Whisky 2018 – 1-4

What a set of drams to start the year with.

1 – The Ultimate Imperial 1995 20 Years sherry hogshead cask 50240
Nose: Bananas, yeast, rose hip jelly, wax,
Palate: Wax, honey, slight pepper, cucumber sandwiches, juniper, grilled peaches, cream, honey dew
Finish: Juicy, dried pineapple, apple jelly, cream, apple seeds

2 – Arran James McTaggart 10 Years 2007
Nose: hazel nuts, snickers bars, citrus, coconuts, wax, bananas foster, apricots
Palate: cream, crushed ants, dried stone fruit, still a bit young, toasted brioche, peach and hand cream
Finish: loads of cream, wine tannins, salt

3 – Old Malt Cask Doulas Laing & Co 1974 Talisker bottled 2000
Nose: Pencil shavings, candle wax, clear fruit, clear medicinal, egg yolks, prosciutto fat, brown sugar
Palate: camp fire, stewed apples, ice coffee, wax, bbq jackfruit, crispy bacon, seaside, caramels
Finish: huge length, juicy, herbal, cream, wax, just keeps giving

4 – Jack Wiebers Arran 18 Years Cask 2038
Nose: brown sugar, leather, musk, honey comb, sweet pickled onions, old whisky, strawberry jam taken too far, maple syrup
Palate: caramel dipped apricots, tobacco, bitter chocolate, leather, salt
Finish: tannic, yoghurt, chewy

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Whisky 2017 – 218-224 – Closed distillery tasting for The Elysian’s first birthday

218 – Dun Bheagan St Magdalene Sherry Butt 1982 27yo
Glue, mandarin, new make, leather, soap, honeycomb, watermelon. Wheat biscuits, ryvita, cream, salt, tobacco, stewed apricots.

219 – Douglas Laing Glen Mhor Hogshead Refill 1982 27yo
Lemon zest, lemon butter, loads of citrus and shortbread, wood glue, lavender soap, honey, slight flinty, white peaches. Loads of cake mix, honey suckle, fruity, stones, dust, old lace, lantana.

220 – Signatory Glenlochy 1980 30yo Cask 2824
Vanilla cake, salt, some apricots, grass, malt, kiwi fruit, cake mix, toasted almonds, orange oil. Cool ing, huge amounts of tinned fruit, cream, summer grass, tobacco, old dried pineapple, mint, menthol.

221 – G&M Dallas Dhu Bourbon 1979 34yo
Rockmelon, mushroom funk, lemon zest, slight cake. Old whisky, dust, Italian mustard fruits, salt, tobacco and cream, wax, soap.

222 – G&M Port Ellen Refill Sherry Butt 1982 28yo
Honey, salt, peat, medicinal, camp fire, ham, flinty, cream, KFC. Wonderful mouthfeel, ask, autumn leaves, charred bbq steaks, bbq bones, mandarin, chlorine, match heads.

223 – Starward New World Projects Batch 120718-12-759 for Elysian Whisky Bar 1st Birthday 100L Shiraz Cask 56.7%
Vanilla beans, honey, snickers, peanut caramel, Vietnamese coffee. Toffee bananas, bourbon, caramlized walnuts, banana cake, butter.

224 – Asta Morris for Whiskies & More Glentauchers PX Cask AM040
Caramel, caramel, caramel for days, salted butter, vine tomatoes. Salty, dusty, old apples, old rubber and sulfur, really dried apricots, flinty.

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.

Whisky 2017 – 139-141 – Baxters Inn, Sydney

Traveling for work again. Had a chance to finally get to Baxters Inn in Sydney. Some great whisky there but these places like Boiler Maker house in Melbourne and The Gresham in Brisbane only ever are really able to cater to the whisky nerd when it is quiet. I had a good chat to some of the staff before the throngs arrived and saw some of their lovely older bottlings in their whisky room but it’s a busy busy drinking barn – difficult to enjoy a dram. 

How good is old Bowmore! 

139 – Littlemill 1988 Cask 57 25 Years Berry Bros
Shortbread, cream, vanilla, plastic, new make. Fresh apricots in caramel sauce with ice cream, passionfruit vine, hand cream, salt.


140 – Bowmore 17 (1990s bottling)
Honey, fruitcake, salt, hay, barnyard, chocolate milk, band-aids, dusty butter. Honey, salt, raisins, bandaids, green peppercorns, clover, hazelnuts, pencil shavings. 


141 – Glendronach Olorosso Sherry Butt Cask 76, 1992 23 years
Bubblegum, rhubarb, swimming in melted butter, mushrooms, dates, hazelnuts butter, brown sugar. Chocolate, buttter, wood, salt – a little underpowered for a single cask Glendronach. Eventually  butter, crushed ants and flapjacks on the finish. Great nose but a disappointing Glendronach single cask. 

Whisky 2017 – 114-117

Once again the Whisky Gods were smiling on me. Yao from The Elysian opened a bottle of Munro’s King of Kings that his parents pulled from their cellar and gave to him. Such an interesting dram – old whisky seems to be a lot more herbaceous to my palate. Not a lot of info out there about this one, except to say James Munro also ran Dalwhinnie in the early 1900s. 

114 – Arran Bourbon Cask 1999 54.8% 2015 Release Cask 78
Pineapple, rock melon skins, apricots, chocolate mousse, passiona. Cream, passionfruit skins, apricot, tea tannins, green apricots, butter, almonds, red skins, raspberries.

115 – Maltman Aultmore 7 Years Port Cask 2008 Cask 100
Honey, crumpets, dark chocolate, musk sticks, pine glue, hot brown butter, menthol, strawberry jam on white bread with butter. Peach ice tea, butter, banana, coffee cream, slight cheese cake, rock melon with vanilla cream.

116 – Munro’s King of Kings Rare Old De Luxe
Wax, soy sauce, ginger, ginseng, heather, leather. Initially really light but wax, caramel, herbaceous, tobacco, old dusty chocolate. Didn’t have much time with this dram as it was a small dram as a gift once the bottle was opened. Old and unique.

117 – Glenfarclas Family Cask for Shinanoya 10 years Cask 5695
Old tropical fruit, musk, grilled pineapple, roasted peaches, milk chocolate, old wood. Cocoa, dusty, orange rind, soy sauce, fruit tingles, bubble gum and vanilla pods.

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 2016 – Favourites of 2016

179 Whiskies done this year. Here are my top 5 in no particular order. 

89 – Spencer Collings & Co The Founders Release
Brown sugar, dark toffee, honey comb, sarsaparilla, marshmallow, vanilla. Honey, toffee, caramel, dark malt cake. Stunning heavy whisky.

102 – Ben Nevis The Whisky Agency 2013 1995 18 Years
Old leather, cake mix, almonds, green herbs, hazelnuts, as it opens up more and more cake mix – it is stunning. Slow to start but this amazingly long cake mix thing which lasts and lasts, apricot jam in a cake.

109 – Springbank 12 1990s bottling
Christmas cake, dusty and fruity, brandy, brown sugar, salty butter, rose hips, egg white, apricot . Huge butter, caramel and rubber, coffee, apricot delight, passion fruit. Brilliant.

136 – The Whisky Agency Ben Nevis 17 Years 1996 for The Mash Tun
Sweat (in a good way), caramel, salt, marmalade, creme brûlée, honey ice cream, baked potatoes. Tropical fruit, ice coffee, salt, butter in coffee, egg custard. Wonderful.

150 – 2 of 3 Heartwood
Chocolate mousse, cocoa, stewed apple, toasted malt, rose petals, flat coke, egg custard, pancakes with maple syrup and ice cream. Toasted malt, roasted corn, sarsaparilla, brown butter, raspberry soda, milk coffee. Wonderful.