Tag Archives: Nickolls & Perks

Tomatin ‘Cu Bocan’

Bought: Nickolls & Perks, 22nd January 2016

85.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
82/100 – Ralfy of www.ralfy.com
81.5/100 – Whiskybase (average from 163 member votes)

Cu Bocan is Tomatin’s brand name for their new line of non-aged statement (NAS) whiskies, which most distilleries are doing these days. It was the only version of Cu Bocan when it first appeared in the Whisky Bible 2014 but the 2016 edition has 5 versions. The one that scores the most is the ‘1989 Vintage’ with 95.5/100 but the ‘Virgin Oak Edition’ is only one behind with 94.5/100. Clearly the author, Jim Murray, is a fan of what Tomatin are doing. 85.5/100 for my original Cu Bocan classifies this dram as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”. Mr Murray’s review includes “an old fashioned dram: the type that Pitt the younger, or Pitt the embryo might remember…and appreciate.” About the taste he remarks “the big player is the oak which, almost, bourbon like, shovels cartloads of caramel and muscovado into the mix.” Any whisky worthy of a quote from Blackadder must be good!

81.5/100 is a good score on Whiskybase where one voter says of the taste “mildly peated and ashy, with a faint sherry influence and exotic fruits”.

Ralfy gives the Cu Bocan a very respectable 82/100 back in the days when he was happy to review NAS bottlings. Saying that he does summaries with “classic example of an average malt being heavily marketed and over-priced in order to get attention.” Here is his review on You Tube from March 2014:

Tomatin Cu Bocan NAS 20cl

Tamdhu 1989 (Carn Mor c.23-year-old)

Bought: Nickolls & Perks, 22nd January 2016

85/100 – Whiskybase (average from 5 member votes)

This Tamdhu is part of the 24 x 20cl bottles that make up the Carn Mor Vintage Collection. Distilled in 1989 and bottled in 2012, it’s from a limited edition of 480, Cask No: 8149. Non-chill filtered, no added colour and 46%, so the makings of something very delightful!

Tamdhu is almost the quintessential easy-drinker with a light body and malty sweetness. It’s a key component of blends like J&B, Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse but in 2010 the owners, Edrington’s, deemed the distillery surplus to requirements and closed it down. In 2011 Tamdhu was bought by Ian Macleod Distillers and re-commissioned in 2012. They have a good-looking new website and an online shop where you can buy their sleek-styled bottles of 10yo, Batch Strength and Limited Edition 10yo.

Getting back to my quarter bottle, a score of 85/100 on Whiskybase is fantastic and one voter has kindly left these tasting notes:

Nose: Apple, almond, caramel, apricot, tangerine peel and vanilla. It does have a sharp peppery edge to it.
Taste: Almond, apple, caramel, tangerine, vanilla and a little smoke.
Finish: Almond, red apple and caramel.
Comments: Not as creamy as I know Tamdhu. I would have guessed it to be younger as well.

Tamdhu 1989 Carn Mor 20cl

Macallan ‘Gold’

Gift – Nickolls & Perks, 9th September 2014

89.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
80.38/100 – Whiskybase (average from 60 member votes)

I’d tried the Macallan ‘Gold’ in a bar in Scotland and was considering buying a full bottle until Nickolls & Perks sent me a free miniature with my last order. As a collector this ticks it off the list for a while but I’d still like to get a full bottle eventually. The Whisky Bible says of the taste “it is the (chocolate) biscuity barley laced with honey and maple syrup that blows you away” and the author summaries with “no Macallan I have tasted since the first in 1975 has been sculpted to show the distillery in such delicate form.”

The average score and comments on Whiskybase are a little less grandiose than in the Whisky Bible. Having tried the Gold I would agree with a member of Whiskybase who describes it as an entry-level single malt. If you’re after a good Speysider at a reasonable price then the Macallan ‘Gold’ is certainly a contender. But it’s a bit like getting a pair of tartan socks for Christmas – it’s OK, definitely warming, certainly Scottish but nothing to write home about.

I’ve been monitoring the price of the Macallan ‘Gold’ in UK supermarkets for over a year now and it’s never been discounted from its price of £36, which has started to creep up in some locations. £36 puts it in the same price bracket, or slightly more than a discounted Aberlour A’bunadh, which smashes the Gold out of sight for nose, body, flavour, taste, strength, finish and being everything good about Speyside. For what the Gold is, it should be £30 maximum but you’re paying £6 more because of the Macallan name. Heck, who am I kidding?! I’m a designer labels whore so I’ll be getting a full bottle soon! 🙂

Here’s Jo of Whisky Wednesday with his thoughts on the Macallan Gold, which he scores 7.5/100 (YouTube Nov 2015):

Macallan Gold 5cl

Macallan 12-year-old ‘Sherry Oak’

Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 9th September 2014

93/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
84.87/100 – Whiskybase (average from 229 member votes)
88/100 – Whisky Bitch – Her review on YouTube (February 2014)

There are times during any form of collecting, be it whisky, stamps, shoes, motorbikes, etc, when you can have a mad moment. This can often be followed by a collector questioning why they do what they do, especially if they also believe in saving the planet, helping the poor and curing cancer. For me these moments of doubt can hit at any time but especially if I spend a lot of money on a whisky that doesn’t really merit the price tag. Enter the Macallan 12yo ‘Sherry Oak’. A mere snip at £66 in September but already a month later it’s up to £74 and rising. But it’s been discontinues, and getting rarer, so shops are gradually hiking the price. My brother remembers it when it used to be about £30, and that’s within the last 10 years. But I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking the Macallan is collectable for a future profit, if I don’t end up drinking it first.

Jim Murray rates the 12yo ‘Sherry Oak’ below the 12yo ‘Fine Oak’ but it’s the other way around with the votes from Whiskybase which are:

  • 84.87/100 – 12yo Sherry Oak, average from 229 votes
  • 81.68/100 – 12yo Fine Oak, average from 151 votes

Personally I do love a more sherried Speysider so I’m likely to side with those on Whiskybase instead of Mr Murray. But when two whiskies are as close as that, you can sometimes find it depends on the day as to which one you prefer. There’s a whisky for all moods, emotions and seasons.

Macallan 12yo Sherry Oak 70cl

Ardbeg Corryvreckan

Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 9th September 2014

96.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
90/100 – Ralfy (his video review below)
89.37/100 – Whiskybase (average from 719 member votes)

If you’d asked me a year ago if I’d get a Corryvreckan before a bottle of Uigeadail I would have said “Corry what?!” I only became aware of the Corryvreckan when I saw it in a ‘World Duty Free’ shop in Heathrow Airport. I did a bit of research and discovered that a heck of a lot of people LOVE this whisky, not least Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible 2014. He waxes lyrical about its wonders, scoring the overall balance and complexity a perfect 25/25. Apparently the taste isn’t too bad either, which Mr Murray scores 24.5/25 and begins his comments with “amazing”! You also don’t get nearly 90/100 from 719 member votes on Whiskybase if you’re not close to perfection. It seems that, Islay fan or not, you’d still get some pleasure out of the Corryvreckan.

Corryvreckan is from the Gaelic meaning “fan of Coronation Street” or “cauldron of the speckled sea”, or one of those. Whatever it means, Ardbeg clearly didn’t give it a name that would be easy to say when a pub rang for last orders. After your 10th slurred attempt at saying it I’d recommend settling with “a beer please”. But you’re unlikely to find the Corryvreckan in a bar. Even the Ardbeg 10yo is generally only located in specialist whisky bars. It’s a shame but then perhaps that’s deliberate by Ardbeg who want to be more exclusive.

Here’s Ralfy with his thoughts about the Corryvreckan on YouTube (April 2010):

Ardbeg Corryvreckan 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

Springbank 12-year-old ‘Cask Strength’ Batch 5

Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 2nd September 2014

92/100 – Ralfy – Springbank 12yo, Batch 7 – YouTube (April 2014)
90/100 – Ralfy – Springbank 12yo, Batch 9 – YouTube (September 2014)

If you ever try and find out information on a bottle of whisky that’s 20 or 30 years old, good luck! Even the information out on the internet for recent whisky releases can be inconsistent, patchy, or nonexistent. Your best bet is post a question in a whisky forum where true knowledge and experience can be found. I bought this Springbank 12yo as Batch 5 but there’s nothing on the bottle or box that says which batch it is. Based on its strength (53.1%) Master of Malt also used to sell this as Batch 5 but, Whiskybase say it’s Batch 6. I found a bottle being sold on Amazon with 50.3% in the title, 52.3% on the bottle in the picture and 53.1% in the technical details. No mention of the batch anywhere. It was quite hilarious but that’s Amazon for you!

Whichever batch I have, the bottom line is the whisky is phenomenal. As soon as I watched Ralfy’s review for Batch 7, the Springbank 12yo went on my shopping list. If you like the 10yo like I do, then this 12yo ‘cask strength’ release of Springbank has everything required to blow your mind. Well, perhaps not as amazing as that but I’ve yet to see a bad review for any of the 12yo batches. I got Batch 5 instead of 7 because a) it was on sale and b) I’m hoping Batch 7 will still be available next year when I’m able to buy it again. I foresee Springbank becoming one of my regular drams.

Springbank 12yo Cask Strength Batch 5 70cl

Springbank 10-year-old

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!

Springbank 10yo 35cl

Macallan 10-year-old ‘Sherry Oak’

Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 17th June 2014

91/100 – Whisky Bible 2014

Whenever you start collecting whisky, you soon realise that the world of whisky is constantly changing. New bottles appear whilst old bottles die off. When I started my collection in 2013 my big success was getting a bottle of Johnnie Walker Green Label before it vanished completely from the UK supermarkets. That was purely down to luck based on when I started. What had I missed before?! Where the whisky gods were against me was the Macallan 10yo ‘Sherry Oak’. It took me a while to realise it had been discontinued. By the time I did the only bottles of 10yo I could find in the shops were the ‘Fine Oak’, and at £40 each the price was already rising. Stories online suggested that, when the Macallan 10yo was generally available, it was about £30. I added a 70cl bottle on Amazon to my wishlist at £46 hoping it might get reduced. It’s now £60, so sadly I wont be getting it.

Thankfully we have miniatures! But even those are rising in price. I got my mini of the Macallan 10yo ‘Sherry Oak’ for £6 and two months later it’s gone up to £10! The online shops are cashing in on the demand but rarity of an excellent single malt.

Whatever your views are about Macallan replacing their younger age-statements (10yr, 12yr and 15yr), with the NAS (non-age statements) of Gold, Amber, Ruby and Sienna, it comes down to a case of sup-it-and-see. The ‘Gold’, a direct replacement for the 10yo, gets good reviews. Life moves on, and so do whiskies. It’s sad to see the 10yo go but Macallan have to keep up the quality because there’s plenty of competition out there. I’ve tried the ‘Gold’ and it was nice, so a bottle of that is now on my shopping list.

Macallan 10yo Sherry Oak 5cl

Aberlour 1994 (Carn Mor c.18-year-old)

Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 17th June 2014

83/100 – Whiskybase (average from 3 member votes)

This Aberlour forms part of the 24 x 20cl bottles that make up the Carn Mor Vintage Collection. Distilled in 1994 and bottled in 2012, it’s from a limited edition of 720, Cask No: 4413. Non-chill filtered and no added colour.