Dun Bheagan (distilled at Springbank) Cask No. 1704 35 year old 1970 vintage, 50.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $300
Quite fresh and appetizing for a 35 year old whisky, but not too surprising for a Springbank. Notes of creamy vanilla, burnt caramel, coconut custard, brine, and a hint of anise. Complex, vibrant, and well-balanced. Reminds me why I love those old Springers. Devotees will not be disappointed. A stunning whisky! (Exclusive to Astor Wines and Spirits.)
Aged in French oak chardonnay barrels for eight years after six years in new charred oak. Notes of vanilla, crème brûlée, butterscotch, toasted coconut, bright fruit, and polished oak. Clean, gently sweet finish. The chardonnay oak aging adds a new dimension without dominating. A distinctive, stylish whisky with excellent balance.
An impressive single cask bottling of Glenfiddich. It really shows the natural potential of this distillery. Nothing fancy here, just the pure elegance of Glenfiddich. Notes of shortbread, demerara sugar, and white chocolate, spiced with toasted nuts, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Very clean and polished.
Gordon & MacPhail (distilled at Mortlach), 36 year old, 1970 vintage, 43%
Single Malt Scotch | $250.00
Deep amber, mahogany color. Very mature and well-balanced. Notes of maple syrup on pancakes, roasted chestnuts, dates, pot still rum, burnished leather, maduro tobacco, and subtle Moroccan spice. Soft, stately finish. Older whiskies often show an exotic side to their personalities as they mellow out with age, especially if the wood influence doesn’t dominate. This is a very nice example of the genre.
This is a five year old expression of the more highly peated Bruichladdich whisky being referred to as Port Charlotte (named after the now-silent distillery down the road from Bruichladdich). More highly peated indeed. If you like your smoky Islay whiskies young and masculine, this one is for you. It’s like sticking your head in a peat-fired kiln. But there’s more to this whisky than massive smoke. There are underlying notes of kippers, soot, and tar. With further investigation, there are spice notes of black pepper and black licorice stick. What really makes this whisky multi-dimensional and balanced is its sweet underbelly of thick toffee, jammy fruit, and almond butter. Youthful, but not immature.
Signatory (distilled at Bunnahabhain) cask #2540 27 year old 1978 vintage, 54.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $200
Very fragrant on the nose, and thick on the palate. The flavors are chock full of thick chewy toffee, chocolate fudge, roasted nuts, burnt raisin, black currant, and spiced oak. There’s a hint of salt and Earl Grey tea on the finish. Very dynamic.
Delilah's '13' Bourbon, 13 year old, Batch #1, 50%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $75.00
One of the leading bourbon-specialty bars in the U.S., located in Chicago, finally has its own single barrel bourbon. The flavors are nicely balanced, and there’s a soothing, creamy texture throughout the palate. Sweet notes of coconut cream, vanilla fudge, and honeycomb are enhanced by a complex array of more delicate notes of spearmint, green tea, golden raisin, dusty corn, cocoa, and oak resin. This time, “13” is a lucky number.
Duncan Taylor 'Rarest of the Rare' Glencraig (distilled at Glenburgie), Cask #2926, 30 year old, 1974 vintage, 42.0%
Single Malt Scotch | $245.00
Soothing vanilla cream, with additional notes of spice cake, coconut marshmallow, tiramisu, fresh cut grass, and a hint of evergreen. A true "comfort" whisky. Just don’t add any water, because it will fall flat. This whisky is great just the way it is.
Very powerful and quite different from the 10 year old, 46% bottling reviewed below; this tastes as if it is taken entirely from bourbon oak-aged Springbank. There’s fresh brine, creamy vanilla, honey, and coconut throughout, and it lacks the waxed fruit nature of its sibling. Mouthcoating in texture, with a long appetizing briny finish. Very clean -- and quite polished too, for such a powerful whisky. My choice of the three.
Scott's Selection (distilled at Highland Park) 1981 vintage, 50.6%
Single Malt Scotch | $215
Honey, creamy vanilla, caramel, sultana, and toasted almond along with a hint of lemon gum drops and banana. Quite floral, too -- lavender, heather -- with a gentle, lingering finish. A very soothing, mouth-coating whisky with excellent balance, while still quite fresh. Indeed, a very more-ish whisky -- and sneaky in how it grows on you with each sip.
Duncan Taylor 'Rarest of the Rare' (distilled at Glenugie), Cask #5156, 22 year old, 1975 vintage, 58.0%
Single Malt Scotch | $215.00
The only sherry cask-aged Rarest of the Rare whisky reviewed here. Rich thick cut marmalade, combined with chewy toffee, sultana, and nuts. The oak adds spice, balance, and complexity. This isn’t a one-trick (sherry) pony. There’s a lot going on here. Spicy, resinous finish. One of the best Glenugies I have tasted.
Leafy bonfire smoke, damp kiln, tar, anise, dark chocolate, and a hint of clove. All this is balanced by an underlying malty foundation and a kiss of honey, vanilla, and tropical fruit. Nice to see single cask, cask strength bottlings of peated BenRiach. (Exclusive to The Party Source)
Powerful, mature, and nicely rounded. Similar in some ways to the Springer 10 year old 46% reviewed below, with the addition of toasted coconut and caramel. It’s also more rounded and with greater depth.
Thick barley and viscous, with ever-present brine and berried fruit throughout. Underlying notes of waxy fruit (no doubt from some sherry cask aging), clementine, pineapple, and black licorice emerge, followed by the brine kicking in again towards the finish. The most rambunctious of the three.
Gordon & MacPhail (distilled at Strathisla), Cask #8510, 25 year old, 48.7%
Single Malt Scotch | $185.00
Very thick in texture and mouthcoating -- almost chewy -- with ripe barley, shortbread cookies, and honey up front. Dried vanilla, violet, cinnamon, and bright fruit notes emerge mid-palate. The dried spices and moderate oak tannins linger on the finish, contrasting the whisky’s rich, sweet entry. If this whisky were a road, there would be a lot of hills.
A peated version of Benriach that was also finished in a port pipe. There is a really nice blend of flavors here; a sweet malty foundation layered with ripe red fruit notes (raspberry, strawberry preserve, currant) and a firm blanket of smoke that goes on and on. All the flavors are bold, but they’re equally balanced. Not a subtle whisky but quite entertaining. (Binny’s Beverage Depot exclusive)
A very fruity “Laddie,” flowing with tangerine, apricot, pineapple and pear. Background notes of honey, vanilla, and a wisp of smoke. The typical Bruichladdich fresh, appetizing, brine notes are restrained, emerging ever so subtly on the finish. Nicely rounded and clean throughout.
Gordon & MacPhail (distilled at Caol Ila), cask #00/3454, 15 year old, 1991 vintage, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $85.00
One of a series of single cask, wine-finished Caol Ilas. This one is finished in a claret (Bordeaux) wine cask. The claret adds some bright red fruit notes (raspberry, red currant) and red licorice to accompany the smoke, brine, olive, and vanilla-laced malt. I have tasted some claret/Bordeaux wood-finished whiskies where the wine was too dominant, but this one achieves a nice balance.
Clean, fragrant, and quite fruity, with notes of tangerine, lemon, pineapple, and kiwi. There's a creamy-almost oily-vanilla maltiness on the palate that binds the fruit together. Gently dry, subtly spicy finish. A pleasing, unpretentious whisky.
Duncan Taylor 'Rarest of the Rare' (distilled at Banff), Cask #3421, 30 year old, 1975 vintage, 43.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $225.00
Very fruity and spicy. High, bright fruit notes of lemon, mandarin, and mango, with a sprinkling of ginger and powdered vanilla. Oak kicks in on the end, leading to a fairly dry finish, which is not surprising for a 30 year old whisky.
Signatory 7 year old (distilled at Laphroaig) 1999 vintage, 58.0%
Single Malt Scotch | $45
Tastes more mature than its age would suggest. It’s packed with ripe, sweet barley (especially at the palate entry). There are some high citrus fruit notes and anise that emerge before the signature Laphroaig peat smoke and tar wallops you. Very vibrant and youthful, but without being too green. A steal for $45. (A Binny’s Beverage Depot exclusive)
Duncan Taylor 'Rarest of the Rare' (distilled at Linlithgow), Cask #2214, 21 year old, 1982 vintage, 63.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $220.00
Spicy and botanical on the nose, with notes of ginger, juniper, lemon grass, orange, and grapefruit rind. Similar follow-through on the palate, with added notes of vanilla, honeyed malt, and hay. Gentle, dried herb and spice finish. Certainly some interesting -- perhaps even peculiar -- flavors from this product of the demolished Lowland distillery.
Signatory (distilled at Glenrothes), Cask #1082, 12 year old, 1994 vintage, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $60.00
Very much in the Glenrothes style, with a viscous texture that clings to the palate. Very perfumed and fragrant, too, with flavors of assorted dried fruit, vanilla, golden raisin, citrus, and honey that dry quickly on the palate. A suggestion of peat lingers in the background and on the whisky’s clinging finish.
Scott's Selection (distilled at Old Pulteney) 1977 vintage, 56.9%
Single Malt Scotch | $135
Appetizingly briny and spicy, as would be expected from a Pulteney-especially on the nose. The spice notes (cinnamon, licorice root, vanilla) are balanced with light caramel and toffee. Quite dry, polished leather finish with suggestions of bourbon. While still enjoyable, I feel this would have been a better whisky if it were bottled 5-10 years ago.
Aged in French oak chardonnay barrels for eight years after ten years in new oak. The oak influence is significantly greater in this bottling. Briefly sweet up front, with caramel, vanilla, candied fruit, and golden raisin. Then the oak resin, leather, and tobacco leaves take over, along with subtle black licorice stick. The dry oak finish lingers.
Very pale gold color. Aggressive notes of tar, boat docks, seaweed, and smoke are tamed by a mouth-coating honeyed vanilla sweetness. Very long, smoky, salty finish. This is a youthful, powerful, relentless whisky that you will either like or loathe.
Duncan Taylor 'Rarest of the Rare' (distilled at North Port), Cask #774, 24 year old, 1981 vintage, 58.0%
Single Malt Scotch | $225.00
Very pale in color. A creamy, mouthcoating whisky, with thick vanilla as the main thread. Quite dry, given its creaminess. I’m also picking up a lot of gin botanicals (especially juniper and orange peel). An interesting enough of a dram, but not something I would drink on a regular basis.
Distillery Select 'Inchmoan' (distilled at Loch Lomond), Cask #151, 13 year old, 1992 vintage, 45%
Single Malt Scotch | $60.00
Fiery peat kiln smoke, tar, and ripe barley on the nose. Not overly complex, but not a problem either. On the palate, the whisky starts out acceptable enough. But by mid-palate, the whisky turns harsh and unpleasant, with petroleum and vegetal notes that continues through to the finish. (Exclusive to Astor Wines and Spirits.)