Category Archives: Maltmonster’s Lair




Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious whiskies of forgotten lore,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my liquor cabinet door.

“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my liquor cabinet door

Only this, the famous Black Bowmore.”



To honor the famous Black Bowmore we gathered together again, the infamous gang of four, to taste this thing of lore.

Some of us have tried the Black Bowmore, along with the White Bowmore and the Gold Bowmore, but never have any of us tried all three together in a vertical tasting.  We also had a chance, due to one generous sole in our infamous gang of four, to try some older, and equally as good, Bowmore.

So on a wet and dreary night in June we banded together to taste and ponder a few Bowmore and nothing more…



NOSE: Oranges and burnt toast.  Marzipan.  Fudge.

TASTE: Peat.  Little fruit.  Briny and creamy.

FINISH: Medium to long.

ASSESSMENT: Great expression of a younger Bowmore that was outstanding.  Only wish the younger Bowmore of today could be as good.



NOSE: Big old fat juicy peach.  Strawberries and Cherries.  Honey.

TASTE: Peach & cream in harmony.  Buttery.  Little mint.

FINISH: Medium.  Wee bit a salt at the very end.

ASSESSMENT: Little peat or brine at this age.



NOSE: Light tropical fruit.  Coffee and dark chocolate.  Bit floral.

TASTE: Toffee.  Licorice.  Infused dark fruits.  Pomegranates.

FINISH: Medium to long.  Fades away nicely.

ASSESSMENT: Rich and complex drink.



NOSE: Tropical fruit, but less than the 25.  Oranges, cherries, melons and apples.  Oaky and maybe a bit of charcoal.

TASTE: Cherries and sherry cask imparted spice.  Marzipan.  Mint and dark chocolate.

FINISH: Medium to long.  Brine arrives at the end.

ASSESSMENT: What a great bottle and great expression of a fruity Bowmore.  I remember they had a hard time selling these for less than $200 in Calgary back in 2002, If I had only bought more.


34 YEAR OLD 1971 51% ABV  BOTTLE # 761 OF 960

NOSE: Earthy.  Coffee beans.  Tobacco and dark chocolate.

TASTE: Nutmeg.  Spicy sherry notes.

FINISH: Medium to long.

ASSESSMENT: Probably mixed one bad cask with a good one or two to hide it.


37 YEAR OLD  1968 43.3% ABV  BOTTLE # 683 OF 708

NOSE: Tropical fruit explosion!  Grapefruit & orange.  Minty sweet Bourbon.

TASTE: Again you get pleasantly assaulted by the tropical fruit.  Bananas.  Little spice and Briny.

FINISH: Long.  Absolutely no peat.  Fades nicely with a little salt at the end.

ASSESSMENT: Nose is in the Black Bowmore range.  Incredible whisky, was not prepared for how good this was.


42 YEAR OLD 1964 40.5% ABV  BOTTLE # 668 OF 827 BLACK BOWMORE

NOSE: Fruit bomb!  If you can think of the fruit, you can find it in this five alive fruit cocktail.  Milk chocolate.  Coffee bean.
Minty and little vanilla.

TASTE: Oranges & cherries.  Dark chocolate.  Licorice.

FINISH: Long and fades nicely with the memory of the nose.

ASSESSMENT: They state it was a vatting of Oloroso casks from 1964, but methinks that there is a possibility that maybe a bourbon cask was dumped into the sherry cask, as there is some sweet hints of vanilla.  The wow factor maybe in order here. What a nose.  This whisky could bring any rum child to instant conversion into a whisky man or woman.



NOSE: Tropical fruits, but much more subtle.  Floral.  Winey notes.  Little oaky.

TASTE: Overwhelming amount of fruits.  Vanilla.  Oaky and dry.

FINISH: Long.  Very smooth and enjoyable.

ASSESSMENT: Past its prime.  Would have been better to bottle this a few years earlier.


44 YEAR OLD 1964 42.4% ABV BOTTLE # 156 OF 701 GOLD BOWMORE ,

NOSE: Melons, cherries and oranges.  Vanilla.  Touch of smoke.

TASTE: Complex.  Nutmeg and sharp ginger.

FINISH: Medium to long.  Brine shows up at the very end.

ASSESSMENT: Rich full nose.  The most balanced of the three (Black, White and Gold) releases.


The number one rated whisky of the night was the Black Bowmore, the second (was also the first choice of some of the gang) was the 37 year old from 1968, followed by the Gold, then the White and 30 year old.

I know the Black Bowmore was meant to be drank, but I can’t help feeling sad, that once the cork is open you are obligated to finish the bottle within a reasonable period of time, and after this bottle is drained of its contents, the Black Bowmore shall be Nevermore …………….. (Good thing we have a spare bottle)


– Nothing More, Maltmonster

Glenrothes: A Tasting Through The Seventies



Two from 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978, Three from 1979 and John Ramsay (73-87)


1969 saw the zenith of man’s achievements in Apollo 11, Whisky and Woodstock.  Enter the seventies.  Whisky is booming and single malts are starting to become popular, but great rock stars like Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix are removed from the collective genius that is rock.  Whisky and Rock are still at the top but ,like a foreign species invasion, disco and rum are emerging in the void created by the passing of rock superstars and the break up of so many great rock bands.

An Irish political philosopher, Edmund Burke, said it best with this variant quote “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil rum is that good whisky makers do nothing”.  Fortunately distilleries like Glenrothes continued to produce fantastic whiskies throughout the seventies.  This foresight by Glenrothes to continue the production of great whiskies allowed rock music to once again flourish into the eighties and undo the devolution which was the stain of the late seventies caused by the intoxicated rum driven disco craze.

To honor Glenrothes for their contribution towards the demise of disco the ‘gang of four’, named after a failed attempt to take control of Diageo a few years ago, sat down to a tasting of ten seventies Glenrothes malts.  Eight of which were elegant and floral and two sherry bombs.  We found all the malts enjoyable and very similar (excluding the two sherry bombs), but only noted our top four.

1972 Restricted Release November 2, 1972 – March 26, 1996 43% ABV 

NOSE:  Tropical fruit, honey and spice.

TASTE:  Chewy, dark chocolate, hazel nuts.

FINISH:  Medium – long.

ASSESSMENT:  I need you, by me, beside me, because when you’re bad, you’re so so good.  Run away favorite and number one of the night.  Rumor mill – this was removed from Canada because of the levels of carcinogens in the malt. Observation -why is it that every time I like something it’s bad for me?!

1972 Limited Release December 5, 1972 – March 29, 2004 43% ABV Bottle # 05091

NOSE:  Eucalyptus, apples, herbal.

TASTE:  Pears, vanilla and dark chocolate.

FINISH:  Short to Medium.  Bit oily.

ASSESSMENT:  Now it’s all right, it’s ok, just not a good as the other 1972.

1973   March 16, 1973 – July 5, 2000 ABV 43%

NOSE:  Ripe oranges, pears and honey.

TASTE:  Raisins, toffee.  Bit oaky.

FINISH:  Medium.  Very dry.

ASSESSMENT:  Won’t you take me to funky town.  Not in the top four, but has some nice qualities.

30 Year Old Limited Release August 15, 1974 – November 8, 2004 50.2 ABV # 967 of 1134 Bottles

NOSE:  Oranges, cherries and honey.

TASTE:  Citrus, vanilla and almonds.  Malty.

FINISH:  Medium.  Uber elegant

ASSESSMENT:  Oh, that’s the way; uh-huh uh-huh I like it, uh-huh uh- huh.  It really is a wonderful malt and finished in the top four.



1975 Vintage Release August 1975 – April 25, 2006 43 % ABV Bottle # 1581 of 3708 Bottles

NOSE:  Toffee, cherries, honey.

TASTE:  Coffee bean, nutty.

FINISH:  Medium. Very soft.

ASSESSMENT:  Looking for some hot stuff baby this evening.  Just finished out of the top four.

1978 Vintage Release November 3, 1978 – July 1, 2008 43% ABV 

NOSE:  Floral, jammy, cherries and vanilla.

TASTE:  Spicy, apples and marzipan.

FINISH:  Medium.  Soft for the nose and very drinkable.

ASSESSMENT:  There’s a party going on right here.  Finished in the top four.  Could sip this malt all night long.

1979 General Release November 24, 1979 – February 13, 2002 43 % ABV 

NOSE:  Grapefruit, oranges and floral.

TASTE:  Apples, sweet, red liquorice.

FINISH:  Medium to long. Warming and bit dry.

ASSESSMENT:  I love to love you baby.  Used to be one of my favorites when it was released, but fails to make the top four in this range taste.

John Ramsay  Legacy  46.7% ABV   # 1228 of 1400 Bottles Bottled 2009 .Vatted from 2nd fill American oak sherry casks from 1973, 1978 , 1979 , 1982 , 1985 , 1986 , 1987

NOSE:  Floral, ripe sweet oranges, vanilla and a trace of mint.

TASTE:  Grapefruit, nuts, malty.

FINISH:  Medium to long.  Demure and understated.

ASSESSMENT:  If I can’t have you, I don’t want no other baby. This is good stuff, hats off to the mad vatter. Finished second behind the restricted release 1972

1979 Single Cask # 13458 1979 – June 7, 2000 57 % ABV Bottle # 35 of 519 Bottles

NOSE:  Oranges, raisins, mellow spice, cinnamon and little sulfur.

TASTE:  Chewy, cappuccino.  Sticky sweet port.

FINISH:  Long and intense.

ASSESSMENT:  First I was afraid, I was petrified, kept thinking of the sulfur that Jim Murray had testified.  This, in my not so humble opinion, is not a wrecked cask.  Has less sulphur than cask #13459.

1979 Single Cask # 13459 1979 – May 4, 2006 56.6 % ABV # 96 of 492 Bottles

NOSE:  Sharp spice, sulphur, raisins, dark chocolate and bananas.

TASTE:  Robust and chewy.  Liquorice, raspberry jam.

FINISH:  Long.  Warming and very intense.

ASSESSMENT:  Burn baby burn.  Satisfaction came in a chain reaction of chewy spice and all things nice.

– Maltmonster

Springbank In Springbank


1911 – 2011



SPRINGBANK –18 (2009), 18 (2010), 21, 25, 32, 40 SIGNATORY


Legend has it that a Scotsman from Cambeltown, named Willy Hardy, a tarry-fingered lad wanting to escape persecution from the law, after a misunderstanding involving whisky ownership, is responsible for the community name of Springbank in Alberta, Canada.  Rumors told of Willy having a severe case of Kleptomania, and when it got bad he would be forced to take something for it.  Eluding the Scottish law, Willy immigrated to Canada in 1911.  After learning to speak English he settled aboot the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, between Banff and Calgary.  Lonely for his hometown, he decided to name his homestead in Canada ‘Springbank’ after the distillery that gave him so much pleasure and the motivation to move here.

Springbank has flourished since that time and is now a thriving community in which I call home.  To honor the legend of Willy we decided to have a range tasting of Springbank whiskies and celebrate this most important of anniversaries.

SPRINGBANK  18 YEAR OLD    OB    46% ABV.    Release 2009

NOSE: Cotton candy, fruit, cream and mild smoke.

TASTE: Candied apples, cream.

FINISH: Medium to long.

ASSESSMENT: This has been a much anticipated malt, which is to lead us back to the 21year old.  Please Springbank never run out of 21 ever again…or least in my life time.  Rated # 6 of six tasted

SPRINGBANK    18 YEAR OLD    OB    46% ABV.    Release 2010

NOSE: Citrus lemon & lime.  More floral than the first but not as much smoke.

TASTE: Bubblegum, spice and some liquorice.

FINISH: Medium. This finish seems to fade quite quickly.

ASSESSMENT: Not as good as the 2009 release (Don’t make us beat up Peter Currie when next he is in town).  Need to kick it up for the road back to the 21 year old. Rated # 5 of six tasted.

SPRINGBANK    21 YEAR OLD    OB    46% ABV.  Limited to 2,400 Bottles.

NOSE: Brown sugar, all fruits, cinnamon, milk chocolate.  Tender smoke.

TASTE: Citrus, mangos, cloves and other spices.

FINISH: Rich and warming, long, lip smacking.

ASSESSMENT: The royal flush of single malts.  Very complex and balanced.  This is the reason I drink single malts and not that cane juice.  Rated #1 of six tasted.


NOSE: Citrus fruits, vanilla and more than a little oaky.

TASTE: Nutmeg and raisins.

FINISH: Medium to long and fades nicely.

ASSESSMENT: Bit of a let down after the 21, not as complex but is still a great malt. Rated # 4 of six tasted.


NOSE: Very sharp varnish note dominates the nose.  After working this one we find coconut, lavender.

TASTE: Sweet, whip cream, fruits and little oily.

FINISH: Medium to long, lightly warming.

ASSESSMENT: The taste in this case is better than the nose but is still a very exceptional malt.  Rated #3 of six tasted.

SPRINGBANK (Signatory) 40 YEAR OLD     54.4% ABV.    1969 – 2009,

Single Sherry butt, cask # 263    356 Bottles.

NOSE: Exotic fruits, coconut, spice and all things nice.

TASTE: Burnt sugar, fruit explosion.

FINISH: Rich and warm.  Long and lingering.

ASSESSMENT: You really can find all the fruits in this malt.  Age has mellowed and enriched this whisky nicely.  Rating #2 of six tasted.

SPRINGBANK – LONGROW   18 YEAR OLD    OB    46% ABV.    2008 Release    Limited to 2,280 Bottles

NOSE: Infused smoke, apples and pears, caramel.

TASTE: Pepper, raisins, cigar humidor, liquorice.

FINISH: Long and zesty.

ASSESSMENT: Not rating this one with the other Springbanks as this needs to be rated against other Longrow or other peated malts.  Is another great product from the stills of Springbank.  Great to drink now, can’t wait until this hits 21 years as well.

– Maltmonster


“All of life is a dispute over taste and tasting” (Nietzsche)

Irish Reparation


Breaking news today from a Hollywood insider that Michael Moore may be buying the screen rights to a story on the Irish claim to Auchentoshan.  This unnamed Hollywood insider is quoted as saying “this is a story that will rock the very foundations of the Scottish Whisky Association”.

It’s been long suspected that Auchentoshan and surrounding area were part of Ireland and, in fact, still are.  It’s also been said that the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) has had a history of bullying, suppression, possible buggery and much more (Glen Breton as example).  Other non-credible unnamed sources have clearly stated that Dan Brown may be considering writing this sure-to-be-best-selling novel.

To back up the Irish claim to the distillery, the following are the facts and they are undisputed:

1)      500 AD  Irish Missionaries return from the Mediterranean region with the knowledge of distillation.

2)      590-600 AD  An Irish monk named Mirren, now referred to as Saint Mirren, founded a religious order on the future site of Paisley Abbey very near Auchentoshan.  His mission was to save and educate the Scottish heathens in the ways of life and double distillation.

3)      1245 AD  The Irish Priory on the site of an old Celtic church founded by Saint Mirren was upgraded to an Abbey, which it remains to this day, the Paisley Abbey.

4)      1516 AD  Paisley Abbey, to increase revenues, allows the land where Auchentoshan stands today to be used for unlicensed double distilling.  The Irish still retain the secret of triple distillation.

5)      March 17, 1817 AD  John Bullock & Co. takes control of the land and in 1823 builds a licensed distillery named Duntocher.  Duntocher translated (Dun / Tair) from Irish Gaeilge to English means closed fort of the wretched, or prison.  Convicted Irish Criminals, called Cons, were conscripted from a town named Leap in County Cork.  These short-statured people were referred to as ‘the Cons from Leap’, or simply as ‘Leaprecons’.   These Leaprecons, with exceptional long life spans (due to drinking triple distilled whisky) and knowledge of the secret art of triple distillation, were forced to work in the production of whisky.

6)      1830 AD  A group of Scottish distillers form with a mandate to; control whisky production, learn the secret art of triple distillation and move the Irish out.  This group would later be called SWA.  This dark period in time is called the ‘Great Purge’.

7)      Friday June 13, 1834 AD  John Bullock & Co., under great pressure from the SWA, was forced to dispose of the Duntocher Distillery to Alexander Filshie, a member of the SWA.  The Irish prisoners are dealt with and the Distillery is quickly renamed Auchentoshan.  Auchentoshan translated (Acht / Tost / Am) from Irish Gaeilge to English means ‘the act of silence over time’.  Most Leaprecons buried their valuables and fled for their lives.  Rumors say that what few Leaprecons survived the time of the great purge ended up in Campbeltown, captured and forced by the locals to apply their secret art of triple distillation at Springbank.

8)      1940 AD  A team of archeologists digging in the corner of the field at Auchentoshan uncover metal pots containing very valuable items, some say treasure.  Before the removal process could begin the site was supposedly bombed by the German Luftwaffe.  No witnesses can testify to this event, other than hearing loud explosions at night and seeing what could have been SWA employees leaving town.  The site of this archeological dig is now under water and serves as the cooling plant for the Distillery.

9)      2008 AD  The distillery sold a three sided water container with the word ‘distillation’ on all three sides misspelled with the word ‘distellation’.  As we all know, Latin was the preferred language of the Irish monks, and ‘distell’ in Latin means to tell god.  We understand the author of the misspelled word may work at the Abbey and may be trying to right the injustice done to the Leaprecons and bring to light the possible bad deeds of the SWA.

As a testament to the fallen Leaprecons, we honor them on Saint Patrick’s Day with a tasting of four different expressions of (Irish) Auchentoshan.

A couple o' fine ol' Auchentoshans


50 YEAR OLD APRIL 15, 1957 – JULY 17, 2007 49.1 % ABV BOTTLE # 45 OF 144

132 GALLONS OF NEW SPIRIT FILLED AT 68 % ABV IN AN OLOROSO CASK #480 AND MATURED IN WAREHOUSE NUMBER THREE (thank you to Andrew Ferguson at KWM for the wee sample)

NOSE:  Floral.   Marzipan, slight hint of cheese and raisins.

TASTE:  Chewy butterscotch, oranges and pecans.

FINISH:  Medium.  Tart and lingering.

ASSESSMENT:  Its ok…but for fifty it’s just not nifty.  Sure the old who are not strong do not whither, but they don’t taste any better.


50 YEAR OLD APRIL 15, 1957 – DECEMBER 12, 2007 46.8 % ABV BOTTLE # 157 OF 171

132 GALLONS OF NEW SPIRIT FILLED AT 68 % ABV IN AN OLOROSO CASK #479 AND MATURED IN WAREHOUSE NUMBER THREE (thank you to Andrew Ferguson at KWM for the ample sample)

NOSE:  Toffee and eucalyptus are battling it out at the start, giving way to cherries and some ripe oranges.

TASTE:  Little tart at the beginning then it totally transforms to creamy butterscotch.  WOW!  Chocolate, melons, citrus fruits and a little black liquorice.

FINISH:  long and warming at the end.

ASSESSMENT:  Much lighter in color than cask # 480 .Taste this, and be henceforth among the gods thyself, (Thanks Milton) it’s that good

Auchentoshan 1976



NOSE:  Toffee, honeydew melon, cherries and menthol.

TASTE:  Butterscotch overload.  Chocolate and marmalade jam.

FINISH:  Medium to long.

ASSESSMENT:  What an outstanding cask. The light triple distilled spirits pick up almost a sherry type influence from the wood interaction. Was told back in 2006 that they only purchased half the cask. Hard to believe they still have some bottles left in 2011.

Auchentoshan 1978



NOSE:  Kentucky bourbon sweet.  Bit of varnish, cherries and oranges.

TASTE:  Spice, almonds and oily buttery notes at the back end.

FINISH:  Medium.  Drying.

ASSESSMENT:  This really has a new bourbon favor to it.  Let the Bourbon take hold and find yourself floating like a leaf down the Cahulawassee River whilst the genetically compromised hill people gently serenade you with Banjo music from the surrounding hills.


What does the world want as reparation?  Well…first they want the Scottish Whisky Association to formally thank the Irish for sharing and teaching them the art of distillation.  Second…they want a formal apology to Glen Breton for taking them to court and wasting their valuable time and money.  Lastly…we would have the use of the Diageo (Head of the SWA) corporate jet for a week to allow the ATW Associates & Friends to visit Scotland and pay homage to the fallen Leaprecons.




          – Maltmonster

The Subversive’s Guide To Sherry Bomb Defusing & Disposal

–  BOMB –


It occurred to me while on page 124,754 of my personal manifesto that the world would be a better place if more people were disposing of bombs.  It was Che Guevara that said “Deje el mundo cambiarle y usted puede cambiar mundo”, which has inspired me through my experiences to help change the world for the better.

There are two schools of thought on defusing a sherry bomb.  The old school approach is to cut the foil around the bottle between the neck and the cork, which would allow you to remove the foil around the cork and leave the foil on the bottle.  The down side to this is you can cut your finger slicing around the neck.

The approach I like is to take the knife and cut up the side of the bottle, away from your body and remove the foil from both the bottle and the cork.  This will allow you to see the cork and see if there are any problems occurring.  Also for the benefit of the rum drinkers out there you won’t cut your lip swilling from the bottle using this method.

As for bomb disposal, I think the phrase “many hands or mouths make light work” would apply here.  So gather your friends, pour a large dram, repeat your favorite toast  (“I drink to your health when I’m with you, I drink to your health when I’m alone, I drink to your health so often, I’m starting to worry about my own!”)  and do a world of good and start disposing.

Tullibardine 1966

August, 2008.  49.9% ABV.  Cask # 3509.  Bottle 29 of 246.  Bottled for WP – Calgary.

NOSE:  Toffee, raisins and chocolate.

TASTE:  Very silky, not the usually spice parade.  Stewed fruits, maybe a bit jammy and some sweet port.

FINISH:  Very smooth and long.

ASSESSMENT:  Not a hint of sulfur and quite mellow for an older sherry cask. Very different from the 1966 world edition which had way more spice

1966 Tullibardine

Longmorn 1973

April 30, 1973 – May 26, 2006.  Bottled by Gordon & MacPhail.  54 % ABV.  Cask # 3650.

NOSE:  Coffee, sweet notes and some subtle fruit.

TASTE:  Apples and oranges.  Fruit cake with a little cinnamon and some marzipan.

FINISH:  Long and heavy.  Warming at the end.

ASSESSMENT:  Bam, green eggs and ham…this is a great first fill sherry bomb.  Right in the middle between the silky Tullibarine and the spicy Glenrothes.

G&M Longmorn 1973

Glenrothes 1979

1979 – 2006  56.6 % ABV  Cask # 13459 bottle # 246 of 492

NOSE:  Sharp hot spice, and yes some sulphur notes in the mix.  Raisins and dark chocolate with some bananas at the back end.

TASTE:  Robust and chewy.  Liquorice, raspberry jam.

FINISH:  Intense to say the least.  Long and warming.

ASSESSMENT:  First things first,rant…get rid of the packaging (not the bottles, love the holy hand grenade thing): heavy, sharp wood edges; bottles fall out; hard to store; almost impossible to get out of the cardboard box.  I mean really…who designed this?  Some rum lover or a single malt sadist?

This is a single glass per night after dinner drink.  Maybe a little long in the cask but still good…but you need to love scary sherry to drink this.

Glenrothes 1979

Two Sherried Calgary Exclusives From Springbank and Bruichladdich

Malmonster weighs in on two drams exclusive to the Calgary market (or as far as can be muled or shipped).  Great whisky at great shops.  I would recommend moving quickly if you hope to get your hands on these.





Two exclusive Manzanilla Sherry cask 12 year old single malt Scotch whisky bottlings for * (CCCUFS) Calgary from Springbank & Bruichladdich.

A little background for the benefit of the great unwashed.  Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes in Spain. Fino is variety of Sherry that is very dry and pale as a Canadian after a long winter.  Manzanilla is a very light variety of the Fino Sherry.  Quality used Manzanilla Sherry casks are something that the accountants weep over because of the price.  Accounts are not well loved by most master distillers.

The contender Tommy Dreamer aka “Pretty Boy” for SPRINGBANK

Distilled 1996 – Bottled 2008 56.4% ABV Cask # 258 Manzanilla 12 Year old.  Limited to 594 bottles.  Bottled exclusively for Kensington Wine Market in Calgary.

NOSE:  Burnt sugar, spicy Partagas cigar, nutmeg.

TASTE:  Chewy vibrant spice, chocolate cake, almonds.

FINISH:  Long and warm, but very smooooooth.

ASSESSMENT:  Great stuff.  The people that helped choose this cask did a great job and should be consulted for any future cask selection.

Kensington's 1996 Springbank

The upstart Fit Finlay aka “The Belfast Bruiser” for BRUICHLADDICH

Distilled 1998 – Bottled 2010 55.8% ABV Manzanilla cask.  Limited to 240 bottles.  Bottled exclusively for Willow Park Wines & Spirits Calgary

NOSE:  Banana custard, chocolate fudge, honey.  There is way more here than I have described, may need some help on this one.

TASTE:  Creamy cappuccino, marzipan, orange peel.

FINISH:  Long and sensuous.

ASSESSMENT:  This will set your heart a-bubblin, on the rocky road to Dublin.  One of the best and most interesting sherry casks I’ve tasted from Bruichladdich.

Willow Park's Bruichladdich

* CCUFS: Calgary Current Center of the Universe For Scotch

          – MM

Bruichladdich – Redder Still / Blacker Still / Golder Still


           Tasting of a series of three one off bottlings from Bruichladdich;  Blacker Still / Redder Still / Golder Still



Well in this case the opaque colored glass vessels might hint at the liquid contained inside, but the greater depth of this product is what’s hidden inside.  The radically different favors of each bottle share little in common with one another other than they all were born of the Bruichladdich stills.


20 YEARS OLD   1986-2006   50.7% ABV.   Limited To 2840 Bottles, Matured in Sherry casks.

NOSE:  Burnt caramel, raisins and ham.  Light smoke

TASTE:  Both tart and sweet.  Spice, chocolate.  Chewy for sure

FINISH:  Intense at first then fades quickly.  Medium to long

COLOUR:  Deep mahogany

ASSESSMENT:  I’m a sucker for scary Sherry, but this Sherry is more aggressive than a Christian Bale Rant. Not the Black Bowmore as someone suggested to me, but is still very good.




22 YEARS OLD   1984-2007    50.4% ABV.  Limited to 4080 Bottles, Matured in first fill bourbon casks and finished in Chateau Lafleur Pomerol Bordeaux casks.

NOSE:  Refreshing fragrant, marshmallow and creamy honey

TASTE:  Vibrant oranges.  Mulled wine.  Tad chalky

FINISH:  Long and gets more intense and warming at the end

COLOUR:  Copper amber

ASSESSMENT:  This has more wine than what was heard from Paris Hilton in jail.  Almost needed to break out the cheese for this dram.  Was a favorite of one of my neighbors who doesn’t normally like whisky.  All in all this whisky is a great example of wine finishing.


23 YEARS OLD   1984-2008   51.0% ABV.  Limited to 4866 Bottles, matured in unusual rare squat bourbon hogsheads casks allowing more contact between whisky and wood.

NOSE:  Rich malt.  Apples and raisins.  Whiff of smoke

TASTE:  Oaky at first giving way to gentle cream.  Soft fruits

FINISH:  Medium plus a little more

COLOUR:  Straw gold

ASSESSMENT:   This works as well as Tom Hanks in the movie ‘Joe Versus The Volcano’, defies description.  One for the book of “easier to ask for forgiveness”.

I still think the common denominator with the three releases is that Bruichladdich is still trying, and is still leading the industry with new still and old still made whisky products.  So as long they are still producing, they can still count on me to be still buying their product.  Still I ponder in the still of the night what Bruichladdich meant when they named these three releases something still other than they were made from a still by a still-person or maybe they meant that they were excited to still be in business with all the big money players still out there.

– Maltmonster

Tale Of Two 25 Year Old Laphroaigs

Shouldn’t 25 year old siblings taste the same?  After all they were born and raised ( we hope ) on Islay.  They both share Spanish and American heritage.  They both have a yellow gold hue appearance, round bodies and have the same smokey nose .

The nature vs. nurture debate is one of the oldest issues in Whisky (the other is did the Irish invent Whiskey).  The debate centers on the contributions of materials (Nature) such as cereals, yeasts, wood and Production Methods (nurture) such as cut, still variation, storage methods.

Well let’s taste them and see what we can discern about these two 25 year old siblings.


NOSE: Aged smoke, winey, almonds and soft apples & pears

TASTE: Sweet ripe nectarines.  Raisins

FINISH: Medium and a bit more

ASSESSMENT: Nice Laphroaig even without the big robust smoke.  Could use with a little more % of alcohol

Laphroaig at 25 years.


NOSE: Lively smoke but more medicinal than the 40 %.  Light bubble-gum and pears

TASTE: Smooth sweet tropical fruit.  Creamy caramel.  Stunning

FINISH:  long. A little harsh in the middle then warm at the end

ASSESSMENT: Liked the taste far better than the nose.  Nice dram

Although they shared many similar traits, they really tasted different. Was it the wood influence (first / second / third fill casks)? Maybe the blender vatted older Laphroaig with the 25 year old casks or more bourbon casks in one. Maybe one was matured on Islay and one was matured on the mainland.

I say vive la difference.  Without some difference by unknown factors or change in the process our endless quest to find the perfect dram would cease. After all it’s all about the journey.


Port Ellen

Port Ellen.

The Holy Grail of Islay Malt for many.  The Port Ellen distillery was mothballed in 1983, and subsequently demolished.  The site is still home to the maltings (which supply malt to all of the Islay disilleries), but sadly the whisky that was produced prior to 1983 is all there will ever be.  These whiskies, especially the cask-strength Diageo bottlings, are highly sought after, collectable and obviously quite drinkable.

Our own incomparable Maltmonster, generous of time and spirit (both the drinkable kind and the inner sort), offered to supply some insider details from a little tasting he and a couple others put together.  I know envy is one of the seven deadly sins, but hey…may as well tack it on the list I’m already chaulking up.

Here is how it all came together.  I know of no other comprehensive review of all PEs like this, so my sincerest thanks to MM and the poor souls who got dragged along on this ride.  Withour further ado…




May contain scenes that rum drinkers find offensive. Intended for a malt audience only

May also contain content or scenes of debauchery, alcohol consumption and bad humor

Diageo’s Port Ellen 1 through 9.

Playing the Lennon / McCartney song Revolution 9 backwards it became suddenly clear that Charles Manson had it all wrong .The message that the Beatles were sending was to drink Trop Nelle and the number nine used repeatedly through the song meant consume nine different bottles

After convincing my friends of the true meaning of the message we undertook a grail like quest to acquire the needed malt. We a small but determine group of Diageo bashing Port Ellen loving maltsters managed to buy the 5th, 6th , 8th  and 9th release locally. The 7th release was acquired from New York .The 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th releases were acquired out of the wilds of Scotland.

So on a cold and snowy night in December we gathered together again, the infamous gang of four. Named after our failed attempt to take over control of Diageo in 2008. We now know which seemed to be obvious to others that owning whisky is not considered the type of stock that entitles you to vote at share holders meetings

The bottles are listed from one to nine, but tasted from nine to one as we felt that the older ones would have less of a peat influence on our nose and palates. We rated the PE as we drank them, comparing to the previous drams and so on. So at the bottom of each of the tasting notes is the combined average rating of the gang of four (1 being the best and 9 being the least favorite of the night) any ties were broken by the Maltmonsters vote

Heaven is indeed a place on earth.

Port Ellen # 1 Annual Release 1979 – 2001 22 Years Old 56.2 % ABV. Limited 6,000 Bottles

NOSE: Soft apple, musty and mild smoke

TASTE: Bubble gum, sweet, liquorice

FINISH: Long and lingering a little oaky at the end

ASSESSMENT: Good all around expression of PE. Good depth


Port Ellen # 2 Annual Release 1978 – 2002 24 Years Old 59.35 % ABV. Limited 12,000 Bottles

NOSE: Candied apples, iodine and tar

TASTE: Sweet and at bit winey with some milk chocolate

FINISH: Very long, a bit salty at the end

ASSESSMENT: The most intense creosote like of the group. Very robust


Port Ellen # 3 Annual Release 1979 – 2003 24 Years Old 57.3 % ABV. Limited 9,000 Bottles

NOSE: Fresh fruit, cut grass and little iodine

TASTE: Sweet, chewy and salty almost briney

FINISH: Medium to long

ASSESSMENT: Not an unpleasant expression just lacks some refinement


Port Ellen # 4 Annual Release 1978 – 2004 25 Years Old 56.2 % ABV. Limited 5,100 Bottles

NOSE: Sweet succulent oranges. Citrus delight. Fresh lawn clippings. Beautiful smoke

TASTE: Ripe fruit. Liquorice root and velvet smooth

FINISH: Long, lingering and warm

ASSESSMENT: I like this one a lot. Well balanced and complex


Port Ellen # 5 Annual Release 1979 – 2005 25 Years Old 57.4 % ABV. Limited 5,280 Bottles

NOSE: Floral, lavender, apples and pears. Subtle smoke

TASTE: Sweet, infused lemon .Vibrant on the tongue

FINISH: Long finish. Starts dry and ends up sweet. Little oaky

ASSESSMENT: The most balanced of the PE tasted. Refreshing to drink .Stunning


Port Ellen # 6 Annual Release 1978 – 2006 27 Years Old 54.2 % ABV. Limited 4,560 Bottles

NOSE: Floor polish, fishy and citrus notes

TASTE: Black liquorice, earthy

FINISH: Medium to long

ASSESSMENT: A little dull and plain . To astringent.


Port Ellen # 7 Annual Release 1979 – 2007 28 Years Old 53.8 % ABV. Limited 5,274 Bottles

NOSE: Cloves, lemon and sea-weed

TASTE: Honey to salty all in one waive

FINISH: Short to medium

ASSESSMENT: The taste really died on the vine. The least complex of the bunch


Port Ellen # 8 Annual Release 1978 – 2008 29 Years Old 55.3 % ABV. Limited 6,618 Bottles

NOSE: Lemon, nutty, bit of sulphur and a little oily

TASTE: Cinnamon, milk chocolate and pepper

FINISH: Very long and ending bone dry

ASSESSMENT: Have tasted this one numerous times and enjoyed each time .Seems not a favorite of the writers but this crews loves it. Well rounded and multilayered


Port Ellen # 9 Annual Release 1979 – 2009 30 Years Old 57.7 % ABV. Limited 5,916 Bottles

NOSE: Eucalyptus, floral, spruce needles

TASTE: sweet, light smoke early

FINISH: Medium to long

ASSESSMENT: The most elegant of the nine tried. Very pleasant malt to drink


Special thanks to the members of the gang of four for making this tasting happen (Extra special thanks to the unnamed person that supplied most of the malt). We will be having a do over once we located and secured a bottle of the 10th release.

Port Ellen 1 through 9.

“Just remember age doesn’t always bring wisdom, sometimes age comes alone.”

Thanks, MM.

A Run At The Irish

Maltmonster sat down to a trio of young beauties a few nights back and graciously offered up his take on a few of Ireland’s underappreciated gems.  Buckle up…



It’s been said that whiskey was invented so the Irish wouldn’t rule the world, but who would want to live in a world without whiskey.  After all good health is merely the slowest rate at which one can die!

Knowing that I will never rule the world, I picked out three of my current favorite Irish whiskies for review.


EARTHBushmills 16 Year old, 40% ABV.  This is a single malt with a three wood influence; Bourbon, Oloroso and Port (A conscience does not prevent sin, it only prevents from enjoying it.).

Nose – Coco / coffee, raisins and almonds

Taste – Delicate sweetness, burnt toffee                        

Finish – Medium to long. Elegant

Assessment – First Irish malt whiskey I fell in love with. Always recommend this to others.


WATERRed Breast 12 Year old, 40 % ABV. Blended whiskey (A narrow neck keeps the bottle from being emptied in one swig.).

Nose – Apples, pears and succulent strawberries. Floral

Taste – Creamy vanilla. Complex and little spicy

Finish – Medium. Very balanced

Assessment – This is my 2nd favorite Irish blend. Good value considering the price is around $40-$50.


FIREJameson 2007 Rarest Vintage Reserve, 46 % ABV. Blended whiskey with older grain (23-24 years old) and malted and unmalted barley matured in bourbon and port casks (Lead me not into temptation as I can usually find it by myself.).

Nose – Sublime citrus notes, marshmallows. Fragrant

Taste – Layered cake. Elegant wine .Silky smooth.

Finish – Medium to long. . Brilliant stuff. Hats off to the blender on this one.

Assessment – Best Jameson I’ve ever had. Bit pricey, but worth it if you can afford it.