This is the fourth release in the Explorer series. It’s limited to 9000 bottles worldwide. It has been aged in ex-sherry puncheons directly from Jerez, Spain which probably means first fill. It’s unchillfiltered and has natural colour.
This whisky was released in 2016. It was aged in a mix of first fill ex-bourbon barrels and ex-rum casks (with peated whisky) for an undisclosed amount of time. 8700 bottles were released. It’s unchillfiltered and has natural colour.
ABV: 44 %
Type: Single Malt
Bottles in collection: 0
Emptied bottles: 0
Nose: This is dark fruits and mild peat. At first, a mix of overripe dark berries and raisins create a top layer above a sweet core of vanilla and honey. There are baking spices and a slight dustiness within. A funky complex note is sitting in the middle of it all which makes this quite interesting even though it seems to lack some flavours from the long maturation. The peat is creating a nice backdrop. It feels like the red wine finish sort of creates a lid on top instead of being integrated with the rest of the content.
Mouth: It starts out with a nice and mild spicyness. The peat comes through as a mild bottom layer with a touch of sulfur, leather and tobacco. The main part is still a sweet honey and vanilla core with the ripe berries and raisins on top. The cinnamon is not detectable anymore. It does a better job in taste than on the nose to create a whole. After a second or to there’s a bitter coffee note coming up from the back. It still feels a bit younger than its age.
Finish: It picks up where it left off and the flavour profile is intact all the way through. There’s still a mix of vanilla and honey together with ripe grapes and raisins. The peat is still very mild and creates a nice surrounding layer of leather and tobacco as the oak starts to show up. It’s a very nice oakiness with a walnut nuttiness and a coffee bitterness to it and the late finish is the first time it feels like its age. This is a great whisky, yet it feels a bit manufactured to cover up less active casks used for the long maturation period.
This whisky was released in 2018. It’s matured for 18 years in ex-bourbon barrels and then finished in ex-Premier Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux red wine casks.
ABV: 46.3 % Origin: Islands Type: Single malt Bottles in collection: 1 Emptied bottles: 0 Impression: 4/5
Nose: This is ripe fruits and peat. At first there’s a vegetal peat, with notes of heather and minerals, sitting on top of a dark ripe fruitiness and a gritty sulfury note. There’s also a minty overtone contrasting the dark and peaty character. With time the whole becomes a bit fresher and fruitier while the peatiness remains intact. When it settles there are notes of sugered rapsberries comin through. It also becomes somewhat sweeter over time. This is a fantastic nose with a nice balance between different sensations.
Mouth: It starts out with a quite sour lemon note in the back and a slightly dusty sweetness up front. It takes a couple of seconds before the peatiness shows up towards the edges and slowly moving inwards. It feels young and fresh at heart, but the ripe berries and the dusty sweetness creates what feels like a fake sense of age. It’s still feels mineral rich but it’s not as vegetal as on the nose. There’s a nice spicyness on top giving it a nice power-up. A slight coffee bitterness shows up in the back for those who wait.
Finish: The impact is immidiate and a sweet and somewhat fresher berry note, mixed with vanilla and sulfur, pushes through in the center. The peat and the ABV spicyness is detached and sits out on the edges. It still feels a bit dusty and there’s a bit of complexity within, but everything feels a bit detached in the finish. The oakiness comes through very late and it’s a very laid back and gentle oakiness which does its job but comes through as a bit lackluster. This is a very good whisky with a fantastic nose. It seems to deteriorate the further down the journey it comes.
This no age statement whisky is the first release in the Sinclair Series. It’s aged in ex-bourbon barrels and then finished in spanish ex-Rioja red wine casks. It’s unchillfiltered and has natural colour.
ABV: 45,8 % Origin: Islands Type: Single malt Bottles in collection: 0 Emptied bottles: 0 Impression: 3/5
Nose: This is sweet and peaty. At first there’s a deep sweetness with a fresh tropical fruitiness attached to it. There’s a nice dollop of peat which feels very integrated with the other flavours. It’s a mix of coastal notes, tobacco and leather. The charred oak comes through after a few seconds and adds vanilla and a hint of cocnut to the mix. With time in the glass the fruitiness becomes more and more noticable. This is a great nose with a lot of dimensions to it even though they all seem to fit nicely together.
Mouth: It starts out a lot less sweet. The peat is now much more dominant and rowdy with salty coastal notes as the main feature. The fruitiness is pushed back and becomes lemon and orange peel in the background. It still feels vibrant and fresh without feeling too young. In the middle there seem to be a textured and dusty vanilla with some cask char and a hint of honey floating around. There’s a spicyness slowly increasing in intensity over time as well.
Finish: The finish starts out with vanilla and oak in the back together with the orange peel bitterness. The spicyness and the peat sit on top. For the first time it doesn’t feel quite as balanced and most of the notes stay far back on the palate. The only thing happening in the later parts of the finish is that the oakiness increases in intensity and it almost feels too oaky after a while. It’s a fresh sawdust oakiness and the char notes are certainly present. The coconut flashes by briefly but it just feels like chewing on a piece of wood in the end. This is a very good whisky but it’s not without flaws. The nose is by far the best part of the journey.
This is a travel retail exclusive release first launched in 2013. It’s aged for an undisclosed time in heavily charred oak casks.
ABV: 46 % Origin: Islands Type: Single Malt Bottles in collection: 1 Emptied bottles: 0 Impression: 5/5
Nose: This is sweet and sour. At first there’s a nice and rich honey, malt and vanilla layer up front with sour lemons and oranges underneath. There’s a nice top note of a fresh cooling mint even though the whole thing comes through as dense and slightly dusty. It’s very complex and the background is made up by several notes like charcoal, sour dough bread and a hint of iodine. This is a fantastic nose with a lot of things to discover. It feels very homogenous even though there are a lot of things floating around within.
Mouth: It starts out with a sweet honey and vanilla mix in the center with the citrus fruits residing out on the edges. It’s still malty and textured and the sweet and sour contrast works together and makes it both dense and refreshing at the same time. The complex mix of flavours are still found within. Charcoal, salt and sour dough bread especially. The oakiness starts to make itself known at this point and adds another dimension to the array of flavours.
Finish: The transition seems very logical and everything sort of melts together and after a second or two it creates a lemon and honey cake. It’s got a dessert-like quality to it. It’s still a bit dusty and there’s still a bit of charcoal left behind. The oakiness adds some tropical fruit notes on top as well as a dry, yet fresh, oaky layer in the background. When most of the flavours starts to fade out the oak, the sour lemon and the tropical fruits stay behind. This is a fantastic whisky with an almost perfect balance between contrasting flavours and sensations.
This 10 YO is part of the Arran core range. There’s no information to be found about the cask type(s). It’s unchillfiltered and has natural colour.
ABV: 40 % Origin: Islands Type: Single malt Bottles in collection: 0 Emptied bottles: 0 Impression: 3/5
Nose: This is sweet and floral. At first there’s a sweet mix of honey, vanilla and heather coming through from the center and a very mild whiff of peat and tobacco slowly rising up towards the edges. It takes a few seconds for them to meet up to create a whole. When they do the floral notes are pushed forwards together with a fresh fruitiness. The sweet layer moves slightly backwards and gets a butterscotch note added within. There’s also a menthol layer hovering above everything else. This is a very nice nose and it’s shaped like a cone; With a wide sweet bottom and a fresh pointy top.
Mouth: It starts out with a thick layer with everything mixed in. There are notes of heather, assorted tropical fruits, tobacco, peat, honey and vanilla. There’s even a fresh saw dust oakiness and they’re all coming through at once. After a few seconds it starts to once again create the same cone as on the nose with the fruitiness and heather up front and the sweetness in the back. The tobacco and peat smoke is a bit heavier in taste than on the nose. The oakiness is floating around outside of the cone.
Finish: The menthol returns for a quick visit but it’s soon pierced by the fresh tropical fruitiness and the floral notes. The oakiness is still very fresh with plenty of wood spices and it’s creating a woody scenery in the background. There’s also a hint of ripe fruits somewhere in the middle but maybe it’s the tobacco notes and the peat creating an illusion. This is a very good whisky despite its low ABV. It’s a bit mild and a bit too oaky, but it never feels flat and/or over-oaked.
The Highland Park 1998 was bottled in 2016 so it’s a 12 YO expression. It’s a travel retail exclusive which focuses on maturation in first fill ex-american bourbon barrels.
ABV: 46 % Origin: Islands Type: Single malt Bottles in collection: 0 Emptied bottles: 0 Impression: 5/5
Nose: This is sweet and lemon fresh. There’s a very nice and thick layer of vanilla, caramel, honey and sweet liquorice and it’s intertwined with lemons and oranges. A hint of fresh oak comes through from the back together with a sprinkle of sea salt. There’s a white chocolate note appearing after some time in the glass. This is very rich and full bodied.
Mouth: A squeeze of lemon passes by before a black pepper spicyness takes over. It’s not as sweet as on the nose but it’s still very rich. The lemon note comes back together with malt, sweet liquorice and some caramel. It comes off as a bit dry and dusty. The lemon note is now leaning more towards the zest with a bitter tang to it. The oranges are gone. In the background a hint of the oak is coming through together with white chocolate.
Finish: At first, black pepper and lemon is creating a cloud that takes up the entire space. It takes a second or two before the other flavours make themselves known. There are vanilla, honey and caramel notes as well as an oakiness building up. It’s a very nice fresh oakiness with a hint of hazelnuts and a hint of chalk. In the late finish it finally shows some age with a row of dusty old books. This is an extremely well made and very tasty whisky.
This is part of The Arran Malt’s core range and it’s aged in both american ex-bourbon barrels and european ex-sherry casks. It’s unchillfiltered and has natural colour.
ABV: 47.4 %
Type: Single malt
Bottles in collection: 1
Emptied bottles: 0
Nose: This is sweet and peaty. A heavy layer of vanilla and an ashes from a recently burnt out campfire is dominating the first impression. The vanilla has an unscented lotion vibe to it, which isn’t a bad thing. There’s a saltiness and a medicinal note sitting somewhere in the middle. The sherry cask influence is very subtle but there is a small scent of raspberries coming through. This is very pleasant.
Mouth: The arrival is very medicinal with a touch of black pepper and a honey sweetness. After that it takes a while for the peat to create an ashy outer layer and, when it settles, a quite fruity inside. Raspberries are still dominating but there are some darker fruit notes detectable. It’s got an oily texture. Lemon, vanilla and just a hint of the oakiness come through after a few seconds without pushing any of the other flavours aside.
Finish: A burst of black pepper passes by before it returns to the ashy peat that are mixed with a nice vanilla driven oakiness and some chocolate. The lemon note still sits in the back and it’s still medicinal. The finish is complex and there are many flavours following along far down the road. The flavours somehow switch halfway down the road and the darker fruits is now creating a layer surrounding the oak, the peat and a sweet honey note. This is a beast in formal wear. Pure excellence.
The Perpetuum was released 2015 as a 200-year celebration bottling. This is the 2020 re-release. It’s a mix of both young and very old whisky, matured in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. It’s unchillfiltered and has natural colour.
Nose: This is sweet peat and red berries. The initial impact is quite medicinal and rowdy. After a few seconds a sweet, rounded baseline emerges with notes of hot burning wood together with unscented lotion and vanilla cream. On top there are iodine and salty coastal notes. The fruitiness starts to come through as an outer layer and slowly takes over. It’s overripe black grapes and plums. There’s also a cooling mint effect up front. This is an interesting nose.
Mouth: At first the vanilla sweetness and the warm peatiness swells up. It’s still hot burning wood and now there’s a hay note coming through. It’s quite mild and the red wine influence has a juicy vibe to it with fresh red and black berries. There are still coastal notes and a small touch of iodine, but those are pushed back into the background. It’s slightly astringent and the oakiness shines through in the background.
Finish: A minty cloud passes by before the juicy berries and the warm peatiness return. The medicinal and coastal notes still reside in the background and the finish mirrors the mouth very well. The whole thing feels slightly subdued. The oak is fashionably late, but when it arrives it’s a very tasty nutty oakiness with hazelnuts a hint of dust on top. The overripe grapes and plums return as a thin note following along through the entire finish. This is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The Blaack is a 2020 limited release exclusive to the Ardbeg committee members. It’s aged in ex-Pinot Noir wine casks from New Zealand. It’s unchillfiltered and has natural colour.
ABV: 46.6 % Origin: Islay Type: Single Malt Bottles in collection: 1 Emptied bottles: 0 Impression: 4/5
Nose: This is peat, fruits and creamy vanilla. At first there’s a really big dollop of vanilla cream and a core of oakiness. just outside there’s a ring of fresh red berries. It’s mainly raspberries but there’s also a darker side to it. Surrounding everything is a sweet and warm peatiness with a hot burning fire and a hint of fresh hay. In the background there’s a creamy soft note, like unscented lotion. This is a beautifully rich and welcoming nose.
Mouth: It starts out with sweet vanilla cream and a fresh hay peatiness. It’s quite mild at first and it gives room for the complexity to build up. After a few seconds the fruitiness arrives. It’s a mix of fresh raspberries, overripe black grapes and a hint of lemon. The peatiness increases over time and gently fills the mouth from the outside layer working inwards. A hint of salt is added along the way. The oakiness is hiding in the background and it’s sending out a bitter note and some spicyness.
Finish: The finish starts out with a cloud of peatiness together with a sligthly bitter and spicy oakiness. The fruitiness is pushed back and the unscented lotion returns. This gives it a soft and creamy contradiction to the dry oakiness. After a few seconds the oak is very much the main attraction, accompanied by the peat. It remains a dry, spicy and bitter oakiness with a speck of dust on it. The finish is not as nice as promised by the nose and mouth, but this is still a very nice dram.
An Oa is made from whiskies matured in Pedro Ximenez ex-sherry casks, new charred american oak barrels and american ex-bourbon barrels. The varieties are put together in a french oak marrying vat before being bottled. It’s unchillfiltered and has natural colour.
Nose: This is heavy peat and fresh red berries. At first there’s a heavy peatiness with minerals, leather and campfire smoke surrounding around a small core of ripe red berries. There’s also vanilla, honey and unscented lotion sitting slightly behind and to the sides. With time the peatiness and fruits retreat and the sweetness comes forward. In the background there are coastal notes with ocean air and a hint of seaweed. This is a fantastic and rich nose with a lot of details to explore.
Mouth: It starts out with the peatiness, mainly minerals and leather, together with a fresher batch of berries and a hint of lemon in the back. It takes a few seconds for a pepper note to arrive but when it does it creates a nice spicy side to the otherwise well-rounded character. The lotion, vanilla and honey notes are still in there but they have taken a step back into the background. It still carries its roudy, coastal heritage with iodine and brine floating around even though the age has mellowed everything out.
Finish: A big hit of the minerality and the brine are soon followed by black prepper, honey and the rest of the peatiness. The red berry fruitiness is sort of wedged in between the peat and the sweetness. When most of the flavours settle the oakiness start to come through and it’s accompanied by campfire smoke, the minerals and an ashy back note. The finish is long and rewarding. This is an absolutely fantastic whisky which balances the age and the rowdy heritage extremely well.
The Traigh Bhan is released in small batches. It’s aged in a mix of ex-bourbon barrels and ex-Oloroso sherry casks. It’s unchillfiltered and has natural colour. The batch number is TB/02-18.09.00/20.JT.
Nose: This is sweet and peaty. At first a warm, sweet, and ”wet” peatiness, like smoke from a campfire when water is thrown on it to put it out. There’s honey, vanilla, a touch of seaweed, brine and an iodine note. There’s a feint hint of green fruits and lemon far away in the back.
Mouth: A very sweet approach which turns into a big burst of savory smoke. The honey note lies up front and it’s carried by a black pepper spicyness, some seasalt and a touch of bitterness.
Finish: Menthol, honey, lemon and bittersweet smoke. It’s still savory and the wet burned wood carries through. The peat is very much the main player, but the honey note isn’t far behind. The oak is slightly bitter. The finish is a never-ending story with a tar note appearing when the wet oak subsides.
This whisky was launched in the year 2000 and is the entry level in Ardbegs core range. It’s aged in both first fill and refill ex-bourbon oak barrels. The barley has 55 ppm. It’s unchillfiltered and has natural colour.
Nose: This is sweet, slightly fruity and very peaty. Cold ashes from a burnt out woodfire is dominating the first impression. There are vanilla and, both fresh and ripe, dark berries lurking in the background. It’s got a coastal character and it’s very medicinal. The oak is coming through around the edges of the glass. The vanilla grows more pronounced over time and the fruity note seems to be leaning towards blueberries. This is a very nice complex nose.
Mouth: It starts with a sweet honey layer on top, but underneath it’s very salty and spicy. After a second or two the full peat impact comes rushing in. The peat is now a bit warmer and rounded, but it stays salty and peaty with a medicinal iodine note. A pine note is now peeking through from the back together with the vanilla. The fruitiness is also found, but it seems to bounce around between the other flavours which makes it hard to pinpoint. It still comes through as berries though.
Finish: A sharp spicyness and black pepper flare up and then the honey, vanilla and pine notes return. The fruitiness is still intertwined with the peat and the medicinal side to it becomes more pronounced. The blueberry note keeps on popping up from time to time, but when the oakiness starts to build up it slowly fades away. The oak brings dark chocolate, black coffee and more of the vanilla. The black pepper stays all the way through the finish. This is a great, complex whisky with a lot of exploring opportunities.
The Corryvreckan was originally a committee release but it’s now a part of their core range. It’s aged in american ex-bourbon barrels, european ex-sherry casks and european ex-Burgundy red wine casks. It’s unchillfiltered and has natural colours.
ABV: 40 % Origin: Islands Type: Single Malt Bottles in collection: 1 Emptied bottles: 0 Impression: 4/5
Nose: This is sweet fruits and mild peat. Fresh red berries and vanilla create a thick layer up front. There’s also a lemon note in the middle and some dried fruits a bit further out. The mild peatiness seems to sit in between everything else and it brings notes of leather and a hint of tobacco. After a while all flavours seem to merge and agree on a sweet orange fruitiness. The vanilla stays out of it though and mellows out a bit. This is a mild and very pleasant nose.
Mouth: At first it’s just sweet vanilla for a second or two. The first thing arriving is a thin bitter note and the red berries and dried fruits, now presented as dried apricots with a hint of raisins. It soon changes towards oranges again and now the peel is included. The peat is much more noticable here and it now sits on the outer edges. It’s leather, tobacco and a hint of rubber. There’s no oakiness present yet and there’s no perticular change over time.
Finish: The peat slowly spreads out over the palate and then ends up towards the edges again. The frutiness is the same as before with red berries, dried apricots, raisins and orange peel. It takes a second or two for the oak to come through, but when it arrives it’s a great dry and nutty oak. It’s walnuts and a hint of assorted tropical fruits in there as well. The mild peaty aura with leather and tobacco is consistant through it all. This is mild but never boring. This is a great whisky for a tired brain.
The 12 YO was first released in the 1970’s as a core range whisky. The ”Viking Honour” name was added in 2017. It’s mostly matured in european ex-sherry oak casks. It’s bottled with natural color.
ABV: 50 % Origin: Islands Type: Single Malt Bottles in collection: 1 Emptied bottles: 0 Impression: 5/5
Nose: This is dark and sweet. At first there’s a honey and vanilla sweetness with a dark fruitiness sitting just behind. There’s a mix of sugared blackberries, black grapes and a twist of lemon. On top there’s a cloud of mild menthol. With time in the glass it becomes a bit sweeter with toffee and a hard to pinpoint floral note floating around in the back. It continuously changes but never strays from the main path. This is a great nose with a lot of things to Discover.
Mouth: It starts out with a big hit of honey sweetness and dark berries. It’s very rich and textured from the get-go. There’s also a bitter lemon note as well as a gritty layer in the back with notes of wood, sulfur and rubber. After a while there’s a tropical fruitiness emerging from the back which slowly moves towards the center. There’s a complexity to the whole thing and it feels very three-dimensional. All of the sensations are coming through to a various degree.
Finish: The finish starts out with the red wine dark fruitiness in the back and it sort of grows bigger and bigger in a forward motion. The sweetness ,the menthol and a sprinkle of dusty earth notes come through as well. It takes a few seconds before the gritty notes and the tropical fruitiness once again join in. The bitter lemon is still residing in the back. The oakiness arrives late and never takes over. It just seem to create another layer of complexity. This is a fantastic whisky with an array of complex flavours floating around.
This is part of the Arran Wine Cask Finish series. It’s aged for around 8 years in traditional ex-bourbon barrels and then finished in Amarone red wine casks. It’s unchillfiltered and has natural colour.
ABV: 47 % Origin: Islands Type: Single Malt Bottles in collection: 1 Emptied bottles: 0 Impression: 3/5
Nose: This is floral and peaty. At first there’s a honey sweetness surrounding a core of heathery peat with additional tobacco and coastal notes. There’s also a fruity layer which sits beneath everything else. It’s a fresher fruitiness with a mixed apple and pear juice vibe to it. A thin veil of oakiness can be detected around the edges of the glass as well as vanilla. This is a very nice nose with a variety of flavours coming through.
Mouth: It starts out with a generic sweetness and it takes a second of two before everything else starts to push through. The heathery peat is first, the honey and vanilla notes are second and lastly the fruits, which now lean more towards the apples. There’s a saltiness as well. The tobacco notes are not very prominent at this point. For those who are patient the oakiness builds up in an outer layer and becomes very noticable. The whole thing is very mild and easy on the palate.
Finish: The peat is first to push through with heather and tobacco within but they are subdued by a somewhat hard-to-pinpoint complex savory note. The floral notes swirl around and the heather is joined by a hint of violets and a feint taste of tropical fruits. The honey sweetness and the vanilla increase in intensity before the oakiness once again starts to take over. There’s bitter coffee note in the back and a pretty generic oakiness up front. This is a good whisky with a lot of good things within but it just doesn’t feel very well balanced overall.
The Highland Park Valfather is made from 100 % peated barley. It’s aged in refill casks for an undisclosed amount of time.