Mortlach Rare Old

Mortlach, one of those “only for blends and independents” distilleries that has graduated through sweat and perseverance (or marketing and PR) to official lineup status, is actually one of my favorite distilleries. … The Rare Old is a non-age statement bottling at an appropriate 43.4% ABV (Why not 43%? Who knows.) from a mixture of ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks, the Rare Old shocked everyone with its initial price …

The Balvenie (12 year) Single Barrel “First Fill”

The “First Fill” on the label, of course, refers to the use of first-fill ex-bourbon casks (casks the previously aged bourbon but haven’t been used for anything else). These first-fill barrels have been used to age Balvenie malt for at least 12 years, and watered down a little bit to a reasonable 47.8% ABV. The whisky is not chill-filtered and has no added coloring (which is obvious by its pale straw appearance).

GlenDronach (18 year) Allardice

The GlenDronach 18-year is named after the 1826 founder of the distillery, James Allardes. It is aged for 18 years exclusively in Spanish oloroso sherry casks, and bottled at 46% ABV without chill-filtration or added coloring. This has more deep, dark, concentrated dry fruit than I’ve ever experienced in a single malt. I’m not sure that’s actually a good thing. …

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…

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.

Glenfiddich Experimental Series – IPA Cask Finish

Here we have something new. Whisky is (sort of) distilled beer, right? And most (almost all) beer contains hops to some degree. So why not age whisky in casks that previously held heavily-hopped India Pale Ale style beer? … a specially-brewed IPA ale using Challenger hops was aged for 4 weeks in used Glenfiddich American Oak barrels, and then emptied and used to finish Glenfiddich single malt for 12 weeks.

The Glenrothes Vintage Reserve

The Glenrothes Vintage Reserve is an oddball vatting of what appears to be the leftover casks from the last public vintage releases plus a bunch of younger barrels that have not (yet) seen release: 1989, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007. Of those years, the 1998 vintage makes up (according to marketing) 25% or more of the volume.