Mackmyra Midnattssol 46.1%

According to Mackmyra’s product information, this has been matured in American and Swedish oak, both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry, and then finished in casks that have held Swedish wine made from birch sap.

IMG_3384Nose: Different. There’s definitely something of sap or resin here. I also get some heather and honey. A little sweet tobacco as well? With water it turns towards throat lozenges, with some mint, ammonium chloride and black pepper.

Palate: Honey on the palate as well, and resin. Vanilla and coriander. More woody with water, but the tobacco from the nose also makes an appearance.

Comments: Quite unique, and very, very good. An interesting nose and a complex, but well-balanced palate. There’s quite a bit of “But is it whisky?” over this, but when the result is this good I’m not sure that I care.

Bunnahabhain Ceòbanach 46.3%

Ceòbanach is a new limited release NAS bottling from Bunnahabhain (apparently around 10 years old). It will be released in Sweden in February and probably in Norway in March. The name means “smoky mist”, which sounds promising. We’ll see.

Nose: Noticeable smoke, fresh peaches and red currants, then fruit compote. Malt loft (malted barley and dust). Water brings out lemon or tart melon and bonfire (there may be some painted or varnished wood on the fire).

Palte: Smoke, freezer ice (the one that forms on the inside of the freezer walls), black peppercorns, sweet peach (but much less fruit than on the nose). Still mostly smoke with water, but smoke containing a lot of other things. Is someone burning juniper wood? Has someone thrown a bag of peppercorns on the fire?

Comments: One of those where you could spend an evening trying to put names to what you’re smelling and tasting. As it’s also exceedingly nice, I can’t ask for more. As a session dram I think I’d prefer it without water, but for the full experience a few drops are neccessary.

Aberlour 1988 25 years Old Malt Cask 52.3%

Nose: Tinned peaches, newly broken fruit tree branches, pear peel and the inside of an ex- bourbon cask. Adding a little water gives me fresh pears, maltiness and a very slight hint of liquorice.

Palate: Vanilla, warm sauna, applesauce, coriander seeds and tinned peaches. Water brings out tart fruit and a hint of black peppercorns.

Comments: This is just how it should be. An integrated wood character which does not overwhelm and a fine fruitiness from the spirit. I’d happily buy a bottle of this.

Thanks to Geir Tore for the sample.

Cragganmore 2000 11 years Old Malt Cask 50%

Distilled June 2000, bottled December 2011, matured in a refill hogshead, released in the Advance Sample range, DL ref 7983.

Nose: Malt, lemon, well-worn socks. With water the socks turn to flat, tepid lager. After a while it mercifully disappears and the whisky starts smelling like green apples and fruit trees.

Palate: Malt and white pepper, but mostly, well, congeners and a sickly sweetness. More pepper on the finish. Water brings out the oak, there is still malt and a lot of pepper.

Comments: Definitely best with water added. The first impression was that this was well-nigh undrinkable, but with water and a little time in the glass it’s quite all right. The pepper adds interest, but otherwise this is too bland to win any prizes.

Thanks to Geir Tore for the sample.

Highland Park 1995 18 years Old Particular 48.4%

Distilled November 1995, bottled December 2013, from a refill hogshead.

Nose: Fruity, lemon, apple and peach, with an overlaying smokiness. With water the smoke is emphasised and the fresh fruit gives way to lemon and lemon peel.

Palate: Digestives with brown goat’s cheese. Smoke and dry oak. With water added I find dry honey, a bonfire-like smokiness and “Non-Stop” (a Norwegian sweet, similar to M&M’s, but with dark chocolate) on the finish.

Comments: Also a perfectly decent Highland Park, but of a completely different character than the 17 year old from the Old Malt Cask range. This is a little bit better, if only marginally.

Tasted at Oslo Whsikyfestival 2014.

Highland Park 17 years Old Malt Cask 50%

Distilled September 1996, bottled September 2013, from a refill hogshead, DL ref 9903.

IMG_3413Nose: Smoke, honey and heather. With water it develops a fresher character, of green apples and grass.

Palate: Honey! Lightly smoked. Water opens for malt, but there is still a lot of honey.

Comments: A perfectly decent Highland Park.

Tasted at Oslo Whiskyfestival 2014.

Strathclyde 24 years Cadenhead 46%

Nose: Nail varnish remover, grain, dried oranges, orange peel. Water adds a smoky note, more grain and oaky perfume.

Palate: Orange peel, oak and grain. With water I get Christmas cake and more bitterness, but the grainy character is still prominent.

Comments: Quite all right. Nice nose, ok taste. The grain character is almost malty, which is interesting seeing as this spirit is made from unmalted grain.

Tasted at Oslo Whiskyfestival 2014.


The winners have been announced.

To celebrate surviving The Dark Expedition I’m having a bit of a giveaway.


I grabbed the chance while on Orkney to do a little shopping in the Highland Park distillery shop. They had these magnificent little funnels that are gold when you do a bit of sample pouring (we already had one that I bought at Glen Ord back in the day, but I stocked up now). They also had these nice little notebooks for tasting notes. I’m a sucker for stationary. And glassware, naturally. Three sets are up for grabs.

All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is to comment on this entry. Extra points rewarded for liking on Facebook and for sharing on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

I draw on the 22nd of January (and will of course post worldwide).

The book has the Highland Park logo impressed on the front.
The book has the Highland Park logo impressed on the front.
The format of the tasting note pages.
The format of the tasting note pages.

Glenfarclas Family Cask 1978 46.3%

Matured for 26 years in a refill hogshead, cask number 590, bottled 26.05.2011.

Nose: Dry wood and wood varnish. Hints of rum-raisin. Water emphasises the raisins a bit, and I get fruit compote associations, but the overwehlming impression is of wood.

Palate: Oaky bitterness, wood and bitter, dark chocolate. No noticeable change with water added.

Comments: Too woody. Though the same age (maturation-wise) than the 1980, the oak has been slightly more active here and has taken over, flattening the taste profile. It’s not bad-tasting, just boring.

Thanks to Geir Tore for the sample.

Glenfarclas Family Cask 1980 50.1%

Cask number 1942. Distilled 29.02.1980, bottled 28.02.2007, 26 years, from a refill sherry butt.

Nose: Slightly bitter wood, alchohol-drenched cherries in dark chocolate. Does not change notably with water, other than acquiring a slight orange peel note.

Palate: More wood, less fruit. Varnished wooden bench. The varnish approaches acetone with water, but the water also adds something fruity, possibly banana.

Comments: Approaching the “too woody” age. It’s still drinkable, but I’d have bottled it earlier.

Thanks to Geir Tore for the sample.