Tag Archives: Travel Retail

Highland Park 1991 (Travel Retail)

Bought: Whisky Auction, 9th February 2017

Ratings:
85.33/100 – Whiskybase (average from 5 member votes)

Released in 2012, this Travel Retail exclusive was a replacement for the 1990 bottle. At the same time the 2001 came in to replace the 1998 release. Unlike the Highland Park (HP) 1990 the HP 1991 was limited to the Singapore market. This may explain why it didn’t appear in Jim Murray’s ‘Whisky Bible’. Strangely it took over 4 years after the release before the HP 1991 started to appear in UK auctions. I’ve heard of the slow boat from China but these bottles must have been on a tortoise from Singapore! Auction prices have ranged from £77.50 to a whopping £165, which is a lot for a 10-11yo HP. Nevertheless I foresee prices going up because this seems to be quite a rare bottle.

Scoring over 85/100 on Whiskybase is a very good score but the HP 1990, which the 1991 replaced, scores 86.44/100. The 1990 was bottled in 2010, which makes it slightly younger than the 1991. So being older doesn’t necessarily mean being better.

Tasting notes about the HP 1991 from ‘Scotch Malt Whisky’ say:

“Golden with glowing coppery tones, Vintage 1991 (40% ABV) has aromas of dried orange peel, vanilla with toasted cedar wood and rich fragrant spicy notes such as nutmeg, a hint of cloves and incense. Mouth-watering lemon and orange citrus flavours in the mouth, with sweet vanilla custard notes wrapped in subtle yet complex spices at the end. The finish is medium sweet with a lingering, smoky spiciness.”

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Glenfiddich ‘Reserve Cask’

Bought: World Duty Free (Aberdeen airport), 17th September 2016

Ratings:
83/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
80.18/100 – Whiskybase (average from 46 member votes)

Introduced in 2013, the ‘Reserve Cask’ is priced in the middle of the three ‘Cask Collection’ by Glenfiddich between the cheaper ‘Select Cask’ and more expensive ‘Vintage Cask’. And from the reviews online it seems the ‘Reserve Cask’ is middle for quality too. Glenfiddich know their whisky so they were never going to get this wrong. 83/100 in the Whisky Bible classifies the ‘Reserve Cask’ as “good whisky worth trying” and the author says, “soft, chewy, occasionally sparkling but the overdose of toffee and disappointing degree of late furriness means its speech is distinctly limited in its topic.”

Just over 80/100 on Whiskybase suggests a good but fairly average whisky, which is what you’d expect from the price point. Comments include “it is a rich, deliciously smooth, sweet and silky single malt with a complex flavour profile. An extremely savoury, creamy and intriguing dram.” and “not my favorite Glenfiddich, but very affordable”

Tasting notes from Master of Malt:

Nose: Waxy peels, marmalade and Christmas-y clove warmth. Vanilla, raisin and a touch of dark chocolate.

Palate: Christmas spice up front, joined by fresh lemon, chewy barley, almonds and a little old oak.

Finish: Long, with a good balance of sweet citrus and oak spices.

Expert whisky taster Mark Dermul scores the ‘Reserve Cask’ a typical 80/100. Here are his thoughts on You Tube (January 2016):

glenfiddich-reserve-cask-nas-5cl

Glenfiddich ‘Select Cask’

Bought: World Duty Free (Aberdeen airport), 17th September 2016

Ratings:
78.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
79.31/100 – Whiskybase (average from 64 member votes)

I find it hard to believe it’s three years since the Glenfiddich ‘Cask Collection’ first appeared as a Travel Retail exclusive in 2013. It doesn’t feel that long. Perhaps it took me a while to notice because I’m not a huge fan of Glenfiddich. I feel they are more Ford than Ferrari, with a focus on mass production rather than high quality. The standard 12yo is OK but that’s about it, it’s just OK. If their Cask Collection had set the whisky world alight in 2013 I might have pounced on a bottle sooner but it didn’t. Ratings for the entry level ‘Select Cask’ are what you’d expect for a non-age statement 1 litre bottle for £40.

In fairness to the Select Cask its life in bourbon, European oak and red wine casks are an interesting heritage but does this tri-union of wood really work? Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible doesn’t think so. He says, “bourbon and wine casks may be married together…but they are on a course for a messy divorce. The honeymoon on delivery is pretty rich and exotic. But it is all too short-lived as things soon turn pretty bitter.” His score of 78.5/100 is low for him and classifies this single malt as “average, and usually pleasant but sometimes flawed.”

79.31/100 on Whiskybase suggests the Select Cask is good but nothing special. Comments online are a bit more generous than in the Whisky Bible including “very sweet but still spicy, at the end rather short but still all right.” And “it’s light and very drinkable”.

Several reviews say the Select Cask is a good ‘session’ whisky, where the gathering is more sociable than focusing on the quality of the drink. Mark Dermul in his You Tube video below concurs with this by saying the Select Cask would go well during a night of playing cards with friends. Here’s his thoughts (February 2016):

glenfiddich-select-cask-nas-5cl

Talisker ‘Dark Storm’

Bought: World of Whisky (Heathrow Airport), 10th September 2016

Ratings:
92/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
83.85/100 – Whiskybase (average from 309 member votes)

The Talisker ‘Dark Storm’ first appeared in 2013, the very year I got into drinking, collecting and investing in whisky. Even though I love Talisker it’s taken me 3 years to get the Dark Storm because of the NAS (non-age statement) war that was raging in 2013. The younger Macallan age statements (10yo, 12yo & 15yo) were being replaced by NAS and most new NAS bottles were greeted with scepticism and sneers. As I searched for advice online I got unfairly tainted by the NAS jibes, often by people who hadn’t even tasted the whisky they were insulting. Not that the Dark Storm was easy to acquire being a Travel Retail exclusive (airport Duty Free) but it also took me a while to get the ‘Storm’. Of course ‘exclusive’ means the Dark Storm is available in numerous shops in Germany and Holland, as well as £62.90 from Amazon UK (£44.99 at airports).

The Whisky Bible’s score of 92/100 relates to the 2013 edition of the Dark Storm but I have the 2014 version. Not that there’s much difference between the two. If anything the 2014 is slightly better as it scores 83.85/100 on Whiskybase with the 2013 release scoring 83.77/100 (from 344 votes). Both are fantastic scores. Comments for my bottle include “not your typical Talisker, but still very serious and complex”, “a very round and delicate malt” and “damn good release from Talisker”.

As Horst Luening says during his review on You Tube (here) there’s probably colour added but neither he nor any review I’ve read say this affects the taste. He suspects the Dark Storm is a young spirit but the heavily charred wood has been used brilliantly in smoothing and shaping the flavour. There are several other You Tube reviews, all very complimentary (Jo of Whisky Wednesday loves it and scores it 9/10) but I’ve added the following review from Scotch 4 Dummies because they give us four different opinions (April 2016 – 15 minutes):

talisker-dark-storm-nas-100cl

Bruichladdich ‘The Laddie 8’

Bought: World of Whisky (Heathrow Airport), 10th September 2016

Ratings:
83/100 – Whisky Bible 2018
83.59/100 – Whiskybase (average from 29 member votes)
86/100 – Malt Box (his YouTube review below)

This new 8-year-old Bruichladdich first appeared as a Travel Retail Exclusive in March 2016 for £44.99. It then went up to £46.49 and by September it was £48.99. Ah yes, the slow creep of the greedy world of whisky. Nevertheless I was so excited to find a new ‘age statement’ from Bruichladdich I decided that nearly £50 was worth it. Hard to believe it’s only 3 year since I paid £20 for a bottle of the dearly departed Laddie 10. But obviously my salary has gone up by 150% since 2013 so I’m able to keep buying whisky! 🙂

83.6/100 on Whiskybase is a very good score and compares well against the Classic Laddie Scotch Barley NAS (non-age statement) with 82.3/100. Comments for the Laddie 8 include “satisfying and with its own distinguishable signature” and “a light, easy-sipping dram at first glance, but it pays off to take your time and dig deeper.” A Whiskybase member scoring the Laddie 8 a representative 84/100 leaves these tasting notes:

Nose: Very fresh and light with lemon curd, lime and kiwi at centre stage. Also grass, honey and vanilla with sweet breakfast cereals.
Taste: Fairly spicy at first, but those quickly make way for fruitier flavours of lemon, apple and pear. Some nuttiness in the background as well.
Finish: Subtle aniseed, lemon rasp and almonds. Drying and pretty long.

Here’s Andy of Malt Box with his review on You Tube (April 2016):

bruichladdich-the-laddie-8-8yo-70cl

Glenmorangie ‘The Tarlogan’

Bought: World of Whisky, 7th July 2016

Ratings:
95/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
82.4/100 – Whiskybase (from 7 member votes)
84/100 – WhiskyWise (his video review below)

The Tarlogan is the 3rd release of the new Legends series from Glenmorangie, which are apparently replacing the 12yo bottlings. When I blogged about the first release in the series (the ‘Duthac’) I mused that by the 3rd or 4th new Legend the price would rise to £150 to £200. The good news is that the Tarlogan isn’t that expensive but we’ve jumped from £60 for the 2nd release ‘Tayne’, which was 1 litre to £80 for the Tarlogan, which is 70cl. Admittedly the Tarlogan has “limited release” written on it but what does that actually mean? Limited to how many exactly – 1 million bottles? Glenmorangie don’t say on their website, or the bottle. But if you’ve bought the previous two releases in the Legends series you’ll get the Tarlogan, and in fairness it’s a decent dram.

95/100 from Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible is an amazing score and classifies this single malt as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live”. Mr Murray says of the taste, “salivating on delivery: grassy again, with all the accompanying young sugars, aided by light shafts of Demerara.” In conclusion he says “this fabulous malt radiates the countryside in a way few drams have done before. As refreshing as an early morning dip in a Scottish pond.”

82.4/100 on Whiskybase is a reasonable score and close to the 84/100 from Jason of WhiskyWise. He agrees with the tasting notes provided by Glenmorangie, which are:

Nose: Sweet, earthy aromas of creamy butterscotch, classic Glenmorangie vanilla and coconut, malt biscuits too.

Taste: The texture is soft and silky and brings with it dessert-like flavours, especially vanilla custard and pears. There are delicious notes of pineapple and gentle citrus.

Finish: A suggestion of exquisite ginger is followed by waves of long, lingering white chocolate and almond marzipan.

I tried the Tarlogan at the ‘World of Whisky’ shop at Heathrow before I bought it and it was very nice but if you’ve ever tasted whisky at an airport you’ll know it’s never the best location. The sample bottle had been sitting on a glass display shelf with a back-light that left the whisky close to boiling temperature. It was like having a hot toddy. Nevertheless, from what I could tell it was lovely malt, although I agree with Jason that it’s overpriced for what it is.

WhiskyWise video on You Tube (August 2016):

Glenmorangie Tarlogan NAS 70cl

Highland Park ‘Ingvar’

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 3rd June 2016

Ratings:
85.25/100 – Whiskybase (from 6 member votes)

The ‘Ingvar’ much like the Highland Park ‘Sword’ before it is exclusive to the Taiwan Travel Retail market. It first appeared in January 2016 and slowly drifted onto the UK auction scene with prices falling from £100 as more bottles began to make it over from Taiwan.

Scoring 85.25/100 on Whiskybase is an excellent mark albeit from only 6 member votes so far. At 60.5% this special cask strength edition certainly packs a punch and is a nice addition for any Highland Park lover or collector. Here is what the distillery say about the Ingvar:

“Ingvar Ragnarsson was a warrior king famed for his cunning nature, cruelty and skills on the battlefield. Legend has it that Ingvar and his brothers formed the Great Heathen Army to avenge their father’s untimely death in a pit of vipers. They went on to conquer Dublin and rampaged through Northern England and East Anglia, eventually beheading the King with a long spear.

Ingvar joins the other warriors (alongside the newest recruit, King Christian 1), bringing to life Highland Park’s heritage and distinction through stories and iconography from Viking history.”

Highland Park Ingvar NAS 70cl

Glenmorangie ‘Tayne’

Bought: World Duty Free, 29th March 2016

Ratings:
87.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
81.6/100 – Whiskybase (from 17 member votes)

The ‘Tayne’ is Glenmorangie’s second bottle in their ‘Legends’ series following on from ‘The Duthac’. Both are 1 litre and Travel Retail exclusives. Usually that means it’s available in lots of shops on mainland Europe but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the Tayne. Surely not an ‘exclusive’ that’s actually exclusive? {faints}

87.5/100 in Jim Murray’s ‘Whisky Bible’ classifies this malt as “good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying” and his review consists of “tangy back story. But also a curious early combination between butterscotch and Werther’s Original candy. The malt – topped with a splash of double cream – in the centre ground, though, is the star showing.”

81.6/100 on Whiskybase is a good mark but not outstanding. Comments include “this is a good sherry whisky. Dark fruits, a spicy sweetness and well balanced. Good whisky for the money, nice.” Dramlicious score the Tayne 84/100 and their review and tasting notes can be found here.

Here’s WhiskyWise giving us his thoughts on You Tube in his very first whisky review video (April 2016):

Glenmorangie Tayne NAS 100cl

Old Pulteney ‘Spectrum’ WK217

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 24th February 2016

Ratings:
88.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
85.22/100 – Whiskybase (average from 34 member votes)

Appearing in 2012, the Spectrum was the final release of three Old Pulteneys for Travel Retail named after extraordinary boats. Here are the three with their ratings from Whiskybase:

  • 85.22/100 – Spectrum, 2012 (average from 34 member votes)
  • 82.17/100 – Isabella Fortuna, 2011 (average from 62 member votes)
  • 80.29/100 – Good Hope, 2010 (average from 37 member votes)

There was a stronger version (52% instead of 46%) of Isabella Fortuna that came out in 2009 which scores 85.37/100 from 54 member votes, so very similar in ranking to the Spectrum. The standard 12yo scores 81.33/100 from 283 votes to give a point of reference.

It seems the Spectrum was the best boat out of the three, which is reinforced by Jim Murray’s score in his Whisky Bible 2016. The Spectrum first appeared in the 2013 issue where Mr Murray says of the taste “the delivery reveals unusual youthfulness, amply balanced by a more impressive saline contour which hits you like sea spray in the face: a rare eruption of flavour in a sensual experience.” 88.5/100 classifies this single malt as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying.”

Tasting notes from Whiskybase include “malty and fruity aroma, heather honey, mango, oat porridge, cinnamon, prunes, peat and toffee. Vanilla sweet taste, sweet mustard, pepper, grapefruit marmalade, bitter herbs and malt. Medium long, malty, fruity and herbal end.”

Old Pulteney Spectrum WK217 100cl

Highland Park 1997 (Travel Retail)

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 24th February 2016

Ratings:
81.3/100 – Whiskybase (average from 12 member votes)

Where did this Highland Park come from? Before you say “a mummy whisky and a daddy whisky” I’ll rephrase my question – I thought the main ‘Travel Retail’ dates for Highland Park had been 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2001? It would make sense since they’re nicely spaced. A 1997 seems a bit out of place. I’ve checked through the HP bottles listed on Whiskybase and I think this is the only ‘Travel Retail’ year version I missed but I’m not sure it was ever available in the UK. The reason I say this is because it rarely, if ever, appears in a British auction even though it was bottled in 2009. When I spotted it, trying to find previously sold versions was practically impossible.

81.3/100 on Whiskybase is a reasonable score but falls short of being amazing. Experienced reviewer Mark Dermul leaves us his thoughts about the taste “good start on the palate, slightly bitter but certainly not oaky, with loads of oranges, but also figs. The Orkney peaty is very prominent now. Caramel and some coconut.” He summarises with “this is pretty good stuff and a whole other story than the standard 12 Year Old.” Mark lives in Belgium and his review is from a few years ago when he ends with “last seen for around €45.” I doubt it was ever seen in UK airports for the GBP equivalent (about £35), which is why I think it’s so rare on these shores. It’s certainly a curiosity for a British collector of HP and it’s nice to know it’s a different experience to the standard 12yo.

Highland Park 1997 100cl