Glenkinchie 20 (2010 Limited Edition) Review

This is a 20 year Glenkinchie that was released as part of the 2010 Diageo Special Releases. It was matured in refill American oak and bottled at 55.1% ABV.

Nose: Candy apples, cookie dough, pear crisp, subtle licorice, vanilla, some grassy notes, and buttercream frosting.

Palate: Beeswax, apples, pears, butterscotch, anise, turning a bit farmy after awhile with some toasted marshmallows appearing.

Finish: Oaky and green with unripe bananas and marshmallows.

Rating: 88/100 – I’m not usually a big fan of Lowlands, but this one was pleasant and quite fruity.

Value for the money: I believe I paid around $150-200 for this a few years back, and I think that’s a pretty decent price for what you get.

Auchroisk 20 (2010 Diageo Special Release) Review

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.

Caol Ila 30 1983 Review

This is a 30 year expression from Caol Ila that was distilled in 1983 and released as part of Diageo’s 2014 special releases. It’s bottled at 55.1% ABV.

Nose: Perfect blend of dry, old oak and peat that has mellowed nicely with age. Vanilla bean paste, seaweed, cocoa powder, and a fair amount of brine round out this well balanced nose.

Palate: Strong peat up front with a quick kick of red pepper flakes and oak – prominent seaweed notes with acrid smoke and new leather.

Finish: Dry peat and peppery oak linger on for a very long time.

Rating: 90/100 – A very good old Caol Ila with everything balanced well.

Value for the money: These can be bought on TWE currently for $471 which I would pass on. I’ve been debating getting a bottle of this, but I don’t find it that much better than other 25-30 IB Caol Ilas that can be found for close to half the price of this OB. I’d be happy to pay up to $250 for a bottle if it were available near me.

Caol Ila 14 Unpeated Review

This is a 14 year Caol Ila that was part of the 2012 Daigeo special releases. It as matured in an ex-sherry cask and bottled at 59.3% ABV.

Nose: Salt water, hazelnuts, mild oak, baking spices, and very faint cocoa.

Palate: Fairly hot, but oddly hollow with a splash of dry oak, mushrooms, and a slightly sugar malt.

Finish: Fades very quickly leaving only a hint of oak behind.

Rating: 73/100 – I must say I was pretty disappointed with this one. For one, I would’ve never guessed this had ever touched a sherry cask as I detected no influence whatsoever. I only learned it was sherry matured after reading up on it after my review. Maybe there’s a reason Caol Ila uses peated malt normally if this is what their non-peated stock is like. Reminds me of a really watered down/bland Talisker type profile.

Value for the money: This retailed for around $115 I believe, and I would definitely pass at that price. I wouldn’t put this above $50.

Talisker 27 Year 1985 Review

This is a 27 year Talisker released as part of the Diageo Special Releases in 2013. It was matured in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 56.1% ABV.

Nose: Bold, briny malt with loads of clementines and tangerines. A healthy dose of smoke taking on a slightly acrid/burnt rubber note along with some crushed, chalky candies (Smarties come to mind – and not the weird Canadian Smarties).

Palate: Very salty up front with vinegar-heavy bbq sauce (Carolina style), mossy, damp oak along with bold pepper and allspice, wildflower honey, and Smarties notes again.

Finish: Burning leaves and spiced oak linger with heavy farm notes and sunflower seeds.

Rating: 95/100 – Very complex, expertly balanced, and an all around enjoyable dram.

Value for the money: These retailed for around $600 I believe, and for it’s quality I think that’s not too outrageous of a price in the premium malt world.

2013 Brora 35 Review

This was part of the 2013 Diageo Special Release. It’s a 35 year Brora bottled at 49.9% ABV. Brora is a legendary distillery that was closed in 1983 unfortunately.

Nose: Intense smoke with subtle peat and barley. A lot of sweet notes tucked away in the smoke – strawberries and cream primarily.

Palate: Spiced malt, rich oak, black pepper – nice blend of sweet/smoke. Peat is gentle at the tip of the tongue. Classic farm notes with copious hay.

Finish: Very long finish – sweet and salty malt with smoke and peat fading gently.

Rating: 96/100 – One of my favorite malts I’ve ever had, and my favorite Brora expression I’ve tried.

Value for the money: Brora is crazy expensive and only becoming more expensive over time. This retailed for around $1,000, and if you’re looking for a legendary malt and have the disposable income, I’d highly recommend it.

Brora 25 Review

This is the Brora 25 bottled as part of the Diageo Special Releases in 2008. It’s bottled at 56.3% ABV.

Nose: Sweet malt with smoky green apples and a bit of brine.

Palate: On the sweeter side up front with smoky malt and seawater coming in behind – peat is fairly minimal.

Finish: Smoke and malt dominate with oak and tart fruit blend in the background.

Rating: 93/100 – I love the Brora profile and this one does not disappoint.

Value for the money: Broras are already priced at an extreme premium, and this one is no different. It will likely run you $1,000+, but if you’re looking to drop some serious money on a Brora, I’d buy a 2013 Brora 35 instead.

Brora 35 (2014) Review

This is the 2014 Diageo Annual Release Brora which was aged 35 years and bottled at 48.6% ABV.

Nose: Freshly dug earth with strawberries and dried hay. Subtle brine, peat is barely there but present if you go digging. Dry old oak with a slightly nutty profile.

Palate: Big farm notes in traditional Brora fashion – musty hay, old oak soaked in salt water, round and earthy.

Finish: Quite dry with oak turning slightly bitter – finish quite light overall with very subtle peat, brine, and hay

Rating: 93/100 – Very good overall, but not quite as good as the 2013 Brora 35 which is one of my favorite drams of all time.

Value for the money: These retailed for $1,000-$1,300 which is about a 30% increase over the Brora 35 from 2013. If you’re looking to spend that kind of money on a malt, I’d take the 2013 Brora 35 over this one and save a little bit.

Benrinnes 23 Review

Benrinnes 23 is a sherried expression bottled at 58.8% ABV in 2009 as part of the annual Diageo special release.

Nose: Huge sherry bomb – tinge of smoke, musty old leather-bound books, old oak wrapped in a very thick, syrupy sherry

Palate: Intense, sweet sherry up front with strawberries, old leather, and stewed fruits developing over time

Finish: Lingering spice with tobacco smoke and oak – sherry remains intense throughout the finish

Rating: 95/100 – One of the best sherry bombs I’ve had. I love the smoke in the nose/palate to add a little complexity/diversity with the sherry.

Value for the money: I believe these are going for $250-$300 which is pretty fair compared to other big sherry drams e.g. The General, TUN 1401, etc.