Glenfarclas 105 – 20 Years Old

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Distillery/Brand: Glenfarclas
ABV: 60%
Region: Speyside
Colour: Copper

Nose: 23
Taste: 24
Finish: 24
Balance: 23

Review
This is a special bottling of the already awesome Glenfarclas 105, matured in sherry casks for 20 years. Served up at an eye-watering 60% ABV this single malt is not to be messed with!

The nose is strong and floral with an intense rose garland aroma. Strong sugars, flowing jaggery and a sprinkle of black pepper spices make up the dominant nose. Spend a little more time and you can discern pleasantly ripe bananas too!

The delivery is nothing short of spectacular! Imagine a dark chocolate hand grenade with a side of black pepper C4 exploding in your mouth without mercy. The 60% ABV comes into it’s own here carrying with it dark plums, juicy raisins and a touch of something minty all swirled in gorgeous dark rum. A delivery hard to forget.

The nutty long finish is intensely spicy with an oaky dryness rounding off a smashing high strength sherry rendezvous.

Rating: 94

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Glen Scotia 18

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Distillery/Brand: Glen Scotia
ABV: 46%
Region: Campbeltown
Colour: Sunlight

Nose: 20
Taste: 21
Finish: 21
Balance: 19

Review
I have always had a fascination with Campbeltown whiskies and it all started when I tasted a smashing 10 year old Springbank at a friend’s place. Which is why every time I uncork an expression from that part of Scotland I am always urging it to be good. However, it is not the case with this 18 year old.

An unremarkable nose greets me as we are introduced to each other. There is the damp and musty smell of curdled milk in the air along side a day old piece of kneaded dough. I summon all my powers of concentration and eke out a handful of dry raisins. But that’s it.

This journey of unremarkable-ness continues on the palate with a more than necessary burst of fiery black pepper corns. One has to fight through the pin pricks to single out a touch of honey lemon and something faintly nutty.

A mentholated short finish later I am left pondering over what I just experienced.

Rating: 81

Arran Single Cask Sherry 1996

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Distillery/Brand: Arran
ABV: 54.1%
Region: Island
Colour: Full Gold

Nose: 23
Taste: 23
Finish: 23
Balance: 23

Review
This magnificent bottling of the 1996 distilled single sherry cask Arran is quite rare so when it was brought out at a friend’s house it was received rather warmly. And for good reason too.

The gorgeous dark nose has a number of complex layers upon which it is built. Chocolate covered raisins dropped in an oaky bowl of chopped plums and drizzled with citrus are followed by a whiff of something slightly musty. Then delicate purple flowers with a hint of mint. Quite the experience.

The chewy palate is strong and aggressive. Black pepper, chocolate and finely ground coffee give way to plums and raisins. There is then unmistakeable charred orange zest with a touch of cardamom.

The woody dry finish is long and spicy making this Arran possibly my favorite expression from this distillery.

Rating: 92

Caol Ila 12 Years Old Unpeated

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Distillery/Brand: Caol Ila
ABV: 57.6%
Region: Islay
Colour: Sunlight

Nose: 21
Taste: 22
Finish: 21
Balance: 21

Review
I’m a sucker for anomalies and anything off the beaten path. So it was nice to get my hands on this un-peated Islay and give it a whirl.

The sweet and salty nose is like pouring honey in a bowl of tepid sea water accompanied by a whiff of wood shavings. I expected more from the nose but that was to be it.

The palate is quite a simple serving of lemon tart dusted with black pepper. And again that is it.

The slightly bitter finalé to this expression is, once again, not up to mark.

I expected more from this expression and did not get it. I don’t know whether this was a case of my high expectations not being met or it was just an average malt. In either case I was quite upset not to be over the moon.

Rating: 84

Laphroaig PX

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Distillery/Brand: Laphroaig
ABV: 48%
Region: Islay
Colour: Old Sauternes

Nose: 24
Taste: 24
Finish: 23
Balance: 23

Review
Take a typical Laphroaig (like the 10), pour it over a chocolate rum cake, soak it over night and say ‘Hello’ to the Laphroaig PX Cask!

The nose is quintessential Laphroaig with that familiar seaweed, iodine and peat mixture. But that’s where the similarity ends. Because from within salty seas comes through the most decadent of dark chocolate cakes smothered in ripe bananas, charred citrus and burnt treacle. Finally mossy undertones remind you that you’re being enveloped by the open seas and wet skies of Islay. Quite magnificent, actually.

The full bodied, juicy palate is dark chocolate and maple syrup with a healthy drop of dry fruits, cinnamon and a touch of clove. Burnt citrus re-emerges to add to the complexity followed by a strange spoonful of yoghurt found in a musty drawer.

The oily long finish is lovely and leaves you salivated for hours on end with fennel and banana bread.

This is a malt where you finish an evening with because you don’t want anything else polluting the gloriousness in your mouth.

Rating: 94

Inchmurrin 12

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Distillery/Brand: Inchmurrin
ABV: 40%
Region: Highland
Colour: Sunlight

Nose: 21
Taste: 21
Finish: 21
Balance: 21

Review
Again a not-so-mainstream expression – something I quite like exploring. This one was a 12 year old Highland I nicked off a friend’s bar.

It has quite a strong floral nose reminding me of rose infused incense sticks that you use sometimes as an air freshener. Swirling in the incense smoke is a spoonful of maple syrup, sugar cubes and almonds. It’s quite a heady experience and it takes a while for your nose to adjust to any thing else after that.

Red licorice, cinnamon, grapes, purple fruits drizzled with white pepper course through your palate in an unusual delivery. Like a big plate of all these ingredients which you’re forced to eat all at once. A bit tricky to get your head around it.

The medium finish full of red licorice and cherry drops rounds off an interesting Highland experience but the question is would I drink this one again?

Hhhmmmm, I don’t know. Maybe.

Rating: 84

Tormore 12

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Distillery/Brand: Tormore
Region: Speyside
ABV: 40%
Colour: Pale Straw

Nose: 22
Taste: 22
Finish: 21
Balance: 21

Review
I personally love exploring the not so mainstream expressions out there and so it was quite exciting when I spotted this 12 year old Speyside in a friend’s bar the other night.

It has a typical Speyside nose with butterscotch, honey and almond. Citrusy overtones come next followed by something a touch floral wrapped in a haze of morning dew. Quite fresh and invigorating.

The medium bodied palate is interesting and flavorful. I like the strong minty herbacious attack on a bed of honey, sugarcane and white pepper. Chew it for long and a curious mixture of chalk and nuts forces you to raise an eyebrow. Intriguing.

The decently long finish has a smatter of dry fruits and very strong oaky mint.

This was my first Tormore and, I must say, I quite liked it.

Rating :86