Archive for the ‘North British’ Category

North Star Spirits North British 1995 (21 year old) 52.9%

Bourbon Hogshead/ Dist: Oct 1995 Btl: May 2017/ Tasted: Jun 2017

The nose is quite crisp, fresh and high toned with dried fruit and column still spice. Hints of wood spice and liquorice appear and the oak sits pleasantly in the background. Polished and vibrant with developing honeysuckle and hyacinth notes.

The palate is full and showing a little more toffee’d oak, but the column still crispness keeps the oak in check. Chunky dried fruit – sultana, apricot and sweet apple follow. Long and grainy with a mouth-wateringly spicy finish but the honey balances and the oak adds a smidge of dark chocolate powder.


Carn Mor Black Gold Collection North British 1992 (24 year old) 58.3%

First Fill Sherry Hogshead/ Dist: 1992 Btl: 2016/ Tasted: July 2016

Aromas of raw and intense sherrywood, coffee, treacle, liquorice and dried sherry fruit (raisin and prune). The grain spirit dried fruit notes come through with time as does a touch of smoke, coconut and sweet spice.

The palate is raw and gritty with prune and liquorice. Some dark treacle smoothes the edges and the grainy dried fruit comes through on the middle, along with hints of coffee, smoke and citrus. Long and raisinated with dried grape, sultana and coconut in the finish. Slightly bitter cocoa after-taste.

Water makes the nose softer and less raw but does bring out a faint blemish. On the palate it emphasises the prune and raisin notes and liker the nose it has brought out a slight blemish and a touch of walnut shell. The finish isn’t quite as bitter as the emphasis has shifted to the grainy dried fruit.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company North British Batch 2 49.3%

Tasted: June 2016

Nose: Very fragrant with cereal husks, apricot, coconut and plenty of sweet, dried fruit. With time it becomes quite herbal with a touch of wood smoke. Water emphasises the cereal and oils.

Palate: Fuller than the nose with fleshy apricot, herbs, coconut and milk chocolate. Very grainy on the middle (showing its youth) but pleasantly intense. Water emphasises the natural oils but flattens too.

Finish: Intense and sharp with a touch of oak softening the edges. Neat it is still austere though, diluted a little bitter.

Conclusion: A lovely, fresh, young grain. Avoid water as it needs the alcohol to give it intensity.

Hunter Laing Sovereign North British 1996 (21 year old) 54.8%

Bourbon/ Code: SOV2121/ Dist: Oct 1996 Btl: 2017/ Tasted: Jan 2018

The nose is slightly perfumed and soapy with dried fruit and hints of lemon sherbet, toasty oak and vanilla.

The palate has a good depth of supple dried fruit and toasty oak. Hints of cereal, sultana, dried citrus rind and sweet apricot follow. Lovely intensity with a crisp, citric middle and a long, coconutty finish.

Hunter Laing Sovereign North British 1989 (25 year old) 59.7%

Bourbon/ Code: SOV2055/ Dist: Sept 1989 Btl: Mar 2015/ Tasted: Apr 2015

Pungent aromas of grainy oak and grainy spice show first. The sultana, fig and prune notes follow along with some fudgy vanillins.

The palate is full and robust. Toffee apple, chunky vanilla and soft grain notes to begin with. It sweetens towards the middle as the sweet oak kicks in and the finish is wonderfully fruity – banana, apricot and coconut. Good length with lingering bitter, tongue tingling spice and oak. The palate displays a lot more complexity than the nose.

Hunter Laing Sovereign North British 1989 (26 year old) 63.1%

Code: SOV2076/ Dist: Sept 1989 Btl: Sept 2015/ Tasted Oct 2015

A sweet and herbal nose with layer upon layer of succulent, juicy acacia honey and subtle rum-like dried fruits, ginger cake and herbal spice. Add buckets of big, toasty ‘Bourbony’ oak to the mix and you have one hell of a nose! It’s so honeyed and oaked that you can’t even smell the alcohol.

Full and honeyed on the palate. The alcohol is more noticeable and accentuates the crisp, herbal graininess of the spirit. Subtle, lightly toffee coated dried fruit and even subtler oak appear with just a fleck of vanilla. Lovely, intense, herbal spice finish with a touch of dark chocolate and returning honey. It still doesn’t seem like it’s over 60%!

A drop of water brings forward the dried fruit, mint leaves and gentle cinnamon notes. It’s still quiet oaky but a little more restrained. On the palate the oak displays a little burnt caramel now and the overall complexity is lessened. Medium length now with a touch of drier fruit and oak on the finish. Now the oak has regressed it does show up the relative neutrality of the spirit.

Hunter Laing Sovereign Grain North British 1962 (50 year old) 57.2%

Bourbon/ Code: SOV2003/ HL9930

Dist: 1962 Btl: Aug 2013/ Tasted: Oct 2013

A real, crisp and smoky nose as the intense, herbal grains emerge first, all set against a lovely, smoky, treacle background. Layers of dates, raisins, cashew nut, pine resin, cinnamon, pure vanilla pod and coconut unfold. Wow! The aromas are spectacularly good! Then the lush American oak vanillins arrive bringing some gentle, sweet wood spices and hints of coffee and mocha. Profound isn’t the word!

The palate is soft and open with some coffee’d tannins followed by moist fruitcake and treacle, shot through with a thin sliver of smoke. The gentle American oak rolls in with some lovely, mature wood notes and lazy marzipan spices. So full and now the mouth coating oils have got going its stunning. The finish has a lovely, textbook bitter/ sweet balance. On the one hand there is some intense, herbal, grain spirit but the deliciously sweet treacle balances, wrapping up all those chocolaty tannins and verily sticking them to the mouth. Devine!

Hunter Laing Sovereign North British 1961 (55 year old) 55.1%

Refill Sherry Butt/ Code: SOV2104/ Dist: Dec 1961 Btl: 2017/ Tasted: Mar 2017

Immediate aromas of dusty wood spice – cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, clove and ginger. These are followed by Armagnac-esque pruney dried fruit, liquorice, treacle, and incense. Wonderfully eounded and succulent with hints of vanilla and grainy dried fruit. Superb depth and balance.

The palate opens with the pepper and spice coated dried fruit with a touch of treacle, leather, tobacco, cinnamon, coriander powder, bitter, dark chocolate and gritty but super smooth tannins. Like the nose it has a superb, mature, Armagnac-esque character with a subtle charred oak note. Very peppery on the middle with some freshening citrus and grain notes coming through. Exceedingly long (around 2 to 3 minutes) with the dark chocolate, prunes, raisin and dried banana lingering. The grippy grain notes return in the after-taste.

Douglas Laing Directors Cut North British 1960 (50 year old) 57.1%

Bourbon/ Code: DIR0017/ Dist: Jul 1960 Btl: June 2012/ Tasted: June 2012

There are some whiskies that have such a complex nose that it takes quite a while to unpick them, and this is one of them. The aromas are ever changing and kaleidoscopic in character. Without a doubt this is the finest old grain whisky I have had the pleasure of tasting.

The nose opens with a serious intensity of herbal oak, which has an almost Oloroso cask richness. Oily, viscous, liquid dark toffee and molasses follow. There’s liquorice coated dried fruit by the bucketful along with hints of tobacco. The grain nips rather pleasantly adding spice and balance. As it opens up the oak takes on a big, Bourbon-like sheen (in fact if I didn’t know what it was you would be forgiven for thinking this was an old Bourbon as there is a definite old wheat/ corn/ rye complexity going on here!) Oh and it positively reeks of maturity. There’s a touch of camphor, lime and dark tea leaves now along with some slightly creamy Colombian coffee and a touch of chlorine. Damn, this is truly stunning!

Wonderfully soft and mature on the palate with oak vanillins and tannins, shot through with some gorgeously spicy grain. Hints of toffee, liquorice, mocha and burnt wood follow. The silky dried fruits have a rum-like quality to them along with a more Cognac-esque rancio. The oils build trying to counteract the grains as they hammer the mid palate. Wow, this is a serious hit! Buckets of warming spice and sweet dried fruit are deposited on the tongue. Hugely concentrated and amazingly long with a silky, cocoa bean after-taste. Yes it’s expensive, but it’s a monumental dram!

Douglas Laing Directors Cut North British 1962 (52 year old) 41.1%

Bourbon/ Code: DIR0089/ Dist: May 1962 Btl: June 2014/ Tasted: July 2014

A gorgeously dense and dusty nose of edgy Guyana-esque dried fruit, piquant spice, sultana, dried white grape, apricot, banana skin and hints of beeswax and kerosene. Lightly smoked with a touch of toasted oak, crystallised violet and Colombian coffee. Subtle, complex and vibrant with late notes of brown sugar encrusted citrus, herbs, white and black pepper.

The palate is wonderfully soft, opening with the demerara coated dried fruit. Elegant, deep and gentle with again a distinct, lightly oiled, fruity Guyana-like character. Hints of mature American oak, wood spice, light tannins and almond shell come through on the middle. Amazingly delicate and moist with a drizzle of honey appearing on the middle. An amazing length with hints of coal smoke, dry coffee grains and lingering dried fruit.


Douglas Laing ‘Clan Denny’ North British 1994 (20 year old) 51%

Code: DEN0128/ Dist: Oct 1994 Btl: Jan 2015/ Tasted: Feb 2015

The nose opens with burnt coffee grains, treacle and dark, dried fruit. Hints of liquorice and fragrant spice follow. The oak is pretty well hidden but it does add a touch of vanilla sweetness. With time the oak really fills out and becomes quite fragrant and bourbony, but the graininess of the spirit balances.

The palate is soft and sweetly oaked with a big bourbon character. Vanilla, toffee, treacle and dark, stewed plumy fruit follows. Some freshening grain notes and a touch of coffee come through on the middle. It feels a lot more mature than the nose with some lovely, lightly oiled sultana and dried citrus on the finish. Some gentle spice and warm vanilla notes linger.


Douglas Laing Old Particular North British 1993 (21 year old) 40.6%

Refil Bourbon Hogshead/ Code: OLD0216/ Dist: Oct 1994 Btl: July 2015/ Tasted: Aug 2015

Young and herbal aromas with fragrant dried fruit and hints of vanilla. Quite crisp with a light balsamic note along with earth and tobacco.

The palate shows more oak, which gives it a lovely soft creaminess. Lightly rum-like dried fruit and crisp grain notes some through. Good length with lingering, oily, herbal grain along with a touch of coffee and hickory.

Douglas Laing Old Particular North British 1994 (21 year old) 48.1%

Refill Bourbon Barrel/ Code: OLD0274/ DL10996

Dist: Oct 1994 Btl: Nov 2016/ Tasted: Mar 2017

Quite deep and rich on the nose with mature honey and high toned dried fruit. Lovely combination of both crisp and sweet grain notes along with integrated oak. With time it develops a light floral edge and a subtle chocolate and wood smoke.

The palate opens with the crisper grain notes and subtle wood smoke infused dried fruit. Lovely depth with a developing almost salty freshness and unobtrusive oak. Long and juicy with lingering dried fruit, crisp grain and salt. Superbly balanced.

Douglas Laing Old Particular North British 1988 (27 year old) 50.2%

Refill Bourbon Hogshead/ Code: OLD0239/ Dist: July 1988 Btl: Sept 2015/ Tasted: Oct 2015

The nose opens with the crisp and grainy aromas with oily honey, dried fruit and citrus. The ‘Bourbony’ oak comes through quite powerfully and becomes quite fragrant in the process adding notes of vanilla, coconut and hazelnuts. The freshness really intensifies and becomes almost salty in character….. Wow!

There is a little more oak showing on the palate and with the luscious honey and dried fruit it makes it feel a little fuller. However the herbal grain comes through on the middle with a breath taking intensity, leaving the dense dried fruit and oak to fill in behind. Again it has an almost salty freshness on the finish – salt sprinkled citrus? Lovely herbal after-taste with just a light bittering from the wood.


Berry Brothers North British 2000 (11 year old) 46%

Bourbon Cask 4312/ Dist: 2000 Btl: 2011/ Tasted: Mar 2012

Slightly starchy and milky nose of sweet grain and creamy oak. Very simple. Reminds me of Chase vodka but aged in oak! The palate is soft and creamy/ milky with some gentle, sweet, starchy grain but predominantly oak – toffee caramel. Good length

Speyside Distillery Scott’s Selection North British 1974 (26 year old) 50%

Dist: 1974 Btl 2000/ Tasted: Nov 2004

Light, delicate and fragrant with hints of violets, beeswax and bourbon oak. Light in body and delicate. Floral with some light oils and oriental spices along with a developing cereal sweetness. Very long with hints of damp loam/ mushrooms on the finish. 

Speyside Distillery Scott’s Selection North British 1964 (43 year old) 43%

Bourbon/ Dist: 1964 Btl: 2007/ Tasted:  Sept 2007

Oh my this is big. Huge, monstrously grainy. Very Bourbon-esque, no it is Stagg-esque! There is a huge array of dried fruit, sultanas, figs, candied citrus fruit, chocolate and coffee. The balance is sublime as it has an amazing freshness!

The palate is equally, monstrously huge and quiet leafy, again very Bourbon-esque. Powerful yet soft and playful on the tongue. A riot of dried fruits, raisins, sultanas, cinnamon of bucketfuls of gingery spice. My, one word – Stunning!

 The intensity carries right through to the end. It is simply stunning with a lovely coffee after taste. This has quality, character and class by the bucketful It has a perfect balance of all it’s components. Yes it is probably expensive, but worth every penny!

Signatory North British 1991 (14 year old) 53.3%

Californian Sherry Cask 259482/ Dist: Oct 1991 Btl: Mar 2006/ Tasted: Nov 2006

Quite a volatile, high toned spirit nose with rich sherry spices and a not inconsiderable amount of coconut.  The palate is light, earthy and grainy, opening with some peppery notes before moving into a lightly sherried middle. Again it is a tad volatile and spirit but there is a good intensity and a nutty finish. 

With water it brings out vegetal aromas  plus a gun flint/ sulphur note. Oh dear! Yes there is a touch more orange fruit on the palate but it’s been ruined by that sulphur note. 

Signatory North British 1994 (12 year old) 43%

Bourbon/ Dist: Nov 1994 Btl: Aug 2007/ Tasted Sept 2007

Slightly coastaly nose with a hint of smoke and creamy vanilla, takes a while to open and shows pleasant touches of buttery/ caramel spices. The palate is pure butterscotch and more butterscotch, rather one-dimensional, good concentration though. Moderate length. Nothing special. Pleasant but simple. Pretty much dominated by the oak.

Duncan Taylor Rare Auld North British 1978 (27 year old) 55.1%

Bourbon Cask 239967/ Dist: 1978 Btl: 2005/ Tasted: Mar 2005

A very spirity nose. Oily and grainy but not a lot else! Hold on there is a touch of vanilla and toasted caramel. Dry, light in body. Rather watery and so-so. Slightly waxy and spirity with some vanilla oak and a slight floral finish. Very disappointing. 

Duncan Taylor Rare Auld North British 1978 (30 year old) 55.2%

Cask 38472/ Dist: 1978 Btl: 2008/ Tasted: Feb 2009

Delicate and fragrant aromas of violet scented beeswax, honey and super clean bourbon oak, which imparts a subtle coconut and wood spice note. The fruit becomes slight tropical with time and definitely heads towards the Caribbean. 

The palate is much like the nose, delicate and fragrant with the spices taking on an almost oriental character. There is plenty of sweetish honeyed vanillins and cereal, again become more tropical as time progresses – banana, coconut, mature apricot. Lovely balance with the alcohol and grains biting pleasantly. Good length, finishing with the a slight earthy/ loamy finish.