Springbank 15yo Single Cask, re-charred Sherry Butt 58.3% ABV


Springbank 15 recharred sherry buttCampbeltown region – 58.3% ABV – $139

It is a very true statement that Springbank is a Scotch Whisky that is in a league of it’s own.

The quality of their products tend to be a few notches above the rest and the whisky’s character is, well, unique.  Very unique.

Could the essence of their individuality be connected to terroir (Campbeltown and they, Springbank,  being one of only three distilleries in Campbeltown)?

Perhaps it’s their distilling process (2.5 times distilled which is explained here)?  I think not as their other products, Hazelburn (3 times distilled and unpeated) and Longrow (2 times distilled and heavily peated) still have that Springbankiness to them…

Maybe it’s the fact that they handle every step of the process whisky-making process from malting on up?

Perhaps it’s the fact that their wash (beer to be distilled in to spirit) spends 70 hours or more fermenting in Boatskin Larch wash backs? (Most Scottish distilleries ferment their wash between 48 & 54 hours in either Oregon Pine or Stainless Steel).

I am not sure any one of the above points really offers up answers.  Regardless, Springbank Scotch Whisky  is pretty amazing stuff.  While I am a known Glenmorangie freak, I have to say that Springbank produces my favorite whisky.  Ever.  And when they do it right. Boy howdy, they do it right-right!

Today’s Springer is a 15yo single cask matured in a re-charred sherry butt.  This is a highly unusual style of Scotch whisky and it sounded simply super fun and interesting to me so I had to get a bottle.  Had to.

On the nose — As I might have guessed (and surely hoped), the nose is very Bourbon-like due to the re-charred oak.  There’s a high sweetness here and a sharpness in scent.

Springbank-recharred-Sherry-Cask-1Brown sugar and peat!  What a combo!  Paraffin wax and molding clay.  Pencil shavings, albeit burnt pencil shavings.  A wide combination of dried fruits (dates, prunes, dried banana, etc…), pickled walnuts and cherries pits.

Springbank-recharred-Sherry-Cask-2There’s a salty/briny quality to this as well.  Heavy leather gloves (well used) and a brush fire.

This is like nosing a 50-50 mix of George T Stagg and a sherried Springbank.

Springbank-recharred-Sherry-Cask-3On the mouth — Big, salty and massively sherried (but without being like a run-of-the-mill sherry bomb).  There is no unidimensionality going on here.  In fact, there’s a lot going on here and it’s part of a nice flavor story:

Springbank-recharred-Sherry-Cask-4Salted dates floating in a bowl of Mexican vanilla extract and grated chicory.  Soft yet driving peat and dank malt (a la Malta Goya).

A lovely mouth feel.  Very bourbon like in experience (mouthfeel, very sweet and prickly on the sides of the tongue, charred-oaky-goodness) with the addition of cherry-twizzler sweetness!

The nuttiness returns but it’s like a nutty-syrup mixed with unlit cigars.

Finish — Medium finish loaded with dates and a touch of salt.

In sum — As if Springbank was unique enough!  This is a wildly fun ride of a whisky that would impress the Bourbon lovers out there.  Heck, this should impress whisk(e)y drinkers anywhere.  Very tasty and quite balanced.

One could sit and dissect this whisky or just relax and simply enjoy it.  This is a desert (and dessert) island dram for me.  I better get another bottle before you all buy it out on me!!

Exclusive Malts 1984 Tormordor (Tormore for those non-geek-types out there)


Tormore-1Speyside region – 51.4% ABV – $230

With the exception of having a name that inspired the following statement: having absolutely nothing to do with the whisky at hand, I thought there’s no better time than the present to tell you that I secretly refer to Tormore (a Pernod Ricard malt whisky distillery) as “Tormordor.”

Mordor as in Sauron’s Mordor of Middle Earth.  Sauron as in the  creator of the One-Ring, forged in Mount Doom itself and apparently a lover of fine whisky!

Yes, this guy right here:



In all seriousness, I have little nicknames for a few distilleries and this “Tormordor” happens to be one of them.

Looking through my blog, I noticed that this is the first Tormore I am publicly reviewing.

Tormore is known to be a *very* spicy malt.  The only ones I’ve ever had were older (like this one) and all seemed to drink younger than their stated age.  Like Sauron himself, perhaps these whiskies are seemingly ageless?

Let us see how this one for the Exclusive Malts range pans out.  It’s a 29yo distilled in 1984 and from an ex-bourbon cask.

Tormore-4On the nose — The ex-bourbon, bourbony character comes straight through to your nose.  Wow.  And, at 29 years old, it does not smell old or tired in any way.  There’s a peppery, spicy liveliness to this whisky.

Almond brittle in a cardboard box, minus the wax paper.  Spiced vanilla chai latte.

Tormore-3Very prickly in the nose and, as expected, still very spicy.  Torrone Itailian almond nougat.

Light fruits, pears and a touch of baked apple as well.  A nice, well rounded nose.

On the mouth — Very soft and silken in the mouth.  The flavors, however, are fairly shy from the first sip.  Sip # 2:

Tormore-5A bit sour upon initial entry but that subsides to notes of casaba melon, peppery melon juice and heavily honied baklava (thought not as nutty as I found on the nose).

Tormore-6The mouthfeel is that of caramel sauce, warm and sliding down the back of the throat.  It’s really quite a lovely texture.

Finish — Growing and peppery but not overpoweringly peppery in anyway.

In sum — Tormore has a voice all its own in the malt whisky world.  Good Tormore is great Tormore and great Tormore is Tormordoriously delicious!

In all seriousness, I quite enjoyed this whisky.  A bit shy in flavor to start but a little time is a lot rewarding.  Dare I say, some might like this in the dead of summer and with an ice cube.  Not me though.  Those other people might like to do that…

Special thanks to SF and the rest of the good people at ImpEx for the sample!

Two whiskies from Bruichladdich that I’ve been meaning to review since… 2010!


For the most part, I try not to be a slacker.  In fact, I am a real go-get-em, gung-ho guy with a ton of sticktoitiveness.  For the most part that is…

Somehow, someway, I’ve been sitting on a few samples from Bruichladdich (as well as samples from a few other distilleries) for quite a while now.  And by “quite a while” I mean like 2 or 3 years.  That’s a long time, right?  Right.  No better time than the present to review them though, right?  Right.

So what do we have today?  Firstly, we have “Redder Still;” part of the Blacker/Golder/Redder series from the lads and lasses at laddie.  Second is a 1992 (distilled in 1992, that is) sherry release from them – the Fino Cask.

Redder Still is matured in Château Lafleur Pomerol wine casks and the Fino Cask is matured in, well, Fino casks.  The former is bottled at 50.4% ABV (with 4000 bottles released) and the Fino was bottled at 46% ABV – 6000 bottles in that release.

Here are my thoughts on these two:

Bruichladdich Redder StillBruichladdich Redder Still – 50.4% ABV

Bruichladdich Redder StillOn the nose  My immediate impression is that of paraffin wax and red wine gums.

Incredibly soft on the nose. If I could apply an attribute to this nose that was not in the realm of scents, I would say this noses like a cotton ball.

Salted and ground mustard seed meet lager beer.  Quite malty.

Am I detecting smoke here?  I think so.

Not very winey at all considering this was matured in Château Lafleur (Pomerol, red wine cask – nothing to do with Fleur Delacour, mind you) casks.  Really soft peat — looking for the wine notes but, none here really.  Not yet.

Wait a sec, red currant jams and cracked black pepper.  Moving on because this smells yummy and I want to taste now.

On the mouth Quite sweet upfront.  Sugary sweet, in fact.  Oily moth feel with an effervescence toward the back and sides of the tongue.

Bruichladdich Redder StillPlums (prunes, too! Elderly plums, as it were) and smoke and more wine gums and peppery yet all of this is not forceful in anyway.

Much more winey after a few sips but is still very much whisky.  Smoke is present in the mouth and it gets quite drying as we get to the finish.

Finish Short… a bit abrupt.

In sum Compared to the *AMAZING* Blacker Still, this pales. Taken out of that family of Blacker/Golder/Redder, the Redder Still is a nice-nosed whisky!  I quite enjoy it actually.  The flavors work well together too however they’re a bit like a boy scared to ask a girl to hold his hand.  I feel this whisky should man up a bit in the flavor impact department but it does not.

Thinking back to that nose though… yum, yum, yum!

Bruichladdich Fino SherryBruichladdich 1992 Fino Cask – 46% ABV

On the nose  Quite noticeably a Bruichladdich with a salty coastal element that’s reminiscent of their old 90’s 15yo.

Noses of yellow chilis and the sweetness of Scotch Bonnet peppers (before you bite into one and it burns your dad gum head off!).

Bruichladdich Fino SherryA touch of sulfur and turmeric.  I think this is the first time I smelled Deviled Eggs in a whisky!  Guess what, it’s subtleness work here!

Some damp cardboard and sugared papaya (fresh, not dried).  Soft black licorice.

On the mouth Wow, the fino influence is right there and pretty dang lovely.  Nutty, very nutty.  Salted almond and pecan, fig paste and dried banana.

Anise seed, black licorice (again, though, salted this time), window putty.

At 46% it has enough attack to it as well as nice oils allowing for a good mouthfeel.

Bruichladdich Fino SherrySweet pecan pie and black strap molasses (treacle for the Brits out there).  Quite a satisfying whisky so far!

Finish Increasing sherried goodness, melted caramel and a touch of rum cake.

In sum This is one fine Bruichladdich!  the scent, flavors, mouthfeel, finish, etc… all works out.  Very nicely balanced with the sweet, salty, slight pepper.  Very much a dessert whisky.  Worth you seeking out, in my opinion!


Abbey Whisky’s Bunnahabhain from their Rare Casks series. A 23yo elegant stunner.


Abbey Whisky BunnahabhainIslay region – 44%ABV – £80 (only available from Abbey Whisky)

I’m going to limit the preamble in today’s review because the whisky is going to be better than anything I have to say.

Let me quickly say, however, that Abbey Whisky seems to be on to something here, and that something is choosing good casks of whisky to bottle.  First they released a 17yo Caperdonich and now they have this 23yo peated Bunnahabhain.

Peated Bunnahabhain can be hit or miss but this one, good people, is a total hit.  Check it:

On the nose  Peated Bunnahabhain is *so* peated Bunnahabhain.  Quite unique.

Peppery upfront but the peat is soft which I am guessing is due to the 23 years in the refill bourbon cask.

Abbey-Whisky-Bunnahabhain-Rare-CasksSmoked and dried granny smith apples.  Bit-o-Honey candies (a wonderful honey and nutty mix of flavors).

Wildflower greens (minus the flowers) gives this whisky a very late summery feel.

A touch of pool water here as well.

Though bottled at 44% ABV, the peppery quality gives it a touch of sting in the nose.

Abbey-Whisky-Bunnahabhain-Rare-CasksHeavily salted Tomato Juice (like the V8 Spicy Hot stuff).  So far so yummy.

On the mouth Soft, delicate and nowhere near as peaty on the mouth as it was on the nose.

Very vegetal (as the nose suggested) with hints of lemon, minus any sugar that might be associated with lemons.

Abbey-Whisky-Bunnahabhain-Rare-CasksMedicinal and Listerine like but in a very comforting way.  Those wildflower greens are gone but the flowers make themselves know.

This is, ummm, lovely stuff and it begins to grow in intensity as the finish nears.

Finish Lovely spice and great Islay character.  The finish sticks to your gullet and you’re happy for that!

In sum One of the better, older, peated Bunnys I’ve ever had.  Like grilled peanut butter and jelly on seeded rye bread, all of pieces go together so well for me.  I sort of wish I had a full bottle to open and share with friends in a single night.  We’ll finish together in a few hours.  Yeah, it’s that good.

Special thanks to MS of Abbey Whisky for the surprise sample!