Linkwood 25-year-old

Bought – Whisky Galore, 24th June 2014

Ratings:
91/100 – Whisky Bible 2013

I got a miniature of the Linkwood 25yr last year and I said I wouldn’t drink it until I was in a position to replace it. Well, happy birthday to me! My gift to myself is this classic, timeless release of Linkwood by Gordon & MacPhail. As Jim Murray says in his Whisky Bible review “if anyone is capable of making a Linkwood tick, it is G&M: wonderful!” The best part according to Jim is the taste, where he says “fabulously refreshing with a continuous retracing of its malty steps.”

My brother remembers this whisky as a favourite of our uncle Hamish, so I’m delighted to add it to my collection. G&M seem to release this 25-year-old periodically as Jim Murray has removed it from his 2014 Whisky Bible, which suggests it’s been discontinued for now. My only disappointment is that there’s no date of distillation on the bottle, which makes it difficult to tell the difference between each release of this 25-year-old.

Linkwood 25yo 70cl

Talisker ‘Young & Feisty’ Provenance

Bought – Whisky Galore, 24th June 2014

Ratings:
86/100 – Whiskybase (average from 3 reviewers)

I’m a big fan of Talisker but, as a whisky collector I’m keen to get as much variety for my buck. That’s why I like buying 20cl bottles when I can find them, and the ‘Provenance’ range are quite good for this. I already have their Blair Athol 20cl in my collection. And 20cl is a good size to allow you to have a dram when you first open the bottle but have enough left to breath and settle over several weeks, even months, as you finish it off. The 5cl miniatures are OK for that initial tasting but then they’re gone. No chance to settle in an open bottle for several future samplings, which is important to get a true understanding of a whisky.

Without any written reviews to go on (although 86/100 from Whiskybase is excellent), I have to wonder if the title ‘Young & Feisty’ is a marketing way of saying “Immature & Unfinished”. As a NAS (no age statement) there’s going to be some young stuff in there, and plenty of it. But, Talisker have an excellent 10yo, which is mature for its age, so perhaps their younger stuff contains elements of this adult smoothness. We will see.

Talisker Provenance NAS 20cl

Macallan Speymalt 2004

Bought – Whisky Galore, 24th June 2014

Ratings:
None, as yet.

I’m not sure how long ago Gordon & Macphail started releasing the Macallan Speymalt but their range goes back to a version distilled in 1938 and bottled 65 years later in 2003. A bargain at over £7,000, if you can find it for sale! Personally I’d rather buy a car. But whenever G&M launched the range, each issue of the Macallan Speymalt tends to get good reviews. That is until the 2003 version. Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, scores this bottling 68.5/100 with the remark “One to throw back in the river”. Oh dear. So, with no reviews of the 2004 release, buying it was a bit of a gamble. But at £25.80 for a Macallan, I felt it was worth the risk. With the entry-level Macallan ‘Gold’ starting at £36, the Speymalt range is an excellent price to get a taste of a (usually) quality scotch.

Macallan Speymalt 2004-2013 70cl

Johnnie Walker Blue Label

Bought – Loch Fyne, 19th June 2014

Ratings:
88/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
82/100 – Ralfy, of http://www.ralfy.com
Review: – Ralfy – Johnnie Walker Blue Label – YouTube

It’s time to sell your grandmother, as you reach for a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label off the top shelf. I blame it all on the Green Label bottle I bought last year, which inspired me to want all the colours in the JW range. The Blue is the expensive one, at around £135 for a full 70cl. I paid £45 for my 20cl bottle, and even at that price I need my head seen to! £45 for a quarter bottle of a blend?! And it’s not even the version of the Blue Label that Jim Murray raves about in his Whisky Bible. My version scores a respectable 88/100 with the comment from Jim of “What a frustrating blend! Just so close to brilliance but the nose and finish are slightly out of kilter. Worth the experience of the mouth arrival alone.” He does give the ‘taste’ part of the mark 24/25, which is 96/100, so if I hold my nose and forgive the finish it sounds incredible!

So what is it that Jim Murray loves?! It’s the Blue Label ‘The Casks Edition’ which he scores 97/100. Wow! But unfortunately it’s £300 for a bottle. Double-WOW followed by a “Blimey!” And an “OUCH!”

Johnnie Walker Blue Label 20cl

Kilchoman ‘Machir Bay’ 2014

Bought – Loch Fyne, 19th June 2014

Ratings:
90.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014 (for the 2013 Machir Bay)

As I’m writing this I have the Machir Bay bottle on display to the right of my monitor. It has a very pleasant, dumpy shape to it. Originally I ordered the 2013 edition of Machir Bay from Loch Fyne but they phoned me to say it was meant to say ‘2014’ on their website. Although they had both listed, and I’d ordered the 2013 mainly because it was £35 and the 2014 was £40. They agreed to give me the 2014 for £35, so £5 off! :) I’m loving this whisky even more!

Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible gives the 2012 version of Machir Bay 93/100 so the 2013 has slipped a bit with 90.5/100. Nevertheless that’s still classed as “brilliant” according to Jim’s ratings. In my hunt for reviews I stumbled across a write-up on Whisky Intelligence (here) that says the 2014 Machir Bay is an improvement on the 2013 which, as Jim Murray highlighted, had slipped a bit since 2012. This all makes good reading to me!

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2014 70cl

Macallan 12-year-old ‘Fine Oak’

Bought – Loch Fyne, 19th June 2014

Ratings:
95.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014

I had to rub my eyes in disbelief when I spotted this miniature of the Macallan 12yo ‘Fine Oak’ on the Loch Fyne’s website. With the 12yo now discontinues, finding bottles of any size is becoming rare, or expensive, or both. Although the 10yo ‘Sherry Oak’ is generally considered marginally better than the ‘Fine Oak’ of the same age, it’s the opposite way around with the 12yo. Jim Murray, author of The Whisky Bible, gives the 12yo ‘Sherry Oak’ 93/100 but the 12yo ‘Fine Oak’ 95.5/100.

Jim Murray describes the nose of this Macallan as ‘faultless’ so it’s a bit strange that he only gives it 24/25 rather than 100%. He goes on to say of the taste “a near perfect entry” and “juice yet enough vanilla to ensure structure and layering.” He then summarises with “a whisky whose quality has hit the stratosphere since I last tasted it.” So I’m glad I found a sample of it, albeit only 5cl. Not that it’s gone forever because I’m sure bottles of the stuff will be appearing in auctions for the rest of my lifetime. Some never being drunk, just passed from collector to collector.

Macallan 12yo Fine Oak 5cl

Macallan 10-year-old ‘Sherry Oak’

Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 17th June 2014

Ratings:
91/100 – Whisky Bible 2014

Whenever you start collecting whisky, you soon realise that the world of whisky is constantly changing. New bottles appear whilst old bottles die off. When I started my collection in 2013 my big success was getting a bottle of Johnnie Walker Green Label before it vanished completely from the UK supermarkets. That was purely down to luck based on when I started. What had I missed before?! Where the whisky gods were against me was the Macallan 10yo ‘Sherry Oak’. It took me a while to realise it had been discontinued. By the time I did the only bottles of 10yo I could find in the shops were the ‘Fine Oak’, and at £40 each the price was already rising. Stories online suggested that, when the Macallan 10yo was generally available, it was about £30. I added a 70cl bottle on Amazon to my wishlist at £46 hoping it might get reduced. It’s now £60, so sadly I wont be getting it.

Thankfully we have miniatures! But even those are rising in price. I got my mini of the Macallan 10yo ‘Sherry Oak’ for £6 and two months later it’s gone up to £10! The online shops are cashing in on the demand but rarity of an excellent single malt.

Whatever your views are about Macallan replacement its younger age-statements (10yr, 12yr and 15yr), with the NAS (non-age statements) of Gold, Amber, Ruby and Sienna, it comes down to a case of sup-it-and-see. The ‘Gold’, a direct replacement for the 10yo, gets good reviews. Life moves on, and so do whiskies. It’s sad to see the 10yo go but Macallan have to keep up the quality because there’s plenty of competition out there. I’ve tried the ‘Gold’ and it was nice, so a bottle of that is now on my shopping list.

Macallan 10yo Sherry Oak 5cl

Aberlour 1994 Carn Mor

Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 17th June 2014

Ratings:
80/100 – Whiskybase (1 review)

This Aberlour forms part of the 24 x 20cl bottles that make up the Carn Mor Vintage Collection. Distilled in 1994 and bottled in 2012, it’s from a limited edition of 720, Cask No: 4413. Non-chill filtered and no added colour.

Aberlour-1994-Carn-Mor-20cl

Longmorn 1996 Carn Mor

Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 17th June 2014

Ratings:
77/100 – Whiskybase (1 review)

This Longmorn forms part of the 24 x 20cl bottles that make up the Carn Mor Vintage Collection. Distilled in 1996 and bottled in 2009, it’s from a limited edition of 1377, Cask No: 156794. Non-chill filtered and no added colour.

Longmorn 1996 Carn Mor 20cl

Glengoyne 2000 Carn Mor

Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 17th June 2014

Ratings:
80.25/100 – Whiskybase (average from 4 reviewers)

This Glengoyne forms part of the 24 x 20cl bottles that make up the Carn Mor Vintage Collection. Distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2009, it’s from a limited edition of 1433, Cask No: 438. Non-chill filtered and no added colour.

Glengoyne 2000 Carn Mor 20cl