Tag Archives: 5yo

Glen Grant 1970 5-year-old

Bought: Whisky Auction, 31st July 2018

82.33/100 – Whiskybase (average from 12 member votes)

If Dr Who arrived in the Tardis and begged me to become their sexy assistant, after I stopped laughing I’d ask to go back to 2013. I’d want to tell my former self, at the starting of my whisky addiction, to buy a bottle distilled in my year of birth. I would make this suggestion to anyone who wants to collect whisky because the longer you leave it the more expensive it becomes. Dr Who would probably tell me that meeting myself would cause a rift in the space-time continuum so I’d grab their sonic screwdriver and shove it up their arse. That’s an episode you wont be seeing on the BBC!

I might not be as old as Dr Who but being born in 1970 means that finding a good whisky from back then doesn’t come cheap. Auctions are the best place to look but over the last few years I’ve missed out on several bottles that are now too expensive for me to consider. But one bottle that has remained quite reasonable is the Glen Grant 5-year-old distilled in 1970. This is due to its lack of maturity but ratings suggest that it’s a very acceptable dram.

The earliest example of this 5yo I can find on Whiskybase was distilled in 1962, so bottled in c.1967. The latest example was distilled in 1988 thus bottled in the early 1990s. So this series ran for just over 25 years (c.1967-1993). A lot of the bottles found on the UK auction scene today are market ‘Seagram Italia’ or ‘Giovinetti’ Import, as the bottles have found their way over from Italy where this 5-year-old had a strong market.

The Glen Grant 5yo, without a distillation date, is still available on the Italian market today where a 70cl bottle at 40% will set you back a mere €13. Apparently it’s the best selling single malt in Italy where it’s been thriving for decades.

Serge of Whiskyfun reviews the earliest Glen Grant 5yo from 1967 but only rates it 68/100 and believes age has taken its toll on the bottle he sampled. Serge then reviews a 1968 version, which he rates very highly with 86/100. Although there’s no reviews of my 1970 Glen Grant, a mark of 82.33/100 on Whiskybase is a very strong score. Serge noticed an unexpected peatiness to the 1968 version and wondered if this was due to the problems on Islay that caused the likes of Brora to produce peaty whisky on the mainland. Did Glen Grant do the same? The peaty production at Brora drifted into the early 1970s so when I finally crack open my Glen Grant I’ll be interested to see what I can detect in the flavour. I’m hoping the liquid has held its form like the ’68 and not the ’67 that Serge tried. But when a whisky is this old you can never be sure what to expect. The same can sometimes be said about me!

Skibhoul Stores, Sandisons Ltd, Unst, 5yo Blend

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 24th May 2017


This 5-year-old deluxe blended Scotch whisky was bottled for Skibhoul Stores, Sandisons Ltd, on the small island of Unst in Shetland. It might seem like a crazy auction purchase and you’d be absolutely right. My justification is sentimental because the majority of my family come from Shetland. I don’t expect this to be great whisky, and the packaging and label are basic in the extreme but for £13 I’m not complaining. This Unst blend has the same caramel colour and age as the Glen Orchy 5yo from Lidl so if it tastes similar I’ll be very happy. But it will probably get the lemonade treatment as most of my budget blends do.

(Above – Skibhoul Stores, Unst, Shetland)

If Unst sounds familiar it’s because the island is also the location for the Shetland Distillery Company (Saxa Vord distillery) who are destined to be the first whisky distillery in Shetland. They produce a blended whisky but are currently most famous for their Shetland Reel gin. In 2015 they bottled a Glenglassaugh cask after storing it in Shetland for a while so it could be the first single malt from the islands, even though it was distilled elsewhere. It was a bit of a publicity stunt but I fell for it and got a bottle. Well I had to, didn’t I!

According to online company records Sandisons Ltd began life in 2006 so the blend for the Unst store isn’t very old even if the packaging belongs in the 1970s. Scoring 4.5/5 from 22 reviews on Trip Advisor the Skibhoul Stores are highly thought of by locals and visitors alike:


Whisky collections all deserve a few obscure bottles and this is certainly one of mine!

Glen Garioch 2011 Carn Mor Strictly Limited 5yo

Bought: Aberdeen Whisky Shop, 27th March 2017

80/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)

I do love the Aberdeen Whisky Shop. It’s a nice wee shop in my home town with great staff but….OMG, the website! It’s been sitting there with one page saying, “online shop coming soon” since about 2013. But this is a perfect example of how crazy the whisky market has gone in recent years. The statement “you must be online to make money” doesn’t apply to whisky. If you have a shop in the centre of Scotland’s third largest city you get enough walk-in trade to make ‘online’ become ‘on hold’ until market forces change. But it is frustrating if you find the Aberdeen Whisky Shop online and you don’t live anywhere near the city. At least they give regular updates about new stock via their Facebook page.

I hadn’t intended on buying this Glen Garioch but I was in the shop, it was there, and the rest is history. Generally I’m not a fan of immature whisky but after visiting Glen Garioch in 2016 I was keen to get more examples from the distillery. Distilled in 2011 and bottles in 2017 this 5-year-old was limited to 665 bottles. It has no added colour, and it’s non-chillfiltered but it’s a shame it isn’t cask strength. I suppose it’s a lot to ask for a mere £36 and 46% is a decent enough potency. Definitely one to be drunk as I don’t see this making much as an investment. The bottles aren’t individually numbered and it comes from 2 bourbon barrels rather than single cask. There’s no box and the label is very basic, which all says, “drink me” rather than “keep me for 10 years then sell me”. The independent bottlers Morrison & Mackay that make this whisky certainly know their marketing.

Tasting notes from Master of Malt:

Nose: Coconut, white oak spice, vanilla-forward barley.
Palate: Freshly cut grass, mint leaf and more sweet coconut notes.
Finish: Soft citrus and toasty oak.

Dunglass (Littlemill) 5-year-old

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 10th January 2017

77/100 – Whiskybase (average from 5 member votes)
69/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 5 maniac votes)

Dunglass was the name given to an experimental whisky produced for one year in 1967 at the Littlemill distillery. Whiskybase only list 4 independent bottlings of Dunglass from 1967 and two distillery 5-year-olds labelled ‘Pure Malt’. As much as I’d like to think my Dunglass 5yo was bottled in 1972 as a ‘single malt’ (as it’s classified on Whiskybase) I know it’s not the rare stuff from 1967. According to one auction site that sold a Dunglass 5yo ‘Pure Malt’ (old term for a blend) it was bottled in the 1990s. I also discovered online (so it’s bound to be true) that ‘Dunglass’ was a name used by Amalgamated Distilled Products (ADP) when selling whisky in Italy. ADP bought the Littlemill distillery in 1982. So, joining the dots, I’d say the Dunglass 5yo is a blend from the 1980s/90s that used a trading name inherited from purchasing the Littlemill distillery. If anyone else knows more please comment below.

Just when I thought I’d got it sorted out I see the Malt Maniacs classify the Dunglass 5yo as a single malt from the 1970s. AAARGH!!! But one of the maniacs, Serge Valentin, says he isn’t 100% sure it’s the experimental Littlemill from 1967. So I stand by what I said, that this is a more recent whisky, unfortunately.

Scoring 77/100 on Whiskybase is a below-average score. One voter who scores it 62/100 leaves these notes, “Grass and freshly cut barley. First you have the feeling of pleasant sweetness on the tongue, but after a short time oily bitter notes come to the fore. For me, this very young Littlemill bottling is little attractive, perhaps this is the reason why there are not very many bottles available?”

Clearly this dram is more of a talking point than for drinking. It may not be the original Dunglass of 1967 but it keeps the memory alive. By all accounts the original Dunglass single malt wasn’t very good, which explains why the experiment only lasted a short time.

Tasting notes, Serge Valentin, Whiskyfun.com:
Nose: light and very grainy, as expected. Gets quite grassy (hay, heavily sugared iced tea). Dried flowers, caramel, hints of praline.
Mouth: aromatically weak, sweetish… Hints of lavender ice cream, pear juice, apple juice.
Finish: rather long, and slightly peppery

Incidentally, Dunglass is a hamlet in the lowlands of Scotland, south of Edinburgh, with a coast on the North Sea. Dunglass Castle is a ruin, constructed between 1400-1542. Obviously there wasn’t any urgency in medieval Scotland to build affordable housing. Apparently the poet Robert Burns said of Dunglass “the most romantic sweet place I ever saw” when visiting in 1787. In 1919 the Usher family came to the Dunglass Estate. An ancestor, Andrew Usher, co-founded the North British Distillery, which is a grain distillery still active today. Andrew Usher is sometimes referred to as the “father of Scotch Whisky” because he perfected the eventual blending of whisky, which he started in the 1840s. This is probably why ‘Dunglass’ was chosen as a whisky name.

Here’s Ben of ‘A Dram A Day’ on YouTube with his thoughts about the Dunglass (April 2016):

Glen Flagler ‘Rare All-Malt’ 100% Pot Still 5-year-old

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 10th January 2017

83.31/100 – Whiskybase (average from 34 member votes)

Glen Flagler (or Glenflagler) was one of several single malts produced at the Moffat distillery in Airdrie from the mid 1965 to 1985. Inver House Distillers Ltd created the distillery on the site of the derelict Moffat Mill paper mills. Even though distilling stopped in the mid 1980s Inver House still use the site for warehousing and as their head office to this day.

Before buying an example of Glen Flagler I had to sort out which old bottles were single malt as opposed to blended malt. Apparently Inver House continued to produce the Glen Flagler as a blend name after production of the single malt stopped. There’s a lot of confusion out on the Internet, or if not confusion then avoiding the problem by not saying if a bottle is ‘single malt’ or ‘blend’. Eventually enough places I looked said that if the Glen Flagler bottle has ‘pure malt’ on it then it’s a blend. Often auction houses wont mention this and as a result the blend version can achieve prices similar to the single malt. The Glen Flagler distillation from 1965 to 1985 used pot stills so if the label doesn’t mention ‘pure malt’ and says ‘100% pot still’ it should be single malt (I hope!).

Scoring over 83/100 on Whiskybase is very respectable where comments include “nothing to write home about but nice to try all the same”, “really unusual but I like that”, “don’t expect the earth to move, but not a bad whisky at all. Aperitif style whisky for late summer afternoons.”

Tasting notes included on Whiskybase:
Nose: Very light and not particularly expressive. A little grapefruit, lemon and dried grass and something nutty.
Taste: Bitter and woody (surprising at this age). Quite mouth filling and fat. A little honey and biscuit
Finish: Longer than expected, approaching medium.

Glenesk 5-year-old

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 23rd August 2016

86.17/100 – Whiskybase (average from 8 member votes)
85/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 3 maniac scores)

The Glenesk distillery, near Montrose on the east of Scotland, closed in 1985. The distillery had several different names over the years but bottlings I’ve seen at auction are either called Glenesk or Hillside. The majority of the distillery buildings were demolished in 1996 but the maltings remain as warehousing.

This 5-year-old distillery release could have been distilled in 1980 but probably began life in the 1970s. The neck level isn’t brilliant but it’s not bad for a 30yo+ whisky with a screw cap. Evaporation is happening but very slowly. At 75cl it’s probably still got more than 70cl in it, which is the UK standard bottle size today. I believe this bottle was only for the Italian market because it has “prodotto e imbottigliato da” (produced and bottled by) on the label. And you rarely see bottles without an Italian import seal over the cap. Interestingly ‘The Whisky Exchange’ say there’s colour added, which might be the case but it’s so light I find that hard to believe.

Scoring over 86/100 on Whiskybase is a fantastic rating but unfortunately the only member to leave a comment scores it 72/100, which is hardly representative. Nevertheless, as reviews are hard to find, for reference his thoughts are “very light in colour and so it comes in the nose, fresh barley perhaps with some apple, just as in the mouth, a bit flat, straw-like, very short on the finish. I think anyone who does not like the typical notes of whisky with some smoke is served here rather well. A whisky with little character.”

I’m surprised but delighted that such a young whisky gets a great score on both Whiskybase and Malt Maniacs. Bottles sell for around £150 at auction or £350 when purchasing from a shop (who have won it at auction and added a huge premium).


Shetland Reel Whisky 5-year-old

Bought: Shetland Reel Gin, 11th September 2015

None as yet but listed on Whiskybase here.

I was going to list this whisky in my collection as a ‘Glenglassaugh’ since that’s where it was distilled but what the heck, I’m putting it under ‘Saxa Vord Distillery’ on the island of Unst in Shetland where it was bottled. The big selling point of this single malt when it appeared in September 2015 was being the first whisky to be bottled on the Shetland Isles, which makes it the most northerly whisky ever bottled in Scotland. But, as the label says, it was distilled in “a Portsoy distillery” which is another way of saying this whisky is Glenglassaugh.

The release was limited to 4 casks, one peated, which produced 21 bottles, and 3 non-peated, which produced 151 bottles. Since both my parents were born in Shetland, and I have a lot of family history there, I simply had to get a bottle. Not surprisingly they sold out pretty quickly but I got bottle no.6 of 50 from the 1st non-peated cask. Distilled on 15th December 2009 and bottled on 13th July 2015, this 5-year-old was matured in German virgin oak. At cask strength of 58.8% and natural colour, I’m expecting it to taste youthful but feisty. But I wont be opening it until a special occasion involving a gathering of the family clan.

Shetland Reel Whisky 5yo 70cl

Talisker 5-year-old

Bought: The Whisky Shop, 11th May 2015

87/100 – Whiskybase (based on 1 member vote)

To a collector, this bottle has several plus points. It’s from a good distillery, it’s from a limited release of 437 bottles, and it has the year of distillation on it (2008). Unfortunately, it’s only 5 years old. Recently I was looking at a bottle of Glen Grant 5yo, distilled in 1970, selling for £180. That’s 38 years older than my Talisker, which cost about £60. If I have to wait 38 years to sell it at auction for a £120 profit, pass me a straw and I’ll drink it now! You could argue that the Glen Grant 5yo wasn’t a limited release but it’s bottled by the distillery. My Talisker is by an independent bottler, which generally makes less money at auction than a distillery bottling.

Thankfully I’m a big fan of the Talisker taste, so this bottle is destined for consumption. I’ve often heard it said of Islay whiskies that they taste good at a young age (and they do) because of their robust and flavoursome nature. This got me wondering if it would be the same or similar with Talisker, which has a very rounded and distinctive taste. Although not as powerful as some of the pungent Islays, I’m sure 5 years of maturing will bring out some of the early qualities of Talisker.

With a mere 437 bottles in existence, I’m not surprised there is only one review on Whiskybase but 87/100 is an excellent score. I hope I agree when I finally get a chance to taste it. I feel a comparison with the 10yo coming on!

Talisker 5yo 70cl

Glen Orrin 5-year-old (Aldi)

Bought – Aldi, 1st November 2013

This is the first time I’ve bought whisky from Aldi, so I was keen to see if I could find any reliable reviews of this 5yo. Unfortunately not. I’m no expert on the Aldi range but it seems this 5yo version of the Glen Orrin is quite new. Google results are more fixated with a 30yo release rather than this younger, and more commonly available relative.

I tend to think of Lidl and Aldi as much the same, so it doesn’t surprise me that Lidl have also got a 5yo whisky in the Glen Orchy. It’s clearly a tit for tat thing between these two companies. I will have to do a taste comparison to see which one of these 5yos I prefer.

I was curious as to the location of Glen Orrin, which I discover is in the Highlands, west of Beauly and beside the Orrin Reservoir, which was opened in 1961 as part of the Conon Hydro-Electric Scheme. For those of you interested in geneology, according to my clan map of Scotland, Glen Orrin is in the Mackenzie territory. Closest whisky distillery looks like Glen Ord but that’s not to say any of the malt in this blend comes from there, or anywhere close by.

Update (25th November 2013). Tasted it and it’s very good. You can tell it’s a young dram from the nose, where there’s plenty of spirit floating about that hasn’t had a chance to suck the juice out of the sherry, bourbon, etc., casks its component parts were resting in before being blended together. But there’s plenty of fruit perfume there to create a good distraction. I felt the finish was as short as you’d expect for that age and didn’t detract from the overall charm of the drink. After a few sips I added lemonade, which is my mixer of choice with a blend, and that worked well (which isn’t always the case with a blend). Definitely a whisky I’ll take out of the cupboard again!

Glen Orrin 5yo 70cl

Glen Orchy 5-year-old (Lidl)

Bought – Lidl, 31st October 2013

80.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2013 (doesn’t state age)

A top tip from my cousin, probably the greatest whisky collector in Somerset. He’d tried the Glen Orchy from his local Lidl and enjoyed it. Time for me to pick up a bottle! The review in the Whisky Bible 2013 doesn’t state the age of the Glen Orchy so I’m wondering if it used to be NAS and has now changed. I’ll be interested to see if ‘5yo’ is mentioned for the Glen Orchy in the 2014 bible edition.

I must confess, I’m a sucker for a bottle with an interesting shape and the angles on the Glen Orchy certainly do it for me!

(Update – 7th January 2014) – The Whisky Bible 2014 has arrived and Jim Murray has given this Glen Orchy 5-year-old 88.5/100. An excellent mark. He says of the taste “superb, mouth-watering gristy sugars.” And finishes with “excellent malt plus very decent casks equals light-bodied fun”. In the same bible, Johnnie Walker Red Label gets a point less with 87.5/100. Clearly the Glen Orchy 5yo can hold a candle to the bigger names in blended Scotch, as well as beat them for price!

Glen Orchy 5yo 70cl