Best of Wines’ Blind Tasting Competition #2

Part two of the four part series in which I quickly go over the whiskies we had in the Blind Tasting Competition by Best of Wines.

As said before, and in previous years when I participated in The Usquebaugh Society’s version of it, I really suck at this. So don’t expect many points earned. Let’s just focus on the reviews and their inconsistency.

Springbank 17, 2002-2020, Rum/Bourbon mix with a Madeira finish, 47.8%

Image from Whiskybase

Even though it smells aged, there’s quite a lot of spirit. My mind directly wanders towards refill casks of some kind. There’s a gin-like thing. A very light fruity thing, with lots of grapes and some citrus. Something very crips, like moss and slate in a forest creek. Red currants, somehow. And, a whiff of something grassy.

The palate is a touch more sweet than I expected, and arrives very gently. After a few seconds a dryness comes up, but it’s never sharp. Some white grapes, granny smith apples and that crispness of the nose is here too. Somehow, a specific type of brittle paper I once used at a Saturday job to straighten plywood. Something lemony, grassy.

Utterly fascinating on the finish with a bit more funk, a bit less crispness. Still grassy, hay, white grapes and golden raisins. Some oak, and it seems to last for a very long time. White chocolate.

Somehow, I found this one quite different from when I tried it. I expect that my bottle being open for a while before reviewing it might have had some effect, but apart from that, the reviews are quite far apart. What wasn’t too far apart, is how much I like this whisky. What helps when reviewing it blind is that you miss out on the ridiculous hype surrounding it, and my review ended up being slightly higher than it was before.

I had no idea what to go for, so I picked something from a region we hadn’t had yet, and ended up going for Highland Park. In my mind the gin-like spirity quality is something not unheard of for that distillery, and I don’t associate it with Springbank.


Ardnamurchan AD/09.20:01, 5 years old, 2014/2015-2020, Bourbon & Sherry Casks, 46.8%

Image from Whiskybase

Ethereal with hints of mineral. Apple, iron, some slate. Treebark and a whiff of autumn leaves. Something waxy, after a few minutes with candle wax, and a bit of honey. Strangely, after some more time there suddenly is a hint of chocolate.

The palate is a bit thin, but quite intense. Definitely some cask strength heat with a hint of chili pepper. The waxiness continues here, as does the apple. Although, the apple is more a dried apple thing than the crisp ones from the nose. More oak than before too, but there still is a bit of a honey sweetness.

The finish focuses a little bit more on the oak instead of the wax and the apple, but does bring back the hint of minerals.

It’s a bit thin, initially. After that there is quite enough happening, and it somehow reminded me of Clynelish. What they did very well is make this taste quite a bit older than it actually is. The initial review can be read here, by the way.


This one is still available here for € 150.

Strathmill 11, 2009-2020, STR Red Wine Cask, 47.5% – Càrn Mòr Strictly Limited

Image from Whiskybase

Shoe polish and butter at first, hints of leather, dark sherry. Some dried fruits, but a lactic acid thingy too. Somethings strangely vinegar-like, like aged balsamic or red wine vinegar, a sweeter style. Old, lacquered oak shelves. A whiff of baking spices.

The palate is surprisingly gentle, with mostly a bit of a fatty, buttery arrival. Like melting Caramac bars and Werther’s Original. The leather note is toned down a lot and, unfortunately, it does go a little bit predictable. There’s some dried fruit, there’s some oak. There’s still that rancio, old oak, vinegary flavor though.

The finish is rather long, which surprises me. There’s a bit more dates and plums, very typical fruitiness.

When tasting this one with JP, we both had the idea this could very well be some kind of wine cask. Unfortunately, there are no points for that. With this being rather gentle and calm, we went for a smooth Speyside whisky and I ended up picking Aberlour.


This one is still available here, for € 70.


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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