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Glen Scotia 1992 16yo Single Malt 55.7% Berry’s Own (Original tasting October 2010) Musty oak wrapped in dark toffee with a hint of smoke in the depths. The palate is all rich spicy fruit cake drying to a tannic finish. A splash of water opens the nose to more musty and sherried oak. However the palate is now explosive with chewy Sugus sweets, stewed fruits and finishing with a spiced peaty dryness that lingers into a peppery smoke and medicinal finish. Could have been an Islay malt….92 24th January 2012 Sweet tobacco leaves, barley drenched in maple syrup, the sweetest dark toffee, molasses and the Scotia peat delicately holding this beautiful dram together. This whisky is so gorgeously balanced with the palate reflecting the nose almost note for note. The maple syrup so evident initially, then sweet peppery chilli and the peat smoke lingering on the finish. Again the drop of water is so significant releasing pineapple on the nose, the palate now infinitely more syrupy sweet, the peat now medicinal, distinctly and deliciously Islay. Outstanding! 94

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In 1887, there were 21 licensed distilleries in Campbeltown, today there are only three, Glen Scotia being one of the survivors, the other Springbank with Glengyle reopening, after reconstruction, in 2004. Glen Scotia was built in 1832 and is a small distillery, comprising one steel mash tun, six steel wash backs and a pair of swan stills. In 1930, a previous owner Duncan MacCallum committed suicide by throwing himself into the Campbeltown Loch and his spirit apparently still returns to haunt the night shift…. Some of the matured ethereal vapour, I have listed among my all time favourites…..

Glen Scotia Distillery

Glen Scotia 17yo Single Malt 46% Duthies Honeycomb with a hint of a previous smoking, coconut ice, barley sugar with a touch of cereal poking through. A little thin on the palate, the honey notes splash the tongue but then there is a huge grapefruit hit, salty with the barley drying on the finish…not the best example from this distillery. 78% Glen Scotia 12yo Single Malt 43% Honey’n malt. The cereal is dominant with lashings of vanilla and honey. A touch of new rubber in the background indicates the low peating levels. Light and sweet initially on the tongue, then a sprinkle of pepper and a spoonful of salt season this maritime dram and leaves the palate with a lingering light smokiness. 82 Glen Scotia 17yo Single Malt Refill Bourbon Cask 58.9% SMWS 93.35 Maritime, pureed strawberries and salt, sprinkled with icing sugar, the alcohol prickly but pleasant. Thick with vanilla on the tongue, then a touch of chilli as the mid-palate moves through to a lingering lightly braaied(barbecued)barley. A dash of aqua introduces the peat on the nose, boosts the honey and finishes on the palate with warm, sooty, tarry embers. 85 Glen Scotia 1992 16yo Single Malt 55.7% Berry’s Own Musty oak wrapped in dark toffee with a hint of smoke in the depths. The palate is all rich spicy fruit cake drying to a tannic finish. A splash of water opens the nose to more musty and sherried oak. However the palate is now explosive with chewy Sugus sweets, stewed fruits and finishing with a spiced peaty dryness that lingers into a peppery smoke and medicinal finish. Could have been an Islay malt….92 Glen Scotia 1999 11yo Red Wine Cask 58% Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Woah! What a recipe! Stewed berries with a peat ember thrown in for good measure, then warm rich toffee and honeycomb syrup slowly ladled into this exotic mix. The palate has rumtopf and anis with rich fruit spice and smoke on the everlasting finish. Water opens up dark toffee with the spiced fruit and smoke gorgeously balanced on the finish. Moreish comes to mind …and more moreish….93 Glen Scotia 1992 18yo 50% Old Malt Cask Wow! A nose of sherry trifle, fudge cake, spicy stewed fruit and dark toffee. A bold mouthfeel of sherry-sweetened stewed dark fruits with a long lingering Oloroso finish. Once opened the nose becomes phenomenal with vanilla, sherried toffee, creme brulee and a hint of parsley. The palate has now developed beautifully with honeyed fruits balanced by a long slightly dry finish. Awesome! 94

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This Clan Denny blended malt was released by Douglas Laing’s sister company Hunter Hamilton and contains malts from Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunahabhain, Caol Ila and two others that shall not be named!

Ardbeg Distillery on Islay Clan Denny Blended Malt 46% So familiar, that Islay coastal, salty nose, vanilla and a hint of scorched rubber, salty toffee apple and a touch of horse sweat. Oh yes! They’ve got this one right, the balance is nigh on perfect. The initial intense vanillas, a la Ardbeg, creamily coating the mouth, then a peppery mid-palate with a tarry, seaweed and salty finish. A masterful blended malt that truly captures the spirit of Islay…92. Available at the Wild About Whisky bar in Dullstroom.

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CHIVAS REGAL Strathisla Distillery is, without question, the prettiest distillery in Scotland and is the heart and home of Chivas Regal. Set in the picturesque medieval town of Keith, on the banks of the River Isla and with its distinctive twin pagodas, water wheel and gabled granite buildings, Strathisla is well worth visiting. To safeguard the critically important component of the Chivas blends, Strathisla single malt, Chivas Brothers bought the distillery in 1950 and in 2001 The Chivas Group was bought by the French multi-national Pernod Ricard, who have maintained Chivas Regal as one of the top five bestselling blends in the world. CHIVAS REGAL 12 YEARS OLD BLENDED WHISKY 43% On the nose a mixed fruit cornucopia of dark berries, toffee apple swirling with caramel and toffee custard, with some Islay peat misting in the background. Velvety sweet on the tongue initially, then hot peppered spice drying to a woody charcoal finish. Water mutes the stunning nose and does nothing for the mediocre palate. Best neat or straight on ice. 82

CHIVAS REGAL 18 YEARS OLD BLENDED WHISKY 43%

Rich vanilla with loads of sweet spice, cardamom and toffee on the nose. The palate is silky smooth with a hint of the vanilla, then a rush of spicy pepper, finishing with a bitter, short, dry aftertaste of old sherried oak. 80

CHIVAS ROYAL SALUTE 21 YEARS OLD BLENDED WHISKY 40% Almonds, Oloroso sherry, a hint of mint, dark toffee and a touch of anise, richly spiced stewed dark fruits with a hazy trail of smoke…what an astonishing nose! Sweetly oily and viscous, coating the tongue with sweet toffee essence, light pepper ‘n spice with sherried wood on the finish. Despite the gorgeous, moreish nose on all three expressions the palate always disappointed, unbalanced with short finishes that went nowhere, which leads me to think that this Chivas range is highly over-rated. 83

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A constant work in progress our coffee station and retail section of the bar has undergone a major revamp. Now that we can actually see most of the whiskies, we did a recount and came up with 950……come and check it out.

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December saw the launch of a new online fly fishing magazine: “Fly Fishing Tails” at www.flyfishingtails.co.za, exquisite layout and a whisky feature by Wild About Whisky . Also check out my pick of the month on page 16. This month I will highlight three of the brands that feature in the new mag, starting with Bells.

Blair Athol Distillery BELL’S “Several fine whiskies blended together please the palates of a greater number of people than one whisky unmixed,” so wrote Arthur Bell in 1863. In fact Bell’s is a blend of 47 single malt and grain whiskies, the heart of which is Blair Athol single malt. Blair Athol Distillery, situated in the picturesque village of Pitlochry, is the spiritual home of Bell’s and is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, founded in 1798. Arthur Bell & Sons acquired the distillery in 1933 and today the company is owned by Diageo which has consolidated Bell’s as the N0.1 blended Scotch, not only in the UK but also South Africa. BELL’S EXTRA SPECIAL BLENDED WHISKY 43% Whiskies aged between 3 and 5 years. On the nose there is vanilla and fruit with the grain thumping in the background. The palate initially pretty much reflects the nose but then spiced chilli hits the mid-palate and then a delightful pervading smokiness that lingers on the finish with a hint of walnuts. 82 Enjoy this with a dash of water (10mls), poured over ice or if you have a sweet tooth mix it with ginger ale. Pairs well with cheese snacks. BELL’S SPECIAL RESERVE BLENDED MALT 43% The single malts aged for a minimum of 8 years. The nose has rich fruits embalmed with a splash of Oloroso sherry, smoke weaving its tendrils through the dark fruit concoction. Oily and smooth on the palate, the rich honeyed fruits are almost overwhelmed by the peppery spice and peat smoke but by any measure this is a beautifully balanced blended malt. 85 This dram is best enjoyed with just a splash of water. This whisky nicely pairs with red meat dishes and milk chocolate fudge truffles.