Springbank Sherry Wood 13 years 53.2%

Distilled 1989, bottled 2003 (newly opened bottle).

springbank_sherrywoodNose: Plums, apples and a hint of cinnamon. Vague whiff of a lit fireplace and ashes. With water it develops sweathy leather and a lightly bitter note, green tree, tobacco and herbs.

Palate: Dusty malt floors, apple compote with cinnamon, red berries, lightly bitter. The bitterness grows with water, it develops tobacco on the palate as well and gets an obvious saltiness (especially on the tip of the tongue). It’s the bitterness, salt and lightly ashy notes that stick around as a finish.

Comments: The nose is lovely and complex, but the palate reminds me of why I’m never completely sold on Springbank. There is too much bitterness for it to work for me.

Springbank Port Wood 13 years 54.2%

Distilled 1989, bottled 2003 (newly opened bottle).


Nose: Red, sweet plums, vanilla and oak, strawberry jam. With water it develops marzipan. Only once I’ve added quite a lot of water does a faint smokiness appear, and at the same time it smells like a boiled sweets factory.

Palate: Sweet wood, a hint of smoke, sweet liquorice. Water gives it a bitter, oaky bite, which for once is a good thing as it balances the sweetness a bit. There is also a whiff of burnt rubber.

Comments: Well. Too sweet by far to be a winner, but a decent session dram.

Old Pulteney 1995 Single Cask Selection 59.8%

Hand filled from a cask at the distillery by Snorre (by order of me). Distilled 21.11.1995, bottled 08.07.2010, matured in an ex bourbon cask, numbered 2851.

Nose: The ABV is noticable, otherwise it smells of vanilla, wood and dried cranberries. Water opens it a bit and adds dark chocolate, toasted almonds and barley.

Palate: good quality vanilla ice cream with brittle. Water brings out a woody note, but the vanilla and brittle stay. The finish is very long and tastes mostly of sweet but pure liquorice.

Comments: Definitely needs water. I seem to like it better now than when I first tasted it, so it is possible that a little air has helped it along. Not the best Pulteney I’ve had, but it would not deter me from filling a bottle myself if I ever get to visit the distillery.

Macallan 1996 13 years Adelphi 58.8%

the_whisky_bar-3Nose: Toffee with a hint of mint. Dry oak and vanilla. With water it develops raisins and baked apples, but the vanilla gets a somewhat rotten side note.

Palate: Too much oak? After only 13 years that’s actually kind of impressive. Oak, varnish, slightly rotten wood. With water it develops some bitterness, which for once is a good thing as it kills off the note of decay.

Comments: I’m ambivalent, but land on “No”. Too much cask and it’s also all over the place and tastes different for every sip.

Mortlach 1992 13 years Dun Bheagan 43 %

Distilled November 1992, bottled 2006. Casks numbered 8572 and 8574. 750 bottles from two hogsheads. Sample from, well, I cannot remember.

Nose: Dry wood, coriander, pears, cucumber.

Palate: Malt, vannilin, bitter almonds.

Comments: Takes a lot of water considering it’s only 43%. It’s always interesting to taste Mortlach from something other than ex-sherry casks, but this is not the best example I’ve had. A bit middling, both in terms of complexity and in terms of how the flavours push my buttons subjectively.