Tag Archives: Whisky Broker

Linkwood 1989 26-year-old (Whisky Broker)

Bought: Whisky Broker, 25th May 2015

83/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
89/100 – Whiskybase (average from 8 member votes)

I bought this cask strength bottle of Linkwood from the Whisky Broker in May 2015. Since then it’s provided several enjoyable sipping sessions. At 26-years-old it’s a mature Speysider but with plenty of fruity freshness. Only 288 bottles were produced from cask no.1828 and at 53.1% it packs a potent punch. It appeared in the Whisky Bible 2016 where the author, Jim Murray says “malty, sharp and, at times, searingly hot. Sparse and off key on the finish, also.” His score of 83/100 classifies this Linkwood as “good whisky worth trying”.

8 voters on Whiskybase are feeling a bit more generous than Mr Murray where 89/100 is a fantastic score. It’s up there with the Macallan 18yo and some of the best Ardbegs. Comments include “this is a remarkably good whisky” and “a very good whisky. Light in flavour profile, but really full in taste. The spice and sweetness harmonise very well.”

For me my score would sit between the Whisky Bible and Whiskybase at 86/100. It’s an excellent whisky but I’ve tasted better cask strength Linkwoods. But it’s worth buying at auction if you see it going for less than £100 and you enjoy the Linkwood profile. This is a very good example.

Tasting notes left on Whiskybase:

Nose: Pear Drops, Wine Gums, Ripe Strawberries, a slightly spirity nose but not unpleasant. After about 30 minutes and a drop of water – some lemon and still the acid pear drops. Very big and slow legs.
Taste: Acid pear drops. Fresh and sweet with some pepper. Wine Gums. A hint of licquorice and some lemon.
Finish: A dry finish. Lingering acid drops and lemon with a pepper after taste. Most pleasant.

Dumbarton 1987 29-year-old

Bought: Whisky Broker, 25th May 2016

84.33/100 – Whiskybase (from 5 member votes)

My only other example from the closed Dumbarton grain distillery is a 1961 Signatory Vintage miniature I bought at auction in May 2015, which cost a small fortune. After winning it I discovered on Whiskybase and Malt Maniacs that it was one of the worse whiskies in my collection. Since then I’ve been trying to get another example of Dumbarton that wont make me screw up my face if I decide to drink it. I narrowly missed out on a 25-year-old, 70cl, being sold by Edencroft for £110 in autumn 2015. Since then a similar example by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) regularly appears at auction for a comparable price. Therefore you can imagine my surprise when I found this 29-year-old Dumbarton being sold as new for £60 by the independent bottler Whisky Broker. Before it had sold out a bottle had been ‘flipped’ at auction for £140.

Dumbarton distillery opened in 1938 and closed in 2002, gradually being demolished between 2006 and 2008. As you can see from the aerial view below, there’s not much left of it. The output was mainly for the Ballantine’s blend but the distillery also produced the Inverleven and extremely rare Lomond single malts (not to be confused with ‘Loch Lomond’, a distillery further north).

84.33/100 on Whiskybase is a very good mark. This is clearly a significantly better example of Dumbarton single grain than my miniature. An upgrade successfully achieved!

Here’s a fly-over of what’s left of the Dumbarton distillery (Sept 2015):

Dumbarton 1987 29yo 70cl

Bunnahabhain 23-year-old – Whisky Broker

Bought: Whisky Broker, 4th February 2016

C – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)

Why oh why have I taken so long to get another example of Bunnahabhain? When I finally opened the standard distillery 12yo bottle I fell in love. It’s one of my favourite whiskies of all time and a replacement bottle is on my shopping list. The next step up should be the standard 18yo, which Jim Murray scores 93.5/100 in his Whisky Bible 2016, some 8 points ahead of the 12yo (in his opinion). But, if truth be told, my reluctance to get older examples of Bunna was because I read on a forum to beware of certain vintage bottles where dodgy casks were used. That might be the case but you wouldn’t think so from marks given to 20yo+ bottles in the Whisky Bible where the majority score over 90/100. I like whisky forums but they do have a habit of perpetuating old information and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of that myself. I still think of Jura as being inferior whisky, much like I remember the days we all laughed at Skoda cars.

Unfortunately there is only one review of this Bunna 23yo by the Whisky Broker and it doesn’t sound amazing. The Whiskybase member says of the taste “a peppery/vibrant but controlled arrival of a creamy, oily, drying grain with a vibrant bitter-sour liquorice which then heads straight to a super-dry, salty, grassy/heathery barley cul-de-sac. There is however an unexpected and spritely reprise producing a line of [dried] fruity vanilla that carries into the finish. Becomes hard work after a while, the dry astringency becoming heavy work over time. 5cl is more than enough for me.” They summarise with “nose is best, followed by the arrival. The more it goes on, the more it acknowledges its sluggish cask predisposition. Its often more Speyside in style than Islay although that dry saltiness doesn’t betray its terroir.”

Perhaps this 5cl miniature isn’t a fair example of Bunnahabhain over 20-years-old but that’s not to say there aren’t some good examples out there. For now the 18yo is firmly in my sights but there are some tempting NAS offerings available at airports.

Bunnahabhain 23yo 5cl

Linkwood 12-year-old – Whisky Broker

Bought: Whisky Broker, 4th February 2016

None as yet and still not listed on Whiskybase. I’ll add the link when/if it apears.

Whisky Broker must be one of the few remaining UK independent bottlers that still give excellent value. One area where they impress me the most is with their pricing of miniatures. No matter how old the whisky, be it a 12yo or 24yo, a 5cl is always £6.50. How long this policy will last I don’t know but I’ll take advantage of it for as long as I can. The next time they have another tempting 70cl I’ll add a few more of their cheap minis to my order.

I already have a Linkwood 12yo miniature by Gordon & MacPhail but that’s 40% as opposed to 59.8% for this cask strength version by Whisky Broker. Perhaps the most common Linkwood 12yo is the distillery release by Diageo under the series name ‘Flora & Fauna’ which scores a cracking 94.5/100 in the Whisky Bible 2016. I recently spotted a bottle in a local off license, which begs the question – what am I waiting for? Buy it! With my Linkwood addiction it seems an obvious choice.

Linkwood 12yo 59.8 5cl

Strathmill 22-year-old – Whisky Broker

Bought: Whisky Broker, 4th February 2016

82/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)

This is my third small example of Strathmill in my collection but the first at cask strength, clocking in with a heady 54.6%. Since its beginnings in 1891 Strathmill distillery was focused on producing blending malt so examples of single malts are rare; Whiskybase only list 6 distillery releases but 56 by numerous independent bottlers.

The house style of Strathmill whisky is medium-bodied, fragrant, fruity, spicy and sweet. Scoring 82/100 on Whiskybase from one member, they say of the taste “sulphur but its ok, I’m going with it. There’s a deep-bitter, oak charring that starts us off but gradually the barley fights back.” And summarise with “messy and somewhat unorthodox, and yet kind of fabulous. Underneath all that charring could be a less than pretty malt. As it is it kind of works, so I’m giving this the benefit of the doubt.”

It doesn’t sound like the best ever example of Strathmill but for £6.50 for a miniature I’m not complaining.

Strathmill 22yo 5cl

Invergordon 24-year-old – Whisky Broker

Bought: Whisky Broker, 4th February 2016

C+ – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)

Since I was putting in an order with the Whisky Broker I thought I’d treat myself to a few cheap miniatures including this single grain my Invergordon. It seems strange that it’s taken me so long to get an example from this distillery but I never felt there was any rush. Owned by Whyte & Mackay, Invergordon began life in the early 1960s and currently produces about 40 million litres of spirit each year. Unlike so many closed single grain distilleries there’s no shortage of Invergordon.

It’s early days for getting reviews of this single grain but one member on Whiskybase rates it C+ (whatever that means) and says of the taste “initially malty, honeyed and quite raw but developing on more sugary/sour-sweet & buttery vanilla cream and cocao nibs. It then thickens towards an enveloping mouth-feel before turning quite sour. There’s grainy modern oak here and it’s done well to tame the spirit. Malty-sour into the finish.” They summarise with “one of the better Invergordons I’ve had, as most round this age [or less] tend to have been spirit led and arguably bottled prematurely in my opinion. Highlights include the nose [after time & water] and the mouth-feel on development – but the overall result is a struggle with all that sourness” and add “a full bottle I think would be a real struggle.”

I’m glad the reviewer feels this is one of the better Invergordons they’ve had because it will be a first for me when I have time to drink it.

Invergordon 24yo 5cl

Caledonian 1987 28-year-old

Bought: Whisky Broker, 4th February 2016

95/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
89.07/100 – Whiskybase (from 17 member votes)

The Caledonian distillery closed in 1988, which makes it quite collectable even for a single grain producer. Having closed 28 years ago, anything bottled now is going to be close to or over 30 years old, and generally pretty tasty. Dumbarton distillery, also single grain, closed more recently in 2002 and I narrowly missed a 25-year-old bottling last year that sold for £110. So how much would you pay for a rarer Caledonian 28yo that gets great reviews on Whiskybase? £150? £170 maybe? As I write this it’s still available on the Whisky Broker’s website for £60, such is the goodness of some independent bottlers. It’s nice to see that the greed currently rife in the whisky industry hasn’t poisoned everywhere. I would have bought two bottles if I weren’t constantly after other things.

Over 89/100 on Whiskybase from 17 member votes is a fantastic score. One voter who I recognise as a regular taster and contributor to the website leaves these tasting notes:

Nose: Sweet with a lot of vanilla. Lime, fresh leaves, caramel, strawberry and apple. With water more citrus.
Taste: A typical grain profile, but in a sweet and smooth sense. Vanilla, lemon, caramel, peach, strawberry, tonic and gentle spice. Water adds a salty touch.
Finish: Vanilla, lime, tonic, caramel, cinnamon and spice.
Comments: I’m not very much into grains, but this one has a very nice profile.

Caledonian 1987 28yo 70cl

Spirit of the Highlands (Ben Nevis 49yo spirit)

Bought: Whisky Broker, 20th April 2015

61.79/100 – Whiskybase (average from 21 member votes)

I like it when an independent bottler tries something different, and this is the case with the Whisky Broker and his release of the ‘underproof’ (29.5%) ‘Spirit of the Highlands’ from the Ben Nevis distillery. The law states that for a spirit to be called whisky it has to be matured for at least 3 years and be a minimum of 40%. The Glenglassaugh distillery released several bottlings as ‘spirit drinks’ rather than ‘whisky’ when they were younger than 3-years-old. But there’s no lack of maturity with this juice from Ben Nevis. Distilled on March 1966, it started its life before England won the world cup, and before I was born!

I always think it’s difficult to rate something that doesn’t fall into a category where you know the rules. Nevertheless, we all know what we like and dislike. Usually with whisky, adding a touch of water can help open up the flavours, but at 29.5%, you don’t want to weaken it any further. Comments on Whiskybase suggest that the nose is good but the taste lets this spirit down. Bitterness prevails mixed with oak juice. I can’t imagine that sucking on an old oak tree would be very pleasant!

Some experienced whisky drinkers mix their whiskies. I’ve seen Ralfy on You Tube do this several times, where he takes a better whisky to enhance a lesser one, or adds a dash of ‘cask strength’ whisky to another that needs a boost of alcohol. Several Whiskybase reviewers mention mixing this 49yo with something else. One uses a Bowmore Tempest (55.1%) and another uses a Ben Nevis 1991 (58%), with good results. I will have to start experimenting!

Ben Nevis 49yo

Aultmore 20-year-old

Bought – Whisky Broker, 29th November 2013

82.67/100 – Whiskybase (average from 8 member votes)

Another bottle from the small, independent bottler The Whisky Broker. Details about this whisky from their website:

“This Speyside whisky, distilled on 10th October 1991 at Aultmore Distillery, has been matured in an oak hogshead for over 20 years. The whisky has not been chill filtered, nor has any colouring been added. The whisky has been bottled at natural cask strength.

This whisky has been lightly filtered to remove large particles of wood sediment from the cask, but may still contain small traces, which are visible only when bottle is left standing for a period of time.

Hogshead number 6083
Distilled 10th October 1991
Bottled 1st June 2012
Bottle Size: 200ml
Strength: 54.4% vol.”

Aultmore 20yo 20cl

Auchroisk 21-year-old

Bought – Whisky Broker, 29th November 2013

85/100 – Whiskybase (from one member vote)

Another bottle from the small, independent bottler The Whisky Broker. Details about this whisky from their website:

“This Speyside whisky, distilled on 17th December 1991 at Auchroisk Distillery, has been matured in oak casks for over 21 years.. On the 3rd June 2013, refill bourbon barrel numbers 102220 and 102221, were transferred into a second fill sherry hogshead (formerly containing Tomatin, sold on this website). The whisky was further matured until 28th October, when it was bottled at cask strength, aged 21 years.

This whisky has been lightly filtered to remove large particles of wood sediment from the cask, but may still contain small traces, which are visible only when bottle is left standing for a period of time.

Each bottle is individually numbered (mine is No.14 of 171).

Cask Details:
Refill Bourbon barrels 102220 & 102221
Distilled 17th December 1991
Bottled 28th October 2013
The cask yielded 171 bottles at a cask strength of 45.0% vol.”

Auchroisk 21yo 70cl