Auchroisk Old Malt Cask K&L Excl., 24yo (1994/2019)

Rating28.3/40
OriginScotland, Central Speyside
DistilleryAuchroisk
OwnerDiageo
DistilledFebruary 1994
BottlerDouglas Laing
SeriesOld Malt Cask
StyleSingle Barrel Single Malt
CaskRefill Hogshead HL15186
BottledJune 2019
Bottles239
Strength54.5% (106.8 Proof)
RetailerK&L Wine Merchants

Auchroisk is not exactly a well known distillery with a significant presence on store shelves. And so it’s always a pleasure and interesting to find some expression, especially an older one like this. Let’s see how it stacks up!

Nose: Purple flowers. Why purple? I don’t know. But it does smell like purple flowers. Not lavender though. Some other purple flower. It’s not easy getting past that floweriness and diving deeper into the nose because it’s quite snappy like a tense cat. Approach at an angle it doesn’t like and you get bit. Quite pretty but flowery noses aren’t generally my thing. (6.7/10)

Palate: The flowery notes don’t go away but they cease to be flowery. Probably because someone has set the bouquet on fire and then tried (and failed) to put it out with honey water. (7.3/10)

Finish: A quite wonderful heat spreads down the back of the throat toeing but not crossing the line to discomfort. The flavors however do not keep up with the heat leaving little but prickly sparkles of mild bitterness along the roof of the mouth. (7.1/10)

Balance:  I think some folks would like this a lot more than I do but it’s just not well aligned with my preferences. For me it’s a decent dram that doesn’t quite manage to deliver on its innate potential. (7.2/10)

Longrow (Springbank) Red Pinot Noir, 11yo (2019)

Rating24.4/40
OriginScotland, Campbeltown,
DistilleryLongrow (Springbank)
OwnerJ&A Mitchell & Company
SeriesRed
EditionPinot Noir
StyleSingle Malt
PeatedYes
CaskPinot Noir
BottledJanuary 7th, 2019
Bottles9,000
Strength53.1% (106.2 Proof)

Another one in the long running series of red wine aged small batch releases of Springbank’s peated single malt, the Longrow. Always unique, often tasty and always highly anticipated, at least by yours truly, I’m glad to try another one of these peated pearls.

Nose: The nose is definitely “red”, whatever that descriptor means. Knowing there is wine involved makes those notes apparent but I’m curious if I would have detected them in a blind tasting. If I try to dismiss any preconceived notions from my mind, I end up with Haribo fruit gummy candies hanging out in a cigar lounge. Except nobody is actually smoking because they’re all busy eating cherry pies at the moment. There’s stuff I like and stuff I don’t like. This one’s a bit hard to nail down points-wise. (6.8/10)

Palate: Thick, goopy cherry-pie effluent and splinters of dark wood. And I wish all of it would come to life more. Not sure why this stuff is refusing to blow up. There’s a sizzling heat emerging after each sip that seems to burn off all of those rather nice flavors too quickly until the last of them evaporates the moment it goes down. It’s kind of a shame really. This palate is its own worst enemy. This is what it must feel like to have a child of great promise which proceeds to turn into a petty thief. (6.1/10)

Finish: A lonesome ghost of slightly bitter flavor and some residual warmth in the upper chest is all that’s left after everything else quickly evaporates. That and a mild sugary coating on the back of the tongue. Definitely a bit of a let down this one. I really expected more. (5.6/10)

Balance: I dunno… I usually really like the Longrow Red releases but this one is subpar on all fronts. Somehow, despite its relative strength, it seems to lack the substance to assert and maintain the nice flavors it hints at. You open a cage at the zoo but instead of a roaring lion you get a disinterested shabby looking racoon. A bit of a bummer. But luckily also a bit of an exception in the series. At least I hope it’s not a harbinger of future doom. (5.9/10)

Lagavulin Offerman Edition, 11yo, 2019

Rating27.7/40
OriginScotland, Islay, South Shore
DistilleryLagavulin
OwnerDiageo
EditionOfferman Edition
StyleSingle Malt
PeatedYes
CaskRe-filled and re-juvenated American Oak Barrels
BottledAugust 2019
Strength46% (92 Proof)
WhiskybaseWhiskybase

According to the marketing blurb this whisky was created in partnership with Parks & Recreations’ Nick Offerman. What exactly that partnership involved is not entirely clear to me. Nor does it matter much. I’m always up for trying a new Lag when one pops up. Which, unfortunately, does not happen all that often.

Nose: Fresh peat brightly leaps out of a box of thin mints. This is one of the rare noses with what I can only describe as horizontal geometry. That’s how my brain experiences it anyways. It seems to be wide rather than tall and slices into my head right through my sinuses. I like peat a lot but this feels almost a little… green? Is there such a thing as unripe peat? (6.9/10)

Palate: Again with this green quality of the peat. I like the sparkly brightness of it, but it lacks the depth and heaviness I most appreciate in my favorite peaty malts. And this one wears itself out quickly on my tongue. It sort of shrinks and vanishes there towards the center leaving next to nothing behind other than a mild burn. (5.9/10)

Finish: The very moment the whisky goes down it releases a voluminous cloud of peat smoke that finally no longer contains that green unripe element of itself. However, that cloud is also really just an overblown puff of bright smoke and quickly fades into seeming emptiness. After a few more moments, when things have calmed down, I suddenly discover a much quieter and richer, dark peat smoke that’s quietly accumulated deep down in my chest, accompanied by a little bit of mellow heat. Hey, that’s actually rather nice! (8.0/10)

Balance: The reward here is in the very distant last part of the finish. I really could do without those bright, young, unripe and green elements up front. And I’m not sure the finish of the finish is truly worth the effort given that I could just drink some Lag 16 or 12 cask strength or one of the Distiller’s Editions which I think are much, much more rewarding overall. (6.9/10)

Ardbeg K&L Excl. Chieftain’s, 15yo, 2004/2019

Rating35.1/40
OriginScotland, Islay, South Shore
DistilleryArdbeg
OwnerLVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE via Glenmorangie
DistilledMarch 2004
BottlerIan Macleod Distillers
SeriesChieftain’s
StyleSingle Malt
PeatedYes
CaskEx-Bourbon Barrel 700177
BottledAugust 2019
Bottles162
Strength58.8% (117.6 Proof)
RetailerK&L Wine Merchants
WhiskybaseWhiskybase

The mere 162 bottles of Ardbeg yielded by this particular ex-Bourbon cask turned out to be a very unique expression of a fuzzed out, warm blanket of peaty comfort. Come on in from the biting cold, kick back and relax. A forceful Islay take on what the Germans refer to as Gemütlichkeit. Almost as much of a meal as it is a drink.

Nose: Wait, is my backyard burning down? No. It’s probably just this nose right here. Meaty chunks of sweet peat drizzled with Bordelaise sauce, roasting in a cast iron frying pan over an open fire. Just what the doctor ordered after getting a vigorous back rub with heavily charred wood blocks wrapped in plum skins. I should really check on the backyard though. But that would mean getting up and walking away from this whisky. And that’s just crazy-talk. Over time the nose diminishes just a little. Or maybe it’s simply numbing my sensory apparatus.(8.6/10)

Palate: Prickly chocolate-peat cactus. Spikey bursts of peat bob around in a sea of chocolate milk. The chocolate milk has a thick, almost oily and rather coarse texture to it and leaves a similar coating on my tongue. Clearly whole, perhaps even raw milk was used, and the chocolate wasn’t ground too finely. You can almost eat this with a fork. Later bursts of smoke rise up, nearly a little bitter, as if the whisky has smoldered its way through all of it’s wood and peat resources.(8.9/10)

Finish: A vigorous burn develops on the sides of my tongue and the very back of my throat. Chocolate smoke rises from the depths and fills my head like a balloon. Breathing out is fun with this one. Everything alights and all the embers bloom. I wish it showed more presence deep in my chest but that’s really the only complaint I have. (8.8/10)

Balance: This is quite something. Beautiful. It has a much broader, deeper, warmer and fuzzier structure of peat than I’d usually associate with Ardbeg. I tend to perceive Ardbeg peat as a powerful, sharp blade slicing through my skull like a masterfully crafted Katana. This, however, is big, satisfying and comforting. I love it. A lot. (8.8/10)

Macallan Double Cask Lunar New Year 2020 Pack, 12yo

Rating24.7/40
OriginScotland, Central Speyside
DistilleryMacallan
OwnerWilliam Grant & Sons via Edrington Group
SeriesDouble Cask
EditionLunar New Year 2020 Pack
StyleSingle Malt
CaskOloroso seasoned American and European oak casks
Bottled2019
Strength40% (80 Proof)
WhiskybaseWhiskybase
Wine SearcherWine Searcher

One of Macallan’s slightly gimmicky Lunar New Year releases, this one for 2020, the year of the rat. To be honest the packaging is perhaps slightly more impressive than the whisky itself. It’s certainly quite nice but neither demands nor requires attention. A pleasant dram for distracted enjoyment at a reasonable price, at least compared to the usual Macallan price range.

Nose: A wooden bowl of creamy orange yogurt with some honey drizzled on top. Later it begins to dissolve and fragment and ends up shifting towards paint thinner flavored candy. Pleasant but with a slight impulse to try and turn less so. (6.2/10)

Palate: Quite nice. It puffs itself up to a decent volume filled with those orange notes from the nose minus the creamy yogurt and, luckily, the paint thinner candy. After a few sips some bitter elements begin to dominate things but, again, not to an extent that really throws a wrench in the flavor works. (6.2/10)

Finish: Decent heat, decent volume, decent flavor, decent length. Just not spectacular or particularly noteworthy. Slight to the better side of average. I do like the surprising amount of warmth it manages to develop near the solar plexus given it clocks in at basic bottle strength. (6.1/10)

Balance: This is nice? But if I’ve ever met a whisky that really doesn’t require attention it’s this one. Perfect for distracting social settings and yet that thought makes me feel like it’s a whisky wasted. (6.2/10)

Glengyle Kilkerran Heavily Peated Batch #1, 2019

Rating27.0/40
OriginScotland, Campbeltown
DistilleryGlengyle
OwnerMitchell Family
SeriesPeat In Progress
EditionHeavily Peated Batch #1
StyleSingle Malt
PeatedYes (45 ppm)
Cask55% Ex-Bourbon, 45% Ex-Sherry
BottledFebruary 20th, 2019
Strength59.3% (118.6 Proof)
WhiskybaseWhiskybase

The first batch of a heavily peated, youthful expression under the Kilkerran label of Springbank’s young sister distillery, Glengyle, both owned by the Mitchell family. The stills used at Glengyle were acquired from the old Ben Wyvis distillery, which only survived for 12 years and closed in 1977.

Nose: Well… it’s peated, yes, but I’m not sure about it being peated heavily. There is a mild savory undercurrent of medium hot curry with potatoes and lentils. Later we’re looking at it through a large frame of unaged wooden. The peat is greener and more grassy than I would prefer. (6.5/10)

Palate: Aha! Here this whisky easily appears twice as peaty as the nose, for sure. But, again, there is his unripe green and grassy note throughout. And that unaged wood also arrives just a little later. (6.5/10)

Finish: Smoke and warmth mingle pleasantly. But once again those pesky green notes stick their head out here and there. Still, at least for me, this is the most rewarding aspect of this whisky. (7.5/10)

Balance: The whole thing feels very young to me (which, normally, is not at all a bad thing when it comes to peated whiskies) and I suspect it’s almost certainly younger than the 8 year old cask strength Kilkerran I’ve reviewed elsewhere on this site. I’m just not a huge fan though it’s certainly drinkable in a pinch. As much as I’m trying, I just can’t get past those green notes. (6.5/10)

Edradour, Ballechin, The Chronicles, 2009 Vintage

Rating30.5/40
OriginScotland, Highlands, Midlands
DistilleryEdradour
OwnerSignatory Vintage
Distilled2009
SeriesThe Chronicles
Edition2009 Vintage
StyleSmall Batch Single Malt
PeatedYes
CaskFirst Fill Bourbon Barrels
BottledSeptember 25th, 2019
Strength46% (92 Proof)
WhiskybaseWhiskybase

The 2009 Edition of the Chronicles series of the peated Ballechin single malts distilled at the Midlands’ Edradour, one of the few remaining independently owned distilleries in the country.

Nose: Peat. Simple, nice peat. Wait, is there mint? Minty peat? Peat mints? Hmmm… not sure. Either way, it’s not exactly complex but certainly nice. (7.5/10)

Palate: No surprises here. The simple, nice peat continues right off the bat but the minty bits go into hiding. The whisky doesn’t quite want to expand here no matter how vigorously I swish and chew. Perhaps not surprising at 46% (6.5/10)

Finish: Aha! That’s where the minty bits went! They must have dashed to the very back of my mouth and jump off out over the throat to do some recreational paragliding on the thermals of my breath. The peaty parts have finally decided to expand as well once freed from the actual liquid. Very nice! Bright and entertaining. It doesn’t reach very deep but with all that long lasting smoke wafting about it still feels satisfying and like something I could happily spend a lengthy amount of time with. (8.5/10)

Balance: The unexciting drop in the middle doesn’t matter all that much in the end because the finish is quite lovely and rewarding. A perfectly enjoyable little dram from one of Scotland’s most intimate distilleries. (8/10)

Dailuaine, Old Particular K&L Exclusive, 12yo, 2007/2019

Rating33.5/40
OriginScotland, Central Speyside
DistilleryDailuaine
OwnerDiageo
DistilledMarch 2007
BottlerDouglas Laing & Co.
SeriesOld Particular
StyleSingle Barrel Single Malt
CaskSherry Butt DL13293
BottledAugust 19th, 2019
Bottles573
Strength57.6% (115.2 Proof)
RetailerK&L Wine Merchants

A delicious single sherry butt cask strength bottling of a single malt from one of Speyside less known distilleries, Dailuaine, which mostly produces component whiskies for Diageo’s portfolio of blends and rarely gets bottled as single malt, comes to us courtesy of Douglas Laing.

Nose: A friendly neighborhood flower shop that stocks nothing but pretty meadow flowers on the main floor. Though I get a sense that they’re keeping a few buckets of roses stashed away in a backroom somewhere. And I’m fairly certain the owner had grilled Branzino for lunch. Much later there are passing whiffs of freshly watered grass in the sun. (8.5/10)

Palate: A hot wave spills through my mouth and finally breaks, foaming with bright and tangy notes more reminiscent of top shelf oranges than flowers. Quite lovely. (8.5/10)

Finish: Echoes of orange juice and bitter herbs are hovering high above a growing and comforting heat right behind my sternum. Ultimtely the warmth doesn’t last all that long but it’s wonderful while it lasts. (8/10)

Balance: Very pretty but not as timid as one would expect. A mellow, pleasant late spring and early summer filled with plenty of joyful times. Very nice. (8.5/10)

Aberlour A’Bunadh Batch #64, 2019

Rating31/40
OriginScotland, Central Speyside
DistilleryAberlour
OwnerPernod Ricard via Chivas Brothers
StyleSingle Malt Whisky
CaskSpanish Oloroso Sherry Butts
BottledJanuary 30th, 2019
Strength59.9% (119.8 proof)
Price$56-179

Nose: A bottomless, silent, dark pool of brooding sherry. (9/10)

Palate: Astringent planar blast from a globe of that quiet, dark brooding sherry leads to fireworks sparkling around the edges. (9/10)

Finish: Warmth and comfort after the sparkles around the edges fade away. (9/10)

Balance: Just wonderful. One of the best batches since the recovery from the dreaded 30s. (9/10)

Bunnahabhain K&L Excl. SVUC “Staoisha” Heavily Peated, 4yo, 2014/2019

Rating31/40
OriginScotland, Islay, North Shore
DistilleryBunnahabhain
OwnerDistell Group
DistilledOctober 23rd, 2014
BottlerSignatory Vintage
SeriesUn-Chillfiltered Collection
StyleSingle Barrel Single Malt Whisky
Peatedyes
CaskDechar/rechar Hogshead #10723
BottledJun 10th, 2019
Bottles284
Strength60.6% (121.2 proof)
RetailerK&L Wine Merchants
Price$70

Nose: The peat appears in the form of compressed chocolate harvested from ancient bogs. The best such chocolate is often apparently somewhat fuzzy. (8/10)

Palate: The fuzzy chocolate from the nose melts into some mild Oolong tea served alongside it. Also, the table legs appear to be on fire. (7/10)

Finish: Heat stings the flanks of my tongue. These peripheral sensations meet up like the arms of a rather strangely shaped tuning fork back down in my esophagus. A hamster appears to have stored chocolate pudding in my cheeks. For the winter one assumes. (8/10)

Balance: A bit bumpy as a ride perhaps, which is not at all surprising for a 4 year old. Nevertheless absolutely enjoyable and well in line with Bunna’s recent push into bolder and peatier territory. (8/10)