This is an NAS expression but according to the press release it was aged for 6 years in new oak and finished for 2 additional years in a port wine cask. It’s bottled at 44.45% ABV.
Nose: Prominent sawdust/young oak with grape jello, cherry cough drops, and french vanilla. Port comes through but in a weird artificial sweetened kind of way.
Palate: Fruit punch and vanilla frosted cupcakes with light brown sugar and charred oak.
Finish: Dries out with the heat coming up a bit with a spicy port profile.
Rating: 79/100 – Port finishes can be hard to do well on bourbon – this one comes off a bit odd at times due to the clash of already sweet bourbon with a fruity port profile.
Value for the money: I bought a bottle of this for $35 before trying the sample. I don’t regret the purchase, but I won’t be buying another.
This is a 17 year Laphroaig that was matured in an ex-bourbon hogshead, selected by Binny’s, and bottled at 54.7% ABV.
Nose: Very ashy and full of peat with a helping of lemon curd alongside burning dried leaves.
Palate: Grapefruit juice up front cutting through the ashy peat – lemon meringue and smoked fish.
Finish: Peat and sweet smoke lingers with slight apple cider vinegar note.
Rating: 88/100 – A solid Laphroaig that’s a bit heavier on the peat side than I expected at 17 years.
Value for the money: This retailed for $130 which is a pretty fair price for the quality of this expression.
This is a 19 year Dalmore expression that was matured in a sherry butt and bottled at 43% ABV.
Nose: Tangerine with a briny malt – sour notes with medium oak influence. Little to no sherry here – must have been one refill too many.
Palate: Salty malt with biscuits – subtle fruits in the background. Strikes me as a Glenmorangie 10 type profile.
Finish: Very bland disappearing in a flash.
Rating: 74/100 – Sherry influence was extremely negligible all around – it’s inoffensive, but not particularly enjoyable.
Value for the money: Not sure what this retailed for, but willing to guess it was around $90-$110. Whatever the retail is, I would pass.
This is an 18 year expression (based on distilled date/bottling code) that was bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Very heavy yeast notes along with striking fresh, buttery dough rolled in flour. Definitely the most doughy nose I’ve ever encountered.
Palate: Dough here again taking on a sweeter profile – great full mouthfeel with heavy yeast and moldy oak.
Finish: Dries out with a salted malt and young oak.
Rating: 80/100 – Very simple, yet refreshingly different profile with the heavy dough presence.
Value for the money: I think these retailed around $50-$60, and I would pass at that price, but it’s not too bad of a price in general.
This is a 15 year Auchroisk that was a blend of bourbon/syrah maturations that was finished in additional Syrah cask before being bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Pickled vegetables with smoked meats, burnt oak, over ripe bananas – wine influence is very dark here but slightly closed off.
Palate: Wine finish really explodes here with a dessert wine profile full of pears, black cherries, and bubble gum while slightly grassy notes linger in the background.
Finish: Surge of fruit punch leaving with bitter oak and spiced jams.
Rating: 86/100 – Not for the faint of heart when it comes to heavy wine influence – very sweet and rich, but quite good if you like that style.
Value for the money: I think these retailed for around $80 or so, and I think that’s a very fair price given comparable bottles like the Companta which retail for $100.
This is a 14 year expression from Glengoyne that was distilled in 1996 and bottled in 2010 at 43%.
Nose: Bright, young sherry with vanilla, ripe strawberries, and watermelon. Light and fruity overall.
Palate: Subtle sherry with young oak profile mixed with a bit of pear and vanilla.
Finish: Fades rapidly leaving behind traces of virgin oak.
Rating: 80/100 – Would make for a good intro scotch for someone as it’s very light and approachable, but doesn’t make for too interesting a dram.
Value for the money: This appears to have retailed around $85 which is an easy pass. Should be priced around $50 or so in my opinion.
This is a 5 year straight rye from the Frank L. Wight Distilling Co. It was distilled in 1941 and bottled in 1946 at 45% ABV.
Nose: Rye grain with overarching sour notes, prominent oak, coriander, and heavy molasses.
Palate: Very peppery rye full of clay and dusty, old oak. Slightly sour here as well with more thick molasses notes.
Finish: Pepper lingers along with rye grain for a long time as the oak fades.
Rating: 92/100 – I never know what to expect with these really old distillates, but this one left me impressed. Too bad they don’t make these anymore…
Value for the money: I bought into a bottle split of this one as it was damaged in shipping by the purchaser. I bought in at roughly a $480 bottle valuation which I wouldn’t pay for a whole bottle, but I’m glad I was able to try.
This is a 42 year old sherry cask matured Macallan from the Speymalt line that was distilled in 1971 and bottled in 2013 at 43% ABV.
Nose: Thick, luscious sherry notes full of rich spices and leather, oak presenting as dusty antique furniture, and an overture of heavy dates and figs.
Palate: Bold sherry up front both very sweet and spicy with bright peppercorn notes. Huge sweeping oak follows right after filling palate with leather and ashy tobacco.
Finish: Oak fully takes over here and unfortunately turns very bitter with slightly acidic grape skins.
Rating: 82/100 – Nose is quite nice, but the oak is just too overwhelming afterwards – especially on finish which is tremendously overoaked.
Value for the money: I think this retailed for close to $1000 and that is a very, very easy pass for that much money.
This is a 12 year 95% rye (MGP) expression from Whistlepig that is a blend of finishes: 63% Madeira, 30% Sauternes, and 7% Port. It’s bottled at 43% ABV.
Nose: Big, sweeping rye with very sweet overtures including heavy vanilla and honey drizzled buttermilk biscuits. Balanced nicely with a dose of black peppercorns.
Palate: Heavily spiced rye with cardamom and caraway, fresh rye bread profile which I really enjoy with some dry oak. Still rather sweet here as the Sauternes stands out to me with a dessert wine profile.
Finish: Oak continues to dry out with rye bread lingering alongside raisins.
Rating: 86/100 – My first Whistlepig expression (the recent ousting of their CEO has inspired me to try one finally) and I have to say it’s pretty interesting. The finishing in wine casks works quite well here.
Value for the money: This retails around $130 which I think is on the high side (along with their other expressions). I’d buy a bottle of this around $80 as I think it has a tough competition against High West A Midwinter Night’s Dram.
This is a NAS expression from Oban that is a made up of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks that is married in small oak casks before being bottled at 43% ABV.
Nose: Briny with some playdough, but fairly hollow overall. Light blackberries with whipped cream.
Palate: Smoky malt with damp cardboard, slightly herbal profile, and subtle spices.
Finish: Very faint berries and sour malt – otherwise unremarkable.
Rating: 71/100 – I found this very underwhelming on all fronts. It’s not bad per se, but all the flavor/aroma knobs have been dialed down to about 3 it seems.
Value for the money: These retail around $70 which is a very easy pass. Spend $30 more or so and pick up the Oban 18 if you’re looking for an Oban.