Archive for the ‘Unspecified Scottish Single Malts’ Category

North Star Spirits Orkney 2000 (17 year old) 55.2%

16 years Bourbon Hogshead, 1 year PX finished (Highland Park)/ Dist: Sept 2000 Btl: Sept 2017

Tasted: Oct 2017

The nose is rich, grapey, winey and heavily PX influenced with sweet treacle, tar, cinnamon, chilli pepper and green pepper. There’s a slight hardness in the background, that could point to Jura but it’s hard to figure given the heavy sherry influence. Anyway it’s a really interesting nose.

The palate is soft and treacly, but slightly edgy with gritty spice, cinnamon and again a green pepper-like character. Grapey PX and raisinated prunes come through on the middle. Long and spicy with lingering soy sauce, cinnamon, capsicum and a smidge of herbal peat. Even though there isn’t much in the way of distillery character, it still has a character of its own!


North Star Spirits Single Islay Malt 2008 (8 year old) 58.3%

Caol Ila matured in a Bourbon Hogshead and finished in two sherry octave casks.

Dist: Jun 2008 Btl: May 2017/ Tasted: Jun 2017

Subtle aromas of earthy and medicinal peat with a touch of crisp, white fruit, apricot and subtle peat smoke. Hints of barley and salt follow along with an intimation of dried sherry fruit. With time it becomes quite manurey with a late parma violet note.

The palate is quite full and oily with the alcohol being rather noticeable. However there is plenty of barley to counter along with some subtler peat smoke and medicinal herbs. Gentle dried fruit comes through on the middle with a touch of coffee’d oak. Lovely intense, tongue tingling herbal peat finish.

Water brings out the toasted oak and caramel. It also emphasises the delightful tangerine and apricot fruit as well as the barley. The medicinal notes are still there but the smoke is now just a background curtain. The palate is still fairly oily and like the nose displays more of the oak. The peat is also subtler and sootier and gently medicinal. Long and continuing sooty with lingering barley, malty and light violety notes.

North Star Spirits Islay 2005 (12 year old) 52.3%

Bourbon Hogshead (Laphraoig?)/ Dist: Sept 2005 Btl: Sept 2017/ Tasted: Oct 2017

The nose is fresh and lightly medicinal with relatively heavy peat character. Hints of manure, violets and salt follow. It becomes really stinky with time. Late notes of coffee, bog myrtle and sweet heather.

The palate opens quite sooty with a good, solid barley and oak character beneath. Lightly herbal and medicinal. Great intensity with hints of pepper, herbal peat and dried fruit. Long and salty with lingering herbal peat, along with dry, coffee’d tannins and a light bbq smoke.

Gleann Mor ‘A Rare Find’ North Highland 2007 (9 year old) 53.2%

Glenmorangie in Refill Port/ Dist: Sept 2007 Btl: Sept 2016/ Tasted: June 2017

Pungent aromas of burnt earth and scrub with a subtly leafy, herbal port note. Very natural and earthy, unlike the distillery release with a touch of dark chocolate, straw and macerated orange. With time the nose sweetens as a light syrup note appears.

The palate is full of supple, syrup coated red fruit with hints of earth and subtle dried fruit notes. Like the nose it has a lovely, natural feel and plenty of grippy, dark chocolate tannins and straw coming through on the middle, along with a subtle herbal character. Lovely intensity and length with a subtle barley and heathery note detectable amongst the porty fruit.

Gleann Mor ‘A Rare Find’ Secret Highland Malt, Port Finish 2004 (12 year old) 52%

Glenmorangie Cask 4231/ Dist: May 2004 Btl: 2016/ Tasted: Feb 2017

An earthy, balsamic and slightly butyric nose. A pleasant melange of mature-ish baked fruit and winey red fruits. Very natural and reminiscent of Ben Nevis with a straw-like demeanour and slight malty breadiness.

The palate opens with the earthy, lightly syrup coated winey fruit and old wood tannins. Again slightly earthy and balsamic. Very malty and full on the middle with a pleasant natural character. The finish is a little on the dry side as the alcohol and tannins combine, but the winey fruit and earth lingers well.

A drop of water brings out more malt, coffee and some subtle barley notes. The port fruit is a little sweeter and there is a light syrup note which gives it a softer feel, although the ‘natural’ character is still present. The palate is likewise softer, with more emphasis in the sweet port fruit. Longer and with more spice notes than tannin now with a light chocolate malt and coffee finish.

Now I know what the distillery is I’m quite surprised as I was thinking Ben Nevis as their port casks have that intensely ‘natural’ character and I find ‘morangie port has a more silky character. Interesting!

The Big Strand Single Islay Malt 46%

A vatting of 5-11 year old Caol Ila?

Named after the longest mostly uninterrupted sandy beach on Islay. With a total length of 7 miles, it stretches from Laggan Point in the north to Kintra and the Oa Peninsula in the south.

Tasted: Oct 2016

Aromas of fresh, crisp, salty, old skool Caol Ila with briny white fruit, grass and lovely sweet barley. Moderately peated and lightly phenolic with hints of wort and the mashtun.

The palate is fresh and crisp with a touch of digestive biscuit, white fruit and subtly phenolic, briny peat. Pleasant balance of fruit and crisp saltiness. Long, bracing and probably just like walking on the beach! However the fruit lingers and it exits with some pleasant, fragrant peat smoke.

River Flow 46%

A vatting of 2009 & 2011 First Fill Bourbon Auchroisk and 2008 Refill Bourbon Auchroisk.

Tasted: Jun 2017

The nose is full and creamy with plenty of first fill toffee’d oak, followed by grass, citrus and digestive biscuits. Lightly perfumed with some estery fruit and earth.

The palate opens with the creamy, toffee’d oak and hints of citrus. The use of refill casks stops the palate from being over oaked and allows the rich, honeyed, creamy fruit to balance. Vibrant, grassy and spicy middle leads to a mouth-watering, if a little austere finish.

Kirkwall Bay 46%

Highland Park

Tasted: Oct 2017

The aromas are a little rough at the edges with youthful barley and hints of heathery peat and sweet peat. Surprisingly there is also a bit of alcohol prickle and not much in the way of oak character.

The palate shows more oak and soft barley. Again it’s a little on the rough and ready side with subtler, sweet peat. A little short with a touch of coffee on the finish.

Malts of Scotland Images of Dufftown ‘St Michael’s Episcopal Church’ 53.2%

Tasted: June 2016

A balsamic, volatile and vinegary nose with hard barley, cereal, herbs, coffee and a touch of refill sherry?

The palate is balsamic and treacly with prunes in syrup and sweet chocolate. The enhanced sweetness balances the industrial character better but those notes are still fairly dominant until a shed load of bitter tannins arrive. Hot and bitter finish with lingering leafy herbs and slightly murky coffee notes.

Glasgow Distillery Company Prometheus 26 year old 47%

Tasted: Sept 2015

Nose: Pungent, earthy, straw-like mature fruit aromas. A lovely melange of edgy Colombian coffee, dry, sherry spices, lush honey, plummy stewed fruit, prune and dark chocolate. Evocative and deep with a developing citrus character.

Palate: Gentle, full and mature with prune, walnut, dark honey and a sub-Armagnac-esque rancio. A lovely combination of mature fruit and oak with some biting, bittering, balancing wood spice, citrus and mineral notes.

Finish: Very long and juicy with the mature Armagnac-esque dried fruit and spice lingering. Finishes with a touch of dusty cocoa powder.

Conclusion: Damn, that’s a fine old Speyside malt without a wrinkle in sight! 

Glasgow Distillery Company Prometheus 27 year old Cache 2 47%

Tasted: June 2016

Nose: Dense, walnutty sherry with hints of wood smoke, Armagnac-esque prunes and dried fruit along with hints of freshening citrus, minerals and late mocha and earth notes.

Palate: Intense oxidised fruit and treacle. Quite nutty with walnuts, spice and dark coffee. Becomes rather tannic on the middle which gives it a very raw cask feel.

Finish: Reasonable length with lingering dry, slightly bitter tannins and a smoky after-taste.

Conclusion: Possibly a little too bitter at the end, but it has its merits.

Ben Bracken 22 year old 40%

Unknown Islay Bottled for Lidl

Tasted: Feb 2016

Nose: Chunky, juicy dried prune and walnuts. Very oily and a little spirity (which is strange given it’s only 40%). Lightly herbal with hints of dusty peat smoke.

Palate: Slightly underpowered with a touch of toffee, dried fruit and subtle peat. The oils and the sweetness of the malt build on the middle.

Finish: Medium length with lingering dried fruit.

Conclusion: It’s ok. It has its pluses and minuses.

Ben Bracken 22 year old 40%

WWA 2016 Best Scotch Single malt – Islay

Re-Taste: Feb 2016

Nose: Faintly astringent and herbal with treacly sherry, supple peat and developing medicinal notes. Starts quite reluctantly but builds well. Slightly woody and spicy with hints of apricot conserve.

Palate: Quite juicy but woody. Less intense than the nose with supple dried fruit and a touch of peat.

Finish: Good length with wood spice and lingering herbal sherry.

Conclusion: Best Islay? Really?

Highland Laird Williamson 2006 (8 year old) 46%


Dist: 2006 Btl: 2015/ Tasted: Aug 2015

Named after a remarkable woman called Bessie Williamson, who became the manager of a certain Islay distillery when it was un-mothballed after the end of WWII.

The nose is very buttery and oaky with plenty of sweet and herbal peat. The oak calms down with time and an almost Tequila-esque pulped white fruit note becomes apparent along with hints of rhubarb, manure, cut grass and a faint whiff of aniseed and biscuity spirit notes.

The palate is full and biscuity with malt and plenty of oak. Subtly peated with a little background salty notes and again some Tequila-esque fruit. The earthy and sooty peat and iodine builds on the middle and explodes onto the finish along with salt and medicinal notes. Now, that is a lovely Islay finale!

Hunter Laing Old Malt Cask Speysides Finest 1986 (28 year old) 48%

Sherry/ Code: OMC2458/ Dist: Nov 1986 Btl: Mar 2015/ Tasted: Apr 2015

A dusty nose of mature spices, malt, earth, digestive biscuit, vanilla and a touch of shortbread. The cask adds notes of raisin and prune but the biscuity notes begin to dominate although a touch of green apple attempts to freshen the aromas.

The palate opens with vanilla toffee and malt along with hints of treacle and baked fruit. A touch of lightly bitter spice appears on the middle. Long with lingering toffee, naked fruit and malt. Pleasant if a little simplistic.


Hunter Laing Hepburns Choice Nice ‘N’ Peaty 2006 (10 year old) 46%

Bourbon/ Code: HEP0197/ Dist: Mar 2006 Btl: Sept 2016?/ Tasted: Oct 2016

Young and feinty, possibly Ledaig with dusty peat and non sherried sulphur, iron and manure notes. late medicinal peat note but this is barley out of its nappy!

The palate is a little watery with some ‘off the still’ oiliness and feintiness. Nascent peat build reasonably well but the finish is short with the ‘off the still’ notes lingering. Far too young, but it has a pleasant peppery after-taste.

Hunter Laing Hepburns Choice Nice & Peaty 2006 (10 year old) 46%

Refill Bourbon Hogshead/ Code: HEP /Dist: Mar 2006 Btl: 2017/ Tasted: July 2017

Manuery and loamy with a non-sherry sulphur and brimstone nose! Hints of earthy Highland peat and cardboard.

The palate is cardboardy, but not as heavily and sulphured as the nose would suggest. Hints of apricot, peat and earth follow. Good length with lingering dry peat.


Glen Marnoch 1989 (24 year old) 40%

Unknown Speyside bottled for Aldi

Tasted: Nov 2013 

The nose is sweet, toasty and honeyed with barley, coffee, toffee, violets and a touch of refill sherry richness. A bit bland to be honest and the sherry does display a light fly spray character. 

The palate is soft and bland with hints of coffee, malt along with some refill sherry and caramel. Good length with a sharp citrus, if a little bitter finish.