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"Always carry a large flagon of whisky in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake."
I now look at the Highland park “Valknut” single malt whisky.
Named for the symbol that each Viking warrior who fought well
in Battle was marked with, prior to being transported to
OK, cool looking bottle and nice story line, but how does it
To me it tastes pretty darned good, although I’m not surprised,
Highland Park does make great whisky.
You get some peat on the nose, palate and finish as you would
expect From Highland Park, the Gingerbread was a bit of
surprise and I’m a sucker for Gingerbread, so it pushes all the
right buttons for me.
Would I buy it, yes, I just did and would buy it again. I got mine
at Costco which seems to be $10 to $20 cheaper than elsewhere.
You can buy Highland park “Valknut” for around $70.00 a
Nose - Honey, Peat & Vanilla.
Palate - Gingerbread with a hint of Licorice & Peat.
Finish - Gingerbread, Orange & Peat.
I now look at the Singleton of Dufftown “Tailfire” Speyside single
malt whisky. Never tried this whisky, have you even heard of it,
That’s because most of what they produce goes into blends, for the
Bell’s whisky company and if that is not enough to confuse you
Diagio also own many other distilleries, such as Glen Ord and
Glendullan and both these distilleries release a singleton whisky.
The Singleton of Glen Ord is for the European market, the Singleton of Dufftown is for the Asian market and the Singleton of Glendullan is for the American market. Though with the internet, you can order any or all of them. I assumed wrongly that “Singleton” whiskies were some form of independent bottler releases and pretty much ignored them. Which was pretty dumb on my part, also ignoring independent bottlings is a mistake as they produce some superb whiskies. So, would I buy it? Yes, I would it’s a nice whisky and the price is Great.
You can buy Singleton of Dufftown “Tailfire” for around $40.00 a
Nose - Red berries & Vanilla.
Palate - Berries, nuts & a little spice.
Finish - Spicy berries.
I now look at the Glencadam 21-year-old Highland single malt, which I stumbled across (no I had not been drinking thus far) on my last trip to Scotland. I say stumbled across, because up to that point I had never heard of Glencadam whisky.
The distillery had closed in 2002, and reopened in 2003, so this whisky must be from stock laid down to mature prior to the short closure.
Hopefully the new stock, is of a similar caliber, because this is stellar stuff, think of an older Glenmorangie.
With an nice oily mouthfeel and delicate, exotic flavours this one is a star.
I shall certainly be on the lookout for other Glencadam whiskies on my travels and I suggest you do so also.
So, would I buy it? I surely would, I have seen it priced online from $100.00 to over $200.00, if you can get it anywhere near the $100.00 mark, consider it a steal!
You can buy Glencadam 21-year-old for around $65.00 a bottle.
Nose - Cereal, tropical fruits & vanilla.
Palate - Hot buttered toast spread with pineapple jam.
Finish - Nice & smooth with tropical fruits.
I now look at the Speyburn 10-year-old, Speyside single malt whisky.
Before I go any farther, I will try some of Speyburn’s older whiskies, next time I find them in a bar and can get a dram of them rather than buy a Bottle, untried as I did with this 10-year-old.
I know everyone’s taste is different, so it may well just be me, but I found This to be harsh and hot, to the extent that whatever flavors were going on I could hardly discern them.
I’m not often disappointed by a whisky, but I was with this one, I don’t even know if a few extra years in the cask would fix it.
If you’ve tried it and like it, good luck to you and just ignore my comments.
This whisky won a gold medal winner at the 2006 San Francisco World Spirits Competition…….So what do I know?
So, would I buy it? No, I wouldn’t, sorry, I just don’t like this one. That’s not to say that I won’t like their other whiskies, I just haven't tried them yet.
You can buy Speyburn 10-year-old for around $30.00 a bottle.
Nose - Hints of malt & fruit.
Palate - Sweetish malt & spicy harsh.
Finish - Hot & spicy harsh.
I now look at the Tamnavulin “Double cask” single malt Speyside whisky, which I tasted in the “Ardshiel” hotel (highly recommended) in Campbeltown.
“Double cask” refers to the fact that the whisky starts its maturation life in American oak casks and finishes in sherry casks.
I had never even heard of “Tamnavulin,” and did a double take, when I looked at the bottle, as I thought it said “Lagavulin.”
This is the first release of a single malt from “Tamnavulin” since the 1990s, partly due to changes in ownership and being closed for a few years, reopening in 2007.
There are as you would expect independent bottlings out there, to be had.
It might have been unknown to me, but now it is unforgettable, what a lovely whisky, great flavors and aromas.
So, would I buy it? Yes, I would. Nice whisky, nice price.
You can buy Tamnavulin “Double cask” for around $40.00 a bottle.
Nose - Stewed apples & creamy chocolate
Palate - Christmas pudding, caramels & chocolate.
Finish - Sweet stewed fruits.
I now look at the Strathmill 12-year-old “Flora & Fauna.” This is one of the few releases from the Strathmill distillery, with the bulk of their product going into Justerini & Brooks (J&B) blended whisky.
The usual suspects (independent bottlers), such as “Gordon & MacPhail,” “That boutique-y whisky company,” & “Douglas Lang” etc, all do bottlings of Strathmill so it can be bought.
I know I harp on about, if I did a blind tasting of a whisky, how I would have thought it was a Lowland whisky, because of its light green, floral notes.
Well this has to be the best example of a Speyside whisky, smelling and tasting of all the attributes that you would associate with a Lowland whisky.
So, would I buy it? No, I wouldn’t. It is a bit lightweight in the taste department and it is a bit heavyweight in the price department for a 12-year-old.
You can buy Strathmill 12-year-old for around $65.00 a bottle.
Nose - Green grass, nuts & fruit.
Palate - Custard tart.
Finish - vanilla, herbs and a hint of spice.
I now look at the Glenburgie 14-year-old from Gordon & Macphail, an independent bottling company, as Glenburgie generally don’t bottle their own single malt whiskies. They have done so, but not recently.
Most of Glenburgie’s whisky goes into Ballantine’s blended whisky, which is one of the best selling whiskies on the planet.
So, many people around the world have tasted Glenburgie without even knowing it.
What did I think, on the nose I was immediately intrigued, I like
Christmas desserts with all that cooked fruit, and that is what I was smelling. On the palate, I got confirmation of what I was smelling, with the bonus addition of custard (another favorite) and a nice mouthfeel.
A good finish to it as well, works for me.
So, would I buy it? Yes I would, it is a bit expensive for a 14-year-old, but I liked it.
You can buy Glenburgie 14-year-old for around $95.00 a bottle.
Nose - Green apples, stewed fruit & white chocolate.
Palate - Fruitcake, baking spices & custard.
Finish - Baking spices & citrus.
I now look at the Teaninich 10-year-old highland single malt whisky, bottled by the Mossburn company.
Teaninich, is a huge distillery with an output of over 10 million liters a year, however finding an official distillery bottling, is up there with finding a live unicorn. This is because most of their product goes to Haig “Dimple,” Johnny Walker and Vat 69 blends.
So you have to do what I did, and taste their whisky, but from an
This whisky is cask strength, coming in at 59.1% and was a bit too hot for my palate, some water, helped calm it down.
After the heat had been controlled, by the addition of water, the whisky wasn’t too shabby, in fact I quite liked it.
So, would I buy it? Nope! It’s nice, but not $80.00 for a 10-year-old nice.
You can buy Teaninich 10-year-old for around $80.00 a bottle.
Nose - Apples & floral.
Palate - Spicy apples & pears.
Finish - Sweet spicy apples.
I now look at the Glen Elgin 12-year-old single malt, Speyside whisky.
I tried this in the town of Elgin on a recent trip to Scotland, it seemed appropriate (a kind of when in Rome, do what the Romans do thing).
So what did I think? It was an OK whisky, it wasn’t bad and it wasn’t really that memorable, I could drink a dram again, but I probably wouldn’t stretch to buying a bottle.
For the price, I could get a Glenfiddich 15-year-old, which is one of my favorites, and there is no comparison.
I did however, like it enough to be curious about other Glen Elgin
bottlings and there are a number of them out there. I will be sure to let you know how that goes.
You can see a house martin (bird) on the bottle they do this because several pairs of these birds raise their young under the eaves of the distillery, a nice touch.
So, would I buy it? No, I wouldn’t.
You can buy Glen Elgin 12-year-old for around $55.00 a bottle.
Nose - Coffee & cream.
Palate - Honey on buttered toast.
Finish - Medium with buttered toast.
I now look at the Spey “Tenne” single malt whisky from the Speyside distillery. As the name of the whisky suggests, this is a Speyside region whisky from a distillery of the same name.
This whisky spend the bulk of its life in Bourbon casks and then spends the last six months in Tawny Port casks, which is where it gets its red color and also much of its fruit flavor from.
As single malt scotch whiskies go this is relatively young at around 8-years-old.
The Speyside distillery was built in 1956 as a grain distillery, and in 1962 construction was started on a Malt whisky distillery, which took until 1987 to complete. This is yet another whisky that is not commonly seen on your liquor store shelves, in part because the distillery only produces 600,000 liters per year.
So, would I buy it? Yes I would, it’s a nice light, delicate whisky and is very reasonably priced.
You can buy Spey “Tenne” for around $30.00 a bottle.
Nose - Apples, bananas & pears.
Palate - Sweet apple, banana & pear
Finish - Sweet chocolate, apple banana & pear.
I now look at the Royal Brackla 12-year-old, which I tasted on the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith, Scotland.
Most of the distilleries production goes to Dewar’s blended whiskies, so if you have not come across this one, that could be the reason.
However it is available and you just need to keep a look out for it, and in my opinion you won’t be disappointed with it, I think it is a nice whisky.
Where did the name come from, well initially it was just called Brackla, until King William IV (who liked it a lot), issued a Royal warrant in 1833 to the distillery, and from that point on it was known as Royal Brackla.
I also think it has a classy label, so it will give your bar a nice touch of class.
I f you want another “Royal” whisky on your bar, try “Royal Lochnagar” Queen Victoria’s favorite.
So, would I buy it? Yes I would, it is a little expensive for a 12-year-old, but, I think it is worth it.
You can buy Royal Brackla 12-year-old for around $55.00 a bottle.
Nose - Chocolate & apple.
Palate - Chocolate cream cake, with a hint of ginger.
Finish - Chocolate & apple.
I now look at the Singleton of Glen Ord 18-year-old. This was
released by Diagio in 2019, the parent company and owner of Glen
Diagio believe that tasting preferences differ around the world and
they have developed the “Singleton” whiskies to be released to
different regions, in this case for the Asian market. But thanks to the internet, you can buy it anywhere.
This whisky spends all 18 years in charred American oak hogsheads, which results in lots of fruit and spice on the palate.
What is also evident on first tasting is the heat, the whisky is bottled at 55% ABV (40 to 43% is normal for the US Market). After a drop of water and the burn goes away, but the flavor remains.
So, would I buy it? Probably not, the price is a bit high for an
18-year-old, and there are a lot of other 18-year-olds out there.
You can buy the Singleton of Glen Ord 18-year-old for around
$130.00 a bottle.
Nose - Orange & chocolate.
Palate - Orange & spicy chocolate.
Finish - Smooth with orange & a hint of spice.
I now look at the North British Distillery 10-year-old from Wemyss Malts, which I tried Last night at home, courtesy of my buddy Mark Jones and his Whisky advent calendar gift (you dodged a bullet with this one Mark).
This is a single grain scotch whisky and they have called it “Watermelon Wedge,” while I did indeed get a hint of watermelon when I first tasted it, I think a more appropriate name would have been “Napalm.”
I can’t Remember ever having tasted a hotter whisky, while it comes in at 46% It tastes more like 46,000%.
It burned so badly that I added water to it, tasted it, then added more Water, tasted it again and added more water, with the result that while it was now drinkable, it didn’t taste of watermelon or anything else.
Definitely not for the faint of heart.
So, would I buy it? No, I wouldn’t.
You can buy North British Distillery 10-year-old for around $65.00 a bottle.
Nose - Brown sugar, cedar & nutmeg
Palate - Hint of Watermellon & dragon fire
Finish - Death of taste buds & volcanoes
I now look at the Glenfarclas 1963 family cask, I tried this at
Whiskyfest in San Francisco, it was very fruity, and a little hot.
Funny thing was, when I added water to it, it was still hot, but the
flavor diminished, I’ve never had that happen before or since when adding water.
As the name suggests this was bottled in 1963, after a long
maturation in a sherry cask, how long? I’ve no idea, I can’t find that out, but judging from the taste and mouthfeel of the whisky, it was a long time.
Best bet to taste this whisky, is the next time you are in the Speyside region of Scotland go to the “Mash Tun” restaurant in Aberlour.
More on that in page 2.
So, would I buy it? No, it is a nice whisky, but way out of my price
You can buy Glenfarclas 1963 family cask for around $7,150.00 a
Nose - Rich, fruity & chocolate
Palate - Madeira & rum fruits
Finish - Fruit & espresso
I now look at the Arran 21-year-old, which I tasted thanks to my friend Mark who had a Whisky Advent Calendar, but needed help with drinking a whisky everyday. So a big thank you, to you Mark, glad I could assist.
This is the first release (2018) of a 21-year-old from Arran as part of it’s core range of whiskies and a fine first attempt it is.
A good amount of fruit on the nose and palate, not as in your face with fruit as say a Balvenie, or a Macallan, but a nice amount all the same.
The age gives it a nice oily mouthfeel that coats the inside of your mouth, and there is not a lot of heat to it.
For those of you not familiar with the Isle of Arran, it sits between the Scottish mainland and the Kintyre peninsula . The Isle of Arran distillery also produce a whisky called Ledaig (it’s smoky whiskies), that you may have come across.
So, would I buy it? Yes I would, it’s not cheap, but it is nice.
You can buy Arran 21-year-old for around $160.00 a bottle.
Nose - Apricot, Pineapple & Prune
Palate - Chocolate orange, plum & a hint of cedar
Finish - Candied fruit, herbs & oak
To see the full top 10, click the title above.
This issue I look back at 2019 and pick the ten best (in my opinion) whiskies that I tasted in the last year.
(10) Jameson “Black Barrel,” yes, an Irish whisky in my top 10, this is a Steal at this price.
Approximate Cost per bottle - $45.00
Nose - Coconut & tropical fruits
Palate - Coconut, cinnamon, dates & peach
Finish - Long finish with cinnamon & fruit
(9) Oban 14-year-old, (pronounced Obin), from the town of Oban on the west coast.
Approximate Cost per bottle - $65.00
Nose - Sweet, fruity, with sea salt, small amounts of peat and smoke
Palate - Rich fruit, honey, malt, spice and light smoke
Finish - Sweet oak with a pinch of salt