Arran Bourbon Cask 1996 Cask # 1038 56.1%

Distilled 21 August 1996, bottled 26 April 2005, bottle number 158 of 240.

arran_bc_1038Nose: Malt, a hint of menthol and juniper berries. After a while in the glass tart raspberries appear. Water opens for black pepper and tart pears and a hint of fruity chewing gum.

Palate: Malt, Vademecum, oaky bitterness. Water lessens the impression of Vademcum and develops into something vegetal.

Comments: I can’t remember the herby and spicy character being so strong before, but this is another bottle that has been left less than half full for a while. In this case, though, it’s a beneficial development. Very nice – and intriguing – nose, somewhat less interesting taste.

Brora 1975 20 years Rare Malts 54.9%

brora_rare_maltsNose: Citrus, bonfire, a lot of alchohol. With quite a bit of water I get more fruits; melon and sweet pears.

Palate: Cold smoke, lemon drops wrapped in waxed paper, oak. With water a warm spicyness develops, rather a lot of oaky bitterness and yeasty dough.

Comments: This has been left as a dreg for too long, unless my memory of what it used to be like betrays me. It needs quite a lot of water before it’s drinkable, and I guess it’s been matured in fairly inactive casks since the alchohol is still so obvious after 20 years. It has a lot going for it, but the bitterness on the palate is too overwhelming. I can’t remmeber it from before, so I suspect we must take this bottle as a sign that we really should have a spring clean (ok, a summer clean) in our whisky cabinet to make sure any dregs we want to keep are rebottled into sample bottles to minimise oxidation.

Blair Athol 1975 27 years Rare Malts 54.7%

blair_athol_rare_maltNose: Dried fruits (apricots, cranberries), acetone and wood varnish, banana, vanilla and rosemary. Obvious alchohol at full strength. Water tones down the alchohol and brings out pine needles and menthol, milk chocolate and black pepper.

Palate: Menthol, acetone, dried apricots and ginger. With water I also get dried banana, a little oak and sauna – as well as orange peel on the finish.

Comments: It just doesn’t get much better than this. You could spend hours picking through the nose and flavour on this one. It demonstrates just why Rare Malts used to have such an impeccable reputation (though the last couple of years of Rare Malt releases did not seem to live up to it). A very clever purchase, if I may say so myself (it was a birthday present for Arve quite a few years ago).

Dailuaine 12 years Noorbohandelen 43%

Purchased in 2009.


Nose: Malt, tart citrus, newly baked bisquits (shortbread). With water it leans more towards pear ice lollies, newly mown grass and lemon cake.

Palate: More punch than expected. Malt, vanilla, vanilla bitterness, cream. A little milk chocolate on the finish.

Comments: Quite nice. A pretty example of how Dailuiane may turn out in a bourbon cask (I am 99% sure that this is from a bourbon cask). Cask strenght would have been preferable, and it lacks a little complexity, but it’s a nice whisky for everyday wear.

Cragganmore 1998 Noorbohandelen 42%

cragganmore_times_twoNose: Pear, a little oak, a hint of black pepper.

Palate: Cloying, varnished oak and some acetone.

Comments: Not nice. The nose is ok, but faint and not very exciting, and the palate is simply off-putting. I poured most of my dram down the drain, and passed the bottle to Arve, who drank a couple of drams while enjoying a pipe. However, once the pipe was done and he had a sip, he discovered just how horrid the whisky really was, and stopped drinking. The conclusion, therefore: Dinkable with a pipe (a cigar probably works as well), but generally not drinkable.

Spirit of Hven Organic Oak Matured Aqua Vitae 40%

Batch Bav 2, bottle number 840. This aquavite has been cask matured both before and after distillation in Spirit of Hven’s potstills, which, according to them, gives it more depth.


Nose: Smells more like Underberg than aquavite. Very herby and a lot of sweet herbs, too. Rosemary, basil and cumin. Hints of toffee and coffee sweets. The oak is also quite evident.

Palate: Cumin and lemon, but also sweetness. Dry hay. Salt on the finish.

Comments: Quite original, and quite nice, but lacks a little balance. It’s a bit all over the place, especially on the nose. Still, not a bad dram.

Highland Park 1989 22 years van Wees 46 %

Distilled 4 Desember 1989, bottled 1 August 2012, matured in a sherry butt with cask number 11854, giving 660 bottles.

Nose: Cherries and oak. With water: Honey, lemon and heather. Overlying smoke.

Palate: A hint of smoke. Sweet oak and liquorice.

Comments: Now we’re talking. A good cask which demonstrates nicely how well Highland Park’s spirit does in a sherry cask.

Thanks to Daniel for the sample.

Highland Park 18 years Duthies Cadenhead 46%

Nose: Butterscotch and rubber. With water I get rather rubbery “Hubba Bubba” (chewing gum brand) with liquorice flavour.

Palate: Rubber. You know those balloons you can hardly bear to inflate because they taste harshly of rubber. Water does very little to help.

Comments: Undrinkable. With enough water the rubber is sufficiently diluted both on the nose and the tast that I could finish it, but since nothing else shows up to take its place I’m left with water with a vaguely rubbery taste and a hint of alchocol and it’s not worth it.

Thanks (I think) to Daniel for the sample.

Highland Park 18 years 43% (old edition)

This is the 18 year old in the old version, from before Highland Park refurbished their standard range. I belive the bottle was purchased around 10 years ago. If I get hold of a sample of the new (or indeed even older) 18 year old, I will do a similar comparison as for the two twelves.

hp_18Nose: Surprisingly spirity. Oak and heather. After a while dried fruits. With water the smoke appears, but also dark chocolate and a little forest.

Palate: Oak, dry wood, dried cranberries. With water I get smoke on the palate as well, and some sort of vegetation – dark chocolate on the finish.

Comments: A classic. It was once a good buy, the price was very reasonable for an 18 year old and you got a really good dram in return for your money. Those that remember the even older Highland Park expressions claim that it was even better twenty or even thirty years ago. That may be so, but I will confine my nostalgia to this one.