Bought: Whisky Broker, 4th February 2016
C – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)
Why oh why have I taken so long to get another example of Bunnahabhain? When I finally opened the standard distillery 12yo bottle I fell in love. It’s one of my favourite whiskies of all time and a replacement bottle is on my shopping list. The next step up should be the standard 18yo, which Jim Murray scores 93.5/100 in his Whisky Bible 2016, some 8 points ahead of the 12yo (in his opinion). But, if truth be told, my reluctance to get older examples of Bunna was because I read on a forum to beware of certain vintage bottles where dodgy casks were used. That might be the case but you wouldn’t think so from marks given to 20yo+ bottles in the Whisky Bible where the majority score over 90/100. I like whisky forums but they do have a habit of perpetuating old information and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of that myself. I still think of Jura as being inferior whisky, much like I remember the days we all laughed at Skoda cars.
Unfortunately there is only one review of this Bunna 23yo by the Whisky Broker and it doesn’t sound amazing. The Whiskybase member says of the taste “a peppery/vibrant but controlled arrival of a creamy, oily, drying grain with a vibrant bitter-sour liquorice which then heads straight to a super-dry, salty, grassy/heathery barley cul-de-sac. There is however an unexpected and spritely reprise producing a line of [dried] fruity vanilla that carries into the finish. Becomes hard work after a while, the dry astringency becoming heavy work over time. 5cl is more than enough for me.” They summarise with “nose is best, followed by the arrival. The more it goes on, the more it acknowledges its sluggish cask predisposition. Its often more Speyside in style than Islay although that dry saltiness doesn’t betray its terroir.”
Perhaps this 5cl miniature isn’t a fair example of Bunnahabhain over 20-years-old but that’s not to say there aren’t some good examples out there. For now the 18yo is firmly in my sights but there are some tempting NAS offerings available at airports.
Bought: The Whisky Shop, 27th October 2015
84.29/100 – Whiskybase (average from 26 member votes)
This is my 3rd bottle of Kininvie and most definitely my last. I might be a crazy whisky collector but the latest Kininvie 25yo for £400 is bonkers when you consider it’s only 35cl. Even if it were 70cl it would be competing against the likes of the Highland Park 30yo and Kininvie isn’t in the same league as the Orkney giant. The novelty of these ‘rare’ Kininvie bottlings has worn off for me and if they keep churning out the releases it wont make much of an investment either!
As I did a bit more research into Kininvie I discovered that the Wikipedia entry about the distillery is several years out of date. Only the single malts named ‘Hazelwood’ are mentioned (a 15 and 17-year-old). There is no mention of the 6 single malts released with the Kininvie name, 3 batches of a 23-year-old and 1 batch of a 17-year-old. Whiskybase mention 2 batches of the latest 25-year-old. What’s also strange is the absence of the distillery in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. Perhaps he couldn’t afford a sample?!
84.29/100 on Whiskybase is a very good mark for my latest Kininvie 23yo. One reviewer summarises with “the combination of bourbon and sherry casks along with the 23 year maturation generates a wonderful balanced malt with lots of depth and richness. Dried fruit, zesty orange, flower meadow and quite a hot mix of spices compose this luxurious whisky, which definitely has a fair amount of American oak maturation.”
A good whisky that’s overpriced and half the quantity it should be.
Here’s Ben of ‘A Dram A Day’ with his review on You Tube (November 2016):
Bought: Whisky Exchange, 18th March 2015
84.29/100 – Whiskybase (average from 26 member votes)
I’ve only recently taken an interest in single grain whisky, and the same can be said for closed distilleries. Cambus was a Scottish lowland, single grain distillery, which closed in 1993. When you get to my age, you have to pinch yourself when you realise that’s 22 years ago! But it amazes me when I see young adults performing on TV talent shows that were born in this millennium. 1993 to them must feel like ancient history.
Like blends, bottles of single grain whisky tend not to make good investments. Certainly not when compared to single malts. Nevertheless, I did buy this bottle of Cambus with an eye on the future. Bottled by Signatory as part of their ‘Vintage Cask Strength Collection’, this independent bottler has good pedigree, and releases from this closed distillery are only going to get older and older (and more expensive) in future years.
Although Jim Murray doesn’t review this exact bottling in his Whisky Bible 2015, the seven Cambus releases he talks about all get excellent marks. Scores range from 85.5/100 to a fantastic 97/100 for a 47yo bottle. Clearly Jim Murray is impressed with the house style from the lowland distillery. My bottling scores an excellent mark on Whiskybase. If you have a bottle, whether you drink it or save it as in investment, it was definitely an excellent purchase!
Posted in Cambus (closed 1993)
Tagged 1991, 23yo, 54.1%, 70cl, Cambus, Cambus (closed 1993), Cask Strength, Cask Strength Collection, Lowland, Lowlands, Signatory, Single Grain, Whisky Exchange
Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 16th February 2015
88.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
76.56/100 – Whiskybase (average from 27 member votes)
86/100 – Ralfy – His review on You Tube here (Dec 2014)
Scotland, the heart of the whisky industry, has been a stable country since the battle of Culloden in 1746. Legalised whisky production, that we know today, started about 50 years later. This means that no Scottish whisky exists from a time when Scotland was having an identity crisis. What’s wonderful (in a historic sense) about the Hammer Head single malt, is that it dates back to before the Czech Republic was called the Czech Republic (named in 1992). This whisky was distilled in 1989, the year the Berlin wall fell, and the iron curtain started to crumble. All this was going on but still the good people of Czechoslovakia found the passion and desire to cask up some spirit, and let it mature in peace for 23 years.
When I say all that, you can understand why some people might think this a ‘novelty’ whisky, rather than something to be taken seriously. But 88.5/100 from Jim Murray (Whisky Bible author) and 86/100 from Ralfy are excellent scores from two people who know their drams. Jim Murray says in his review “don’t bother looking for complexity: this is one of Europe’s maltiest drams…if not the maltiest.” Malty sounds nice! On the other hand, 76.5/100 on Whiskybase shows this whisky might have room for improvement for some tastes.
Whether malty or novelty, I’m still very pleased to have this bottle in my collection!
Bought – The Whisky Shop, 18th October 2014
84.44/100 – Whiskybase (average from 20 member votes)
In 2013 I started and finished a collection to get a single malt example from every active distillery in Scotland. I succeeded but, unbeknown to me, Kininvie distillery released its first single malt to the Asian market towards the end of 2013. With the distillery beginning life in 1990, this was a 23-year-old bottling, batch 1, distilled in that embryonic year. In 2014 a 17-year-old version was released, exclusive to Travel Retail, and was finally available in the UK. This is where it gets embarrassing. I could have bought a bottle of this Kininvie 17yo at Aberdeen airport in October for £70 but I decided it was too much for a mere 35cl. Two days later I saw exactly the same bottle sell at auction for £170! I knew it would become a collector’s item but I had no idea it would be more than double its RRP at auction before it had sold out in airports!
I was surprised that Kininvie wasn’t in the Whisky Bible 2015, given that the first batch of the 23-year-old came out in 2013. Perhaps the distillery didn’t send the author a sample to try. The good news is that the members of Whiskybase certainly like it. Over 84/100 is an excellent mark from 20 members. So it’s a collector’s item AND it tastes nice. Sounds like a win/win to me!
Here’s Jo of Whisky Wednesday with his You Tube review (April 2015):