Laphroaig 20 (TWE Masterpiece 1996/2016) Review

This is a 20 year Laphroaig that was bottled as part of TWE’s Masterpieces line recently. It was matured in a PX sherry cask and bottled at 50.6% ABV.

Nose: Heavy butter notes up front (shortbread cookies), peat coming through cleanly with bold fudge notes, honey, and some subtle cherry. The chocolate notes are quite bold here.

Palate: Peat much more striking here taking on heavy smoke/ashy notes, some sulphur in background, but masked well by the peat – some cola notes coming through with a blend of baking spices. PX influence is noticeable but sadly no raisiny notes as I typically find in PX maturations.

Finish: Peat and fudge with ash and strong cherry cola notes linger for a long time.

Rating: 91/100 – I really enjoy sherry finished peated drams, and this one does it quite well. I do wish the PX was a bit more noticeable, but Laphroaig’s peat profile I find is often hard to overtake/blend as well with compared to other distilleries e.g. Longrow, Caol Ila, etc.

Value for the money: This retailed for around £200 I believe when it was released, and I think that’s on the very upper limit of what I would pay for this bottle.

Clynelish 20 (Signatory Vintage 1995/2016 Cask #8685) Review

This is a 20 year Clynelish matured in a refill sherry butt and bottled at 50.3% ABV.

Nose: Sherry dominant with baking spices, floral notes, waxy malt with spiced pears, dates, and wet slate.

Palate: Sherry still predominant note with pears and melon, subtle floral notes, and gun flint – quite buttery overall with damp oak and new leather.

Finish: Oak turns slightly bitter as cocoa emerges to linger alongside the sweet sherry.

Rating: 89/100 – A pretty standard heavily sherried Clynelish – the nice thing is they are usually fairly good, so the standard is quite high in my opinion. This expression has some great sherry notes without overwhelming the Clynelish malt profile.

Value for the money: This retailed around €115 which I think is a pretty good price – not sure what they can be found for now at auction, but I wouldn’t pay a whole lot over original retail.

Port Charlotte 10 (The Maltman 2004/2015 Cask #936) Review

This is a 10 year Port Charlotte that was matrued in an ex-oloroso sherry cask and bottled by The Maltman at 53.1% ABV.

Nose: Big, thick sherry notes with underlying strong peat – motor oil, burning leaves, and a strong cantaloupe note.

Palate: Peat really opens up here taking over the sherry – it’s full of oak tannins and sultanas with some charcoal and grassy malt notes.

Finish: Cherries and figs with sawdust, pungent peat, and burnt barbecue meat bits.

Rating: 90/100 – A very solid Port Charlotte with a great balance of peat/sherry. I’m a sucker for sherry finished peated drams, and this one hits a lot of the right notes for me.

Value for the money: This retailed online for about €100 without VAT which was a great price in my opinion. I wouldn’t pay any more than $130 or so for a bottle.

Laphroaig 18 Review

This is the 18 year OB expression from Laphroaig which is bottled at 48% ABV.

Nose: Peat full of a bouquet of sweet notes: caramel rolls, brown sugar, vanilla, strawberries, candied oranges with some cardboard and nutmeg notes in the background.

Palate: Falls a bit flat compared to nose as most of those sweet/bright notes disappear. Turns much earthier/farmier with hay, fresh earth, and a bit of cocoa powder.

Finish: Dark chocolates, fresh earth, pipe smoke, and subtle peaches toward the tail end.

Rating: 91/100 – This has always been one of my favorite Laphroaigs – it’s consistently very good with plenty of depth.

Value for the money: This used to be one of the best value buys around as it retailed around $99-109 (I’ve even seen it on sale for $80 around me in the past). I recently learned it is going to be discontinued supposedly by the end of 2016. A very sad story, but I guess I’ll have to start buying up any cheap ones I see around me.

Macallan Fine Oak 17 Review

This is a 17 year expression from Macallan which is matured in a combination of ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks. It’s bottled at 43% ABV.

Nose: Caramel & vanilla, candied apples, not much sherry coming through. Cinnamon, red wine vinegar, and toasted walnuts.

Palate: Caramel & fudge with black tea – oak heavy with sweet notes developing after a bit. Black cherries, honey, and biscuits.

Finish: Bitter oak and dark chocolate with cherries lingering and anise appearing shortly.

Rating: 85/100 – At a higher proof, I’d think this has a lot of potential, but still enjoyable at 43% for an easy sipper.

Value for the money: Lowest US retail I’ve seen is $140, with it looking to average closer to $175 or so. As with most Macallans, it’s overpriced, and I’d not pay full retail. I’d pay up to about $80-90 or so based on what you’re getting.

Tobermory 10 Review

This is a 10 year single malt Tobermory OB expression bottled at 46.3% ABV.

Nose: Heavy tar with fermented fruits, buttermilk, brackish water, a bit of latex paint with some earthy malt alongside toffee and over-ripe bananas.

Palate: Remains earthy on entry with funky oak and butterscotch predominantly. Some orange peel tucked in a muddy, peppery malt.

Finish: Buttery with mild oak and honey.

Rating: 84/100 – The first Tobermory I’ve tried – reminds me of Springbank in a way with a lot of odd, funky notes making it a fairly unique 10 year malt.

Value for the money: These look to retail around $45-$50 which is a pretty fair price in my opinion.

Glenburgie 21 (K&L Signatory Vintage 1995/2016 Cask #6504) Review

This is a 21 year Glenburgie bottled by Signatory Vintage as part of K&L’s recent selection. It was matured in an ex-bourbon hogshead and bottled at 55.3% ABV.

Nose: Cinnamon and bright citrus notes with a heavy underlying nail polish remover note along with some fresh bread.

Palate: Baking spices, soapy bitterness attributed mostly to the heavy oak influence, little to nothing else for me.

Finish: Bitter orange and oak dominate with a bit of a metallic note.

Rating: 75/100 – I’m not sure what it was with this batch of selections from K&L, but they really missed the boat. Like the others, this isn’t objectively bad, but it’s not very good. I wouldn’t reach for this bottle if it was on my shelf with others.

Value for the money: This is $100 at K&L currently, and I’d pass at that price. I think it belongs around $40-50 based on quality, but don’t think I’d buy it at any price.

Imperial 20 (K&L Signatory Vintage 1995/2016 Cask #50267) Review

This is a 20 year Imperial bottled by Signatory Vintage as part of K&L’s recent selection. It was matured in an ex-bourbon hogshead and bottled at 49.1% ABV.

Nose: Fudge with orange peel, grassy malt with a bit of a salty, playdough like quality. Floral notes in the background with ripe bananas and cumin.

Palate: Sweet on entry before turning oak heavy and bitter – has a great viscous mouthfeel. Funky malt with underlying citrus and floral notes.

Finish: Sour malt with hay and bitter cocoa.

Rating: 82/100 – In my opinion, this is the best of the four recent K&L selections (other three being Glenburgie 21, Linkwood 19, and Dufftown 18). It’s a classic, funky Imperial with some interesting notes, but it doesn’t fully gel together at times.

Value for the money: This was the most expensive of K&Ls recent selections at $120, and I’d pass at that price. I’d peg this closer to $80 or so personally.

Dufftown 18 (K&L Signatory Vintage 1997/2016 Cask #19504) Review

This is an 18 year Dufftown bottled by Signatory Vintage as part of K&L’s recent selection. It was matured in an ex-bourbon hogshead and bottled at 54.8% ABV.

Nose: Honey, subtle blackberry and apricot with a bit of cherry cough drops, and some caramel.

Palate: Vanilla, butterscotch, creme de menthe, sourdough bread, and dry/brittle oak.

Finish: Menthol notes linger with damp oak and bread dough.

Rating: 74/100 – A rather plain malt with hints of a better malt in some of the underlying notes.

Value for the money: This retails at K&L for $70 currently  which looks good on the surface. However, I’d value this closer to $40 personally based on what you get compared to some of the staple malts in the $50 range.

Linkwood 19 (K&L Signatory Vintage 1997/2016 Cask #4616) Review

This is a 19 year Linkwood bottled by Signatory Vintage as part of K&Ls recent Signtaory selections. It was matured in an ex-bourbon hogshead and bottled at 56.6% ABV.

Nose: Briny with dry oak (almost a cardboard like quality to the oak), slightly grassy, and otherwise bland. The nose is very muted and “hollow” if that makes sense.

Palate: Very briny again up front with sawdust, some pepper spice, and very little else. Again, very dialed down/bland here. This hogshead must have been on its last legs.

Finish: Beeswax and oak fade quickly.

Rating: 70/100 – It’s not that this is bad, it’s just not good. The notes that are there are ok, but they are so minimal that there’s nothing to get excited about.

Value for the money: This retails for $90 at K&L currently – on the surface it looks to be a good value for a 19 year, but I’m glad I didn’t pick one of these up as I was considering it before this sample. I wouldn’t buy at any price.