This is a 42 year Longmorn that was matured in a first fill sherry cask and bottled in 2011 at 59.4% ABV.
Nose: Thick, meaty sherry with a cloud of oak and old, worn leather hanging over. Blueberry pie emerging after a bit alongside fresh ground pepper.
Palate: Tart berries up front before a blend of sherry and oak explode across the palate. Musty yet slightly sweet with pepper tossed toasted walnuts.
Finish: Vanilla and toffee notes develop as oak becomes bitter and tannic.
Rating: 88/100 – The oak is a bit overbearing on the palate/finish throwing it out of balance for me. Still very nice overall.
Value for the money: It looks like this originally retailed around €425 or so, and that’s not a terrible price for a 42 year malt, but I wouldn’t buy this particular bottle for that much.
This is the 18 year OB expression from Bunnahabahin that’s a mix of ex-bourbon/sherry casks and bottled at 46.3% ABV.
Nose: Very heavy sherry with macerated grapeskins, damp sawdust, banana bread, and toffee notes.
Palate: Surprisingly the oak is quite dominant here turning it bitter and relatively dry – grape juice, tobacco, and cocoa powder round out the profile.
Finish: Mostly muddled sherry and oak – dry and short overall.
Rating: 84/100 – Not quite as good as the OB 25 year, and it somehow tastes older to me with the dominant oak palate oddly enough.
Value for the money: This is where it shows up the 25 year in that it’s almost as good, but it’s $200+ cheaper. I usually see this around $99, and I think that’s a pretty fair price.
This is the newer 25 year expression from Bunnahabhain that’s non-chill filtered and bottled at 46.3% ABV (up from 43%).
Nose: Very thick sherry with heavy brown sugar and raisins – floor polish, old rubber balls, wet slate, and lemon zest.
Palate: Smoky malt with tons of sherry again – bitter cocoa, musty oak, and brown sugar. I figured some peat would come through, but as far as I can tell so far, there is zero peat involved with this expression based on nose/palate.
Finish: Astringent oak with dry sherry and a hint of chocolate.
Rating: 85/100 – Good, but tame – glad they raised the proof from the old release, but would love to try this at cask strength.
Value for the money: These vary quite a bit, but I see them around $300 retail frequently, and it’s an easy pass at that price. I wouldn’t pay more than $150 for a bottle.
This is one of ten single barrel expressions that were part of the Icons of Whiskey release from a year or two ago where Jim Rutledge picked some barrels for their best retailers. This is an OESK bottled at 9 years/4 months at 57.4% ABV.
Nose: Strawberry cream, vanilla ice cream, watermelon, pine trees, dried thyme, subtle oak.
Palate: Ripe strawberries topped with whip cream, heavy vanilla, dried herbs again, and a fresh oak. Very similar to nose which makes for a nice transition.
Finish: Changes up where with some mint and leather added to the oak with a bit of banana.
Rating: 89/100 – A very good FR Single Barrel.
Value for the money: I’d gladly pay retail for this same bottle ($65 or so), but it’s not worth any more than that on secondary to me. After you’ve had so many FR barrel picks, the bell curve of quality is so tight, that it’s not worth more than any other in my mind.
This is the 2013 Lagavulin Feis Ile expression which was an 18 year sherry-matured expression bottled at 51% ABV.
Nose: Fairly closed off – delicate smoke with mild peat, dark chocolate, subtle figs and blackberries.
Palate: Sherry notes pull out front with plums and berries, mild peat and oak to back it up alongside a drop of vanilla. Still quite mild surprisingly.
Finish: Mostly sweet sherry notes lingering with a bit of oak and peat.
Rating: 82/100 – All the notes were there that I normally love in a sherried peated dram, but it’s like someone dialed the intensity knob down several notches. Not sure if it’s the low proof or what, but it’s a shame as I could tell there was a great foundation there.
Value for the money: These are spotty online, but looks like they’re going around €300 at auction in recent months, and I would pass at that price.
This is the bottom end of the core lineup from Johnnie Walker blends. It’s NAS and bottled at 40% ABV.
Nose: Candied apples and pecans with a harsh turpentine note leaking through with some motor oil and artificial oak.
Palate: Very tasteless – almost like diluting rubbing alcohol down to 40%. There’s maybe a hint of oak in there, but mostly devoid of anything.
Finish: Again, nothing really here which makes sense given the lack of flavor on the palate.
Rating: 50/100 – Hard to score a whisky like this, but I figured 50 was fair as it’s not something I want to spit out as it really has no flavor. I can imagine you’d only buy a bottle of this as a mixer, but even then, you’re probably better suited buying something with at least a little flavor I would think.
Value for the money: I believe this retails around $20, and I just can’t think of a reason to buy it (except maybe as a gag gift for a scotch lover?).
This is an 8 year Lagavulin OB released as part of its 200th Anniversary and bottled at 48% ABV.
Nose: Bold peat with loads of smoke, a bit of turpentine, new leather, tar, and burnt hamburger bits.
Palate: Very pungent peat with vegetal notes alongside burnt bacon and tarry malt wrapped in a shroud of smoke.
Finish: Tobacco smoke and peat last on for some time.
Rating: 86/100 – The first Lagavulin I’ve had under 12 years old, and the balance wasn’t fully there for me. For some reason, it seems only some peated malts can do <10 year expressions well (primarily Ledaig in my experience).
Value for the money: These retail around $60 which is a surprisingly reasonable price. I could nitpick and say it should be closer to $45-$50, but close enough in my book.
This is the first OB 21 year release from Littlemill that’s bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Yeast rolls, playdough, new oak, bold pepper, star anise, and white chocolate.
Palate: Sour and super funky up front before a wave of mango and peach drizzled in white vinegar wash over the palate. Slightly salty and floral after a minute.
Finish: Stonefruits linger with a perfect level of oak alongside heather and cardamom.
Rating: 90/100 – I’ve only had a couple other Littlemills which I have not liked, so this one was a big surprise for me.
Value for the money: Looks like these are going for €300+ at auction lately, and that’s pushing it a bit for me. If it were available in stores, I’d pay up to $200-$225 for a bottle.
This is a 51 year old blended grain whiskey bottled by Cooper’s Choice at 51% ABV.
Nose: Brown sugar with caramelized bananas, french vanilla, sweet grains, I almost would’ve thought I was nosing an older bourbon if this was a mystery.
Palate: Rush of anise and brown sugar up front followed by the oak punching through strongly alongside vanilla, malt chocolate, and cinnamon. Still, not nearly as heavy oak influence as I was expecting for the age.
Finish: As I would’ve guessed, oak begins to turn rather bitter here with the bourbon medley of notes still lingering.
Rating: 86/100 – Very interesting profile for something this old – was fully expecting an oak fest, but left pleasantly surprised by all the rich/sweet notes pulling ahead of the oak.
Value for the money: I bought into a bottle split at around a $250-$275 bottle valuation which is pretty great given the age. I paid $250 for the 50 year grain I have which I also though was a pretty good price given the age. Good luck finding a 50 year single malt without taking out a second mortgage.
This is a 21 year Rosebank OB that was bottled in 2011 at 53.8% ABV.
Nose: Bright, flowery malt with yeast, chocolate fudge, damp oak, vanilla frosting, and a dollop of honey.
Palate: Blast of pepper and salt with floral malt, cream cheese and marzipan add some rich elements as the oak gets much heavier and full of vanilla.
Finish: Mostly dry oak here with some honey and bread dough.
Rating: 85/100 – Well balanced, but a bit simplistic in profile for me. One of the better lowlands I’ve had though.
Value for the money: These can currently be found around $500 retail, but it’s a very easy pass for me at that price. I’d pay up to $100-$125 personally.