Whisky ReReview – Glenrothes Vintage Reserve

Glenrothes Vintage Reserve

40% ABV

£36.95 from Master of Malt


This expression was originally launched in Taiwan back in November 2014. It is now coming out in the UK. A lovely little whisky, I reviewed back then in November, here are my notes:


Instantly complex. Sherried dark fruits, raisin, ripe plums, rum soaked sultanas. Rich vanilla. Cherry stones. Apples. Old leather bound books. Polished oak. Cedar wood. Wood glue. Tobacco. With some time in the glass we get more confectionary notes, powdered sugar, banana foam sweets, marshmallow, and a whiff of a floral bouquet. With all this complexity of age, there is still an air of youth in the nose, a touch of lively spirit behind the scenes. More time in the glass and we have some fruity sherbert, refreshers sweeties. This is a sultry, changing nose, which has a lot to offer. 


A sweet and savoury (with a little salt) arrival, some dark fruit development around the sherried raisin found on the nose. Some apple and banana into the development which has confectionary, caramel, honey, toffee, chocolate. It is quite the chocolate bar with lush caramel further into the development. The mouth feel is surprising oily and coating, and immensely chewy. There is a youth on the palate which differs from the initial experience on the nose. This is a very tasty whisky. 


The finish is medium to long, concentrating on the warming chewy caramel and chocolate. With some dusting cocoa, and a touch of light spearmint at the very end. 

Adding water.

A small drop added. The nose is now well and truly concentrated on the floral, with some chocolate notes, the original layered complexity is quite simplified, but there is still a retention of some of the aged aromas, polish, tobacco etc. The palate is slightly simplified now, and a more consistent arrival/development is experienced, lots of caramel, honey and chocolate, with a touch of the previously experienced fruits, but with additional sweet orange citrus. The finish is similar, with some honeycomb and orange notes now alongside the caramel. This is a sweet tooth’s dram. As to the argument of with or without water, well, I would continue without water, as there is a noticeable drop in the mouth feel and overall luxury of the experience. 


An excellent desert whisky. This one has a lot of fattening flavours and a very interesting, explorable nose. The palate is not quite as complex as the nose suggests, but it is most luscious and very quaffable. One to enjoy after a roast meal and waste away the evening with in good company. Excellent stuff.  
In addition, it would be absolutely amazing to try this at 46% with no chill filtering, it’s already damn good stuff, and I feel that would make this a truly exceptional whisky. 

Much thanks to Glenrothes for providing the review sample.

News: 2015 Drinks by the Dram Advent Calendar releases. :-)

Drinks by the Dram unveil the 2015 Whisky Advent Calendar as part of a range of 14 unique spirit-filled calendars.

Whisky Advent Calendar

(Craft Edition) RRP £149.95

Premium edition RRP £249.95

Old and Rare edition RRP £999.95

Ooo. A Bourbon edition £139.95

And Armagnac edition £149.95

Drinks by the Dram’s range of spirit-filled Advent calendar returns for a fourth year. Old favourites like Whisky, Gin and Rum are joined by new additions including Tequila, Absinthe and Vodka.

The Whisky Advent Calendar (RRP £149.95) was launched in 2012 to help whisky lovers explore the world’s best whiskies. Highlights among this year’s 24 drams include a rare 50-year-old Scotch, an award-winning Japanese whisky and the World’s Best Blended Whisky*. Each handmade, wax-sealed dram allows whisky fans to sample a new whisky, tasting everything from single grain whisky to rare Scotch worth up to £350 a bottle.

Each calendar in the range takes the explorer on a different journey of discovery through the fascinating world of their favourite spirit, introducing them to rare and unusual expressions they may never have tried.

Whisky connoisseurs can also enjoy the Premium Whisky Advent Calendar (RRP £249.95), which contains rare single casks and whiskies worth up to £500 a bottle. This year also sees the launch of The Old and Rare Whisky Advent Calendar (RRP £999.95), containing whiskies worth up to £2,000 a bottle, including a 60-year-old Single Malt – one of the oldest whiskies in the world.

Drinks by the Dram’s 2015 Advent Calendar range also includes calendars filled with Armagnac, Vodka, Mezcal and horrible, horrible Chilli Vodka. The full range of calendars is available now (shipping in October), the RRPs are as follows:


Whisky News – Most Exclusive Mortlach

Something amazing going on here. 75 year old Mortlach. £20,000. That actually sounds like a bargain to me! Obviously one I could never afford, but here’s to hoping one day. Somehow I will get a sip! Wonder if it will be at the TWE show in October. Here’s hoping. 

Press release as follows:

Whisky specialist Gordon & MacPhail raised the curtain today (Wednesday 2 September 2015) at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, on what it believes to be the world’s most exclusive single malt Scotch whisky.

Mortlach 75 Years Old by Gordon & MacPhail is the latest offering in the Generations range from the family-owned Scotch whisky firm. It was unveiled by members of the Urquhart family, together with whisky writer and connoisseur – and occasional film star – Charles MacLean. He was joined by renowned Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith.

On 17th November 1939, John Urquhart, the first generation of the family to be involved in Gordon & MacPhail, instructed the first-fill Sherry cask to be filled with new-make spirit from Speyside’s Mortlach Distillery. Seventy-five years later, the cask was emptied and the precious amber liquid was carefully transferred into beautiful crystal decanters.

With notes of dried apricots and pomegranate, followed by hints of spice and creamy vanilla, the latest release to the luxury Generations range has a smooth and lingering smoky finish which remains long after the dram has been savoured.

Founded in 1895, Gordon & MacPhail is known the world over as the custodian of some of the oldest and rarest single malts. The fourth generation of the Urquhart family involved in the business uphold the same traditions and dedication to whisky which embedded in the company’s philosophy since it was first established.

Stephen Rankin, great grandson of John Urquhart introduced the special whisky saying: “We’ve been anticipating this moment for a long time. Having been nurtured and cared for by four generations of our family it gives us great pleasure to release this unique and incredibly rare single malt.

“Our family has been immersed in the whisky industry for more than one hundred years and we’ve built up an expertise and knowledge, handed down from generation to generation.”

Members of the third and fourth generation of the Urquhart family poured the single malt for the assembled guests before Charles MacLean invited everyone to join him in tasting the whisky, describing it as “Smooth and highly sophisticated – elegant as a grande dame…the Ingrid Bergman of malts!

“Gordon & MacPhail is one of the few, if not the only company in the world who could have produced this rarest of whiskies. Generations of the Urquhart family have taken a long term view to maturing Scotch whisky, guided by a simple family saying – The future is shaped by what we do today. Today reveals what we did in the past. This philosophy has enabled the current generation to unveil this exquisite whisky,” he added.

Generations Mortlach 75 Years Old by Gordon & MacPhail is presented in the iconic teardrop-shaped Generations decanter. Each decanter is uniquely numbered and skilfully handcrafted with 75 multi-level “cuts”; each cut representing a year of the whisky’s maturation. The decanter sits on a white presentation plinth with two specially designed crystal glasses.

The decanter is packaged in a luxury Aniline leather travel bag and accompanied by a specially commissioned book, Seven Nights with Mortlach. Acclaimed whisky writer, Charles Maclean and international bestselling author, Alexander McCall Smith have joined forces to tell tales of Scotland, whisky and the people behind this special malt, accompanied by illustrations from up and coming Scottish artists.

Mortlach 75 Years Old by Gordon & MacPhail was matured in a first-fill Sherry butt cask. Only 100 decanters, bottled at cask strength (44.4% ABV), have been released for worldwide sale.

The RRP of Generations Mortlach 75 Years Old by Gordon & MacPhail is £20,000, although prices may differ in international markets due to local taxes and duty.

Tasting Notes for 75 Years Old Mortlach single malt Scotch whisky

Written by: Charles MacLean

Appearance: Mid-amber, with rubious lights.

Aroma (Nat. Str.): Fresh and clean; very slight nose prickle: still lively. A highly perfumed, floral top note – lily of the valley, barber’s shop, scented hand cream, soft leather lady’s dress handbag – with a fruity complex in the middle (dried figs, pomegranate, ripe pear. Peach juice); creamy vanilla (Crème Anglaise), even vanilla fudge, and a faint trace of coffee in the background.

Aroma (@30% Vol): Water reduces the floral notes with scented oil (bath oil? Teak oil?), increases the soft leather note and dries out the aroma somewhat (warm sanded hardwood).

Taste (Nat. Str.): Sweet to start, but not as sweet as expected; considerable fresh acidity and slightly mouth drying. Bitter almonds. A most unusual trace of hemp ropes and very faded creosote, lending a slight smokiness. A medium-length finish, leaving an attractive aftertaste of sandalwood.

Taste (@30% Vol): Lightly sweet; slightly oily texture; mouth drying; then slightly bitter finish. Some spice across the tongue. Warming, even at this lower strength.

Comment: A most unusual taste – never before encountered. Smooth and highly sophisticated – elegant as a grande dame – the Ingrid Bergman of malts!

Whiskey Review – Wild Buck Rye

Wild Buck Rye

50% ABV

Available from Wild Buck Whiskey in Florida. Check them out if you are out that way!

Also available for $53.99 from Broudy’s

Something a little bit different here. Wild Buck whiskey is a 100% rye whisky, produced in small quantities in Florida! It’s very much a family owned craft distillery and very difficult to get yourself a bottle. I’m fortunate enough to have great mates on Twitter who are generous with their drams. Much thanks to @raithrover for sending me a sample to enjoy. Cheers!


Strong and sweet on the nose. Heavy charred oak. Behind is a thick toffee sweetness. There is some dusty cocoa powder. Some freshly brewed, strong coffee. Some hedgerow blackberries, mushed and stewed into a jam. With some time sat in the glass there is a burnt meatiness coming through. Well done and dried beef jerky strips. All the way through you get grainy rye notes, wholemeal bread mix like. Kind of weird (for someone used to malt whisky), but strangely familiar and enticing. 


Arrival is like granary toast! Coated in honey and syrup, and just a drop of dark fruit jam in the background. The development moves into warming sweet, oily ground. It’s now I’m aware of the coating mouthfeel and heat of the ABV, which never really gets above warm, soon dissipates and we are hit with layers of soft, velvety burnt brown sugar, cake mix flavours. This does take a few sips to get used to as it is quite out of the norm. Further exploration and I get reminders of bran muffins, carrot cake. Quite the savoury/sweet delight. 


Warming and relaxing. Lots of grain wash, beer like, sweet, dark sugars and toasted caramel. Touches of bitter burnt oak act as a flavour balance alongside the sweetness. Quite long length as the oiliness of the whiskey stays coated to the tongue for a good duration. 

Adding water.

Things are lighter now, with a touch of floral on the nose. Some sugared sweeties, maybe even a touch of Parma violet. The palate is still rich and boisterous, with some of that floral sweetie note coming through and into the finish, which is slightly longer, has more sugary bite, touches of pepper and sweet all the way through.


There is a very alternative dram here! It’s a little bit unusual when you maybe used to single malts or blended whisky, or even bourbon. Rye is a very distinctive drink in itself, and in honesty not one that I have had a lot of up to now (something I need to rectify). Once you get past the initial experience of “What is this?!”, there are some great pleasures to discover. I have to admit, the first sip I had of this was from the bottle, and I was dubious. After spending a little quality time with Wild Buck I have to admit my first impression was wrong, and this is an intriguing, compulsory experience which I have thoroughly enjoyed. 

Thanks so much to @raithrover for providing the sample. Cheers mate. 🙂

Whisky News – Benriach’s latest single cask releases!

BenRiach has today (September 2, 2015) released Batch 12 of its renowned single cask bottlings. 


This batch comprises nine remarkable casks from its Elgin distillery that were bottled in June this year.


Ranging from 38 to 14 years old, the magnificent nine perfectly capture the unique, award-winning BenRiach character.


The variety of expressions is utterly amazing. Sublime whiskies matured in the traditional, classic Speyside style are accompanied by expressions finished in exciting wood types such as Tawny Port, Pedro Ximenez sherry and Oloroso sherry casks as well as several peated whiskies.


Individually hand-numbered, non chill-filtered and bottled at natural colour, each single cask is truly a one-off. The new BenRiach packaging reflects the supreme quality of these single casks.


All nine casks have been hand-selected by BenRiach’s Managing Director and Master Distiller Billy Walker who described them as “extraordinarily fine” and added:


“Every single cask bottling is an exclusive limited release. I have selected these nine casks as I believe they are especially noteworthy – highly individual, rounded, full of personality and ranging in fascinating characteristics. ”


Amongst them are some real highlights. The 38 years old whisky is from cask number 541, an excellent bourbon barrel. This peated gem suggests baked apples spiced with vanilla and cinnamon combined with a gentle, sweet peat reek to create a long barley sugar finish.


At the other end of the scale, the youngest, a 14 years old from cask number 69116, is a classic Speyside malt, balancing oak spices, green pears and ripe gooseberries combined with a crisp citrus twist and long barley grist finish.


And unusually for BenRiach, one expression – the 1998 cask number 6394 – has been triple-distilled and finished in a Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon, and the taste is sensational – white pepper and crisp citrus notes soften to plum juice followed by apple sponge with a dusting of fresh ground barley.


Other expressions in the range boast the taste of “herbal bog myrtle”, “papaya and ripe melon”, “juicy cranberries submerged with crisp citrus” and “chocolate-coated rum raisins and roasted coffee beans”.


The cask details are as follows:


  • 1976 cask # 541 / 38 years old / Bourbon Barrel / Peated / 48.8% vol.
  • 1979 cask # 517 / 35 years old / Bourbon Barrel / Peated / 46.9% vol.
  • 1985 cask # 10318 / 29 years old / Bourbon Barrel / Peated / 49.0%vol.
  • 1987 cask # 3825 / 27 years old / Tawny Port Hogshead / Tawny Port Finish / 52.9% vol.
  • 1990 cask # 4936 / 25 years old / Bourbon Barrel / Classic Speyside / 50.4% vol
  • 1995 cask # 74743 / 20 years old / Bourbon Barrel / Classic Speyside / 58.9% vol.
  • 1998 cask # 6394 / 17 years old / Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon / Triple Distilled / Pedro Ximenez Sherry Finish / 57.5% vol
  • 1999 cask # 8687 / 15 years old / Oloroso Sherry Puncheon / Oloroso Sherry Finish / 56.1% vol.
  • 2000 cask # 69116 / 14 years old / Bourbon Barrel / Classic Speyside / 56.3% vol.

All nine casks will soon be available at retailers worldwide.