Bowmore 1995-2012, 16yo, 54.4% – Adelphi

If there are any regulars and they’ve read some earlier posts on Bowmores from the mid-nineties, they probably know I really love these vintages. 1993 is always the much laureled vintage, but I generally prefer 1995 and 1996 for a more typical dram of Bowmore, reminiscent of the 1960s style. Of course, this is all in my humble opinion.

So, when this 1995 vintage was spied with my little eye at The Old Pipe, some years ago, I picked it up and did a small bottle share with it later. Small, as in, I still kept 30 or 40cl for myself and only sold a few samples.

You wouldn’t say it by the color, but this was drawn from a refill sherry cask in 2012, at 54.4%. So, even though it’s not really old, the ABV had mellowed quite a bit by then.


Image from Whiskybase

Gentle wood smoke and a whiff of earthy peat. A hint of brine and some subdued dried fruit. Some coconut, peach, apricot and tarry ropes. A whiff of fresh paint and boats. Of course, behind it all is reliable barley and oak.

The smoke is a bit sharper here. Also, while gentle on the nose, this is where the strength shows. There’s peach, apricot and Valencia oranges. Also, there’s brine, smoke, tar. Fruit and harbor.

The finish has a bit of dryness and bite because of the alcohol. Apart from that, there’s fruit, smoke and oak.

Typical Bowmore. Utterly delicious and rather smooth and gentle. Some bite, but never too much and well balanced. The coastal peatiness works very well with the fruit from the sherry cask, and because it’s a refill cask there’s more than enough room for the spirit to shine.

Available in the Whiskybase Marketplace for € 170.


Bowmore 1995-2012, 16yo, Refill Sherry cask 8, 603 bottles, 54.4%

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Old Pulteney, 1999-2019, 19yo, 56.5% – Gordon & MacPhail

Last year, when this came out, it was quickly ramped up to be ‘the next best thing’. Generally, in the world of whisky, these things die down quickly, but in this case the ratings and reviews kept popping up, and the scores on Whiskybase didn’t get lower either.

In our whisky club we generally talk about binary voters. This is a thing Whiskybase, as does any other public rating system, suffers from. People who only hand out votes that are (exaggerated) either 10 points, or 95 points. This warps scores, but when ratings start to amass and there’s a couple dozen of them, it averages out to a more apt representation of what’s actually going on.

This whisky, after being scored 50 times, sits comfortably at little over 90 points. This is good. Very, very good. So here’s my take!

Lots of ‘wet’ sherry, with some baking spices, dried fruits and nuts. Dates, hazelnuts, almonds. Behind is a rich oakiness, with a slightly coastal hint of brine.

The palate is quite strong and a tad more spicy than the nose is. A bit more oak and barley. The coastal salinity is still present, even a bit more emphasized. A tiny bit leathery.

A dry and spicy finish. A bit bread like, with crunchy crusts and toast. Apricot jam on top. But also almonds, hazelnuts, oak.

Honestly, this is a truly cracking dram. I love these north-east Scottish distilleries (Clynelish, Pulteney, Highland Park and others), but this is an exceptional whisky. Generally I’m more familiar with bourbon matured Pulteney, and generally, I think the spirit works better in that type of cask, however, this is the exception that proves the rule.

The combination of spices, fruit and nuts, combined with the more predictable oak make for a very well balanced, and very interesting whisky that keeps you coming back for more. I know I went through my half-bottle rather quickly!


Old Pulteney, 19yo, 1999-2019, Refill Sherry Butt from batch 19/120, 56.5%.

Miraculously, it’s still available at The Whisky Exchange, for £ 140

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Inchgower 1985-2005, 20yo, 60.8% – Usquebaugh Society

A few years ago when I was still a member of the Usquebaugh Society, a few of the older club bottlings popped up at some whisky shops in The Netherlands. There was a Clynelish, I believe a Caol Ila (which I didn’t buy) and this Inchgower from the mid-eighties.

With a 20 year old Inchgower, from a period of good Inchgower popped up at a reasonable price, I bit the bullet and bought the bottle. Of course, when I opened it I shared about half of it, after which I started slowly sipping away at the remainder.

It was one of those weird bottlings that have to grow on you a little bit. It’s ridiculously strong, which I consider something to be a weary of. Also, it just didn’t do much initially. However, as things progressed and the bottle got emptier and emptier, I started liking it more and more. And no, this wasn’t on one evening where I was getting more drunk.

Just before I had the last sip I decided to do a quick review and tasting notes, so here it goes!

Lots of barley, barley sugars, with quite a lot of oak. Toffee and fudge, with caramel apples, cinnamon and other baking spices.

Sharp, and drier than expected. Barley, oak, toffee and fudge. Baked apple, ontbijtkoek, baking spices.

Dry and very warming, but the sharpness is gone fast. Still rich with caramel, barley sugars and toffee.

While it does have its charm, I think the cask was a very lazy one. The insanely high ABV is an indicator of that as well. Surprisingly there was quite a lot of oak on the nose and palate, but somehow it hasn’t tamed the whisky much, or given it a bit more complexity.

So, a very straight forward dram that is saved a little bit by the baked apple and toffee notes, but otherwise is of not much interest.


Inchgower 20yo, 26/06/1985 – 16/08/2005, 250 bottles from cask 5633, 60.8%

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Elements of Islay Peat & Sherry, 56.8%

For the 20th anniversary of The Whisky Exchange a few bottlings have been released so far. I rather vividly remember some of their releases for the tenth anniversary. Back then I did a bottle-share with that Clynelish 37, Hakushu 20 and Karuizawa 1982. There were quite a few other ones too, and most of them were exceptional to say the least.

Looking at the current slew of releases they’ve done for their 20th I can start rambling about the obvious changes in ten years, mostly the prices and the average vintages are very different. Although I expected prices to be higher and vintages to be lower, to be honest. There’s quite some special stuff in there.

The most obvious other realization is that whisky has gotten more international with releases from American, Taiwan, Australia and Wales, and some rums are in the selection too. I have to admit also, that seeing the list makes me rather thirsty.

Anyway, this NAS whisky is one of the recent releases and it combines two VERY popular things in whisky: peat and sherry. Generally, that’s a recipe for success. Let’s where this one lands.

Well, there’s peat and sherry. The alcohol is quite harsh at first, but there’s a lot of dry and fruity sherry with slightly bitter almonds. Plums, dates, raisin twigs. The peat is quite coastal, with rope and salt.

The palate is pretty sharp. The nuttiness is amped up, with lots of almonds and walnuts. Very dry, with lots of dried fruits. Apart from the plums and dates, there are apricots too. The coastal notes of brine and salinity, and the harbor like smells of tar and wet wood. Of course, there’s lot of thick, greasy smoke.

The finish is very long and drying. The bitterness is toned down, but does last long. The fruit is still present, but dialed back too. It’s more about the dryness, salinity, wood and smoke notes.

It doesn’t come as a surprise but it does exactly what the label says. There’s lots of peat and there’s lots of sherry. And it combines very well, just as you’d expect.

Maybe it’s a little bit clunky, as it does mostly those two things and not much else. Also, I think the whisky is fairly young, but that’s not a bad thing. Also, at € 62-ish this is very fairly priced whisky for its style and intensity.


Elements of Islay, Peat & Sherry, 56.8%, TWE Exclusive, € 62

Thanks to The Whisky Exchange for the sample!

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Springbank 10 Local Barley, 2019 edition, 56.2%

Just at the end of last year the final edition of the Local Barley whiskies from Springbank was released. The final one because they announced that they’d be releasing five different ones over a five year period.

This is the second 10 year old in the series of five, with the others being 16, 11 and 9. They also used different kinds of barley for the distillation process. Last year’s 9 year was from Optic barley, as is this one. The others are from Belgravia, Prisma and Bere, where the Bere is the more interesting one, with it being one of the oldest cultivated grains in existence.

What they also changed this year is that they used port casks in the mix, instead of 100% bourbon casks (the Bere one), and a mix of sherry and bourbon casks for the others. The mix of casks is something Springbank generally does for all their non-specific releases.

Check the other Springbank Local Barley releases here:

Anyway, so far I’ve been very enthusiastic about all the releases with the 16 year old being the best one by a fair margin. Let’s see where this one sits!


Image from Whiskybase

Funky vanilla, with pastry cream, moldy hessian bags in a dusty attic. A whiff of smoke, and kippers. Quite coastal with some minerals, apple, slate.

Quite some oomph, with a bit more crème brûlée. So vanilla, caramel, burnt sugar. Also the typical notes of apple, smoke, kippers, apple compote, so a tad more sweet than on the nose, and slightly less funky.

The coastal salinity gets the upper hand here. Fairly gentle with oak, smoke, barley, salinity, a hint of tar, apples, and some vanilla.


So, this is a bit of a strange one, if I’m honest.

When all is said and done this is a really good whisky, albeit a bit overpriced at some € 130 (give or take). It has the typical Springbank funkiness which is a very good thing, otherwise it would be REALLY overpriced.

On the other hand, this is not a whisky that will stand out if you’re just drinking it. It would still be a cask strength Springbank at a decade old, but the local barley aspect would be completely lost. You need to give it attention for it to be better than ‘just a Springbank 10 at higher strength’.

In the end, that means that, yes, I find it a very solid dram. But one that needs attention.


Springbank 10, 2009-2019, High Cattadale Farm, Optic Barley, 56.2%

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The state of the samples – 2020 edition

Last year I wrote a post about the rather insane amount of samples I had knocking about my whisky shelf, in my tiny home office. I found some gems pushed to the back by newer additions and finished these over the last twelve months.

When 2019 came to a close I figured I hadn’t gotten near to where I wanted to be with my samples, namely getting to a number that’s half of what it was a year prior. I figured, as these things go, I started enthusiastically, but forgot about them rather soon.

However, I recently counted everything, in all three categories (whisky, new make, other booze) and got to the following results:

Type January 2019 January 2020
Whisky 110 49
New make 8 8
Other 30 10

These are some nice results, I even overshot by some percent and got to below half of where I started. Also keep in mind that this includes new additions to the shelf that happened over these same 12 months.

By these numbers one could state that I drank way too much, but I’d rather go for the explanation stating that I spent my money more sanely, and didn’t add as much as I did previous years.

Also, a good conclusion is that my tipple of choice is NOT new make spirit of whisky distilleries. This is kind of true, but I do find it interesting to try, but I’ve just not gotten around to it. What I plan with these samples is to spend an evening in peace trying several and writing notes, comparing one to the other. Strangely, there’s not been enough quiet moments to do so, lately.


While I’m a month late in setting some goals for 2020, I’m going to do so anyway. By the start of next year I hope to get 75% of these remaining samples out of the way, based on the total. There were 67 samples remaining, and I’m a happy camper if I can get that down to 16-ish in the 11 remaining months.

Apart from that, last year I also added a list of bottles I’m selling samples from. I’ve done that a couple more times on Facebook over the last year to get some movement happening in my collection. This will happen a few times more, although the amount of ‘random’ bottles that are open is getting lower too.

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Teaninich 17yo, 58.3% – The Manager’s Dram

In the past, Diageo sometimes let their distillery managers select a cask from the warehouse for a line of bottlings. The most recent exercise in this was the Manager’s Choice, which was a huge flop by any measure.

Some of the whiskies from that series sold instantly, like the Lagavulin, Oban and Talisker. However, the other 20-something releases didn’t even move when they got a 50% discount.

Not that these whiskies were so bad, but they were just ridiculously expensive. Single casks, often from distilleries that had loads of single casks available through indie bottlers or Diageo itself were on the shelf for € 250, while their ‘normal’ counterparts sold for a fraction of that.

Anyway, the series of releases *before* The Manager’s Choice were ‘The Manager’s Dram’, which was released in the early 2000s. I’ve tried a few over the years, and most of them have been cracking. So, when I got the chance to obtain a sample of the Teaninich I didn’t hesitate. Not a clue where it came from, since it’s been on the shelf for ages.


Image from Whiskybase

Stewed apples, gentle oak, some waxy pear skin, a hint of reed. Complex, with some basil, other fresh herbs.

Pretty sharp on the arrival, with apple, pear, some waxiness. Oak, fiery heat, some dryness. The herbaceous  flavor is there too.

The finish loses a bit of fruit, but shows more freshly cut oak. Basil, other leafy herbs.

An absolutely gorgeous dram in my book. It shows the distillery character, it shows the oak in which is was matured, and even though it has a very high ABV it shows depth and complexity. It’s more or less everything I would want in any dram.


Teaninich 17yo, Refill cask, bottled in 2001, 58.3%

Surprisingly for such an old whisky, it’s still available at not-too-unreasonable a price (£ 225 at Whisky Business)

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