Colour: Pale Straw
This is what every Highland single malt should taste like. Delicate and sensitive as well as bold and courageous.
Incidentally this is one of the first single malts I had ever bought and I think it was the reason I fell in love. Familiar aromas of honey, vanilla and hints of coconut remind me of why I got into malting in the first place. Robust barley lightly dusted with brown sugar and then rubbed on bright green pears makes this nose possibly one of my all time favorites to come out of the Highlands.
The velvet delivery is almost perfect as it starts off honeyed followed by black pepper and cinnamon. Swish it around your mouth and you can discern the deftest of dark chocolate and a drop of citrus.
The medium to long finish is dry and quite oaky – I think that’s where the Fine Oak comes into it’s own – with a touch of nuts and an eyebrow raising stick of clove.
I have to admit; this malt makes me happy.
Colour: Pale Gold
There was a time when I remember wanting to drink only Sherry influenced whiskies and this expression was the reason why.
The nose is pretty much in perfect harmony. Big, fat, juicy, red grapes covered in sugar, sprinkled with black pepper, dipped in caramel and then dusted with dark chocolate are presented to you on a silver platter. A final nose brings out the beautiful wooden sherried oak that makes this nose what it is.
Like most Macallan’s I’ve tasted the liquid is pure velvet. Burnt toast with black pepper and tiny cloves is the first thing to greet you. This is followed by the unmistakable taste of charred orange rind. Finally the palate is wrapped in a swirl of caramel, jaggery and a hint of roasted nuts.
The lovely long finish with it’s dry clove and nuts feels quite mature for it’s twelve years.
Pour your self a dram, sit back and relax. It’s going to be a long night.
Normally kept for post-dinner drams, my Scapa 16 was pulled out of the bar for an early evening taste. A good choice!
The Islander has quite a colorful nose – aromatic purple flowers like lavender sit in a fruit basket of papaya and apricots as citrus infused honey is drizzled quite liberally over the bouquet. All the while sitting next to a bowl of cereal and kneaded dough. A pleasant nose to awaken all your senses.
The medium bodied oily palate starts off white peppery spicy followed by the pleasant sweetness of honey and toffee.
A decent finish brings you rock melon and papaya. The papaya! It’s so strong in this one.
All in all a very decent dram – something to be had quite regularly.
Bottling: Parkers Heritage Collection
Colour: Old Sauternes
This was one of my earlier purchases and I hadn’t tasted it in a long time. I just remembered that it was good. How good? I had totally forgotten!
The nose is a massive burst of vanilla, coconut, leather and burnt toast. Just like a good bourbon should be. But what sets this one apart is the crisp intensity of each aroma. Add to this a beautiful mix of ground coffee, a slice of chocolate cake, fresh tobacco and cardamom and you invariably reach for the non-existant six shooter by your side!
The taste is as explosive as the nose with caramel, vanilla, orange liqueur and big cinnamon playing a country song on your palate. Oaky honey and maple syrup cascade in next to round off a lip smacking delivery.
As the long, oily and spicy finish hints of boiled sweets and cigar box you can’t help but salivate at the thought of the next sip.
A must-have winter night dram – preferably out in the open fields.
Distillery/Brand: Highland Park
Bottling: 25 Year old
Colour: Old Sauternes
I opened this glorious expression last New Year’s Eve which was really my way of telling my friends and family how special they were to me.
A thick syrupy nose, dripping with dark honey, chocolate, char grilled tangerines, breakfast marmalade and that scrumptious layer of burnt sugar found on top of a perfectly cooked caramel pudding. I was so glad I chose to go with this expression to impress my friends! Cuddle with it a little more and you will experience a sprinkle of aniseeds atop a rum fruit cake. All of this is then perfectly balanced against the backdrop of mature oak. Perfect!
The velvet delivery first comes with black pepper and then quite expertly balances out with a spread of maple syrup, orange zest followed by a sprinkling of dark chocolate flakes.
At nearly cask strength the finish is satisfyingly long, dry and oaky. There are cloves with the minutest touch of tobacco and leather and, just as you’re about to bid adieu, there is that delicious burnt sugar on top of the caramel pudding.
Even though there is a slightly bitter aftertaste I don’t think it will affect my popularity with my friends!
Distillery/Brand: Glen Moray
Bottling: 12 Year Old
The Glen Moray 12 is a remarkably clean and fresh tasting single malt from Speyside and, for me, an expression that is best to start off an evening with.
The uncomplicated nose first brings with it a whiff of freshly kneaded dough next to a bowl of bran cereal. This is followed by a spoonful of leftover rice pudding. Quite comforting as it reminds me of breakfast during my school days. The freshness jumps out next – almost as if I decided to take my bowl of cereal out to my garden on an early spring morning. The relaxing aromas of freshly mowed grass and little white flowers complete a delicate and pleasant nosing experience.
The oily delivery is spicy at first as a pinch of white pepper lands quite dramatically on the tip of your tongue. Wrestle a bit more with the liquid and it rewards you with sweet honey and a hint of lemon tart.
The medium finish is citrusy dry with an aftertaste of red licorice and salty nuts.
A pleasant dram that, I suspect, is perfect to lure the rookie maltie!
Distillery/Brand: Santis Malt
Bottling: Swiss Highlander
This single malt is unremarkable at best, choosing, instead, to stay neutral like it’s government has for ages. Whether that will change I don’t know.
Nose: Quite musty and dank like damp sugars cubes inside an oak bowl. But then that’s really it. It takes a few moments of uninterrupted silence to coax anything more from the nose. I had to use the Force to discern a very faint breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup. Except it was more molasses than maple. And it was more dough-y than pancakes.
Palate: An equally muddled palate brings with it an initial burst of five spice and fennel followed by a brief tumble of sugars. Chewing it a bit more releases a stick of red licorice but then again, like the nose, that was it.
Finish: The short, dry finish, with a touch of decay, leaves a lot to be desired in this expression. But I will wait for another Swiss single malt before damning the entire nation to hell.
Bottling: LOCKE’S 8 Year Old Stone Crock
The Irish are constantly reminding us that Scotland and Japan aren’t the only places which can produce top quality malts. And this particular expression, complete in ceramic pouring jug, further cements that fact.
Nose: Such a fresh nose on this Irish beauty. Standing in a field of tall grass holding crisp green apples in each hand minutes after a light morning shower. The sun peers through and shines a light on a lemon and lime tree near by. A basket of plum raisins sprinkled with the tiniest of dark chocolate flakes sits underneath the glistening foliage.
Palate: The wonderful palate of lemony sweetness cascades around your taste buds as gentle star anise gives the delivery a gorgeous complexity.
Finish: The long, dry and oaky finish has touches of fennel and something a touch bitter. Like the, not so unpleasant, aftertaste of rocket leaves.
All in all a wonderful expression and the fact that it comes in a ceramic pouring jug makes the experience even more special.
Bottling: Solist Fino
If I had been blindfolded and given this single malt from Taiwan I would have bet my first born that this was a bourbon from Heaven Hill. No questions about it!
The first thing to draw your attention is the deep burgundy color sitting inside the bottle which immediately causes you to salivate uncontrollably. Such is the allure in the eyes alone.
The heavy sherried nose is bursting with dark autumn fruits – plums, berries and humungous red grapes. The fruits are then reduced in a mixture of red wine and sugar and then poured on top of a soft gooey chocolate fudge cake. As the glistening syrup trickles down the side a few slices of over-ripe bananas, sprinkled with coconut dust, are layered on top to complete the presentation.
Intense black peppers on the tongue is the first thing you notice. But before you have time to wipe the tears from your eyes (tears of joy, I might add) blackberry laced maple syrup swoops in and takes you to a very special Christmas memory. A touch of leather, black currants and berries add yet another layer of delicious complexity.
The mammoth woody finish has a touch of anis but that is rounded off by the overpowering jaggery that rushes in at the end.
There are few times when a whisky will leave me speechless. This was one of them.