Bought: Highland Park Shop, 11th November 2019
86.87/100 – Whiskybase (average from 32 member votes)
Here we have the second release of the Highland Park ‘Saltire’, distilled in 2006 and bottled in 2019. Unlike the first release (distilled 2004, bottled 2018), which was limited to 734 bottles, the second release appears to be going on forever. At the time of writing ‘The Whisky Barrel’ shop are selling a bottle of the ‘Saltire’ 2nd edition for £300 but you can still buy it direct from Highland Park for £55. Auction prices are typically between £40-£50 with the 1st edition getting around the £300 mark.
Both releases of the ‘Saltire’ are 43% but it’s not just the limited number of bottles that make the first edition more expensive. It’s hand-signed by retired Formula 1 racing driver David Coulthard MBE, who Highland Park collaborated with to create the releases. For every bottle sold a percentage of the sale goes to the communities and charities in Dumfries and Galloway where David grew up. The ‘Saltire’ itself references the Scottish flag David had on his racing helmet during his F1 career. It’s a shame it’s not better used in the packaging design, which is rather drab and uninteresting. Speaking of which, the 1st edition has a tube but the 2nd edition is nude, no box, nothing. You can’t expect an extra bit of cardboard for £55, you greedy scamp!
Another thing that seems to be unique about the ‘Saltire’ is that it appears to be the only 13-year-old distillery release that isn’t cask strength. But that rather boring fact is probably only interesting to Highland Park collectors, if even them! The 43% might be a bit wimpy but that’s not stopped 32 voters on Whiskybase giving the 2nd edition a very respectable score of 86.87/100. I certainly supported David Coulthard when he was racing and I enjoy Highland Park whiskies, so getting a bottle of ‘Saltire’ is a win-win for me.
Official tasting notes say to expect caramelised mango, sun-ripened lemons, root ginger, silky vanilla, spicy cinnamon and aromatic smoky peat.
Here’s ‘Whisky Shared’ with his thoughts about the HP Saltire on YouTube (Sept 2020). Please note this is an age-restricted video so you may have to be logged into YouTube to view it:
Bought: Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 17th October 2016
0/100 – Whiskybase (awaiting votes)
4/5- Philip Storry (his review here)
There are 102 different versions of Benrinnes by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) listed on Whiskybase. Seven 13-year-olds get ratings, which range from 81/100 to 89/100. Most are in the upper 80s. That’s very impressive. Owned by Diageo the principal single malt is the 15yo Flora and Fauna series. The house style is full-bodied, smoky yet also sweet with cereal notes and malt.
Distilled in 2002 and bottled in 2016 this Benrinnes is named ‘Ivory Keys’. Here are the notes provided by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society:
Flavour profile: Sweet, fruity & mellow
The initial sweet, fruity and floral array of aromas reminded us of natural rosewater essence, pear drops and ripe bananas. But at the same time there was also the scent of clean wood finally described as opening the lid of a grand mahogany piano and lifting the fallboard after it had been expertly cleaned and tuned. If you have never experienced that, how about ‘sipping a tree’ – a ‘cedar infused’ Campari accompanied by ginger spiced marmalade on toasted rye bread. Diluted; apples in new wooden boxes and crates of limes before we finally relaxed with Viennese apple strudel and a Wiener Melange coffee.
Drinking tips: Listening to Mozart Piano Sonata No.11
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.
Bought: Demijohn, 27th May 2015
None as yet.
I was all set to buy a bottle of Bladnoch 20yo (Sheep Label) from Holland for £42 earlier this year when I discovered the distillery was in liquidation. Before I could blink the whisky had sold out and I’ve not seen it since. Even if I did it wouldn’t be for £42, which was ridiculously cheap at the time. But all whisky collectors can feel my pain. With so many distilleries and bottles out there it’s impossible to be ready to pounce on every good deal you see. I have a budget and some months I’ve spent it all by the end of the first week! These days I’ve stopped looking at whisky shops when I’ve spent my budget so I avoid temptation. Anyone would think I was an addict! 😉
Thankfully Demijohn came to the rescue and I selected one of their quaint, squiggly bottles to contain a cask-strength Bladnoch they had available (sadly no more). The website details for this 13-year-old were:
“This delightful single malt whisky is from cask no.130, filled on 30th May 2001. It is one of the first few casks produced by Armstrong Brothers’ Raymond and Colin at their Bladnoch Distillery after taking ownership from United Distillers in 2000.”
Bought – ASDA, 25th October 2013
92/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
81/100 – Ralfy, of www.ralfy.com
Review: – Ralfy – Whyte & Mackay 13yo – YouTube
There aren’t that many blended whiskies scoring 90+ in the Whisky Bible that you can easily find in the supermarkets but the Whyte & Mackay 13yo is one of them. The secret to the rather odd age of 13 years is explained on the back of the bottle, and I quote:
“The secret of the rich, rounded taste of THE THIRTEEN is in the unique Double Marriage maturation process. At 12 years old, when other producers bottle their aged blends, Whyte & Mackay’s Master Blender brings together the finest malt whiskies, then returns them to sherry casks to marry for another year. At 13 years old the second marriage takes place, when the finest grain whiskies are introduced to this blend of malts to create the masterpiece that is THE THIRTEEN.”
In the Whisky Bible 2013 Jim Murray says of THE THIRTEEN – “easily the pick of the W&M blended range” but he does give the 40-year-old 93/100. The cheapest bottle of 40yo I could find was, are you sitting down? . . . a staggering £579.99! I’m so glad they knocked off a penny from £580 or I might have thought it was expensive! THE THIRTEEN cost £17, so for the sake of £563 I think I’ll concede that extra point to the 40yo bottle.
Bought – The Whisky Shop, 18th October 2013
My second ‘Old Malt Cask’ having bought a Glengoyne last month. It’s also my 2nd Linkwood having got a more mature 15yo by Gordon & MacPhail. As usual with the ‘Old Malt Cask’ range this 13yo is un-chill filtered and has no colouring added. It was distilled in May 1997 and bottled in June 2010. 50% in strength so I’ll definitely be adding a bit of water!
It was purely by chance that I acquired this Linkwood. I’d ordered a bottle of Dailuaine from ‘The Whisky Shop’ only to be told that it was no longer available. I was offered my money back or something different. The Linkwood was £1 more than the Dailuaine but they were kind enough to take the hit, given they’d failed to supply what I’d originally ordered.
Unfortunately I can’t find any reviews yet for this bottling, even on the extensive list on Malt Maniacs for Linkwood.