Whisky Review – Highland Park 1999 16 year old. Gordon & MacPhail TWE Exclusive. @whiskyexchange

Highland Park 1999 16 year old. Gordon & MacPhail TWE Exclusive

56.6% ABV

Cask #4260

First-Fill bourbon barrel 

Non chill filtered

No added colouring

£79.95 from The Whisky Exchange


First sniff from the pour brings quite an amount of citrus and tropical fruits forward. Lemon, mango, grapefruit, pineapple, all very fresh and juicy. Second sniff and some light dry smokiness comes in, grilling the fruit quite deliciously. Subsequent sniffs get drier and introduce some chalky mineral notes to the mix. After a few minutes standing fruit retains the fore, lots of juicy, sweet citrus, some orange now, a touch of melon also added in. A delicious fruit cocktail. Light smoke wafts in and out, and a slightest liquorice and ginger in the background. A lovely nose. 


A big fruity explosion complete with smoke aplenty on the arrival, quickly becoming vanilla intense, with custardy notes accompanying the fruit cocktail. Smoke wonders in and out during the development, with touches of ginger ale, liquorice root and a bitter touch of grapefruit skin. A deliciously evolving palate, which changes as you sip and sit. Later sips have more smokiness and touches of charred oak during the development and into the finish. 


Barbecued pineapple rings, grapefruit and smoke holds in the mouth for a medium to long length finish. Later sips give more charred oak.  

Adding water. 

A few drops added into a half dram (although I would happily finish this one undiluted). The nose has become dustier and more intense. Fruit is livelier and riper. The smoke elements are more floral and waxy, almost a floral aromatherapy candle is burning brightly with intense flame. Oh yeah, even more waxiness evident on the palate now, this dram is shocked into a higher state of being with a few drops of water, loads of big, explosive, waxy fruit, smoke is almost silenced, but it’s sweet residue is still lingering. The finish slowly fades from the intense palate, the bittersweet elements of grapefruit previously found in the undiluted is gone, this is now well balanced all the way through. 


It’s an evolving dram which changes very frequently and is quite fascinating to spend time with. Deliciously fruity, sometimes smoky, sometime mineral and herbal. It’s highland park at its best in single cask form. With water, it becomes total brilliance, absolutely beautiful stuff. On my shopping list. Very recommended. 

Many thanks to Speciality Drinks for the review sample

Whisky Review – Tomatin Cù Bòcan 1988 vintage @Tomatin1897

Tomatin Cù Bòcan 1988

51.5% ABV

Non Chill Filtered

No Added Colouring

£199.95 from Master of Malt

This time Tomatin’s Cù Bòcan is getting its smoke from a different place! The spirit (distilled December 2nd 1988) used in this bottling is not peated, but was matured traditionally and then finished (from October 2014) in 2nd and 3rd filled ex-Islay sherry casks. 

Limited only to 2200 bottles!


Fruit is the first thing on the nose from the pour. Lots of apples, ripe, rose apples, with hints of citrus, mainly lemons. Smoke is lingering in the background, a slightly medicinal style of smoke. This is 27 years old, so a little time is needed to settle. After 15 minutes of so things start to balance out, the fruits are richer and more tropical, with hints of charred pineapple, pear and peaches coming into the mix. There is some fresh cereal malty notes, a light cinnamon, touch of clove and the medicinal smoke has become sweeter, with some sweet dew laden grassiness. 


A gentle arrival, slowly builds, some dry and tarty citrus fruit initially, then the oils become very evident giving a substantially coating mouthfeel. Pears, apples and other soft fruits are very prominent with a coating of liquid smoke, some malt creaminess, custard cream biscuits, and the leftovers of a smouldering forest campfire, along with mossy excretions run through the development. 


A gentle smokey powerfulness remains for a long oily finish, with some gently grilled fruit kebabs and some creamy custard. 

Adding water.

Only a couple drops added, this is old and wouldn’t want to damage its structure. The nose has a reduced fruit intensity in favour of increased smokiness. Fruits have become slightly fizzy, with the malty cereals taking a more forward role. The palate retains the previous fruitiness, with some added zing. The fruits are drier now, and more crystallised, with concentration on the pineapple notes. There is also some additional herbal notes, something akin to light aniseed. The finish has a slight oaky fizziness, and more sweet smoke. It’s a tale of two halves, and I can appreciate them both. I personally prefer the undiluted, but it’s worth an experiment with the later part of your dram. 


Surprisingly vibrant for such an old whisky. This is no overoaked affair, it’s a beautifully delicate, fruity flavoursome and creamy whisky, with a touch of smoke added in. It seems on the surface as expensive at £200, but given the age (knocking on 28 years old), this is actually good value in today’s official bottling market. 

Thanks so much to Tomatin for providing the sample, also bought a bottle to split between friends. 

Armagnac Review – Comte De Lauvia Extra 15 year old Armagnac 

Comte De Lauvia Extra 15 year old Armagnac 

40% ABV

£48.27 from Master of Malt (sold out, but drink by the dram still available)

Day 7 of my Armagnac Advent Calendar. Loving this!

Read more on the Armagnac Advent Calendar and other Calendars (still available with time to catch up!) here.


Rich rum and raisin on first pour. Marzipan intensity overwhelming the breath in a great way. Lots of juicy dark fruits, some overripe strawberry and a little hay. Almost a farm like backnote, very countrified and organic. Some rich mahogany, old wood also backing things up. Lovely. If this were whisky you would swear it’s older than 15 years. 


Thick fruits, grape, raisin, strawberry, blackberry, all mushed ready for boiling down into jam. Some dark sugars and molasses. Gently warming and oily on the palate. Very chewy, some fruit laden toffee and gentle pepper spice. Quite delicious indeed. 


Warming, spicy ginger back note alongside a touch of pencil shavings, and a whole lot of fruit. 


Lovely stuff, Armagnac continues to amaze and be exceedingly drinkable stuff. Sad I didn’t try this before it was sold out, but I’m sure I’ll find a bottle somewhere. 

Thanks to Drinks by the Dram for the awesome advent calendar. I am going to blissfully enjoy the new Armagnac Adventures.