Whisky Review – Wemyss “Lemon Buttered Kippers” Bunnahabhain 1997 @wemyssmalts

Wemyss “Lemon Buttered Kippers” Bunnahabhain 1997 

46% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

210 bottles(!)

£70 available from Nickolls and Perks

Nose. 

On first sniff the kippers are most definitely there. Very maritime, lots of salty sea air, fresh fish markets and, yes, a touch of citrus. Will let it sit for a bit. More peat now, quite medicinal peat, with TCP and some hospital antiseptic. Salted fish is very much in there, seaside aromas, shellfish stands and the lemon is coming through now. Lemon juice squirted on fresh prawns. VERY Islay!

Palate. 

Sweet and tangy lemon arrival, lots of sugars, and a touch of smokey ash. The mouthfeel is very thick and oily. Very subtle creamy vanilla, some pepper bite, a little ginger. Development goes into very creamy, buttery areas, lots of smooth texture, buttered toast. Very sippable. There’s an element of fish, the burnt skin from a mackerel having been barbecued. Very fresh zingy nature to the palate, it’s quite lovely, not a big peat bruiser, but a gentle creamy, subtly smokey, citrus dram. 

Finish. 

Medium in length, the ginger and cracked pepper comes back, along with a mouthful of menthol cigarette smoke. Lemons with the black pepper then come about with a little fresh fishiness. 

Adding water. 

I actually don’t want to add water, I think it’s right on the cusp. But I’ll go with a very small drop. The nose is a little smokier now, it has lost some of its seaside subtleties though, with the citrus very muted now. The palate is still very flavoursome, but has become a little one sided with the lemon juices, now sweeter, taking over the rest. The finish is spicier and lemon intense. Water did reduce the complexity of this dram. Do not water. 

Conclusion. 

It feels a little that I have been led by the name of this whisky, but in fairness it’s bloody well named! It’s a beautiful example of Islay freshness, and is truly delicious to sip, and very easy at that sipping it is as well. Beautiful stuff. 

Many thanks to Wemyss for the review sample

Whisky Review – Boutique-y Whisky Blended Whisky Batch 2 – 18 years old @BoutiqueyWhisky @majesticwine

Boutique-y Whisky Blended Whisky Batch 2 – 18 years old

46.5% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

Majestic Wines exclusive 

£55.55 from Majestic Wines. 

Nose. 
Quite sweet initially, lots of coconut, sweet popcorn, and confectionary sugar. After a little time in the glass extra layers become apparent. A little sweet smoke, some salty sea air and some pinewood notes, while soft old apples and melon give a lovely subtle fruitiness among the sweetness. 

Palate. 

An intensely sweet arrival, apples, apricot, sugar coated start things off. A layer of coconut cream comes to play and some vanilla sponge with it, more fruit, getting softer melon now and some coconut marshmallow cakes. Some white chocolate, gentle pepper and some herbal green notes, pine comes back to mind, some fennel as well. The mouth feel has some oiliness. No alcohol burn, everything is very smoothly going down. 

Finish. 

The fennel follows into the finish, with some sweet oak sap, light tinned fruit syrup, touches of lip smacking dryness, but remains sweet and savoury. 

Adding water. 

A few drops added. The nose is softer, sweeter and smokier now, the drop of water has integrated the parts and it’s coming across quite a bit more powerful, slightly less sugary sweetness. The palate, while loosing a little of the oily mouthfeel, is bigger, brasher, tastier, lots of toffee and chocolate, the fruit has become younger and juicier, there is a smokier element, soft mossy peat, a little less of the herbal notes, the fennel is more like sweet liquorice. The finish is sweeter, less tannic, just as lip smacking! It was already highly sip-able, but a drop of water has increased the sip-ability dramatically. A few drops of water highly recommended. 

Conclusion. 

A blend of complexity which needs some time in the glass and time with the sipper to unlock the potential. This is no simple glugging blend. There is a lovely layering of complexity here which is delightful to spend time unravelling. With a drop of water this becomes a whole other beast and is absolutely lovely to sip away with. Great stuff. 

From my own stock. Bought from Majestic Wines. 

Whisky Review – Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 6 @Glendronach

Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 6

56.1% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£52.99 from Whisky Galore at The Green Welly Stop

Glendronach cask strength has been a favourite of mine for many years now. It’s racy sherry heathen nature is of an exceptional calibre and once again I sip on it! What a pleasure. Let’s see if batch 6 holds up to its reputation and continues to tickle my sherry buds. 

Nose. 

First pour and sniff there is a lot of dark treacle toffee, coffee and chocolate. After 10 mins in the glass, things have levelled out. Still an immense amount of chocolate, toffee, brown sugar. Now more dark fruits, blackberry, raisin (alcohol infused), Cherry, vanilla. Most definitely a massive fruitcake concoction, nuttiness is coming through now, and of course lots of sherry, dry oloroso. It’s everything you want in a sherried dram. 

Palate. 

A little on the hot side initially, getting past that heat and initial bitterness and the mouthfeel is magnificent, extremely thick and massively oily. Wonderful! Lots of fruit now, some sour cherry, orange, rum soaked plums, a big old pinch of cinnamon spice. Another sip, light coffee and big dark chocolate, cherries again, lots of oils around the mouth, extremely chewable, I could slosh this around all day. Not so much toffee, but more treacle. Very syrupy, goes with the mouthfeel. 

Finish. 

Cherry juice, cherry stones and black tea. Mixed nuts with their skins on (hazelnut and almonds come to mind). Burnt toffee and caramel. Medium length finish, warming

Adding water. 

Adding a good splash of water and waiting 10 mins. That’s more like it. A little dilution goes a long way. The nose is bursting with flavour now, and a little dusty texture on the nose. Chocolate powder leads the way, lots of toffee, fruitcake, nuts, honey, the works! The palate without the alcohol nip now leads the way sweetly, thick chocolate coated caramel sweetness, texture is still massive, fruit still has some tarty cherries amongst the orange juices and raisins, cinnamon has toned down a little but still there with some sweet ginger addition. The finish is deliciously warming, lots of fruit and sugars. Glorious. 

Conclusion. 

Glendronach deliver another excellent cask strength release. If you’ve never tried one of these. Why the bloody hell not? It’s a premium example of great sherry monster material. This is a delicious, fattening feeling desert in a glass. Brilliant diet assistance! 

Many thanks to Glendronach for the review sample

Whisky Review – Glenmorangie Bacalta @TheGlenmorangie @QuercusComs

Glenmorangie Bacalta

46% ABV

Non chill filtered

£77.95 from Master of Malt

The eighth in Glenmorangie’s private edition range. A limited edition release, bottled at 46% with no chill filtration. The whiskies in this range have pretty much all had no age statement, and been finished in a range of different casks. This time the whisky has been finished in ‘sun baked Malmsey Madeira’ casks. More reading into this and the casks are quite bespoke. Heavily toasted American oak which were then seasoned with the Malmsey wine, baked to maturity in the scorching Madeira sun. Emptied, shipped to Glenmorangie and filled with ex-bourbon matured spirit. No specified timelines, but as always it’s a pleasure to try. 

Nose. 

A very sweet first sniff from the pour. Lots of apples, grapes, definitely has that air of desert wine. I’ve personally not tried a lot of Madeira, but it does remind me of Sauternes. Baked sugar, Creme brûlée. A gentle peppery Spice. Vanilla sponge complete with lots of sugar dusting. After a little time in the glass it becomes fruitier. Apricots and peaches with creamy custard. Not too heavy on the vanilla. Warming the dram up unleashes a little more Spice and fruit intensity. (It’s a bit cold here tonight!). It needed that warmth, the nose is delicious now, deep, creamy, buttercream, moist sponge cake, dried apricot chunks, honeydew melon. There’s a gentle maltiness in the background. Light runny honey. It’s lovely and very sniffable. Gentile. Deliciously desert like. 

Palate. 

Well, I wasn’t expecting that. It’s big flavour from the offset, lots of sweetness, sugar, baked fruits, apple, stewed apricots, poached pears in sweet wine. Another sip and there’s lots of sweet shop reminders, boiled sweets, refresher chews, chocolate mice. Mouthfeel has some additional oiliness to it, but it’s not massively oily, more of a complementary mouthfeel, definitely not watery. More spices on this sip, pepper, a touch of ginger, some sweet cinnamon, sweetened vanilla custard. Another sip and more toffee this time around, some honeycomb, more chocolate. This whisky metamorphoses with every sip, there’s a lot there, and every suggestion on the sip in my mind leads the experience down a different path. There’s a lovely balance and this is a very easy going sipper. 

Finish. 

Spicy sweet cinnamon buns, with vanilla frosting, and a gentle fruit juice fades out for a medium length. A little drier with some oak tannins at the very end. 

Adding water. 

Small drop added. The nose seems a little subdued, more cereal notes, with the fruit and sweetness a little dumbed down. Saying that a lot more vanilla is coming through now. The palate still has a nice depth of flavour, but not as rich, a little more artificial in the sugar notes, and the fruit has been quite diminished. The finish is shorter and drier. Nope. Don’t like water with this one I’m afraid. Needs to be neat. 

Conclusion. 

Very well constructed whisky. It’s very beautiful and very sweet. That might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the balance and quality is there. This is a pretty perfect desert whisky, I would be sipping into the early hours with a very happy smile on my face. I’m getting me some of this!

Many thanks to Glenmorangie for the review sample

Whisky Review – Timorous Beastie 21 year old @DLaingWhisky @remarkablemalts

Timorous Beastie 21 year old

46.8% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£89.95 from Master of Malt – sold out but Drinks by the Dram available






Nose. 

Sherry, spice and dusty chocolate on first pour from this colourful little number. Lots of sherry maturation is obvious. Raisin, plum, clove, cinnamon, all the usual expected Sherry monster aromas, intensely presented for a lower (not cask strength) ABV. With time there becomes a dusty vanilla oak note running throughout the background. Some citrus notes come through, as the spices settle down. There is quite a perfume nature to this nose as well, highly sniffable. 

Palate. 

Cadbury Fruit n Nut. It’s got all of it, loads of chocolate, some nuttiness, primarily hazelnuts, but some almond in there as well, loads of raisin (soaked in rum). Lovely, solid stuff. Christmas spices throughout. An oily mouthfeel coats the spices around every corner of the mouth. Highly quaffable. 

Finish. 

The fruit n nut bar fades slowly, with some stewed tea and a drying mouthfeel. 

Adding water. 

V small drop added. The nose is sweeter now, more chocolatey, less spice. The palate has died somewhat. Chocolate is forefront, and now some barley and porridge, actually reminds me of the coco pops porridge I had last week, much less Spice, oiliness and complexity. Finish is Spice and light chocolate. This one is not to be watered, it’s older and it doesn’t cope so well with dilution. 

Conclusion. 

A lovely Christmassy, Sherry rich blend. The age is there to be experienced, but doesn’t take kindly to water. It’s a lovely winter warmer, I understand entirely why it sold out so damn quickly. 

Many thanks to Douglas Laing for the review sample

Whisky Review – Glendronach Grandeur 25 Year Old batch 008. @Glendronach

Glendronach Grandeur 25 Year Old batch 008

50.3% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£375.00 from Whisky Galore at The Green Welly Stop

Nose. 

Intense, old polished oak, plum jam, alcohol drenched Christmas cake. Dark chocolate nibs. A touch of dunnage warehouse. That’s from the first pour. Letting this sit with a cover for a bit. After a little time we have an immense amount of stewed dark fruits, blackberry, plum, dates. All thick and delicious. Spiced up with warming cinnamon and crystallised ginger. Coffee grounds and chocolate are present, with a little floral as backup. It’s immensely complex, warming and promising lots of what’s to come. It’s reminiscent of some very old whisky I tried recently. Tasted blind I would even place this older than 25 years on the nose. 

Palate. 

Gently massive! Arrival is quiet, sweet, old oak, chocolate, coffee and gentle spices initially, then builds up to a crescendo of dark fruit and spices. A chutney of berries and Christmas Spice. All the while being delicate to the palate. The thick oiliness covers everywhere and gives a deep warmth to the experience. Development goes into many territories, the fruit is thick, some dark bitter chocolate, almost an overlooked fruit cake crust, but with plump and luscious red berries bursting in the mouth at the same time. The alcohol strength doesn’t make itself noticed at all. And with prolonged time in the glass and slow sipping the flavours only become richer and deeper with every drop. 

Finish. 

Dusting chocolate, cocoa, mocha in fact, with some Black Forest gateau filling, dark cherries, juicy and ancient at the same time. The finish goes on for ages. Always giving the older dusty warehouse age and the juicy freshness of fruits stewed and bubbling in a pot. The greatest of warming chest hugs from this whisky. It’s absolutely delicious. 

Adding water. 

No. Not doing it. Sorry. It’s perfect as it is. 

Conclusion. 

I may be biased. Glendronach is one of my favourite distilleries, and top of my quality sherried maturation whisky distilleries list. This whisky does them proud. This is one of those whiskies which I wish was available 10 years ago and me being into whisky 10 years ago (which I wasn’t). Why? Because I may have been able to afford it then. If I could afford this I would have it in a heartbeat. It’s the quintessential old age sherried beauty and I adore it completely. I feel extremely lucky to have been able to try this. If you love Glendronach, have some money to one side, treat yourself. If you get offered a dram of this, snap the persons arm off. Otherwise seek this at a whisky show, it’s worth your dram token(s). 

Many thanks to Glendronach for the review sample

Whisky Review – The Macallan Edition No 2 @The_Macallan 

The Macallan Edition No 2 

48.2% ABV

£76.83 from Master of Malt

Back to a bit of non-aged statement action from The Macallan, but as daunting as it sounds, this has a nicely pepped up alcohol level to 48.2%. This release is a collaboration between master whisky maker Bob Dalgarno and the three brothers behind El Celler de Can Roca (named best restaurant in the world twice by Restuarant magazine). Drawn from a combination of European and American oak. I’m very much looking forward to this. 

Nose. 

Big on the Macallan signature fruitcake richness. First sniff has me taken aback, the strength took me unawares, but then so did the intensity of the aromas. Among the massive juicy sultana rich fruitcake mix is some ginger, orange juice and peel, cinnamon and a hint of white pepper. It’s a rich, dried fruit and Spice intensity, already warming and inviting. 

Palate. 

The palate is just as big. Intense, superb balance of fruit and spice. The arrival is very juicy and rich, with the oranges upfront quickly evolving into raisins, sultanas and plums. Spice add a nice bite in the development, with the cinnamon, crystallised ginger and now a touch of clove coming into the mix, with the fruits becoming more refined with orange oils, honey and maybe a hint of spearmint. The mouthfeel is pleasantly oily and fulfilling. Chocolate comes into the mix late in the development, milk chocolate mixing deliciously with the oranges. 

Finish. 

Chocolate orange hangs around for a medium to long length finish, with a touch of honey sweetness and bite of ginger at the very finale. 

Adding water. 

I really don’t want to add water, but a small drop has been added anyway. The nose seems a little less intense and more spice driven. The palate has also had the intensity toned down, but it’s less spicy, seems more oily on the palate and the chocolate notes come in much sooner and mix in damn beautifully with the amazing fruits. The finish reflects the diluted palate and gentle fades the fruit chocolate mix away. I really like the undiluted experience as a whole, but the diluted palate and finish is something extra!

Conclusion. 

Delicious. This has a lot to offer over the 12 year old double cask, extra levels of complexity and intensity of flavour. I really love this one, it’s absolutely beautiful! Price wise I was dubious, but when you compare it to the Sienna (my favourite of the colours) and think of the extra ABV, this one wins for me. Bottle bought!

Many thanks to the Macallan for the review sample. 

Whisky Review – Benriach 17 year old PX Sherry Finish. @TheBenriach

Benriach 17 year old PX Sherry Finish

46% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£63.98 from Whisky Galore at The Green Welly Stop

Nose. 

First sniff from the pour and we have a dark fruit rich, dusty chocolate with some dunnage warehouse essence in the mix. Will let it sit for a while covered. Raisin rich, some Christmas pudding, a hint of marzipan, dark chocolate. Cinnamon and light clove spice. There’s a touch of gingerbread also. A complex nose requiring some exploration time. 

Palate. 

Beautifully fruity and thickly viscous arrival. Starts off with lots of thick dark fruits, plum, raisin, sweet and sticky, with the oiliness of the mouthfeel complimenting this perfectly. In the development we get some Christmas cake, Christmas spices, clove, a little fresh nuttiness, hints of cherry and almond. This is the Christmas dram you should have drank at Christmas. This is gloriously sherried stuff, not quite a Sherry monster but very close, it’s more subtle than that. 

Finish. 

The Christmas clove rich spices and fruit cake continue for a medium to long length finish. A drying nuttiness finishes things off, but also a lovely warming chest hug, which gives this dram an extra feel good factor. 

Adding water. 

A little more rummage warehouse on the nose now, musty wood, rustic. The fruit is toned down in favour of nuts and chocolate. The palate is a little more tart with some citrus orange juice coming in place of the richer fruitcake elements, it’s actually very tasty, but very different. The finish is still chest warming and delightful. Well worth an experimentation with water, but changes things completely! Exciting stuff. 

Conclusion. 

This is Christmas Day whisky without a doubt, but something you can have every day, and it is one of those bottles that I fear would not last. It’s a cuddly Sherry monster, not too boisterous, just right for luxury sipping. With water it changes so much it could be a different dram. Really beautiful and engaging whisky. 

Many thanks to Benriach for the review sample

Whisky Review – Yula II 21 year old (2016) @DLaingWhisky 

Yula II 21 year old (2016) 

52.3% ABV

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£101.80 from Master of Malt

Nose. 

On first sniff there is a floral smokiness. Heather and salted caramel. Light peat smoke, medicinal in nature, a touch of tcp and germoline. Maritime notes come through later on with salty sea air and some seawater soaked rope. After a few minutes breathing things take a sweeter turn, still very maritime, but now the caramel, honey salted sweetness is coming through nicely integrated with the heather sea air freshness. It’s a lovely clean smelling dram.

Palate. 

First sip is big, brash, a level of astringency, very memorable, but we don’t judge on first sips, although I felt it worth mentioning as it’s big and flavoursome. Arrival is sweet, quite smokier than the nose suggests, some moss and earthiness also very prominent. Salted caramel comes into the development, softly, fulfilling in the mouth as is the oiliness. There are also touches of fresh lemon juice. At the end of the development salt becomes more sea salt, with some iodine and peat notes coming back. This is a palate that has a story, a beginning, a middle and an end, a proper 3 act affair, nice. 

Finish. 

The warming peat and fresh salted caramel continues into the medium to long length finish. With some waxy lemon juice zing and heather honey drizzled toffee. 

Adding water.

I added more than I intended thanks to an overzealous hand. Fingers crossed I haven’t killed it. A lot of lemon on the nose now, lemon bonbon confectionary. The palate is also a lot lighter (too much water – damn), there is still some smokiness, earthy peat and everything is very accessible, but also very toned down. The finish is light, fresh, lemon enriched peat smoke. It’s still very beautiful indeed, but I wouldn’t have watered it down quite so much as this. But it’s still very tasty, and makes me wonder about further water exploration in the future with other drams. 

Conclusion. 

This is a lovely, soft, smokey, confectionary rich adventure of a dram. There’s an awful lot going on. Very well blended from some quality malts immensely enjoyable stuff. It’s not a cheap bottle of whisky, but it is a very enjoyable one. 

Many thanks to Douglas Laing for the review sample