Monthly Archives: May 2013

Dalmore Castle Leod Review

Dalmore Castle Leod062

46% abv

Score:  88/100


Here’s a cool little Dalmore.  This is a 1995 vintage that was bottled in 2011.  I suppose that effectively makes it a 15-16 year old, depending on exact bottling date.

But it may have been Sinatra who said ‘age ain’t nothin’ but the way you wear your hat’, so let’s forget about the actual numbers and move on.

I have no real love for wine-finished/matured whiskies.  Occasionally it works out just fine, but more often than not the wine simply overpowers the malt and adds a super sweet and tangy edge that makes me think ‘hangover’ before I’ve even taken first sips.  Of course, I am speaking in vague generalities here, knowing full well there have been some great drams I’ve sampled wherein the whisky and wine were linked as beautifully as ebony and ivory.  Bruichladdich, in particular, has levied some great examples (with a few duds along the way) of wine-influenced single malt on us.  Pays to keep an open mind.

This release, the Dalmore Castle Leod was a limited run of 5000 bottles from ex-bourbon and sherry casks which met and spent a further 18 months sloshing around in Bourdeaux wine casks.  As expected, the end result is a fairly mature dram with a solid upswing of sweet grapey notes.  The typical Dalmore profile of malt, orange and caramel is by no means undermined by the wine here, as the ‘finishing’ influence, while rather lengthy, has not overwhelmed the end product.  Nice balance.  I like it.

Castle Leod was put together by W&M’s Richard Paterson to both celebrate a longstanding relationship with the Clan MacKenzie, family members of which at one time owned the Dalmore distillery, and to help raise money for restoration work on the namesake castle, which is prominently featured on the packaging.  The castle itself dates back to 1606 and was apparently quite reknowned in times of yore for the healing properties of local spring waters.

Personally, I love these fascinating ties to the land and history that distilleries often use to assert providence. 

Nose:  Almost a hint of smoke with the caramel.  Leather and playdough.  Orange and wine-y grape notes.  Quite digging the nose here.  The wine is rather restrained.  Sweet and spicy.  Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger…none overpowering.  Nose outshines the palate a bit, but they are quite in balance really.

Palate:  Now the wine is a little more vocal.  Sweet fruits from the grape influence:  cherry, orange and some more berry-type fruits.  Nice spice blend.  A hint of something mature buried in here too.  Maybe an older cask or two, or perhaps just great wood with the right amount of calming influence on the volatile spirits and fortified grape juice.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

Whyte & Mackay 30 y.o. Review

Whyte & Mackay 30 y.o.003

40% abv

Score:  92/100


The 21 y.o. Whyte & Mackay was spectacular.  Really spectacular.  For me, in my ignorance, it sort of came out of left field.  The bottle was brought in for a group tasting one night, underwhelming me in its ostentatious packaging and offensive ‘bling’, but one nosing was all it took to knock me back into the land of humble pie.  I subsequently tracked down two more bottles of it.  Now those too have sadly gone the way of the dodo. 

Up till that point in early to mid 2012, that 21 year old was arguably the best blended whisky I’d tasted.  I say ‘up till that point’ for a reason. 

Whyte & Mackay have done it again.  Not certain if this is a blend of older whiskies, or has been blended at some earlier point and allowed to mature a little further, but either way…the integration here is outstanding.  Much more than the sum of its parts, this one shines in how naturally and effortlessly appealing it is.  There’s such a pleasant and welcoming down home…well…just ‘goodness’ here.  While this is possibly a little less vivacious than the 21, the W&M 30 makes up for it with a slight smoky sensuality, austere sweetness and a much more refined carriage. 

This makes me wonder why it is that if a mature blend can be this good and have such a distinct profile, something like the Johnnie Walker Blue Label, often considered the grandaddy of blends, still tastes…’blend-ish’ and homogenous.

This is really quite a stunner, and again, much like the 21, I wouldn’t peg this as a blended whisky.  Snobbery takes one further step out the door.

Nose:  Gorgeous nose, well beyond the realms of most blends.  Slightly smoky with some old oaken notes.  Tangerine(?).  Turkish delight and marzipan.  Nice sweet sherry notes (I’d guess Oloroso maybe).  Perfect amount of oak influence.  Creamy and balanced.

Palate:  Nice orange/marmalade notes.  Paint and putty.  Soft fruits buried in nice fluffy white baking notes.  Christmas-y spice notes.  Hint of smoke again and old cask.  Great drink.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

Ray Manzarek

Just heard Ray Manzarek from The Doors passed away today.  This is sad, sad news.  I grew up on The Doors.  Though I don’t crank ’em up as often as I used to, they were likely the most influential group in my life.  Many, many a memory.

RIP Ray.  Thanks for all.



Let’s put on a little ‘Soul Kitchen’, ‘Love Street’, ‘Riders On the Storm’, or just…whatever.  Listen to the man play.


– Curt

A Response To A Great Line Of Questioning…

Greetings, ATW readers.

Forgive my long time absence from mere discussion and opinion pieces.  I have no excuses, simply explanations.  I have a day job…beautiful kids…a stunning (and ever patient) wife…a liver to worry about…and…my focus has been elsewhere of late.  Namely…in blitzing the site with whisky reviews.

You may have seen a very honest and articulate question bandied my way by a ‘whisky mate’ here on the site.  The exact post, for those that care to read it, was here.  I wanted to take the answers I was preparing there and put them front and center because I feel they are relevant, insightful and allow me an opportunity to share a bit of history and a few bits of advice.

First off…

I’m an average guy.  Just turned 35.  Office job which is quite contrary to the rest of my personality.  Music…tattoos…books…zombie flicks…guitars…an obsession with the mountains…that’s more the real me.  I’m a rather intense sort who swings from obsession to obsession, all embraced headlong and with a singular enthusiasm.  Sometimes they fade after a year or two.  Othertimes not.  Whisky is a case of the latter.  It is an interest that has monopolized much of my spare time for a few years now in one way or another.


Contrary to what you might think…I don’t drink much.  A dram or two once or twice a week.  Maybe a couple on the weekend depending on plans and family time.  And then the occasional tasting flight I arrange.  One of the questions from ‘Skeptic’ specifically spoke to volume of consumption, mentioning a figure of medical recommendation to not exceed 100 ml a day.  F*ck.  That’s a lot of d(r)amage to the liver.  I am nowhere near that and not a daily drinker, by any means.  My nights of ‘blurring the lines’ are maybe once or twice a year.  Otherwise…I’m sort of a well-behaved lad.  Let’s face it…hangovers are not fun.  Especially with kids.

I also don’t need a full dram to do my tasting/nosing notes and review.  After enough practice, you don’t need a lot.  Honestly.  Sit in on a tasting flight with me (and yes…that is a sincere offer if you are in town) and you will see what I mean.  The way it ‘usually’ works (a guide, not a rule) is I will pair up a few whiskies that logically associate, and bounce back and forth between them.  Reviewing one whisky at a time is not ideal.  If the opportunity presents, I will generally revisit the whiskies again at some point before publishing anything.  These revisits nearly always align with what my first impressions were.  It’s all about ensuring that each time you sit to nose whiskies, the conditions are favorable (i.e. you haven’t just eaten anything funky…your home hasn’t been spritzed with cleaning products or the smells of cooking…you don’t have a cold…etc).  If any of the aforementioned may be a factor…I abort and wait to be in the right ‘place’.  Otherwise, no matter how much you nose/taste, you’re still not gonna get what you need out of it.

I mention this, as it ties back to a recent bombardment of reviews here on the website.  Just so we’re all on the same page…at any given time I have between 50 and 100 reviews in ‘draft’ format.  They may have a complete write-up, but no tasting notes…or contrarily…complete tasting notes, but the muse has not yet whispered in my ear what exactly to say about the whisky.

This flurry of activity is not related to a period of heavy drinking.  Nor is it indicative of a change in anything to do with my personal constraints.  It is merely a refocusing of energies for a period here in an attempt to build up a solid database of reviews here on ATW.  Why?  Simply because this is a vanity project.  I want you to come here and read.  I want to share thoughts and opinions, and I want to interact.  I met one of my best mates through running of the website (a previous site , that is).



How do I try as many whiskies as I do?

There are a few things I need to speak to in order to share a full understanding on this subject.

1)  I do not get whiskies thrown my way from the industry, like some I know who specifically solicit this.  I’m not averse to it, per se, but I also don’t believe in the concept of pushing for free sh*t.  I find it uncouth and classless.  I wasn’t built that way, and I don’t need to do it.  If something comes my way…so be it.  I know I will be honest and forthright with you, and it would allow me to try more, for own benefit, as well as share notes which will hopefully aid others in buying.  HOWEVER…you can see by the spartan facade of the site, there are no ads…no sponsors, etc.  I am taking in no revenue to do ‘the whisky thing’.  All whiskies reviewed on ATW are:  purchased by me…purchased by friends who share…samples provided from local retailers who simply want you to know they’re selling it…tasted in formal tastings…swapped samples with others.

I live in Canada.  Our customs laws are so unbelievably rigid and archaic that we can not even ship alcohol from province to province, let alone between countries.  (Yes, Canadian government…I’m taking aim at you *ssholes.  Get with the f*cking times!)  While I see samples (free or otherwise) being shipped all over to key reviewers and such…sadly…I am not a part of that.

2)  I started the website when I felt I knew enough (though still adorably naive 😉 ) to be comfortable publicly speaking about the subject.  In hindsight, it was a little too early.  I have learned ridiculous amounts over the past few years.  I have been humble enough to admit where I was off course, and have righted the ship from time to time.  An easy example?  Like all newbies…I scored far too high initially.  I have had to do a couple of massive ‘true-ups over the years’.

Anyway…where I am going with this is…I made some connections through the site.  Those individuals have shared generously of their time, knowledge and yes…whisky.  I have friends in much better positions of life than I am, and who have a genuine interest in just wanting to hang out with fellow whisky nerds.  One of the gents I am closest to now is someone I only came in contact through because of my site.

3)  I run whisky clubs.  One is a private little invitation-only affair for a few of my literate mates.  We gather and discuss a book and some great whiskies each month.  The other is a new undertaking.  An impressive affair coming together known as The Dram Initiative.  This is a big formal public club.  I am the guy that brings these things to life.  From there…a select handful of my best mates and all ’round good guys work tirelessly with me to keep it moving forward.

4)  I take the initiative to be involved in events.  Commercial tastings, festivals, launches, etc.  I travel to Scotland every couple of years to tour distilleries and whisky bars.  I also host my own events, when there is nothing out there suiting my vision.


At the end of the day…the most important bit of advice I can offer?  Share your whisky.  Use the ‘pay it forward’ model.  Remember those who shared with you, and try to do the same for others where you can.  I like to share good whisky with good people and it seems to come back around.  Good people have in turn poured lovely drams for me.  That’s what this is about, isn’t it?

Finally…for those that say they’ll never try a Port Ellen or a Rosebank or something…all I have to say is…y’never know.  😉



Cost?  Well…let’s be honest.  This is an expensive hobby.  I make a pretty decent salary, but not quite decent enough to afford all of the whiskies I taste and review.

You have to cherry pick your purchases.  Why try every batch of a’bunadh, as mentioned in the question, when there are tons of other great whiskies to experiment with?  Yes, a’bunadh is great and I do try to keep one around, but I will generally try one out of every 5-10 batches or so.  There are a lot of great whiskies out there.

And yes…you will miss out on limited batches.  I do all the time.  Sleep easy knowing that there will always be another ‘limited release’ coming down the pipelines.  Hopefully you and your mates can sort of coordinate efforts on this front.  You buy the new ‘Glenwhatzis’…he buys the new ‘Glenwhynot’…she buys the new ‘Glenpricey’.  Then…get together, crack ’em open and share.  That way you don’t need to personally buy them all, but still get the opportunity to try ’em.  Trade bottles when you get halfway or three quarters through.  Buy some sample bottles and start swapping samples.  Plan your club events (if you have a little group who gathers) around drams you want to try.

Open ’em up.  F*ck the idea of collecting.  Storing some for future years?  Sure.  Collecting, and not sipping?  Bah!  Open ’em…share with friends…collect the memories.  That’s the important stuff.

I admit…I have a couple hundred bottles in my basement.  This ‘hoarding’, if you will, is self-perpetuating.  After you build up some stocks, you’ll find you can buy less, but buy better.  The key is always to buy a little more than you drink.  Keep yourself in the black, in other words.


Finally…some thoughts on ‘integrity’…

All scored reviews are my own.  There are other bits on the site which have been credited to Maltmonster or Whisky Pilgrim or what-have-you.  But for the most part…this is my own rambling, for better or worse.  I say that so you understand there is integrity, honesty and consistency to the reviews.  You may not agree with me, but hopefully, if you stick around long enough, you’ll see where I’m coming from.

I also try to use almost exclusively all my own photography.  I think this adds an element of sincerity and validation that these whiskies really are being tasted…and really are being properly assessed.  I’m not the best photographer, but I get enough in the frame to show that these pics are not stock images.

I try to stay humble (some days harder than others), as it lets others see you’re not in it for gain.


Last words…

I’ve finally started using twitter.  Come find me at @Allthingswhisky.  Each time something new goes up here, I’ll let you know there.


Sincerest thanks to ‘Skeptic’ for his questions.  They’ve allowed me to orate without it necessarily being from a soapbox.

Until next, friends…please keep comments coming.  Your feedback is important.  I thank you.


– Curt

Bruichladdich Resurrection 2001 Review

Bruichladdich Resurrection 2001018

46% abv

Score:  85.5/100


Alright…lemme just put my sunglasses on then we’ll get down to business with this one.

Much like the recent Laddie Ten, the release of this 2001 Resurrection was a cause for much celebration.  It was the first proper release of new spirit from the recently revitalized distillery after the 2001 reopening.  Other Bruichladdich releases had been either propped up by, or completely composed of, malts produced in the days before the distillery’s 1994 closure and subsequent purchase and reopening.

Think of this one much as watching your firstborn taking his/her first steps.  Gotta have a little pride there, I imagine.  The Bruichladdich family had worked long and hard to see this moment.  About seven years actually.

The Bruichladdich lads and lasses run three standard ranges through the same set of stills.  The smoke monster, Octomore; the buttery peat beastie Port Charlotte (which they claim is ‘moderately’ peated…and really is honestly the heaviest ‘moderate’ peating I’ve ever encountered); and the standard peat-free Bruichladdich.  That leaves this expression, which boasts a peating level of about 10 parts per million (ppm), as sort of an anomaly.  In this case though, there’s no shame in being a bit of an outcast.

The outturn on this one was about 24,000 bottles and, as the release date was back in 2008, if you didn’t scoop one then you may have issues tracking one down now.  Well worth the attempt.

Not great, but quite good.

Nose:  Peat and smoke here, larger than most ‘Laddies, but more restrained than most Islay malts.  Some figgy notes.  Ocean spray (uh…the real stuff coming off the water, not the cranberry cocktail).  Butter cream and damp hay.  Melon and creamy caramel.  Hint of licorice

Palate:  Peppery.  Slightly wine-ish.  Salty.  Fairly fruity, but the individual notes haven’t coalesced yet in and of themselves, or as a working unit.  What I mean really is…there’s an overarching sweetness here, but no individual notes to be properly discerned…and…it’s still not quite coming together yet either.  Barley.  More balls on palate than nose.  Oxidation time helps


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

Port Ellen (OMC) Cask #6397 Review

Port Ellen (OMC) Cask #6397043

50% abv

Score:  92.5/100


The most knowledgable chap I know when it comes to Port Ellen insists that the true embodiment of the distillery’s character is best found in the Douglas Laing bottlings from about 1983.  Anywhere from 22-27 years old.  Who am I to argue?  The guy has more Port Ellen stocks than Wilt Chamberlain had notches on his bed posts.

This Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask Port Ellen from 1983, the year of the distillery’s closure, is an absolute killer.  This is the distillery at the top of its game.  Vibrant…defined…balanced…exceptional.  It is releases like this that have helped escalate Port Ellen into the stratosphere.

I’m somewhat in awe of the perfect seesaw act happening here.  There is an interplay between fruit and phenol here that relies on the bottler finding that elusive spot in the maturation process between young and old.  This PE is perfectly centered.  Almost as bewildering is the fact that the finish here is like one long sustained note.  Something akin to the perfect melodies on Miles Davis’s flawless ‘Kind Of Blue’.  Usually as a whisky fades, the finish goes through stages of evolution and the denouement is a mere hint of the magnificence of the preceding crescendo.  In this case, it sorta seems like the crescendo is simply having the volume slowly…ever so slowly…turned down until ultimately you strain to hear that same sustained beauty.  Brilliant.

This Port Ellen came from a refill hogshead that managed to produce 199 bottles at 50% abv.  Very low numbers, but fortunately I do know of a not-so-dusty shelf in a friend’s basement where two more bottles of this PE rest in peaceful slumbers.  Hopefully, long after my bottle is empty, I’ll one day get to try again, as this is one of my favorite Port Ellens to date.

Nose:  Nice mild phenols at first.  Some peach and pears in syrup.  Orange and lemon.  Tar.  As it develops there are bigger notes of dry smoke and dunnage.  Somewhat dusty.  Briny seaside notes.  Delicate, yet the billows of smoke become ever more pungent and impressive.  Mature and lovely.  An absolutely great Port Ellen nose.

Palate:  Oh, wow…what an arrival.  First the playful smoke…then apples.  Lemon and smoked white fish.  Licorice.  The hallmark of mature Islay malt whisky.  Long, long, long finish.  Beautiful and glides through with no off notes or decline in quality as it fades.  Amazing dram.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

Port Ellen 1982 25 y.o. Cask # 2847 (Signatory) Review

Port Ellen 1982 25 y.o. Cask # 2847 (Signatory)005

57% abv

Score:  87.5/100


Here’s an interesting Port Ellen.

It’s also a great whisky to illustrate a prevalent misconception out there.  The misconception that a distillery’s storied reputation means that all of their whiskies are/were exceptional.  Port Ellen holds an almost mystical cache among nearly all of us whisky geeks, and I’m not arguing against that.  I’d simply like to make the point that Port Ellen is held in the esteem it is for more reasons than purely quality of the dram.

Port Ellen was a good whisky.  There’s no denying that.  It does need to be taken into account though, that Islay whiskies have been very much in demand for years now, and the lure of a rare Islay malt from a distillery that closed almost three decades ago?  How can you resist that call?  Most releases you’re liable to get your hands on (if at all) are in the mid twenties to early thirties age bracket.  Generally speaking (very generally…not saying this is a rule) older whisky is better than younger whisky.  So…here’s what  we end up with:

Good whisky + appeal of scarcity + age = 3/4 of the Port Ellen mystique.

The other 1/4?  For me anyway is that this is a glass of history.  Every drop consumed is one less in the world.  There is something infinitely heartbreaking about that.  Each time I sit down to a dram of Port Ellen it is an occasion and gives pause for relection.  And that plays right into why we love single malt whisky.

Make no mistake…I love Port Ellen.  I adore the malt and the tale behind it.  But I also love honesty, and it is important to let others know that not all Port Ellen releases are ‘holy grails’ or ‘white whales’.

This is a 25 year old Signatory single cask release.  It was matured in a refill sherry butt and arguably boasts the most sherry influence I’ve ever seen levied on a Port Ellen.  The bottle says ‘matured in a refill sherry butt’.  Note the word ‘matured’, as opposed to ‘finished’.  I can only assume the whisky spent its entire life in this butt.  417 bottles were pulled from the cask after 25 years in wood and the whisky itself was still at a healthy 57%.  This is a flawed Port Ellen, for sure, but really still quite enjoyable.

Nose:  A touch of sulphur right off.  Raisin tart.  Far off cherry and a little orange.  Leather and tobacco.  Camphor.  Somewhat barn-y.  Deep smoke that, with a swirl, expands exponentially.  Wet rocks.  Some burnt notes atop the peat.  Citrus.

Palate:  Smoke.  Again…you can taste a bit of sulphur and ash.  Cherry and plum stand out amidst juicy sherry notes.  Chocolate.  Some licorice and iodine.  Granny Smith apple and smoked wood chips in tandem.  Wet hay.  Really, really nice finish, lingering on fruits and…yeah…more smoke.

Extra half mark is for such a deep and resonant finish.

The sulphur note is a little tough to get around, but fortunately it is cushioned in a vast assortment of velvety fruit notes and some rather typical and comforting sherry familiarities.

And hey…it’s Port Ellen.  Isn’t it always going to be enjoyable?  This is history in a glass, people.  You’re drinking the intangible.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

anCnoc 16 y.o. Review

anCnoc 16 y.o. ancnoc16

46% abv

Score:  85.5/100


This distillery seems to be quite heavily championed in the ‘underground’ whisky circles.  Whether or not it deserves this flag-waving will ultimately be decided by you, hopefully supported by a few notes below, but let’s cover a little business first.

anCnoc is not a distillery.  It is the name of the whisky produced at the Knockdhu distillery.  A similar approach has been taken elsewhere (think Glengyle producing Kilkerran), but in the case of anCnoc it is in support of a rather odd rationale.  Apparently the powers that be (owners Inver House, that is) decided that the name Knockdhu was a little too close, either phonetically or in terms of readability, to another Speyside distillery, Knockando.

Not sure about you, but I don’t confuse quite that easily.  A name change over this?  Really?  In an industry that so prides itself on tradition and historicity?  Whatever, I guess.  So long as the juice in the bottle is quality stuff they could call it ‘Hobo Bath Water’ if they like.

By the way…proper pronunciation is ‘anock’.

The anCnoc 16 is now fairly readily available ’round here.  For a while we were limited to the 12 year old flagship expression, but it seems the 16 is now quite adeptly settling in as a welcome invasive species.  Nice to have a compare and contrast release from the distillery.  Vertical tastings (multiple releases from the same distillery) are the best way to assess the true character and inherent quality of the distillery’s output.  Two releases does not a vertical make, but at least there is a point of comparison.

anCnoc 16 is a malt that fills many of the holes of the 12 (or at least offers a counterpoint), while at the same time still being slightly outshone by some of the surprisingly vivid highlights of the 12.  Some of the fireworks act from the 12 year old has dissipated a little here in the 16, but where the excitement has faded, the balance has become a little more stable.  This is a creamier dram than the 12 but whether or not you necessarily find it a better drink for it…who knows.

To me, this whisky borders on what I would blindly guess as a Lowland malt, and yes…I belive is slightly more charming than the 12 year old.

Nose:  Creamy.  Floral (freshly picked meadow flowers).  Custard and white chocolate.  Pepper.  Blueberry.  Lemon and orange.  Hints of carrot cake.

Palate:  Caramel drizzled fruit in a bowl of milk…served up in front of the breakfast bouquet.  A few bourbon notes.  Medium finish and slightly better than the 12, which tends to ‘grain out’ a bit in the end.  Do note though…this does still have a bit of that bitter barley fade.  Knockdhu is really not the best distillery when it comes to the finish on their whiskies.

Having said that…I look forward to trying more from the distillery.  Especially at advanced age, if possible.


Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  anCnoc

Isle Of Jura 21 y.o. 200th Anniversary Review

Isle Of Jura 21 y.o. 200th Anniversary420

44% abv

Score:  81/100


I recently went through a lot of Jura (makes me sound like an alcoholic, doesn’t it?), drafting up tasting notes and pulling together some thoughts.  Many expressions were vast improvements over what I recall from past years/editions, but I found that several of the young ones, in particular, really sparkled for a variety of reasons made clear in those individual reviews.

As I started to work my way through the range I built up a modicum of excitement that some of the older editions would be great.  These preconceptions are never, ever, a good idea.  This 200th anniversary edition 21 year old Jura was just such a case in point. 

Sadly, excepting a brilliant and home-y leather note I fell in love with on the nose, the rest of the components fell a little flat or outright disappointed.  I liked the overall nose enough at first, but the longer it sat in the glass, the less appeal I found.  Maybe that’s just me.  (note to self…drink faster…don’t let whisky sit for long).

So…some news, both good and bad.  The bad?  That an aged malt, with a heftier price tag than many others, is not all that great a dram.  The good?  That you can get some younger Isle Of Jura releases that are great and are much more pocketbook friendly.  This 21 ain’t a bad whisky.  I’m just saying you take your money in a slightly different direction with this distillery and opt for one of the great Boutique Barrels expressions.  Neat stuff there. 

Nose:  Opens up with a nose rich in leather and deep ribbons of caramel.  Lots of caramel.  Quite floral.  Some burnt cinnamon.  Dried (very dried) fruits.  Quite a decent nose really.  Unmistakably Jura, but somewhat slightly flawed.

Palate:  Rather sharp and bitter.  Salty.  Almost acrid.  Grains are big.  Dries rather quickly.

81 score is primarily on strength of the nose.  Unfortunately this one kinda falls down when it comes to the palate.  Needs much time to open.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

GlenDronach 1972 38 y.o. Cask 718 Review

GlenDronach 1972 38 y.o. Cask 718barry's place pics 145

51.5% abv

Score:  87.5/100


The 1970s were glory days for GlenDronach.  In particular, the early to mid seventies.  Some great new make spirit hit some great sherry butts and the end result…happy consumers.

There was a rather incredible run of casks from 1972 numbered in the low 700s (this one we’re speaking to now is #718) that were…simply put…awesome.  One was a Malt Maniacs award winner…another I believe earned some Whisky Mag accolades…a third was selected for a store here in Calgary, and was an absolute stunner.  I’d love to try more from this run but odds get slimmer each year of that happening.

Sadly, though, they can’t all be immaculate.  The spirit that was filled into these sherry butts would have likely been from the same distillation run, but being bottled as single cask releases means that the distiller is at the mercy of the wood.  And sometimes…that wood is not completely free of blemish.

Cask #718 is just such a one.  I’m not sure if it is over-cooked (too long in the cask) or simply had a bit of a dud home for its 38 years in the warehouse.  Either way, what we end up with is a good whisky that should have been great.  When you’re spending these kinda dollars (or pounds…or euro…or what have you) and buying a 38 year old whisky…’good’ sometimes isn’t good enough.

Make no mistake, however, I did enjoy this one.  A couple of off-kilter notes throw it far enough off course to not live up to its siblings, but still delight in its own ways.  The expected tropicalia is still present, but honestly…this one is right on the edge.  Maybe just toppling over.  Good thing it was pulled and bottled when it was. 

Nose:  Caramel.  Black current.  Some rather surpising meaty notes.  Putty.  Almost an egg-ish note.  Kinda sharp and bitter.  Still some tropical fruit notes, mango in particular.  Quite some grapefruit.  There is a definite ‘off’ note in here though, that throws everything out of wack.

Palate:  That ‘off’ note carries through to the palate as well.  Kinda like a black current cough drop meets egg.  (WTF?!)  Plum and some bold-stroke grapefruit.  Bitter chocolate and coffee.  Quite tart.

Something odd with this one.  Fortunately, it is anomalous.  The others I’ve tasted in this run of casks (low #700s)  have been brilliant. 


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt