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Glenfiddich 30yo Single Malt 40%

Rich rumtopf, stewed dark fruits, honeycomb with a sprinkling of sweet spice and after a minimum of 30 years in oak, the barley is still so evident…a stunning nose! Then apple crumble with raisins drizzled with honey develops, Christmas pudding and orange toffee emerge a little later. I had to restrain myself from tasting this dram too soon, waiting for it to develop as much as possible, as this nose is so moreish. However, the palate had initially a touch of vanilla, a mid-palate of Seville marmalade, then a peppery, slightly dry and vinous finish….so disappointing! I would rate the nose a 95 but the palate only a 77, giving an overall 86.

Macallan 30yo Single Malt 43% Mellow old oak and spicy Oloroso sherry. The palate has honey, garden mint and stewed raisins with a distinct anise finish. Not too complex but gorgeously balanced. Exquisite. 91 Famous Grouse 30yo Blended Malt (Blue Label) 43% Matabele ant predominates, with sweetened stewed prunes and PX soaked sherry trifle and a touch of floor polish. This dram is luscious, rich rumtopf, pineapple and a touch of smoke. The palate is rich, oily and tongue coating, molasses, prunes, salty with an Oloroso sherry finish. Water releases a battalion of matabele ants, rich spice and the pineapple now swamps the stewed prunes. An outstanding blended malt. 92 Famous Grouse 30yo Blended Malt (Purple Label) 43% Imagine cut pieces of pineapple and prunes dipped into a flaming PX fondue. The matabele ants have left this nest, leaving a more subdued, sherried, tropical fruit combo….a master blender’s dream concoction, an exquisite balance of sweet fruits, sherry, old smoked oak and creme brulee. The palate is a sublime mix of syrupy sweet tropical fruits, salt and a rich lingering Oloroso and woody smoke finish…a Caribbean sundae? Arguably the greatest blended malt ever. 94 Highland Park 30yo Single malt 48.1% Burnt sugar, tobacco, toasted barley, a rich cauldron of dark fruits that have been spiced and stewed in a vat of Oloroso sherry, barley sugar. Slowly, eventually the peat smoke emerges, giving the dram a more meaty character with toffee overtones and blackcurrant fruit gums. An oily, full bodied palate, this is a 30yo at its very best, reflecting the nose and thereby creating a beautifully crafted, elegantly balanced whisky. Initially Oloroso sweet, then the burnt sugars, peppery spice, molasses, a touch of treacle and sweet peat that lingers and just goes on lingering….awesome…a masterpiece! 95

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I visited this distillery for the first time in June 2010 for a 7 hour tasting course that included the current distillery expressions along with three future bottlings of cask strength special releases, a blending experience in their exquisitely appointed tasting room and the highlight for me, a tasting of six sherries from Jerez in Spain that reflected the various styles of European oak casks that Glengoyne whisky is matured in.

Glengoyne Distillery Our host, the lovely Lauren Wylie Glengoyne’s still room Glengoyne’s spectacular tasting room Glengoyne Burnfoot Single Malt 40% Bags of barley, charred oak, vanilla, honey sweet and a little sulphury. Then sherry emerges with a little toffee. The intense sweetness and chilli mid-palate smacks of Glengoyne albeit a younger one with a slight vegetal note prevalent on the finish. Water is definitely an aid to this dram, soothing the chilli and calming the youthful character. 78

Glengoyne 10yo Single malt 43% Masses of sweet malted barley, dark roast coffee and mocha. Sweet as honey on the tongue, the chilli and chocolate drying on the finish. No water required. 84 Glengoyne 12yo Cask Strength Single Malt 57.2% Toffee in a Glengoyne marinade, butterscotch and barley. The honey on the palate incredibly overwhelms the abv with an intense luxurious sweetness. An exquisite dram, rich with a gorgeous mix of vanilla, a dark fruit stew of raisins and prunes coated with icing sugar and a mouth-watering walnut finish. Don’t add water to this precious dram. 90 Glengoyne 17yo Single Malt 43% Chocolate with a condensed milk centre sprinkled with mocha powder..WOW! What a nose, then the signature unpeated Glengoyne blasts through with the intense honeyed barley. The palate really shows what a class act this dram is, with initially the vanilla and barley, then a mid-palate of bitter chocolate, finishing with an apricot liqueur finish. A whisky of considerable finesse and balance. No dash of water required! 92

Glengoyne 1999 11yo Single Malt Cask No: 500781 46% Berry’s Own Selection. Vanilla pod with a little barley and spice. Recognizable as a Glengoyne on the palate with the intensely sweet honeyed barley and oak and the peppery mid-palate but this dram is rather thin in texture and watery on the finish. A cask strength version would probably have been more fun and interesting… 77

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We arrived at Bruichladdich on a stunning spring day in 2009, met the iconic maverick Jim McEwan, the distillery’s production director, who raised more than two eyebrows at Steve’s Ardbeg jacket and informed us to prepare ourselves for the mother of all tours…….

Bruichladdich Distillery Equipped with our Bruichladdich glencairn glasses we followed our host into one of the dunnage warehouses. The entrance to the wizard’s lair. As we entered our nostrils were assailed by an atmosphere drenched in maturing whisky. These were not just Bruichladdich casks but whisky from many other distilleries that Murray McDavid, the current owners of Bruichladdich, might release as independent bottlings. Jim, Steve and Les investigating an 18yo Lagavulin with Eve recording the evidence. A little further into the warehouse Jim stopped next to a 100 litre cask dwarfed by the hoggies around it. Jim paused, looked at each one of us and in the musty silence that followed, released the stopper on the cask, dipped his valinch into the contents and with genuine reverence, dipped his finger into the liquid, then annointed each one of us with a cross on the forehead. Jim McEwan and the X4+3 He then announced that this was his X4+3, the original quadruple distilled new make from 2006 that had matured for three years in this small amontillado cask and had an abv of 83%. A dram was poured into each of our glasses and the response was a unanimous “Oh, my God!” Despite the strength, the whisky was explosive in the fruity velvet flavours that coated every inch of every sense, A superlative like ‘stunning’ doesn’t even come close…. Steve, Eve, Dave & Les post X4+3, taken by Jim McEwan. Bruichladdich X4+3 Perilous Spirit Quadruple Distilled & 3 Aged Years in Ex-Bourbon and Virgin Oak 63.5%”…from an original 1695 recipe” Vanilla custard and a hint of ripe marula, grapefruit and coconut. The palate has icing sugar sprinkled on vodka marinated grapefruit. A dash of water appears to morph the tropical fruits to tropical flowers with hints of frangipani, then the vanilla custard squeezes through in shiel loads. The palate now sweeter with a nod at its youth as notes of new make start to arrive and the grapefruit finishes less bitter. 83
Mortlach 18yo Single Malt 1990 Butt04422 56.8% Wilson & Morgan Heavily sherried Spanish wood, matabele ant, inky, richly spiced, stewed dark fruits with dark toffee and molasses in the depths. Cloyingly sherry-rich on the palate. This first-fill sherry cask way too dominant for my liking leaving a metallic sulphury finish. Water sweetens, with pepper spice but there is no escaping how over-sherried this dram is. 75 Mortlach 11yo Single malt 1993 Bourbon & Port Casks 46% Murray McDavid Honey sweet vanilla, jasmine and a feint sweet sherry note bubbling under a layer of clean sweetened malted barley…visions of dripping, thick golden honey. Dense oily texture on the tongue with the vanillas initially prevalent but then dominated by the chilli mid-palate and bitter European oak on the finish. 78 A stunning nose but the palate disappoints. However a touch of water turns the honey to butterscotch and creme brulee and rescues the palate by tempering the dry and bitter mid-palate and finish. 82

Mortlach 18yo Single Malt 1990 Sherry Butt04421 46% Bottled 2009 Coopers Choice Sweet oloroso, stewed raisins, sultanas and prunes with toffee coming to the fore. Medium texture on the tongue but everything on the nose dramatically reflected on the palate. Explosive dark fruit flavours with a sweet chilli finish becoming vinous and lingering at the end. 88 P.s. Steve and Eve both rated this dram in the 80’s. Jim Murray in his inestimable wisdom rated this 57 and said this:”Grimly sulphured for all the big grape breast-beating.” That is not an opinion that is irresponsible journalism… Mortlach 16yo Single Malt 1991 56.4% Berry’s Own Selection Heavily sherried with honeyed dried dark fruits, musty, dank, inky, treacle, molasses. The palate is intensely rich and dark fruit sweet with a soft and dry finish leaving gorgeous sherried Spanish oak that lingers….forever. A dash of water opens this dram exotically with mocha and iced coffee. 90 P.s. Jim Murray rated this one 66 and had this to say:”A classic example of the old United Distillers wine-treated casks. I need say no more.” I also need to say no more…. Mortlach 27yo Single Malt 1975 56.8% Signatory Matabele ant, inkwell, musty, mouldy sherried oak. Rich raisin and sultana stew. Barley sprinkled with ginger and allspice then dark toffee develops. Woah! The fizz on the palate sexes up the mouthfeel of sweet oloroso sherry, burnt brown sugar and eventually dark chilli chocolate on the finish. Water brings out a sweeter richness of caramelised brown sugar and coconut, then turns the oloroso into PX on the tongue. Chocolate chilli and menthol still evident on the long lingering finish. Simply stunning. 91
Bowmore Tempest 10yo Single Malt Bottled 2009 Batch 1 First Fill Bourbon 55.3% Lemon vanilla sauce coating a layer cake of lightly peated malted barley, caramel then a picture emerges of a sunny spring day on Loch Indaal and a soft breeze of fresh lemon and salty air with a passing reek of peat smoke. Mild in texture, the vanilla is only noticeable for a second before the powerful mid-palate of tarry seaweed takes over, then the bottom of the salt shaker fell out, with a lemon pepper finish. 87 Bowmore Tempest 10yo Single Malt Bottled 2010 Batch 2 First Fill Bourbon 56% A little murky at first, then surprisingly a hint of Bowmore’s trademark horse sweat emerges mingling with the peated barley and a touch of citrus. The smoke more evident on this batch. With time the dram clears and fresh tobacco dominates with a soft orange caramel in the background. The palate is velvety vanilla, then a punch of tar and chilli pepper with the peat and and salted seaweed lingering through the finish as more salt is released. 86

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New bottlings just arrived in the bar are:

Bowmore Tempest 10yo Batch2 56%

Ardbeg Uigeadail 54.2%

Port Charlotte PC7 Sin An Doigh Ileach 61% We also have a brand new selection of the following to taste:

Bruichladdich X4+3 3yo 63.5%

Port Charlotte An Turas Mor 46%

Octomore 5yo Edition 03.152 59%

Octomore Orpheus 5yo Edition 02.2 61%