Braeval 19 (Chieftain’s 1996/2015 Red Wine Finish) Review

This is a 19 year Braeval that was finished in a red wine cask and bottled by Chieftain’s at 46% ABV.

Nose: Black cherry and grape bubbleyum, apple juice french vanilla, and milk chocolate – sweet and fruity.

Palate: Quit fruity up front before lots of pepper coming in to spice it up a bit. Vanilla and golden raisins complete the sweet profile.

Finish: Caramel & pecans with raisins – quite long and sweet.

Rating: 83/100 – This drank closer to a bourbon than a malt to me in terms of the sweeter notes. It wasn’t your typical ex-sherry profile.

Value for the money: This retailed around $110 I think, and while not too high a price, I wouldn’t buy a bottle of it personally.

Heaven Hill 15 (Malts of Scotland Islay Cask Finish) Review

This is a 15 year Heaven Hill from Malts of Scotland finished in an Islay cask and bottled at 53.8% ABV.

Nose: Odd – lightly muted, but can pick out some typical bourbon notes of vanilla/caramel with some dry oak and active yeast. Islay cask finish adds some burnt oak elements. A bit of green apple and rubber cement appear after a bit.

Palate: Still kind of odd here – some smoky notes blended with vanilla and brown sugar. Still rather oaky and dry.

Finish: Dry and short as oak turns a bit bitter. Subtle smoky notes linger.

Rating: 82/100 – This is an odd one. I’m usually all for unorthodox finishes, but the Islay cask finish muddles the waters of this bourbon making it a bit incoherent.

Value for the money:  I think these retailed around €120 or so when they came out, and it’s an easy pass for me at that price or higher.

Bowmore 23 Year Old 1989 Port Matured Review

This is a 23 year Bowmore matured in a Port cask and released in 2013 as a limited edition. It’s bottled at 50.8% ABV.

Nose: Loads of peat/sweet notes up front, I like where this is going – the peat is much stronger than I expected for a malt of this age – some white pepper and a slight milk/dairy note in the background.

Palate: Peat again is quite strong – quite raisiny/sweet with a bit of honey. Slightly ashy with a dash of pepper.

Finish: Peat lingers for quite a long time along with a grape juice note.

Rating: 91/100 – I’m a huge sucker for peat + wine finishes, so this one is right up my alley.

Value for the money: Looks like the price ranges a lot on this one as it’s not widely available anymore, but you can get it between $450-550 it looks like. I’d pass at that price as you can get good peat/wine combos for much cheaper e.g. Longrow Red series.

Mystery Bourbon Review

This was a sample sent to me that I reviewed blind.

Nose: Hmmm definitely a bourbon – quite sweet with loads of vanilla and a surprising amount of dark fruit. Smells wheated to me – some cloves, licorice, and gingerbread.

Palate: Quite sweet up front before turning rather oak heavy – again seems wheated as there are some overarching sweeter grain notes in there. Less fruity here, but still lots of vanilla and spices.

Finish: Turning more oaky and bitter as the tannins linger.

Rating: 88/100 – Pretty nice, but becomes a bit too oak heavy on the back half for me.

Guess: I’d guess this is around 15 years with an ABV between 45-50% – tastes wheated, but can’t think of much wheated that fits my other criteria.

Reveal:  It’s an 11 year SAOS Single Barrel from the Wine & Cheese Place bottled at 48.5% ABV. I guess I was off with the aging, but this certainly tastes older than 11 years.

Value for the money: I think this retailed around $50 based on what I found online, and I’d be happy to buy one at that price.

Strathisla 42 (Gordon & MacPhail 1969/2012) Review

This is a 42 year sherried Strathisla that was bottled by G&M in 2012 at 43% ABV.

Nose: Super fruity and rich sherry right up front – maraschino cherries, blueberries, brown sugar, and raisins. Fruits are slightly tempered with some nutmeg and leather – oak is surprisingly muted given its age.

Palate: Oak much heavier here as expected, but still loads of fruit from the sherry. Some cinnamon butter appears with milk chocolate.

Finish: Mostly oak now as the fruits fade, but not too tannic which minimizes the bitterness here.

Rating: 92/100 – I love these old sherried Strathislas – they really strike the right balance of oak/sherry despite their age.

Value for the money: I bought into a sample split where the bottle was purchased at $535 – I wouldn’t buy a bottle at that price, but given its age, it’s a relatively decent price.

SMWS 4.217 “Nordic Nosh” (Highland Park 19) Review

This is a 19 year Highland Park from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. It was matured in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead and bottled at 53.9% ABV.

Nose: Delicate balance of heather and floral notes up front followed by apricot jam, motor oil, and turning fairly malty after a few minutes.

Palate: Smoked fish with pear chutney, nice level of peat balanced against some fairly strong oak and seaweed.

Finish: Sweeter here as pear and peach notes poke through the peat/oak veil – fairly long finish.

Rating: 87/100 – A pretty standard, if not slightly better than average, ex-bourbon Highland Park.

Value for the money: This ran $160 through the US SMWS, and that’s not too bad of a price (especially for SMWS). I’m not sure I’d buy a bottle, but wouldn’t be too disappointed if I had at that price.

Adelphi’s Liddesdale Batch 10 (Bunnahabhain 21) Review

This is batch 10 in Adelphi’s Liddesdale series which is a Bunnahabhain 21 bottled at 46% ABV.

Nose: Very nice – briny with plums and black cherries. Slight smoke merging alongside some musty books and clovves.

Palate: Peatier here than the nose let on with the smoke amplifying. Sweeter notes are mostly tucked away behind the peat but some black cherry and grapes can be found with more brine and seaweed.

Finish: More vegetal here as the peat stands out more clearly and all sweet notes fade. Heavy oak presence here as it turns a bit bitter.

Rating: 88/100 – Good but a bit inconsistent with me – would like the sweeter notes to stick around a bit longer and the finish verges on being overoaked.

Value for the money: Looks like these can be had for around €135 which is a pretty reasonable price.

Wild Turkey Decades Review

This was a special release from Wild Turkey in 2016 that consists of a blend of 10 and 20 year old whiskies bottled at 52% ABV.

Nose: Vanilla, toffee, butterscotch pudding, french toast with fairly heavy oak and a slightly odd mustard note.

Palate: Sweet up front, but quickly becomes very oak heavy with some caramel syrup and licorice.

Finish: Brown sugar and lots of oak – fairly long but bitter finish.

Rating: 84/100 – Not bad, but not as good as I was hoping as I’d heard good things about this particular expression. It’s fairly overoaked in my opinion and is reminiscent of other more modern WT expressions.

Value for the money: This retailed for $150 which would be an easy pass for me. I’d recommend trying some store pick Russell’s Reserve single barrels for much, much cheaper – many of which I’ve tried are better than this. I don’t know if these go for anything over retail on secondary, but definitely not worth paying over retail in my opinion.

Speyside Region 41 Whisky-Fassle 1975/2016 Review

This is a 41 year expression bottled by Whisky-Fassle from an undisclosed distillery aged in a Fino sherry butt and bottled at 47.4% ABV.

Nose: Wow – cinnamon and pink starburst, honey, cardamom, watermelon, buttered toast, vanilla, strawberry smoothie. A big fruit bomb with some really good spice notes balancing it out.

Palate: Golden raisins soaked in vanilla, buttered bread, cinnamon dusted granny smith apples, poached pears, strawberry shortcake – again loads of fruits with some nice spices to balance.

Finish: Brown sugar & cinnamon with poached pears, lavender, and peach sorbet.

Rating: 94/100 – Phenomenal – I didn’t know much about this one going into it, but I was blown away. Reminds me of my favorite elements of Clynelish, Lochside, and old Caperdonich all rolled into one.

Value for the money: When these were released they retailed around €330 from what I could find online, and I would gladly buy at that price. Guessing you’d have to go to auction to find one at this point, but I’d still go a little above retail for this bottling.

Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso Review

This is batch OL0614 of the standard Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso expression which was matured in first-fill Oloroso sherry casks. It’s bottled at 60.7% ABV.

Nose: Super fruity/grape heavy up front – a real grape bomb if there is such a thing. Grape bubblegum with a fair bit of rubbing alcohol, a bit of cherry peaking through with a hint of leather.

Palate: Still very heavy with grape notes – like grape cough syrup almost. Drinks very hot with the rubbing alcohol notes still present amidst some sawdust.

Finish: Heat lasts for some time with a very dry/short finish with a hint of grape.

Rating: 78/100 – The rubbing alcohol notes really set this one back for me – but interesting tasting something so grape heavy.

Value for the money: These retail around $70 (non-batch specific), and while it seems like a decent price, I didn’t enjoy this one enough to pick up at any price. Other batches may be better though and could be worth a gamble at $70.