Bought: Master of Malt, 3rd March 2016
83.5/100 – Whiskybase (average from 2 member votes)
I confess I’ve been delaying getting this bottle of Highland Park for my HP collection because of its mixed reviews. Although my 35cl bottle gets a healthy 83.5/100 on Whiskybase it’s only from 2 member votes. The full 70cl (which is effectively the same stuff) scores a more modest 81.7/100 from 20 votes, which is good but not brilliant. Hardly surprising for a young single malt from an Orkney distillery where age really matters. Youthful Islay malts often get praised for their depth of flavour but with HP drams they seem to need time in the cask to become great. Just consider the distillery’s own 18yo, 25yo and 30yo. But, as someone mentions for this 8yo by Gordon & MacPhail (G&M) “fairly simple HP, but certainly value for money.” For the price you can hardly expect great things from this whisky.
Up until 2012 this bottling by G&M was 40% but then they sensibly increased it to 43%, giving it a bigger kick than the standard 12yo. One reviewer on Whiskybase says of my 35cl “great Nose! Slightly peaty, but very light and fruity at the same time. Exotic fruits like mango and peaches. On the palate, the light smokiness and the fruits remain, sweet like exotic fruit gums. Does not develop much, short to medium finish. Nothing sensational, but quite a juicy dram all the same.”
Reviews on Master of Malt are very good (4 out of 5 stars) but this review by Chemistry of the Cocktail is less favourable. The reality is it’s young, pleasant, slightly underwhelming but you can’t grumble at the price.
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As I did a bit more research into Kininvie I discovered that the Wikipedia entry about the distillery is several years out of date.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: World Duty Free, 31st March 2015
84/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
81.7/100 – Whiskybase (average from 33 member votes)
If I’m honest with myself, Old Pulteney is forming a collection within my collection. Not only is it an old family favourite but my small addiction is boosted by the fact that the 17yo and 21yo Old Pulteneys are considered two of the best whiskies in the world. The 12yo is also highly regarded, very affordable, and recommended to old and new whisky drinkers alike.
With more and more Scottish distilleries replacing their best selling 10 and 12-year-olds with non-aged statements (NAS) you have to wonder how long before we see the demise of the Old Pulteney 12yo. Already the distillery is slipping in NAS bottlings, of which the Noss Head is an example. One review on Whiskybase mentioned its youthfulness (typical of a NAS versus what they’ve replaced) but at least the distillery has had the good sense to make it 46%. A bit more strength can sometimes be useful to mask immaturity. I’m a big kid, but you’d probably not notice after consuming 5 glasses of Noss Head! 🙂
84/100 from Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible might seem quite low but it’s at the top of the range of ‘good whisky worth trying’. Aberdeen airport were selling a very buyer-friendly 35cl although it’s normally sold as a 1ltr, and easily available online. Jim Murray states “the nose and delivery is about as fine a display of citrus maltiness as you’ll fine” but he detects a bitterness in the finish he’s not very keen on. Contrasting that, a reviewer on Whiskybase describes the finish as “not bitter at all”. Whose right? Time to try it and see.
Bought: World Duty Free, 31st March 2015
83.06/100 – Whiskybase (average from 36 member votes)
I first spotted this Kininvie 17yo in Aberdeen airport in July 2014. I decided not to buy it because I felt that £75 for a half bottle was excessive. Two days later I saw the same bottle sell for £170 on an internet auction. I know it’s a ‘limited edition’ but it’s also exclusive to Travel Retail shops, which are located only in certain airports. If you never visit one of those airports, your chance of buying a bottle is very restricted. I suppose two non-fliers spotted this Kininvie in the auction and battled their way up to £170. To them it was worth it because they couldn’t get it any other way.
9 months later I find myself in Aberdeen airport again, and bottles of the Kininvie 17yo are still there. So much for being a ‘limited’ release! I believe there’s meant to be about 10,000 bottles but you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s closer to a million. Gatwick airport had lots of bottles too. Perhaps they shouldn’t have so many close to each other on the shelves because they’re clearly breeding! But I’ve been noticing with ‘limited’ releases of whisky that even a mere 700 bottles can take months to sell out. 10,000 could take several years.
So far this Kininvie 17yo is doing well on Whiskybase. Comments include “not a bad Kininvie at all” and “delicate and noble” but also negatives of “lacks complexity and depth” and “flat and dull in flavour”. When you think how many brilliant whiskies you can buy for £75 or less, it makes you realise this Kininvie is either a) for the novelty of trying a new distillery experience or b) selling on for a profit. Reviews aren’t enticing me to taste it, so it looks like I’m going for option B.
Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com with his review on You Tube (December 2014):
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):
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.
Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 2nd September 2014
89.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
86/100 – Ralfy, of http://www.ralfy.com
Review: – Ralfy – Springbank 10yo – YouTube (January 2011)
Although Ralfy’s review is nearly 4 years old, one thing Springbank distillery is renowned for is consistency. I’d never tasted Springbank until July this year when I was in a whisky bar in Aberdeen. I’d just had a Balvenie 15yo Single Cask, which was OK but not as good as I’d heard. I then had a dram of the Springbank 10yo, and …WOW! It made the Balvenie taste thin in comparison. But, in fairness to the Balvenie, I don’t know how long the bottle had been open, or if I got the right amount of water, and I definitely didn’t wait very long before drinking it. One thing I’m learning as I gain more whisky experience is never to dismiss a whisky after one tasting. There are so many factors that can be tweaked, it sometimes takes several tastings to find the right harmonious balance of elements to make a whisky shine. Perhaps I drowned the Balvenie, or didn’t give it long enough to open up, but everything fell into place for the Springbank. More by luck than judgement.
Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, rates the Springbank 10yo as ‘very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying’ and half a point away from being ‘brilliant’. His final remark about this malt “keeps the taste buds on full alert” was exactly how I felt. It’s a complex and interesting dram that shows a combination of youth and experience, with a lovely full flavour. I’m definitely a Springbank convert!
Bought – Best of Whisky, Holland, 26th August 2014
81/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 4 reviews)
80.88/100 – Whiskybase (average from 51 votes)
This 10yo is an original bottling from Highland Park distillery but impossible to find in the UK. So much so it doesn’t appear in the Whisky Bible, that’s how obscure it is! So I was delighted to find it when doing my first online shop abroad in Holland. Reviews suggest this isn’t earth-shatteringly brilliant whisky but a pleasant example of a young Highland Park. Who can grumble with that?!
A comment on Whiskybase suggests this bottle was only produced for the Dutch and Canadian markets. Another reviewer said they prefer it to the 12yo and 15yo versions, which only goes to make it more intriguing!
Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com with his review on You Tube (October 2016):
Bought – Whisky Galore, 25th November 2013
77/100 – Whisky Bible 2006
74/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 7 reviewers)
I had to go back to 2006 to find a review in the Whisky Bible of this Gordon & MacPhail bottling of Glenburgie. It first appeared in 2004 so it was still quite new by 2006. When I checked my 2009 bible it was gone and by 2013 it was old news. Even when it gets a mention in 2006 it’s very short – “Chewy, with curious coal-smoke weight”. That’s hardly going to make you want to rush out and buy it!
Clearly I didn’t get this whisky because of its reviews but I’ve got a sneaky suspicion I’m going to like it. I’m definitely a Speyside fan, with leanings towards the unpeated, and fruity, which is exactly the house style of Glenburgie distillery.
When I do finally take a sip of this 10yo I’ll be comparing it to the Ballantine ‘Finest’ I bought back in August because the Glenburgie malt is used as part of the blend. Will I be able to spot it in the Ballantine? It will be interesting to see.
Bought – Whisky Galore, 25th November 2013
94.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
81/100 – Ralfy, of www.ralfy.com
Review: – Ralfy – Tomintoul 16yo – YouTube
For my single malt example from Tomintoul I was originally going to invest in a bottle of ‘With A Peaty Tang’ (which gets 94/100 in the Whisky Bible 2013) until I realised I’m not a great peat lover. I’d be happier to have a lump of peat burning on my fire than shoved into my dram! So I was delighted to find that the 16yo from this Speyside distillery was 94.5/100 in the bible AND easily obtainable as a half bottle.
I originally tried to buy this 16yo from Loch Fyne Whiskies but, after I’d ordered it, they contacted me and said it was out-of-stock. They offered me the 10yo instead but at 79/100 in the bible and only 50p cheaper than the 16yo I decided to find the older brother elsewhere.
As I was hunting down a video review of this 16yo, not only did I discover Ralfy’s version mentioned above but he also covers the 14yo Tomintoul. In this video he makes reference to his earlier review of the 16yo, which makes interesting viewing. You can see this video here.
Ralfy gives the 14yo a mark of 91/100, which is extremely high for him and 10 points more than he gives the 16yo. The whisky bible also scores the 14yo higher than the 16yo but only by 0.5 of a point. Reviews on Malt Maniacs have close marks but still in favour of the younger whisky with the 16yo getting 83/100 (from 2 reviewers) and the 14yo getting 84/100 (from 2 reviewers).
Ralfy has certainly got me curious about the 14yo, even if other reviewers think it’s only marginally better than the 16yo (not a whole 10 points like he does!). Unfortunately it’s not available in anything less than a 70cl bottle and at £40 (the 16yo is only £34 for 70cl) it seems rather expensive for what it is.