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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.PHENOMENAL!The best of the PCs…by far. 96

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.

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

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

I have lost count of the times that someone has come into the bar and proclaimed that “they can’t stand whisky!” This statement originates from limited exposure to blends and no exposure to single malts, the fact that there are around 500 flavour congeners in a single malt is just a tasty side plate to the banquet of whiskies available to us all.On that note, my immediate response to the above statement is “well, in that case try my converter…..” it rarely, if ever, fails to impress and convert the sceptic……

The Balvenie Doublewood 12yo 43%.Sweet oloroso sherry, dusty barley, vanilla, seville marmalade and whisky fudge, eventually developing a hint of smoky oak.The palate is thin but the oloroso dominates, leaving the vanilla behind, then a touch of woodsmoke and that seville orange note lingers on the finish.Water opens the darker fruits like raisins, sultanas and orange cordial.All these elements come together on the palate as a whisky marmalade made from dark spicy stewed fruit and seville oranges.87Enticing, inviting, beautifully balanced………….the converter.

With apologies to SMWS’s artistic licence. Finlaggan Cask Strength 58%.

This little gremlin reared its ugly head during the recent Cape and Jo’burg Whisky Live shows:

Raw cut potato, rubber bands, sulphur, elastoplast and generally unpleasant odours savagely assail the nostrils.The palate hints at vanilla then rudely offers new rubber and hot tarmacadam. Water just makes the nose more odorous, the palate undrinkable. This is a prime example of a inchoate whisky, one that is too young, too little copper, too badly casked, too awful.I shudder to think that this could be an offering from my favourite distillery…Ardbeg?58