Whisky 2017 – 189-192 – Bar C Shell, Tokyo

I am lucky enough to be back in Tokyo. Tried out Bar C Shell in Shinjuku, near Yotsuya-Sanchome station. The owner Yu is very knowledgeable, super friendly and speaks excellent English (having lived in NYC). The bar is quite different to most Japanese whisky bars and much more casual. Yu has created a unique space for whisky drinkers in Tokyo. Drank some unique old bottlings but I had to throw in a Ben Nevis, because, well, it’s Ben Nevis. 

189 – The Milroy Sprinbank 30 50% 2002 Bottling
Rubber, caramel, peaches, dusty, hazelnuts, pumice stone. Spritz, lemon, hand cream, dried apricots, wonderful mouth feel, preserved lemons, Lavender, chocolate and soap.

190 – Friends of Oak Ben Nevis 1998, 15 Years
Honey, aspirin, hay, marzipan, sponge cake, toasted almonds. Roses, caramel, vanilla cake, strawberry jam, peaches, brown butter, honey, green grass.

191 – Cadenhead’s Glenturret Distilled 1965 bottled 1990
Bee wax, sarsaparilla, dried peaches, chicos, pencil shavings. Cream, pencil shavings, salt, rose petals, soap, wax.

192 – Glen Fraser 1956 for Strathnairn Whisky Ltd
Slight maple syrup, wax, bonox, wood glue, menthol. Pencils shavings, soap, pepper, clove, lemon zest, old raisins, wax, rubber, leather, old tobacco, peaches, shaving cream, dusty, perfume.

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Whisky 2017 – 184-188

184 – Cadenhead Single Cask Mortlach 30 Years 1987 48.2%
Cream, cassia bark, honey dew melon, fresh cut grass. Hint of leather, cream, liquorice, apricots, star anise, straw, rock melon skin, baked apple with cream.

185 – Oak Barrel Ben Nevis 1997 for Sydney Whisky Fair
Honey, aspirin, boot polish, short bread, black beans. Honey, orange zest, boot polish, golden syrup, granita biscuits, leather, some pouch tobacco, tinned peaches.

186 – Limburg Dramclub Blended 2016 Club Bottling 6
Rose petals, metal, cocoa, apricots, tobacco, caramel, toast with butter, honey, old apples. Tea, rubber, clover, salt, band-aids, honey, peanuts, stewed apricots.

187 – Maltman Port Charlotte 13 Years 2002 Cask 238 bottled for Shinanoya
Caramel, funk, steel, menthol, lemon butter, egg custard, plasticine, mint. Green grass, ash, coal, fruit cup, brown sticks and leaf matter, grapes.

188 – Cadenhead Caol Ila 33 Years 50.2% 1983
Bananas, green apples, malty, glue, plastic and ash, ice-cream, apple snow, cream, slightly medicinal. Cream, fruit, sage, parsley, sea salt, slight hammy note, stewed apples.

Whisky 2017 – 118-124 Black Gate Tasting

Black Gate is a small producer in New South Wales. Was really fascinating to hear Brian’s story of how he ended up being a distiller. He did say he was afraid of change, and I think he’s fairly keen on his 3 year maturation but to me the new make still comes through. Despite the 7% yearly loss, I think these would do better with just a couple more years. 


118 – Black Gate #BG005
Caramels, deep toffee, gum leaves, banana, brown sugar, kangaroo poo, cherry coke, maple syrup. Sarsaparilla, mint, slight bacon, dry spices, slight newmake hit, peanut butter.

2016.35 – Black Gate #BG007
Marzipan, string, yeast, ice cream, hand cream. Pine, ice cream, cucumber, dry ginger, dried apple.

119 – Black Gate #BG008
Custard, rose petals, ice cream, glacé ginger. Dry ginger, star anise, cream, pine resin, cherry ripes.

120 – Black Gate Cask Strength #011
Chocolate, raspberry lollies, marzipan, chocolate, soy sauce, strawberry jam, slight bacon fat. Sarsaparilla, dry cloves, strawberry jam, kangaroo poo, rose petals.

121 – Black Gate #BG020
Mango, pineapple upside down cake, yeast, cream. Still a bit young, weak instant coffee, salt, cream, tequila, orange zest.

122 – Black Gate Peated new make 
Cheese, pine wood, cucumber, banana, just extinguished coals, caramel. Butter, tobacco, white pepper, barn yard.

123 – Ben Nevis 16 Years Hidden Spirits “Highproof” Cask BN9916
Unmistakably Ben Nevis vanilla extract, pound cake, stone fruit, apricots, chocolate, dust, chicos, red skins, pine resin. Stone fruit, cut grass, pound cake, brown bread with butter.

124 – Glenfarclas Family Cask 1995 Cask 6640 52.1%
Sarsaparilla, rubber, butter, caramel, Xmas cake, white peaches. Apples, rubber, caramels, black beans, stewed pears, brioche, red apple skins, charcoal, soy sauce, funky butter

Whisky 2017 – 52-57 – Back In Melbourne

52 – The Whisky Agency Casa De Vinos Ben Nevis 17 Years 2016
Honey, salted butter, golden syrup, kiwifruit, pear nectar. Chocolate mousse, orange segments, salt, green herbs, grilled pineapple, vanilla pudding, green grass.


53 – Glen Garioch for Shinanoya Ginza 21st Anniversary Bourbon Barrel 657 15 Years
Egg nog, flat Coke, vanilla, pine, hazelnuts, rose petals. Musk, white pepper, sarsaparilla, crushed ants, vanilla, slight sulphur.


54 – Adelphi Longmorn 28 Years 1985
Slight motor oil, grilled pineapple, green tomatoes, black jellybeans. Malty bread with butter, green herbs, grilled pineapple, salt.

55 – The Exclusive Grains Port Dundas 1991 25 years Cask 50412
Salami, honey, lemon zest, roasted quails with salt and pepper sauce, soy sauce. Tropical fruit, oily fish, green garlic shoots.


56 – Distilleries Collection Miltonduff 17 Years 1996
Glue, honey, salty butter, caramel, dried peaches and pears. Dry cake mix, vanishes away to nothing, caramel and bitter herbs.

57 – Glendronach 2003 for Sansibar Cask 4630 PX Cask
Dried apricots, pancakes with butter, glacé lemon, orange syrup, cocoa, pencil shavings. Stewed apricots, Xmas spice, dark chocolate, sultanas, vanilla, orange blossom water, sarsaparilla and malt.

Whisky 2017 – 41-48 – The Auld Alliance, Singapore

OK – So I went to the Auld Alliance in Singapore. Wow! I understand why it is regarded as the world’s best whisky bar. Yes, it was expensive but completely worth it – my only problem was my mistake ordering the Benrinnes. It is a fabulous dram, don’t get me wrong but didn’t really sit well with the other drams – a slight misstep when you are overwhelmed with such an imposing list. 

The Card Series were impeccable. I know there is a brouhaha regarding Japanese whisky prices and is it worth it. For me I tried three stunning, unique and consistent drams that deserve significant praise. 

The staff presented me with a mystery dram at the end a 1977 Sherry cask bottling of something Speyside. For me this was Ben Nevis but who knows. 

41 – Springbank 15 Years Old Tall Bottle from the 80s
Apricots, hand cream, brown sugar, plump raisins. Stunning mouthfeel, wonderfully spiced, salty, slight warm malt cake, stewed apricots dolloped with cream, cake mix.

42 – Springbank 12 Years Old tall bottle from the 80s
Fruit on a cheese platter, coffee grounds, tropical cordial. Leather, cream, perfumed soap, salt, slight tropical fruit sweetness, woody spices on the finish, malty.


43 – Benrinnes Silver Seal 30 Years 1984 Cask 2268
Malty, stone fruit, banana leaf. Hot, cake, leather, salt, maraschino cherries, Sacher torte, malt loaf with butter.


44 – Glendronach 31 Years 1978 Olorosso Sherry Cask 1040
Gravox, maple syrup, rubber, chocolate mousse, sulphur. Heavy and unctuous just crazy mouth feel, berry jam taken within an inch of its life, angry caramel, match heads, boot polish, motor oil.


45 – Hanyu Ichiro’s Malt Card Series 7 of Diamonds 1991 19 Years PX 2nd fill Cask 9031
Caramel, grappa, peanuts, stewed apple, vanilla, turps, sarsaparilla, German spice biscuits. Woody, perfume, bacon fat, smoked praprika, peanut brittle, gooseberries and stone fruit, milk chocolate.


46 – Hanyu Ichiro’s Malt Card Series 10 of Clubs 1990 PX 2nd fill Cask 9032
Wonderful cocoa and musk nose, orange marmalade, crepes with butter and cream, boozy stewed stone fruit. Toffee apples, cream, orange blossoms, leather, cream, white pepper, slight meaty note, white peaches, salt.


l47 – Hanyu Ichiro’s Malt Card Series King of Hearts 1986 PX 2nd fill Cask 9033
Smoked paprika, grape skins, roast chicken, Coke spider, sarsaparilla, musk, dark chocolate. Maple syrup, roasted vegetables, smoked paprika, cream on Xmas pudding, rockmelon, salty, rose hips, dry ginger.


48 – The Auld Alliance 1977 Sherry Cask (perhaps Ben Nevis)
Chocolate, dried apricots, salty butter, cake mix, yeast. Cake mix, apricots, leather, green peppercorns, cocoa, green herbs and salt, chocolate mousse, tobacco, spiced pumpkin.

Whisky 2017 – 38-40 – The Single Cask, Singapore

I’m overseas again, this time in Singapore. Had three cracking drams at The Single Cask served by the knowledge, friendly and part-time Melbournite; Brendan Pillai. Single Cask do a number of their own bottlings and are heavy on promoting the work of independent bottlers. A really nice touch is they like to serve a matching chocolate with each dram. Great bar, I highly recommend it. 

38 – Maltman Ben Nevis 15 Years Oloroso 1999 Cask 123
Sulfur, maple syrup, cocoa, apricot jam, candied lemon peel. Beautiful fruit sweetness, cough medicine, salted caramel, fruit tingles, cocoa, salt, matchheads.

39 – Single Cask 21 years Miltonduff Cask 2594
Toasted malt, an old butter churn, white chocolate, old apples. Stone fruit, really salty butter, chocolate mousse, mango, burnt butter finish, hand cream.

40 – Dun Bheagan Tobermoray 19 years 1995 Cask 1289
So excited when smelling this – salted caramel, crushed ants, apple cider, rancid butter (not in a bad way), pepper chicken, grilled pineapple, glue, cocoa. Sarsaparilla, salt, loads of butter, crushed ants, length for days, old apples, bounty bars, Mexican drinking chocolate, chicken stock.