Bought: CASC, Aberdeen, 24th March 2016
87.4/100 – Whiskybase (average from 7 member votes)
The independent bottler Signatory Vintage (SV) seem to be dominating the market with releases from the closed Imperial distillery. In 2016, according to the whiskies listed on Whiskybase, big independent bottlers Gordon & MacPhail released one bottle of Imperial, as did Duncan Taylor, whereas SV released 16. These were either single cask bottlings or a combination of two or three casks. So you have to think that SV bought up a lot of old stock from the Imperial distillery, which was demolished in 2013 but production had been mothballed since 1998.
Not only does SV have a lot of old casks from Imperial, they seem to be exclusively from whisky distilled in 1995. They’ve been releasing numerous bottles from this year since 2011, either at cask strength or 46%, and always un-chillfiltered and natural colour. Other independent bottlers have Imperial casks post-1995 showing that the distillery was still producing whisky as late as the fateful 1998. So it won’t be long before the youngest new bottlings will be a minimum of 20 years old. Collectable? Definitely but maybe not returning a profit for a while given the way SV are flooding the market. It’s almost as if they know there’s a whisky boom!
Having tasted this bottle of Imperial (I have a 19yo as my investment) I would agree with the excellent score on Whiskybase. This is a fantastic old Speysider. It’s a great shame it’s gone but SV are certainly making sure it’s not difficult to get hold of, for now. I suspect that prices may follow a similar rise to bottles of Littlemill (dismantled in 1997), which were quite reasonable a few years ago but are now rare and £200+.
Tasting notes left on Whiskybase:
Nose: Apple, almond, caramel, vanilla, honey, citrus and a whiff of smoke.
Taste: Honey, hazelnut, caramel, citrus, beeswax, white pepper and vanilla.
Finish: Caramel, hazelnut, honey, vanilla and chestnut.
Posted in Imperial (demolished 2013)
Tagged 18yo, 1995, 46%, 50284, 50285, 70cl, CASC Aberdeen, Imperial, Signatory, Single Malt, Speyside
Bought: Tesco, 31st July 2015
88.78/100 – Whiskybase (average from 188 member votes)
I was quite surprised to find this bottle of Lagavulin in a local supermarket since it was released in 2011 and this is 2015. Why hadn’t it sold out in 4 years? Perhaps the £70 price tag was the reason. This is a 15yo or 16yo Lagavulin, which is 43% when you can buy the standard Lagavulin 16yo (also 43%) for nearly £20 less. I’m always baffled as to why distilleries do this. Why have a “Distiller’s Edition” that’s practically identical in age and strength to a cheaper, standard release? OK, so it’s matured differently, I understand that but surely the reason to pay more is to get something better rather than slightly different? But to say this would suggest I don’t understand the mind of a collector or serious whisky drinker, and I do. The standard 16yo goes on year after year but this interesting Distiller’s Edition is a snapshot in time from Lagavulin.
88.78/100 is a very high mark on Whiskybase. The standard 16yo scores slightly less with 88.21/100 but that’s from 1667 member votes. Comments for the Distiller’s Edition include “this is a lovely, complex peated malt, tempered by the sweetness of the sherry. A good long-lasting finish”, “great whisky but also ‘drinking’ whisky” and “delicious!”
Perhaps I’m being a bit unfair on Lagavulin but I do feel a Distiller’s Edition should have a clear distinction from a standard release. Even just making it 46% instead of 43% would have ticked that box for me.
Bought: Drinkfinder, 21st July 2015
89.24/100 – Whiskybase (average from 70 member votes)
At last I have the Macallan 18yo! Admittedly I had to sell one of my kidneys on Ebay to get it but at least I still have my liver to process this fine whisky. No collection would be complete without it. There was a rumour a while ago that Macallan were removing the year of distillation from the 18yo, which finally happened (it now has the bottling year). Without the distillation year printed on the label the 18yo may not be as collectable. There’s no denying its quality though because over 89/100 on Whiskybase is a fantastic score.
In May 2014 I made a note that Amazon were selling the Macallan 18yo for £122.45 and free postage. 18 months later and you’ll be lucky to find it for less than £150. It wont be many more years before it hits £200, which makes getting a bottle or two now quite a good investment. But, as Horst Luening says in his video review below of the 1996 release, this is the Rolls Royce of whisky, so Macallan obviously feel there’s a market for this dram no matter how astronomical the price. I don’t think I’ll be selling any more organs to get a second bottle! One will do.
Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015
88/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
82/100 – Whiskybase (average from 8 member votes)
This is the last in my trio of Knappogue miniatures, an independent bottling of Bushmills. Distilled in 1995 and bottled in 2007, so a 11/12-year-old single malt. Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, says the previous Knappogue examples were younger but that gave them more “charisma, clarity and complexity”. Nevertheless, scoring 88/100 still classes this dram as “very good to excellent whiskey definitely worth buying”.
Similar to the 1994 version, Jim Murray isn’t a fan of the bitterness but he rates the nose 23/25. Perhaps that element benefits from the extra maturity. 82/100 on Whiskybase is a good average score. One member says they felt this 1995 version had a more malty character to the earlier 1993 and 1994 versions.
As I post this, a full 70cl bottle is available on The Whisky Exchange for £37.95 where it gets good comments in 10 reviews.
Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 17th September 2013
81.25/100 – Whiskybase (average from 4 member votes)
This Allt a’Bhainne is part of the 24 x 20cl bottles that make up the Carn Mor Vintage Collection. Distilled in 1995 and bottled in 2012, it’s from a limited edition of 290, Cask No: 125285. Non-chill filtered and no added colour, it’s just a pity there’s so little of it. But then it wouldn’t be so special if there was lots!
81.25/100 on Whiskybase is a good score where one member leaves these tasting notes:
Nose: Light and sweet. Starts grassy followed by honey and vanilla. Some yellow apples. Flowery notes as well.
Taste: Unexpectedly punchy for its 46%. Toasted oak. Sugared almonds. Cinnamon. Liquorice at the background.
Finish: Medium long. Dry. Lots of bitterness of pink grapefruit. Gingery. Pine and spearmint.
Comments: Excellent aperitif whisky for a Sunday afternoon.