Coleburn 1983-1998, 15yo, 43% – Signatory Vintage

Coleburn is one of those obscure Speyside distilleries that hasn’t gotten very popular even though it’s closed and every bottle from the place is limited. That has worked for almost all other distilleries, but this one.

So, when I got a chance to trade some samples with a guy from my town, and this one was in the bunch, I took it. I like to get to know these older whiskies from yesteryear before they are all gone or too expensive to get my hands on.

Anyway, Coleburn. Situated on the road between Elgin and Rothes, we drove past it last November. Unfortunately we couldn’t see the place since it’s behind a tree line and the only thing you get to see from the main road is a few houses that are, I guess, part of the old distillery complex.

Coleburn was part of the United Distillers conglomerate until its closure in 1985, when they also closed a lot of other distilleries. The slump of the eighties wasn’t kind on the Scottish whisky industry, as you probably know.

Let’s see if they were right to do so!

Image from Whiskybase

Image from Whiskybase

Ooh! That old Highland scent that I’ve also found in eighties Clynelish and Inchgower. It happens to be something I really, really love. Old wood, with some sweetness to it. Old leather, and other really classic notes. Furniture polish and resin.

The palate is a little less exciting. The flavors are also very old fashioned which is quite charming in its own way. Oak, furniture polish, dried apple and some nuts. The resin is here too, which is a good thing.

The finish is surprisingly rich for a whisky at 43% (it also wasn’t the first dram of the evening) with some hay, pepper and menthol. Resin, pine wood and needles.

Seriously, this is a really good dram. It’s not overly complex although the finish does add some really nice flavors that were far less pronounced on the palate and nose. I love these old and old fashioned notes that can be quite prevalent in Highland and Speyside whiskies.

The resin and other pine notes make the finish a bit more interesting than it would have been otherwise, so a bit of extra points there. The only negative I can think of is that it’s not as layered as I would like it to be.


Coleburn 15yo, 20/04/1983 – 30/09/1998, cask 209, 43%, Signatory Vintage.


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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