Tag Archives: 25yo

Aberlour 1970 25-year-old ‘Jewels of Scotland’

Bought: Whisky Auction, 4th June 2019

88/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)

I almost feel like apologising to Lombard, the independent bottler of this fine Aberlour 25yo from 1970. In 6 years of collecting whisky I’d never heard of them. Have you? But according to their website they’ve been involved in the whisky scene for 5 decades and a family history in the drinks business dating back nearly 300 years. Lombard also have 118 different whiskies listed on Whiskybase so they’ve clearly been selling whisky somewhere. But where? Their website doesn’t list any stockists, UK or otherwise, and the Lombard Facebook page hasn’t been updated since September 2017.

Perhaps the reason why Lombard have slipped under my malty radar is because they rarely do single malt, which is my main interest. The Isle of Man based business do several blended whiskies including ‘Old Master’, ‘Ballaglass’, ‘Driftwood’ and ‘Anchor Bay’, which are all currently in stock on Master of Malt. An out-of-stock blend called ‘Storm’ scored 94/100 in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2013. Lombard are clearly not amateurs in the world of whisky bottling, which is very reassuring when spending a small fortune on one of their vintage bottles at auction.

I must admit, when I saw this Aberlour 25yo at auction I was a bit concerned about the pristine nature of a bottle that had been originally sold in 1995/6. I’d also never seen it at auction until this year. Now bottles were appearing in several auctions in a row and sometimes more than one bottle at a time, and always in mint condition. Thankfully Whiskybase has enough photos showing examples of Lombard whisky to reassure me that these bottles aren’t fake. But where have they been hiding for over 20 years? Perhaps Lombard themselves have found old stock or a private individual bought a case when they were new and has finally decided to sell them off. Whatever the reason, I’m glad to have this gem in my collection.

The Whisky Exchange are currently selling a bottle of this Aberlour for £299 (half this price at auction) where they say, “A twist on Aberlour’s usual character from indie bottler Lombard’s Jewels of Scotland. Rather than going with the distillery’s more typical sherry-cask maturation, this whisky slept for 25 years in a bourbon casks. The result is a more elegant dram, with the distillery’s rich and malty character front and centre.”

I suspect this will be my last 1970 bottle to celebrate my birth year. Do you have one for yours?

Glenlochy 1980 25-year-old (Signatory)

Bought: Online Auction, 10th August 2017

89.38/100 – Whiskybase (average from 18 member votes)

Glenlochy distillery, Inverlochy, Fort William, began production in 1901 and closed completely in 1983. During those 82 years the distillery had been closed several times meaning it had only been active for about 60 years. Unfortunately the closure in 1983 was the end of the distillery and the buildings were eventually converted into a guesthouse and flats. When active all the Glenlochy spirit went into blends, which were Johnnie Walker, Dewar’s, Haig, White Horse and Queen Ann. It’s only after the distillery closed in 1983 and casks were sold off that they start to be bottled as single malt. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society released the earliest bottling mentioned on Whiskybase in 1988.

Scoring almost 90/100 from 18 votes on Whiskybase is a fantastic mark. It’s nice to know when you’re spending a small fortune on a single malt that it’s the equal to a classic Macallan or illustrious Ardbeg. But to be fair to the Glenlochy, the distillery may have closed 34 years ago but this amazing bottle cost less at auction than a new Macallan 18yo would today. Only 229 bottles were produced of this rare Glenlochy and I have bottle number 104. Tasting notes provided on Whiskybase from a member scoring this Glenlochy 91/100 with the comment, “unique and characterful” are:

Nose: Sweet, mineral, fresh, herbs, grassy, caramel
Taste: Fruity (apples, oranges, pears, peaches), fresh, herbs, dry, caramel, honey
Finish: Long, sweet, spicy, herbs, caramel, nutty

John “Whiskyman” Loftus in his video below is drinking a Glenlochy, which was also distilled in 1980 but 24-years-old rather than 25. Bottled by Duncan Taylor at a cask strength of 61.2% it scores 89.8/100 on Whiskybase from 22 votes. This is a very similar score to my Glenlochy 25yo by Signatory so clearly they’re both good examples from the distillery. John also gives us a bit of history about the distillery.

Tasgall 25-year-old

Bought: ASDA Supermarket, 18th October 2016

79.75/100 – Whiskybase (average from 4 member votes)

‘Tasgall’ (meaning ‘cauldron of the Gods’ in Norse) is a brand name that ASDA Stores Ltd decided to use for this blended Scotch whisky. They released a 25yo and 30yo in late 2014 for £50 and £60 respectively. This may seem a good price for the age until you consider what Aldi and Lidl bring out for Christmas. It took 2 years before ASDA reduced the prices to £40 (25yo) and £50 (30yo). This tempted me into getting the 25yo mainly because of the You Tube review below. Comments online suggest there’s no clear winner between the 25yo and 30yo in terms of taste so the price of the 25yo won it for me. But at £40 would this blend tempt a single malt drinker away from the likes of the Ardbeg 10yo or cheaper options like the Highland Park 12yo or Glenmorangie 10yo? Probably not. I suspect the Tasgall is aimed at the occasional blend drinker (or as a gift to one) where seeing a significant age statement means ‘better’.

On the tube of the 25yo it says “oak-aged blend combining the spicy, floral flavours of Highland malts, the sweetness of Speyside malts and the purity and strength of Lowland grain whisky”. Clearly a load of marketing waffle but at least it tells us the regions that contribute to the mix. The official tasting notes say “vibrant, full bodied and sweet with creamy vanilla notes, slowly revealing a rich, elegant finish with lingering hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and baked fruits”. It certainly sounds nice enough and reviews online tend to agree with the consensus being that the Tasgall 25yo is very drinkable.

A slight annoyance about the Tasgall 25yo is seeing “very rare” printed on it. No it’s not! Anything that’s been available in a supermarket for over 2 years isn’t rare. One review online says the Tasgall is collectable. Clearly this wasn’t written by a collector and is probably part of the marketing guff. In the present market a non-rare blended whisky isn’t a good investment (even a 25yo or 30yo) but who is to say that the current collecting criteria wont change. Perhaps in 2050 old supermarket blends will be all the rage and Scotland will win the World Cup! The future is in the lap of the Gods, having jumped out of the cauldron.

‘Tasting Britain’ review on You Tube (January 2015):


Scapa 1980 25-year-old – 500th blog post!

Bought: Whisky Please, 10th December 2015

89.4/100 – Whiskybase (average from 17 member votes)
88/100 – Malt Maniacs (from 2 maniac votes)

It’s purely by chance that my 500th blog post is about one of the best whiskies in my collection. As much as I love Highland Park I have a soft spot for their Orkney neighbour Scapa. Whiskybase list 203 distillery releases from Highland Park but only 16 from Scapa, such is the rarity of direct bottlings. Of the 16 bottles the 25yo gets the best rating with an amazing 89.4/100.

Only 2000 bottles of this Scapa 25yo were released in 2005 but you can still see them popping up in auctions and shops quite regularly. Here is how the 25yo compares against other familiar Scapa releases on Whiskybase:

  • 89.4/100 – Scapa 25-year-old
  • 82.63/100 – Scapa 16-year-old ‘The Orcadian’
  • 81.58/100 – Scapa 14-year-old
  • 81.14/100 – Scapa 12-year-old
  • 79.14/100 – Scapa ‘Skiren’

Talk about being ‘head and shoulders’ above the rest! A member of Whiskybase describes the 25yo’s taste as “spicy and malty aroma, cinnamon, pepper, oat porridge, vanilla, red apples, lemon, floral honey, tea and dry hay. Marzipan sweet taste, eucalyptus, pepper, malt, vanilla and walnuts. Medium long and malty end.” Another member summarises with “this is an absolute powerful Scapa with the knowing sweet and malty notes and even the sea breeze in the background. A complex and powerful experience and you might be sure, close your eyes, take a sip and you’ll be on Orkney.”

Scapa 1980 25yo 70cl

Bladnoch 25-year-old (SMWS 50.71)

Bought: Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 30th November 2015

92/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)

Bladnoch closed in 1993. In 1994 dynamic Irishman Raymond Armstrong spotted the mothballed distillery when he was on holiday in the Lowlands and he decided to buy it. Lots of work had to be done, which meant whisky production didn’t start again until 2000. Sadly the distillery went into liquidation in 2014 putting the future of Bladnoch in the balance. Thankfully a successful Australian businessman, David Prior bought Bladnoch in July 2015. In September he announced on the distillery’s Facebook page (which hadn’t been updated in over 2 years) that he’d appointed Ian Macmillan as the new master distiller and blender. Another announcement on 24th December proclaimed the arrival of new single malts in 2016. The future is looking good for Bladnoch once more!

Having said all that about the distillery’s recent history, my bottle by the SMWS entitled ‘Alfresco brunch’ was distilled in 1990, back when Bladnoch were under the ownership of United Distilleries. Someone clearly loves it on Whiskybase with a vote of 92/100. The house style is light-bodied, dry, fruity, fresh, floral and grassy. The SMWS description below mentions a meadow, so there’s the grass element, but bacon, gingerbread and salami don’t sound overly typical of a standard Bladnoch. It goes to show how varied each cask can be!

“We were having a Picnic Brunch in a meadow; the sun had almost burnt off the morning dew and we were looking forward to a glorious day outside. Out of the basket came smoked salmon, gravlax and a bowl of fresh watermelon and Cantaloupe salad with mint and basil vinaigrette. The taste was satisfyingly sweet, like dipping a wooden spoon into a jar of heather honey or a glass of delicious viscous mead. Just a drop of water and meaty aromas appeared; eggs Benedict with bacon, gingerbread pancakes with Parma ham and the taste turned into a spicy salami pizza.”

Bladnoch 25yo SMWS 50.71 70cl

Talisker 25-year-old 1979/2004

Bought: Best of Whisky (Holland), 1st May 2015

94/100 – Whisky Bible 2006
91/100 – Whiskybase (average from 120 member votes)

Every collection will have its stars, and for me this Talisker 25yo is one of mine. Bottled in 2004, I was quite surprised to find it being sold as ‘new’ in 2015, 11 years later. But, who knows where it’s been. A lot of the whisky shops buy bottles from auction and sell them for a profit through their online stores. As a ‘limited’ edition of 21,000, it probably sold out within a year or two of its initial release. I doubt my source got it directly from Talisker this year.

I had to go back to the Whisky Bible 2006 to find Jim Murray’s review of this Talisker 25yo. According to him, only the 2006 release of the 25yo is better, which he scores 95/100. But 94/100 still classifies this dram as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live.” In his review he finds the nose rather unconvincing but says of the taste “sweet malt with more than a hint of exotic fruit, and then the most wonderful multiplying of smoke towards the middle, starting off as a suggestion and ending as a statement; oak also arrives in the first nanosecond but is controlled and adds structure.” The finish scores a perfect 25/25 with “fizzing, buzzing spices on a bed of Old Jamaica fruit chocolate. Soft oils help ensure this is the most faultless of finales.” He concludes with “Magical and enchanting”.

91/100 on Whiskybase from 119 member votes is one of the highest marks I’ve seen on that site for one of the bottles in my collection. The 2006 edition Jim Murray thinks is better scores half a point less with 90.5/100 from 123 member votes on Whiskybase, so it’s too close to say which is best.

I have a price list from a bar in Aberdeen called ‘The Grill’ and they are selling a measure of the Talisker 2009 25yo for £22.50. This scores 88.5/100 in the Whisky Bible 2015. Not quite as prestigious as the 2004 edition, but at a price that makes me want to go pee-pee! Saying that, The Whisky Exchange are selling my 2004 bottle right now for £350, so you’d expect a measure to be quite expensive.

Talisker 2004 25yo 70cl

Tomatin 25-year-old

Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 2nd September 2014

89/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
87.7/100 – Whiskybase (average from 35 member votes)

Having bought a full bottle of the Tomatin Legacy, which scores 94.5/100 in the Whisky Bible, I wasn’t really looking to get any more Tomatin for a while. But, fate intervened. Which reminds me, I need to have some strong words with fate because it keeps costing me money! I stumbled across Nickolls & Perks selling a half bottle of the Tomatin 25yo for £40, which seems a good price for its age. Time for some research! The cheapest 70cl bottle I could find was £160, so £40 was looking even better. I found an identical half bottle that had sold at auction in January 2014 for £60, which suggests a good investment. I then read in a Whiskybase review from 2012 that the 25yo wouldn’t be around for long because it was being replaced by the 30yo (which my cousin told me is also being discontinued). I looked around online and, sure enough, Nickolls & Perks are the last place selling it.

Jim Murray’s review of the Tomatin 25yo in his Whisky Bible 2014 is very short and sweet saying “not a nasty bone in its body: understated but significant.” He had more to say in 2013 but he cuts back on the words when a whisky gets discontinued. 87.7/100 on Whiskybase is a fantastic mark from 35 votes. All-in-all, a fabulous malt for drinking or as an investment. But if you’ve not tried Tomatin before and can’t find the 25yo I’d recommend the NAS ‘Legacy’ which is excellent for taste and for price.

Tomatin 25yo 35cl

Highland Park 25-year-old

Bought – Highland Park Distillery, 14th August 2014

96/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
87/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 18 reviews)

Now here’s a mystery. The ratings I mention above are for the original bottling of the HP 25yo at 48.1%, and miniatures of this are still available on the Highland Park website. But a full 70cl bottle on their website, and other online whisky shops, is 45.7%! Clearly it’s a different whisky. But the Highland Park website use exactly the same description for both versions of the HP 25yo. I don’t have my finger on the pulse of what’s happening at the distillery but it seems like there’s a new version of the 70cl on the market. The miniatures I have are the old version, which has been discontinued. The fantastic ratings are for the OLD version, so I can only hope the new version keeps the high standards. At £175 for 70cl, you’d have to hope so!

The miniatures of this discontinued 25yo are still available on the HP website for £12. At 5cl they are one 14th of 70cl, so 14 x £12 is £168 (if it’s even possible to still buy 14 miniatures). I don’t know how much the old 70cl was being sold for but I doubt it was much less than £175 (that’s the cheapest I found online. Highland Park are selling it on their website for £250). It’s rare to find a miniature that costs less than 1/14th of its 70cl counterpart. If you’re a collector of miniatures then this is definitely something to add to your collection. I spotted one selling at auction for £15.50, so £3,50 more than buying it directly from Highland Park. It goes to show, it’s already making money as an investment, even at 5cl in size!

Here’s Jo of Whisky Wednesday with his review on You Tube (March 2016):

Highland Park 25yo 5cl

Linkwood 25-year-old

Bought – Whisky Galore, 24th June 2014

91/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
86.17/100 – Whiskybase (average from 20 member votes)

I got a miniature of the Linkwood 25yr last year and I said I wouldn’t drink it until I was in a position to replace it. Well, happy birthday to me! My gift to myself is this classic, timeless release of Linkwood by Gordon & MacPhail. As Jim Murray says in his Whisky Bible review “if anyone is capable of making a Linkwood tick, it is G&M: wonderful!” The best part according to Jim is the taste, where he says “fabulously refreshing with a continuous retracing of its malty steps.”

My brother remembers this whisky as a favourite of our uncle Hamish, so I’m delighted to add it to my collection. G&M seem to release this 25-year-old periodically as Jim Murray has removed it from his 2014 Whisky Bible, which suggests it’s been discontinued for now. My only disappointment is that there’s no date of distillation on the bottle, which makes it difficult to tell the difference between each release of this 25-year-old.

Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com on You Tube giving us his thoughts about this splendid Linkwood (April 2014):

Linkwood 25yo 70cl

Linkwood 25-year-old 1980s

Bought – Online Whisky Auction, 22nd December 2013

80/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)

As a big fan of Linkwood I had to pinch myself when I won this little bottle at auction. Although it’s not the longest example of maturation in my collection (I have a 26yo Highland Park and 29yo Tormore), where this Linkwood wins is the date it was distilled. This miniature dram was bottled by Gordon & MacPhail in the 1980s, which means it was first distilled in the 1960s or even late 1950s. I found a very similar 70cl bottle online dated 1959 that sold at auction for £168.

The reason why I only had to pay £5.25 for this bottle of history is probably because you can still buy a new 70cl bottle of Linkwood 25yo today, priced at about £80. That’s a bit rich for my blood but some would consider it quite cheap for a vintage malt – Simon Cowell and Bill Gates for example. I say that now but if I ever drink this miniature I’d feel compelled to replace it, so I’d better start saving my cash!

Linkwood 25yo 5cl