Gordon & MacPhail: Mortlach (15 year)

A stately, refined example of sherried Mortlach. Something about this distillery speaks of the Scotland of yore. Having never experienced the Scotland of yore, I can only assume it’s the combination of excellent sherry casks with the meaty, oily, rough-around-the-edges malt of Mortlach that gives me the impression.

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The Glenrothes Select Reserve

Intended to serve as a showcase of the Glenrothes house characteristics without a vintage year (indeed without an age statement at all), the Glenrothes Select Reserve was the first non-vintage bottling added to the regular lineup at Glenrothes.

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Cut Spike Nebraska Single Malt (2 year)

The fact that Cut Spike is only two years of age is astounding – in a blind test I would have said 12 at least, but more likely 18. This can be attributed, in part, to the use of charred new oak barrels (a la bourbon), which is a rare to nonexistent practice with whisky made from malted barley.

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Exclusive Malts: The Dalmore (13 year) 2000 – 2013

Here’s a weirdo. Dalmore, in my mind, means two things: Heavy sherry, and orange peel notes. This independently-bottled Dalmore from The Exclusive Malts was distilled in 2000 as cask #6952 and bottled in 2013 at 53.5% ABV. And it’s peated. What?!

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Bowmore Legend

This is not a malt for peat-freaks. This is a very well-balanced, mildly peated dram for a very respectable price. Often younger, cheaper Islay malts come across as brash, acrid, and bitter. Legend is the opposite of all of these: gentle, sweet, and mildly smoky.

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Ardbeg Uigeadail

Uigeadail (pronounced, believe it or not, “Oo-geh-doll”) is named after the loch from which Ardbeg sources its water. The whisky is a vatting of standard Ardbeg from ex-bourbon casks (supposedly the 10-year) with some quantity of sherry-aged Ardbeg. The result is bottled at cask strength.

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Auchentoshan American Oak

As a value malt, this has a few ticks in its favor over the Classic, which it is replacing in the permanent Auchentoshan portfolio. $35 is not an unfair price for this light, straightforward NAS malt.

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Bowmore Small Batch

While I could have done with a bit more robustness at 46% or so, I applaud both the craftsmanship of this whisky, and its sane price point. Clearly more well-rounded and well-integrated than the cheaper Legend, it trades peat intensity for sweetness and subtlety.

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Exclusive Malts: North Highland (17 year) 1996-2014

This is possibly an experimental cask that didn’t make it into one of the Glenmorangie special editions, and was sold on the independent market. It reminds me somewhat of Artein, but only as a single component.

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Deanston Virgin Oak

It pains me to write this review (see Overall, below), because I’m very much in favor of distilleries getting on the NCF bandwagon and bottling at reasonable proofs. I’d love to support Deanston in its efforts, and in its price point, but the whisky is just simply not good.

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