Archive for the ‘Imperial’ Category

Hunter Laing Old Malt Cask Imperial 1998 (18 year old) 50%

Bourbon/ Code: OMC2271/ Dist: May 1995 Btl: May 2013/ Tasted: June 2013

Dense and honeyed aromas with an almost grainy nip. Juicy, succulent satsuma and tangerine follow, all sprinkled with granulated sugar. Very complex with some dusty, mature oak along with a pure butter note and a touch of grass. 

The palate is succulent and honeyed. So deep and unctuous with the lovely sawdusty oak intertwined with the honey. Lightly citrus with a touch of hay/ grass on the middle, again all deliciously sprinkled with granulated sugar. Stunning stuff! Very long with a cleansing mineral/ citrus finish with the beautifully mature oak and honey lingering. Sensational!


Mackillop’s Choice Imperial 1990 (22 year old) 57.9%

Bourbon Cask 11972/ Dist: Dec 1990 Btl: Mar 2013/ Tasted: Apr 2013

A luscious and honeyed nose which displays a lovely, crisp minerality too with grassy overtones. Light manuka honey with hints of white fruit. With time some gentle mature oak arrives. Wonderfully fragrant.

The palate is intense and quite grassy with some earthy manuka honey and light syrup. Very stony/ mineraly on the middle with some piquant/ cleansing alcohol. However the juicy honey, straw and mature oak linger.

With water a beautiful liquid orange note appears along with some delightfully gentle spices and toffee drizzled molten vanilla. Still luscious, deep and evocative. The palate is now a little linear but displays some lovely crystallised citrus fruit. Still quite honeyed with a light walnutty, coffee finish.

Mackillops Choice Imperial 1990 (24 year old?) 58.4%

Bourbon Cask 11974/ Tasted: May 2014

A very flinty nose with a touch of gun flint, brittle honey, dark malt, vibrant citrus, waxy orange and botanicals. The botanical notes develop into an almost herbal-peat character aided by a slight menthol/ camphor note. With time the American oak comes through with thick clotted cream notes.

The palate opens with brittle, edgy honey and barley with hints of straw, Satsuma and orange. Wow! This is seriously juicy! Again quite herbal and almost peated with quite a malty middle. Long, succulent, mature honey finish with a balancing oak note.

Angus Dundee Distillers Imperial 19 year old 43%

Bourbon/ Tasted: July 2011

Intense aromas of old straw and maturing honey. Lovely depth with hints of orange fruit and manure.  

Soft and malty on the palate with a liberal sprinkling of brown sugar. Softly fruity with hints of straw. Good intensity. Quite robust and full. Good length with a soupcon of spice in the finish.  

Conclusion: Dense and chewy, a lovely full bodied Spey.

Gordon & MacPhail Imperial 1990 (12 year old) 40%

Bourbon/ Dist: 1990 Btl: 2003/ Tasted: Apr 2004

A slightly floral, rather light, bourbon oak dominated nose. Soft, clean and fruity with aromas of crème caramel and sweet vanilla. Fruity on the palate with a touch of spice. Straightforward and tangy with a long finish and a touch of salt in the aftertaste.

 Gordon & MacPhail Cask Strength Imperial 1997 (14 year old) 62.7%

Bourbon/ Dist: 1997 Btl: 2011/ Tasted: July 2011

A lovely, classic Imperial nose of maturing honey with hints of sweet oak vanillins, grass, white pepper, violets and alcohol (no surprise given the abv!)

The palate is as expected quite alcoholic but there is a good depth of mature honey with hints of toasted white bread, malt, citrus and a grassy finish. This definitely needs a drop of water.

With water the nose has become wonderfully grassy and the oak has been let loose and now revels in its buttery/ fudgyness. Still wonderfully honeyed and deep through. The palate has unfortunately become a bit sugar water-like and the complexity (not that Imperial has an overt complexity) has taken a nose dive. Still there is some fleshy fruit and sweet honey on the middle and the grassy finish is still there.

Dewar Rattray Imperial 1983 (25 year old) 46.9%

Refill Sherry Hogshead – Cask 1410/ Dist: 1983 Btl: 2008/ Tasted: Nov 2008

It begins with the brittle barley and mature honey. Liberally sprinkled in wood spices. It reminds me of old Glen Grant, with a lovely old wood polish and dusty library character. Not overly complex, yet it has a delicious depth with a slight perfumed note. Soft, delicate and leafy on the palate. Mellow and honeyed with a crisp barley seam running through. There’s even a playful violet and lavender note.

A drop of water brings out a pure orange/ tangerine freshness that has distillery character written all over it. The sherry plays a lovely supporting role. The palate is all very mellow and accommodating. The honey, barley and gentle spices are supported by the sherry soaked fruitcake and finishes with a treacle flourish

Duncan Taylor Battlehill Imperial 8 year old 43%

Bourbon/ Tasted: Nov 2008

A lovely nose of earthy, loamy, undergrowthy fruit. Quiet big and rounded with deep honey and vanilla. Over time the oak asserts itself with toffee, cream and natural caramel aromas, yet it is balanced by a crisp barley note.

The palate is quiet sweet. Full of appealing apricot fruit with a touch of grass and ginger spice. There’s a crisp barley thread running through it which balances the candied sweetness. Very drinkable with a light gingery finish.

Duncan Taylor Battlehill Imperial 10 year old 43%

Bourbon/ Tasted: Mar 2009

A straightforward, clean and fruity nose. It displays a good balance between the oak and the apricot, grass and citrus aromas. The creamy oak adds a luxurious quality. Soft and fruity on the palate with citrus notes and a touch of spice. The alcohol adds a lovely piquancy. Good length with a spicy finish and a late grass after taste. Straightforward, drinkable and good value.

Duncan Taylor NC2 Imperial 11 year old 46%

Bourbon/ Tasted: Apr 2010

A floral and aromatic nose of orange blossom, white liquorice, some herbal honey, slightly gristy barley. Lovely freshness that over time become slightly botanical.

The palate is slightly oily and botanical with a lovely depth of sweet, juicy apricot, hints of straw, herbal honey and sweet porridge oats. It becomes a real honey fest on the middle, developing hints of white chocolate/ liquorice. Good crisp length with the alcohol and a salty nuance balancing the honey sweetness.

Duncan Taylor Rare Auld Imperial 1990 (17year old) 55.7%

Bourbon Cask 532/ Dist: 1990 Btl: 2007/ Tasted: Sept 2007

A damn fine nose! Gently aromatic with beguiling orange, peach and tangerine. Distinctly orange Muscat like (Strathmill?) It’s amazingly powerful yet delicately balanced with scrumptious spice and honey notes.

The palate is delicate and spicy, yet powerful. There is an abundance of mouth filling, juicy, spicy orange and peach flavours. The depth is superb, the flavour gently caresses the tongue – Heavenly! Good length. The alcohol somewhat dominates but it is wonderfully spicy. A drop of water harmonises and lengths emphasizing the dry spice. In conclusion it is superb. Great depth and delicacy, yet there is power present too.

Duncan Taylor Rare Auld Imperial 1990 (19 year old) 55.7%

Bourbon Cask 448/ Dist: 1990 Btl: 2009/ Tasted: Mar 2009

An immense and honeyed nose, redolent of mature honey and tangy orange zest. Again straightforward with hints of earth and grass. The glorious creamy oak percolate throughout.

The palate is pretty much like the nose, soft, juicy and full of mature honey, butter and vanilla oak. The middle is a tad drying with hints of spice. It definitely requires a drop of water which emphasises the honeycomb purity of the nose and brings out a lovely sweetness and emphasises the gentle spices on the palate. A gloriously unassuming honey monster!

Duncan Taylor Rare Auld Imperial 1990 (19 year old) 53.7%

Bourbon Cask 446/ Dist: 1990 Btl: 2009/ Tasted: Apr 2009

The nose is deeply honeyed, similar to cask 448, which I reviewed in April. Yet it has a distinct grassy/ Sauvignon like edge to it along with fresh citrus fruit and balanced vanilla. It opens to display a lovely perfumed orange blossom and lime with a nod in the direction of tropical-ness! Oooh this is good!

The palate is smooth and creamy, full of mature honey, gentle liquid orange and that fresh grass note from the nose. The vanillins from the oak balance it well as does the piquant alcohol. Maybe it’s not quite as deep and sweet as 448 and it’s probably missing the wood note complexity, but it makes up for that in its freshness.

A drop of water emphasises the pure honey aromas on the nose and a smidgen of wood spice is detectable. The palate is wonderfully fruity, gloriously so I might add! There’s a slight spirity-ness on the after taste, but as cask 448 has sold out this is a good replacement.

Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask Imperial 1995 (16 year old) 50%

Bourbon/ Dist: Apr 1995 Btl: May 2011/ Tasted: May 2011

The nose seems a lot more mature than I would have expected with plenty of deep honey balanced by some lovely fresh citrus (lemon) and white fruit, pear and creamy oak.

The palate is dry, soft and full bodied with a pleasant array of citrus, creamy oak and palate cleansing alcohol, which mask the finish somewhat.

With water the nose develops a distinct pear drop character and emphasises the toffee’d oak. The palate has become a tad homogonous but it’s still quite pleasant though.

Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask Imperial 1995 (17 year old) 50%

Bourbon/ Code: OMC2187/ Dist: May 1995 Btl: July 2012/ Tasted: July 2012

A very spicy nose with hints of tobacco and wood. The American oak duly arrives with a marzipan fanfare shot through with some pleasantly sweet barley. With time it becomes rather aromatic and slightly waxy in character. 

The palate opens with the milky/ creamy oak followed by loads of peppery spice. Those spices have an almost chilli-like warmth to them, which definitely gets the mouth watering! Very smooth with hints of tobacco before the creamy oak returns on the finish. Another very pleasant bottling of Imperial.

Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask Imperial 1976 (35 year old) 50%


Code: OMC2094/ Dist: Oct 1976 Btl: Nov 2011/ Tasted: Nov 2011

The nose opens with cedar and sawdusty oak with the latent honey lurking somewhere beneath. Oooh the aromas are stunningly deep and mature with some glorious spicy notes along with creamy/ buttery, pre vanilla oak and a hint of black pepper and white flowers. 

The palate is full, rich and resplendent in it’s earthy spiciness and brittle honey. Quite granity on the middle with a subtle oiliness. Lightly smoked with the alcohol and granite notes creating quite a dry ending, although it’s reasonably long with a distinct heathery finish. Let’s see if a drop of water can coax it out? 

With water the nose is slightly oilier and has emphasised the oak, whilst on the palate it has become quite gristy sweet now with the lehua honey set loose. Seriously juicy now, maybe a touch simpler but there’s no mistaking the lusciousness of the mature honey as is often the case with old Imperial. A seriously lovely dram.

Allied Distillers Last Bottling of Imperial 15 year old

Tasted: ?

Now this is a better sherry cask! Not much from the spirit, but a nice amount of orange fruit and coffee notes. Fairly non-descript on the palate, again it is all sherry cask, a good cask at that, with a late coffee/bitter chocolate note.