Tag Archives: Best of Whisky

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

Knappogue Castle 1995

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.

Knappogue Castle 1995 5cl


Knappogue Castle 1994

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

89/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
89/100 – RalfyHis YouTube review here (March 2013)

Here we have an independent bottling of a single malt from the Bushmills distillery in Ireland. It’s unusual to see both Ralfy and Jim Murray (author of the Whisky Bible) giving the same high mark. Obviously this must be good stuff! Although you wouldn’t think so from Ralfy’s opening references to bitterness. The Whisky Bible also picks up on this in its summary “not enough attention has been paid to getting rid of the oak-induced bitterness”. Ralfy’s initial impression was “I’m not really going to enjoy this” but, as he got used to it, and let the whiskey breath in an open bottle, his attitude changed. He grew accustomed to the new flavour experiences and their qualities.

89/100 in the Whisky Bible puts this single malt in the category of “very good to excellent whiskey definitely worth buying”. Jim Murray says in his review “a wonderful whiskey in the Knappogue tradition”. Although not overly happy with the bitter finish he scores the taste component 24/25.

All-in-all, a very interesting dram!

Knappogue Castle 1994 5cl

Knappogue Castle 1993

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

91/100 – Whisky Bible 2015

My apologies for the picture I took of this Irish single malt. It came as part of a triple-set of Knappogue Castle miniatures – 1993, 1994 and 1995. I tried to get them out of the box but I realised I’d rip the thing to shreds in the process, so I left it alone. I don’t know why because it’s never going to be much of a collector’s item. The box will have to go eventually, when I finally have the time to drink them!

I considered doing all 3 bottles in one review until I discovered that each one has its own entry in the Whisky Bible, and the 1994 edition was reviewed by Ralfy on You Tube. I will include that in my next blog. As for this 1993 release, Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, says in his review “a malt of exceptional character and charisma. Almost squeaky clean but proudly contains enormous depth and intensity. The chocolate finish is an absolute delight.” Did someone say ‘chocolate’? I will have to ensure I have some dark chocolate on standby when I do my tasting because it’s always nice when you find a whiskey that marries nicely with chocolate.

The Bible’s score of 91/100 classifies this whiskey as “brilliant”.

Knappogue Castle 1993 5cl

Clontarf 1014 Classic Blend

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

81/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
70.43/100 – Whiskybase (average from 9 member votes)

On the back of the box containing my 3 Clontarf miniatures is says of this Classic Blend “A Single Malt with a sophisticated rich malt taste, full of texture yet astonishingly smooth and lingering.” Single Malt? Perhaps if it’s a blend of single malts from the same distillery, then it’s still a single malt, but why is it called a blend?! They’ve confused me, even though I know it’s a blend. Perhaps the terminology can be more vague in Ireland. Try selling a blend as ‘single malt’ in Scotland and you’d feel the wrath of the law! The rest of the text on the box says “Nose: Toffee and subtle oak. Taste: Smooth and velvety with hints of vanilla”.

It all sounds very nice, albeit somewhat confused about its identity. Scoring 81/100 in the Whisky Bible might not sound amazing but it still falls into the category of “good whisky worth trying”. Jim Murray, the Bible author, says in his review “a hard as nails blend only softened by the heavy use of caramel which, though chewy, tends to obliterate any complexity from elsewhere. Ouch!” Nevertheless, he scores the ‘taste’ element as 22/25, so effectively 88/100. If you put a peg on your nose and ignore the finish, you’ll enjoy a top-class dram! 🙂

Clontarf Classic Blend NAS 5cl


Clontarf 1014 Reserve

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

72.5/100 – Whiskybase (average from 2 member votes)

Having bought this blend as part of a triple set of Clontarf miniatures, I’m certainly glad I didn’t get it as a full bottle! Although finding a review has proved tricky, the general consensus seems to be that this Irish blend isn’t very good (average at best). I’ve found information about a ‘Gold Label Reserve’ which could be the predecessor of this version minus the “1014” on the label.

The distillery say of this whiskey “a mouthwatering blend of Single Malt and rich grain whiskies. Uniquely fresh, smooth and spicy.” They then go on to describe the nose as “malt and spice” and the taste as “mouthwateringly fresh, smooth with a malty complexity.” Not exactly a deep analysis but then it seems from the lack of reviews that there’s not much more to say about this blend. I’m just praying I don’t end up holding my nose and throwing it back to finish it off!

Clontarf Reserve NAS 5cl

Clontarf Single Malt

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

90.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2015

As I was finishing off a whisky order from Holland, I went looking for something cheap and fun to make the most of the postage. This is when I discovered 3 miniature bottles of Clontarf, Irish Whiskey, that stack on top of each other to form a taller bottle shape – cute! There are two 5cl blends, and this 5cl single malt, which gets a good mark in the Whisky Bible 2015. The author, Jim Murray, says in his review “beautiful in its simplicity, this has eschewed complexity for delicious minimalism”. 90.5/100 puts it in the category of “brilliant”.

It’s also possible to get a stacking set of 20cl bottles, and a full 70cl of this single malt is currently available at The Whisky Exchange for £25.15, where it gets good customer reviews. I might be tempted once I’ve drunk this miniature!

Clontarf Single Malt NAS 5cl

Highland Park ‘Sigurd’

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

96/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
84.02/100 – Whiskybase (average from 123 member votes)

When I ordered this bottle of Sigurd from Holland for £102 I thought I was getting an incredible bargain. The only places selling it ‘new’ in the UK were charging £350 and one bottle had sold at auction for £260. Since then several of the mainstream online shops have restocked and are charging a more modest £125. But when they finally sell out, I’ve already seen how good this HP is as an investment.

But what about the taste if I decide to open it rather than treat it like money in the bank? Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, absolutely loves it. 96/100 ranks the Sigurd as “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live”. In his review he says “HP at its most intense” and “the mouth feel is simply perfection”. He summaries with “breath-taking, star-studded and ridiculously complex reminder that this distillery is capable of serving up some of the best whisky that the world can enjoy.”

The average score on Whiskybase is OK but not as high as the Whisky Bible would suggest. Nevertheless, it’s clearly a good whisky to drink, as well as one to be considered as an investment.

Here’s the distillery’s own YouTube video about the Sigurd (Sept 2013):

Highland Park Sigurd NAS 70cl

Overeem ‘Port Cask Matured’

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

90/100 – Whisky Bible 2015

I present to you the Australian single malt ‘Overeem’ or, as we know it in the UK, ‘Overpriced’. But in Holland they know it as “that cheap stuff from down under”. There are several online shops in the UK that sell this bottle of Overeem for £140. For that amount I’d expect a live kangaroo to be thrown in for free! In Holland they sell it for the Euro equivalent of £56. With €15.99 postage to the UK, you could order 2 bottles and still be less than the British price. If the world were a fair place, all those in Britain would get a free bottle of Overeem with every episode of Neighbours they managed to watch. You need something to numb the pain!

The Whisky Bible has very little to say about this bottle of Overeem, which is “heavily alcoholic sticky treacle pudding” but 90/100 ranks this single malt as “brilliant”. For a passionate review, here’s a You Tube video by The Booze Baron, which includes his impression and tasting notes:

Overeem Port Cask NAS 70cl

Seagram’s VO

Bought: Best of Whisky, Holland, 2nd February 2015

91/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
82/100 – RalfyHis YouTube review here (Feb 2010)

I’d given my only example of Canadian whisky away as a gift, so I was on the lookout for a replacement. The obvious choice was a full 70cl of Canadian Club, which a couple of supermarkets stock in the UK. But that seemed too easy! With a good selection on the Dutch online shop ‘Best of Whisky’ I spotted the Seagram’s VO for £11.50. With a good review from Ralfy and scoring 91/100 in the Whisky Bible, it sounded like an interesting buy.

91/100 is a great score for a whisky that has been through quite a change in the last 10 or so years. In the Whisky Bible 2006 it scored 85/100 where the author, Jim Murray, was detecting a decline where the whisky had “lost both its distinctive rye character and its claim to greatness”. By 2009 the Bible score had gone down to 80/100 where Mr Murray was saying the ‘VO’ now stood for ‘Very Ordinary’. By 2015 the review begins with “the king of rye-enriched, Canadian, VO, is dead. Long live the corn-dominant VO”. The author laments the loss of the rye-based VO but concedes that Seagram’s new corn creation “is a playful affair, full of vanilla-led good intention, corn and complexity”. Mr Murray goes on to say “thoroughly blended and with no little skill, I am impressed”. He looks forward to seeing how it develops in future years. So do I!

Seagram's VO NAS 70cl