Monthly Archives: February 2016

Tamdhu 1989 (Carn Mor c.23-year-old)

Bought: Nickolls & Perks, 22nd January 2016

85/100 – Whiskybase (average from 5 member votes)

This Tamdhu is part of the 24 x 20cl bottles that make up the Carn Mor Vintage Collection. Distilled in 1989 and bottled in 2012, it’s from a limited edition of 480, Cask No: 8149. Non-chill filtered, no added colour and 46%, so the makings of something very delightful!

Tamdhu is almost the quintessential easy-drinker with a light body and malty sweetness. It’s a key component of blends like J&B, Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse but in 2010 the owners, Edrington’s, deemed the distillery surplus to requirements and closed it down. In 2011 Tamdhu was bought by Ian Macleod Distillers and re-commissioned in 2012. They have a good-looking new website and an online shop where you can buy their sleek-styled bottles of 10yo, Batch Strength and Limited Edition 10yo.

Getting back to my quarter bottle, a score of 85/100 on Whiskybase is fantastic and one voter has kindly left these tasting notes:

Nose: Apple, almond, caramel, apricot, tangerine peel and vanilla. It does have a sharp peppery edge to it.
Taste: Almond, apple, caramel, tangerine, vanilla and a little smoke.
Finish: Almond, red apple and caramel.
Comments: Not as creamy as I know Tamdhu. I would have guessed it to be younger as well.

Tamdhu 1989 Carn Mor 20cl


North of Scotland 1973 38-year-old

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 20th January 2016

94.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
84/100 – Whiskybase (average from 2 member votes)

‘North of Scotland’ was a grain distillery that opened in 1958, closed in 1980 and was dismantled in 1993. It was originally called Strathmore, which you have to admit is a lot nicer sounding than ‘North of Scotland’. Whoever changed its name must have failed their geography O-grade because the distillery was in Cambus, near Stirling, considerably closer to the lowlands than say Shetland, Orkney, or Inverness. which are properly in the north. It’s amazing that the distillery stayed open until 1980 because the staff must have been going to the wrong place!

It goes without saying that bottles from a distillery closed in 1980 are getting rarer and rarer, which makes it more collectable but also an interesting curiosity to drink. Is it any good? Thankfully my example is one of only two bottles listed in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2016. Scoring 94.5/100 classifies this dram as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live”. Mr Murray’s entire review consists of “fascinating how some grains, like the Cambus, head in a Canadian style of direction, while this is pure Kentucky. And superb Kentucky at that.”

84/100 on Whiskybase is from two votes so far but one voter’s scoring system considers 80 as ‘very nearly excellent’. Their review includes the tasting notes of “the very distinctive nose yields intense jelly beans, caramel and coconut. The full, fruity sweetness carries over from nose to palate, with a Bourbon-like note and bold cinnamon. Softly drying in the very long finish, with nutmeg and chilli.” Sounds delicious!

North of Scotland 1973 38yo 70cl

Glendullan 13-year-old

Bought: The Whisky Shop, 18th January 2016

80/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)

Glendullan distillery is nothing if not a survivor. It began life in 1897 and almost immediately was hit by the post-Victorian slump in the whisky industry. It survived and kept going to this day through various hard times. What is Glendullan’s secret? In a cutthroat industry I can only assume it’s because the facilities at the distillery are exceptionally good at producing consistent and high-quality whisky. Owned by Diageo, Glendullan is a key component for blending and is found in Old Parr, Johnnie Walker, Bell’s and Dewar’s.

Designed for blending and being an excellent single malt don’t always go hand-in-hand but it seems that Glendullan could be one of the rare gems that’s good at both. There are only 5 Glendullan single malts listed in the Whisky Bible 2016, 4 score 87/100 or above (2 in the 90s) with only one scoring a lowly 73/100 (the ‘Singleton of Glendullan Library’). As I look through the 140+ bottles of Glendullan listed on Whiskybase, most average in the 80s-90s out of 100.

This is my second whisky by independent bottler ‘Douglas of Drumlanrig’ who have a nice habit of keeping things un-chill filtered, natural colour and at least 46%. Details on the bottle say:

Nose: flowers, vanilla, orchard fruits on a wet day

Palate: slightly peppery, dark chocolate, hazelnuts

Finish: long and dry, a nutty aftertaste

Although there were only 411 bottles produced of this delightful Speysider, it’s unlikely to make much money as a collector’s item unless the distillery closes down (this seems unlikely but you never know – anyone got a match?). Glendullan is rather too obscure to have many avid followers so it’s more for the drinking pleasure of something different than a long-term investment.

Glendullan 13yo 70cl

Glenburgie 1988 (Carn Mor c.21-year-old)

Bought: Morrison & Mackay, 13th January 2016

83.67/100 – Whiskybase (average from 5 member votes)

This Glenburgie is part of the 24 x 20cl bottles that make up the Carn Mor Vintage Collection. Distilled in 1988 and bottled in 2009, it’s from a limited edition of 1236, Cask No: 9695. Non-chill filtered, no added colour and 46%, so the makings of something very pleasant! With a score of nearly 84/100 on Whiskybase from 5 member votes, you’ve got to think this Speyside is a lovely dram.

I’ve currently got 21 of the 24 years that make up the Carn Mor Vintage Collection. Unfortunately the 3 years I have left are some of the earliest ones, 1983, 1985 and 1986. Some years had duplicates, which I can only assume was because they ran out and the bottler (‘The Scottish Liqueur Centre’ as it was then) decided to release another expression. Sadly the bottles haven’t been produced for several years and rarely appear at auction. It may be a long time before I complete my set of 24.

Glenburgie 1988 Carn Mor 20cl

Tomatin 1987 (Carn Mor c.24-year-old)

Bought: Morrison & Mackay, 13th January 2016

82.75/100 – Whiskybase (average from 6 member votes)

This Tomatin is part of the 24 x 20cl bottles that make up the Carn Mor Vintage Collection. Distilled in 1987 and bottled in 2011, it’s from a limited edition of 960, Cask No: 494. Non-chill filtered, no added colour and 46%, so the makings of something very delightful! Certainly the 6 members who rate it on Whiskybase think so because nearly 83/100 is a very good score.

Thankfully several Whiskybase voters have left their thoughts about this single malt, which include “not bad as a Sunday afternoon drink but this whisky could better be used for a blend”, “faint summer (berries) and orchard (cooking apples) fruits, alongside cereal notes, mingle with raw spirit and a hint of cardboard. Fiery and unrefined on the palate, even after the addition of water. Medium-length finish, with a bit too much bitterness. If tasted blind I would never have put this as a 20+yo malt!” and “the palate is complex, with notes of white fruit, baking spice, dried herbs, and a lingering sense of weed. Every time I have a dram I am transported to an Amsterdam coffee shop in off hours.” With a summary of “I like it very much”.

Weed? Seriously? I can’t say it’s a smell I’m familiar with but it goes to show how different people find different things depending on their experiences. This Tomatin is at least 23 years old so it has had a lot of maturing, even if one reviewer found that hard to believe. It’s clearly got a lot going on and an interesting whisky to try.

Tomatin 1987 Carn Mor 20cl

Lochside 1991 Gordon & MacPhail

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 6th January 2016

81.9/100 – Whiskybase (average from 12 member votes)

Since the 1970s I’ve travelled through the town of Montrose many times on the train between Aberdeen and Edinburgh, on the east coast of Scotland. It became a family saying “hold your nose, here comes Montrose!” The town is situated between the north and south Esk rivers. If the tide is out then the bay of the south Esk is exposed and smells terrible as the train goes over the bridge. The Lochside distillery was situated in the town of Montrose but sadly closed in 1992. It was later demolished in 2005 and turned into apartments. Thankfully you can still find examples of the Lochside single malt (mostly at auctions) and it doesn’t smell anything like the south Esk bay!

Lochside only started life in 1957 so it’s not one of the historic distilleries of Scotland. It did have one of the more imposing buildings, perched on the edge of a roadway. Sadly this area of Scotland has seen the majority of its distilleries dwindle away. Glenesk, North Port and Glenury Royal all closed in the 1980s leaving only Glencadam and Old Fettercairn holding the whisky flag for the Montrose area of the North East.

Scoring nearly 82/100 from 12 votes is a very good rating for this bottle of Lochside on Whiskybase. One member leaves these tasting notes “sweet and herbs with a nice maltyness in the nose. Malty nice notes with a nutty background. A middle long finish brings some smoky and heather notes.” Bottled in 2006, this 15-year-old by Gordon & MacPhail is a good example of Lochside so well worth getting if you see it at auction.

‘A Dram A Day’ review on You Tube (August 2016):

Lochside 1991 70cl

Port Charlotte ‘Scottish Barley Heavily Peated’

Bought: Christmas Gift, 25th December 2015

94.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
84.84/100 – Whiskybase (average from 221 member votes)

I’ve been interested in the Port Charlotte ‘Heavily Peated’ by Bruichladdich for quite some time so it was nice to get it as a Christmas present. Although the original Port Charlotte distillery closed in 1929 the buildings still exist and have been used by Bruichladdich as warehousing. In 2007 Bruichladdich announced they were bringing the Port Charlotte distillery back to life and shipped over the stills from the closed lowlands Inverleven distillery. We could see new releases from the Port Charlotte stills very soon. What might cause a bit of confusion in the future is that Bruichladdich have used ‘Port Charlotte’ as a brand name for some of their single malt such as this ‘Heavily Peated’. The new distillery will also be called ‘Port Charlotte’. Perhaps they’ll use a special brand name for the new Port Charlotte whisky to avoid confusion.

Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible absolutely loves this whisky. 94.5/100 classifies it as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live”. He says about the taste “a youthful livewire delivery with a pretty surprising degree of maple syrup and treacle latching onto the phenols: the effect and balance is wonderful; pay attention and you’ll spot some juicy fruit notes popping up here and there, too” and summarises with “rearrange the following two words: “giant” and “gentle”.”

Nearly 85/100 on Whiskybase is an excellent mark. It’s clearly a lovely dram. Here’s Jo of ‘Whisky Wednesday’ with his review from October 2014:

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 20cl

Teaninich 30-year-old (SMWS 59.51)

Bought: Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), 16th December 2015

84.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
89.33/100 – Whiskybase (average from 3 member votes)

I only had a miniature of Teaninich so I was interested in upgrading to a full 70cl. The SMWS had a tempting discount before Christmas so I decided to plump for this vintage 30-year-old. With only 140 bottles produced I wasn’t expecting to find it in the Whisky Bible but it was released in 2014, which provided plenty of time for a review. My incorrect assumption was that new bottlings by the SMWS sold out very quickly but that probably only applies to releases of the popular distilleries like Ardbeg, Macallan, Laphroaig, etc. Teaninich is more Partick Thistle than Celtic with regards to popularity. An acquired taste but entertaining nonetheless.

84.5/100 in the Whisky Bible classifies this dram as “good whisky worth trying” but two other Teaninich 30yo by the SMWS score 87/100 and 90/100. I’m feeling a little disappointed that the version I have isn’t one of the better ones in Jim Murray’s opinion. The author says about this whisky “no shortage of character. And one with some witty lines written for it. But this is about as outrageously salivating and eye-watering as you can find without really offering any depth of complexity. A tart blending malt essentially. But one which has it’s moments in the spotlight.”

89.33/100 on Whiskybase is a fantastic score albeit from only 3 voters. Interestingly the two bottles Jim Murray ranks above it with 87/100 and 90/100 score 88/100 and 89/100 on Whiskybase, which is less than for my bottle. All are excellent marks and show that the SMWS team have a good palate when it comes to choosing a Teaninich cask. A very worthwhile dram!

Teaninich 30yo SMWS 59.51 70cl

Longrow 1987 8-year-old

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 16th December 2015

86/100 – Whiskybase (average from 2 member votes)
83/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 5 maniac votes)

Longrow is the name given to one of the three single malt variants produced by the Campbeltown distillery Springbank. On the distillery website they say, and I quote “first distilled in 1973, Longrow is the result of an experiment carried out by our chairman, who set out to prove that an Islay style single malt could be produced on the mainland. Today, our heavily peated, wonderfully smoky whisky is available in three bottlings – Peated, Red and 18yo.”

A favourite dram of mine is the Springbank 10yo and I love Islay whisky so it’s a mystery to me that I’ve never tried a Longrow. Why?! Simple because there are so many whiskies to choose from but I will have to make an exception for Longrow and try it soon. It sounds like it has the makings of something quite special. Voters on Whiskybase and Malt Maniacs clearly think this particular example is an excellent one.

My miniature of Longrow by Signatory was in an auction with 4 other miniatures but I did my research and discovered an identical bottle had sold on its own for £7.25 in May 2015. Incredibly another bottle had sold for a staggering £39.50 in February 2014. It goes to show that not every whisky has been shooting up in value in the last few years. Some may have already peaked. In the current market I doubt this miniature would be worth more than £10 but it only takes two Longrow lovers at an auction to send the price sky-high.

Longrow 1987 8yo 5cl

Convalmore 1983 14-year-old

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 16th December 2015

81.67/100 – Whiskybase (average from 5 member votes)
81/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 6 maniac votes)

Convalmore, much like Coleburn I blogged about yesterday, was another Speyside distillery that bit the dust in 1985. Another similarity between the two distilleries was their output, which was destined (and designed) for blending, rather than turning into single malt. But when a distillery closes everything changes and it’s more profitable to whoever gets the remaining casks to bottle them up individually and sell them off as rare treasures (even though they might not taste that nice). At least with Convalmore there’s a better chance of finding a good one than Coleburn. The author of Malt Madness says the first seven samples he tried of Convalmore scored above average, which is encouraging.

81/100 and over 81/100 from the Malt Maniacs and Whiskybase is a respectable score for my miniature Convalmore bottled by Signatory. The bottle still has a good level for something produced in 1997 almost 20 years ago. One of the Malt Maniacs, Serge Valentin author of Whiskyfun, scores this dram 80/100. He says the nose is “interesting but simple” having started with a “fresh hazelnut skin”. In the taste he finds creaminess, sweet fruit liquor, Malibu, bubble gum, marsh mallow, grassy notes, cold herbal tea and concludes with ‘robust but simple’. The finish he finds “long but bitter” with burnt vegetables. In summary it seems he only scores it as high as 80/100 because of the “special notes of hazelnut skin” in the nose. His complete review can be found here.

Convalmore 1983 14yo 5cl