Secret Speyside 2007-2018, 10yo, 55.2% – The Maltman

I’ve been told this bottling is a ten year old Macallan, but with how rare these things have become over the last couple of years I’m not 100% sure about that. Still, there’s a distinct possibility for it to be true.

I’ve had quite some drams from The Maltman over the last couple of years, but I’ve never bought a bottle. Somehow, when push comes to shove I generally find the brand to be too expensive compared to other releases of comparable distilleries, age and quality. What might make them stand out is the high average level of whiskies they bottle.

This indie from a sherry butt might be an exception to the pricing rule. It’s currently available for just over € 100 in the Whiskybase Market, and that’s not too expensive for a cask strength whisky, of a renowned bottler, from a sherry cask. It still more than I like to spend on ‘just’ a ten year old, but still. A sign of the times…

A whopping lot of chocolaty sherry notes. Some barley, spices and fruit. Raisins, blue grapes. Hazelnuts. It reminds me of the raisin and hazelnut chocolate bars from Aldi my mum used to buy.

Quite gentle for the ABV, rather dry and some chili heat. Some oak and barley.

Strangely, some glue-y notes on the finish. More heat and dry sherry. The nuttiness remains.

Yeah, where to go with this. The ABV was quite acceptable, and the sharpness that came along with it not too much. However, the sweet, chocolate-y notes on the nose, the rather flat palate and the glue-y notes on the finish is something that I can’t really wrap my head around. None of these are flavors I really dislike, but it just doesn’t seem to add up in this case. No balance, little to no consistency.

Strangely, this weirdness, combined with the nuttiness on the nose and finish do make this more like Macallan than I expected. So if that’s you’re profile, you might like this a lot more than I do.


Secret Speyside 2007-2018, Macallan, 10yo, Sherry Butt 10900, 55.2%, The Maltman. Available at The Old Pipe for € 110

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Inchmoan 2007, 12yo, 54.9% – OB for The Whisky Exchange

Yet another, but for now the last, sample from a The Whisky Exchange exclusive bottling.

In this case it’s an Inchmoan whisky. Inchmoan is one of the brands of Loch Lomond Distillery, in this case the heavily peated version of their distillate. It matured for 12 years in a bourbon cask and became available sometime around the end of summer. As with the recently reviewed Ballechin, it was given to me by TWE, so a big thank you is in order!

Also, similar to the Ballechin, it’s from a distillery that’s making waves recently, after having long since established a reputation for churning out ‘average at best’ whisky. Edradour was known for many cask finishes and pretty shit spirit. Loch Lomond for not standing out from anything and producing very forgettable whisky.

Luckily, they’re doing their utmost in changing themselves around. Edradour mostly with their Ballechin brand (or at least, I’ve not recently had an Edradour to validate the regular turn-out). Loch Lomond by having significantly better cask selection and making a lot of single casks available (the threesome from The Whisky Nerds comes to mind, here and here).

Quite a lot of peat, but not sharp. Rather youthful and not as oak driven as many modern malts. More oak later on though, with hints of vanilla. Apple sauce, wood, barley. Very classical.

Light, but very smoky, with some bite from the alcohol. The typical notes of grain and wood come through. Apples, straw, very ‘northerly’ with some herbs and fruits.

The finish continues down the smoky path, with a heavy smokiness, but not sharp at all. Oak, barley, apple.

This is a well balanced dram. It has impact but it’s not overpowering and very old fashioned. The spirit is quite light, but that’s what Loch Lomond does. The smoke gives it some weight, and makes it a rather lovely dram. What also helps is that it’s not too expensive for a single cask at £ 75.


Inchmoan 2007-2019, 12yo, Cask #96, 54.9% – The Whisky Exchange’s 20th Anniversary. Available at The Whisky Exchange for £ 75

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Evan Williams 9yo, 2004-2013, 43.3%

A bit of a disclaimer first:

I only bought this bottle to get a bit more value for money on shipping costs from a whisky auction. I did buy it several years ago and it just sat on my shelf with me not caring about it at all. I only opened it a while ago because I needed to bring something to a weekend with friends, and apart for a small sample to write the below tasting notes, we finished it then and there. In short, there is zero emotional value with this bottle.

Now, I could start yapping about who Evan Williams was, and why this is one of the major Heaven Hill brands, but for some reason, I just don’t care. I would be perfectly happy if the label just said ‘Heaven Hill 9yo, cask 68’ instead of all the random branding that happens stateside. Of course, for comparing it makes sense to have some sort of categorization, but that can also be done the Four Roses way: recipes.

Anyway, yet another random bourbon review.


Image from Whiskybase

Sweet corn, cigars, oak. Quite a nose on this one. Very big scents for such a timid bourbon. Cinnamon, wet wood pulp, not too sweet with lots of autumn leaves and wood spices.

Very gentle and very dry. Cigar leaves, wood spices. It’s a bit overpowered by lots of oak. Quite a bit of black pepper too.

The finish is gentle and slightly sweet. Again, quite some oak, pepper and autumn leaves.

So, the nose was the best part of this bourbon. The rest is quite forgettable, and even a bit overpowered by the cask, I’d say. Of course, there’s millions of people out there that prefer these oak heavy drinks, but I think it’s a bit too much.

Having said that, the nose saves it, and apart from that it’s quite forgettable.


Evan Williams 9yo, 2004-2013, Single Barrel 68, 43.3%

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Ballechin 2003, 15yo, 55% – OB for TWE

Yet another The Whisky Exchange exclusive bottling which I review from a sample provided by them. I’ve been given this and another one during Billy’s trip to Maltstock, which I sadly couldn’t visit myself. However, there was time for beers in Amsterdam, so we met before and after the festival, with a very distinct difference in Billy’s level of fitness.

Anyway, a ridiculously dark Ballechin. Ballechin is a brand that I’ve shunned in the past for their lack of reliability. After all, it’s just peated Edradour, and I’ve not had (m)any positive experiences with that brand. Having said that, at 2018’s Maltstock festival there also was a Ballechin, considerably lighter in hue, that was rather cracking. It’s not necessarily shit, so to say.

Big sherry with fruit and spices, awesomely backed up with quite some smoke. Very Bowmore like, with straw, big smoke, red fruits and dates.

Strong and sweet on the arrival. And it keeps building. Leathery, lots of fruit and smoke. Big flavors with black cherries, dates, straw, soot.

The finish is a bit more gentle, but with more focus on the ashes and soot. A tad drying.

I was told this was a good one, but with the name Ballechin, I was skeptical. I was wrong. The Bowmore comparison is in the vein of their Laimrig/Devil’s Casks. It’s lacking a bit of salinity, but other than that it’s rather similar. This Ballechin has more of a highland style smokiness which is reminiscent of burnt heather and log fires.


Ballechin 2003-2019, 15 years old, Refill sherry butt 204, 55%. Available at The Whisky Exchange for £ 110.

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Speyside 21yo, 53.1% – The Whisky Exchange, Black Friday

As with any industry nowadays, the Whisky industry has fully joined the Black Friday shenanigans that got blown over from the United States. While I’m not a particularly big fan of adopting other country’s festivities for commerce’s sake, I’m all for a good deal. After all, I’m very Dutch.

Over the past couple of years, The Whisky Exchange has proven to be a great source of very well selected bottlings, and these Black Friday deals are no different. Luckily, they stay true to Black Friday by selling these at significantly lower prices than these bottles normally go for. This ‘anonymous’ Speyside whisky, which comes from a distillery “founded in 1810, this mystery whisky-maker sits between Forres and Elgin in Speyside“, is quite an affordable whisky for the age it has. Also, that mystery whisky makes takes about 24 seconds of Google to reveal it’s identity.

I got sent a sample with a strict embargo, so the post shows at this ungodly hour. Luckily, WordPress facilitates post scheduling! Let’s dive in, shall we?

Oh, don’t be surprised to find this to be sold out. Previous editions lasted about 15 minutes on the website, so missing out is the expected result!

Very dry and oak driven on the first nose. Wood spices and pear drops, right after. Green apples and moss, with hints of barley. It’s not sweet and it comes across as a very old fashioned whisky.

The palate is a bit more sharp than I expected. The wood gives it a slight burn which, combined with the whisky’s dryness, gives quite the tingle. The dryness is that of oak and barley, with dry apple skins and some sawdust. There’s a hint of vanilla, with other crisp fruits like melon, and some grapes. It’s a bit pithy, mostly lemon and tangerine, I’d say.

The finish shows more sweet fruits than before, with a turn towards dried papaya and dried pineapple. The oak and barley are still rather present and it still is a rather dry whisky. Gentle on the throat, but the tingling sensation lingers rather long.

Well, as with the Christmas Malt from The Whisky Exchange, this is not what I expected at all! A very interesting whisky that shows careful selection from their side, but also careful maturation without any rush to get the oak influence ramped up by the distillery’s side. Very well done, I’d say.

I’ve always loved these dry whiskies, and this one is no exception. The gentle fruitiness leaves enough room for other flavors, and the dry backbone makes you want to drink another glass of it. Luckily, it interesting enough to just do that, and pour yourself another one!

EDIT: I originally scored this 88 points. However, as with things that you think about afterwards (a good sign in itself), you come to the conclusion you did it wrong. I updated the rating to 90 points because of the sheer and crisp fruitiness and classical wood and barley backdrop. It’s a stellar whisky, this.


Speyside 21 years old, Glenburgie, 53.1%. It may be available at The Whisky Exchange for £ 79.95

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Linkwood 10, 54.2% – The Whisky Exchange Christmas Malt 2019

I was surprised when I opened the package with this sample in it. The Christmas Malt was announced, but in virtually all other situations you’d be finding a dark, sherry matured whisky. Not so in this case!

This 10 year old Linkwood has matured in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, which should make for a well balanced whisky. The Whisky Exchange’s website talks about delicacy, refinement and well-roundedness. Let’s see for ourselves!

Lots of vegetables at first, very green, but also some scents of cream and cheese. Strangely there are some of the thicker notes in some tequilas. Agave, vanilla, cactus slices.

Quite rich with a bit of strength behind the richness. Vanilla, barley, hay and vegetables. Agave and cactus. Some banana, apple and pear. Moss and a hint of minerals.

Again, a tad green. Quite smooth with a rich spirit, tamed but not ruled by oak. Again, those tequila notes.

The green notes remind me of Ben Nevis. Old fashioned, rich spirit. It’s a very strange whisky, and one that kept me occupied for a while. It balances cask influences very well with the rich spirit of Linkwood. The tequila notes make for something unique, and something I really like.

What I love best about this whisky is that is very different to anything I’ve had last year. It’s a very unique spirit and warrants a lot of investigation and ‘I recognize that flavor, but what is it?’ moments.

It’s only available from The Whisky Exchange, and sets you back £ 57, which I find surprisingly decent in the current day and age. I’m considering buying it.


Linkwood 10, 54.2%, The Whisky Exchange Christmas Malt 2019.

Thanks to The Whisky Exchange for the free sample!

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Two 40 year old Blairfindy whiskies

Back when I started drinking whisky, some 15 years ago, I started going to Whiskyslijterij De Koning. Back then he was the importer of Blackadder whiskies in The Netherlands and a Blairfindy 40 year old was on one of the top shelves. Back then it cost a staggering € 180, much like official Port Ellen and Brora releases.

Back then, that was an unachievable amount for a bottle of booze. Little did we know that a decade and a half ago, that amount would happily be paid for booze of much lesser age and much lesser quality.

Anyway, I was able to buy some half bottles a while ago from someone who was getting rid of his collection and was vouched for by Rob, of the aforementioned bottle shop. I shared almost all of it, and the last 10 cl of each I drank myself. I finished both of them a few weeks ago on a rather splendid Sunday afternoon.

Oh, Blairfindy is Blackadder’s name for Glenfarclas. Off the record, of course.


Let’s review!

Blairfindy 40yo, 1963-2003, 1st Fill Sherry Cask #5, 52.3%

Lots of old fruit, with heaps of apricots, plums, baking spices. Very complex with spices, bitterness and sweetness.

Dry and pretty intense for a 40 year old dram. Intense nuttiness with some dried plums, raisins, apricot. Lots of oak, even some leather and hessian.

The finish is, if possible, even more dry, with loads of oak and leather. Wood spices and dried fruit.

Strangely, this isn’t as balanced or with as much depth as I expected. There’s a lot of flavor for sure, but they’re all big and in your face. The forty years have done some mellowing of the sharpness but the oak got added to the mix of flavors. End verdict is still quite positive, but just not 90 points positive.


Blairfindy 40yo, 1965-2005, Sherry Hogshead #1850, 51.7%

Again, sherry, but very different. Slightly cheesy, somehow. Quite some creamy notes. Wood spices, but very different than usual. More like pastries, bread and cheeses.

Very gentle and warming. Fresh buns, soft yellow cheese. Gentle herbs and spices. Some stone fruit like peach, apricot. Some sweet mango.

The finish is, again, very gentle. Lots of soft oak, pulpy and soaked. Bread, buns, sponge cake.

The slightly less old one is a very different beast to the first one. It’s much more balanced than the previous one with a very different kind of wood influence. The sherry is toned down quite a bit and while that makes less of an impact, it does make for better balance. So, slightly less wow-factor, but just a little bit more interesting for revisiting.


Obviously, prices have changed over the years. Both because whisky has gotten ridiculously expensive, and also because these were one time only bottlings from about 15 years ago. The first one apparently goes for about € 1500, while the second one has been spotted at € 875. Insane amounts of money…

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