘Royal’ in Glenury’s name. The distillery was largely rebuilt in the 1960’s and the stills were increased from two to four. After closing in 1985, United Distillers sold off Glenury to a development company in 1992 and most of the old buildings were demolished and remaining ones converted into flats.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I cant believe i like a blend

OK i admit it - a few blends really are amazing. I recall a blend of 3 40+yr old Highland Parks that Royal Mile Whiskies sold me that I still dream about....   Black Bull 30yr old is a blend that won the Scottish Field's Magazine best blend award last year. I finally got my hands on a bottle in a little shop in bronxville that did not know what they were letting collect dust. Really nice, despite the grain.

This special blend is a marriage of the finest single malt and single grain whiskies produced in Scotland. The whiskies were vatted together in the 1970s, just after distillation, and matured in sherry casks for a minimum of 30 years, resulting in this deluxe premium rare blend.
Black Bull contains 50% malt whisky and 50% grain whisky and has not been altered by chill-filtration or colourant -- it is completely natural.
What the bottler says:
Tasting Notes
Nose:Initially chocolate then a hint of turkish delights, stewed rhubarb & lime pickle. With time becomes dark cherries.
Flavour:Rich sherry notes. A big dram but also gentle at the same time. Again, more chocolate notes and some red fruits.
Finish:A cherry finish with a slight cinnamon note and obvious sherry character but there is also a faint creamy note in the background.

Is it really too hot to drink Whisky?

No way. I have been enjoying a dram or three even on some of the hottest days. My preference has been the 9yr old Springbank from Murray McDavid reviewed months ago. I also have found that a rare 1979 HP has been able to really hit the spot.
I have heard that there is a Whisky made to be frozen. Looking for some if anyone is passing thru a UK airport. It is the Famouse Grouse's Snow Grouse. Reviews are not great, but sounds interesting.

Monday, June 28, 2010

HP: The Earl Magnus Edition

HP has released a UK only (i think) bottling that celebrates the life of Earl Magnus, an 11th century Christian; a man of peace and great authority who shared the rule of the Orkney Earldom with his treacherous cousin Haakon. Envious at the increasing popularity of his cousin, matters between the two reached a crisis and in a bitter twisted rivalry, Haakon had his cousin slaughtered. Magnus’s body was laid to rest on Egilsy and later at Birsay it was said that miracles of healing were experienced around his tomb. The legendary story inspired the new edition from Highland Park. Bottled at 52.6% abv at 15 year old full natural strength.
Borrowed tasting note:
Colour: Golden honey, clear and bright.
Nose: Cedarwood and lemon. Mango chunks with hints of ginger and cinnamon bark.
Palate: Vanilla, balanced smokiness, milk chocolate and crystallised ginger.
Finish: Medium sweet with lingering spiciness.

Random testing

I have been doing a few random taste tests of the collection (really just a way to work thru about 30 open bottles) and find there are two real standouts. Both the Port Ellen (DT 26year old) and the Highland Park 30yr old (distillery bottle - older version  from 2 years ago) always end up as winners.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Springbank Society 18yr

Membership in the Springbank society has its privileges... This 18yr old bottling seems to be a step up from the 18yr old mass release last year. This is at least 2 steps closer to the legendary 21 as it has a bit more spark on the palate that calms wonderfully with a few drops of water. The complexity also seems to have been dialed up a bit.
Springbank wants to believe the 18 tastes like this...
Colour: Rich gold
Nose: Initial notes of marzipan give way to darker aromas like liquorice and treacle toffee. Like a home-baked cake full of everything that tastes so good you just can’t resist another helping.
Palate: Incredible depth and balance. That classic Springbank style is evident, backed up by the fruits of 18 years maturation in predominantly sherry casks. Rich and oily from the moment it hits the palate, the whisky develops to reveal dried fruits and just a hint of smoke. A fine combination of sugar candy, almonds and Christmas cake emerge as the whisky slips off the tongue.
Finish: On and on and on. A reassuring wisp of smoke rises from the back of your mouth and around the palate, enveloping a flavour which contains more raisins, dark chocolate and treacle. This whisky doesn’t want to be forgotten in a hurry - and why should it disappear quickly after we’ve been holding out for it for so long?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Oh Glengarioch

This rare Glengarioch (pronounced GlenGeery - almost like the movie - GlenGary) is outrageously good and in very short supply. I think i got the last bottle from Duncan Taylor. A 19yr old cask strength (must be a bourbon cask) that was put down in 1988.
Very sharp - spicy nose. Flavor is very similar and very clearly a well rounded bourbon cask. at 55.5% this needs a splash or two of water. Adiing water releases some of the alcohol and opens up a fruity blend on the palate. Finish is as good as any bourbon cask i own. lingers and warms for a good long time.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Springbank nose is great

This has a gorgeous nose. A bit light to taste but complex enough to bear the Springbank name even with its youth. 

2000 Springbank 9 Year Old Chateau d'Yquem Cask from Murray McDavid

Just in from K&L - They write: Springbank, recently awarded 2010 Distillery of the Year from Whisky Magazine, is a whisky that rarely shows up in an independent bottling. However, Jim McEwan (master distiller for Bruichladdich) is known for finding the absolute best barrels for his Murray McDavid collection, and he somehow managed to get a hold of some aging Springbank stock. He then gave the whisky a second maturation in Chateau d'Yquem Sauternes casks to add a sweet richness to the already supple and smooth malt. The result is simply phenomenal. The nose is an intoxicating blend of honey, tropical fruits, and caramel. The palate shows guava, pineapple, brown sugar and the malted cereal notes of sweet barley, though the whisky is never cloying or overly sweet. Every flavor in the rich and round mouthfeel is in balance all the way to the finish, which lingers on for minutes. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Arrival from Port Ellen

A fab dram from Ronnie at DT. This 26 year old is bottled at cask strength. One of the best preatted whiskies I know. A real shame the distillery is gone.

Tasting notes coming

Monday, March 8, 2010

Glenfarclas does not impress

The 21yr old Glenfarclas is not a bad dram, it just suffers from being the same price of much more interesting drams (like the Strathisla below). While it is a relatively well balanced sherried speysider, it suffers from a dull sour note in the palate.  It improves with a drop or three of water. Michael Jackson once wrote of it:

Sherryish, nutty aromas predominate. Then malt (slightly buttery), and peat. Each seems to manifest itself as a separate hit.
Lively expression of classic Speyside flavours: sherry, malt and slight smokiness.
Lightly peaty. Appetising.
A straightforward Speyside classic. Also big enough to benefit from considerable age.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Highland Park 30 is outrageous

Starts off with a wonderful deep copper color and then the nose of classic heather honey sweetness married with an almost dark chocolate coated orange peel and ginger. Another reviewer states that the nose is that of an Over-the-top brown spice, tar, sandalwood, cigar box, sweet toffee and anise cookie aromas.
Then a splash into the mouth yields a perfect coating that is incredibly rich and very dry, full-bodied palate with roasted nuts, toffee, lavish brown spices, and exotic dried fruits. Another review says that he is getting the taste of citrus, lime and a little grapefruit before smokey edges drift in with the ginger, chocolate and orange from the nose. The oak balances beautifully with a touch of toffee and cinnamon.
The finish has a dominant oak that takes grip and a coppery sharpness adds balance. Persistent ginger and orange with a dark caramel sweetness carry through the considerable length. This is proving to be an outrageous Scotch that continues to evolve in the glass and on the palate long after the first sip. It has so many dimensions when water is added in differing amounts.
This is the older bottling of the 30 yr old (pictured above), not the newer 30 release (pictured below).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Get ready for Robbie Burns

The 251st Anniversary of Robert Burns birth is Jan 25th. I have a few special whiskies coming in from scotland to compliment the haggis, neaps and tatties.
Address to a HaggisBurns
Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

For more information on Robert Burns, visit

Monday, January 18, 2010

Strathisla 30yr a winner

Strathisla is a significant contributor to Chivas Regal. This whisky has won the Scottish Fields Magazine competition 2 years in a row and for good reason. G&M has a few from Strathisla that I have tried and loved. This is really great and winner of a 8 bottle tasting at the House of Paine recently. Even Stu likes it...
Tasting Notes (G&M): Nose is Sherry wood with ripe fruit - apples, pears. Hints of toasted malt with some leather and hessian. A touch of heather honey.  The palate is a bit smoky with rich sherry elements. Earthy and spicy with moss and other green leaf notes.  Once water is added you get a nose of Treacle and toffee sweetness with dried fruits - dates and figs. Floral aromas - rosewood and lavender. The palate with water is still smoky with hints of clove and cinnamon. Rich sherry, fruitcake - Christmas cake.

1966 was a good year

My birth-year produced this terrific Glen Grant. Scottish Fields Mag reviewer writes:
Gordon and MacPhail is very fortunate to boast over 20 different fine expressions of Glen Grant dating back to the 1940’s! This particular expression is 40 years old and shows no signs of being “over cooked”! It is surprisingly light and refreshing, there are soft fruits present with a whiff of vanilla. There is a dash of smoke on the palate to begin with which reappears on the finish. A surprisingly youthful malt with bags of character.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Celtic Heartlands HP finished

So sad that this is now gone - Jim McEwan (Murray McDavid's master) created the Celtic Heartlands series. This was the 1967 Highland Park - 35 yr old @40.1% from American Oak cask.

Tasting Notes

Michael Jackson

Flapjack, warm from the oven. Cooked morello cherries.
Sweetly smoky. Flavours well integrated and contained. Slow, disciplined, development.
Firm, powerful, straight-ahead. Rounded with a suggestion of mint toffee.
The more heavily-sherried expressions of Highland Park seem more open in displaying their charms.

Dave Broom

Full and rich. Dry grass, light peat, lanolin. Touch of perfume, (heather bells) fudge, kumquat. Fine-framed oak.
Excellent weight. More fruity than nose suggests with good balance between firm oak and sweet, butter tablet mid-palate. Complex.
Fragrant smoke.
A beauty-but what else would you expect from HP?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Hello Roy

Anyone who might need a great guide in Speyside should give our friend Roy a call. He hosted us a few times now and really made the trip to Scotland amazing. See his site at :
Without Roy, we would never have seen this...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Chabad is the coolest!

Yes, Chabad again manages to be first to do something unique - this time a Whisky Menorah.
Read about it here: (and look closely at the bottle in the picture)

I am working on getting a bottle.
Thx to TB for the link.