This is a 21 year vatted malt from Nikka that is bottled at 43% ABV.
Nose: Apricot jam with honeydew melon, toffee, and nutmeg – hints of sawdust and butterscotch.
Palate: Strawberries and honey with nutmeg dusted oak. White pepper and cantaloupe develop as it turns a bit fruitier/spicier.
Finish: Quite a long finish turning a bit herbal on top of the lasting honey and malt notes.
Value for the money: This originally retailed around $165 which would’ve been a fair price, but not it looks like you can’t get it under $225 or so in most places I’m seeing online, and that’s pushing it for me. If it was proofed a bit higher, I could see me paying north of original retail a bit, but not as it stands.
This is a 24 year Linkwood matured in an ex-bourbon hogshead and bottled at 50% ABV.
Nose: A real malt bomb full of loads of yeast and bread dough, a bit of charcoal and camphor oil appear with spiced pears.
Palate: Yeasty still here with the oak becoming bolder – overtones of tart apples and honeysuckle with a hint of lavender.
Finish: Quite dry and bitter as the oak takes over alongside traces of bread dough.
Value for the money: I can’t find any pricing data on this, but I’d be happy to buy a bottle anywhere up to $150 or so (guessing this is closer to $250).
This is a 16 year Edradour that was finished in a Bordeaux cask. It was a single cask selected by Spec’s liquor store and bottled at 56.1%.
Nose: Overarching mineral notes in a mixture of rum soaked raisins, molasses, apple crisp, and just a hint of rubber. Nice blend of tart and sweet fruit notes throughout.
Palate: Even fruitier here with cranberry muffins, plums, cherries, and almond extract.
Finish: Cranberries and apples with bitter cocoa – dries out fairly quickly.
Rating: 87/100 – I really enjoy these interesting Edradour finishes as their malt takes well to them.
Value for the money: Looks like this retails around $160 which I think is fairly reasonable.
This is a 23 year single grain scotch from Strathclyde bottled by Battlehill at 46% ABV.
Nose: Strange combination of pine-sol and overripe bananas off the bat. Grain notes are quite pungent with a slight rubber cement like profile.
Palate: Much sweeter and better put together here with banana cream pie, vanilla custard, and nilla wafers. Grain funk is still present along with a bit of rubbing alcohol, but more muted here than on the nose.
Finish: Funky grain lingers with a bit of vanilla and banana – short finish overall.
Rating: 75/100 – These single grains can be hit or miss for me, and this one is more in the miss category.
Value for the money: It looks like this might retail around $95, and I’d pass at that (or most) prices.
This is the Laphroaig 25 cask strength release from 2008. It was pulled from a combination of bourbon/sherry casks and bottled at 51.2% ABV.
Nose: Iodine and a well aged peat leading off – the peat gives away its age as its mellowed out substantially allowing an earthy, charcoal like oak to come through with some watermelon bubblegum.
Palate: Beautifully balanced peat/oak intermingle with briny malt taking on earth notes from time to time. Overarching ash notes persist throughout.
Finish: Peat and a slightly citrus-laden oak last for some time in a fairly long finish.
Value for the money: You’d have to turn to auctions to find this particular Laphroaig 25 at this point, and most recent results I’ve seen point to this being just north of €400 which is a pass for me.
This is the second edition of the Laddie Ten which was released as a limited edition after the first one was cancelled a couple years ago. It is bottled at 50% ABV compared to the 46% ABV of the original. It was drawn from a combination of bourbon, sherry, and french wine casks.
Nose: Chocolate chip banana pancakes, cherry cough drops, slightly grassy with playdough, and a bit of baby vomit.
Palate: Buttermlik/sour malt with biting green apple, sharp oak, black pepper, and fermented rice.
Finish: Dry oak and sour malt lingering with green apple overtones.
Rating: 82/100 – Quite funky (as is the case with a lot of young Bruichladdich for me), but enjoyable.
Value for the money: This was released with a retail of $60 which is a decent price for what you get. I wouldn’t pay more for it though since this is discontinued, but I doubt there’s a large secondary market for this bottle.
This is a 12 year Highland Park that was released as the second part of the Earl Magnus (Inga Saga) trilogy. It was distilled in 1998 and bottled in 2010 at 55% ABV.
Nose: Funky sherry notes with some sulphury smoke in there, fresh cedar, new leather, msuty old books, subtle dried seaweed, cigar smoke, and figs.
Palate: Cigar smoke carries through here with woody malt, sulphur notes appearing briefly with black cherry and leather as well.
Finish: Sherry influence lingers with faint strawberry and oak notes – long finish overall.
Rating: 89/100 – A very good/complex Highland Park – especially given its age. I love how sherry maturation interacts with Highland Park’s distillate – the briny/smoky elements of the malt play so well with the rich sherry.
Value for the money: I think the original retail for this was around €100, but now online, it’s mostly €250+ from what I’ve seen. I’d be happy to pay original retail for it, but it’s definitely not worth €250+ in my opinion.
This is an 11 year Clynelish that is made up ex-bourbon and ex-port matured distillate that was further finished in vintage port casks before being bottled at 46%.
Nose: Typical Clynelish notes are bold off the bat: waxy, sweet pears, baked apples, and honeydew melon. Somewhat grassy with a bit of sawdust quality coming through from the oak.
Palate: The port influence shows up here more clearly as grape juice notes are added to the typical Clynelish makeup. Very fruity overall with dominant notes of spiced pears and tangerine.
Finish: Peach sorbet and pear juice with faint oak lingering.
Rating: 89/100 – A very pleasant surprise. I’m admittedly a Clynelish fanboy, but these Murray McDavids can be very interesting with their cask vattings/additional finishing processes. Doesn’t taste like 46% at all to me – I would’ve guessed 50%+.
Value for the money: Based on typical Murray McDavid prices of this age, I’d venture to guess this retailed between $60-80, and I would gladly buy a bottle at that price if I saw one.
This is an 8 year OB from Glendronach consisting of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry matured stock. It’s bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Muted sherry tucked in a yeasty malt with vanilla, lemon juice, and tapioca pudding.
Palate: Vanilla and oak with a very subtle, fino-style sherry influence. Tastes fairly watery to me as neither the sherry cask nor bourbon cask influence stand out much.
Finish: Brief and slightly bitter/tannic.
Rating: 78/100 – Fairly disappointing as most Glendronach OBs I’ve tried are fairly decent.
Value for the money: Looks like this can be picked up from the UK for around $40-45 (less the expensive shipping). It’s a decent enough price to add a bottle on to an existing order, but buying it alone it would become prohibitively expensive in my opinion.
This is a 19 year Glen Keith matured in an ex-bourbon hogshead and bottled at 56.1% ABV.
Nose: Briny malt up front with granny smith apples, butterscotch, old musty wooden furniture, and a bit of isopropyl lurking in the background.
Palate: Salty and tart up front with malt becoming a bit bolder. Almost a hint of smoke to the dry oak here with a slightly herbal profile.
Finish: Dried herbs and oak in a fairly short, dry finish.
Rating: 82/100 – I don’t have a ton of experience with Glen Keith, but this is a fairly average malt overall.
Value for the money: This retailed for $70 at Binny’s, and while that’s a pretty decent price for a cask strength 19 year, I wouldn’t personally be jumping to buy another bottle at that price given my thoughts on this one.