This is a “small barrel” aged bourbon that was aged for 11 months before being bottled at 48% ABV. You can tell the small barrel certainly has an effect on the color as this appears as dark as a 15-20 year bourbon.
Nose: Young grain with some new make notes, heavy cinnamon, an odd savory note that I can only describe as sauteed mushrooms, and some cloves at the tail end.
Palate: Cloves and cinnamon dominant up front followed by the young grains/fresh oak notes with a bit of an herbal twist.
Finish: Cinnamon red hots, nutmeg, turns a bit herbal/bitter as it dries out.
Rating: 77/100 – Interesting to try something aged in small barrels to help speed up the aging process. It certainly tastes more mature than 11 months, but even with the small barrel, it can’t fully mask its youth.
Value for the money: Looks like these retail around $36 for a 375ml – that’s quite pricey for something this young, but interesting to try an experiment like this. I’m surprised you don’t see more new/start up distilleries doing this to help get their products tasting a bit more mature until they have time to fully age some of their stock.
This is a 12 year Springbank distilled in 1990, matured in sherry casks, and bottled in 2003 at 52.4% ABV.
Nose: Plastic beach balls, funky malt, a bit of sulphur, woody mushrooms, and some vanilla.
Palate: Clean, fruity sherry with the plastic notes disappearing – damp oak, peppery malt, mint, and cardamom.
Finish: Slightly sulphury sherry with the plastic type notes returning as the oak notes dial up.
Rating: 85/100 – Pretty consistent with the rest of the 12 year wood finishes by Springbank.
Value for the money: These retailed around $80 which is an ok price – I wouldn’t seek this out for more than that at auction.
This is the 15 year core expression from Glenfarclas which is sherry cask matured and bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Big, meaty sherry with cloves, raisins, toffee, spiced pears, and apple pie.
Palate: Fruit cake with baking spices, raisins, and cinnamon – turning into apple strudel after a bit.
Finish: A bit sour and vinegary at first with sherry seasoned oak lasting a long time.
Rating: 86/100 – A very nice heavily sherried expression from Glenfarclas.
Value for the money: These will run you about $50 + shipping from UK sites like MoM and TWE and I think that’s a pretty great price.
This is a 28 year Banff that was bottled by G&M in 2005 at 40% ABV.
Nose: Pineapple and mango with hay, big sweeping oak notes, and almond oil.
Palate: Quite oaky up front with some banana and muted cantaloupe – turning butterscotch and toffee heavy. Some grassy notes and anise arise on the rear palate.
Finish: Dry oak with subtle cantaloupe and star anise.
Rating: 83/100 – Hints of a very good malt that was watered down a bit too much. Would love to try this at cask strength.
Value for the money: Not a lot of auction history, but most recently this went for €266. I’d pass at that price. I wouldn’t pay over $100 for this particular bottling.
This is a 22 year Glendronach that was matured in a PX cask and bottled at 50.8% ABV. This is an older review that it appears I never migrated to the blog.
Nose: Floral oak dripping with rich, raisiny PX sherry. Loads of brown sugar with some honey and mineral notes.
Palate: Extremely rich PX – like a raisin syrup. Takes a minute to get past the sherry bomb, but bananas, toffee, and nutmeg emerge.
Finish: Slightly astringent but the sugary PX laden oak lingers on and on
Rating: 92/100 – A very good PX matured Glendronach – hits all the right sweet notes for me. I often use this one to introduce someone to sweeter scotch as it is almost like a dessert pour.
Value for the money: These retailed close to $200, and at auction it would still be in that ballpark. I think that would be a fair price if you can score one around there.
This is an 11 year Glendronach from Batch 12 that was matured in a PX Sherry Puncheon and bottled at 57.8% ABV.
Nose: A bit barbecue saucy with sweet tomatoes and a subtle vinegar – grapes, charred oak with some slight smoke as a result. Not very raisiny as I was expected given the PX maturation (albeit a short maturation).
Palate: Much fruitier here with raisins and cranberries. Vanilla custard and a bit of tart malt with cinnamon.
Finish: Very tart with fruit punch, minimal oak, and golden raisins.
Rating: 87/100 – Another solid Single Cask from Glendronach – they are about as consistent as you can find in my opinion. Interesting to try one on the younger side before the sherry has time to dominate the malt.
Value for the money: These retailed around $80 when they came out, and that’s a fair price. These sell out quickly at retail though so you’d have to find this one at auction. I’d be happy to pay up to $100 or so.
This is one of the NAS expressions produced by KBD. It’s a small batch bourbon bottled at 57.15% ABV.
Nose: Peppery with big grain notes, cinnamon, quite yeasty, brown sugar – fairly basic bourbon nose.
Palate: Green apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, peppery, young and slightly harsh oak.
Finish: Pepper comes to fore front as the heat dials up with bitter oak and corn notes.
Rating: 78/100 – It’s a bit rough around the edges, but overall a decent bourbon.
Value for the money: These range at retail from $42 on the low end at Total Wine, up to around $60 at other stores. I’d pass even at the low end personally – I think this belongs closer to the $25-30 level.
This is a 12 year Sprinkbank that was distilled in 1989 and bottled in 2002 at 54.6% ABV. I couldn’t find info on the maturation other than that this was finished in rum casks (not sure for how long).
Nose: Rum comes through very cleanly full of cane sugar and molasses – oak has a very green quality to it. Malty, but the rum has peeled most of the funk from the typical Springbank malt profile – some candied apples after a bit.
Palate: Very peppery with melon, candied nuts, apple peels, golden raisins, and a very woody malt.
Finish: Pepper and molasses with brown sugar.
Rating: 86/100 – This is my first rum cask finished malt, and it worked pretty well. The rum notes come through well without fully overpowering the malt. Although that could be that this is due to Springbank’s distinctive malt – a weaker dram could succomb fully to the rum influence perhaps.
Value for the money: This one retails for a lot more than the other 12 year finished Springbanks – typically around $220+. It’s a pass for me at that price, but I’d buy it around the price of the others ($80 or so).
This is the entry level expression from Oban’s core range. It’s bottled at 43% ABV.
Nose: Toffee and butterscotch lead off with some grape juice on the backend. Acidic and malty with some slightly rancid butter.
Palate: Very bland – where did those toffee and butterscotch notes go that were so prominent on the nose? Distant fruits, faint barley, and very subtle oak.
Finish: Dry malt and oak – fades rapidly.
Rating: 74/100 – A somewhat promising nose followed by a let down of palate/finish. Tastes like it was watered down to 20%.
Value for the money: These retail for close to $60 and it’s an easy pass at that (or any) price for me.
This is a 26 year Balmenach that was matured in an ex-bourbon Hogshead and bottled at 51.6% ABV. Thanks to My Annoying Opinions for the sample.
Nose: Bright, briny malt with tart berries, clay, beeswax, greek yogurt, grassy with some mint and mushrooms. A bit all over the place but some interesting notes in there.
Palate: Quite woody with lots of green/grassy notes while also a bit flowery. Some briny malt with mint.
Finish: Dry and oak heavy with pepper and cloves.
Rating: 85/100 – My first Balmenach expression – don’t know how typical this is to their distillery profile, but I enjoyed it. Reminded me of a cross between a Clynelish and a Talisker.
Value for the money: This retails for $150 at Binny’s, and I think that’s a pretty reasonable price.