This is a 25 year Caol Ila matured in re-coopered hogsheads and bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Seaweed, subdued peat, subtle sweet barbecue sauce, lime zest, brackish water, and a bit of buttery scallops.
Palate: Peat still subdued with dried/decaying leaves, earthy oak, mussels, apple peels, and a hint of bitter chocolate.
Finish: Lime notes stick around with mushrooms and woody malt.
Rating: 89/100 – Not an in your face peated dram, but lots of great subtle notes going on forming a great balance.
Value for the money: I believe I paid around $225 shipped from an EU site a couple years back for this one, and I think that’s a pretty fair price for what you’re getting.
This is a 10 year Glenlossie that was bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Briny and doughy malt with yeast, lemon, and dried herbs.
Palate: Slightly doughy with some salt, herbs, subtle oak, and a dash of pepper.
Finish: Dry oak and herbal notes remain for a bit.
Rating: 83/100 – Quite a simple dram, but the notes that are there are nice. Would be nice to have some fruits to add a bit more complexity.
Value for the money: I believe I paid around 80-90 for this or so, and I don’t think I’d buy again at the same price.
This is a 19 year Glendronach Single Cask that was matured in a PX cask and bottled at 52.9% ABV.
Nose: Super chocolately up front – but more of a malt chocolate than a sweet chocolate. PX rather muted behind the chocolate notes and heavy oak. Some toffee and black cherries show up after a bit.
Palate: PX much more bold here with those syrupy raisin notes – a bit of chocolate, cloves, and oddly enough some herbal notes tucked away behind the sherry. Just the right balance of other notes besides the PX to avoid becoming too sweet.
Finish: Raisins with citrus and a nice balance of oak lingering.
Rating: 90/100 – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – these Glendronach single casks are about as consistent as it comes in the malt world in my opinion. If you enjoy heavily sherried malts, you just can’t go wrong with these.
Value for the money: Guessing this retailed between $150-200 based on the typical prices for these, and I’d gladly pay for a bottle in that range.
This is a 19 year Springbank expression from the Archives series. It was matured in a refill bourbon hogshead and bottled at 56.4% ABV.
Nose: Briny malt with bright tangerine notes alongside stale cigarette smoke, wet slate, putty, and licorice.
Palate: Twizzler candies with lemon and orange juice, musty oak, a bit of pepper, and dried seaweed.
Finish: A bit of vanilla with some tobacco.
Rating: 87/100 – A little different from the typical Springbank profile which is quite interesting – a solid dram all around.
Value for the money: These retailed around €160 which I think is an ok price if slightly high (like most Springbanks).
This is a 38 year Caperdonich that was matured in what I presume is an ex-sherry cask and bottled at 47.5% ABV.
Nose: Very floral malt with peaches, lavender, mango, guava, bananas foster, almond extract, and buttercream frosting. A real fruit bomb with a lovely floral complement from the malt.
Palate: Butterscotch with plums, black cherries, peach, apples, vanilla, flowery malt with heather, and buttercream frosting again.
Finish: As the fruit fades, becomes even more floral with minimal oak and buttercream lingering on and on.
Rating: 93/100 – What a stellar old Caperdonich – if you like floral/fruity malts, this one will be right up your alley.
Value for the money: I believe this originally retailed around $430 which I would gladly pay. Not sure what it would go for at auction, but I’d probably pay 100-200 over retail for it there.
This is a 20 year old expression from Convalmore that was matured in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at an impressively high 65.2% ABV.
Nose: Blackberry jam, vanilla beans, pears, honey, and a bit of musty oak. A simple, but pleasant nose.
Palate: Heat is quite strong without any water making it hard to pull out many notes – mostly oak with some honey and vanilla and very subtle berry notes in the background.
Finish: Disappears in a flash as the head subsides leaving only a trace of honey.
Rating: 82/100 – I feel like malt doesn’t hold up as well at such high proofs compared to bourbon/rye – the more delicate notes tend to get overpowered in my opinion.
Value for the money: I bought into a bottle split at a $280 valuation, and I would pass on a bottle at that price. I don’t think I’d go over $100 personally.
This is a 20 year Auchroisk that was bottled in 2010 as part of the Diageo Special Releases for that year. It’s bottled at 58.1% ABV.
Nose: Subtle berries and cream with mild oak, sligthly sour malt, dry herbs, and a bit of vanilla. Overall, a very subtle/muted nose – with a bit of water some apple peels and clay notes emerged.
Palate: Very viscous mouthfeel with strong oak notes. Subtle berries here again with mascarpone – again quite muted overall. With water, some fresh apple notes emerge again.
Finish: Mild oak and vanilla with a bit of mango and anise.
Rating: 83/100 – A delicate dram with subdued notes – I wish it was a bit bolder overall.
Value for the money: These range in retail in the US – the lowest I’ve seen is around $130 and Binny’s has it for $180 right now. I’ve thought about buying this in the past from my local at the $130 price, but I think I’ll pass after trying the sample.
This is a 14 year Springbank that was released to the Springbank Society. It was aged in fresh sherry pipes which is interesting as I’ve never seen sherry pipe maturing – I’ve only seen port pipes. It was bottled at 57.1% ABV. I didn’t actually know there was sherry involvement as I hadn’t seen the full label, and I wouldn’t have really guessed it was sherried when I tried it as you’ll see in my notes below.
Nose: Briny with some mustard seed and sauteed mushrooms, mossy/earthy oak with some bright clementine notes in the background.
Palate: Coriander, briny malt, very peppery/spicy with a lot of heat on the tip of the tongue, musty oak, slightly herbal with some cinnamon sticks in the background.
Finish: Musty oak and cloves with some subtle vegetal notes.
Rating: 87/100 – As mentioned above, I didn’t know this was sherry matured when I tasted it, and it doesn’t really come through – if anything, I could see it being some type of Fino or Manzanilla sherry even based on the woody/vegetal notes. All in all a nice dram though with some classic Springbank characteristics.
Value for the money: Can’t really find any current price data – they were going at auction a few years ago around €90 or so, and I think that’s a good price if it can be found around that price.
This is a roughly 40 year old Strathisla that was distilled in 1972, matured in ex-sherry casks, and bottled in 2013 at 43% ABV.
Nose: Super sweet sherry full of raisins, pears, peaches, apples, bananas, and surprisingly little oak. A real fruit bomb on the nose.
Palate: The fruit fest continues with peaches, spiced apples, pears while some milk chocolate notes develop. A bit of slate as the oak shows up, but the oak is still surprisingly mild given the age.
Finish: Peach and sweet sherry notes linger on with the oak coming up a bit stronger, but still held in check by all the sweet notes.
Rating: 92/100 – A fantastic sherry bomb if you enjoy very sweet/fruit heavy malts. I’ve had a few old ones like this where the oak is just too overbearing, but this one is perfectly balanced.
Value for the money: Looks like this originally retailed around $550 or so, and I think that’s a pretty fair price.
This is a 27 year Glenlivet matured in an ex-bourbon cask and bottled at 53.1% ABV.
Nose: A nice blend of malt, brine, soil, under ripe bananas, strawberries, grains, oak, and a bit of lemon juice – rather perfectly balanced across the board.
Palate: Bananas, pepper, vanilla, earthy oak, malty with some clay notes developing after a bit.
Finish: Cloves, oak, pepper, and a hint of toffee – nice long finish.
Rating: 88/100 – A pretty solid example of what a good ex-bourbon cask maturation should be. Interesting fruit notes with the oak complimenting perfectly.
Value for the money: I bought into a sample split at around a $120 valuation, and I would gladly pay that for a full bottle.