Lagavulin (9 year) – Game of Thrones “House Lannister”

This bottling is simply a 9 year-old expression of Lagavulin, which sounds young until you remember that peated single malt is usually quite good at younger ages, and between Octomore, Talisker 8 year, and… well… Lagavulin 8 year, no longer seems weird. The “House Lannister” bottling comes from only first-fill ex-bourbon casks (no sherry) and clocks in at 46% ABV.

Boutique-y Whisky: Tomatin (11 year) Batch 4

Oh, I’ve had Tomatin before. It’s bland, sweet, banana-y. I’m sure this will be just another ho-hum sample that gets suck in the back of my “tastings notes” folder and never sees the light of day. I’ve even tasted the 12-year. How much different can a batch of 11-year from That Boutique-y Whisky Company (TBWC) be? It’s not even sherried. At least, I don’t think it’s sherried…

Johnnie Walker Island Green

Johnnie Walker Island Green – which should not be confused with Johnnie Walker Green Label – is a travel-retail variant of the Johnnie Walker Green Label bottling. The “Island” here refers to the Scottish isle of Islay, not some tropical island. Islay is essentially the opposite of tropical. Like the Green Label, this “Green” includes only…

Mortlach (15 year) – Game of Thrones “Six Kingdoms”

This Game of Thrones “Six Kingdoms” edition is Mortlach single malt that has been aged for 15 years in sherry casks and then ex-bourbon barrels. Oddly, the label and tin say it was “Finished in ex-bourbon casks” which is a silly way to convey that the whisky started in first-fill sherry (seasoned) casks and then was finished in ex-bourbon. You’d think they’d focus on the sherry. In fact, before I looked it up online I thought…

Talisker (8 year) Special Release 2020

Talisker 8 is a very limited edition cask-strength (57.9% ABV) batch of the familiar Talisker 10 except at 8 years, which is a bit of a reference to earlier 1980s bottlings of Talisker that were released at that age (although not at that strength). The whisky for this year’s release was distilled in 2011 and This time, the distillery broke new ground (for Talisker) by finishing the whisky in a funky pot-still rum cask from Jamaica.

The Glenrothes Whisky Maker’s Cut

The Glenrothes Whisky Maker’s Cut is an NAS (no age statement) release that was matured only in first-fill sherry seasoned oak. Now that’s interesting. It may be the first time I’ve seen a bottle label explicitly spell out the pervasive industry practice of seasoning barrels with sherry and calling them “sherry casks”, since real sherry cask are essentially extinct. After aging for an undisclosed period of time, the whisky is bottled without added color and at a strength chosen by Glenrothes Master Whisky Maker Gordon Motion: 48.8%. He chose that strength because…

Bruichladdich Octomore 10 year (4th edition)

The idea behind the 10 year-old editions of Octomore is for Bruichladdich to examine the effects of longer aging on the somewhat-well-understood young (typically 5 year-old) Octomore. As Head Distiller Adam Hannett said in our interview session for the Octomore 11 campaign, “we just don’t know everything,” and “there are so many infinite variables in the creation of single malt whisky, so we try to isolate one variable at a time to see how it improves the whisky, or doesn’t.”

Bruichladdich Octomore 11.3

The Octomore .3 releases are always made from 100% Islay-grown barley from Octomore farm by “The Godfather of Soil” James Brown. This year’s 11.3 release is 5 years old and was aged in ex-bourbon American oak casks from a variety of bourbon distilleries … Jim McEwan talks about the soil of Islay and why he goes to such cost-inefficient lengths to get 100% Islay barley. He talks about how mainland Scottish farms can pull 3 or 3.5 tons of barley per acre in yield while Islay’s difficult climate maxes out around 2 tons. Moreover…

Bruichladdich Octomore 11.1

Octomore, for those who haven’t had the pleasure of shelling out $150+ for a bottle of one of the past ten editions, is the most heavily-peated whisky in the world. It’s bottled at cask strength and comes out every year in either 3 or 4 varieties. In brief, 11.1 is 5 years old and was aged only in ex-bourbon American oak. … this year was distilled in 2014 from the 2013 harvest of Scottish-grown (not on Islay) Concerto and Propino barley. The barley was malted by Bairds in Inverness to 139.6 ppm and the final 30,000 bottles were bottled at 59.4% ABV. The release was aged for…