Littlemill 19yo 58.1% Cadenhead’s Single MaltDark rich toffee, brandy snaps, honeyed and spiced stewed dark fruits and cranberry/blueberry liqueur. Exquisite full-bodied mouthfeel, seductively smooth with rich rumtopf and that honeyed spiced dark fruit chugging in the engine room. This dram opens dramatically with fruit gums and blackcurrant with Rowntree’s blackcurrant pastilles now dominating the palate, the finish long, fruit-laden and salty. Mindbogglingly great! 94 Dalmore 17yo 1992 Sauterne Hogshead 59.1% Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Cask Strength Single Malt Cola, late harvest, liquorice allsorts, rich stewed dark fruits, toffee’n vanilla with a grapey bottom note. This dram has a massive mouthfeel of succulent, smooth, sweet pressed grapes, raisins and currants with a sweet chilli finish and that grapey note appears that just lingers forever…… Soooooo delicious. 93 This was a silver award winner at the 2009 Independent Bottlers’ Challenge Highland 13-18Years Old. Tomatin 16yo 1994 Sherry Cask 53.6% Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Cask Strength Single Malt Oloroso sherry immediately assails the nostrils, then delicious dark toffee, stewed prunes with the European oak and barley creaking in the depths. A sublime combination of oloroso and pedro ximenez sherries on the palate, soft and ohhhh soooo sexy with raisins completing this gorgeous, rich, sweet sherry concoction with a dash of anise…moreish beyond belief! One of the few truly addictive whiskies….92 Bruichladdich 19yo 1991 Bourbon Hogshead 56.9% Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Cask Strength Single Malt Woah! Lemon icing sugar layered onto lemon barley. The palate is all liquid vanilla and icing, then lemon sherbet and loads of salt on the finish. I’ve always loved the dichotomy of this style of whisky, like Springbank and Old Pulteney, that are so intensely sweet initially then finish with a bucket-load of salt. Water pumps up the barley on the nose and sweetens the vanilla icing on the palate, tempering the salt. A gorgeous maritime dram. 88 Balblair 19yo 1990 Bourbon Barrel 55.7% Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Cask Strength Single Malt Vanilla and cereal, cider and spice on the nose. The sweet vanillas are immediately evident on the tongue, then some spicy, peppery notes mid-palate finishing with strong American oak and a lingering apple sweetness. A dash of water boosts the sweetness on every level. A very pleasant dessert wine style dram. 85 Hazelburn 7yo 2001 Small Oak Casks 49.4% Cadenhead’s Bond Reserve Single Malt Vanilla, orange blossom and malted barley are prevalent with a faint, youthful off note way down. Despite the age and abv this dram is oily and so velvety smooth on the palate with plenty vanilla, a mid-palate of spicy pepper and a finish of toasted oak with the slight young rubbery note lingering. 82 Interestingly this whisky one a gold award at the 2009 Independent Bottlers’ Challenge Campbeltown 12 Years and Under. Royal Lochnagar 12yo 1996 Recharged Butt 58.5% Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Cask Strength Single Malt Vanilla soaked barley developing to honeycomb and despite the abv there are distinctive notes of clean cut grass and sweet spring flowers. Intensely vanilla sweet on the tip of the tongue, then the cask strength ambushes the back of the palate, leaving traces of molten honey and malted barley. Water brings out more of the floral note with white talc but bitters the mid-palate and finish losing the soft cereals and honey. Leave water out of this one! 80
We started chatting and while the single malts were being poured we touched on Geology, trout, whisky and travelling in no particular order, relishing the opportunity of sharing and connecting passions.Then a question was asked: “Chris, of all the places you’ve travelled to, where would be your absolute favourite?” “That’s easy” said Chris. “On a boat in the middle of Loch Ness, a Highland breeze ruffling the surface, my line in the water, looking for brown trout or salmon and then later I would pull into the shore, pitch my tent, light a fire and with my favourite dram at hand cook the fish I had caught earlier that evening.” He sighed with the memory and said it was time for bed and an early trout rise in the morning. Chris, it was great to meet a fellow lover of all things, we hope your trip was memorable, that you will visit us again and we shall think of you and Loch Ness…often. Loch Ness
Black Bottle Blend 10 yo 43% (Bunnahabhain)Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Caol Ila. There they are. A cornucopia of Islay malts.Orange vanilla, salty seaweed, sweet spices, cumin. The grain is there but is hidden under the weighty richness of the malts.A silky hit of orange tinged vanilla on the tongue, then an Islay explosion of smoke gently rippling to a salted fruity stew finish. The smoke and vanilla lingering.Left to develop, a delicious smoky toffee emerges reminding me that this has to be one of the best blends on the planet. 94 Bunnahabhain 12yo Single Malt 43% Oloroso sherry, seville marmalade and malted barley soaked in vanilla with a coating of orange chocolate. Oily, smooth and sweetly citrus on the palate, then a mid-palate of pepper and spice with a lingering finish of sherried oak. Water introduces more of the coastal character with the pepper note giving way to a salty finish. 84
Bunnahabhain 25yo xxv Single Malt 43% Barley, citrus, a hint of liquorice, orange vanilla and Spanish oak. If the 18yo is royalty this is pure aristocracy, cultured, beautiful and perfectly balanced. A hint of smoke, perhaps charred oak in the depths, adds to the character and complexity. Smooth and so mellow on the tongue, initially citrus soaked barley, then seville marmalade and a salty charred oak on the finish. 90
At the recent 2011 World Whisky Awards held in London, Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish and Three Ships 5yo were nominated in the Best Rest of the World Blended Whisky category with the Bourbon Finish taking the top prize in the No Age category and the 5yo taking the top prize in the 12 And Under.Earlier this year the international Whisky Magazine’s 2011 Icons of Whisky Awards, recognised James Sedgwick Distillery as the Whisky Brand Innovator of the Year with this quote”…parent company Distell is serious about whisky. It is time South Africa and the world took notice.” Bain’s Single Grain Whisky 5yo 43% Caramel and rich honeyed grain, then iced coffee. Despite the obvious use of American oak there is extraordinary depth to this dram suggesting the richness of European wood. The vanilla initially, is silky smooth on the palate, a mid-note of bourbon, then a sweet chilli finish. Water brings out more of the grain and bourbon notes and softens the bitter finish, leaving a lingering liquorice note. 83 Three Ships Select Blended Whisky 3yo 43% Sweet new make, then sweeter grains with citrus at a deeper level. The palate is oily with pleasant vanilla new make, then the youngsters start yelling as the chilli hits the back of the throat and an estery note lingers on the finish. Water boosts the grain character and moderates the bitterness at the end. 76 Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish Blended Whisky 43% Peat smoke, hot wellies (gumboots), vanilla, toast, a hint of bourbon, spent matches and cedar wood. On the palate there is immediately icing sugar sweet, then charred oak, pepper and then the sweet bitterness of a Guinness on the finish. Water boosts the bourbon aspect, subduing the peated notes. Excellent blend! 88
Three Ships Premium Select Blended Whisky 5yo 43% Sweet peat and rich grain.The hot wellies are also here along with toasted oak and butterscotch. A beautifully balanced nose. The palate has a rich, full bodied mouthfeel, distinctly oily with soft vanillas, a hint of citrus, then loads of peat smoke with a lingering finish of sultanas. Astonishingly great blend! Water releases the Islay element in all its glory and makes this one of the best blends on this planet. A James Sedgwick masterpiece! 90Three Ships 10yo Single Malt Limited Edition Bottled 2010 43% Intense rich vanilla pod, then a floral note envelops the malted barley. A little thin on the palate, a malted sweetness, then big charred oak with a slight bitterness on the finish. A dash of water reveals a hint of peat smoke but the vanillas and florals are still so dominant. 82 I would love to have tried this at cask strength….