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Arguably, the most beautifully crafted whisky in the world….ever….

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

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A brace of old sea salts……

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

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Age is nothing but a number…..

In my current top 10 there are four whiskies that are less than nine years old which would indicate that often age is overstated and overrated.
These are the four youthful but exceptional whiskies that fit into the response file titled “Oh my God!”

Caol Ila 8yo 1999 64.9% “Unpeated Style”
Honeycomb, naartjie(tangerine), almonds, a hint of bourbon, malted barley dripping with honey and jasmine. Butterscotch eventually develops.
The palate is molten honey with white chocolate and chilli on the finish lingering as a sauvignon blanc on the tongue.
Water brings out the vanilla and the perfumed barley, while the tongue is coated with vanilla pods dipped in honeycomb, this intense sweetness challenged by the chilli, now slightly tempered with the dry wine lasting through the finish. Exquisite. 94

Bowmore 8yo 2002 46.2% Whiskies of Scotland.
Medicinal, elastoplast, rubber, hint of bourbon, smoked barley and new paint.
The palate is explosively sweet and tarry. Wow!
Water opens as a typical Bowmore with perfumed notes mixed with the smoked barley.
This is a beautiful and deliciously sweet dram despite its youth and the odd rubbery note.
With time sweet spirited youth is evident as the palate is now double honey, double charred tar, double Wow! 94

Bruichladdich Octomore Edition 02.1 5yo 62.5%.
TCP, vanilla, salty seaweed, tar, oil rag and new paint.
Chewing this dram for a few seconds before swallowing releases vanilla then a fizzy concoction of tar, burning peat embers and smoked seaweed.
Water dampens the phenols but accentuates the sweetest vanillas with a long finish of sweetly smoking rubber.
This is truly, as the world’s most peated whisky at 140ppm, the “velvet glove round an iron fist”. 95

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte PC7 7yo 61%.
Initially a gentle balance of vanilla and peat with a hint of new rubber.
The palate is so sublime, a thick coating of vanilla, citrus and caramel then a huge punch of molten salty seaweed and peat smoke that just refuses to budge…Oh My God!!!
Water just emphasises the extraordinary balance of syrupy sweet vanillas and Islay smoke.
The best of the PCs…by far. 96

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Back to back they faced each other, drew their swords and shot each other….

This is a head to head look at two Lagavulin Distillers Editions, the 1991 and the 1993 (thanks Dryzie).

Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1991 16yo 43%
Seaweed drenched in PX sherry with a murky undertone of crustaceans and musty oak.
Surprisingly tame on the palate for a Laggers…somebody has definitely poured water on this fire.
However there is sherry with smoke and chilli but it fizzles out like a mild, flat, damp smoky squib. 79

Lagavulin Distillers edition 1993 16yo 43%
Garden mint, seaweed in a sherry marinade, a hint of new paint, cherry cough sweet, the smoke hidden under a sea-soaked blanket of PX sherry.
This offers the sweetest of sherries on the palate with pepper dominating the finish.
Water , interestingly brings out a touch of horse sweat and cherry berry juice but still lacks the meat and punch of the standard 16 yo. 85
This version however has so much more definition than the vague 1991 but I think cask strength would have settled the raging sherry and smoke war in both versions.
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Les Fran├žais sont les plus gros consommateurs de Scotch Whisky dans le monde … et de loin….

Yes, believe it or not, the French are the largest consumers of Scotch Whisky in the world…by far.
So, lets see what they are making in their own backyard….

Warenghem Armorik Whisky Breton 5yo 40%
The nose has a hint of jasmine over lightly smoked malt revealing itself as a touch of horse sweat (Bowmore). This funky perfumed note is more evident once this dram is opened, along with lemon tart.
The palate is all sweet cereal with a light dry lemony finish. Water makes this a thick and oily coating on the tongue with the sweet lemony cereal finishing with a touch of chilli.
Gorgeous dram, despite its youth. 85

Wambrechies 8yo 40%
Strong barley, ylangylang, fresias and salt.
The palate has vanilla, barley and salty oak that lingers as saline cereal.
Water still gives perfumed barley, the vanillas more prominent, the saltiness now tempered.
A little thin but a lovely aperitif, the sea salt a surprise. 75

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Well, beat me with a bundle of birch twigs, this is gin and juniper juice!…..

Mackmyra Special 01 51.6%.
New make, vanilla, butterscotch, lemon curd and marzipan on the nose. Opens with ginger spice and lemon meringue.
The palate has a touch of vanilla and then dominant juniper berries finishing with gin and grapefruit. Water enhances the juniper and grapefruit juice.
Despite the gorgeous nose and the surprising juniper notes, the palate was too astringent for me.72