Springbank (15 year)

I love Springbank. It’s one of my favorite distilleries. It’s also one of the very few distilleries left in Scotland that embodies the “old school”, tradition-laden whiskymaking techniques that marketing departments elsewhere salivate over. … This can backfire, though. Most of the technological improvements in the whisky industry over the past 100 years have been implemented for the sake of consistency in the resulting whisky. …

Royal Lochnagar (12 year)

Yet another of Diageo’s stable of “blending fodder” – some malt distilled at Lochnagar finds its way into Johnnie Walker (Blue, in particular) and Vat 69, but the majority of Diageo’s smallest distillery (smallest in output, that is) is now bottled as a single malt, including a Distiller’s Edition finished in Moscatel casks and an NAS Selected Reserve edition aged in sherry casks.

The BenRiach (19 year) Peated/Oloroso Finish 1994

This bottle (which I would never pay $150 or even $130 for, FYI) is a single-cask limited release from the distillery (Cask 7352) which was distilled in 1994 from peated malt and then aged for 19 years (bottled in 2013). It was recasked into an oloroso sherry butt at some point (not mentioned on the label). The liquid was bottled at cask strength without added color or chill filtration, yielding a supple 53.2% ABV, which is (in my opinion) near the perfect strength for an undiluted expression…

Ardbeg An Oa

A no-age-statement (shock! awe!) vatting of various casks of Ardbeg including new (virgin) charred oak, Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry, and first-fill bourbon. These are all dumped into a French oak “Gathering Vat” in the new “Gathering Room” at Ardbeg. Note that most other distilleries call this a “marrying vat” or “marrying tun”, but we’ll let them have their cutsey name. The result is bottled at the randomly-chosen 46.6% ABV without chill filtration.

Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 57)

This bottle of Batch 57 caught my eye during my last trip to my favorite liquor store, and reminded me that I haven’t reviewed a batch of a’bunadh in awhile. Checking past posts I see that I’ve missed 15 (!) prior batches, as my last review was Batch 41. At a resounding 60.7% ABV, this is also the strongest a’bunadh I’ve tried. As always, this is aged exclusively in Spanish oloroso sherry casks, and bottled at cask strength with no chill filtration.

Strathisla (12 year)

Strathisla (pronounced “strath-aye-la”) will go out of its way to remind you that it is the oldest continuously operating distillery in Scotland. Most of the output of the four small stills goes straight into Chivas Regal blends, and only a little of it sees distribution as a single malt. In fact, Chivas refers to Strathisla as the “heart” or “core” malt of its blends. … the 12-year is aged in an undisclosed combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, reportedly with a higher percentage of sherry.

Glenfiddich (14 year) Rich Oak

The 14-year Rich Oak uses an experimental finishing technique that appears to have been deemed enough of a success to launch it in 2010, although it still has not ventured Stateside. … Standard ex-bourbon aged Glenfiddich is re-casked after 14 years into a mixture of new Spanish oak and new American oak, for a brief finishing period of “up to” 12 weeks. This is apparently the first time any single-malt scotch has been finished in new Spanish oak.

John Barr Reserve Blended Scotch

Created in 1978 to compensate for a legal skirmish that took Johnnie Walker Red Label off of UK store shelves, it failed to recapture even a portion of that lost market share. … Whyte & Mackay master blender and celebrity whisky personality Richard Paterson re-formulated the recipe, likely a necessity since the blend now needed to be composed of whiskies available to W&M instead of the full Diageo stable. In early 2017 the brand was re-launched with new packaging.