Springbank (10 year), Revisited

Springbank 10 is classic stuff. Aged 10 years (It even says it on the bottle! How old-fashioned!), not chill-filtered and bottled at 46% ABV without artificial coloring. Springbank does things the “old way” and is unapologetic about it. On-site floor maltings, worm tubs, and even (some) direct-fired stills. They also do a crazy “2.8-time” distillation and the malt is partially peated. Why? Because that’s how they’ve always done it.

Highland Park Magnus

Like the rest of the line, Magnus is partly peated and partly aged in “sherry seasoned” American oak casks. Before you ask, that just means they took regular old ex-bourbon casks and sloshed some sherry around in them for a few months. This is becoming pretty standard practice in the scotch whisky industry, since nobody drinks actual sherry these days and real sherry barrels are hard to come by. Some refill casks are also used, but the distillery says the sherry-seasoned casks are a “high percentage” of the vatting. If you say so, Edrington. …

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. …

Connemara (12 year)

Connemara is named after a defunct Irish distillery, and the whiskey is produced as Irish whiskey (and Scottish) would have been before the advent of drum maltings: with peat fires. Connemara is reportedly peated at around half the phenol ppm of Islay malt, rendering it milder. There is some confusion about the source of Connemara’s peat…

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.

Port Askaig 110 Proof

To its credit, this first US release of Port Askaig (named, you guessed it, after a port town on the Scottish island of Islay) is bottled at cask-strength (55% ABV) and without chill-filtration or added coloring from a small batch of “2 to 40” barrels per batch, which means whatever you’d like it to mean. The barrels in question are from an “unnamed” Islay distillery and are all ex-bourbon casks.

The Ileach Cask Strength

Bottled at a cask strength of 58% ABV, but without any age information, The Ileach Cask Strength is a single malt whisky from one of the distilleries on the island of Islay that makes fully-peated malt. “The Ileach” means “the man from Islay” and you could try pronouncing it as “ee-luck”, but you’d still sound like a tourist. Just don’t say “Eye Leech”. Ew.