Heaven Hill 15 (Malts of Scotland Islay Cask Finish) Review

This is a 15 year Heaven Hill from Malts of Scotland finished in an Islay cask and bottled at 53.8% ABV.

Nose: Odd – lightly muted, but can pick out some typical bourbon notes of vanilla/caramel with some dry oak and active yeast. Islay cask finish adds some burnt oak elements. A bit of green apple and rubber cement appear after a bit.

Palate: Still kind of odd here – some smoky notes blended with vanilla and brown sugar. Still rather oaky and dry.

Finish: Dry and short as oak turns a bit bitter. Subtle smoky notes linger.

Rating: 82/100 – This is an odd one. I’m usually all for unorthodox finishes, but the Islay cask finish muddles the waters of this bourbon making it a bit incoherent.

Value for the money:  I think these retailed around €120 or so when they came out, and it’s an easy pass for me at that price or higher.

Banff 38 (Malts of Scotland 1975/2013 42.9%) Review

This is a 38 year old Banff from Malts of Scotland that was matured in an ex-bourbon barrel and bottled at 42.9% ABV. Banff was a Speyside distillery that was closed in 1983 and demolished.

Nose: Rich honey with cloves and nutmeg. Vanilla infused oak with freshly cracked peppercorns and ginger root. Full of spice and zest with little to no fruits.

Palate: Soft and chewy malt on entry with plenty of old oak. Rather floral overall taking on some peppery notes with subtle banana.

Finish: Floral malt lingering here with oak turning slightly bitter- lavender and chamomile are prominent.

Rating: 85/100 – A little on the oak heavy side, but all in all a nice dram. This was my first expression from Banff and it reminded me of an old Longmorn.

Value for the money: I bought into a sample at a $525 bottle valuation – I’d pass on a bottle at that price. You don’t see Banff’s too often, so expect to pay a demolished distillery premium.

Heaven Hill Port Cask (Malts of Scotland) Review

This is a 14 year expression from Heaven Hill that was finished in port casks for an indeterminate length of time (feel free to fill me in if you have any details on the finishing period). It was bottled at 52.8% ABV.

Nose: Super fruity full of grape juice and candies. Heavy vanilla with bananas and smoked oak.

Palate: Heavy grape notes surrounded by sweet corn and a very noticeable port influence. I’d have to venture this is finished for at least a few years to have this much port influence.

Finish: Sweet grapes with muddled plums becoming rather dry.

Rating: 84/100 – Port finish on bourbons can be tough for me given how sweet bourbon is already. I find port finishing much more interesting when working with rye instead. Looking back, it seems I had very similar thoughts to the Heaven Hill Sherry Cask finish from MoS I reviewed awhile back.

Value for the money: These retailed around €100 (so probably about $80 excluding VAT) and I’d say that’s not a terrible price, but I don’t think I’d buy a full bottle.

Heaven Hill 15 Sherry Finish Review

This is a 15 year expression from Heaven Hill that was finished in sherry casks for a few years and bottled at 48.9% ABV by Malts of Scotland.

Nose: Very rum like – sherry appears with mashed grapes, sour cherries, and smoke from an extinguished match.

Palate: Very bright and fruity up front – tastes much younger than 15 years. Again, quite rum-like with a lot of molasses notes.

Finish: Very dry and astringent with floral sherry notes throughout.

Rating: 84/100 – Sherry finished bourbon is strange for me since bourbon is already so sweet naturally.

Value for the money: This originally retailed around $100, but I’d prefer to see it around $80 to compete with Midwinter Night’s Dram.