Tag Archives: Lasting

Crazy good Balblair from 1993, matured in a first fill sherry puncheon, bottled by Gordon MacPhail


Region – Speyside – ABV – 53.4% ABV – Cask 1962 – First Fill Sherry Puncheon – This was around $150

Gordon MacPhail 1993 Balblair first fill sherry puncheon cask 1962It wasn’t long ago that I had a chance to sit down with my good friend Jonathan Bray to review this Balblair.

Actually, yes, it was quite some time ago…. back in May/June based on my tasting notes and the published date of Jonathan’s review. Ugh.

♬ Ti-i-i-ime is not on my side, no it isn’t! ♬ Where does the time go?!

My apologies to you, dear reader, and my apologies to Jonathan, for not getting this review up sooner.

Gordon MacPhail 1993 Balblair first fill sherry puncheon cask 1962On the nose — A host of notes you’d come to expect from a heavily sherried whisky: pickled walnuts, cherry pits, German brown bread, cola syrup, and dark bitter chocolate.

What you’d not expect (or maybe you would) is a quite present phenolic component giving off notes of a fireworks finale, burning cardboard, and what I can only assume is the scent of the Heaven’s Gate cult compound living quarters. They kept quite clean, as I understand.  You know, before the end…

Gordon MacPhail 1993 Balblair first fill sherry puncheon cask 1962A-a-a-a-a-nyway, I’m also detecting sulphured figs and dried papaya, too.

In the mouth — Chewy, unctuous, moreish, dare I say massive.

Tasting notes aside, my initial reaction is “damn, this is good tasting juice!”

Gordon MacPhail 1993 Balblair first fill sherry puncheon cask 1962Deep and dark fruits (insert Landry list here) which is countered by Balblair’s natural tropical fruit notes but they’re dried (more papaya, candied medjool dates, black currant, and interestingly some raw coconut flesh).

This is near flawless on the palate.

Finish — Perfectly timed tannins, sweet Thai chili sauce, decent length

In sum — While the nose presented some slightly off/sulphuric notes, the palate delivered in a way that few heavily sherried whiskies do. Stunning delivery of flavors and a finish that makes you want to sip more. Without getting into too much detail, the addition of water turns this into a vorpal +4 whisky of drinking. You basically roll a natural 20 on a d20 when adding water and the fruits just multiply.

Oy, Oi, Oy, this is a cracking good dram and if you can still find a bottle, you could consider yourself *very* lucky.  Not convinced?  Be sure to check out Jonathan’s review of this gem.

Rest and Be Thankful Whisky Co.’s single Sauternes cask Octomore, Cask # 16746


Region – Islay – ABV – 63.8% – now sold out but was $228.

A bit of a rarity here – an independently bottled single cask of Octomore which was bottled at 6 years of age at the nice ABV of 63.8%.

Being that Comus 4.2 (Bruichladdich’s 5yo Sauternes cask matured Octomore) was easily my favorite Octomore (still to this date), when I saw this bottling released, I had to have one.

The difficult part for me was in purchasing a bottling from an independent bottler I was not familiar with.  The packaging seemed nice enough and, hey, single cask Octomore? I had to give them a go, right?!

What was the result you may ask?:

On the nose — A fair amount of peat on this one (it is peated to 167 ppm). Not too overwhelming though.  Some bicycle inner-tubes come across at first but this is backed crushed almonds as well as raw filberts.

Rest and Be Thankful Octomore SauternesPear drops, too. Proper English scones. Sun dried water balloons. With water I detect some hot cinnamon, too.

In the mouth — Without water it’s incredibly hot and tight with obvious pear and more sun dried water balloon notes.

Water is needed with this one.

Rest and Be Thankful Octomore Sauternes

With water it’s got a great and oily mouthfeel. Quite sweety and peaty with more focus on the peaty. It’s quite phenolic. Think burning o-rings (viton as well as silicon), and new nitrile gloves.

Some tropical fruits here, too. Think passion fruit and persimmon, and a touch of papaya and even a little guava.

Finish — Long and peaty with hints of marzipan, lemons and even a little slivovitz.

In sum — Not sure if it could have used less or more time in the cask.  I never do score but if I were to compare this to Octomore Comus, and Comus were a 10 (on a scale of 1 to 10), this would be a 7. Defo one for colder weather and one to share with friends.


Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 20 – Weymss Malts “Aromatic Orange Tobacco,” Glenrothes 25yo, Cask # 4250


Region – Speyside – ABV – 46%

Today we’re tasting the second Glenrothes single cask in the 2015 Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar bottled by Weymss Malts.  This one is a 25yo that was matured in a sherry butt.  The previous one, “Kumquat Cluster,” was a 22yo also matured in a sherry butt.

These guys seem to like big butts.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015

No, not that kind of butt!  This kind (the one on the left, that is. The one on the right is a bourbon barrel):

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015

Being that the “Kumquat Cluster” was perhaps the first Glenrothes I’ve truly enjoyed, I wonder if this big butt whisky will procure a similar result. Let us see…

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015On the nose — Very fragrant, almost incense like.

Damp sandalwood, indiscernible cooking spices, walk-in humidor, loads and loads of CT Shade Grown cigar wrappers, whisky spilt on a leather bound book, used books, cedar oil. I could live in this glass right now.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015In the mouth — Orange oil, new suede, tinned fruits, orange juice/soy sauce mix for basting, warm honey, hints of clove.

Lightly oily mouthfeel.

Finish — Slightly spicy and fairly long with lasting citrus and used books.

In sum — These guys are going to turn me into an old-Glenrothes junkie!  Drop dead gorgeous whisky.

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!

Exclusive Malts Glenlivet 1976 36yo, 44.6% ABV


GlenlivetSpeyside region – 44.6%ABV – $325, US market only

I am about to lose my  Glenlivet reviewing virginity.

I don’t know if I’m ready or what it will do to my relationship with The Glenlivet after we do it I review this whisky.  I just know that I really-really like the Exclusive Malts range and, I think I’m ready to commit.  I’m ready to take this shapely glass into my hands and…

You know, as I typed the above ridiculousness, I realize that it (and by extension I) is no where near as funny an innuendo as Baptize Me from the Book of Mormon Soundtrack.  If you don’t know the piece, you should check it out below.  Seriously, here it is (funny stuff):

I guess it’s time for me to do it.  I’m finally going to review this Glenlivet.  Please think well of me in the morning my sweet, sweet whisky…

This is 40On the nose –  Upon initial sniff I am reminded of that type of woman that lies about her age.  Yes, like Leslie Mann from the new movie “This is 40.”  Sure she’s 40 but she tells everyone she’s 36 and, you know what, she looks it too.

Funny enough, this is a 36yo whisky but I’d never assume it as such.  Sure there are elements of age in here such as wood spice and clean church pews however, there’s a delicate fruity quality and some clotted cream as well that makes it feel younger.

Let’s explore further…

If you want to understand the Hitler with a pineapple image, I suggest you click on the picture to be take to the YouTube video. Sit back and enjoy.

A whiff of smoke in the background adds to notes of over ripe, browning pineapple and some nail polish remover.  Model glue meets white sugar in a honey reduction.

So far, I’m impressed.

On the mouth – Presto-chango-alla-kazam, the flavor profile is quite the different animal from the initial nosing impression.

Step back, take a breath, dive in again, Hatton.

Glenlivet-3Here we go:  An oily start but give it ¾ of a second and it starts dry the tongue.  Popsicle sticks soaked in the aforementioned nail polish remover, wood spice and brown spice and wilting dandelion stems.

Some tart, white wine like elements here as well.  As I try to think of the wine grape I am reminded that I am a whisky reviewer and not a wine reviewer.  I will stop all attempts in guessing the wine grape.

Moving on…

Glenlivet-4And now I am noticing some pepper and hints of artificially flavored banana Laffy taffy.  Better yet, banana chips.

Finish – A long finish with, guess what?  Hints of wine!  This time I *can* tell you that the wine is identifiable by myself and much more dessert like.  I’d liken it to a Moscato.

In sum – A bit on the pricey side but also a rarity to find a single cask of Glenlivet (and a 36yo one at that, too).

Don’t let the nose fool you, this whisky will take you on a bit of a ride.  What a great, great nose!  The flavors were nice as well, I was just not expecting the change.  While I’d not choose this as a celebratory whisky, I’d surely reach for it when I had some “me time” and wanted a bit of a change.

This is a fun whisky to drink when you want to really think about whisky and ponder life a bit.

Special thanks to ImpEx for the sample!!

Be sure to check out Jason’s review from Guid Scotch Drink