Tamnavulin Oloroso Cask Edition

Regular drammers will know that I’m quite partial to an Oloroso Cask finish so I was drawn to this airport-only expression after having a sample. The colour is a delicious amber gold and promises much

The nose is akin to a nice moist Christmas cake with its candied fruit, marzipan and spices and complimented with a nip of ginger

The palate manifests citrus fruits with maple syrup soaked apple flan and marmalade on burnt toast. Later on there’s a darker flavour like treacle scones at Halloween

The finish is smooth and longer than I expected from such a young dram (there’s no age statement on the carton) and has that lovely burn when drunk neat

I tried several malts when passing through the airport and settled on this which surprised me as the others were all aged. I paired this with a Partagas number 4 cigar and they are the perfect couple! Slàinte mhath 🥃

Ardbeg Ten

A light dram but packed with a smokey punch

An intense day deserves an intense dram and the Ardbeg Ten delivers. The nose is smokey and peaty as you’d expect from Ardbeg, but not overly medicinal. I got loads of gunpowder like a spent firework, and smoke from a campfire. When I got through that there was delicate vanilla, oranges and lemons and sea air and it made me sneeze!

I expected a peat bomb on the palate but it’s much more subtle than I expected. Sure, peat is in abundance but the phenols have mellowed in the decade since this was laid down. There’s also a delicate balance of lemon and lime and more vanilla swirling around with the smoke and then chocolate limes. Lovely!

The finish is mighty like a bonfire on the beach! Smokey, briny and magnificent with a delicate suggestion of salted caramel. It’s a long lasting finish too

For many years I avoided Islay malts as my only experience had been a young Laphroaig and I expected them all to be medicinal but I wasted a long time with that belief. I’m now much more open minded and, whilst I’m still not a fan of young heavily pleated drams, happy to try anything

This is a sturdy dram which I’ll return to more than once! Slàinte mhath 🥃

Macnairs Lum Reek 21 year old

This dram has a wonderful dark mahogany colour and looks rich and full bodied Billy Walker has blended Speyside and Islay malts with aged GlennAllachie to produce a fantastic balance between fruit and peat which was matured in Spanish sherry, French oak and virgin oak casks

The nose has smoke of course but it’s not overwhelming. There’s also dark chocolate (Bournville) and the sweetness of Scottish tablet. I also detected elements of condensed milk and the inside of my cigar humidor

The palate has vanilla, treacle and burnt toast when neat, and is a bit fiery. After I added water the smokiness really comes through with spicy nutmeg, black pepper and a lovely edgy burn going down

The finish is long and warm and the subtle peat remains for a while with a splendid nip!

This dram is bottled at 48%ABV and whilst it doesn’t blow your head off neat, it really comes into its own when you add water

Bushmills Caribbean Rum Cask Finish

A lovely deep golden colour makes this dram appealing to the eye and encourages you to dive right in

I’m a fan of Rum cask finishes and this one, whilst young, has a surprising depth of character

The nose is heavy on banana and caramel but throws out sweet mango and pineapple with just a hint of wood

The palate is really fruity like a fresh fruit salad and caresses your tastebuds with just the faintest nip. It manifests creamy toffee with vanilla and the airy memory of banana Angel’s Delight. There’s a wee bit of oat right at the end too

The finish has the sharpness of tinned pineapple and gives a really gentle burn as it goes down. Then there’s a creamy suggestion of butterscotch sweeties

This is a lovely dram and, whilst it’s not as big on flavour as Balvenie Caribbean Cask, it’s one that I enjoyed neat and would happily do so again

Benriach The Twelve

This dram was a gift from a great friend for my birthday and has a fantastic Autumn golden colour that makes promises as to what you can expect, and then delivers. This 12 year old dram has seen some secondary maturation action in casks that formerly housed Sherry, bourbon and Port

The nose initially reminds me of pouring Maple Syrup over hot waffles but then there’s a coffee kick with loads of Bournville chocolate and a wee tang of nutmeg

The palate is massive with lots of influences; with honey being at the fore rapidly followed by chocolate and nuts with a suggestion of apples stewed for a pie filling. There’s sweetness from Maraschino cherries too and that nice kick of nutmeg

The finish is reassuringly long and reminds me of an espresso with sugar coating the throat which eventually gives way to a sweet fruity taste

I loved this dram and the fabulous mouthfeel it gives. It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste but it does it for me Slàinte mhath 🥃

GlenAllachie 2006 Single Cask

I was lucky enough to receive this as a birthday present which was fortuitous as I’d recently seen it advertised and had taken a mental note to acquire a bottle. The deep golden sunset colour made me want to dive in immediately, but one should temper one’s enthusiasm and enjoy the journey! it’s been matured in a Tawny Port cask so I was expecting a Sherry bomb and it delivered in spades

The nose is loaded with dark chocolate and coffee with notes of ripe plums and a nip of spice with the sweetness of runny honey. The nosing experience was fantastic as every visit to the glass produced something new

This is a cask strength dram and a powerful one too at 60.7% ABV but despite that, it doesn’t blow your head off but gives that great tingle in your nose. The first taste delivers lots of blackberries and honey giving way to moist fruit cake and dark chocolate. Adding water opens the dram out so you can taste ginger and cinnamon with suggestions of citrus fruits

The finish is long and very satisfying with waves and waves of Sherry that coat your throat and are accompanied by a peppery bite. Later on there’s coffee and the aftertaste of a really good cigar

I was tempted to keep this unopened but a good friend once told me that good whisky is for drinking and not just looking at and this is a VERY good whisky. Slàinte mhath 🥃

Tullamore Dew Rouge

A beautiful looking dram that’s been matured for 13 years in bourbon and Sherry casks before being finished in Bordeaux Pomerol wine casks

The nose on this dram delivers lots of cherry, raspberries and redcurrant with vanilla and light woody notes

The palate is very fruity but light with cherries, spice and fragrant red wine

The finish is medium with a nice spicy kick and lots of fruit. It’s nippier neat, as you’d expect, but still very pleasant with notes of tannin

This dram is only available for the travel market from Dublin Duty Free so it’s not widely available as yet, but it’s worth seeking via your usual whisky supplier.

Thanks to Adrian and Steven at Tullamore for the recommendation. Slainje 🥃

Lagavulin 16 year old

I fancied something robust and muscular tonight and also paired it with caramel chocolate. It worked!

Since I started this blog my palette has matured. I previously wouldn’t have entertained many Islay malts and especially a big peat monster and to this day am still not a fan of a young Laphroaig and the like, but last year I experimented with some Arbegs and Bunnahabhains and I’ve grown to love them. I offered this as one of my “Tour of Scotland malts at a recent whisky tasting and found a great affection for it personally and thought it would pair well with a caramel chocolate. Surprisingly they worked well together

The nose has lots of smoke but once you get over that there’s leaf tea, particularly Lapsang Souchong and seaweed. There’s also more than a suggestion of Pledge furniture polish and seaweed. Naturally there’s vanilla but a soft creamy vanilla like school custard

The palate is rich and sweet then you get a big peat smoke rush. The mouth feel is tremendous with a malty Ovaltinesque quality

As you’d expect the finish is long, very long, with sweet dates and Sherry and of course smoke

A few years ago I wouldn’t have considered this but it’s massive and a dram that makes me want to experiment more with Islay malts. Slàinte mhath 🥃

Lindores MCDXCIV (1494)

A light golden dram with a fantastic back story. Matured in ex bourbon casks and finished in Sherry wine casks to 46% abv

The nose is light and fruity with pears, green apples and overtones of vanilla. There’s also a hint of spice and freshly cut grass and then the sweetness of foam bananas

The palate is massive with caramel and vanilla but this rapidly gives way to spice like nutmeg with the glow of cloves. It’s powerful too thanks to the 43% abv but not overwhelming

The finish isn’t particularly long but it is memorable. There’s woody tones with a fruity edge and a lingering creamy feel

This dram is young but doesn’t feel that way. It’s reminiscent of a much more mature whisky with a lot of complexity whilst being light and creamy. A contradiction? Yes, but check it out for yourself and I think you’ll be impressed too


I fancied something different tonight so was delighted to find this in my whisky room. It has a light golden colour and fine legs so I guessed I was in for something special

The nose is smoky as you’d expect from a whisky that suggests “just enough peat to start a fire”, and there’s also a lovely aroma of fresh croissants. After that I got toffee apples with a bit of spice. It’s a really surprising nose as I expected it to be heavily smokey

The palate has honey and toffee with elements of gingerbread but with an earthy overtone

The finish has a nice warming nip with faint smoke and a hint of cinnamon

This dram is smoky but absolutely not peaty and really memorable

Slàinte mhath 🥃