Ardbeg Lord of the Isles

Ardbeg Lord of the Isles

The final bottle of the 25th Wedding Anniversary Special……..

A 25yo (sometimes a little older….) Ardbeg that was first bottled in 2001 at 46% , when first released it cost on or around the £100 mark . Bearing in mind how much it was and how rare old Ardbegs were , i have Abiding memories of it being given out like it was going out of fashion at a couple of Ardbeg Days at the Feis Ile…….

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Another one with a beautiful Golden Colour , On the nose the ‘Ardbeg-dine’ is very light , slight fruitiness with a bit of citrus , the nose is more akin to the later 70’s than the early to mid 70’s , quite reserved for an ardbeg to be honest . On the palate we get something more Ardbeggie , lemon , a touch of creamy chocolate / coffee , the Ardbeg-dine more prominent , a proper 70’s Ardbeg Mouthfeel . The finish is long with all of the above . This is a later LOTI (L4) , it’s still a good dram but it’s not quite what i remember of the other (earlier ?) LOTI’s i’ve had .

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Laphroaig 25yo 2013 Cask Strength Edition

The fifth and penultimate 25th Wedding Anniversary bottling…….

Bottled 6 years ago in 2013 at 45.1% , We’d previously had a 25 at the distillery back in 2011 on my 50th birthday (the 48.6% one) which was very impressive but the previous ones to that we’d tried had been disappointing .

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Pale Gold in colour , The initial nose is quite reserved to start with , smells like a watered down 10yo , quite farm yardy , grassy with a touch of peat , a bit of a let down for a laphroaig to be honest . Luckily the palate comes roaring in with ‘Peaty Laphroaig’ ! that’s better , it’s actually quite smooth and velvety (in a funny sort of way) but with the Laphroaig punch , iodine / seaweed , there’s also the Farm yard thing but with a touch of nettles .The finish is medium (for a Laphroaig ) but has that Farm Yard / Nettles , Antiseptic thing going on . Being used to the Cask Strength 10yo at first i was (in a strange way) slightly disappointed , then i reread my notes on the last 25 i tried and it was fairly similar apart from the Sherry , just don’t think of the 10yo CS when trying it……. 

Brora SMWS 61.2(0)

The fourth in our 25th Wedding Anniversary series…..

Another SMWS bottling , This one came up in a tasting in Newcastle , to my great surprise , The label has a miss-print , it says 61.2 but it should say 61.20 ! Distilled in February 1978 and bottled in February 2004 at 57% , it has the label name “Marmalade on burnt toast” .

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Polished Gold in Colour , The nose is definitely Brora ! The Brora medicinalness and smoke , You could be on the seashore with a barbeque going piling the spices on the steak . The palate continues with the coastal medicinalness , it glides across the tongue , they don’t make peated whisky like this anymore! The finish is exceptionally long with all of the above plus , at last , the marmalade ! The only thing i can add is This does not disappoint !

Caol Ila SMWS 53.98

The third of the Anniversary bottlings…….

This is from a time when we were a very active member of the SMWS , Going to regular tastings , lots of visits to The Vaults , their bottle prices were very good value and they hadn’t gone stupid with bottling lots of sulphured whisky……. 53.98 is a 25yo distilled in January 1980 and bottled in December 2005 at 60.4% , it was given the label name “Peat , tar and liquorice” .

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The colour of Polished Gold , The nose is quite closed to start with , then there’s a very strong hint of Toffee (!?!?) , The Caol ilaness finally starts coming through , the distinct peatiness . It’s when you get it in the mouth the full ‘Caol Ila’ finally emerges , it is a flavour you only get from this distillery , germolene antiseptic , coastal , iodine / seaweed . It all follows through onto a very long gorgeous finish . Another brilliant CI that doesn’t taste like it’s 60.4% , Superb , just the nose can let it down a bit……  

Bunnahabhain XXV

The second of the 25th Wedding Anniversary bottlings……

Bunnahabhain ages well , we’ve had one’s well into their 30’s in the past , this one is a 25yo bottled at 46.3% . I think i bought this on one of my last visits to the distillery (2014 or before….) .

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What a wonderful colour out of the bottle! A Gorgeous Polished Mahogany , The first thing you notice on the nose is Sherry , lots of it , this is the Proverbial liquid Christmas Cake , dried fruits , spices , marzipan , vanilla etc etc . There is sea air and the Bunnahabhain ‘Sweetness’ – the Edinburgh Rock Confectioners Sugar . The palate pretty much replicates the nose with the addition of lots of dark fruits , The finish is very long , very satisfying with a very juicy sherriness mixing with a lingering spiciness , quite chewy as well . Another corker of an aged sherried Bunnahabhain , cracking stuff !!!

Douglas Laing ‘Directors Cut’ 25yo Longmorn

The first of the 25th Wedding Anniversary Bottle Reviews……

From my favourite Speyside Distillery , Longmorn , this Indy bottling from Douglas Laing was distilled in April 1989 and bottled in June 2014 at 54.2% . Longmorn seems to be one of them distilleries that get even better with age .

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 The Colour of ripe straw (pale gold) , the nose is a cornucopia of exotic fruits (as expected of a Longmorn) , there is Honey , spices , a nice maltiness and a touch of freshly cut meadows . The palate is soft , smooth and velvety , Again lots of fruits , spices and a touch of oak . The finish is long with Cinnamon Apple pie and Vanilla Custard . A delicious malt , as a Longmorn should be , the only thing i would say is it hasn’t got the ‘umph’ that the older SMWS Longmorns had but it’s still worth the investment !

Holiday Tasting Notes……

Seeing we’re taking it easy (me not driving anywhere….) on the first bit of this holiday and it’s a wee bit wet thought i’d Spend the afternoon watching the trains go by whilst writing up some tasting notes of samples provided by my good buddy Bobby B . A fairly mixed bag…….

Longmorn 2012 7yo 58.3% (Our Own Cask) 

Yes the last cask in my portfolio has reached 7yo , from a Bourbon Barrel (with recharred ends according to Mr Logan) . Pale straw in colour , the initial nose proves its youthfulness, there is still a few years of maturing to go, the Longmorn character is there , to say it’s a bit of a fruit bomb is an understatement, citrus, exotic fruits, vanilla , absolutely gorgeous!

The palate is silky smooth with a symphony of fruity delights , wow, the finish is long ,peppery, loads of spices , Magnificent !!!

To say we have scored for another brilliant cask would be stating the obvious but I wouldn’t have expected anything else from a Longmorn !

Berry Bros Sherry Cask Matured Blended Malt

Have no idea what is actually in this one but it was bottled at 44.2% , a deep Amber in colour, the nose is indeed sherried, there is a touch of sulphur (not a good sign….) but no distinguishing features. The palate has the usual sherry features, Christmas Cake etc , but nothing to let on its origin . Finish is long and sherried. A decent enough dram let down by sulphur on the initial nose , but I have to say it’s not a patch on the Blue Hanger Batch 4 which is the bench mark imho for BBR Blended Malts formerly known as Vatted…..

A.D. Rattray 8yo Royal Brackla

Not a malt I’m not that well acquainted with , apparently it was finished in a Calvados cask for 18 months (which makes me think straight away there was something wrong with the original cask and/or spirit…..) and bottled at 56.2% , a brightish gold in colour, the nose is a bit strange , presumably the calvados, quite sweet but nothing outstanding. The palate is even weirder, sweet and spirity, the finish is……. i’ll Pass on it……. Not one to dash out and buy a bottle of IMO 

Wolfburn Morven (Lightly Peated) 

A new malt to my palate , no age statement given , bottled at 46% , very pale straw in colour, on the nose it’s definitely peaty ! Sort of young Islay in the Laphroaig area. The palate is pleasant enough , no nastiness, a rather enjoyable Peated dram , finish is smooth , peaty and longish. Not bad but if I wanted a dram like this i’d look to Islay and probably a Laphroaig……

Whiskybroker 10yo Fettercairn

Bottled at 56.5% , bright gold in colour and presumably from an ex-bourbon cask given the number of bottles . Lovely fresh nose , lots of vanilla , gorgeous fruitiness and maltiness. Great Start ! The palate continues the niceness of this dram again fruity and malty , wonderful! The finish continues on the previous themes , grand stuff !

Taking the Longmorn out of the equation (for bias sake….) this has been my favourite dram so far !

Whiskybroker 9yo Ardmore

Distilled 20/10/2009 and bottled at 58.4% after 12 months finishing in an ex-oloroso cask , the colour is a light amber . The nose is a nice mixture of the Ardmore peatiness and sherry , the palate is also extremely enjoyable , again a nice mixture of both flavours and very balanced, the finish is lovely and long . A very good dram , well finished by Martin , another dram I could have gone for ! 

Before I move on to the last two drams I have to say (and Bobby knows this , probably why he keeps sending me them…..) I’m not a huge fan of Arran Malt whisky , I thought it had huge potential when I first visited it in the 90’s but to say i’ve Been underwhelmed by it is a huge understatement……

Arran 18yo 52.9%

Not a great deal of detail about this one , bright gold in colour, the nose is pleasant enough , getting jam rolly polly and custard , a strong maltiness , the palate continues the jaminess (strawberry) , the finish is long and spicy . A pleasant dram , probably one of the better Arrans i’ve Had .

Whiskybroker 10yo Arran 

From a Sherry Hoggie, bottled at 57.4%, a light mahogany in colour, very Christmas Cake on the nose , slight maltiness, but not a lot else . Again on the palate it’s Christmas Cake and sherry but no distinguishing features…… The finish is long and sherried , what I don’t get about Arran are the distillery characteristics, this could be any dram , there’s nothing to say it’s from Arran , a session dram that would please an undiscerning drammer, preferred the first one to be honest…….

So as this tasting session has progressed the sun has come out , I’ve had a N.E.R T2 , a S.R. Schools Class and a B.R. Class 37 go by , turning into a perfect Afternoon!