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Drayman’s Highveld single Malt Whisky French Oak Reserve 43%Dynamic nose of intense vanilla, rumtopf, spicy fruit cake mix swimming in sherry and candied citrus peel.The palate, however, is watery thin.A hint of vanilla, then a fierce fiery chilli that ambushes the throat finishing with a new make grapey finish…mampoer style.Quite a nice grappa actually.Water enhances the fabulous nose but makes the palate more wretched and undrinkable. 66 (Nose 82 Palate 50)

Three Ships 5y0 43% James Sedgwick.Soft sweet grain, intense vanilla, butterscotch, a hint of smoke and orange Sparkles (boiled sweets), then sweet marmalade.The palate is honeyed creamy barley, orange sherbet and finishes with the sweet marmalade morphing to seville.An outstanding whisky that will stand up to any Scottish blend caber tossed in its direction and with a general retail price at under R 100.00…huge value for money. 85

Clear Creek’s McCarthy’s Oregon single malt 3yo 42.5%I’ll read to you the blurb on the label: “Distilled from a fermented mash of peat-malted Scottish barley, barrel-aged 3 years”Instantly, new rubber is prevalent indicating it’s youth but then an aroma of kippers drizzled with honey pervades the dram and then massive all spice, pepper and vanilla emerge.The palate at this stage offers the vanilla with powerful pepper and kippers on the finish.A dash of water matures this whiskey and a strong nutmeg note appears.The palate opens beautifully and intensifies the vanillas and smoky pepper.Outstanding!I am in shock and awed at how complex and balanced this American youngster is. 90

The Big Smoke – Blended Islay Malt 60% Duncan Taylor.Vanilla and clean peat, initially Ardbeg on the nose, then a slight vegetal note and caramellised fried onion rings, elastoplast and new paint tin.The palate has salt, vanilla, tar and then explosive robust smoke that lingers through the finish.Don’t attempt to put this fire out with a dash of water…it will fizzle out.Best just to face the furnace and take it on the chin…it’s worth it! 85

Big Peat – Islay Blended Malt 46% Douglas Laing.Woah! Surprisingly sophisticated and complex on the nose for what appeared to be a marriage of some bolshy Islay malts.A salty sea breeze of seaweed dipped in wintergreen, the sweetness of fabled Port Ellen’s vanilla and paint tin and just a hint of youth with struck matchsticks.The palate matches the nose note for note, a chilli note adding to the character and then a finish of salted tarry rope.Mmmm….this is a gentle peat, a cultured peat, refined peat, scholarly……Water brings out an eclectic mix of new rubber, citrus, menthol and Port Ellen’s salivating vanilla solvent.The palate thickens and then leaves a lightly tarred surface sprinkled with vanilla icing.Despite the caricatured label this dram is not “Big” but svelte, elegant, polished peat. 90

Ardbeg Uigedail 54.2%Initially, predominantly sherry, raisins and spicy stewed fruit cooked over a smouldering peat fire….then molasses and caramelised brown sugar that develops into Pedro Ximenez sherry. Eventually a touch of horse sweat and woodsmoke.This nose is so overpowering in its beauty, as the multitude of layers develop.The palate is sherry, old oak and chocolate chilli that finishes with the sweetest tarry seaweed and iconic Ardbeg peat smoke that lingers….forever.Water opens this dram Corryvreckan style with oily butterscotch, caramel, citrus, peppery peat that leaves your palate just gasping for more.This has got to be the most exquisitely balanced whisky I have ever experienced…..addictive, extraordinary, unbeatable, Ardbeg. 98

Wick is a windswept coastal fishing village, situated on the rugged east coast and is home to the Pulteney distillery, the most northerly on the Scottish mainland.

Their maritime malts are underrated, great value for money and therefore well worth exploring and are only available in South Africa at Spar’s Tops.

Old Pulteney 12yo 43%Briny hint of peat on the nose with the palate offering an interesting sweetly-dry note with sea salt on the finish.Water opens this dram beautifully with smoky vanilla and pears, the palate sweetly fruity then loads of salt…truly maritime! 83

Old Pulteney 17yo 46%A fresh, sweet, saline, fruity nose like a vanilla-laced sea breeze.The palate is a riot of oily mouth feel, honey, apple and then greengage and plum skin.Water opens with citrus, seville marmalade, then malted barley and butterscotch emerges on the nose.The tongue is coated with a thick sweet fruity mix with a long salty finish that lingers and then morphs into charred sherry oak.An amazing dram! 92